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597 results for hardware
Don't buy Nvidia's GTX 200 cards now! Price cut on the way! in Gaming
Mountain House (CA) – It appears that AMD’s ATI Radeon 4800 GPU has turned out to be a much better chip than initially expected and AMD’s aggressive pricing puts enough pressure on Nvidia to prompt price adjustments. If you are planning on purchasing a GTX 260 or 280 card, you may want to delay until next Monday. Price cuts are on the way.

Over the past several days we have spent some time with several Nvidia’s partners in the Silicon Valley and in Taiwan, which made it obvious that there are tensions between GPU manufacturers and add-in board companies. A raging price war put five companies on the verge of bankruptcy. We cannot disclose who almost kicked the bucket, but we were told that three vendors are still walking on very thin ice.  

With the debut of GeForce GTX 200 series, made some adjustments protecting its partners with greater margins, but the ATI Radeon 4800 series is changing that scenario again. AMD has received praise from the press for its ATI Radeon 4800 series, causing Nvidia partners to demand price adjustments. We were told that Nvidia finally stepped down from its pedestal and agreed to offer limited price protection for some products - as well as price cuts.

We contacted Nvidia to get more details on this information and were provided with the following statement by Bryan Del Rizzo and Ken Brown, spokespeople for Nvidia:

"We’re working with our partners on adjusting the prices for the GTX 280 and 260. The changes are being implemented over the next few days and will take effect sometime next week. Please obtain final retail pricing from the partners, because they set them for their products."

The third sentence has to be taken with a grain of salt, a most partners complained to us about Nvidia’s Unilateral Minimum Advertised Price Policy, short UMAP, and the way it affects them. For the consumer, however, we have yet another example how well competition works. The race between the Radeon 4800 series and GTX 200 will ultimately drag prices down.

According to our sources, Nvidia cut the price of the GTX 280 by $90 and $30 for the GTX 260. Of course, that is a price cut Nvidia is handing down to its partners and does not reflect retail prices.

GeForce GTX 260 cards currently sell for $379.99 on Newegg ($399.99 minus $20 instant rebate on XFX, BFG and PNY cards), while GTX 280 cards sell for $619.99 ($649.99 minus $30 for the XFX board).

After Nvidia’s adjustment, we should see Monday prices going down to $359.99 for GTX 260 cards and to $559.99 for GTX 280 cards. Please note that we are not including the possibility for additional rebates that may be offered. For example, if you purchase PNY's GTX 280 from Newegg.com, you currently pay 569.99. After price cut, this might dip down to $479-499, lowering the price below $500 mark.

It appears that we might end up with permanent price brackets at $199, $299, $399 and $499. This would greatly simplify the search for the best possible graphics card at a certain point. Also, this opens the battlefield between single and multi-GPU setups: Could two boards for $199 provide more value than a single $399 or $499 card?

We are sure, hardware review websites are going to find out.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:48 am
10 years ago in gaming: From Wikipedia in Gaming
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_in_...#Notable_releases

Notable Released:
Hardware:
Wikipedia Index:


1997 in video gaming1999 in video gaming
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:44 am
CrossfireX: 2560x1600 gameplay becomes a reality in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
“AMD ATI Radeon4850/4870 CrossfireX” review at Guru3D. Hilbert’s lost it again – high poweredgraphics have that effect on him... Anyway, what’s come to light, lately, isthe high power consumption of the 4800 series (now double-up on the cards andimagine), and the irregular driver performance. You can see a broad spectrum ofresults, but when Hilbert gets CrossfireX to work, it works great. But do putthings in perspective when reading: with the latest generation of graphics cardsworking in dual-GPU setups, you’ll be looking at buying a 30-inch LCD for2560x1600 gameplay.Readit here.
XS Reviews is cracking open the Zalman GS1000 computer case, targeted at justabout anyone who wants to build a supercomputer at home. It supports E-ATX andvery long PCI cards and has hot-swappable bays for HDDs. Lots of space inside,if you’re “just” using a standard ATX mobo, but the panels are a bit dodgy,thinks the author. Not a snip at £100, but if Zalman could swap out those panelswith something better, they’d have a winner.Readon.
A few years ago we were hack-napped off to a press conference abroad just tosee how Philips would conquer the world of mobile telephony. Some 18 monthslater, Philips withdrew from the market, unable to compete with the big namesand (our personal opinion) mostly due to their utterly rubbish user interface.Now Philips is reviving the brand (Xenium 9@9) in China with the brand new X800.ePrice in Taiwan has the review. The X800 is a full touchscreen design (no, youwon’t have nightmares about the old Xeniums) and it looks like something out ofHTC’s workshop, to be honest. Careful when reading the page, it didn’t play nicewithGooglenglish,but you’ll get the gist (and the photos).
Andrew at Tweak Town took some time to write a guide on how to replace theheatspreaders on your RAM. Naturally it’s one of the warranty-voiding themes,but if you’re in need of improving cooling, it’s a necessary evil. Andrewsoutlines three basic methods to do this (hot, cold, lukewarm), but it all comesdown to be REALLY careful with sharp metallic objects in close proximity of aPCB.Letloose the mad aussie scientist in you.
T-break had a party with the ECS P45T-A Black Edition. ECS isn’t really knownas a top grade mobo maker, but it doesn’t fall behind the competition featurewise with this one. The board supports Crossfire, but it’ll break down the lanesinto 2x8 as per the P45 specs, but when you try your hand at an overclock, Abbasthinks you’ll be left wanting. The “Black Edition” brings to mind ideas ofmodding, overclocking and serious tweaking. That isn’t the case, it seems. Goodprice, tho’.Readon.
Tosh has hit the Portégè brand with its shrink ray and launched the G810.It’s no longer a notebook, as it were, it’s a Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone witheverything touchscreen. It’s targeted at the same market as the HTC TouchCruise, but you really can’t avoid comparing the details with the iPhone. It’sHSDPA enabled and even includes GPS functionality. The only real thing goingagainst it is the slow speed of the image capture (slow flash, we guess). $550will buy you one.Readthe review here.
Hardware Zone is gobsmacked by Gigabyte’s most extreme P45 mobo – the aptlynamed GA-EP45T-EXTREME. This board has it all, it seems, even a waterblock onthe northbridge that runs liquid cooling to the southbridge and the rows ofcapacitors. It also allows you to stick in 3 ATI cards and is populated by abevy of LEDs that alert you about your overclocking misdeeds. It’s only apreview, butit’stasty.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:42 am
Microsoft responds to Xbox 360 Elite rumours in Gaming
Microsoft has today responded to a number of misleading stories in the UK's mainstream pressearlier this week regarding alleged 'red ring' problems with the Xbox360 Elite console that have been experienced by numerous UK gamers.
Microsoft has now issued the following official response to these stories, which appeared in the Daily The Mirror and The Daily Telegraph:  
"Recentreports in the UK media regarding Xbox 360 contain inaccuracies andpure speculation, as well as news that is a year old.
"Promptedby what Microsoft viewed as an unacceptable number of repairs to Xbox360 consoles, a year ago Microsoft announced an expansion of its Xbox360 warranty. Effective 5 July, 2007, any original retail Xbox 360customer who experiences a general hardware failure indicated by threeflashing red lights is covered by a three year warranty from date ofpurchase, with all other issues remaining covered by the standardone-year warranty."
Why the red ring?
Microsoft'sofficial statement also reiterates the company's initial comments fromJuly 2007 that they had "conducted extensive investigations intopotential sources of general hardware failures," and that after"identifying a number of factors which can cause the general hardwarefailures, Microsoft has made improvements to the console."
Sowhat do those evil three red lights actually mean? Many reports seem tothink that they indicate a single overheating problem, but according toMicrosoft, this is not the case.
"The three flashing red lightserror message does not signal a single issue and can be caused by acombination of factors. For competitive reasons, we do not providespecifics about hardware components.
The statement adds: "Weencourage anyone who is experiencing issues with their Xbox 360 consoleto call the customer support centre. Our customer service team is wellequipped to ensure that all Xbox 360 repairs go smoothly."
No endemic problem
TechRadarhas contacted The Mirror, The Telegraph and a number of leading UKgames retailers to find out more on the alleged 'numerous problems'with the Xbox Elite.
Both stories quote a 16-year-old Jamie Kingfrom Sussex. If you happen to know or be that James King from Sussex,then please drop us a line to news@techradar.com and tell us more aboutthe problems you have had with your Xbox 360 Elite.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:39 am
Games Industry Movers: Trion, 38 Studios, Kongregate & M in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
his past week, 38 Studios (the developer founded by Red Sox pitcherCurt Schilling) announced that Thom Ang was appointed Director of Art.He will oversee the direction and management of 38 Studios' artisticdevelopment, including the MMOG codenamed Copernicus, whileworking closely with Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore. Ang willreport to Vice President of Creative Development, Scott Cuthbertson.
"38 Studios' creative teams have been meticulously crafting thesignature look and feel for our upcoming MMOG over the past 18 months,"said Brett Close, CEO and president. "Thom's extraordinary talent andexperience will be key in driving the vision and quality of our OnlineEntertainment Experience."
Ang has been working as a director for notable franchises and brandsfor over 15 years. He's worked as a senior artist at DisneyInteractive, working on titles like Toy Story II and Tarzan. Ang also created illustrations for TV shows, including The X-Files and was a storyboard artist for Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star TV Animation programs, which include Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles and Max Steel.He then moved on to be art director at EA LA, where he headed up artproduction, team management and visual concept development for the Medal of Honor franchise. In his last position, Ang was art director at THQ, managing more than 25 titles.
"38 Studios is absolutely committed to the next evolution of MMOGs, andevery team member has great pride in the value of what they do,"remarked Ang. "I am excited to contribute to this vision and become apart of an extraordinary team."
Lisa Jablonsky - Kongregate
Kongregate announced this past Friday that Lisa Jablonsky will open thecompany's New York ad sales office. She will work with Kongregate'sChief Revenue Officer Lee Uniacke to secure high-profile advertisingpartnerships based on the site's reach and appeal to young men, ages 13- 34.
"With high user engagement and a growth rate of over 25 percent monthover month, Kongregate provides the ideal medium for advertisers tryingto reach this hard-to-pin-down demographic," stated Uniacke. "As webuild our sales force to address these opportunities, Lisa's proventrack record in developing successful partnerships across a range ofyouth-driven digital consumer brands will add tremendously to theexpertise of our team."
Jablonsky has worked in the New York advertising scene for 21 years andshe was as an early proponent of the digital advertising arena. Amongher projects, she has conceptualized and implemented ground-breakingfilm contests for Intel and Kohl's, and created one of the first mobilecontests for Alltel. Jablonsky helped create games for McAfee Softwareand the National Guard, as well as construct an editorial integrationprogram for Coke's NBA March Madness Flash game. She was most recentlyan account executive with MTV Networks, where she successfully droveadvertising and integrated sponsorships for Comedy Central,AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, and AtomFilms.
"Kongregate is an advertiser's dream as it attracts young men betterthan virtually any other site on the Web and puts them in a cool, edgyenvironment where our audience can really interact with their brand,"commented Jablonsky. "At over 3 million unique users today, a highgrowth rate, and just being named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 sitesfor 2008, we're on track to give advertisers the big reach that theyneed to effectively target the young male demographic this fall."
Trion World Network - Glen Van Datta
Trion World Network announced recently that Glen Van Datta has beenhired as Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of TrionWorld Network Austin. He will oversee day to day operations at Trion'sAustin studio and supervise all customer service, quality assurance,operations and other support activities with relation to the Trionplatform.
"Glen is a tremendous hire for Trion and an excellent addition to ourworld class technical organization", said Nicholas Beliaeff, VicePresident of Product Development & Head of Trion World Network SanDiego. "Glen's vision, leadership, and deep history maturing andproductizing compelling online game technology will help Trion take ourserver based game technology to the highest levels while helping us andour partners get to market more quickly."
Notably, Van Datta has worked for over 22 years in softwaredevelopment, including the past dozen in game development. He wasco-founder and Vice President of Engineering at RTIME, where he oversawthe development, design and testing of the RTIME SDK online, in-gameand player matching platform. Van Datta most recently worked at SCEA asDirector of Online Technology, where he oversaw a team of more than 80employees that developed SCE-RT SDK to enable online games for PS2, PS3and PSP games, including Singstar, Warhawk, Resistance, Home and GT5 Prologue.
"For more than 12 years I've believed that online games, online socialnetworks and online media distribution were the future ofentertainment," said Van Datta. "Trion's innovative, dynamic platformand content are the next generation in the online entertainment space."
IGN Entertainment – Jamie Berger
IGN Entertainment announced recently that senior vice president ofconsumer products and technology Jamie Berger will start overseeingbusiness development for the company. He will continue managing IGN'ssubscriptions, digital distribution, and e-commerce portfolio includingIGN's Direct2Drive and GameSpy Technologies.
Berger has over 16 years of professional brand management and marketingexperience from within the online gaming industry. He began hisprofessional career as an Account Manager with the NCR Corporation.Berger spent six years in the consumer products division of The WaltDisney Company before joining IGN Entertainment. He currently helpsextend the IGN brand by creating and leading partnerships thatdistribute content and drive revenue.
AMD - Emilio Ghilardi
AMD, which runs the ATI graphics card business, announced this pastweek that Emilio Ghilardi has been appointed senior vice president andgeneral manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He will beresponsible for all sales and marketing operations within EMEA,starting in mid-August 2008. Ghilardi will report to AMD chief salesofficer Gustavo Arenas.
"Emilio adds tremendous global sales and marketing leadership to AMD inEMEA which we expect to help strengthen and grow relationships with ourend-user customers, OEMs and distribution partners," said Arenas.
Ghilardi comes to AMD from HP, where he started as vice president ofConsumer PC Clients in EMEA. He then moved on to be vice president andgeneral manager of Commercial Hardware within the Imaging and PrintingGroup. Ghilardi was most recently vice president and general manager ofHP's EMEA Consumer Business Unit, managing the business for consumerPCs and Imaging and Printing products.
AMD added that Alberto Macchi, corporate vice president of Sales andMarketing for EMEA, is departing the company "to pursue newopportunities."
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution - Jacqueline Jourdain Hayes
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) recently announced thatJacqueline Jourdain Hayes has been named Senior Vice President Businessand Legal Affairs. She will manage legal issues around new digitalbusiness models (such as distribution of Warner properties on Xbox Liveand elsewhere) globally, oversee the negotiation of Warner Bros.video-on-demand and electronic sell-through licenses across multipledigital platforms, and provide legal counsel to the Company's seniormanagement on the acquisition, distribution and protection of contentfor digital platforms and other digital initiatives.
"Jackie has been working on our digital business for quite some time,her expertise in this area is unparalleled," said Clarissa Weirick,General Counsel, WBDD. "The digital business is still one of thoseareas where you are often making the rules as you go along, whichrequires someone like Jackie who is confident and creative innegotiating this new terrain. We are extremely fortunate to have hercontinued expertise as our digital business moves ahead."
Hayes has worked as an Associate in the Corporate Departments of TroopMeisinger Steuber & Pasich in Los Angeles, of Goulston and Storrs,P.C. in Boston, and of Moses & Singer in New York City. She joinedWarner Home Video in 1998 as Counsel, and was promoted to VicePresident Business and Legal Affairs of WHV in 2000. Hayes joined theWarner Bros. Digital Distribution division in July 2006.
TC Digital Games – Andi Smithers
Recently, TC Digital Games announced that it appointed Andi Smithers tothe new position of Director of Technical Development. He will overseedevelopment of the company's digital services, including mediatechnology and format strategy as well as interoperability of digitalservices and devices.
"Andi joins our team at a pivotal moment in the evolution of Chaoticand TC Digital," said Bryan C. Gannon, President and CEO of TC DigitalGames. "He will become an integral part of our efforts to enhance theChaotic online experience and further develop our digital services.Andi's expertise in developing technology, his extensive background increating computer game software and his vision for emerging technologymake him a perfect fit to lead this innovative game play convergence."
Smithers has held several executive roles and technical positionsthroughout his 20-year career, having worked for Microsoft, Activision,Psygnosis, LucasArts, and Midway. He was most recently with Sony OnlineEntertainment where he served as Senior Engineer in the Research andDevelopment group. Smithers pushed advanced physics and graphicstechnologies forward to ensure their quality and was responsible foroverseeing the strategy and development for a cloth simulator.
Microsoft – Michael Delman
As we previously reported, Microsoft this past week appointed MichaelDelman to the position of corporate vice president of global marketingfor the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) in the Entertainmentand Devices Division. He takes over the role for Jeff Bell who left thecompany earlier this month. Read more about the move here.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:42 am
Revealed: Sony's future plans for PS3, PSP and TV in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"This is not your father's Sony", sums up what Howard Stringer has done at Sony since taking over the reins in 2005.
TheWales-born CEO was underlining the challenge that the company now facesin the digital age, as he led the Japanese giant's corporate strategybriefing in Tokyo today.
In the absence of any attention-grabbingnew hardware announcements, most headlines are likely to go to Sony'spledge to increase revenues in the PC, Blu-ray-related and componentsbusinesses.
Game plan
Stringer said thatSony would build these into "trillion-yen businesses" by FY2010,putting them alongside the core business units of TVs, digital imaging,gaming and mobile phones. One trillion yen is currently worth around£4.7 billion.
Although gaming is a traditional Sony strength, thedivision is mired in red ink after the costly development and launch ofthe PlayStation 3. Addressing that, the CEO promised to bring it toprofit by March next year.
Stringer also outlined plans to investclose to £9 billion in new technology in a concerted drive to becomethe world leader in LCD televisions within three years. Beyond that,the assembled execs wouldn't be drawn on precise numbers or revenuetargets.
Mobile content
Although he didn't address recent speculation about the possibility of a PSP phone or the stability of the Sony Ericsson joint venturethat produces mobile phones, Stringer did emphasise that such handsetswould continue to be sold and that "Sony music and pictures content[would be] embedded in all key Sony Ericsson product lines."
As expected, there was no discussion on life after Blu-ray– the so-called 'death of disk'. However, a hint of how quickly onlinedistribution will move centre-stage came in the news that SonyPictures' summer blockbuster, Hancock, will be made available exclusively to all internet-connect Bravia televisions in the US before its DVD release.
Movie download service
The movie theme resurfaced in a presentation from Kaz Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, with the news that the long-anticipated film download service would finally reach the online PlayStation Network this year.
Hiraiconfirmed that US users would get first crack at PS3 movie downloads inlate summer, with Europe and Japan to follow by year's end. He addedthat full details would be announced at E3 in LA next month and thatboth standard- and high-definition titles would be available.
       
Virtual world
Warmingto the theme, Hirai added, "Please expect more from our evolvingPlayStation business." That evolution will also include themuch-delayed PlayStation Home virtual world, which Hirai demonstrated,along with new dynamic in-game advertisements that change according tothe context.
The littlest PlayStation also featured prominently,with the PSP being positioned as an interactive extension of the PS3console, as well as a tool for accessing the PlayStation Store for gamedownloads and, possibly, feature films at some undisclosed point.
Hirai's presentation concluded with something of a surprise in a new network service called Life With PlayStation.The rough demo showed a view of the Earth from space, which rotated toreveal location-related news items, reminiscent of similar services onNintendo's Wii.
Innovator and creator
Returningto the podium to sum up, Stringer emphasised his firm's creative skillsand took aim at a company many see as having inherited the Sony mantleas innovator supreme.
"We have products to get excited about [including] OLED TVs, Rolly, CyberShot smile detection and the new Bravias.
"Appleis a boutique company, but we're a large conglomerate. We recently cameout number one in a poll by Incite on innovative companies, just aheadof Apple. I rest my case."
Whether or not that's overstating thecase, Stringer's confidence in the once-troubled company is almosttangible, leaving little room for doubt that Sony is back and that itmeans business.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:41 am
Why the PC is the future (from VALVE) [FEATURE] in Gaming
When Valve summoned a handful of US and UK journalists to itsSeattle headquarters at the end of last month, it promised to talkabout the future of Steam, its digital distribution system. That itdid, revealing the ambitious Steam Cloud service for remote storage of game data, and boasting that it would soon be making more money selling games digitally, all the while remaining untroubled by piracy.
Valvemastermind Gabe Newell and his cohorts had an ulterior motive forbringing reporters together, however, and unusually for an ulteriormotive, it wasn't a wholly self-interested one. It was this: toevangelise the PC as the games platform of the future.
"Thisreally should be done by a company like Intel or Microsoft, somebodywho's a lot more central to the PC," says Newell, pointing out thatcompanies like Blizzard, PopCap and GameTap would have just as much tosay as Valve about how PC gaming is leading innovation in technology,business models, and community-building. But, notwithstandingMicrosoft's occasional promotionof Games For Windows - an initiative Newell refrains from attackingdirectly, but exudes disdain for - that support has not beenforthcoming.
Where console platforms have merciless andwell-funded PR armies poised to combat any criticism, negative storiesabout the PC - mostly publishers, or developers like Crtyek,complaining of rampant piracy and flat sales - run unimpeded. Salesdata that focuses solely on boxed copies sold at retail appear to backthem up. Valve has had enough. "There's a perception problem," saysNewell. "The stories that are getting written are not reflecting whatis really going on."



You want figures? There are 260 million online PC gamers, a marketthat dwarfs the install base of any console platform, online oroffline. Each year, 255 million new PCs are made; not all of them forgaming, it's true, but Newell argues that the enormous capitalinvestment and economies of scale involved in this huge market ensurethat PCs remain at the cutting edge of hardware development, andconsoles their "stepchildren", in connectivity and graphics technologyespecially. Meanwhile, Valve's business development guru, JasonHoltman, notes that without the pressure of cyclical hardware cycles,PC gaming projects - he points to Steam as an example - can groworganically, over long periods of time, and with no ceiling whatsoeverto their potential audiences.

More pertinent, perhaps, are thefigures directly relating to games revenue that the retail charts -admittedly a stale procession of Sims expansions and under-performingconsole ports - don't pick up. "If you look into the future, there's animportant transition that's about to happen, and it's going to happenon the PC first," says Newell.

At its heart, he explains, is a shift from viewing games as aphysical product, to viewing them as a service - something that is alsohappening in other entertainment media. Digital distribution is part ofthat; more fluid and varied forms of game development, with games thatchange and engage their communities of players over time, are another;as is, naturally, the persistence and subscription (or otherwise)revenues of MMO games. None of this is reflected in the sales chartsanalysts, executives - and gamers - obsess over.
Valve sees 200per cent growth in these alternative channels - not just Steam, butincluding the likes of cyber-cafes as well - versus less than 10 percent in bricks-and-mortar shop sales. Steam has a 15 million-strongplayer-base with 1.25 million peak concurrent users, and 191 per centannual growth; none too far off a console platform in itself. The PCcasual games market, driven by the likes of PopCap, has gone from nextto nothing to USD 1.5 billion dollar industry in under ten years, andhas doubled in size in just three. Perhaps most surprisingly, Valve hasfound that digital distribution doesn't cannibalise retail sales - infact, a free Day of Defeat weekend on Steam created more new retailsales than online ones.


And then there is the game that many claim has been the death of PCgaming, but that Valve sees as its greatest success story, and itsfuture. "Until recently, the fact that World of Warcraft was generating120 million dollars in gross revenue on a monthly basis was completelyoff the books," Newell says. "Essentially, [Blizzard is] creating a newIron Man every month, in terms of the gross revenue they're generatingas a studio. Any movie studio would be shouting about that from therooftops. But it was essentially invisible."
Newell thinks thatWOW is "arguably the most valuable entertainment franchise in any mediaright now", and also believes, rightly, that it could only ever havehappened on the PC. He also tips his hat to South Korea's Nexxon forits enormous success with free-to-play, microtransaction-driven gameslike Kart Rider and Maple Story, soon to be aped by EA's BattlefieldHeroes.

There is another reason for the gulf between theperception and the reality of the games market, Valve thinks, and it'sa geographical and linguistic one. The dominance of the Englishlanguage gives the US and UK games markets, where the PC is weakest,undue prominence. In several major Western markets - notably Germanyand the Nordic countries - the PC performs much better. What's more, inthe emerging markets of China, Korea and Russia, where gaming is seeingunprecedented, explosive growth, console install bases are negligible,and the PC is king. Valve thinks that there's a silent majority ofglobal gamers who are skipping the console era entirely, the way thesedeveloping nations already skipped dial-up internet.

Steam isavailable in 21 languages for this reason, and Valve reckons that itsspeedy localisation and lack of physical distribution is an effectivecounter to the piracy common in these markets. It's also allowing Valveto get games to players in regions traditional channels don't support."PC's are everywhere in the world," says Holtman simply. "PC's are thesame all over the world. All of sudden, if you can open up emergingmarkets and go somewhere like Russia or South East Asia, you've goneway further than you can go with a closed console. There are 17 millionPC gaming customers in Russia alone."

A key shift in this brave new world of games as services rather thanproducts - and one that runs contrary to the traditional image of PCgaming - is a move away from graphical fidelity being the yardstick ofprogress. "As a company that's really proud of the job we do withgraphics it's funny to say this," Newell says, "but we get a betterreturn right now by focusing on those features and technologies thatare about community, about connecting people together."
He citeseasy uploading of gameplay videos to YouTube as a bigger source ofentertainment value than marginal improvements in graphics. "I thinkthat people thinking about how to generate web hits on their serversare a lot closer to the right mentality for what's going to besuccessful in entertainment going forward, than somebody that's used tohaving conversations about how to get end caps at Best Buy."
Therevolution in distribution and business models also offers a major newopportunity for smaller games - and smaller games developers - tothrive. The demands of retail - the logistical problems of gettingboxes to shops, and the budgetary drain of huge marketing campaigns -mean that bigger is necessarily better in the traditional games market.
Notso on Steam and its equivalents, says Valve, pointing to the hugesuccess of indie darling Audiosurf, as well as its own Portal. "As youmove away from that huge first weekend, big blockbuster mentality,"says Newell, "you're getting back to an area where smaller and smallergroups can connect with customers. I think you're going to find thatthe enjoyment of being in the game industry as a developer on the PC isa lot greater than outside of it."

He's backed up by an actual indie, Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer.This one-man development, created without financial backing -impossible on consoles, due to the cost of development kits - was thebest-selling game on Steam full-stop at its release, outclassing manybig-budget titles. "I didn't have to ask anybody if I could release it,except for my wife," Fitterer says. "It took a few years, and I waspretty darn tired by the time it was ready. Something likecertifications? No thanks." He also points out the tight limitations ofconsole servers versus PC servers for online gaming; Audiosurf'sscoreboard for every song ever recorded would be out of the question ona closed platform.
Holtman argues that Steam and Steamworks - thesuite of free tools it offers - revolutionise the environment fordevelopers and publishers. The auto-updating system means that a gamecan be developed right up to release and beyond. It eases painfulcrunch times, and allows game makers to respond to their audiences,publishers to develop their titles as continuously evolving franchisesrather than finite products.
"All of a sudden, PC games becomethis thing that's reliable and up-to-date," says Holtman. Team Fortress2 designer Robin Walker weighs in, noting that the PC version of theshooter has had no less than 53 updates since its release last year -something that certification cost and time have prohibited for onconsole - and that this "ship continuously" ethos is a key component tothe success of the best multiplayer titles. Steam, he says, makes thatprocess fast and transparent.
"I don't want anyone between me andmy customers," says Walker. "I want to write code today and I want allmy customers running it tomorrow." Possible on the PC - Steam inparticular, naturally. Not possible on consoles. For his part, Fittereradded achievements to Audiosurf in a total of two days. This constantiteration creates a feedback loop between developer and customer that,reckons Walker, can only improve the quality of the game. "The more Italk to my customers, the better my decisions will be. Without a systemof talking to my customers, I will make bad decisions."

The implication is a striking one: sporadic, excessively controlledupdating means that console multiplayer games will never reach theheights of their PC counterparts. There is a counter-argument - that PCgames descend into a poorly-defined, indistinct mess of constantpatching - but it is effectively squashed by the fact that, if you lookfor a multiplayer game with the longevity and massive popularity of aWOW or a Counter-Strike on console, you won't find one (with the veryarguable exception of Halo).
Auto-updating is the reason Valvecreated Steam in the first place. It's the reason it now finds itselfin an odd position for a developer: semi-publisher, leadingdistributor, market analyst, agony uncle and technocrat - not tomention defender of a platform that's still being proclaimed dead, whenall signs point to the very opposite.
At the end of the day, PCgaming's health - and its trickiest challenge - comes down to a bottomline that even the format's detractors can't refute: there are just somany of the damn things. "We think the number of connected PC gamers weare selling our products to dwarf the current generation of consolesput together," states Newell. "There are tremendous opportunities infiguring out how to reach out to those customers.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:22 am
Microsoft To Let Other Companies make 360 Consoles like PCs in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
Nuts nuts, yes? Probably. But at least think about it. It's not likesuch a move would be without precedent. You could purchase Sega CDdrives for PCs. Panasonic released the Q, a Japan-only GameCube thatdoubled as a DVD player. And we've heard whispers that Microsoft have alsobeen exploring the idea of releasing 360-compatible disc drives for thePC. Not that any of that makes the prospect of seeing, say, a SamsungXbox 360/Blu-Ray player any more likely (as the rumour seems tosuggest), but hey, crazier things have happened.
Quote:

We'll tell you what's up with Microsoft: new hardware options. It may sound totally insane — trust us, we did a double-take the first time Qmann whispered it in our ears — but word has it that Microsoft may begin allowing third-party manufacturers to create Xbox 360 hardware. And we're not talking about peripherals, people; we mean hardware that runs 360 game discs created by someone other than Microsoft.

Quartermann
Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:45 am
25 rarest Nintendo games ever in Gaming
We could've filled the entire list withantique Game & Watch titles alone (they're manna from heaven forcollectors), but for the sake of balance here's a list of some of themost valuable games across Nintendo's entire portfolio.


So before you throw out any 'junk' boxes from the loft, best check they don't contain any of these 25 rare classics.


Harvest Moon (SNES, US) - £60
The SNES version of Harvest Moon is still considered the best amongfans of the whimsy-heavy farming/courting sim. It doesn't come up veryoften on eBay, and when it does you can expect to pay at least £60 fora good boxed copy. The N64 version was released soon after, accountingfor the SNES game's initial lack of popularity.


Banjo-Tooie (SNES, PAL) - £60
Rare's first Banjo-Kazooie game was extremely popular, but Banjo 2 gotstuck in development and ended up coming out towards the end of theN64's lifespan. Although you may be able to pick up a copy cheaper, agood boxed version will set you back at least £50, and sealed copieshave been known to go for as much as £100. You'll probably see theseprices rise when more news of Banjo-Kazooie 3 on Xbox 360 emerges.


Dracula X (SNES, US) - £70
The final Castlevania game released on SNES wasn't as popular asprevious iterations, but the series has gained great cachet with gamersmore recently, especially since prices for Castlevania: Symphony Of TheNight skyrocketed on PS1. Dracula X is unlikely to go down in value.


Sin & Punishment (N64, jpn) - £70
While the version released on Virtual Console has adversely affectedthe original's price, this N64 classic is still a jewel in the crownfor any Nintendophile. This Treasure shooter was designed for the N64analogue stick and is always best played on its host hardware. A goodinvestment and a collectable game you'll actually bring out from timeto time.

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja (GameCube, PAL) - £75
Although it's worth very little in America and Japan, the PAL releaseof Naruto Clash Of Ninja didn't see wide distribution and it's beenknown to fetch up to £75 on eBay. Expect other GameCube titles such asChibi-Robo and Baten Kaitos to increase in price because of theirlimited numbers.


Earthbound (SNES, US) - £80
This Japanese hit was released in the US but failed to make much of animpression. Now it's lauded for its RPG in-jokes and humorous take onAmerican culture. Again, rumours abound that EarthBound is to bere-released on Virtual Console, which may bring the price down on thisUS import.


Paper Mario (N64, PAL) - £80
Another rare PAL gem. Though Paper Mario continues to be one of themost popular titles on Wii's Virtual Console, collectors will stillfork out good money for this great mix of platforming and puzzling inits original guise. Until recently, copies of this SNES classic couldstill be found in many second-hand game stores.


Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh - (N64, jpn) - £80
If you thought the Dreamcast version of Bangai-O was good, you shouldcheck out the original N64 version with its sublime analogue controls.Only 10,000 copies were released in Japan and it's been going up inprice ever since. Find a mint, boxed copy and you'll have collectorsknocking your door down.


Chrono Trigger (SNES, US) - £90
Chrono Trigger isn't rare by any standards - indeed, thousands ofcopies are on the market. However, the game is so good, and has builtup such a reputation, that people are willing to pay upwards of £100for a sealed, boxed SNES copy. You can even get it as part of FinalFantasy Chronicles for PS1, but still the collectors pay big money forit. Rarity isn't really the main consideration, we guess.

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Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES, US) - £150
Even though this comprises all three of the Ninja Gaiden games releasedon NES with a graphical update, it didn't sell very well when it firstcame out in 1995. But since the next-generation Ninja Gaiden games werereleased, Tecmo's star has risen, enhancing the price of this cartconsiderably.


Final Fight 3 (SNES, PAL) - £180
The PAL version of Final Fight 3 is a hidden treasure waiting tohappen. Let's face it, unless you're a collector you're unlikely toknow its true value and this is your best chance of picking up a gem atthe local car boot sale. A naked cart is probably only worth £40, butif you can find a good boxed copy then you're likely to achieve £180 to£200. And it's a decent game, too, containing two extra characters inDean and Lucia Morgan.


Space Invaders (Virtual Boy, jpn) - £200
A good boxed copy of Space Invaders on Virtual Boy can now fetch £200.It's notable because it's one of the better games on the system, and solong as you don't play it too much (giving yourself a much-warned-aboutmigraine) you'll get some fun out of it. Virtual Boy games have shot upin price in the last five years and this trend doesn't look likeabating. It may be a good investment for the future...

The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (NES, US) - £200

As the NES drew to the end of its lifespan, publishers began releasingtheir games exclusively to game rental companies, bypassing traditionalgame shops. The Flintstones II is typical of this, and although it's alittle easier to track down in Europe than elsewhere, it can stilldemand high prices. United States copies can go for £200, thoughfinding ex-rental games in good condition is like finding a joke in anepisode of My Family.

<!--[bigpic]--> Starfox Super Weekend/Donkey Kong Country Competition Carts (SNES, US) - £200

These two separate carts were manufactured specifically for use inBlockbuster in-store competition promotions. Only about 2,500 were madeof each but they were initially sold off in stores for a knock-downprice. Because of their rarity you can expect to see them sell on eBayfor around £200, depending on what kind of condition they're in.


Rendering Ranger R2 (Super Famicom, JPN) - £200
This run-and-gun classic came from the makers of Turrican, so Lordknows why a game of such pedigree was only released in Japan. It'sunusual for a rare game in that it's actually very playable today. Acart-only copy might still sell for £80, but find it boxed and completeyou're looking at a sum of £200.

Fire Emblem Thracia 776 Collectors' pack (Super Famicom, JPN) - £200

Thracia may sound like a disease you'd pick up in a Bulgarian brothelbut this is actually a super-rare Fire Emblem collectors' pack. As itwas only released in Japan in limited numbers, you're unlikely to findit at the local car boot, but it shows that you should always keep youreye out for limited edition releases - and keep all the gubbins thatcomes with them.


Bubble Bath Babes (NES, US) - £250
Panesian was a company that produced several adult titles for the NES,including Peek-A-Boo Poker, Hot Slots and Bubble Bath Babes. Forobvious reasons the games didn't get Nintendo's seal of approval andended up being distributed via mail order catalogues or rental shelves,hence their scarcity. Interestingly, they didn't come in NES boxes butVHS-style cartons, so many are still undetected. The limited graphicsmake the sauciness factor rubbish, though.

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Mountain Bike/Speed Racer Combo (SNES, US) - £300
This SNES combo underlines the fact that combining two or more gamesonto one cart for a limited print run is always going to have raritypotential. Good boxed copies have generally only come out of Nintendo'sown warehouses and if you can find one with the strange LifeFitnessBike peripheral then you're looking at a price in excess of £1,000.It's a cart that will always go up in value, but it's worth around £300today.


Myriad six in one (NES, US) - £350
This is the rarest unlicensed NES game and consists of six titles:Bookyman, Adam And Eve, Cosmos Cop, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monsterand Porter. Its rarity is due to the fact that Myriad Games put outfewer than 1,000 carts and they were individually numbered. Gamescollectors speculate that there are only 100 left in existence, butonly 15 have ever surfaced.


Virtual Bowling (Virtual Boy, JPN) - £400
Only 22 games were ever released on Virtual Boy, although somecollectors believe there could be rare prototypes hidden away thatdidn't make it to retail. Virtual Bowling is actually a pretty goodbowling sim, offering practice and tournament modes, but the lack of asave battery means your scores are wiped when you switch off.Fortunately, passwords save the day. Not to be mistaken for Nester'sFunky Bowling, which is much more common.

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Flagman (Game & Watch) - £450
There are plenty of rare Game & Watch titles we could have listed,including the obvious competition-only Super Mario Bros YM-901 (justtrips off the tongue), or the eminently collectable The Legend Of ZeldaGame & Watch, but it's likely to be the less well known titles thatwill surface down at your local flea market. A boxed Flagman could bagyou a small fortune.


Stadium Events (NES, US) - £500
Though common in PAL territories, Stadium Events is one of the NES'smost collectable games in America. Although it's a terribly averagefitness game, its value is due to Bandai printing a test run of thegame that was sold in Woolworths stores for a very short period beforeNintendo bought the rights. Rumours suggest there are only 10 completecopies on the market, and even unboxed Stadium Events carts can sellfor £400.


Virtual Lab (Virtual Boy, jpn) - £500
It's all too easy to look back on the Virtual Boy debacle and laugh,especially at the poor souls who thought it looked cool to wear a pairof heavy, red goggles and bellow, 'come on Mario, you can do it!'. Butwho's laughing now? Some Virtual Boy games are fetching massive prices,including this J-Wing developed Japanese puzzle game. The fact'Nintendo' is charmingly spelt 'Nintenndo' on the back of the box onlyadds to its value.


Balloon Fight Crystal (Game & Watch) - £600
This has to be one of the rarest Game & Watch titles, and boxed,good condition units have been known to fetch up to £600. Releasedtowards the end of the series' run for the Crystal Screen range,Balloon Fight's simple gameplay is reminiscent of Williams' Joust andhas since gone on to make an appearance in Animal Crossing.
Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:36 am
nVidia turning it's GPU's into 'PhysX Physics Processors' in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
3D card manufacturers shouldn't take this the wrong way, but ittakes a lot to make us crawl out of the communal Eurogamer bed (yes,all the Eurogamer writers share a single large bed - we do it forfrugality and communality, which remain our watchwords) and go to ahardware presentation. There's a nagging fear someone may talk maths atus and we'd come home clutching the local equivalent of magic beans.And then we'll be laughed at by our fellow writers and made to sleep inthe chilly end where the covers are thin and Tom left dubious stains.That's no fun at all.
Then again, there's some things you can'thelp but go and have a gawk at. So when an invite claims, "All toooften new hardware brings with it a small performance increase - maybea 5-10 percent over the previous fastest thing. Wouldn't it be far moreexciting to see a speed increase of x20 or even x100... well, we'll behappy to show just that on Friday," you have wander along. Even thoughyou suspect it may be a trap and they're going to attack you withill-shaped blades, you have to find out what on earth they're talkingabout.
As we suspected, it wasn't quite what we were hoping for.Sure, there are programs which gain a x100 increase via the methodsNVIDIA talks about on this particular Friday, but unless you're workingin economics or astrophysics modelling, it's not exactly that relevant.However, something more quietly astounding was explained. Mainly, thatdespite the fact that no-one you know bought a PhysX card, if you're aPC gamer with a relatively recent NVIDIA card, you've already got one.Or, at least, you will soon. Spooks.

Get him!

The primary idea NVIDIA was trying to push was Optimised PC - the approach discussed in Rob Fahey's interview with Roy Taylorthe other day. The idea being that the traditional PC approach whereyou buy the fastest PC processor you can doesn't actually lend the bestresults, at least in most situations. If you spent more on -predictably - a GPU-driven 3D card, for an increasing number of areas,you're going to get much higher performance. If the program is usingthe GPU in a meaningful way, anyway. NVIDIA highlights areas likeimage-processing and HD video-encoding, as well as - natch! - games.You lose in single-threaded activities - like, say, just booting up aprogram - but they argue a small loss in opening a Word Document isless noticeable than frames in games or similar.
Where it startsgetting interesting is NVIDIA's development language, CUDA. The problemwith all the threading programming methods is that it's radicallydifferent to single-threading (and, yes, we're getting into, "Why wouldanyone care about this but a programmer?" territory, but its backgroundfor the key point later). It's hard to do, and CUDA is basically a wayto make things more accessible.
NVIDIA claims anyone experiencedin C or C++ will be able to get a grip on it (i.e. not us, but theaforementioned programmers). This means that anyone who codes in CUDAcan program the GPU to do pretty much whatever they like; it's byturning the 3D card into a bank of processors that the financialanalysts and the astrophysics guys are getting such impressive results.And impressive savings, as it's a lot cheaper to do it this way.

Now, NVIDIA claims that the fact GPU solutions are cheaper is goingto push better GPUs into more business machines. This will help pushthe idea that an okay CPU/good GPU machine gives better performancethan a good CPU/okay GPU, leading to more machines with better GPUs...and so, making more PCs abstractly available for gaming. Or, at least,raising the bottom level of hardware that you can expect people to have.
Interms of a more general use, transcoding video can take hours. Later inJuly, all GeForce 8000+ cards will ship with Elemental HD, a programwhich manages to perform the odious task - in the words of NVIDIA - "ina matter of minutes". The software will also be available for people todownload online, probably with a small fee ala Quicksave if theyalready have a GeForce card.
Point being: this CUDA malarkeyisn't something that's just for future NVIDIA technology. It'ssomething that allows the hardware many PC gamers already have to berepurposed.
For example, PhysX. NVIDIA's Physics 3D Card systemwas only supported in a minor fashion, as no-one would buy a card justto make explosions fancier, but with CUDA it can run on one of theother GPUs. A proportion of the 3D card's power can be given over torunning physics, giving those fancy PhysX-style interactions withoutactually having a specific card for it. CUDA's porting to PhysX willbecome available to the public in July, but developers already have thetools.

The Euphoria engine of Natual Motion. It's hard to illustrate this sort of thing.

You'llbe able to - for example - manually, up front, decide to devote aproportion of your 3D card's power to PhysX. Alternatively, developerscan commandeer it and do exactly the same thing. The new generation ofcards which are about to be announced are able to deal with pretty muchanything that exists on the highest setting with power left over, sothat power can be given over to acting like a 3D card would.
Andit goes further. Where previously you'd have just thrown out your old3D card when you upgraded your PC to a new one, if you have a G8000+ 3Dcard already, you can keep it, and just set it to concentrate solely ondoing PhysX tasks. This isn't a SLI situation where you need two of thesame cards working in tandem - any post-8880 card, rather than beingput out to digital pasture, can be given a job of deciding how bits ofglass bounce off a skyscraper, or similar. NVIDIA claims it's talkingto ATI to try and get them to use CUDA too, which.... well, we'll seethere, eh?
The potential is interesting. Demos shown include Natural Motion, whose Euphoria engineis heavily physics-dependent, allowing unique, convincing moments ingames. A straight collision isn't enough, as straight ragdolls areludicrous - the system involving AI (so the hit object will try andmove limbs to protect self and similar) leads to impressivelynaturalistic results. The first sign of this publicly was in GrandTheft Auto IV, but Natural Motion's own American football game, Backbreaker,is a fascinating example of what a physics-heavier approach tocollisions can give games. And, with CUDA-esque use of GPUs to do thisstuff, the PhysX related boon is accessible to even more of us.
So they did talk some maths, then, but we survived.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:11 pm
Evaluating your graphics card needs - Full iVirtua Guide in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
If you happen to have a friend or a family member who’s an expert oncomputer graphics cards, you’re in luck. Bring that person along withyou while you shop, and you’ll benefit from their experience.

If,on the other hand, you don’t have a game techno-wizard to call on—or,if you’d like to understand what you’re buying before you spend yourhard-earned cash—you’ve come to the right place. In this section, Ihelp you determine which graphics card features you need, includingimportant considerations such as video memory, the bus type, andexternal connectors.

Built-in versus add-on
Today’s PCs use two different types of graphics cards, and each has advantages and disadvantages:

Built-in cards.A graphics card in this category isn’t really a graphics adapter cardat all, because it’s actually integrated into the motherboard. Abuilt-in card doesn’t require an AGP slot or a PCI slot, so amotherboard with a built-in card can fit into a smaller case anddoesn’t take up a valuable slot. (This explains why graphics cards areoften built-in on computers that use thin workstation cases, which arecommonly called pizza box cases.) If you’re building a new PC, rememberthat a built-in graphics card is usually easier to configure than aseparate adapter—and integrated graphics cards tend to be lessexpensive than their removable counterparts. On the down side, anintegrated video card may not let you install additional video memory.

Separate adapter cards.
A graphics adapter occupies either an AGP or a PCI slot in yourcomputer. Naturally, a separate card is the choice of gamers who willbe upgrading their graphics hardware to keep up with the cutting-edge3D chipsets and visual effects in the latest video games. If yourgraphics adapter suddenly stops working and you need to replace it, aseparate graphics adapter card will ensure that you don’t have to sendback your entire motherboard for service or replacement, too.


Ifyou’re considering a graphics upgrade for your current motherboard andit has a built-in graphics card, you’re facing a brick wall (unless youcan add a daughter card, or disable the integrated card so that you canadd a PCI graphics card).

Understanding resolution and refresh rate

Askany computer power user—especially a gamer—what specifications are mostimportant in selecting a graphics card, and two figures are almostcertain to be included in the group: maximum resolution and maximumrefresh rate. In this section, I discuss both of these importantcriteria.

Resolution makes the graphics card
Resolutionbegins with the smallest unit displayed by your graphics card—a singledot, called a pixel. Pixels are the building blocks of every imagedisplayed on your monitor; they’re arranged in lines across yourscreen, and your graphics card controls each pixel individually forbrightness and color. For this reason, everyone expresses resolution asthe number of pixels displayed horizontally by the number of linesdisplayed vertically. For example, a resolution of 800 x 600 means thatthe monitor displays 800 pixels horizontally across the screen and 600pixels vertically.

Windows 98 still supports a minimumresolution of 640 x 480, and some games still use thisresolution—typically for big, bright graphics that don’t need a lot ofdetail, as in a casino game. However, almost all games that need finedetail—from role-playing games and strategy games to 3D first-persongames and simulations—now use resolutions of 800 x 600 or 1,024 x 768.Your desktop also benefits from a higher resolution, as you can displaymore of a larger document, Web page, image, or spreadsheet (or justmore program icons) on the screen at one time.

As you’veprobably already guessed, I would recommend that you keep your desktopset to a resolution of at least 800 x 600 (or, if your eyes don’t mind,1,024 x 768 is even better). If you can switch resolutions inside agame, you’ll probably find the resolution control in the Options orSetup screen; many games automatically set the resolution based on thespeed of your processor and the amount of video memory on your card.

The importance of the refresh rate
Whatis the refresh rate of a monitor, and why is it such a big deal forgamers? That’s a good question. But before I answer it, I need todescribe how your computer actually draws a video image on yourmonitor. (Don’t worry: I’ll try to keep this from getting boring.)

Agraphics card creates an image on your computer monitor by “painting”it with electrons—in fact, the image is emitted from a phosphorescentcoating that glows on the inside of the monitor tube. The coating glowswhen it’s hit with a stream of electrons from the electron emitter(commonly called an electron gun) at the back of the monitor; theseelectrons move across the inside surface of your monitor, one line at atime, from top to bottom.

However, while the electrons arefocused on another portion of the screen, the phosphorescent coating onthe area that’s already been painted starts to dim, and then thecoating stops glowing entirely. So the monitor must redraw the imageconstantly to keep it bright, as shown in

Asyou probably expected, the refresh rate (also called the vertical scanrate) of a graphics card-and-monitor combination refers to the numberof times per second that your computer redraws the image on themonitor. As a general rule, the higher the refresh rate, the better;although you can’t see it with your eyes, the majority of computersredraw each pixel on the monitor at least 65 times per second (giving arefresh rate of 65Hz). Resolution is also tied to refresh rate: Asresolution goes up (which uses more video memory), refresh rates willdrop accordingly.

Here’s the bad news: 65Hz isn’t enough for anyPC owner, especially gamers. A dedicated computer gamer needs a higherrefresh rate for several reasons:

A gamer can spendhours in front of a monitor, and a higher refresh rate reduceseyestrain for most people. Even though you may not be able to noticethe screen being redrawn, your eye can discern the difference between arefresh rate of 60Hz and 75Hz. The more times the screen is redrawnevery second, the more stable the image appears, and the less itbothers your eye.

Many games require higher resolutions in therange of 800 x 600 to 1,024 x 768, and higher resolutions generallylook better with a higher refresh rate.

Because an image is morestable at a higher frame rate, small details onscreen are easier todistinguish with a higher refresh rate.

A higher refresh rate reduces flicker in all of your games.


Therefore, keep these recommendations in mind when you’re shopping for a graphics card or monitor to use for gaming:

Ifyou’re shopping for a monitor, always try to find one in a local storeso that you can evaluate it with your own eyes: Specifications don’ttell the whole story. As a demonstration, run your favorite game on themonitor before you decide.

Always look for a graphics card andmonitor with a refresh rate of at least 75Hz. For most people, thehigher the refresh rate, the better the image; in fact, some expensivehigh-end graphics card-and-monitor combinations (commonly used forcomputer-aided drafting) can handle refresh rates of over 100Hz.However, I’ve met gamers and other computer owners who swear that theyprefer a lower refresh rate. Only your eye can make the decision, sotry out a monitor at 75Hz or 80Hz before you buy it.

Both yourmonitor and your graphics card must support the same refresh rate inorder for you to use it. Setting your monitor for a higher refresh ratethan recommended by the manufacturer can permanently damage it!(Windows 95 and 98 may alert you of this problem as well if you try toset your refresh rate too high.)

If your monitor and graphicscard have Windows 95 or 98 drivers, your computer can automatically setthe optimal refresh rate for your particular hardware combination. (Ofcourse, that’s “optimal” according to the manufacturer, so it may notsuit you perfectly. But at least it’s a good start.)


Unfortunately,there’s one problem with shopping for a card with a high refresh rate:This particular figure often isn’t mentioned! Most manufacturers don’tinclude a card’s refresh rate in their advertising, so it’s up to youto visit the company’s Web site and dig a little deeper. You’ll alsofind these benchmark figures mentioned in articles covering graphicshardware in gaming and computer magazines. Sometimes a little sleuthingcan make the difference between a good graphics-card choice and a greatchoice, so avoid the temptation to buy quickly. And turn a critical eyetoward those flashy graphics-card magazine advertisements.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:32 am
AMD delivers Xbox 360 graphics on handhelds in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
AMD claims that it can now achieve Xbox 360 quality graphics on a handheld system.
Engadgetreports that the company “has announced it has achieved Open GL ES 2.0mobile graphics technology compliance with hardware that cranks out thesame AMD Unified Shader Architecture as the Microsoft gaming console.”
AMD takes on Tegra
The new AMD graphics standard will go head to head with NVIDIA’s Tegra which also holds the promise of high-end gaming graphics on mobile and handheld platforms.
More mobile 360 rumours
Ofcourse, there has been ongoing rumour of a ‘mobile Xbox 360’ prettymuch since Microsoft launched the console, with Microsoft refusing tocomment on the constant speculation and rumour.
Might thislatest development mean that we could hear more on a mobile Xbox soonerrather than later? Who knows? Let (yet more) speculation and rumourbegin…
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:46 pm
TomTom SatNav software heading to iPhone in Entertainment, Film and Music, Mobile devices and media
TomTom hasprepared a version of its popular SatNav software to run on Apple’siPhone, which the company plans to release online via Apple’s AppStorein the near future.
Weighing up Apple strategy
TechRadarspoke with a TomTom UK rep this morning who told us that the companywas not concerned about TomTom software on iPhone ‘cannibalising’traditional sales of TomTom hardware.
“No, we feel that itcomplements what we already offer,” the rep told us. “Though we arelooking at Apple's strategy before we can say more."
Free Google Maps
So,no details yet on pricing or planned release date for TomTom on iPhone,but we will of course be sure to bring you all those details as soon aswe have them.
In the meantime you might just want to make towith the freely available 2D version of Google maps when you pick upyour shiny new, £100 iPhone on 9 July.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:27 pm
Nintendo to release USB devices for Wii in Gaming
Nintendo is planning to release a number of USB devices for Wii, according to a job vacancy posted on its website.

The advertisement calls for a software/hardware tester that will work out of the company's Redmond offices in Washington State.

Among the successful applicants duties will be: "creating and executing a test plan for Wii's USB devices."

Our first thoughts were a USB hard drive, but Nintendo has repeatedlydenied claims it was even considering one. Earlier today, we reported that Nintendo of Europe's managing director had dismissed the hard drive space as an issue only "geeks" were interested in.

So what could they possibly be testing? Let the speculation commence below.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:49 am
Age of Conan hits 1 million in Gaming
Funcom have announced that recently launched MMO Age of Conan has already shipped 1 million units.
"Sales data shows that Age of Conan is the biggest MMO launch sinceWorld of Warcraft," says Funcom Vice President of Sales and Marketing,Morten Larssen. "The numbers are very promising, and we are very proudto be one of the fastest selling PC games ever in a launch month andthe biggest simultaneous Europe/US MMO launch in history."
I always mention WoW when interviewing MMO developers. In reply theyinvariably spin the PR line that Blizzard's classic game is amarket-opening opportunity rather than a competitive threat. Thesefigures prove they may have been right. Would Conan have done so wellin the pre-WoW days of say 2003? How many of these 1 million - orthereabouts - players are high level WoW players taking a break fromAzeroth?

Of course, shipping a million units is one thing, gettingplayers to subscribe for more than a month or two is the real successmetric. I've been playing Conan for a couple of weeks now and while themore involved combat and character physicality are welcome MMOinnovations I won't be subscribing just yet. For a start my laptop - adecent ram-packed high-end one bought about a year ago - may havefinally met its match with Conan. Unlike WoW, which could probably runon an Atari ST* Age of Conan demands the latest hardware to playsmoothly at any kind of decent resolution. More importantly Conan isfull of zoning. These loading screens between areas, buildings andcities are hugely annoying immersion-breakers. WoW, and theincreasingly impressive Lord of the Rings Online, restrict zoning to aminimum, and so create the feeling of being in a coherent world.Despite this Conan has a stack of promise. It looks great - assumingyou have a sexy PC - and has had a relatively smooth launch. I willdefinitely be back. Anyone here playing?
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:46 am
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