Graphics/Sound

A few weeks back, we gave you our initial take on the retail-ready HTC Vive virtual reality kit. While we were able to explain the Vive’s specifications, setup, configuration, and give some opinions on the experience, at that point, we hadn’t had the kit long enough to form any solid, concrete opinions. We had experience with multiple versions of the Vive throughout its development cycle, but we thought playing with the retail version for only a few days wasn’t enough time to truly understand it, so we held off on making any final recommendations. We have, however, worked with the Vive for a number... Read more...
Whether or not this latest push for virtual reality resonates with consumers and brings the technology into the mainstream remains to be seen. But it appears that all of the major players in the space, from the GPU manufacturers, to game developers, and VR leaders like HTC, Oculus, Samsung and Sony (among others) are all in it for the long-haul this time around. Some of us here at HotHardware have witnessed everything from the introduction of the Nintendo Virtual Boy to Virtuality pod-laden movie theaters first hand, and can say with certainty that the latest wave of VR technology is head and shoulders... Read more...
When Blizzard announced that they were splitting Starcraft II into three titles, Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void, the general reaction from fans was controversial. The fear was that Blizzard would pad out the contents of each game with busywork missions and red-herring plot devices, while charging full price for each. The company later clarified that the second campaigns would be priced like expansion packs. Heart of the Swarm is the first chance we've had to see if Blizzard's expansion strategy would result in the same quality of game play. Wings of Liberty (WoL) launched... Read more...
Diablo 3 players don't need any more bad news. The game is already staggering from a debut marred by enormous lag spikes, dropped games, and auction house errors. Now, widespread allegations of hacking are taking further chunks out of Blizzard's hide. This time though, there's an added twist: A significant number of those hacked claimed to be using Blizzard Authenticators. This has led to counterclaims that the victims must be lying, as well as a great deal of confused discussion over whether or not such a thing is even possible. To that end, there's something all of you need to understand up front.... Read more...
It has been a few months since the AMD Radeon HD 6990 initially launched. Since that time, a number of AMD’s board partners have launched their own Radeon HD 6990 cards, but as is typically the case with the first wave of products based on a new GPU, they all conform to AMD’s reference design, save for a water-cooled card from PowerColor. While most of the Radeon HD 6990 cards on the market today are fundamentally very similar, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a retail-ready 6990 using AMD’s latest drivers to see how well the card performs (and behaves) with updated... Read more...
How should you go about determining what size monitor to buy? It's simple - go out and purchase the biggest, baddest display you can afford, because really, you only get one shot at this thing called life, so why waste it staring at a 23-inch panel? If you're still not convinced, consider that, more than any other component in your entire build, it's the monitor you'll use to its fullest 100 percent of the time. You can't say that about your dual-videocards, six-core processor, or even your keyboard, but it certainly applies to your display, the one piece of hardware that brings the entire build... Read more...
With the recent run of newer and more affordable graphics cards from ATI, it's almost easy to forget that there's already a sub-$200 frame-rate cruncher called the Radeon HD 4850.  Based on the same RV770 chip as the more powerful, yet more expensive HD 4870, the HD 4850 ships with the same 800 stream processors, 40 texture units, and 16 ROPs that have made these cards such hot items.  The main area where they differ, other than clock speeds, is in regard to memory.  While the HD 4870 ships with high-end GDDR5 memory chips, the HD 4850 finds itself loaded with 512... Read more...
While high-end workstation graphics cards may be based on roughly the same core architectures as gaming-targeted graphics cards, their purposes in life are very different. While they both accomplish the same task, processing commands and rendering images on-screen, workstation cards endure a more strenuous existence than their gaming brethren. Workstation cards are used to solve huge, mission-critical problems, like helping engineers design and build cars; helping architects to planning and construct buildings, and even help to our friendly oil and gas companies to provide more... Read more...
Quick!  Name that one piece of PC hardware that will automatically garner the most "oohs" and "aahs" from enthusiasts and casual-users alike.  No, it's probably not the glow-in-the-dark water cooling system or bright LEDs shining from the multiple fans in your windowed case.  The quickest path to glory is buying a brand new, flat, large, widescreen monitor.  Just like the centerpiece of the living room is that 50" plasma that you installed last Christmas, widescreen monitors are the "in" thing for many PC users; whether they be a hardcore gamer, aspiring novel writer, or something in between.... Read more...
If you have ever been in the market for a graphics card, you are undoubtedly familiar with the constantly changing graphics card market. About every 8-10 months, new GPUs are introduced by NVIDIA and ATI, and after their introduction, dozens of graphics cards built by their add in board partners come to market. Because these add in board partners all use the same graphics chips supplied by the two major graphics card companies, they have to use their marketing savvy to create extra value and incentive for consumers to buy their products. Over the years we’ve seen companies... Read more...
For the average business-class user, extra RAM, a faster processor or a more powerful video card won't necessarily increase work efficiency or productivity. One of the best ways to boost your productivity is to add more inches, of screen real estate that is. If you simply add another monitor or get a bigger one, you can quickly realize the benefits of extra desktop space, like less Alt-Tabbing and more windows open at once. Although the work efficiency / productivity argument is an important one in the business world, most of us enthusiasts find it somewhat unexciting to think about. We... Read more...
  About a month ago, we had the privilege of reviewing HIS' Radeon X1950 Pro, a mainstream oriented graphics card that performed well, but we felt ultimately came up short against the similarly priced GeForce 7950 GT.  The model we received was outfitted with an oversized cooler dubbed the IceQ3 Turbo, came overclocked by default, and supported CrossFire natively using internal ribbon cables, much like SLI with NVIDIA's cards. Although we found much to praise regarding the performance of the X1950 Pro, we found that the lack of availability of HIS products in... Read more...
A few weeks ago, we looked at the HIS Radeon X1950 Pro IceQ3 Turbo, a mainstream graphics card set to do battle with the GeForce 7900GS in the $200 price segment. Based on the RV570 GPU, the X1950 Pro brought a host of features to the table including native CrossFire. While X1950 Pro is a good performer for a great price, some of us were left wishing for more. For a short while, those of us willing to spend an additional $50-$100 for a bit more power than the X1950 Pro could offer had to turn to NVIDIA. That is, until the Radeon X1950 XT was released. Today, we will be checking out HIS' take... Read more...
  ATI made quite a splash a few weeks ago, with the introduction of the Radeon X1950 Pro. The RV570 GPU at the heart of the X1950 card is manufactured on TSMC's 80nm node. It's equipped with 36 pixel shader processors, 8 vertex shader units and 12 texture units. ATI's reference design calls for a 575MHz GPU clock and with 1.38GHz memory, but the card we'll be featuring here today is clocked quite a bit higher than this. The most interesting feature of the Radeon X1950 Pro, however, is Native CrossFire support. ATI has done away with the "Master" and "Slave"... Read more...
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