Timid Fury

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The AMD Radeon Fury X isn’t exactly the $649 USD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti killer that AMD hoped for.

The Radeon R9 Fury X is a big advance over the last-gen R9 290X, and it’s a close match overall for the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. However, the GeForce generally outperforms the Fury X across our suite of games—by under 10%, or four FPS, on average. That’s massive progress from the red team, and it’s a shame the Fury X’s measurably superior shader array and prodigious memory bandwidth don’t have a bigger payoff in today’s games.

If I were going to spend $649 USD on a video card, why would I spend it on a Fury X? For the water cooling unit? The LED lights? Why would I spend money on a video card that cannot deliver frames in a smooth manner?

Speaking of which, if you dig deeper using our frame-time-focused performance metrics—or just flip over to the 99th-percentile scatter plot above—you’ll find that the Fury X struggles to live up to its considerable potential. Unfortunate slowdowns in games like The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 4 drag the Fury X’s overall score below that of the less expensive GeForce GTX 980. What’s important to note in this context is that these scores aren’t just numbers. They mean that you’ll generally experience smoother gameplay in 4K with a $499 GeForce GTX 980 than with a $649 Fury X. Our seat-of-the-pants impressions while play-testing confirm it. The good news is that we’ve seen AMD fix problems like these in the past with driver updates, and I don’t doubt that’s a possibility in this case. There’s much work to be done, though.

I thought AMD was on the road to improving their drivers and yet to this day, they’re still struggling to get a handle on it. Again, why would I spend money on this?

I’m not content with this outcome because it just means that NVIDIA is running unopposed which isn’t good for consumers. We need healthy competition in the video card space.

Announcements Ahoy, Mon Capitan

OS X El Capitan

This year’s OS X release isn’t going to be the overhaul like Yosemite was. El Capitan will offer fixes, refinements and other nice but not so sexy changes.

I welcome it. I welcome features like Expose side-by-side so I can stop using BetterTouchTool for the sole purpose of including Windows Snap.

I look forward to Metal, Apple’s low-level API, improving rendering performance across the board. I don’t play graphically intensive games on my MacBook Air but hopefully this gives the user base fewer reasons to switch over to Windows just to play games.

I’m hoping OS X El Capitan breathes new life into my MacBook Air like Mavericks did with its power optimizations.

iOS 9

Unsurprisingly, iOS 9 looks to follow El Capitan’s lead and focus on refinements and improvements to performance, battery life, security and usability.

I use Siri regularly for sports and weather updates. On occasion, I ask her to figure out the name of a song or some trivia but her accuracy remains so suspect that I tend to stick to the basic inquiries. Apple promises to address accuracy and capabilties but I’ll believe it when I see it. The day, I don’t feel the need to launch Google Search for reliable voice inquiries is the day I’ll consider Siri a dependable digital assistant.

Apple continues its trend of adopting popular ideas into its own apps and gently pushing out competition. Notes and News apps were their latest efforts. They gave Notes additional word processing capabilities for simple note taking and News (rebranded Newsstand) is now a Flipboard clone.

My favorite iOS device isn’t the iPhone. It’s the iPad and Apple finally gave it some love with the addition of multi-tasking and a new shortcut bar that sits on-top of the keyboard. Fortunately, I have an iPad Air 2 which supports the new multi-tasking functionality. But if I was an iPad Air user, I’d feel a little miffed knowing that a key feature like multi-tasking won’t be making back to mine. I understand the limitations (the Air 2 has 2GB of RAM) but not everyone will.

And the Rest

WatchOS 2 is coming as well and I know exactly one person who’s excited by that announcement. The native app support is a step in the right direction. I’m curious what developers will come up with in that space. I doubt they can make the thing appealing to me though.

Apple Music is now a thing. If the likes of Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services aren’t to your liking, maybe give Apple Music a try? They’ve hired humans to make a 24/7 radio station a reality. No idea how that radio station will fare Apple promises it’ll be better than having algorithms select the music.

I didn’t know what to expect from Apple Music but it wasn’t whatever they announced. Jimmy Iovine started by pointing out all the streaming services available and how it’s fragmented. I thought that was going to a segue into a Wallet (they renamed Passbook) or News app amalgamation app but for music. That would have been a logistical nightmare but that would have been nice.

Pre-E3 Announcements Continues

  • 1TB Xbox One Console will take over at $399.99 USD
  • New Xbox One controller revision features wireless updates, 3.5mm audio jack & minor refinements. Costs $64.99 USD
  • Xbox One wireless adapter for Windows will be available in autumn. Will cost $24.99 USD
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will see the light of day in Q1 2016
  • Halo 5: Guardians will have 20 maps at launch & 15 free maps by June 2016
  • Dark Souls 3 will be available in early 2016
  • Marshawn Lynch will be in Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • Call of Duty lives for another year on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360

Thought of the Day

As soon as I saw what 2015’s OS X release was called El Capitan, I thought of Q and Captain Picard.

Blue & Green Launches

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti

There’s a new NVIDIA video card that will cost you at least $649.99 USD which is a lot if you’re not used to the high end video card market. But if you’re in that market, a video card that’s only 3% slower and 35% cheaper than the GeForce GTX Titan X is a hell of a bargain. As always, I recommend AnandTech or The Tech Report’s reviews.

If you’re afraid of reading long articles, the bottom line is this: Unless you’re bound to NVIDIA, the recommended conclusion is to wait to see how AMD’s upcoming Fiji and its High Bandwidth Memory will stack up.

I’ll admit though, NVIDIA’s G-SYNC and its growing crop of monitors is making the green team very enticing

Windows 10 Launches July 29

Windows 10 has an official launch date. The Technical Preview is shaping up nicely and I can see them hit that launch date comfortably. I’ll be there on day one.

If you’re not as gung ho as me, be sure to reserve your upgrade regardless because the free upgrade offer will not last forever.

Broadwell on Desktop Lives

With Windows 10 just around the corner, I realized that my current PC will have gone through 3 operating systems on Intel’s 2009 Core i5 750.

I was already toying with the idea of building a new PC with Intel’s upcoming Skylake architecture but was curious if Broadwell ever made onto the desktop. Yesterday’s searches bore no fruit but today Anandtech posted their early look at some limited Broadwell desktop chips.

Looks like Intel are going to release some niche chips and simply move quickly to Skylake because these aren’t the chips that we’re looking for.

Odds & Ends

  • Thunderbolt 3 could enable a one cable future
  • XCOM 2 was announced for PC – Unsure if it’s PC exclusive or not but I’ll tell you this: I love this short media cycle.
  • Fallout 4 teased for E3 reveal – I said I would be very cautious approaching Bethesda’s next game and unless something convinces me otherwise, I’m waiting for the discounted GOTY version.

Beginning of the Last?

posted in: Game News, Technology News | 0

The Last Version of Windows

Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows and I’m not surprised. Apple has been stuck on OS X for well over a decade and have been iterating and refining that version over time. Microsoft is just finally getting on board with the whole “operating system as a service” thing.

Now instead of waiting for tentpole releases in 3 years time, Microsoft will roll out updates to functionality on a regular basis. From a consumer perspective, it’ll be nice knowing that Windows Updates will now be more than just a security updates and bug fixes.

But what about for enterprise clients? Giant IT departments won’t be as keen on regular functionality updates. Will Microsoft utilize a different release schedule? Will it be up to IT departments to decide which updates to install? Linux distributions have frequent updates as well but they usually have a long term support branch that favors stability. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles all of this.

Another Assassin’s Creed Unveiled

Unsurprisingly, there’s another Assassin’s Creed game coming this year. This time Ubisoft is continuing the hot trend and bringing us to Victorian London. Unlike Windows, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to end any time soon and I doubt I’ll be picking one up any time soon either.

I skimmed through the 9 minute walkthrough but didn’t see anything of note. It looks gorgeous and I enjoy the cutscenes but the gameplay sends a shudder through me like the thought of eating a cockroach.

 

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