The Patriot Viper 4 memory kit offers high speeds and great performance out of the box at the expense of overclocking headroom.
G.Skill brings excellent performance and great overclocking potential at a great value.
The low profile Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666MHz 16GB memory kit offers impressive overclocking potential and excellent performance at a great price.
Kingston unleashes the HyperX Fury series featuring great looks, great performance, and a great price.
Straight out of the box, Patriot's Viper 3 16GB 2400MHz kit offers up outstanding performance and compatibility.
Halo at E3 2014: The Arbiter returns in Halo: The Master Chief Collection terminals, teased for Halo 5
343 Industries talks Master Chief Collection, and the Arbiter
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was extensively showcased behind closed doors at E3 this year, and I came out of that meeting convinced this would be something special. At first, one might assume that 343 Industries is creating the Master Chief Collection for new Halo fans, the people who, in their own words, weren't born yet or just too young when Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 were a thing. But the collection is more than a way to bring in the newbies; it's a way for diehard fans to fall in the love with Halo all over again.
Much of the major draw, I think, will be found in the presentation. For those of us who played through and still own all of the Halo games, the appeal of owning the Master Chief on one disc for Xbox One is undeniable, even if it's not enough to really sell the Master Chief Collection. More than that, Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 will be available in their anniversary forms on the disc, and 343 Industries definitely seem to have outdone themselves with the latter remaster.
The terminals will also be providing an interesting tie-in to Halo 5: Guardians. See, the terminals found in Halo: Combat Evolved teased the events of Halo 4 from Guilty Spark's perspective. In Halo 2 Anniversary, the focus falls on The Arbiter, Master Chief's old Elite/Sangheili friend and ally, and upcoming happenings in Halo 5.
To remind us of just how far Halo has come, a quick swap allows players to switch back and forth between the old visuals the updated ones, changing both the appearance and audio quality. All the music was re-recorded as well by orchestra, with the help of Skywalker Sound.
"It's like seeing 10 years of gaming evolution at the touch of a button," executive producer Dan Ayoub states, and rather proudly.
The difference is startling on screen, and many of us in the small audience -- scattered across plastic chairs, couches, and the floor -- were visibly taken aback by the sudden shift. In our minds, as men and women who grew up playing Halo, the game always looked so much nicer. Such is the power of nostalgia.
Halo 3 and Halo 4 won't be getting the same visual updates, but both ports should see better performance on the Xbox One. The 60fps boost will certainly be nice to have, if nothing else.
You'll find that every campaign mission is unlocked from the start, giving players the absolute freedom to play in any order -- any way -- they please. Create a playlist of your favorite missions, every Flood mission (ugh) or tank sequence, and whatever else. Go crazy with it.
As for the multiplayer in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 have done something rather interesting to confront the obvious issue of combining the multiplayer from four separate, cross-gen games.
Over 100 maps will be available, taken from both PC and console version of past Halo games. To make the amount of content less overwhelming, players will be able to use specific search parameters to organize their options. If you wanted to play Slayer, for instance, you can search for Slayer maps, and the results will be taken from every single Halo game.
One important note here is that the multiplayer in Halo 2 Anniversary won't be running on an updated engine, like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary used the Halo Reach engine. That's a decision directly based on feedback from the fans.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be released for Xbox One on November 11, 2014, bundled with live-action miniseries Halo Nightfall and access to the closed Halo 5 beta. Fall 2015 will see the arrival of Halo 5: Guardians and the still unnamed Halo TV series.
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NetherRealm certainly made a name for themselves with their 2011 Mortal Kombat remake, so the Injustice: Gods Among Us announcement came as a pleasant surprise. The new fighter revolves around DC Comics characters, from classic favorites like Flash to recently popularized superstars like Harley Quinn.
What the developer is really stressing with Injustice is the integration of in-game stages and changing our relationship with the environment. Interactive environments may be commonly found in other genres, but their "involvement" in fighting games is pretty limited. Through Injustice, NetherRealms wants players to rethink their relationship with the stage.
The stages in Injustice are huge, often spanning multiple levels that players can hop between, and many of the details in the backdrop will come into direct play. We saw two examples of this: the Batcave and Gotham City.
In the Batcave, during a demo match between Flash and Big Blue, NetherRealms pointed out the various interactive props placed around the stage. At first glance, all these details -- Bats' costume displays, the Batmobile, overhanging cables -- seem like nothing more than aesthetic elements. Through the match, however, we saw the glass displays break, dropping two grenades that Superman then picked up and tossed in Flash's face. Later, Flash found a big red button that activated the Batmobile's rear missiles and shot them at his alien opponent. As the stage took sustained damage from the superpowered battle, cables broke to expose wires, which the fighters took turn throwing each other at.
When Sups tossed Flash hard enough against the ground to send him into the lower floor (a second level of the Batcave stage), we were treated to a cinematic sequence of the Speedster slamming against various pipes and metal frames. Similarly, when the fighters took their match back upstairs, Superman punched Flash into an awaiting elevator, and an amusing cutscene showed the fight continuing in the elevator. We didn't notice any actual damage coming out of these cutscenes, so they're probably just a visual thing.
The fight between Solomon Grundy and Batman in Gotham City saw transitions between the city streets to a skyscraper rooftop, then back down to the same building's lobby. Rinse and repeat. In the metropolitan stage, we saw Bats smash Grundy's face into a parked car and use it to detonate an explosion on his opponent; alternatively, Grundy just picked up everything in range and threw it. This is another major design factor behind Injustice, the desire to stay true to each character's unique powers and style.
Batman is an agile fighter (despite being so muscley) that relies heavily on his gadgets to counter more powerful enemies. By contrast, Grundy, being an undead and dim-witted giant, takes only the most direct and obvious paths. One can dish out damage from a distance, while the other hits hardest when up close and personal.
The debut trailer already gave us a taste of the game's Supers too, with Superman launching opponents into space and punching them back to Earth. Everyone has an over-the-top special, and they're an absolute treat to watch. Overall, Injustice is a surprisingly cinematic fighter.
Smaller details like the way Batman draws his cape around himself in defensive moves or how Flash can't seem to stop moving at any given time are nice touches on NetherRealm's part. This emphasis on each character's individuality was definitely apparent and nice to see, especially for DC fans.
AMD is jumping into the DRAM market with three new tiers of memory, each of which will be dedicated to a specific market segment: Entertainment, Performance, and Radeon. The difference between the tiers of course comes down to speed and timings: the Entertainment modules will operate at DDR3-1333 and target the mainstream user, while the Performance and Radeon editions will utilize timings at or above 1600MHz and target the high-end enthusiast and gaming markets.
All of the memory kits being released include the AMD branding and will include a red/black heatspreader. However, the memory itself it will be made by Patriot, as opposed to AMD. Additionally, memory kits will be available in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities, and according to AMD the pricing should range between $12.99 and $13.99, per 2GB kit.
Below is a breakdown of the prices for the Entertainment Edition memory:
AMD Memory, Entertainment Edition | 2GB | 1333 | 9-9-9 | 1.5v | $12.99
AMD Memory, Entertainment Edition | 2GB | 1600 | 9-9-9 | 1.5v | $13.99
AMD Memory, Entertainment Edition | 4GB | 1333 | 9-9-9 | 1.5v | $22.99
AMD Memory, Entertainment Edition | 4GB | 1600 | 9-9-9 | 1.5v | $24.99
The lower tier memory, or Entertainment edition, is hitting now, with the Performance edition soon to follow. The Radeon Edition memory though is being held off until February 2012; this should give Patriot some time to fine tune it for the highest performance possible.
AMD notes all of the memory goes through a rigorous validation process and each module is hand-tested for quality assurance. The company is also using only the highest quality DRAM parts available and have stated there will effectively be no ETT (Effectively TesTed) memory used, meaning they will only be using high-quality DRAM , which will help ensure there are no dropouts of data loss.
The announcement from AMD comes at an interesting time: DRAM prices are currently at an all-time low, and recently we've seen one of the largest memory manufacturers (OCZ) eliminate their memory division entirely. This seems to have pushed AMD toward full integration, which will be good news to AMD loyalists, but most importantly it gives OEM system builders higher performance memory to match with any AMD based system.
If you didn't know already, you do now: DICE's shooter Battlefield 3 is expected to hugely drive new hardware and OS adoption when it hits this fall, given the highly advanced nature of the engine and what it's produced so far, and of course the company's stellar reputation for quality community-driven titles. If you're in that camp, now is about the time to plan a new system build if you haven't already, so we've done some research which serves as guidelines for what to look out for and when.
Disclaimer: the game is still in the pre-alpha development stage -- more precise estimations will be able to be made as the release date nears.
Operating system & RAM
Firstly, BF3 will not support DirectX 9 at all, so forget the ancient, aging terribly XP and that dusty old DX9 card. DICE says Windows 7 64-bit and a DirectX 11 card are ideal, though you can also use Vista and/or a DX10 card. With a 64-bit OS, you'll need 4GB DDR3 RAM or more to take full advantage of it; lesser is acceptable but not exactly advisable on 64-bit. Thankfully, RAM prices finally dropped drastically recently -- you can pick up a 4GB or 8GB set for $40-100.
Before you start groaning, know there are numerous benefits to these new architectures including improved GPU and CPU performance, improved stability and security, more realistically rendered textures, and tons more, so you get your money's worth and then some.
It's been confirmed the excellent debut gameplay trailer was shown to the press recently (seen above) was running on a GTX 580 video card. This of course is the really high end stuff which should allow you to max out the game fully. If you're in this camp, you may also be happy to know DICE plans to "efficiently support" both Crossfire and SLI setups.
For those who don't have deep pockets or the desire to empty them on a single piece of hardware, note you should be able to max it out excepting some minor tweaking on cards a tier or two down; essentially you can save a bundle and only have to turn off or down a few more or less insignificant settings like AA and shadows. Not to worry -- your card, if you purchase wisely, will still stand the test of time, it's simply that certain settings are almost always very taxing. The good news for budget gamers is a 1GB card won't be required, but if you do have the juice, BF3 should take full advantage of it thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine's superb scaling abilities.
At this stage we'd recommend AMD's 6950, or NVIDIA's 560, both of which are good value for money in the short and long term; note price on the 6950 is expected to drop around June. As always, it's down to you to research what's coming up and what's best for your needs, of course. AMD's new lineup is expected to hit late this year or early next, and if rumors are to be believed, everything excepting the high-end will be a reworking of the 6xxx series, so with any luck, there will be no good reason to hesitate come summer if you're an AMD fan.
3D fans: the game will support "explicit" 3D stereo rendering, which will work with both NVIDIA's 3D Vision and AMD's new open-ended HD3D technology. Using this method, unique frames are rendered for each eye, plus deferred shading (more advanced and efficient) is covered, as well as all surfaces. The downside is performance requirements are higher than usual (two times the number of draw calls), so you may want a 580 or 6970 or Crossfire/SLI setup if that's your bag.
It can be assumed the requirement in this department will be at least what we saw with Bad Company 2 -- a Pentium D 3.0GHz, Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, or Athlon 64 X2. DICE have been doing performance testing on a more than two years-old quadcore Intel Core i7 2.66ghz (likely a 920), but given over half of all ~30 million Steam users currently host dual core processors, this may be the minimum, with a quadcore or possibly even higher serving as the recommended.
Let us not forget the ever-important power supply unit. If you're reaching into the high-end department with your other components, generally we'd advise a minimum 800W unit, though amperage must be observed closely as well -- be sure to cross-reference. A formidable, quality unit with significant overhead will ensure maximum stability and long-lasting components, which should be top priority in any build.
Minimum system requirements (estimated):
- Windows Vista 32-bit
- 512mb video card (DirectX 10)
- 2GB RAM
- Dual-core processor 2.0ghz
Recommend system requirements (estimated):
Note considerably lower may be on the box, though this gear would likely offer significant improvements over the official requirements regardless.
Leaving in disgrace, but with a golden parachute
Hewlett-Packard's CEO Mark Hurd has stepped down due to a sexual harassment claim filed against him and the company. An internal investigation into the matter has begun -- Hurd was found to not only have violated the company's sexual harassment policy, but his actions were said to be in clear contrast to HP’s standard of business conduct. The details that have emerged on the matter since Hurd’s departure appear to make the situation far worse than originally reported.
According to the New York Times, Hurd had been filing false expense reports in order to hide an inappropriate relationship he was having with a contractor. In the report there was no mention of how long the affair had been going on or how much money was charged to the company. Executive vice president and general counsel Michael Holston said Hurd displayed “a profound lack of judgment.”
Even with Hurd being forced out of HP in disgrace, he is still set to receive a $50 million severance payout.
HP has named Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjack as its interim CEO, while a board committee has been tapped to search for a permanent replacement.
Update: When the news of Mark Hurd’s affair first broke, there was no mention of whom the HP contractor involved was. Well, we now know the woman in question is soft-core porn actress Jodie Fisher. Along with working in the porn industry, her credentials include being a contestant on NBC’s “Age of Love” and hosting an exercise infomercial.
Once it was revealed she was the HP contractor, Jodie Fisher released the statement below though her lawyer.
"Mark and I never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship. I first met Mark in 2007 when I interviewed for a contractor job at the company. At HP, I was under contract to work at high-level customer and executive summit events held around the country and abroad. I prepared for those events, worked very hard and enjoyed working for HP. I have resolved my claim with Mark privately, without litigation, and I do not intend to comment on it further."
Her comment of not having an affair with Hurd is contradictory to the news on the matter, but at this point whether the affair happened or not is irrelevant.
Just last week Trancend chairman Peter Su supposedly said DRAM prices were too high and as such was reducing the industry's sales and potential growth. Additionally, he speculated memory prices would continue to climb through the rest of the year.
Just a week after these reports, DRAM prices have fallen for the first time in over a year. This is in part due to companies dramatically increasing the production for DRAM chips to address shortage issues. But it’s also reported OEM PC manufacturers -- who make up the majority of DRAM sales -- stood up to resist any further price increases.
With the increased production of DRAM chips, the price of PCs should slightly decrease, and we should also see a drop in stand-alone memory module prices. Now, this doesn’t mean we will again be able to purchase large amounts of memory for Goodwill prices, like back in the DDR2 days. But the ever increasing price of memory seems to be over for the time being.
Many in the industry expect the prices to fall even further throughout the rest of the year, which should come as good news to anyone looking to fill the max memory capacity of their high-end motherboards.
Micron, Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Elpida and Nanya
After years of investigation, a group of memory-makers (well, most of them actually) have confessed that they were illegally fixing memory prices between 1998 and 2002 in Europe. The body that deals with trade in Europe, the EU Commission, levied a total of $403 million fines on the companies involved, with Micron getting away with the smallest of the fines, because it aided the investigation the most.
"This first settlement decision is another milestone in the Commission's anti-cartel enforcement," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. "The Commission to bring this long-running investigation to a close and to free up resources to investigate other suspected cartels."
Because the memory-makers ceded that they had fixed prices, they received a 10 discount of their fines.
The companies were shown to have setup a network of communication that they would use to discuss what prices they would agree upon to sell to server and PC makers.
G.Skill decided to get things going fast with a new speed-limit pushing DDR3 2x2GB dual channel memory kit. The new modules are rated for 2500MHz, with 9-11-9-28 timings, using 1.65V. These blazing-fast chips will be part of G.Skill's Trident line.
Asus helped out a bit with the testing, and the memory was certified to work at these high speeds on P7P55D-E Deluxe and P7P55D-E EVO motherboards, using Core i7 860 or 870 processors. (They should work fine with other motherboards that can support those high speeds, but those were the boards the memory was tested on).
The availability and pricing of the memory has not yet been released. But these new Tridents should be coming to stores soon, and they will be pricey, because for now, they are the fastest things going.
Most of these days can get by pretty well with 4GB. If you have a light-weight OS, and don't do a lot of multi-tasking, it might even not be that painful to run off of 2GB. But there are always those who need a great deal of RAM to get the big jobs done.
For those folks, Corsair has just put out a new memory kit. The first is a 4x4GB, 1600MHz (9-9-9-24) package. According to Corsair, they are targeting this kit towards people with two memory channels, such as with Lynnfield and Clarkdale based i5/i7 desktops. Likewise, the second new 6x4GB 24GB memory kit is aimed at those with triple-channel, X58 Core i7 systems.
Memory is not cheap right now, and it isn't dropping anytime soon. If you want this much random access, you are going to have to lay down about $1000 USD for the 16GB kit, and $1450 for the 24GB kit. But hey, it comes with a free cooling fan to rest on top of the memory, so that's cool.
If you are planning to upgrade your memory, you might want to act sooner rather than later.
Memory maker Nanya Technology Corporation is reportedly raising DRAM contract prices a hefty whole 10% in the coming month of April. This follows on a 6%-10% price raise that came in March. Both these raises alone add to a significant price increase on memory.
As with most cases, the rising price is a matter of supply and demand. There has been less memory production, as memory stock-piles dwindle, and demand for memory is slowing waking up to levels that were seen before the Great Recession of 2009.
Memory price-watcher DRAMExchange sees the situation getting worse in the second half of the year. We can also expect DDR2 prices to steadily climb, as less and less DDR2 is made.
For comparison's sake, in Vancouver, at the popular hardware chain NCIX, cheap DDR2 will cost you about $80 for 2GB, while about $130 will get you 4GB of DDR3.
- LEGO Worlds, a Minecraft inspired open world with brick building, is now on Steam Early Access 
- Rise of the Tomb Raider CG trailer makes Lara Croft into a rising legend 
- CD Projekt isn't ditching The Witcher yet and will focus on franchise for the next year, not Cyberpunk 
- Firaxis rearms with XCOM 2, 20 years after humanity lost to the aliens 
- More free The Witcher 3 DLC out this week, 'Contract: Missing Miners' and a Yennefer outfit 
- Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku and Vegeta DLC for Dragon Ball Xenoverse coming soon 
- Mad Max game's story trailer drops the fury, takes on the 'Savage Road' 
- League of Legends to release Prehistoric skins, including a new dinosaur version of Anivia