Graphics Card Results 2015

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

IMPORTANT: This page shows all Graphics Card benchmark results for the year, please note this page only shows the results at the time of press. These results are likely to change as Driver optimisations come into play. Please also note that for each specific Graphics Card review performed by pcG all of our test Cards (NVIDIA GTX 980,970,960 & AMD 290X,280X,270X) are re-benchmarked with the latest Drivers in an attempt to provide an extremely accurate picture at that point in time.

 

  • BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
  • TOMB RAIDER
  • METRO: LAST LIGHT
  • UNIGINE HEAVEN 4.0
  • 3DMARK (Firestrike)
  •  

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    Power Supply Testing – pcG’s thoughts…

    January 5th, 2015 No comments

    Although pcGameware has been around for some time now (at the time of this article it’s almost 4 years!) we have deliberately held back from testing certain Gaming related products, one of these products is Power Supplies. The reason for this has been that we have never really had the equipment to allow us to test PSUs in a similar way to how the rest of the media tests!

    The strange thing is that nothing has changed and I’m not going to tell you that we’ve invested a large sum of money into PSU testing equipment. 😉

    Why? Well that’s because of two main reasons (and no it’s not because pcG James is a tight ass!), the first is that overtime PSUs have become so reliable that from a performance point of view they either really just work or they don’t. If you do see a failure it tends to be based upon time in use more than down to some voltage not being delivered within ATX parameters. This leads me on to my next point, which is that I’m not sure that we (as Gamers) are really that interested in a 45.9mVtt ripple on the 12v rail while the PSU was under 75% load! Especially, as from a Gamers point of view, what it actually means is that you’ll still be in Game and playing quite happily! 😉

    FYI: An ATX Power Supply’s job is to deliver three voltages; 3.3v, 5v and 12v to your PC. Due to the ATX specifications these voltages are only allowed to fluctuate by a nominal amount (see image below). As you can see as long as your PSU stays within these parameters (and most modern ones do) then everything should be just fine. This doesn’t mean that I suggesting that we all go out and by Power Supplies at £19.99! On the contrary, investing in a good PSU is always money well spent as it’s likely to see you through many years and multiple upgrades. What it does mean is that I’m quietly confident that we don’t need to bore you with some of the science behind it all…

     
    * Courtesy of Intel
    IntelATXVoltageGuidelines
     

    With this in mind we will begin to bring you Power Supply Reviews starting in 2015 and these reviews are really designed not to compete with some of the great PSU reviews out there, but to bolster them and help you make a better decision when buying. What we hope to do is focus more on the product itself, its desirability, it’s cabling, its real-world performance (through real-world testing) and maybe even its software.

    In an attempt to give these PSUs at least a little bit of a workout all PSUs reviewed will be stress tested for one hour running both Unigine Heaven and Prime 95 (Blend) simultaneously to see if we can trip them up in any way. If we’re testing PSU’s over 750W we will also be performing this same test using a CrossFire setup (with x2 AMD R9 290X) in an attempt to further push the limits.

    In addition to this we will also be taking a look at the efficiency of each PSU by taking a look at the power draw at the wall socket. This is where the 80 Plus initiative comes in that you have no doubt seen attached to various PSUs. With Ratings of 80 PLUS through to 80 PLUS Platinum (see table below for more detail).

    FOR EXAMPLE:

    A power supply that is actually using 400W to drive your PC components will be pulling approximately 500W at the wall socket if its efficiency is 80 PLUS.

    A power supply that is actually using 400W to drive your PC components will be pulling approximately 450W at the wall socket if its efficiency is 80 PLUS Platinum.

     

    * Courtesy of Wikipedia

    80 Plus test type 115V internal non-redundant 230V internal redundant
    Percentage of rated load 10% 20% 50% 100% 10% 20% 50% 100%
    80 Plus 80% 80% 80%
    80 Plus Bronze 82% 85% 82% 81% 85% 81%
    80 Plus Silver 85% 88% 85% 85% 89% 85%
    80 Plus Gold 87% 90% 87% 88% 92% 88%
    80 Plus Platinum 90% 92% 89% 90% 94% 91%
    80 Plus Titanium 90% 92% 94% 90% 90% 94% 96% 91%

     

    Hopefully the information that you have found here has been useful, there’s obviously a myriad of information we could delve into regarding ATX Power Supplies but to be honest it’s something we’re actually trying to avoid… 😉

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    UPDATED: CPU Cooler Testing (Thermals Explained)

    December 2nd, 2014 No comments

    There’s a fact, that not many of you may know and that’s that thermal testing of CPUs (well, anything for that matter) is a nightmare. I wont go into to details here as it may only serve to confuse, but what I will do is show you what the pcG Team did in an attempt to get our data as accurate as possible.

    When we built our three Test Rigs for 2015, we first ensured that we all had the same components, the same fans speed and the same voltages etc. Once this was done we set about calibrating the three Test Rigs, and what we found was not surprising but it was interesting…

     

    pcG Test Rigs 2015 - closed pcG Test Rigs 2015 - open

     

    After performing our normal CPU thermal test using our Test Rig at 4.0GHz, that sees us running Prime95 (Small FFT) for 15 minutes and taking the average of the maximum Core temperatures, we found the following. Each Result was different, there was a total of 3.25 degrees between all of the Rigs. To get closer to the truth we decided (during another test) to try each CPU in the same Rig, rather surprisingly the difference was still there proving that not only is there a Silicon Lottery when buying a CPU, there’s a Thermal Lottery too!

     

    New Build-ALL3-15 Min-4Ghz-Themis

     

    With this in mind we have calibrated our Test Rigs; this means that when testing CPU Coolers the results from both Mike and Terry need to be adjusted (Calibrated). pcG Terry has a negative 1.5 Degree Delta and pcG Mike has a positive 1.5 degree Delta. This then brings both Test Rigs in-line with James’ Test Rig which is (effectively) the average.

    UPDATE (12/01/15): Due to a new CPU being introduced these Deltas are now as follows: pcG Terry has a negative 0.75 Degree Delta, pcG Mike has a positive 1.0 degree Delta and pcG James now has a negative 0.5 degree Delta.

    This hopefully explains the length that we have gone to in an attempt to give you the most accurate data we can, given our setup. If you want to be super accurate, you will need to apply these Deltas to our results, as we have not as it would only lead to confusion. Also remember that if you were to buy any or all of our Test components, you will also get a slightly different result, maybe even a better one! 😉

     

    UPDATE (05/12/14):

    In an attempt to ensure that all equipment is validated we have invested in some new thermometers for ambient temperature readings. As you can see these three thermometers are all within 0.1 degrees of one another. This is plenty accurate enough for recording ambient temperatures.

    pcG - Thermometers

     

    FYI: The thermometers can be found on Amazon if you’re interested.

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    Steam on a pen drive?

    April 2nd, 2014 15 comments

    Now there’s a thought, but you may ask why, or be concerned about how practical it may be, well…

    Having your Steam install on a pen drive means that it’s portable, meaning that you can plug it in to any computer you like. Yes that’s right, any computer, be it in your house or a friend’s house. Of course this means you can play any of the Games you own anywhere you like. It’s also fine to have more than one copy of your Steam Library too, one on your own computer and one on a pen drive.

    And the best part is there’s no new install to do and no setup or configuration, it just works (promise, I’ve been doing if for ages)! 😉

    But to make the whole thing run that little smoother and dare I say faster (and faster’s always good, right!?) you should consider what pen drive you use. Here we have one of the best, a Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB USB 3.0 drive.

    Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB

    This drive is on average twice as fast as a modern HDD, the HyperX drive features a fast READ (225MB/s) and a fast WRITE (135MB/s) speed, meaning that not only is your Steam setup now portable but it’s faster too!

    BEFORE YOU START: As some of the newer games now feature files bigger than 4GB (yes that’s you TitanFall) you should re-format the drive using NTFS. Just simply Right Click the drive you want to format (please make sure you select your pen drive!), select Format and choose the NTFS option within, leave all other options at their default setting. Then click Start…

    So what do you need to do to setup steam on a pen drive? There are three ways that you can start, either:

    (1) Copy your Steam Directory and ALL of its contents to the pen drive. Obviously for this to work you want to make sure you have enough available space on the pen drive. Also you don’t want to fill the pen drive to the limit as performance begins to degrade. Try and always leave around 10% free space.

    (2) If you don’t have the space on the pen drive, you could chop down the Game Data via Steam (using the Delete Local Content option), but to be fair this is probably not the best approach, as your Games are effectively deleted. But if your internet connection is really slow and or you want to transfer a lot of games this still could be the best approach…

    (3) The cleanest and to some degree the simplest option is to just download the Steam Client installer and install it directly to the pen drive.

     

    By the time you are at this point you should have Steam installed on your pen drive, either with some Games in place or not.

    THE TRICK NOW is to make sure that when you want to run Steam (you don’t run it from your PC) all you do is browse to the Steam folder on the pen drive and locate the Steam Application executable and run it!

     

    SteamApplicationEXE
     

    You may get a Error that says Something like Steam is not configured correctly, just accept this and press OK and Steam (clever that it is) will just re-configure itself. Login with your Steam Username and Password as per usual an voilà!

    NOTE: You can only login to Steam once on any system anywhere, if you are logged in elsewhere you will be notified by Steam and have the option to effectively log the other account out and continue to login yourself.

    From this point on you’ll be running everything from the pen drive, all installs will take place here and all un-installs. You’ll also now begin to appreciate the speed increase that this should give assuming that your using a drive like the Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB USB 3.0 (shown above).

    You can now also remove your pen drive take it to a friend’s house and follow the same routine as above. Just make sure you run the Application from the pen drive, no need to re-install Steam!
     
    Just in case you were thinking of doing something you shouldn’t, this only works for YOUR Steam account, you cannot transfer Games to any other Steam account as that would obviously be prohibited… 😉

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    Toshiba FlashAir 32GB SDHC Card

    April 1st, 2014 No comments

    Here at pcG we take a lot of photographs, so we are always using SD cards and card readers to help us get the job done. So when I heard about a SDHC card that not only had a whopping 32GB of storage and a Class 10 speed rating, and could also be accessed (directly) via WiFi, needless to say that I was interested and a little excited. Well the nice guys over at Toshiba were kind enough to let us take a look at one. So without further ado let me present to you the Toshiba FlashAir 32GB SDHC Card.

     

    Toshiba FlashAir - box (front)

    Toshiba FlashAir - box (back)

    Toshiba FlashAir 32GB

    Overview:
    Available Density 8GB, 16GB, 32GB
    Speed Class Speed Class 10
    Interface Compliant standard SD Memory Card Standard Ver.4.00
    Wireless LAN Standard IEEE802.11 b/g/n
    Wireless LAN Security WEP, TKIP, AES (WPA, WPA2) WPA2 Default
    Digital Still Camera (DSC) Compatible with SDHC™ Memory Card
    Operating System (for config.) Windows XP/ Vista/7, MAC-PC, Android, iOS
    Browsers Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.
    Applicable Data Formats All kinds of data format (ex: .jpg, .mpg, .raw etc.)
    Power Supply Voltage 2.7 – 3.6V
    Physical Specification:
    Dimensions 32.0 mm (L)  ×24.0 mm (W) × 2.1 mm (H)
    Weight approx. 2g
    Environmental:
    Operating Temp. -25°C to 85°C (Recommended)
    Storage Temp. -40°C to +85°C (Recommended)
    Operational and Storage Humidity 95%RH (at 25°C, no condensation)
    Model Numbers:
    8GB 16GB 32GB
    Part Number THNSW008GAA-B(QB8) THNSW016GAA-B(QB8) THNSW032GAA-B(QB8)

     

    So, what is it exactly? Well other than the obvious (it’s a 32GB SDHC Memory Card), the card also features a Wireless IEE802.11b/g/n access point. The card also features a new “internet pass-through” mode that further simplifies photo sharing. Once a mobile device is connected to the FlashAir card, the internet pass-through functionality enables the device to access the internet via a wireless access point. This removes the need for users to swap between a WiFi connection and the FlashAir card when uploading images to social media sites.

    Once upon a time you had to pull an SD card from your camera and upload pictures to a PC in order to share them, not any more. The Toshiba Wireless products include a built-in wireless LAN chip plus an antenna that makes it accessible to any WLAN-capable PC, smartphone or tablet.

    Toshiba Flash Air - info

     

    WIRELESS Setup and Usage

     

    Having placed the card into your device of choice, in my case a camera, it’s just a simple task of looking up a predefined URL (http://flashair/) via the Wireless device of your choice and, Voilà! FlashAir - URL
    FlashAir SD Card - files From here you can now browse through the files and folders on the SD Card and even copy them locally via a simple drag and drop. If you want to see the photo full screen it’s just a simple case of clicking the thumbnail. The image takes a while to appear though, anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds (it could do with being faster!). The strange thing is the copy function seems really quick (a couple of seconds)!? The interface is a little clunky to be honest but it gets the job done. There’s nothing quite like having your tablet next to you while taking photos and watch them pop up one after another on the screen next to you, it really is pretty clever stuff!

     

    WIRED Setup and Usage

     

    If you wish to connect to the FlashAir via a computer that does not have Wireless access, but is wired to a Router with Wireless access, then help is at hand. You can download the FlashAirTool form here and install it on the computer that needs access. Once installed you’ll need to connect the FlashAir SD Card directly to the PC so the card can be bound to your router, this will need to be done via a card reader of some sort. FlashAir - Tool Installation
    FlashAir - Tool (Router Setup) Once the software has detected the connected SD card it can then be bound to your wireless router. This is simply a case of supplying your router name and password. Access to the FlashAir SD Card can now be made via the default URL (http://flashair/).

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Overall the Toshiba FlashAir 32GB SD card is an impressive bit of technology, with its built in Web Server and Wifi Access Hotspot. The obvious advantages of an SD card equipped with 32GB of memory I don’t need to promote, but couple this with the Class 10 speed designation and its Wireless access and we’re surely looking at the mother of all SD cards!

    As I’ve mentioned above the downsides are the speed (that’s WiFi speed) as this seems to be a little hit and miss at times, meaning that you’re unlikely to want to browse through too many images at once. This is made more difficult by a slightly clunky web interface, that seems to possibly have speed issues of its own.

    But given the choice, what card would you want? A slower Class 6 8GB card with no Wifi access, or the Toshiba FlashAir with its 32GB, Class 10 performance and its impressive Wifi Hotspot, I thought so… I think my old SanDisk 4GB Class 4 card is destined for the draw! 😉

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    How to setup and keep your SSD running optimally

    August 6th, 2011 Comments off
    SSD’s are not the same as mechanical hard drives and require different configuration & maintenance to keep them in tip top condition.

    Here are my top tips to help:

     

    Continue reading “How to setup and keep your SSD running optimally” »

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    Portable hard drives – Seagate GoFlex; a new spin on connectivity.

    June 18th, 2011 No comments

     

    Manufacturer: Seagate

    Available at: www.novatech.co.uk

    Introduction

     

    I have been on the look out for a new portable external drive for a while now; having had many of the larger external 3.5″ drives, the main draw back has always been that they required powering via a huge great big power block.

     

    Many of the new smaller 2.5″ external drives are now powered solely from the connector cable; making them a whole lot more ‘portable’, but until recently have been limited to fairly small capacities.

     

    This brings me onto my article today regarding the Seagate GoFlex 1TB Ultra Portable.

    Continue reading “Portable hard drives – Seagate GoFlex; a new spin on connectivity.” »

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    Samsung F3 1TB (RAID 0 & Short Stroking)

    May 23rd, 2011 9 comments

    Introduction

    Carrying on from Terry‘s excellent work on Short Stroking we will now find out the benefits of extending the concept using a Raid 0 setup.

    A Raid 0 configuration gives the best performance using 2 drives, but at the cost of reliability; if one drive fails then data on both are lost.

    For our Gaming rigs we are interested in the best performance; so lets see some benchmarks in this configuration.

    Testing Strategy

    Here we have 2 Samsung F3 1Tb drives that I have setup using the Intel Raid Manager, a Short Stroke drive of 500gb (that’s using the 1st 250gb most performant sectors from each drive) and the remaining slower space (so as not to be completly wasted) was configured as a 1.3gb drive which can be used for other storage; as long as you remember not to use it at same time as our games.

    Samsung F3 1Tb ShortStop Raid0 Intel Raid Manager Configuration

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    Hard Drive Short Stroking – Tangible Benefits!

    April 1st, 2011 3 comments

    Introduction

    As part of my new Gaming Rig build I have added two Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA-II drives, and have been looking at short stroking as a way to get some extra performance for a small cost and have been experimenting with different settings on the drives to produce some comparative output.

    The results of these tests are presented here… suffice to say the benefits of a short stroked drive are definitely there for the taking.

    What is Short Stroking?

    Short Stroking is the process of setting a drives capacity lower than the native size. It can be seen on normal drive speed tests that, as the drive is tested, the read speed drops the further into the disk the head moves. Short Stroking forces the drive to only use the faster outer tracks of the disk, which in turn also reduces the amount of head movement required to read the data, this configuration reduces the amount of speed “drop off” seen when accessing the inner tracks of the disk… this speed benefit of course comes with a price in that the drives capacity is vastly reduced. However with the price of HDD’s these days and the fact that a Gaming Rig should only ever contain the games you are playing currently the reduced size of the drive is an acceptable loss.

    Testing Strategy

    Testing was carried out using HD Tune 2.55.

    I carry out three test runs at each point in my configuration to get a feel for the average speed performance at that point, I will be providing the details of all three test runs at each stage of the Short Stroking exercise.

    I allocated each drive to a purpose, “Disk 1” will be my OS drive, “Disk 2” will be allocated for Games installations.

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    How fast does my CPU need to be?

    March 16th, 2011 No comments

     
    Well that seems like one hell of a question, and it is, but it is one that I am going to try/will shed some light on.  Even before pcGameware came to fruition I had always assumed that effectivley you needed to run your CPU as fast as you dare or as fast as you could afford, well folks there is actually a little more to it than that!  Over the past few days I have been busy benchmarking various tools and games at differing processor speeds to see what I could find out, the results have been a little surprising…

     

    Rig Setup, tools & games

    My rig was used exclusively for this set of benchmarks and it’s make up can be seen here.  The rig’s drive was reformatted before I started with a clean install of Windows.

    • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit with Service Pack 1 (no further updates applied)
    • NVIDIA GEFORCE/ION DRIVER RELEASE 265 (266.58)
    • INTEL Chipset Drivers
    • Intel LAN Driver

    All testing was carried out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

    All test were performed 3 times and the rig was rebooted after each test to avoid any caching discrepancies. So as the results started to come in a trend started to appear, but it was not what I was expecting…

    Continue reading “How fast does my CPU need to be?” »

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