Hello from GGPC NZ! This is our first in a new hardware testing while streaming series
The method is a pretty simple one, we’re going to be checking out a range of gaming gear in live streams to see what it’s like – videos are unedited, straight up live tests.
A quick note on why you’d want to have nice direction mic like this one from GGPC Warlock – “not only is the sound quality great but with a little time spent tweaking the position you happily chat away while gaming without having the sounds from your keyboard blasting over the broadcast :)”
For our first test, NZ Twitch Streamer SCRAXER has kindly helped out by taking a Blue Snowball iCE microphone and used this in a quick match of Player Unknown Battlegrounds. From here the microphone will do the rounds visiting three different gamers in total, no instruction is given to any of the gamers involved and as each has a go with the Snowball iCE we’ll begin linking to each players experience within our PC Gaming Blog here at GGPC New Zealand.
Notes from Scraxer…
Setup for the Snowball iCE was pretty straight forward, plug and play with a single USB connection. The microphone does need to be quite close to you to pickup voice communication clearly and I highly recommend getting a scissor stand & pop filter if you’re using this mic while streaming games. Once you’ve got the microphone into a good position you can speak quite softly and still be heard clearly, it’s one-directional audio input means if you look away and talk it often won’t pick this up. I was seriously surprised by the recording quality of the Snowball iCE, considering it’s a pretty low price option among the range – looking forward to testing more!
The Snowball iCE is now on its way to ATTACK ON GEEK, then it’s going to swing by Gabbu 🙂 We’ll update as the tests continue.
The fight has been a fierce one for sure, with the NZ Overwatch World Cup Team being assigned to Group G in Burbank USA they’ve now completed the matches against Team USA and Team Taipei.
The way this eSports event works is pretty straight forward, each group is comprised of four national teams that will play a full round-robin series of matches, from each group, the top two teams will advance to the single-elimination playoffs.
The top two finishers from each of the four group stage events will qualify for the Overwatch World Cup finals at BlizzCon 2017!
The stadium setup for this event is crazy cool, with an awesome Overwatch themed stage for the players and an excited audience looking on as they play each round. Hosts are setup just behind the audience stands providing both gameplay insights for newer players and some pretty funny banter to fill in the gaps 🙂
Below is the gameplay from players BIRDY, LEGABRIL, SIGNED, HOOWOO, WILLX and CANTUS battling against Team USA.
You can watch all the matches in this eSports event live via the PlayOverwatch Twitch Channel, as I write this I’m watching USA vs Germany and it’s GOOD \o/
The AMD THEADRIPPER 1950X is just about to release in New Zealand \o/ We’ve already begun testing these extremely high-end CPU options with our own custom PC builds here at GGPC NZ and things are looking pretty good!
Wanting to keep everything AMD we kitted out our first test system with twin Sapphire Nitro RX 580 Graphics Cards and begun making our way through the usual stuff like Cinebenchmarks to quickly compare with to others around the world before jumping into some games to really have some fun checking things out \o/ These new ThreadRipper CPU options are a part of the Ryzen family but both the 1920X and 1950X do require a special motherboard socket to use, you find these on new motherboards with TR4 and X399 in the name, like the AORUS GA-X399 Gaming 7 🙂 It’s not just a socket change up either, specific details around support for quad channel RAM configurations, a cache size increase and expanded PCIe support have been added to take full advantage of these mighty 16 core processors, M.2 ultra fast storage and all the supporting hardware these highest end PC will undoubtedly be using in the future.
One thing popped up as each of us started builds, we all thought to ourselves… this CPU is massive, where should I put the thermal paste? Thankfully, the CPU Cooler options that we’re attaching on top still have the same surface area as before so just a blob in the middle like normal worked for us, it’s going to interesting to see if ThreadRipper specific cooling options emerge after release though 🙂
Those talented techs at Phanteks have created a new addition to the now iconic EVOLV series with two new chassis joining the range, these latest offerings are known as the EVOLV SHIFT and they’re looking really good! All up there are four versions of these new chassis, with two colour options and two unique sizes available.
The superb craftsmanship of the Evolv Shift can be seen in every detail, although extremely compact compared to the mid sized chassis we often see, the Shift delivers a versatile space in which we can pack in plenty of powerful components – and pack them in we did!
For our first build in the smaller Shift chassis, we grabbed the Gigabyte B250N ITX Pheonix motherboard which conveniently has wireless built in, a 2 x 8GB kit of G.Skill Trident Z and a little SFX power supply from Corsair. With the large windows running down both sides and providing such a nice view we opted to replace our intel stock cooler with the Phanteks TC12LS low profile cooler, having used this previously in our CM Pro 6 RGB Sync test build we yet again replaced the standard fan with a very nice RGB one to really light things up, graphics wise even the smallest version of this chassis can fit a full-length (35cm) card inside but it’s important to note that even though we absolutely love the massive Aorus 1080Ti its triple slot form factor was a just a little too large for this one 😛
Building with the Shift is easier than most small cases due to the way they’ve separated it into different areas, the top of the chassis is where you mount your motherboard and a PCIe extender then attaches to another space behind this where you will fit your graphics card – with the smaller Shift, if you go with a dual fangraphics card it can be fitted backplate facing either in or out, with the longer triple fan cards we found the best fit is backplate out – keep that in mind when choosing which card to build with 😛
This leaves a fairly large space in the lower compartment which lets the air flow in and upwards, you could easily fit a 120mm AiO liquid cooling kit in here if you wanted too. While the power supply has its own special output on the base of the build all your outputs from the motherboard and graphics card come out at the top of the case hidden beneath a push-to-release cover panel which serves as the primary airflow output vent, there is a little hole on the rear of this area that cables can be routed through.
UPDATE: GGPC Workshop spots are currently fully booked, spots may open on the days though!
Coming up this weekend, the Vodafone Event Centre plays host to a tech fair with friends from Gigabyte, Asus, Cooler Master, G.Skill and Logitech G showcasing their latest tech devices and solutions for end users like us!
They’ll be hosting demonstrations and lending expert tech advice while displaying their latest products for you to get hands on with. Brand experts will be at each booth to take you through their tech and share with you their knowledge on PC Gaming. The event centre will also host various entertainment setups such as full gaming setup areas, a drone enclosure offering drone flying sessions, workshop classes, hands-on PC builds and more!
The crew from GGPC will be there hosting a workshop packed full of handy tips & tricks for water cooling, case modding, and getting the best performance for your dollar plus there will be awesome prizes up for grabs throughout each day – and a bunch of lucky attendees will get the chance to buildtheir own dream PC at half price!
This event is free to attend so if you’re a system builder, gamer, tech guru or just interested to see the latest and greatest electronics and digital technology in New Zealand, JOIN US AT THE NZ TECHXPO 2017 THIS WEEKEND!
UPDATE: PowerPlay incoming to NZ, expected with retailers this September!
Wireless Gaming Mice are good, the only real worry we have is that the charge might run out right at that critical moment when gaming, denying us our glorious Pentakill – which is why GGPC use wired mice in competitive play.
Over the years talented techs have researched and released a bunch of different methods and technologies to improve battery life of our wireless devices, offering up solutions like charging cables rather than docks so you can charge as you use it – but that’s not really the point of wireless now is it 😛 The perfect solution would be never having to plug in at all, and with induction chargers for Smartphones being a common thing now it’s plausible to have your mouse pad charge your mouse – right? The biggest issues apparently are around the requirement for very precise placement, and being unable to deliver charge while the device is moving.
or should we say “were“…
Those incredible engineers at Logitech G have figured it all out, they’ve got something totally new – and they’re calling it POWERPLAY.
POWERPLAY creates an electromagnetic energy field over a large surface area – so you don’t have to rest your gaming mouse on a tiny charging target. This field is captured and transformed into charging current by the included POWERCORE module, which attaches magnetically to the underside of a compatible gaming mouse in place of the existing weight door. It’s designed to keep charging even through high-speed flick shots or lifting and repositioning, and its base is only 2mm thick – so it’s comfortable to use as a gaming surface, the induction charging works right through both the soft and hard mouse pads as well so whatever surface you want to use it’s going to be savvy 🙂
Currently, the technology is set to work with two of our favourite Logitech G Wireless Gaming Mice – namely the G900, and absolutely epic G403. Both are getting an update as well with the new POWERPLAY ready versions being named the new G903 and G703, in addition to that sweeeeet POWERPLAY compatibility, both of them feature upgraded microswitches rated to 50 million clicks (vs 20 million in the previous version).
Logitech G POWERPLAY is an amazing solution jamm packed with the latest technologies, but the best bit is how simple it is to set up and use, and how easily you’ll forget about the dark times…. when you used to have to charge your mouse 🙂
We’ve been playing a fair few games lately (as always :P) and recently we’ve been diving into as many free to play PC games as we can, this blog will be a sticky one that we constantly update with new games as we play them but for now we’ll start things off with a few unique and rather good games for your PC that will cost you nothing but the data to download them 🙂 (the titles for each are download links, videos are short gameplay tests captured by GGPC NZ)
ARGO – A hardcore tactical first-person shooter, jump straight into combat in this official standalone FREE total conversion of Arma 3. This one has us fighting for supremacy in a familiar but new setting – the Mediterranean island of Malden, complete with dense urban areas and wide open plains ideal for snipers you’ll find each location has been built to provide an optimal experience for each game mode 😛 What really makes this one stand out for us here at GGPC so far is the new Combat Patrol CO-OP mode in which you can team up with some friends and fight against AI opponents with both randomized objectives and procedural generation of enemy forces making each session of Combat Patrol unique. Combine this with three competitive game modes and a pretty good looking Scenario Editor with which you can create your own missions with and you’ve got ARGO, it’s a pretty darn impressive free to play war gaming experience 🙂
Dreadnought– This is a medium paced arcade action game which puts you in command of a massive sci-fi battleship, similar in many ways to Fractured Space and Cloud Pirates below but with some really beautiful landscapes to wage war on this is one can be a stunner with settings cranked to high. Customisation for your starship is first class from guns and turrets to coatings and decals and there are a range of configs for each ship class so you’re sure to find one that fits your playstyle perfectly. Massively enjoyable in a group or alone, we’ve been playing this one since early BETA days and it just keeps getting better!
Atlus Reactor – A rather refreshing and unique take on turn-based tactical combat. Engage in 4v4 team battles with a short moment between each round to lock in your players actions after which all eight players will execute their command lists. Each character has a range of moves available to them that will initiate at different times in the action que depending on the type of move selected, this makes playing Altus Reactor a game of predicting what your opponents might do which just keeps getting better the more familiar you become with the growing roster of freelancers available (numbering 25 as I write this). Once you reach level 10 there is also a “Seasons” XP event in which players can complete challenges and receive some extra bonus loot to customise their characters.
Paladins – A team-based shooter set in a vibrant fantasy world and features a diverse cast of Champions ranging from sharpshooting humans to mech-riding goblins, mystical elves, jetpack-clad dragons, and bomb golems. Each Champion brings a unique set of abilities to the battlefield and new Champions are regularly added to Paladins, keeping the game exciting. With strategy elements and character customisation through a unique collectable card system, players can amplify and augment a character’s core set of abilities to play exactly how they want to play.
Cloud Pirates – Arcade airship based combat awaits you in this science-fiction fantasy battleground game 🙂 Remarkably tactical but also good fun early on for a casual run-and-gun play style, as you progress though you’ll gain access a bunch of unique upgrades for your airships, captain and crew which leads to much more challenging matches and modes as you progress. There are numerous visual customization options to tinker which as you go and plenty of airships to choose from each with their own unique handling and firing arcs – snipers, tanks, dps, tackle – there really are a lot!
Warframe – A team based hack’n’slash shooter with some pretty action packed moments, heaps of gear and hours of fun 🙂 The “War Within” update recently went live live for this one so it’s a great time to jump into the fray and hack some enemies to pieces. You play as a Tenno, an ancient warrior, a weapon master… You wield the mighty Warframes and command their awesome powers – the Grineer Empire grows stronger as a cryptic adversary surfaces. Underpowered, unprepared and forced out of your comfort, you must find it in yourself to improvise, not just to save yourself but the fate of all Tenno. The Queens’ Fortress awaits, where both Warframe and Operator will be pushed past their limits as they slowly unravel mysteries about the Tenno’s past and their true capabilities.
Blade and Soul – A rather excellent MMO set in a world of martial arts masters and mythology 🙂 A tale of revenge at its core that will have you exploring a beautiful, cinematic world inspired by the distinct visual style of acclaimed artist Hyung Tae Kim. This one’s got detailed character customization tools, offers some brilliant PVP matches and has an excellent action based combat system. The storyline is very good, especially the introduction to the game world and no matter which class you choose the cross server PVE multiplayer instances are quick to find match ups.
Path of Exile – You are an Exile, struggling to survive as you fight to earn power that will allow you to exact your revenge against those who wronged you. Created by NZ game studio Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile is an isometric online action RPG is set in the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast. It offers excellent co-op gaming with extremely deep character customisation, the best skill tree we’ve seen in a long long time and even a hardcore mode in which staying alive actually matters 😛 The game is completely free and will never be “pay to win”, the community is excellent and graphics are top notch. All in all this is our most recommended game right now, crazy good times to be had playing on your own but in a group with some friends the game really shines.
Planetside 2– It’s a very different experience from most first person shooters because instead of the usual 24v24 firefights – battles in Planetside 2 can typically involve a few hundred players. This war takes place over several continents each of which has a defined landscape, there are 3 factions to choose from each with there own infantry weapons, ground vehicles and aircraft. The scale of the game can be quite daunting at first but for new players if you go Engineer class and get a Sunderer vehicle you’ll rapidly begin leveling up while being a great addition to the war effort, doing this will allow you to quickly amass enough experience points to buy new weapons, vehicle mods or abilities. The game world is large, but getting around is easy thanks to an instant action button on the map screen that will take you into hot spots, you can also hover over locations to see just how many players from each faction are fighting in that specific sector which is excellent. Community wise (NZ players) we highly recommend jumping into this one on a Sunday afternoon, it’s pretty crazy!
Paragon – Is a multiplayer online battle arena game that feels a bit like SMITE, but with some beautiful graphics 🙂 There are a range of heroes to choose from and a new ones joins the mix every three weeks so it’s going to be great to see just how diverse the range will become. Like most MOBA games the action starts out pretty slow and this escalates as the players level up and unlock more and more abilities leading to some great end game battles, there is also a card powerup system with which you can tweak each character to your play style a bit. It’s hard to say where to start with this one, having played so much League of Legends and DOTA 2 this game just seems to make sense right away.
Mechwarrior Online – A slower paced, tactical online shooter set in the BattleTech Universe. Victory requires a mastery of tactical positioning, teamwork, and firing discipline to prevent overheating and the dreaded shutdown (overload only works so much!). Each battle will reward you with credits depending on performance and these can be spent on new weapons, equipment and mech chassis to full your hangers. For new players there is a rotation of free to play pre-configured mechs to take into battle and these will give you a good taste of how each weight class performs so you can spend your credits wisely. Once you’ve brought a BattleMech of your very own there is a faction warfare system and if you spend a little time in each jumping from faction to faction you can quickly amass a bunch of personal hangers to store more and more of your own mechs in, this becomes more important with multiple variants of the same frame offering different hardpoints to mount weaponry on and new skills to unlock as you progress. It’s not an easy fight and don’t expect to just run in and win, this is a thinking persons shooter for sure.
Fractured Space– Another MOBA at its core but very different from Paragon above, this one has us controlling a large battleship in space based 5v5 combat pushing our way towards a large enemy base that your team can only reach by pushing a spacelane all the way up. Each multiplayer match provides some pretty intense team battles and also some smaller skirmishes with ships able to quickly warp to other locations on the map. The starships themselves look beautiful, there are three factions/manufacturers in the game right now each with their own unique art style for each class of ship available – each class backs some pretty awesome weapons and abilities that you can further tweak to suit your play style as you progress in the game. Fractured space is in early access now and we’ll be excitedly watching this one as it evolves, right now though it’s in pretty excellent shape and certainly a blast to play!
EVE Online– The new free to play mode in EVE will allow you gain a lot of skills with no money down 🙂 Leveling up an EVE Online character has always been a little different from most MMORPG, every player in the game controls a clone which they train in new skills over time (even when you’re not logged in) as opposed to the far more common “kill this and fetch that for XP”. As your clone learns more and more you will be able to fly more ships and kit these out with new modules and equipment. When you die you respawn into another clone but depending on when you last did a clone imprint that new clone may or may not have the skills you previously acquired and it’s this investment in time that makes up one of many factors that gives each life in EVE a real feeling of value – there are of course the in game monetary losses involved with death in EVE, losing your favourite ship certainly hurts! The new alpha clone state will allow you to get some pretty potent ships like the Caracal below, armed with many heavy missile launchers you’ll be a fine addition to fleets around the univese 🙂
DOTA 2–Originating as a fan-made Warcraft 3 modification, Dota was an instant underground hit. After coming to Valve, the original community developers have bridged the gap to a more inclusive audience, so that the rest of the world can experience the same core gameplay, but with a level of polish and depth that’s unmatched.Much like League of Legends,Dota is a competitive game of action and strategy. Players can choose from a roster of over a hundred unique heroes, forming two teams of five players. Radiant heroes then battle their Dire counterparts to control on a beautiful fantasy landscape, battling one another with cunning, stealth, and outright warfare.
League of Legends – A popular take on the multiplayer online battle arena game type that first came about as a mod for Warcraft 3 named DOTA back in 2003… or was it 2002, anyways it was a while ago 🙂 League of Legends released to the public in 2009 and it has since become one of the most played games in the world today with some very cool new heroes to play as and more joining the ranks constantly. It’s quite a wonderful game to play if you’re a gamer that’s short on time with matches lasting from twenty minutes to one hour depending on how well each team performs. The game is both newbie friendly and deep enough to keep a long term player interested, the roster of heroes to play as changes often and there is even a rune loadout enabling you to tweak you heroes slightly using various power-ups you can purchase using currency accrued as you play matches.
Killer Instinct – This one has been made available via the Windows Store so you’ll need a Windows 10 Gaming PC to try it out. It’s the same Killer Instinct we remember playing in movie theatres wayyy back in the 90’s but with some wonderful new graphics to enjoy 🙂 The free version of this one gives players a single character with which you can access all game modes, including online multiplayer!
War Thunder – This one gives us action packed battles both on the ground and in the skies (also boats are in BETA!), it’s crazy how good this game is with beautiful graphics and a massive line-up of tanks and planes for us to use in the PVP battles + recently the games creators added a new PVE game mode named Assault which is a blast to play. A perfect game to play with friends this one has options from Simulation to Arcade, it’s similar in many ways to World of Tanks and World of Warships but ultimately War Thunder wins the day with it’s seamless combination of modes and unmatched intensity of aerial dogfights. A truly great game that deserves a download 🙂
We’ll continue adding to this list as we test more and more Gaming PC, we’ve got our eyes on Battlerite but if you know a great new free game you think we should test out please drop a comment in via our GGPC YouTube channel – we are on the hunt now for a nice driving game!
Small form factor gaming performance received a massive boost with the recently released Nvidia 10 series opening new doors to what’s possible performance wise, while keeping things really small – and those talented techs at HP Omen Gaming have taken this into the immersive VR space with the latest version of the virtual reality backpack PC – designing a full kit they call the OMEN X that leaps us ahead of the ones we tried just a few months ago during Computex 2017 – and they were pretty darn good!
Packing (pun intended) a powerful 8GB GTX 1080 graphics paired with the intel i7-7820HK this small gaming PC has the got power to deliver exceptional gaming performance, punching with the same strength as much, much larger systems 🙂
The dock is a very clever addition, it not only adds functionality but also lets you keep your keyboard and mouse connected so you can dock the OMEN X and get jump straight into 4K desktop gaming as well. This convenience works both ways of course, simply take the OMEN X system out of the desktop dock, then clip it onto the super comfy backpack unit and you’re ready to dive straight into VR, making the most out of your HTC Vive with the freedom to move 🙂 They’ve also tackled battery life in a good way with two hip-mounted power packs providing enough power for a good gaming session, the kit includes 4x battery packs which are quick release as well, allowing you to hot swap quickly one by one and stay in game!
The new OMEN X Compact PC VR Backpacks will be available for everyone to try for themselves at the NZ techXpo 2017 which is set for mid-August at the Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland, come along and join the GGPC team as we get hands on with the latest and best in tech!