The new FINAL FANTASY XV Official Benchmark application is now available for free download here and can be used to test a systems performance by displaying several of the events, maps and characters used in the game.
The score increases based on the FPS count, and the speed at which it will count up is based on your PC’s capabilities. Right now the Benchmark compatibility test takes is roughly 6 1/2 minutes for a full run, with the score results and a performance evaluation coming up at the very end.
Testing resolutions this time around are 1920×1080 and glorious 4K, as usual, we’ll be recording our scores with various configurations to make it easy to check against your own PC’s to see how things look with different hardware.
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 (the black Evolv Shift looks amazing) 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!
GGPC has been busy playing some games with the first arrivals from a new i9 CPU range from intel \o/ We’ve started things off with a tasty new i9-7900X which boasts 10 cores and 4.3GHz Turbo Boost (4.5GHz with TB3!) but before we dive right in there is even more sweet hardware that’s released alongside the new intel CPU and it’s all looking suitably awesome, X299 motherboards have appeared in NZ already from those fine folks at Gigabyte and Asus!
Diving into the latest version of Minecraft 1.2 with Optifine and Sildurs Vibrant Shaders version 1.61 we were treated to some excellent performance at 4K, the quick test couldn’t have been in a better spot with the latest water effects on display as we ran around a village right beside the ocean 🙂
Jumping into a little Overwatch next we has a blast happily charging around in our new D.VA Police Skin shooting down Pharah with Mercy in tow 🙂 Our FPS never dipping below 60 even with the settings cranked to a custom epic preset with SMAA on max at 4K \o/ 13 seconds into the video I muted the sound to talk to another GGPC tester – will have update this one soon 😛
From here we jumped into a bunch of games until we finally hit one that couldn’t quite hit our 60FPS 4K target, well at least not all of the time 😛Black Desert Online is currently featured in the massive Steam summer sale and the player base is MASSIVE right now – perfect for some really hardcore testing 🙂
Starting things off with the most popular activity in the game we began hunting for large mobs to kill so we could really test things out with lot’s of effects on screen, we tried several areas and found the heaviest zones to be the forest and giant canyons, especially the area below which was covered in a thick fog at the time of testing. We followed this up by putting even more stress on the system by turning the Ui off which activates a filter in BDO, check out the Ui Off, Farming Mobs FPS test here and Ui Off, Fighting a Giant in the Forrest test here.
The largest city in the game is known as Calpheon and it’s pretty massive, this area is notorious for reducing even the most powerful systems to low FPS but we didn’t have a bad time at all riding our horse through the town with the biggest dips happening only for a moment right in the middle at the marketplace.
Rounding off the Black Desert tests we wanted to see what performance was like with hundreds of players in the area so we headed to the smaller town of the Velia which has a popular fishing spot, it didn’t disappoint with so many players loading them happened in chunks!
Blown away by the performance of this “not really intended for gaming but pretty darn good at it i9 CPU” we decided to fire up the latest Final Fantasy Stormblood benchmark check out another new CPU that’s coming out for the same new X299 platform – an i7-7740X \o/
These new ones have a slightly bigger screen size, but by opting for a class-leading 15” 5mm bezel display the new Aero 15 offers you greater display real estate without increasing chassis size allowing them to keep their signature, super slimness 🙂
Little tweaks to the design, like placement on the webcam and mics within the hinge keep things very slim indeed, and nice touches like the carbon fiber detailing on the back along with the way the RGB led shines through the dual cooling fans is just beautiful 🙂 When comparing with the previous Aero 14 the rear cooling vents on the Aero 15 have been extended and air blown out from two positions on the back of the laptop while gaming, and to go even further, a Thunderbolt 3 port has been added for a premium ultra-fast transfer speed at 40Gbps and the ability to connect external graphics enclosures (we tested this by adding a GTX 1080Ti), or run with twin 5K external displays… truly a mobile powerhouse without limits!
Specifications wise it’s packing the latest 7th gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card along with 16GB of DDR4 ram and a super quick PCIe M.2 for storage. They’ve also done wonderful things to the keys on these new version and the new Aero 15 now sports a RGB Fusion chicklet keyboard with the best keys we’ve even seen – vibrant but with little light leakage!
In-game the Aero15 is excellent, far above expectations. The GTX 1060 inside was able to keep our framerates high in a range of games and when we tested the i7-7700HQ with a little CS:GO we were pleasantly surprised to see the CPU usage keeping around 50% even while using the built in Nvidia Shadowplay Game Capture tools. You can manually set fans speeds via the control center but leaving them set to auto is just fine, the laptop will pulse up the speed as needed when you’re gaming – we did a quick test to see at what point the CPU begins to throttle itself and the mark is 89 degrees, at this point the fans kick in and the CPU changes from its 3.8GHz boost to 3.2GHz (base is 2.8GHz) to keep things cooler, during these moments we noticed no bumps or jumps in game 🙂
Sydney just hosted a massive gaming event, an Intel Extreme Masters CSGO tournament and it was GOOD!
This tournament goes hand in hand with another cool promotion on now in NZ, IEM Certified Gaming PC \o/ Grabbing a system that’s certified in this way gets you a really sweet golden sticker for your new PC, that holographic certificate guarantees quality that meets only the highest standards from Intel and it also signals a FREE GAMES BONUS!
Looking specifically at the current games in the IEM Certified Gaming PC bundle there are a few “Free to Play” ones, the bonus with these comes in the form of in-game currency that you can use to add a little customisation to your tank, battleship or hero. If you’re wanting to check these out for yourself right away you can find the download links in our GGPC Free to Play PC Games Sticky Blog 🙂
You’ll also get Just Cause 3, Warhammer Vermintide (This one is multi-player Left for Dead style gaming gold) and the space battleship brawler Dreadnought \o/ which we’ve been happily playing since early BETA testing:)
Topping the bonus games list right now is the recently released Halo Wars 2! Real-time strategy Halo style with Spartans, Warthogs and other classic Halo fighting forces. You’ll get the full game with the IEM bundle but there is also a Window 10 Store Halo Wars 2 demo available now you can check out now 🙂
The setup for the event was absolutely first class, from the moment you walked through the doors intel had a range of latest gaming laptops and IEM custom desktops ready to go with games to play and you could even join in on mini competitions in everything from a quick round of 3v3 CSGO to VR Racing time attacks.
The quality of the interactive experiences on offer were what made this opening experience so enjoyable though, it wasn’t just a nice seat for the racing games, intel had flown over VESARO force feedback equipment to give players genuine motion, these racing kits actually move with you and give you a real feeling of acceleration as you push yourself to take poll position and take away some of the prizes which flowed throughout the event.
Once we had made our way through the first gaming zone (pretty tough to do as they had an early access VR spellcasting fighting game right before the stairs to the arena) we got to check out the main event stage which lived up to the hype \o/ Some pretty epic lighting and smoke machines ensured the announcements for each match were exciting and the triple massive screens above would make following the gameplay easy. Behind this main stage a backstage team monitored everything, and further behind this there was another studio setup reminiscent of the Full Circle studio here in NZ – it would be from here that the casters did there sportscenter like commentary of each match.
Although early we could see from behind the stage that the arena was already starting to full up 🙂
The commentators were brilliant and whoever was responsible for switching the player camera to show the best moments of each round was amazing, they deserve a medal and speaking of! Between the two teams 5v5 gaming setups was a MASSIVE round medal, the trophy for the competition.
With the stage set we attempted to find our seats, which although reserved, had been claimed by some very excited chaps, they were kiwis as well who had flown over especially for the Intel Extreme Masters, we all enjoyed the matches together and had a great time debating (was more of a yelling match) who was going to to take the win for each round 🙂
We estimate around 7000 people spectating in the arena and the competition was both fierce and extremely close, with the finals proving themselves to be the best! The rounds swung back and forth with bomb disarms coming down to microseconds and jumping knives being thwarted by deagles 😛
The local area in which the event was held was originally built to host the Olympics and handled the crowd with ease, special mention here to just how nice everyone was, both staff and attendees 🙂 two instances, in particular, stood out though, the first was meeting a chap that had lost his phone so we let him use ours to call it and a someone nice had handed it to the staff already. The second was the aftermath of the event, or lack of, we hung around for a bit after the finals chatting to some of the intel team and when we eventually left the outside wasn’t trashed, a little rubbish here are there but honestly pretty good with that amount of people!
We had a blast and can’t wait for the next big event, full credit to the teams from ESL and Intel for putting this one together so flawlessly – hope to see you at the next one!
For us here at GGPC the exciting world of PC Gaming splits into two separate parts, the first being all the wonderful components we get to test out when reviewing new tech and the second being actually playing games on the completed systems for fun, our YouTube channel and now eSports thanks to competitive gaming events \o/
For system designers and builders there are literally thousands of component options to choose from, and within each component type there are masses of variants available for each with slightly tweaked voltage configurations, ascetic options and more. Luckily for everyone involved in this process the biggest players at the heart of the manufacturing side like Asus, ASrock and Gigabyte have excellent technicians that make lists available showing which parts they’ve certified for themselves. This certification sometimes carries on to the extreme level, when it does the item actually gets a special badge added to the specific hardware involved – items like these killer Asus Republic of Gamers RAM kits 🙂 These are certified versions of Team Group T-FORCE Dark memory with the classic Mayan style heatsink and have passed ROG stress tests thus becoming T-FORCE Dark ROG overclocking modules. Having these along with a ROG motherboard’s optimizing Ai overclock function (update that bios!) will enable you to automatically tune these kits to ROG limits.
Further down the line there is yet another form of certification, this time as much from the players as it is the makers – like IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) which requires a system to meet certain specs in order to get the special badge. These usually have a set of guidelines that must be followed in order to be considered for certification, as you’d expect with the IEM ones these use specific gaming savvy intel CPU and Kingston RAM. Intel Extreme Masters is the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world. Started in 2006 by ESL, the competition features Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II and League of Legends tournaments across multiple continents with the next big CS:GO event scheduled for May 6th – 7th in Sydney, Australia.
GGPC has been busy capturing gameplay with the new Kaby Lake CPU range from intel \o/ We started things off with the new i3 (we even managed to get the new “unlocked” i3-7350K!) and we’ve gone all the way into the powerful i7 🙂 As usual we’ll be testing in-game but this time with no additional graphics cards fitted in our systems…
Gaming with no dedicated graphics card might sound a little crazy, and in most cases it really is but with the right game you can still enjoy some pretty high settings and go for that 60FPS @ 1080p sweet spot 🙂
Of course when you throw a much heavier game at the CPU with no Graphics Card supporting things it gets a lot tougher! Below is a quick test playing Overwatch with just the i5-6400 CPU and while it’s still very playable we’ve had to turn down all of the beautiful graphics settings and we still couldn’t quite get to our 60FPS 1080P target – got pretty close though!
Swinging back around to a game that’s a lot lighter but still pretty popular we jumped into a CSGO match to see just what the CPU alone could do, while we maintained pretty close to 60FPS things were definitely still pretty tight! Much like Overwatch above adding a little GPU like the RX 460 goes a long way performance wise 🙂
When we hit League of Legends with the Skylake i5-6400 things really started looking good, we were pretty amazed to see LOL running so beautifully and we managed to get into a nice brawl in the bottom lane for the capture, settings wise we’ll show them at the end of every video – this is Character Detail: Very High, Environment Quality: Very High, Effects Quality: High and Shadows: Medium and in the clip you’ll see the FPS dip slightly below 60FPS – this provides us with a nice comparison point as we move into the tests with the new Kaby Lakes!
For our Kaby Lake system we’ve built using the very affordable ASRock Z270 motherboard, Avexir 2400MHz DDR4 and a 250GB SSD loaded with Windows 10 Home 64Bit. Originally we set things up with the B250 chipset but quickly realised we’d need to move onto a Z series for testing the “K” series unlocked CPU 🙂
All of the Kaby Lake CPU we’ll be testing for this blog are packing integrated graphics known as Intel HD Graphics 630 series so we don’t expect too much swing between the quad core i5 and the i7, what’s going to be really interesting is see how things go with the new dual core unlocked i3-7350K so let’s get started there!
Firstly, seeing as this is an unlocked processor we jumped into the bios (by pressing DEL as the computer was turned on) and edited the CPU Ratio + Fixed Voltage values shown here for a quick & easy 5GHz overclock. Once in game a little tweaking was still needed for the settings bringing down shadows and effect quality a little to ensure FPS stayed very close to 60 during some pretty colourful team fights 🙂
Jumping into a few quick matches with the new Kaby Lake i5 saw solid boost in FPS and even allowed us to push up the effects details again which was really nice, the peak framerate difference between the i5 and previous i3 (even with our 5GHz OC) was instantly noticeable and while both performed well above expectations, if you’re about to build a new system the i5-7500 certainly hits a pretty sweet spot \o/
Rounding up the tests we move our way through the new i7 range, as expected performance in game was very similar to the i5 above although again the peak FPS did reach just that little bit higher, it would be very hard to spot this in game though as once the action starts up both do really well. We played a few extra matches with these ones just to double check the shadows quality settings couldn’t be pushed to max and in most cases it can, however in the bigger team fights (especially around bases or big rift beasts) fps can dip very slightly under 60 with the shadows higher than in the gameplay FPS test below and as we like to turn V-Sync on usually keeping everything above 60 is the goal!
So what’s the verdict with Kaby Lake? It’s GOOD!
The i3-7100 at 3.9GHz performance was right up there with the unlocked i3-7350K in game, if you’re wanting to have a play around with overclocking though that “K” i3 sure is a great way to get into things (just make sure you grab a Z series mobo!) – we didn’t expect to hit 5GHz stable so easily and if it was ours (this one was a loan from intel) we would have kept going for sure 🙂
Once you hit those sweet Kaby Lake i5 things get really good, the quad cores pushed out some fantastic performance right through from the i5-7400 all the way up to the i5-7600K – These are pretty great really and going forward GGPC will be using them for most of our Gaming PC designs.
If you’re going with the i7 series you’ll still notice a difference in game, but it’s harder to spot vs the difference between the i3 & i5. As with our eSports Skylake builds we’ll likely be using these ones in special gaming PC designed to stream gameplay via Twitch, XSplit and YouTube 🙂 Even these super powerful CPU have a little trouble when it comes to shadows, but hey – graphics cards gotta have something to do right!
We’ll continue to update this blog as we learn new things and get our hands on our own i3-7350K for potentially destructive max OC check 😛 Lots of fun times ahead so be sure to keep your eyes on the GGPC Computers Blog for the latest!
The gaming laptop world recently got quite the upgrade with the release of new GTX 10 series laptops and things are getting even better for new buyers now with BONUS games and some interesting software available for download from those fine folks at Gigabyte and Intel 🙂
It’s a register to redeem promotion that’s available until the end of October so once you’ve gear up be sure to visit the Gigabyte NZ Redemption Page to get your codes, now let’s take a look at some (there are more than this on offer, these are just our favourites) of those sweet bonus goodies!
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege invites players to fight in intense close quarters confrontations with a focus on tactics, team play, and explosive action at the center of the experience.
The matches feel a lot like Counter Strike to us and you’ll want play carefully to get the most from each round, the gameplay sets a new bar for intense firefights and expert strategy in the rich legacy of past Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six games.
It’s not just games though, you’ll also be able to get some pretty interesting software like VirtualDJ, used by DJs to replace their turntables and CD players and use digital music instead of vinyl and CDs. VirtualDJ is used by tens of millions of people every day, ranging from bedroom DJs to international superstars.
This new version allow you to mix using mixing Gesture control, based on Intel RealSense technology. VirtualDJ 8.1 lets you mix, scratch & remix tracks from your song library, adjust their tempo and key, apply effects, loops and much more.
From easy and fast, to advanced and fun, Corel VideoStudio X9 has everything you need to make your videos look their best. Make a movie in minutes with FastFlick or Instant Projects, or move up to more advanced editing on the multi-track timeline.
Cover all the angles with the new Multi-Camera Editor and align clips automatically with audio syncing. With instant fixes for common problems, customizable effects, titles and transitions, VideoStudio X9 delivers high-quality results with style that’s all your own.
Those are just a slice of the sweet bonus downloads on offer in NZ with these awesome new Gaming Laptops, you can check out the full range of software on offer here and be sure to keep your eyes on the GGPC Computers Blog for more!
Recently we have had the pleasure of testing out some amazing new Desktop Graphics Cards on our GGPC YouTube Channel and today we excitedly get to play some games on the next generation of Gaming Laptops to see just how good things are going to be for a gamer on the go 🙂 Spoilers, things are looking really really GOOD.
Armed with the new 17.3″ Gigabyte P57X Gaming Laptop which is packing an excellent i7-6700HQ + GTX 1070 combo (no M!) it’s got the power needed for high end gaming and also exceeds the requirements for a VR ready system!
We’ve started our gameplay tests off with a quick match in DOOM, then moved into a little space piracy in the just released SciFi exploration game No Man’s Sky, we then went for a very quick run around the Ark in Survival Evolved heading onwards to Novagrad to fight some guards in Witcher 3 🙂
Ah DOOM, such a great game and it plays beautifully on the new GTX 1070 Gaming Laptop as you can see for yourself below, when turning all the settings upto max we also turned film grain up by accident 😛 In the YouTube description for this video we have included a second test with film grain set to zero if you’re wanting to check it out, FPS is still 100+ either way but the newer video does look super crispy 🙂
In No Man’s Sky our P57X GTX 1070 Gaming Laptop was able to run everything at max settings while keeping above 110 FPS in space battles and didn’t drop below 60FPS once we hit the planets surface below, though it did come pretty close 😛
Ark: Survival Evolved took a little tweaking but seeing as the game is still in development it can be a rather hard one to run well, regardless we were still able to get pretty darn close to the 60 FPS we were chasing and once we had things configured it didn’t take us long to find a pretty happy looking Dinosaur, we expect our FPS will take a hit as we build structures and tame the beasts and when it does we’ll get right back to tweaking those settings 🙂
The Witcher 3 looks great with all the settings turned up as well battle the town guards in Novigrad some very high end hardware to enjoy, to get such high performance from a gaming laptop in this often challenging game is a really great to see.
To round off the first tests we’ve done a very quick run-through with the new 3DMark Time Spy Benchmark, we ran this benchmark three times in succession to ensure the laptop was nice and warm and on that note the front of the laptop doesn’t actually get hot like others have in past tests, good design from Gigabyte with smart placement of the components towards the back allowing ventilation via the keyboard, nicely done indeed.
The P57Xv6 Gaming Laptop also passes the VR Ready test even when running on battery, you can check out the SteamVR Performance Tests here though strangely it’s not actually detecting the Nvidia graphics card is these, the scores certainly looks like it’s using it however this could be interesting if the game you are wanting to play has some sort of autodetect hardware in place – more tests needed!
Performance aside there are a few more things we like about this laptop, firstly the build quality is outstanding with very little flex, the hinges on the screen are robust (and orange) and if you tip the laptop upside-down you’ll see the impressive dual exhaust cooling system which, when at 100% speed (a setting we highly doubt you’ll use, auto is fine) has a noise output that is about twice that of an intel stock cooler running at full load. It’s packing most of the features we look for in a modern system like AC Wireless, Bluetooth 4.1, USB Type C, and HDMI 2.0 for 4K 60FPS, sadly no DisplayPort this time around. The laptop has a nice white LED keyboard backlight that can be switched between half strength, full, off and of course auto mode which adjusts to suit the lighting around you.
Battery lasted us 1 hour & 23 mins at full brightness while gaming which was nice, you lose a little of the graphics power when running in this way but the laptop is just so powerful you’ll still be running on very high settings in games like Overwatch, be aware that if you adjust the fans to quiet mode when running on battery a frame limiter will affect your FPS in game so it’s best to leave cooling on AUTO or GAMING modes. Temperature wise on AUTO fan settings you can reach into the 80’s which is just fine – we pushed the thermal limits by doing tests with DOOM and restricted airflow during which we started to notice the graphics throttling itself when it reached around 95 degrees and this caused the temps to drop rapidly even with the restricted airflow, during these high temps we still had no system crashes or instability 🙂
Gigabyte Smart Manager software comes pre-installed and with it we were easily able to tweak everything we wanted too, the usual things we look for like fans speed settings could be adjusted here but it also included a nice range of display settings to take some strain off our eyes via a smart colour option. Using this software you can also overclock the graphics card in the laptop to squeeze out a little bit more performance, though it’s unlikely you’ll be doing that for a while as the laptop is a gaming beast at stock settings 🙂
We’ve had a really good go with this new Gaming Laptop we can happily give it our GGPC Recommends Award – The Gigabyte P57Xv6 is GOOD!