Friday, December 19, 2008

How to Build a Great Gaming PC For Under $800

Here is a great article I wanted to bring attention to titled How to Build a Kick-ass $800 Gaming PC which I found on MaximumPC. Generally if you are going to be buying a PC of any sort, you are going to want to order all the parts and build it yourself to get the most bang for your buck. Buying pre-built and configured PC's may be easier often times you will find that the computer doesn't do things quite how you would like. Building your own rig ensures that your computer is built just how you need it.

In any case, here's how Maximum PC's $800 rig stacks up in terms of gaming performance.

We went into our gaming benchmark with low expectations from our budget card, the Radeon HD 4850. Obviously, it is no match against the dual GeForce 8800 GTX setup in the Zero Point system. With settings cranked up to the max, our card was barely able to spit out 16 FPS in Crysis. While playing Crysis at the highest settings possible and a resolution of 1920x1200 simply isn’t an option, turning down the graphic settings to medium resulted in 43 FPS made the game much more playable. Unreal Tournament 3 managed to give us a stellar 78 FPS. If you’re running at typical 22-inch LCD resolutions, this machine should kick ass.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Gaming Gifts - 15 Great Games from Fall 2008

While trying to come up with ideas for a Christmas gift for my younger brother and sister, I came across an article titled The 15 Coolest Games of Fall 2008. I was already thinking of purchasing them some type of game as they own a Nintendo Wii and an Xbox 360, but couldn't think of something they would want that was recently released.

This is a great article for those like me who are looking for a new game to get as a gift but aren't sure where to look. The article gives a short synopsis of each game and gives a short opinion from two people who have played the game. Personally I think Mirrors Edge looks pretty cool and I'm sure the new Guitar Hero game would keep both of my younger siblings happy and occupied.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War - Pleasantly Surprised

Call of Duty: World at WArIf you have read any of my previous posts concerning CoD5, you would know that I was not looking forward to CoD5 at all, and that I absolutely despised the way the beta played and felt. However, despite all the negative rep I had been giving the game, yesterday I decided to go out and pick it up anyway. Even if the multiplayer gameplay didn't change, I had always enjoyed the singleplayer missions in the CoD franchise and I had a few online friends who would be picking up the game as well.

To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised. No I didn't play the actual online versus multiplayer (and I doubt my opinion will change on that), but I did play the Co-op campaign mode and the zombie mode. I feel like my $60 was justified simply from playing these two modes with a few of my online buddies. The zombie mode was a blast with trying different strategies for surviving longer and there were some intense moments when we were getting swarmed. The Co-op singleplayer was also fun and none of the three other people I played with had yet tried the co-op. As expected from a Call of Duty series, there were some awesome cutscenes, insane fights, and lots of "wow" moments. The experience was even better when you're on vent talking with some of your buddies and it adds an element of team work not yet experienced in any of the previous Call of Duty series.

All in all, I'm glad I decided to purchase the game and it was the most fun I had in awhile. Games where meant to be played with other people and hope to see more of the co-op style campaign mode in future games.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Call of Duty 5 - World at War PC Beta Review

Over the past few days I've been playing the Call of Duty 5 Multiplayer Beta for the PC. As some of you know, I have not had high hopes for the game and have written a few articles on how I believe that CoD5 would simply be a rehashed version of CoD4 with ww2 skins. This is basically the impression I got while playing Call of Duty 5 and am not too sure if I want to purchase the game.

First of all, I am a PC Gamer and like to take pride in the frags I've made due to utilizing my mouse and movement better than the other players. While playing Call of Duty 5 I felt no such enjoyment. The game revolves around open sighted, running spraying with the Thompson as opposed to iron-sighting and attempting to aim at other players. Attempting to iron sight with any gun resulted in far less kills for me as opposed to simply spraying in their general direction. After awhile I gave up attempting to aim when I saw someone and instead just held down mouse1 until they were dead. Even watching the kill cams of how I died, every player seemed to reciprocate this style of play and I found it extremely annoying to have been killed like this.

Attempting to take the bolt and pick people only made me more frustrated with the game. The weapon is extremely underpowered and pales in comparison to any type of automatic gun. Players rarely died when hitting them with a bolt and afterwards I would have to shoot them 2-3 more time with a pistol to finish them off. The bolt action rifles were one of the things I was looking forward to in this game and was very underwhelmed after actually getting to use them. I was also upset with the way the tanks where made in the game. It seems to take 10 explosives before any visible damage is even done to that tank and by that time its already killed half your team. I suppose its another way to allow players easy kills and to have fun "dominating" in a tank.

When considering that Treyarch developed this game I guess I must say I'm not surprised. Call of Duty 5 was made for Xbox360 and PS3 players and easily identified as a port when you play the PC version of the game. Games for console are developed in easy mode to compensate for having to use a controller. This is why SMGs are very overpowered and the perk system lends itself to allow players to get easy kills in claymore, martyrdom, and grenades X 3.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting Rid of Unnecessary System Processes

When you press CTRL-ALT-DELETE and select the processes tab,you will noticed that there are a lot of processes running in the background of your computer. Its very hard to tell which ones are safe to close just by looking at the list, and often times ending the wrong process will crash your system and you will lose any unsaved data.

In my personal computer at home, after the system boots up there are over 60 processes running in my task manager, many which have accumulated from various program installs over the course of two years. While none of these processes are necessarily causing my computer any harm, they are definitely eating up CPU resources while idling in the background. If you are interested in learning what exactly are all the processes running in the background, check which is a great site for searching up unknown processes.

The solution I use to getting rid of all these unwanted processes is a program called KillProcess which can terminate any process on a Windows machine in a matter of seconds. The program is able to use a "Kill List" in order to determine which processes are needed by windows and those which are unnecessary.

The program will execute the kill list in a matter of seconds and terminate all those bloat processes. I personally use a modified version "Clean XP.lst" kill list from Orange Lamp in which I have added a few processes I would like to keep to the list. All in all after using the KillProcess program I have about 19 processes running in the background, a huge difference from the 62 I have at boot up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War - A CoD4 Mod

Call of Duty 5 In Game ScreenshotWith many people waiting in anticipation for the newest addition to the Call of Duty franchise known as Call of Duty: World at War, I keep hearing of just how great it will be with people talking it up like its going to be the greatest installment since Call of Duty 1.

The question I have to ask is WHY?

I recently wrote an article explaining that Call of Duty: World at War will be a CoD4 Mod and how you are going to be paying $50 for Call of Duty 4 with WW2 models. This new game will be using the Call of Duty 4 Engine (confirmed) and the majority of the perks are coming straight from its predecessor with only a few new additions. Sure they are adding vehicle warfare but one of the things I loved about the Call of Duty series was the intense, up-close and personal firefights that came with the relatively small maps. It just seems to me this game is trying to capitalize on us with anyway they can.

Another big complaint I have with this game is how its mimicking Call of Duty 4, and anyone who has ever played the game knows how noob-friendly it is. From the super-fast weapon firing rates, perks like martyrdom and sonic boom, regen, lack of recoil, helicopters, and m203's, the game caters to the player in every possible way that my grandmother could consistently frag me. Call of Duty: WaW will be exactly like this but with more bushes and grass for idiots to hide in and now they can also drive tanks.

Who knows, maybe I'm just putting down the game because I was disappointed with how Call of Duty 4 turned out. I mean, the singleplayer was amazing, and sure I had a blast playing multiplayer when it first came out, but the more you play it the more you realize that CoD4 was only made for the masses of ps3 and xbox players, and can easily be identified as such when you look at how the game actually plays. How any joe-nobody can kill you regardless of whether you are a veteran of the series or he just picked up the game yesterday. That's just how the game was made and its also what makes me disappointed about it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to Save PC Gaming

With all the negative press revolving around the PC Gaming scene, combined with the fact that many game developers are simply creating console games and porting them over to PC (see Call of Duty 4 and the upcoming CoD5:WW ), its no wonder that we are seen as a dying breed of gamers. According to GamesRadar, in order to save ourselves we should be looking to bring more casual console gamers to the PC Scene. Heres how:

1. Be a platform champion. Microsoft obviously isn’t doing it, so it’s up to us. Get educated about how your PC works, at least insomuch as it affects your upgrading schemes. As Dan Stapleton said recently, “If PC gaming is costing you ‘thousands’ per year, you’re doing it wrong.” Today, $700 will get you a new PC that’ll handle just about anything for the next two to three years, with maybe $500 a year spent on upgrades—but not everyone needs to drop that kind of money, which is why you should also…

2. Be a goodwill ambassador, especially to “casual” gamers. After all, they’re just hardcore PC gamers who don’t know it yet. If we want to grow our ranks, we need to make it easier for people to join them. Help new and casual players out when it comes to hardware questions—they can make the PC barrier to entry seem very high. Make people feel OK about learning to game on “easy.” Don’t grief away our future community—we want to bring people into the fold, not run them off.

3. Be honest
—don’t contribute to the piracy problem. If you’re stealing games, then you cannot complain, ever, about the demise of PC gaming, because you are directly causing it. Besides, stealing is bad karma, and I don’t want to see you come back as a cockroach or a politician or a reality television contestant.

Source: GamesRadar

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Third of New PC Buyers Downgrade to XP

When Microsoft stopped selling licenses to Windows XP on June 30, they gave users an option to "downgrade" their operating system to XP, even though they had to buy a Vista license first. According to a study conducted by the, 35 Percent of Vista PC's Downgraded to windows XP. "That's way out of proportion for even the dramatically unpopular Windows Vista," says Randall C. Kennedy, an InfoWorld contributing editor.

The vast majority of PC's that have been downgraded to Windows XP are typically sold to small businesses and gamers. Although the operating system is 7 years old, it continues to upstage its successor at nearly every turn

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Projectors For Gaming Enthusiasts

Many Gamers who are looking to optimize their playing experience are beginning to purchase projectors for their gaming systems. This makes perfect sense for gamers because projectors provide a high definition, high resolution, and eye catching display. With the ability of both PC's and consoles to play high definition content such as DVD's and Blu Ray's, a projector designed for gaming would be excellent for doubling as a home theater system and serving your gaming needs. Surprisingly, projector response times are great and video delay is commonly not a problem with users reporting little to no negative effects in their gameplay.

See here for more information about Gaming Projectors.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Every Nvidia GeForce 8800, 9600, and 9800 is Defective

Nvidia Geforce Graphics CardsJust last month the Inquirer claimed that every Nvidia graphics card with a G84 and G86 chipset is bad (which basically entails every 8 series graphic card below the 8800). Here is what Inquirer had to say about the 8 series chipset currently in use for those under the 8800.

"The short story is that all the G84 and G86 parts are bad. Period. No exceptions. All of them, mobile and desktop, use the exact same ASIC, so expect them to go south in inordinate numbers as well.

While this may already sound bad enough as is, but now the Inquirer is reporting that "four board partners are seeing G92 and G94 chips going bad in the field at high rates.". This accusation would mean that every single GeForce 8800 GT, GTS, GS, all mobile 8800s, and nearly all of the 9600 and 9800 series cards are defective. The Inquirer has also gone on to claim that Nvidia is covering this entire fiasco up because of the costs associated with admitting the defect would be devastating for the company.

If Nvidia doesn't acknowledge a problem with the cards then the only thing to do is to watch what happens to the majority of the cards currently in use. Hopefully Inquirer is wrong, because thats a big bag of video cards.

Read Full Story at The Inquirer

Monday, August 11, 2008

What is Mojave.. Wait. Windows Vista?

Microsoft has used a trick up their sleeve in order to get people to try out Windows Vista, and has created a series of we-told-you-so videos revolving around the "Mojave Experiment".

A Microsoft Crew has disguised Windows Vista in a brand new box, called it Windows Mojave, and claimed it to be the latest Windows OS in development. In the Mojave Experiment volunteers were asked about their opinions and notions about Windows Vista, many of which said they hated it although personally never using the system. These volunteers, after viewing and using some of the features of Vista, became quite impressed with the Mojave features. One volunteer even said that it was "everything that they would need".

Spinning off the Mojave Experiment Windows has begun using the slogan see for yourself in order to convince people to give it a try. While Vista may look pretty and incredibly accessible and easy to use, I would like to see videos about these people actually installing the OS on their computers or notebooks and asking them about what they thought after a few weeks of use.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Windows Gaming Performance: Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3

Since Vista's first release in the winter of 2006, many a gamer have sworn not to upgrade to the latest OS because of its poor application compatibility and driver errors. Since Windows Vista received its first and highly anticipated service pack in April, many of its obvious flaws have been smoothed out making Vista a viable OS for many users. XP has also recently received its third (and final) service pack update which has resolved many security issues and bug fixes. With both of these operating systems getting a very recent upgrade through a service pack, one glaring question remains that begs to be answered by all PC gamers.

Just how well do these operating systems stack up against each other in the gaming performance department?

While Vista has a distinct advantage over XP, mainly due to DirectX10 compatibility, PC gamers have largely ignored this unique feature and have refused to switch to vista in favor of XP's more reliable system features. In order to test XP Service Pack 3 vs Upgraded Vista SP1 gaming performance, an average PC was built in order to test what most users would be likely to experience. The specs are as follows:

Computer Specs

The testing was conducted through the use of two identical hard drives, one with each operating system, and physically interchanging the hard drive cable after each reboot. Two benchmark tests were used, PCMark05 and 3DMark06, as well as three games, Crysis, World in Conflict, and Supreme Commander. While testing each game DX9 was used as well as two presets. A low details preset at 1024x768 resolution, and a high details preset plus 4X anti-aliasing at 19200x1200 resolution. The results are as follows:

PCMark05 Benchmark Results

3DMark06 Benchmark Results

World in Conflict Frames Per Second Results

Supreme Commander Frames Per Second Results

Crysis Frames Per Second Results

If you were expecting a huge performance drop between Windows XP and Windows Vista, sorry for the disappointment. As you can plainly see through the test results, Vista's gaming problems have largely been solved and the performance gap between XP and Vista has finally been closed.

Source: ExtremeTech

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can E3 Pick Itself Up for Next Years Event

To recap, E3 drew more than 80,000 attendees in 2006, but big companies complained their costs were skyrocketing. The Entertainment Software Association, which sponsors the show, shifted the 2007 E3 event to Santa Monica and carved back attendance to 5,000, mostly journalists, in order to cover up some of the costs. This year, the show was held in the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center, but the attendance did not resemble the 2006 showing at all. Instead only a mere 5,000 showed up to what had hoped to be the biggest gaming convention of 2008.

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter comments on how E3 is "headed for extinction, unless the publishers and console manufacturers wake up to the fact that nobody cares about the show anymore."

"The show was small in scope, and the spectacle of E3 is dead. The Los Angeles Convention Center concourse was as quiet as a college library during summer, with little to attract media attention. The main game display area was similar in size to a school cafeteria (as compared to filling the entire convention center), and the "fireworks effect" of past shows was reserved for the evening parties."

"The lack of a spectacle will likely keep media away in the future, the lack of surprises will keep retailers away, and the lack of interaction with management will likely keep investors away. Without these three constituencies, the show will likely lose its relevance. We strongly believe that E3 should be held no later than early June (when companies can meet with investors and when some “secrets” have yet to be revealed), and believe that the spectacle should be restored by increasing the size of the show space."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sony Cable Embraces Wireless Technology

Sony Electronics has become the next company to embrace the Tru2Way, behind LG Electronics, Panasonic, and Samsung. Tru2Way is a wireless technology that enables televisions and other devices to receive encrypted wireless signals without the need to install a box. Apart from simply eliminating the need for a cable box, this technology will allow cable companies to offer products that can unlock encrypted channels and decrypt and record cable programming.

With Sony being one of the largest television manufacturers in the world, the adoption of Tru2Way will encourage many other companies to embrace the technology. Currently technologies such as TiVo use cablecards to decode the video and thus the, Tru2Way technology is currently incompatible with the TiVo technology. However, TiVo has expressed its interest into looking into the Tru2Way technology.

Friday, June 27, 2008

NVISION 2008 and GeForce LAN

One of the biggest and most anticipated events this summer is the NVISION 2008 event which will feature not only just games but will be a first-ever visual computing mega-event. This even is gathering top visual computing professionals and specialist, professional gamers, product artists and designers, and cutting edge technological developers and researchers. Thousands of engineers, designers, developers, researchers, artists, enthusiasts, gamers, film makers, business professionals, and consumers from around the world are expected to attend and this is a 3 day event that any computer enthusiast doesn't want to miss.

I will personally be in attendance at this event for the GeForce LAN and the 5v5 Call of Duty 4 tournament that will be held. The turnout for this LAN is already looking to be larger than the previous NERV LAN in Pennsylvania which had 26 teams attend. There are already 16 teams confirmed for this event with many more interested in signing up.

Where: San Jose McEnery Convention Center
150 West San Carlos St., San Jose, CA 95113

When: Monday, August 25–Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How much: $50.00 on or Before June 1 (Early Bird Ticket)
$65.00 June 2 through August 27 (Standard Ticket)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Call of Duty 5: World at War

The next installment to the Call of Duty franchise has decided to return to the World War II theme and is taking place in the Pacific theater. Based off of the Call of Duty 4 Engine, World at War looks to keep things fresh by completely redesigning the AI to simulate the Japanese style of warfare as compared to our familiar European style.

"We figured out early that the Imperial Japanese fought in a different way that was full of suspense," creative lead Rich Farrelly tells OXM. "From that point we started to skew the game in that direction."

To boot, Treyarch has had a full extra year in development compared to their last title of COD3, which from many viewpoints felt rushed despite the good reviews it got. Expect a very successful game that will live up to all the previous installments in the franchise.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Frag Dominant Back with New Roster

Due to Alec "s1refrosty" Zurek's return from Australia to the North American CoD4 competitive scene, Frag Dominant has decided to return to Call of Duty 4 to sponsor his newly assembled roster. This roster is comprised of two previous Frag Dominant players, myself and jestlolk, a few players from the old guardians roster and some new faces to the CoD4 scene. We hope to build a solid and stable roster that will be able to compete with the best and are in it for the long run. Check Gotfrag for the full story on this latest roster development.

Current Frag Dominant CoD4 Roster:

Brett "brett" Crick
Alexander "MasterAlex" Solis
Chad "jestlolk" Hansen
Alec "s1refrosty" Zurek
Zach "Holt" Holt
Mark "Benn1tt" Bennitt
Ray "rayZer" Sheehan

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Valve: PC Gaming Not Dying

Look anywhere on the net, like here, and you will undoubtedly find people ranting about how PC gaming is dead and that consoles are the future. While it is unfortunate that many developers are making games for console, and then simply porting the game to the PC to make some of the worst PC games possible, there is still hope in PC Gaming with developers like Valve who see value in the community rather than an easy dollar in consoles.

If you look properly you'll find that PC game sales are even, if not bigger, than all of the next-gen consoles. "We sort of laugh at it," says Valve's Doug Lombardi. "Because we've been wildly successful--we're very fortunate, you know. Our games have all done really, really well, Steam has taken off and become this whole other business for us, Valve has never been in better shape--and yet everybody is talking about how in the PC world, the sky is falling."

For me, console gaming will be nothing more than clumsy joystick controls, toned down graphics at 25 frames per second, and 13 year old kids playing Call of Duty 4 on their xbox live screaming at the top of their lungs. These reasons are why I will always stick to PC gaming, and I will consider the console a red headed step child.

Monday, May 12, 2008

PC Gamers Hate Vista

Possibly Vista's biggest selling point to the PC Gaming market is the fact that Vista is the only way for users to get DirectX 10, and to play games in their beautiful DX10 glory. Its abundantly clear that games such as Crysis and many Next-Gen games coming out will benefit from the DX 10 upgrade. However, current statistics show that this graphical upgrade hasn't been enough to shift the PC Gamers towards Vista.

Currently there is no way to play DirectX 10 on Windows XP, and the only way to get the best possible gaming experience would be to upgrade to Vista If you are unfamiliar with the differences between DX9 and DX10, see here for a video comparing the two. However, this difference hasn't been a big enough to push many gamers into upgrading to Vista. The statistics from Valve show that less than 15% of users are using Windows Vista, with over 80% of users running Windows XP.

Another poll shows the exact same information, that many users don't see the need to upgrade to Vista right now. Perhaps once a truly great game comes out that is compatible with DX10, we will see the market shift towards Vista.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

CTF Incursion Stream

For those of you who never saw, The CTF Incursion has finally been uploaded by Max Reiger and is now streaming. Both Myself and Max edited and directed this Call of Duty 2 frag movie and made it for the CAL CTF community in hopes that it would draw more attention to the gametype. Unfortunately, CTF was not included in Activisions Latest addition to the Franchise, but instead, made a new gametype called Sabatoge which has about as big of a following as CTF did for CoD2.

For those of you who would like to watch, here is the stream for the CTF Incursion. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Frag Dominant CoD4 Division

The most recent team I have joined for Call of Duty 4 series to finish out the current Cevo-P season and to compete in future LANs is called Frag Dominant. We are currently the #3 seed in the Cevo-P Season 1 playoffs with a recent loss to MoB Gaming placing us in the lower bracket. Our next match is scheduled for April 24th and from the looks of it we will most likely play the winners of EG vs. MoB. This is a relatively new roster and we hope to finish the Cevo-P season strong as well as have a good showing at NERV 2.

Current Roster:

Charly "BUNz" Bun
Ryan "twmbly" Twombley
Casey "CaseMan" Garber
Alex "MasterAlex" Solis
Chad "jestlolk" Hansen

Friday, April 11, 2008

Buy a Better Graphics Card, Not CPU

In a study conducted by nVidia comparing speed boosts from an upgrade in a processor and an upgraded graphics card, nVidia says an upgrade in graphics card is a better option. In short, nVidia states that in most cases you can get better performance for the same amount of money if you spend more on the graphics processing unit (GPU) and less on the central processing unit (CPU).

nVidia has created a PC balancing website to help users calculate just how much they should spend on upgrading their computers. With intensive graphics beginning to play a larger part in everyday applications such as Google Earth, a stronger graphics card may make a bigger difference than a stronger processor.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

GeForce 9800 GX2 Released

The long awaited 9800 series has finally arrived and it looks to be the fastest card available on the market, but at a price. Right now you can own the card for $599.99 + S&H, but what does price matter when your system will be able to play the latest games at maxed out settings on 1900 * 1200 resolution without skipping a beat.

This card excels at high resolutions and it is a big improvement from the 8800 series. But for those of you who run 20 inches or less, you may be somewhat disappointed as the improvements aren't as noticeable. All in all this card will have your rig easily set for the next year or so without the need for an upgrade, and as new drivers come out the card can do nothing but get better.

Here is some consolidated information about the GeForce 9800 GX2 for those that wish to learn more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Xponex Project

I've personally been working on a new project from Xponex Web and Media that has to deal with a new convention vendor page. The site is coming along nicely and aims to provide all the latest in technology rental equipment to companies who attend trade shows and conventions.

As always the site will also have the latest information on popular convention centers. The site should be coming along over the next few months and we expect big things out of it.