Following AMD’s Ryzen press event and the public release of a few benchmark scores for their new chips, I found myself pondering the comparison Lisa Su made between the new Ryzen 1700 and Intel’s 7700K. It would appear that Kaby Lake has a frequency advantage as well as slightly better IPC than Ryzen, which compensates by packing more cores into a smaller TDP, and I started wondering what kind of performance differential this will lead to in video games.
Along the way, I spotted a claim that Ryzen’s single thread performance won’t be high enough to make it a good gaming chip. Later on, I saw someone claim that the 6900K was never designed for gaming and would suck in games. While I can understand why someone would make the first of these claims, a last attempt to diss on AMD before the chips hit retail, the later claim piqued my interest, so I decided to look into.
Let’s get it out of the way now, right at the top – “That Dragon, Cancer” is not a video game in the same way that The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Kentucky Route Zero are not video games. You may sit at your computer with your keyboard and your mouse and control them just like video games with video game-like graphics and sounds, but they are not video games.
Don’t get me wrong, saying they aren’t games doesn’t detract from their value in the world in any way what-so-ever, but they aren’t video games and no-one should be calling them that – especially video games reviewers.
While it’s certainly not unexpected, the performance differences between SteamOS and Windows games have been nicely quantified by an article on Ars Technica that shows just how much of your system power you’re sacrificing using Valve’s free OS over the pay-for Windows. In some cases, it’s pretty shocking – Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor on medium settings under Windows gets a higher frame rate than SteamOS on lowest settings. Ouch.
It would seem the main reason for this is that Windows has DirectX while SteamOS has to rely on OpenGL. The idea that DirectX is faster that OpenGL full stop doesn’t hold any water, but the idea that games devs are better at using DirectX than OpenGL makes perfect sense and basically boils down to the same thing for SteamOS users. Let’s hope the Kronos working group can put Vulkan together PDQ – the future of open source games performance is relying on it pretty hard right now.
You may have noticed that the initial idea behind was blog was self-building a Steam Machine that could compete on both price and performance with the XBox One and Playstation 4. With it’s higher specs, the PS4 was the primary target. After days of poring over price lists, benchmarks, reviews and spec sheets, I eventually pulled the trigger and built a fairly impressive system for just below the price of a Playstation 4 at the time.
You may also have noticed that all the analysis and gameplay footage and stuff that I spoke of never materialised. Why? Primarily because the system I built relied on a period of change in the PC parts market that brought the prices of several components, namely the motherboard, down to fit the budget. Those deals evaporated pretty quickly and within a week of the build, a similar spec system simply couldn’t fit inside the budget. So how about now?
A new advert caught my eye on TV today, part of a £3.5m government initiative to discourage piracy. I don’t know if you pay attention to such things, but anti-piracy initiatives have always been somewhat economical with the truth about what piracy is and how big an effect it has on the world’s artistic output.
This particular advert is no exception. This animation depicts YOUR piracy as the sole destructive force that’ll bring about the end of all creative output in the world, closing down cinemas, preventing all future music releases, bringing our bookshops to their knees and wiping out the video games industry. Uh-huh.
Back when the Windows 10 preview was released in October 2010, some enterprising folks did some network traffic analysis and came up with evidence that your keystrokes, microphone input and webcam images were all being sent back to Microsoft. At first, no-one was particularly concerned. Technical previews aren’t designed for consumption by the masses, they’re designed to let users help the developers iron out all the kinks in the interface before the product goes out.
Well, things have got a little more interesting since a report (translation) that the shipping version of Windows 10 is still sending back all this information. The veracity of the source has been called into question, as has the validity of the claims it makes. When the analysis of the preview came out, a number of sites took the opportunity to explain that this was nothing to worry about, it wasn’t really a keylogger, it was just features of Windows 10 and everything was fine. Wanna bet we get the same articles popping up again tomorrow?
As part of my initial testing regime, I thought it worth giving Windows performance a crack at this setup – all the good performance measurements are Windows based and measuring AMD performance under Linux is like asking how long a piece of string is. Not wanting to wipe my Mint installation or mess around installing an internal hard drive, I thought I’d take a shot at running a live Windows installation of a USB3 hard drive. Yet again, I have found myself undeniably impressed by an OS.
Good ‘Ol Games, or just GOG for short, have launched the open beta of their digital games download platform, Galaxy. Much like Steam, Uplay and Origin, it allows users to browse the catalogue of available titles, purchase and download them, then play them to their heart’s content. It also covers the usual kind of features we all expect – friends, chat, auto-updates, achievements, time tracking, stats, and all that jazz. However, it does have a couple of features that have got me thinking about why the Windows and Mac versions are available, but not the Linux version yet. Why could that be?
One of my first instincts when speccing up a budget Steam Machine was to use a Pentium G3258. I abandoned that idea after I lost access to a friend’s G3220, my key to ensuring I could upgrade the BIOS on most 8-series motherboards to support the newer Pentium Anniversary Edition. Well, turns out my supplier will update any motherboard BIOS prior to shipping for £10+vat. My interest piqued, I thought I’d check the price on the G3258 spec again. Along the way, I checked to see how much one could pick up a PS4 for – turns out Argos have a special offer and my budget ceiling has just been cut. Here we go again…
As new information about AMD’s forthcoming processor lines starts to leak all over the Interwebs, the question arises – why do we care about AMD’s processors? They’ve been competitive on price alone for a while now, what happened to them? Let’s a recap on AMD’s fall from grace, then consider whether we should get excited about the possibility of a comeback to once again rival Intel.