PC Gamer

Your card, your design

AMD built its Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card with a removable front plate with the intention of letting customers design their own alternatives. To help do that, AMD has made available the 3D model for the Fury X's face plate so that owners of the graphics card can design their own 3D printed or CNC replacement.

The stock face plate uses multiple pieces of aluminum die cast finished in black nickel and a soft touch black layer. AMD says it's pleased with its design, though if you want to replace it, you just need to remove four screws, one in each corner, as shown in the picture above.

"During the process of creating the industrial design for the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card we encountered a variety of unique perspectives within AMD on how it should look. These differentiating opinions made us think, what if we could enable our customers to implement their own creativity on our design? To do this we incorporated a removable front plate on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card to allow for customer creativity," AMD said.

AMD's also asking users to share their own creations, of which it will highlight its favorites.

If you're interested, here's the link to download the 3D model.

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If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Take this with a heavy dose of skepticism covered in salt, but rumor has it Microsoft is having internal discussions about dropping Windows Phone and chasing its mobile dreams through Android. If Microsoft went down that road, it would focus its mobile efforts on pre-installing services like Office, Skype, and OneDrive onto Android phones and tablets.

The rumor originates from Twitter user and known Microsoft leaker "MSNerd."

"Nadella and the SLT debating continuing Windows on phones and small tablets versus bundle Microsoft services on Android as the way forward," MSNerd said, according to The Inquirer. "Microsoft would push Google Play devices with Microsoft apps in exchange for Google providing first-class Maps, YouTube, Search on Windows."

It's a 'scratch-my-back' sort of deal that MSNerd describes, though would Microsoft really go down that road? Giving up on Windows Phone at this stage seems unlikely, especially with the work that's been put into Windows 10 for Mobile. At the same time, Nadella's recent letter to employees talked about making "some tough choices in areas where things are not working."

Whether or not Microsoft's mobile strategy is working is up for debate. According to IDC's data, Microsoft's share of the mobile market at the end of the first quarter was just 2.7 percent. That's not much, and there hasn't been much movement in the past several years. Have a look:

  • Q1 2015: 2.7 percent
  • Q1 2014: 2.5 percent
  • Q1 2013: 3.2 percent
  • Q1 2012: 2.0 percent

If you average those out, you get 2.6 percent, or just 0.1 percent below where it's at now. Meanwhile, Android has a stranglehold on the mobile market with a 78 percent share, followed by iOS at a distant second with 18.3 percent.

Looking at the numbers, it might not be the worst thing in the world for Microsoft to alter its mobile strategy and ride the coattails of Android. Whether or not it goes down that road, however, we'll have to wait and see.

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PC Gamer

A report from Kitguru suggests that Microsoft may be eyeing struggling chipmaker AMD as a potential acquisition. The news arrives via an unnamed source who claims that Microsoft approached the chip maker several months ago.

The details of the acquisition talks are unknown for now, but the report points to Microsoft s $95.3 billion in cash and AMD s value of $1.81 billion. Clearly Microsoft has the cash to make the acquisition happen.

Currently, AMD trails behind Intel in the CPU market. However, the company provides the APUs that power both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft s Xbox One console. Microsoft has sold an estimated 12.6 million Xbox One units since the console s launch.

Take that number and mulitply it by the $100 Microsoft pays AMD per console, and you've got $1.26 billion. By acquiring AMD, Microsoft would presumably save billions while also getting a small cut from console rival Sony Entertainment, thanks to the APU in the PlayStation 4.

The report points out that if the acquisition does in fact take place, Microsoft would save even more money by producing its own SoCs for smartphones and tablets. This would seemingly help Microsoft s plan for having one operating system for all form factors: having APUs in the Xbox One, in phones, in tablets and in desktops and notebooks.

This is not the first time we ve heard of an AMD acquisition. A rumor surfaced back in March that Samsung was eyeing the APU maker again after contemplating an acquisition back in 2007. As we wrote back then, Samsung would take advantage of AMD s GPU and CPU technology to better compete with rival Qualcomm.

The latest rumor arrives after another rumor surfaced last week claiming that AMD may split its business in half or spin off several divisions so that it can better compete with rival chip maker Intel. The rumor was based on three people familiar with the matter and indicated that CEO Lisa Su was investigating every possible avenue to get the company in the black.

According to Reuters, AMD has hired a consulting firm to create scenarios to help determine how splitting the company in half or selling off portions would work. One scenario sees AMD spinning off its licensing and graphics business from its server department. However, AMD denies that such a project even exists.

As for the latest rumor, would Microsoft be a better fit as AMD s parent company? The situation is quite interesting, and could force Sony to choose another processor maker for its next console. Unfortunately, both AMD and Microsoft didn t comment on the rumor.

PC Gamer

I don't remember the first time I heard the words "Fresh meat!" but I recall very well my reaction: Running like a terrified fool through the catacombs beneath Tristram, trying desperately to get away from the hulking goon with a cleaver called The Butcher. Even now, hearing it gives me the chills. And they are multiplying

The Butcher as he appears in Heroes of the Storm is quite a bit more dynamic than he is in Diablo. He's still a "brutal melee assassin," but as befits the game, his hack-and-slash ways have been refined with three primary abilities—Hamstring, Ruthless Onslaught, and Butcher's Brand—and two heroic abilities: Furnace Blast. a devastating eruption of fire centered on the demon, and Lamb to the Slaughter, which briefly chains the nearest opposing hero to a post.

The Butcher's attack damage is boosted permanently (or at least, until he dies) by "fresh meat" dropped by dead enemies. Because of this, acquiring as much fresh meat as possible during the early stages of the game is a top priority, but it can also leave him seriously disadvantaged if he goes down at an inopportune time.

The Heroes of the Storm Eternal Conflict is live now. Find out what's coming at Battle.net.

PC Gamer

After a few hours of playing Bioshock: Infinite one evening, culminating in one of those arena-type battles involving riding around on skylines and dealing with mobs of enemies and Handymen, I looked blearily up from my screen and saw it was 2 a.m. I needed to get to bed.

It wasn't that simple, of course. For reasons I still can't comprehend, you can't manually save your game in Bioshock: Infinite (and plenty of other PC games), and I wasn't sure when the last time the game had autosaved. Not wanting to fight that battle a second time, there was only the option to press on until the game decided to save itself for me.

I spent a good five or ten minutes looting every last silver eagle and hot dog from every last corpse in the area. I had Elizabeth pick a lock to allow me into a new zone. I visited vending machines, hoping that acquiring a new items or upgrading my abilities would trigger a save. I searched buildings, looted garbage cans, killed a few more bad guys and relieved them of their birthday cakes and cigarettes. Still, no icon for autosave had appeared on my screen. By now it had been almost a half-hour since I'd decided I didn't want to play anymore, and here I still was, wearily playing and hating every minute of it. Finally, I just quit.

A few days later I booted the game up again and discovered when Bioshock Infinite had autosaved. It was just as I'd killed the very last enemy during that skyline fight. The tedious looting of bodies, the vending machine trips, the fights further down the road, all had to be done again. Adding insult to injury, I'd apparently killed the last enemy while in the process of falling from the skyline into the clouds, and that's where the saved game began, with me falling to my "death." I sat there reloading it again and again, watching myself fall into the abyss over and over. Then I turned the game off, uninstalled it, and have never played it again. A man chooses, after all.

Got a horrible or amusing save-game mishap, tragedy, or anecdote? Let us know in the comments and we'll publish our favorite ones.

PC Gamer

The original King's Quest came out in 1983, which isn't particularly relevant to today's announcement of a launch date for the new King's Quest except as a reminder that if you played it, then you, like me, are old.

Don't feel too bad about that. So is King Graham of Daventry, after all, although the actual adventuring bit in the new game will focus on Graham as a young man, in adventures recalled by the aging King as he passes some time with his granddaughter Gwendolyn. Those adventures—all new, by the way, rather than rehashes of past games like Romancing the Throne or Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!—will unfold over five chapters plus a "bonus playable epilogue," beginning with A Knight to Remember on July 28.

Activision said last year that the new King's Quest is "not a point-and-click game," but when Wes took a short test-drive in March, he found it to be mainly in that vein. "It looks and moves like [Telltale's] The Walking Dead, but plays much like a point-and-click adventure," he wrote. "The game s recent trailer, showing Graham traipsing around the 3D environments, made King s Quest look like a platformer. That s the skin. The bones are pure classic adventure."

King's Quest: A Knight To Remember will be available for $10, or you can go for the whole thing up front for $40. The promised preorder link on Steam doesn't seem to actually be live yet, but I'd expect some action on that front very soon.

PC Gamer
Show us your rig

Each week on Show Us Your Rig, we feature PC gaming's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.

Mario Kotlar, level and puzzle designer for The Talos Principle at Croteam, has as many instruments around his desk as he does screens. Though, I think "desk" is a generous description for a pair of small tables, but to each their own when it comes to setting up your space. Personal comfort is the priority. With a keyboard (the piano kind), a Cintiq, and a laptop to compliment his rig, Kotlar has a lot of options crammed into not very much room. He was kind enough to show off his desk and PC, as well as tell us why he—perhaps predictably, being a puzzle designer—loves the Portal games. 

What's in your rig?

Inside the case

Click the arrows to enlarge.

  • Operating System: MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.40GHz, Sandy Bridge 32nm Technology
  • RAM: 16.0 GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 668MHz (9-9-9-24)
  • Motherboard: ASUSTeK Computer INC. P8Z68-V (LGA1155)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770
  • Monitors: SyncMaster (1920x1200@59Hz) and a Cintiq 13HD (1920x1080@60Hz)
  • Hard Drives: 977GB Western Digital WDC WD10EARS-00MVWB0 (SATA), 2TB Western Digital MyBook, 3TB Western Digital MyBook, and a 232GB Storejet 25 Transcend
  • CPU cooler: Contac 29 BP
  • PSU: Coolmaster 700W
  • Keyboard: AKAI MPK49
  • Mouse: Zowie Mico
  • Speakers: Logitech Z523
  • Laptop (ancient): DELL Vostro 1700
  • Guitar: Floyd Rose - X-Cort
  • Table: no comment :)

What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?

It has to be either the shittines of the table, or having 3 instruments around together with the Wacom Cintiq. Or could it be apple keyboard hooked to a windows PC? My setup is weird...

What's always within arm's reach on your desk?

Other than the obvious, plain old boring bottle of water and some candies, not featured in the photos I'm afraid.

What are you playing right now?

I've got FFXIII and Life is Strange on hold, and I occasionally still sometimes play SC2, GW2 and Portal 2.

What's your favorite game and why?

Portal 1 and 2, I'll never forget the mindfuck of conceptualizing non euclidean space for the first time. And then there's both perfect gameplay and perfect story setting tied into it.

PC Gamer

A peripheral product

Acer today announced that its XR431KC ultra-wide curved monitor with a QHD (3440x1440) panel, zero-frame design, and AMD Freesync support is headed to the United States.

That's a lot of visual goodness packed into a single display. We'll start with the curved screen, which is quickly becoming popular in the display market. According to Acer, the benefit of having a curved display is that it puts every corner of the screen at the same distance from your eyes for more uniform viewing.

This is aided by the monitor's ultra-wide field of view, which increases the perceived area of peripheral vision compared to a flat display of the same size, Acer says. Add in a zero-frame design and gamers are left with a totally immersive display, or at least that's the pitch.

"This killer new monitor makes game play incredibly realistic," said Charlotte Chen, Acer America product manager. "The ultra-wide curved design, stunning image quality and dynamic audio take the thrill of gaming to a new level."

The XR431KC sports an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel for more accurate color reproduction and wider viewing angles than what you'll get with the majority of cheaper Twisted Nematic (TN) panels. It sports 100 percent coverage of the RGB color space and has a rated response time of 4ms.

Other features include an adjustable aluminum stand with tilt (-5 to 35 degrees) and height (up to 5 inches) adjusments, picture-by-picture (PBP) and picture-in-picture (PIP) support, dual 7W speakers with DTS sound, and connectivity options consisting of HDMI v2.0 with MHL charging, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, and DisplayPort out. There's also a built-in USB 3.0 hub (1 up / 4 down).

The XR341CK will be available in late July for $1,100 MSRP.

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PC Gamer

What is Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising Tide? Why does it have so much punctuation in the title? Does it offer new gameplay possibilities and challenges for players? Let's ask this new trailer.

What's that? "Rising Tide offers news gameplay possibilities and challenges for players." I guess that answers that then. As for what it is, it's a water-focused expansion that brings rejigged diplomacy options, new factions and all the other new and tweaked stuff that you'd expect from a modern Civ expansion.

Oh, and the punctuation thing? That's just because it's a PC expansion. They do that sometimes.

It's due out in the Autumn.


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