PC Gamer

Clearing up confusion

There's seems to some confusion swirling around the release of Quantum Break, which was once touted as an Xbox One exclusive. That's no longer case—it's also shipping to Windows 10 PCs, and if you pre-order a copy for Xbox One before it launches on April 5th, you'll receive a complimentary copy for Windows 10 (plus a few other goodies, including Alan Wake on Xbox One).

That's a spiffy deal, especially if you have a teenager or someone else in the household that prefers consoles to PCs (as if!). This way you both win. Also, the game supports cross-platform saves, but not cross-platform play (it's a single-player title).

As for what it takes to run Quantum Break on PC, Remedy initially listed some pretty heavy hitting hardware for the recommended specs, including a GeForce GTX 980 Ti. That's a $650ish graphics card, though Remedy later clarified that its initial list was for running the game at Ultra graphics settings—phew!

Here's a look at the updated systems requirements across the board:

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • DirectX: DirectX 12
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 (2.7GHz) or AMD FX-6300
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260X
  • VRAM: 2GB
  • RAM: 8GB

Recommended

  • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • DirectX: DirectX 12
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4690 (3.9GHz) or AMD equivalent
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 390
  • VRAM: 4GB
  • RAM: 16GB

Ultra

  • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • DirectX: DirectX 12
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4790(4GHz) or AMD equivalent
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti or AMD Radeon R9 Fury X
  • VRAM: 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB

That's still some potent hardware for the recommended configuration, but much more manageable than what Remedy says you'll need to run the game at Ultra settings.

The other highlight here is the DirectX 12 requirement. That means if you're wanting to play Quantum Break on PC but are content with Windows 7 or 8.1, then yes, you'll have to upgrade to Windows 10—womp womp.

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PC Gamer

What would a PC gaming event be without some virtual blood sport? The PC Gamer Weekender, in association with EGL, will feature a heaving tournament gaming area when it opens in London's Old Truman Brewery, March 5-6. Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Street Fighter 5 and Rocket League will all be available for you to test your mettle against fellow Weekenders.

In Street Fighter 5, it's winner stays on. In Rocket League, you'll be duelling it out. Dota 2 will be played in 1v1 solo mid mode, with the first person to score two kills or destroy a tower declared the victor, and a custom version of League of Legends will deliver one-on-one competition in Howling Abyss.

In every game, you stand to win top loot from the folks at Lenovo and GT Omega. Tournaments will operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to book tickets and head over to the Weekender's registration area early to guarantee a spot. The next 500 Weekender tickets are a trifling 9.99.

I'll even be playing a few Rocket League friendlies if you think you're hard enough. But no flying. Or ramming. In fact, I'd appreciate it if you didn't touch the ball at all.

PC Gamer

Google said this week that its Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing service will now be based on 100 percent HTML5 in order to reach more devices and to offer the best browsing experience. That means the company is phasing out advertisements based on Adobe Flash, a move that s being seen across the Internet as companies and sites shift over to the safer HTML5 format.

Google said that starting June 30, 2016, advertisers will no longer be permitted to upload Flash advertisements into DoubleClick Digital Marketing and AdWords. All Flash ads that were uploaded before that date will no longer run on the Google Display Network or through DoubleClick starting January 2, 2017.

The company has been pushing advertisers to use HTML5 over the last few years so that they can reach a larger number of screens, namely mobile platforms like iOS and Android, which don t officially support Flash. For instance, AdWords supports HTML5 and will convert Flash-based ads into identical HDML5 versions. The company also offers Google Web Designer, a free, professional-grade HTML5 authoring tool.

Along with the announcement, Google has released a document to help advertisers update their Flash ads to HTML5. The file states that if advertisers have Flash-based ads running on third-party ad servers (such as DoubleClick Manager), they can either create a static image ad, or generate an HTML5 ad externally and upload it to their desired ad server. AdWords can t detect whether ads on third-party servers use Flash or not, Google says.

The news arrives after Adobe launched Animate CC, ditching the Flash Professional name. The name change shouldn t be surprising to those who have been following Adobe, as the company revealed the change late last year. The company boasts that Animate CC is one of the company s biggest releases to date, adding tons of features and enhancements like new vector art brushes, stage scaling, SVG file importing, HTML5 canvas improvements, and more.

Just days ago, Adobe patched a number of critical vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. If left unfixed, these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to take control of the customer s desktop or laptop. Affected versions that were patched include Adobe Flash Player for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11, the AIR Desktop Runtime, the AIR SDK, and more.

Google officially discarded Adobe Flash as the default video format for YouTube at the beginning of 2015. The move to the new format was gradual, allowing the audience to view their favorite videos without having to install a browser plugin. Additionally, Netflix revealed HTML5 support in Firefox back in December, first arriving on the Windows platform, and followed by OS X support sometime in 2016. The days of Flash finally seem to be numbered.

PC Gamer

Just a week ago, Crystal Dynamics used Rise of the Tomb Raider's first patch to implement a range of PC-specific options and fixes. The second, out now on Steam, isn't quite so glamorous, but improves overall GPU performance and addresses a few, erm, odd issues.

The headline feature is the ability to adjust X and Y mouse sensitivity independently. That's the keen attention to a PC gamer's wants and needs I like to see, but some report that the change has had the unfortunate consequence of disabling X and Y inversion options for gamepads. Swings and roundabouts? You can also turn down the camera shake effect to suit.

Alt-tabbing in exclusive fullscreen should work without crashing either the game or your rig now (that's a good one), and graphical glitches on NPC clothing with Nvidia 6- and 7-series GPUs ought to have been stopped.

The best bugfix on the list by far reads, "Fixed game changing system screen saver settings for some users." How did it even manage that in the first place?

Full notes here. However, if you've bought Rise of the Tomb Raider via the Windows Store, the update won't be available for a few days yet.

PC Gamer

This week, Asus introduced a new monitor called the ROG Swift PG27AQ, the latest member in the company s line of gaming panels. The big news with this release is that Asus crammed a 4K IPS panel together with Nvidia s G-Sync technology, providing extremely high-resolution and flicker-free gameplay for those with a GeForce GTX 980 GPU or higher. The drawback to this marriage is that the display costs a meaty $900. Ouch.

According to Asus, the company has squeezed a 3840x2160 resolution into a 27-inch panel with a pixel density of 163ppi. Other specifications include a brightness of 300 cd/m2, a max contrast ratio of 1000:1, 178 degree viewing angles, a 4ms (Gray to Gray) response time, and a color range of 1.07 billion distinct hues. There are also two built-in 2-watt speakers and a 5-way OSD navigation joystick.

Asus says that the new ROG Swift PG27AQ features a narrow bezel, making it a great choice if you want a multi-display setup. The screen also provides a number of connectivity options including an HDMI port, a DisplayPort 1.2 jack, two USB 3.0 ports for quick-charging devices, and an earphone jack. Smart cable management located on the back of the monitor s stand helps keep your gaming area tidy.

The new monitor provides the Asus-exclusive GamePlus hotkey, which offers up in-game enhancements such as a crosshair overlay that consists of four crosshair options. GamePlus also includes an on-screen timer for keeping track of your gaming duration, and an FPS counter so that gamers can monitor how smoothly frames are flowing.

In addition to GamePlus, the panel also features the company s GameVisual technology. Essentially, that means the panel provides six preset display modes for different types of content: RTS/RPG, FPS, sRGB, Scenery, Racing, and Cinema. GameVisual is accessed through a hotkey, or by jumping into the panel's OSD settings menu.

As for other features, the monitor comes packed with a custom heatsink, promising to keep the panel cool during long gaming marathons, and utilizes a passive Smart Air Venting Design that generates airflow by using convective currents. The panel also sports ultra-low blue light technology so help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.

Finally, the addition of G-Sync technology means you shouldn t see any stuttering or flickering while playing games with a compatible Nvidia GPU. With G-Sync, the monitor doesn t display a frame until it s provided by the GPU. In a typical non-G-Sync setup, the framerate offered by the GPU is different than the refresh rate of the monitor, which causes all that annoying screen tearing and lag.

While the specs of this new monitor look pretty, getting 4K frames at a steady 60 FPS takes some hardware meat, as the GPU must process around half a billion pixels per second, the company points out. Naturally, PC gamers wanting the highest resolution possible may want to check out the ROG Matrix 980 Ti card from Asus, which sports a GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU that s clocked 23 percent faster than stock. There are also similar GPU solutions on the market, of course.

As previously stated, the new panel is available now for $900 at Newegg, and is backed by a three-year limited warranty.

PC Gamer

The road to populating the VR industry is growing hotter by the week. Unity Technologies recently announced that its Unity Engine, which powers a wide range of games and applications, will natively support Valve Software s upcoming SteamVR platform. This feature will be added to the engine with no extra cost to developers.

In addition to supporting Unity, Valve Software has also released a SteamVR rendering plugin for the Unity engine that promises enhanced fidelity and performance. Unity Technologies says that this will provide a more realistic experience in games and applications built using the Unity engine, Unity Technologies says.

"We made many of our Vive demos using Unity, and continue to use it today in VR development," said Gabe Newell, Co-Founder and MD, Valve. "Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us and really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators."

Previously, SteamVR was provided for the Unity engine by way of a downloadable plugin on the Unity store. The use of SteamVR means that developers can create a single interface that will work with most if not all virtual reality headsets on the market, including the upcoming Oculus Rift and the Valve-based HTC Vive. This interface can also handle experiences ranging from a seated position to full-sized rooms. Developers also have access to tracked controllers, render models for tracked devices, and other goodies.

"Valve and Unity are both dedicated to creating the highest quality VR experiences possible," said John Riccitiello, CEO, Unity Technologies. "That means giving developers every possible chance to succeed, and our collaboration with Valve is designed to do just that."

News of the native SteamVR support in Unity arrives after Epic Games said that its Unreal Engine 4 editor was up and running in a VR environment. The editor should allow developers to don a VR headset like the Oculus Rift and its accompanying motion controllers, and create VR experiences in real time. Additional details will be revealed in March during GDC 2016.

Earlier this week, Amazon introduced its own gaming engine called Lumberyard. Tucked inside its announcement was news that Lumberyard currently supports PC and console games, "with mobile and virtual reality (VR) platforms coming soon." That's it on the details so far, though. Lumberyard is said to be based on CryTek s CRYENGINE, which includes native support for the Oculus Rift.

Unity Technologies and Valve Software revealed the native VR support during Unity s Vision Summit 2016 in Hollywood, the definitive event for innovators in AR/VR. Valve said that it will be delivering talks during the event, and providing every attending developer with an HTC Vive Pre. The actual consumer model doesn t ship until April 2016, although customers can begin pre-ordering headsets on February 29.

PC Gamer

I know the Warhammer 40K universe doesn't really have good guys, but Chaos are definitely the bad guys, flying bastardised Imperium ships in service to unspeakable space-things. Their twisted, skulled battleships mutate to reflect whatever Chaos god they're flying in service to, bringing different buffs to the fleet.

It's a good thing too, because Chaos tech is a little out of date. They're more fragile than Imperium ships, but compensate with greater range and zippy engines. The instantaneous Stasis Bomb is a fittingly evil support gadget too, freezing the enemy in time while your own ordinance sails merrily into them.

I've been impressed with everything I've seen in the trickle of details Tindalos Interactive is letting out. Whether it handles like a strategy game using the Warhammer licence should—particularly with the promising Total War: Warhammer on the horizon—we'll know come March.

PC Gamer

All the World's a Stage

Next month, our sister site and magazine PC Gamer will be hosting their first PC Gamer Weekender event in London. The first 500 tickets are on sale at 9.99 each for the Standard Pass, or you can grab the Weekender Plus Pass for 24 each. This is Future's own special event, but they're not doing it alone. They've partnered up with developers and others in the industry, and there will be plenty of exciting and fun games and technology on display. Attendees will be able to check out some new and upcoming games, attend PC workshops, hang out with other gamers in the common room, and hear from some of the brightest minds in the industry. Let's take each of those in turn.

Along with plenty of existing games, attendees will have the chance to visit Bandai Namco and check out the pre-release version of Dark Souls III, or the early access version of Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Sega will be there with Total War: Warhammer, still a month away from release, and Capcom will have both Street Fighter V and the Resident Evil spin-off Umbrella Corps. Confirmed publishers include 2K Games, aPriori, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Chucklefish, Excalibur, Introversion, Jagex, Notgames, Resonance Studios, Team 17, Sol Trader, SEGA, and Wargaming. Here's the complete list of games that will be at the show.

For the hardware enthusiasts—and that should be all of you reading this!— Asus will be sponsoring PC workshops ranging from the basics up through overclocking and a speed building competition. Another workshop will cover case modding, which can be a never-ending rabbit hole, as anyone who has looked at our Rig of the Months should know. Other topics include building PCs from scratch, upgrade advice for everyone from beginners to experienced users, and a GPU competition. Many of the hardware sessions are interactive, allowing you to go hands on with experts.

Over in the common room, sponsored by Sega, up-and-coming indie developers will be showing off their latest projects. So if you happen to be an aspiring developer, this could be your chance to get some tips from people who are making it in the industry. Or if you're far enough along in development, you can submit your game for consideration. We all know that some of the most creative games of the past several years have come from the indie community, and it will be great to see what's coming down the pipe.

And last but not least, we've gathered some of the brightest minds from the gaming industry, including those responsible for titles like Star Citizen, Mount and Blade 2, X-Com 2, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Total War: Warhammer, and more. Industry legend Julian Gollop, CEO of Snapshot games and the designer and director behind the classic X-Com: UFO Defense, will also be present. All of these industry veterans and experts will be speaking at the PC Gamer Weekender.

So if you're in the area—or you're willing to get there!—come hang out with folks from PC Gamer, Maximum PC, and more at the inaugural PC Gamer Weekender. There are only 500 tickets available at 9.99, along with the additional Weekender Plus passes that get you access for both days, as well as a digital subscription to PC Gamer. Also note that due to age restricted content, attendees must be 18 or older, so don't forget your ID.

PC Gamer

We thought Dying Light was solid. Chris liked it's latest expansion, The Following, even more. But while it might be a game you'd be content to pay full price for, I suspect even the wealthy and fiscally irresponsible among us would stop short of shelling out $10 million for the Dying Light Spotlight Edition.

The Spotlight Edition gets you four copies of Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition—very nice, that's $240 accounted for. You can do the voice work for protagonist Kyle Crane in a special Dying Light edition, and claim a zombie special effects make-up session whenever you feel like. There's also an off-road driving course for that Following dirt buggy experience, but these are all trinkets really.

The big money gets spent on the Dying Light movie, which is a thing that exists, apparently. A worrying indictment of its potential quality, the Spotlight Edition buys you a supporting role with lines and an action scene. Assuming you're not a trained actor already with that sort of cash kicking around, Roger Craig Smith will give you acting lessons to accompany your stunt training, or you can delegate to a stunt double. There's a press tour, VIP opening night tickets, and, if that's not enough, a signed copy of the script.

Wait, it gets stranger! The Spotlight Edition can't be bought just anywhere. No, it's exclusive to famed high-end boutique, Game, although there's a whole lot of small print on the listing.

If you buy this, I worry you might be single-handedly funding the film.

PC Gamer
At a Glance

(+) Carmen Miranda: Good 1080p performance; beefy cooling; runs quiet.

(-) Hokey Pokey: Aging architecture; less efficient than Maxwell; needs lower quality settings on some recent releases.

Doing the Tonga Tango

AMD's Tonga architecture has always been a bit of an odd man out. It's essentially a refined version of the old Tahiti architecture, with a few architectural tweaks to allow it to do more with less. Specifically, Tonga is limited to a 256-bit memory interface, where Tahiti had a 384-bit interface, but Tonga's GCN1.2 architecture includes lossless delta color compression technologies. Other than those changes, the performance is still largely the same as the old Radeon 7950/7970. Anyone who already had a good AMD card at the time Tonga came to market likely left the poor chap sitting on the sidelines as a wallflower, hoping for someone to give him a chance.

When it first showed up as the R9 285, the naming hinted at the similarity, though some would inevitably hope the five point bump in model number would bring a bit more to the floor. Ultimately, performance is rarely more than a few percent faster/slower than the venerable R9 280 (aka HD 7950). But along with refinements to the memory interface, Tonga overall is an improvement in efficiency, and it's less expensive to manufacture.

Last year, the R9 380 and 390 series followed up on the existing R9 280/285 and 290 series; then later AMD launched the R9 380X, but we never formally reviewed the R9 380. We're going to rectify that omission, mostly because as a sub-$200 graphics card, the R9 380 still has a lot to offer. For example, you can find the card with either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory, but considering the nearly identical price, we recommend sticking with the 4GB models. Those cards start at just $185 (with rebates bringing the card price as low as $165); meanwhile, the Sapphire card we're looking at is priced at $205 with a mail-in rebate dropping that to $190. The 20-30MHz bump in core clocks on some models is hardly worth mentioning, so we're looking at the Sapphire card as well as the R9 380 in general.

Shall We Dance?

Sapphire has several models of the R9 380 available, including a compact 2GB model. The card we received is now a bit harder to find, in that it doesn't have the metal backplate found on the more readily available 380 Nitro. Other than that change, the two cards should perform similarly—ours just doesn't look quite as nice and isn't quite as heavy. Also, it's clocked a bit lower, but you can easily make up the difference using any overclocking utility, including Sapphire's own Trixx utility. Here's the full rundown of the card:

Sapphire R9 380 Nitro 4G
Card R9 380
GPU Tonga
Architecture GCN 1.2
Lithography 28nm
Transistor Count (Billions) 5
Compute Units 28
Shaders 1792
Texture Units 128
ROPs 32
Core Clock (MHz) 985
Memory Capacity 4GB
Memory Clock (GT/s) 5800
Bus Width (bits) 256
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s) 185.6
TDP (Watts) 225
Online Price $205

AMD's official stock clocks for the R9 380—stock clocks which almost no one actually uses—are 970/5700, so Sapphire gives a moderate bump to both with their Nitro card. (The Nitro with a backplate has clocks of 1010/5800, if you're wondering.) That amounts to a factory overclock of around 1.5 percent, which is basically margin of error for most gaming benchmarks. But don't let those tame clock speeds underwhelm. 

First, despite the mainstream pricing, the R9 380 is a very capable GPU. It's true that in many ways performance isn't a huge step up from an old HD 7950 or R9 280, but it does offset things somewhat by including 4GB VRAM. Cross-platform gaming support has resulted in many games starting to push the limits on GPUs with less than 4GB VRAM, so if you're looking to move from an older generation mainstream GPU to a new $200 card, the 380 punches well above its weight class.

Second, there's always end-user overclocking. You'll need a utility that properly supports Sapphire's GPUs, and in this case you're best off just nabbing Trixx—MSI's Afterburner can't adjust clocks beyond +100MHz. Keep your expectations in check, however, as AMD's GCN has not proven nearly as overclocking friendly as Nvidia's Maxwell architecture. We managed to run through our benchmarks at 1100/6300 without any problems, but 1125/6500 resulted in a hard system lock, even when sitting at the desktop. What will our manual overclock (12/9 percent over factory) do for you? Around 5 10 percent more performance, which is nice since it's "free," though it's not usually enough to take a game from stuttering to playable.

Old MacDonald had a card, I/O, I/O, umm…

The Sapphire Nitro card is only moderately large. Like nearly every mainstream or higher GPU (AMD R7 or Nvidia GTX), this is a dual-slot card. Sapphire uses the exact same core design for their R9 380X, so the "lesser" GPU still gets plenty of helpful features. There are two large 100mm fans cooling the card, which is sort of crazy to see—I remember when GPUs with 60mm fans were the norm. The large fans do require a slightly taller card, but it's only a 5mm difference. They're also powerful enough to make a racket if you run them at 100 percent, which shouldn't happen unless you're intentionally overclocking the GPU and cranking up the fan speed.

At factory settings, the card runs quieter than our CPU cooler and case fans, and even at our maximum overclock it's still not much louder than the rest of our system components. Temperatures also remain frosty, relatively speaking—the GPU maxed out at 70C during an extended gaming session, so there's no difficulty there.

And speaking of gaming, let's check out the benchmarks. Here are the details of our GPU test system, which is designed to eliminate other bottlenecks as much as possible. We've stuck with graphics cards that cost around $300 or less to keep things simple, since we all know the $500+ behemoths still reign supreme.

Maximum PC 2015 GPU Test Bed
CPU Intel Core i7-5930K: 6-core HT OC'ed @ 4.2GHz Core i5-4690K simulated: 4-core no-HT @ 3.9GHz Core i3-4350 simulated: 2-core HT @ 3.6GHz
Mobo Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4
GPUs AMD R9 285 (Sapphire) AMD R9 380 (Sapphire) AMD R9 380X (Sapphire) AMD R9 390 (Sapphire) Nvidia GTX 770 (Reference) Nvidia GTX 950 (Asus) Nvidia GTX 960 (EVGA) Nvidia GTX 970 (Asus)
SSD Samsung 850 EVO 2TB
PSU EVGA SuperNOVA 1300 G2
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB DDR4-2666
Cooler Cooler Master Nepton 280L
Case Cooler Master CM Storm Trooper
OS Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Drivers AMD Crimson 16.1 Nvidia 361.75
Fearsome Foxtrot

In terms of pricing, the R9 380 4GB goes up against the GTX 960, with both cards generally available for around $200. Unfortunately, we only have the 2GB model of the GTX 960 on hand, which means it's about $10 cheaper but it has problems with games that need more memory. Not to put too fine an edge on things, but the R9 380 4GB basically cleans the 2GB 960's clock. Perhaps slightly more sobering is that an older GTX 770 card is still managing slightly higher frame rates overall, but then that was originally a $400 GPU. (The 770 also stumbles on several of the latest games, at least at our tested settings, so keep that in mind.)

Of the nine games we tested, there's exactly one title where Nvidia manages a clear victory, Metro: Last Light. That's an older TWIMTBP title, so we wouldn't put too much stock in it, and even then, it's only a nine percent lead. Perhaps more surprising are some recent releases, like Rise of the Tomb Raider. That's another TWIMTBP release, but memory demands basically crush the 2GB cards; the 380 beats the 960 by around 40 percent. Shadow of Mordor gives AMD a similarly huge lead, and Hitman: Absolution has the 380 ahead by around 30 percent. The remaining games are much closer, but overall we're looking at a 10 15 percent average margin of victory with 1080p gaming.

Grabbing a GTX 960 4GB card should improve the situation, as looking at the R9 380 vs. R9 285 we see about a 10 percent improvement in overall performance thanks to the increased VRAM. And if you're serious about overclocking, Nvidia's cards can usually manage closer to a 20 percent OC. But otherwise, we're looking at pretty comparable performance. And of course, in this case, comparable performance means that the sub-$200 cards really aren't equipped to handle anything more than 1080p high settings in more demanding titles.

The two 6-pin PEG connectors provide up to 150W of additional power.

From specs to noise to performance, everything looks good for Sapphire's mainstream offering. However, there is one potential fly in the ointment: power requirements. The Sapphire card is listed as having a 225W TDP, which is 35W higher than the stock R9 380's 190W TDP. The GTX 960 by comparison is rated at only 120W. That means the R9 380 potentially consumes almost twice as much power. The horror, the horror! Except, in practice, the difference is far less dramatic.

Looking at our collection of games, we measured system power use of 270-315W (depending on the game and scene) when our test rig was running the R9 380. Under the same conditions, the GTX 960 measured used 230 270W. So despite a 105W difference in TDP, in practice we're seeing a 40 45W gap. Put another way, that's like replacing one incandescent bulb with a CCFL or LED bulb, which is hardly worth thinking about, considering you also get improved performance. If you're really trying to be green and reduce your energy use, we can think of plenty of better ways to save power than swapping to a more efficient GPU. We might start by ditching our X99 Haswell-E platform, which would drop idle and load power a solid 50W.

Potent Polka

There's a lot of sex appeal—erm, scratch that; nerd-appeal—in owning the fastest graphics cards and the most powerful gaming systems. And if you're serious about PC gaming and want to run at high fps and high quality settings with a 4K or 3440x1440 ultrawide display, you'll need every frame your GPU can muster. But there's also something to be said for just enjoying the experience of a moderate system. Console gamers know what we're talking about, as they typically make do with graphics that equate to 1080p medium settings, and they still don't get a 60 fps experience. If all you want is a good system for gaming and you're willing to stick with medium to high quality on the latest releases, the R9 380 is exactly what you're looking for.

Take this card and stuff it into any decent computer—yes, even that generic pre-built OEM system—and you suddenly have a gaming PC. Sapphire's Nitro cards aren't substantially different from other Radeon offerings, but sometimes you don't need the most capable dance partner to impress. Is the R9 380 going to sweep you off your feet and carry you into the sunset? Probably not, but until something better comes along (you know Polaris and Pascal are due later this year, right?), there are far worse ways to spend your time shuffling around the dance floor.

...

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