Category: Tech

Games Tech 1

Sony Releasing a PlayStation 4.5

Sony is coming out with a “PlayStation 4K” later this year for $400, and its as hilarious as it’s moniker is misleading. Its a slightly more powerful version of the Playstation 4 hardware, with the ability to “output at 4K resolution”. However, the hardware is not powerful enough to actually run games at 4K natively. Even high end PCs with thousands of dollars in graphics cards have issues doing this. Its simply not possible that this hardware is going to be able to do it at $400 and at that form factor. What the console is really doing is upscaling to 4k from whatever native resolution the games will actually be running at (likely still around 1080p).

Supposedly there are already games in development that will be specifically advantage of the increased PlayStation 4.5 hardware. This, in my opinion, completely negates one of the biggest reasons why people go with a console rather then a PC. Lots of people go the console route because PCs are “more expensive”, and that you “have to upgrade all the time”. Historically, console hardware have been pretty static within a generation, with only trivial updates to the hardware over their lifetimes (smaller form factors, more power efficient). With Microsoft talking about doing a similar refresh to the Xbox One, this seems like its no longer going to be the case. So I have to ask, why buy a console now if the plan going forward is to refresh the hardware every three years or so? I get way better life out of my PC hardware, and PCs can actually run games at 4K natively if that’s a selling point for you.

“Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer said. “When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen. You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform.”

Sony is essentially splitting its player base for very little gain. What’s really the point? Developers are either going to take good advantage of the extra hardware power and require players to upgrade to play new games, or they are going to use it in trivial ways to keep the games compatible with the old console. I suspect the majority of it is going to be the latter, which makes value of the hardware refresh rather dubious. And if that is true then the PlayStation 4.5 is basically just there to upscale your content, which is something 4K TVs already do a pretty decent job of.

Head over to Digital Foundry for some more technical information. Either way, I think this is now officially the most disappointing console generation ever.

Tech 1

Gaming PC Build Feb 2016

results

Similar to before, I build another pc for a co-worker. This time the budget was around $2,000 with the goal to build a small and reasonably quit gaming rig. Overall it came out pretty nice. We came in right at $2k with the following parts:

The only challenge of the build was just the small size of the case. We got everything to fit, but if I were to do it again I would get a slightly shorter length power supply. The Corsair site lists that it supports power supplies up to 160mm so that is what we got, but there was very little clearance between the end of the power supply and the drive cages. All the cables are basically bent at 90 degrees in order to get around it. Other then that its a pretty nice case.

Tech

HTPC Build

When I built my new PC back in September I also built a HTPC from my old computer parts. I mentioned that I was going to make a post about it, so I guess I should even though its pretty late. I replaced most of the parts in my PC when I upgraded, so I really only needed to buy a new case and power supply. After looking around at various HTPC cases, I ended up settling on the Fractal Designs Node 605. Its a rather large HTPC case, but because I was working with spare parts I had to fit a full ATX sized motherboard. Other then its size though, it looks really nice. I also needed to get a new CPU cooler. I had a H60 laying around but it wouldn’t fit in the case, so I took the opportunity to buy my first Noctua cooler. I ended up getting the Noctua NH-L12. It works well and is extremely quiet. The only minor issue I had was my ram I took from my old PC had clearance issues in the leftmost slot. I ended up only running 8GB, which is more then enough for this build.

Specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L12
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance
  • Hard Drive: 120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD
  • Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX500M
  • Case: Fractal Designs Node 605
  • Keyboard: Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad

 

So how well does it work? Perfectly! Its running Windows 7 but boots straight into Steam Big Picture Mode. I elected not to go with any graphics cards for this build, so instead I have been using Steam In-Home Streaming. This uses the power of my new PC to run the games, but streams the video over my wired gigabit network to this HTPC. There are a few games that have issues with streaming (probably SLI related, they work when I disable it), but for the most part you really cant tell the games are running remotely. I use a 3rd party wireless receiver and a Xbox 360 controller to play the games on my TV.

I have Emby Theater (Previously Media Browser Theater) installed to stream movies and TV shows from my home server. I control the videos using a basic remote.

I also ended up installing my old HDMI capture card and buying a HDMI switch/splitter. This allows me to record gameplay from my other consoles on the PC. I have to say it is pretty convenient, although I have not used it to make any interesting videos yet.

Overall, I am pretty happy with how this build turned out. Its a great use of my old PC parts.