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  1. Yesterday
  2. Paul Hansmeier, a former copyright troll attorney who's currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, wants to hire an undercover investigator to go after online pirates while he's in prison. The convicted lawyer has also requested a sentence reduction, citing a prolonged stay in solitary confinement. Three years ago, a U.S. District Court in Minnesota sentenced Paul Hansmeier to 14 years in prison. Hansmeier was a key player in the Prenda Law firm, which pursued cases against people who were suspected of downloading pirated porn videos via BitTorrent. Investigating and suing pirates isn’t illegal, but Hansmeier and his associate John Steele entered criminal territory when they lied to the courts, committed identity theft, and created a honeypot by uploading self-produced porn torrents to The Pirate Bay as bait. Hansmeier and Steele’s individual responses to the criminal prosecution couldn’t have been more different. Steele cooperated with the prosecution from the start. This resulted in a relatively modest 5-year prison sentence, including a probation period, and he left prison a few weeks ago. Hansmeier decided to go on the offensive. Hansmeier’s Fights Hansmeier initially denied any wrongdoing and later appealed his sentence. The convicted lawyer also launched a flurry of petitions and new lawsuits, hoping to aid his case or reduce the prison term. A few weeks ago, the former lawyer filed a new request to reduce his sentence. Hansmeier says officials have treated him harshly, including a 122-day stay in solitary confinement. “Specifically, Hansmeier engaged in petitioning activity and, in response, prison officials threw him in an isolation cell for five months,” he informed the court, writing in the third person. “While he was in the isolation cell, Hansmeier was limited to one phone call to his family per month, he was locked in a tiny, windowless room where the light stayed on 24 hours a day, he was prohibited from receiving a newspaper or any other periodicals and he was prohibited from having attorney-client privileged calls.” Torture? These events are just a fraction of the punishments allegedly suffered by Hansmeier, at least according to Hansmeier’s own reporting of events. If the allegations are accurate, concerns over Hansmeier’s treatment would be warranted, despite his past activities. These concerns were recognized by journalist Joe Patrice from Above the Law, who previously worked as a litigator and has an extensive legal background. In his coverage of the matter, Patrice suggested that Hansmeier’s treatment could potentially qualify as torture, according to the United Nations. Hansmeier read this report and used Patrice’s article to support his case. In the end, that didn’t help him. United States District Judge Joan N. Ericksen denied the request early this month. Undercover Piracy Investigator The denial means that the 14-year sentence still stands, but that doesn’t mean Hansmeier is giving up. A few days ago he submitted a new request, asking permission to hire an undercover investigator to enforce his copyrights. This isn’t the first time that Hansmeier has attempted to continue his anti-piracy work from prison. Similar suits were filed before – and dismissed. Last summer the court prohibited him from filing more. Despite the filing restriction, Hansmeier now requests a preliminary injunction to prevent the U.S. Government from enforcing the mail-wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy statutes for his planned copyright enforcement activities. This basically means that he wants the court to greenlight a similar enforcement strategy for which he was convicted. That’s the simple way of putting it, without any nuance. “Paul Hansmeier would like to hire an undercover investigator to enforce his copyrights in creative works and bring claims under the Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act against people who pirate the works,” the motion reads. “Hansmeier seeks to do so in a way that addresses the political issues raised by his prior anti-piracy litigation. The primary impediment to Hansmeier protecting his copyrights against Internet piracy is the chilling effect of the government’s criminalization of the routine copyright enforcement methods Hansmeier seeks to use now.” The copyright enforcement campaign could help Hansmeier’s defense, which argues that his conviction was unconstitutional. However, the former lawyer also stresses that pirates deserved to be punished. Piracy is a Cancer According to Hansmeier’s motion, piracy is basically theft and a cancer on the creative industries. “Internet piracy is a cancer eating away at the markets for creative expression. It destroys the incentive to invest in creative output and thus lessens the public’s access to works that enrich the human experience. “Piracy—which is really just theft—contributes nothing to our society. Efforts to deter piracy benefit our society with no corresponding harm to the public; the only person who loses is the pirate, but pirates can avoid being sued if they don’t steal,” the motion adds. These arguments didn’t convince District Judge Joan N. Ericksen to rule in Hansmeier’s favor. In a rather brief order, the request was denied, which sends Hansmeier back to the drawing board.
  3. Season 23 of Big Brother has just got underway in Brazil, and broadcaster Globo is taking no chances. In a leaked email, Globo staff are informed that when people share too much BBB23 content on social media, it hurts the show and the company, and it needs to be stopped. And if staff suspect people of sharing their passwords, they should be reported too. First broadcast in the Netherlands back in 1999, reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ is now a global franchise spanning more than 60 countries. Big Brother Brazil (BBB) is one of the most successful regional variants. Right now, BBB23 is live on air, so millions of fans are tuning in at home to watch other people living in a different house for a bit while others watch. When BBB fans aren’t glued to their TVs waiting for the drama to unfold, many can be found on social media, usually speculating about what comes next, based on what they’ve just seen. To facilitate the discourse, fans often post images and video clips from the show, but for TV company Globo, which broadcasts the show 24/7 on pay-per-view, some fans go too far. Security Department’s Email Gets Leaked When Globo broadcast BBB22 last year, the company decided to loosen its copyright policy. Rather than being banned from Twitter for sharing clips of the show without permission, Globo said that fans could share a one-minute clip online for every hour of the show. According to an internal communication leaked to local media outlet TVPop, the position may have changed for BBB23. Reportedly issued by Globo’s Information Security department, new guidelines inform staff that digital piracy harms the show and as a result, harms the company. “Digital piracy causes several damages to the market and the entertainment industry is especially affected by it,” the translation reads. “Piracy Impacts Advertising” Reportedly sent to staff via an internal communications system, the new guidelines suggest that piracy harms Globo employees and has a negative effect on the advertising market. “The damage goes far beyond the loss of uniqueness and the dissemination of content without authorization. For example, there is an impact on the attractiveness of audiovisual products for the advertising market,” it reads. While the extent of any damage isn’t quantified, data shows that subscriptions to the Globoplay streaming platform increased by 79% in 2020 and by another 32% in 2021. A document published by Associação Brasileira das Administradorasde Consórcios (pdf) last September provides specifics on the BBB23 advertising program. “Advertising on Big Brother Brasil will become more expensive in 2023. 112 days before the start of the program, brands are rushing to secure a space in the most watched house in Brazil, even with sponsorship quotas for the [Globo] program costing up to 32% more than in previous series,” it reads. “According to program data, in 2022, more than 153 million people watched the program on Globo platforms. Although without breaking the 2021 audience record, according to the broadcaster, the public spent 13% more time watching the last series.” “Lots of Parties and Bullshit” Globo’s leaked communication initially celebrates the launch of BBB23 but quickly emphasizes the importance of clamping down on piracy. “The most watched house in the country is back and promises lots of parties, bullshit, exciting competitions, shacks and audience records. It’s a lot of good things together! But there are people wanting to take a ride on this success. Piracy generates several negative consequences for BBB and for the work of all of us,” it reads. So what can Globo staff do to help? To clamp down on social media users sharing images and videos of BBB23, staff are instructed to report them to Globo. The line between free advertising and piracy isn’t made clear, but when it comes to another modern-day scourge, facilitated by Globo’s paying customers, everything seems more cut and dried. “If you see pirated content out there or know of someone who is sharing the Globoplay login with other people, you already know: just report it by email,” the communication adds. According to TVPop, Globo appears to be taking down BBB videos dating back several years at the same time as taking down content from BBB23. Evidence of takedowns can be found on the Lumen Database, which lists dozens of DMCA takedown notices sent by Globo to Google. Whether this will be enough for Globo is unclear, but with headlines in local media asking, “What time do participants go to the secret room?” the pressure on fans to subscribe can’t be understated.
  4. Last month, the U.S. seized dozens of domains for illegally streaming World Cup 2022 matches. The tournament began in November, but according to a Special Agent's affidavit, Homeland Security received information on sites illegally streaming World Cup matches in September. HSI affidavits filed in support of the December 2022 domain seizures reveal how that process played out. The World Cup is international football’s most prestigious tournament. International governing body FIFA guards its lucrative rights to the competition with a rod of iron. FIFA World Cup 2022 got underway on November 20 in Qatar, and in the hours leading up to December 10, Homeland Security Investigations began seizing pirate streaming site domains. Our initial report was confirmed by U.S. authorities two days later, with a statement claiming that “55 separate websites” had been seized. Over the next few days, 23 additional domains were seized, bringing the total to 78. The official announcement referenced an affidavit filed in support of the seizures, but no copy was provided and hours spent trawling court records turned up nothing in December. Affidavit Dated December 2022 Filed in January 2023 After being officially filed on January 12, 2023, two identical affidavits appeared on record this month at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Submitted by HSI Special Agent Jones under two different case numbers, the affidavits carry the signature of Judge Maddox dated December 16, 2022. Both affidavits relate to seizures that took place between December 16-19 but make no mention of earlier seizures. The affidavits list two other case numbers but those documents were filed under seal. After previous assignments at the NSA and Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Team, Special Agent Jones is currently assigned to HSI’s Transnational Cyber Crimes Team (TCCT). His affidavit states that he has probable cause to believe that the listed domains are subject to seizure and forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 2323(a)(1)(A)-(B) and (b)(1) because they are used or intended to be used to commit or facilitate criminal infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319. Friend MTS Referral to HSI in September At least two months before World Cup 2022 began, in its role as representative of FIFA, UK-based anti-piracy company Friend MTS (which is heavily involved in dynamic stream blocking in Europe) began supplying HSI with information on “several” domains. “Friend MTS identified the sites as being used to transmit and distribute copyright infringing content (World Cup games in particular), without the authorization of the copyright holders,” the affidavits read. A “whitelist” of domains allowed to broadcast games is apparently maintained by FIFA, but none of the domains submitted by Friend MTS appeared on that list. ‘Open-Source’ Search For Additional Domains To find additional domains illegally streaming copyright-protected content, U.S. investigators reportedly conducted a review of “open-source internet messages.” Some of the sites discovered “appeared to host illicit streaming content,” while others embedded streams or offered links to content hosted elsewhere. The table below lists some of the domains and the time they were confirmed as offering FIFA content. Also listed are their corresponding domain registries, in this case mostly VeriSign, but others include GoDaddy, Inc., Identity Digital Inc., and Tonic Domains. After confirming all domains were offering unlicensed content, HSI concluded that “neither a restraining order nor an injunction” could guarantee their seizure. However, if the domains were seized and redirected to another website, that would “prevent third parties from acquiring the name and using it to commit additional crimes” and “prevent third parties from continuing to access the websites in their present forms.” Legal Assessment & Seizure The affidavit states that for civil forfeitures, venue may lie in any district where any of the acts giving rise to forfeiture occurred, where the property was found, or where it was bought. For criminal forfeitures, venue lies in any district in which prosecution could occur. In this case, the affidavit states there is probable cause to believe that the domains are subject to civil and criminal forfeiture. With all bases covered, attention turns to the domain registries for .com, .tv, .to, .cc, me, .live, and .net domains – Verisign, Inc., GoDaddy, Tonic Domains, and Identity Digital, Inc. Upon seizure of the domains, the registries were required to associate them with new authoritative name servers, to direct visitors to a government seizure notice referencing a warrant issued by the court. After being served with a copy of the seizure warrant, domain registrars (through which the domain owners had purchased their domains) were told to “modify any records, databases, tables, or documents” used to identify the owner of the domain, to show that seizure had taken place. Domain Seizure Instructions Both affidavits have four attachments marked A1-A4, each detailing actions to be taken by a specific registry. In all cases domain seizures were instructed to take place on December 16, 2022, at 4:00 pm EST. Registries were given the choice of adding two new DNS entries (ns1 and ns2.seizedservers.com) to each domain or redirecting domains to two designated IP addresses. A third option allowed law enforcement to issue instructions to a relevant domain registrar instead. All registries were warned to prevent any modification or transfer of the domains and to implement instructions as quickly as possible. The list of domains for each registry reads as follows: Verisign: Rojadirectatvonline.net, Soccerstreams.net, Weakstream.net, Wizwig1.com, Releasesky.com, Tenorsky.com, Vipleagues.net, Extremotvplay.com, Futbollatam.com, Futboltv-envivo.com, Futbollatin.com, Librefutbol.com, Ovopremium.com Registry Services, LLC (GoDaddy): AJSports.tv, Sportstream.tv, Futboltv.biz Tonic Domains: Soccerstreams.to Identity Digital, Inc.: Rojadirecta.global, Hesgoal.pro, Rojadirecta.me, Livetv605.me, Futboltv.live, Hesgoal.me Notify Domain Owners of Seizures (or not) Since domain seizures are still relatively uncommon in the United States, it was unclear whether the authorities would target domain registries, domain registrars, or both. The paperwork clearly shows that registries are the preferred option, but registrars do get a few mentions. For instance, there’s an instruction for domain registrars to modify registrant records “to reflect the seizure” and also the potential for registrars to change DNS records. In the section shown below, there is a requirement for domain registrars to notify customers that their domains were seized by Homeland Security. As detailed in our earlier report, U.S. domain registrars are listed for more than 60% of the seized domains. Registrars have access to domain owners’ details, so contacting them about seized domains would be straightforward. Despite instructions in the warrant directed at registrars and notes that the seizure warrant will be sent to domain name registrars based in the United States, in all cases the list of registrars is surprisingly small. The affidavit claims that no registrars are based in the United States but in the example above, both AJSports.tv and Futboltv.biz list NameCheap Inc. as the registrar. Other domains listed in the affidavit as having no registrar in the United States include Hesgoal.pro (NameCheap), LiveTV605.me (NameCheap), Fullboltv.live (NameCheap) and Hesgoal.me (Name.com, Inc.) At least on the surface, it appears that all U.S. registrars must inform their customers of the seizures but only if they are listed in the affidavit as being in the United States. None are listed as such. Finally, the original seizure applications and orders were sealed and remain so. At least one was filed in a Miami district court back on October 5, 2022, at least six weeks before the start of the World Cup on November 20, 2022.
  5. A new whitepaper released by brand protection company Corsearch shows that half of all the pirate sites it flagged use Cloudflare's services. The Internet infrastructure company clearly stands out and should do more to address the issue, the report suggests. Banning domains that are removed or demoted by Google could be a good start, Corsearch notes. Popular Internet infrastructure service Cloudflare has come under a lot of pressure from copyright holders in recent years. The company offers its services to millions of sites. This includes multinationals, governments, but also some of the world’s leading pirate sites. These sites have proven to be quite a headache for the San Francisco-based tech company. Ideally, however, the company prefers not to be the arbiter of what content is allowed and what is not. The Curation Conundrum The company reiterated its position a few months ago. To shield itself from escalating removal demands, including plain censorship, Cloudflare said it would no longer terminate customers without a court order. Just days after taking this hardened approach, Cloudflare reversed its position. Citing an immediate threat to human life, CEO Matthew Prince justified blocking access to the controversial Kiwi Farms site. There’s no question that death threats are in a league of their own, but copyright holders would also like to see more cooperation from Cloudflare. This call is backed by a recent report from brand protection company Corsearch. Corsearch is no stranger to copyright issues. The company works with several of the largest rightsholders and its subsidiary Incopro has produced a wealth of piracy research, some in collaboration with governments. In this case, the research focuses on Cloudflare. Whirepaper: Cloudflare & Pirate Sites The overall tenor of the whitepaper is that when compared to other intermediaries, Cloudflare appears to be linked to a relatively high percentage of torrent sites. Of all the sites flagged by Corsearch, which are all demoted by Google as well, half use Cloudflare’s CDN service. “Cloudflare is not the host of these websites. However, the host is not readily identifiable and Cloudflare is most closely associated with 49% of websites notified for delisting by Corsearch,” the report notes. There’s no denying that Cloudflare stands out but it should be noted that the company is not a hosting provider, like the others on the list. In addition to Cloudflare, these pirate sites may use Amazon or Google’s services as well, even though that’s not immediately visible. Besides pirate sites, the report also links Cloudflare to trademarking. Again, it is the most common online intermediary for these outlets. Technically, Cloudflare can’t take these sites offline, as they are hosted elsewhere. However, Corsearch believes that the company could and should do more to tackle the piracy problem. And it has some ideas on where to start. “Cloudflare is uniquely positioned to do more to protect rights holders and substantially to suppress the scourge of online piracy and counterfeiting,” the report reads. “We are asking Cloudflare to do more to support rights owners by voluntarily implementing certain measures. These measures are reasonable, proportionate and if adopted by Cloudflare will have a significant impact.” Recommendations Corsearch doesn’t have just one, but a whole list of suggestions for the CDN provider. Most of these boil down to terminating services to sites that others deem to be infringing. Those include the following; – Cloudflare should terminate accounts of sites that are demoted or deindexed by Google search. – Cloudflare should withdraw services to any site that’s deemed unlawful by a recognized law enforcement body or the ‘Infringing Website List’ (IWL). – Cloudflare should ban sites that are on the US Trade Representative’s annual notorious markets list. – Cloudflare should stop working with sites that are added to the European Union’s Counterfeit and Piracy Watchlist. What Can Go Wrong? While it’s understandable that rightsholders want Cloudflare to do more, these suggestions are not without issues of their own. The IWL, for example, is private and can’t be scrutinized by the public. As reported recently, this includes domains of organizations such as GitHub, Blogspot, and a Portuguese University. The USTR’s Notorious Market lists and the EU’s Piracy Watchlist also have various entries that deserve some nuance. These include the Chinese Wechat, which has over a billion users, as well as Russia’s largest social media platform VK. Up until recently, USTR even listed Amazon’s foreign online stores as “notorious markets”. Does that mean that these shouldn’t be allowed to operate? Given Cloudflare’s previous comments, it seems unlikely that the company will start banning accounts left and right. That being said, Corsearch also has some other suggestions that may be more realistic. The report proposes a robust “Know-Your-Client” policy, for example. In addition, it calls for a comprehensive transparency report where Cloudflare would disclose which domain names are flagged by rightsholders and how often.
  6. Last week
  7. Ubisoft announced earlier today that Skull and Bones is delayed yet again, and naturally we took the opportunity to have some fun with it(opens in new tab). But word of the delay came as part of a much larger update reflecting real trouble at the company: Ubisoft is struggling, and has opted to cancel three more unannounced projects in order to focus on its existing brands and live services. The game industry in recent years has shifted toward "mega-brands and long-lasting titles that can reach players across the globe, across platforms and business models," Ubisoft said in the update. Over the past four years, Ubisoft has attempted to do the same with its own major properties, including Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and The Division. But it hasn't paid off: Games announced during the "investment phase" of this strategic shift have yet to come out, and its most recent releases have not met expectations. "We are clearly disappointed by our recent performance," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. "We are facing contrasted market dynamics as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and everlasting live games, in the context of worsening economic conditions affecting consumer spending. "Despite excellent ratings and players’ reception as well as an ambitious marketing plan, we were surprised by Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope underperformance in the final weeks of 2022 and early January. Just Dance 2023 underperformed as well." But Ubisoft's troubles run much deeper than a couple of holiday flops. At the risk of oversimplifying things, it just can't seem to make anything happen. Skull and Bones is maybe the highest-profile example of Ubi's recent inability to get games out the door, but don't forget that the three unannounced projects cancelled today come just six months after Ubisoft pulled the plug on four other in-the-works games(opens in new tab), including Ghost Recon Frontline and Splinter Cell VR. Frontline was a particularly stinging loss. It was unveiled in 2021 as a military-themed battle royale game, presumably aimed at giving Ubisoft a presence alongside games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, Escape From Tarkov, and Hunt: Showdown. Now, not much more than a year later, Ubisoft is still on the outside looking in at the success of those games, with no imminent prospect of getting in on the action itself. But the bigger issue for Ubisoft is, well, a lot bigger. The company has canned seven separate projects within a single fiscal year and has nothing to show for their absence. Nor does it have any major live-service games, like Apex Legends or GTA Online, to keep the money trucks rolling between releases: Efforts on that front including Ghost Recon Frontline, Hyper Scape, and XDefiant have all fizzled, while The Division: Heartland, which is supposed to be out later this year, has already been almost completely forgotten. (Heartland, by the way, was also delayed—it was initially supposed to go live sometime in 2021-22.) Ubisoft’s best bet for a live-service hit is likely Assassin's Creed Infinity(opens in new tab), which sounds promising but is also years away. Some of Ubisoft’s troubles, to be fair, are just plain bad luck. Rainbow Six: Extraction, for instance, was an interesting extraction shooter that was almost immediately forgotten after it launched in early 2022. But as we noted in December, Ubisoft can’t even seem to make the games it’s already made. The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time remake that was supposed to be out in early 2021 appears to have become trapped in limbo, and the only real news we’ve had about the Splinter Cell remake announced in 2021 is that the director quit in October 2022. The bottom-line cost for Ubisoft is ugly. The company has depreciated roughly €500 million ($538 million) in capitalized research and development expenses related to "upcoming premium and free-to-play games and the newly cancelled titles," which essentially means that money spent developing those games is down the toilet. It's also revising its net bookings target for the third quarter of the current fiscal year way down, from €830 million ($893 million) to €725 million ($780 million). Beyond that, Ubisoft is looking to cut another €200 million ($215 million) in expenses over the next two years through "targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets, and usual natural attrition." Ubisoft's ongoing struggles also make it a tempting target for a takeover. The company successfully fought off a drawn-out acquisition bid by Vivendi in 2018, and the Guillemot family, which founded Ubisoft in 1986 and continues to hold a controlling stake, has repeatedly emphasized its desire to “remain independent.” But Ubisoft's share price has tailed off dramatically over the past five years, from a high of €103 in July 2018 to less than €24 today, and that makes high-priced offers like the one tendered last year by Chinese powerhouse Tencent very difficult to turn down. All of this, of course, comes on top of high-profile allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at various Ubisoft studios, the lessons of which still don't seem to have entirely sunk in. It's not necessarily a death knell for Ubisoft, but the company is clearly in a bad spot. Turning that around will be a major undertaking, requiring not just cost-cutting measures but a meaningful change in the company's ability to actually make and release some dang games—all while trying to convince circling sharks to leave it the hell alone. As we like to say in farm country, that’s going to be a tough row to hoe. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  8. Ubisoft announced earlier today that Skull and Bones is delayed yet again, and naturally we took the opportunity to have some fun with it(opens in new tab). But word of the delay came as part of a much larger update reflecting real trouble at the company: Ubisoft is struggling, and has opted to cancel three more unannounced projects in order to focus on its existing brands and live services. The game industry in recent years has shifted toward "mega-brands and long-lasting titles that can reach players across the globe, across platforms and business models," Ubisoft said in the update. Over the past four years, Ubisoft has attempted to do the same with its own major properties, including Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and The Division. But it hasn't paid off: Games announced during the "investment phase" of this strategic shift have yet to come out, and its most recent releases have not met expectations. "We are clearly disappointed by our recent performance," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. "We are facing contrasted market dynamics as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and everlasting live games, in the context of worsening economic conditions affecting consumer spending. "Despite excellent ratings and players’ reception as well as an ambitious marketing plan, we were surprised by Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope underperformance in the final weeks of 2022 and early January. Just Dance 2023 underperformed as well." But Ubisoft's troubles run much deeper than a couple of holiday flops. At the risk of oversimplifying things, it just can't seem to make anything happen. Skull and Bones is maybe the highest-profile example of Ubi's recent inability to get games out the door, but don't forget that the three unannounced projects cancelled today come just six months after Ubisoft pulled the plug on four other in-the-works games(opens in new tab), including Ghost Recon Frontline and Splinter Cell VR. Frontline was a particularly stinging loss. It was unveiled in 2021 as a military-themed battle royale game, presumably aimed at giving Ubisoft a presence alongside games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, Escape From Tarkov, and Hunt: Showdown. Now, not much more than a year later, Ubisoft is still on the outside looking in at the success of those games, with no imminent prospect of getting in on the action itself. But the bigger issue for Ubisoft is, well, a lot bigger. The company has canned seven separate projects within a single fiscal year and has nothing to show for their absence. Nor does it have any major live-service games, like Apex Legends or GTA Online, to keep the money trucks rolling between releases: Efforts on that front including Ghost Recon Frontline, Hyper Scape, and XDefiant have all fizzled, while The Division: Heartland, which is supposed to be out later this year, has already been almost completely forgotten. (Heartland, by the way, was also delayed—it was initially supposed to go live sometime in 2021-22.) Ubisoft’s best bet for a live-service hit is likely Assassin's Creed Infinity(opens in new tab), which sounds promising but is also years away. Some of Ubisoft’s troubles, to be fair, are just plain bad luck. Rainbow Six: Extraction, for instance, was an interesting extraction shooter that was almost immediately forgotten after it launched in early 2022. But as we noted in December, Ubisoft can’t even seem to make the games it’s already made. The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time remake that was supposed to be out in early 2021 appears to have become trapped in limbo, and the only real news we’ve had about the Splinter Cell remake announced in 2021 is that the director quit in October 2022. The bottom-line cost for Ubisoft is ugly. The company has depreciated roughly €500 million ($538 million) in capitalized research and development expenses related to "upcoming premium and free-to-play games and the newly cancelled titles," which essentially means that money spent developing those games is down the toilet. It's also revising its net bookings target for the third quarter of the current fiscal year way down, from €830 million ($893 million) to €725 million ($780 million). Beyond that, Ubisoft is looking to cut another €200 million ($215 million) in expenses over the next two years through "targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets, and usual natural attrition." Ubisoft's ongoing struggles also make it a tempting target for a takeover. The company successfully fought off a drawn-out acquisition bid by Vivendi in 2018, and the Guillemot family, which founded Ubisoft in 1986 and continues to hold a controlling stake, has repeatedly emphasized its desire to “remain independent.” But Ubisoft's share price has tailed off dramatically over the past five years, from a high of €103 in July 2018 to less than €24 today, and that makes high-priced offers like the one tendered last year by Chinese powerhouse Tencent very difficult to turn down. All of this, of course, comes on top of high-profile allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at various Ubisoft studios, the lessons of which still don't seem to have entirely sunk in. It's not necessarily a death knell for Ubisoft, but the company is clearly in a bad spot. Turning that around will be a major undertaking, requiring not just cost-cutting measures but a meaningful change in the company's ability to actually make and release some dang games—all while trying to convince circling sharks to leave it the hell alone. As we like to say in farm country, that’s going to be a tough row to hoe. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  9. Just two days after delaying Skull and Bones yet again, this time into early 2023-24, Ubisoft has posted a new developer stream showcasing the oft-delayed pirate adventure's "narrative gameplay." The video takes players through an "investigation," described by narrative director Joel Jannise as "a way to tell a story through a series of steps." "The player follows a trail of something that they think is going to be interesting and likely going to lead to some kind of treasure or some kind of score," Janisse explains in the video. "But it also tells a story about our factions and our world, and we do that by finding, for example, messages in bottles, scraps of lost journals, sometimes talking to different characters in the world, and through that we're able to tell a story." The investigation seen in the video is centered on a beef between a brother and sister, both of whom believe they’re the proper heir to the throne of a small kingdom. You, as a pirate, don't particularly care about the politics of the situation, but thrones come with crowns, and crowns are worth a lot of money. The action begins with a mission to plunder a local settlement, and this is where I start to tune out. The act of plundering is simply a matter of pulling up close enough to the port in question, pushing the "plunder" button, and then sailing around within a bounded area blasting at enemy ships while a timer ticks down, signaling the progress your off-screen crew is making. "The fantasy here is, as we're out here fighting and holding our ground, they're in the settlement scampering around, stealing whatever they can get their hands on, and looking for the thing that in this case we're looking for, which is the next clue in our investigation," Janisse says. And I think that really nails one of my core issues with Skull and Bones: It is purely a fantasy, because I can't partake in it—I can't even see it happening. The same thing happens later on in the investigation, when Janisse and senior community developer Alexis Cretton opt to investigate a shipwreck they've discovered: They pull up to it, push the "loot" button, and the item on board immediately appears in their inventory. Even the sailing, the most basic, central element of Skull and Bones, doesn’t seem very impressive. Ships look light and floaty in the video, with no sense of mass or inertia, and not very reactive to the water; it's also impossible to explore ships properly—you can't go below decks, for instance, or into the captain's cabin. It all just seems so dull. My pirate fantasy isn't to interact with menus and timers, it's to swashbuckle! Ideally in the most ridiculous ways possible. I said after a July 2022 gameplay reveal that watching Skull and Bones just makes me want to play Sea of Thieves, and that's still very much the case. Janisse said Ubisoft has "worked really closely with historians, as well as language and culture experts, to make sure that we're being accurate," which is fine—but what about the fun? Skull and Bones has three different types of sea shanties to reflect the authenticity of the game's languages and lore; Sea of Thieves lets you play your own instruments, dance, drink to excess, and vomit on your teammates. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of pirate adventure I want to dive into. (And don't worry, he's fine. It's a big sky adventure for Virgil!) It's impossible to make concrete judgments about a game based solely on videos. But Skull and Bones is drifting, Ubisoft is in trouble, and at a time when it needs to put its best foot forward, this really doesn't impress. Ubisoft said earlier this week that the most recent Skull and Bones delay "will help us in providing further polish and balancing," but what I see in this video isn't a lack of polish, it's a lack of interesting gameplay. Skull and Bones is back to having no release date, but is expected to be out early in Ubisoft 2023-24 fiscal year. That puts it sometime after April 1. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  10. Another day, another new studio—this time from the talented folks behind the excellent Forza Horizon 5, which won our best open world award in 2021. Maverick Games—big Top Gun fans, clearly—announced its launch today, led by Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown. Along with Brown, the studio's founders include several former Playground Games developers, as well as former Sumo Digital co-studio head Harinder Sangha and EA experience design director Elly Marshall. The announcement was accompanied by a boilerplate quote from Brown, which manages to hit all the classic studio announcement cliches. "Our goal is for Maverick Games to be a studio people will love," he says. "For players, we're already at work on an exciting ultra-high quality title, and for developers, we're building a home where everyone is encouraged to take risks, be curious, be creative, be innovative, be themselves, and above all—be a Maverick." Of course, mavericks are terrible team players and are probably the last thing you'd want in a highly collaborative development studio. Oh no, I've become the police chief in an '80s cop movie telling the hero they're out of control. Maverick Games, give me your gun and badge. These loose cannons are already working on their first game: a "premium open-world game for consoles and PC." That's all we're getting for now, but the team certainly has plenty of experience when it comes to open-world romps. While Forza Horizon 5 didn't come with many surprises, it's one of the most refined and energetic open-world games around. More of the same, please. As for their former employers, Playground Games is still supporting FH5, while another team works on the Fable reboot that I still can't quite believe is actually happening. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  11. Digital video game sales make up nine out of 10 video game sales in the UK, according to the digital entertainment and retail association (ERA). It’s important to note that this includes mobile games, PC games as well as console gaming, if console gaming was taken alone, it’s unlikely digital downloads would make up such a large proportion. Specifically, ERA found that 89.5% of games sold were sold as digital downloads and the other 10.5% were physical sales. Apparently, 30% of the sales were mobile app sales which show its growing importance in the gaming sector. Many more people have smartphones than consoles so getting started with games on mobile is easier. The ERA’s chief executive, Kim Bayley, said that while growth in gaming was slower than video and music last year, the sector is actually the leader in the entertainment market. Bayley described gaming as the “often-unheralded leader” in the entertainment market. One notable aspect of the figures put out by the ERA is that a lot of the figures about digital downloads are just estimates. Bayley said that in the past when sales were physical, it was easier to track sales. Now, it’s more difficult because digital stores like Valve’s Steam do not have to issue their sales figures. To estimate game sales, ERA uses data from a market research company called Omdia whose data was described as “the industry benchmark”. With the introduction of the latest Xbox consoles, Microsoft took the decision to release the Xbox Series S which excludes a disc tray. It’s unclear whether Microsoft anticipated lower physical sales, or whether it has nudged digital sales along more as a result. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  12. In the past few years projectors have come ahead by leaps and bounds. Previously a cinema staple, great for an immersive movie-watching experience, if not a particularly crisp one, they haven't been great for gaming. But with modern projectors often spitting out high-resolution images with decent frame rates and relatively low latencies, they're becoming a much more viable option for gaming. Samsung has clearly noticed this, with the refreshed version of The Freestyle projector making some changes with games in mind. The Freestyle 2023 adds Samsung's Gaming Hub, an inbuilt app that gives you native access to game-streaming services. Xbox Cloud gaming is the big one, but the hub also supports Nvidia GeForce Now among other services. This is perfect for a portable little guy like The Freestyle, which boasts a 1920 x 1080 resolution for up to about 100-inch displays. Assuming the specs are largely the same as the original, you're also only looking at HDR as opposed to HDR 10. It's also probably not the brightest beamer on the market. The Freestyle has never really been the best choice for a living room dedicated screen. Instead, it's more at home in a role as a portable playmate you can move from room to room, or for gaming on the go. The addition of built-in streaming services really solidifies this idea, though we can only hope the response time is better than something like the otherwise excellent XGIMI Horizon Pro's when streaming games. The other big change coming to The Freestyle 2023 is one of the cooler things I've seen a projector do. Get two of these bad bois together and they can auto-keystone into a screen that's twice the size. I can only hope next year we just get a full-blown Voltron version of the Freestyle coming together to defend the universe with the largest possible projection. Conceptually, it's really cool. If you're living in a shared house you could have one of these in your room, and then bring it out into the main area for larger entertainment situations. If your housemate happens to have one too, now you're ready to party. These seem like a great portable screen setup with a few more options for fun. Of course if you're more interested in gaming monitors, Samsung had you covered at CES this year too. The new microLED TVs have a wild two-nanosecond response time, which is ridiculous, or check out the new G9 mega-monitor range and prepare to be confused about which is which. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  13. A Valve designer has revealed that at least one developer associated with the company is working on spinning up HDR for Linux gaming. Joshua Ashton, who works on key bits of tech like DXVK and VKD3D-Proton, has apparently gotten HDR properly going. The development was noted by Steam Deck developer Pierre-Loup Griffais via Twitter, where he showed off both Halo Infinite and Deep Rock Galactic. I find it specifically very spicy to play Microsoft's flagship series on a Linux machine. There's something deliciously heretical about that. For avid Steam Deck watchers eager to read the tea leaves on new hardware developments at valve, this milestone seems significant. This announcement could lend some hope to the idea that the next Steam Deck will ship with a powerfully bright OLED screen supports HDR. At this point that's purely wishful thinking—and an OLED Deck wouldn't have to support HDR, of course—but at least the possibility exists. And if developers do get HDR working smoothly on Linux, it seems like a feature Valve would be enthusiastic about supporting on a future Deck. Valve hinted just last month that it'd want a revised Steam Deck to have better battery life and a better screen. (Not that a screen pushing out HDR-level brightness would do anything but make the battery life worse.) Either way, it's a cool development. Joshua Ashton, the developer behind the HDR on Linux, is one of the many independent contractors doing open source development for Valve, much of which feeds back into the open source ecosystem and goes on to support the greater Linux environment. Ashton posted a tweet showing off a heatmap that displayed the difference in brightness HDR makes. I am an HDR-liker, myself, and the gain in graphics depth and fidelity is an exciting prospect if your gaming rig is running on Linux. Might be worth watching the last generation of OLED monitors go on sale following CES 2023 this coming weekend. Either way, it's great to see Valve isn't sitting on its laurels, instead developing the software underlying its hardware division's big success. The Steam Deck was, after all, easily the most innovative piece of hardware we saw last year. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  14. Factory-building game Factorio has sold 3.5 million copies, reports developer Wube Software in its year-end update. It's an incredible validation of success for a game that would politely be described as of niche interest to mainstream gaming. "This year we have reached another sales milestone, with 3.5 million sales being passed this Christmas. We are still having steady and consistent sales of about 500,000 each year, which in retrospect validates the original no-sale policy we have stuck with since we launched on Steam in 2016," said Wube in a blog post. The same post includes an expansion teaser image, a few small development updates, and a statistics recap on Wube's mod portal feature. Wube Software also announced that it's still hard at work porting the game's new console controls to the PC version for both people on full-size rigs and on mobile PCs like the Steam Deck. Alongside the announcement, Wube Software also posted a scant teaser for the Factorio Expansion. A "Christmas postcard" made by the studio includes "a sneak peek of some new item icons." What's the new stuff? No sure thing in a game that includes technologies as diverse as wood-burning steam engines, petroleum chemical refining, and nuclear fission, but I'll speculate anyway. Handling hot, liquid metals isn't a thing in Factorio, but that red icon looks a lot like a blast furnace of some kind, and it's actively pouring red-hot liquid. Alongside that is a sealed chamber that might be used for vaccum processes, and a spherical assembly in a larger device crackling with electricity that to me bears more than a passing resemblance to theorized Fusion reactor containment. After the last teaser, more than a few fans have speculated that the creature shown must be aquatic in some way, and so the expansion must involve exploring (and exploiting) the seas of Factorio's planet. If you're a hardcore Factorio-head, or a game modding enthusiast, go check out the full post for a look at the statistics, including the rather shocking revelation that more than 25% of Factorio mods have 2,000 or more downloads. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  15. Microsoft is stepping up its investment in the artificial intelligence realm, and today announced it is expanding its partnership with OpenAI(opens in new tab). According to Microsoft, this will be the third phase in its tie-up with OpenAI, representing a "multi-billion dollar investment" in its effort to be at the forefront of all things AI. "We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications." From now on, Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure will be used exclusively to power OpenAI workloads, API services, research, and backend systems. Microsoft will also use OpenAI to enhance its products to create "new categories of digital experiences." Those experiences will leverage OpenAI's ChatGPT, a conversational AI routine that can be used to write articles, poetry, and even debug code. The Information reported earlier this month that Microsoft planned to fuse ChatGPT with its Bing search engine to become more competitive with Google (or, more specifically, the Google Knowledge Graph). Perhaps even more interesting is the rumor that claims Microsoft intends to bring the GPT text-generation model to Microsoft Word and Outlook. This would potentially let AI write emails for you based on input commands, or flesh out an article you're writing using information siphoned from the web. On that note, we used ChatGPT (using the GPT-3 language model) last week to inquire about how to build a PC. Unfortunately, despite ChatGPT's impressive capabilities, its advice on building a PC turned out to be pretty bad. Its instructions were grammatically correct, but would have likely resulted in the destruction of the CPU if followed by a tech neophyte. Microsoft's investment in AI should not come as a surprise to anyone. When Nadella announced that the company would lay off 10,000 employees this year, he noted that "the next major wave of computing is being born with advances in AI, as we're turning the world's most advanced models into a new computing platform." OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by a group of tech luminaries, including Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk. Its mission is to "ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity," and the company's continued partnership with Microsoft will hopefully advance those efforts. "The past three years of our partnership have been great," said Altman, who serves as OpenAI's CEO. "Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone." Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  16. Though OLED isn’t quite ready to claim desktop dominance from LCD on the best gaming monitors, more products are entering the pipeline. These new introductions mean more choices and, hopefully, lower prices. One obstacle to wide acceptance has been size. Early OLED computer monitors weren’t much smaller than big-screen TVs, making them difficult to integrate into an office-sized productivity and entertainment system. Asus has made a step towards progress with its new 42-inch OLED display, the ROG Swift PG42UQ. Like all new genres, the first products are premium (read: expensive) items, but there is a lot to like. The PG42UQ delivers 4K resolution with an overclocked 138 Hz refresh rate, Adaptive-Sync, HDR10 and extended color. A special screen layer keeps the image bright and colorful under typical room lighting. In addition, a large array of connectivity options makes it suitable for various configurations, including computers, consoles and streaming boxes. screenshot-2023.01.18-12_16_471674062207486.jpg I hesitate to use the words "typical OLED" considering there are so few available outside the television genre. However, the PG42UQ is not a typical OLED monitor because it employs a special screen layer that Asus calls "anti-glare micro texture coating." In my observation, this is another term for a polarizer. While this is nothing new – all OLEDs have some form of polarization – Asus’ approach specifically targets one of the downsides of using an OLED TV as a monitor, ambient light reflection. Large screen OLED TVs almost always have a shiny front layer that has great optical clarity but poor handling of reflections. The PG42UQ keeps that optical advantage but also prevents light from spoiling the image when it hits the screen at an angle. There’s usually a downside, but it’s minor, and I’ll talk about it on page two. The PG42UQ delivers a practical 450 nits peak for HDR and unmeasurable black levels. Asus claims 1.5 million to one contrast, but in practice, it is infinite because it can’t be measured by any instrument. OLED panels have a visual quality that simply cannot be duplicated by an LCD of any type. The color gamut is wide, covering nearly 94% of DCI-P3 in my tests. I’ve measured two other screens that top 100% from Aorus and Alienware, but visually, the PG42UQ is stunning. A factory datasheet guarantees color accuracy, and I confirmed this. You won’t need to calibrate this monitor. HDR10 is supported over both HDMI and DisplayPort, and the panel has a native 10-bit color depth. Asus provides three HDR modes and adjustable brightness, which most HDR monitors do not offer. Gaming cred comes from a 138 Hz refresh rate achieved via an overclock setting. That gives the PG42UQ a slight edge over other 4K OLEDs, which top out at 120 Hz. Of course, lower-resolution WQHD can provide 165 Hz and 240 Hz. Adaptive-Sync comes in the form of Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync certification. And with a claimed 0.1 ms response time, motion blur should be non-existent. Extras include Asus’ GamePlus array of gaming aids like aiming points, frame counter and timers. The panel also has a quarter-inch tripod mount socket at the top, with a USB port nearby, for webcams and other compatible peripherals. Two additional USB 3.2 ports underneath let you plug in your gear. 10-watt amps drive the built-in speakers and there’s an additional 15-watt subwoofer inside to round out the bass. The PG42UQ is a premium experience from the moment you lift off the outer carton. The cable bundle comes in a nice fabric zippered bag and includes DisplayPort, HDMI and USB along with a remote control and an IEC cord for the internal power supply. The base bolts on with four included fasteners and here, I had an interesting experience. The bolts are Allen rather than the usual Phillips; try as I might, I could not find an Allen key anywhere in the package. I retrieved a 3 mm tool from my garage and attached the stand. I discovered an Allen key clipped inside when I removed the input panel cover. Someone at Asus actually took the time to engineer this molded part to include Allen key storage. I call that attention to detail though I’d rather the Allen key were simply bagged with the fasteners. You just have to remove the input cover to find it. One of the great things about OLED monitors is how thin their bezels can be. The PG42UQ measures just 6mm around the top and sides and 10mm at the bottom, flush, of course. The panel isn’t super thin, but it is slimmer than the same-sized LCD at just 1.5 inches. If you’d rather mount it, the VESA lug pattern is 300 mm, which you’ll find in TV brackets. With a panel-only weight of nearly 30 pounds, an arm probably won’t work. Under the input cover, you’ll find four HDMI ports, two 2.0 and two 2.1, along with a DisplayPort 1.4 that supports Display Stream Compression (DSC) and 10-bit operation. Headphones plug into a 3.5mm jack and there’s an optical digital (S/PDIF) port so you can hook the PG42UQ up to an AV receiver or surround processor in a home theater application. At the top, you’ll find a quarter-inch tripod socket with a rubber surround and a USB port, perfect for installing a webcam. The back is conservatively styled for Asus and features a simple pattern of molded-in lines plus the ROG logo. There is no dramatic LED lighting here, only a glowing logo in front which can be switched off if desired. The stand is a TV-style affair made from cast aluminum. It’s plenty deep enough to keep the panel steady and features five degrees tilt either forward or back. The back tilt is perfect for the average desktop as the panel is elevated just three inches. Underneath the glowing logo is an OSD joystick along with keys for power and cancel. The grilled protrusions on either side house the speakers, 10 watts each, plus an internal 15-watt subwoofer. The sound quality is very good, with plenty of clarity, volume and decent bass. If you’d rather not reach out to adjust the PG42UQ, an included handheld remote covers all monitor functions. It’s infrared-based, so you’ll have to point it at the logo in the bottom center. The OSD can be made large enough to be read from eight to ten feet away. Pressing the joystick or remote select key opens a comprehensive and well-organized OSD. The directional keys can also be programmed to provide quick access to various functions. Asus always prioritizes gaming modes, and the first thing you’ll want to do is switch on the PG42UQ’s overclock and turn the action up to 138 Hz. It was reliable with no hiccups during our time with the monitor. GamePlus offers an array of play aids, including a frame counter, aiming points, sniper mode, countdown timer and a stopwatch. The sniper mode magnifies the center of the screen anywhere from 1.2 to 2 times larger with a colored dot to help with aiming. There are eight picture modes, including Racing, the default, sRGB for color-critical work and a User mode. Racing can be calibrated to a high standard though it is already visually perfect out of the box. You can also pick the color gamut without engaging sRGB if you wish. The Shadow Boost feature makes dark detail easier to see and has five fixed levels and a dynamic option. In the Image menu, you’ll find a checkbox called Uniform Brightness, which is important. It’s off by default, meaning the panel will vary in brightness depending on the average picture level. In vintage parlance from the era of CRT, we called this “DC restoration.” It is a process that keeps a display’s power supply from overloading when the picture has a lot of bright content. Modern-day plasmas and OLEDs still employ this to be more power efficient and to preserve the panel’s lifespan. If you check the box, the picture will not change brightness, but it will be about 50% darker. While this could be considered a more purist way to run the PG42UQ or any OLED, it is not an attractive option. I recommend leaving the box unchecked for the best possible image under all circumstances. In the Color menu, you’ll find calibration options that include two color spaces, color temps by Kelvin value with user mode, and gamma presets. If you simply leave the PG42UQ in Racing mode, you won’t need to change anything here unless you want sRGB. That’s easy to engage without disturbing other parameters. The joystick and remote nav pad can be programmed for various shortcuts like brightness, volume, input, GamePlus and more. The remote has two additional keys that the user can also program. Asus has included three panel care options to preserve the life and quality of the PG42UQ. A screen saver can be set to come on after a period of inactivity. Pixel Cleaning is a process that refreshes the entire screen to equalize pixel use and prevent burn-in. Once initiated, it takes about six minutes to complete. Screen Move is an orbiter that shifts the image by a few pixels. Adjust Logo Brightness dims the lower right corner of the screen to prevent burn-in from channel logos. The PG42UQ’s Racing mode proved spot-on in my tests, with no visible errors in grayscale, gamma or color gamut tracking. I calibrated the User color temp and made a tiny improvement that only the meter could see. The sRGB mode is also very accurate though it is just as easy to stay in Racing and choose sRGB from the Color Space menu. Feel free to try the settings from my tests listed below. In HDR mode, there are three options, Game, Cinema and Console. Game is the default and best choice, with good luminance tracking and bright vivid color. You can activate the brightness control to dial down the image for dark room playing. If you’ve been considering the purchase of a large desktop monitor, the PG42UQ should be added to your short list. I’m a fan of the 32-inch size and now I’m a fan of 42. You’ll need to allow a bit more room for it, but the image here is so sharp and vibrant, it’s worth the effort of clearing other objects from the workspace. Large, curved panels are a great way to immerse yourself in a game or movie, but large flat screens can do the job nearly as well, thanks to their prodigious height. Sitting between three and four feet away filled my peripheral vision completely and replicated the experience of sitting close to the screen in a movie theater. I appreciated the PG42UQ’s tilt function, which let me position the screen to put everything in focus. The panel sits three inches off the desktop and can’t be raised. Opening three or four documents on the screen is completely practical here. Windows defaulted to 300% font scaling, which is great if you sit further back. At my closer viewpoint, 150% was a better choice. Sharpness was never an issue, and I could not see the pixel structure. For a near-field application like this, 42 inches is an ideal size for 4K resolution. Pixel density is 106ppi, close to the 109ppi of a 27-inch QHD panel. It’s perfect for text and graphics. When an OLED and LCD are calibrated to the same brightness and placed side-by-side, you can always pick out the OLED, thanks to greater contrast. Even the best Mini LED panels can’t reproduce intra-image black levels like an OLED. That gives it an extra glow and vibrance and immediately sets it apart. It’s inevitable that a 42-inch monitor will be used to watch TV and movies, so I hooked up an Apple TV 4K and a 4K Blu-ray player. The PG42UQ worked flawlessly with all frame rates, 24, 50 and 60 fps, and provided artifact-free video processing with clean scaling of 1080p material. It also had no problem with HDR10 content though I found HDR color to be a bit less saturated than the Aorus FO48U or the Alienware AW3423DWF ultra-wide panel. However, it was still punchier than SDR. I rarely talk about gaming monitor audio because the physical limitations of small panels mean tiny speakers that play a narrow range of frequencies. The PG42UQ has more room and Asus has taken advantage. The internal stereo speakers and subwoofer deliver truly impactful sound that blows away any computer monitor and most TVs I’ve experienced. Good audio makes a real difference in the gaming experience. Gameplay is an absolute joy on any OLED, thanks to super-clean motion processing. With no need for overdrive or backlight strobes, the PG42UQ could easily maintain sharpness during the fastest camera pans, mouse movements and circle strafes. I mowed through enemies easily in Doom Eternal and Call of Duty WWII. Response was instantaneous with no perception of input lag. I couldn’t quite get to 138 fps without reducing detail levels, but at 120 fps, I had the same experience as I would on a 165 Hz LCD. OLED enhances gameplay by making more of a given refresh rate. HDR provided deep contrast with a bright picture that was never harsh. I did not regret leaving the brightness slider maxed for all content. I also confirmed that Game HDR was the best mode for all HDR applications, games and videos. The PG42UQ is a very addicting monitor. If you try one in a store, you’ll want to take it home. 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  17. Earlier this week it transpired that Nvidia had begun to use new revisions of its AD103 and AD104 graphics processors for GeForce RTX 4080 and GeForce RTX 4070 add-in-boards (AIBs). Some thought the new revisions might reduce power consumption and/or increase yields, which could affect costs of actual cards. But Igor's Lab claims that the new GPUs only have a built-in comparator for fans, which will have little effect on bill-of-materials (BOM) AIB costs. Nvidia's AD103-300 (used for GeForce RTX 4080) and AD104-250 (used for GeForce RTX 4070 and RTX 4070 Ti) graphics processing units require makers of graphics cards to add a comparator circuit which ensures that fans rotate at the right speed by comparing fans PWM signal with actual values, according to Igor's Lab. The new AD104-251 and AD103-301 integrate the comparator into the GPU, which means that AIBs no longer need to carry external comparator circuitry. Comparator circuitry is very cheap, so its removal will not affect BOM costs of actual graphics cards significantly, but board makers will probably still be eager to remove it and cut their costs — even by a bit. The savings from this removal will probably not be passed to the end user, however. In fact, since manufacturers will have to develop new PCB designs for AD104-251 and AD103-301 GPUs, which costs money, they will not be eager to lower their prices. In fact, it is rather surprising that Nvidia decided to fix such a small bug like a disabled comparator using a new silicon revision at all (assuming that this is what happened as we know it from unofficial reports). Considering how complex modern GPU designs are, it is more likely for graphics processors developers to implement fixes that increase their yields or at least lower variability. Meanwhile, for both scenarios chip designers prefer to make small adjustments to process technology itself rather than introduce changes to actual silicon. It should be noted that Nvidia has not formally disclosed differences between its AD103-251 and AD104-301 as well as AD103-250 and AD104-300 GPUs, so any information about this should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, an integrated comparator may not be the only change. For now it looks like the newer chips offer the same performance as the older ones, so there is no need to ensure that you get the new one. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  18. Multiple sources, including Bloomberg and Sky News, confirm that Microsoft will announce wide-ranging layoffs across "a number of engineering divisions." Microsoft currently employs over 221,000 workers globally, and this newest round of cuts could see that figure slashed by 5 percent. If true, more than 10,000 workers will, unfortunately, lose their jobs. The official announcement of the layoffs could come as early as Wednesday. Microsoft's hiring exploded during the pandemic as more people worked from home and relied on the company's software products and cloud services. In September 2022, CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that the company hired 50,000 people between 2020 and 2022. Now, as the global economy slows and fears of a lingering recession materialize, Microsoft is focused on cutting costs. "We did have a lot of acceleration during the pandemic, and there's some amount of normalization of that demand," said in an interview with CNBC earlier this month. "[There are] clearly many, many challenges right now around the world. For us as a global company, we're not going to be immune from what's happening in the macro. We'll also have to get our own operational focus to make sure our expenses are in line with our revenue growth." We should note that Microsoft isn't the only big tech firm faced with reducing its workforce. For example, Facebook's parent company Meta eliminated 11,000 jobs in 2022, and Amazon revealed two weeks ago that it would lay off 18,000 employees during 2023 (nearly double what earlier reports had suggested). Likewise, Salesforce announced this month that it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce (roughly 8,000 employees). According to Microsoft's June 30th regulatory filing, 122,000 of its full-time employees are based in the United States. The remaining 99,000 work from the company's various offices around the globe. It is likely that Microsoft's U.S. workforce will take the brunt of the looming cuts. Microsoft will update investors on its financial performance on January 24th. During fiscal Q1 2023, Microsoft reported an 11 percent increase in revenue to $50.1 billion (an 11 percent increase year-over-year) and net income of $17.6 billion (a 14 percent decrease year-over-year). "In a world facing increasing headwinds, digital technology is the ultimate tailwind," said Nadella at the time. "We're focused on helping our customers do more with less, while investing in secular growth areas and managing our cost structure in a disciplined way." Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  19. Micron has introduced its new DDR5 memory modules featuring 24GB and 48GB capacity, reports News.Mynavi.jp (via @momomo_us). The modules are compatible with both AMD EXPO and Intel XMP 3.0 profiles for quickly setting them up and are designed for desktop PCs running AMD's Ryzen 7000-series as well as Intel's 12th and 13th Generations Core processors. Micron's new family of DDR5 memory modules feature data transfer rates of 5200 MT/s and 5600 MT/s as well as CL46 latency at 1.1V. The DDR5-5600 DIMMs come in traditional 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB versions, but the interesting capacities are the new 24GB and 48GB models. Those are probably based on 24Gb memory chips, whereas the former likely use 16Gb DRAM ICs. Meanwhile, DDR5-5200 modules are available only in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB sizes. Typically, 24GB and 48GB capacities are considered to be optimal for new-generation server platforms as they allow systems to precisely balance memory capacity and the number of cores, which ultimately means lower costs. Meanwhile, support for AMD EXPO and Intel XMP 3.0 profiles designed primarily for enthusiasts in mind indicate that these modules are indeed aimed at desktops. Using a couple of 24GB or two 48GB modules instead of a pair of 32GB and 64GB DIMMs allows to build PCs with 48GB or 96GB of dual-channel memory, which are cheaper than machines with 64GB or 128GB of RAM. Meanwhile, capacities like 48GB and 96GB are more optimal for modern CPUs with 16 or 24 cores — you get potentially 2GB or 3GB per core if you're doing VMs, for example. Unfortunately, Micron has not disclosed recommended prices for its DDR5-5200 and DDR5-5600 modules. Keeping in mind that demand for PCs is projected to be low in Q1 and DDR5 SDRAM prices are set to decline by 18–23% in Q1 2023, expect the new memory modules to be relatively inexpensive despite their high capacity and increased performance. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  20. Although overpriced, the GeForce RTX 4080 is one of the best graphics cards for modern-day gaming. However, Hong Kong news outlet HKEPC(opens in new tab) claims that Nvidia has prepared a new AD103 die for the GeForce RTX 4080, potentially improving the Ada Lovelace graphics card's bills of material (BOM). Now there's evidence that suggests this is accurate. The GeForce RTX 4080 currently ships with the AD103-300 silicon; however, HKEPC's sources allege that the graphics card will switch over to AD103-301 soon. Now, Galax has started listing the brand's GeForce RTX 4080 graphics cards with the "AD103-300/301," lending credence to HKEPC's claims. However, the transition from AD103-300 to AD103-301 won't likely benefit the consumer. Despite the difference in silicon, GeForce RTX 4080 GPUs based on the AD103-301 should have an equivalent level of performance to the normal AD103-300 variants. Nvidia's partners are probably the ones that are getting the best deal out of the new silicon. According to HKEPC, Nvidia's upcoming GeForce RTX 4070 could leverage two different dies: AD104-250 or AD104-251. The former allegedly requires a comparator circuit for the GPU voltage, whereas the latter doesn't need one. As a result, AD104-251 has a lower PCB BOM but would likely use a different PCB. HKPEC estimates a $1 BOM reduction with AD104-251. In any event, the AD104-250 will probably hit the production line first, with the AD104-251 coming shortly afterward. Given the version numbers, AD103-301 doesn't represent a significant revision over the current AD103-300 silicon. It's unknown what has changed between the two dies or why Nvidia decided to spin up a new piece of silicon for the GeForce RTX 4080, especially if it requires changes to the PCB design. The current assumption is that the new AD103-301 silicon may help lower the BOM for the GeForce RTX 4080. We don’t the exact amount, though. HKEPC‘s $1 claim is for the AD104 silicon, and the GeForce RTX 4080 uses a different silicon. Still, it’ll be interesting to see whether the cost savings make it to the consumer. The GeForce RTX 4080 debuted at $1,199, and some premium custom models retail for as much as $1,899. Despite the steep price tag, the GeForce RTX 4080 is still one of the best-selling graphics cards on Newegg. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  21. 2023 is looking to be a banner year for gaming monitors based on some of the new products we saw this year at CES 2023. The gaming monitor segment is incredibly varied, with multiple screen sizes, resolutions, panel types, refresh rates and more. Ultra-wide and OLED panels seem to be gaining steam, and you'll see plenty of vying to take their place among the best gaming monitors. Ultra-High Refresh Rate Monitors 2023 is likely to become the year of ultra-high refresh rate gaming monitors, with Alienware and Asus leading the way. Alienware struck the first blow with its AW2524H, which measures 24.5 inches across and uses a Full HD (1920 x 1080) 10-bit IPS panel. The monitor features both HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 ports, but you'll want to remember that the HDMI 2.1 port maxes out at 240Hz native refresh rate. Switching to DisplayPort 1.4 takes the AW2524H to a native refresh rate of 480Hz. You'll need to enable the OC function to hit the magic 500MHz refresh rate figure. Other specifications for the AW2524H include VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification, 400 nits typical brightness, 1,000:1 contrast ratio, Nvidia G-Sync certification and the usual complement of RGB elements on the back of the monitor. The stand is fully adjustable on the AW2524H and there's a full allotment of USB ports for hooking up peripherals like a keyboard, mouse and headset. According to Alienware, the AW2524H will launch later this quarter at an unspecified price. screenshot-2023.01.14-11_13_271673712807175.jpg If you thought 500Hz was impressive, Asus is taking the game of one-upmanship to the next level. The company's Swift Pro PG248QP is also a 24-inch Full HD monitor, but its refresh rate cranks to 540Hz when overclocked. Before jumping for joy in excitement, you'll notice that the Swift Pro PG248QP uses a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel rather than the IPS panel found on the AW2524H. That means viewing angles and color reproduction likely won't be as good. But as long as you're sitting front and center (as you should be with a 24-inch monitor), the viewing angle disadvantage shouldn't be too concerning. Super Ultra-Wide and Ultra-Wide Gaming Monitors When ultra-wide gaming monitors aren't enough, why not just stretch the horizontal resolution even further and make them super ultra-wide? Not only does the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 have a capacious Dual UHD resolution (7680 x 2160), but the screen stretches a gargantuan 57 inches. The monitor uses a Mini LED panel with a claimed 1,000,000:1 native contrast ratio, DisplayPort 2.1 connectivity (one of the first on the market), a 1000R curve and a native refresh rate of 240Hz. The Odyssey OLED G9 is slightly smaller in stature, coming in at 49 inches across, while maintaining the 32:9 aspect ratio with a 5120 x 1440 resolution. Rather than relying on a Mini LED panel, the Odyssey OLED G9 uses Samsung's Quantum-Dot OLED technology (also with a 1,000,000:1 native contrast ratio). The Odyssey OLED G9 also boasts a 240Hz native refresh rate and supports Samsung's Gaming Hub for PC/console-free access to cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. MSI is also in on the game with its 491C, which has similar specs to the Odyssey OLED G9 (both likely use the same panel). The 491C matches the 5120 x 1440 resolution, 0.1ms response time, and 240Hz refresh rate while employing a QD-OLED panel. We saw the 491C up close at CES, but the prototype on hand was plagued by graphical glitches. Those things can be expected for a prototype that was likely cobbled together to make the deadline for the show, but shipping units should be solid when they arrive later in 2023. If a "mere" ultra-wide, big-screen monitor will suit your computing needs, Acer is on the move with the Predator X45. This is another OLED panel, but it measures 45 inches with a UWQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution. The monitor features a tight 800R curve, 1,000 nits peak brightness, a 0.01 ms response time, a stellar 1,500,000:1 contrast ratio and a 240Hz refresh rate. In addition to rocking dual HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4 port, the Predator X45 features a built-in USB 3.2 hub, including a USB-C port with 90-watt Power Delivery (great for powering and connecting to a laptop via a single connection). Acer says the Predator X45 will bow during Q2 2023, priced at $1,699. 32-inch and Smaller OLED Monitors OLED panels are slowly starting to invade the gaming monitor space, particularly with larger panel sizes (as you can see with the super ultra-wide monitors above). However, the panel tech is slowly filtering down to smaller monitors, some of which we saw at CES. Acer's Predator X27U features a QHD (2560 x 1440) resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate with AMD FreeSync Premium support. You'll find a 1,500,000:1 contrast ratio, 1,000 nits of maximum brightness (although the typical brightness is much lower at 150 nits). The X27U's port layout is identical to its much larger sibling, the Predator X45, and it boasts 98.5 percent DCI-P3 coverage along with dual 5-watt speakers. The Predator X27U will debut next quarter, priced at $1,099. Asus' ROG Swift OLED PG27AQDM is slightly smaller, with a 27-inch panel size and the same QHD resolution. The OLED panel features a 0.03 ms response time, 240Hz refresh rate and meets 99 percent of the DCI-P3 color space. Peak brightness is listed at 1,000 nits, and although Asus doesn't mention typical brightness, we'd imagine it is a lot lower (which is typical for an OLED panel). The Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DCM isn't a gaming monitor, but it deserves mention here for putting a vibrant, 31.5-inch OLED panel. It features a 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution and brings an impressive feature set to the table. Not only does the PA32DCM claim an impressive color error of Delta E <1, but it hits 99 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. Asus claims the monitor hits a max brightness of 700 nits and is VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 certified (500 nits with a 10 percent pattern). Given that the PA32DCM is primarily aimed at creative professionals, the monitor has a smaller stand (50 percent smaller than its predecessor) to free up desk space. Also onboard are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, providing high-speed access for your USB-C and Thunderbolt devices. One of those ports supports 90-watt Power Delivery to juice your laptop (the other USB-C port only supports 15-watt charging). Asus hasn't announced pricing for the PA32DCM at this time. Mainstream Gaming Monitors Not everyone wants to spend big bucks on a gaming monitor to get OLED or Mini-LED panels, and some don't have the space to accommodate ultra-wide behemoths. To that end, Lenovo has two monitors on the horizon that won't break the bank but still promise to offer excellent performance. The Legion Y27qf-30 features a QHD (2560 x 1440) panel with a native refresh rate of 240Hz. However, the monitor supports an overclocking function, which bumps the refresh rate slightly to 250Hz. You'll also find DisplayHDR 400 compliance, AMD FreeSync Premium support and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. The Legion Y27f-30 carries the same chassis design as the Y27qf-30, but instead uses a Full HD (1920 x 1080) panel. It also features a 240Hz native refresh rate, but jumps to 280Hz when overclocked. The Lenovo Legion Y27f-30 and Legion Y27qf-30 will launch in May, priced at $399 and $599, respectively. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  22. The Nvidia RTX 4090 launched last October with a suggested starting price of $1,599. Since that time, we still haven't seen any cards readily available without paying a substantial premium — most models listed at retailers start at over two grand. It's one of the best graphics cards around and unequivocally the fastest by any meaningful metric if you look at our GPU benchmarks, but paying over 25% extra on an already incredibly expensive GPU is a tough pill to swallow. There's good news, however, in that Newegg has the Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC in stock, for just $1,709. Okay, "just," but beggars can't be choosers. We've reviewed the Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC, and found it to be a capable take on the GPU. It's pretty much a reference card made by a third party AIB, and don't pay any attention to the "Gaming OC" part of the name. The factory overclock consists of an extra 15 MHz over the reference boost clock, which at 2520 MHz means you get a potential 0.6% increase in theoretical performance! But if you're in the market for an RTX 4090, the prospect of spending 20% more just to get an additional 2% from a slightly higher factory overclock is a bad trade. In fact, with manual overclocking, the Gigabyte card trades blows with other models, and you're basically subject to the silicon lottery as much as anything — plus whether or not the manufacturer used faster memory chips. Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC for $1,709 Get the fastest graphics card currently available for the lowest readily available price we've seen since launch. It's not technically a reference model, and you get triple RGB fans as a bonus, for about $340 less than the next closest 4090. https://www.newegg.com/gigabyte-gefo...blishing Ltd Prices on graphics cards remain inflated, but perhaps this is a sign that things are starting to change. The RTX 4090 may reign as the king of the mountain and can perhaps command a higher price, but the RTX 4080 starts at $1,229 and is up to 25% slower, while the RTX 4070 Ti starts at $799(opens in new tab), its official base MSRP. AMD's new RX 7900 XTX starts at $1,299, while the step down can drop 15–20 percent in performance but the RX 7900 XT starts at $879 — $20 under the official MSRP. Give it another month or three and maybe all of the latest generation cards will fall below their inflated launch MSRPs. If you can't wait that long, or don't wan to risk having prices remain high, Gigabyte's card makes for an excellent professional and extreme gaming GPU. If you're not looking to drop more than a typical high-end gaming PC on just the graphics card, we can only hope that more reasonable options become available soon. With the RTX 4070 Ti drawing a lot of criticism, maybe we'll see RTX 4070 and RTX 4060 Ti start to push down into the $500 range. Or if not Nvidia, maybe AMD will launch an RX 7800 XT or 7700 XT. We don't have a firm release date for those yet, but it's a safe bet all of those are coming and could arrive within the next couple of months. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  23. It may not be quite the 30 GHz that Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicted back in 2002, but Intel's Core i9-13900KS Special Edition processor, which is available on shelves today for $699, is the world's first consumer CPU to run at 6 GHz without overclocking. With a whopping 250W base power specification, it's also now officially the most power-hungry desktop CPU in history — it peaks at 320W in a new Extreme Power Delivery Profile. Notably, the 13900KS' peak of 6 GHz is 300 MHz faster than the 5.7 GHz for AMD's Ryzen 7000 processors, but AMD has a special series of Ryzen 7000X3D chips that will square off with the 13900KS for the title of the world's fastest gaming CPU. AMD's competing chips arrive next month, and we fully expect that AMD will sample its chips to the press for review on the as-yet unrevealed launch date. In contrast, Intel sent out its announcement without samples provided to the press in advance, which will naturally lead to speculation that the company doesn't expect the chips to hold the gaming performance lead against AMD's upcoming X3D processors. Additionally, Intel officially positions the 13900KS as the 'world's fastest desktop processor' instead of using the 'world's fastest gaming processor' tag that it has employed for other chips in the past — read into that what you will. The Core i9-13900KS is functionally identical to the current fastest gaming chip in the world, the 13900K, but the extra 'S' in the name denotes that this is premium-binned silicon that hits 6 GHz on two cores — 200 MHz faster than the 12900K. The chip also has a 150W Processor Base Power (PBP) rating, which is 25W higher than the 13900K, also making it the world's most power-hungry desktop PC processor at its base TDP. Intel has specified the Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) spec at 253W but has a new Extreme Power Delivery Profile that enables that up to 320W with an ICCMax of 400A. The processor is fully warrantied to run at this peak power consumption. Intel recently demoed the chip hitting 6 GHz on two cores with standard off-the-shelf Corsair AIO water cooling, but didn't specify the size of the cooler (the company has clarified that it sees "good performance with a 360mm AIO cooler"). The chip's peak frequency relies on Intel's Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) tech, meaning the chip will have to be below a pre-defined temperature (70C) to hit the 6 GHz peak. Naturally, systems with custom watercooling will extract the biggest benefit. The Intel Core i9-13900K recently took the all-time frequency world record of 8.812 GHz, dethroning the previous record holder, AMD's legendary FX-8370, by 90 MHz. Intel selects its premium-binned 13900K silicon for the 13900KS, so it is guaranteed to be among the very best silicon the company has to offer. That will make the chips very attractive to overclockers, as paying the extra $110 for the KS model improves your odds in the silicon lottery and essentially assures that you're getting a cherry chip (below, we embedded a video of Intel Fellow Guy Therien explaining how binning works). These chips will be available in limited quantities, but Intel hasn't released a firm estimate of how many units will be available. Intel has been vocal that the company will raise pricing on its CPUs to reflect the inflationary environment, and it has already raised the pricing of its previous-gen 12th-gen CPUs while oddly leaving the new 13th-Gen Raptor Lake at their original pricing — at least for now. As such, the 13900KS is $124 less than the current pricing of the previous-gen Core i9-12900KS, which peaked at 5.5 GHz. For the record, the 12900KS originally debuted at $739, so the $699 price tag for the 13900KS is $40 lower than the debut price of the previous-gen model. Intel's previous KS models have come in special packaging, but Intel hasn't shared details about the 13900KS yet. As an interesting aside, while the Core i9-13900KS's achievement of 6 GHz sets a record for a shipping desktop PC processor, it doesn't quite reach the lofty peaks that were once predicted. As you can see above, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, then the CTO, predicted back in 2002 that processors would hit 30 GHz by 2010. Of course, that was before we began to see the breakdown of some of the fundamental laws, like Dennard Scaling, that has slowed progress tremendously. However, after years of frequency stagnation and limited core counts, fierce competition between Intel and AMD finds them once again pushing the limits. That's good for all of us, even though it does increasingly come at the cost of prodigious power consumption from both players. The Core i9-13900KS is available today at retail with a $699 1K unit price (Intel's recommended pricing for volume buyers, but pricing is typically higher in stores at first). You'll also find Intel's new fastest chip in systems from its channel and OEM partners, too. You can expect to see a review here in the coming days. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  24. Desktop gaming computers are fantastic, but sometimes it's nice to carry your gaming computer into another room, or pop around to a friend's house for some gaming fun. In this case, laptops are the perfect solution, but they often aren't that cheap, and you certainly want to buy one that is capable of fulfilling your gaming requirements. Look at our best gaming laptops for an idea of what kinds of laptops are available. With a fairly powerful Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU inside, this Gigabyte Aorus 5 on offer for $1,149 is a nice deal if you're looking to save some money on a competent gaming laptop. This model (SE4-73US213SH) also packs an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and 16GB of RAM. For a nice little mid-tower case for an aesthetic white or RGB-focused build, take a look at this Antec NX410 mid-tower case for $84. With a tempered glass side panel and included ARGB fans, this case is not only practical but also pretty. Razer's Viper Ultimate Ultralight wireless mouse is on offer for $59 at the moment. With an ambidextrous design and great battery life, this mouse is great for gaming, but maybe not be suitable for those with larger hands. See our review of the Viper Ultimate for more details. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  25. Microsoft rebranded Office 365 to Microsoft 365 in Oct. 2022, part of its effort to slowly take the long-running "Office" brand out of the limelight. At the time, the company didn't make any significant changes to the subscription tiers or features offered. But that will change later this month with the addition of a new Microsoft 365 Basic tier, which will cost $1.99/month ($19.99/year). Microsoft 365 Basic slots between Microsoft 365 (free) and Microsoft 365 Personal ($6.99/month). It replaces the previous 100GB OneDrive storage subscription and adds some perks. Microsoft says customers can expect these features with the new tier: 100GB cloud storage Works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android Web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and more Ad-free Outlook web and mobile email and calendar with advanced security (data encryption, suspicious link cheer, malware scanning for attachments) Microsoft technical support The extra functionality seems like a nice upgrade for users currently getting by with just the 100GB OneDrive storage tier. In addition, Microsoft says it will add "even better advanced security features" later this year, including shared links that are password-protected, and ransomware recovery. While the inclusion of Office is welcome, we should note that this tier only includes the basic, web-based versions of Microsoft's popular productivity apps, which are available for free. To access the "premium" desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, you'll have to step up to Microsoft 365 Personal. Microsoft was quick to point out that Jan. 29, 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Office 365. The high-end Office 365 Home Premium subscription initially included only 20GB of cloud storage. Today, the Microsoft 365 Personal tier offers 1TB of OneDrive storage. In addition, the flagship Microsoft 365 Family tier for consumers ($9.99/month) supports up to six people, each with their own 1TB allotment of OneDrive storage. Microsoft 365 Basic will be available starting Jan. 30. Current 100GB OneDrive subscribers will automatically be shifted to the newer, more feature-packed tier. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  26. Not content with accelerating graphics performance with AI via its various DLSS technologies and in designing GPUs themselves, Nvidia is now using AI to improve graphics drivers and further boost performance by up to 30%. Well, that's the latest rumour. According to CapFrameX (via OC3D), maker of frame time analysis tools, Nvidia is working on AI-enhanced graphics drivers. Performance boosts of up to 30% are mooted, with the average performance benefit a more modest 10%. CapFrameX reckons we could see the new AI-enhanced driver in the first quarter of this year. If accurate, there's not long to wait. Of course, the very notion of what even constitutes AI. An actual machine learning technique? A really good algorithm? A coffee machine that turns on automatically? There is, ultimately, no universally agreed standard or definition. Exactly where any of Nvidia's AI-enhanced technologies fall on that continuum is hard to say. The temptation to make any new feature seem even fancier by applying the 'AI' label must be strong. But what will matter most is the performance boost. If Nvidia releases a driver in short order that boosts performance by an unusually large amount, that will be a worthwhile benefit in and of itself, regardless of whether it's characterized as AI-boosted and whatever definition is used to make that claim. Moreover, there's absolutely no doubting that Nvidia has delivered some objectively impactful technologies under the AI banner in recent years. The DLSS platform, including the latest frame generation technology, has proven to be a literal game changer. So, maybe AI-enhanced graphics drivers will indeed be Nvidia's next big thing. An RTX 4090 running 30% faster would be a sight to behold, that's for sure. For the record, it's not clear which GPUs could benefit from these new drivers if they are indeed coming. It stands to reason that a machine learning approach to building drivers could apply to older GPUs as much as Nvidia's latest cards. But then Nvidia may also opt to make the technology exclusive to the new RTX 40 series in an attempt to increase their appeal even further and drive sales. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  27. Wi-Fi is one of the best known cryptids of the tech world: We've all heard of it, none of us have seen it, most of us don't even know how it works, and its name means literally nothing. Recently peak Wi-Fi has become even more elusive, because shortly after the Wi-Fi 6E standard was introduced Wi-Fi 7 started bustling through, with the first router released even before the platform was certified. CES this year felt like the final nail in the Wi-Fi 6 coffin as we saw more 7 routers introduced, and that included some beastly looking models from Asus. The first is a gaming router if I've ever seen one. I know that because for a moment I thought it was a scary shadow ship from Babylon 5. The ROG Rapture GT-BE98 has a full complement of eight spider leg antennae and a black finish to complete the image. This is then emblazoned with plenty of ROG angry eyes. It looks like it's ready to down a Monster and get headshots with you all night long. The Rapture GT-BE98 supports two 5GHz bands that can push 5,762 Mbps and one 6GHz that can get up to 11,525 Mbps for your more serious internet business. There's also a 1,376 Mbps 2.4GHz band if you need to run something on that (2.4GHz still trumps the higher frequencies for range). This adds up to the quad-band router delivering 25,00 Mbps bandwidth all up, which I'd say should do just about any gamer. If you're after something a bit more toned down you can go for the tri-band Asus RT-BE96U. This looks pretty similar to its hardcore counterpart but ditches the angry eye decals in favour of more black with a circuit Wi-Fi 7 design. Similarly this router can get the same speeds on its 6GHz, 5GHz, and 2.4GHz bands as the previous one, but lacks that extra band clearly provided by angry eyes. This adds up to an aggregate bandwidth up to 19,000 Mbps on this tri-band router. Other than that, both these routers offer similar specs, likely featuring the same quad-core 2.6 GHz processors. The GT-BE98 has one extra 10 GB LAN ports over the RT-BE96U and features game acceleration feature that aims to give a better connection for gaming. So if you're after a hardcore router for gaming, the GT-BE98 is going to be the best choice out of this pair. That's if the price doesn't wind up giving us all angry eyes. We don't yet know when they'll be out or what they'll cost, but it should be sometime this year. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
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