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Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason's series isn't about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task? The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!

If you're an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there's no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you're ready to start gaming. You'll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43. Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can't live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.

Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Gaming Display Prices are Dropping

As anyone who recently built or updated a PC probably noticed, memory and GPU prices were conspicuously high throughout most of 2018 and late 2017. But, as we've said before, memory prices are dropping like a rock, while GPU prices are starting to level out thanks to the crypto mining bust. According to a recent report, another important component for any PC is expected to get cheaper throughout 2019. Digitimes claims that competition among "gaming monitor" manufacturers is starting to "heat up" as more Chinese LCD manufacturers enter the market. TV-size panel production is expected to grow as well, and OLED TVs in particular could get significantly cheaper as more OLED factories come online.

However, China's panel makers including BOE Technology, CPC-Panda LCD Technology and China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) have recently stepped into the gaming panel sector, encouraged by government policy support and high profits generated by such products. The growing competition has sent gaming monitor panel prices falling sharply, with models with refresh rates of 144Hz and below being hit hardest, indicated the sources. Prices of 144Hz and below gaming panels fell 10% on average in 2018 and has dropped another 5% so far in 2019, as most China-based suppliers are focusing on this segment, said the sources, noting that the prices of 144Hz models will continue to fall in the second quarter.

Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 8:47 AM (CDT)

MSI Gaming Monitor Stops a Stray Bullet (and Still Works)

PC gamer Eric Gan had five gunshots fired into his room Monday, one of which managed to hit the back of his monitor, an MSI Optix G27C2. Even if he were gaming at the time, he’d still be alive thanks to the display, which blocked the bullet from getting any further into the room. Incredibly, the monitor still works, but MSI is sending him a replacement anyway.

Of course, the bullet had already lost a significant amount of kinetic energy from penetrating through the wall before hitting the monitor. Had that not been the case, we expect the monitor would be in much worse shape. Either way, we're glad that Gan and his neighbors were unharmed in the incident.

Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:50 AM (CST)

Phil Spencer Comments on Developer Acquisitions and PC Gaming Plans

Microsoft recently acquired the long-running RPG developers Obsidian and inXile, and, given Microsoft's track record with acquisitions and PC titles in general, many fans were justifiably worried about what that means for either studio. But, in a recent interview with PC Gamer, Microsoft's Phil Spencer not only seemed cognizant of these concerns, but did his best to quell them. He said that it's "up to the studios to decide what platforms to make games for," and that he doesn't expect either developer to shift their focus away from PCs. Overall, it looks like both developers have plenty of leeway to make whatever they want, which mirriors what both studios have been loudly telling the public ever since they were acquired by Microsoft. Additionally, PC Gamer asked if gamers can expect Xbox games to show up on Windows, or if Microsoft Store games will ever show up on Steam. He said "It's a good question and something we've spent a lot of time thinking through. I expect us to share more details on our plans here soon." As they often have in the past, Microsoft repeatedly promised to do right by PC gamers this time around, but only time will tell if they follow up on that promise.

"While we are proud of our PC gaming heritage, we've made some mistakes along our journey. We know we have to move forward, informed by our past, with the unique wants, needs and challenges of the PC player at the center of decisions we make. I know we've talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you'll begin to see where we've been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It's just the beginning."

Posted by alphaatlas February 27, 2019 9:52 AM (CST)

Valve Is Removing Steam Video Section; Retiring Non-Gaming Content

Valve’s plan for selling hit Hollywood blockbusters on a digital distribution platform meant for games didn’t turn out so well, it seems: the company has announced it is scrapping Steam’s movie catalog so it can focus primarily on gaming. The good news is that gamers won’t lose any of their previously purchased titles.

"In reviewing what Steam users actually watch, it became clear we should focus our effort on offering content that is either directly related to gaming or, is accessory content for games or software sold on Steam," Valve wrote in a blog post. "As part of this refocus, we have retired the Video section of the Steam Store menu with an expectation that video content is discovered via the associated game or software store page, or through search, user tags, recommendations, etc."

Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 1:40 PM (CST)

Linux Gaming Is on a Life-Support System Called Steam

Linux gamers should get on their knees and give Gabe’s feet a good kissing because Steam is largely responsible for keeping gaming on that platform alive, according to a piece by Engadget. While the percentage of Linux gamers hasn’t really grown and still represents a tiny fraction of the gaming market, some argue Valve’s enthusiasm for technologies such as Proton (which has brought thousands of Windows games to the open-source OS) is a great reason to back Steam instead of competitors such as the Epic Games Store, which lacks this kind of support.

One of the only reasons Linux is even a conversation nowadays is because Steam has kept its embers warm all these years. "The pro of supporting Linux is the community," Super Meat Boy Forever creator Tommy Refenes said. "In my experience, Linux gamers tend to be the most appreciative gamers out there. If you support Linux at all, the chances are they will come out of the woodwork to thank you, offer to help with bugs, talk about your game, and just in general be pretty cool people. The con here unfortunately is the Linux gaming community is a very, very small portion of the PC gaming market."

Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 4:25 PM (CST)

Got a Spare $43,000? You Could Spend It All on This Monster Gaming PC

OverclockersUK is selling a gaming PC that costs almost as much as a Tesla Model 3: for $43,000, filthy rich enthusiasts get a tower that is actually two systems in one, comprising three NVIDIA Titan RTX GPUs, a liquid-cooled and overclocked 18C/36T Intel Core i9-7890XE and 8C/8T i9-9700K, 144GB of DDR4 RAM, eight 2TB Samsung SSDs, and a 2000W power supply. Handle with care, UPS.

For those of us who fantasize about the dream PC we’ll buy as soon as our lottery numbers come up, here’s an option to consider: the OrionX2 from OverclockersUK. It costs the equivalent of just over $43,000, or around 20 high-end gaming PCs. 43 grand is, of course, an awful lot of money for a computer, but this isn’t your everyday PC. Designed by overclocking champion Ian "8Pack" Parry, the OrionX2 is actually two overclocked systems packed into one case, making it a workstation/gaming machine combo.

Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 2:25 PM (CST)

A "Legend" Reborn: Logitech Brings Back the MX518 Gaming Mouse

Logitech has announced it is re-launching what "many consider to be the finest gaming mouse of all time," the MX518. The original, which was launched over a decade ago, has been updated with the latest, next-generation technologies including a HERO 16K sensor and 32-bit ARM processor allowing for a super fast 1ms report rate. Also featured are eight programmable buttons for custom commands, as well as onboard memory for saving preferences directly to the mouse.

As one of the most-beloved gaming mice ever, MX518 has inspired legions of fans around the world to ask Logitech G to bring it out of retirement. And we heard you. We pulled the original tools from the Vault and meticulously restored them -- right down to the original glossy keyplate. It’s the classic, comfortable shape you know and love, now with modern components that perform to today’s advanced standards and a new, updated Nightfall color scheme.

Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 9:55 AM (CST)

Asus and Razer Want To Make a "Gaming" Smartphone with Tencent

A recent report from the Taiwanese news site Digitimes claims that Razer and Asustek are both in talks with the Chinese gaming giant Tencent over the release of a "gaming smartphone that supports Tencent's games." Asus's recently released ZenFone Max Pro is reportedly the last "consumer" smartphones the company will make, and that a higher end ZenFone "for power users" is expected to come mid 2019. In related news, Digitimes claims that TSMC is about to start manufacturing the 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processors that will likely power these higher end (and higher margin) smartphones.

Asustek and Razer both declined to comment... Asustek is set to release a new ZenFone prior to mid-2019 for power users and is also looking to form partnership with Tencent for the ROG-brand gaming smartphone, the sources said. Asustek's new ROG smartphone is expected to come with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 processor and priced at CNY5,000 (US$741) for the smartphone itself and CNY12,000 for the whole set. The smartphone's high gross margin will have a chance of helping Asustek's handset business turn profitable, the sources noted. Razer reportedly also contacted Tencent with a similar plan for its gaming Razer Phone 2, but Tencent so far has not yet made a decision on which it will cooperate with.

Posted by alphaatlas February 15, 2019 10:42 AM (CST)

SuperMicro Wants to Re-Enter the Gaming Motherboard Market

SuperMicro is a huge name in the server motherboard business, and there was a time when they were a go-to manufacturer of consumer and enthusiast motherboards. While the company technically still has a "gaming" lineup that stretches to the Z390 generation, SuperMicro's boards are relatively uncommon here in the US. But the company invited KitGuru to their headquarters in California, and said they intend to change that. Among other things, SuperMicro wantss to be on the bleeding edge of the transition to DDR4 and PCI-e Gen 4, and already have plans to bring on more staff as they enter more markets . While the company's consumer-facing lineup is currently Intel only, the company was quick to point out they were first to market with AMD's EPYC platform, though they stopped short of confirming future AM4 based offerings. Check out the interview below.

Asked if SuperMicro could reclaim its former glories in the gaming/desktop space, Vik explained that they had created market leading products for High Performance Computing (HPC), OEM solutions and InfraStructure as a Service - so he was extremely confident about the consumer market. He told us that in 2016 SuperMicro was thinking about the market and planning. In 2017 they started to bring new products to market and in 2018 they managed to set a new world record for performance. "In 2019, we will put the peddle to the metal," said Vik. "Setting the record itself showed that 'we are here,' but it doesn't mean anything unless we bring the right product to the customer. We're here to make an impact."

Posted by alphaatlas February 11, 2019 8:26 AM (CST)

NSFW: Nutaku Announces World's First Boob-Shaped Console for Adult Gaming

Adult gaming platform Nutaku, best known for its vast library of hentai titles, has released its first piece of hardware: a breast-shaped, plug-and-play game console featuring more than 200 free-to-play and premium adult games. It’s already sold out, but perverts waiting on new stock can check out a making-of video in the meantime, which explains how the company made a console with a "flesh-like feel" and "nipple-shaped power button."

Turning on the console is pretty straight-forward. You just got to press the nipple. The "boob" is created out of silicone to give it an authentic feel when touched. But it's pretty cool because it comes with two USB ports, one HDMI port, an audio jack and a wireless internet connection. Certainly the perfect console for those who love adult gaming. Priced at US$169, the console comes in limited quantities.

Posted by Megalith February 02, 2019 2:50 PM (CST)