WHAT DRIVES YOU: SANDISK STORAGE SOLUTIONS
MICA (P) 135/05/2012
HEARTACHE? APPLES AND ORANGES
LAST LIGHT THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
THREE’S A CROWD AND A DISASTER JUST WAITING TO HAPPEN
CAGING THE RED - SAY HELLO TO OUR POWERFUL LITTLE ALL-AMD BUILD, MORE IN
REVIEWS: METRO: LAST LIGHT, DEAD ISLAND: RIPTIDE, DRAGON’S DOGMA: DARK ARISEN & MORE
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02 - Issue 08, 2013
RetailerTOP5 THE HOTTESTGAMES OUTNOW
Saints Row IV
Beyond Two Souls
Batman: Arkham Origins
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
1. The Last of Us 2. Kamen Rider: Battride War 3. Injustice: Gods Among Us 4. Metro: Last Light 5. Bioshock Infinite
Grand Theft Auto V
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1. The Last of Us 2. Bioshock Infinite 3. Remember Me 4. Dead Island: Riptide 5. Metro: Last Light
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Rainbow Six: Patriots
Killer is Dead
1. The Last of Us 2. Metro: Last Light 3. Bioshock Infinite 4. Injustice: Gods Among Us 5. Resident Evil: Revelations
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LATEST MOVIES TO OWN
WRITERS Justin Choo
1. The Last of Us 2. Kamen Rider: Battride War 3. SimCity 4. Remember Me 5. Skyrim: Legendary Edition
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1. Grid 2 2. Resident Evil: Revelations 3. Romance of Three Kingdoms 12 4. SimCity 5. Injustice: Gods Among Us
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04 - Issue 09, 2013
Three’s a Crowd Developer: Rockstar North Publisher: Rockstar Games Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 Release Date: 17 September 2013
and a disaster just waiting to happen
It’s the fifth game of probably the most legendary franchise in gaming history. Actually, its not. GTA V is actually the seventh game of the franchise if you include Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. There are, of course, more if you include Chinatown Wars, iOS ports and every expansion there is, but all that doesn’t really matter because in GTA V, just like any other GTA game ever made, challenge the possibilities and introduce new ways to enjoy video games. GTA V’s mind blowing experience is lit by three fuses, and they are merge somewhere down the line to explode into the greatest gaming experience to blow your mind since GTA IV. Meet the cast.
He’s looking for that ever-illusive spark… that is likely to cause an explosion. He is one of the very few bad guys to have made it this big, and it seems like he’s not content with “retiring” away into the luxurious parts of Los Santos, but he is far from being that decrepit old man who looks back at life in regret. In fact, it seems like he’s going to do everything in his power to NOT look back at a life of regret. He lives an opulent life in a dreamy house, driving sports cars, and yet, he’s troubled enough to see a therapist. Trailers depict him as a heavy drinker; he’s probably this way because he’s unhappy with the state of his life as it is. Many of us wouldn’t think twice about trading lives with Michael, but we suspect that a big part of Michael’s misery stems from how unfulfilling and distant his family is from him. From the reveal trailer, it doesn’t seem like anyone at home sees eye to eye with this individual that is used to being important. “I want to be a good dad, love my family, and live the dream…” is what he said to his therapist, but clips of his family being too involved with their own lives suggest that Michael isn’t anywhere close to where he wants to be, not with self-centered, spoilt kids like that. It’s more than a mid life crisis for Michael, it’s about feeling that he matters once again, it’s about feeling alive. Unlike the other two protagonists, Michael’s a character that needs deciphering. It probably isn’t his intention, but he isn’t the open book that Trevor or Franklin is. Similar to Trevor, Michael does appear to have violent tendencies, but his approach to violence isn’t as crude as Trevor’s. It’s that cliché of a rich and miserable person that we’ve become familiar with, except Michael’s a gangster. He’s rich, so he’s probably not in the heists for the money. A life of crime is probably the only thing Michael is comfortable and good at (perhaps too comfortable) so our guess is that he’s in all of this just to feel good about himself again.
Any way is a good, as long as it gets him out of the ghetto He started off as a street hustler, but never really amounted to anything, so the residue of an wasted teenage life is a guy that hates where he’s at and wants to move forward but has no idea how to. They say that the company you have is a reflection of yourself, and it seems like Franklin could use a change of company. Trevor’s reveal trailer showed a disturbing individual, but at least there were parts in his reveal where he wasn’t miserable. Michael’s trailer showed the “empty” life of a middle-aged man and Franklin’s trailer showed a man who isn’t content with the life he’s in. We see a man being criticised for questioning his existence of a gang-banger in a postgang-bang world, but more importantly, we see a man who wants to get out. He’s been stagnant for too long and wants to move forward, in a life of crime that is, because moving forward is the only way to get out of the hood. We know that Franklin started out working for an Armenian gangster as a repo-man. This has equipped him with good driving skills, so while Trevor has aerial transport covered, Franklin’s taking over the driver seat when you’re bound to the ground. GTA V is rumoured to truly begin when the three protagonists cross paths, and because Franklin is so eager and moving up in the criminal world, he’ll see Michael as a father figure and mentor of sorts. This small-time gang-banger will do anything to forward himself, and Michael will soon develop a better relationship with Franklin than he has with his own son. Franklin’s character is also pretty cliché, like Michael, like Trevor. This isn’t really a bad thing, as it gets grimy introduction sequences out of their way so that we can sink our teeth into the action that Rockstar has meticulously planned out.
Issue 09, 2013 - 05
He doesn’t need a pair of sawn-offs to be dangerous. He says he sees a shrink once a week, but our guess is that he doesn’t even show up or he’s psychiatrist is a joke. It may seem as if life has dealt Trevor a bad hand, but there is a certain blissfulness that his “who gives a sh*t” attitude exudes. Besides being a military pilot in the past, he really doesn’t have many life accomplishments under his belt. This devil may care attitude radiates from his perpetually unkempt appearance, from his five o’clock shadow to his dirty shirts. Trevor isn’t what most would call normal, if he ever did exist in real life (wouldn’t be surprised if there were similar types spotted) he’s be the person you’d go out of your way to avoid – that’s what makes Trevor such an interesting character. He’s got an extreme personality, being particularly violent, unhinged and borderline psychotic, so he’s pretty destructive to himself as well as to those around him. He isn’t as calm and calculated as Michael and he does everything instinctively, which also happens to be relentlessly. While there may seem to be nothing beneficial about this sort of quirky behaviour, people like Trevor are often fairly readable and wear their emotions and intentions on their sleeves. If Trevor’s not happy with a certain arrangement, he’d be vocal (or even physical) about it. He isn’t the cunning sort who’ll start plotting for your downfall after a dispute. So it’s highly unlikely that Trevor would end up being the double-crossing type, but that doesn’t make him hero material either. Judging from the clips that Rockstar has revealed, it looks like Trevor lives in the outskirts of Vinewood. We wouldn’t go as far to say that Trevor’s a country bumpkin or anything hillbilly-esque, but let’s just say there are tractors seen around his neighbourhood. He brings about his own brand of justice and wouldn’t think twice about inflicting violence on another to get his point across, so think of him as Dirty Harry without the class… or good looks… or police authority… Despite being somewhat of a wreck and a loose canon, Trevor is still a man you’d want on your team because he comes across as a man who will get things done no matter what. Even if it means getting his hands dirty, he’ll do it.
REVIEW TESTED ON
06 - Issue 09, 2013
TESTED ON Developer: 4A Games Publisher: Deep Silver Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC Release Date: Out Now
The devil is in the details and the details are everywhere
ithout spoiling Metro 2033, Metro: Last
All-in-one The experience of Metro: Last Light is a healthy mix of exploration, stealth, action and survival sprinkled with a fair bit of horror.
Light takes off after the events of 2033, and because you are able to chose how Metro 2033 ends, Last Light kicks off assuming you picked the most destructive one. A species known only as “The Dark Ones” have been wiped off the face of the planet thanks to a missile strike trigger by you, Artyom. You’ve been promoted to Ranger since then, but a fellow comrade has spotted a Dark One. It may be a coincidence, but you have the ability to “connect” to this species, and it is also you who gets sent to get rid of it. And so your journey begins, through the dim and morbid halls and corridors of the Metro and the desolated wasteland of mutant abominations above. Exploring the underground Metro can be fun, and more often than not, you’d pick up on what it is like to actually be sealed underground. Things are a lot different up top, as you no longer belong nor own the space. The surface offers a different experience, and while the surface does bring forth some of the most beautifully rendered post-apocalyptic scenes, it is terrifying and intense. Unlike facing humans and adopting different tactics underground, the surface coaxes you into a frantic survival mode with audio that keeps up with the games artistic design and pacing.
Last Light is reasonably brighter than 2033. The eerie feeling of not knowing what lies 10 feet in front of you (a feeling created by the amount of darkness in 2033) is definitely something that will be missed, but this makes Last Light a more approachable game to many. Fans might argue that this makes the game easier and “less hardcore”, but like 2033, Metro: Last Light is all about telling you a story by immersing you in a world that is both familiar and foreign to you. Its story is one that is cleverly conveyed through the use of video gaming and from what we have experienced, it is near impossible for it to be done any better. Combat for Metro: Last Light is actually a lot better than Metro 2033. Stealth was essential, probably the only way to go in 2033, due to a combination of Artyom’s inability to take hits and enemy AI being too domineering. The lack of ammunition also made the stealth route seem like the sensible approach. You can still take the stealthy approach in Last Light, but now that ammo is less scarce, you are able to use silenced weapons to mix up the experience. Now that enemy AI has been toned down, you can adopt the guns blazing route with a lot less agony. It may not be a brilliant FPS and it is definitely not the most horrifying game we’ve come across, but Last Light is still one for the books simply because of the
Issue 09, 2013 - 07
experience it crafts. It’s a game with ridiculous amounts of detail in every corner. Some details could have easily been omitted and not be missed, but they are in place simply because Metro: Last Light is above all, an experience/story world crafted for your pleasure. Console players may be a little less fortunate than PC players (what’s new), and the lack of detail on the consoles does take some charm away from a game that thrives on how immersed you are, but the overall formula of having rich yet rugged environments filled with people and incidental dialogue still illustrates what life is like in the Metro. Metro: Last Light is definitely worth the price of admission for PC gamers, high end of low end, NVidia or AMD. FPS-fatigued console gamers will be pleasantly surprised at what Last Light brings to the table. You can gauge (quite accurately) how much goes into the narrative and experience of a game’s campaign when it doesn’t offer any online multiplayer action despite every other FPS enforcing multiplayer like it is a God-given right. Single-player only hits like Dishonored and BioShock Infinite have shown that gamers deserve and enjoy a good narrative and gameplay experience above everything, and Metro: Last Light yet another shining example.
WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS
VERDICT © 2002-2012 Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Developed by Irrational Games. BioShock, BioShock Infinite, BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution, Irrational Games, 2K Games and their respective logos are trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. “PlayStation”, the “PS” Family logo and “PS3” are registered trademarks and the PlayStation Network logo is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Kinect, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. The ratings icon is a trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
REVIEW TESTED ON
08 - Issue 09, 2013
Developer: Techland Publisher: Deep Silver Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC Release Date: Out Now
Bringing the blood back
hipwrecked, you find yourself on a foreign
Same, but better Riptide plays like Dead Island without the plague of technical horrors that made it a nightmare (pre-patch, of course). Riptide is a much smoother experience and although it isn’t free of the occasional hiccup, it delivers on the same adrenalin-fueling building paranoia that zombie junkies can’t get enough of.
Cheap tactics Turning the gamma up on the graphics settings helps you save flashlight batteries. This works on most games that require or limit the use flashlights.
island (once again) and it is up to you to survive the zombie apocalypse. The four original characters make their return to this sequel, and there is also a fifth playable character being introduced alongside a new line-up of villains. Despite being on a new island, Palanai doesn’t feel all too different. Perhaps it is the whole “tropical paradise turn sour” theme, but these seemingly new locales feel a bit too similar. Since this open world game has the tendency to bring you back to places that you have already explored before (fetch quests and such), the sense of sameness is amplified. This is why unpredictable AI behaviour is so important, as zombies and special infected are likely to thwart and hinder your errands. It comes as no surprise that Riptide’s narrative is just an excuse to go on chaotic undead slaying fests and you’d be partially right to think that the experience of Riptide doesn’t differ much from the first Dead Island game. That’s actually a good thing, because everything that was gratifyingly addictive about the first game is all here in the follow-up. Acquiring and upgrading to bigger and more powerful weapons and giving them a test-run on the next unfortunate walking corpse hardly gets old. The same can’t be said for the graphics though, as Riptide looks almost identical to the first game. We’ve mentioned countless times that graphics, alone, don’t make the game, but it would’ve been nice to see graphical advances, however small they may be.
If Riptide were to promise anything, it would be intense zombie action. Once again, melee combat takes centre stage and you’ll really get a sense of how brutal impacts can be thanks to how the zombies respond to the physical violence that you dish (in self defence of course). Gut kicking and fist flailing by yourself in single player is definitely a feasible option, but it doesn’t beat dancing with friends. Playing alone, riptide will treat you to a spectacle of unpredictable zombies and special infecteds, and you’ll soon get a true sense of what it is like to be as a survivor on this zombie riddled island. You’ll be on your toes the whole time, as guttural moans and grunts constantly remind you not to let your guard down, but adding more players to the mix actually makes for an extremely goofy, yet satisfying experience. Watching your buddies rain on zombies with electrical crowbars, wrenches and oars can sometimes feel more comical than adventureesque, and there’s surely a giggle to be found when your fellow survivor is recklessly running anything and everything over because he/she is such an awful driver. Riptide, in a word, is a safe game. It’s about staying safe, but the game is also safe, in a sense that it doesn’t do too much to change what made it such an enjoyable game in the first place. Players who enjoyed the multiplayer questing and slaying will definitely find their place in Riptide, as this is a game that plays to the music of its fans. If you didn’t like Dead Island, you’re probably going to feel the same about Riptide, despite it being a lot less buggy.
Issue 09, 2013 - 09
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 Release Date: Out Now
DRAGON’S DOGMA: DARK ARISEN
Just when you thought it was over…
his isn’t a sequel as it is a re-release, and you will be able to play the original Dragon’s Dogma if you purchase Dark Arisen because everything is on one disc. It isn’t unlike Capcom to pull a “but wait, there’s more!” move, but the fact that most of the gamer-irking aspects of the game have been adressed suggests that Capcom has indeed been listening to their fans. Dark Arisen introduces you to a cursed underground realm known as Bitterblack Isle, and it is an all new, meticulously constructed place, complete with new terrifying enemy types to take on as well as new treasures to find. IF anything, Dark Arisen is tough, and it does very little to make things pleasant for you, especially towards the end. There are plenty of hard battles and bosses to fight, and like Dark Souls, the odds are pretty much stacked against you. Reloading save points and fighting bosses can sometimes be the reason why people actually enjoy playing a game, but to some it may prove to be more annoying than challenging. The good news is, your pawns will talk a lot less, ergo, they will be a lot less annoying. Owners of the original Dragon’s Dogma will be able to export all of their existing characters and saved data to continue their journey as the Arisen. With new augments, skills, weapons and armour sets, Dark Arisen is actually a very compelling offering, even if you already own the original. 100,000 Rift Crystals Unlimited Ferrystones, and Gransys Armour Pack will surely be a big reason to take Bitterblack Isle on. A texture pack and Japanese language pack are also included on a separate disc, but you’ll need some hard disk space to download these enhancements. Dark Arisen has the potential to add about 8-10 hours to your Dragon’s Dogma experience, and this number may vary depending on your level and eagerness to explore.
Is it any surprise that Dark Arisen acts as a Super Dragon’s Dogma? Afterall, this IS the publisher that gave us Street Fighter 4 and Super Street Fighter 4. Although we are seeing quite a disturbing pattern, we’re happy to report that like Super Street Fighter 4, Dark Arisen is indeed a treat for those who enjoyed Dragon’s Dogma. If you have never tackled Dragon’s Dogma, Dark Arisen lets you start your journey from the very beginning. You will need to “complete” the game before the new area opens up for you, as this DLC acts as post-game content. The original Dragon’s Dogma was one of 2012’s better offerings despite being riddled with glitches on launch. With a retail price of S$49.90, Dark Arisen is actually a very compelling purchase, especially if you missed the wagon on Dragon’s Dogma.
10 - Issue 09, 2013
Handheld Heartache? We’re big fans of previous gen handhelds such as the PSP and the Nintendo DS (all variants). The truth is, handhelds have made great strides since the days of the Nintendo Game Boy. We’ve seen handhelds transition from mono to colour and seen pretty dramatic improvements in terms of graphics and performance. We also see technological progress in terms of how efficient these devices were and anyone who has owned a Sega Game Gear would know the importance of efficiency is, since it wouldn’t make much sense to have a portable device that is powered by six AA batteries only to die a mere 2 hours later. So we have moved from brick-sized devices to svelte portables that fit into your back pocket, from deviced that drained external batteries to devices with very reliable in-built batteries (that seem to last forever), from monochromatic LCDs to responsive hi-definition touch screen displays, from game-only devices to your personal multimedia station on the go. We take awesome devices like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita for granted sometimes because we feel that they are a the result of a very “natural” process of evolution. Although we shouldn’t take these device for granted because it’s hard not to see how they could have done better. It’s also hard not to compare the two handhelds and of course, we know you can’t compare apples to oranges, so we’ll be looking at the merits and downsides of the two platforms.
It’s a cool and relevant name. Every gamer knows DS stands for Dual Screen and of course, every gamer knows that the 3DS is capable of producing 3D games, images and pictures without the need for any eyewear. The duality of its name just works, and we couldn’t come up with a better name for the device.
Touch screen is responsive despite being a tad small (on the original 3DS) but it still offers a the same awesome gameplay experiences like its predecessors did. A handy stylus is included and integrated into the unit for precise gestures and tapping. Not that it would prove to be exceptionally useful, but touch screen on the 3DS isn’t a multi-touch one.
With almost a year’s headstart on the Vita, Nintendo’s portfolio of games haven’t been too spectacular, with the major titles being exclusives like Super Mario 3D Land and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. This humble handheld still boasts over 150 games and that’s actually not too bad for a 2-year old device.
If the name of your product doesn’t make me want it more, even after someone (Kaz Hirai) explains it you, you have failed when it comes to naming the product. If the names of the second and third PlayStation were named PS2 and PS3 respectively, what’s wrong with PSP2?
A gorgeous, uber responsive OLED multi-capacitative touch screen on the front isn’t the only thing that’s going to draw fingerprints. The PlayStation Vita also features a touch pad on its back. The device is just begging to be touched but there are merely a handful of games that utilise the PlayStation Vita’s greatest strengths.
Just like the 3DS, the Vita’s launch was also plagued with only a few noteworthy games. The only difference however, is the ability to access the PSN and download PSP, PS2 and even original PlayStation titles. The only thing that sucks about this service is how we would have effectively paid to play the same game, twice.
Issue 09, 2013 - 11
Sticking it to da man
3DS Even with the launch of the 3DS XL, we still see one thumbstick/circle pad. You’re going to need to buy a Circle Pad add-on if you want to play Monster Hunter Tri G, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater and Resident Evil: Revelations the way they were meant to be played. Surprisingly, we don’t have a problem with any of this. The only gripe we have is how “tight” the circle pad on the 3DS can be and how much fatigue it can cause when using it.
Vita Hooray for dual thumb sticks. That is all.
Sharing is caring
3DS WiFi is your only option if you wanna play with a buddy, but you won’t need a network to connect to if you plan on going head-to-head against your buddy in Super Street Fighter 4.
Growing up as a children of the 90’s, we’re used to sharing with siblings and cousins, particularly costly toys such as the DS and PSP. Good news is, you can register a couple of users for the 3DS, and you can still share your 3DS with siblings (or friends) like the good old days.
A 3G model lets you do some web browsing on the go, but due to a data cap, you’re unlikely to play online games via 3G. You’re still going to be to play over WiFi pretty seamlessly, and to be perfectly honest, we haven’t really seen how 3G helps to improve the experience of the PlayStation Vita.
Each Vita only recognises one user and if you intend to share your Vita, you’ll be sharing everything on your PSN account. Saved games could be a problem, since your autosaves, friends and trophies are linked to your PSN ID.
12 - Issue 09, 2013
CAGING THE The biggest car isn’t necessarily the fastest or most powerful one, and this logic can be applied to performance PCs. It actually feels like a modern miracle that we’re able to cramp this much power and performance into this snazzy mid-tower. We’ve been wanting to put together an all-AMD build for awhile now and now that the stars are aligned and everything is in place, we present to you, a beastly build that is high on performance and practical at the same time.
RED Cooler Master N300 Many would be performance PC owners place less emphasis on their chassis, simply because the chassis doesn’t seem to affect the performance of their PC in anyway. Most would rather go for a “less flashy” or “less gamer-ish” enclosure because it doesn’t make any sense to be spending more money on “aesthetics”. Here’s the truth, the enclosure is actually more important that you think it isn’t. The best enclosures provide good and consistent airflow, and offer the PC builder options. Good enclosures offer cable routing options, holes for mounting additional fans, hot swappable bays and even premium fans. Build quality is also a factor and since you’re going to house a variety of expensive components, you’ll want your case that feels sturdy and reliable as well. The N300 strikes a perfect balance between price and quality. This enclosure is designed to house ATX motherboards as well as top-tier graphics cards like the AMD HD 7970 we have installed. It also features USB 3.0 support, holds up to 8 HDD (2 tool-less) has two 120mm, SickleFlow fans included, a full mesh front panel and windowed side panel. Depsite being smaller than many enthusiast-class enclosures, the N300 also offers mounts for water-cooling options (such as the Seidon 120M we have installed). Even if you’re used to bigger enclosures (such as the HAF series) getting a neat and tidy system layed out in the N300 won’t be much of a problem. While you won’t have a spacious interior (when compared to full towers), cooling is actually much more efficient and require less fans because of the minimal space in the chassis. But after all that is said and done, you cannot go wrong with a S$75 chassis that offers so much and asks for so little. It’s hard to fault an enclosure like the N300, really.
Pro tip: It is very important to check out review on components when deciding on computer parts, but it also helps to keep the brands you adopt as few as possible. If you noticed, we went with a Cooler Master chassis as well as a Cooler Master liquid cooler, and an Asus motherboard as well as an Asus graphics card. This way, we don’t really have to remember that many distributors, in case something goes wrong when the products are under warranty.
Issue 09, 2013 - 13
Asus HD 7970 Direct CU II This beast of a card is overclocked and completely non-reference. Its massive heatsink ejects heat with the help of its two fans that have bearings that are dust proof. This is excellent, since the dust that makes its way to the bearings is usually the cause of noise, affects cooling efficiency and even malfunction. This card’s fans remain fairly quiet, even with some overclocking It’s backplate also helps dissipate heat while making it look a lot more attractive in your windowed case, but it also helps give the card a lot of rigidity. Overclocking this graphics card is a fairly easy and straightforward affair with Asus’ GPU Tweak program, but if you
wanna go the hardcore route, this card lets you whip out your soldering equipment with VGA Hotwire. You’ll be able to adjust almost everything about this card in the EUFI, even voltage controls, so if it is power you crave, this card will bring it. You can easily get at least 75FPS running Skyrim (with some mods) at max settings on 1080p. This is the most loaded HD 7970 out on the market that uses top-notch parts, and it’s a fat, three-slot card. Not the most elegant solution, granted, but definitely one that is versatile, beastly and built to last. All things considered, this is just an awesome card for overclocking and a fantastic one-card (single-GPU) solution for the hardcore.
Cooler Master Seidon 120M If your chassis allows, you’ll want to go for a closed-loop liquid cooler with a 240mm radiator. A 120mm one will have to do if there is no way your chassis can accommodate a larger one, and because of clearance issues, we chose to go with the Seidon 120M instead of the Seidon 240M because there doesn’t seem to be enough clearance to install the radiator and its fans as they would be blocking the socket for auxilary power to the motherboard. If we mounted the fans of the Seidon 240M on top (outside) of the chassis, we could have went with a 240mm radiator, but since we’re pretty big on aesthetics, we went with the Seidon 120M with its 120mm radiator instead. When you’re going with an unlocked processor like the FX 8350 Black Edition we have here, you’re going to want a cooling solution that is efficient and quiet. The more heat you can get rid off, the more you can get out of your processor, and with air-cooling, this usually means the ramping of the fans to cool the radiators or to expell hot air from the enclosure. The principal is pretty much the same with liquid coolers, except you’ll have to factor in the unit’s water pump. Many of the closed loop water coolers we’ve seen have rather quiet water pumps, but the Cooler Master Seidon series of liquid CPU coolers happen to be the least audible.
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB
240GB is more than enough for Windows 8 (or 7), a slew of your must have applications (like Skype, Steam, etc) as well as a couple of your favourite games. If you learn to delete your games after completing them, you’ll hardly need anything higher than 240GB. We chose the Neutron GTX 240GB specifically because the Neutron GTX Series of SSDs were designed to support data-intensive work that involves accessing multiple files simultaneously. This sounds like a dream for video production or large-scale graphic work, but it also means being about to run multiple applications at once without pausing to take a breath. We opted for the 240GB Neutron GTX drive (even though 120GB was more than enough) because it hit the sweet spot when it came to sequential read and write speeds as well as overall price per gigabyte.
Choosing a good PSU is tough, since the hype around gaming rigs are usually around processors, RAM and graphics cards. You can’t go wrong with a modular PSU like the AX760i since it reduces cable clutter (resulting in better overall air flow) but besides determining what wattage you need for your system, spending that little extra on a PSU with a high-efficiency rating as one with a Platinum rating means less wattage will be lost as heat. Traditional power supplies have analogue components for regulating voltages, but the AX760i uses a DSP (digital signal processor), which is faster and more accurate. We aren’t going to argue with this PSU’s 80 Plus Platinum rating, but it is worth noting that you can control and monitor this power supply via Corsair link. The AX760i is a fine example of what a top-notch PSU needs to be and it’s also available in higher capacities (AX 860i, AX1200i). Just remember to look for the “i” when you’re out shopping for your PSU.
AMD FX 8350 + Asus ROG Crosshair V Formula
G.SKILL Trident X 2400MHz
We didn’t stumble upon the Asus ROG Crosshair when we were deciding on a motherboard, we chose it specifically. Yes, part of it was because we wanted to get a theme going (of course we were, what are we? Barbarians?), but the real reason was because of all the tools ROG boards equip us with. Simple one-click overclocking (with CPU Level Up), low latency when gaming (with GameFirst), and hardcore overclocking (with ROG Connect) are just the bulk of what this board has to offer.
16GB of DDR3 RAM is more than enough to run all your gaming and multimedia needs but we chose this kit partly because its colour matched the colour scheme we were going for. We didn’t necessarily need a kit that runs at 2400MHz but because we’re so big on having internals match, this was a necessary “evil”. You see kids, sometimes it is ok to spend a little more on your rig for the sake of vanity, but when you throw performance into the equation, you have to throw in the towel and submit to performance RAM that doubles as eye-candy.
14 - Issue 09, 2013
External peripherals for your consideration
AverMedia Live Gamer Portable T
he name doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but it is the sheer convenience that makes this device a great addition to any household with consoles and/or more than one PC. This device is comfortably sized just a tad bigger than an iPhone 4, and it is the first truly portable video capture device we’ve come across (it even comes with its own protective case). The Live Gamer Portable can connect to just about any this generation console and PC, record 720p at 60 frames per second and take less than five minutes to set up. All you really need is a class 10 SD card and a USB power source to get this dandy device up and running – just connect the cables, insert SD card and push a button to start recording. This is perfect for those running PCs with SLI or CrossFire and just can’t make the space (or power requirements) to house an internal capture card. It’s exceptionally convenient to move around and setup thanks to its ability to run off USB power instead on needing to look for a wall socket. Also, the fact that it doesn’t even need to be connected to a PC to capture video makes things a lot less problematic. You can stream video and even capture up to 1080p on the Live Gamer Portable but you’ll have to connect the kit to a PC or laptop.
Xonar U7 H
ere’s an external acoustic solution for those of you with PCs so beastly that your motherboards can’t hold anything else. While there are a few external sound cards on the market, the Xonar U7 is targeted to serve the needs to PC gamers who crave intense and clear sounds from their premium 7.1 headphones. We’ve said this a million times before and we’ll say it again; it doesn’t matter how awesome your speakers/headphones are when your soundcard/source is rubbish. This isn’t just a box that gives you a significant edge in terms of gaming audio. It also functions as an audio control center that lets you adjust the volume of your game as well as your mic volume with dedicated controls. We love the Xonar U7 because you have the option of toggling between your speakers (rear panel) or headphones (front panel) with a single tap of the volume knob. This is actually a big deal because even the most avid gamer isn’t attached to his headphones every single time he’s at his computer. Besides, there will be times where easy listening is in order and not having to hot-swap audio jacks is a huge plus. Sound-wise, the most noticeable enhancements are in-game voice quality. Since background effects usually need to be lowered when there are dialogue segments, you’ll quickly notice the absence of noise, artifacts or interferences related to poor signal insulation. We’ve also noticed that the Xonar U7 produces sound that is much stronger and has more depth (unlike flat and underpowered onboard audio). Sound positioning is awesome and this applies to opponent positioning as well as game effects and on the whole, the gaming experience is definitely heightened by this magical black box. You’d be wrong to think that the Xonar U7 is only for the gamer, because as mentioned earlier, dialogue is crystal and this makes the U7 a great solution for watching HD media as well. In our trails, we didn’t experience any “hollow” sounding audio with action movies as well as movies with a lot of dialogue. Like the Live Gamer Portable, its small form factor makes it extremely ideal for LAN parties. The Xonar U7 is also conveniently USB powered and it’s still pretty incredible how something this small is capable of delivering a 7.1 channel audio experience.
Issue 09, 2013 - 15
he iPhone 5 feels very light, but it also feels very fragile. It feels fragile because we’re used to robust devices being a little hefty and unless we have someone who is willing to volunteer their iPhone 5 for drop tests, we’re not about to prove the theory wrong. Another problem about the iPhone 5 is how horrible its battery life is but besides that, Apple’s latest phone is a remarkable phone no matter what the Android and Windows fans say. Doubling the battery life of your iPhone would be swell and when it comes with slender good looks, it’s a done deal. The PowerSkin battery case isn’t just there to power and protect, it also gives the phone a very solid grip. Tapers on both ends on of the back of the case makes using your iPhone 5 a lot more ergonomic. It even has a battery indicator that is extremely discreet and does not mess with the overall aestethics of the case. Since this case has a battery, it will weigh your iPhone 5 down a little, but if you are like most of us, the additional weight and contours will actually make using your iPhone 5 feel very natural and a little less strenuous.
Nakamichi myMiniBT T
The Nakamichi myMiniBT is an awesome little unit that is compact, classy and big on sound. The sound that this little drum pumps out is remarkably crisp and firm. For speakers of this class, it really isn’t too difficult to spot a good one amongst a sea of shoddy ones, and the myMiniBT manages to sit comfortably above the benchmark. This little kit covers the spectrum when it comes to compatibility, offering line-in and micro SD above the standard, Bluetooth connectivity. It even has FM radio
built it. The myMiniBT’s range is decent; stuttering at approximately 10 metres and a 2-hour charge will provide just under 4 hours of listening pleasure. Speakers of this size and class usually don’t do too well in reproducing bass and depth, but the myMiniBT does particularly well in the depth department. Of course, a great deal of what you hear depends on your source, and it can sometimes feel like your listening to stereo speakers instead on mono.
© 2009 - 2012 Gearbox Software, LLC. All rights reserved. Borderlands, Gearbox Software, and the Gearbox logo are registered trademarks of Gearbox Software, LLC in the U.S. and other countries. Borderlands is published and distributed by 2K Games. 2K Games and the 2K Games logo are registered trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries and used here under license. “PlayStation” and the “PS” Family logo are registered trademarks and “PS3” and the PlayStation Network logo are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. KINECT, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.
16 - Issue 09, 2013
ASUS GTX 670 Mini H
ere’s an excellent graphics card for the mini-ITX PC that you’ve been thinking of building for your media centre and it’s getting hard to comprehend how these tier 2 graphics cards continue to be engineered smaller and smaller. Under its petit hood is a decent 2GB of GDDR5 memory with a 256-bit bus to help keep traffic smooth. The GTX 670 is meant to be overclocked and while the DirectCU Mini cooling on the GTX 670 may not seem like it does much, it is still able to dissipate more heat than Nvidia’s coolers while remaining surprisingly quiet. While Asus’ GTX 670 Mini may be a short card, many mini-ITX enclosures on the market today will take a full-sized, dual-slot card without an issue, and some mini-ITX enclosures don’t even support dual-slot graphics cards. So why a GTX 670 Mini? Well, besides being a technological and engineering breakthrough of sorts, the GTX 670 Mini does create upgrade possibilities for those who own ready-made PCs from HP, Acer, etc. This card may possibly be the only choice for a sensible and beefy upgrade for these system owners, and that’s probably one of the reasons behind its weighted price tag. Its name might suggest a certain level of compromise, but we assure you, the Asus GTX 670 Mini is no slouch in providing would-be owners the eye candy they deserve. That said, it wouldn’t make much sense for a system builder to even consider the GTX 670 Mini, since the fully sized Asus GTX 670 DirectCU II would be a better choice, hands down.
EyeFly 3D I
t has been a long time since something so elementary and revolutionary has tickled our fancy. Come to think of it, the last time we were this intrigued was the first time we laid eyes on the Nintendo 3DS. Just like any other screen protector, EyeFly 3D is applied to your iPhone 5 without the need for messy adhesives and it won’t leave any residue should you choose to remove it. You’ll need to use the EyeFly3D app to make sure that it is properly oriented, and once you have done so, prepare to experience 3D content without the need for any eyewear. You need to use the app in order to enjoy 3D pictures and videos. You can even load 3D movies onto you device and watch them
in 3D, on the fly, without any additional equipment. The beauty of the EyeFly 3D is that it doesn’t interrupt your regular 2D viewing when you aren’t using 3D. There is hardly any distortion with regular 2D viewing and it’s a win-win since it also doubles as a screen protector. You may find it hard to believe, but this ingenious plastic film was developed by Temasek Polytechnic and A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. The wheels are already in motion to develop and calibrate this technology for other mobile devices (Apple and Android) and there are even plans to include MacBooks and iPads that feature the Retina display.
Issue 09, 2013 - 17
Sony SBH20 A
lthough Sony markets the SBH20 as a bluetooth headset with NFC (Near-Field Communication), but there is actually more to this kit than meets the eye. At first glance, the SBH20 looks a whole lot like an iPod Shuffle, from its on-apparel clip to the racy colours available, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing because a bluetooth headsets needs to be light, sleek, and trendy. Its clip has a swivel that allows it to take on any
orientation, so if you prefer the volume rocker to face up, it will always face up no matter how you clip it on. The main unit of the SBH20 features all the controls you’d want for playing music. Play/pause, previous track, next track and an inbuilt mic are located on the unit and these control will work with pretty much any smart phone on the market today, and if you aren’t satisfied with the in-ear buds included (they are actually very, very decent), feel free to use your own headphones or speakers – as long as has a 3.5mm jack, you’re good to go. Connecting the SBH20 to a set of PC speakers is a quick a relatively cheap way to turn your regular speakers into “bluetooth-compatible” ones. According to Sony, the SBH20 will last 6 hours, and that is probably possible if you use it at mid volume, but ours lasted a good 5 hours (with stock ear buds) at max volume and a considerable amount of track surfing. The clip is able to hold itself in place even with intense activity (trying to stay on a treadmill at high speeds) and because the cable of the included earbuds are relatively short, they don’t get in the way at all. At just SGD$78, the Sony SBH20 is practically unbeatable, weighing a mere 12.3 grams, allowing up to 3 devices to be paired simultaneously, very decent range and up to 200 hours of standby time.
Skullcandy FIX T
hese are the first pair of buds from Skullcandy that are designed to stay in your ear no matter what manly activities you may engage yourself in. We’ve noticed that many of the major audio peripheral companies have started to develop buds for use with sports and you’ll understand why if you have ever went jogging (or even brisk walking) because you will know how annoying it can be to have to fumble around with renegade ear-buds that refuse to stay planted. The FIX’s construct is primarily plastic, and while this is usually a downer, the FIX’s plastic construct makes it light and perfect for activities. The sound quality of the FIX is definitely above average, with crispy trebles and a deep resonating bass
giving it a very rich soundscape. With that in mind, the bass does tend to drown out mids. This is probably intentional, since semi heavy tunes seem to help with burning calories. This pair of earphones also come with an in-line mic and remote, and while this convenience isn’t something to write home about, it does add more functionality for the user. Indeed, the FIX stays in place during activities and aside from getting caught on something, they are noticeably more secure than the average in-ear bud. While the Skullcandy FIX isn’t a revolutionary or exceptionally good pair of earphones, they are still a great pair that gets all the small details right.
WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS
© 2002-2012 Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Developed by Irrational Games. BioShock, BioShock Infinite, BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution, Irrational Games, 2K Games and their respective logos are trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. “PlayStation”, the “PS” Family logo and “PS3” are registered trademarks and the PlayStation Network logo is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Kinect, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. The ratings icon is a trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
18 - Issue 09, 2013
What Drives You E
ver wondered into a your favourite IT store to take a look at the seemingly infinite variations of portable flash drives there are on the market? Of course, different capactities cater to people who use their thumb drives for different purposes, but once you’ve decided on what capacity to settle for, you usually face a dilemma of not being too pleased with the style of drives available to choose from. There is a certain sense of same-ness about thumb drives, and it can get pretty annoying especially if you’re looking for that one unique drive that screams your name. Style, while important, is of course, secondary. Security is the most important of all, and when we speak of security, we aren’t just talking about the sense of security that the SanDisk SecureAccess software provides. Knowing that your files won’t just disappear into thin air is also very, very important. It sucks when drives fail, and more often than not, they seem to fail at the worst time possible, so it does pay to stick to the global leader in flash memory storage solutions.
This is a no-frills flash drive with a durable metal shell. It’s straightforward, yet distinctive enough without kicking up a big fuss. It won’t feel out of place in a bunch of keys – which is exactly where these compact flash drives belong – and you should never leave home without it.
It’s style, all round. A 360-degree rotatable USB connector shield keeps the most important part of your drive safe from dings and kinks. While this isn’t the smallest drive of the bunch, it’s only a mere 1.5 inches long and just over a quarter-inch thick. It’s donut centre also makes it very easy to be attached to lanyards or key rings.
You won’t believe just how small this drive truly is. This is a drive that feels and looks a the USB dongle reciever of a notebook mouse. Considering it’s available capacities (up to 32GB), the Fit manages to make the humble 10-cent coin look big. Its discreet, low profile design makes it the go-to choice for instances where a regular thumb drive is just too big and obstructive. The common reaction after finding out what the Cruzer Fit is goes something like, “THAT’s a thumb drive???”. It’s actually more like a thumbnail drive.
Like its name suggests, the Pop is probably the hipster of the bunch, available in a multi-colour paint-drip design, carbon-fibre-like checkerboard, or red with tribal design. The Cruzer Pop’s name probably derrived from the sound it makes when you “break” it open. While its shape and materials used won’t make a statement, the way its USB connector is cleverly hidden will certainly garner a second glance.
This is a svelte and elegant solution for carrying your photo’s music and other files. It’s part steel, part plastic, but 100% stylish. Definitely for the dress-up type looking for that little bling in their flash accessories. Come to think of it, this looks more like a fashion accessory than storage drive. Perhaps all drives should look like that…
You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached to your neck, and you probably have that sad-looking flash drive (that used to have a protective cap) strung to your keychain. The good news is you will never misplace the cap on the Cruzer Switch. You’d have to be pretty brutal with it in order to lose it, so the average user need not worry about it too much.
SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive As its lengthy name suggests, this is for the big boys. Speed is the name of the game here, and while being up to 10 times faster than a regular USB 2.0 drive sounds exciting enough, it is future proofing that matters. We’re all going to go USB 3.0 in the future, so why not hop on board first? While its slide-out mechanism resembles the Cruzer Micro, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive’s slide-out mechanism is actually feels spring loaded and far more luxurious.
Issue 09, 2013 - 19
ASUS VivoTab Smart
ight and easy to carry in one hand, this tablet with a wireless keyboard gives a pseudolaptop experience. Easy to operate, the magnetic TranSleeve protects the 10.1-inch screen and folds backwards to prop up the tablet for hands-free viewing. The VivoTab Smart runs on a full Windows 8 operating system, and can handle all the basic functions that you expect from a laptop, short of intense work like video-editing and gaming. The Bluetooth keyboard that comes with the tablet is comfortable enough for document work, but the trackpad is a little inaccurate and it can get quite fustrating. The built-in speakers are reasonably clear and the screen is bright. Battery life is reasonably long enough for light use throughout the day. – if you’re using it during transit on public transport or while waiting for appointments. While there aren’t any full-sized ports, Asus still managed to squeeze in micro-sized USB, HDMI, and SD card readers. Thin and light and extremely affordable, it suffices as a good replacement for laptops, fulfilling the less demanding tasks in work and entertainment, if you can overlook the minor flaws, and use it for what it is.