- 1 the build card reviews
- 2 How to build a 4K HTPC – Part Seven: Graphics Card – The Definitive Installation/Upgrade/How-To Guide
- 3 Reviews of the Best USB 3.0 Memory Card Readers
the build card reviews
Posted March 22, 2017 by Frances Johnston & filed under Tech.
As an avid player of video games, you have probably been thinking about buying your own elite gaming setup for a while now. Imagine yourself staying at home for the weekend without anything to do. After a long and stressful week at work or school, all you want to do is catch up with the games that you picked up a week before, but haven’t had the chance to play them because of lack of free time. Now that you do have the time to play, you’re thinking that a worn-out, three-year old laptop is not enough to make you enjoy your well-deserved gaming experience.
You finally decide to go to a gaming store to check and see how much it would cost to purchase a complete elite gaming setup. You browse through the laptops and personal computers and you realize that it is way out of your budget, especially if you are not earning enough just from your regular 9 to 5. You seriously contemplate on whether to spend thousands of dollars for a complete setup. However, you searched online and managed to encounter the term “build” associated with gaming setup. Could you possibly just build your own gaming setup?
The answer to that question would be absolutely. A great alternative to buying an expensive elite gaming setup is building it from different parts to the complete version. It may be a time-consuming process, but at least you won’t have to go over your budget. In this case, all you have to do now is search for the best and easiest way to build an elite gaming setup. The latest gaming tech reviews prioritize on the type of gaming monitor one would use to play. Here are a few steps that you can follow in order to build your own elite gaming setup.
Before you start anything, of course you would have to prepare everything that you will need first. Building a gaming setup will require more than just the parts of the computer. You will need tools in order to put them together. If you do not have the time to look for the different set of tools that you will need, you can just purchase a complete computer building set of tools which can be found at online stores. This way, you won’t have to waste time and you can even use them for other purposes as well. Prepare the station that you will be working in. Make sure that there is ample space for you to build it because there are many parts.
Make an inventory of the parts that you will need
Before you begin constructing, you need to make sure you have all the parts needed. Make sure that you have acquired or purchased the necessary parts such as the motherboard, the AMD system, different parts of the Intel System, motherboard connectors, the video card, cables, the CPU cooler, storage, power supply and the like. If you are missing even one of these, you won’t be able to build anything properly. A great resource to find what you need in a gaming monitor would be http://www.gearforgaming.com/best-monitor-gaming/ and they also have other gaming hardware reviews.
Search for visual examples and instructions online
Because building an elite gaming system can be very technical, it would be better to watch someone else build one so that you can follow along. If you go on video sharing websites such as YouTube, you will find tons of tutorials and know-hows on how to build a gaming system. There will be many difficult terminologies and jargon that you will encounter in the videos so you should be prepared to list down necessary instructions.
If you follow these procedures step-by-step, you will be able to build your own elite gaming setup in no time. It may seem difficult at first because of the different terms that you will hear. However, as long as you take your time, you will be able to do it even if you would need to replay the video over and over.
Whether you are making your own elite gaming setup or buying it, in the end, what matters is the moment you finally play that video game in a high-resolution screen with the best software and processors that technology can make. Making your own elite gaming system can be fun and rewarding because you won’t have to spend way too much money for something that you can build yourself with a lot of effort.
Most Popular Trading Card Games of 2016
Posted January 16, 2017 by Gabriel & filed under Blogging.
Pokemon made a return as one of the most popular trading card games of 2016. They completely threw out the old cards and system in favor of a new.
It’s an unfortunate for us die hard collector fans back in the late 90s to early 2000s. Regardless, they still hold a special place in my heart.
Anyways, from better to best, here’s a list of all the top 10 trading card games of 2016.
9. Battle Tech Collectible Card Game
8. Duel Masters Trading Card Game
7. Cardfight!! Vanguard
5. World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
4. YuGiOh! Trading Card Game
3. Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
2. Pokemon Trading Card Game
1. Magic: The Gathering
Though Pokemon wasn’t the most popular of 2016, I still think it’s going to last a life time. There’s nothing which can beat a classic anime and monster game.
How to build a 4K HTPC – Part Seven: Graphics Card – The Definitive Installation/Upgrade/How-To Guide
Let’s assume for a moment that you didn’t follow my instructions on how to build a 4K HTPC verbatim. HOW DARE YOU!
You probably deviated from the plan a bit here and there, maybe you decided to go your own route, and that’s perfectly fine. That is the beauty of building your own PC, you have the freedom to do whatever you want.
- PART ONE: GOALS AND CHALLENGES
- PART TWO: CASE, POWER SUPPLY, MOTHERBOARD, AND COOLING
- PART THREE: PROCESSOR, SSD, RAM, AND OPTICAL DRIVE
- PART FOUR: SETUP, TROUBLESHOOTING, AND QUIRKY 4K SHIT
- PART FIVE: SOFTWARE
- PART SIX: PERIPHERALS AND EVERYTHING ELSE
- PART SEVEN: GRAPHICS CARD – THE DEFINITIVE INSTALLATION/UPGRADE/HOW-TO GUIDE
- UPDATED PARTS LIST FOR 2016
- UPDATED PARTS LIST FOR 2017
In my build, I decided to opt-out of adding a discrete GPU. For my purposes, there just wasn’t a point to adding a GPU that didn’t feature and HDMI 2.0 port. Not to mention the fact that the case I chose cannot fit a standard size GPU. Unless your TV has a DisplayPort (I highly doubt it) you are going to need HDMI 2.0 if you want [email protected] Otherwise, you will need to settle for [email protected] There are no compact/low profile HDMI 2.0 GPU’s currently available on the market (as of this writing). But there are some other powerful, rather expensive, GPU’s on the market that do support the HDMI 2.0 standard.
If you built your HTPC with a larger case, bigger than the Silverstone ML04B that we featured in part II of our build, you might be able to fit a full-size GPU inside your case. But keep reading for a list of requirements and some things you should check before adding a discrete GPU.
Regardless of whether or not you are building an HTPC, gaming PC, or workstation, the guide below should be relative to almost any modern PC build. I’ll be installing the card in my gaming PC (it will not fit in our Silverstone HTPC case), but you can follow the instructions regardless of build type. With that shit said, let’s get to it.
Which graphics card do I purchase?
There are multiple reasons you may want to upgrade your GPU. Many of which involve gaming. If gaming is of the utmost importance to your build, you may want to drop a bit more coin on a really good card. Purchasing a new GPU often requires a bunch of research, especially if you have been out of the loop for awhile.
It’s really hard to go wrong purchasing any of today’s modern GPU’s, the more money you spend, the better your performance will be. Almost any modern GPU will outperform any integrated graphics or APU. You have your choice of an AMD or Nvidia, I have owned several from both manufacturers, but I tend to favor Nvidia. You will almost certainly develop you own brand favoritism at some point. There is no right or wrong answer. But that does not mean you can just pick a card out of a hat. Just because a card from Nvidia and a card from AMD share basically the same price, and roughly the same performance, that does not make them equal. That kind of mentality will end up getting you killed.
So why, oh why, did I choose Nvidia over AMD considering AMD just released their latest and greatest R9 3XX series cards? AMD’s R9 390 card’s feature a slightly higher price point, but feature a whopping 8GB of VRAM! It can slightly outperform the GTX 970 in most head to head competitions. So why did I choose Nvidia? This is where research comes into play.
Excluding driver preferences, It is a very simple answer. HDMI 2.0. Yes, I know, here we go again…but hear me out. Nvidia supports HDMI 2.0 and AMD does not. Why? Fuck if I know. I have absolutely no idea why AMD decided to leave out HDMI 2.0? But they did, and AMD fanboys out there should be pissed. This means that in order to attain [email protected], you MUST connect to a computer monitor via DisplayPort. AMD is basically saying, “fuck 4K TV’s, you need to use a PC monitor.” As of today, almost all 4K TV’s lack a DisplayPort input (Panasonic makes a 4K TV with DP). So if you are connecting to a 4K TV, [email protected] is the max you will ever get from this expensive card. That’s some bullshit. I don’t want that NOT to be an option for me. I am content gaming at 1080P right now, but I have seriously been considering purchasing a 40″ 4K TV to use as a monitor for my gaming/work PC.
MRW AMD does not include HDMI 2.0 support in their latest GPU’s.
Now, it is arguable that neither of these cards is really capable of gaming at 4K resolutions, but it greatly depends upon the game. Just because you have a 4K monitor/TV, you don’t have to play games at its native resolution. But, if you are looking to play high-end games at 4K resolution and above low settings, you will probably need to go with a dual GPU setup, CrossFire/SLI. The fact of the matter is this. If you need to connect to a 4K source via HDMI, Nvidia is the much better option until AMD gets their shit together.
Word on the street is that a DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 adapter is currently in development, although it is not scheduled to be unveiled until the 4th quarter of 2015, so your guess is as good as mine as to when you might actually be able to pick one up. There are also concerns with HDCP 2.2 (DisplayPort 1.2, the spec used on the newest AMD cards, does not support HDCP 2.2) and how all that will work with the new adapter. But this tiny glimmer of hope is not enough to sway me into purchasing an AMD GPU at this time. I’ll just stick with what I know will work today.
Graphics Card (Nano Review) – MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GB $315-350
If you want an HDMI 2.0 capable GPU, you’re going to have to fork over at least $170 for a GTX 960, or wait until lower end 900 series cards make an appearance. After a lot of through research, I decided on the MSI GTX 970 GAMING 100ME 4GB Twin Frozr V. It is probably the best received GTX 970 the market today, and I thought it delivered the best price/performance ratio of any GPU in my price range. I usually prefer EVGA (personal preference) if I am purchasing a Nvidia card. But I read about several issues people were having with coil whine, so I decided to go with the “safer” option. I’ll still stick with EVGA in the future, but I guess I’ll give MSI a chance this time.
The card itself is very attractive, I’m not all that thrilled with the color choice, but I don’t have a window on my gaming PC chassis, so I could really give a shit. But the card still looks cool, if that matters to you. There is also a nifty little green LED glowing dragon and MSI logo on the side of the card, which adds to the premium feel. There are also a red (4G), and a white (4GDT5) variation of the MSI GTX 970. The red is missing the awesome back plate that comes installed on the 100ME, otherwise the cards are virtually the same. The white has a slightly lower clock speed compared to the other two. Price differences aside, I don’t think you can go wrong, but as always, it’s up to you.
Overall, I gotta say that I am very impressed with the performance thus far. It beats the ever loving shit out of my old XFX AMD 7970. I fucking loathed that card, I had nothing but problems with it. It wouldn’t die, it would just continuously fuck up, then act normal, then fuck up again, absolutely no pattern. Even after an RMA, the exact same issues were present. So I just gave up completely. Compared to the AMD 7970, the GTX 970 is more powerful, draws way less power, runs cooler, and is about 20dB (maybe not that much, but it is very significant) quieter under load.
Here is a sample of the cards performance. This is Far Cry 4 at maxed out at 1080P. (Cant see any reason for the dip in the beginning, it runs at a very constant 60-70+ FPS)
If you are gaming at 1080P, possibly 1440P, you should have no problem running virtually any game on the market completely maxed out. This card is a fucking beast for the price.
I won’t get too crazy with a review of the card (maybe I’ll make an in-depth review at another time), but if you want an awesome, extremely detailed review of a very similar MSI GTX 970, check it out here.
Before we get to the install, let’s make sure our PC is up to the task.
Before you go spending a whole bunch of money on a brand new GPU, you need to take a look at your current setup. This is not optional. If you want optimal performance from your GPU, the rest of your PC needs to be up to the task. If you are going with a low to mid-range card, you don’t need to worry as much, lower end components usually require lower end specs, but it’s a good idea to take a look at your system regardless. You can still bottleneck a mid-range GPU with a shitty processor. Here’s what to look for.
First and foremost, check your CPU.
If you are still rocking an older, single/dual (sometimes quad) core Intel or AMD (especially AMD) processor and you are looking at the GTX 960,970, or 980. You probably should:
- Seriously consider building a new PC from the ground up
- Upgrade your motherboard, CPU, and/or RAM, and do a fresh install of your OS. AKA build a new machine.
Basically, if your CPU isn’t up to the task, you are going to seriously bottleneck your new GPU and drastically take away from its potential. Most CPU’s bottleneck the GPU in some way (there is always a faster processor capable of doing the job faster than your CPU), but there are varying degrees of slowdown that are acceptable. The difference between a Core I5 and I7 bottleneck can be a couple of frames depending how optimized the game is. It can also be a massive difference depending upon the age and capabilities of the two processors. This is called CPU scaling. Take a look at this chart to see what I am talking about. Even though the example is kind of old, the information is still relevant. You can clearly see that running a high-end GPU with a higher end processor is optimal. A shitty processor + an awesome GPU, not so much.
My personal recommendation, pick up a new Core I5 or I7 (I7 if you have extra money to burn, certainly beneficial, but not required for a gaming PC or HTPC). That should set you up for a few years.
Though often overlooked, I cannot stress enough how much a good quality PSU matters. If you are still rocking that 200W PSU that came with your E-machines shitbox, please do yourself a favor, just start over. Your PSU delivers power to your entire system. It is not something to take lightly. Investing in a good (80+) PSU will save you trouble in the long run.
Although not required, a beefier PSU won’t hurt anything.
Replacing your PSU can be a huge pain in the ass. It basically requires taking apart your entire system and re-routing all of your cables. It’s not something you really want to do all that often (with the exception being rebuilds and/or motherboard upgrades.) Take a good look at your GPU power requirements and make sure you meet or (preferably) exceed them.
For instance, the GPU I have selected requires a minimum of a 400W power supply. I am currently rocking an 850W Corsair 80+ Gold Modular PSU (link is for a similar model) (Highly recommended if you have a full/mid size chassis). This will provide awesome continuous power to my GPU and the rest of my PC with tons of room to spare should I ever think about doing an SLI (dual GPU) setup with this GTX 970. Don’t worry about purchasing a PSU that has some extra wattage to spare, you won’t be wasting electricity just because of the higher wattage, this is a common misconception about PSU’s. Your PC will only draw as much power as it requires, it’s best to have some wiggle room. A high-quality 80+ PSU will save you money in the long run. You can easily go overboard and pick up a 1000W PSU, but if you are running a simple, single GPU setup on a mostly normal PC, there really isn’t a point. But it’s your PC, so do what you want, it won’t hurt anything but your wallet.
This one is obvious. If you meet all of the above criteria, you need to make sure the damn thing will fit. You can check the size of your particular GPU virtually anywhere online. Take some measurements, and make sure your card will fit. Just because one card from a particular manufacturer doesn’t fit, that doesn’t necessarily mean a card from other manufacturers won’t. GPU’s can vary greatly in size and shape depending upon the manufacturer. For example, our card measures out at a very lengthy 10.6″. But there is a GTX 970 variation from Asus that comes in at a very short, and stubby 6.7″. Perfect for small ITX cases, just make sure you meet the height requirements (its a bit taller than normal).
Hop on over to the next page so we can finally get this SOB installed.
Reviews of the Best USB 3.0 Memory Card Readers
Memory card readers used to be a pretty simple technology. You plug in your memory card, connect the USB and you’re free to transfer files back and forth as you see fit. However, this technology has come a long way. Modern storage cards are extremely fast. They’re speedy enough that using a simple USB 2.0 slot will leave you wanting more.
As our digital media becomes more and more advanced, high speed memory card readers are becoming a necessity. With Cannons latest 5D, 4k video requires Gigabytes of data even for a short video. Why would anyone want to sit around and wait for hours just to transfer a quick video? With a high speed memory card reader, you can have access to your files in minutes.
If you’re shopping for a memory card reader online, you know that there are literally hundreds of options. However, many of the readers sold today are nothing more than rehashes of last year’s technology. If you’re looking for something that is modern and up to date, one of these modern memory card readers is sure to solve all of your high speed data transfer needs.
Kingston Digital USB 3.0 Hi-Speed Media Reader (FCR-HS4)
Ever since flash drives first hit the market, Kingston has been a market leader in portable storage technology. From flash memory to external hard drives to volatile RAM, they make virtually everything under the sun. Kingston tends to cater to the high end market. Sure, they have some affordable options. However, they have rarely released anything that didn’t offer competitive speed for the time.
If you’re looking for a memory card reader that does it all, Kingston’s Hi-Speed Media Reader is the one. The front has four slots for different types of memory cards. The top two slots are for SD cards. It supports both SDHC and SDXC, as well as the micro varieties of each. Many memory card readers only give you one slot, and expect you to keep an adapter for using the micro cards. Thanks to the mobile revolution, MicroSD cards are more popular than ever. Since most clients will be using the micro version, it’s not reasonable to expect users to carry around an adapter that’s roughly the size of their thumbnail just to use the most popular memory card format.
The SD format is fully backwards compatible with all older versions of the SD card. This means you can use vintage cards as small as 16MB. If you’re on the cutting edge, this reader will be able to support all future cards up to the theoretical maximum of 2TB.
The reader also supports popular compact flash cards. These cards are not quite as common as they used to be, but can still be found in high end photography and video equipment. At the moment, the maximum supported size for CF cards is 512 GB. However, these cards have the drive controller built right into the card, so it’s possible this reader can still support higher capacity cards in the future.
As a nice little bonus, the reader also supports Memory Stick cards. These cards are not as common as they used to be, but a lot of specialized equipment requires them. This has made Memory Stick readers particularly hard to find, and the fact that Kingston didn’t ignore the format shows that they are well aware of current marketplace trends.
This reader supports the latest UHS-I and UHS-II speed standards. This is spec 4.00 of the SD bus, and generally only reserved for the highest end SD cards. These cards can support a snappy 312 MB/S transfer rate – comparable to many common SSDs on the market. If you have no need for these high speed cards, there is no need to fret. The reader still supports all previous SD standards.
There is one common issue with USB devices. Because they are a buffered format, data does not simply transfer in a linear fashion. A device that is rated for 300MB/s, for example, will transfer this data for a few seconds and then require a pause while it re-buffers. Often you’ll see a memory card reader that is rated for a USB transfer rate comparable to the SD card read speed, so you think that everything is fine. However, in the real world, you find that your performance is worse than you expect. Fortunately, Kingston was able to resolve this problem simply by building the reader to handle much higher USB throughput than it’s read rate. A USB rating of 5 GB/s means that you’ll always be able to get the maximum speed out of your memory cards.
The Kingston Hi-Speed Media Reader is one flashy looking device. The brushed aluminum casing would have already been attractive enough for us, but Kingston had to take it to the next level with a cool looking honeycomb silk screen. The red logo and sharp, beveled edges certainly give it a look of authority not often found in such utilitarian devices.
Speaking of utilitarian, this card reader is super easy to use. All of the cards plug into the front, so you’re not reaching around to try and figure out which hole to shove your card into. The USB cable is removable, so it’s easy to pack up and move when you’re on the go.
Transcend USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader
Another company you’ll recognize from the face of your pen drive is Transcend. Unlike Kingston’s offerings, which tend to be overkill for the average consumer, Transcend tends to focus on value. Their Multi-Card Reader brings value in droves, with every common feature you need for a price you can afford.
Transcend’s card reader supports every common memory card format on the market. MicroSD as well as SDHC and SDXC are supported with their own independent ports along the top let you plug in either SD format without carrying around an adapter in most circumstances. Compact flash has its own port along the bottom, giving you options for pretty much any modern card. The only consideration is that high capacity cards are only supported in the large SDXC port. If you are using a 256gb or larger MicroSD card, you’ll have to have an adapter on hand to use the larger port. This probably won’t be an issue for most people, as these cards are rare and expensive. Should you need one, however, you can simply leave the adapter in the large port at all time, only removing it when you need to access a full size card.
The card reader is compatible with most common formats of high speed SD cards. This includes the zippy UHS-1 format, as well as UDMA7, and MSXC cards. This allows for a total bandwidth of about 150 MB/S on the faster cards. This means that it’s not the fastest reader on the market, but still significantly quicker than most external hard drives.
The look of the Transcend Multi-Card Reader is strikingly utilitarian. It’s easy to use, portable, and reasonably compact. However, there is no other way to describe the visual appeal of the reader other than “unassuming”.
Just like communist architecture, Transcend kept the design simple. They arranged the ports according to what would be easiest for consumers to use, and didn’t add any other visual elements. It’s simple, and looks like any other card reader on the market.
Anker USB 3.0 4-Slot Card Reader with Built in Cable
While Anker isn’t particularly well known in the portable storage market, they are very well known as a peripheral manufacturer. Anker makes products that are affordable, reliable, and portable. Although this memory card reader has the same external design as the previous generations, there are some serious upgrades under the hood for consumers who require near instant access to their data.
This Anker 4-Slot Card Reader supports MicroSD, Compact Flash, and SD cards right out of the box. There is a dedicated port for each type of memory card. But the ports aren’t the only thing that’s dedicated, as each reader has its own individual channel. This means that you can simultaneously read and write from all three card at the same time, with a fourth channel dedicated to transferring data between them.
This card reader also doesn’t require any additional power supply. You can run it exclusively from your USB port, saving you from having to find another plug and run cables everywhere.
Just like the Transcend reader, cards with a speed of up to UHS-I are supported. However, because there are up to four transfers that can take place at one time, the USB port is rated for the full 5GB/s supported by the USB 3.0 standard. While this isn’t the fastest reader on the market, very few people have UHS-II cards so this should suit most users’ needs accordingly.
Anker gave this card reader a simple, appealing design. While black plastic doesn’t seem particularly flashy, the polished top and slick looking logo really add a futuristic touch to an otherwise simple card reader.
Where the real design elements come into play is the portability of the device. The USB cable is attached, and very compact at only 0.4 ft. This means that you’ll never lose the cable, and it’s easy to cart around while you’re on the go. This design lends itself particularly well to laptop users, as you’d have to have it dangling off the front or back of a desktop.
So, Which High Speed Memory Card Reader Should I Get?
If you’re just looking for a simple card reader to transfer your family photos once a month, any of these readers would suit your needs. However, depending on your usage case one may be better than the other.
If you’re a speed demon, Kingston Hi-Speed Media Reader is absolutely the best choice. This card reader is among the fastest on the market, with speeds approaching that of high end SSDs. It’s important to remember, however, that the transfer rate will only be as fast as the card you use with it. If you’re just using standard SD cards, this reader might be overkill.
For the budget minded consumer, the Transcend USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader offers unbeatable value. There are very few readers on the market sold at such an affordable price.
If you’re on the go, consider the Anker USB 3.0 4-Slot Card Reader. This reader is ultra-compact, and includes a built in USB cable. This means that you’ll never be caught without a cable, and the easy to carry design lets it slip right into your pocket.
If you’re all about design, the Kingston card reader is absolutely the most attractive on our list. It would look great when paired with the latest MacBook pro, or one of HP’s media notebooks.
Rest assured, no matter which choice you make every one of these card readers will give you high speed access to all of your media files.