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    LDK got a reaction from Mirh in Double click problem: faulty mouse button repair   
    If you are experienced PC player, you have probably came across a broken or malfunctioning mouse. We are going to look at the unwanted double-click problem and provide detailed guide with many macro photos and video how to fix it regardless of mouse model. Without any soldering and with just basic tools you can bring back to life your older or aging, but once expensive, gaming mouse.
    The problem
    Double-clicking in single click, inability to create continuous line in paint application, difficulty to move camera in RTS, iron sights not sticking in FPS - these are all symptoms of a broken mouse button. Culprit in majority of cases is a component called miniature snap-action switch, or micro switch. This switch contains three leads and a metal with little spring. This metal is jumping between two contacts thanks to the spring and bridging connection between contacts.
    This spring can become tired so it isn't providing pressure necessary to maintain connection. With combination of dirt (dust) and oxidation on the contact areas, it is a perfect recipe for unstable connection and unwanted double clicks.

    Fig. 1 - types of micro switches  
    Tools and tips
    You will need:
    screw driver (type depends on your mouse model, Phillips and flat head should be enough tweezers safety pin, nail scissors or something pointy contacts cleaner or rubbing alcohol any type of glue camera (cellphone will suffice) little bit of time Tips:
    Make several photos of each step, it will help you tremendously in reassembly. Don't use much force, there can be hidden screws or latches and you will break something if you are not careful. Disconnect your mouse from computer and pull out batteries first. Take your time, you do not have be finished in ten minutes. Every photo in this guide is in high resolution, visit gallery for additional details. And as usual, PCGamingWiki is not responsible for any damages caused by following this guide. 1. Mouse disassemble
    This step is unfortunately rather vague, because of each mouse having vastly different design. Be extra careful and look for hidden latches and screws when pulling parts apart.
    First of all you have to find screws on your mouse. Usual places are under rubber feet, in battery compartment and under stickers. Consult Google with a name of your mouse and word "disassemble".

    Fig. 2 - possible screw locations  
    After getting rid of all the screws, upper part of the mouse should come apart. Now it is a good time to clean any oil and dirt from many crevices in the upper cover with rubbing alcohol or soap water (in case upper cover does not contain any electronics). Let it dry thoroughly. Example of mouse insides are displayed on figure 3.

    Fig. 3 - Logitech MX700 without cover  
    Now look for micro switches that needs fixing. You have to have clear access to them in order to properly fix them so additional disassemble could be required. Usually there are few screws, that holds everything to the plastic base, internal connectors, scroll wheel, that can be easily put away etc. In some cases there can be hard connection between boards that cannot be non destructively disassembled. Again take a lot of photos during your work for future reference.
    For example in figure 3, Logitech MX700 is very complicated mouse with three layers of PCB's, two of which has soldered hard connection (4 pins directly above scroll wheel and on the left of D-3 component) and soldered flat cable between two other (upper right corner, white cable). There are five fixable switches on this mouse and three unfixable.
    Vast majority of manufacturers are using Omron type switches for main buttons (see figure 1 and 4). There is a possibility of finding smaller, four pin surface mounted switches, that cannot be opened and repaired without soldering. These can be also found in Xbox 360 controller.

    Fig. 4 - Omron type micro switch  
    3. Opening the micro switch
    So you have located faulty switch and ensured enough access to it. Opening it is fairly straight forward. There are usually two latches, that has to be lifted separately (figure 5). Some manufacturers has these latches on the long sides of the switch (figure 1).

    Fig. 5 - location of latches on the Omron micro switch  
    Insert your open safety pin or point of scissors under the latch to unlock it and lift one side of the switch cover slightly (figure 6). Do not try to lift whole cover up just yet, you'll break the second latch.

    Fig. 6 - one latch unlocked and cover slightly lifted  
    Do the same on the other side of the switch so you'll get situation displayed on figure 7. Rotate the mouse (or part with the switch) so the white pin on the top of the switch is pointing down.

    Fig. 7 - both latches unlocked and both sides of cover slightly lifted  
    Now you can pull cover away from the base. The white pin is loose in the cover and can be easily lost if not handled upside down. At the end, you'll end up with situation displayed in figure 8.

    Fig. 8 - uncovered switch and detail of the white pin  
    4. Metal spring fun
    You can see insides of the switch. The part, that needs fixing, is the long metal with spring in the middle and It needs to come of the rest of the switch. This is another not very difficult task, lay the switch flat, as shown on figure 8, hold the part without the spring with two fingers and twist the metal to the side. It should go fairly easily and you'll end up with bare metal with spring (upper left side of figure 9).

    Fig. 9 - Metal with spring and prying spring  
    As the fix itself you'll need to pry the spring little bit. Lay the metal piece flat, hold it as flat possible with tweezers and pry the spring up just a little bit. There is very little strength required, just fraction of a millimeter should be enough. Clean the contacts on the metal with alcohol, do the same with pins on the base of the switch.
    Now for the tricky part: you have to put it back together. See figure 10 in full resolution for more details. There are two grooves on the two metal pins on the base of the switch (numbered 1 and 2 on the figure 10). These grooves are corresponding with cutouts on the metal, also numbered 1 and 2. The hammer needs to go between two most right pins.

    Fig. 10 - grooves on contacts and metal spring detail  
    The easiest way I've found is to place the hammer first, then place the metal into the groove 1. Spring is resting on the middle pin, just above groove number 2. Situation on the top left, top right and bottom right part of figure 11.

    Fig. 11 - reassembling metal with spring on the switch base  
    Now for seating the spring into its groove. Take the tweezers or small screw driver and push the spring down into its place (rest of figure 11). This is especially tricky move, as you have to push with enough force to push it down, but not enough to over push. If you over do it, you'll have to start over. When you manage to seat the metal properly, try to click it few times so you know, it is working OK. Seated metal is displayed on figure 12.

    Fig. 12 - properly seated metal spring on the switch base  
    Whole process of opening and fixing the switch is captured on a video. Be sure to turn on HD for best details.
    4. Testing and reassembly
    Close the switch and make sure, you are putting the cover the right way. White pin should not be directly above the spring. Consult your photos for proper orientation. Unfortunately you have to fully reassemble your mouse to do proper testing. Screws are putting the right amount of pressure on the micro switches and without them you could get another faulty clicks.
    Sometimes sound of the click and force needed to achieve button press can change slightly depending of force used on prying the spring. Try to open it again if you are not satisfied with results.
    The best way to test success of the fix is in any paint application. Create a blank document, pick any color and create any random shape with the button, you've just fixed. You should get continuous line if the fix is successful. Glue back the rubber feet and enjoy your fixed mouse.

    View full article
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    LDK got a reaction from Blackbird in PC Report: Fallout 4   
    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Fallout 4 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
    The Fallout 4 is the next title in a series of a very popular post-apocalyptic RPG's developed by Bethesda Game Studios. The game key was generously provided by Gamesplanet. We are going to look at the technical quality of the PC version of the game.
    System Requirements

    CPU: Intel Core i5-2300 2.8 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 GHz RAM: 8 GB HDD: 30 GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti or AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB of VRAM OS: Windows 7, 64bit Recommended
    CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 3.6 GHz or AMD FX-9590 4.7 GHz RAM: 8 GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X, 3GB (Nvidia), 4GB (AMD) of VRAM The system requirements for Fallout 4 are a little bit on the demanding side. A quad core CPU is a must and the GPUs are from the older mainstream range. Recommended specs are even more demanding with high-end CPUs and GPUs. 
    All the tests were done on a system with a Core i7-2700k clocked to 4.6GHz, 32 GB RAM and AMD R9 390 with 8GB of VRAM, Catalyst 15.11 Beta graphics drivers and version of the game. Testing was done at 1920x1200, and because there is no built-in benchmarking tool, a test run consisted of one minute of playing the game in one of the larger cities and included a short fight with a pack of ghouls. This resulted in very consistent frame rate measurements so only two measurements were averaged for each effect.

    Graphics settings

    Most of the graphics settings have to be set in the launcher. This is rather inconvenient because there are very few graphical options directly in the game. Other that that the launcher offers a fairly standard arsenal of graphical settings and a few presets. The game has also auto detection system that sets options during the first launch of the game. A nice addition are the Windowed and Windowed borderless toggles.

    Field of View and wide screen setups
    Field of view is locked in low 80's by default and there is no direct option to change it from the game. Players have to edit configuration files to set a comfortable field of view.
    Same applies for ultra-wide and surround resolutions as these are not directly supported. Again, configuration files needs to be edited and even that can hide some of the GUI elements, thus rendering the game unplayable.
    For easy configuration file editing and tweaking a special configuration utility can be used.


    Overall performance and image quality
    Fallout 4 offers four image quality presets - Low, Medium, High and Ultra. There is only a 3% difference in performance between Low and Medium. High preset has a more significant performance drop of 33% and Ultra costs almost 40% of Low's framerate.
    The framerate is limited to 60 FPS by default, unlocking it via editing .ini files will unfortunately cause problems, as the game logic and physics are tied to the framerate. I've experienced severe framerate drops in major cities where the game's framerate seemingly randomly falls from 100 FPS to sub 30 FPS.
    The game also loads very slowly on mechanical hard-drives. The loading times were around 30-40 seconds, after moving the game on SSD loading times dropped significantly to only few seconds.
    During my testing I've found only one effect (Shadow Distance) to have significant performance impact on the game. Even the dreaded over-tessellated god-rays effect led only to a 4% drop in FPS. The rest of the effects have negligible or non-existent performance cost so I'm not going to include all the graphs here. Feel free to browse through the measurements though.

    Visual quality on the Low preset is nothing special, shadows are visibly low resolution and cut not far from camera, vegetation is shown only very close to the player and textures are not very sharp. Medium preset improves shadow resolution and cutoff distance of vegetation. High preset further improves vegetation cutoff distance and increases cutoff for shadows and the scene seems to be less flat. Ultra preset further increases render distance. Overall the game doesn't look particularly impressive visually and the renamed Gamebryo engine very clearly shows its age. Full resolution screenshots: Low, Medium, High, Ultra.


    Texture Quality
    Texture quality controls the texture resolution and can be set in three steps - Medium, High and Ultra. Visual difference between High and Ultra is very small and performance impact wasn't clearly measurable. The textures are not very sharp to begin with so there is definitely room for improvement. Full resolution screenshots: Medium, High, Ultra.


    Shadow Distance
    Shadow Distance setting controls cutoff distance of the shadows and is the most demanding effect in the game. High setting causes almost 30% framerate drop, Ultra costs another 2% on top of that. Full resolution screenshots: Medium, High, Ultra.


    The game offers only two anti-aliasing methods and these are only post process filters FXAA and TXAA. Both have major visual impact and horribly blurs the whole scene, vegetation lose its definition, broken lines are kept broken, textures are slightly blurred as well. At least these effects has only 3% performance impact. Full resolution screenshots: No AA, FXAA, TXAA.

    The game doesn't offer very large controls options. Mouse sensitivity can be set and the keys can be remapped but there are major problems with controls in Fallout 4. First of all there are multiple actions on one key that doesn't make sense and will cause trouble. Melee attack shares button with a Throw grenade function for example. There is also a system of favorites weapons and items, but slots are locked to the number keys and cannot be remapped. Scroll wheel also cannot be remapped (to navigating favorites for example) and controls camera distance which I find fairly useless.
    There is a mouse acceleration turned on by default and can be turned off only by editing an .ini files.
    Pip-Boy and GUI navigation is nothing short of a disaster. I was expecting it to be bad as horrible controls are Bethesda's trademark but this is a whole new level of awful. Nothing is consistent after more that 20 hours of playing I still have to think really hard about what key is doing what in the menus. For example, exiting or going back a menu is sometimes Tab, sometimes it's E and sometimes it is Esc. Worst is the settlement building option which suddenly has you using the arrow keys and the game doesn't even hint that Shift WSAD can be also used. Alternative GUI mod cannot arrive soon enough.
    On top of that tutorial is almost non-existent and fairly important game mechanics are never explained like VATS or how to assign settlers to jobs.

    Fallout 4 offers fairly standard audio options with many volume sliders. The game supports surround sound setups up to 7.1 and audio sound fairly good with one exception though. Voices have very low volume outside of cutscenes and very often are inaudible when speaking character is more than few meters away.

    Fallout 4 suffers from heavy consolitidis. The underlying game is fun and the world is rich but visually the game looks unimpressive and old, almost like modded Fallout 3. Performance is not terrible overall but there are framerate drops suggesting optimization issues, almost none of the graphics settings has any meaningful performance impact on the game.
    Keyboard and mouse controls are awful and should be redesigned from the ground up. Many of core PC features like FoV, widescreen support or unlocked framerate are absent and has to be edited in via configuration files. Another six month of polishing would greatly benefited the game, but obviously Bethesda is counting on modders to fix the game for free and that is not a good sign.
    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Fallout 4 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

    Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed our article and want to us create more articles, more often, please consider donating to PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign:

    Click here to view the article
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    LDK got a reaction from Mirh in PC Report: Killing Floor 2   
    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Killing Floor 2 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
    Killing Floor 2 is a continuation of a very popular coop zombie shooter from Tripwire Interactive. The game is just entering Early Access and we are going to take a look at its performance and overall technical quality.
    System Requirements

    CPU: Core 2 Duo E8200 2.66GHz or Phenom II X2 545 RAM: 3 GB RAM HDD: 10 GB GPU: GeForce GTS 250 or Radeon HD 4830 OS: Win7 64-bit, Win8/8.1 64-bit Recommended
    CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz or Phenom II X4 955 RAM: 4 GB RAM GPU: GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6950 System requirements seems to be very reasonable, minimum required CPU is a just dual core and a rather old one. Similar story with required GPU, which is very old mainstream. Recommended specs are little bit more demanding, as a quad core and a newer GPU is needed, but again nothing anywhere close to the current high-end hardware. 
    All the tests have been done on system with Core i7-2700k clocked to 4.5GHz, 32 GB RAM and HD 6870 with 1GB of VRAM, Killing Floor 2 version was 1003, Catalyst version 15.3 Beta. Testing was done in a 1650x1050 resolution, the game doesn't offer benchmark tool, so test run was me playing the first round in a solo mode on the Burning Paris map and killing all zombies which took about one minute. Each effect was tested three times and results were averaged to eliminate inconsistencies between each run.

    Graphics settings

    Graphics settings menu offers wide variety of effects and setting to tweak. Some of the effects require restarting the game, so set them before you enter an online match. These effects are: Environment Detail, FX, Realtime Reflections and Shadow Quality. Other effects can be adjusted on the fly with immediate effect, but I've restarted the game after each change for benchmarks just to be sure.
    Killing Floor 2 supports any resolution, some more exotic ones can be accessed by switching Aspect Ratio to Any. The game supports Borderless, Windowed and Fullscreen modes, and Variable Framerate can be turned on for high refresh rate displays. I've encountered slight problem when lowering resolutions, but restarting game fixed it.

    Field of View
    Field of View slider is hidden under Game Settings options menu. It doesn't say exact degree of field of view, there is percentage adjustment instead with 100% - 125% range. Killing Floor 2 apparently uses vertical implementation of field of view. This implementation works much better on a variety of aspect ratios, ultra wide monitors and AMD Eyefinity or Nvidia Surround setups. Bellow you can see two comparisons, upper one is the game's field of view on ordinary 16:10 aspect ratio screen, lower one is field of view behavior on ultra wide screen. Even when slider is set to 125% on both cases, ultra wide screen properly offers more visibility. Surprisingly there was no measurable impact on framerate. Full resolution screenshots: 16:10@100%, 16:10@125%, 21:9@100%, 21:9@125%.


    Overall performance and image quality
    Killing Floor 2 offers four image quality presets - Low, Medium, High and Ultra. On the Low preset the game performed very well and the framerate rarely fell under 100 FPS. Switching to the Medium setting framerate dropped 30%, same drop was when the High setting was used. The Ultra preset offers the best image quality, but with severe framerate impact of 40% from High and more than 70% from Low setting. The game's performance scales very well with each preset.

    Performance also scales fairly well although not linearly. Doubling the resolution from 1280x800 to 2560x1600 results in 62% framerate drop.

    Image quality even on the Low settings is very good. Lighting is dynamic, some textures are blurry and there are only basic reflections. On the other hand, the Ultra setting have textures very sharp even on 1600p, environment has more objects and realtime reflections are also present and very apparent. Below are comparisons from three currently available maps. Full resolution screenshots: Paris Low, Paris Medium, Paris High, Paris Ultra; Outpost Low, Outpost Medium, Outpost High, Outpost Ultra; Lab Low, Lab Medium, Lab High, Lab Ultra.



    Controls settings menu in the Killing Floor 2 offers basic mouse sensitivity settings, there is no mouse acceleration or smoothing toggle, but I haven't felt any additional mouse processing and aiming seems to be very precise. Keyboard binding menu offers basic key binds, only one key per action can be set. There was an issue with Caps Lock key, the key was binded to the Voice Chat by default and cannot be binded to anything else unless Voice Chat action is binded to other key first.
    Controllers are also supported, but buttons cannot be reassigned.

    Killing Floor 2 Audio Options menu offers three volume sliders for Game, Music and Voice Chat volume. The game supports surround sound setups and positional audio worked flawlessly on my 7.1 system. The audio quality is exceptionally good, the everything sounds very authentic. Killing Floor 2 is probably taking distance of the sound source and applying some filters on it for added realism. I was very surprised how good the game sounds.

    Performance analysis
    In this section we are going to look at how each effect impacts framerate and how does each setting looks on screenshots. Be sure to check full resolution uncompressed PNGs linked in each section. There are full resolution screenshots linked in each section for better comparisons as the images in the sliders are compressed. Be sure to check our gallery for additional screenshots and graphs.

    Ambient Occlusion
    Killing Floor 2 offers two ambient occlusion methods - SSAO and HBAO . SSAO adds very subtle shadows to the corners and around some objects. HBAO is much more pronoun and these shadows are much more noticeable. Full resolution screenshots: AO Off, SSAO, HBAO.

    Performance impact is around 10% for SSAO and almost 30% for HBAO from Off setting. As usual this is rather performance expensive effect, but not very noticeable with SSAO setting.

    Texture Resolution
    This setting affects quality of textures and can be adjusted in four levels. On Low setting some textures are very blurry and lacks any detail (glove on the screenshot for example), but other textures are surprisingly sharp and detailed even on Low. Larger quality boost comes with the High setting and the textures are obviously the sharpest at Ultra setting. Full resolution screenshots: scene 1 Low, Medium, High, Ultra; scene 2 Low, Medium, High, Ultra.

    Performance impact depends highly on amount of VRAM available, average framerate drop is only around 5% for each additional level. But heavy stuttering started to appear with High setting on my 1GB card.

    Shadow Quality
    Killing Floor 2 offers four levels of Shadow Quality settings. Each level increases resolution and view distance of the shadows. At Low setting some of the shadows are barely visible and the rest is very blurry. With each additional settings level, shadows are much nicer, sharper and farther visible. Full resolution screenshots: Low, Medium, High, Ultra.

    As usual, shadows have substantial impact on the performance. Medium setting causes around 7% framerate drop, High setting costs 16% and the most expensive Ultra setting costs 20% of performance.

    Environment Detail
    This settings affects how many objects are in the game world. These objects have no impact on the gameplay, usually they are there just for decoration (chairs, garbage..). Full resolution screenshots: Low, Medium, High, Ultra.

    Performance impact wasn't measurable, This is probably due to the fast CPU in the test rig. I'd imagine this setting will have much more pronoun impact on dual cores and CPU with weak single core performance.

    Character Detail
    Character Detail setting affects model's level of detail. Polygon count is higher with each setting level, but it is not very noticeable directly in the game. Full resolution screenshots: Low, High, Ultra.

    Performance impact of Character Detail was only 5% for High setting and 8% for Ultra setting.

    Texture Filtering
    Texture filtering offers few filtering methods, unfortunately I haven't noticed any difference. There should be massive reduction of blurring on a distant textures, but the textures looks exactly the same. Performance impact is negligible for all but Anisotropic 16x setting where it is 13%. Full resolution screenshots: Bilinear, Trilinear, Anisotropic 4x, Anisotropic 16x.

    Depth of Field
    Depth of field setting offers only Off and On options. If turned On, DoF just blurs the gun when aiming down the sights. I'd like to see more of the blurring dependant on distance from player, but otherwise I much prefer this implementation. Some games have DoF forced on everything that is little bit farther from the camera just to hide horrible low resolution models or billboards however Killing Floor 2 is using DoF correctly. Performance impact is around 7%. Full resolution screenshots: Off, SAT DOF.

    Killing Floor 2 offers only FXAA as its anti-aliasing method. This is only post processing filter and not a proper anti aliasing method. Fortunately KF2 implementation is done fairly well and jaggies are moderately blurred without impacting sharpens of the textures. Performance impact is around 9%. Full resolution screenshots: Off, FXAA.

    Realtime Reflections and rest of the effects
    Realtime reflections adds reflections on some surfaces. This effects is very performance expensive, but it is well worth it as the game's world becomes much more realistic. This is the most demanding effect in the game, turning reflections On results in more than 40% framerate drop. Full resolution screenshots: scene 1 Off, On; scene 2 Off, On.
    Rest of the effects have negligible performance impact and I haven't noticed any visual difference.

    PC version of Killing Floor 2 is very well done. The option menus are offering many setting to play with, controls are spot on and the sounds are awesome. Optimization is also very good as the game scales nicely and performs well. For a game, that is just entering Early Access, this is very polished product. Developers are actively pushing updates (I've downloaded two large updates just last week) and if first Killing Floor taught us anything, devs are not going to abandon Killing Floor 2 anytime soon.
    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Killing Floor 2 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

    Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed our article and want to us create more articles, more often, please consider donating to PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign:

    Click here to view the article
  4. Like
    LDK got a reaction from Marioysikax in Use "Documents" instead of "My Documents"   
    "%USERPROFILE%\My Documents\" does not working in localized Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (Czech localization) whereas "%USERPROFILE%\Documents\" works, so I am for replacing My Documents with Documents
  5. Like
    LDK got a reaction from Nicereddy in PC Report guide   
    This article is a rough guide on how to write PC Report articles. Here you'll find information about proper article structure, benchmarking process, screenshots, graphs and more. Also this should be taken only as a guide and not set of rules. Write the article as you like, just make sure it properly describes quality of a game port.
    PC Report article should follow this structure, but don't be afraid to include or exclude sections as you see fit. When in doubt, see older articles for examples.
    Teaser paragraph - PC Report series introduction (copy two lines in cursive from older article) plus little bit about the game and what should reader expect in the article. System requirements - lists of minimum and recommended hardware specs and short commentary. If benchmarks are included in the article, state hardware specs of the machine and how the testing was conducted (built-in benchmark, custom demo, run through the game - which map...) Video settings - screenshot of video settings menu and short description. Be sure to mention lack of features like field of view slider in first/third person games, lack of resolutions in mobile ports etc. FoV should have its subsection here if applicable. Performance analysis - benchmarks and comparisons of main effects. Be sure to include at least overall performance, quality comparison and few words about optimization if you are not doing all the effects. Linking (not embedding!) full resolution screenshots in PNG format is recommended. Controls - screenshot of controls menu and its description. Mouse and keyboard implementation is the main focus here so be sure to test mouse acceleration and keyboard customization. Controller support and screenshot of its mapping can be also included. Audio settings - screenshots of audio setting. Be sure to check subtitles, closed captions options and volume sliders. If it is possible, test surround sound support. Conclusion - closing thoughts and overall summary of the article. Here you can repeat significant weaknesses and strengths. Benchmarking
    Benchmarks are a great way to figure out performance load of each graphical setting, but it is rather time consuming. The key in benchmarking is repeatability: each pass has to return consistent results withing usual 2-3% margin of error. Use build-in benchmark when possible.
    When build-in benchmark is not available, you'll have to create your own by playing one segment of the game over and over again. Choosing this segment is very tricky. It has to represent performance load through the game and if possible it should contain wide variety of effects (smoke, water reflections, dust, cloth simulations...), but be ready to change your benchmarking segment to test specific effects (water reflections cannot be tested in scene without water for example).
    Segment should be at least one minute long. Cutscenes can be very good for this purpose, but make sure there are no significant performance spikes (framerate drops to zero when loading next scene or shoots up to hundreds when only black screen is displayed) and scene is sufficiently long.
    When no suitable cutscene is found, benchmark has to be from direct playthrough. So choose level/mission, that represents overall game performance and play through minute or two. Then reload and repeat. For example benchmark in AC4:BF was me running from one viewpoint in one large city to another during daytime. I had to wait during the nights and different weather patterns because these runs would have very different results. Little easier was CoD:G, where suitable scene was the very first mission. Player is forced to run in a strict path and everything is exploding around.
    When suitable benchmarking scene is selected, make a few test runs to see, if your results are consistent. If they are, you can begin testing. Fraps has benchmarking tools, but feel free to use any other applications that can capture average framerate.
    Another important thing to watch out is framerate limiters so be sure to disable vertical synchronization when testing. When a game has a internal framerate limiter, you'll have to capture average GPU utilization from GPU-Z or another application. This will show you average GPU load from which you can figure out performance impact of each effect. For example a game has limiter to 30FPS, average GPU utilization is 43%. Enabling MSAA 4x keeps framerate on 30, but rises utilization to 51% so there is almost 20% performance impact.
    After collecting all necessary data, put average framerates into the graph and make sure, everything is described. Template with some automation can be downloaded from here. It contains blank tables for several effects, automatic difference calculation between settings and automatic generation of graphs. Graph generation is probably compatible only with MS Excel 2007 and newer.

    Feel free to create your own graphs completely different from this in case you've captured something interesting and this type of graph is not sufficient (frame times for example). However do not use elevated start on Y axis, start should be always zero!

    Screenshots are very useful tool to show difference (or lack of) in selected settings so be sure to include them in your article. All images can be uploaded into our gallery, just create a new gallery. Do not use article Attachments as there is a 500kB limit restriction.
    The best way to show difference is by embedding screenshot comparison slider:
    [compimg]image_1_address.jpg|image_2_address.jpg|864|540|Image 1 description|Image 2 description[/compimg]Addresses can be obtained by navigating to the specific image page in the gallery, right-clicking on the image and selecting "Direct link to this image file". Do not use full resolution screenshots as they will be scaled to 864 x 540 px resolution anyway and it would just unnecessarily bloat article size. If you want to show full resolution screenshots, upload its PNGs to the gallery and link it directly from the text. 
    GUI and menu screenshots should be also scaled and/or cropped to 800 px width if possible.
    [imgG][sharedmedia=gallery:images:1000][/imgG]Important image sizes:Article header resolution - 600 x 300 px Screenshots in slider - 864 x 540 px Anti aliasing comparison width - 800 px Important image formats:JPEG, JPG - lossy format, small size but loss of fine details, works well for menu screenshots and rough quality comparisons. PNG - lossless format that preserves pixel accuracy but for a price of a large file size on screenshots with a lots of details. Very small size on screenshots that contains windows dialogs. BMP - Fraps default output format, pixel accurate, but very large file size. Never use BMP. Anti aliasing comparison
    If the game directly supports anti aliasing, it would be good to show differences between each method:

    And this is how you can make one in Photoshop:
    First you have to find a static scene where you can show each AA technique on the same sample. Important is to include wide variety of angles as some methods does not work well on angles around 0° and 90°. Create all screenshots here without moving camera. Import all screenshots into image editor as a layers, name your layers by used method. Find high contrast edge with several suitable angles - tree branches, wooden planks against bright sky... Make sure to select polygon edge and not texture map with transparency because normally used AA doesn't work on these (leaves, wire mesh in a fence..). Align all layers to compensate slight camera movement if necessary. Make selection of the sample and copy-paste it to the new document. Do not move selection and copy-paste rest of the samples from other layers. Repeat for texture samples as nowadays many AA methods feature horrible texture blur. Align all samples next to each other - this will be final product. Select Image and Image Size (Alt-Ctrl-I). Insert appropriate width, make sure that Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are checked and switch resample algorithm from the Bicubic to the Nearest Neighbor. This will scale up all the samples and preserves original pixels shape and boundaries - doesn't blur anything. Insert labels for each AA method, save as PNG (important!) and upload to the gallery. Size of the sample is also very important because you are enlarging very small pixels to be clearly visible. Basically you are limited by 800 px width of final picture as larger images are scaled down by IP Board and you don't want that. Another thing to consider is how many AA methods is in the game or you want to include in one row. Do not forget to include sample without AA! 
    Now the fun starts - you want to only double or quadruple initial sample resolution. Only that way you'll get perfect pixel accuracy - one pixel will scale to four or eight pixels.
    So from above example I have 6 different samples in 800 px width. That is roughly 133 px horizontal for final sample resolution. 132 divided by 4 is 33 and this is initial horizontal resolution of the sample. Vertical resolution is chosen appropriately from that size. From that example one sample has initial resolution of 33 x 50, that is scaled to 132 x 200. Twelve samples in two rows and you'll get final 800 x 200 px resolution.
    Number of samples and their initial sizes, two rows of samples:
    1 - 200x50 5 - 40x502 - 100x50 6 - 33x503 - 66x50 7 - 28x504 - 50x50 8 - 25x50 Recommended applications
    Here are few recommended applications. Free versions are linked.
    Screenshots, benchmarks - Fraps, GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner, RadeonPro. CPU, memory utilization, process information - Process Explorer Image editing - Adobe Photoshop, GIMP Graphs - MS Excel, LibreOffice PNG optimizer - PNGGauntlet Cheat sheet
    [h2]System Requirements[/h2][h3]Minimum[/h3][LIST][*][b]CPU:[/b][/*][*][b]RAM:[/b][/*][*][b]HDD:[/b][/*][*][b]GPU:[/b][/*][*][b]OS:[/b][/*][/LIST][h3]Recommended[/h3][LIST][*][b]CPU:[/b][/*][*][b]RAM:[/b][/*][*][b]GPU:[/b][/*][/LIST][h2]Graphics settings[/h2][h2]Performance analysis[/h2][h2][/h2][h2]Controls[/h2][h2]Audio[/h2][h2]Conclusion[/h2][i]PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of <game> fixes and improvements, please visit its respective [url=http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Pillars_of_Eternity]PCGamingWiki article[/url].[/i] [center]Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed our article and want to us create more articles, more often, please consider donating to [url=http://www.patreon.com/PCGamingWiki]PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign[/url]:[/center][center][youtube]  
    Click here to view the article
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    LDK got a reaction from Garrett in PC Report: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag   
    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
    Every new gaming season a few series are returning with iron regularity and this season is no different. The Assassin's Creed series belongs to this group and this year is returning with a new title called Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. In this article we are going to analyze the PC version of this multi-platform title - how each graphical effect impacts framerate, how the controls are and the overall quality of the PC port.
    System requirements
    MinimumCPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 @ 2.6 GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 620 @ 2.6 GHz RAM: 2 GB HDD: 30 GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 260, AMD Radeon HD 4870; 512 MB of VRAM, Shader model 4.0 support RecommendedCPU: Intel Core i5 2400S @ 2.5 GHz or AMD Phenom II x4 940 @ 3.0 GHz RAM: 4 GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 470, AMD Radeon HD 5850; 1 GB of VRAM, Shader model 5.0 support Minimum system requirements are very modest, it is probably due to the fact the game is also being released on current gen consoles. There are even reports, that the game is playable on older cards like GeForce 9600GT (source). Even the recommended requirements are nothing to be afraid of. The recommended GPUs are more than three generations old and the required CPU clock is in laptop range. 
    Testing was done on a system with Core i7 clocked to 4.5 GHz, 32 GB RAM and AMD Radeon HD 6870 in 1920x1200 resolution. Unfortunately there is no build-in benchmark so I had to test directly in-game. My benchmark consists of running from one viewpoint in Nassau to another during daytime. The game locks framerate to 63 FPS and there is no way to unlock it. Because of it many values would be higher without the lock because in a few cases, I've hit the 63 FPS limit.
    For detailed comparisons of all graphical effects there are many full resolution screenshots linked in this article. These screenshots are in lossless PNG format and each is around 4MB. Click with caution.

    CPU utilization
    In the section above you'll find the game requires a quad core CPU, however it turned out that the game is capable of running on a dual core system without any significant performance impact.

    Here is a list of active threads in the main process. The most CPU time is taken by one main thread, around 12%, which is one core of an eight core system. The second most demanding thread is the GPU driver, around 5%. The rest of the interesting threads are a few 1% threads that presumably take care of AI, sound, physics etc. Cumulative CPU time of these is around 7%, which when combined with the GPU driver thread is also 12% and is the second core.

    This is how performance is spread over all cores. One main thread on the first core and rest on the other cores. CPU utilization is around 33%.

    The game is behaving a little bit differently on quad core systems. Load is spread over all cores evenly with no change of CPU utilization.

    When affinity is lowered to only two cores, the load is also balanced evenly between them. There is a 10% loss of CPU utilization.

    And finally the game running on a single core system will utilize one whole core which is no surprise.

    From the graph above it is clear that Assassin's Creed IV can be run on dual core systems without any performance hit. On single core systems there is a rather large drop so the game really needs at least a dual core CPU.

    Video settings
    The graphics option menu in Assassin's Creed IV features few items that can be tweaked. The shadow setting is very rich in that it features seven different levels of shadow quality. Anti-aliasing is similar due to how it contains five AA methods for AMD cards and eleven methods for Nvidia cards.

    Some of these effects and their impact are explained in this video. Bear in mind that it is promotional material so the final look of the game can be very different.

    There are unfortunately a few rather important settings missing. There is no aspect ratio option resulting in letterboxing on every aspect ratio other than16:9. Black bars are even present on AMD Eyefinity or Nvidia Surround systems which is surprising as this wasn't a problem in Assassin's Creed III.
    There is also no native option for triple buffering resulting in unnecessary framerate loss when vertical synchronization is turned on.
    There is no field of view setting. This wasn't a problem in the previous games in the series as the default field of view isn't set very narrow. However, Assassin's Creed IV contains first person sections where field of view is awfully narrow and makes the game practically unplayable for many players. Although the majority of the game is in third person with a reasonable field of view, this is still a problem.

    Assassin's Creed IV runs on a DirectX 11 renderer. Its engine, AnvilNext, has been used in the last game in the series so it should be a little bit more optimized as the developers are more experienced with this technology. Porting was done again by the Ubisoft Kiev studio that has done the not-very-good ports of Ghost Recon and Assassin's Creed III.

    There are no presets so testing was done with everything on lowest and then everything on highest without anti-aliasing. On the lowest settings the average framerate was 52.5 FPS with 45 minimum. On the highest settings the framerate was more than halved, 22.2 FPS with 16 minimum.

    As you can see from the screenshots, maximum details looks significantly better. The sea has real time reflections, building LOD is not that aggressive and there are generally many more details in the scene. Original screenshots: scene 1 low, scene 1 max, scene 2 low, scene 2 max.

    Environment quality
    This setting controls foliage and LOD of buildings. On the lowest setting there is no grass and the leaves on the trees disappear pretty close to the protagonist. On normal and high settings grass appears and the buildings are significantly more detailed. Original screenshots: very low, normal, very high.

    The performance impact is not very noticeable, only around 8% from low to normal and from normal to high, so there is practically no difference.


    Texture quality
    Texture quality should control texture resolution, but I was unable to find any visual difference. Another strange thing with this option is its performance. There is no difference in performance between low and high settings but there is a 5% FPS drop on the normal setting. I have repeated the test several times with the same results and I can't figure out why it is behaving this way. The fact that there is no visual impact could mean that this setting is either improperly implemented or is simply bugged. Original screenshots: low, normal, high.



    Assassin's Creed IV features a very rich amount of anti-aliasing options, some of which are unfortunately available only on Nvidia cards and I was not able to test those as my rig has an AMD card in it.

    As usual, anti-aliasing is a very power hungry effect. The two post-process filters, FXAA and SMAA, offer a very small performance drop of 8%. The true anti-aliasing option, MSAA, has a much larger FPS drop with almost 60% on MSAA 8x.

    The results are very disappointing as every tested method completely blurs whole image and causes a large loss of details on the textures. FXAA is the worst as usual, some jaggies are softer but fine details on the textures are gone and disconnected lines stays disconnected. MSAA offers the best anti-aliasing and there are no disconnected lines as this method works with subpixels and locally enlarges resolution thus adding geometry details. Unfortunately MSAA also blurs textures which should not happen.
    Results with SMAA really surprised me. This method blurs sharp edges and gets rid of disconnected lines and although there is apparent texture blurring, it is not as bad as the other methods. As usual original screenshots: no aa, fxaa, smaa, msaa 2x, msaa 4x, msaa 8x.
    I'm be interested in the Nvidia specific anti-aliasing methods, so if someone could take screens in .PNG format and upload it to any file locker, I will create a similar comparison.

    Another very rich option menu is shadows with seven different settings of shadows all in two categories, normal shadows and soft shadows. Soft shadows have their edges a little bit blurred to add a more realistic effect, while with higher settings the shadow resolution is increased. Original screenshots: low, normal, high, very high, soft low, soft normal, soft high.

    The performance impact is not very large at first. From normal shadows up to high quality there is only about a 3% FPS drop but the very high setting will cost you 15% of performance. Soft shadows are much more demanding. Setting soft shadows on low will result in an 18% FPS drop with the highest settings a 29% FPS drop.


    Reflection quality
    This effect can dramatically change how the game looks as it introduces real-time reflections on water surfaces. It can be turned off or set to normal or high. The high setting just increases the draw distance of the reflections and does not affect their quality. Original screenshots: rain off, rain normal, rain high, sunny off, sunny normal, sunny high.

    Surprisingly, I have not observed a significant framerate drop. I have even changed my benchmarking route to include much more ocean than my standard route but I had the same results.


    Ambient occlusions
    Assassin's Creed IV has three ambient occlusion settings, SSAO and two levels of HBAO. Both of these techniques add very subtle shadows around corners and even SSAO looks very nice. HBAO on low is only visible in direct comparison and I wasn't able to notice it in the game. On the other hand, HBAO on high is much more visible and looks better than SSAO. Original screenshots: AO off, SSAO, HBAO low, HBAO high.

    Performance-wise, this is usually a very expensive effect, but the implementation in the game results in only a 13% FPS loss on SSAO and 18% on HBAO on high.


    God rays and volumetric fog
    The god rays effect enables sun shafts in the game. On the low settings, it isn't very visible, but on the high setting, it is a very different story. The performance drop is quite large on the highest setting, around 18%.
    I haven't noticed any dramatic changes when enabling volumetric fog. According to the technical showcase video linked above, it should add much better smoke and fog during sea battles, but it seemed very similar to me. The FPS drop is around 9%.


    Assassin's Creed IV supports controllers and mouse and keyboard. Default controls for keyboard and mouse are changed from the last title as usual so returning keyboard and mouse players will be little bit confused. Keyboard can be remapped with exception of Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock keys. Only one key can be bound to the action. Weapons select wheel has been removed completely and weapons and tools can be selected by numeric keys, while mouse wheel controls tool selection, and one key can be assigned to cycle thru weapons.
    Mouse settings features X and Y axis sensitivities, both axis can be also reverted. Unfortunately there is slight positive mouse acceleration in the third person mode and slight negative acceleration when character is aiming with a gun. Both accelerations are present even if acceleration is disabled in operating system.

    Xbox 360 controller works fairly well but its mapping cannot be changed.


    Sound option menu does not offer much setting for tweaking. There are three volume slider, toggle for crew singing. Language setting is interesting though: you can choose different languages for menu, subtitles and spoken language.
    Surround sound support is also present but only with 5.1 system limitation. Sound quality is on par with current titles but sometime audio get out of sync in cutscenes.


    I would consider Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag an average PC port. CPU optimization could be better, GPU optimization is done fairly well and I have not encounter any major problems, there are reports about bad performance on some systems though. Lack of field of view setting and letterboxing isn't something to be really proud of, same with mouse acceleration, blurry anti-aliasing and framerate lock. On the other hand the game looks very good even on the lowest settings and performs very well.
    Click here to view the article
  7. Like
    LDK got a reaction from Garrett in Single screen multi-player   
    There is already a site that maps cooperative games: http://www.co-optimus.com/system/4/pc.html
  8. Like
    LDK got a reaction from Nicereddy in Port Report: Shadow Warrior   
    Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Shadow Warriors' fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
    Shadow Warrior is a reboot of a long forgotten FPS action game of the same name from year 1997. This new version is developed by Flying Wild Hog, and they are aiming to be faithful to its predecessor, bring back old school design with emphasis on fast-paced shooting, lots of enemies, no cover mechanics and many weapons available all the time. This article will look at the technical aspects of the game, mainly performance, options and overall technical quality. You will also find several benchmarks for every performance heavy effect so you know how to set your game to run perfectly. Shadow Warrior is being released on September 26th, 2013 for Windows, and will be available through several digital distribution channels, including Steam and GOG.com.
    System requirements
    CPU: 2.4 Ghz Dual Core RAM: 2 GB HDD: 8 GB GPU: Radeon 3870, GeForce 8800 GT or better Maximum
    CPU: Core 2 Quad 8200 or Phenom X4 9950 RAM: 4 GB HDD: 8 GB GPU: Radeon 4890, GeForce GTX 460 or better Testing was done on a system with Core i7 clocked to 4.5 GHz, 32 GB RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 6870 in 1920x1200 resolution. Download size is slightly under 7GB, with the same amount of space occupied on the HDD. 

    Video settings
    Shadow Warrior is based on the Road Hog Engine developed by Flying Wild Hog studio. It was used in their previous game, Hard Reset, and it is making a return with some tweaks and new effects. There is no launcher and everything can be set directly from the game without restarting, something that is not very common and developers deserve to be praised. Menu and its content is very similar to the last Road Hog Engine game with the addition of two new effects - ambient occlusion and mirrors, which will be talked about later in more detail.
    This menu features a lot of settings that will make every PC enthusiast happy. If you feel overwhelmed, feel free to use one of four preset setting: LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH and ULTRA.

    Field of view
    Shadow Warrior features a vertical field of view slider with a default value of 65 degrees, going up to 90 degrees. As this is vertical field of view implementation, this range should be enough even for multi-monitor setups. Unfortunately there is no field of view entry in the configuration files, so you can't set it manually. This may be related to the issue that field of view setting is not saved between sessions, so you will have to set it every time you start the game. But this probably will be fixed later, as we had an early copy of the game.


    The game seemed to me rather well optimized, with some very performance hungry effects. Performance scales properly between each preset, in order to cover most of the different systems. With the LOW preset, you can get even higher FPS if you turn everything completely off, as some effects are just set to LOW.
    The game is very dependent on graphics card and CPU speed does not matter that much. On my system CPU utilization was around 8% (apart from more common 12-15% that single threaded games usually use), with one main and one secondary thread. GPU utilization was at 95% and more all the time, with the exception of loading screens and menus. VRAM was nearly full (950MB) and for advanced effects (AO, AA) you'll definitely need more than 1GB of VRAM. System memory use was more subtle, with the game taking around 1.5GB of RAM



    The game has three different anti-aliasing solutions (and an option to turn AA completely off, of course). Nowadays very popular blur filter aka FXAA is here as a recommended setting as it has the least performance impact (around 2%) but you will lose some sharpness on the textures. Next is first proper anti aliasing - FSAA 2x. Sacrificing around 30% performance you'll get basic edge smoothing. Last but the best is FSAA 4x that will cost you roughly 50% of performance.

    As you can see, performance drop is significant but quality is comparable with FXAA method of anti aliasing. You will sacrifice a little bit of texture quality by choosing FXAA but gain considerable performance boost. See comparison of each method:


    Ambient occlusion
    Screen space ambient occlusion is a new feature in Road Hog Engine and, as usual, there is a significant frame rate drop when you enable it. The game offers four setting, going from OFF to ULTRA, but no preset uses OFF so change it manually if you have problems with the frame rate.
    Between OFF and LOW there is a considerable drop in performance - around 10%, after that each option will cost you another 2-5% until you get to ULTRA, where you lose another 20-30%. Recommendation is to set it to HIGH, unless you have performance to spare.


    In the past, shadows were one of the performance killers. This is not the case anymore, and in many current games shadows do not have large impact on the frame rate, and Shadow Warrior is not an exception. You can set shadows to one of three levels - LOW, MEDIUM and HIGH, where each step will mean 1-5% drop in FPS.



    Brand new effect that is rarely seen in current generation of games. It basically creating real time reflections effect in glossy surfaces like a water surface, blood pools and metallic objects. Because game has to render much more of the game scene, performance drop is rather significant - 25-35% and is enabled only in ULTRA preset, unless you set it manually. There is no fine tweaking and you can just turn this effect on or off.
    I've run into some problems with this effect causing flickering of reflections. It will be probably fixed by developers or in drivers in the future so if you see flickering of water surface, turn Mirrors off and wait for a fix.



    Shadow Warrior supports game pads and classic mouse and keyboard combo. Mouse does not have acceleration even if you have it set in you OS, you can set its smoothing, sensitivity and inversion though.
    Tip: see our Mouse acceleration article to learn difference between smoothing and acceleration.
    Actions on the keyboard can be rebinded to your liking with two keys assigned to one action.

    Xbox 360 controller is supported from the get go and you can tweak sensitivities, aim assist, inversion and vibrations. Under layout you will find what action is binded to what button and set left-handed mode for sticks and buttons, triggers layout can be set to reverse. Hot plug is also supported.


    The game supports auto-detection of speaker configuration from your OS and its result is shown under Audio options. I haven't got any problems with it, the game correctly detected all my speakers and started using them properly. If you encounter problems, you can force stereo mode. Apart from this there are three volume sliders for global, music and voice. Subtitles can be found under Game Settings menu.


    A long lost feature called quick-saving is back! The game lets the player save anywhere they want, even in the middle of combat. There is also checkpoint system that works very well and maps your progress through the game. All saves are accessible via the Load game menu and all saved games are divided by difficulty and chapter to avoid clutter.

    Shadow Warrior is a fine example of how a PC release should look like. The game features plenty of options for players to fiddle with, field of view slider included, and performance problems can be easily solved by turning some demanding effects down or completely off. I haven't run into serious technical issues and apart from few nuisances the game runs as it should.
    Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Shadow Warriors' fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
    Click here to view the article
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