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Xbox 360 Most Popular Games Of 2011

Microsoft has revealed the top 20 most popular games played on the Xbox 360 in 2011 based on numbers of unique users logged into Xbox LIVE (Silver and Gold members). Note that this gives a different result to the total playtime for a particular game, which has not been disclosed here. Unsurprisingly, the Call of Duty series dominates the chart, but what is sure to irk CoD detractors, but make fans very happy, is that a massive five of those positions are taken up by CoD – that's 25% of the rankings. Even CoD4: Modern Warfare which was released way back in 2007 sits at a very respectable number 14. However, top games Battlefield 3 and Skyrim did very well nonetheless, sitting at five and six respectively, with only Halo beating them at number 4. Can you guess which CoD game hit the top spot before looking at the chart?

The Most Pirated Games of 2011

Today Kotaku is reporting the top 5 games pirated for major platforms this year according to TorrentFreak. As usual the PC platform is the most guilty almost doubling in pirated copies then its competitors.

Some of the titles listed are not surprising but the lack of a certain title filled with dragon slaying is. Why Skyrim didn't make the top five is anyone's guess. Either Steam is in fact the most user friendly DRM or people just love Skyrim. Either way this is just a small glimpse into the world of pirated software.

Top Five Pirated PC Games

1. Crysis 2 (3,920,000) (March 2011)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (3,650,000) (November 2011)
3. Battlefield 3 (3,510,000) (October 2011)
4. FIFA 12 (3,390,000) (September 2011)
5. Portal 2 (3,240,000) (April 2011)Source: Kotaku

Christmas Special: The PC Technology of 2011

Welcome to the TechPowerUp 2011 PC technology Christmas special. We hope that you will enjoy reading it while tucking into your turkey, Christmas presents and a little too much wine... In this article, we go through the technology of 2011 that has had the most significance, the most impact and was generally the most talked about. It's not necessarily the best tech of 2011 which is the most significant though, since lemons can be just as significant as the ground-breakers in how they fail to deliver - and the backlash that goes with it.

January: Intel Sandy Bridge i5 & i7

Released on January 9th, the new Intel Core i5 & i7 processors were based on Intel's second generation Core architecture built on a 32 nm production process (HEXUS review). They included an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) physically on the same piece of silicon along with HyperThreading. These new dual and quad core processors soundly beat all previous generations of Intel processors in terms of processing performance, heat, power use, features and left AMD in the dust. Therefore, Intel badly needed some competition from AMD and unless you have been living under a rock, you will know how that turned out in October with the launch of Bulldozer. Sandy Bridge was a sound win and is generally considered to be the only architecture worth considering at this point. The i5-2500K is currently at the sweet spot of price/performance. It comes at a stock speed of 3.3 GHz, but typically overclocks to an amazing 4.5 - 5 GHz with a decent air cooler and without too much difficulty in getting there. Models in the budget i3 range were released at various times later. See this Wikipedia article for details.

Club3D Intros New GeForce GTX 570 Battlefield 3 Edition Graphics Card

Club3D introduced a new custom-design GeForce GTX 570 special-edition graphics card that's Battlefield 3-themed. Carrying the item code CGNX-X5780B, this card is based on a cost-effective GF110 in-house board design by Club3D, that includes a custom-design blue-colored PCB, and Club3D's CoolStream cooler, which uses a large aluminum fin heatsink to which heat is fed by copper heat pipes, and is ventilated by a single large temperature-controlled fan. The card sticks to reference clock speeds of 732 MHz core, 1464 MHz CUDA cores, and 950 MHz (3.80 GHz GDDR5 effective) memory. The GeForce GTX 570 features 480 CUDA cores, and 1280 MB of GDDR5 memory across a 320-bit wide memory interface. This special-edition package most likely includes a copy of the game. Pricing and availability information is not at hand.

Source: Club3D

Club 3D Announces GeForce GTX 560 Ti CoolStream with 2 GB Memory

Club 3D announced its newest performance-segment graphics card, the GTX 560 Ti CoolStream with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory (model: CGNX-XT5648). Based on the 40 nm GF-114 silicon, this card features 384 CUDA cores, and makes use of 2 GB of GDDR5 memory, double the standard memory amount, across a 256-bit wide memory interface. It sports a compact in-house PCB design by Club 3D, and is cooled by an in-house dual-fan cooling solution that makes use of heat pipes to convey heat through stacks of aluminum fins, which are then ventilated by two 80 mm fans.

The card features clock speeds of 822 MHz core, 1644 MHz CUDA cores, and 1002 MHz (4008 MHz effective) memory, sticking to NVIDIA reference speeds. The card is 2-way SLI capable, draws power from two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, and its display outputs include two DVI and a mini-HDMI. The new Club 3D GeForce GTX 560 Ti CoolStream 2 GB is expected to be priced at €245 or US $329, including taxes. Club 3D will also launch a special edition of this card that includes a license of Battlefield 3. The Battlefield 3 Edition variant will be priced at €265 or $355, including taxes.

NVIDIA GeForce 290.36 Beta Drivers Released

The latest beta drivers and the first in the 290 series have been released by NVIDIA today, supporting all graphics cards since the venerable 6-series. Their main new feature are official support for enabling ambient occlusion settings in the control panel separately for specific games and enabling NVIDIA Surround on the new X79 SLI-certified motherboards. Ambient occlusion (AO) is settable for uber-popular games The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. So, what does AO do? We'll let Andrew Burns of NVIDIA explain:
If you're unfamiliar with Ambient Occlusion, it is most easily described as a way to make in-game shadowing more realistic, and therefore better.
What he doesn't say of course, is how it kills your frame rate, especially on lower end hardware. Anyway, there's all the usual goodies in this release: 3D Vision game profiles for games such as MW3, Diablo 3 & LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (yes really). There's a HD audio update and nine fixes too, including one for random flickering of the Windows boot logo as it's loading or fading away and a fix for the mouse cursor flickering and shaking in games such as Crysis 2 & Deus Ex when SLI is enabled when using 3DTV Play. The NVIDIA product release page is here and they have a snazzy-looking driver selector here. The release notes follow.

AMD Rolls Out Catalyst 11.11a Performance Driver

AMD released its latest "performance driver" for Radeon graphics cards, the Catalyst 11.11a. With this release, AMD is using the term "performance driver" to refer to performance-enhancing Hotfix updates it launches between its scheduled monthly WHQL-signed updates. Catalyst 11.11a fixes some outstanding game-related bugs and improves performance and resolves driver-related bugs for a variety of recently-released titles such as Batman: Arkham City, Rage, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Battlefield 3. The rest of the driver is based on Catalyst 11.11.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.11a Performance Driver for Windows 7 or Vista | Windows XP

A list of changes follows.

NVIDIA SLI & Intel Core I7 Extreme Ed. CPUs Power World's Fastest Desktop Gaming PCs

NVIDIA today announced that system builders worldwide are now shipping the fastest PC gaming platforms ever built, thanks in part to NVIDIA SLI technology and the just-released Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processors and X79 chipset-based motherboards.

The combination of NVIDIA SLI technology -- which allows for multiple GPUs to run on a single PC -- and new X79-based motherboards allow gamers to customize their PC experience with up to four NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs, including the GeForce GTX 580 and GTX 570, the world's fastest DX11 GPUs. Licensed by the world's leading motherboard manufacturers -- including Intel, ASUS, ASRock, EVGA, Foxconn, Gigabyte and MSI, SLI technology is crucial for playing this year's hottest graphics-intensive games, such as the recently released Battlefield 3 and upcoming Batman: Arkham City with detail, resolution and immersion settings cranked up.

NVIDIA Investigates TDR Issues, Requests Sample Cards

Guru3D reports on a post from NVIDIA tech support on NVIDIA's forums regarding TDR issues (Timeout Detection & Recovery problem (display stopped responding but has successfully recovered)). These problems centre around Battlefield 3 and Windows Media Centre, which NVIDIA can't reproduce, so it looks like the problems may be with specific card models. NVIDIA rep ManuelG posted:

ASUS Bundles Battlefield 3 with Graphics Cards and Sound Cards

ASUS began bundling copies of Battlefield 3 (not Limited Edition) and an ASUS-Battlefield 3 themed Lanyard with GeForce GTX 560 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card and Xonar D2X PCI-Express 7.1 channel sound card. You can buy either of those and get a Battlefield 3 coupon that can be redeemed on Origin.

The GeForce GTX 560 Ti TOP will allow you to play Battlefield 3 at 1080p resolution with quite some eye-candy turned on. Its core is overclocked to 900 MHz (from NVIDIA reference speed of 820 MHz), and memory at 1050 MHz (4200 MHz GDDR5 effective). The DirectCU II cooler, ASUS claims, keeps the card 20% cooler than the reference heatsink. There is 1 GB of GDDR5 memory across a 256-bit wide memory interface. This GTX 560 Ti is based on the 40 nm GF114 silicon, packing 384 CUDA cores.

AMD Catalyst 11.10 WHQL Released

AMD today released its latest official version of Catalyst, a software suite that provides drivers for AMD/ATI Radeon graphics processors, A-Series APUs, 7-series and 8-series integrated graphics, and related system software. Catalyst 11.10 WHQL launched today has essentially the same change log as the 11.10 Preview 3 driver, except that it's WHQL-signed. Catalyst 11.10 WHQL is the driver to have when playing some of the latest titles such as Battlefield 3 and Rage.

Catalyst 11.10 WHQL brings in a few new features, too, such as support for 5x1 Eyefinity, with maximum resolution increased to 16000 x 16000 pixels on Radeon HD 6000 series GPUs, and in DirectX 11 applications, and improved Vision Engine Control Center / Catalyst Control Center applications (VECC is installed for A-Series APUs and Chipset IGPs, CCC is installed for discrete Radeon GPUs).

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.10 WHQL for Windows 7 and Vista 64-bit | Windows 7 and Vista 32-bit

Maingear Announces New Gaming PCs Powered by Intel Core i7-2700K Processor

MAINGEAR, an award-winning PC system builder offering custom desktops, notebooks, workstations and media centers, embraces the latest update to the Intel Sandybridge platform with the addition of Intel's Core i7 2700k to their SHIFT and F131 desktops.

The Intel Core i7 2700k is a quad-core processor that clocks at 3.5GHz with 3.9GHz Turbo Boost and integrates CPU, graphics, memory controller, PCI Express all on a single chip. This allows pc fanatics to have extreme gaming, amazing multimedia, ultimate flexibility and extreme overclocking. PC enthusiast and PC gamers looking for pure performance will be looking to the unlocked Intel Core i7-2700K to maximize their gaming experience. Combine this with MAINGEAR's EPIC liquid cooling solutions; gamers will have a silent and stable system no matter what game their waiting for such as EA's Battlefield 3 pc game.

ASUS Rampage IV Extreme Cometh

Here is ASUS' top of the line LGA2011 motherboard targeting the gamer-overclocker market, the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Rampage IV Extreme. This board offers all the expansion room and connectivity you'll ever need, plus a wealth of nifty features that help overclockers and ease incremental upgrades. To begin with, the Rampage IV Extreme employs a strong digital PWM circuitry that supports heavy voltage-assisted overclocking with Vdroop control.

The LGA2011 socket is wired to eight DDR3 DIMM slots (two per channel). CPU and memory VRM areas are located along three sides of the socket, all cooled by heatsinks that are connected by heat pipes. These VRM heatsinks share heat with the one over the X79 PCH, which is actively cooled by a fan.

Sapphire Celebrates Battlefield 3 Launch with Special Edition HD 6970 Graphics Card

Celebrating the launch of the much anticipated Battlefield 3 game, SAPPHIRE Technology is introducing the SAPPHIRE HD 6970 BF3 Special Edition - featuring two SAPPHIRE exclusive technologies, SAPPHIRE FleX and Vapor-X cooling as well as performance enhancing options for the enthusiast and access to a FREE copy of the full game!

The SAPPHIRE HD 6970 BF3 Special Edition is based on AMD’s award winning second generation DX 11 graphics engine with the powerful configuration of 1536 stream processors and 96 texture processing units delivering smooth and detailed graphics to the latest generation of games and applications. SAPPHIRE FleX technology allows the direct connection of three DVI monitors in Eyefinity mode without the need for special adapters, making it the simplest solution to multi-screen enjoyment, and the highly efficient SAPPHIRE Vapor-X cooling enables performance to be maximised whilst keeping noise levels low.

NVIDIA Releases Key WHQL-Signed Driver Update for Battlefield 3

NVIDIA released its latest set of WHQL-signed GeForce drivers, GeForce 285.58 WHQL for Windows XP, and GeForce 285.62 WHQL for Windows 7 and Vista. The new drivers bundle PhysX system software v9.11.06.21, and feature the following [very] important changes:
  • NVIDIA recommended driver for Battlefield, as it contains several performance and compatibility enhancements for the final release of the game.
  • NVIDIA recommended and enhanced driver for Batman: Arkham City and RAGE
  • Fixes reports of occasional driver timeouts while browsing the web
At the outset this is the driver to have before you unpack your copy of Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City, and RAGE, three of the biggest titles of this fall.

DOWNLOAD: GeForce WHQL 285.62 and WHQL 285.58

AMD Catalyst 11.10 Version 3 Preview Driver

The driver updates for Rage and the upcoming Battlefield 3 are coming thick and fast now, with every full and preview releases - great news for fans of these games. Note that the BF3 improvements are specified for the beta release, but should also apply to the release version and more will of course follow. Other improvements include Eyefinity 5x1 display implementation on Radeon 6000 & 5000 cards, along with CrossfireX interface enhancements. See the full rundown after the jump!

Battlefield 3 Torrent Leak: An Inside Job?

DICE's PC version has been leaked to various torrent sites almost two weeks before release on October 28th, with console versions being safe for now, DSOGaming reports. This is perhaps unsurprising because most, if not all high profile games are leaked early one way or another. It looks like it might have possibly been done by a retailer – but why would they risk reducing sales of the product like this? Perhaps a disgruntled employee? We can only speculate. Apparently, the single player campaign is fully playable and the file size weighs in at around 10GB.

The one thing that seems to hold true about such situations, as undesirable as they are, is that a game's success will be on its own merit, regardless of how much it has been downloaded illegally. No doubt though, however large the profits from this game turn out to be (and they're likely to be substantial for this triple A title) the publishers will complain that they would have been even bigger without piracy, but without being able to offer any actual proof of this, of course.

Source: DSOGaming

Battlefield 3 To Duke It Out With Modern Warfare 3 For Supremacy

BF3 and MW3 are both being released at nearly the same time, just a couple of weeks apart. Since they both target the same high-end gaming audience, there's going to be some very stiff competition indeed between the two games. What's interesting is the chest-beating that Patrick Liu, producer of developer DICE, is doing. He believes that BF3 will take on and make a severe dent in market share for MW3, although he admits that Activision will be hard to push aside:"From what I've seen of Modern Warfare 3 it looks great, as usual. I think we're going to put a huge dent, so to speak, in [Activision's] market, but they're a behemoth. It's not easy to move them... although I believe that we have already done that, with Battlefield 3's campaign so far. But at the same time, from a developer standpoint, we really focus on creating our own game and making the best that we can. We set the bar quite high for ourselves, and that's usually the biggest challenge for us." From the looks of it though, it looks like he wanted to set it even higher, but it would have taken too much time:"I know that the game is never actually done - we can always improve the game. We have lots of ideas on how to improve this, so if we could we would push Battlefield 3 back a year or two maybe. But that wouldn't make any sense. So the biggest challenge is really our own requirements for ourselves." Who wins the battle of the ratings remains to be seen.

Source: SPOnG

Modern Warfare 3 new trailer, Redemption SP. Graphics as good as BF3?

There’s a great new single player trailer just out for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It continues the story from the previous game and looks excellent, as you might expect. However, since it’s coming out at the same time as Battlefield 3, one can’t help compare the graphics quality between the two. MW3 seems to look like an evolutionary improvement, but still looks like "computer generated graphics", while BF3 appears to define a whole new level of realism which isn’t that hard to mistake for the real thing if it's not looked at closely. Go watch it over at Guru3D at 720p and decide for yourselves. Note that watching the video directly on YouTube requires a free account registration due to the strong nature of the content, but not on Guru3D.

Source: Guru3D

Mirror's Edge Fans Should Keep Holding Their Breath For The Sequel

Mirror’s Edge received good reviews when it was released and has been quite popular with gamers who unsurprisingly, want a sequel. This is especially important in the case of Mirror’s Edge, as this game is single player only, so it’s not something a gamer can come back to time after time. However, a sequel has never really been on the cards for Electronic Arts, since it didn’t sell as well as they had thought it should have and rejected a prototype ME2. Now, developer DICE have been busy with other projects such as upcoming blockbuster Battlefield 3, but good news could be on the horizon, since Electronic Arts are adamant that Mirror’s Edge is an important brand for their portfolio. SPOnG recently interviewed Patrick Liu from DICE and asked him if he thought that the games market would be receptive to Mirror’s Edge 2. He answered:
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s something that people are ready to get into again. We see that there’s a huge fan following, it’s almost like a cult! And we know what strengths we had, and what weaknesses we had in that game. If we were to release a new game, we’d know what to improve and how to reach a broader audience. So I definitely think there’s a market there.
Good news then for Mirror’s Edge cult members, err, fans, keep holding your breath!

Source: SPOnG
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