MSI RadeonHD R9 290x falls to… under $300?

Right then: real quick post. Yes, we are alive. Well, I’m alive. I posted about this on G+ already so this is a bit of a copy if you will.

One of the MSI RadeonHD R9 290x graphics cards is now being sold with a Mail-In-Rebate to come in at $280(us). This is staggering price drop given that the model’s previous price point was close to $400(us). This price drop places the R9 290x substantially less expensive than the $550 average selling price of the nearest direct Nvidia competitor; the still recently released Geforce GTX 980. The pricing also places the 290x below the $330~$350 average selling price of the Geforce GTX 970. Fair enough; there are some caveats.

Caveat #1: The R9 290x was released in October 2013; so it’s not exactly a new card. It has a thermal envelope of nigh on 300 watts; the Nvidia GTX 970 and 980 have thermal envelopes of 145 and 165.  So the 290x will deliver a significant amount of additional heat for the same rendering; as well as requiring a significantly beefier power-supply. Off the cuff calculations suggest at least a 750-watt power supply with dedicated 8-pin PCIE cables against current Intel I5 processors or AMD’s recent AM3+ and FM2+ processors.

Caveat #2: I’m not entirely sold on the noise level. MSI’s marketing blurbs claim their dual-fan solution will be whisper quiet while maintaining the 1ghz reference clock-speed. I’m not exactly sold on this, because, well, those who have been reading Gamenikki for years know that my opinion of MSI is generally something that is not fit to print. Still, I’m always willing to give a vendor another chance to shine.

Caveat #3: The R9 290 series of cards will not be covered under AMD’s planned merged driver for Linux systems. Those looking forward to playing games like Dying Light or Borderlands on Linux might be better off sticking with Nvidia chips. Yes that is a partial shot at trying to get Dying Light working on my own RadeonHD 7770 card…

Anyways; with those caveats aside $280 for a RadeonHD R9 290x is a  stupidly good price. I’ve reached to MSI’s marketing department to see if they have a comment on exactly why they’ve undershot the GTX 970. Right now my guess is that AMD’s Pirate Island chips might be closer to retail release than expected.

2014 in Review: A Top Five List

Before I really kick this off, some standard caveats apply. First, this list is by no means exhaustive. It merely reflects the best of what I’ve played. As a corollary, this list doesn’t even try to represent all platforms – it reflects the best of what I’ve played, which is in turn limited by my access to a given platform, as well as my affinity for a given genre. Clear? Good. Onward! Continue reading

Review: Rollers of the Realm

In Atlus’ approximately 30 years as a video game publisher, their releases have been all over the place. While the majority of that list is comprised of games I’ve never heard of, some have been titles with which I’m familiar, such as the Persona series; some have been games I wanted to play but never did, as with the GameCube’s Cubivore; and some have been games I never knew I wanted until I got my hands on them, as with the original Disgaea and the PlayStation 3′s Legend of Zelda love letter, 3D Dot Game Heroes. Continue reading

Theory: “Super WiiU” in 2015?

By now it is not exactly a secret that the WiiU just hasn’t been selling. Titles that Nintendo considered to be high profile franchises; such as Pikmin, Wonderful 101, Wind Waker, Donkey Kong Country, and Mario Kart;  have not driven sustained sales momentum. Even the absolutely fantastic Super Mario 3D World didn’t really ignite the sales charts. Of course the theories or explanations for the lack of WiiU sales success vary; ranging from consumer confusion over the lack of differences between the Wii and the WiiU; the lack of actual heavy hitter titles that moved previous consoles like Smash Brothers; lack of third-party support; or an actual new open-exploration Mario, Metroid, or Zelda. Still, Nintendo has to do something to change the tides… and that something might have already been witnessed in the Nintendo 3DS.  Continue reading

HeroCrate: When Veterans Meet Pop Culture

Spend any time listening to sports talk radio, and you will no doubt hear commercials for armed forces veteran support groups. The common theme: our veterans made personal sacrifices for their country, and now it’s time to help them settle back into civilian life, find jobs, and so forth.

To be sure, transitioning back to the civilian work force is a challenge even for veterans who bear only mild physical and emotional impacts from their time at war. So it’s always neat to see a veteran not only successfully make that transition, but to do so in a unique way. Continue reading

EXT filesystem to remain supported on Chromebooks

Last year Google engineers quietly made plans to remove support for the EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4 filesystems from ChromeOS as shipped on retail Chromebooks. The plans were set into motion and finalized on September of this year (2014) in Issue 315401:

Then Google’s engineers suddenly got a rude awakening as the message board lit up with actual users taking collective flamethrowers to the collective rear ends of the Google Engineers in question. Various posts raised questions from the legal, ethical, and/or moral implications of relying on proprietary-licensed filesystems from Microsoft; to pointing out that a significant portion of the developer base attracted to Chromebooks relied on non-deprecated filesystems.    I managed to get a shot in as well, noting that I had just recently blasted Sony for not supporting the EXT file system on Playstation devices.

A few posts seemed to suggest that the volume labeling excuse was a bit shifty. A quick test of my own and various FAT formatted SD cards were incapable of accepting volume labels; while every EXT formatted SD card was capable of accepting a volume label. Admittedly this was using Partition Manager, but still, the Issue 274041 that was used as the reason for the change seems to ignore functions EXT4 supports.

Anyways, a thread lock later… and the white flag was waved by an account appearing to belong to Chromium Developer Jared Duke. No hard date has been set for when EXT support will be re-exposed… but given the volatile reaction… I’d honestly expect a turn around time of a few days; if not a few hours. If not a change having propagated by the time this post goes live.

Granted, bringing support back still won’t change other issues with ChromeOS and external storage. One such problem is the lack of an automatic function to enable applications to launch from SD cards. While it is possible to install a GNU/Linux using utilities like Crouton; and then modify the resulting chroot environment to enable application launches from SD cards; such changes are lost as soon as the SD card is removed or the entire system rebooted. The end result is that many current Linux supported games through Valve’s Steam… must be installed to the primary ChromeOS drive… which on most devices is rather tiny. Hopefully the surrender to the downstream audience over supporting EXT at all will lead to some more work that will actually benefit the userbase… not torque it off.

Microsoft wastes $2.5 Billion US Dollars: On Mojang

I honestly didn’t think I’d be making a post here at all on this subject. It was simply too ludicrous a concept to contemplate. After the very recent acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft which turned into a veritable blood-bath as employees were cut in one of the largest layoffs by Microsoft to date… one would have thought that future Microsoft acquisitions would have entailed a certain amount of due-diligence. Not to mention then on-going legal fight between HP and former executives from Autonomy which has the rest of the tech industry seriously rethinking how software only companies are valued…

So when I heard that Microsoft was looking to buy Mojang for $2 billion US dollars… I laughed.

Really. I laughed:

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Don’t expect a Destiny review Soon(tm)

Yes, #Destiny did hit yesterday. Yes. I spent most of yesterday not actually playing it because of network disconnections. Yes, I will quote myself from July 15th:

Assuming that the sales projections mooted by Sony and Activision are accurate I would expect an already significant investment into server resources just for the Playstation beta aloneI think it might be a good idea to place those resources under a sustained player load during the month leading to launch… not just in month before the month that is before the launch.

However… the network disconnections are not why I won’t be posting a Destiny review… at least not for a while. Curious as to why? Well. Read on for an edited version of a post that went into the G+ thread from the PR handlers at Playstation:  Continue reading

Microsoft get’s Desperate: Free “Destiny” with Xbox One

Originally… I wasn’t going to post on this subject. That Microsoft has had a less than stellar first year with the Xbox One is a news piece more stale than fast food french fries after 10 minutes on the table. Anecdotal evidence in the form of sales discrepancies from end-user retailers; vast sales gulfs ranging from 2:1 to 3:1 ratios in tracked third party software released on other platforms; and claiming shipped units as sold units are just the tip of the ice berg. The performance of the Xbox Franchise has been so… disastrous… that Microsoft outright shuttered the aggressive video-content production teams and abandoned Kinect. Even those maneuvers were not enough as Microsoft is still fending off yet more rumors that the Xbox Franchise is back up for sale… yet again.

So at some point… something had to change. Which it did.

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