Sunday, August 3, 2008

PC Gaming Renaissance

I'm currently in the process of revamping the woefully out of date website. There'll be new pages detailing all our HD offerings and streaming video rather than cumbersome HD downloads. Tomorrow one TrueHD unit will be capturing the other in order to create videos showing the new system in action.
I can't be using Ridge Racer 7 to showcase 1080p capture for the rest of my life, so I knocked together a basic PC out of spare parts lurking in corners of the Digital Foundry lair, then bought a brand new 512MB nVidia 8800GT for a mere £90.
The results were spectacular and the revelation clear: for much the same price as a PlayStation 3, you can have a gaming machine that massively outperforms any current console. Devil May Cry 4 with 2x MSAA at 1080p60 is spectacular - an inordinate leap visually over the console versions. So-called system killer Crysis? Performance a touch choppy at 1080p with all settings on 'high', but still perfectly playable. Scale back to 720p and once again we have 60fps gameplay. Unreal Tournament 3 ran without a hitch at the full fat 1080p60 and predictably, blew the console versions out of the water graphically: over twice as much detail and double the frame rate.
The irony is that as pundits confidently predict the end of PC gaming, we've finally reached a point where basic PC technology is sufficient enough to feed consumer level HDTVs with a graphical experience far beyond what the set-in-stone, unupgradable consoles can achieve. In my view, there's never been a better time to get into PC gaming, and it needn't cost the earth...

A quartet of images derived from TrueHD 1080p60 captures using the CineForm encoder. Clockwise: Crysis (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PC), Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3) and finally Virtua Tennis 3 (PS3). Click on the thumbnails for full images.