Picture of Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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Digital FoundryJust Cause 4 has next-level physics - but does it run smoothly?

An early look at the PC version, with consoles to follow.

We're closing in on the launch of Avalanche's Just Cause 4 - a game that looks to push the series' signature open world and remarkable physics systems to a new level, which begs the question... what's the score with performance? Just Cause 3 is our go-to game for testing CPU limitations on consoles, while the PC version launched with severe loading time problems and obvious driver issues for Radeon cards, which took some time to resolve. Based on what we've seen of the sequel so far, we should be in for a smoother ride this time around.

Two years on from its initial launch and PlayStation 4 Pro has been quietly tweaked once again, with new hardware that sees Sony revisiting the super-charged console with a new design that improves once again on the machine's perennial noise problem. The work pays off because this is quietest, most discreet Pro yet, completely banishing the 'jet engine' effect commonly associated with launch models.

Digital FoundryNvidia GeForce RTX 2070 review: a good GPU - and potentially a great one

The DF verdict on the latest - and cheapest - Turing graphics card.

It's weeks on from the launch of RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti and despite the lack of any games that utilise Nvidia's state-of-the-art ray tracing or DLSS features, the roll-out of the new Turing cards continues. The RTX 2070 has some pretty big shoes to fill, as the green team's xx70 cards are traditionally so compelling: the GTX 970 was one of the best price-vs-performance products of all-time, while the GTX 1070 may have been pricier, but delivered performance that inched ahead of the prior-gen Maxwell Titan. On the face of it, the RTX 2070's charms aren't so obvious, but it's still a good product and in time, I suspect it may well become a great one.

Intel has been marketing the new Core i9 9900K as the fastest gaming CPU money can buy - and while a massive amount of controversy has surrounded the accuracy of pre-release benchmarks, the logic is sound. After all, the existing Core i7 8700K holds the title, ahead of its Ryzen 7 2700X competition. The new 9900K adds two additional cores and four threads, while boosting frequencies and increasing cache - improving on the 8700K in every way. Going into this review, my only question was this: to what extent do games actually make use of the additional resources? After all, the 8700K was already a performance monster, and arguably under-utilised. Do we actually need more gaming power?

It's no coincidence that less than one week after Google announced Project Stream, Microsoft has broken cover with more details on its own streaming platform, dubbed Project xCloud. The core idea behind both platforms is the same - and very familiar to longer term readers of this site. Rather than buy a console and play games on it, titles are hosted on the cloud instead. The user has a basic client device that beams input commands over the internet, with video and audio streamed back. The concept is simple - Netflix for games - but the application is somewhat more challenging. Prior attempts at getting this to work have fallen flat but Microsoft, Google - and other unannounced players - reckon that the time is right for the technology to work.

Digital FoundryMSI GS65 Stealth review: the ultimate all-in-one laptop?

Games machine, ultrabook... heavy duty 4K editing workstation?

Have we reached the point where high-end laptop technology has evolved to the point where one machine can cover the majority of potential use-case scenarios? Can the latest thin and light machines featuring six-core Intel processors and Nvidia's GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU replace your games machine and your ultrabook - while delivering enough CPU horsepower to work as a high-end 4K video editing workstation? In a multi-month experiment, we put MSI's GS65 Stealth laptop to the test, with some fascinating results.

Digital FoundryBatman: Arkham Knight PC revisited - can today's best hardware deliver 4K at 60fps?

Cutting-edge PC tech takes on one of PC's most notorious ports.

This is a challenge for Nvidia's new top-tier RTX hardware that's very, very different from the usual benchmarks and gameplay tests - is it actually possible to run the deeply flawed PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight at 4K resolution at a smooth, locked 60fps? Three years on from its highly controversial launch, has the quality of the port improved at all? Can the latest mainstream PC technology attain the consistent performance level that has traditionally eluded this most baffling of ports? And perhaps more to the point - why return to Arkham Knight at all?

What if PC hardware manufacturers fully embraced the kind of smart upscaling technologies now commonplace on consoles? It's a topic I've explored in the past, but with Nvidia's new deep learning super-sampling - DLSS - we have a reconstruction technology with full hardware acceleration, producing some remarkable results. Indeed, based on a Final Fantasy 15 demo we've had access to, DLSS is increasing performance by 40 per cent and in some respects, it's actually improving image quality.

It took Nvidia ten years to finalise the real-time ray tracing technology found within the new GeForce RTX cards, but alas, reviewers were given just five days to review what genuinely stakes a claim as next-generation graphics hardware. We'll be updating this review in due course with further data, but what we can show you today is just how powerful the new offerings are in relation to their predecessors and to give an inkling of what the new Turing architecture can deliver in terms of brand new features. And it is only an inkling - Turing offers real-time ray tracing technology and potentially game-changing, performance enhancing image reconstruction techniques - but right now, no games are on the market that use them.

Digital FoundryHands-on with the Subor Z-Plus: AMD tech tested in new Chinese console

How powerful is it - and how does it stack up against PS4 Pro?

AMD processors combining x86 CPUs and Radeon GPU technology have defined the current era of console gaming, but what if these small form factor boxes were wide-open devices, capable of running Windows 10 and PC games? And what if the under-powered Jaguar CPU cores were replaced with Ryzen instead for improved processing power? Last month, Chinese manufacturer Zhongshan Subor unveiled its Z Plus machine, which ticks all of those boxes - and I've spent the last week experimenting with an early production unit.

Nintendo's Gamescom line-up confirms once again that Switch is a superb handheld games machine with a growing range of impressive titles. During the show, Digital Foundry got the chance to go hands-on with both the Diablo 3 Eternal Collection and Dark Souls Remastered running in handheld mode - and there's off-screen footage on this page showing how well these games are shaping up.

Digital FoundryNvidia reveals GeForce RTX 2080 performance numbers

It's not just about ray tracing - there are big frame-rate increases.

Nvidia has released first benchmarks for the GeForce RTX 2080, based on its new Turing architecture. The company's numbers suggest that the new card delivers circa 2x the performance of the last-gen GTX 1080 on certain games. Much of this remarkable gen-on-gen leap is derived via new Nvidia technology called DLSS - deep learning super-sampling. The same benchmarks running without the technique in play, along with titles not supporting DLSS, show performance increases more along the lines of 30 to 50 per cent, with select titles posting even higher increases.

Digital FoundryNvidia GeForce GTX 1050 3GB review: the best budget graphics card?

A cut-back design offers up surprisingly decent performance.

Snuck out a few weeks back, the GeForce GTX 1050 3GB has been met with some degree of bafflement and bewilderment from the PC hardware press, but choose the right model - like the Gigabyte example reviewed here - and you have the best entry-level budget GPU on the market. As things stand, our only major criticism of the vanilla GTX 1050 is its meagre 2GB of framebuffer memory - not enough for console-quality textures on many games. This revised model beefs up processing power and adds that crucial extra gig of RAM, but it comes with a sting in the tail - memory bandwidth drops significantly, meaning a performance penalty in some games.

Digital FoundryHands-on with the deluxe PS4 Pro 500 Million Limited Edition

Plus: are new Pros quieter than launch consoles?

As a piece of hardware designed for the core gamer and die-hard fan, it's been a little surprising how little Sony has leveraged PlayStation 4 Pro in terms of ultra-desirable, collector-centric special release consoles - a situation it aims to put right with the imminent release of the 500 Million Limited Edition, a Ł450 offering that combines a super-deluxe translucent machine with a range of upgrades and bespoke peripherals, including a 2TB hard drive, matching Dual Shock 4 and PlayStation Camera, plus vertical stand. Having received a unit on loan for a short time last week, it's a seriously desirable piece of hardware.

The arrival of Fortnite on Android completes the set - Epic's remarkable cross-play juggernaut is now available on pretty much every games-capable device running a modern GPU. We've looked at the console and iOS versions in the past, but with the Android release, we wanted to take a closer look at how Fortnite looks and runs across a gamut of mobile devices from top-end smartphones down to Nintendo's Switch running in mobile mode. The inclusion of the Nintendo hybrid is fascinating, revealing how low-level graphics APIs and a dedicated gaming focus allow for older mobile hardware to directly compete with - and sometimes even surpass - the outputs of today's top-end phones.

AMD has collaborated with hardware manufacturer Zhongshan Subor to create custom console hardware for the Chinese market - and first impressions suggest a hardware specification similar to PlayStation 4 Pro in terms of GPU compute power, but combined with next-gen Ryzen processor architecture. New hardware set for a Chinese launch in the next month actually takes the form of a Windows PC, with a dedicated console using a custom OS due later this year.

FeatureThe rumours are true - Fortnite on Android doesn't use Google Play

The full install procedure revealed plus comments from Epic's Tim Sweeney.

Confirming a leak that surfaced earlier this week, Epic Games says that its upcoming Android release for Fortnite will not use Google Play as a distribution platform. Instead, phone users download an installer from Epic's website and install the game directly, bypassing Google's store completely. "Epic's goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android," says Tim Sweeney. "Competition among services gives consumers lots of great choices and enables the best to succeed based on merit."

Digital FoundryWhy we need the power of Intel's next-gen eight-core CPUs

New consoles will reset the baseline - and CPU will be the biggest gen-on-gen leap.

Despite no official confirmation, it's more than likely that we'll see new eight-core CPUs from Intel in the next month or so, delivering the ability to comprehensively outperform the already stunning Core i7 8700K - our pick as the fastest gaming CPU money can buy right now. The additional benefits for gaming in the short-term may be limited but once the new wave of Ryzen-powered consoles arrive, the need for faster, wider processors in the PC space should become abundantly clear.

Microsoft's Xbox One backwards compatibility is almost taken from granted these days, but let's not forget the scale of the achievement here - even the standard Xbox One S model has the ability to outperform original hardware both in terms of CPU and GPU performance, with most titles sticking far closely to their frame-rate targets than they did on original hardware. But just how much faster could original Xbox 360 titles run if developer-imposed 30fps caps were removed? And is there a case for the games of today to include optional modes that unlock performance, only becoming fully exploited when running on the hardware of tomorrow?

Digital FoundryWhy next-gen consoles shouldn't focus on 'true 4K'

With GPU power at a premium, new ideas and technologies must trump pixel-count.

In the wake of E3, Sony sent over high quality 4K versions of their trailers, allowing us to get a closer, more granular look at how PlayStation 4 Pro is set deliver the next wave of first-party exclusives for owners of ultra HD displays. Technologies like checkerboarding and temporal injection persist and in all cases, the results are impressive. And that's a good thing, as these techniques - or evolved versions of them - are likely to be a component of games designed for the next generation of consoles. By extension, what that also means is that marketing a new PlayStation or Xbox as a 'true 4K' console, or pushing developers to maximise pixel-counts first and foremost, may not be the best idea.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 review

The red team brings the fight to GTX 1080 - but is that enough?

We've already taken a look at the excellent Radeon RX Vega 56, the cut-down version of the full-fat graphics card reviewed here today - and it's a winner. A couple of outliers aside, it's as fast as Nvidia's GTX 1070 or significantly faster and it easily overclocks to push further ahead. It's AMD at its best - competitive, disruptive and adding value - but the same can't quite be said for the RX Vega 64. It's a good product overall and it's competitive enough with Nvidia, but it offers no knockout blow - in the here and now, at least.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 review

The entry-level Vega takes the fight to GTX 1070.

Years in development, the new Radeon RX Vega line is finally arriving - AMD's return to the higher-end of GPU performance after concentrating its efforts more on the mainstream and budget sectors of the market. There's no shortage of cutting-edge tech here: the Vega processor utilises 12.5 billion transistors on a very large 486mm2 area of silicon, the chip paired with two 4GB stacks of cutting-edge HBM2 memory. It's a bigger chip than Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti and it has more memory bandwidth - however, the top-end RX Vega 64 offers performance more in line with GTX 1080, while the cut-down RX Vega 56 reviewed here is clearly aimed to compete with the GTX 1070. It does this job rather well.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti review

The best choice for 4K PC gaming at 60fps.

On a platform with near infinite levels of configurability, just how do you demonstrate whether a new GPU really has the power to deliver a quality, native 4K experience at 60 frames per second? In our testing with the new GTX 1080 Ti, we established a very simple test criteria: if the new card's performance at ultra HD matches up to the 1080p prowess of GTX 970 at the same settings, we have a winner. We're perhaps one generational step away from a complete match, but Nvidia's new GPU king gets astonishingly close. In some cases, it's actually even faster - a remarkable turnout bearing in mind the 4x increase in pixel-count.

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