- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
These headphones may look like a pair of oversized headphones, and they are. But they transform the immersion of gaming, particular if you've grown accustomed to basic sound systems built in to TVs.
It might sound off that the simple addition of headphones can transform a good gaming experience to a great one, but the realism these provide (and at surprising comfort) make you integrate with the game like never before.
The headphones give you brilliant audio quality and highlight the deficiency of playing (particularly FPS games) without surround sound or noticable stereo and even in the case of good 5.1 systems creates an even better effect with it cancelling the noise out from other sources. You'll find your self with a burning desire to turn round to shoot your wall rather than turn on screen. They'll also help if your housemates don't want to hear you gunning people down or racing round the streets of monaco at 4am.
Even better, they offer you the chance to chat with your friends with a clear, crisp and comfortable headset unlike the one packaged with your xbox. One thing that I had to deal with however was my tendency to shout down the microphone as I compensated my voice to deal with the headphones noise cancelling properties, nullifying the silent gaming idea. It is something you get used to though, it is just on odd experience at first talking and not being able to hear yourself.
Now these headsets are undoubtedly brilliant sound quality, but I have two main problems from my experience with them. The first is the wires, It can be annoying being attached to your xbox, especially when you're used to a wireless controller and they can end up trailing across a room. They have plenty of slack in the wire so the cable can stretch a huge distance, but it's annoying for anyone walking around you. My final problem is that they are very delicate. I personally had the microphone fail on me a few months after using it, and I have spoken to friend who have had various issues with these headsets. It's also quite telling that in the box there is a warning that the headset is very delicate and should be handled with care indicating that they're aware of the problem, they just haven't sorted it. Maybe it is fixed on later models, but this was an issue for me and people I know. That said my second set has been treated in much the same fashion and no problems have arisen so it may be that luck plays a part.
These headsets from a performance point of view are brilliant, but from others and my own personal experience have as far as I'm aware unaddressed reliability concerns. Even though it's not 100% reliable, the experience was so good I got another pair! Still a 4 star review, and if their future models add reliability into the mix then it's 5 stars like that!
This processor is in the middle of AMDs budget Athlon II range for the AM3 socket (although it is compatible with AM2+ motherboards as well). As it's in the middle of the budget range, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a very basic processor, mainly because it is. It does however pack quite a lot of punch into a very competivly priced package. The main performance difference between the Athlon and Phenom II families is the L3 cache and generally a lower clock speed. That difference is not as huge an amount as their pricing structures would suggest though.
The L3 cache that this lacks is simply a set of onboard memory which improves teh data time as the processor can run quickly on memory close-by rather than the RAM. It isn't a factor in all applications and the performance penalty is not terrible. They also run at a lower clock speed than most Phenom IIs which are now running up to 3.6GHz. That said the newest Athlons are up to 3.4GHz so the point is mostly moot for the families in general. With this particular model, the 3GHz is more than capable of seeing you through most applications and even many games provided the rest of your system is up to scratch, but don't expect a championship winner, but a dependable workhorse who will see you through most things.
This isn't the model for an enthusiast or gamer, for that I'd recommend a 4-core athlon or a phenom, but this would suit the other 80-90% of the market who need their computer for all their basic needs, even multi-tasking to some extent. It's also worthwhile to point out that while this is a 3-core (or triple-core as often marketed) it does contain a 4th core on the die. It is however locked either because the core is unstable or faulty, or because AMD required more X3 variants for supply needs. With many motherboards, it is possible to unlock this 4th core, but it is in no-way a sure fire way of getting a quad-core on the cheap. It could however be a welcome boost to some. In my case the unlock was unstable and led to instant shut down, but there is always a chance to get lucky.
The final point I would make for anyone considering this or any processor is the cooling. The heatsink and fan sold as part of this package is not brilliant in general but is okay to use with this processor, but if you are conscious about noise you'll want to invest in a cheap £10-20 aftermarket cooling solution to keep the temperature down and the fan speed lower for a quieter system as at full tilt this fan can generate a substantial amount of noise.
I've owned one of these for a couple of years now and I can't play a racing game without it. The steering wheel feels substantial and comfortable to hold and is very responsive to the axial feedback system it uses. This system feeds the feedback through the axis of the steering wheel increasing resistance and vibrating the wheel around when you hit kerbs and bumps. The sensation it provides is far superior to the standard MS wheel and gives a more controlled feedback so you feel like you are really driving rather than simply playing. It comes with paddle gear selectors (although they are quite small and in a panic you could miss them) and a simple two-pedal set-up. The pedals have rubber feet and stick to the floor on most surfaces with great ease, but can feel a bit lightweight and 'gamey', particularly the brake pedal which offers very little resistance which takes away from the realism somewhat. It also comes with a LOT of wires. You will have to connect the pedals to the wheel and the wheel to the xbox (or PC) and then a seperate power cable between the mains and the wheel which can lead to wires dangling about the place making the wheel unattractive to have out and has on occassion led to me tripping over cables after I've finished playing.
It does however offer the best performance of any reasonably priced wheel and frankly is the best wheel you could need. Technically and aesthetically the Fanatec Wheels are better, but with prices in the £100s are priced out of range of most gamers. It does however offer an improvement over the microsoft wheel and is probably the best value for moeny xbox wheel.
I built my computer a little over a year ago and I put this processor in it and believe me you will never look back to what you've upgraded from. This processor runs at a clock of 3.4GHz with 2MB L2 and 6MB L3 cache and this black edition comes with the multipliers unlocked making overclocking easy for even the novice. This gives plenty of grunt to runs lots of programs concurrently or large, CPU draining applications. More importantly though, it has a high clock speed meaning games and process which are resticted to a single-core still run faster than on most other processors.
The only fault with this processor is that standard heatsink and fan, which is very poor and I would recommend that when upgrading to this processor that you invest in a better heatsink and fan because the standard is very loud and over 6-12 months the supplied thermal paste will degrade meaning the fan will have to run faster making it even louder as time goes on. It's not enough however to reduce the rating of this processor as it is one of the best value for money quad-cores and offers mid to high range performance without some of the huge price tags attached to the intel equivalents.
The Tropcio series started in the early 2000s and this game plays great homage to the original and previous players will feel at home in no time. The Game places the player in charge of a small caribbean island in 1950 and you guide your island nation through the cold war and develop it from a handful of farms and shacks to what ever you desire. The game comes with a campaign of 15 missions with specific goals and maps, or you can go to sandbox and play on either the set maps or generate your own island to suit your vision.
The gameplay is very similar to the previous games and will leave experienced players familiar with the huge amount of the game mechanics, but the tutorials give a new entrant to the series a good comprehensive experience and gets them playing in no time. Will an experienced player be dissappointed then? Absolutely not! The graphics on this game make your island paradise (or hell hole if you're that breed of ruler) come to life like never before. The graphics make this a must for any veterens as it brings a whole new level of immersion into an already brilliant game.
The best feature of this game on xbox is that the controls are seemless. Where as many strategy games ported to console struggle to provide adeaqute controls, this time around the developers have made a comfortable and relatively simple set-up to give the player control. That's not to say it's better than or even as good as a mouse, but it's better than any other strategy controls on console.
There are two small criticisms though. Some of the games buildings and structures are out of place on such as island such as the developed road network and tenement that look my eastern bloc than carribean, but such things are purely aesthetic and personal. It's also slightly dissapponting that more hasn't been added on to the original gameplay, but that still wouldn't stop recommending this and rating it 5 stars.