back to article Wangling my way into the 4K gaming club with a water-cooled whopper

The other week a Viewsonic VX2475Smhl-4K monitor, boasting a 3840x2160 resolution running at 60Hz – though only 24-inches of it – shows up at my door. I’m happy as a clam until it dawns on me that this isn’t a job my faithful little NUC, the Gigabyte Brix Pro, is up to. I was going to need a rig and a half, probably costing more …

  1. dogged

    The Witcher 3 was a classic example of this, with its astonishing clarity traded up against a slow but playable frame rate.

    I've been playing the Witcher 3 on a 1440p GSYNC-capable monitor (Asus ROG Swift) and a GeForce 970 and although technically the framerate hovers around 45-55, it is incredibly smooth thanks to the GSYNC framerate matching. It looks as if it's more like the high 80s. Maybe full 4K gaming should wait until either GSYNC or FreeSync (the AMD version) is supported.

    As for StarTech - never again. I bought one of their HDMI-DisplayPort active converters. It burned out in less than an hour.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hurrah for you

    TL;DR:

    You got a free computer, it's great. Free stuff is awesome.

    1. Matt Siddall

      Re: Hurrah for you

      From the article:

      "Thanks to Overclockers UK for the loan of the Infinity Vesuvius 4K gaming rig."

      1. Preston Munchensonton

        Re: Hurrah for you

        @Matt Siddall It may be slightly pedantic to point out, but the OP's point about "free" still applies to computer loans, as well as gifts.

        1. Matt Siddall

          Re: Hurrah for you

          Granted, but then it should have been:

          "You got a free loan of a computer, it's great. Free stuff is awesome."

          </pedant>

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Hurrah for you

      .... and that computer will heat your house too, actually, AGA should get with the times here.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Hurrah for you

      Y'know, I have absolutely zero interest in this sort of gamer setup. I have no use for a 4K monitor. But I still found the article interesting enough for a quick read, if only to see what's going on in this corner of the computing world.

      But then I suppose content-free bitching in order to collect downvotes is a legitimate hobby too. I hope you're enjoying yours!

  3. Bunker_Monkey

    It has to be said.......

    How did it run Crysis?

    #facepalm on Project Cars, you should have tried iRacing first!

    1. Gordan

      Re: It has to be said.......

      FYI, I completed Crysis in 4K (3840x2400, IBM T221, FYI, higher res than today's 4K screens) on a GTX480 a few years back (no AA or motion blur, everything else on maximum (DX9)). Technology has been up to the task for quite some time. Currently running it with a 780Ti, and Left4Dead 2 on Linux runs at a flat 48Hz (what the T221 does natively without retuning the signal).

  4. Fading Silver badge

    4K - not for awhile

    Given the costs involved (and unless my six numbers come up in the meantime) It will be sometime before I even contemplate 4K gaming (only on 28 inches of 1920x1200 at the moment). Next step up will be 1440p which requires a new monitor and a new GPU (adding another R9 270 in Xfire would probably do it but the 2 GB frame buffer may struggle at 1440).

    So minimum spend is in the £500 to even go that one step closer - I'll have to pass for a few months at least. Enjoy your monster rig but try not to rub it in too much.......

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Fading Re: 4K - not for awhile

      ".....I'll have to pass for a few months at least....." TBH, you're not missing much. Unless you get a really, REALLY big screen (like 50+ inches) and put your nose right up to the glass you won't see any difference between 1080p and 4k pics other than the massive hole in your bank account. I tried it out on a 52" screen and it was pretty "meh" - you knew when it was on 4k, but you just couldn't say why as the 1080p was so good. Just like 3D TVs, I'll wait until the price drops a lot or the market shrugs and looks for the next "big thing".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    "I may have just had my first glimpse of uncanny valley."

    Now you know how all those "gaming journos" who saw you getting out of the gaming chair felt..

  6. Sil

    I've been lusting after 4K monitors for my desktop PC ever since I've had the fantastic Dell XPS 15 with almost 4K (3200 x 1800) 15.6 inch monitor.

    But I'm still waiting for affordable 4K 60 Hz DisplayPort compatible monitors or TVs, as I really don't want to purchase an HDMI 2 equipped graphic card to replace my less than a year old GTX970.

    1. Mark Harris

      Erm aren't the GTX970's HDMI 2.0 equipped? The article says so and the specs for my Asus GTX970 says its HDMI 2.0...

      1. Sil

        Well it isn't really clear:

        http://uk.msi.com/product/vga/GTX-970-GAMING-4G.html#hero-specification

        HDMI ouput:

        1 (version 1.4a/2.0)

        Max Resolution: 4096x2160 @24 Hz (1.4a), 3840x2160 @60 Hz (2.0)

        But the French site (I bought in France) says 1.4a.

        http://fr.msi.com/product/vga/GTX-970-GAMING-4G.html#hero-specification

        Anybody knows if there is a way to detect whether 1.4a or 2.0, or if 2.0 always apply to 3840x2160 and 1.4a always apply to 4096x2160 ?

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    60hz still flickers for me

    not when facing the screen but in my peripheral vision. Really pisses me off when referring to off screen literature/talking etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 60hz still flickers for me

      Certainly on CRT but not LCDs. If it's an LCD it's probably the sadistic PWM backlight ruse some manufacturers attack us with. Try turning brightness to 100% and see if the flicker disappears.

    2. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: 60hz still flickers for me

      This is most likely related to the types of backlighting used on most monitors, article about it on the brilliant TFTCentral site: http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pulse_width_modulation.htm

      Just look for monitors that don't use that.

  8. m0rt

    4k vs VR

    My thoughts, here, is that with the likes of Elite Dangerous, and more that I can't think of right now, is 4k going become a poorer relation to VR gaming? I mean the total outlay for 4k, compared with VR - what is the difference? I know that with the advent of smaller, pixel dense displays also improving that there may be a trade off, but currently in a price per price I would choose VR over 4k if that was on offer.

    What say others?

    1. Ian 62

      Re: 4k vs VR

      You only need a small VR screen in 4k a few inches from your face.. Rather than several panels at 30inch+ mounted all round.

      I'd suspect for family entertainment we'll still have a 4k screen stuck on a wall.

      Gamers will move to VR, if only for the sake of cost.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: 4k vs VR

      "is 4k going become a poorer relation to VR gaming?"

      Not a chance. VR is only good for a limited selection of genres; if it's not in first person then VR is at best pointless and in many cases is actively bad. Strategy games, platformers, pretty much anything in third person, most casual things, and especially anything with local multiplayer or that might be enjoyed by more than one person at a time, are all much, much better with a regular screen than any kind of VR setup. VR is essentially like a joystick - it's awesome in the games it's actually appropriate for, but you'd be mad to try to use it exclusively for all games.

      As for price, for both VR and 4K the biggest cost is the horsepower required to run it in a way that doesn't make you motion sick or look like a slideshow. Oculus Rift is supposedly going to be around £200, and you can already get a 4K TV for not much more than twice that. Give it a few years and a basic 4K monitor that most non-hardcore gamers are likely to be looking at isn't going to cost any more than a decent VR setup (and of course there will be much more expensive versions of both for those who want them).

    3. lurker

      Re: 4k vs VR

      I don't think VR is likely to replace regular monitors any time soon, whether 4k, 1440p, or 1080p.

      The technology is only really suited for / compatible with some games, using it for extended periods is tiring and a little uncomfortable, and apart from anything else it's not really even out yet.

      For the near future I see VR headsets being an additional item for enthusiast gamers, something you have on the desk next to your monitors and use when appropriate.

      Personally I'm not really sold on 4K though. I'm perfectly happy with 1440p or even 1080p myself, and given the jump in GPU prices involved in effectively using 4K I'm in no hurry to switch.

    4. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: 4k vs VR

      VR is a niche product for specific uses. Much like voice control.

      I'll take a decent size monitor over VR any day.

    5. Morat

      Re: 4k vs VR

      I play Elite Dangerous in 4k and it's beautiful. I don't have an Oculus Rift, so I tried lashing together a VR headset using Trinus Gyre and a Samsung Note3 in a colorcross headset/phone holder.

      OK, so this may not be a fair comparison for VR due to the homebrew but since the screen is the same as the one used in the OR DK2 - I think it's completely fair to say that the resolution needs to be much much better before VR is truly worthwhile.

      Don't get me wrong, the immersion was great. The 3D was extremely convincing and the headtracking meant that the flying experience felt very natural, but the detail just was not good enough on a 1080p screen for the scene to be convincing enough for me to forgoe the beauty of 4k. I'll give it a go with a Note4 or 5 soon and see if a 2k screen makes enough of a difference.

      As to the article - you don't need a machine like the one you blagged from OC to play games in 4k. Get a 980 and you'll be set, even if you can't play everything in max settings. Get two 980s and you're sorted. My "rig" runs a 4790k at 4Ghz and cost less than £2k from Dino PC. It certainly didn't arrive on a pallet!

  9. Zmodem

    gaming monitors are 144hz, asus and benq do 4k 144hz monitors with 1ms response time to go with your laser mouse with 9million DPI

    1. Bob H

      Frame rate and resolution are heavily dependent on each other, the higher the resolution the further an object has to travel each frame. Generalisations don't help when there are fundamental truths. If you say gaming has to be 144Hz (and it is Hz not hz) at 1080p then it has to be at least double.

      1. Zmodem

        "the higher the resolution the further an object has to travel each frame"

        what you talking about, its the same 3d mapped world, textured with the same textures that are normally 1024 x 1024 images, and rendered image frame, 99% of the time the rendered frame is`nt the screen resolution, its rubbish like and just stretched to fit the screen in the graphics card so you have blurry textures

        id software normally renders frames to 640 x 480 which you can change in the sdk/render/rendersystem.h file

        // all drawing is done to a 640 x 480 virtual screen size

        // and will be automatically scaled to the real resolution

        const int SCREEN_WIDTH = 640;

        const int SCREEN_HEIGHT = 480;

        benq has a super HD gaming monitor row whatever anyway

        http://www.benq.com/product/monitor/xl2730z/

        http://www.asus.com/Monitors/MG279Q/

        2560 x1440

        1. Bob H

          @Zmodem

          Fortunately I am an engineer not a coder. I didn't mention textures or 3d, the issue is if an object moves across 1/3rd of the screen at 1920 then it passes fewer pixels than if it travels 1/3rd of the screen at 3840 pixels. This impacts what is called the temporal resolution.

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      FAIL

      asus and benq do 4k 144hz monitors with 1ms response time to go with your laser mouse with 9million DPI

      No they don't. Neither company offers a monitor with 2160p resolution at 144Hz.

  10. Ragequit

    Moore's Law and gaming...

    While some would argue that console gaming and multi-platform game releases (targeting the lowest common) have slowed the march of graphics fidelity I think it's also due to the stalling of chip processes. How long have Nvidia and AMD been on 28nm process for their GPU's? 4+ years? Until they can drop down to 20 to 14nm we're not going to see a vast improvement (10nm is unlikely considering Intel has even delayed theirs). 4k gaming on mainstream hardware will probably be a pipe dream until then.

    In the near term we need faster RAM, better I/O, less latency.. I wonder if hybrid memory tech like Intel's Xpoint will allow for some optimization of the rendering pipeline? With lots of non-volatile Ram I wonder if certain things could be preprocessed? Hmm.. maybe not. /Shrug.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Moore's Law and gaming...

      doubt it, carmack probably trolls here, he can pass it on to id and gain advantage with his megatextures and up the render frame size for doom 4

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4K gaming

    I understand 4K for coding, art, design and engineering --- but not really for gaming. I'm 6' away from a 84" HD screen and I can't see pixels (unless I use binoculars for checking focus) even though my sight's not that bad with glasses. The pixels are about 1mm square, and at the aforementioned viewing distance that must be, what, a couple of arcminutes? Maybe you can see the squares, but I'd rather have a higher frame rate, a wider colourspace and the option to turn up the graphics settings than have my GPU pushing around four times as many pixels. I've never seen a 4K projection onto a domestic screen, so I might be wrong, but my inclination - for gaming - would be to have a bigger screen (of the size that has to be projection unless you are very rich) rather than an extremely detailed monitor on my desk.

    1. Badvok
      FAIL

      Re: 4K gaming

      Utter nonsense, if you can't see the pixels on a HD screen at 6' then you really need to get your eyes tested. (BTW: If it is HD then the pixels are 1.5mm square but I guess you actually meant FullHD since you mention 1mm square pixels.)

      But you also totally miss the point of higher resolution, i.e. to NOT SEE the pixels, just the nice smooth curves and diagonals which must look really, really horrible and jaggy on your screen from 6' away - if only you could see it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 4K gaming

        "if you can't see the pixels on a HD screen at 6' then you really need to get your eyes tested" -- Badvok

        Well, they've been tested and I wear glasses, but I'm quite happy to accept they may not be as good as they could be. I absolutely agree that 4K could look better, just at the moment I'd rather have a big lower resolution screen than a smaller higher resolution one, again this is only for gaming. I'd love to have a good 4K monitor for work.

  12. Badvok
    FAIL

    Sorry, but I just don't get the point of this article.

    4K/UHD gaming is still a pretty new thing so why is this guy using kit that is well over a year old? Perhaps that's why he leaps to such ridiculous conclusions, such conclusions would probably make sense 12-18 months ago.

    We now have fast G-Sync compatible UHD monitors (even IPS ones) and we have graphics cards that could blow away a single 295X2 without even using crossfire/SLI.

    And what's this 'uncanny valley' thing? I thought that was to do with human like robots.

    1. Irongut Silver badge
      FAIL

      If you actually read the article you may have noticed "this guy" is decidedly feminine and is called Lucy. She's even pictured in case you missed the byline.

      And, uncanny valley is to do with computer graphics, usually in films, and nothing to do with human like robots.

      So double FAIL to you!

      1. Zmodem

        if the guy was a man you would'nt escape marci looks like darren brown if he still works there

        at OC

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's a little secret

      And what's this 'uncanny valley' thing? I thought that was to do with human like robots.

      I'm going to let you in on a little secret here, if you promise not to tell anyone else.

      Open a browser, go to "google.com" and type in "uncanny valley".

      I know, isn't it awesome? Now don't tell anyone.

      /sarcasm

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Here's a little secret

        According to a certain web-based encyclopaedia "The term "uncanny valley" first appeared in the 1978 book Robots: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction, written by Jasia Reichardt"

        Which was interesting, as I have that book.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is 60hz @ 4K so hard.

    Im a luddite when it comes to screens.

    I only ask because I was playing Quake 2 on a Sony FD520 at over 1600x1200 @ 200hz over a decade and a half ago on a 64mb STB 4400 Tnt2.

    Gaming has never felt the same since I switched to 60hz flat panels. That "smoothness" is gone.

    Dont get me started on mechanical keyboards!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's with the CAPTCHA?

    I just tried to post as a logged in user and was facing a CAPTCHA?

    What's going on?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: What's with the CAPTCHA?

      no captcha here...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's with the CAPTCHA?

        no captcha here.

        It's gone - it was apparently a one-off. Still want to know what that was, though. It looked like a Google thing.

  15. Tom_

    Pixels Per Degree

    What is the point of a metric that changes when you lean forward a bit? It makes no sense as a measure of the technology at all.

  16. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Feeling inadequate...

    I'm wondering if I'm even vicariously experiencing your screen grabs properly on my old rig and cheap monitor...

  17. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

    You don't even have to dim the lights with that rig.

    It will do it for you. And your entire neighbourhood. And somewhere in your street you probably didn't hear a transformer switching breakers to keep the voltage up.

    On another note, NOW I have a Full HD monitor, and any R9 280-era graphics card can run GTA V at full glory and 60-ish FPS.

    A GTX 970 can probably run it at 120Hz, which I wonder could be used in one of those 3D-glasses thing to fully benefit.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HDMI 2.0 not always 18 Gbps

    At least on the TV side - and probably for monitors as well since they use the same chipsets - they have confused things further with "level A" (full 18 Gbps) and "level B" (only 10.2 Gbps) Almost all 4K TVs sold in 2014 had no level A HDMI port, only level B, and to make things worse once they starting having one level A port many of them did not have HDCP 2.2 on that port, but on a different port that was level B!

    It is a hopeless mess, and HDR will only make things more confusing, so if you really want to run 4Kp60 4:4:4 on your monitor or 12 bit color with rec.2020 HDR (don't bother with 16 bit color, LCDs capable of true 12 bit color are rare as hen's teeth, and there will likely never be one capable of 16 bit output....you'll need OLED for that) you better make extra damn sure of its specs! Doubly so if you envision ever connecting it to a cable/satellite set top which will enforce HDCP 2.2 for ALL 4K content.

  19. Banksy
    Paris Hilton

    Ryse

    Ryse: Son of Rome looks awesome in 4K, give that a shot. It's just a button basher but it looks purty.

    Paris because pretty.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You lost me at the GTA screenshot

    The GTA screenshot of the car outside the pawn store shows exactly why my response is 'meh'. Yes it's awesome that you can pump 4K graphics out of the cards, but not much of that 4K is really worth the extra horsepower. Games graphics still don't look "right". The perspective on the pawn store is slightly squiffy. The road surface looks wrong. The front right wheel looks wonky. The yellow turn sign by the green station wagon has no perspective applied.

    It's all, really, much of a muchness. Going from VGA to XVGA to HS to 4K makes little difference whilst we are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to graphics art.

    On the bright side, the paint job on the car is *beautiful*.

    1. CADmonkey

      Re: You lost me at the GTA screenshot

      "The perspective on the pawn store is slightly squiffy." - the signs aren't parallel to the storefront.

      "The front right wheel looks wonky." - Because the suspension is compressing due to accelerating? Or it's damaged?

      "The yellow turn sign by the green station wagon has no perspective applied" I'm sure if you walked around it that wouldn't be true. All objects flatten out as the distance increases.

      1. Zmodem

        Re: You lost me at the GTA screenshot

        its just useless programming

        id software rage "at 4k" https://www.flickr.com/photos/pix111/sets/72157640283278754/

        the config settings are >> https://www.reddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/3aeccd/rage_with_16k_textures_at_4k_resolution_wow/

        really its still just a small rendered frame stretched to fit the screen, if you change the render frame size in the source code, to hardware it up to match the com_spec cvar you set in the main menu resolution, the camera eye will be miss aligned, and you have to fix the FOV,

        programmers are lazy

        so when the time comes the id software 4k settings will probably work on doom 4, as they never change much todo with cvars

        if you mess about with terregen, a good size screen can still take a hour to render http://www.planetside.co.uk/

        id software engines work at the same speed with bigger render frames

        1. Zmodem

          Re: You lost me at the GTA screenshot

          you can change the render frame size in quakewars which is the first game to use megatextures

          the terrain is just a single massive pre-rendered texture, all other engines use procedule terrain

  21. Richard Altmann
    FAIL

    BenQ

    What a poor presentation of this 3 monitor setup. Well, i don´t know the circumstances of the event. If this was intended to impress journos; complete fail. Throwing sheets of Molton over some chairs, placing the screens on the chairs, the seat right on ground level (consisting of a purpleish piece of carpet) ... My Boss would have kicked my balls into orbit and the rest of me into the gutter. But then, i´m not a member of the "gaming elite" who might probably give a rat´s fart about how things are presented. No real difference to Mummy´s basement, so what. More food for the downvoters: In the professional multimedia installation world BenQ has to cue up at the end of the line, right after Bose. Bs hype all around. Scratch your hipster beards and downvote me from your iPhone. Poor fellows. 3 billion flys can´t be wrong! Eat ...!

    1. Zmodem

      Re: BenQ

      the gaming elite are all junkies so es sports for gaming brought in drug tests at events a few weeks ago

  22. Stuart21551

    'a water-cooled whopper'

    ∆T - °C/W?

  23. zootle

    The reasonably priced Philips BDM4065 makes for a great 4K monitor, at 40" it's a sensible size for the resolution. It also has both DP1.2 and HDMI2.

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