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NVIDIA GeForce LAN Day 2 & 3 Coverage

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Sam Reynolds

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NVIDIA GeForce LAN Day 2 & 3 Coverage



Earlier in the year NVIDIA announced the latest edition of their GeForce LAN events and PC gamers eagerly grabbed tickets to what promised to be one of North America’s largest LAN parties. Once registration was complete, over 600 people had applied to be part of the 48 hour Bring Your Own Computer LAN and we’re told if more spots could have been opened, they would have likely sold out as well. NVIDIA calls this a celebration to PC gaming and from our perspective, they really are pulling out all the stops for this one.

While the first day of the GeForce LAN was focused on an opening keynote by DICE’s Johan Andersson, NVIDIA’s Drew Henry and Phil Eisler, day 2 and 3 were all about exhibitor presentations and the Battlefield 3 tournament.

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NVIDIA's Phil Eisler Talks 3D Tech and Gaming


Hardware Canucks caught up with Phil Eilser on the show floor to talk about NVIDIA’s new 3D technology, and what the company thinks about the future of PC gaming. Mr. Eisler is currently the General Manager of 3D vision at NVIDIA. He was formerly the VP and General Manager of AMD’s chipset division, but NVIDIA managed to poach him from the competition in August 2009.

“[3D gaming is] an additive experience, it makes gaming better,” remarked Mr. Eisler. “Things that add to the experience always become mainstream over time.”

Mr. Eisler also mentioned that at the GeForce LAN, the first public showing of NVIDIA’s 3D Vision 2 technology, gamers overwhelmingly said that they prefer the “3D experience to the 2D experience.”

Check out our entire interview with Phil Eilser here:

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LAN Action


Most people at the GeForce LAN were there to play Battlefield 3. The event was a LAN party first, and a trade show second. The tournament concluded Sunday afternoon, with Team DC winning back-to-back games in the final round of tournament play securing first place. Runner up was team 20iD.

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Team DC went home with new Geforce GTX cards and the ‘net cred’ of winning a tournament of such a size as the GeForce LAN.

Hardware Canucks chatted with some professional gamers in attendance, though much to their chagrin they posted in the rankings far below Team DC. Nonetheless, the BYOC event attracted a huge cross section of enthusiasts; from hardcore competitors to casual gamers, it seemed like everyone was there and having a blast.

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In general, everyone we talked to was ecstatic about the GeForce LAN, the location and NVIDIA's attention to detail. There were several remarks that this was one of the best organized LANs many of them could remember which says a lot considering the logistics involved aboard a floating ship. Indeed, the general consensus was hope that NVIDIA holds another one of these soon.

We chatted with a few of them on-camera about the tournament, Battlefield 3 and the GeForce LAN:

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The Custom BYOC Rigs


One of the grand traditions of any LAN party are the displays of custom-built PC rigs. The GeForce LAN was no exception, as gamers from across North America converged upon the USS Hornet and many had creatively manufactured custom built rigs.

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Some of the hobbyists had spent an incredible amount of time creating custom fabricated cases to hold their PC’s components. The work and dedication that went into some of these machines was downright impressive. Hardware Canucks scoured the BYOC floor for cool custom built PC rigs and talked with their owners. Check it out:

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SKYMTL

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EVGA & Toshiba Show their Wares

EVGA Shows Overclocking on X79 and Sandy Bridge E Rig


The EVGA overclocking crew -- lead by master of the trade “KingPin” -- were at the GeForce LAN in full force, demonstrating how many frames four overclocked GTX 580s running in SLI mode could push out in Battlefield 3 with the resolution and graphics maxed out.

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And the results were impressive. At its peak the system managed to pump out around 200 FPS, and sustained an average in the high 170s.

Aside from the overlocked GTX 580s, the system on stage was powered by the EVGA X79 motherboard running a Intel Sandy-Bridge E chip and cooled using their new RTS2011LC cooler (the liquid nitrogen helped). As the exact details of this particular chip, and motherboard are still under NDA, neither EVGA nor “KingPin” would disclose further details.

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Later a rep from Intel came up on stage to share some more details of the Sandy Bridge E platform, which the company claims will likely be launching in November but definitely before the end of the year.

Unfortunately, the acoustics in the hanger deck, which served as the main exhibition hall, were quite poor so the audio in the video is a little rough.

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EVGA also gave us a quick up close and personal look at their new X79 Classified Sandy Bridge E board:

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Toshiba Talks 3D, Gaming Laptops and Tablets


Toshiba also had a sizable showing at the event, demonstrating some of their new tablets, gaming laptops, and 3D monitors.

The tablet Toshiba had on display, the “Thrive 2”, is something of a plump device though its power and usability certainly make up for this less than desirable characteristic. Running Android’s Honeycomb release, and powered by the NVIDIA Tegera 2 dual-core processor, the tablet can certainly pack a punch. The screen is vivid, and the touch display is responsive. It contains all the necessary ports: micro USB, full sized USB, and HDMI.

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However, on pure aesthetics the device simply can’t compete with the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and iPad 2. If you sit down at a coffee shop with the Thrive and someone at a neighboring table pulls out one of the aforementioned devices, a case of tablet-envy will most certainly occur.

Toshiba also had a full line up of gaming laptops displayed. Their Qosmio F-755 machine featuring glasses-free 3D technology was a bit disappointing. While the machine was powerful enough, the quality of the 3D imagery on the screen was pale in comparison to NVIDIA’s 3D vision 2 that was also being displayed. In addition, the device only offers 3D support for movies though the Toshiba rep promised that support for games was “down the road”.

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SKYMTL

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NVIDIA’s GeForce LAN: PC Gaming Isn’t Dead

NVIDIA’s GeForce LAN: PC Gaming Isn’t Dead


Recently the technology news aggregator Slashdot posted an interesting article in the form of a short story entitled “Who Killed Videogames” from the blog Insert Credit. Through the vehicle of a short story, video game designer and author Tim Rogers argues that videogames as we know them are dead and are being replaced by simple free-to-play games backed by some sort of virtual currency.

In the world of Mr. Rogers, free to play social gaming is the crude rubble that is left of the video game world. The new breed of game designers, in his mind, are one part data-obsessed ad executive and one part drug dealer. An example can be found in the opening soliloquy of one of his characters:

“You teach the player how to play the game in one minute. Within that one minute, you give them in-game money. You make them spend all of that money to buy an investment that will begin to earn them profit. They build a thing. It says: this thing will be finished in five minutes. Spend one premium currency unit to have it now. You happen to have one free premium currency unit. The game makes you use it now. Now you have a thing. Now it says to wait three minutes to collect from that thing.”

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While the genre of free-to-play social gaming has taken market share and profit away from mainstream game developers, the world of PC gaming isn’t yet the dystopia as described in the story: PC gaming exists as something more than a vehicle to sell ads against and gather analytics data of how to better sell ads.

NVidia’s GeForce LAN, which concluded this Sunday, was the perfect epitome of why PC gaming is not dead. Although the GeForce LAN had some elements of a trade show to it – announcements, exhibitors, and disinterested ‘booth babes’ – the heart of the event was a “Woodstock”-like gathering of the gamers.

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Perhaps Woodstock – with its tagline of “3 Days of Peace and Music” – isn’t the most appropriate simile to use as the GeForce LAN was set on an aircraft carrier and anchored in the game Battlefield 3, a military themed shooter with the pickup and play simplicity but addicting, difficult to master qualities of a free-to-play title.

For 3 days gamers from around the United States (and the world) gathered to do something they could all do from the comfort of their own home. However, they congregated in the dark caverns of an aircraft carrier’s hanger deck because of the same reasons that music fans gather at a rock festival in the hinterland or why the Burning Man type gather out in the desert every summer: the social experience.

In some ways events like the GeForce LAN can be seen as a ‘revival tour’ for PC gaming. The festival like atmosphere of a major LAN party – with everything from the 60 odd player tournaments and gamers showing off their custom built PCs to eachother – isn’t something that the console gaming world can replicate. Partially owing to the fact that all of the major consoles are now half a decade old, and the next generation isn’t expected for another few years, console gaming has become a very contained experience. Developers and hardware manufactures like NVidia have seen the opportunity to prove that PC gaming isn’t dead and with events like the GeForce LAN they have succeeded.

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