AMD Ryzen 3 1300X and 1200: True quad-core CPUs for just $130 and $110

Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

Ryzen 3 1300X and Ryzen 3 1200, AMD’s budget-focused quad-core CPUs, launch today for $130 and $110 respectively. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but don’t expect much change from £120 and £100 respectively.

Like the rest of the Ryzen line-up, Ryzen 3 offers more cores compared to a similarly priced Intel chip. The Ryzen 3 1200—which features four cores, four threads, a base clock of 3.1GHz and a boost clock of 3.4GHz—is priced below Intel’s Core i3-7100, a dual-core chip with hyperthreading. The Ryzen 3 1300X—which is also a 4C/4T chip with a base clock of 3.5GHz and a boost clock of 3.7GHz—is cheaper than the 2C/4T Intel Core i3-7300. Both sport a TDP of 65W.

While the Intel chips offer higher out-of-the-box clock speeds along with better IPC performance, Ryzen 3 should perform better in multithreaded tasks. AMD’s own Cinebench results

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus—Like playing a B-movie with robot Nazis

Video captured/edited by Mark Walton.

In Wolfenstein: The New Order, which tells the story of an alternate history where the Nazis win the Second World War, veteran William “B.J.” Blazkowicz awakens from a coma to find the Nazis have acquired the technology to build giant killer robots powered by the brains of fallen soldiers.

In an effort to stop the Nazis, B.J. infiltrates a Nazi research facility, stealing its flagship nuclear submarine only to find that the codes to operate it are hidden on the Moon. Naturally, Blazkowicz proceeds to the Moon, before returning to Earth to fight the robotic reincarnation of a former soldier.

As stories go, The New Order‘s—even for a video game—is wonderfully ludicrous. But that raises a question for the sequel. When you’ve already battled giant killer robots and travelled to the Moon, just where do you go from there? The

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Matt Groening’s first Netflix series will go all Futurama on Game of Thrones

Seems like the most appropriate use of this modified meme ever. (credit: Know Your Meme)

We don’t often get buzzy about a new Netflix series announcement, especially one without any teaser footage, but Tuesday’s Netflix news shook up the perfect jar of nerd bees.

Simpsons/Futurama co-creator Matt Groening is the latest showrunner to join the online streaming platform, and he’s bringing a substantial number of Futurama staffers and voice actors to a new project: Disenchantment, set to premiere in “2018.” From what we’re hearing, this will put the Groening-series spin on fantasy series like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings—meaning, equal parts mockery and reverence. Twenty episodes have been ordered, and they will premiere in 10-episode chunks.

A ton of Futurama voice actors are participating, including Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, and Tress MacNeille. The show as announced will revolve around a “hard-drinking

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MAME devs are cracking open arcade chips to get around DRM

Enlarge / A look inside the circuitry of a “decapped” arcade chip. (credit: Caps0ff)

The community behind the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) has gone to great lengths to preserve thousands of arcade games run on hundreds of different chipsets through emulation over the years. That preservation effort has now grown to include the physical opening of DRM-protected chips in order to view the raw code written inside them—and it’s an effort that could use your crowdsourced help.

While dumping the raw code from many arcade chips is a simple process, plenty of titles have remained undumped and unemulated because of digital-rights-management code that prevents the ROM files from being easily copied off of the base integrated circuit chips. For some of those protected chips, the decapping process can be used as a DRM workaround by literally removing the chip’s “cap” with nitric acid and acetone.

With the underlying

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The dramatic details of Steve Jobs’ life are playing out in a new opera

The Making of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, The Santa Fe Opera (YouTube)

Steve Jobs has been the subject of all kinds of art over the years, and now scenes from his life will play out on stage with powerful vocals in a new opera. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs highlights the “complicated and messy” life of the Apple cofounder and is the product of a partnership between composer Mason Bates and librettist/Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Campbell.

Pairing something as contemporary as the story of Steve Jobs and Apple with a classical medium such as opera may seem like a mismatch. However, Bates was convinced he and Campbell could produce a compelling opera focusing on a big theme of Jobs’ life—his need to control everything and make a perfect product, in contrast with the inherent uncontrollable nature of life.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs isn’t a simple story, and that’s not

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Pyre review: A brilliant reinvention of the term “fantasy sports”

Enlarge (credit: Supergiant Games)

Role-playing games and sports video games have more in common than you think. Decades ago, series like Sensible World of Soccer and Tony La Russa Baseball (on PC, not console) filled their career modes with lots of money- and roster-management menus. Modern major-league games and soccer games like FIFA 17 have carried those traditions over, sporting enough card-slotting and story-driven career modes to make them a hat and a wizard robe away from being a full-blown adventure.

But what if a sports game went further with its RPG elements? What if it had a high-stakes, internal-drama story, where relationships between teammates—along with the winners and losers you confront along the way—affected everything from the storytelling to the number-crunching min-max possibilities? I invite the big dogs at EA Sports, 2K Games, and Sony Santa Monica to look at a tremendous example of that experiment: Pyre, out today from Supergiant Games.

Pyre is a departure from the

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Blizzard shuts down “legacy” WoW fan server hours after it goes up

Enlarge / The error message that greeted thousands of Felmyst players after the server was shut down by a legal threat mere hours after launching Friday.

A highly anticipated private server intended to emulate the state of World of Warcraft during the decade-old “Burning Crusade” expansion was shut down by a legal demand delivered by Blizzard representation mere hours after the server launched on Friday.

The planned launch of the Felmyst server had been heavily anticipated in the “legacy server” subcommunity of WoW players who seek to emulate a “vanilla” version of the game as it existed before the current slate of expansions and updates changed how the MMO looks, plays, and feels. While other fan-run, “Burning Crusade”-era legacy servers exist, Felmyst had already earned a reputation before launch as one of the best and most complete efforts to capture that well-remembered era of the game in a playable way.

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Hour of Devastation review: The evil elder dragon god-pharaoh has arrived. RIP.

Magic: The Gathering has expanded yet again with Hour of Devastation, a follow-up to Amonkhet that continues to riff on Egyptian mythology with a large helping of dragon-led apocalypse. We’ve drafted, built decks, and played a bunch of Hour of Devastation matches—read on for our review!

We’re also going to dive into some of the recent news around the game, including changes to set structure and release cadence, and the future of Magic’s digital offerings.

What happened to Amonkhet?

Hour of Devastation (HOU) is set on the world of Amonkhet (see our review of the original set for more info) as the prophesied “hours” arrive, momentous events that promised glory and eternal life. It turns out, though, that those events were the machinations of Nicol Bolas, the major antagonist of

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Level up: How video games evolved to solve significant scientific problems

Yes, folks, this was once a revolutionary experience in gaming.

In the early 1950s, just as rock ‘n’ roll was hinting at social change, the first video games were quietly being designed in the form of technology demonstrations—and a scientist was behind it. In October 1958, Brookhaven National Laboratory physicist William Higinbotham created Tennis for Two. Despite graphics that are ridiculously primitive by today’s standards, it has been described as the first video game in history.

Higinbotham was inspired by the government research institution’s Donner Model 30 analog computer, which could simulate trajectories with wind resistance, and the game was designed for display at an annual public exhibition. Although his purpose in creating the game was rather academic, Tennis for Two turned out to be a hit at the three-day exhibition, with thousands of students lining up to see the game.

At first glance, today’s video gamers and scientists might

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Mario Kart director philosophical about need for the blue shell

Enlarge / Love it or hate it, Mario Kart’s director see the blue shell is a necessary part of the Mario Kart formula. (credit: YouTube / ZaziNombies)

Since its introduction in Mario Kart 64, the blue shell has become a universal shorthand for the perils of video game rubber-banding; an item I called “scourge of the skillful and the great white hope of the novice” in my own Mario Kart 8 review. Targeting the first-place player with a nigh-unstoppable projectile from anywhere on the course is a perfect encapsulation of the series’ focus on giving everyone playing a chance, rather than letting pure racing skill win the day by default.

Love it or hate it, the Blue Shell is a necessary part of the game, according to Mario Kart 7 and 8 director Kosuke Yabuki. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Yabuki said Mario Kart just

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Spectacular visuals, cheerfully silly tone rescue Valerian film

Enlarge / Valerian and Laureline, seen here looking like they’re trying their best to imagine a romantic plotline that makes more sense than what they were given. (credit: STX Films)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets could be the most enjoyable 2017 film destined to win a Razzie award. Some of its disparate elements deserve a “bad,” “poor,” or even “embarrassing” rating. The film strays so far from its comic source material that you might call it treasonous. And it co-stars Rihanna, which, let’s face it, has yet to work out well for a Hollywood production.

Even with those issues, I still had a blast. I went into my Valerian screening hoping to get “Luc Besson sci-fi,” with elaborate, beautifully illustrated sequences, tongue-in-cheek schlock, and a weirdly French skew on high-octane cinema. Those expectations were met. I laughed, cheered, and roared both at and with the film. Valerian comes packed with just enough Fifth Element

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Electronic music superhero Aphex Twin unearths massive, free music vault

Enlarge / Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, is careful about his likeness being photographed, but Warp Records swears that this is him. (credit: Warp Records)

Many of the modern era’s greatest electronic musicians also happen to be legitimate computer and technology geeks. Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, is no exception. The 46-year-old British musician has spent decades making music with an incredible range of analog and digital synthesizers (more details here), and one of his most impressive albums, Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments, was made by programming robots to play live instruments to his exact specifications.

I can go on about James’ nerd cred (including his decision to initially announce his 2014 “comeback” record Syro via deep-web links), but his lengthy, diverse, and weird collection of music does the talking—and now you have an easier way to access it than ever. A month-long countdown at the

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Augmented reality wins big in 1st Amendment legal flap

Enlarge (credit: Candy Lab)

A judge on Thursday declared as unconstitutional a local Wisconsin ordinance mandating that the makers of augmented reality games get special use permits if their mobile apps were to be played in county parks. The law—the nation’s first of its kind—was challenged on First Amendment grounds amid concerns it amounted to a prior restraint of a game maker’s speech. What’s more, the law was seemingly impossible to comply with.

The federal lawsuit was brought by a Southern California company named Candy Lab. The maker of Texas Rope ‘Em—an augmented reality game with features like Pokemon Go—sued Milwaukee County after it adopted an AR ordinance in February in the wake of the Pokemon Go craze. Because some of its parks were overrun by a deluge of players, the county began requiring AR makers to get a permit before their apps could be used

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Sony using copyright requests to remove leaked PS4 SDK from the Web

Enlarge

Sony appears to be using copyright law in an attempt to remove all traces of a leaked PlayStation 4 Software Development Kit (PS4 SDK) from the Web. That effort also seems to have extended in recent days to the forced removal of the mere discussion of the leak and the posting of a separate open source, homebrew SDK designed to be used on jailbroken systems.

The story began a few weeks ago, when word first hit that version 4.5 of the PS4 SDK had been leaked online by a hacker going by the handle Kromemods. These SDKs are usually provided only to authorized PS4 developers inside development kits. The SDKs contain significant documentation that, once made public, can aid hackers in figuring out how to jailbreak consoles, create and install homebrew software, and enable other activities usually prohibited by the hardware maker (as we’ve seen in the wake

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Windows XP, Vista buried by Blizzard

Enlarge / Appropriately enough, I don’t see the Blizzard Launcher on this familiar Windows XP desktop image…

If you’re using an operating system that’s over a decade old to play Blizzard games, we have some bad news for you. Starting in October, Blizzard says it will “begin the process of ending support for Windows XP and Windows Vista in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm.”

The fact that Blizzard was still supporting these long-in-the-tooth Microsoft OSes (XP launched in 2001, Vista launched in early 2007) says something about the long tail of low-end hardware that the company targets alongside top-of-the-line modern systems. Though Microsoft dropped mainstream support for Windows XP and Windows Vista years ago—and ceased issuing security fixes for the operating systems in 2014 (with another issued earlier this year)—Blizzard says that a “decent portion of

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Alleged copycat video game studio threatens lawsuits over “unreal information”

Enlarge (credit: Sergey Galyonkin)

A Chinese video game studio accused of making a very similar version of League of Legends has recently fired back in a statement, saying that “some media and competitors who have spread the unreal information and rumors against us, [and] we reserve the right to protect ourselves and pursue legal actions.”

The company, Moonton, which makes the Magic Rush and Mobile Legends games, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Earlier this month, Riot Games, the maker of League of Legends, sued Moonton in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing the Chinese company of copyright and trademark infringement. The lawsuit, which was first reported by Techdirt and Dot Esports, lays out a compelling argument. Riot Games says that in 2016, it discovered Magic Rush. When that title was first released, “[it] contained a number of playable heroes or champions, each of

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Doom’s cover art had one secret—and John Romero just spilled it

Enlarge / Ars Technica’s Creative Director Aurich Lawson is on vacation. When that’s the case, this is what happens to our “art department.” (credit: id Software / Sam Machkovech)

Multiple Doom-related stories landed on the nerd newswire on Wednesday, and they focused on decidedly different eras of the decades-old series. Bethesda announced a significant freebie for the game’s 2016 version, while original Doom fans received a pretty random trivia reveal from none other than John Romero himself.

The shooting series’ co-creator and level designer took to his official blog on Wednesday as a response to an informal Twitter poll he’d posted days earlier. Romero had asked fans which of his old game series they’d like to hear “a piece of trivia” about, and 40 percent of roughly 2,000 votes were cast for Doom. He responded by unearthing a previously unrevealed story about the game’s cover art, which he can personally vouch for.

More

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Early tests show bizarre issues with Nintendo Switch voice chat app

Enlarge / This is not Nintendo’s solution for voice chat on the Switch, but it’s closer than you might think.

Our recent review of Splatoon 2 wasn’t able to test Nintendo’s unorthodox new voice-chat app for the Nintendo Switch, which requires a separate smartphone to let you talk to your teammates during a match. That app launched on the iOS and Android app stores today, and while we’ll have a full review after more extensive testing, we wanted to point out one baffling design decision immediately.

As Nintendo points out in the app’s official FAQ, voice chat cannot run in the background while using your phone for other purposes such as “texts, social media, etc.”:

The voice chat will disconnect while you’re talking on the phone or using another application, but your voice chat will restart in the same room once you open the Nintendo Switch Online application

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Why we don’t have a ton to say about the Destiny 2 beta

Destiny 2‘s major May reveal event in Los Angeles came with a substantial hands-on demo, and I walked away from it pretty impressed. Some fans were kinder to the sequel’s unveil than others—with many wondering if this was really worthy of its “sequel” designation. Those fans didn’t get to play what I played: the new, monstrous Inverted Spire “strike” mission.

That changed on Tuesday (for those who jumped through Bungie’s pre-release hoops) with the launch of the Destiny 2 closed beta. Anybody who pre-ordered the game for PlayStation 4 can now redeem a code and download the beta, which will be live until this Friday. Xbox One players must wait 24 hours longer for their shot, on Wednesday, July 19 because of whatever fat check Sony wrote years ago.

Bungie

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