My Gaming/Entertainment Setup

4. March 2017 17:22 by Cameron in gaming  //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

In my living room, I have an open back 3 shelf entertainment console. For my TV, I have an early 2016 model 58" 4K Vizio Smart TV. Unfortunately, this was before HDR was widely available and affordable. I'll need to wait some before upgrading to an HDR capable TV. For gaming/entertainment, I have an original Xbox One, an original PS4, a custom built mini PC, an XBMC hard modded original Xbox, and an Hitachi VCR. 

Xbox One

 I've had this Xbox since 2014 and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to play titles such as Gears of War 4 and RARE Replay. I've also been able to play several of my Xbox 360 games through the backwards compatibility introduced in 2015. I need to finish up Red Dead Redemption before Red Dead Redemption 2 is released this fall!

PS4

 I purchased the PS4 in the fall of 2013 with the anticipation of being able to play Uncharted 4 on PS4. I had to wait 3 years for the release of Uncharted 4, but it was well worth the wait. The game engine and graphics really demonstrate the hardware capabilities of the PS4. I knew the game would be great since I had played the original Uncharted trilogy on the PS3 a few years before.

 

For now, I am happy with sticking to my original PS4 and Xbox One as I am waiting for the HDR market to settle down some before investing in an HDR television. With Xbox Scorpio launching this fall, I'm interested to see how it stacks up to other 4K gaming platforms. I may stick with PC for 4K gaming however as I will be getting a GTX 1080 Ti for my desktop PC this summer.

Original Xbox

I purchased my original Xbox so that I use it as an emulation box. Prior to my original Xbox, I used to have a Sega Genesis, NES, SNES, and N64 and my entertainment console was quite full. I plan to get controller adapters so I can use the original controllers on my Xbox. A guy from Brazil makes a neat device called the Kade MiniConsole+ that works with several input and output configurations. It allows multiple plug and play configurations with classic game controllers and various systems. I outfitted my original Xbox with a 250GB HDD which is plenty for my Xbox game library and all of the emuXtras and mabdab edition emulators. My original Xbox connects to my TV over component video and connects to my sound system over optical audio.

Hitachi VCR

You may find it odd that I have a VCR in 2017, but I used it primarily to do a video conversion project for my family for Christmas. I converted all of our VHS tapes, Hi-8/Video-8 tapes, and 8mm film to digital video for long term storage. I meant to blog about it before now, but I'll make a blog post soon about the details of my video conversion project.

PC

I recently built a new desktop for use as a home media server and a gaming machine for the living room. Last year, I had purchased a Steam machine (Zotac NEN), but ultimately sold that and my Surface Pro 3 for my Alienware 15 R2. I liked the concept of a Steam machine, but it was very limited in terms of upgradability. The main issue I had was the limitation on the 2.5" hard drive height and not allowing a 3TB or greater HDD in the drive bay. It was manufactured with 9mm and smaller drives in mind. Also, the GPU was soldered onto the main board and non-upgradeable. I was looking for a more long term gaming solution. I purchased an Alienware 15 R2 and a Graphics Amplifier in hopes to solve this, but learned that there was a 10% performance decrease due to the card running at x4 speeds when running desktop graphics cards through the Graphics Amplifier. This ultimately led to my decision to build a desktop PC with support for leveraging the full bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 at x16 speeds.

Specs

Corsair Air 240 Case (Micro ATX)

ASROCK Z170M Extreme 4 Micro ATX motheboard

Intel i5 6600K 3.50GHz

Corsair H75 AIO Cooler

16GB of DDR4 RAM (1 x 16GB (I plan to upgrade to 32GB this summer))

ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti (I plan to upgrade to a GTX 1080 Ti this summer)

Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2 SSD

4TB HDD (Internal)

4TB External HDD

Plex

I have converted all of my Blu-ray and DVD collection to mkv/mp4 files that are made available on Plex. Through Plex, I can watch my library through the Plex app on my PS4 or Xbox One. Plex supports transcoding video and audio on the fly to native formats supported by a Plex client. I've also synced some of my library to my iPad and iPhone for when I travel.

Gaming

I am very pleased with this machine as a gaming rig. With Steam Big Picture Mode, I can have a console like experience. It brings back the same fun I had with my ZOTAC NEN.

Graphics

I purchased a ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti as I was happy with the build quality and reliability of my previous Steam machine. The ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti crushes gaming at 1080p on high/ultra and 1440p on medium/high for most games. Some of my older games can even play at 4K! These games are several years old: DiRT 2 and DiRT 3 run buttery smooth at 4K on the GTX 1050 Ti. I am impressed by this card's capabilities being that is a sub $150 card. I was primarily looking to get decent framerates at 1080p until I can replace with a GTX 1080 Ti this summer. The bottom line: If you're looking for a budget low power card, please give the GTX 1050 Ti a look! You won't be disappointed!

Audio

I have a Sound Blaster Omni sound card with Dolby Digital LIVE! encoding for 5.1 surround sound. The sound card encodes any surround sound signal into a Dolby Digital compatible signal. In addition, I have an optical audio 2x4 matrix splitter to enable switching between different inputs and outputs in my entertainment center. One of the outputs is to my speakers and the other output is to my wireless 5.1 surround sound headset. I frequently switch between my PC, TV, and original Xbox as inputs. My TV acts as a switch for my consoles as both the Xbox One and PS4 have HDMI surround sound passthrough on the TV's optical out.

Input Devices

I rarely use my keyboard and mouse while playing games in the living room, but I use a variety of controllers to play the different games in my collection. I have a Steam controller and Xbox 360 controller for playing most of my games. I also have a GameCube adapter so I can play GameCube games through Dolphin. I have a Wii remote and nunchuck for playing Wii games in Dolphin.

Future

Capture Card

I'm considering getting a high-end capture card for capturing game play from analog and digital sources. I've been reading up on different options and the best option for doing both analog and digital appears to be the Micomsoft SC-512 PCIe card. One of the most attractive features of this card are recording at 60fps from any source (HDMI, VGA, DVI, component, composite) at up to 1080p. From my research so far, it looks like HDMI audio is preserved from its original source. This means that if the source is Dolby Digital 5.1, then the resulting capture will have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This is quite cool as most cards only support stereo or 2.1 audio. I'm not sure if YouTube has official support for 5.1 audio, but it would be neat to have surround sound in game recordings.

Gamer Footprint Update

6. July 2015 08:02 by Cameron in Gamer Footprint  //  Tags: , , , , , ,   //   Comments

Hey guys, I know it's been a few months since the last update. Life has been pretty busy! I've been working hard on updating Gamer Footprint to use an on-demand approach for storing/retrieving games, achievements and trophies so that we don't have to rely on a schedule for updating player information. I will still probably have a scanner that runs on a schedule, but using an on-demand approach will allow for players to view the games they or their friends have played even if the scanner hasn't reached their account yet. This is very much a work in progress, but I feel this is the best direction going forward for near real-time updates. Using a linear scanning of all profiles will take a long time by itself and can probably be improved. However, with both the scanner and on-demand content updates, we'll get more frequent updates than before. Currently, I have a rough implementation of PlayStation game listing for any PSN ID, but there is a bug that duplicates games at the moment that I'm trying to work out. Because of this, I will wait to make it publicly known how to access PSN games for a PSN ID. Over the next few weeks I will hopefully be able to fix this bug and everyone will be able to enjoy viewing their PSN games on Gamer Footprint. The nice thing is that with the improvements I'm making, it will no longer require you to provide your username or password for either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. You will simply be able to link your Gamertag and PSN ID to your account and our scanner will pick up your information. Please stay tuned for more updates soon!

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