How has your year been for computers, reader? Pick up anything nice, or do you have any favorite old gear that’s still going strong? I’m still very happy with the 4K gaming monitor I got for a pittance, and I’ve spent the past 12 months increasingly convinced that keyless keyboards are, in fact, the best keyboards out there.
That’s just me. On everyone’s invited macro level, 2022 ended up being the most transformative year for the PC gaming community in recent memory. We’ve got it all: long-awaited launches, bitter disappointments, and truly impressive performance innovations. Also, Valve made a handheld computer. That was cool.
Rather than me talking about peripherals that I loved, let’s look back at the highs, lows, and mids of occasional devices throughout 2022. Starting with one that needs no introduction, as I’ve already been talking about it since February.
Steam Deck defined a new way to play PC games
The Steam Deck has undoubtedly been the biggest story for PC gaming in 2022. Finally launching early in the year after weeks of delays, it proves that there is no sticking point – Valve has indeed created a remarkably powerful, cleverly designed and surprisingly flexible tool for gaming. PC gaming on the go. And it got the attention of the players too. Although it has recently become possible to purchase a deck without a reservation, the handheld has been the best-selling item on Steam for most of 2022.
As Gabe Newell told me in February, Valve has also been keen to maintain a proper PC openness with Deck. As such, it’s significantly more versatile than the likes of the Nintendo Switch, or even the lock-less Playdate. You can easily add support for non-Steam launchers, to play games from the Epic Games Launcher and GOG libraries, and it’s possible (though not always recommended) to remove and replace much of the internals using standard screwdrivers.
Overhaul is optional, and mind you, and at under £349 this is an impressive little thing right off the bat. If you haven’t tried Steam Deck yet, I highly recommend borrowing someone else’s, as it’s a really nice experience, especially the first time. It’s (most of) your Steam games, running on a handheld device! Even those really graphically demanding ones scroll through your thumbs! Cor. Eventually, that amazement subsides, but only for a more sustained appreciation, specifically for the ability to take a library of potentially hundreds of games out of the house. Or, more often, just on the couch. Sometimes I want to play games but just don’t keep sitting upright in the office chair I’ve been in all day, and the Steam Deck is perfect for that.
The Steam Deck Fun Fact: The framed Steam Deck artwork she gave Liam in her unusual accessories video, which was filmed in August, is still on his office wall. This is Liam, he’s very nice to us.
For years now, upgrade software like Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR has offered a clever way to speed up your PC’s gaming performance without resorting to the typical method of lowering quality settings. 2022 saw significant improvements to both DLSS and FSR, with Intel’s XeSS establishing itself as another viable platform alternative. Fake your screen’s screen resolution has never been so good.
AMD has already launched three new versions of FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) this year. FSR 2.0, now called FSR 2, made the biggest leap in quality. Compared to FSR 1.0, which can blur edges and details for the highest quality upscaling mode, FSR 2 looked sharper and more controlled. In other words, it’s very similar to the original offering, plus it’s a lot closer to the high standards previously set by Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Super Learning). FSR 2.1 and FSR 2.2 made further improvements to how animated objects appear, narrowing the gap between them and DLSS even further.
Since FSR runs on all modern graphics cards, not just GeForce RTX GPUs, these improvements will likely be felt by a wider range of PC owners. Good on AMD, then, for keeping their upgrade level up to standard. However, in terms of presenting the trick Really interestingNvidia wins again with DLSS 3 and its window generation feature. This uses the number-crunching AI prowess of the RTX 40 series GPUs, to insert all-new AI-generated frames in between the traditionally rendered ones. In addition to the performance gains that come with the upgrade, you thus get a huge frame rate boost at almost no hardware cost. Literally a game changer, especially at 4K.
There are some limitations to DLSS 3: it currently only works on the RTX 4080 and RTX 4090, and because AI-generated frames are essentially invisible to your computer’s rendering pipeline, a game that owes high render rates to the generated frames won’t. feelings Smooth to control as if all those frames were displayed. But it does a good job of improving the look of games that wouldn’t run better without it anyway, and Nvidia said it could look into making DLSS 3 possible on older RTX cards in the future.
Upgrade fun fact: The first game to support the full trifecta of DLSS, FSR, and XeSS was Death Stranding Director Cut, when XeSS was added in a patch on September 28.
Intel graphics cards have escaped vaporware hell
The Intel Arc GPU family spent much of 2022 missing their release windows. Not that Intel changed course, claiming repeatedly that its long-awaited return to desktop gaming graphics would be ready soon, before sloshing back into a tense routine worthy of any Covent Garden street gamer. It wasn’t until the fall that the flagship Arc A770 and Arc A750 became true slabs of plastic and silicon that you could touch, feel, and slap on your PC.
Their chances of breaking the Nvidia-AMD duopoly? Few. Our friends at Digital Foundry (Intel never sent us the cards) found the Arc A770 and Arc A750 to be decent contenders at 1080p/light 1440p quality. But! They suffer from DirectX 9 and 11 performance drop while they need variable BAR support to work well at all. Not so much a triumphant comeback as confusion at a two-hour late party.
However, a disappointing launch doesn’t necessarily end its significance. For the first time in generations, someone other than Nvidia or AMD has offered gaming GPUs — that’s a big deal. Originally called the Arc Alchemist, this generation represents the first of four planned architectures, with early whispers suggesting that the next Arc Battlemage could be even more ambitious.
There’s also a sense that sometimes, when hardware is in the making like the Arc Alchemist, just getting it out the door can be an accomplishment in itself. There have certainly been moments this year when I’ve started to doubt whether these graphics cards will really see the light of day, and while both the Arc A770 and Arc A750 are GPUs I’d buy myself, as long as there’s enough potential in them. Reason has been proven wrong.
The fun of the Intel graphics card that has been abandoned is actually a fact: A prototype supposedly running off of Intel’s Larabee GPU, a desktop card design scrapped in 2006, sold on eBay this year for €4,650. That’s about £4,053, $4,933, or two for an RTX 4090 with change.
Big games have made big system requirements
It’s the circle of computers life: graphics cards and CPUs get faster, games get more demanding of those components, they get faster to respond, and iterate until we’re flying in the sun.
However, PC system requirements are starting to pop up in 2022 faster than I can remember at all, especially for AAA fare. The minimum spec is starting to drop familiar old names like the GTX 970 and move on to new generations of hardware entirely, with the GTX 1060 — currently the second most used graphics card among Steam users — listed as the minimum for games like Elden Ring and Ghostwire: Tokyo. The upcoming remake of Silent Hill 2 claims a GTX 1080, which cost around £550 when new, as one of its lower-spec GPUs. other? AMD’s Radeon RX 5700, an upper-midrange card, is less than four years old.
Some games are memory hungry, too. Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Icarus, and Returnal all included 32GB of RAM for the highest recommended spec, as did Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order before it was later revised to 16GB. Getting that much DDR4, let alone the pricier DDR5, is a big question when most PC owners are still into 16GB. According to the latest Steam hardware survey, less than 16% of respondents have 32GB or more of RAM.
Again, you’d expect the minimum and recommended specs to go up over time, though in order to keep as many games as possible playable for as many people as possible, I hope that rate of change slows in 2023.
System requirements fun fact: There is nothing pleasant about the system requirements.
Graphics card prices have recovered, and then are horrible again on purpose
imagine that. Almost an entire GPU generation was lost to the price gouging craze, with a historically bizarre combination of parts shortages, unwanted attention from crypto barons, and vendor greed making it nearly impossible to get a fair trade. After nearly two years, the market has finally settled down, just in time for new cards to be released – all of which cost hundreds of pounds/dollars more than their predecessors, their makers say.
Except you don’t have to imagine, because that’s exactly what happened in late 2022. The RTX 4080 launched at £1,269 / $1,199, close to double the RTX 3080’s launch price, while the RTX 4090 was and remains more of an intangible concept than a real thing. intangible concept. A serious buy at £1,679 / $1,599. And those were the starting prices – expect more devastating price tags on partner releases. AMD has gone a little less crazy, launching the Radeon RX 7900 XT from £900 / $899 and the Radeon RX 7900 XTX from £1,000 / $999, but these are still just a bunch of two, with no more alternatives. Affordable prices currently announced to use the same RDNA 3 architecture.
There are only two defenses to this no nonsense. First, these ingredients are much more powerful than the ones they replace. Secondly, the costs of some parts have increased for reasons that have nothing to do with making simple money. But not only is the timing of this price hike insensitive, as we’re just emerging from the groovy 2020 storm, it also foreshadows the more affordable variants most PC owners will be waiting for. Will the £750 RTX 4060 be a disguised upgrade? Almost certainly not.
Fun GPU penny pinching fact: By far, the least expensive graphics cards launched in 2022 were Intel’s Arc Alchemist models. Your Majesty. Maybe I was hard on them after a few sections? Could. I will think about it in 2023.
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