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Old February 5, 2013, 06:17 AM
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Default HWC and YOU: Review & Article Input Requested

So here we are in the SIXTH YEAR of Hardware Canucks and boy has time flown.

Community engagement and providing unbiased content remain central commitments from the review and admin team here. As such, over the next few weeks I'll be starting a number of forum threads which allow you to voice your UNFILTERED input regarding the site, where we are and how we can better adapt to your expectations.

In this topic, we'll be discussing reviews and articles.

As you know, the industry is changing. Be that for the better or worst is immaterial; HWC has to adapt. Additional focus is being put upon mobility products (notebooks primarily) while still remaining true to our primary categories of CPUs, GPUs, SSDs and other add in components.

In the next few weeks, you'll see a complete revision of our graphics card testing methodologies and the introduction of Build Guides which tackle various aspects of building an upgrading a system. In that vein, we'll also be tackling items that aren't discussed much but remain a mystery to many: data migration, setting up a cache drive / RAID, easy overclocking guides for AMD and Intel systems, etc.

While this is just the time of an overly large iceberg, I'd still like your input.

- What would you like to see reviewed?

- Are there any categories we currently cover where you would like to see MORE reviews?

- In our current stable of reviews, where do you believe improvements can and should be made?

- What type of content do you think HWC is missing?

- Is there anything you would like to see LESS of?

- Do you find the reviews too long / short?

- Should more video reviews be done?


Naturally, the list goes on and on but in this thread I want YOU to pick and choose your comments, no matter how harsh.

Tell us about the reviews, the content or anything else for that matter but above all else, let's improve HWC together.
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Old February 5, 2013, 06:46 AM
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I think you could look at more in depth testing of GPU's. A number of other websites are measuring individual frame times, not just 'FPS'. It turns out it's a good measure of the capability of a video card to provide the illusion of 'fluid motion', as well as showing where and if a card stutters.

I know you expressed doubts when I linked to The Tech Report previously, specifically the 7950 vs 660Ti review, however their methods could be considered legitimate enough that AMD has responded by releasing a new set of drivers with fixes specifically to reduce individual frame times.

PCPER.com actually improved upon the method by eliminating FRAPS. They installed a video capture card in another rig, and take the signal output from the video card being tested, and measure the frames as seen on a display. Apparently FRAPS measures frames as they come off the core, but before they go into the VRAM and subsequently the display. This method effectively eliminates that potential discrepancy between what FRAPS is recording and what your eye is seeing, WRT frame latencies.

So, I dunno, maybe something for you to think about when you revamp your GPU reviews.


Also, on a different note, maybe one of you reviewers could write an article about troubleshooting. How to deal with various problems and what testing software to use, the causes of various symptoms, etc. For example, if my video card keeps crashing in 3D Mark13 (which it is) how to test whether the VRAM is bad before sending for RMA. Or perhaps a good method to determine whether your powersupply is on the fritz, etc.
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Old February 5, 2013, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKYMTL View Post
So here we are in the SIXTH YEAR of Hardware Canucks and boy has time flown.

Community engagement and providing unbiased content remain central commitments from the review and admin team here. As such, over the next few weeks I'll be starting a number of forum threads which allow you to voice your UNFILTERED input regarding the site, where we are and how we can better adapt to your expectations.

In this topic, we'll be discussing reviews and articles.

As you know, the industry is changing. Be that for the better or worst is immaterial; HWC has to adapt. Additional focus is being put upon mobility products (notebooks primarily) while still remaining true to our primary categories of CPUs, GPUs, SSDs and other add in components.

In the next few weeks, you'll see a complete revision of our graphics card testing methodologies and the introduction of Build Guides which tackle various aspects of building an upgrading a system. In that vein, we'll also be tackling items that aren't discussed much but remain a mystery to many: data migration, setting up a cache drive / RAID, easy overclocking guides for AMD and Intel systems, etc.

While this is just the time of an overly large iceberg, I'd still like your input.

- What would you like to see reviewed?

- Are there any categories we currently cover where you would like to see MORE reviews?

- In our current stable of reviews, where do you believe improvements can and should be made?

- What type of content do you think HWC is missing?

- Is there anything you would like to see LESS of?

- Do you find the reviews too long / short?

- Should more video reviews be done?


Naturally, the list goes on and on but in this thread I want YOU to pick and choose your comments, no matter how harsh.

Tell us about the reviews, the content or anything else for that matter but above all else, let's improve HWC together.

Guess I'll go first , you can smite me after.

First, I'm working on 5 years here myself so I've seen a lot myself in the time spent here.
Making dedicated sections and How-To's might help a lot with traffic because some people (or a lot) would rather just read a pre-defined guide than make an actual post. So your idea for doing that is good IMO. Add in there an edited section that has a dedicated guide to SSD care a la AkG would also be a plus.


I know this will never change, but I'll make mention of it only because I know many people feel the same way so I'll help speak for them. I do love Video reviews, they are a good source of information. I would rather them not be for Cases though.
I'm not going to lie, but when I want to read about a case I don't look here first. Again it is not a knock against the reviewer (Dimitry you do an excellent Job), its just not my preferred format espcially if I am working on said case and up against an issue or something along those lines.

What would be nice to add as subject for reviews is perhaps the following (for consideration of course).

- UPS units (Home use ones obviously, no point doing any of the 2200KVa units doubtful anyone but me has a 30A Twist Lock in the basement lol) I've found very little in the way of this but something like that done occasionally would be excellent. A lot of people search for but don't find enough info out there.

- Fans , I really think a running data base on fans would be excellent. I have a whole methodology stuck in my head on a way to test. I find its a hot topic on the forums not just here but elsewhere and many people have very few sites to reference when searching. It would be nice for HWC to start getting referenced for such things.

- I want to say to add PSU's too, but there are many good players out there with a lot of $$$ and half electrical engineers to do proper PSU reviews. That might be beyond our current scope right now. Still something to maybe consider for future ideas.

- RAM, although I know its not the hottest topic in the world we used to do it and more Board reviews than current. That I can hope to see changing in the future again.

I find all the reviews are the perfect length, even being a long time reader it is nice to touch on the fundementals in each thread.
Though perhaps say some reviews that are based on the same architecture you can cut down some of it by having a 'database' of that information linked in the review. That way for people who know already they can get to the 'meat' quicker and it saves you on rehashing things as much.
Even still a database of the old and current architectures would be nice for reference purposes and such.

Everything else I find up to par, and I still think for many things like VC's and SSD's we are a golden standard vs what I see elsewhere.

-ST
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by great_big_abyss View Post

I know you expressed doubts when I linked to The Tech Report previously, specifically the 7950 vs 660Ti review, however their methods could be considered legitimate enough that AMD has responded by releasing a new set of drivers with fixes specifically to reduce individual frame times.

PCPER.com actually improved upon the method by eliminating FRAPS. They installed a video capture card in another rig, and take the signal output from the video card being tested, and measure the frames as seen on a display. Apparently FRAPS measures frames as they come off the core, but before they go into the VRAM and subsequently the display. This method effectively eliminates that potential discrepancy between what FRAPS is recording and what your eye is seeing, WRT frame latencies.
Frame times will be used in upcoming GPU reviews but only in limited amounts. Basing an entire methodology around frame metering is (IMO) a huge mistake.

There is a number of reasons behind this which I won't go into detail about but I feel that it's impossible to accurately "benchmark an experience".

However, let's just remember that a LOT can impact the "smoothness" of a game; from system loads to in-game coding issues. In addition, on single GPU systems, smoothing out frametimes is quite easy through driver optimizations so don't expect there to be huge differences between AMD and NVIDIA over the next 6 months or so in this area.

Years ago I posted a thread which dealt directly with frame metering in GPU reviews. Unfortunately, it was lost when we got hacked.

Basically, our new GPU testing methodology will hit the following points:

- Framerate over time graphs to supplement the min / avg graphs
- Frame Time graphs for certain GPUs (there's no way EVERY GPU in a review can be compared in this way)
- No more testing WITHOUT AA enabled
- New resolutions: 1080P and 1440P. Later this year, we will expand to 4K testing.
- Multi monitor testing will be done in a separate article
- No more old games unless they are still valid. We will be updating the titles used on a more regular basis.

A MAJOR focus in new GPU articles will be feature testing. These days, GPUs have a bevy of features that can ENHANCE a gameplay experience but typically receive very little press. For example, I feel that NVIDIA's Adaptive V-Sync is one of the best technologies to be released within the last 5 years of gaming. However, it was barely covered.
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKYMTL View Post
A MAJOR focus in new GPU articles will be feature testing. These days, GPUs have a bevy of features that can ENHANCE a gameplay experience but typically receive very little press. For example, I feel that NVIDIA's Adaptive V-Sync is one of the best technologies to be released within the last 5 years of gaming. However, it was barely covered.
I am VERY happy to hear this, as I was about to type that exact suggestion.

Anandtech occasionally (I'm not sure of their criteria) puts up overlay screenshots of identical nature with X,Y,Z enabled/disabled. They've gotten away from this, but back in the days of early AA use they did it all the time, and it was INCREDIBLY informative. Today I couldnt tell you a thing about the difference between all the different jargon that AMD and nV use.

We all stay current with our technology, be it GPU or CPU, why arnt we benchmarking (and maybe comparing apples to oranges in AMD/nV) these built-in feature sets?

Other then that, I read this site, and Anand. The former is my go-to, the latter tends to be very technical (Anand and his SSD articles are amazing imo). But technical isnt always better, and I guess it depends on what the target audience is. Which brings me to the next point; Analyzing what people want is a great idea, but what is the target audience? The forums I would guess are a very limited scope of review readership. Demographics would help immensely in determining what is best for the site, rather then us gargoyles that are always here, no?
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:41 AM
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Great idea about the "How-to" articles. The HWC has a lot of knowledge to build some create general guide that could be useful, and I'd rather use a guide from here :) There is a lot of lazy people (including myself) that still want to play with hardware/OS, but will not experiment a complete week end to really go deep in the matter.

Regarding the actual review format, I also do not really like a video review. I just feel like I'm missing so much information about the product.
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Sagath View Post
Analyzing what people want is a great idea, but what is the target audience? The forums I would guess are a very limited scope of review readership. Demographics would help immensely in determining what is best for the site, rather then us gargoyles that are always here, no?
I can tell you that this is a multi-pronged approach with this thread being one cog in a very large gear.
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:55 AM
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How do you discover the demographics that post upon a forum? Much less the lurkers who either have an account and rarely post, and those who visit to read threads but don't have an account?
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Son's Rig: M5A97; 1055T; CNPS20LQ; 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz; ASUS GTX650Ti Boost; 80GB Intel 520 SSD; 320GB WD Black HDD; SPI 700W; Bitfenix Shinobi;
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:58 AM
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A few things that I would like to see in your already excellent reviews,

CPU and GPU reviews.. When OCing please OC the competition as well. Granted there are times when this info can be found in your other reviews but certain times there aren't.
It would be good to see for example your OC results and the impact they have on a 3770k vs 8350 vs 3570k vs6.... you get my point. 24/7 stable and a "balls to the wall" oc
As I said I know some of this is covered already (though sometimes across different reviews) and if there are allot of comparisons it can lead to a LOONG time for the tests.

As said above I'd also love to see more fans, coolers, ram etc reviewed.

On the guides, hell yes. Video guides to overclocking and why you see x y and z (eg in EVGA PrecisionX my Ram shows as 3524Mhz, many people won't know why)
SSD guide would be Brilliant. video tour of how to set it up for optimum speed, reliability and longevity would be an outstanding article/video

Could also do a build guide more on the budget to performance rather than the putting things together.. Maybe a " build of the month with options for budget / low end / med / high and extreme builds. With recommended parts.

More reviews of lesser known / used brands. Palit, Galaxy, Asrock, Hitachi etc etc

I'm sure i can think of more but that is all that is coming to me for now.

As far as demographic, you could break reviews in 2, those that want the more technical details and those that don't.
Just omit the technical details from the lay-mans version or tell them/link them) to skip past it.
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Old February 5, 2013, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by great_big_abyss View Post
How do you discover the demographics that post upon a forum? Much less the lurkers who either have an account and rarely post, and those who visit to read threads but don't have an account?
Some is based upon assumption while others can be easily derived. For example, we can see which reviews are more read that others and which pages within each review are viewed most.
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