The 10 Best Graphics Cards For VR

Wiki ezvid spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this post. Virtual reality computing is the next evolution in gaming, healthcare, and the workplace, but it takes a significant amount of processing ability to use effectively. These high-end graphics cards provide the power you’ll need to approach or maintain 90 frames per second while avoiding screen tearing and juddering, thus keeping your VR experience fun and mostly free of dizziness. With the up and coming Sansar and High Fidelity as well as present second life and Firestorm Viewer’s We felt the need to update you all on whats what in the best GPU.

10. Radeon R9 Nano

9. Aorus Gaming Box

8. Radeon RX Vega 64

7. Radeon Pro Duo

6. GeForce GTX 1070 TI

5. Zotac GeForce GTX Mini

4. Radeon Pro WX9100

3. GeForce GTX 1060 SC

2. XFX RX 580 Black Edition

1. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The VR Revolution

We have a lot of ways that we choose to escape from our everyday lives.

We have a lot of ways that we choose to escape from our everyday lives. For millennia, we’ve told stories around the campfire that have taken us away from our daily troubles and transported us to other worlds and experiences. We’ve developed painting, theater, fiction, photography, and, more recently, the cinema, not just as a means of artistic expression, but also as a way to forget ourselves and our circumstances, if only for a moment.

It makes sense. Life is tough. Whether you were a cave dweller foraging and hunting for your daily survival, or you’re an office worker struggling to navigate through the choppy waters of intra-office politics, there’s an inherent difficulty to our quotidian existence.

Our modem computer technology has given us a new piece of hardware that can bring us deeper into other worlds than ever before: virtual reality.

If you’re unfamiliar with how VR works, we can simplify it for you. Essentially, a headset projects a stereoscopic image before your eyes while cutting out any other light source, filling both your central and peripheral vision. As you move your head, sensors in the unit move the image in conjunction, with worlds rendered in 360 degrees of reality.

In order for virtual reality to work, it has to constantly keep that entire world ready on demand, so if you suddenly flip your head around, there won’t be any lag in your view. This makes for an engrossing game play or movie going experience, but it also demands a certain baseline of computing power. That’s why, if you want to get the most out of your virtual reality setup, you’re going to need a high quality graphics card.

How To Choose The Best VR Graphics Card For You

Whether you’re your putting together your first PC capable of creating interactive VR environments or you’re looking to upgrade your current setup to keep up with the demands of the latest software, you’ll likely want to get the best graphics card that you can afford.

Realistically, your budget is a great place to start, as a lot of computer hardware gets better as it gets more expensive. That’s not quite the whole story, however, as your specific needs may exceed your budget, or even allow you to save a little money on your purchase. So, how do you evaluate one card over another?

Larger, faster, and closer to an exhaust vent within your tower will be best.

Practically speaking, you’ll want to make sure that the card you’ve got your eye on will actually fit into your tower. Depending on what else you’ve got crammed in there, you might find that you’ll need to upgrade your tower before picking a card.

After that, you’ll want to dig into the other specs that each card has to offer. This level of computing needs a certain temperature range to keep up optimal performance, so many graphics cards will have their own cooling systems. Generally speaking, more fans will result in a cooler card, but the speed, size, and placement of those fans makes a difference as well. Larger, faster, and closer to an exhaust vent within your tower will be best.

Graphics cards also have their own RAM independent from the RAM in your computer, and more RAM in a VR graphics card will help ensure a lag-free feed with less tearing and potentially less induced nausea.

The other number that you generally want as large as you can afford is clock speed. This specification is measured in GHz, and, like RAM, it goes a long way toward determining the speed and quality of the card’s performance. That said, if a card’s overall architecture is superior, it might outperform a comparable card with higher clock speeds, so if you’re torn between two cards with similar clock speeds, you can probably get away with saving a little money.

Some virtual reality graphics cards also have aesthetic value that you may or may not have any interest in. These often come in the form of colored lights that add a little ambience to your gaming area. This is entirely a matter of personal preference, though it’s worth noting that, with a VR headset on, you won’t be able to enjoy any extra lighting.

A Brief History Of Virtual Reality

As we mentioned above, virtual reality headsets that we use today create a stereoscopic image much like the one that originated in the early 1800s. Not long after the advent of photography, the stereoscope hit the scene, utilizing a pair of twin mirrors to project a single image simultaneously into each eye. The result often created a sense of three dimensionality, giving users the feeling that they were looking at the scene in front of them, not just picture.

As we mentioned above, virtual reality headsets that we use today create a stereoscopic image much like the one that originated in the early 1800s.

Virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction for many decades, and researchers have been delving into the means and materials required to bring the technology to life since at least the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the term virtual reality entered the common vernacular. Around this time, NASA begin to utilize virtual reality like devices in their astronaut training.

Often, virtual reality headsets were accompanied by some kind of controller, most often in the form of a glove or joystick that would allow the user to manipulate aspects of the environment they perceived. Today’s virtual reality systems are no different, relying on remote-control-like devices or actual video game controllers to give users the opportunity to interact with their environment.

That doesn’t mean that virtual reality is confined to the sphere of gaming, however. NASA, for example, continues its virtual reality experiments, allowing people to slap on the headset and walk along the surface of Mars. The technology is also becoming more common place in the field of medicine, where the ability to enter and interact with a simulation of the human body can at times feel like an episode of the Magic School Bus or a potentially hilarious science-fiction comedy, albeit one with potentially life saving benefits.

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff

Kraken Ransomware Masquerades As Legit Software

A ransomware program named Kraken Cryptor is disguised as the popular anti-malware program, SuperAntiSpyware. Users are being tricked into installing what they think is anti-malware protection but which is really a wicked app that encrypts their data and demands money in exchange for the key to decrypting it. Here’s how to avoid traps like this…

The Kraken Has Been Released!

In legend and lore, the Kraken is a terrifying beast that can wreak havoc on humanity. On the Internet, it’s pretty much the same, but without all those teeth and tentacles.

It’s bad enough that ransomware exists, but it’s really bad when it pretends to be something good. Somehow, the malicious purveyors of Kraken Cryptor managed to invade SuperAntiSpyware.com and serve up ransomware instead of the anti-malware program that users expected. This is a bad guy’s fondest dream and the worst nightmare of users and anti-malware developers.

Kraken Cryptor is “malware as a service,” a program maintained on a central server and called by Javascript code planted in a web page. It can attack from any page that is vulnerable to code injections from third-party bad actors. There are many such pages. There are plenty of malicious “script kiddies” who need few technical skills to plant Kraken Cryptor in your favorite website’s home page.

Kraken Cryptor first appeared on security researchers’ radar in August. Malware Hunter Team, a group of security researchers, has been tracking Kraken Cryptor since then. The team discovered the disguised version 1.5 of Kraken Cryptor at SuperAntiSpyware’s site on September 14, 2018, and sounded the alarm in a series of Tweets. important to note that Kraken Cryptor is a “new improved” variant of plain old Kraken malware, which is not ransomware. It’s easy to confuse the two. Also important: avoiding Kraken Cryptor is NOT as simple as staying away from SuperAntiSpyware.com.

If you downloaded the legitimate installer (without the “s” at the end) then you are safe; Kraken Cryptor has not infiltrated that file. The legit installer will install Super Anti Spyware as expected. A statement from SuperAntiSpyware.com says that the rogue file was somehow uploaded to their download server, but it was “discovered and removed within several hours.” Kraken Cryptor is now being distributed by “affiliates” using an exploit kit that can be used to host the ransomware on compromised websites.

Curiously, Kraken Cryptor checks the language and location of the target computer and will not encrypt machines located in certain countries; those nations are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Brazil. Yes, you could immunize your PC by moving to Kazakhstan, or changing your location setting to one of the “exempt” nations. But if you do not read and write that nation’s language, it won’t do you any good.

The ransom demanded by Kraken Cryptor is one-eighth (0.125) of a Bitcoin. The price of a Bitcoin fluctuates wildly but as I type this the ransom is about $800 USD.

Kraken Cryptor takes multiple steps to make it impossible to decrypt one’s hostage data without paying the ransom. The only free recovery hope is a recent clean backup copy of your data. You could pay the ransom, but I advise against doing so.

First, there is no guarantee your data will be decrypted if you pay. The promise of a crook is worthless. It would make more sense, from the crook’s perspective, to demand even more money once it is determined that you are willing and able to pay. Second, paying a ransom encourages more ransomware. You could become known as an easy mark, and the target of multiple extortionists.

Kraken Cryptor even displays the same thumbnail icon as the real SuperAntiSpyware. It’s possible that the authors of Kraken Cryptor did one small good deed, but it may just as well have been a mistake. The legitimate installation file for SuperAntiSpyware is named SUPERAntiSpyware.exe. The disguised Kraken Cryptor installation file is named SUPERAntiSpywares.exe. The only difference apparent is the addition of a letter “s” at the end of the filename.

Protecting Against Kraken and Other Forms of Ransomware

Instead, protect yourself against ransomware by a) maintaining current, tested backups of all your important data. Read past blog here 9 good reasons to backup will get you started on the road to painless, automatic backups that are immune to ransomware infection.

Another idea is to use security software that monitors the behavior of all running programs, and blocks any action that might lead to encryption before actual harm is done. MalwareBytes Anti-Malware is one paid security suite that has this “behavior analysis” feature.

But there’s an even better option. Instead of relying on “blacklists” of known viruses, and giving potentially rogue programs a chance to test their mettle against your security software, why not block ALL programs from running, unless they are known to be legit? That “whitelist” approach is implemented in PC Matic’s Super Shield, which only lets known good programs run on your computer.

Have you been sucker-punched by ransomware? If so, how did you handle it? If not, do you think you are vulnerable?

Have a great week!

ZI Staff

Time to Upgrade Your Hard Drive?

Two storage technologies compete in the hard drive market; one dates back to 1956, the other became widely available to consumers less than a decade ago. As you might expect, the latter is vastly superior in performance. Today, the price difference between them is still significant but narrowing rapidly. Let’s take a look at the venerable Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and its blazing-fast successor, the Solid State Disk (SSD)…

SSD vs. HDD: Battle for the Bits

Open the shiny steel case of a conventional HDD and you will find anostalgic array of parts that strongly resemble a vinyl record turntable. There are stacked platters of rigid substrate coated with magnetic particles; the magnetic state of each tiny spot on these disks determines whether it is recognized as a 1 or 0 for data processing purposes.

There is also an armature that moves back and forth across the disk, and at its tip is a sensor called a read-write head, analogous to the needle in a phonograph’s armature. There is an armature for each stacked disk, giving the overall armature the appearance of a comb.

The phonograph’s needle reads the tiny back-and-forth jiggles of a groove cut into a vinyl record to reproduce the sounds that made groove. As it flies over the surface of the spinning disk, the HDD’s read-write head can both read the magnetic state of spots on the disk and change that state to write data to them.

Spinning vinyl records topped out at 78 rpm. The disks in a HDD spin at 5,400 to 7,200 rpm typically; some high-performance HDDs may reach 10,000 rpm. This rotation speed largely determines how fast data can be read and written on the HDD. How much data can be stored on a standard-sized HDD is called its “data density” and is largely a function of the read-write head’s precision plus the speed at which the disk spins.

Electric motors drive all the moving parts of a HDD. The bearings in those motors are the HDD’s Achilles heel, the typical point of failure. When your HDD starts making rumbling noises it’s a sign that its bearings are starting to wear out; when the sound changes to “grinding” disaster is imminent and you had better have a current backup of your data.

It’s All About the Donuts

By contrast a solid-state drive (SSD) contains no moving parts. Instead, it is filled with flash memory, the same stuff found in USB flash drives. Think of flash memory as a densely-woven 3-D fabric of crisscrossing wires. At the junction of two wires, electrical current can change the state of a tiny donut-shaped bit of metal; these metal donuts (also called gates) are arranged in a 3-D array.

The electrical state of a gate determines whether it is counted as a 1 or 0. (Each gate can have other states as well, which increases potential data density.) The state of a gate is retained even when electricity is turned off.

Electrons move at nearly the speed of light, so flipping a gate’s state is nearly instantaneous. So is reading the state of any gate given its x-y-z coordinates in the array. So an SSD is silent and supremely fast.

The silence is a blessing and a drawback; there is no early-warning rumbling to let you know your SSD will soon fail. On the other hand, an SSD is nearly immune to damage by dropping or jostling, whereas such shocks can knock the read-write head of an HDD into a magnetic disk to scratch and destroy it. An SSD does not suffer mechanical wear due to friction, so it should last much longer than an HDD.

A Windows 10 PC with an HDD may take tens of seconds to boot up. The same machine equipped with an SSD will boot in the blink of an eye. Additionally, applications that read and write large quantities of data on mass storage work much faster with an SSD than with an HDD. Such applications include gaming, video editing, working with large databases or spreadsheets, and more. But every app that uses mass storage benefits from an SSD. That time saving alone is enough to justify the extra cost of an SSD in many people’s minds.

SSDs come in the same form factors as HDDs, including standard SATA interfaces, so they can be plug-and-play replacements for HDDs. SSDs come in other form factors too: SD cards, memory sticks, and more. Solid state memory is a versatile medium.

Storage Prices Continue to Drop

Price per gigabyte is one way to measure the value of mass storage, the HDD still reigns supreme. Back in 1981 when the IBM PC debuted, HDD prices were in the range of $300,000 per gigabyte. In 1995, when the Web was young, prices had dropped to $750 per gigabyte. Today, you can buy HDD storage for about three cents per gig. By contrast, SSDs cost about 10 times more per gigabyte.

Gartner Research predicts HDD storage will cost as little as $0.001 (one-tenth of a cent!) per gigabyte in 2021. Will SSD prices continue to drop at the same rate? Time will tell.

Capacities of HDD and SSD drives will continue to grow as greater data density becomes feasible. I can’t imagine needing 15 TB of storage but those who do will be able to get it in SSD or HDD, according to Gartner.

SSD drives do wear out. There is a limit to the number of times the state of one of those “donuts” can be flipped before it simply stops working. Circuitry within an SSD keeps track of the number of times every donut has been flipped, and retires those that are too near their expected life’s end. Over time, less space is available on an SSD due to these retirements. But in practical terms, your computer will probably be obsolete before that happens.

HDDs will always have a place in data processing, the place where low cost per gigabyte is most important. When it comes to performance, shock-resistance, and overall longevity, the future seems to belong to SSD.

When I bought my Dell Alienware computer about a year ago, I ordered a 1TB SSD drive to accommodate (main drive) 3TB hard drive that shipped with it. The Samsung SSD came with software called Samsung Data Migration, which made it super-easy to transfer everything from my existing hard drive, and make the new SSD my primary C: drive. I run Second life firestorm viewer from the SDD and its screams at startup.

The result was pretty dramatic. Startup time was slashed, programs open quicker, and everything just works faster. At current prices and capacities, I would recommend a solid-state drive as an excellent investment for any PC or Mac owner.

Have you moved from HDD to SDD in your computer?

Have a great week

Zi Staff

Do I Get October Windows 10 Update Now Or Wait?

The October 2018 Windows 10 Update (to version 1809) is rolling out now. Should you grab it, wait for it, or dodge it as long as possible? Here’s what you need to know… Whats this have to do with your Second Life Experience? Well as I always point out if your machine is not running up to date then YOU WILL have issues with second life viewer!

Should You Postpone the October Windows 10 Update?

It seems like we return to this question about every six months. That’s because we do face two annual major updates to Windows 10. These major updates are different from the monthly Patch Tuesday bug fixes and security patches.

Major updates add features to an already complex piece of software. They also update the list of hardware platforms that Windows 10 will run on. You didn’t really think that 20-year-old PC sporting a Pentium-III processor was going to last forever, did you?

One thing that never changes is the price spectrum of hardware. For just under $500 you can have a machine that runs Windows, barely; it will be a serviceable but painfully slow ride. Between $501 and $1000 is the “respectable” neighborhood. $1001 to $2000 will get you envious looks. Anything over $2000 and you’re either a hardcore gamer or an Apple fan.

It’s funny how that works out every time, isn’t it? But no so much when you consider how closely Microsoft works with Intel, AMD, and the major PC OEMs.Another thing that never changes is the “early reports of problems when the latest update is installed.” Yes, twice a year the folks who get the major update earliest run an increased risk of data loss or system failure, the kind that only a full backup can repair. That leads to the question, “Should I grab the update now or wait until the bugs are ironed out?”

An article in ZDNet warns that some users have experienced the loss of documents, photos and music after being updated to Windows 10 version 1809. It also advises that you should abort the update if you get a warning about Intel drivers.

Microsoft is trying hard to make that choice for you, by rolling out the latest updates in stages that may span two or three months. At each stage, the company collects feedback and fixes bugs before rolling out the next stage. The most modern hardware gets the updates first, while older, more fragile systems get it last. So if you have an old machine that is compatible with the latest Windows version, your safest bet is to wait for the update to come to you via Windows Update.

What’s in the October Windows 10 Update?

If you see something in the list of new features that you just cannot wait a few weeks to have, you can get it now simply by running Windows Update and telling it to check for updates.

Hmmm, there’s the “Your Phone” app, which gives you “instant access to your Android’s most recent photos on your PC,” and the ability to tweak the settings for your “wireless projection experience.” They tossed in some security and registry editor improvements, and some stuff for business customers. Personally, I am not in dire need of any of the new features; they are “nice to have” but not “must have right now” features for me.

Some people do manual updates to control when Windows installs a major update. One’s system is always unusable for a significant amount of time during an update, and that drives some people crazy. Microsoft has made meaningful strides in reducing update downtime, cutting it by 31% versus the April update, the company says. But if you want the update now instead of when you are doing something important, then check for updates via Windows Update.

Even the automatic update is less likely to interrupt your work this time. Machine learning enables Windows to better recognize patterns in your use of your PC, and choose a time slot in which to update when it will be least intrusive.

Windows S and Windows Home edition users cannot postpone installation of feature updates. If you have the Pro or Enterprise edition, you can postpone such updates for up to six months by configuring the delay in Windows Update.

So those are your options. As for me, I intend to just let nature (and Windows) take their own courses. I’ve got multiple redundant backups, do you?

Have a great week

ZI Staff

Black Dragon Second Life Viewer Adds Full Animesh Support With Custom Animation Control – Great Tool For Machinima, Group Shots

Credit

Trouble Seeing Your Screen? Here’s Help

Aging eyesight afflicts everyone eventually, diminishing the pleasure and productivity of computing and gaming. Various adaptive technologies are available to compensate for loss of visual acuity. Some are built into Windows. But these options all have limitations, and using them in certain combinations can actually make it more difficult to make sense of what’s before your eyes. Read on for a look at Windows’ display settings and how to use them to best advantage.

Getting Windows Display Settings Right

Before trying to improve the display it’s best to reset it to default values so you know how the manufacturer intended things to look. Defaults also provide a baseline against which tweaks can be compared.

Open the “Change Display Settings” desktop app by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop and selecting “Display settings” from the drop down menu, or by typing “display” in the search box and double-clicking on the app in the results. On Windows 10, you will see a page like the one below. (For Windows 7 display settings, see below.)

Set the following items to the values indicated to restore your display to its defaults:

  • Brightness: 50 or as close as you can get it with the finicky slide control
  • Night Light: Off
  • Size of text, apps, and other…: 100%
  • Resolution: “recommended,” the highest your display supports
  • Orientation: Landscape

If any advanced display settings are in effect you will see a red notice to that effect. If you do, follow the instructions to disable them. You will be logged out and will need to sign in again to see the default settings take effect.

On a Windows 7 system, there are fewer controls. Click Start, enter “display settings” and then click the item “Change display settings”. Set your screen resolution to the highest your display supports, then click Apply. Next, click the “Make text and other items larger or smaller” link. Choose the “Smaller – 100%” option. Finally, click “Adjust ClearType text” and follow the instructions to get the sharpest-looking text on your display.

Some monitors have a physical menu button on the front, side or underneath, that lets you fine tune the brightness, hue, scaling, and other aspects of the display. If yours does, check those settings and set them to default values as well.

Moving Beyond Default Display Settings

Most likely, things will look smaller, crisper, and move faster. Using default display settings has a positive effect on overall system performance because few resources are diverted to accommodating custom display settings.

But default display settings may be hard on your unique eyesight. So now let’s see what we can tweak to make the screen easier to view and navigate.

One of my favorite tweaks is very easy. Hold down the Ctrl key while rolling the mouse wheel forward, away from you. All text in browsers, word processors, PDF readers, and other document display apps gets bigger! Reverse the wheel’s motion and everything gets smaller. A page’s left and right edges will expand or contract accordingly. This trick gives you pretty fine control over text size, and text size can be different from one window to another.

If you don’t have a mouse with a wheel, you can do the same thing by pressing Ctrl and the “+” or “-” keys. I prefer this method, because I can quickly return to the default magnification setting by pressing Ctrl and “0” (zero).

But you will notice that parts of the screen do not change size. Menu bars and other fixed objects that surround text remain the same size. In some apps, the window that confines text will not change size and enlarged text overflows the edges of the window, getting lost from sight.

More Tweaking the Windows Display Settings

To avoid this problem, return to the Windows 10 “Change Display Settings” app. (For Windows 7, use the “Make text and other items larger or smaller” option described above.) In the “Scale and Layout” section you will find the option to “Change the size of text, apps, and other items.” The dropdown menu allows settings of 100% of the default (recommended), 125%,and 150%. Play with those, logging out and back in after each change.

Notice that as you enlarge things they may no longer fit on your screen entirely. The bottom of the display settings page drops down out of sight beneath the edge of the screen. You will need to PgDn to see what you are missing, which may include important options for the app you are using.

The menu bars and text on them still remain at their tiny default sizes. In early versions of Windows 10, there was an “advanced sizing of text and other items” option that allowed you to change the size of the menu bars, text in title bars, icons and other fine tunings. That option was removed in the April 2017 Creators Update. I’ve read that if you start your computer in Safe Mode this option becomes available, and any changes you make will still be in effect when you exit Safe Mode. I’ve not tried that, so I can’t verify that it works.

The brightness and “night light” options on the display settings page change the hue of light, mostly by adding or removing some of the blue spectrum. A warmer, less-blue hue is often easier on the eyes and can help prepare your body for sleep, so try the “night light” toggle switch. Click on “Night light settings” to see how finely you can control the warmth of light.

Back up under “Scale and Layout” you see “Advanced scaling settings”. Toggle on the switch that promises to “Fix scaling for apps”. It can make text look less blurry when it’s enlarged or shrunk. Custom scaling percentages can also be set on this page; they will be indicated back on the main page when they are in effect. Don’t neglect to click on the “Apply” button at the very bottom of this page or your custom settings will not take effect.

The resolution of your display should be left at its recommended maximum. If it’s changed, there will be fewer pixels available and everything will look less sharp, blurry. The advantage of using a coarser resolution is that those tiny border items will look bigger, but blurrier. Leave “orientation” alone unless you switch to a monitor that is taller than it is wide.

The multiple displays section is mainly for gamers who keep a general-purpose monitor and a high-performance graphics monitor. You can control the settings of both types, and even specify an app to be used to test graphics settings.

I want to mention one more option that can help if you are visually impaired. The Magnifier (on Windows 7/8/10) can make any part of the screen larger. Press and hold the Start key and the plus (+) sign to activate the Magnifier. Move the mouse to the portion of the screen you want to magnify. You can adjust the magnification level if desired.

These are the basics of Windows display settings. Things get more complicated when you begin using display settings built into apps such as Chrome, in addition to the Windows settings. I recommend avoiding that. Do the best you can using Windows display settings alone.

Have a great week

Zi Staff