Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ASrock 990FX Extreme9 Motherboard Review: The evolution of awesome!

Hey everyone, Lawrence here and I know it's been quite a while since I’ve sat down and written anything new on my blog. However I just stumbled across some PC hardware GOLD for the socket AM3+, and I felt compelled to talk about it. Here today for your reading pleasure I will be reviewing the ASrock 990FX Extreme9 main-board, that’s motherboard for all you younger cats out there.

Before we get into the review “proper” first let me explain how I came across this board in the first place, not to mention the “love-hate” relationship I’ve had with this company for years. Anyone who knows me (knows) that I am a die hard AMD guy, and I’ve been that way pretty much since the beginning. My love affair with AMD started just after my father graduated technical school for Computer technology.

It was somewhere around the mid 90’s that my Dad built his first PC, and as you could probably guess it was an AMD powered computer. Back in the days of the venerable socket A series AMD (single core) processors, I watched with amazement as he carefully pieced together what would end up being the “Family PC”. Like my father I was “big-time” into computers and technology, even though in those days a personal computer was generally reserved for families of great means. However there were powers like Microsoft, and Apple who envisioned a world where a PC would be a staple of every home and affordable to even the poorest of families...a vision that quickly became a reality.

Now I’m not saying we were poor, we would have definitely been considered middle class by most peoples standards. However PC’s in people’s homes were definitely a rarity at best and the internet was in its infancy. It wasn’t long before I was picking my Dad’s brain for all of his knowledge about PC’s and how to build one. About a year later He and I were doing just that (building my first PC). This was back when Voodoo Graphics and ATi were going head to head battling for supremacy and a young upstart company called nVidia was making a name for themselves, not to mention Intel who was at the time struggling to find an answer to AMD’s superior CPU architecture.    

Well fast forward to today, or actually the last 10 or so years. It was around that time that I discovered a manufacturer by the name of ASRock, a Taiwanese company that was breaking into the enthusiast PC market with some flashy motherboards. There boards boasted a robust feature set that would normally be reserved for higher priced products. I’m not totally sure how long they’ve been at it, but I know for a fact that they have had performance geared hardware available at least since 2011.

Over the years I have owned about 5 of their products, I really liked the way they built their boards, what I like to call “intelligent design”. Unlike many other companies (ASUS) who don’t seem to care about AMD hardware users and have done (and continue to do) stupid things like positioning the PCIe x1 slot directly under a PCIe x16 slot making it impossible to use a WiFi adapter (yes some of us desktop users would actually like to have wireless functionality with our desktop PC)...go figure!  

However it isn’t a total love affair when it comes to ASRock either, when it comes to ASRock boards It's a hit or miss affair. I’m not sure if it is a matter of budget that’s holding them back from being a MAJOR player in the world of performance main-boards, or simply a matter of poor engineering, or should I say over engineering not to mention oversights that just make me want to scream! A perfect example of what I’m talking about is their recent ASRock fatal1ty 990fx killer. If you’ve ever taken a look at this board you have to admit that these are some REALLY nice looking boards packed with features that you would normally expect to see on an Intel based motherboard. 

Features like an M.2 port are prominently supported on this 990FX part, something I’ve always wanted on my AMD board but basically gave up on the idea of ever seeing (at least on the 990FX platform) anyway. Unfortunately however, when it comes to ASRock it’s not all “strawberries and cream”, as their motherboards (many of which anyway) seem to have a high rate of failure. Some of my contemporaries have suggested that it’s an issue of over-engineering “their just trying to pack-in too many features that were never meant to be on, or compatible with a 990FX chipset”. Now that argument does sound good on paper, but I’m not really sure I would subscribe to that notion. 

Personally I feel the issue plaguing ASrock is a much simpler one, if you were to ask me I would tell you that first and foremost they have a serious issue when it comes to their QC...or whom ever is conducting it. Just reading some of the complaints lodged against the company by its customers you can clearly see that "someone is falling asleep a the wheel” over at the QC department. Let me just premise this statement by playing “devil’s advocate” here for a moment when I say, all manufacturer’s no matter how great their products are ALL have a certain ROD or rate of defect. However their are just WAY TOO MANY when it comes to ASRock and especially their main-boards.

The second issue with their boards are the fact that they cut corners in places where they should NEVER! I will once again use the fatal1ty 990fx killer in order to substantiate my claims, however the design flaw that I’m about to expose can unfortunately be found on another of their latest products.

Beautiful board, too bad it's most likely going to burn out in about 6 - 12 months.

Looking at this picture of the Fatality 990FX's upper left corner you can see two heatsinks, one covering the CPU MOSFETs, and another (smaller) one to the lower right which is tasked with keeping the northbridge cool. It's right here where all of this board's problems lie, The heat-sink over the CPU MOSFETs is basically what we have come to expect these days and by most standards would be considered an acceptable cooling solution. However when we look at the heat-sink covering the NB we can really start to see a major design flaw which will cost this board its life-span. First thing's first, as you can see there is no heat pipe connecting the CPU MOSFETs cooling with the NB. The reason for this in my opinion is the fact that it would most assuredly make the whole system unstable. When a heat pipe is attached between the CPU MOSFETs and the NB it's done so some of the extra heat generated by the former can travel away giving it somewhere to go and with proper case fan cooling that heat will be defused. 

What we need to take note of is the actual heat-sink covering the NB(northbridge). If you have any experience with any form of gamer, overclocking, or enthusiast class motherboard they all have one thing in common...a huge NB cooling solution capable of quickly moving heat away from the NB and in many cases being capable enough to even help out the MOSFETs (which is why many manufacturers like ASUS join them together).

There's no way this tiny piece of heat-sink is going to cool anything!

This is by far the smallest piece of aluminum I have ever seen employed to (attempt) to keep a NB from over heating. Rep's from ASrock will swear that this is more than adequate to get the job done however, all one must do is check the user reviews over at newegg or youtube and you'll begin to see a different picture being painted as customer one after another, all report or I should say complain that their shiny new board has burned out! Many of the people that submitted reviews claim they never even tried to overclock the board at all! This type of cooling solution is what you would expect to find on a low-end, or budget grade motherboard, not on a (high) mid-range board being marketed to gamers and overclockers.

Just to put things into perspective I have included a few pictures of what I like to call cooling done right. These pictures show the type of cooling solution that should have been used on the Fatality board.

This is what I call "cooling done right"

Take note of how the ASUS engineers designed the cooling with ridges, and various levels which all work to move the heat away from the hot northbridge. This is essential not only for overclocking, but even just for stock performance.

Unfortunately the ASRock Extreme6 board suffers from the same stripped down, low-end cooling solution. After doing a large amount of research (reading customer feedback) these boards seem to support my original argument which is the fact that the under-performing NB cooler is shortening the life of these otherwise great 990FX boards...hundreds of customers can’t be wrong! 

Another board that could have been so much more capable...

I could go on, and on about this but the original plan was to review the ASRock Extreme9 990FX motherboard and that's what I am going to do, and I digress. It just really pisses me off because in my opinion ASRock could EASILY take the crown away from ASUS when it comes to motherboard design. Unfortunately too many missed opportunities have left a bad taste in many PC enthusiasts mouths (including mine). However I always give respect where it's due, and in the case of the ASrock Extreme9 990FX motherboard this is...(as far as I'm concerned) the best 990FX board ever made, and NO Asus doesn't have anything on this killer board! So with that hugely inflated intro, here is the review for ASRocks BEST AMD MOTHERBOARD EVER!   

Introducing the ASrock 990FX Extreme9 motherboard:

Chocolate PCB with black accents, topped w/ silver heatsink covers (trimmed in gold) looks great! 

This is not really going to be a “traditional” review as there are plenty of those already out there. What I am going to do is share my experiences with this motherboard vs. The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R.2 motherboard that it replaced. First let me say that this was not my first choice when it came to a 990FX AM3+ board. I was really looking toward ASUS and their Sabertooth Rev.2 boards, but after some serious research I’ve come to the conclusion that although ASUS makes some feature packed boards, MANY of them are just flawed plain and simple. They do use high quality parts on just about all of there offerings, but internally there’s just something not right. I’m leaning towards the consensus that these boards are just over-engineered. 

There’s just too much going on and its rushed out the door with little concern for the audience it’s aimed at. To say that manufacturer’s show very little respect to the AMD platform (these days) would be an understatement, and ASUS is just as guilty when it comes to this. With most manufacturers simply opting to build a “bare-minimum” product with little care or concern for the actual people who will be using it, things like a decent feature set, and intelligent design are neglected. What you end up with is a cheap, shoddy product that is an “insult” to the audience who support and indeed (love) AMD, and this aging but still competent platform.    

I have no problem telling you that the reason I was in the market for a new motherboard in the first place was due to the fact that after (properly) installing a second GPU into my ASUS M5A99FX board my on-board sound burned out! After further inspection I discovered that not only did I lose my sound, but one of my USB 2.0 ports, and if all that wasn’t bad enough my PCIe x1 lane was gone to. I would also like to let you know that I didn’t have my CPU or GPU overclocked, I completely turned all power off and unplugged the power cord from the PSU, which after testing was also not damaged in any way. So this failure can only be blamed on the shoddy “over-hyped” motherboard I was using. This situation is not isolated to my ASUS board and after a little research I have come to find out that many people have experienced the same exact issues. Not only the M5A99FX boards but also the Sabertooth, and Formula Z boards, which clearly denotes some kind of design flaw. Before you ask, I was trying to crossfire R9 290 GPU's, however many people have reported the same issues when trying to SLi with these boards, so don't even think about trying to throw dirt on AMD! It's not an AMD issue, its an ASUS issue! 

Doing a little research on the net revealed the sad state of affairs when it comes to AMD and more specifically the availability of "quality" AM3+ boards. Finally, and after much deliberation I decided to take a chance on an unknown “Flagship” motherboard by ASRock. Don’t get me wrong I have a decent amount of experience with the company, having built at least 4 PC’s for customers using their motherboards. Personally speaking I’ve used 3 of their boards for my own PC building projects, but unfortunately all of them ended badly with each board “buying the farm” way sooner than expected. 

One of the things I truly hate is when a company builds overclocking features into a board that “obviously” isn’t capable of supporting it. Needless to say ASRock has been guilty of this on many occasions, and 95% of the time it ends up with the customer having to replace the motherboard, due to attempting something that shouldn’t have been an option in the first place! How could you (in good conscience) put overclocking functionality on a board with a 4+1 power array? I can honestly tell you that I wasn’t very excited about the $200 purchase of this Extreme9 motherboard from ASrock, I thought to myself "extreme? We’ll put that to the test”! As I had every intention of doing my best to break this board, just to prove once again that ASrock (like all the other motherboard manufacturers) had nothing of true quality to offer users of AMD and their FX series CPU’s.(Especially if you are after a board that will allow you to do some serious tweaking and overclocking).

Now this is what I call a power phase array...12+2 = unheard of!
Boy was I surprised when I pulled this bad-boy out of the box! The first thing I noticed was the 12+2 (14 phase power)?...REALLY? To say that this was unheard of in the industry is in no way an exaggeration. As I can not find any other board (anywhere) so aptly equipped! Putting it plainly, if you own an FX series processor and you want to overclock, then you'll find no better motherboard anywhere in the world! Had this board been available 2 or 3 years ago it could have easily commanded well over $300 so at a price of $189.99 USD this is an absolute steal! 
Update: The 12+2 power array was made by doubling up (2) 6+1 array's so it's not a TRUE 12+2 (which doesn't exist) and is not as powerful as a quality 10+2 array. That said, it's still good and you should have no problems overclocking with this board. However if you think you're going to be able to hit 5GHz with this board and your FX-8350 or 8370...you're not. 

MOSFETs / NB cooling done right...Anyone in the mood to overclock?

Here we can clearly see the upgraded cooling solution that has been deployed on the Extreme9, it's a big difference between what comes installed on the Fatality Killer, and the Extreme6 motherboards. This along with that ridiculously well designed power delivery is what separates the Extreme9 from all the other AMD boards available from ASrock, not to mention anyone else. You should have absolutely no issues when it comes to overclocking with this board, for a matter of fact your only limitations when it comes to overclocking on a board like this, is going to be the quality of your PSU, and or CPU cooling solution.

The digital display for diagnosis and on-board power + reset buttons are a welcome addition 

I really like seeing the right-angle SATA ports which just make sense, all motherboard manufacturers should have their boards setup this way in my opinion. It just makes building your PC and cable management so much easier.

You should have no problems when it comes to connectivity

Another thing I really love about this board is not only the placement of the USB 3.0 headers (which are properly placed on the right-center of the board), which makes attaching your cables to power the front mounted USB a breeze! If that wasn't good enough they've gone ahead and given you (2) of them, also provided in the motherboard bundle is a 2.5" panel that can be mounted to the front of your PC giving you (4) front USB 3.0...NICE! 


I couldn't help but notice as soon as pulled this board out of the box the amount of Japanese caps littered all over the board. I'm no engineer but I feel safe in assuming that this board will have no issues when it comes to power delivery. All in all this board is fantastic, and that's not something I normally say when talking about AMD based motherboards. The power phase array is a first of its kind for AMD, (and correct me if I'm wrong) but a first for any motherboard! If I had anything negative to lodge against this product it would be the placement of the PCIe x1 slot, I simply don't understand why board designers ALWAYS stick the PCIe x1 slot right under the PCIe x16...are they just trying to piss us off? Or are they truly oblivious to the idea that even desktop PC users would like to have some quality WiFi available to them.

When will they ever learn? PCIe x1 on the TOP!
The only other caveat I have is the placement of the fan headers, don't get me wrong (you do get a healthy amount of fan headers on this board) 5 to be exact! However (3) are placed on the top, in the center of the board. (1) more to the right-top corner, and finally (1) placed on the botton right corner. I would liked to have seen (1) header placed in the center (rear) of the board for people who don't have fan extension cables and want to plug up their rear 120mm exhaust fan easily. I can't really complain too much here though, the feature set that comes with this board is nothing short of epic (for an AMD board anyway). I can honestly say this the most impressive 990FX board I've seen in along time!

Finally let's talk overclocking, I've been playing around with this board for a week now and have come up with a couple of strategies when it come to this. You could opt to OC the old school way by bumping up the FSB and it does work, you can also run the CPU stock, and tweak the boost speed so it will turbo up only when you really need it. However I have found a quick and dirty way of getting decent overclocking done on this board simply by using a combination of the auto OC feature. What I do is use the aforementioned feature to setup the board (the auto OC is good for setting all the UEFI stuff up properly) as far as what needs to be disabled and what not. The only thing you will need to do is manually tweak the CPU voltage and CPU / NB voltage, as the built-in OC in the UEFI just never gets it right. It literally took me 10 minutes and bumping up my CPU voltage to 1.45 to get a stable OC on my FX 8350 from 4.0 GHz to 4.7 GHz. I then use passmark performance 8's "long test" while at the same time running Unigine Valley to stress the CPU & GPU. That's all it took and I've been running the PC this way 24/7 for the last week without issue!

All in all I just can't say enough good things about this board, AMD FX series CPU's are most definitely "long in the tooth", however they are also still more than competent for productivity, gaming and much more. To simply write them off as "past tense processors" long beyond their life cycle is short minded to say the least. Keep in mind these CPU's, when first developed were way ahead of their time. The only thing that truly held them back from being the epic success that they should have been, was the fact that AMD gambled on the idea that the industry would quickly begin to start coding software, games, etc to be optimized for "true" multi-core / threaded performance. Unfortunately the industry is slow to make changes, not to mention we also had DX11 holding us back on the gaming front, forcing coders to develop games to be processed on a "per job" capacity instead of the much more efficient "per core or threaded" capacity. We have already gotten a taste of what an OLD AMD FX series CPU can "really do" with the arrival of DX12 or should I say Mantle 2.0...LOL! 

Many users of FX series CPU may soon find themselves in a bit of a dilemma as true DX12 games begin to roll out and they realize that their OLD AMD CPU's are still up to the job, and can still hold their own against newer more efficient architectures. If you really think about it, its a testimony to AMD and how sound the FX architecture really was...and still is.    

Anyone interested in buying an ASRock Extreme9 motherboard can find them HERE!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Korean Monitors: Are they truly worth the risk?

Yamakasi Catleap 2703 S-IPS LED panel w/ DL DVI input.

Hey all, Lawrence the "Golden Age Gamer" here, I recently decided to pull the trigger on a Korean monitor, I wanted to see if these displays are truly worth all the hype they have been garnering. This isn't going to be a review, it's just my personal experience regarding the display I purchased and whether or not I feel there worth the time, money, and risk that is associated with buying one.  For the last 3 years or so I've been reading about discount monitors from Korea, these displays use high-end Apple Cinema, LG or Samsung panels that didn't meet the standards or requirements of the aforementioned companies. 

On paper of course this all sounds great, you get a 27" IPS panel with one or more inputs (depending on which model you buy) and as of the writing of this blog you can pick one of these monitors up for anywhere from $350 (New) to $180 (Refurbished). Depending on which one you choose you will get a stripped down display with only one Dual-Link DVI port, other options are now available which sport DL DVI-D, HDMI and DP inputs. However that's going to cost you, and in my opinion if your going to spend that much you might as well just fork over an additional $150, and get a monitor from a more reputable manufacturer.

So after much research and deliberation I finally landed on Newegg's website and ordered a Yamakasi Catleap 2703 refurbished 27" S-IPS LED display. I recently just built an AMD gaming rig and my money is rather tight so I was looking to save some money as I just can't afford to shell out 400 or more dollars on a display. As I said earlier I did much research on these monitors, due to that I already knew that the stands that are supplied are not up to snuff so I also picked up a really nice mount by Ergotron. If your looking for a high quality stand for your monitor I would highly recommend this one. I've seen many stands in my day, and this one is definitely one of the top 3...you really can't do much better and once setup it looks fantastic!

Ergotron 33-310-060 Neo Flex LCD Stand

The other thing you are going to want to think about whether you buy new or refurbished is replacing the power brick that is supplied buy the manufacturer. These bricks are cheap and more importantly they are made for the EU power standard. Many people have had issues with these power supplies so as a precaution I bought an american alternative designed for our power output needs. The Bestcompu 24v 5amp replacement power brick costs about $25.00 and many Korean monitor users have purchased this PSU with great results, so I to picked one up...better safe than sorry.

At $25 these PSU's aren't the highest quality, but they're better than the one that comes with the display.

The last accessory I picked up was a high quality dual link DVI cable, once again the one's that come with the display are very cheap, (this is beginning to sound like a broken record) however the fact of the matter is the companies that manufacture these displays truly provide you with the cheapest junk they can find, hundreds of commentaries I read on the forums can't be wrong. So for this I tapped Amazon and their "Basic's" line of products, you may think that I went cheap here but actually you couldn't be more wrong.

The AmazonBasic brand represents their house brand products, that said Amazon is very picky about the products that they sell with their name on it. Any product being sold as a "Basics" product has to meet a high standard of quality, the companies that are contracted to manufacture these products are usually at the top of the food chain when it comes to this standard. As far as quality and longevity goes, Amazon cables have a 4.7/5 average rating from thousands of reviews. Currently you can pick these up for under $9.00 here.

When it comes to AmazonBasics line of products you always get quality.

The gold plated ferrite cable I received was delivered in a no-frills plain brown box and I'll put it up against any other manufacturers product, the signal this cable delivers is excellent and picture quality is what you would expect from a high quality cable.

So armed with all of my additional accessories I thought I was going to be good to go, unfortunately I had no idea how wrong I was...However before we get into the nightmare of this cheap, shoddy Korean monitor let's go over the spec's.    

Yamakasi Catleap 2703 27" LED IPS Monitor:

Resolution: 2560x1440 (Native) WQHD         
LED Panel:     Super-IPS
Screen Size:   27" (16:9)
Brightness: 380cd/m2
Response Time: 6ms
Static Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1
Viewing Angle: 178* /178*
Color Support: 16.7m
Inputs & Outputs: (Dual Link) DVI-D
Speaker: None
Dimensions: (W x H x D) 25.11" x 19.88" x 10.19"
Weight: 15.43 lbs
Typical Power Consumption: 63w (Max)
Stand by Power(DPMS): 0.6
Required Volt: AC100~240V
Operating Frequency: 50hz / 60hz 

As I said earlier the display looks real good on paper, however you need to understand one thing...the only part about this display that is actually a quality piece of tech is the actual panel. Everything else is cheap garbage plain and simple, they couldn't even be bothered to provide users with a decent chasis. This is what you need to be worried about when buying one of these displays. I took a chance and got burned...more than you could possibly imagine.

This is what you get with the refurbished Catleap 2703 out of the box.

I'll just cut right to the chase, I finally got the display that I ordered from Newegg. Everything looked fine (aesthetically speaking) no scratches, nicks, bruises or anything you wouldn't want to see on your new (used) monitor. I plugged in the PSU I purchased and noticed that there was no power going to the thing, so I jiggled the cord a little and whamo...I had power and the monitor's blue flashing light was now visible. 

I was not too happy at this point due to the fact that there was obviously a bad connection at the point were the power input port was so I new I was going to have to return it. That said I figured I would use it for a couple of days before I requested an RMA...might as well get some mileage out of it. At this point I plugged up my DL DVI-D cable to my Asus R9 290 GPU and fired up the PC. I waited for the beep of my PC but got none, then I saw and smelled smoke coming from the back of the display and at the same time my GPU's fans started to spin up like they were trying to launch the GPU out of my case.

I immediately unplugged the DL DVI-D cable from the display but it was too late, the monitors video board (most likely) burned out and took my video card with it! To say I was angry would be an understatement, at the end of the day I was lucky due to the fact that my GPU was still under warranty so I got that replaced. You would think I returned the monitor for a refund as well but I didn't, I really wanted a 27" S-IPS monitor with an effective resolution of 2560 x 1440p so I sent the thing back for a replacement. 

Here you can see the power input, mine had some sort of short...

Even though I was really pissed I didn't actually suffer any real loss since my GPU actually got replaced with a higher-end model (Sapphire R9 290 4GB Vapor X) and I can't afford to buy a 27" display at this resolution for what most manufactures are charging (450-650 USD). Factoring in all that I decided to give it another shot and Newegg graciously paid for the return shipping. This brings me to my main concern with these displays, if I had bought this from ebay I would have gone through hell to (try) and get my money back, or at the least get a replacement. 

I guaranty they would not have paid the $100+ dollars for the return shipping to Korea not to mention it would have taken weeks for them to receive it, and god knows how long for me to get it back. The only reason I actually took a chance on this thing was due to the fact that it was being sold by and shipped from newegg's warehouse in California, and it falls under their refurbished product warranty. Always understand that you are taking a HUGE risk buying from someone in another country, especially Korea where you have no one to turn to if you get screwed.

These displays are beautiful...if you can get one that's not defective.

Needless to say I just received my new (refurbished) Catleap and this time it worked right out of the box! I can't believe how incredible this thing looks...no picture or video you can watch on youtube or the net will truly do this thing justice, you have to see it in person. So at the end of the day was it worth it? Well I guess that all depends on you, if your just being cheap and want a good deal then I would recommend you bite the bullet and shell out the money for a more reputable companies product. However if you're like me and just don't have 500-600 dollars in your budget for a 27" IPS monitor then this may be the deal for you.

I would highly recommend that if you do choose to buy one of the many Korean monitors out there you take certain precautions. First and last this is the one and only real precaution, BUY FROM AN E-TAILER HERE IN THE US! If you've been reading this article then you already know the risks, and precautions needed to be taken so I don't need to go over that again. Just buy the display from an e-tailer like newegg or amazon. With these companies you will be able to get either your money or a replacement if god forbid something goes wrong.

All said, these displays are a great deal for what you actually get just make sure you follow my advice and you'll be up and running with your own Korean Monitor real soon! Below I have links to some of the most popular Korean monitors sold from Amazon or Newegg...happy hunting!



Here is where I got my $179.99 Yamakasi Catleap!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mad Max: First Impressions & Commentary

Hey everyone Lawrence "The Golden Age Gamer" here and I'd just like to say, What a lovely day! Yes I picked up Mad Max for the PC a couple of days ago and I've had some time with the game, so here's my initial impressions of "MM" for the PC. I just have to say that when I heard there would be a game that would accompany the new movie I was less than excited. We all know the track record when it comes to games released that are attached to movies, generally they fall flat on their faces.

For some reason games usually never live up to their movie counterparts. However I have always maintained that if you want to be successful making a game based on a movie you need to learn about and understand the mythology, the world in which the movie has evolved from. Then you need to build a game that doesn't try to mimic the movie but somehow acts as a companion to it, maybe you set the events of the game at a time before, or after the events of the film. Alternatively you could just build the game based on the world and not have any ties to the movie(s). 

It would appear that the people over at Avalanche thought the same, and I have to say that so far I am very impressed with what they have created. Mad Max is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, which features terrains like canyons, caves, and deserts. The game's story is standalone, and was never planned as a tie-in of any of the films in the series. Inspirations for the game were taken from the Mad Max universe instead of the films. I'm also a little confused by what I've seen as far as editorial reviews go. A lot of these clueless reviewers out there seem to think the game is no good...are they playing the same game I am? I can't understand why it seems that these guy's are out to ruin this game. Well no matter what their personal bias are I am happy to inform you that Mad Max the game is outstanding! 

Speaking on the other versions of the game the PC variant is clearly the superior, it looks and runs great! Even if you have a low-end rig you can easily find the proper settings and graphical configurations needed to play the game at a respectable performance level. Contained in the options menu I found one of the best graphics settings I have ever seen on a ported PC game, it actually looks and feels like it was made for PC and then ported to the consoles after!

There is no shortage of graphical settings to get the game running and looking its best. 

You would think a game that takes place entirely in the desert would look bland and boring, however this couldn't be further from the truth and the dev's at avalanche have in my opinion done some of their best work (graphically speaking). Indeed the desert has never looked so good! Tans, dark browns and a golden sun set in a hot, hazy bluish back-drop. Looking through binoculars (or not) reveals an impressive draw distance. I've been playing Mad Max for days and I can't recall one time when I witnessed any form of pop-in. The game has been wonderfully optimized the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time.

The world looks terrible and beautiful at same time.
This is not a cinematic, every place you can see you can actually travel to.
The much maligned combat system in MM is another point of interest to me, I'll put it like this...if you like the "Batman" style of combat you'll be right at home here. However if you don't go for the two button combat of the aforementioned game(s) then nothing in this game is going to change your mind. One thing that I did notice about MM is that unlike the Batman series the combat is a little more challenging. In Batman one only has to push the attack, or defend buttons and Batman will dance around seamlessly locking onto the nearest enemy.  

However in MM you need to time your attacks / defenses much more accurately, spacial awareness is also important. If you think your going to simply mash the attack or defend buttons and your character is going to magically snap to the nearest enemy, you've got another thing coming! What will happen is you will miss your target and then get pummeled by two or more assailants. I personally happen to like this combat system, its a little deeper than Batman and it allows you to resolve combat situations quickly.

You will often find yourself outnumbered fighting more than a dozen enemies.
In your quest to build the "Magnum Opus" the perfect battle car you will embark on many fetch quests, and a lot of "busy work" as one reviewer put it. I won't argue this, its definitely true but unlike other games that's actually a good thing! Even the most mundane of quests is just fun, I can't really explain it...it just is! Each mission you go on inches you closer to your goal and they make perfect sense...or as much sense as they can in this insane world. Even though many of the things you will be tasked with could be labeled as "busy work", its just fun plain and simple.  

Unlike other recent games like MGS5 that claim to be open world but in reality are not, MM is a true open world game. Although main missions are scripted (just like every other open world game) everything else is not. Its all random, you could go out looking for scrap and get attacked by a passing convoy, or you might run into some drifters. Give them some water and you might get rewarded with information that leads to some secret prize. Go out another time and you just might get swept away by a sand storm.

Sandstorms are dangerous proceed with caution.
All in all Mad Max is a great game if you like open world games that is, I would highly recommend you pick this up. Don't worry about the clueless professional reviewers, they obviously don't have a clue what a great game is and this is definitely one of those. I've been playing MGS5 along side of this and I'm having more fun playing MM. At the end of the day it all comes down to what you like to play, but if you do like these types of games and your on the fence about purchasing it, I would tell you to pick it up I can't see how you could be disappointed.

Thank you for reading my commentary, I look forward to your feedback!