Meet The Players
The logistics of this scaled-up undertaking were formidable, and I have to give props to the Tom’s Hardware crew for putting everything together. I came up with the concept for a comparative experiment, but many other minds executed it.
To begin, there was AMD and Nvidia. Both companies were given the playbook in as much detail as possible each step of the way. In return, they weighed in with feedback, blessed the methodologies and, to our delight, sent representatives to attend. This proved much more valuable than I could have imaged. During setup, the two companies were able to properly configure their respective workstations, overclock to the appropriate levels (in Nvidia’s case) and watch over each others’ shoulders to confirm no foul play. They also came bearing gifts—at the end of our festivities we were able to give away several graphics cards, jerseys, water bottles and even a gaming console.
As mentioned, Digital Storm contributed in a huge way by getting our systems built and shipped out. The company wasn’t able to be there, but its foresight in sending spare machines saved us from shipping damage and one overworked power supply. It was a shame that preserving the experiment’s integrity meant hiding the boxes from view. They really were clean builds. We just couldn’t risk someone peeking inside or catching a glimpse of a rear I/O panel.
We needed a venue large enough to host more attendees, more sponsors and a lot more hardware. Newegg stepped up and let us use its Hybrid Center in City of Industry. Additionally, several Newegg employees showed up bright and early on a Saturday morning to help us set up and to support us throughout the day. They were the first to arrive and the last to leave; we couldn’t have done it without them. On a tangent, if you live in Southern California and shop at Newegg, having the Hybrid Center hold your order for will-call gives you a great excuse to get hands-on with a lot of the technology out on display. It’s really a cool destination tucked away amongst the huge warehouses that typify the area.
The day was destined to be a long one, so we considered it imperative to have activities on-hand to keep our readers entertained. MSI and Zalman both showed up in force with gaming laptops, peripherals, motherboards and the manpower to field questions all day long. Both companies occupied tents outside, flanked by plenty of food and drink (again, provided by Newegg), as each group of eight attendees cycled through the “lab” we built in the Hybrid Center’s lobby. Inside, AMD showcased its prototype of Quantum, with two Fiji GPUs inside, powering Oculus Rift and Crytek's Back to Dinosaur Island 2 demo. Everyone who expressed interest was ushered to a back room, introduced to Quantum and allowed some time to experience a bit of gameplay that few others have seen. A special thanks to AMD for giving our readers the chance to go hands-on with such an exclusive treat.
Of course, I also have to thank the Tom’s Hardware staffers who spent time installing games onto the test platforms, building covers to hide the monitor bezels and stands, registering members of the Tom’s Hardware community online so we knew who to expect, checking everyone in on-site and proctoring the electronic questionnaire that collected data after each group finished the experiment.