How to turn on AMD's Smart Access Memory for faster gaming performance – PCWorld
AMD’s Smart Access Memory allows you to combine a Radeon RX 6000 series GPU with a Ryzen processor to unlock even more gaming performance—dramatically so, in some cases.
Before we show you how to enable Smart Access memory, we’ll discuss the hardware requirements. Next, we’ll walk you through how to configure your BIOS to activate SAM. And lastly, we’ll show you how to confirm it’s working. Let’s get smart! (And be sure to check out our explainer on how Smart Access Memory and the Nvidia-equivalent Resizable BAR work).
As per the recommended hardware above, best results will come from the RX 6000 series GPUs and Ryzen 5000 series CPUs. AMD did add select 3000 series CPUs to the mix, but you’ll still need a 500 series motherboard. If you have an Nvidia GPU or Intel CPU, Nvidia has their own version of Resizable BAR support. We’ll update this article to reflect any future guidance on hardware compatibility.
Note: I ran a test on an AMD 5700XT, a previous generation Radeon GPU. Smart Access Memory did show as “enabled” in the Radeon Software settings, but no conclusion as to any performance gain yet. Your mileage may vary.
If you have all the right hardware, flipping on Smart Access Memory only takes a couple of minutes, though it requires delving into your motherboard BIOS. Here’s how to do that:
If you follow the simple steps above, Smart Access Memory will be activated. The most important steps are enabling “Above 4G Decoding” and “Re-Size BAR support.” You’ll also want to make sure CSM is disabled, which is generally the default setting.
By using the latest version of the AMD Radeon Software, we can now confirm that Smart Access Memory is activated. Browse over to the Performance tab and open the Tuning panel. On this page, you’ll find “Smart Access Memory.” Here you can enable or disable the setting. This will give you confirmation that your trip to the BIOS was indeed successful. Have fun playing around with the extra gaming performance!
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
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The Best PC Gaming Controller of 2022 – How-To Geek
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PC gaming isn’t just about using a mouse and keyboard: It’s about choice. Some games are just better with a controller in your hands, especially with so many console games launching on PC. But not all controllers are equal.
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David McAdam is a freelance writer from Ireland with several years of experience writing on video games, entertainment and tech. He came to writing after a background in tech retail, so he knows a bargain when he sees one. Read more…
Elizabeth Henges is the Commerce Editor for How-To Geek. She has close to a decade’s experience reporting on tech, gaming, and gadgets. Elizabeth has had her commerce work featured on XDA Developers, The Inventory, and more. She has also written for publications The Washington Post and The Verge. Read more…
What to Look For in a PC Gaming Controller in 2022
Best PC Controller Overall: Xbox Wireless Controller
Best Budget PC Controller: PowerA Spectra
Best Premium PC Controller: Xbox Elite Series 2
Best Wired PC Controller: Razer Wolverine Ultimate
Best PC Controller for Retro Gaming: 8bitdo SN30 Pro+
Best PC Controller for Flight Simulators: Logitech G Saitek X52 Pro
Best PC Fight Stick: Qanba Obsidian
Using a console-style controller with your PC used to be a complicated ordeal. For the longest time, the PC controller was some kind of alien artifact you bought in your local game store. It might have resembled a Playstation or Xbox controller, but it didn’t look or feel right.
Thankfully, PC gaming is much more controller-friendly these days. Now you can plug any modern controller into your computer via USB and it will likely work instantly. With so many options available though, which controller is right for you?
There are a few factors to consider when thinking about buying a PC controller. First and foremost, what are you planning to play? Some games just aren’t suited to a mouse and keyboard. While they are perfect for first-person shooters or real-time strategy games, they’re less ideal for action-adventure or fighting games. Sometimes the keys just can’t give you what an analog stick can, and that’s where controllers come in handy.
That said, there are many options to choose from when buying a controller. There are all kinds of price points and a range of features, as well as game-specific controllers such as arcade sticks for fighting games or HOTAS for flight simulators. Whatever genre you’re playing, there is a perfect controller for you.
So, if you’re a PC player who has yet to invest in a controller, below are some options for various games, styles, and prices!
Xbox has been the gold standard of controller design for years now. The Xbox 360 controller was considered the only choice for PC gaming in its day, and that legacy has been passed down through two console generations to its current iteration. The core of the Xbox 360 design is still there, but it has been refined and tweaked into the best controller readily available on the market today.
The modern Xbox Wireless Controller is light, durable, and well-made, being ergonomic and with grips built into the design. The controller can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth or with a USB wireless adapter, although this isn’t required—you can also simply plug it in with a USB-C cable and get to gaming.
Unfortunately, first-party controllers are not the cheapest. The Xbox Wireless Controller is $60—cheaper than the Sony DualSense, but still more expensive than most third-party options on the market. That said, they are high-quality controllers and good value for the cost.
A modern classic, the Xbox controller is practical, easy to use and reliable, making it perfect for most PC gamers.
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Is the PowerA Spectra an Xbox controller in all ways but the name? Pretty much. It’s not completely identical to Xbox’s offering, it’s certainly a cheaper version of it.
If you’ve ever used an Xbox-styled, third-party controller you’ll know they never feel quite right. Just not quite the same as the official controller, even though PowerA’s controller works pretty well. Is that a huge deal? That depends on what you’re looking for.
Typically, value is associated with use. The reason we recommend the more expensive Xbox controller as the best overall is that for extended use, it’s great value for money. If you don’t see yourself using a controller much for your PC gaming, but want to have one for those rare times you need one, it’s worth considering the Spectra instead. The controller is wired, so there’s no extra fuss about finding a spare wire or setting up a wireless connection.
Basically, the PowerA Spectra is cheap and convenient. It’s a great option for someone who just needs a controller handy for occasional use, or as a backup controller.
The PowerA Spectra is a great option on a cheaper budget that does the job and does it well.
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The Xbox Elite Series 2 is the gold standard of controllers. But like gold, it doesn’t come cheap.
The build quality is superb, it has sleek and satisfying back paddles, the analog sticks and directional pad are swappable, and the buttons are easily remapped both on Xbox and PC. All of this is for less than what many of the third-party alternatives would ask for something similar, as well.
But when we say premium, we mean premium. These controllers are nearly $200, a big step up in price from the $60 you pay for the normal Xbox controller. An Elite S2 is a big financial commitment, and a hard one to justify.
The original Elite controller was also great, apart from an issue where the grips started to peel off after extended use. Thankfully, this revised version has the grips integrated into the body so that peeling should no longer be a problem.
The Elite Series 2 of the controller is a refinement of an excellent formula, as near perfection as is available today. If you’re looking to splash out and you want the best controller for your money, this is the best choice for you.
As well-designed and feature-rich as a controller gets, the Elite Series 2 is the pinnacle of gaming with a controller.
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There are plenty of reasons to prefer to keep your controllers wired. Even though wireless has become the standard with consoles, running a wireless controller on a PC can be a hassle.
Luckily, there is a high-quality option that not only includes those who prefer a wired controller, it caters to them specifically. We are talking about the Razer Wolverine series of controllers, or more specifically the Razer Wolverine Ultimate.
Razer is no stranger to the controller market. Few of their releases are as popular as the Wolverine though, an Xbox controller of Razer’s own design. While being unusually designed for wired use only, it boasts many of the features found on the Xbox Elite controllers. It has extra buttons, remappable controls, swappable sticks, and a d-pad. In fact, the Wolverine has two more buttons than the Elite, with two extra shoulder buttons.
The face buttons have a distinct clicky feel and sound, not unlike the clicking of a mouse. Further similarities to other Razer products include the absolutely extra RGB light strip across the top of the controller. It’s not a proper Razer product unless it lights up!
In many ways, the Wolverine is the Xbox Elite controller for the PC die-hard. Although this controller is also compatible with the Xbox, this is a PC peripheral through and through.
At a cheaper price than the Elite Series 2, this controller is a top contender. Its layout and design are different than the Series 2, though, so it would be worth looking into should you be tempted to grab this more affordable alternative.
The PC player’s controller, The Wolverine Ultimate is a Razer product through and through. It rivals the Elite Series 2 in function, with a style of its own.
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These days, PC gaming is pretty much all-encompassing. There are few things you can’t do on the platform, and many people play all kinds of classic retro games that were meant for PC. In fact, It is likely that the vast majority of people playing retro games these days do so using a PC or a Raspberry Pi.
The SN30 Pro+ from 8bitdo is the PC retro gamer’s dream controller. This was designed to bring modern features and sensibilities to a classic design. Based on the Super Nintendo controller, the SN30 Pro+ takes that familiar shape and adds modern features (like analog sticks and ergonomic grips) to make it useable with whatever game you’d like to play.
8bitdo knows how to make a controller with all the functionality you would want, and ground it in nostalgia. This controller is an absolute must-buy for retro fans.
The SN30+ Pro controller is an absolute must-buy for retro fans, being an affordable, nostalgia driven controller.
With the popularity of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator came a wave of interest in flight controllers, better known as HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle and Stick). These are the aircraft simulator equivalent of a driving wheel.
There are quite a few options in this space, with a pretty huge range in price. For our choice, we tried to balance price with quality, and we landed on the Logitech G Saitek X52 Pro.
The X52 Pro comes as two separated units—since the stick and the throttle are not attached, so placing them on your desk should be a lot easier than the competition. The X52 Pro is also well suited for VR, as unlike the newer X56 this model has all of its buttons on the controls themselves. Knowing where your buttons are and what they do is vital for VR, so if that’s your aim, this is the flight stick to get.
Outside of VR, one of the useful features of this HOTAS is the LCD display on the throttle. This handy little screen can display things like date and time, it can also show your current profile so you know what your button set up is.
If at any time you are unsure what a button does, holding the small button on the back of the throttle and pressing any other button will have the LCD screen display what that button does.
The control stick has plenty of useful features too. It does all of the expected things like roll and yaw, it can even rotate for pitch if you want it to. The X52 Pro has several buttons on it for plenty of functions, including a dual trigger and a pinky trigger with adjustable height to accommodate different hand sizes.
Best of all, it has a button front and center on the stick with a little flap covering it. There is nothing better than a bit of stylish flair.
A sturdy and classic design, this well-featured HOTAS is ideal for new flight sim fans and returning enthusiasts.
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The days where you felt like you needed a fight stick to play fighting games have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to give them up. These days, fight sticks are more of a personal preference than something you need to be taken seriously. If an arcade stick feels like the right input method for you, our recommendation is the Qanba Obsidian.
Fight sticks are premium controllers and often come at a premium price. The Obsidian is not cheap, usually coming in around $200. In the realm of fight sticks, though, that’s about a mid-range price that makes sure the fight stick is still quality. You wouldn’t want to spend under a hundred dollars if you want a decent stick, so let’s talk about why this one is worth the extra cost.
First, the build quality is fantastic. The Obsidian has genuine metal parts, where many fight sticks have plastic with metallic paint jobs. The main faceplate and both side sections of the stick are metal. The knob of the joystick itself is also brushed metal, giving the whole package a premium feel.
This also gives the unit a good weight, giving it that crucial stability you want in an arcade stick. The Obsidian isn’t going to move much at all in your lap. As great as it is out of the box, It’s also a fantastic option for those who like to modify their sticks. If you find yourself wanting to change out the Sanwa OBSF-30 buttons that come with the Obsidian, it’s very easy to do.
If you are a fighting game fan looking to invest in your hobby and maybe step up your game, a decent fight stick is what you want. To get a top-quality stick for a reasonable price with the potential for future modifications, check out the Qanba Obsidian.
The Qanba Obsidian is a superbly designed fight stick with excellent hardware and a sleek design.
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10 Best PC Games With Ultra-Wide Support – TheGamer
When you have an ultra-wide monitor, you’ll want to know the best games to start testing it out with.
PC gaming offers players the most flexibility of any platform when it comes to hardware, and not just with what's inside your computer either – peripherals like keyboards and monitors offer a huge amount of customization to PC players. In particular, ultra-wide monitors offer a massive amount of screen real estate in a much easier to manage package than a multi-monitor setup.
Of course, not every game supports these ultra-widescreen resolutions due to technical limitations, but those that do almost always look astonishingly good. So whether it's pixel art or photorealism, ultra-wide gaming is a visual experience that you'll never forget, and these games are some of the best to try it out with.
There's a lot to see when you have a whole universe at your fingertips, and with No Man's Sky offering players exactly that, it's hard to deny the benefits of having an ultra-wide monitor when you are playing. It's especially helpful to make sure you don't miss any resources while you're planet side.
But as you can imagine, it's the landscapes and the starry skies that make the ultra-wide No Man's Sky experience shine. The views from the ground and from space in your ship are both breathtakingly beautiful.
Abzu has always been a gorgeous game. Stunningly pretty underwater landscapes filled with all sorts of aquatic life really are a formula for near unparalleled aesthetic success. So it might seem obvious that this is a game that benefits hugely from being played on an ultra-wide monitor.
This is simply because you get to see more of the vibrant world as you explore and help restore it to its former glory. And as you progress in the game, the fruits of your labor only become more visually stunning, with every inch of the screen filled with mesmerizing colors and creatures.
It might not be the first game you think of when you're looking for ultra-wide support, but given how recent a release Hitman 3 is, it should come as no surprise to find it here. The experience is surprisingly good, considering the field of view has never felt like much of a limit in previous Hitman titles.
Being able to see so much more of the area around Agent 47 makes all those assassination contracts that much easier to pull off, as it helps give you the freakish situational awareness needed by an elite assassin. Plus the graphics are pretty amazing, so it's always a treat to be able to see more of it.
Stardew Valley is one of the ultimate relaxing games, but playing it on a small screen can be frustrating with even larger regular monitors still unable to display large amounts of the map at once. But ultra-wide monitors fix this problem easily, with some 32:9 monitors even able to show the entirety of the player farm at once, with just your avatar moving around the screen as opposed to a scrolling map.
So if you want a way of leveling up your farming experience, or you just want a nice relaxing way to make use of an ultra-wide monitor, then Stardew Valley makes for a great investment.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is a stunningly in-depth experience that requires some heavy-duty hardware, even at lower resolutions. However, if you have the equipment to run the game on an ultra-wide monitor, then you are in for a treat as it is one of the most immersive ways to play.
The ultra-wide aspect ratio allows players to see the entire cockpit of their plane without needing to move anything except their head, making for one of the best simulator experiences possible. And even if you don't play in cockpit view, then you still get to see a huge horizon sprawling across your screen – and who doesn't want that?
Batman: Arkham Knight was the final installment in the Batman Trilogy produced by Rocksteady Studios, and despite releasing in 2015 when ultra-wide monitors were still n their infancy as consumer items, the game does now feature ultra-wide support – albeit with cutscenes, unfortunately, stretched without the use of a community-made fix.
But despite the all too common issue of pre-rendered cutscenes not supporting ultra-wide resolutions, Gotham City looks too good in the 21:9 aspect ratio not to include it on this list. Cityscapes are amazing in ultra-wide and Arkham Knight gives you plenty to look at, so don't miss out on seeing them.
The latest Forza Horizon game doesn't just feature some of the fastest cars around, but also ultra-wide support to help immerse you in the action of Horizon Mexico. Whether it's enjoying a view from the driver's seat or you prefer a chase camera for your races, the sense of speed you get when using an ultra-wide monitor is unparalleled.
Getting to enjoy the level of detail the Forza Horizon team put into every car in the game – as well as the stunning landscapes and historical sites of Mexico – in ultra-wide is an experience everyone who enjoys this series should have.
Having released in 2004, Half-Life 2 was probably not a game you were expecting to see on this list, but with Valve updating all their games for optimum compatibility with the SteamDeck, they took the opportunity to modernize their catalog in a few other ways. One of which was adding native ultra-wide support to Half-Life 2.
So now you can enjoy a field of view that borders on ridiculous as you replay one of the greatest games Valve ever released, and one of the best PC games of the 2000s. If you have an ultra-wide monitor, then you almost certainly already own Half-Life 2 – do yourself a favor and go revisit it, it'll be worth it.
Hinterland Studio's The Long Dark drops the main character in the middle of the unforgiving Canadian wilderness after a geomagnetic storm, leaving them to fend for themselves and survive various deadly encounters. With its almost painting-like aesthetic, there are some truly stunning visuals to be found in this first-person survival experience.
Add in the extra width that an ultra-wide monitor can provide and some of the landscapes you see in The Long Dark could easily be mistaken for paintings, despite the unrelenting harshness of the environment itself.
By far the most cinematic game to release in recent years, Red Dead Redemption 2 finally received ultra-wide support with the official PC release of the game. If you have hardware capable of running one of the most graphically demanding games in an ultra-wide resolution, then you are in for a treat.
From the mountains to the shores, every inch of Red Dead Redemption's map is gorgeously rendered with ultra-wide aspect ratios, allowing you to soak up that detail better than ever before. With the gameplay being so cinematically choreographed, ultra-wide Red Dead Redemption really does feel like watching a film at the cinema.
NEXT: The Best Split-Screen Multiplayer Games For PC
NetEase called it a bug, but others called it a feature.
With an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a masters degree in Creative Writing, Richard now combines these fields in his work as a freelance writer in the games industry
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