Maximum PC latest stories, 03 Jul 2015 17:50:39 +0000yesParts of Reddit Go Dark, Petition Seeking CEO Dismissal Reaches 22,000 Signatures Reddit users want the site's CEO to step down in the wake of revent events.Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:50:39 +0000 <h3>Turmoil at reddit</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Reddit Movies"></p><p> You may have noticed that some of the subreddits you frequent are inaccessible at the moment. No, the site wasn't hacked, though it is turning on itself in protest of the firing of Victoria Taylor, a high ranking administrator and Director of Talent who coordinated the sometimes complicated process of reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.</p><p> Known by the user handle /u/chooter, it appears that Taylor was fired without given notice. This prompted moderators from several other subreddits to lock things down by making them private, thereby disabling access by the Internet community at large. Considering the large amount of traffic that reddit enjoys on a daily basis, this is a big deal.</p><p> Taylor played a crucial role at reddit. While running AMA might not seem like that big of a deal, she had several responsibilities, such as booking talent, verifying that celebrities were legit, making sure that AMA guests answered questions themselves rather than handing things over to a third-party (like a PR person), and helping computer illiterate folks, both by phone and sometimes in person. It's a process, and Taylor worked behind the scenes to make sure everything went smooth.</p><p> There were rumblings that an AMA with Jesse Jackson that turned bad was the cause for her termination, but it appears that's not the case. According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>TechCrunch</em></a>, a deleted answer on Quora provided some insight into her dismissal.</p><p> If the answer on <em>Quora</em> is true, then a clash with management is what sparked this whole thing. Apparently reddit management was pushing Victoria to do a bunch of commercial things around AMAs, like adding video. Supposedly Victoria resisted certain ideas, so management decided to abruptly fire her and eliminate her position altogether.</p><p> "They really underestimated how much moderators relied on her and cared about her," the <em>Quora</em> answer read.</p><p> After that, all hell broke loose. It eventually led to reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian telling moderators that their message was heard loud and clear with a promise to communicate better in the future, and that it's time to turn the subforums back on.</p><p> Most reddit subforums have been made public again, such as <a href="" target="_blank">/r/gaming</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">/r/technology</a>, though some remain dark (at the time of this writing) like <a href="" target="_blank">/r/movies</a>. There's also a <a href="" target="_blank">petition circulating</a> on <em></em> for reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao to step down from her position. It currently has over 22,000 signatures of the requested 25,000.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Microsoft's Edge Browser Ditches Silverlight Support will still exist, just not in Edge.Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:58:50 +0000 10 <h3>Pushing Silverlight over the Edge</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Silverlight"></p><p> Microsoft will not support its own Silverlight web plug-in in Edge, the next generation browser that was formerly known as Project Spartan. Instead, the company is going all-in with HTML5 specifications, the company confirmed in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p><p> "Support for ActiveX has been discontinued in Microsoft Edge, and that includes removing support for Silverlight. The reasons for this have been discussed in previous blogs and include the emergence of viable and secure media solutions based on HTML5 extensions," Microsoft said.</p><p> The Redmond outfit said it will continue to support Silverlight and that non-browser apps can continue to use it. In addition, Silverlight will continue to be supported in Internet Explorer 11 so that sites will still have Silverlight options in Windows 10. However, Microsoft is encouraging companies that still use the Flash alternative to transition to DASH, MSE, EME, and CENC based designs, all of which Windows 10 and Edge support natively.</p><p> "This support allows developers to build plug-in free web video apps that runs across a huge range of platforms and devices, with each MSE/EME implementation built on top of a different media pipeline and DRM provider," Microsoft explains.</p><p> Microsoft isn't alone here. Google's also begun removing support for Silverlight in its Chrome browser, which runs via the NPAPI plug-in. You can manually switch on support by going under the hood, but <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>The Inquirer</em></a>, even that option will be removed come September.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Asus Unveils Armor Protected Strix GTX 980 Ti Graphics Card next generation graphics card with a next generation cooler.Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:41:24 +0000 cardNews <h3>Low noise, high performance</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti"></p><p> I have to admit, even though I'm rocking a pair of very capable GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards, some of the fancy GeForce GTX 980 Ti options have me thinking about upgrading. Specifically, EVGA earlier this week announced its <a href="">dual-BIOS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified</a> that's built for overclocking, and now <a href="" target="_blank">Asus is flaunting</a> its factory overclocked Strix GeForce GTX 980 Ti with DirectCU III technology.</p><p> DirectCU III is Asus' newest generation air cooling solution for graphics cards. According to Asus, it boasts a 220 percent bigger cooling surface area for better heat dissipation and runs 30 percent cooler when compared to reference. It's also supposed to be quiet courtesy of its wing-blade 0dB fan technology.&nbsp;</p><p> "The new and improved technology helps increase air pressure on the fans by 105 percent, ensuring that hot air is quickly and effectively moved through the fins of the heat sink," Asus explains. "Since the card is so effectively cooled, the fans on the card will not spin up unless the card reaches 65C or higher, allowing for absolute 0dB silence when it’s below that."</p><p> The Strix GTX 980 Ti sports a 12+2 power phase design (reference cards are built with 8+2 power phase designs) and high quality "Super Alloy Power II" components to reduce power power and buzzing under load.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Backplate"></p><p> Asus also includes what it calls a GPU fortifier and strengthened backplate to protect the GPU and keep the card from bending over time. And for what's it worth, the company brags about the manufacturing being fully automated.</p><p> "Strix GTX 980 Ti benefits from Asus' exclusive Auto-Extreme technology, the industry’s first 100 percent automated manufacturing process that removes human fallibility from the production line for consistent perfection &mdash; making it ultra-reliable in all scenarios, from general everyday use to hardcore gaming and overclocking.," Asus says. "Auto-Extreme technology eliminates flux to minimize dust buildup and oxidization, and makes the rear side of the graphics card’s printed-circuit board totally smooth, increasing comfort for system-builders and enhancing overclocking capability by freeing space to add POSCAP capacitors. This new manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly, eliminating harsh chemicals and reducing power consumption by 50 percent."</p><p> In OC mode, the Strix GTX 980 Ti runs a base clockspeed of 1,216MHz and boost clockspeed of 1,317MHz, up from 1,000MHz and 1,075MHz on reference. That's 216MHz faster for the base and 242MHz for boost. It's also faster than the aforementioned EVGA card, which runs at 1,190MHz (base) and 1,291MHz (boost).</p><p> Asus says the Strix GTX 980 Ti will be available sometime this month. No word yet on price.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Yes, There's Yet Another Windows 10 Technical Preview Build Available (10162) is releasing Windows 10 builds to Insiders at a breakneck pace.Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:12:21 +0000 10 <h3>Three builds in a week</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10"></p><p> Windows Insiders who signed up to the Fast ring for Windows 10 Technical Preview builds probably thought they'd at least have time to exhale in between new releases, and for most part, that's been true. However, after releasing two builds back-to-back earlier this week, Microsoft has now made available its third Windows 10 build in just four days.</p><p> In case the build numbers are starting to get confusing, here's a look at the past three builds, including the newest one released on Friday:</p><ul> <li><a href="">Build 10158</a>: June 29, 2015</li> <li><a href="">Build 10159</a>: June 30, 2015</li> <li>Build 10162: July 2, 2015</li></ul><p> What happened to Builds 10160 and 10161? We imagine they're locked in a crate somewhere, sitting alongside Windows 9 and Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Missing Floppies.</p><p> To recap, Build 10158 included updates to the Microsoft Edge browser, general improvements, refinements to the user interface, and a few other things. Microsoft also noted there were no "significant known issues."</p><p> In the absence of any significant issues, Build 10159 included over 300 bug fixes (presumably minor) and "one very interesting change," that being a revised login screen with a new hero image for the OS.</p><p> So, what does Build 10162 bring to the table?</p><p> "We just released Build 10159 with our new wallpaper and logon UI on Tuesday, but this is a holiday weekend in the U.S. and we thought that some of you might want to get an even fresher build on your PCs to play with over the long weekend. Build 10162 is another great one. In fact, our testing and internal telemetry metrics show it has better reliability, performance, battery life, and compatibility than any Windows 10 Insider Preview build so far," Microsoft's Gabe Aul stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p><p> While we thought Build 10158 might be the last Technical Preview before Microsoft releases Windows 10 on July 29, it now looks like a few more might be in the cards.</p><p> "We find ourselves in a great situation, with an abundance of build candidates. We’re deciding how long to let each build stay with Windows Insiders so you can really exercise them and send feedback on any problems that you’re hitting," Aul added. "I know many of you have said you’d love daily builds, but it is actually important sometimes to get a few days on a build so that all of the code that does deferred work (like OneDrive sync, search indexing, background updating, etc.) can run and we can get feedback and error reports."</p><p> As for Slow ring users, Microsoft says it hasn't forgotten about them and that Build 10162 looks to be a candidate unless any issues emerge in the Fast ring. If not, it will be published to Slow ring users with ISOs early next week.</p><p>Windows 10 releases in final form on July 29, though you may not receive it right away. Microsoft will perform a <a href="">staggered roll out</a>, starting with Windows Insiders and those who reserved a space in the release schedule. In between waves, Microsoft will "listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users" as appropriate.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Dear Maximum PC Community and /r/PCMasterRace's wrong is wrongThu, 02 Jul 2015 23:09:31 +0000 <p>Several months ago,<em> Maximum PC</em> ran a story in the January 2015 issue that was called&nbsp;<a href="">"Maximum PC, Minimum Effort: The lazy guy's alternative guide to being a tech guru"</a> It was supposed to be a cheeky&nbsp;article about PC maintenance with the occasional satirical twist, but&nbsp;sadly, it didn't work. What we ended up with was an article chock-full of terrible advice that left readers angry and confused. For that, I personally&nbsp;apologize.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Here's a snippet from the article that's gotten readers on Reddit so riled up:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="5a2yAJH"></p><p>I have no qualms about saying that the article fell short of the mark in many ways. Not to make excuses, but it was written over half a year ago, and&nbsp;no one on our current roster&nbsp;would even think to pen something so filled with heresy today. Such advice as "always go with whatever Amazon suggests" might be great advice if you're lazy, or the writer might have been trying to make a joke, but for a PC enthusiast seeking a new GPU, that advice&nbsp;is about as ridiculous and useful&nbsp;as having an an extra toe on your elbow.</p><p>Let me&nbsp;make it absolutely clear: we build, tweak, tune, diagnose, benchmark, test, research, and tune everything here. Everyone on staff carries the same strands of DNA that are chemically and biologically bonded since birth: We are hardcore PC and hardware enthusiasts through and through.&nbsp;There are times when there is disagreement among our staff about what kind of features or ideas we should chase after, but it's all with good intent. And yes, like those of you who were turned off by this particular article, the current cast feels the same way, too.</p><p>In my first editor's note, which came out in February 2015, I touched on <em>Maximum PC</em>'s past. For longtime readers of the magazine, you might recall that we were previously named <em>boot</em> Magazine. I mentioned in that article of <em>boot</em>'s ability to excite and educate in a way that no other publication ever did. I also mentioned that we're working to bring back that energy.</p><p>To the Maximum PC community and to the PC community on the PCMasterRace subreddit, I formally apologize for that article and acknowledge how cringey&nbsp;it came across.&nbsp;Rest assured, it won't happen again.</p><p>/ Tuan</p> Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Analog Headset Review headset does one thing, and it does it wellThu, 02 Jul 2015 22:52:08 +0000 Kave XTD <h3> A specialized headset for a specialized mission </h3> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">At A GLANCE</h5> <p> <strong>(+) Spec Ops</strong> <br> Sturdy, well-designed headset for gamers; individual controls for 5.1 audio&nbsp;channels;&nbsp;comfy as hell over long periods; line noise reduction.</p> <p> <strong>(-) Semper Rigidum </strong> <br> Mic doesn't&nbsp;detach; headset&nbsp;doesn't&nbsp;detach&nbsp;from remote either; fixed mic distance. </p> </div><p> When you think about hardware required to play games on a PC, the focus instantly go to CPU and GPU, with little consideration often reserved for audio. Audio is immensely important in a gaming experience, just as it is in movies. But since most of us don’t play games in a theater and instead have neighbors or loved ones that don’t want to hear every gunshot or spell cast, a good gaming headset is a must for any serious gamer. We spent a while testing the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Analog and were pleasantly surprised.</p><p> The Kave XTD Analog is, just as its name says, an analog gaming headset (read: no drivers required). The 3.5mm jacks plug into your sound&nbsp;card at the back of your PC to give you Dolby 5.1 surround sound. There’s a single USB connector to supply power to the in-line remote and a couple of lights that are on the headset itself.</p><p> At first, you may ask yourself: Why would I want 5.1 surround when my sound card supports 7.1? The answer lies in the fact surround sound is based on placement of speakers in a room. A typical 5.1 setup has five speakers: left front, center, right front, right rear, and left rear. A 7.1 setup adds two more: left and right. As rooms get bigger, it becomes harder to cleanly mix sounds as the fade from rear to front or vice versa the farther apart the speakers are. Adding the two extra speakers in 7.1 alleviates the resulting “sound hole.” When you take that model and scale it down to a headset, the need for the two discrete drivers for 7.1 disappears, since there is so little distance between the speaker and your ear canal.</p><p> As a result, the 5.1 surround on these cans sounds great, and one doesn’t feel like they’re missing out on the extra two speakers. Roccat’s Kave XTD&nbsp;line of headsets features line noise cancellation, so you don’t get as much of that white noise hiss when there’s no sound playing. In game, gunshots in first-person shooters sound accurately placed, and speech of characters sounds crisp and clear.&nbsp;</p><p> The headset itself feels comfy, and we wore it for a couple of hours without any discomfort during testing. The structural elements of the headset are made of a heavy plastic that feels pretty durable, but it would have been nice to see aluminum. Ear cups and headband padding are made out of a cushy foam that feels nice and squishy to the touch. The ear cups are easy to remove and clip into place, making replacing worn cups a cinch.</p><p> The headset weighs in at 11.8 ounces (335g), which is enough to make the headset feel hefty in your hands, yet lightweight when affixed to your noggin. The attached mic works well and can swing up to stay out of your way when you need to play those single-player campaigns. Our main gripe is that the mic boom is rigid, so the user has no real choice over the distance between the mic and mouth.</p><p> Attaching the Kave XTD&nbsp;5.1 Analog is fairly easy, provided you have color-coded 3.5mm female jacks on your motherboard or sound&nbsp;card. Our test rig, ironically, had 3.5mm female jacks that were identically colored to preserve the look of the rear panel. The Kave’s male jacks don’t have symbols printed on the plastic to give any hints. We can never remember what colors mean what, so we had to look it up.</p><p> The inline remote has four discrete volume control wheels. The left two wheels control subwoofer and rear channels, while the other two control the center and front channels. There is a switch for “movie” and “game” modes, too. Honestly, the difference in modes is really subjective and up to taste. But that’s the cool thing about this remote: It lets you customize your levels to your liking, and the game/movie switch is just one extra level of customization.</p> <div> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Roccat Kave Xtd 5.1 Analog remote and plugs"> </p> </div><p> You’ll find the obligatory mic switch next to the movie/game switch. At the far end of the remote closest to the cable that heads to the PC, you’ll find the volume knob. The knob has a little resistance to it, so you don’t over-adjust your volume too much. If you give it a quick twist, you can still silence or bring up the battle sounds really quickly if needed.</p><p> The remote also has a belt clip built in, and comes with a stand for your desk. The little stand doesn’t have much weight to it, so it’s easily knocked over or moved with an unintended tug of the headset’s cable. The stand does have a little lip on the end, so if you have a small paperweight or book, you can use that to weigh it down.</p><p> That leads us to another point: This headset is designed to be bound to your PC. It can’t disconnect from the inline remote, nor does the mic detach from the headset. This is a feature that we found really useful in other headsets like the Kingston HyperX Cloud II, but isn’t completely damning if you accept that you won’t be wearing these on your commute.</p><p> The Kave XTD&nbsp;5.1 Analog has a bigger brother, the Kave XTD&nbsp;5.1 Digital. The Digital variant has the same headset design, but uses a different remote with a USB sound&nbsp;card built in. The Digital variant also has Bluetooth connectivity so you can use the headset to answer calls while in the fray.</p><p> Overall, the Kave XTD&nbsp;5.1 Analog headset focuses on one thing: gaming. By skirting the edge of over-specialization, it achieves good results for an analog headset in-game at the expense of usability while AFK.</p> Ubuntu Version of Intel's Compute Stick Arrives Next Week Intel Compute Stick has Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installedThu, 02 Jul 2015 22:26:47 +0000 stickintelNewsubuntu <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel Compute Stick"></p><h3>An Intel Compute Stick with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installed</h3><p>Don’t feel like carrying around a notebook on your next business trip? You might want to take a look at the Intel Compute Stick, a computing solution that can be carried in a pocket or purse. Even more, it can plug into an HDMI port on any HDTV or monitor, making it a great addition your collection of mobile devices.&nbsp;</p><p>That said, <a href="">Intel plans to release</a> an Ubuntu version of <a href="">its Compute Stick</a> next week. This release follows the introduction of Intel’s Compute Stick with Windows 8.1 with Bing earlier this year, which costs a mere $149. This Ubuntu version will cost only $110, but the hardware specs are slightly lower than the vanilla Intel version launched months ago.</p><p>So let’s do a comparison. According to the specs, the Ubuntu stick is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F processor and 1GB of DDR3L RAM. The device also provides 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for additional storage, a full-size USB 2.0 port, a microUSB port for power, and a built-in&nbsp;HDMI 1.4a connector. The device even provides Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless N connectivity.</p><p>As for the Windows 8.1 version of Intel’s Compute Stick, this solution is also powered by the Intel Atom Z3735F processor. However, this model has 2GB of DDR3L RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot for additional storage. There’s also the full-size USB 2.0 port, the microUSB port, Bluetooth 4.0, and Wireless N connectivity.</p><p>Essentially, the Ubuntu offering has less RAM and internal storage than the Windows model, hence the smaller price tag. </p><p>Still, whether it’s the Ubuntu model or the Windows 8.1 version, customers can plug in a keyboard, a mouse, or some other input device thanks to the full USB 2.0 port. Users can also use Bluetooth to connect a peripheral, completing a desktop experience without the desktop. </p><p>“Consumers are looking for a more personal, flexible, and cost-effective computing experience, and also looking for a choice of OS,” Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical said. “It’s great to see Ubuntu become part of the Compute Stick family. This is another example of how we’re working with Intel to bring a wide range of devices to market to give as many people as possible the chance to discover Ubuntu.”</p><p>The Compute Stick with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be made available across the globe next week by way of “major online and retail stockists.”</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Corsair HX750i 750W PSU, NZXT Source 210 Case, and More! one day our PCs will run on smiles and good intentions. Until then, a solid power supply is still needed. Well, any old power supply could get your rig up and running, but a solidly built one will ensure it runs as it should, and decrease the risk something going up in smoke (take it from us, we've seen cheap power supplies die in dramatic fashion).Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:51:18 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Corsair HX750"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Maybe one day our PCs will run on smiles and good intentions. Until then, a solid power supply is still needed. Well, any old power supply could get your rig up and running, but a solidly built one will ensure it runs as it should, and decrease the risk something going up in smoke (take it from us, we've seen cheap power supplies die in dramatic fashion). If you're in the market for one, check out today's top deal for a <a href="ttp://;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817139084-_-0702&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair HX750i 750W Power Supply</a> for $130 with free shipping (normally $140 - use coupon code: [EMCATPA27]; additional $20 mail-in-rebate). This is a fully modular PSU with 80 Plus Platinum certification and 62.5A available on the single +12V rail.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16820178782-_-0702&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">PNY High Performance 128GB microSDXC Flash Card</a> for <strong>$68</strong> with $1 shipping (normally $80 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA58</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-EXT-HDD-N82E16822236783-_-0702&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">WD My Passport Ultra Metal Edition 2TB Silver 2.5-inch Portable External Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$90</strong> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA44</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CASE-N82E16811146102-_-0702&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">NZXT Source 210 Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Gaming Case</a> for <strong>$40</strong> with free shipping (normally $45 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA82</strong>]; additional $10 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-NETWORK-N82E16833166079-_-0702&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Rosewill USB Wireless Mini Adapter N150 Wi-Fi Adapter</a> for <strong>$6</strong> with free shipping (normally $11 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA53</strong>])</p> Chicago Implements 9 Percent Cloud Tax on Streaming Services Chicagoans, but services like Netflix are going to start costing more.Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:36:54 +0000 <h3>Taking money from the cloud</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Chicago"></p><p> The world is rapidly changing, no doubt about it. Gone are most video rental stores, like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, replaced in large part by streaming options like Netflix and Hulu. There's a lot you can do in the cloud these days, and if you live in Chicago, get ready to pay a 9 percent for the privilege.</p><p> Chicago's new so-called cloud tax goes into effect today. <a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>The Verge</em></a>, the new tax is the recent of two recent rulings by the city's Department of Finance. One of the rulings covered "electronically delivered amusements" and the other was for "nonpossessory computer leases." Both are extensions of existing laws that add an extra 9 percent tax on certain online services.</p><p> Electronically delivered amusements would seem to cover streaming movie and music services -- Netflix, Spotify, and so forth -- while the second could be applied to remote computing offerings. While the details still aren't clear, it seems the law could apply to Amazon Web Services and the like. Depending on how broadly the tax law is enforced and how loose the wording, it's not inconceivable to see this being extended to services like Office 365 and OneDrive.</p><p> These are consumer taxes, though some companies are gearing up to collect the cloud tax as part of its monthly bill. What that will boil down to is a higher cost for certain services for people who reside in Chicago.</p><p> This is Chicago's way of reclaiming tax dollars that local businesses have lost to online services. Be that as it may, this is an issue that will likely end up in court.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> This Is How Microsoft Will Roll Out Windows 10 details how the company plans to roll out Windows 10 later this month.Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:03:26 +0000 10 <p>Microsoft’s <a href="">Terry Myerson updated Windows Blog</a> with news on how the company plans to release Windows 10 to the masses later this month. The launch will begin with OEM partners so that they can get their products ready for the July 29 release date. After that, Microsoft will release a build to retailers so that they can assist customers who purchased devices with Windows 8.1 installed.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Build 10159"></p><p>Once July 29 arrives, Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows 10 to the individuals participating in the Windows Insiders program. The company will also begin rolling out the new OS to those who reserved a space in the release schedule. This will be done in waves and will “slowly scale up" the release.</p><p>“Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users,” Myerson writes. “If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system.”</p><p>For customers that are not ready for the upgrade, Microsoft may provide those users with information about contacting the device manager or application provider. If the device is incompatible, customers are encouraged to upgrade anyway and hit the new&nbsp;Windows Store to seek out “alternative compatible solutions.”</p><p>On July 29, customers may see new device boxes on retail shelves with a Windows 8.1 installation. If the device is compatible with Windows 10, they will see a sticker slapped on the front indicating that Microsoft and the OEM have tested the device for Windows 10 compatibility.</p><p>According to the post, Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional will be made available on launch day. Then starting on August 1, Volume licensing customers will be able to download Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education on the&nbsp;Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).</p><p>“Window 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education offer a rich set of fundamentals that you would expect from Windows, and a range of security, deployment and management features. Just like for our consumer customers, we’ll continue to introduce new features and updates in an ongoing manner, including Enterprise Data Protection later this year,” Myerson writes.</p><p>Windows 10 on the desktop caters to the keyboard and mouse customers while making the Start Screen an optional tool. The big changes to the platform include a new Start Menu, a new browser called Microsoft Edge, DirectX 12 and Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri.</p><p>Around 5 million customers have participated in the Windows Insiders program.</p> Cisco to Buy OpenDNS for $635 Million, No Service Changes Coming continues its spending spree.Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:13:31 +0000 <h3>An offer too good to refuse</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cisco"></p><p> OpenDNS wasn't actively looking to be bought out, but when it was offered a whopping $635 million by Cisco, well, it's tough to turn something like that down. And so it didn't. While the deal is not yet complete, the agreement is in place for Cisco to acquire OpenDNS. What does that mean for OpenDNS and its users?</p><p> "We’re not going anywhere and OpenDNS as you know it will continue to work as it does today. In Cisco’s words: 'This level of service for all users is a priority'," OpenDNS stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a> announcing the sale.</p><p> Cisco gains a company that's home to 65 million Internet users spread across more than 150 countries. That includes employees from over 10,000 organizations, both big (Fortune 500 enterprises) and small.</p><p> OpenDNS holds a lot of appeal to users because it adds things to traditional domain system (DNS) like phishing protection and content filtering. It's also fast and free to use.</p><p> Cisco's senior vice president David Goeckeler told <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a> that the acquisition will provide his company "global visibility," adding that the Internet traffic OpenDNS monitors would help his firm more effectively identify and respond to security threats.</p><p> "We get a lot more intelligence about what is happening in the world," Goeckeler said.</p><p> Cisco has shown a willingness to spend big dollars on acquisition targets. In 2013, the company acquired cybersecurity outfit Sourcefire for $2.7 billion. It also purchased Threatgrid, a malware and threat intelligence company, in 2014, and security advisory company Neohapsis earlier this year.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Game Streaming 101 Streaming and Your PCThu, 02 Jul 2015 07:00:00 +0000 4shieldSteamtwitchxbox one <h3></h3><p><em>This article was published in the February 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3>Game Streaming and Your PC</h3><p>Game streaming is huge. It accounts for epic amounts of web traffic and is even an integral part of some companies’ survival strategies. Look no further than Nvidia’s GRID and GameStream technologies, plus the meteoric rise of’s traffic&mdash;it’s now the fourth largest peak traffic producer on the Internet, just behind Apple and ahead of Hulu&mdash;to know that game streaming is big business.</p><p>Billions of dollars are spent on games every year and being able to access them in some form from virtually anywhere, and on any device, is appealing to almost all gamers. Developers are keen on the technology, too, because they can make their game for one platform and stream it to almost any other. But streaming means different things to different people. For some it’s broadcasting their game so fellow players can check out their skills. To others, it’s running games on a local PC, but streaming the action to another device, like a tablet. It can also mean playing games that live in the cloud&mdash;no PC required. Each of these is completely different, but they’re all “game streaming.”</p><p>Regardless of how you define it, there‘s a lot to consider. There are control mechanisms, hardware and software configurations on the client, server, and network sides to account for, and a myriad of possible bottlenecks and pitfalls in between. But fear not, we’ve got you covered. We’ll take you through the many methods currently available and explain some of the issues you may encounter along the way.</p><h4>Game Streaming: An Introduction</h4><h5>How does it work, what are the potential problems, and who are the major players?</h5><p>There’s a lot of complex engineering involved in getting game streaming “right.” At its core, however, the concept is fairly straightforward. When you break things down, every game is essentially a collection of frames displayed on-screen that are affected by the gamer’s input. Multiple things must happen to run and interact with that game, but the on-screen imagery, audio, and interaction are what are ultimately conveyed to the gamer through the monitor, speakers, and input devices.</p><p>It works by taking some of the game’s frames, converting them into a video stream on the fly, and transmitting the video out to a remote device. The game’s control interface and audio is also sent to the remote device, whether it be another PC, a smartphone, or a tablet. On some levels, streaming is like an interactive YouTube video. Almost every device currently available can smoothly stream a video from a site such as YouTube. But not every device can render and run a complex game. By leveraging the horsepower of a more capable machine to actually run the game, and then converting the game feed into a video stream, gamers can watch and/or play their game from a different device.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.nv grid"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Nvidia’s GRID technology is the foundation of many game streaming services.</strong></em></p><h5>Taking Control</h5><p>The challenges associated with game streaming are significant, though. Modern hardware of all types (GPUs, mobile SoCs, CPUs and APUs, etc.) typically have the ability to encode HD quality video in real time with adequate frame and bitrates, so generating a video feed and broadcasting it out to another device isn’t an issue for the most part. And neither is streaming the audio, though streamed in-game audio tends to be sent as a stereo signal to save on bandwidth&mdash;not multichannel surround.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.grid gpu"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>GPUs, such as the one at the heart of this Nvidia GRID add-in board, are a part of what makes cloud gaming possible.</strong></em></p><p>The control schemes, however, can be tough to get right. Not only are there the plethora of input methods to consider, such as touchscreens, game controllers, plus keyboards and mice, but the lag associated with sending/receiving inputs can make a gamer feel disconnected from the game. If a game stream suffers from noticeable lag, or latency, the action on screen won’t be affected quickly enough, and the experience is degraded. As such, making effective use of available bandwidth and minimizing lag are the keys to good user experience. Image quality is also important, of course, but that’s easier to control by altering game settings or increasing compression on the video stream. Masking and minimizing lag is far more difficult.</p><h5>The Game-Changers</h5><p>There are a multitude of companies involved with game streaming at the moment. AMD, Nvidia, Microsoft, Valve, Sony, and many others are directly involved with, or are inventing the technologies, that make game streaming possible or will enable new use cases in the future. Nvidia in particular is aggressively pushing game streaming forward on the PC, Android, and in the cloud. In fact, Nvidia’s GRID technology is arguably the de facto standard of most game streaming services. GRID is available from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and allows companies from around the world to rent capacity to build streaming services. GRID’s partners currently include companies such as G-cluster, Playcast, Gloud, Ubitus, and others. Nvidia was also involved with Gaikai before it was acquired by Sony.</p><p>There are also non-gaming companies (we use that term loosely) involved in game streaming., for example, doesn’t necessarily provide any gaming-related services per say, but millions of people stream their games to the site nonetheless. Twitch doesn’t facilitate remote game play or offer interaction with the game stream, over and above chatting with the game streamer, but gamers still flock to the site in droves. Some visit Twitch for the entertainment factor alone, while others use it to find tips and tricks for their favorite game.</p><h4>The State of the Game</h4><h5>Where the PC leads, others will follow</h5><p>As is usually the case with cutting edge technologies, the PC is at the forefront of game streaming. The PC can do it all&mdash;stream to services such as Twitch, stream to other PCs or devices, plus access games via the cloud, using whatever control scheme the user desires. Things aren’t quite so flexible on consoles just yet. Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 both have the ability to record in-game action (for later editing or uploading), and they can stream games on-the-fl y for remote viewing, but to date they don’t offer the ability to stream games to another device. This won’t be the case forever, however. Sony has already announced that some upcoming Xperia-branded mobile devices will be able to stream PS4 games, while its acquisition of Gaikai and its PlayStation Now technology (which is currently in Beta) will eventually permeate a number of Sony’s gaming products.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt=" detail grilles rgb"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>You can’t currently stream games from consoles to other devices, like PCs can, but that’s likely to change soon.</strong></em></p><p>Note, however, that certain types of game streaming are better suited to specifi c types of device. At this point in time, gamers have the ability to stream from PC to PC, from a PC (and soon console) to a mobile device or streaming video service, or directly from the cloud to a device. If you’ve got a powerful PC, it doesn’t make much sense to stream games from the cloud or another PC, since the best experience will be had by gaming locally. Gaming locally on a powerful PC ensures maximum image quality, minimal lag, and it eliminates potential bottlenecks on the network or web. With less powerful devices like a tablet, however, it may make sense to stream games from more powerful systems that can render imagery with more detail than may be possible on the device itself.</p><h4>What Do I Need to Stream My Games?</h4><h5>The specs, the network requirements, and the game settings that will get you streaming</h5><p>The hardware requirements aren’t steep. Just like running a game, the more processing power behind the host machine, the less taxing streaming will be on the system. But assuming you’ve got the hardware to accelerate the video encoding process (and almost every system sold in the last few years should), an adequate amount of memory, and decent broadband, then a fairly modest system will work just fine.</p><p>Both Nvidia’s GameStream and Steam’s In-House Streaming recommend using a quad-core Intel CPU (or six-core AMD processor). We’d also suggest having at least 8GB in the system. As always, more memory is better. The client systems have more modest requirements, however. They should have a GPU with built-in hardware accelerated H.264 decoding, but just about any modern computer or device should have that. If you can smoothly play high-quality HD video streams, you should be good.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.shield portable"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>The Shield Portable and Shield Tablet can stream from a PC or the cloud.</em></strong></p><h5>Getting Wired</h5><p>The network requirements are a bit trickier and arguably more important. Not only must there be adequate bandwidth between the game streaming host and client system, but low latency is paramount as well. Ideally you’d have all systems wired to the same<br>network via a network switch, but even a 100Mb connection would offer more than enough bandwidth. Nvidia recommends a 10Mb/s upstream and 2Mb/s downstream, which is nothing for a modern wired network.</p><p>Should you have to use a wireless network, a fast, dual-band 802.11ac or 802.11n router/access point would be the next best setup. Nvidia has even worked with a number of partners to certify wireless network devices as GameStreamready (check out <a href=""></a> Also note the clients connecting to the wireless access point should feature matching network controllers. It’s best to be in close proximity to the router to ensure a strong signal, and to employ the cleanest channel to minimize interference. Our “Ultimate Router Guide” (<a href=""></a> has stacks of suggestions. Streaming outside of<br>your local network is possible, but you’ll be at the mercy of your broadband provider.</p><h5>Image Quality</h5><p>Game settings matter&mdash;lower resolution will require less bandwidth, while turning off vertical sync will help minimize input lag. In-game image quality, resolution, frame rates, and bitrates can all usually be altered. And finding the right balance between image quality, bandwidth, and latency/lag is key to a good experience.</p><p>We’ve found that game streaming locally is typically awesome if you meet the minimum system requirements and have a fast home network. Steam’s In-Home Streaming and Nvidia’s GameStream on the Shield Portable and Shield Tablet often seem just as good as playing on a local PC. Game streaming from the cloud isn’t always perfect, but will improve as broadband speeds rise and more servers are introduced into the ecosystem. As Nvidia adds more servers, the user experience for GRID should improve since the load will be shared and gamers can access servers closer to their location.</p><h4>Game Streaming with Steam, Nvidia, and AMD</h4><h5>Setting up made simple</h5><p>As a Maximum PC reader looking to experiment with game streaming, odds are you’ll already have access to Steam, or Nvidia or AMD GPUs. With that in mind, we thought we’d explain how to utilize Steam’s In-Home Streaming, Nvidia’s GameStream, and AMD’s Gaming Evolved utility to stream games between PCs, between a PC and mobile device, and from a PC to Twitch.</p><p>Although they have some features in common, there are fundamental differences between Valve’s, Nvidia’s, and AMD’s current solutions. Steam, for example, can stream games between systems on a local network that are capable of running the Steam client (currently available for Windows, Linux, and OSX). Nvidia’s GameStream technology can stream games from a PC to an Nvidia Shield device on a local network or across the web, provided there’s enough bandwidth available and the latency is acceptable. Nvidia also gives owners of its Shield devices access to the company’s GRID service to stream PC games directly from the cloud, though the service is still in beta. AMD’s Gaming Evolved utility (by Raptr) doesn’t have any built-in mechanism for streaming games to other devices, but it can stream and record ingame action for remote viewing on We should note that Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app with ShadowPlay support can also record and stream in-game action, but we’re not going to cover that here.</p><h5>Steam In-Home Streaming</h5><p>Using Steam’s In-Home Streaming is incredibly simple. All you need to do is run the Steam client on systems connected to the same local network and log in with the same account on all of the machines. The host machine, as in the machine that actually houses and runs the games, must be a Windows-based PC at this time. When you log into the client machines, the option to stream games from the host will be available in the game library. Simply click on the streaming icon for that game and you’ll be off and running. Should you need to tweak the game stream for any reason, Valve offers a number of suggestions on its support site (<a href=""></a>.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.steam stream"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Steam has the ability to stream games from one PC to another on a local network, provided the systems are able to run the Steam client.</strong></em></p><h5>Nvidia GameStream</h5><p>Streaming your PC games to an Nvidia Shield device is also relatively straightforward if you meet the necessary requirements. You’ll need to have an Nvidia GeForce GTXbranded graphics card installed in the host machine, powered by a Kepler or Maxwell-based GPU. GameStream (and GRID) uses Nvidia’s hardware H.264 video encoder to encode and stream in real-time inside the GPU as a game is being rendered. This encoder is only available on Nvidia Kepler and Maxwell GPUs. You’ll also need to have Nvidia’s GeForce Experience application installed and running on the host PC. The GeForce Experience application will scan the system for compatible games and offer a list of suggested settings for the best game streaming experience. On the Shield device, all you have to do is access the Shield hub. In the menu on the left, an option labeled “My PC Games” will be listed. Select “My PC Games” and your Shield will scan the network and present the list of compatible games available in the GFE application.</p><p>Also note that Nvidia gives users the ability to stream games outside of their home network as well. Nvidia recommends Internet bandwidth of 10Mb/s from your PC down to Shield and 2Mb/s from Shield up to your PC. The streaming experience will vary depending on the quality of the connection, but it is possible.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.shield pc 3"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>A GeForce GTX-equipped PC running Nvidia’s GeForce Experience application can stream supported games over a LAN or WAN.</strong></em></p><h5>AMD Gaming Evolved</h5><p>Have an AMD GPU and want to stream your in-game activities to No problem. The AMD Game Evolved utility by Raptr, which gets installed as part of AMD’s Catalyst driver suite, has the ability to record and stream to Twitch built right in.</p><p>First you’ll need an account on Twitch. Once you’ve created an account, run the AMD Gaming Evolved app and click on the Broadcast button on the main interface. You’ll be asked to log into Twitch&mdash;do that, then minimize the app. When you run a game, the Raptr overlay should be visible in the upper-left corner (if not, exit the game, access the Raptr preferences and enable under the “In-Game” menu). Then all you have to do is hit Page Up + B when in a game, give your stream a name, and then click the Start Streaming button.</p><p>The speed/quality of your broadband connection plays a large part in determining the quality of your stream. If you need (or want) to alter the bitrate, resolution, or frame rate of the stream to improve quality or smoothness, they can be changed via the Twitch menu in the Raptr preferences menu.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.raptr1"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>The AMD Gaming Evolved utility by Raptr can stream in-game action to Twitch with ease.</strong></em></p><h4>Can I Stream My Games?</h4><h5>Which games will work, and on which devices?</h5><p>There are no hard and fast rules to determine which games are best suited to streaming, but there are some guidelines to follow to minimize frustration. If you’re streaming from one PC to another PC (or another device with a mouse and keyboard), the network is arguably the most important link in the chain, because the control scheme is identical. For best results, the host PC should be wired. If that’s not possible, the wireless connection needs to be strong and reliable&mdash;an 802.11n or 802.11ac 5GHz router/access point should be a requirement, though a good 802.11g router will technically work as well.</p><p>The game’s preferred input method is also a major consideration. Nvidia has a huge list of games posted online that it’s certified as compatible with its GameStream technology (<a href=""></a>, which also illustrates what types of controllers are supported. What you’ll find is that many games support multiple controllers, but a particular type would be ideal for certain games. For example, shooters work best with a mouse and keyboard or maybe a game controller, but they’re less suited to touchscreens. Conversely, racing and sports games are perfectly playable with a game controller or touchscreen, but a keyboard and mouse aren’t quite as intuitive.</p><h5>Testing Times</h5><p>Then again, preferred input methods are subjective. Less subjective is our tolerance for latency. When the latency between the game server (the system running the game) and client (the one receiving the stream) is too high, the experience won’t be good.</p><p>Ultimately, the games best suited to streaming are those compatible and playable with multiple controller types. GameStream and In-Home Streaming are compatible with a wide range of titles in all genres, but game streaming isn’t universally possible across all games and systems/devices. “To enable a GameStream game, Nvidia has to test each game in our lab,” Nvidia’s Andrew Fear, product manager for GRID, told us. “We leverage all of the testing that goes into the GeForce Experience optimal playable settings to develop profiles for each game we support.</p><p>“In addition, we have to test games to ensure they start up flawlessly and don’t show any strange dialog boxes during gameplay. It’s a big undertaking to do this for hundreds of games, but we are committed,” Fear says. Some of the testing involves general compatibility, but Nvidia also ensures its Shield controllers are mapped properly, that the game’s interface works and is displayed properly when streamed, and that the experience is generally good. Games not listed may still work properly, but they haven’t been officially tested yet.</p><h4>The Future of Game Streaming</h4><h5>Could single-platform games become a thing of the past?</h5><p>For game streaming to go mainstream and become one of the preferred methods for gamers to get their fix, many things need to improve. Should all of the stars align though, there could be serious implications for the PC gaming industry. By its very nature, game streaming somewhat negates the need for gamers to own their own powerful PC or game console. A system of some sort capable of actually running the game must be available at some stage of the pipeline&mdash;most likely in the cloud&mdash;but the gamer’s device receiving the stream need only have the ability to connect to a network, accept user input, and playback the game video.</p><p>Theoretically, streaming games from the cloud could obliterate the consumer addin GPU market. So, you’d think AMD and Nvidia would despise the technology, but they don’t. GPUs are still needed to render a game, whether it be local or in the cloud. And ideally, each game being streamed would have adequate GPU resources allocated to render it in the highest quality and for each gamer connected to the service. To that end both AMD and Nvidia have developed boards strictly for use in game streaming servers that can be virtualized to support multiple game instances simultaneously.</p><p>So, even though streaming could cannibalize local PC gaming, there’s still huge potential for GPU makers and a need for significant GPU resources. They just may not live under your desk in the future&mdash;they’ll be in the cloud.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.batman"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Games will be rendered by a GPU in the cloud, rather than one under your desk.</strong></em></p><h5>The Cloud's the Limit</h5><p>When we asked Nvidia how it sees game streaming evolving in the future, it answered with, “Nvidia is committed to giving users as many choices with their games as we can. We are gamers; we enjoy games on many different platforms and usage models. We want to give Nvidia customers choices: they can enjoy local PC games on their own GeForce PC, they can stream the games they own using GameStream, or they cannot even own a PC and stream games from GRID to a Shield.” And that’s really the crux of the issue and why game streaming is being actively pursued by so many players. Game streaming could ultimately give gamers more choice and developers more fl exibility.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.shield grid"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Nvidia is prepping its GRID service to stream PC games from the cloud, with excellent image quality and minimal lag.</strong></em></p><p>As things stand, we usually have to buy games for a particular platform, be it the PC, Android, an Xbox, smartphone, or whatever. Developers also have to make the games for each platform. There are plenty of assets that can be carried over for each version, but developing and tuning a game for multiple platforms still requires a considerable amount of time and effort. If game streaming becomes the norm, developers may only have to develop and optimize a game for a single platform and gamers would play it on their preferred device. This scenario could change the way we buy games as well. Instead of buying a game for one platform, we’d simply be buying access to a particular game that can be played on any platform. We could play our games virtually anywhere and have all of our stats and save-games come with us.</p><p>A number of the existing cloud gaming services already give us a glimpse of this future. Nvidia’s GRID or Sony’s PlayStation Now betas allow gamers to play games&mdash;in these cases PC games (GRID) or PlayStation 3 games (Now)&mdash;on portable Android devices or other Sony gaming systems. But make no mistake, there’s no technical reason limiting these services (and others) from working properly on virtually any device, from a smart TV to a smartphone.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat2 streaming.borderlands"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>In a single-platform world, developers could be more flexible and creative.</strong></em></p><h4>Console vs PC vs Streaming</h4><h5>Consoles could be heading for the cloud</h5><p>Game streaming has the potential to seriously disrupt the game console and PC businesses. The SoCs in many of today’s smart TVs are already powerful enough to run the client software necessary to stream games from the cloud, and they’ve got capable video engines and network connectivity already built in, too. There could come a time when a powerful PC or a dedicated game console is no longer necessary to enjoy the latest games.</p><p>A lot still has to happen before that becomes a reality, however. The state of broadband in the U.S. (and many other countries) leaves a lot to be desired, and a fast, reliable broadband connection is paramount. Game streaming services must also evolve to the point where they can offer reliable, low-latency connections to all of their potential customers. And then there’s the business model to consider&mdash;game developers and streaming service providers need to offer a product to gamers that’s both affordable and enjoyable, that can also sustain the business. These aren’t insurmountable hurdles by any means, but they aren’t going to be resolved overnight.</p><p>We think gaming PCs will remain popular for years, however, and so does Nvidia. “We believe there will always be a place for local PC experiences with GeForce and remote game experiences with GameStream or GRID,” said Andrew Fear. “But the power of our streaming technology does allow us to bring our entire library of GeForce-optimized PC games to a brand new platform,” he added.</p><h5>Panic Over</h5><p>Bottom line: A powerful gaming PC is and will remain the premiere gaming platform&mdash;bar none&mdash;and hardcore gamers aren’t likely to give up all of the benefits of local gaming anytime soon. Consoles will probably be around for another cycle or two as well, but Sony and Microsoft are already developing cloud-based services, so it’s possible next-gen consoles may be much smaller, thinner, and potentially less-powerful devices that rely on the cloud for everything from content delivery to rendering. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next wave of “consoles” are actually licensed to television manufacturers that would integrate the necessary processors and input mechanisms directly into the televisions themselves. Time will tell.</p><p>As network speeds and capacities increase, and hardware becomes more powerful, game streaming services will continue to improve. There will probably come a time when game streaming offers an almost indistinguishable experience from gaming locally, but even if it doesn’t, the allure of accessing games from virtually anywhere, on any device, will be compelling and we suspect gamers will flock to the services in droves. If (or when) that happens, the demand for high-performance gaming systems, packed with cutting-edge hardware, will be diminished greatly.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: OCZ Arc 100 240GB SSD, Samsung 24-inch Monitor, and More!'s really no excuse not run an SSD as your primary drive, not if you want the best performanceWed, 01 Jul 2015 18:41:45 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="OCZ Arc 100"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>It seems like a distant memory when solid state drives were cost prohibitive. These days? There's really no excuse not run an SSD as your primary drive, not if you want the best performance. Isn't it time you retired that aging HDD? 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That's the gist of what Dropbox security boss Patrick Helm had to say at a briefing, <a href="" target="_blank">according to V3</a>, which was in attendance.</p><p> "On a daily basis it's very obvious that our customers and users are getting attacked, and the way they are being attacked isn't through technical wizardry," Helm said. "We don't see zero-day attacks targeting us. What we see is password testing because of password reuse."</p><p> Helm says he's seen a pattern of hackers attacking websites, stealing encrypted passwords, and then using those passwords to infiltrate accounts on other sites. According to Helm, many encrypted passwords can be quickly decrypted and then bulk tested against websites and cloud services like Dropbox.</p><p> The three-part solution Helm recommends should be old hat to <em>Maximum PC</em> readers. It involves:</p><ol> <li>Avoid using the same password on multiple sites and services</li> <li>Use a password manager if you have a tough time remembering multiple passwords</li> <li>Take advantage of two-factor authentication wherever possible</li></ol><p> "Quite frankly, if you do those three things you're in good shape as a consumer," Helm said.</p><p> It's one thing to preach it, but another for users on a mass scale to put good security measures to use. To help with that, Dropbox is currently working on ways to encourage users to go through a security health check.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> EVGA Releases Dual BIOS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified custom 980 Ti card has two BIOSes so you can experiment with overclocking.Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:27:13 +0000 GTX 980 TiNews <h3>Built for overclockers</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified"></p><p> EVGA today announced its new GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified graphics cards for "extreme overclockers." Part of the reason it's pitching its Classified part for the hardcore overclocking crowd is because it has two BIOSes, which allows you to experiment on one and switch to the other if things get wonky.</p><p> The card also offers overclockers a 14+3 power phase design, dual 8-pin power inputs (versus 6-pin + 8-pin) for added power delivery, a pre-installed backplate to help dissipate more heat, memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) to reduce MOSFET temps by up to 13 percent, optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) that EVGA claims will reduce GPU temps by 5C versus the GTX 980 Ti's reference cooler, and swept fan blades that supposedly deliver more air flow with less power.</p><p> EVGA gooses the GPU's base and boost clockspeeds to 1,190MHz and 1,291MHz, respectively, up from 1,000MHz and 1,075MHz on reference cards. That's a decent 190MHz bump to the base clock and 216MHz to boost. There should also be headroom to spare, as EVGA advertises "unmatched overclocking and performance," though there's never any guarantees with such things -- your mileage will vary, in other words.</p><p> Like other GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards, EVGA's Classified model is a dual-slot solution with DVI, HDMI, and three DisplayPort connectors.</p><p> EVGA lists the card at <a href="" target="_blank">$700 MSRP</a>.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Another Day, Another Windows 10 Technical Preview Build Microsoft just released a Windows 10 build yesterday, today's release is supposed to fix hundreds of bugs.Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:19:31 +0000 10 <h3>Build 10159 hits Fast ring</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Build 10159"></p><p> There were reports that Microsoft's <a href="">Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10158</a> released on Monday might be the last public version for Insiders before the operating system's July 29 release date, but that isn't the case. A day later, Microsoft's Gabe Aul announced the release of Build 10159 to Fast ring Insiders.</p><p> The way these releases work is Microsoft validates its builds in internal rings where they're used and tested by engineers. Once these builds pass testing, they're released to Windows Insiders, first to the Fast ring for early access&nbsp;and then later to the Slow ring once it's been deemed stable.</p><p> So, why release two builds in two days? <a href="" target="_blank">According to Au</a>l, one reason is because Build 10159 includes over 300 bug fixes. And the second reason is because it introduces "one very interesting change."</p><p> Aul didn't elaborate on what that change is, though reports around the web suggest it's a revised login screen with a new hero image for the OS.</p><p> "We could have held off on it and picked a later build to give you some time with 10158 but we thought that you’d want to see that one change&hellip; Let us know if we chose correctly, or if Fast suddenly got *too* fast with 2 builds in 2 days," Aul added.</p><p> Though both builds are Fast ring releases, Aul said about Build 10158 that there are no known "significant issues," just some minor ones. With Build 10159 including over 300 fixes, it's probably a pretty stable release, though we still wouldn't advise installing it on a mission critical system.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Fast Forward: Tiny Processors for the Internet of Things of the most surprising new designs are in the smallest processorsparticularly for wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).Wed, 01 Jul 2015 07:00:00 +0000 <h3></h3><p><em>This article was published in the February 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3>Slimming down for the Internet of Things</h3><p>Over the past months, I've described two of the world’s most powerful microprocessors in this column. But chip makers aren’t always thinking big. Some of the most surprising new designs are in the smallest processors&mdash;particularly for wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).</p><p>Smart watches and Google Glass are only the first examples of wearables. Expect many more, including physical implants. IoT devices include everything from smart thermostats and smoke alarms to industrial machinery and car navigation systems. Processors for these gadgets share three requirements: they must be small, consume very little power, and provide wireless connectivity.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.qs"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>On-chip radios should solve bad battery life in wearables.</strong></em></p><p>The obvious solution would seem to be microcontrollers, which have been around for decades. On a single chip, MCUs integrate a CPU core, SRAM, nonvolatile memory (usually fl ash), and peripherals. Those peripherals typically include counters, timers, analog/digital converters, and digital/analog converters. Some even have USB or Ethernet controllers. Essentially, an MCU is a single-chip computer that can function without external DRAM.</p><p>But MCUs lack one crucial feature&mdash;wireless connectivity. For that, they need external radio chips. And those additional chips consume more power and board space, which are scarce resources in wearables and IoT devices. Although some early gadgets use conventional MCUs, we need new processors that add wireless to their bag of tricks.</p><p>They’re coming. One example is Marvell’s new 88M processor family. The fastest chip has a 200MHz ARM Cortex-M4F core. With 512KB of SRAM, it doesn’t need external DRAM to run a small OS and simple software. More important, this chip has an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio. Two similar models add flash memory and replace the Wi-Fi with either a Bluetooth or Zigbee transceiver. Designers can build a working system by adding only an external crystal and antenna. Total cost for this combo: about $10.</p><p>Marvell’s tiny processor sips mere milliwatts of power, but it’s still not small enough for some things. That’s why French firm Cortus recently introduced a 32-bit CPU core with an abbreviated three-stage instruction pipeline. By contrast, Intel’s Haswell processors have up to 19 stages. The Cortus APS23 is about the same size as ARM’s smallest core, the Cortex-M0+, which has a two-stage pipeline.</p><p>To beat that, a Slovenian company recently astonished a Silicon Valley conference by announcing a CPU core that has no pipeline at all. (This is like showing up at an automotive industry conference with a one-cylinder push-valve engine.) Beyond Semiconductor’s new BA20 is almost a throwback to the ‘70s, except it’s a real 32-bit processor. Stanford University, meanwhile, has prototyped an ant-sized processor that uses so little power it harvests what it needs by absorbing radio waves.</p><p>Another challenge is shrinking the transceivers and antennas. An IoT processor may need radios for Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth,<br>Zigbee, GPS, or near-fi eld communications (NFC). Some of those require multiple radios&mdash;Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, while cellular networks use many different frequencies. This challenge is more difficult than making tiny CPU cores because analog circuitry doesn’t shrink as neatly.</p><p>Nevertheless, the race is on to build smaller, cheaper, more power-efficient IoT processors. Before they mature, we’ll have to tolerate inconveniences, such as bulky smart watches that require daily charging. But remember, the first cell phones were as large as World War II walkie-talkies.</p><hr><p><em>Tom Halfhill was formerly a senior editor for </em>byte<em> magazine and is now an analyst for </em>Microprocessor Report<em>.</em></p> Microsoft Releases a New Build of Windows 10 Technical Preview has released Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10158Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:56:33 +0000 10 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10 Full Screen"></p><h2>Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10158 is here!</h2><p>On Monday, <a href="">Microsoft announced</a> the release of Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10158. This new build focuses on polishing the platform before its retail release in late July. Changes include updates to the Microsoft Edge browser, general improvements, refinements to the user interface, and more.</p><p>“We don’t have any significant known issues for this build worth noting in the blog post but we are servicing several issues so make sure you check Windows Update for those” says Gabe Aul.</p><p>The browser appears to have a new logo and Microsoft Edge label. Other changes to Edge include playing music while the browser is minimized in the background, the ability to drag-and-drop tabs into a new window, password and form-fill support, new start-up options, and new customizations for the New Tab page.</p><p>“One of the top pieces of feedback we’ve heard from Windows Insiders is that many of you really wanted a “home” button for Microsoft Edge,” he said. “In this build, we’ve provided an option for you to add it via Settings &gt; Advanced Settings and turn on “Show the home button.’”</p><p>As for the updated interface, Aul said that when using the Start Menu, customers can swipe up on the left side to open the All Apps list. Here users can simply click once to bring up the alphabet and choose a specific letter where the desired app resides. Another improvement is notification when an app (such as Skype) needs the user’s attention: it will now flash orange on the Taskbar.</p><p>Cortana has also received a few changes. For example, the Notebook now includes the Profile and Settings panels. Cortana is also capable of sending email; simply say that you want to send an email, tell “her” the recipient, the subject, and the body of the email. </p><p>“Tracking your flights has also been enabled, so when you get an e-mail with flight or package information from supported providers they show up in the Cortana experience and Cortana will also alert you about them,” Aul writes. “Alerts for going to work, going home, and the airport are also work now, too.” </p><p>In addition to Microsoft Edge and Cortana, Build 10158 has an updated Photos app, an updated Snipping Tool, and an updated Insider Hub. There are also dedicated fixes for the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3. For the former, Microsoft fixed the issue that kept it from upgrading successfully. The latter fix improves battery life.</p><p>Windows 10 is expected to launch on July 29. There’s a good chance that Windows Insider participants won’t see another build until the operating system’s development is locked down. Once Windows 10 launches, Insiders can choose to keep getting the latest builds or opt out of the program and receive updates with the rest of the consumer base.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Asus GeForce GTX 980, Intel Core i7-5820K, and More! gaming is alive and well (just pay no attention to Batman: Arkham Knight)! The question is, is your PC able to handle games like Witcher 3, GTA V, and so forth?Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:51:35 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus GTX 980"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>PC gaming is alive and well (just pay no attention to Batman: Arkham Knight)!&nbsp;The question is, is your PC able to handle games like Witcher 3, GTA V, and so forth? If not, then take a look at today's top deal for an <a href="ttp://;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814121905-_-0630&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus Strix GeForce GTX 980 Graphics Card</a> for <strong>$500</strong> with free shipping (normally $520 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA79</strong>]; additional $20 mail-in-rebate). Armed with 2,048 CUDA cores and 4GB of memory on a 256-bit bus, this card is ready for action. It also comes with the aforementioned Arkham Knight title, which Rocksteady is working hard to fix.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819117402-_-0630&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3GHz LGA 2011-v3 140W Desktop Processor</a> for <strong>$375</strong> with $1 shipping (normally $390 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA23</strong>] ; Free Intel Game Bundle with purchase, limited offer)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817139027-_-0630&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair CX500 500W 80 Plus Bronze Certified Active PFC Power Supply</a> for <strong>$45</strong> with free shipping (normally $50 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA24</strong>]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820173072-_-0630&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">SanDisk SSD Plus 2.5-inch 240GB SATA Revision 3.0 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)</a> for <strong>$80</strong> with free shipping (normally $85 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA37</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819113280-_- 0630&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">AMD A10-5800K Trinity Quad-Core 3.8GHz Socket FM2 Desktop Processor</a> for <strong>$80</strong> with free shipping (normally $90 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATPA32</strong>])</p> Customize Your Radeon R9 Fury X Using AMD's 3D Printer Files releases 3D printer files so that you can design your own face plate for the Fury X.Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:36:46 +0000 cardNews <h3>Your card, your design</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Fury X"></p><p> AMD built its Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card with a removable front plate with the intention of letting customers design their own alternatives. To help do that, AMD has made available the 3D model for the Fury X's face plate so that owners of the graphics card can design their own 3D printed or CNC replacement.</p><p> The stock face plate uses multiple pieces of aluminum die cast finished in black nickel and a soft touch black layer. AMD says it's pleased with its design, though if you want to replace it, you just need to remove four screws, one in each corner, as shown in the picture above.</p><p> "During the process of creating the industrial design for the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card we encountered a variety of unique perspectives within AMD on how it should look. These differentiating opinions made us think, what if we could enable our customers to implement their own creativity on our design? To do this we incorporated a removable front plate on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card to allow for customer creativity," AMD said.</p><p> AMD's also asking users to share their own creations, of which it will highlight its favorites.</p><p> If you're interested, <a href="" target="_blank">here's the link</a> to download the 3D model.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Microsoft May Kick Windows Phone to the Curb, Concentrate on Android has it Microsoft is having internal discussions about dropping Windows Phone and bundling services with Android.Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:09:18 +0000 phone <h3>If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows Phone"></p><p>Take this with a heavy dose of skepticism covered in salt, but rumor has it Microsoft is having internal discussions about dropping Windows Phone and chasing its mobile dreams through Android. If Microsoft went down that road, it would focus its mobile efforts on pre-installing services like Office, Skype, and OneDrive onto Android phones and tablets.</p><p> The rumor originates from Twitter user and known Microsoft leaker "MSNerd."</p><p> "Nadella and the SLT debating continuing Windows on phones and small tablets versus bundle Microsoft services on Android as the way forward," MSNerd said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>The Inquirer</em></a>. "Microsoft would push Google Play devices with Microsoft apps in exchange for Google providing first-class Maps, YouTube, Search on Windows."</p><p> It's a 'scratch-my-back' sort of deal that MSNerd describes, though would Microsoft really go down that road? Giving up on Windows Phone at this stage seems unlikely, especially with the work that's been put into Windows 10 for Mobile. At the same time, Nadella's recent letter to employees talked about making "some tough choices in areas where things are not working."</p><p> Whether or not Microsoft's mobile strategy is working is up for debate. According to IDC's data, Microsoft's share of the mobile market at the end of the first quarter was just 2.7 percent. That's not much, and there hasn't been much movement in the past several years. Have a look:</p><ul> <li>Q1 2015: 2.7 percent</li> <li>Q1 2014: 2.5 percent</li> <li>Q1 2013: 3.2 percent</li> <li>Q1 2012: 2.0 percent</li></ul><p> If you average those out, you get 2.6 percent, or just 0.1 percent below where it's at now. Meanwhile, Android has a stranglehold on the mobile market with a 78 percent share, followed by iOS at a distant second with 18.3 percent.</p><p> Looking at the numbers, it might not be the worst thing in the world for Microsoft to alter its mobile strategy and ride the coattails of Android. Whether or not it goes down that road, however, we'll have to wait and see.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Rumor: Microsoft Interested In Purchasing AMD AMD be better off under Microsoft's umbrella?Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:03:35 +0000 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Wallpaper Logo"></p><p><a href="">A report from Kitguru</a> suggests that Microsoft may be eyeing struggling chipmaker AMD as a potential acquisition. The news arrives via an unnamed source who claims that Microsoft approached the chip maker several months ago.</p><p>The details of the acquisition talks are unknown for now, but the report points to Microsoft’s $95.3 billion in cash and AMD’s value of $1.81 billion. Clearly Microsoft has the cash to make the acquisition happen.</p><p>Currently, AMD trails behind Intel in the CPU market. However, the company provides the APUs that power both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One console. Microsoft has sold an estimated 12.6 million Xbox One units since the console’s launch.</p><p>Take that number and mulitply it by the $100 Microsoft pays AMD per console, and you've got $1.26 billion. By acquiring AMD, Microsoft would presumably save billions while also getting a small cut from console rival Sony Entertainment, thanks to the APU in the PlayStation 4. </p><p>The report points out that if the acquisition does in fact take place, Microsoft would save even more money by producing its own SoCs for smartphones and tablets. This would seemingly help Microsoft’s plan for having one operating system for all form factors: having APUs in the Xbox One, in phones, in tablets&nbsp;and in desktops and notebooks.</p><p>This is not the first time we’ve heard of an AMD acquisition. <a href="">A rumor surfaced back in March</a> that Samsung was eyeing the APU maker again after contemplating an acquisition back in 2007. As we wrote back then, Samsung would take advantage of AMD’s GPU and CPU technology to better compete with rival Qualcomm.</p><p>The latest rumor arrives after <a href="">another rumor surfaced last week</a> claiming that AMD may split its business in half or spin off several divisions so that it can better compete with rival chip maker Intel. The rumor was based on three people “familiar with the matter” and indicated that CEO Lisa Su was investigating every possible avenue to get the company in the black.</p><p>According to Reuters, AMD has hired a consulting firm to create scenarios to help determine how splitting the company in half or selling off portions would work. One scenario sees AMD spinning off its licensing and graphics business from its server department. However, AMD denies that such a project even exists.</p><p>As for the latest rumor, would Microsoft be a better fit as AMD’s parent company? The situation is quite interesting, and could force Sony to choose another processor maker for its next console. Unfortunately, both AMD and Microsoft didn’t comment on the rumor.</p> Acer Flaunts 34-inch Curved QHD Monitor with AMD Freesync's XR341CK arrives in North America with a $1,100 MSRP.Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:45:31 +0000 <h3>A peripheral product</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Acer XR341CK"></p><p> Acer today announced that its XR431KC ultra-wide curved monitor with a QHD (3440x1440) panel, zero-frame design, and AMD Freesync support is headed to the United States.</p><p> That's a lot of visual goodness packed into a single display. We'll start with the curved screen, which is quickly becoming popular in the display market. According to Acer, the benefit of having a curved display is that it puts every corner of the screen at the same distance from your eyes for more uniform viewing.</p><p> This is aided by the monitor's ultra-wide field of view, which increases the perceived area of peripheral vision compared to a flat display of the same size, Acer says. Add in a zero-frame design and gamers are left with a totally immersive display, or at least that's the pitch.</p><p> "This killer new monitor makes game play incredibly realistic," said Charlotte Chen, Acer America product manager. "The ultra-wide curved design, stunning image quality and dynamic audio take the thrill of gaming to a new level."</p><p> The XR431KC sports an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel for more accurate color reproduction and wider viewing angles than what you'll get with the majority of cheaper Twisted Nematic (TN) panels. It sports 100 percent coverage of the RGB color space and has a rated response time of 4ms.</p><p> Other features include an adjustable aluminum stand with tilt (-5 to 35 degrees) and height (up to 5 inches) adjusments, picture-by-picture (PBP) and picture-in-picture (PIP) support, dual 7W speakers with DTS sound, and connectivity options consisting of HDMI v2.0 with MHL charging, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, and DisplayPort out. There's also a built-in USB 3.0 hub (1 up / 4 down).</p><p> The <a href="" target="_blank">XR341CK</a> will be available in late July for $1,100 MSRP.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Laptop vs. Desktop laptops have come a long way, but can they really replace desktop rigs?Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 <p><em>This article was published in the February 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3></h3><h3>Gaming laptops have come a long way, but can they really replace desktop rigs?</h3><p>For a long time, many PC gamers scoffed at the idea of gaming laptops. After all, how could you fit all that power in such a small form factor?</p><p>And even if you could somehow squeeze it in, it’s got to be deafeningly loud or incredibly heavy, right? Well, the gaming notebook sector is advancing, and it’s doing so by leaps and bounds. So much so that big gray box companies are taking notice. HP, for instance, is jumping back in with its Omen gaming notebook.</p><p>Gone are the days when a modestly powerful gaming laptop had to be a back-breaker. Many aren’t much thicker than some of the sleek Ultrabooks out there now. But what of performance? The gap between desktop and mobile GPU performance is narrowing faster than a teen’s teeth with braces.</p><p>So can a desktop-replacement laptop now truly live up to its name? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by throwing them both into the Thunderdome. Let battle commence!</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.opener"></p><h3>Slugging It Out</h3><p>Who’s your money on? The heavyweight champ or the light-footed contender? Desktops and gaming laptops go eight rounds to see which is best</p><h5>GPU</h5><p>Let’s face facts. As powerful as gaming laptop GPUs have become, they will always be slower than their desktop counterparts. You can always cram more power into larger components; it’s simple physics. But gaming laptop GPUs are narrowing the divide, and this has been the case with every passing generation of mobile GPUs. According to Nvidia, its Fermi-based 480M GPU only offered 40 percent of the performance of its 480 desktop equivalent back in 2010. Nvidia claims the gap narrowed to 60 percent with the Kepler-based 680M. Now Nvidia says the 980M is roughly 70–80 percent as fast as its current flagship GTX 980. From our internal testing, our numbers don’t support those figures across the board, but they aren’t terribly far off.</p><p>But performance issues aside, a glancing blow to mobile GPUs is that you can’t typically swap them out. The beauty of gaming on a desktop PC is that if a beefer card comes along, you can just pop it in. In addition, while there are some dual-GPU options in the gaming notebook space, they are few and far between. And four-way mobile GPU options? Fuggedaboutit.</p><p><strong>Winner: Desktop</strong></p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.cpu corei7"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>The performance gap between mobile and desktop GPUs is shrinking.</strong></em></p><h5>CPU</h5><p>Just about all the high-end gaming laptops that arrive in our Lab come with quad-core i7 CPUs, but in all honesty, they hold a rinky-dink candle to their desktop counterparts. Comparing high-end mobile quadcore to high-end desktop quad-core, we’re talking a delta of 40–50 percent. And that’s not to mention the six- and eight-core CPUs desktops can offer.</p><p>Sure, some crazy beast laptops such as AVADirect’s Clevo P570WM squeeze hexa-core desktop CPUs into their monstrous chassis, but notebooks like that are rare. Plus, you can’t watercool them, meaning you can’t unleash the beast to its full potential. To avoid overheating, laptop CPUs typically throttle themselves, and if they don’t, they tend to sound like shop vacs. Not great.</p><p>But arguably the biggest win for the desktop column here is the modularity factor. You just can’t beat swappable CPUs.</p><p><strong>Winner: Desktop</strong></p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.980mgpu"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Mobile CPUs are still lagging behind their desktop counterparts.</strong></em></p><h5>Sound</h5><p>Years ago, laptop speakers were weak pieces of crap. But these days, while they may not please the harshest audiophiles, most high-end gaming laptops now offer plenty of volume firepower. Hell, some even offer a 2.1 setup with a bass speaker underneath the chassis. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to get good audio from a gaming notebook. Lenovo’s Y500 gaming series, which retail around $1,000, offer great sounding speakers licensed by JBL.</p><p>This should be an easy win for gaming laptops, right? Unfortunately, sound goes both ways, and fan noise is a major factor. A good laptop like the Asus ROG G751 will run near silent under load, but something that’s too powerful for its britches, such as the AVADirect Clevo W230ST, can sound annoyingly loud.</p><p>Your mileage may vary here, but with both ends of this spectrum to consider, we’re calling it a draw.</p><p><strong>Winner: Tie</strong></p><p>RAM</p><p>Laptops aren’t known to be modular, but most of them allow you to swap out RAM. In fact, some will even let you plop in up to 32GB, which is more than enough for gaming and everyday tasks. In terms of pricing, both are pretty competitive, with the cost equalling roughly $10 per gig of DDR3 on either platform.</p><p>If we had to give one platform the nod, it would have to go to the desktop. Some gaming laptops, most notably the really thin ones, make it difficult to access the RAM slots. Typically, the only way to do this is to completely unscrew the notebook’s base, which usually voids the warranty.</p><p><strong>Winner: Desktop</strong></p><h5>Storage</h5><p>For a long time, smaller 2.5-inch laptop drives have generally been smaller and/or pricier than traditional 3.5-inch HDDs. With SSDs coming down in price and increasing in storage capacity, however, laptops can now offer a decent amount of storage at a reasonable cost. And with m.sata SSDs being so tiny, you don’t have to sacrifice thinness for storage space. Still, it’s almost comical to even compare the advantages of a desktop when it comes to storage, where your biggest limiting factor is how many SATA ports you have. This means you aren’t constrained to using just 2.5-inch laptop drives. Knowing you can expand your storage by 4TB simply by plugging in one SATA cable... that’s a good feeling.</p><p><strong>Winner: Desktop</strong></p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.sata ssd"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>The rise of the SSD has meant big improvements for laptop storage.</strong></em></p><h5>Keyboard</h5><p>We all love our mechanical keyboards, which have been a mainstay of gaming desktops for years, so you’re probably thinking this is an easy win for the desktop column, right? But while most gaming laptop keyboards merely get the job done, they are also “free.” In addition, you could always hook up a mechanical keyboard to your gaming laptop if you need to get your clickity-clackity fix. While you may scoff this off as awkward, it’s actually fairly common at big national LAN events.</p><p>Furthermore, some gaming laptops like MSI’s GT80 will be shipping with integrated mechanical keyboards, though the jury is still out on how well they’ll work.</p><p><strong>Winner: Laptop</strong></p><h5>Monitor</h5><p>There’s a lot of quality variance when it comes to laptop monitors. We’re beginning to see a lot of UHD panels out there, and then there’s also the IPS versus TN facet to consider. Most gaming laptop monitors come in the 60Hz variety, unless they support stereoscopic 3D, but those have been rare birds since stereoscopic 3D glasses failed to take off.</p><p>But even if you’ve got a crummy 1080p TN display, you could always plug a nice discrete monitor into the laptop. Like the keyboard category, free is better than not free, and you still get the discrete monitor.</p><p>The one big downside is that laptop displays are smaller, and you can’t raise their screens with a stand. Those quibbles aside, though, free monitor beats not-free monitor.</p><p><strong>Winner: Laptop</strong></p><h5>Portability</h5><p>Desktops may have the power and the modularity, but it’s tough to beat the portability that a laptop offers. Even if you could get a powerful PC in a relatively small mini-ITX form factor, they’re still bigger and heavier than the fattest gaming laptops out there. Plus, you’ve got to lug around a monitor, keyboards, and cables galore. For situations like LAN parties, ain’t nobody got time for that.</p><p><strong>Winner: Laptop</strong></p><h5>Conlusion</h5><p>With the freedom to easily swap out components, coupled with the power they offer, it’s clear the desktop PC isn’t going anywhere. Having said that, however, as good as the desktop platform is, you shouldn’t dismiss gaming laptops too swiftly. They’ve come a long way and are getting more powerful with each passing The rise of the SSD has meant big improvements for laptop storage. swiftly year. Believe it or not, the performance gap is narrowing (though it’s unlikely to ever catch up completely). Furthermore, a lot of the other issues that have plagued gaming laptops, like size, weight, and noise, are slowly being ironed out.</p><p>In short, we think you should allow plenty of room at the table for both a desktop and a gaming laptop.</p><h3>Mobile High-End GPUs</h3><h4>A closer look at what you can achieve with a laptop</h4><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Bench"></p><p>Above are charts showing the latest and greatest mobile GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD. Keep in mind that because of architectural differences, numbers should only be considered across the same brands, not across the board, for an accurate<br>apples-to-apples comparison.</p><p>Even then, the comparison can be misleading. Nvidia’s latest Maxwell GPUs, for instance, have CUDA cores that do far more pixel processing per clock than the older Kepler tech. So, the 1,536 cores in the 980M are far more powerful than the same number of cores in the 880M. That said, AMD uses pretty much the same GCN stream processors across its current model range.</p><h3>Nvidia’s Battery Boost Revisited</h3><h5>Revised power management now delivers. A little...</h5><p>If you can remember our August 2014 issue, we weren’t too impressed with Nvidia’s Battery Boost when it came out. For the uninitiated, the feature throttles gaming performance to optimize battery life, but we saw little-to-no gains. Nvidia acknowledged an issue and has been trying to rectify that with its mobile Maxwell GPUs. We tested it with our Asus ROG G751, with its Nvidia GTX 980M, and saw a small gain this time.</p><p>For our benchmark, we did A/B testing by looping the Tomb Raider graphics benchmark until our G751 died. With Battery Boost disabled, the laptop ran around 50fps average and lasted 70 minutes. With Battery Boost enabled, we got 80 minutes. Ten minutes extra may not sound much, but a 15 percent bonus is nothing to sneeze at. But keep in mind, you’ll be trading frames per second for those extra minutes, as the frame rate target. All in all, it’s a small gain, and you won’t be leaving your laptop charger behind anytime soon.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.battboost"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Battery Boost defaults to 30fps, but you can change that. </strong></em></p><h3>Laptop vs Desktop: Crunching the Numbers</h3><h5>Can mobile GPUs really offer 80 percent of the performance of their desktop siblings?</h5><p>Nvidia claims its 980M GPU can muster 70–80 percent of the horsepower its desktop sibling offers, and so this month we decided to put that claim to the test by pitting Asus’s new ROG G751 against a 980 GeForce GTX box we put together ourselves.</p><p>We ran a host of gaming benchmarks at maximum settings at both 1080p and 2560x1600 resolution across both systems. We also threw a high-end quad-core CPU into our box&mdash;specifically, Intel’s i7-4790K Devil’s Canyon processor&mdash;because we wanted to see how a high-end quad-core desktop CPU stacks up against a high-end mobile equivalent.</p><p>How did the two compare? While Nvidia’s claim wasn’t totally off-base, there were only two tests in our graphics benchmarks in which it really lived up to the claim. The mobile GPU version of Batman: Arkham Origins at 1080p and 3D Mark 11 at Extreme settings both ran over 80 percent as fast as its desktop counterpart, which was surprisingly impressive.</p><p>The rest of the numbers, however, don’t stack up nearly as well. We saw the largest split in Bioshock Infinite a t 1080p, w here the mobile GPU got blasted by roughly 80 percent. The rest of the GPU benchmarks show leads for the desktop GPU by roughly 35–45 percent, which is still quite impressive given the fact the 980 GTX desktop is a badass graphics card.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC108.feat lapvsdesk.batman"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Nvidia’s GPU boasts rang true for Batman, but Bioshock and Hitman fared less well.</em></strong></p><p>From an experiential perspective, our Nomad laptop is equipped with a 1080p monitor, and with the exception of Hitman: Absolution, which is quite the system hog at maximum settings, the system was overkill and played any game we threw at it well over 60fps. When we hooked up the laptop to a 2560 display, however, Hitman became unplayable at maximum, reporting average frame rates in the mid-20s. Batman: Arkham Origins’ frame rates nearly split in half. As powerful as these mobile GPUs are, high-resolution displays do a great job of highlighting the importance of having a kick ass desktop GPU.</p><p>But what of the CPU side? It was surprisingly unanimous across the board in favor of Devil’s Canyon, by about 45 percent. Ultimately, then, there’s no getting away from the thermal and power constraints of a mobile form factor. The laws of physics simply get in the way.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Bench 2"></p> Steam Hardware Already Sold Out? says that Valve already sold out of Controllers and Steam LinksMon, 29 Jun 2015 22:08:08 +0000 boxsteam machinesteamosValve <h3><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="iBuyPower Teases White Steam Machine Prototype"></h3><h3>Rumor says that Valve already sold out of Controllers and Steam Links</h3><p><a href=""></a></p><p><a href="">Earlier this month</a>, Valve Software introduced an “early bird” program that offered purchase of Steam Machine hardware due to be released on October 16. The catch was that customers needed to pre-order the hardware as soon as possible, as the number of units would be limited. Rumor has it that as of June 29, all Steam Controllers and Steam Link units are sold out. The <a href="">Alienware</a> and <a href="">Syber</a> Steam Machines are presumably sold out as well.</p><p>While that sounds incredibly positive, there is no reliable information regarding the number of units that were in the company’s stockpile, or how many Steam Machines were actually sold during such a small window. We reached out to Valve to clarify the news but as of this posting, the company has not responded.</p><p>Currently, only Alienware and Syber are still taking pre-orders. The Alienware model, sold through GameStop, has a starting price of $449 and four set configurations; there are three Syber Steam Machines with a starting price of $499. All machines listed here are bundled with Valve’s new Steam Controller.</p><p>Right now, customers can still pre-order all hardware, but the devices won't be delivered until November 10, 2015. An extra Steam Controller will set you back $50 and the Steam Link also costs $50. The Steam Link device is essentially a receiver that discovers PCs running Steam on the network and will stream games from that specific PC. Want both devices? That will cost you $100.</p><p>Steam Machines were originally slated to launch last year, but because there was a delay in the development of the Controller, OEMs began to launch their machines without the Steam Machine branding and Controller. Now with the Controller at hand, these OEMs are finally launching their Steam Machine solutions on November 10.</p><p>Will the Steam Machine initiative steal living room space away from the console giants? That’s the intention, but with game launches like <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em>, consumers may be hesitant about dumping money into as new machine with games&nbsp;that could cause similar launch&nbsp;headaches. That said, Valve may have sold out of Controllers and Steam Link set-top-boxes, but sales of actual Steam Machines? Maybe.</p><p>What’s hard to believe is that the wait for Steam Machines is almost over. We've heard about this initiative for what seems like forever&hellip; remember Steam Boxes? And now, beginning in November, there will be 14 base models with several variants in tow. </p><p>With that said, customers who pre-ordered their hardware before now will likely get their purchases in October. Everyone else who pre-orders now and in the near future will see their hardware arrive in November. Happy shopping!</p> Microsoft Boasts a Better Lens Design for Oculus Rift's a DIY project that will help you create better Oculus Rift lenses.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:49:07 +0000 rift <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Oculus vs. MSR Lens"></p><p>Last week, a number of CAD files and documents were released indicating that Microsoft Research has fabricated a better lens than what’s used on the latest Oculus Rift model. The README file reports that with the new lens, the field-of-view is admittedly&nbsp;smaller than the “stock” Rift&nbsp;lens but the image is crisper than Oculus VR’s solution.</p><p>“The lens was automatically designed by the LensFactory program developed at Microsoft Research,” <a href="">the company reports</a>. “The optical quality is significantly better than the lenses that come with the Oculus. The lens uses off the shelf lens elements from Edmund Optics.”</p><p>According to Microsoft Research, in order for enthusiasts to make the lens, they will need to 3D print the housing using one of the provided files. Microsoft Research said it printed its own casing by using an Object Eden 260 with Vero Black material that was cranked up to the highest resolution. The company has not tested other 3D printer solutions.</p><p>“You may have issues with hobbyist FDM printers because the thin crush ribs that hold the lens elements in place may not print properly,” the README file states.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="AssemblyDiagram" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;">The README file continues. "The&nbsp;.cs and .shader files are examples of how you can correct the lens distortion so that images on the Oculus display appear undistorted when viewed through the lens,” the file adds. “These files are written for the Unity game engine. If you are using a different game engine you may have to modify them.”</p><p>So how much will this do-it-yourself Oculus Rift lens project cost? Probably <a href="">around $200 per eye</a>. Microsoft Research insists that DIY builders will need to buy lens elements that have a visible light anti-reflection coating. If you purchase the lens without the coating, the image contrast will be “noticeably worse.”</p><p>The Oculus Rift is slated to arrive in Q1 2016. The virtual reality HMD will require a beefy PC with at least an Intel Core i5-4950 processor or equivalent and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 GPU or equivalent. Users will also need 8 GB of RAM and two USB 3.0 ports.</p><p>Check out the image below, which shows how much clearer Microsoft Research's lens can render a virtual room!&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Tuscany comparison"></p> Newegg Daily Deals: Optical Quantum 25GB BD-R 50 Pack, WD Red 6TB NAS HDD, and More! that thing your PC over there? Yes, the part that's occupying the optical drive bay. That's your Blu-ray burner! In today's cloud-centric environment, you can be forgiven for forgetting you had such a contraption, but now that you know it's there, how about feeding it?Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:09:31 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Bd R"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>See that thing your PC over there? Yes, the part that's occupying the optical drive bay. That's your Blu-ray burner! In today's cloud-centric environment, you can be forgiven for forgetting you had such a contraption, but now that you know it's there, how about feeding it? We have just thing -- it's today's top deal for a <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16817607061-_-0629&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">50 Pack of Optical Quantum 25GB 6X BD-R</a> Media for <strong>$18</strong> with free shipping (normally $33 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNT59</strong>]). That works out to less than two cents per gigabyte!</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CASE-N82E16811139041-_-0629&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair Carbide Series Red LED Black ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case</a> for <strong>$45</strong> with free shipping (normally $50 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNT34</strong>]; additional $10 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MEMORY-N82E16820233778-_-0629&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 2400 (PC3 19200) Desktop Memory</a> for <strong>$100</strong> with free shipping (normally $105 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNT28</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-INT-HDD-N82E16822236737-_-0629&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">WD Red 6TB IntelliPower 3.5-inch NAS Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$245</strong> with free shipping (normally $250 - use coupon code: [<strong>ESCATNT25</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-NETWORK-N82E16833124503-_-0629&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Linksys EA6200 Dual Band AC900 Smart Wi-Fi Router</a> for <strong>$40</strong> with free shipping (normally $49 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNT47</strong>])</p> Coil Whine and Pump Noise Noted on Early Production AMD R9 Fury X Cards believes Cooler Master has a handle on noise problems found on some first run R9 Fury X graphics cards.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:51:22 +0000 cardNews <h3>Noisy GPUs</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Fury X"></p><p> Without buying a bundle package consisting of a CPU, motherboard, and graphics card, you're not likely to find an <a href="">AMD Radeon R9 Fury X</a> graphics card in stock -- it's sold out at most places. That's probably for the best anyway, as some have reported hearing coil whine and pump noise.</p><p> <a href="" target="_blank"><em>WCCFTech</em> said</a> it's received reports from multiple users claiming to hear coil whine and pump noises, which are present even when the Fury X is idle. One user sent a video of the noise.</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe><p> These are really two different issues (though they relate to the same part). Coil whine involves non-moving parts and it usually occurs when that part is under a lot of stress. If it's working hard, it will begin to vibrate, causing the high-pitch noise that you hear.</p><p> It's said the coil whine is coming from the all-in-one pump bundled with Fury X cards. These are built by Cooler Master and contain a Nidec fan. It's a little weird that some users are reporting the phenomenon during idle scenarios, and it could mean that lower quality components are at play.</p><p> The user who sent in the above video claims the issue is with a retail card, not a pre-production model (review sample), though it's not clear if the other complaints are also representative of finalized hardware. Either way, AMD's Antal Tungler confirmed the issue to <em>WCCFTech</em> saying that the problem is present in early production units, but that a fix has been applied by Cooler Master. Future Fury X cards shouldn't suffer from noise issues.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Warner Releases PC Patch for Batman: Arkham Knight, "Significant" Work Remains't expect Batman: Arkham Knight to be bug free anytime soon.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:54:11 +0000 Arkham KnightgamesNews <h3>Fixing a broken bat</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Batman Arkham Knight"></p><p> Having gone up against Gotham's most ruthless thugs, who knew that mere bugs would ultimately present the biggest challenge for Batman? There were so many performance crippling issues in the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight that publisher Warner Bros. made the call to <a href="">pull the title</a> from Steam until developer Rocksteady can stomp them all out (or at least most of them). When will that be?</p><p> Your guess is as good as ours. As of this weekend, the first of what will probably be several patches was released. Here are the things it addresses:</p><ul> <li>Fixed a crash that was happening for some users when exiting the game</li> <li>Fixed a bug which disabled rain effects and ambient occlusion. We are actively looking into fixing other bugs to improve this further</li> <li>Corrected an issue that was causing Steam to re-download the game when verifying the integrity of the game cache through the Steam client</li> <li>Fixed a bug that caused the game to crash when turning off Motion Blur in BmSystemSettings.ini. A future patch will enable this in the graphics settings menu</li></ul><p> The above are just some of the many issues users reported having in Arkham Knight, and unfortunately for fans of the franchise, the work that remains is "significant," <a href="" target="_blank">Warner Bros. says</a>. At the same time, Rocksteady is leading a team of developers and partners tasked with fixing the PC experience, and even though there's a fair amount of work left before the game will back on Steam, "good progress" is being made.</p><p> If you're wondering what exactly Rocksteady and its team of bug killers are working on, here you go:</p><ul> <li>Support for frame rates above 30FPS in the graphics settings menu</li> <li>Fix for low resolution texture bug</li> <li>Improve overall performance and framerate hitches</li> <li>Add more options to the graphics settings menu</li> <li>Improvements to hard drive streaming and hitches</li> <li>Address full screen rendering bug on gaming laptop</li> <li>Improvements to system memory and VRAM usage</li> <li>NVIDIA SLI bug fixes</li> <li>Enabling AMD Crossfire</li> <li>NVIDIA and AMD updated drivers</li></ul><p> Pretty much everything, in other words. While we don't know how long it will take to fix the game for Windows PCs, Steam currently says the title "will be available on SteamOS, Linux, and Mac in Fall of 2015."</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Supreme Court Refuses Google's Appeal in Oracle Software Dispute case between Google and Oracle goes back to the lower courts.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:15:36 +0000 court <h3>A big blow for Google</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Supreme Court"></p><p> The ongoing dispute between Google and Oracle over Android and whether or not the mobile operating system infringes on copyrights of the Java platform will not be solved by the US Supreme Court. Google tried going the SCOTUS route after an appeals court ruled in Oracle's favor, but was turned down, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journa</em><em>l</em> reports</a>.</p><p> This case dates back to 2010, when Oracle completed the acquisition of Sun Microsystems for around $7.6 billion. That transferred ownership of Java over to Oracle, and since Google used a modified version of Java to build Android, Oracle feels it's owed licensing fees and damages.</p><p> Google's defense was that application programming languages (APIs) aren't eligible for copyright protection, thereby giving the company the right to use Java's APIs at no cost. A San Francisco federal judge sided with Google in 2012, but the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the ruling last year and declared that Java APIs were subject to copyright protection "until either the Supreme Court or Congress tells us otherwise."</p><p> So, why isn't the Supreme Court's refusal to hear Google's case the end of the story? Even though Oracle won the case on appeal, the court left the door open for Google by not coming to a decision on Google's defense that Oracle's copyright falls under fair use. With the Supreme Court refusing to hear Google's case, the company will turn its attention to a lower court, which will decide on the fair use defense.</p><p> There's a lot at stake here, both for Google and the software industry as a whole. Oracle is seeking more than $1 billion in damages and presumably an ongoing license fee. In addition, the case's outcome will set a precedent for whether or not APIs can be copyrighted.</p><p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Microsoft Fleshes Out Surface Pro 3 Lineup with a New Core i7 Model are now three Core i7 Surface Pro 3 models to choose from.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:13:09 +0000 pro 3 <h3>Storage or processing power?</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Surface Pro 3"></p><p> The addition of a new Core i7 Surface Pro 3 model will have users asking themselves which they value more, local storage or raw computing power. That may not seem obvious when comparing the base clockspeed of two identically priced models, which we'll clarify in a moment. First, a look at Microsoft's new entry.</p><p> Microsoft's newest addition to the Surface Pro 3 family features a Core i7-4650U processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB solid state drive for $1,299. It's priced the same as the SKU with a Core i5-4300U processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. Essentially users are left to choose between a lower end CPU with twice as much local storage, or a higher end CPU with half as much storage.</p><p> Where things get interesting is when comparing the two CPUs, as the Core i5 part sports a faster base clockspeed. This is how they compare:</p><ul> <li>Core i7-4650U: 2/4 cores/threads, 1.7GHz to 3.3GHz, 4MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 5000 (200MHz to 1.1GHz)</li> <li>Core i5-4300U: 2/4 cores/threads, 1.9GHz to 2.9GHz, 3MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 4000 (200MHz to 1.1GHz)</li></ul><p> For CPU intensive tasks, the higher boost clockspeed is going to benefit the Core i7 part. It also benefits from having more cache to store and read data from, and a superior graphics architecture. So in other words, don't put much stock in the base clockspeed, which favors the Core i5 part by 200MHz.</p><p> The real decision comes down to local storage. With so many cloud storage options, you might find that a 128GB SSD is sufficient. It's also worth reminding that the Surface Pro 3 has a microSD card slot, and of course a full size USB 3.0 port, both of which can add local storage to the fray.</p><p> That said, if you're the type who installs a lot of programs, the 256GB model becomes the better buy. Alternately, you can have the best of both worlds (Core i7 CPU, 256GB SSD) for $1,549, or bump to a 512GB SSD for $1,949.</p><p> In any event, you can shop the new Surface Pro 3&nbsp;and existing models at the <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Store</a>.</p><p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> And Here's Another PC Stick With Intel Inside Computer offers a PC stick with an Intel Atom SoCMon, 29 Jun 2015 14:49:56 +0000 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Gallery02 M-stick Nh1 64g"></p><p>Last Thursday, we wrote a news story about Archos launching a PC stick with Windows 10 late next month. Now another PC stick device has emerged from <a href="">Japan’s Mouse Computer</a>, the MS-NH1, packing Windows 8.1 Pro, 64 GB of internal storage, and a steep price of $322. There’s also a cheaper version with 32 GB of space, Windows 8.1 with Bing, and a price tag of $160.</p><p>The specifications show that the MS-NH1 consists of a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F SoC, 2 GB of RAM, a full-size USB 2.0 port, a microSD card reader for expanded storage, Wireless N, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The device also has an HDMI connector that plugs into&nbsp;any monitor or HDTV that supports HDMI input.</p><p>Does this setup seem familiar? It’s basically what the Archos PC Stick offers: the same Intel Atom Z3735F SoC, 2 GB of RAM, Wireless N, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. Even more, both PC sticks mirror the Intel ComputeStick hardware set, save for the protective casing. The 64 GB&nbsp;Mouse Computer model comes in white unless you’re opting for the 32 GB model, which ships in black.</p><p>The Mouse Computer MS-NH1 is shorter than a pencil and doesn’t take up the large amounts of space that desktops require. That means customers can use this device in the living room, in the bedroom, and even in a hotel room on business trips. Simply unplug the device from the HDMI port and slip it into your pocket.</p><p>Do you really need a PC Stick? Based on the hardware, it would be good for browsing the internet, checking email, streaming video, and listening to music. The USB 2.0 is perfect for connecting a mouse or a keyboard and possibly even a tablet or smartphone that can be used as keyboards. The 64 GB model with Windows 8.1 Pro seems ideal for the professional, while the cheaper 32 GB model should be ideal for the average&nbsp;consumer.</p> Windows 10 Unlikely to Boost Notebook Sales, Panel Makers Say multi-billion dollar question is: Can Windows 10 overcome all this skepticism?Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:32:16 +0000 10 <h3> The operating system is set to arrive on July 29 </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10"></p><p>It is probably the last thing that Microsoft wants to see so close to the release of Windows 10, but skepticism is what one usually gets whenever the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">subject of the upcoming OS’s impact on device sales</a> is broached. So much so that even Intel &mdash; a company for long tied at the hip with Microsoft &mdash; has clearly said it sees&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">little hope of Windows 10 reviving PC sales</a> in a big way. Now it’s the turn of a bunch of notebook panel makers Taiwanese site&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Digitimes</a> talked to.</p><p> According to the site, these panel makers are currently grappling with weak panel pricing owing to high reserves and low demand. They are trying to combat this “though utilization and production adjustments” and not waiting for Windows 10’s arrival, which they feel won’t do much to boost notebook sales in any case &mdash; at least in the short term. Interestingly, the site notes that this wasn’t always the case as these companies were initially hopeful of a Windows 10-led sales revival.</p> Malwarebytes Declares Amnesty for Pirates, Offers Them Free Licenses amnesty is apparently needed to help the company move to a new licensing system.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:47:35 +0000 <h3> Those with invalid or problematic licenses can get a replacement key for free </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Malwarebytes Logo"></p><p>Helmed by 25-year-old Marcin Kleczynski, who founded the company in 2008 while still a college freshman, San Jose-based&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Malwarebytes</a> has quickly emerged as&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">one of the most popular purveyors of anti-malware solutions</a>. Its flagship malware-fighting tool is available both as a free download limited to only on-demand scans and as a $25/year three-PC package offering real-time protection. Sounds like a fairly uncomplicated product strategy, right? Only until you consider the millions running so-called “cracked” copies of the software and the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">amnesty that the company is now offering these pirates</a>.</p><p> Turns out the company is giving away free replacement keys to any Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium user whose existing key has been found to have a problem. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Malwarebytes Amnesty program’s FAQ page</a> describes it as being aimed at those “inconvenienced by piracy or abuse.”</p><p> All such users need to do is to tell the company how they came to possess their existing key when confronted by a popup saying there’s an issue with their license key. Those who say they are unsure where they got it from or that they downloaded it from the Internet will get a 12-month license. As for those who say they purchased it, they will get a free lifetime license.</p><p> It’s no surprise, then, that some paying customers are feeling short-changed. This is what one such customer had to say on the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Malwarebytes forum</a>: “This is insane. MB [Malwarebytes], if you are handing out free lifetime licenses to pirates, then I would like my money back as well.”</p><p> And this is what Kleczynski said in response: “When I started Malwarebytes, I absolutely had no idea how successful we would be today. I am extremely grateful for all of the support from everyone and how fast we've grown. That being said, I picked a very insecure license key algorithm and as such, generating a pirated key was, and is, very simple.”</p><p> The problem is the algorithm that he chose as a callow youth has been used to churn out millions of keys, and Kleczynski says it has resulted in an absolute mess. With there being every possibility that pirated keys may clash with legitimate ones, the company is moving to an entirely new licensing regime.</p><p> “The first stage of this program is to collect data from our users. What keys are still alive, and who are they used by. If you are a true pirate, the furthest you will get is a year's worth of Malwarebytes. I wish we could handle each of the keys manually and determine if they are legitimate, but there are tens of millions of them and so we've automated the process a bit to cut them down. After that cut down, which is when a user selects an option, we will be going through the uses manually.”</p> How To: A Guide to BIOS Settings are the common BIOS settings, and what do they really signify and actually do for you?Mon, 29 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 <h3>What are the common BIOS settings, and what do they really signify and actually do for you?</h3><p>If you've ever spent time tweaking your system, chances are you've played around in the motherboard's BIOS settings. You sift through the options, only to find a massive laundry list of settings you can tweak, with many of them these days defaulted to "Auto." Chances are, you won't ever have to touch these settings. But if you're looking to expand your knowledge on what these settings do and when you should tweak them, this guide's for you!</p><h4>A note about manufacturers and how they organize options</h4><p>Not every manufacturer organizes these settings in the same manner. Fortunately, the organization a company uses is usually the same regardless of the platform. Below is where these options lay for four popular manufacturers from their recent BIOS settings organization:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>ASUS</strong>:</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">AI Tweaker: CPU and memory options<br>Advanced: Chipset, storage, and power options<br>Monitor: System health and fan-speed options<br>Boot: Boot and security options</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="BIOS Image_01"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><p><strong>ASRock:</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">OC Tweaker: CPU and memory options<br>Advanced: Chipset, storage, and power options<br>H/W Monitor: System health and fan-speed options<br>Security: Security options<br>Boot: Booting options</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="BIOS Image_02"></p><p><strong>Gigabyte:</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">M.I.T. : CPU, memory, system health, and fan-speed options<br>BIOS Features: Boot and security options<br>Peripherals: Chipset and storage options<br>Power Management: Power options</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="BIOS Image_03"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><p><strong>MSI:</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">OC: CPU and memory options<br>Settings: Chipset, boot, and security options<br>Hardware Monitor: System health and fan-speed options<br>Adding to the confusion, the specific names for each setting may differ from one manufacturer to another.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="BIOS Image_04"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><h4>CPU Options</h4><p><strong>BCLK/Base Clock: </strong>This is the main system clock for the processor. If the motherboard supports changing this option, it provides is a universal way to overclock the processor, even if you don't have a processor that was marketed for it, such as Intel's non-K processors. However, since this affects everything on the processor, including memory controller and integrated GPU, you normally can't tweak this value very high before stability issues start.</p><p><strong>CPU Ratio: </strong>This allows you to change the frequency multiplier of the processor. Normally, this only affects the cores themselves, and not the other parts of the processor, such as the memory controller or integrated GPU. Changing this value is the easiest way to overclock. However, this is only supported on the following processors:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Intel's K or X suffix processors (e.g., i5-2500K, i7-4690K, i7-5960X)<br>Intel's Pentium Anniversary Edition (Pentium G3258)<br>AMD's FX series processors (e.g., FX-8150, FX-6300)<br>AMD's K suffix APUs (e.g., A10-7850K, A8-6600K)</p><p><strong>Spread Spectrum: </strong>As the name suggests, this option is used to spread the electromagnetic interference (EMI) coming off the processor across a broader range of frequencies. This doesn't reduce the total amount of EMI, but it helps prevent all of it from being concentrated on the frequency of interest, namely the processor's clock frequency. This should normally be left on, although if you're doing some serious overclocking, it may help with stability to turn it off.</p><p><strong>CPU Voltage: </strong>This is useful if you're overclocking, as higher clock speeds require higher voltages. However, approach this setting gingerly. Even a relatively small change (about 15 percent) can fry the CPU. And note that frying doesn't have to show any signs of physical damage to the part.</p><p><strong>Host Clock/PCIe Clock: </strong>As the name suggests, this is used for adjusting the processor's on-board PCI Express controller frequency. While it might be tempting to tweak this, thinking it could help with graphics, it won't actually do much for the graphics card. It's best to leave this alone unless you've been touching BLCK, run into stability issues, and have run out of other options to tweak.</p><p><strong>Intel SpeedStep/AMD Cool'N'Quiet: </strong>Both options will adjust the clock frequency of the processor to lower frequencies if it's not doing much and bump it back up to normal if it becomes busy. If you prefer to have your processor running at full speed all the time, disable this.</p><p><strong>C-State Options: </strong>The C states (denoted by C# State) are processor power levels. These are useful to turn off when attempting extreme overclocking to keep the processor from switching power states. </p><p><strong>x86 Virtualization:</strong> If your processor supports it, this will help virtual machines perform at near native level. On Intel machines, it may be called VT-x, while AMD machines it may be called AMD-V. On older machines, it'll be called "Vanderpool."</p><h4>Memory Options</h4><p><strong>Memory Frequency: </strong>Sets the operating frequency of the memory. However, unlike BCLK on the processor, you can't chose an arbitrary frequency. Instead, you're left with options based on the BCLK multiplied by the memory's frequency multiplier. If you're left with strange frequencies after adjusting BCLK, it's best to pick the fastest one that isn't faster than the memory's rated spec. For best results though, leave this on auto.</p><h5>Big list of timing values</h5><p>Higher-end motherboards will allow you to directly adjust the timing values of RAM; the list of these values is long. But the most important ones are:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">CAS Latency<br>RAS to CAS delay<br>Row Precharge Time<br>RAS Active Time</p><p>These are the four numbers you see in memory timings on product specifications. If you're overclocking your memory, adjusting those four values will usually help push the overclocking further. The other options you'll find are beyond the scope of this article.</p><p><strong>DRAM Voltage: </strong>This is mostly useful if you're trying to overclock your RAM speed beyond its normal specification. This value should be handled gently, as going over even a small amount (about 15 percent or more) can fry the RAM. And frying can happen without apparent physical damage.</p><h4>Storage Options</h4><p><strong>SATA Mode: </strong>The SATA protocol allows for three modes:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">IDE: This is a backward-compatibility feature. It's only necessary if the operating system doesn't support SATA. Yes, you can install something like Windows 98 on a SATA drive with this mode on!<br>AHCI: Enables all of SATA's features. If you're using a modern operating system, the drives should be left on this. </p><p><strong>RAID: </strong>This sets up the SATA ports for the motherboard's on-board RAID. Otherwise, it acts like AHCI.<br>This is one of the options that you should ensure is set to the proper value before installing an OS. It can be hard to switch between IDE and AHCI/RAID on the boot drive once the OS has been installed.</p><p><strong>Hard Disk S.M.A.R.T.: </strong>This enables S.M.A.R.T. features on drives that support it.</p><h4>Chipset/Peripherals Options</h4><p><strong>Graphics Adapter and Integrated GPU (IGPU) settings: </strong>These options are normally for changing which primary graphics adapter you're using, what PCI Express mode you want to use, and how much memory should be allocated to the IGPU. Regarding choosing a primary graphics adapter: If the computer can't use the one selected, it'll attempt to use the other.</p><p><strong>Onboard peripherals: </strong>These options include the integrated audio and Ethernet adapter. Unless your operating system has conflicts with the integrated peripherals, you don't need to disable them when installing other hardware that serves their purpose. For example, if you're installing a sound card, you don't need to disable the onboard audio.</p><p><strong>Legacy USB Support: </strong>This allows environments that do not normally support USB to use USB devices, such as older OSes and utilities that run on boot (like memtest86). Unless you're having USB compatibility issues at the OS, do not disable this. </p><h4>Intel- and AMD-specific features</h4><p><strong>Intel Rapid Start:</strong> A way to resume from hibernate very quickly. <br><strong>Intel Smart Connect:</strong> Allows certain programs to receive updates over the internet while the computer is sleeping.<br><strong></strong></p><p><strong>AMD Dual Graphics: </strong>If you have an APU and an AMD GPU, this will allow a hybrid CrossFire option that allows the use of both GPUs to work in tandem, rather than be separate entities.</p><h4><strong>Power (ACPI) Options<br></strong></h4><p><strong></strong><strong>S-State configuration: </strong>S-States are system level power states. The most common ones people use are:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">S1: Power on suspend. The CPU stops executing instructions, but both it and RAM remain on. If a device says it can be powered off, it will be. <br>S3: Standby/Sleep/Suspend to RAM. The contents of RAM are kept and remains powered. Everything else shuts off. This allows for minimal power consumption while quickly powering on to resume use.<br>S4: Hibernate. The contents of RAM are stored in the HDD/SSD, then the system powers off completely. This allows you to resume where you left off, but the time from power on to that is usually the same as a cold boot time.<br>ErP S5: S5 is the system has completely shut down. Some motherboards have a feature called ErP, which allows the PC to consume the least amount of power possible, but not completely to 0W. Something still needs to be powered on to respond to the power button. This will disable certain features though, such as peripheral power on.</p><p><strong>Peripheral Power On: </strong>You can configure the computer to power on or wake from S3 sleep from one of these peripherals:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">PS/2 keyboard<br>USB keyboard, mouse, or other supported device.<br>On-board LAN, using the Wake-On-LAN protocol. <br>The motherboard's real-time clock. You can set it up for the BIOS to wake up the computer or allow it to be done so by the OS.</p><p><strong>State after Power Loss: </strong>If the computer has a loss of power, the computer can do the following once power is restored:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Last state: If the computer was off, the computer will remain off. If it was on, it'll power back on.<br>Always on: The computer will always power on after power loss.<br>Always off (default): The computer will remain powered off.</p><p>Note that some motherboard manufacturers may put this in another location (ASRock for instance, puts this in Chipset Configuration).</p><h4>System Health/Monitoring</h4><p><strong>Fan Speed Settings: </strong>These will tweak the speed of the fan. The labels on the settings correspond to the header name on the motherboard. For example, if you have header names FAN_1, FAN_2, and FAN_3, these should correspond to Fan 1, Fan 2, and Fan 3 in the BIOS respectively. </p><p>Typical speed settings include letting the system adjust the fan speed based on noise/performance profile or setting it to a flat value. More advanced features may let you create a customized speed to temperature curve. </p><p><strong>Temperature Alarm Settings: </strong>Some BIOSes allow you to set warnings or actions to take when the CPU or chipset reaches a certain temperature. If an alarm is set, the PC speaker will beep. Other drastic measures will simply shut down the computer. This option may be simplified to just acting on the chipset temperature, as processors have gotten really good at preventing catastrophic overheating.</p><p>C<strong>ase Open Feature/Reset: </strong>Some motherboards have a header that you can use to attach a sensor to detect if the case has been opened. This option is useless without that sensor.</p><h4>Boot and Security</h4><p><strong>Fast/Ultra Fast Booting: </strong>This will minimize POST times. For most modern BIOSes, "Fast" means it won't enumerate USB drives, so you can't boot from them. "Ultra Fast" requires Windows 8 or later, and allows skipping the routine POST startup entirely. However, this means you cannot access the BIOS menu from boot until you either reset the settings or from Windows 8 itself.</p><p><strong>Num Lock on Boot:</strong> Sets whether Num Lock should be on or off on boot. If you have a laptop with Num Lock but not the numeric keypad, you'll want to make sure this is left off if there's an option. Otherwise, the right half of the keyboard will act as the numeric keypad.</p><p><strong>Full Screen Logo:</strong> Let's you see the motherboard manufacturer's splash screen or the regular POST output. This doesn't affect boot times either way.</p><p><strong>Boot/POST beep:</strong> Leave this on, as this will aid in troubleshooting if the computer doesn't boot up. You may have to buy a PC Speaker (the little buzzer speaker) if your case or motherboard didn't come with one to take advantage of this.</p><p><strong>Boot Order:</strong> This configures which storage devices to boot from in order. This can be one of the storage drivees (HDD or SSD), optical drives (if one is installed), USB drive or "removable disk", or from the network. Old computers may even allow you to boot from a floppy drive. By default, it's best to configure this for the boot drive, then either the optical drive or USB drive. </p><p><strong>Boot/Setup Password: </strong>You can set a password that must be entered any time the computer boots or goes into the BIOS settings. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways to circumvent this so don't rely on this keeping your computer secure.</p><p><strong>Secure Boot:</strong> Enabling Secure Boot requires the operating system you want to run to support it. This option may not be available on prebuilt computers. If it is available, do not disable this feature if the OS was already installed, as the OS will not boot. Otherwise, you can leave it disabled and install any OS, regardless if it supports Secure Boot.</p> Intel’s Braswell NUC Now up For Pre-order is Intel's 14nm SoC for entry-level desktops.Mon, 29 Jun 2015 06:55:15 +0000 NUCNewspentium <h3> The new ‘Pinnacle Canyon’ NUC kits start at $129 </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel NUC"></p><p>A brace of new NUC (Next Unit of Computing) became <a href="">available for pre-order</a> from Amazon a couple of days back. These latest additions to Intel’s three-year-old range of barebone PCs are the same <a href="">Braswell-powered models we told you about in May</a>: the <a href=";linkCode=as2&amp;">$172 NUC5PPYH</a> and the <a href=";linkCode=as2&amp;">$129 NUC5CPYH</a>.</p><p> While the former is powered by a quad-core Intel Pentium N3700 chip with a base clock of 1.6GHz and a burst frequency of 2.4GHz, the latter packs a dual-core Celeron N3050 processor with a base clock of 1.6GHz and a burst frequency of 2.16GHz. Both models are identical in all other regards, and pack four USB 3.0 ports (including one for charging), an HDMI 1.4a port, VGA port, TOSLINK optical digital audio output, SDXC card reader, gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. Further, both models support a 2.5-inch SATA III SSD/HDD and a single SO-DIMM memory module. Although both SKUs were available for pre-order initially, the NUC5CPYH is now listed as “currently unavailable” on Amazon.</p><p> For those unfamiliar with the Braswell line, allow us to bring you up to speed. The Braswell family includes low-cost chips based on the 14nm Airmont architecture. They are meant to replace Intel’s Silvermont-based 22nm Bay Trail-D SoCS in the entry-level desktop segment, and feature a couple of key improvements over the latter in that they support more USB 3.0 ports and up to 8GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM.</p> Samsung Done Blocking Windows Update, Says Fix on Its Way to re-enable automatic updates 'in a few days.'Mon, 29 Jun 2015 04:59:13 +0000 Update <h3> The patch will re-enable automatic Windows updates on its laptops </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung Laptop"></p><p>A few days back, Samsung was caught using a small executable (installed as part of its Software Update tool) to <a href="">sneakily block Windows updates</a> from being automatically downloaded and installed on some of its PCs. The discovery, as was to be expected, caused <a href="">quite a stir</a>, the initial handling of which by Samsung left a lot to be desired. But it seems the company is now done interfering with users’ update preferences and issuing incoherent statements in defense of the practice.</p><p> The company on Friday <a href="">promised to deliver a patch to address the issue in the coming days</a>, saying it attaches great value to security and its partnership with Microsoft. Ironically, the fix will be delivered by the same Samsung Software Update tool that is at the heart of this entire controversy.</p><p> The issue came to light on Tuesday, when Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker sounded the alarm about the presence of a sneaky little file named Disable_Windowsupdate.exe in Samsung’s update tool. Discovered by <a href="">Barker in collaboration with a few others</a>, the executable ensures that the option to have Windows download/install system and other updates automatically remains disabled. A Samsung customer support rep Barker talked to cited driver compatibility issues for the behavior.</p> E3 2015 in photos walked around E3 with a camera. Here's some of the interesting things we found.Sun, 28 Jun 2015 15:00:00 +0000 Palmer Luckey Talks Oculus Rift Price, the State of VR Luckey talks about the Oculus Rift at E3 2015.Sat, 27 Jun 2015 01:00:50 +0000 riftvr <p>Last week during E3 2015, Re/code got a chance to chat with Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey who was at the show demonstrating Oculus Rift. He hinted that virtual reality will be as big as Apple’s launch of the original iPhone. However, the difference is that mobile phones existed long before the iPhone arrived whereas builders of VR gear&nbsp;are starting from scratch.</p><p>“The iPhone moment is going to take longer, and it’s probably not going to be such a huge, radical jump, it’s going to be more gradual,” he said. “The Rift is not the ‘iPhone of VR.’ Nothing out there is ‘the iPhone of VR.’ They’re almost like the Palm Pilots and the Treos of virtual reality.”</p><p>Luckey also talked about the first retail version of the Oculus Rift, stating that the first two years will consist of enthusiasts and gamers who have no problems purchasing high-end machines that will support the Rift headset. Eventually the Oculus Rift will be a mainstream device.</p><p>“You just don’t have the horsepower to make it happen on a device, much less a cheap enough and comfortable enough device that a normal consumer is going to want to have,” he said. “There’s also going to be more diverse content. Right now, it’s almost entirely games, because only the games industry has the tools and the talent to make immersive 3-D worlds.”</p><p>The consumer version of the Oculus Rift is slated to arrive during the first quarter of 2016. The minimum system requirements are somewhat steep and consist of an Intel Core i5-4590 or greater CPU, 8 GB of RAM or more, HDMI 1.3 video output, two USB 3.0 ports and Windows 7 SP1 or greater. On the GPU front, gamers will need a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or greater, or an AMD Radeon 290 or greater.</p><p> That said, the Oculus Rift will sell between $200 and $400. Throw in a capable desktop and customers are looking at spending around $1500. </p><p>“It’s not what we want the price to be. But currently &hellip; we put out our recommended specs,” he said. “That’s a known quantity. We want you to be able to buy a Rift and a PC for around that price. People imagine that we’re targeting that price, but it’s not &mdash; it’s just a reality. And we’re trying to be honest with people.”</p><p>To read the full interview, <a href="">head here</a>.</p> 9 Oculus Rift Games We Played at E3 played all the Oculus Rift games at E3Fri, 26 Jun 2015 22:38:18 +0000 VRchronosDamaged CoreEdge of NowhereEsperEve: ValkyrieHerobound: Spirit ChampionLucky’s TaleVR sports: Challenge Newegg Daily Deals: EVGA 750W PSU, Intel Core i7 4790 CPU, and More! new builders, the power supply is arguably the most underrated component. All the attention gets paid to the CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage, but it when it comes time to select a PSU, new builders often wonder why they should pay more for a name brand when generic high wattage models are so much cheaper. Well, this is one of those cases where you get what you pay for.Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:02:42 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Evga 750w"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>For new builders, the power supply is arguably the most underrated component. 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Lenovo does, and if there are enough people out there pining for a blast from the past, the world's top PC supplier may bring back the ThinkPad X300. Well, sort of.</p><p> Lenovo's David Hill wrote a blog post waxing nostalgic on the ThinkPad and its inception in 1992. Back then it was IBM that owned the brand, and after more than two decades of design evolution, Hill reckons IBM and now Lenovo have incorporated hundreds of modifications to 1992's baseline 700c model.</p><p> "As with all change, there are people who welcome it and others who are most comfortable without it. It’s unlikely that anyone would want a ThinkPad today that matches the 700c’s original thickness of 56mm, but some loyalists miss the 7 row keyboard," <a href="" target="_blank">Hill says</a>. "ThinkPad design, however, must continue to evolve to attract new customers and align with shifting market dynamics. With design, it’s nearly impossible to please everyone. Or is there a way?"</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Retro ThinkPad Flat"></p><p> Hill's been contemplating the idea of introducing a classic ThinkPad model infused with modern hardware. His thought is to build a retro ThinkPad with several design cues taken from the X300 released in 2008. It would have a blue enter key, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LEDs, and more.</p><p> He likens the idea to car makers bringing back classic models. For it to work, Hill says "there has to be an emotional connection that is somehow rekindled with its rebirth." To test out whether or not one exists with the ThinkPad, Hill posted several renders of the retro model he wants to bring back.</p><p> What do you think, would you be interested a old-school ThinkPad design with modern hardware, or do you prefer the look of today's laptops?</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Build It: Creating a Quiet but Beastly PC noise doesn’t mean low joysFri, 26 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 a PCcore i7 5960xmsinzxtr9 290x <p><em>This article was published in the May 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3>Low noise doesn’t mean low joys</h3><p><em>Length of Time: 2-4 Hours | Difficulty: Medium</em></p><h5>The Mission</h5><p><img class="pulled-image pull-right" style="margin: 0px 0px 10px 10px;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd"></p><p>Over the last few months, in the creaking depths of the secret Maximum PC lair, we’ve been constructing compact PCs or just putting shiny new things together and seeing what they do. And that’s usually pretty entertaining. But it occurred to us that it’s been a good while since we tackled a quiet PC build. After all, as much as we like raw power, we don’t want to hear that power all day long.</p><p>But that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice performance. If we create a whispery rig, we can still build it to growl and roar in its own way. And it’s not as difficult as you might think. With the right case, CPU cooler, and video card, everything can fall into place. Luckily, the hardware components market is chock-full of interesting possibilities, one of which was so new that it hadn’t even been reviewed as this issue went to press. We entered this undiscovered territory, and we think it was worth the journey. This build didn’t turn out quite the way we expected, but a little ingenuity made it come together in the end.</p><h5>Armed to the Teeth</h5><p>The most important element of a quiet PC build is the case. You want to keep the racket down, and that means sound-absorbing panels. You can glue your own in, or you can buy cases with panels pre-installed. Last time, we used a Fractal Design Define R4, which is still a fine choice. But we needed something with more airflow (the R4 comes with only two fans). Enter the NZXT H440. We decided to go a step further and get the Razer edition, which is almost all black, save for a few neon-green details. It has three 120mm intake fans, a 140mm exhaust fan, and space for a large radiator up top. It fit the bill. The radiator belongs to the Corsair Hydro H110i GT. This has a 280mm rad, thick tubing, and some nice aesthetics.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Ingredients"></p><p>The H110i will be cooling an Intel Core i7-5960X. Like we said, we’re not holding back. This 8-core, 16-thread chip is a monster for things like video editing and virtual machines, and we can overclock it quite a bit with the H110i. This hefty CPU sits on an Asus X99 Pro motherboard, which is a premium, feature-packed job. Along for the ride is 32GB of Corsair Dominator DDR4, a 960GB OCZ Vector 180 SSD, a 6TB hard drive from HGST, an MSI R9 290X Lightning, and a Corsair AX1200i power supply. Ladies and gents, we do not mess around. Read on to see how this epic stack of gear comes together.</p><h5>1. Power Behind the Throne</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.1"></p><p>The power supply finds its cozy new home in a separate chamber at the bottom of the case, and it gets in there by sliding in gently through the back of the case, instead of coming in from the side as it usually would. To make that happen, you have to first remove this plate, which is held down by four thumbscrews. Then you slide your PSU in, put the plate back on, and screw the plate into the PSU.</p><p>If you’re using a modular power supply, like we are for this month’s build, you also need to hang back and attach your cables before you get going with sliding the PSU in. That’s because the back of the PSU will be difficult to reach past this point. It’s a bit of pain, but that’s always going to be one of the drawbacks of a clean-looking case.</p><h5>2. Going to Great Lengths</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.2"></p><p>Interesting hurdles show up right away. We’ve put the mobo’s I/O shield in, screwed the motherboard into the case, and installed our RAM sticks, when we notice the video card is longer than expected. Thankfully, we can remove a drive tray in the front to make room.</p><p>It’s attached with two thumbscrews and slides right out. But connecting the power cables is tight, even when you use these flexible ones. That’s partly because this card is also taller than usual. If it used the reference height, then regular rounded cables would probably be fine. Also note this card uses an extra 6-pin cable. Our 8-pin cables come with two detachable pins, so we took the cable with the bonus pins and tucked it out of the way. There’s a side window, so we want it looking tidy.</p><h5>3. Uno, Dos, Trays</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.3"></p><p>There are two trays on top of the power supply compartment where we could have put our solid-state drive, but we like hiding it out of the way. You may have noticed by now that the H440 has no 5.25-inch drive bays. This cage has only 3.5-inch trays, which can also take 2.5-inch drives. After making room for the video card and the CPU cooler, we had three trays left. We took the two that were closest to each other and used them for the SSD and the HDD. That allowed us to use one SATA power cable (which also connected to the CPU cooler). The drive attaches with a set of small bundled screws.</p><h5>4. Something Up Our Sleeve</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.4"></p><p>Our fancy individually sleeved cables came in handy behind the motherboard, because there wasn’t as much space back there as we would have liked. The sound-absorption panel takes up a few millimeters in an already-challenging space. Thankfully, there was plenty of room in front of the power supply to tuck things out of the way, and we’d removed two drive trays for some more space. Since the drive cage in the front of the case is hidden by a large metal plate, we were able to use that to our advantage and obscure most of the mess. We also made sure to install the 8-pin CPU power cable before installing the CPU cooler. Otherwise, the cooler’s radiator and fans would have blocked our path. We also needed to whip out a Molex cable to power the hub that the case fans were connecting to. The fans themselves were hooked up to the hub at the factory, so that saved us some time and energy.</p><h5>5. Joining the Fan Club</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.5"></p><p>The H440 case can take up to two 140mm fans on top, and up to three 120mm fans. But because of the contour of the frame, you can’t set the radiator right against the metal. It’s too tight. You have to put the fans in between the case and the radiator, which can be pretty tricky if you haven’t tried it before. Getting the screws to line up correctly with the holes in the fans and the rad is a time-consuming process.</p><p>We have the fans facing upward so that they will pull the heat rising off the rad and send it out the vent in the panel that will sit on top of the case. The fans also need to be oriented so that their cables come out at the same location. This makes cable management much cleaner once the fans are hooked up to the cooler. You just tug the cables gently back behind the motherboard until you run out of slack.</p><h5>6. Two Can Play This Game</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.rd buildit.6"></p><p>The H440 had room for pretty much everything we threw at it, but there wasn’t space to add two more fans to the radiator. This is pretty normal for a mid-tower case. What we didn’t expect is just how tight our fit would be. There’s literally 1 to 2mm between the radiator and the mobo’s rear I/O shroud. Because of this limitation, the radiator tubes had to be placed on the other end, and putting another set of fans on the cooler was out the window.</p><p>The side effect was that installing the CPU cooler with the Corsair logo right-side up was difficult to do in a way that looked natural. So we ended up with the logo upside-down. Not a big deal, and it has no impact on performance. We chalked it up to a learning experience. We’ve seen this case accommodate two extra radiator fans before&mdash;it’s just not going to work with this particular motherboard.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Gutshot page71"></p><h5>Conquering the Quiet Life</h5><p>As we’re preparing this issue for the printers, OCZ informed us it was pushing back the release date of its Vector 180 SSD, due to unspecified technical problems brought to its attention by people it had sent these units to for review. It was too late for us to re-build, rebenchmark, and re-photograph, so you’ll have to visualize your favorite SSD in there instead. The good news is that SSD selection has a negligible impact on our set of benchmarks.</p><p>Speaking of performance, we were impressed by how easily the Asus X99 Pro overclocked this CPU. An OC from 3GHz to 4GHz at 1.3 volts is nothing to sneeze at, but this board needed no tweaking beyond our initial set of adjustments, which was mostly just beefing up the power sent through the voltage regulators. Not many programs use 16 CPU threads, which is why this chip wrecked our zero-point machine’s stock-clocked hexcore i7-3930K in some tests, but not in others. The 5960X got into the low 80s Celsius during our Premiere Pro bench, indicating there wasn’t much wiggle room left. You’d probably need a custom water cooling loop to push performance much further.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Benchmarks"></p><p>But let’s not forget why we built this system to begin with: quietude. Well, plugging the fan hub directly into the power supply will create some noise, and there’s no fan speed controller. And the CPU cooler’s fans are also right underneath the top panel, instead of the radiator getting sandwiched in between. So the Fractal case we mentioned earlier still has some better options for noise level, and more space behind the mobo for cable routing.</p><p>Still, the case’s stock fans aren’t loud, and the sound-absorbing panels do muffle some noise, though the window on the side panel has an acoustic cost as well. If low noise is really important to you, we’d recommend the Define R4, though it needs at least one more fan for good airflow. The MSI Lightning card, with its monster three-fan, triple-slot cooler, hardly rose above a mild drone throughout testing, yet it still punched above its weight in Batman: Arkham City. The 290X is a great GPU that performs within range of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, but for less money.</p><p>Overall, we enjoyed wrangling this build into shape, and we were gratified to get solid, stable overclocks without needing hours of experimenting and fine-tuning.</p> Microsoft's HoloLens Heading to the Space Station's HoloLens will be used on the ISS.Fri, 26 Jun 2015 04:30:48 +0000 <p>Seemingly yanked right out of a science-fiction novel, <a href="">NASA announced on Thursday</a> that it has teamed up with Microsoft on a new project called Sidekick. This project will utilize the Redmond company’s <a href="">HoloLens technology</a> to provide virtual help to the astronauts manning the International Space Station (ISS). The first two units will be shipped to the ISS by way of SpaceX at the end of the month.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Microsoft’s HoloLens Has the Potential to Be Transformative"></p><p> “The goal of Sidekick is to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it,” NASA said. “This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.”</p><p>NASA explains that there are two Sidekick modes. The “Remote Expert Mode” combines with Skype and essentially allows those on the ground to see what the astronaut is doing. This will allow a ground operator to assist in a task in real-time, eliminating the need for written and voice instructions.</p><p>Sidekick also has a “Procedure Mode” that projects animated holographic illustrations in HoloLens that blankets the object the astronaut is manipulating. NASA indicated that this mode will be great for long space missions to Mars and beyond that otherwise would have delayed communications. NASA hints that this mode may record procedures to lessen the amount of training.</p><p>According to NASA, the software and hardware of the first HoloLens pair will be tested by astronauts in a standalone mode. A second pair will be shipped to the ISS in the near future and will be tested on a network and in Remote Expert Mode. NASA doesn’t expect the Sidekick project to fully begin until the end of 2015. </p><p>“Our team is excited to be building virtual and mixed reality tools that will make our explorers more efficient and effective,” said Jeff Norris, project lead for Sidekick and OnSight at JPL.&nbsp;NASA added that the first two&nbsp;HoloLens units have already been tested&nbsp;on NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 reduced gravity aircraft.</p><p>Microsoft’s HoloLens is an untethered see-through holographic “computer” worn on your head. Seen only by the wearer, HoloLens projects high-definition holograms in the user’s line-of-sight. The company boasts that HoloLens will “unlock all-new ways to create, communicate, work, and play.”</p><p>HoloLens is expected to ship sometime around Windows 10’s launch window.</p> Hololens Revisited, and small FOV, but still amazingFri, 26 Jun 2015 01:27:44 +0000 <h3>Heavy, and small FOV, but still amazing</h3><p>When I tried the HoloLens when it was first unveiled five months ago at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event, I was completely blown away. It had the potential to be “<a href="">transformative</a>,” I wrote. Admittedly, this is in part due to the fact that I had never seen anything like it before. Now that I’ve had some time to digest the possibilities, I wanted to jack back into a HoloLens demo at E3 to see if the initial wow factor had worn off. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Microsoft’s HoloLens Has the Potential to Be Transformative"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: initial;"><strong>No pictures were allowed, but this is what the headset looked like.</strong></span></p><p>While I’ve tried Hololens before, this was the first time that I’ve had the chance to try out the wireless version. Microsoft wouldn’t let me take any pictures of the headset, but it looks like the prototype that the company shows off in its press materials. Judging from what I saw after wearing it, I want to say the field of view seems slightly smaller than what I saw before. The FOV was never great to begin with and here I’d say it’s akin to holding a 5-inch phone horizontally seven inches away from your eyes. Arguably more limiting than the horizontal FOV was the vertical view. Any holograms slightly above your brow line, for instance, will be invisible to you. If you’re hoping this will get better when the headset launches, you’re going to be disappointed considering Microsoft says that the FOV won’t change dramatically when it officially launches. Still, what I was able to see within the limited FOV is still incredible. </p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>At E3, I was able to try out a very brief Halo-themed demo. After getting my interpupillary distance (IPD) measured by a Microsoft representative, they placed the headset on top of my head and I was asked to look at a&nbsp;wall. With the HoloLens on, the wall displayed four floating circles spaced out in rectangular fashion. I was told that I would need to line these four circles at the four corners of my FOV before tightening the knob on the back of the headset to secure it in place. One issue that I kept on running into was that the headset would just constantly droop down my face towards my nose.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>While I appreciate that this version of the headset is wireless, it also means that there is a whole Windows 10 computer sitting atop my head. This was noticeably heavier than the headset I tried at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event, which had the headset connected to a chest pack. In general, the headset felt uncomfortable to wear and before trying this HMD on, I was initially thinking that run-and-gun laser tag games would be great with the Hololens, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable running with that heavy headset flopping all over my face&hellip; A part of me wants to bring the chest pack back if it amounted to better weight distribution and more comfort. </p><p>Regardless, once I got the Hololens up and running, I was directed down a hall where I saw a Halo style waypoint floating in the air. It looked just like it did in the games, and even had a distance marker telling me how far I was from the waypoint. Once I walked through the waypoint, it directed me to look outside a “window.” The window was really just a wall, but inside this fake window I could see a hanger with Halo-style aircraft. I could angle my head left and right, and it displayed seamlessly, without any lag. </p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>I continued to follow the waypoints down a hall and it directed me to stand in front of a circular warzone briefing table. The table was lit blue and here holographic battle plans were displayed. A Spartan soldier appeared and gave us the layout of the battlefield and outlined what type of enemies and terrain we would encounter. The visuals would shift, animate, and highlight areas of interest. This battle strategy was all to set up a Halo 5 game play demo on the Xbox One right next door, but I was much more interested in the HoloLens technology. One thing that I regret not doing too much of at the initial HoloLens event is sticking my hand out in between the holograms to see if I could obstruct the view, and when I did this, the holograms would just project through my hands, making them look almost translucent. Again, there was no lag, no latency, I never felt motion sick, and the holograms projected quite boldly and brightly.</p><p>I’m still a little confused by how developers will be able to program for it, considering everyone has different living room environments, but Microsoft’s Kudo Tsunoda, who is one of the Hololens leads, says that Microsoft has done a lot of that work on its end, and that developers wouldn’t have to worry about that. He unfortunately didn’t delve into it more than that, but that at least sounds reassuring for Hololens developers. </p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>There’s still no precise release date for HoloLens yet and Microsoft is only saying that it will launch within the Windows 10 launch frame, but when I pressed Tsunoda if that meant 2015, considering Windows 10 is launching this July, he could not confirm. </p><p>While I wish the headset offered a greater FOV and was lighter, the visuals are still mystifyingly&nbsp;magical and there’s a lot of potential here if Microsoft plays its cards right.</p> Microsoft CEO Outlines New Mission Statement, Wants to 'Achieve Magical Things' Nadella outlines Microsoft's strategy in this mobile-first, cloud-first world we find ourselves in.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:58:43 +0000 nadella <h3>It's all about empowerment</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Satya Nadella"></p><p> Microsoft has a new mission statement, and like the one it replaces, the overarching theme is about empowering the planet's population. However, it's not a simple rewording or reiteration of Microsoft's previous goals, but a straightforward and ambitious plan to make the world a better place.</p><p> Let's back up a moment. Before he left Microsoft to ultimately become <a href="">owner of the Los Angeles Clippers</a>, Steve Ballmer <a href="">laid out a corporate mission</a> for Microsoft "to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work, and on the go, for the activities they value most." Not long after, Ballmer became a footnote in Microsoft's history, the reins having been <a href="">handed over to Satya Nadella</a>, who at the time was the Executive Vice President of the company's Cloud and Enterprise group.</p><p> Now not quite a year and a half later, Nadella has left his footprint on Microsoft with a series of moves and is ready to move forward with this new mission statement:</p><p> "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more," Nadella stated in an internal email to employees <a href="" target="_blank">obtained by <em>GeekWire</em></a>.</p><p> It's a rather long and at times preachy email, though the mission statement is short and to the point. And like the one before it, empowerment of the people is at the center of Microsoft's vision, though Nadella's version seems to have a more philanthropic undertone. You get the sense that Bill Gates could have just have easily wrote the email -- not the Gates from yesteryear, mind you, but the one that's now hyper focused on the Bill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation.</p><p> That's not to say Nadella is no longer concerned with profits -- <a href="">18,000 layoffs</a> around this time last year suggests otherwise. But as Microsoft finds its way in what Nadella repeatedly refers to as a "mobile-first, cloud-first world," there's a desire to "do magical things," a sentiment that Nadella also repeated in his email.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10 Cortana"></p><p> One of the keys to Nadella's mission statement for Microsoft is Windows 10. He points out to employees that Windows 10 is an opportunity to connect with 1.5 billion Windows customers in 190 countries.</p><p> "Certainly we want to upgrade as many of our current Windows 7 and 8.1 customers to Windows 10 as possible through our free upgrade offer. More than that, though, we see this as an opportunity to support and celebrate how people and communities upgrade their world every day," Nadella says. "To that end, starting on July 29 when Windows 10 becomes available, employees are invited to volunteer some time and upgrade their communities as part of the broader movement."</p><p> Much of what Nadella discusses in his email are things Microsoft is already doing or plan to do. That's to say there's not really much in the way of new information -- Nadella didn't drop any bombshell announcements or anything of that nature. But what's different from what we already know is Nadella's passionate desire to intertwine Microsoft's business strategy with "making a difference in lives and organizations in all corners of the planet."</p><p> By Nadella's own admission, his ambitious strategy won't be an easy one. In his email, he talked about needing to remain "insatiably curious" and being willing to take risks.</p><p> Lip service? Perhaps. Skeptics will say that even though Nadella never intended for his email to be made public, he had to know that it would be leaked to the web for the world's eyeballs to see. That's probably true, though it doesn't automatically negate or invalidate what he wrote down.&nbsp;</p><p> "We are in an incredible position to seize new growth this year. We will need to innovate in new areas, execute against our plans, make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value," Nadella states in the email's final paragraph. "I really do believe that we can achieve magical things when we come together as one team and focus. I’m looking forward to what we can achieve together in FY16."</p><p> Admittedly, Microsoft is up to some exciting things at the moment, like <a href="">HoloLens</a> and what seems like a renewed interest in PC gaming via Windows 10 and <a href="">DirectX 12</a>. How it all pans out is something we're eager to find out.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Archos PC Stick Will Ship With Windows 10 will launch a PC Stick with Windows 10 already installed.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:34:40 +0000 10 <p>Looking for a computing solution for the living room but don’t want the bulk of a desktop? Look no further than the new PC Stick from <a href="">Archos</a>. Costing a mere $99, the device measures just 4.45 inches long and connects to any TV or monitor with a HDMI port. The device also includes Windows 10 right out of the box, indicating that this Archos solution may not&nbsp;arrive until late July.</p><p>According to Archos, customers can connect a keyboard, mouse or another input device via the PC Stick’s USB port. The company also mentions that users can connect their smartphone or tablet and use it as a keyboard no matter the operating system. There’s also a microUSB port presumably for powering the device.</p><p>In addition to those features, the Archos PC Stick comes packed with a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F SoC clocked at 1.3 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, a surprising 32 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for expanding the already generous storage limit. The device is also Bluetooth 4.0 “Smart Ready” and provides RF and Wi-Fi connectivity.</p><p>As a comparison, <a href="">Intel’s ComputeStick</a> ships with Windows 8.1 with Bing, keeping the overall price low. The device is also powered by Intel’s Z3735F chip and includes 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless N connectivity and a USB 2.0 port. </p><p>Based on the hardware comparison, Archos seems to be selling the same hardware configuration but with a different casing and the Archos logo stamped on the front. Heck, even Intel has its name on the device.</p><p>“Companies have constantly pushed boundaries to make computers smaller, and we’ve taken this challenge to the next level by offering a matchbox-sized PC for less than $100,” says Loic Poirier, CEO of Archos. “Mobility is at the center of our lifestyles and the PC Stick allows us to be on-the-go and productive.”</p><p>Do you really need a PC crammed into a stick? Again, this device would be a great addition to the living room if you want to surf the web, watch videos or listen to music without having to give up a chunk of space. Even more, this device would be great on business trips and for students who don’t want to use a laptop or desktop. </p><p>Unfortunately, Archos doesn’t provide a release date, but the device will presumably be offered on July 29 if not sometime shortly thereafter.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSD, Intel Core i5 4460 CPU, and More! you're feeling a little sluggish, you can always down a cup of java or your favorite caffeinated beverage. But what happens when your PC feels like it's limping? There are a plethora of fixes, though if you're still rocking a mechanical hard drive, one of the best remedies is to upgrade to a solid state drive.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:35:43 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung 850 Pro"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong><strong></strong></p><p>If you're feeling a little sluggish, you can always down a cup of java or your favorite caffeinated beverage. But what happens when your PC feels like it's limping? There are a plethora of fixes, though if you're still rocking a mechanical hard drive, one of the best remedies is to upgrade to a solid state drive. Sound like a plan? Then check out today's top deal for a <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820147360-_-0625&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Samsung 850 Pro 256GB Internal SSD</a> for <strong>$124</strong> with free shipping (normally $145 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNS92</strong>]). This speedy drive uses Samsung's 3D Vertical NAND flash memory and is capable of up to 550MB/s reads and 520MB/s writes.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16827151266-_-0625&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Samsung DVD Burner 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X Writer</a> for <strong>$13</strong> with free shipping (normally $20 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNS85</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-INT-HDD-N82E16822145912-_-0625&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB 7200 RPM 3.5-inch Desktop NAS Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$155</strong> with free shipping (normally $170 - use coupon code: [<strong>ESCATNS52</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819117302-_-0625&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel Core i5-4460 Haswell Quad-Core 3.2GHz LGA 1150 Desktop Processor</a> for <strong>$180</strong> with free shipping (normally $190 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNS39</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819113359-_-0625&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">AMD A10-7850K Kaveri 3.7GHz Socket FM2+ 95W Desktop Processor</a> for <strong>$120</strong> with free shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNS38</strong>])</p> ECS Denies Rumored Plans to Ditch Own Brand Motherboards says it's fully committed to selling its own brand boards, despite a rumor to the contrary.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:18:01 +0000 <h3>An official denial</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="ECS Motherboard"></p><p> Don't go bidding farewell to ECS in the branded DIY motherboard business just yet. After catching wind of <a href="" target="_blank">yesterday's rumor</a> claiming that ECS decided to stop pushing its own brand mobos in favor of building solutions for ODM and OEM partners, company president Sunny Yang sent a letter to the press calling the rumor "untrue."</p><p> It's a poorly translated letter, so rather than post its contents verbatim, we'll summarize Yang's statement as such: "Hell no, we don't plan to quit making our own brand motherboards, what kind of fresh nonsense is that!?"</p><p> Okay, we may have taken some liberties with Yang's wording, though not with the sentiment. Yang said "ECS would never give up" on building its own brand motherboards. He acknowledged the presence of stiff competition, but said that ECS is up to the challenge. Not only that, but ECS plans to pour even more resources into cutting edge products and attending marketing events, like the recent Computex convention.</p><p> ECS has been around the PC scene for nearly three decades (since 1987). It merged with PCChips in 2005, which helped the company thrive in the entry-level sector with budget boards. ECS has also attempted to make a name for itself among overclockers and power users with higher end options from time to time, and continues to do so under its L337 Gaming series. However, many people still associate ECS with budget offerings.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Batman: Arkham Knight PC Pulled From Steam Games has pulled Batman: Arkham Knight from Steam over performance issues.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:17:25 +0000 Arkham KnightgamesNewsnvidia <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Batman Arkham Knight"></p><p>Console fanboys are probably laughing right about now. Why? Because just two days after the general release of <em style="background-color: initial;">Batman: Arkham Knight</em>, developer Rocksteady Studios and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have decided to pull the PC version until further notice due to serious performance issues.</p><p>“We want to apologize to those of you who are experiencing performance issues with <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> on PC,” <a href="">the developer writes</a>. “We take these issues very seriously and have therefore decided to suspend future game sales of the PC version while we work to address these issues to satisfy our quality standards. We greatly value our customers and know that while there are a significant amount of players who are enjoying the game on PC, we want to do whatever we can to make the experience better for PC players overall.”</p><p>The two companies add that they will continue to monitor all threads that are posted on the Steam forums and the official <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> forums. They also encourage disgruntled PC customers to sit back and wait for the bug issues to be ironed out. If that’s too much to ask, then customers can <a href="">request a full refund on Steam</a> or from the retailer where the game was purchased. </p><p>“The <em>Batman: Arkham</em> fans have continually supported the franchise to its current height of success, and we want to thank you for your patience as we work to deliver an updated version of <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> on PC so you can all enjoy the final chapter of the <em>Batman: Arkham</em> series as it was meant to be played,” the update concludes.</p><p>Complaints regarding the PC version began on Tuesday and Warner (aka WB Games) quickly provided an update stating that it was aware of the performance problems. Later on, the company <a href="">tossed up a list of recommended settings</a> for hungry PC gamers wanting a fix. These settings were based on the minimum hardware specs and the recommended specs, thus PC gamers can choose from two recommended lists. Both seem to&nbsp;cap the framerate to 30 fps.</p><p>“It is incredibly important that users with a min spec video card with 2 GB of dedicated VRAM (or 3 GB on AMD) to keep the Texture Resolution set to Low,” WB Games warned. “Increasing this to Normal will cause significant performance issues.”</p><p>The company also warned PC gamers not to change anything in the game’s .ini files and to stay away from Nvidia’s GeForce Experience and AMD’s Gaming Evolved Optimization tools. On the drivers side, customers should be using GeForce GameReady WHQL Driver version 353.30 or AMD’s Catalyst 15.6 beta driver.</p><p>Over the last two days, PC gamers trying to run the latest <em>Batman: Arkham</em> game have suffered significant game-halting crashes, various framerates dipping into the single digits and stuttering. <a href="">Nvidia</a> is supposedly working with the developer to help clear up a number of issues that are causing the problems.</p><p>That all said, the problem with <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> is unfortunate, but keep in mind that it’s not experienced by <em>all</em> PC gamers. Many customers are reporting that they’re not experiencing any show-stopping problems whatsoever. Still, those affected by the issues are leaving bad marks in their reviews of the game, which is unfortunate.</p><p>What’s also unfortunate is that these issues plaguing the new <em>Batman</em> game will likely play as an example of how consoles are “better” than the Windows PC platform. With consoles, developers have two hardware sets to work with (PS4 and XB1). On the PC side, they must develop a game that runs on a huge number of hardware configurations, which probably isn’t an easy task.</p><p>On that note, maybe we should give Iron Galaxy Studios, the team that ported the game to Windows PC, a break?</p> Be Ready to Bring Your Own CPU Cooler to Intel's Skylake-S K Series Party's reported that Intel's K Series Skylake-S CPUs won't come with a heatsink fan combination.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:33:20 +0000 <h3>Playing it cool</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel Sign"></p><p> Many enthusiasts are waiting for Intel to release processors based on its forthcoming Skylake architecture before building a new system, and with good reason. Skylake is a "tock" in Intel's "tick-tock" strategy, meaning it's a major new architecture, one that will require a new socket (LGA 1151) and possibly new RAM (Skylake-S will have both DDR3 and DDR4 memory controllers). And of the things you'll need to buy, you can add a heatsink fan combination, if you're planning to roll with an unlocked K series CPU.</p><p> <a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>WCCFtech</em></a>, all K series Skylake-S processors will ship naked. You'll have the option of purchasing a high performance air or self-contained liquid cooling solution from Intel, but they'll be sold and packaged separately.</p><p> This isn't really a bad thing. The main attraction of a K series CPU is its unlocked multiplier, which makes overclocking a bit easier. And if you're going to overclock, why mess around with a stock cooler? Third party cooling solutions are typically much better at dissipating heat than the coolers that Intel and AMD bundle with their CPUs.</p><p> The two K series Skylake-S parts on tap from Intel are the Core i7-6700K and the Core i5-6600K, both with a 95W TDP. Intel's optional coolers are both rated as capable of cooling chips with a 130W TDP, so if you choose one of those, there should be a fair amount of thermal headroom to play with overclocking.</p><p> Here are some other stats on the two K series CPUs:</p><ul> <li>Core i7-6700K: 4/8 cores; 4GHZ-4.2GHz; 8MB cache; DDR4-2133</li> <li>Core i5-6600K: 4/4 cores; 3.5GHz-3.9GHz; 6MB cache; DDR4-2133</li></ul><p> Both are built on the same 14nm manufacturing process as Broadwell, but it's a different architecture. Some highlights include support for 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, support for Thunderbolt 3.0, and as previously mentioned, both DDR3 and DDR4 memory controllers.</p><p> Skylake is expected to launch at Gamescom on August 5, 2015. And if you're wondering what comes after Skylake on Intel's tick-tock roadmap, it's Cannonlake (tick). It will see a die shrink to 10nm and, barring any delays, ship sometime in 2016.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Microsoft in Talks with Samsung to 'Address the Issue' of Disabling Windows Update must now answer to Microsoft after being caught disabling Windows Update on some PCs.Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:47:55 +0000 Update <h3>Microsoft and Samsung speak out</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung"></p><p> Samsung made <a href="" target="_blank">headlines yesterday</a> when it was discovered that its own software update utility that keeps drivers up to date and installs third-party programs (bloatware) was intentionally disabling Windows Update. If you thought that wouldn't sit well with Microsoft, you were right.</p><p> "Windows Update remains a critical component of our security commitment to our customers," a Microsoft spokesperson <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>VentureBeat</em></a>. "We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks. We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue."</p><p> After the story broke, Samsung said it was investigating the issue, though the conclusion it came to isn't one that makes a whole lot of sense.</p><p> "It is not true that we are blocking a Windows 8.1 operating system update on our computers," Samsung said in a statement to numerous media outlets. "As part of our commitment to consumer satisfaction, we are providing our users with the option to choose if and when they want to update the Windows software on their products. We take product security very seriously and we encourage any Samsung customer with product questions or concerns to contact us directly."</p><p> Samsung's statement amounts to a half-assed denial, though what's quirky about the wording is that the issue never had anything to do with blocking a Windows 8.1 OS update. Instead, it was discovered that Samsung's utility was disabling Windows Update altogether, and if users tried to change the setting, it would revert back upon the next reboot.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> AMD Fanboy vs. NVIDIA Fanboy: So Much Rage tech community has never been so angry. Can't we all just, get along?Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:44:17 +0000 <p><a href="">AMD's Fury X is now out the door</a>, and the performance benchmarks show what they show. We have a card priced the same as&nbsp;<a href="">NVIDIA's GeForce 980 Ti</a>. Performance is honestly good from both parties, but in the community, it all doesn't matter. Somehow, all that matters is that&nbsp;one person is an "AMD fanboy" and another person is an "NVidiot." Yes, that's an actual term.</p><p>Why is this?&nbsp;Frankly, it's just bad human nature.</p><p>I've been writing about technology for 20 years and I've never seen the community as rough as it is today. People always say that competition is good for the consumer, but it seems like the consumer these days prefers if one company is outright dead. This is never a good thing, especially when there is only really just two in one playing field.&nbsp;Without one company on the tails of another, improvements will stall and we'll all be on the losing end.</p><p>Make no mistake though, I'm not here to defend one company over another. But the infighting in the community is a tragic and ill situation. Not only is there more than enough fighting between PC users and Mac users, PC users fight amongst themselves too. It's really quite sad and the community tends to fall into a state of decay.</p><p>I'm a lover of technology, all technology. I use both iOS and Android devices. I use PCs and Macs, Windows, OS X, and Linux. I have a PS and an Xbox. Technology moves and I move with it. The more I know about the broad technology landscape, the better I am for it. The sort of discrimination that happens in the PC community extends to phones as well. But this torrid situation doesn't exist in just tech, it exists in all forms of human interaction and it's an unfortunate thing.</p><p>There are so many differences between us as humans, and we already have enough grief as a society. Technology is the one thing we can rally behind and be on the same boat about.&nbsp;</p><p>Maximum PC has always been about technology at its root. As users of technology, we should be opened minded in our pursuit of great tech, new tech, transformative tech, and the future of tech. We should be happy that people are using different things and embracing different ideas. Use the technology that you like&nbsp;and whatever&nbsp;is suitable for what you want to do.&nbsp;</p><p>So which camp do I fall into? Green, Blue or Red?</p><p>Who cares.&nbsp;I fall into the camp that makes the best technology.</p><p>/ Tuan</p> This is Windows 10's Cortana Virtual Personal Assistant's a look atthe settings Windows 10 users can manipulate for a more useful, enjoyable Cortana experienceThu, 25 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 10 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Microsoft's Answer to Siri and Google Now is Cortana"></p><h3>A look at the settings Windows 10 users can manipulate for a more useful, enjoyable Cortana experience</h3><p>Wouldn’t it be just grand if we could have a virtual personal assistant that took care of <em style="background-color: initial;">all</em> of our needs, and not just keep track of scheduled appointments or weather conditions? There’s no doubt that we’re heading in that direction and Google, Apple, Microsoft, and even Amazon seem to be in a race to create the ultimate solution. Unfortunately for the other contenders, Microsoft has an advantage: Windows 10.</p><p>As previously reported, the operating system will be dished out to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers for free in July, and with it will be Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana. If allowed, this assistant will sit back and wait for the user to say its name; in turn, Cortana will provide the requested information. Yes, it’s just that simple.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana1"></p><p>After the initial setup, the user simply places the cursor in the search field on the taskbar to pull up Cortana’s main interface. This interface isn’t a glowing red eye like HAL 9000 from <em>2001: A Space Odyssey</em>, but rather a clean menu that includes weather, national and local news for the day, along with buttons on the left for Home, Notebook, Reminders, Places, Music, Help, Settings, and Feedback options.</p><p>If enabled during the setup process, Cortana will keep an ear open at all times. This means that anytime you simply say, “Hey, Cortana” into the microphone, “she” will respond with a small “listening” window. This window will show what you are saying to Cortana, and then expand to include your virtual assistant's response.</p><p>For instance, say, “Hey Cortana, show me the weather.” These words will appear in the small window, which is essentially a visual confirmation that the message between human and AI is correct. Once the command has been accepted, Cortana will pull up the local weather and verbally dictate the current local conditions, such as temperature and cloud cover. This information can be removed by clicking the Home button.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana3"></p><p>The next button, the Notebook section, is rather large; this is where Cortana's settings are stored. The Notebook is broken down into five parts: Daily&nbsp;Routine, Music, News, Travel, and Weather. The latter weather aspect provides settings regarding the local weather, such as choosing a unit and turning on notifications for when there’s a weather “incident.”</p><p>Above the Weather button is the Notebook’s Travel feature, which has a switch for turning on the Trip Planner. This planner will relay information regarding a scheduled trip hours before departure, such as the status of the flight, weather conditions at the destination, and more.</p><p>Next, we have the Music section of the Notebook, which doesn’t control music stored on the hard drive but, when activated, will enable Cortana to provide information about concerts and shows by your favorite artists.</p><p>Moving on, the Notebook’s News section enables Cortana to pull up national headlines as well as the local news, and the Daily Routine section will provide traffic conditions and suggested routes. The Daily Glance settings within the Daily Routine allow Cortana to provide a quick snapshot of what’s going on in the USA, such as headlines, appointments, the weather, and so on.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana Reminders"></p><p>The next button&nbsp;on the main Cortana Settings menu is Reminders, which should be self-explanatory: have Cortana remind you of an event that can be listed by Time, Place, or Person. After Reminders is Places, where users can list their favorite destinations and retrieve turn-by-turn directions. This is followed by the Music button, which will play any song and pull up relevant information associated with it. </p><p>Finally, the Settings section provides a number of switches including one to turn off Cortana. If that does happen, Microsoft warns that everything Cortana knows on the device will be erased except the Notebook settings. Users can also change their name in the Settings menu, have Cortana learn the user’s voice, and turn off Cortana’s ability to listen for “Hey Cortana.” Also listed under Settings is Bing SafeSearch settings, user tracking, privacy settings, and more. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana2"></p><p>Need a little help getting started? Cortana’s Help section will do just that. This can show you how to add an appointment, create a reminder, set an alarm, listen to music, get directions, and&nbsp;search the Web, as well as Windows Phone. That said, you can say, “Hey Cortana, remind me to go shopping on Thursday.” Cortana will ask what time. After that, this reminder will be pinned to the Reminder section. This is done verbally, of course, which is why Cortana is such a cool Windows 10 feature.</p><p>OK, so Cortana can do cool stuff like reminders and directions. Can Cortana sing? Yes. Can she tell jokes? Yes. Microsoft has seemingly gone out of its way to create an artificial intelligence that could live up to the fictitious HAL 9000’s expectations. Can Cortana control a spaceship? Probably not, but she can <a href=";input=2&amp;FORM=WNSBOX&amp;cc=US&amp;setlang=en-US&amp;sbts=1434745586907">provide you with a recipe</a> to make tasty homemade chocolate chip cookies.</p><p>“I’m named after Cortana, a character in the Halo game series on Xbox. She’s an artificial intelligence, like me,” she will say when asked about her name. Cortana is also a math whiz: just relay a problem to her and she will provide the answer within the Cortana window. Ask her what’s playing at the movies and she will bring up a list of flicks playing at your local theater.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana joke"></p><p>Now, keep in mind that this hands-on with Cortana is based on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10130. There will likely be more changes to Cortana over the next month. Based on this build, Microsoft has a few bugs that need squishing in order to provide a smooth Cortana experience. Windows 10 required a Windows Explorer restart twice during testing for this article because Cortana couldn’t respond to verbal commands or pull up the Cortana interface.</p><p>And Cortana doesn’t always get your commands right&hellip; at least, not in the early days of use. Like a child, she doesn’t seem to have her listening ears on at times and will state that “something’s not right” and to “try again later.” The movie question was actually spoken several times before we gave up and manually typed the question into Cortana’s search field. </p><p>Regardless, Cortana is an awesome addition to Windows 10, and may bring customers on board the Windows 10 express who were previously&nbsp;afraid to upgrade to Windows 8/8.1.&nbsp;Despite the current flaws, we can’t help but be in awe of technology that was previously only seen in movies and is now camping out on our computer screens.&nbsp;</p> Newegg Daily Deals: MSI GS60 Ghost Pro Laptop, Dell 21.5-Inch Monitor, and More! is upon us and that means taking vacations. The only thing is, how do you get your gaming fix when the evening rolls around and you're stuck with nothing to do in your hotel room? The easy solution is a gaming laptop.Wed, 24 Jun 2015 21:33:02 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Msi Gs60"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Summer is upon us and that means taking vacations. The only thing is, how do you get your gaming fix when the evening rolls around and you're stuck with nothing to do in your hotel room? The easy solution is a gaming laptop. If you're in the market for one, check out today's top deal for an <a target="_blank" href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16834152656-_-0624&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555">MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop</a> for <strong>$1,455</strong> with free shipping (normally $1,499 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP224</strong>]; additional $100 mail-in-rebate; Free game: Batman: Arkham Knight w/ purchase, limited offer). 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That's essentially what Seagate proposes with its Backup Plus line of external USB 3.0 drive solutions, which now include 200GB of Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage for free.</p><p> Seagate also announced a new 4TB option housed in a 20.5mm chassis, making it a portable solution that should be able to fit into your pocket. The drive inside is a single-platter model.</p><p> Each Backup Plus drive comes with Seagate's Dashboard software that makes plug-and-play backups a cinch. The software also allows mobile and social media backups. <a href="" target="_blank">According to Seagate</a>, the Backup Plus line is the first family of external drives to extend backup capabilities to include content from social networks.</p><p> The new 4GB carries an MRSP of $240 and will be available around the middle of next month. Other capacities include 500GB ($80), 1TB ($100), and 2TB ($130).</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> EVGA Adds Lower Wattage Options to High End SuperNova Platinum P2 PSU Line power supplies at more affordable price points.Wed, 24 Jun 2015 20:11:12 +0000 supplyPSU <h3>Go Platinum without breaking the bank</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="EVGA SuperNova P2"></p><p> EVGA is home to some of the best power supplies in the business, particularly its SuperNova P2 series. They're all 80 Plus Platinum certified, which means they're highly efficient, and backed by a generous 10-year warranty. Good stuff, except prior to today the series only consisted of 1000W, 1200W, and 1600W options.</p><p> If you don't need that much wattage but still want the benefits of EVGA's SuperNova P2 series, you'll be happy to know that EVGA just added three more models to the mix -- 850W, 750W, and 650W.</p><p> Like their higher wattage brethren, these are all fully modular units with braided cables, single +12V rails, and high quality Japanese Nippon Chemi-Con solid state capacitors. And because they're 80 Plus Platinum certified, you can expect 92 percent efficiency (or even higher) under typical loads.</p><p> The 850W model boasts 70.8A on the +12V rail. It has a 24-pin ATX cable, two 8-pin (4+4) connectors, four 8-pin (6+2) connectors, two 6-pin connectors, ten SATA connectors, four 4-pin peripheral cables, and a single floppy connector.</p><p> EVGA's 750W model offers up to 62.4A on the +12V rail and the exact same cable connectors, while the 650W model features 54.1A on the +12V rail and the same cable set except for two 8-pin (6+2) connectors (two less than the other two models), 9 SATA connectors (one less), and six 4-pin peripheral connectors (two more).</p><p> The EVGA SuperNova P2 <a href="" target="_blank">850W</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">750W</a> models are available now direct from EVGA for $180 and $150, respectively; the 650W will be available soon for <a href="" target="_blank">$120</a>.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Microsoft MVP Calls Out Samsung for Slyly Disabling Windows Update delibrately disables Windows Update on some PCs so that it won't interfere with its own bloatwareWed, 24 Jun 2015 19:43:08 +0000 Update <h3>Shame on Samsung</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung Laptop"></p><p> It's a given that pre-built PCs might come with bloatware installed, but one thing you don't expect third-party software to do is disable Windows Update on the down low. Yet that's exactly what Samsung is doing on some of the PCs it sells. Talk about a "WTF?" moment.</p><p> Patrick Barker, a Microsoft MVP who specializes in analysis, debugging, and reverse engineering, <a href="" target="_blank">discovered</a> Samsung's dubious behavior while assisting a user with a computer issue. Some sneaky program kept disabling Windows Update on the user's PC, and after some troubleshooting, Barker found the cause to be Samsung's SW Update software.</p><p> Samsung's software is an OEM updating tool that updates the system's drivers and keeps third-party utilities (bloatware) installed.&nbsp;</p><p> "You can install relevant software for your computer easier and faster using SW Update. The SW Update program helps you install and update your software and driver easily," the tool's description reads.</p><p> Barker had the user audit his registry and found an entry for Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, which was found to be part of Samsung's own software tool. It's downloaded as part of a ZIP file from Samsung and is configured to load when Windows boots.</p><p> When speaking with a support rep at Samsung, Barker was told that Samsung's software always disables Windows Update, and that if a user tries to re-enable it, the software will disable it again upon reboot.</p><p> What's the point? The rep explained that Windows Update installs the default drivers for the hardware on a laptop, and that they don't always work. So to prevent that from happening, Samsung's software tool automatically disables Windows Update.</p><p> We can understand the reasoning, and perhaps Samsung's intentions are truly good and all. Still, disabling Windows Update on PCs leaves a bad taste in our mouths, the same way <a href="" target="_blank">Lenovo's Superfish</a> did.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> ECS May Bow Out of Branded Motherboard Business mobo player will focus on OEM boards.Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:13:45 +0000 <h3>Another one bites the dust</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="ECS Motherboard"></p><p> The branded motherboard business isn't finished shrinking, at least not according to supply chain makers in Taiwan chirping in <a href="" target="_blank">Digitimes' ear</a>. They say that Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) will no longer actively market its own-brand DIY motherboards, choosing instead to focus its efforts on ODM and OEM production.</p><p> If you've ever purchased a pre-built system from an OEM builder before, you may have used an ECS board without realizing it. That's been the company's bread and butter, though it also catered to the DIY crowd with branded boards. At times ECS made a run at enthusiast buyers with high-end offerings, but for the most part, ECS is known as a budget brand.</p><p> Going forward, it's one less name you'll see in the marketplace. ECS made the decision based on shrinking global demand and increased price competition from Asus and Gigabyte, the two top dogs in the motherboard business.</p><p> According to those same sources, another motherboard maker is expected to quit selling branded boards sometime next year. They didn't mention which one, but did say that ASRock, MSI, and Biostar are facing similar situations (reduced demand) as ECS.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> AMD Radeon Fury X Review AMD’s latest graphics card on paper looks like a contender: High Bandwidth Memory, tons of TFLOPS, and liquid cooling as a bonus.Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:55:00 +0000 FuryFijigpusReviews <h3><strong style="background-color: initial;">In this corner, wearing the red shorts: Fury X</strong></h3><p> <strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong>We’ve known about Fiji for months: AMD’s latest and greatest GPU, with HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) capable of an impressive 512GB/s of memory bandwidth. Couple that with 4,096 shader units compared to the previous 2,816 in Hawaii’s 290X/390X, and on paper, we can expect some impressive results. Considering the GPU clock speeds are similar, in theory, the Fury X ought to be somewhere around 35–45 percent faster than the <a href="">newly released R9 390X</a>. When we reviewed the 390X, we found that 980 Ti typically outperformed that GPU by 25 percent, which meant there was a real chance that AMD would emerge victorious and the Fury X would reign as the highest-performance desktop GPU. AMD even released some <a href="">preliminary performance results</a>, showing their new GPU besting 980 Ti and Titan X in a variety of games. AMD looked ready to cash in on enthusiasts waiting for the Next Big Thing&trade;.</p><p> But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. We received a card for benchmarking&hellip; sort of. The whole of Future US, which includes Maximum PC, PC Gamer, and TechRadar, among others, received one Fury X for testing. We asked for a second, since our GPU testing is done at a different location, but to no avail. And we’re not alone&mdash;eTeknix, for example, <a href="">reported last week</a> that AMD was planning to sample only ten Fury X cards to the whole of Europe, which is awfully strange for a top-tier product. We have no idea how many Fury X GPUs actually went out to press, but unfortunately, Maximum PC had to share with PC Gamer. (No worries&mdash;PC Gamer had to share 980 Ti launch hardware with us, so turnaround is fair play, right?)</p><p> Anyway, we had a small problem, since our GPU test bed is in a different state from the central office. We ran initial benchmarks on a similar (though not quite identical) system for the Fury X. We also had the reference GTX 980 Ti out for photography, so we used EVGA's factory overclocked 980 Ti in its stead. Less than a&nbsp;week later, we've sorted both problems, rerun a bunch of tests, and now we have results that are as fair as we can possibly make them.For reference, here is our GPU&nbsp;test bed:</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2"> <strong>Maximum PC 2015 GPU Test Bed</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>CPU</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">Intel Core i7-5930K (4.2GHz Overclock)</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Mobo</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>GPUs</strong> </td> <td> <a href=";N=%20100007709&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;SrchInDesc=Fury&amp;Page=1&amp;PageSize=30">AMD Radeon Fury X<br> </a><u><a href="">Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X<br> </a></u><u><a href=";N=100007709%20600565061&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti<br> </a></u><u><a href="">EVGA GeForce GTX 980 SC<br> </a></u><u style="background-color: initial;"><a href="">Zotac GeForce GTX 970<br> </a></u><u style="background-color: initial;"><a href="">Sapphire R9 390X<br> </a></u><u style="background-color: initial;"><a href="">EVGA GeForce GTX 960 ACX2.0<br> </a></u><u style="background-color: initial;"><a href=";N=100007709%20600473871&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE">AMD Radeon R9 290X</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>SSD</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">2x Samsung 850 Evo 250GB</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>HDD</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>PSU</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">EVGA SuperNOVA 1300 G2</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB DDR4-2666</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Cooler</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">Cooler Master Nepton 280L</a></u> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Case</strong> </td> <td> <u><a href="">Cooler Master CM Storm Trooper</a></u> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> Based on specifications and initial reports, we had high hopes for the Fury X topping the charts, though there were always a few concerns&mdash;the biggest of those being the memory configuration. HBM uses a silicon interposer, sort of like a simplistic microchip of sorts, to route all the traffic from the HBM modules to the GPU. The reason the silicon interposer is required is that each HBM module has a 1,024-bit interface, which would be very difficult to route using traditional methods. The catch is that the silicon interposer has to be quite large&mdash;large enough in area for the GPU core along with the HBM modules.</p><p>And Fiji is a big chip to begin with, meaning the interposer is effectively about as large as it’s possible to manufacture. The net result is that while in theory it should be possible to use two to eight HBM modules, space constraints limited AMD to four modules. Since each module for HBM 1.0 is 1GB, that means Fury X is limited to&nbsp;4GB total graphics memory&mdash;less than the new R9 390/390X as well as the GTX 980 Ti. If you happen to run games at settings and resolutions that exceed 4GB VRAM use, performance will&nbsp;suffer.</p> <div> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="5"> <strong>AMD Fury X/390X and Nvidia GTX 980 Ti/980 Specs</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Card</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R9 Fury X</strong></td> <td> <strong>GTX 980 Ti</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R9 390X</strong> </td> <td> <strong>GTX 980</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>GPU</strong> </td> <td> Fiji </td> <td> GM200 </td> <td> Hawaii<br>(Grenada) </td> <td> GM204 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>GCN / DX Version</strong> </td> <td> 1.2 </td> <td> DX12.1 </td> <td> 1.1 </td> <td> DX12.1 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Lithography</strong> </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Transistor Count (Billions)</strong> </td> <td> 8.9 </td> <td> 8 </td> <td> 6.2 </td> <td>5.2</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Compute Units (SM)</strong> </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 22 </td> <td> 44 </td> <td> 16 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Shaders</strong> </td> <td> 4,096 </td> <td> 2,816 </td> <td> 2,816 </td> <td> 2,048 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Texture Units</strong> </td> <td> 256 </td> <td> 176 </td> <td> 176 </td> <td> 128 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>ROPs</strong> </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 96 </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 64 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Core Clock (MHz)</strong> </td> <td> 1,050 </td> <td> 1,000 </td> <td> 1,050 </td> <td> 1,216 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Capacity</strong> </td> <td> 4GB </td> <td> 6GB </td> <td> 8GB </td> <td> 4GB </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Clock (MHz)</strong> </td> <td> 1,000 </td> <td> 1,750 </td> <td> 1,500 </td> <td> 1,750 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Bus Width (bits)</strong> </td> <td> 4,096 </td> <td> 384 </td> <td> 512 </td> <td> 256 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)</strong> </td> <td> 512 </td> <td> 336 </td> <td> 384 </td> <td> 224 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>TDP (Watts)</strong> </td> <td> 275 </td> <td> 250 </td> <td> 275 </td> <td> 165 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Price</strong> </td> <td><a href=";N=%20100007709&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;SrchInDesc=Fury&amp;Page=1&amp;PageSize=30">$649</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565061&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$649</a><br></td> <td><a href=";IsNodeId=1&amp;N=100007709%20600565674">$429</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600536050&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$499</a><br></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div><p> So, there’s the competitive landscape at the top of the pricing stack&mdash;we’ve left off Titan X, though it’s mostly the same as 980 Ti, only with twice the GDDR5 and 3,072 CUDA cores. AMD’s R9 390X takes on the GTX 980, and performance is generally competitive even if power requirements are not. Fury X, meanwhile, is going up against the best of the best, supposedly with memory bandwidth and compute performance to spare. But we can’t just trust theoretical performance and specifications; drivers and other elements can come into play. This is why we play the games, fight the fights, and run the benchmarks.</p><p>We’re running the same collection of tests as in our 980 Ti review, but we’re making a couple of additions. First, <em style="background-color: initial;">Grand Theft Auto V</em> is an absolute beast to run at maximum settings. Last time we decided it would be interesting to max out everything, but it can really punish GPUs with less than 6GB VRAM. We still have those numbers, and we’ll show them below, but for our averages we’ve turned off the Advanced Graphics settings&mdash;they’re nice, and perhaps future GPUs will enable us to run with those settings maxed out at 60fps, but right now even the mighty Titan X struggles with such settings.</p><p>Second, <em>The Witcher 3</em> has been accused of having a poorly optimized HairWorks code that “punishes” AMD GPUs; we’ll see if that accusation holds any merit in a moment, as we’ve also run the game at the Ultra settings only without HairWorks. It potentially helps level the playing field, and it also improves frame rates across all hardware. Otherwise, the remaining games are run as before: <em>Batman: Arkham Origins</em> is maxed out with 4xMSAA but no PhysX, <em>Hitman: Absolution</em> runs at Ultra with 4xMSAA, <em>Metro: Last Light</em> maxes out all settings but leaves off SSAA and Advanced PhysX, <em>Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor</em> uses the Ultra preset, <em>Tomb Raider</em> runs the Ultimate preset, and <em>Unigine Heaven 4.0</em> runs at Ultra quality with Extreme tessellation.</p><p> Before we get to the benchmarks, we also need to make note of one other&nbsp;item. We didn’t have time to rerun benchmarks on all of our Nvidia GPUs, but we did retest the 980 Ti and Titan X with the latest 353.30 drivers, and all of our less-demanding <em style="background-color: initial;">GTAV</em> and The<em style="background-color: initial;"> Witcher 3</em> results use the new drivers. The reason we mention this is that, in addition to being Game Ready for <em style="background-color: initial;">Batman: Arkham Knight</em>, we noticed a measurable increase in performance in several other titles as well, particularly <em style="background-color: initial;">Metro: Last Light</em>.</p><h5><strong>Rounds one through ten: Fight!</strong></h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Average Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Batman Arkham Origins Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Gtav Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Hitman Absolution Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Metro Last Light Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Mordor Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Tomb Raider Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Unigine Heaven Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Witcher3 Fps Updated"></p><p>When we first heard of the Fiji chip, we were excited and hoping to see some serious competition. AMD sort of delivers, but despite internal benchmarks showing the Fury X leading across a collection of 12 games, we were unable to corroborate those results. In fact, out of our eight games, AMD only wins the matchup in <em style="background-color: initial;">Hitman: Absolution</em>, and then only at 1440p and 4K, and in <em>Batman: Arkham Origins</em> at 4K. But no one should be plunking down $650 to game at 1080p, or at least that’s our view of things, so it’s a win. One and a half&nbsp;out of eight ain’t bad, right?</p><p>It’s also, quite clearly, <em style="background-color: initial;">not</em> what we were hoping to see. At best we’re looking at overall parity, and then&nbsp;only at 4K and only with settings that won’t use more than 4GB VRAM. The 980 Ti has a very small three percent lead at 4K, but that lead increases to seven percent at 1440p and 11 percent at 1080p.&nbsp;Overall the performance on average ends up seven percent slower than Nvidia's reference 980 Ti.</p><p>Performance parity wouldn’t be a bad thing, as competition usually benefits consumers. There are still other factors to consider, however. Notice, for example, that in general, AMD’s performance on newer titles&mdash;<em>GTAV</em> and <em>Witcher 3</em>&mdash;is farther off the pace of Nvidia’s GPUs than on older titles? We ran one other game, which we’re reporting separately from the above averages because the launch has been, at best, rocky. That game is <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em>, and at least with the current drivers, AMD’s Fury X struggles yet again.</p><p>Another factor that we still can’t shake is the 4GB VRAM limitation. When R9 290/290X launched as the top AMD GPUs eighteen months ago, they included 4GB VRAM and it was considered a good choice for a top-tier GPU. Now we’re already starting to see games utilize more than 4GB RAM, particularly at higher-quality settings. <em>GTAV</em> is the poster child right now for this issue, where cranking up the advanced quality settings means it needs just under 6GB VRAM at 4K, but more importantly, it needs slightly more than 4GB VRAM even at 1080p.</p><p>Finally, for better or worse, Nvidia is doing a very good job of proselytizing their GameWorks libraries, some of which are Nvidia-specific features that won’t work without an Nvidia GPU. Looking at the past nine months or so of major releases, it seems Nvidia has had more “wins” than AMD. AMD had <em>Battlefield: Hardline,</em> <em>Civilization: Beyond Earth</em>, and <em>Dragon Age: Inquisition</em>; Nvidia had<em> Assassin’s Creed: Unity</em>, <em>Dying Light</em>, <em>Far Cry 4</em>, <em>Project CARS</em>, <em>The Witcher 3</em>, and most recently, <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em>. There are other titles we’ve missed, but without reading too much into things, it does appear Nvidia is doing better of late getting developers to use GameWorks libraries. If one of your “must have” games works better on AMD hardware, that could easily sway your buying decision, and vice versa for Nvidia. And having more games using Nvidia resources will in general mean more gamers will want Nvidia hardware, right?</p><h5><strong>Rounds 11-13: TKO?</strong></h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Batman Arkham Knight Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Gtav Advanced Fps Updated"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon Fury X Witcher3 Hairworks Fps Updated"></p><p>These three games are perhaps a best-case scenario for Nvidia and a worst-case scenario for AMD. In short, they show what happens to Fury X when the wheels come off. <em>GTAV</em> uses too much memory at higher-quality settings, <em>Batman: Arkham Knight </em>is apparently in need of some patching as well as additional drivers help (and it has been temporarily pulled from Steam), and <em>The Witcher 3 </em>with HairWorks taxes the tessellation hardware and can experience a big hit to performance on many GPUs. (And for the record, the Fury X actually does better against the competition with HairWorks enabled, except at 4K.)</p><p>All of these games would benefit from updated drivers as well, no doubt. And objectively, having tested many games with GPUs from both companies over the past couple of years, Nvidia is winning the drivers wars of late.</p><p>By our count, Nvidia had ten WHQL driver releases in 2014, and has already added eight more in 2015; by contrast, AMD had four WHQL drivers in 2014, and hasn’t had a new WHQL driver since Omega last December, though that will hopefully change soon, now that the 300 series and Fury X have launched. There was a time when AMD tried to release a new WHQL Catalyst driver every month, but tying the driver cycle to each month probably wasn’t the best approach. Nvidia for most of the past year has been aggressively working to get Game Ready drivers out for all major game launches; it doesn’t always guarantee a perfect Day 0 experience <em style="background-color: initial;">[Ed&mdash;Looking at you, </em>Arkham Knight<em>!</em><em style="background-color: initial;">]</em>, but it’s better than the alternative.</p><h5><strong>Preparing for the Inevitable Rematch</strong></h5><p> There were times leading up to this heavyweight championship bout that we really thought Fury X would pull off the win. And to their credit, niggles with drivers and hardware sampling notwithstanding, Fury X gives a decent showing. But those hoping to see the “underdog” AMD pull off an upset and surpass the Titan X, never mind the identically priced GTX 980 Ti, are going to have to wait and see how things develop going forward.</p><p> We can’t help but feel that there’s plenty of room left to improve Fury X performance with driver updates. It has 33 percent more memory bandwidth than the already well-fed 390X, and shader computational performance should be up to 45 percent faster than the 390X. We’re also not looking at situations where we’re CPU limited or VRAM-capacity limited, so why then does the Fury X only average 18.5 percent faster than 390X across all of our tests?&nbsp;Like we said: drivers.</p><p> The Fiji architecture is the first new high-performance architecture for AMD since fall of 2013. (We don't count Tonga, as it was effectively a lateral move from Tahiti.)&nbsp;AMD has had plenty of time to improve their drivers on the Hawaii architecture, but Fiji changes the playing field. Not only does it sport a third more shaders, but it also has a different memory subsystem to contend with. 512GB/s of bandwidth is all well and good, but if latencies and other elements have changed compared to GDDR5&mdash;and they almost certainly have&mdash;previous “best practice” driver code from AMD may no longer be properly tuned.</p><p> It wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened to AMD, either; AMD discovered more than a year after the launch of Tahiti that they had missed out on a lot of potential performance. Their “frame pacing” driver optimizations helped to improve both the smoothness of the&nbsp;gaming experience as well as performance in general, but even after determining there was work to be done, it was nearly a year before the second “frame pacing driver” was released to the public. Hopefully, AMD can improve Fiji performance much more quickly, and if so, they may actually come out on top&mdash;provided you don’t need more than 4GB VRAM.</p><p> There are other factors we need to mention as well. Nvidia's Maxwell 2.0 (GTX Titan X, GTX 980 Ti, GTX 980, and GTX 970) have proven to be quite capable overclockers, often hitting 20-25 percent overclocks on the core and 10-15 percent overclocks on the memory. The Fury X so far proved&nbsp;disappointing, netting only a seven percent core clock increase in our testing. This resulted in performance improvements of four percent on average, so almost not worth the effort.&nbsp;All of the Fury X cards will be running the reference configuration with a liquid cooler, with reference clocks as well, so unless something changes we don't see overclocking as a serious draw; cooler temperatures and less noise however are benefits of the CLC. But utilities right now don't allow any tweaking of GPU voltages, so that could help the situation (at the cost of power, naturally).&nbsp;Finally, one week after the launch, all of the Fury X cards are showing up as out of stock; either they're very popular or launch inventory was very limited, but we'd like to see more in stock.</p><p>There is good news to be had as well. Besides providing competitive if not chart-topping performance, Fury X also uses a similar amount of power as 980 Ti in our testing. We ran tests recently to look at power requirements, and where 390X and GTX 980 offer pretty similar performance, the 390X ended up using 125W more power during gaming sessions than the 980&mdash;that’s almost enough to power&nbsp;a second GTX 980! The Fury X, on the other hand, used 45W less power under load than the 390X, with power use falling just slightly above the&nbsp;GTX&nbsp;980 Ti (by 5W). Considering the 275W TDP, the similar real-world power use is good news.</p><p> There are other elements of the Fury X that can be good or bad, for example, the built-in CLC (Closed Loop Cooler). It’s pretty awesome to see a GPU this fast packed into a 7.5-inch card, but the CLC definitely increases the overall space requirements. It’s also a potential issue for anyone who might want to put together a 2-way or 3-way CrossFireX setup. Finding a spot for one radiator isn’t too difficult, but two or more becomes a lot more cumbersome and necessitates a larger case. This is definitely a niche market, as $650 is more than most are willing to spend on a graphics card and $1,300 is more than many entire gaming PCs. Still, swapping between the Fury X and other GPUs definitely wasn’t a highlight of the review process. AMD does have an air-cooled Fury card scheduled to launch on July 14, with a price $100 south of the Fury X, and it might be a better fit for smaller cases.</p><p> It takes grit to enter the ring against the reigning heavyweight champion, and Fury X managed to land a few solid punches in the early going. As the match progressed, however, 980 Ti proved to have more stamina and legs. This one didn’t come down to a split decision, and there was little in the way of referee controversy; Fury X just wasn’t quite ready for the belt. It’s a product with plenty of guts, but it also has&nbsp;some bad habits picked up in the amateur ranks. With additional training in the form of drivers, Fury X could come back as a force to be reckoned with. The question is whether that will be in a few weeks, months, or possibly it will take so long that 980 Ti and Titan X will be replaced by even more formidable hardware. We’ll be in line for tickets as soon as a rematch is announced, though we still have reservations about Fury’s 4GB glass chin.</p><p><em>Follow Jarred on <a href="">Twitter</a>.</em></p><p> <em>[Ed&mdash;Final score may change pending further discussion.]</em></p> Windows 10 Start Menu: the Details 10's new Start menu, what it comes with, and how to customize itWed, 24 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 10windows 10 technical preview <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Start Menu"></p><h3>Windows 10's new Start menu, what it comes with, and how to customize it</h3><p> One of the big beefs desktop consumers have with Windows 8 is the lack of a proper Start Button/Menu. Even Windows 8.1 doesn’t fully return the coveted feature back to its original taskbar seat. The thinking on Microsoft’s part during the Windows 8 launch was that consumers, even those on the desktop, would love the new Start Screen and Modern UI apps. Unfortunately, for many desktop customers, the Start Screen and a lack of a Start Menu were such drawbacks that they decided not to upgrade.</p><p> Windows 10 plans to change that.</p><p> For this article, we used Windows Technical Preview Build 10130. Appearance-wise, the Start Menu button appears to be a little smaller than the one in Windows 8.1. However, it resides in the same virtual place on the taskbar. The Windows 8.1 version, when clicked, pulls up the Start Screen, whereas Build 10130’s Start Button brings up the new Modern UI–laced Start Menu.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Context Menu"></p><p> For power users, the context menu is still in place when right-clicking the Start Button. This menu provides quick access to the task manager, the control panel, File Explorer, Search, and more. Presumably, Microsoft plans to keep the context menu in place when the final version of Windows 10 ships in July.</p><p> Despite a unified appearance, the Start Menu consists of two components: the standard Menu layout we’ve known for decades on the left, and a Start Screen–like panel on the right that plays host to Modern UI apps. This is the best of both worlds without one dominating the other and, quite frankly, should have been the solution for desktop users in Windows 8. Live and learn.</p><p> On the left-hand side of the Start Menu, users will see their name and image at the top. This is followed by a list of eight of the most-used apps. After that are links to File Explorer, the Settings app, Power, and an icon for All Apps. This last option is where users will click in order to pull up a full list of apps and desktop programs installed on the computer. Users can leave this list by clicking the “back” button.</p><p> On the Modern UI side, with Build 10130 the window no longer consumes the entire screen as it did in earlier builds. Instead, the Modern UI area uses far less space and plays host to a number of default Windows Store apps including Skype, Mail, Calendar, Music, Movies &amp; TV, and more.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Pin To Start"></p><p> In order to place apps on the Start Menu, just hit the Start button, click “All Apps,” find the app or program, and right-click it. This brings up a context menu with “Pin to Start,” “Pin to taskbar,” “Uninstall,” “Run as a different user,” “Run as administrator,” and “Open file location.” For the purposes of this article, we pinned the Epic Games Launcher and a few other non-Modern UI apps to the Start Menu, and they appear as they would on the Start Screen.</p><p> Notice that you can uninstall an app or program by simply right-clicking it, which takes you to “Programs and Features” in the Control Panel; it doesn’t automatically begin the uninstallation process. As previously mentioned, this area can be accessed through the context menu by right-clicking the Start Menu button.</p><p> As expected, the Start Menu can be resized by clicking on one of its edges and dragging it up, down, left, or right. That means customers who actually liked the Start Screen in Windows 8/8.1 can continue to have that experience to some degree. The Start Menu won’t cover the entire screen on desktop in high resolutions, at least not in this build.</p><p> In addition to the Start Menu, the apps can also be resized. Right-click any tile and a menu appears, with options to unpin the app from Start, pin to taskbar, uninstall, resize, and turn the live tile off. Sizes include Small, Medium, Wide, and Large. Don’t want the Modern UI side of the Start Menu at all? Simply unpin all of the apps and programs from Start.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Move Tiles"></p><p> As with the Start Screen, Windows 10 users will be able to move tiles around and create groups on the Start Menu. For example, suppose the user wants to group together entertainment-based apps and programs while also creating a separate group for the basic Windows 10 apps like News and Calendar. To move an app, simply click it and hold while dragging it to the desired empty spot. When making a new group, drag the tile to an empty space under the previous group, then provide a name for that group. To add apps, drag the apps into the new group.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Colors"></p><p> Windows 10 Build 10130 “ships” in a default gray color. Users can change this by right-clicking the desktop and choosing “Personalize” and then “Colors.” Click the desired color in the menu’s palette and tick “Show color on Start, taskbar and action screen.” Like the transparent look? Make sure the transparent switch is ticked as well.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Start Screen Switch"></p><p> In addition to changing colors, users will also notice a “Start” section for controlling the behavior of the Start Menu. Customers who liked the Start Screen can turn it back on by flipping a switch. That said, the Start Menu is gone when the Windows key is tapped, and everything in the Modern UI aspect of the Start Menu now resides on the Start Screen. The good news is that there’s no reboot necessary: simply flip the switch and you're good to go.</p><p> As with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Windows 10 users can change the name of an installed program by right-clicking its icon and choosing “Open file location.” This brings up the “Start Menu/Programs” area, which lists shortcuts and program folders. To change the icon, just right-click the shortcut and click the “Change Icon” button.</p><p> Given that this article is based on Technical Preview Build 10130, there’s a good chance that some of the Start Menu features will change before Windows 10 goes retail on July 29. The platform will be a free upgrade for one year after its release for those running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.</p><p> Currently, Microsoft is insisting that customers get in line for the upgrade by launching a notice in the Windows 7/8/8.1 system tray. This icon will send users to Microsoft's website, where they can register for a spot in the upgrade rollout. The icon also provides a link to more information about Windows 10.</p> Game Theory: The Charms of Nostalgia strong pull of nostalgia in gamesWed, 24 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 person shooterMMORPGrpg <h3></h3><p><em>This article was published in the January 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3>The strong pull of nostalgia in games </h3><p>Nostalgia is a sweet, sweet drug. It screws with our perceptions and judgment, but pays us back with a warm feeling and a sure sense that, once upon a time, things existed in an ideal state.</p><p>The power of nostalgia is that there’s almost always a solid truth at the heart of the myth. In gaming, for example, design tends towards the mean. Publishers spending lots of money on an A-list game know they can hedge their bets on a success by shooting for the mushy middle rather than pushing into new territory. Thus, once-complex tactical shooters like those found in the Tom Clancy series lose the prickly bits&mdash;the tactical planning and go-codes&mdash;that made them challenging. Strategy games get reduced to simple point-and-click affairs. Role-playing games become, essentially, first person shooters with stats and skill trees.</p><p>It’s this last change that has hurt the most. I logged over 100 hours on Skyrim, and I think it’s a rich and satisfying game. But is it really role-playing? Computer RPGs grew out of Dungeons &amp; Dragons, and D&amp;D was always a party-based, character-rich, stat-and-skill-driven experience.</p><p>MMOs return the party and thus the social element, but again: most modern MMORPGs are just action games with leveling.</p><p>The first game I ever wrote about was Eye of the Beholder, and through my nostalgia goggles it’s The Best RPG Ever. All subsequent games, for me, are measured against it, as well as Gold Box games, Ultima, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, and Might and Magic. And by those standards, a lot of contemporary role-playing games, while offering their own pleasures, come up short.</p><p>I’ve been spending a lot of time with an Eye of the Beholder nostalgia act lately: Legend of Grimrock II. Like both the original LoG and Might and Magic X, it brings the grid-based, multi-character old school RPG into the 21st century.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC107.qs mcdonald.grab2"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Legend of Grimrock II harks back to “the best RPG ever,” Eye of the Beholder.</strong></p><p>If you have no experience with the old grid-based system, in which movement is stepped rather than free, the restriction will just feel bizarre. There’s a good reason for that feeling: it is bizarre. It was done at the time because they couldn’t render the world freely. When Ultima Underworld came out and you could move and look anywhere, it was like the clouds parted and the angels sang. It was wonderful. And yet&hellip; in the 20-plus years since, I’ve always thought fondly of Beholder, and Grimrock returns that warm feeling, all nicely packaged for my 46-year-old frame.</p><p>There is no earthly reason for an RPG in 2014 to tie movement to a grid. It works like haiku or genre fiction or a sonata, using certain restrictions of form and style to create a particular kind of art that embraces its rules and limitations. In doing so, it shows us that we don’t always need to seek out realism in our game worlds. Sometimes, artificiality has its own charms.</p><hr><p><em>Thomas L. McDonald is editor-at-large of </em>Games Magazine<em>.</em></p> Time Warner Smacked With Net Neutrality Complaint Warner Cable has been hit with an informal net neutrality complaintTue, 23 Jun 2015 21:53:51 +0000 neutralityNewsTime Warner Cable <h3>Time Warner Cable has been hit with an informal net neutrality complaint</h3><p>Broadband provider Time Warner Cable was hit with <a href="">an informal net neutrality complaint</a> on Monday that claims the company is violating the FCC’s “no paid prioritization” and “no throttling” rules. The complaint was filed by streaming company Commercial Network Services (CNS) and essentially insists that Time Warner is forcing the company to use the highly populated traffic routes unless it wants to pay for low-latency connections.</p><p>“By refusing to accept the freely available direct route to the edge-provider of the consumers’ choosing, TWC is unnecessarily increasing latency and congestion between the consumer and the edge provider by instead sending traffic through higher latency and routinely congested transit routes” said CNS chief executive officer Barry Bahrami. “This is a default on their promise to the BIAS (Broadband Internet Access Service) consumer to deliver to the edge and make arrangements as necessary to do that.”</p><p>Bahrami states in the complaint that Time Warner Cable’s setup directly degrades the quality of service on the consumer end because of the increased latency. The only way to rectify the problem is to sign a “commercial transit agreement” that requires what he calls&nbsp;a “ransom." </p><p>Bahrami goes on to clarify that the company doesn’t want to go <em>through</em> Time Warner Cable, but rather is requesting peering access to the paying BIAS subscribers on the Time Warner Cable network. This will allow CNS to deliver broadband-quality content that customers are requesting and Time Warner Cable customers are paying for and expecting.</p><p>In the complaint, he lists three examples: Any2 Los Angeles, NYIIX, and Equinix NYC. “TWC has repeatedly refused to peer and instead offered ‘a commercial transit arrangement that will provide you with a functionally equivalent solution,’” he said.</p><p>Time Warner Cable responded to Bahrami on Tuesday, indicating that CNS doesn’t have high volumes of traffic and thus doesn’t qualify for fast peering arrangements as used by a number of network operators.</p><p>"Most companies like Commercial Network Services purchase transit service from one of the many commercial operators that interconnect with Time Warner Cable, and such transit providers have ample capacity available at low, market-based rates. TWC also offers comparable transit service at a competitive price," <a href="">the company told The Register</a>. </p><p>"TWC's interconnection practices are not only 'just and reasonable' as required by the FCC, but consistent with the practices of all major ISPs and well-established industry standards,” the company added. “We are confident that the FCC will reject any complaint that is premised on the notion that every edge provider around the globe is entitled to enter into a settlement-free peering arrangement."</p><p>For now, the complaint is informal, but Bahrami will make it official if the problem isn’t settled. <a href="">As the Washington Post points out</a>, the FCC may discover that Time Warner Cable isn’t in the wrong here. The rules seemingly only pertain to the connection between the consumer and the Internet Service Provider, and not the area of the Internet that’s causing so much drama between Time Warner Cable and CNS.</p> Verizon Finishes Acquiring AOL Communications is purchasing AOLTue, 23 Jun 2015 20:00:43 +0000 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="12aol"></p><h3>It's official: Verizon and AOL are now one.</h3><p>Back in May, <a href="">Verizon Communications announced</a> that it planned to purchase New York-based AOL Inc. for $50 per outstanding share in cash, valuing the latter company at around $4.4 billion. <a href="">Verizon then confirmed</a> on Tuesday that it is indeed making AOL a wholly owned subsidiary.</p><p>According to Verizon, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will continue to lead the AOL branch after the acquisition deal closes. He will report to Marni Walden, Verizon executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses. The President of Verizon Digital Media Services, Bob Toohey, will report to Armstrong. </p><p> "Verizon's acquisition further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy,” Verizon said back in May. “The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon's IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses."</p><p>Verizon will now have direct access to AOL’s brands including Engadget, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, and AOL’s OTT original video content. The company will also inherit the 200 million monthly customers who subscribe to AOL’s premium brands, Verizon said.</p><p>“AOL is at the center of disruption of how content is being produced, distributed, consumed and monetized by connecting publishers with advertisers on its global, programmatic content and advertising platforms,” Verizon added. “AOL's opportunity lies in shaping the future of the digitally connected world for decades to come.”</p><p>AOL merged with Time Warner back in 2000 while the former Internet-based&nbsp;company&nbsp;was still America’s number-one Internet platform. In 2009, AOL was spun off and began purchasing media properties such as TechCrunch (2010) and the Huffington Post (2011). By 2013, the company had begun sinking its dollars into video products such as and HuffPost Live.</p><p><a href="">In a report by the Huffington Post</a>, HuffPost president and EIC Arianna Huffington was said to have signed a new contract that will keep her in the company for the next four years. She indicated to her staff in an email that HuffPost is in a stronger position now thanks to the acquisition, and that HuffPost can build on its core mission.</p><p><a href="">TechCrunch reported on Tuesday</a> that all AOL employees will receive a Verizon tablet as a welcome gift. That said, it’s probably safe to say that AOL’s media sites won’t be yanked offline or spun off at this time.</p><p>“Today marks a seminal moment for AOL and Verizon as we become the #1 global media technology company, connecting consumers, creators, and advertisers across all screens – online and offline,” <a href="">AOL said in an open letter</a>.</p><p>The acquisition deal between Verizon and AOL is expected to close sometime this summer.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Intel Core i5-4690K CPU, PNY XLR8 16GB DDR3-1866, and More! to build a new gaming PC? We don't blame you! There are lots of good games out there, and today's hardware is more capable than ever of delivering a high-end gaming experience,Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:36:24 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel Core i5 4690K"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Itching to build a new gaming PC? We don't blame you! There are lots of good games out there, and today's hardware is more capable than ever of delivering a high-end gaming experience. Looking for a place to get started? Try today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819117372-_-0623&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel Core i5 4690K Devil's Canyon CPU</a> for <strong>$228</strong> with free shipping (normally $240 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP22</strong>]; Free Intel Game Bundle with purchase, limited offer). This quad-core part runs at 3.5GHz, though you may be able to go even higher if you're into overclocking.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CASE-N82E16811119260-_-0623&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">CM Storm Stryker White Full Tower Computer Gaming Case</a> for <strong>$155</strong> with free shipping (normally $160 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP34</strong>]; additional $5 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CASE-N82E16811139040-_-0623&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-03 ATX Mid Tower Gaming Case</a> for <strong>$55</strong> with free shipping (normally $60 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP35</strong>]; additional $10 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MEMORY-N82E16820178784-_-0623&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">PNY XLR8 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1866 Desktop Memory</a> for <strong>$90</strong> with free shipping (normally $95 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP32</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820167307-_-0623&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel 535 Series 2.5-inch 120GB MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)</a> for <strong>$60</strong> with free shipping (normally $65 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATNP28</strong>])</p> Google Play Music Now Boasts a Free Ad-Supported Tier tries upstaging Apple' Music debut with a free streaming optionTue, 23 Jun 2015 17:26:58 +0000 play musicNews <h3>Rock out without taking your wallet out</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Google Play Music"></p><p> Google today added a free radio tier to its Google Play Music service. It's an ad-supported option for music lovers living in the U.S. who don't want to pay the $9.99/month subscription for the full service. It's Google's hope that the free tier will entice listeners to eventually become paying subscribers.</p><p> "We hope you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll consider subscribing to Google Play Music to play without ads, take your music offline, create your own playlists, and listen to any of the 30 million songs in our library on any device and as much as you’d like," Google product manager and Songza CEO Elias Roman stated in a blog post. "You’ll also get ad-free, offline and background features for music videos on YouTube. And with or without a subscription, you can store and play up to 50,000 songs from your own collection for free."</p><p> The announcement comes just one week before Apple's own subscription-based streaming music service kicks off. Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available with a three-month free trial, followed by individual plans that run $9.99/month and family plans for $14.99/month.</p><p> I've been a Google Play Music subscriber almost since day one. It's still not as good as Spotify, but I stick with it because I signed up during a promotional period where the monthly fee was $7.99/month. Google Play Music is a bit feature-thin overall, though my a favorite part of the service is creating radio stations based on songs I like. It's a great way to discover music.</p><p> The free service operates similarly in that aspect&mdash;you can type in the name of a song and play a radio station that offers related tunes. Alternately, you can pick radio stations based on your mood and popular activities, such as "Brand New Music," "Driving," "Working Out," and several others.</p><p> The free service is available <a href="" target="_blank">now on the web</a> and will roll out to Android and iOS later this week.</p><p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Amazon Crams Virtual Assistant into New 'Echo' Speaker has entered the virtual personal-assistant race with EchoTue, 23 Jun 2015 16:43:44 +0000 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="AmazonEcho"></p><h3>Amazon has entered the virtual personal-assistant race with Echo</h3><p>Amazon announced on Tuesday the public launch of <a href="">Echo</a>, a voice-controlled speaker with a built-in virtual assistant named Alexa. The device was previously offered by invitation only, but consumers can now purchase the device from Amazon for $179.99. The device will start shipping on July 14.</p><p>Just like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, Echo accepts verbal commands and will connect to the Internet to provide relevant information. For instance, Echo owners can get the latest traffic conditions, check the weather, and play music stored in Amazon Music simply by using a voice command. Amazon Echo can even control Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue devices, allowing users to switch on lights or adjust a thermostat without lifting a finger.</p><p>Amazon Echo features seven microphones mounted under the light ring. These microphones use beam-forming technology so that Amazon Echo can hear the user from any direction. The device also features noise cancellation so that it can receive the user’s commands while performing other tasks like playing music.</p><p>“Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word,” <a href="">the press release explains</a>. “When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where it leverages the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request.”</p><p>Amazon’s Echo consists of a volume ring, a reflex port for enhancing the woofer’s output, a 2.5-inch woofer, and a 2-inch tweeter. The device stands 9.25 inches tall, weighs 26.9 ounces, and includes a dual-band/dual-antenna Wireless N component for connecting Echo to the local network, and Bluetooth connectivity. To connect the device to the local network, customers can use the companion app (Android, iOS, Fire OS) or a web browser.</p><p>According to the product page, a number of features have been added since the Echo closed beta was launched back in November including the ability to play Audible audiobooks, connect to Google Calendar, hands-free shopping of previously-purchased items, getting traffic conditions and sports scores and schedules, and listening to Pandora.</p><p>In addition to Pandora, Amazon’s device is capable of playing music from different sources such as Tunein, iHeartRadio, and more.The&nbsp; Echo can also pull information from Wikipedia to answer questions, and provide “up-to-the-minute” weather and news from a handful of different services. There are also voice-controlled to-do lists, shopping lists, alarms, timers, and so on.</p><p>Amazon Echo is designed to be always on, but customers&nbsp;can shut off the microphones by tapping a button on the top of the device. There’s also an “Action” button that wakes up the device if there’s no wake word set,&nbsp;if it can’t hear the wake word because of noise or the microphones are turned off.</p><p>For more information on how Amazon Echo works, <a href="">there’s an FAQ located here</a> that explains how Amazon Echo will improve over time, how the device works, and more.</p> Google's 'Undo Send' Option for Gmail is Finally Official Labs features finally becomes a standard part of GmailTue, 23 Jun 2015 16:23:09 +0000 <h3>Take a mulligan on your emails</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Gmail Undo Send"></p><p> Maybe you typed an angry email to your boss or noticed a typo right after hitting the Send button. Either way, if you're using Gmail and wish you never never sent that email, you can use the new Undo Send feature.</p><p> Actually, it's technically not a new feature, though it is now official. For the past six years, the Undo Send feature existed as part of Gmail Labs, a landing spot for experimental features that aren't a part of the official Gmail experience. Well, the Undo Send command has finally graduated.</p><p> To enable it, go into your Gmail's Settings (click the little gear icon in the upper-right corner and select Settings). Under the General tab, you'll see a checkbox for Enable Undo Send about halfway down the page. Check the box, then select a cancellation period from the pull-down menu&mdash;it can be 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. When you're finished, scroll all the way down and click Save Changes.</p><p> Now when you send an email, there will be a message at the top of Gmail saying, "Your message has been sent," along with Undo and View Message options. Click Undo and Gmail will cancel the send command. You'll then have a chance to edit your email or nuke it altogether.</p><p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Lenovo's $129 IdeaCentre Stick 300 Turns Your Display into a PC pocket-sized compute stick.Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:40:46 +0000 <h3>Little stick packs a punch</h3> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Lenovo Stick"> </p> <p> It's pretty amazing to think that a full-fledged computing experience can now be crammed into a package about the size of a USB thumb drive. There are several examples out there, including Lenovo's new IdeaCentre Stick 300, a tiny PC powered by Intel's Bay Trail-T platform. </p> <p> The Stick 300 features an Intel Atom Z3735F, a 22nm quad-core part clocked at 1.33GHz to 1.83GHz and 2MB of cache. It also has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage space, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. </p> <p> Lenovo's little device measures just 15mm thin. Oddly enough, it will ship with Windows 8.1 even though it won't be available until October, well after Windows 10's July 29 release date. Nevertheless, you'll be&nbsp;able to upgrade to Windows 10 for no cost. </p> <p> Like other compute sticks of this nature, you plug it into an HDMI port on your TV or monitor. Once you add a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, you're left with inexpensive PC capable of basic computing chores and specialized tasks, such as a smart multi-media hub. </p> <p> "Designed for consumer usage in the home and on-the-go, the new pocket-sized compute stick is powerful enough for entertainment and web browsing, while affordable enough for existing PC owners to justify owning a second or third mobile PC option," Lenovo says. "The ideacentre Stick 300 expands the mobile computing experience and options for savvy shoppers and is suitable for use in the home, dorm or office, while simultaneously offering portability and convenience for travelers." </p> <p> Lenovo says pricing will start at $129 for the stick, possibly indicating that higher end units will be available, perhaps with more RAM or storage. </p> <p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em> </p> Palmer Luckey talks Oculus Touch Controller and VR Porn [Video] sit down with the Oculus founder to talk VR for 14 minutesTue, 23 Jun 2015 13:00:00 +0000 touchPalmer Luckeyvr <h3>We sit down with the Oculus founder to talk VR for 14 minutes</h3><p>We had an opportunity to sit down with Palmer Luckey at E3. In our 14-minute interview with him, the Oculus VR founder talked in-depth about how the newly revealed Oculus Touch motion controller works, and dove into some of the other kooky designs that the company played around with. Palmer also talked about why the&nbsp;<a href="">Oculus Rift headset</a> would ship with Xbox One controllers in Q1 of 2016 (instead of the company's own Oculus Touch controllers), and addressed concerns over whether this would lead to market fragmentation. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Oculus Demo"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Check out our hands-on impressions of the new&nbsp;<a href="">Oculus Touch controllers</a>.</strong></p><p>Palmer also confirmed that the HMD will support multiple sensors, so users could get a larger encompassing sensor area, but said that the company isn’t pushing it, as to not alienate users who aren’t willing or able to buy multiple sensors.&nbsp;While there’s no specific release date for the HMD yet, Palmer did reveal that the company does have a date in mind.</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe><p>Finally, Palmer also addressed whether you’ll be able to run VR porn through the headset.</p> Fast Forward: Big-Iron Processors Preview the Future Frequently, the out-of-reach tech of today becomes mainstream a short way down the roadTue, 23 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 machineoracle <p><em>This article was published in the January 2015 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3></h3><h3>Frequently, the out-of-reach tech of today becomes mainstream a short way down the road</h3><p>Although few Maximum PC readers actually build our annual Dream Machine, it’s still fun to see what a no-compromise machine looks like. Sooner than you think, equally powerful PCs will be on sale at Best Buy for a few hundred bucks.</p><p>For the same reasons, high-end microprocessors are a fascinating study. Designed for modern mainframes (“enterprise servers”) and gym-sized supercomputers, these specialized chips stop at nothing to deliver kickass performance. Their innovations often trickle down into mass-market processors several years later.</p><p>Two new big-iron processors are Fujitsu’s SPARC64 XIfx and Oracle’s SPARC M7. Both are compatible with the SPARC architecture pioneered by Sun Microsystems in the ‘80s. They’re relics from a bygone age when Intel’s x86 architecture and Microsoft Windows didn’t rule the world, but they still survive, and they’re still innovating. Fujitsu designs its own SPARC-compatible chips, and Oracle took over SPARC development after buying Sun in 2010.</p><p>Common folk can’t buy these things. Fujitsu designed its 34-core SPARC64 XIfx for its own supercomputers, which are sold only to governments and perhaps a few rich corporations. Oracle’s 32-core SPARC M7 will be more widely available in business servers, but is optimized to run Oracle’s enterprise database software. Nevertheless, both chips have features that breed envy.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC102.feat"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Maximum PC</strong></em><strong>’s Dream Machine can’t compete with Oracle’s 32 cores.</strong><em><strong></strong></em></p><p>Fujitsu’s SPARC64 XIfx is the first processor to use Micron’s Hybrid Memory Cubes. Each cube is a stack of DRAMs with a proprietary interface. The SPARC64 XIfx can link to eight of these cubes to provide up to 240GB/s of peak DRAM bandwidth. By contrast, Intel’s Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition in the 2014 Dream Machine provides only 59.7GB/s, and the Dream Machine’s Core i7-4790K has only 25.6GB/s. (Feeling constipated?)</p><p>Another unusual SPARC64 XIfx feature is its layout. Its 34 cores occupy two 17-core clusters, each with 16 primary cores, one “assistant core,” 12MB of L2 cache, and private interfaces to four memory cubes. The assistant runs the control software, freeing the primary cores for computations. Physically, the XIfx isn’t a heterogeneous processor&mdash;all 34 cores are the same&mdash;but they shoulder different duties. This goes beyond the “affinity” concept in which a program prefers to run on a particular core.</p><p>Meanwhile, Oracle’s SPARC M7 sets a record by integrating more than 10 billion transistors. By comparison, the Core i7-4960X looks dwarfish with only 1.86 billion. Even when fabricated in advanced 20nm process technology, the M7 will have a huge die (700mm2, by my estimate). But it’s got more than 70MB of cache and 32 cores, and each core runs eight threads. Each chip has 341GB/s of memory bandwidth using 16 channels of DDR-2667 DRAM. Not enough? M7 supports systems with up to 64 sockets&mdash;up to 2,048 cores, 4.4GB of cache, 16,384 threads, and 128TB of DRAM. Now that’s a Dream Machine!</p><p>For me, the most fascinating M7 feature is real-time data integrity checking. It can supplement every 64-byte block of data with metadata that includes a version identifier. This follows the code from main memory to the caches and through the on-chip multicore network. The M7 compares each identifier with a valid reference and triggers an exception on any mismatch, helping to keep out buggy or malicious code.</p><p>High performance is expected from big iron, but security at every level is becoming equally important. And that’s what I’d like to see trickle into my little iron.</p><hr> <p><em>Tom Halfhill was formerly a senior editor for </em>Byte<em> magazine and is now an analyst for </em>Microprocessor <em>Report.</em></p> Warner Makes Curious Update to Batman: Arkham Knight Minimum Specs's been a slight change to the minimum system requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight.Tue, 23 Jun 2015 01:46:09 +0000 Arkham KnightNewswarner bros. <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Batman Arkham Knight"></p><p>Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment <a href="">announced on Monday</a> that it has “adjusted” the minimum requirements for the Windows PC version of <em style="background-color: initial;">Batman: Arkham Knight</em>, which goes on sale tomorrow, June 23. Compared to the previous list, this "adjustment" merely adds the AMD Radeon HD 7950 GPU to the minimum&nbsp;hardware lineup. Here’s what you’ll now need to run the PC&nbsp;game:</p><ul><li>OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required)</li><li>Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom II X4 965, 3.4 GHz</li><li>Memory: 6 GB RAM</li><li>Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 (2 GB Memory Minimum) or an AMD Radeon HD 7950 (3 GB Memory Minimum)</li><li>DirectX: Version 11</li><li>Network: Broadband Internet connection required</li><li>Hard Drive: 45 GB available space</li></ul><p>As a refresher, here are the recommended specs:</p><ul><li>OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required)&nbsp;</li><li>Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz | AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz&nbsp;</li><li>Memory: 8 GB RAM&nbsp;</li><li>Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 - 3 GB Memory Recommended&nbsp;</li><li>DirectX: Version 11&nbsp;</li><li>Network: Broadband Internet connection&nbsp;</li><li>Hard Drive: 55 GB available space</li></ul><p>In addition to updating the minimum requirements, Warner also stated that it is aware of performance issues related to AMD graphics cards and is working on a fix. The post doesn’t explain the&nbsp;cause of the problems, but the issue may have something to do&nbsp;with&nbsp;the Radeon entry in the minimum system requirements being added&nbsp;just one day prior to launch. Coincidence?</p><p>“We are working closely with AMD to rectify these issues as quickly as possible and will provide updates here as they become available,” <a href="">the company said on the WBGames forum</a>. “We thank you for your patience in this matter.”</p><p><em>Batman: Arkham Knight </em>takes advantage of Nvidia’s proprietary GameWorks technology. Some of the effects rendered by Nvidia's tech&nbsp;include interactive smoke and fog, enhanced rain and interactive paper debris that reacts to player movement and environmental conditions. Nvidia customers who want to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their GPU for <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> can <a href="">download the latest drivers here</a>.</p><p>Developed by Rocksteady Studios, <em>Batman: Arkham Knight</em> launches tomorrow and will be the latest installment in the <em>Arkham</em> series, following <em>Batman: Arkham Asylum</em> in 2009, <em>Batman: Arkham City</em> in 2011 and <em>Batman: Arkham Origins</em> in 2013. This latest installment takes place one year after the events in<em> Arkham Origins</em>.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Monitors Galore Edition! that feeling you got when you tried a multi-monitor setup for the first time? A single monitor configuration would never suffice again, or so we thought. That is, until we tried an UltraWide display.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 21:02:28 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="LG UltraWide"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Remember that feeling you got when you tried a multi-monitor setup for the first time? A single monitor configuration would never suffice again, or so we thought. That is, until we tried an UltraWide display. Talk about horizontal real estate! What would be even better is if a company would offer an UltraWide monitor with an IPS panel and AMD FreeSync support. Well, wish no more. Just check out today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824025112-_-0622&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">LG 29UM67P 29-Inch UltraWide IPS Monitor</a> for <strong>$342</strong> with free shipping (normally $380 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX25</strong>]). This fantastic display offers a 2560x1080 resolution, dual HDMI outputs, and a DisplayPort.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824236451-_-0622&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus MX259H 25-inch 5ms IPS Monitor w/ Built-In Speakers</a> for <strong>$203</strong> with free shipping (normally $225 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX25</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824009726-_-0622&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Acer B276HK Black 27-inch 4K IPS LCD Monitor w/ Built-in Speakers</a> for <strong>$495</strong> with free shipping (normally $550 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX25</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824260132-_-0622&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Dell U3014 Black 30-inch 6ms IPS LCD Monitor</a> for<strong> $927</strong> with free shipping (normally $1030 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX25</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824116653-_-0622&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">ViewSonic VA2037A-LED Black 20-inch LED Monitor</a> for <strong>$90</strong> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX25</strong>])</p> Nvidia Releases New GeForce Drivers Ahead of Batman: Arkham Knight Launch your game ready drivers before Batman: Arkham Knight lands tomorrow.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:07:03 +0000 <h3>Holy display drivers, Batman!</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Batman Arkham Knight"></p><p> Nvidia graphics card owners who pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Knight or plan on picking it up tomorrow may find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Do you download Nvidia's new Game Ready 353.30 WHQL drivers and hope everything's copacetic, or let others be the guinea pigs who try out new drivers on day one and make sure there aren't any funky issues?</p><p> If you choose to roll the dice (and for what it's worth, these are WHQL drivers, not beta), Nvidia says you'll have the best gaming experience for the new Batman title, including support for SLI and GeForce Experience one-click optimizations.</p><p> Aside from tweaking things for Batman, the 353.30 driver release adds a DirectX 9 SLI profile for Lord of Vermilion Arena. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot going on here.</p><p> Fans of the series already know that the Batman games have&nbsp;been one of the best showcases for Nvidia's PhysX technology, making a noticeable difference to the appearance of the game when enabled&mdash;assuming you have the requisite hardware, naturally. With Arkham Knight, there are some new&nbsp;additions including&nbsp;GameWorks enhanced rain spray and lighting shafts; these will run on any GPU, despite using Nvidia's GameWorks&nbsp;libraries. Other effects include PhysX turbulence and particles, used for smoke and fog, and&nbsp;PhysX cloth and destruction; require an Nvidia GPU. CUDA is also used for interactive debris, likewise limiting it to Nvidia graphics cards.</p><p>Batman: Arkham Knight releases tomorrow (June 23, 2015). One of the things fans of the franchise have been looking forward to is the introduction of the Batmobile as a drivable vehicle.&nbsp;The game takes place a year after the Joker's death from Batman: Arkham City. So far it's been getting good reviews, though they've all been for the PlayStation 4 version.</p><p>You can download Nvidia's new <a href="" target="_blank">drivers here</a>.</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"> </iframe><p> <em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Samsung Rolls Out a Pair of 4K Displays Supporting AMD FreeSync resolution and AMD FreeSync uniteMon, 22 Jun 2015 16:37:38 +0000 <h3>Ultra high resolution display options for gamers</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung U28E590D"></p><p> Samsung on Monday announced a couple of new 4K (UHD) monitors with <a href="" target="_blank">AMD FreeSync</a> support. They include the 23.6-inch U24E590D and 28-inch U28E590D. Though they both boast a 4K resolution and AMD FreeSync capabilities, there are some key differences other than just display size.</p><p> The main difference is panel type -- the smaller display uses a PLS panel while the larger model wields a cheaper TN panel. That gives the U24E590D greater viewing angles at 178 degrees for both horizontal and vertical compared to the U28E590D's 170-degree horizontal and 160-degree vertical. However, the U28E590D has a higher brightness (370 cd/m2 versus 300 cd/m2) and lower response time (1ms versus 4ms).</p><p> Ratings and size aside, both sport HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, Picture-in-Picture support, and a Game Mode that Samsung claims intensifies the visual experience by rapid response to changing colors and brightness. We'll have to reserve judgment until we see it for ourselves, though typically we find that it's best to use a monitor's normal/standard setting and tweak the visuals as appropriate.</p><p>What's of most interest here is pairing AMD's FreeSync technology with 4K resolution panels. FreeSync is AMD's open version of Nvidia's proprietary G-Sync technology, both of which purport to eliminate screen tearing and reduce things like input lag for an overall smoother gaming experience.</p><p> The <a href="" target="_blank">U28E590D</a> is available today for $600 MSRP and the <a href="" target="_blank">U24E590D</a> will be available July 26 for $400 MSRP. FreeSync is AMD's open version of Nvidia's proprietary G-Sync technology, both of which purport to eliminate screen tearing and reduce unwanted things like input lag for an overall smoother gaming experience.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Acer Unveils a Chrome OS All-in-One with a Touchscreen Display's first touch-enabled Chromebase.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 15:55:35 +0000 osNews <h3>Do you wanna touch?</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Acer Chromebase"></p><p> Acer's new Chromebase DC221HQ begs two questions. The first one is, are you interested in an all-in-one desktop running Google's cloud-oriented Chrome OS? And if so, do you want touch functionality? If you answered yes to both questions, you're a prime candidate for a system like this.</p><p> There are actually two models of the <a href="" target="_blank">Chromebase DC221HQ series</a> -- one with touch and one without. So even if you answered yes to just the first question, there's something to look at here. For everyone else, it's just another Chrome OS machine trying to carve out a place in a world run by Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.</p><p> Let's assume you're interested. Both models sport a 21.5-inch Full HD 1080p display powered by Nvidia's Tegra K1 quad-core processor, 4GB of DDR3-1600 memory, and Kepler graphics. They also feature 16GB of built-in storage flanked by a microSD card slot, an HD webcam, a pair of 3W speakers, HDMI output, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, and of course Chrome OS. The systems also come with USB keyboard and mouse.</p><p> The Chromebase without touch will be available this month for $330 MSRP while the touch version will debut next month for $430 MSRP.</p><p>It's an interesting product, though like Chromebooks, the likely candidates for a machine like this will probably be students. The question is, will they prefer this over a cheaper Chromebook? We'll have to wait and see.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Bing Improves Video Search With Nifty Layout Changes changes may be small, but the impact is substantial.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:18:37 +0000 <h3> Special emphasis on music videos </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Bing Update"></p><p>Bing has updated its video search page, making many small but important changes to the way it serves up results. Those of you who rely on the search engine for your daily supply of feline videos may have noticed the video thumbnails are now bigger, and that each thumbnail is now accompanied by additional information like channel, upload date, and number of views.</p><p> “To make the Bing video-search experience even better, we just released a new layout that makes searching easier and faster,” the company wrote in a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a> Friday. “The design changes give you the information you need to quickly pick the right videos to watch.”</p><p> That’s not all. When searching for a song, you’ll probably see an extra large thumbnail at the top of the results page. That’s the “hero”, the top result for a particular search query. You can play the hero in its entirety on the results page itself or click through for the source.</p><p> Finally, related searches now appear inline with your original query. This means they are accessible even when you scroll down for more results.</p> Librem 13 is a High-End Laptop That Runs Free, Open Software 13 is for the privacy-consciousMon, 22 Jun 2015 11:34:54 +0000 source <h3> Built with privacy, security, and freedom in mind </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Librem 13"></p><p>Last year, a San Francisco-based company named&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Purism</a> showed up on crowdfunding platform Crowd Supply with a promise that nearly 700 privacy-conscious people couldn’t resist: a high-end laptop sans any “mystery software in the kernel, operating system, or any software applications.” It ended up raising $475,000 against a funding goal of $250,000 for&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Librem 15</a>, the 15-incher in question. It now wants to replicate that success on a somewhat smaller scale &mdash; er,we mean to say with a smaller laptop.</p><p> The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Librem 13</a> is also built on the same promise as its older, bigger sibling. It runs PureOS, the firm’s home-brewed flavor of Linux. According to the company, the 3-lb device will ship with a modern Intel Core i5 processor fused to run unsigned BIOS code. Other key specs include 13.3-inch FHD display, 4GB of RAM (up to 16GB), 500GB of HDD storage (up to 1TB SSD), Intel Iris graphics, 802.11n WiFi, a 720p camera, three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a 48 Wh LiPo battery (up to 8 hours on a single charge).</p><p> The most basic variant, which will retail for $1,649, is right now available for pre-order for $1,449. And if you’re worried about the possibility of your own laptop being used to spy on you, you can have your unit fitted with hardware kill switches that completely disable the laptop’s Wi-Fi and camera/mic for an extra $90.</p><p> “The Librem 13 ships with PureOS, Purism’s Operating System that leverages the Free Software Foundations certified freedom respecting distribution Trisquel, adding in many security and privacy protecting features, such as Privacy Badger, HTTPS-Everywhere, and strong encryption,” reads the Librem 13 Crowd Supply page. “Making privacy, security, and freedom installed by default takes the difficulty out of keeping up with best practices for users.”</p><p> “[The Librem 13’s] bootloader, Linux kernel, GNU OS, and all software applications are completely free/libre software without any binary blobs,” the company says, but concedes the BIOS does include a binary from Intel called FSP. However, Purism is apparently trying to have it freed, too.</p> Another day, Another Windows 8.1 HDMI Dongle iBall Splendo is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 07:01:09 +0000 8.1 <h3> It is raining stick PCs </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Splendo"></p><p>It appears as though everyone is busy making a PC-on-a-stick device these days. The latest to join this list is Indian electronics company iBall, which recently&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">announced a Windows 8.1 HDMI dongle in partnership with Microsoft.</a></p><p> Called Splendo, the device is set to go on sale in India next month, priced at 9,000 rupees or roughly $140. It isn’t much unlike the many stick PCs that have come before it, including the $150 Intel Compute Stick that we found brimming with promise but low on performance in our review.</p><p> There’s an as-yet-unknown Intel Atom quad-core chip, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage, micro SDXC slot for external storage, HDMI port, USB port, and a micro USB port. For connectivity, it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. According to Microsoft, the device will ship with a keyboard and mouse.</p> OS Security: Windows and Linux/UNIX each OS handles security, and how to set up basic configuration on your systemMon, 22 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 <h3>How each OS handles security, and how to set up basic configuration on your system</h3><p>Security in OSes is a fairly hot topic in our modern, connected world. We don't want unauthorized people gaining access to our systems and making our computers do terrible things. Surprisingly, OS security boils down to one simple concept: Does the user have permission to do an action? So, how does the modern OS handle granting and denying permission?</p><h5>Basic Concepts</h5><p>OS security is divided into three major components: memory space, accounts, and file permissions.</p><p><strong>Memory space</strong> security involves separating programs into two levels: kernel mode and user mode. Kernel mode is where important operating system programs are run. User mode is where the rest of the programs and applications run. Kernel-mode programs usually handle the hardware-level aspects of managing the system. If a user-mode program wants to access something in kernel-mode space, it has to make a system call in order to do so. The system call will check the appropriate permissions before committing the action.</p><p><strong>Accounts</strong> are also divided up into two levels: administrators and users. Administrators generally have permission to perform actions that affect kernel-mode applications. These include setting up an IP address for a network interface or creating a partition. Users normally can't do these actions without administrative permissions, which they usually get by entering an administrator's login or elevating the permissions level temporarily. </p><p><strong>File permissions</strong> are attributes built into a file system that tell the OS which accounts can do what. Some file systems, like FAT32 and exFAT, don't have a permissions system. File permissions are usually implemented based on the OS they're primarily used in; other OSes that don't normally use them will not enforce them. For example, NTFS file permissions are not supported on Linux because Linux doesn't normally use NTFS. </p><p>As administrator accounts have permission to do many things, a lot of attacks and exploits on computers essentially boil down to getting that access. Once an attacker has it, they are free to do anything.</p><h5>Linux/UNIX Security</h5><p>Both of these families of OSes derive their security from the POSIX standard. In POSIX, practically all aspects of the system are treated as files. For example, if you want to print something, the idea is that you "write" to the "printer file." A user can do three things to a file or directory: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">r - Read the contents of a file or directory<br>w - Make changes to the file (including delete) or directory (make new files/folders or delete them)<br>x - Execute a file or search within a directory.</p><p>Files and directories are tagged with these permissions flags to say whether a user can do one of those actions. POSIX also allows users to be grouped for administrative/security purposes. This creates a total of three types of users who each need to have those permissions flags defined:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">The owner of the file<br>Everyone in a group<br>Everyone else who is not the owner of the file or in the group</p><p>If you pull up the permissions of a file, either from a file explorer or the console command ls -l, you'll find a string of 10 characters laid out like this:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Table 01"></p><p>If a file has a dash (-) as the flag, the user associated with the type does not have permission to perform that action. The directory flag says the "file" is a directory. If it's a dash, the file is just a file.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 01"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong><em><strong></strong></em>Example output of the ls -l command, showing permissions on the left side.<em><strong></strong></em></strong></em></p><p>Most POSIX OSes have a special account called root. Root has permission to do anything regardless of the permissions flags set. If a user also needs to perform an action to a file and they don't have permission to do so, they can invoke the action with sudo from the command line. This elevates the user temporarily to root privileges.</p><p>Linux and UNIX have a variety of ways to change permissions done to a file or directory, but they all have one command: chmod.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">chmod (short for change mode) is invoked by the following command in a console: chmod [options] [mode] [file1] [file2] ... </p><p>Options you can set are:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">-r - Recursive, if performing this on a directory, this makes changes to all subdirectories as well, rather than just the contents of the directory.<br>-f - Force, this continues the operation even if an error occurs.<br>-v - Verbose, this shows what's being processed.</p><p>Modes are basically the permission flags. It is three numbers from 0-7 representing the 10-character string described above (directory flag is implied). What each number means:</p><table><tbody><tr><td>Number</td><td>Meaning</td></tr><tr><td>0</td><td>No permission</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Execute/search</td></tr><tr><td>2</td><td>Write</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>Write and execute/search</td></tr><tr><td>4</td><td>Read</td></tr><tr><td>5</td><td>Read and execute/search</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>Read and write</td></tr><tr><td>7</td><td>Read, write, and execute/search</td></tr></tbody></table><p>And here are some examples of what chmod will do to a file or directory:</p><table><tbody><tr><td> chmod 700 </td><td> Allows only the owner to read, write, and execute “” </td></tr><tr><td> chmod 664 example.txtexample2.txt </td><td> Allows the owner and the group to read and write to “example.txt” and “example2.txt.” All others can only read the files. </td></tr><tr><td> chmod –r 754 apps </td><td> Allows only the owner to view the contents, create new files or directories, and execute everything in the directory “apps.” The group can only view the contents and execute everything in “apps.”<br> Everyone else can only view what’s in “apps.” </td></tr></tbody></table><p>If your account does not own and/or have write permissions to the file or directory, you must prepend chmod with sudo before changes can be made.</p><p>For those new to Linux/UNIX command line interfaces, there are lots of Internet sources that provide cheat sheets for the most common commands you'll need to navigate and perform actions. Here's <a href="">another option we like</a> because it's particularly handy.</p><h5>Windows Security</h5><p>Microsoft started taking security seriously with Windows NT. Windows based on DOS had no concept of security; it allowed any user to do anything. The only limitation in Windows is that only NTFS partitions have security provisions. As stated before, the FAT family of file systems doesn't have built-in permissions.</p><p>Like POSIX, Windows has several flags that define permissions for what a user can do to a file or directory. Unlike POSIX though, Windows has a laundry list of permissible actions. The main ones are:</p><table><tbody><tr><td>Action</td><td>Allowed</td><td>Denied</td></tr><tr><td>Read</td><td> View files or folders </td><td> Execute files, view contents of subfolders, delete files or folders, or change permissions or ownership </td></tr><tr><td>Write</td><td>Create new files or folders; Modify current files or folders </td><td> Execute files, delete files or folders or change permissions or ownership </td></tr><tr><td>List folder contents</td><td> View contents of a folder, its subfolders, and execute files </td><td> Delete files or folders or change permissions or ownership </td></tr><tr><td>Read and execute</td><td> Same as “List folder contents” </td><td> Same as “List folder contents” </td></tr><tr><td>Modify</td><td> Read, write, modify, execute, and delete files or folders </td><td> Change permissions or ownership </td></tr><tr><td>Full control</td><td> Same as modify, but allows changing of permissions and ownership </td><td>Nothing</td></tr></tbody></table><p>Also like POSIX, Windows has an account called "Administrator" that acts as root and has permission to do anything, regardless of what permissions were set. This is different from an administrator-type account, which still has some restrictions on what it can and cannot do.</p><p>To change permissions of a file or folder in Windows, open File Explorer and go to the file or folder. In this example, we'll use a folder.</p><p>1. Right click on the folder and select "Properties"</p><p>2. Go to the "Security" tab</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 02"></p><p><br>3. Click on the "Edit..." button in the middle, underneath the "Group or user names" listing. This will display another dialog where you can change permissions.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 03"></p><p>By default, Windows lists the permissions of the following groups:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Authenticated Users: These are users who have authenticated with a domain. This is more a concern for people that use network-based logins.<br>SYSTEM: This is a Windows internal account that system processes and services use. It runs at the highest privileges by default and cannot be edited by anyone.<br>Administrators: All accounts that have Administrator privileges.<br>Users: All accounts that have Standard User privileges.</p><p>4. To change a group's permissions, select that group and tick off each action you want to allow or deny. Then press OK or Apply. </p><p>5. If the option is grayed out, you're running an account that does not have permission to change permissions. You'll have to give that group "Full Control" first before you can change permissions.</p><p>6. If you want to change an individual account's permissions, click on the "Add..." button: </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 04"></p><p>7. In the text area labeled "Enter the object names to select," type in the user's account and press "Check Names." If the name was typed correctly, the box will populate with the user's account. If you're having trouble trying to find out how the account is named, you can look it up in the C:\Users folder. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 05"></p><p>8. This will add the user's account to the list of groups, which you can then set the permissions flags. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Image 06"></p><h5><br>Good Security Practices</h5><p>The following are some tips you can use to increase protection and security in your OS. These aren't foolproof, but practicing these will limit the damage malware can do.</p><p>Do not run as root (Linux/UNIX) or as administrator without UAC (Windows) as your daily driver. Running as an account that allows everything to happen dramatically increases the chances of allowing malware to run its course.</p><p>Do not change the permissions of system folders willy-nilly. There's a reason why most of these are only given read or execute permissions only. If you must make a change in permissions, do it at the deepest level possible.</p><p>On Windows, run as a standard user account as your daily driver. This helps limit what damage a program can do. While the downside is that UAC prompts require an admin login, it's similar to Linux/UNIX requiring your password every time you invoke sudo.</p> AMD Said to be Mulling Splitting Into Two says no such plans are currently in the works.Mon, 22 Jun 2015 06:32:00 +0000 <h3> But the company has denied having any such plans </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Lisa Su PC Gaming Show"></p><p>How far is perennially beleaguered chip maker AMD willing to go in its quest to turn the corner in its duel with Intel? According to Reuters, the company is open to separating its graphics and licensing business from the server division.&nbsp;Even a spin off is not currently off the table, though the news agency warns everything is at a preliminary stage and (ergo) far from final.</p><p> Crediting “three people familiar with the matter” for the information, the agency said the company has engaged a consulting firm to help identify possible options and outline the way forward. The unnamed sources, however, admitted it’s entirely possible that nothing might come of these deliberations. After all,&nbsp;they say,&nbsp;this is not the first time that the company is exploring such extreme steps.</p><p> As for AMD, it has dismissed the report, saying nothing of that sort is “in the works” at this stage. A spokesperson told the news agency it remains committed to the long-term strategy it outlined in May at its Financial Analyst Day. The multi-year plan calls for greater focus on high growth areas such as gaming, immersive platforms, and the datacenter business, whereas areas such as IoT, low-end tablets, and smartphones are to be avoided.</p> Here's How to Get Windows 10 for Free (UPDATED) 10 Technical Preview users will get the full version for freeSun, 21 Jun 2015 02:39:12 +0000 Readwindows 10windows 10 technical preview <p>Microsoft previously announced that users of Windows 7 and higher will be eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when it ships in about a month. But today, the&nbsp;<a href="">Windows team announced via the Windows blog</a> that Microsoft will be giving away Windows 10 for free to users of Windows 10 Preview.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10"></p><p>That's right. Even if you're on an older version of Windows, like XP, just go and install Windows 10 Technical Preview now, and when Windows 10 comes out, you'll be prompted for the full, free upgrade.</p><p>It was previously noted that the free upgrade wouldn't be available to those using Windows XP and older, but now it's easy to get your free ticket through the door. In fact, you it doesn't matter what OS you're using or if you don't have one installed at all. Just install Preview.</p><p>Good move, Microsoft.</p><p>Those who are interested will want to check out our guide to the&nbsp;<a href="">top 7 reasons to upgrade to Windows 10</a>. You'll also want to keep in mind that you'll lose a few things&nbsp;as Microsoft stated previously that it'll remove features, such as games and widgets. If you're eager for Windows 10,&nbsp;<a href="">check out the hardware you'll need to run it</a>.</p><p>Keep in mind that you only have one year to use the free upgrade from the date that Windows 10 is released. After a year, Microsoft will no longer provide the free option.</p><h5>Here's how:</h5><p>Step 1: Sign up for a&nbsp;<a href="">MSA (Microsoft Account)</a>, it's free<br>Step 2:&nbsp;<a href="">Grab the ISO</a><br>Step 3: Install<br>Step 4: Wait for Microsoft to release Windows 10 on July 29th, 2015<br>Step 5: Update to the full version</p><p>You'll want to grab the Preview soon, since Microsoft will be closing the Windows 10 Preview program as the Windows 10's actual release date nears.</p><p><strong>Update 1: Microsoft edited the original post, removing official support for this method. There's no firm word on whether or not it will still work, but as of now, it's no longer an officially supported method.</strong></p><p><strong>Update 2:&nbsp;</strong><a href="">Microsoft posted an updated blog today</a><strong>&nbsp;in an attempt to clear confusion around who exactly will be getting Windows 10 for free and how. Essentially it bowls down to this:</strong></p><p><strong>1/ If you're participating in the Windows 10 Preview, then you get to install the full version when it arrives, as long as you opt-in to continue to receive preview builds.</strong></p><p><strong>2/ This applies to Windows 10 Preview being installed as a clean install, provided you opt-in to preview builds.</strong></p><p><strong>3/ If you install Windows 10 Preview (clean install or not)&nbsp;opt-in to preview builds to get the retail for free, and then opt-out after July 29th, then you will no longer stay "genuine." This means you'll have two choices:</strong></p><p><strong>- Roll back to your previous OS<br>- Acquire a genuine Windows 10 license</strong></p><p><strong>If you don't do any of the the above, your Windows 10 install will expire and you'll be locked into activation request mode.</strong></p> Newegg Daily Deals: The All Graphics Card Edition! pixels pushing around your graphics card instead of the other way around? Then it's high time you thought about an upgrade!Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:23:49 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="GeForce GTX 980 Classified"></p><h3>Top Deal:</h3><p>Are pixels pushing around your graphics card instead of the other way around? Then it's high time you thought about an upgrade! There are lots of great options out there, including today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814487099-_-0619&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Classified Kingpin Video Card</a> for <strong>$684</strong> with free shipping (normally $760 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX36</strong>]; additional $50 mail-in-rebate). This blazing fast card boasts a 14+3 power phase design and a digitally controlled VRM that can deliver up to 600A of current.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814150700-_-0619&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">XFX Black Edition Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290X 4GB Video Card</a> for <strong>$306</strong> with free shipping (normally $340 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX36</strong>]; additional $30 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814125777-_-0619&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 4GB Support Video Card</a> for <strong>$234</strong> with free shipping (normally $260 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX36</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814487084-_-0619&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB ACX 2.0 Video Card</a> for <strong>$567</strong> with free shipping (normally $630 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX36</strong>]; additional $40 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814487034-_-0619&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">EVGA G-SYNC Support GeForce GTX 750 1GB FTW w/ ACX Cooler Video Card</a> for <strong>$120</strong> with free shipping (normally $133 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKX36</strong>]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)</p> Dell Begins Taking Pre-Orders on Windows 10 PCs gets a jumpstart on Windows 10's July 29 release date.Fri, 19 Jun 2015 17:18:56 +0000 10 <h3>Getting a jump on Windows 10</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dell Windows 10"></p><p> Do you think maybe Dell is excited about Windows 10? That's an understatement, as it's the only major OEM to begin offering pre-orders for select Windows 10 devices. And while we haven't checked all the boutique system builders, Dell might be the only PC seller to do so, period.</p><p> "Ready for Windows 10? Great! So are we. Which is why customers in the U.S. can pre-order select Dell devices with Windows 10 starting TODAY that will ship starting July 29 –the big day Microsoft releases its new operating system," Dell stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>. "Plus with Same Day Ship from Dell, you can receive your order as early as July 30 and be the first to show off your new Windows 10 device."</p><p> The Windows 10 system <a href="" target="_blank">pre-order page</a> currently includes Inspiron desktops, an Inspiron 11 2-in-1 device, Inspiron 15 laptop configuratons, and an XPS 8700 rig -- seven systems in all. Pricing ranges from $380 (Inspiron 11 2-in-1) to $830 (XPS 8700).</p><p> These are all pre-configured systems. You can't change or upgrade the hardware components, though some of them allow you to add accessories and other bits like monitors, various software, and warranty extensions.</p><p> Any pre-orders placed by 2:00 PM CT on July 29 will ship out that day.</p><p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> E3: Insomniac Games Boss Ted Price Discusses Edge of Nowhere [Video] a third person VR title.Fri, 19 Jun 2015 16:56:07 +0000 <h3>Horror slash adventure meets VR</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Ted Price"></p><p>The promise of VR has been around for a long time, but it wasn't until the Oculus Rift came onto the scene that we started truly buying into the hype. While it's still a little early to bet the farm, what we've seen has us pretty convinced that VR is finally on the verge of being an awesome experience. Helping us to come to that conclusions are well made games and demos like Insomniac's Edge of Nowhere.</p><p>Insomniac President and CEO Ted Price talked with us about the title, which is a new action-adventure title with some horror elements. The game puts in you Antarctica in search of a missing expedition. As you hike and climb through the mountains, you uncover a surreal world that gets increasingly strange the deeper you get.</p><p>It's one of the better AAA VR titles out there, if not the best to date. The game uses a third-person perspective and is somewhat reminiscent of Uncharted and Tomb Raider. One of the goals with the game is to create a sense of unease as you explore the unknown.</p><p>Price says Edge of Nowhere draws definite inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft so you can expect Lovecraftian horror elements and surprises. However, it's not strictly a horror title -- there are lots of other elements at play as well.</p><p>Third person seems like an odd perspective for VR, though Price says Insomniac has learned a lot about how to best utilize the perspective. For example, taking the camera control away from the player is something that he says can be uncomfortable. so even though Edge of Nowhere is a third person title, you still have control of the camera.</p><p>Have a look at the full interview below:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe> E3: Sanzaru Games Talks VR Sports Challenge [Video] Games brings sports action to the Oculus RiftFri, 19 Jun 2015 16:03:25 +0000 <h3>The Wii Sports of VR</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Tin Guerrero"></p><p>The inherent weakness of Oculus Rift and VR headsets in general is that you have to wear gear on your head. A lot of effort has gone into designing lighter-weight and more comfortable designs, but at the end of the day, you're still required to wear a piece of equipment. The same is true of certain sports, allowing Sanzaru Games to turn a negative into a positive.</p><p>We sat down with Sanzaru Games's Tin Guerrero at E3 to talk about the company's VR Sports Challenge title, which they hope will be the Wii Sports of VR. VR Sport Challenge will include several games, and the one they demonstrated at E3 was a hockey title.</p><p>One thing they've done with the hockey game is incorporate the hockey mask into the game. It's a neat idea since Oculus requires wearing a headset anyway. It adds a layer of immersion to the game, and also helps you forget that you're wearing a VR headset, or that's the goal, anyway.</p><p>VR Sport Challenge is aiming for more of an arcade feel than a hardcore simulation. For example, you might hop into a football game with two minutes to drive down the field and score a game-winning touchdown, or be the guy/gal who sparks a comeback victory in basketball. And as far as game play goes, think Wii Sports meets NBA Jam.</p><p>Find out more of what Tin Guerrero had to say below:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe> Playing Co-op VR with Palmer Luckey is Mindblowing Touch + Toy Box is the best VR experience I’ve ever hadFri, 19 Jun 2015 14:29:06 +0000 riftoculus touchPalmer Luckeytoy boxvirtual realityvr <h3>Oculus Touch + Toy Box is the best VR experience I’ve ever had</h3><p> Up until a few hours ago, I’ve only had the pleasure of trying out Oculus VR’s seated/controller demos, but I recently got to go hands-on with the new wireless Oculus Touch controllers. It was the single best VR experience I’ve had up until this point. It also helped that it was a co-op demo, one where Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey was my virtual buddy.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Oculus Touch"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>The wireless controllers are like Wii Nunchuks on steroids.</strong></p><p> In case you haven’t heard about Oculus’s new controller input, it’s sort of akin to Wii’s Nunchuck controller, but has a few key differences and enhancements. It’s roughly the same size as a Nunchuck and also has a buttons for your index and middle fingers, but it also has two face buttons on top near the joystick. What really distinguishes it from Nintendo’s solution, though, is that it offers 1:1 controls, meaning that your hand movements are pretty much exactly like your real hand movements in real life (Nintendo’s equivalent was more based on exaggerated gestures). The controller also has a little ring along the outside of your knuckles, which allows the controller to track the position of your thumb and index finger. This means that you’ll be able to give thumbs-up gestures and be able to point at objects for the benefit of your online VR buddies.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Oculus Touch_demo2-650-80"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>Lilly from sister site TechRadar steps into the Matrix.</strong></p><p> The room where I had my demo was a very controlled environment. It measured roughly 12 by 12 feet, with a&nbsp; mat in the middle that measured 4 by 4 feet to stand on. Otherwise, there was hardly anything else in there, so I can’t speak to any clipping or obstruction issues that may occur in a more typical real-world scenario.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04826-2"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey personally worked on the input solution.</strong></p><p> There was only one Oculus Touch demo&mdash;built internally by Oculus and dubbed "Toy Box"&mdash;but oh, man, what a demo it was! It’s a co-op sandbox experience, and I was originally going to play it with an Oculus representative I hadn’t met before, who would be&nbsp;playing from a separate room. To my surprise, following a video interview with Palmer Luckey (which will be published soon), the Oculus VR founder decided to hijack the HMD on the other end, and got on the headset’s mic. I was already surprised to realize that the Rift even had a built-in mic, so it was even more of a shock.</p><p>It's worth mentioning that the headset used here appears to be Crescent Bay, which is the prototype for the consumer-version headset. This article is mainly about Oculus Touch and the co-op Toy Box demo. If you’d rather read more about the CV1 headset, check out our coverage of the <a href="">consumer-version headset</a>.</p><p> What ensued was a roughly 20-minute demo that took me into another dimension. The demo takes place in a quirky sci-fi, playful laboratory environment. As I put on&nbsp;the headset, I can see two floating hands and a generic bald blue head staring at me from about four feet away, representing Luckey. He looked directly at me in this virtual environment and walked me through how to use the controller.</p><p>“Pick up the controller and use your index finger to point at something,” he says. I do so, and it works great. “Give me the thumbs-up signal,” he says, and that works swimmingly, too. “Clench down on the controller and make a fist for me,” he says, and as expected, my two virtual hands made fists. While I love&nbsp;<a href="">Valve’s&nbsp;similar VR&nbsp;controllers</a>, these simple finger gestures add an unprecedented level of immersion. Yes, given what I know&nbsp;so far, I do think it’s better than&nbsp;Valve’s already-stellar VR&nbsp;controllers.</p><iframe src="//" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" width="500"> </iframe><p> <strong>Palmer Luckey shows off CV1 and Oculus Touch.</strong></p><p> Between virtual Luckey and me is a large, wide table with a bunch of little colored boxes on it. Luckey asks me to pick up some boxes. After just a few seconds of trying to get used to the controller, I've got the hang of it and it really feels intuitive. “Go ahead and throw them at me,” he says, and so I chuck a piece across the room. I start throwing more boxes around until Palmer says, “Check this out. Grab a box, push it toward me as I push a box toward you, and we’ll simultaneously trap a box in between and pick it up together.” Lo and behold, it works like a charm. If anything is going to take VR experiences, which have been mostly isolated and lone journeys up until this point, to the next level, it’s co-op. Never had I felt the sensation of VR presence more, or the feeling that my mind and body were transported to a different place, than during this demo.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p><strong>Palmer Luckey talks controller, VR porn, and more.</strong></p><p> That was merely the beginning of my wacky but amazing experience with Luckey. As the demo progressed, sticks started popping up on the table in front of me and I started picking them up. They weren’t just any sticks, however&mdash;they were essentially flares. Luckey summoned a lighter on the table and started lighting the tops of his sticks. He pointed the lighter toward me and I reached over with my flares and lit them. And I thought to myself,&nbsp;“F***ing awesome!”</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Oculus Touch1"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>You can point, give the thumbs-up, and make a fist with Oculus Touch.</strong></p><p> Then, Luckey summoned a little dynamite box and asked me to light it and put it near a wall. I lit it and before I could drop it, the bomb exploded in my hand and blew up the wall, too. Surprised, I jumped a bit. In case you were wondering, the Oculus Touch does offer the slightest of haptic feedback vibrations, though Luckey says that, internally, the company has controllers with more vibrant haptic feedback sensors. Regardless, the little jolt does a good job of letting you know when you’re hand has clipped through a table, or when you have made contact with a hard surface. It adds a slight&nbsp;sense of tactility to what has otherwise been a weak aspect of VR until this point.&nbsp;</p><p> Moving along, Luckey summoned a ball into the room and he threw it up into the air and caught it. He then threw it at my face, and I felt surprisingly disrespected. It was as if someone in real life was chucking a fastball at my noggin. Maybe it unseated some dark memories of PE class dodge-ball that I’ve been trying to suppress&hellip;. Anyway, considering this was all done in a VR environment, I'll say that it was rude in the coolest way possible. One thing I learned from this experience is that if you thought people were sore losers in online games before, you ain’t ready for the competitive anger that may stem from forthcoming multiplayer VR titles.</p><p> I started punching the ball back at him, and then he summoned a tetherball scenario, with both of us punching the ball back and forth at each other. He totally mopped the floor with me. I was able to hold my own with him a little bit better when we started playing ping pong, though. VR ping pong alone could make for a compelling game with these controllers. Luckey then conjured up some giant hulk hands and gave them to me to slip on. From here, a big dummy appeared, which I proceeded to punch the hell out of with my new-found fists.&nbsp;I ended the beating with a double-handed “Hulk smash”-type gesture, which made the dummy crumble. It was wicked cool.</p><p> Eventually, Luckey summoned a slingshot, which required both hands to operate. I used my left hand to hold the stick and pulled on the virtual rubber band with my right hand to send little ping pong balls flying at objects across the room. It was interesting to note that here, Luckey appeared right alongside me, and we were slinging shots side by side. Again, he was much better than I was with the controls, and was able to sling at a much faster clip.</p><p> Speaking of clips, the next weapons that we picked up were guns, specifically alien laser guns. I started to shoot at some moving wooden animals (think the Circus) and had to really focus and use the sights to aim. Luckey then started throwing some discs in the air for me to shoot, and I wasn’t very good at it. Apparently, you need to lead your shots a little if you’re blasting from an alien pistol.</p><p> One of my favorite moments of the demo was when Luckey used a shrink ray to shrink me down to the size of a mouse. There I was, standing atop a massive table, looking up at his floating head and hands as if he were a giant. A really nice touch about this experience is that his voice got super deep and started echoing&nbsp;with a cavernous reverb. He then used the shrink ray in reverse, making me the giant. There I saw him as a tiny little guy moving around. And yes, he had a tiny squeaky voice to go along with his new diminutive stature.</p><p>This was the first time I’ve been able to use the mic and hear it in action. It’s fantastic, and the positional audio brings a true immersion experience; you believe that you’re really physically with someone who's not actually in the room with you. Throughout the demo, the backdrop changed from space-like environments to underwater scenarios, and Luckey's voice would echo or be muffled appropriately. I felt a childlike wonderment. Imagine playing a sci-fi flight simulator and having your friend sound all electrostatic-like on the other end. How freakin’ cool would that be?</p><p> This is a demo that will stick with me forever, an unforgettable experience that offered an unparalleled level of presence that I haven’t felt before. It also helped that Luckey was obviously bent on providing me a great experience. It felt oddly intimate at times, as if I might have to apologize for bumping into him if our virtual bodies got too close. I’ve never felt more confident in the future of VR than I do now, and I’m excited about how the medium will grow moving forward. The only real pressing question I have on my mind now is: When can I have these new toys, damn it?!</p> Build It: Overclocking in a Budget Gaming PC’s new Pentium K CPU comes with both a bargain price and bargain specsso we put it to the test in a budget gaming systemFri, 19 Jun 2015 07:00:00 +0000 a PC <p><em>This article was published in the November 2014 issue of </em>Maximum PC<em>. For more trusted reviews and feature stories,<a href=""> subscribe here</a>.</em></p><h3></h3><h3>Intel’s new Pentium K CPU comes with both a bargain price and bargain specs&mdash;so we put it to the test in a budget gaming system</h3><p><em>Length of Time: 2-4 Hours | Difficulty: Medium</em></p><h5>The Mission</h5><p><img class="pulled-image pull-right" style="margin: 0px 0px 10px 10px;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.8237"></p><p>As our monthly blueprint roundup demonstrates, putting together a budget gaming system for under $800 is very doable. It just comes with trade-offs&mdash;one of which is giving up on CPU overclocking. Unlocked Intel Core i5 chips start at $100 more than the AMD FX-6300 part in our budget Blueprint build, and in a rig where even going up or down by $20 becomes noticeable, that extra cost is beyond justifi cation.</p><p>But this summer, Intel released the Pentium G3258&mdash;or as we like to call it, the Pentium K. At $70, this unlocked 3.2GHz dual-core Haswell chip looks pretty attractive on paper. It undercuts the AMD FX-6300 by $40 and the cheapest Core i3 CPU by about $50, making it economically feasible as an alternative CPU&hellip; so long as the ability to overclock gives it a big enough boost to shore up its budget architecture. There’s only one way to find out if it’s worth it in order to chase the dream of overclocking in a budget build, so we put together a rig with the Pentium K as the star of the show.</p><h5>Cleaning Up Nice</h5><p>As this is a budget system, we weren’t ultra-picky in parts selection. We made some compromises, such the case, deciding to show last issue’s Enermax Coenus some love. Despite its seemingly Transformers-themed appearance, the Coenus is spacious and has a thoughtful layout that accommodates many random part swaps. It also looks much more attractive than a cutthroat-cheap Rosewill case. Likewise, we stuck with modest but reliable parts for our RAM and PSU: two sticks of 4GB Corsair Value RAM to run in dual-channel mode, and the Corsair CX500 to take advantage of its 80-Plus Bronze rating, ample cables, and three-year warranty.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Ingredients"></p><p>We spent a little more on parts that future-proofed us (the Z97 mobo), affected overclocking (the H60 CLC CPU cooler), or improved our gaming experience (the larger-than-bare-minimum SSD). We felt our spending was warranted, given we wanted to push our Pentium K as high as it could go and also go for better gaming.</p><p>The only part we struggled with was the GPU. Our rig could handle a beefy and elaborate setup, but we chose to spend conservatively, which resulted in ignoring our mobo’s Crossfi re-only compatibility and going with a GeForce GTX 750 Ti card from EVGA.</p><h5>1. Decisions, Decisions</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.8249"></p><p>Part of the reason we chose the Coenus for our case (besides its cost) was the flexibility it gave us in determining the order of our build. For example, since the optical drive installs from the front, you can do that at any time. And pulling off the panel behind the motherboard gives access to cutouts, allowing you to install the CPU cooler’s backplate after you mount the motherboard to the case, or install your hard drives at your leisure. We chose to install our motherboard first, and then followed with attaching the CPU’s backplate to the board. We put in the processor next, taking care (as always) to drop it straight down into the socket while matching up the notches correctly.</p><h5>2. Cool Running</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.8248"></p><p>We first tried installing the H60’s fan and radiator at the top of the case, but changed tack due to the motherboard’s awkward position relative to the top of the case and the length of the H60’s tubes. Instead, we swapped them in for the Coenus’s rear fan&mdash;a fiddly operation. We managed it by fi rst holding the fan in place, then threading a screw through the fan’s two top-right holes and lining up the radiator’s corresponding hole with the tip of the screw, before beginning to screw the pieces together. (Note: Orient the tubes toward the bottom of the case to give you more room later.) We then repeated this process with the hole diagonal from the first screw, working in an “X” pattern, and by attaching the pump.</p><h5>3. Gutsy Moves</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.8244"></p><p>To make the installation of our CPU cooler easier, we waited to install our RAM until after we’d secured the cooler’s pump. The thought behind what type of RAM we used was a little less studied&mdash;given the dependability of Corsair’s value line, we grabbed two DIMMs of 4GB and popped them in. Settling on an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti card, however, required more debate. We considered future-proofing by selecting a Radeon card, since this Biostar mobo supports only Crossfire dual-GPU configurations. But we settled on E VGA’s 750 Ti, since in the real world few people use dual-card configurations at this price range, but well over half of gamers (on Steam, at least) prefer Nvidia. We inserted the video card now, so that after putting in the PSU we could hook up all the connectors at the same time.</p><h5>4. Shutting Up and Driving</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.8242"></p><p>As we wanted to plug in all of the power connectors at once, the optical, solid-state, and hard-disk drives went in next. Our Samsung SH-224 is a standard DVD/CD burner and nothing fancy; neither is our Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD (the latter is for documents and media storage). By contrast, our OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD is almost double what we recommend for our Blueprint budget gaming build. As we noted earlier, the Vertex was a conscious splurge in order to get faster performance and more space to hold games, but it could be pared back to a 128GB SSD if you want to save $40–$50. The CX500 that feeds our budget rig doesn’t take much space (the Coenus will easily hold larger), so popping it in was easy. If you’re strapped for cash, opt for the CX430&mdash;but note it could limit your choice of future video cards.</p><h5>5. Preparing for Takeoff</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.cpuz"></p><p>After installing Windows 8.1, we first configured and ran all of our benchmarks under stock settings to set up a baseline for our comparison between the Pentium K’s stock and overclocked performance. Then we prepared for our overclocking efforts by downloading CPU-Z and CPUID from <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, as well as Prime95 from <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and then installing all three tools. If you haven’t used these programs before, CPU-Z provides clock information; CPUID lists the core temperatures; and Prime95 serves as the stress test for determining the stability of an overclock. Biostar also provides a Windows-based utility for overclocking, but we didn’t have much luck with it. Even when installing the most recent version of the utility from the Biostar website, loading the utility caused our system to spontaneously reboot. Instead, we decided to stick to Biostar’s esoteric but functional UEFI-BIOS interface for our overclocking tweaks.</p><h5>6. Absolute Power</h5><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC104.rd buildit.voltages"></p><p>To overclock the Pentium K, we worked in the “O.N.E.” UEFI-BIOS submenu, found by clicking on the second-from-right icon at the bottom of the main BIOS screen. Increasing the amount of juice fed to the CPU had to be done via the “Voltages Configuration” option. First, we changed the “CPU Voltage Mode” to “Override,” then we changed the “CPU Override Voltage Target” to 1.3V as our starting point (the CPU was automatically drawing just a little over 1.0V at stock speed). All the clock changes had to be tweaked via the “CPU Configuration” option. The first step was to switch the “CPU Ratio Mode” to “ALL cores,” then we could up the clock speed via “CPU Ratio.” We began with an overclocked speed of 4.0GHz and eventually got it to a stable 4.7GHz.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Callout"></p><h5>So, How Special Is the Pentium K?</h5><p>As the first overclockable Pentium CPU, the G3258 doesn’t disappoint. We built this rig to see how much power we could squeeze from this low-end chip, and the answer is quite a bit&mdash;after overclocking the Pentium K, we saw a sizable jump in performance in CPU-heavy tasks. It also beat CPUs with more cores. Not bad for $70.</p><p>Overclocking went butter-smooth, too. Our initial leap from 3.2GHz to 4.0GHz showed such a moderate jump in temperature that we went to 4.2GHz after just 15 minutes of stress testing. The K’s temperatures held steady in the high 60s/low 70s in the 4.4GHz–4.6GHz range, and it wasn’t until we tried to hit 4.8GHz that our system protested. Increasing the juice to 1.35V and then 1.4V didn’t change our near-instant BSODs at 4.8GHz, and it wasn’t until we stepped it down to 4.7GHz and dialed the voltage back to 1.3V that our rig happily chugged along in the low 70s. All in all, overclocking took us 10 minutes of troubleshooting; the bulk of our five hours spent on the task was letting Prime95 do its work. Our H60 defi nitely earned its keep.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Benchmarks"></p><p>The Pentium K also held up well. Our budget choice of video card impacted the benchmark results more than our choice of CPU. When we switched to a Radeon R9 280X, we saw notable improvement in two of our benchmarks. Tomb Raider shot up to 65.7fps, while Metro: Last Light rose to 56fps. Oddly, Hitman: Absolution dropped to 40fps, but our guess is that has something to do with the game not being well optimized for AMD graphics cards. Of course, benchmarks don’t guarantee equal performance throughout games, but a K build should be a palatable budget gaming system. If you want to save cash for a better GPU, hunt for mail-in rebate deals on parts. We saw some available but excluded them from our price list. Had we done so, we’d have cut $50–$70 from the total price.</p> 'Halo 5: Guardians' Limited Collector's Edition Will Cost $250 pre-order the Collector's Edition now before the supply runs out!Fri, 19 Jun 2015 01:33:33 +0000 one <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="91T8kpOJx3L. SL1500"></p><p> Are you a fan of the <em>Halo</em> series? Are you big enough of a fan to spend <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1434589478&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=halo+5+collectors+edition">$250 on a limited edition copy of <em>Halo 5: Guardians</em></a> when it ships for the Xbox One&nbsp;this October? If you are, then you’d better head on over to Amazon right now and reserve your “copy” before this limited <em>Collector’s Edition</em> is completely sold out.</p><p> “The <em>Limited Collector’s Edition</em> is the ultimate expression of <em>Halo 5: Guardians</em> with a commemorative statue designed by 343 Industries,” reads Amazon’s description. “The Master Chief and Spartan Locke appear as a team – but there’s another story&hellip; the statue splits and they separate, ready to face-off. Which scene tells the true story?”</p><p> So what’s inside this high-priced bundle? In addition to the actual <em>Halo 5</em> game, the package includes:</p><ul> <li>Commemorative Statue of the Master Chief and Spartan Locke by Triforce</li> <li>Guardian model by Metal Earth</li> <li>Uniquely designed Spartan themed SteelBook</li> <li>Warzone REQ Bundle: 14 Premium Requisition packs</li> <li>Dossiers on Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris</li> <li>Spartan Locke's Classified Orders</li> <li>Halo: The Fall of Reach - Animated Series</li> <li>Xbox Live Gold 14-day Trial</li></ul><p> If $250 is a bit much to spend on a game, there’s also a cheaper <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1434589478&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=halo+5+collectors+edition">Limited Edition bundle for $99.99</a>. Essentially, this package includes everything in the <em>Collector’s Edition</em> save for the statue of Master Chief/Spartan Locke and the Warzone REQ bundle:</p><ul> <li>Uniquely-designed Spartan themed SteelBook</li> <li>Guardian model by Metal Earth</li> <li>Dossiers on Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris</li> <li>Spartan Locke's Classified Orders</li> <li>Halo: The Fall of Reach&mdash;Animated Series</li> <li>Xbox Live Gold 14–day Trial</li></ul><p> Customers who pre-order either <em>Halo 5</em> bundle will receive the Projection SMG with Long Barrel, a compact,&nbsp;fully automatic two-handed weapon. This gun is typically used by the UNSC and will become yours within two days after the completed shipment. Amazon lists the release date as October 27, 2015.</p> Lian Li's Two New Desk Cases Are Taller, More Durable Li is offering two new desk cases at the end of the monthThu, 18 Jun 2015 23:15:50 +0000 LiNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dk Q2 00"></p><h3>Two new desk-style cases</h3><p>Having a desktop is great, but wouldn’t a computer crammed into a desk be even better? That’s where Lian Li comes in, as the company has added two new desk-based solutions to its chassis portfolio: the <a href="">DK-03</a>, which supports two systems, and <a href="">the DK-Q2</a>, which supports only one. Both will be made available later this month at Microcenter.</p><p> According to Lian Li, both desks include motherboard trays that can be removed, allowing the system builder to manage the cable layout more easily, which in turn promotes better airflow through the main body of the desk. This feature should come in handy in the DK-03, which allows for two motherboards: one SP-ATX board on the primary side and one mini-ITX mainboard on the other side.</p><p> Lian Li said on Thursday&nbsp;that, based on feedback, the desks now offer more legroom than previous models, as the company has added 30mm to their overall height. Not only are the legs taller and adjustable, but they’re stronger too, holding up a thinner body so that system builders don’t feel so cramped when using their desk-based PC.</p><p> For those who want a sporty look despite the desk-based form factor, customers can change the lighting by opting for an RGB lighting kit that comes packed with a dimmer, a controller that’s mounted on the front, LED strips, and a cord clip. However, both desks have a default base color of black and are made of tempered glass (desktop surface) and aluminum (body and legs). You’ll need to apply your own coat of paint if you’re looking for something a bit more flashy.</p><p> As for what can be crammed inside these desks, Lian Li indicated that they can accommodate graphics cards up to 44cm long and CPU coolers up to 90mm tall. On the hard drive front, the larger DK-03 can house ten 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives. The smaller DK-Q2 provides enough space for eight 2.5-inch drives or seven 3.5-inch drives.</p><p> The specifications show that both desks include four 120mm fans on the left and four 120mm fans on the right. These tables also support water cooling, as they feature a designated spot for radiators up to 480mm. The smaller table can accommodate one; the larger table has enough space for two.</p><p> The specs also show that both models include ports for HD audio and USB 3.0. More specifically, the smaller DK-Q2 provides four USB 3.0 ports and an HD audio port whereas the larger DK-03 provides four USB 3.0 ports on side one and two USB 3.0 ports on side two. Both sides have an HD audio port.</p><p> As for pricing, the Lian Li computer tables don’t come cheap. The DK-Q2 has a price tag of $990 and the bigger DK-03 table has a price tag of $1,490. As previously stated, both models will be offered on Microcenter toward the end of June.</p> AMD Internal Fury X Benchmarks Revealed of AMD's Fury X fromAMD’s NDA documents were leaked early; here’s what they showThu, 18 Jun 2015 21:56:55 +0000 FuryFeaturesFijileaked slides <h3><strong style="background-color: initial;">Fury X&nbsp;Performance Revealed</strong></h3><p> <a href="">AMD’s launch of the 300 series</a> and Fury X were supposed to have been a carefully orchestrated release of materials at specific times during the past week and going into next. The Fury X and various other cards are currently on display at E3, and AMD has held several conferences this week giving us pieces of information. Officially, we were supposed to only talk about what was shown at the press conferences, and today is the retail&nbsp;launch of the 300 series. You can read our&nbsp;<a href="">coverage of the 300 series</a>, as well as&nbsp;<a href="">our review of the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X</a>, but one thing we weren’t supposed to discuss until next week was Fury X performance. Except there was a misunderstanding and&nbsp;the Fury X&nbsp;information got posted on the web a week early, so now it has been declared fair game for everyone.</p><p> Here’s the thing: internal benchmarks, whether they come from AMD, Intel, Nvidia, or some other company, are never 100 percent trustworthy. They come from a biased source. Which is why most sources will say to “take this with a grain of salt.” By tweaking settings and resolutions, performance can be made to favor a certain product more than it might at different settings. As long as we all understand that, posting the information is fine, but until everyone&nbsp;can publish their own independent benchmarks&mdash;which still won’t happen until June 24 for the Fury X&mdash;it’s too early to draw any final conclusions. We're not saying AMD has done anything fishy, and according to our preliminary numbers, we think AMD has some accurate numbers, but we'll post our own benchmarks soon to verify.</p><p> Let’s use an example that we can talk about to clarify. Here’s a chart showing our testing results of the R9 390X against the GTX 980, and next to it is AMD’s own chart showing a similar comparison:</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="AMD 390X Internal vs External Benchmarks"></p><p> Many of our results match up, like Batman: Arkham Origins and Shadow of Mordor. But we happened to run four games/tests that AMD doesn’t include for this particular comparison, and of those, three (GTAV, Tomb Raider, and Unigine Heaven) happened to favor Nvidia.&nbsp;We also had different results with The Witcher 3, because we enabled HairWorks and ran at the Ultra preset. Coincidence? We think not. And we’ve encountered similar behavior from Nvidia, so we’re not trying to make AMD out as the bad guys. This is simply Marketing 101, and it’s why we say, “take internal benchmarks with a grain of salt.”</p><h5><strong>Details&nbsp;and Statistics</strong></h5><p> With that introduction out of the way, then, here are the AMD&nbsp;Fury X vs.&nbsp;<a href="">GTX 980 Ti performance</a> comparisons in all their glory. We’re going for full disclosure here, with all the extra information that sometimes gets left out. No, we didn’t run these benchmarks, and we’re not going to pretend we did. The test system, if you’re wondering, is&nbsp;<a href="">an i7-5960X running stock clocks</a>, which means there’s also a potential for the CPU to be a bottleneck in some cases&mdash;it’s why our GPU test bed is overclocked to 4.2GHz.</p><p> The following are taken from the reviewer's guide that accompanies the Fury X:</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Fury X Benchmarks"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Fury X Benchmarks 2"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Fury X Benchmarks 3"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Fury X Benchmarks 4k"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Fury X Benchmarks 4k 2"></p><p> And what we see is that the Fury X wins in every single benchmark that AMD ran&mdash;at least at the selected settings and in the selected games. Notice how the 390X was compared to the GTX 980 in Alien Isolation, Battlefield Hardline, Civilization Beyond Earth, Project Cars, and Skyrim, but in the Fury X vs. 980 Ti they’re missing. In their place we have a few other titles, however: Assassin’s Creed Unity, Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, and Hitman Absolution. That doesn’t mean Nvidia would have performed better&nbsp;in every missing game&mdash;e.g., we know Hitman Absolution at least clearly favors the 390X over the 980&mdash;but the decisions on what to include and exclude aren’t simply made at random.</p><p> But there’s only so much you can do with customized settings to “improve” performance, so taken at a higher level, one thing is certain: even at 4K, where the 4GB HBM compared to 6GB GDDR5 might present some issues, AMD’s Fury X is quite competitive with the 980 Ti. There will undoubtedly be times where it’s slower, and there will also be times where it’s faster. The two cards cost the same, so that’s to be expected&mdash;if the Fury X were significantly faster than the 980 Ti, no doubt it would carry a price premium. The naming also suggest that perhaps AMD was hoping to go up&nbsp;<a href="">against the Titan X</a> rather than the 980 Ti, and Nvidia spoiled their fun by shipping 980 Ti a couple of weeks ago. C’est la vie! However, you can compare numbers with&nbsp;<a href="">our original Titan X review</a> and see that Titan X is only slightly faster than 980 Ti.</p><h5>Tying it up with a bow</h5><p> There are still other questions to consider, of course. Even if performance is basically tied, or even favors the Fury X by a small amount, do you want a graphics card with a closed-loop cooling solution? It can work wonders for cooling with one GPU, but if you wanted to run 2-way or 3-way CrossFireX, you need a case that can actually handle all of the CLCs. The Fury X also has a slightly higher TDP, though 250W vs. 275W isn’t nearly as problematic as the 390X's 275W vs. the 980’s 165W. And even though we aren’t seeing any major issues in the AMD-provided benchmarks with 4GB HBM vs. 6GB GDDR5, the omission of GTAV (which can use nearly 6GB at 4K with all setting maxed) suggests lack of memory can still be a problem at times. Not that you need to max out every setting in every game, of course.</p><p> The takeaway right now is that, generally speaking, we expect the Fury X to match up well against the 980 Ti. AMD has said that Fury X will be the fastest single-GPU card when it comes out, which indicates the company is aiming to beat even&nbsp;Titan X. But since 980 Ti has 98–99 percent of the performance of Titan X in most cases, beating one effectively means beating the other as well.</p><p> We’ll have fully independent results next week, at which time we can finally declare a winner&mdash;or a tie. Until then, happy gaming, on whatever hardware you currently happen to run.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Asus GeForce GTX 970, LG 24X DVD Burner, and More!'s a great time to be a gamer. Steam's summer sale is going on, Microsoft is getting back into the fray with Windows 10, and there are lots of fun titles in the pipeline. If the only thing holding you back from enjoying all the gaming goodness out there is a slow graphics card, then check out today's top deal.Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:48:39 +0000 dealsNeweggNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus GTX 970"></p><p><strong>Top Deals:</strong></p><p>It's a great time to be a gamer. <a href="">Steam's summer sale</a> is going on, Microsoft is getting <a href="">back into the fray</a> with Windows 10, and there are lots of fun titles in the pipeline. If the only thing holding you back from enjoying all the gaming goodness out there is a slow graphics card, then check out today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GPU-N82E16814121899-_-0618&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus GeForce GTX 970 4GB</a> for <strong>$321</strong> with free shipping (normally $330 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKT79</strong>]). This card using a custom cooling solution, is fast, and comes with Batman: Arkham Knight.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-0TH-0036-000B3-_-0618&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphones-Black</a> for <strong>$70</strong> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKT65</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824025007-_-0618&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">LG 31MU97-B Black 31-inch 5ms WQHD 4K Widescreen IPS Monitor IPS w/ Built-in Speakers</a> for $1100 with free shipping (normally $1200 - use coupon code: [EMCATKT38])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-EXT-HDD-N82E16822152425-_-0618&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Samsung D3 Station 5TB USB 3.0 3.5-inch Desktop External Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$120</strong> with free shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKT35</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16827136276-_-0618&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">LG Internal 24x Super Multi with M-DISC Support DVD Burner</a> for <strong>$13</strong> with free shipping (normally $20 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCATKT29</strong>])</p> E3: Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda Talks HoloLens, PC Gaming, and More [Video] one of Microsoft's more interesting minds.Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:14:09 +0000 <h3>Having fun with holograms</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Kudo Tsunoda"></p><p> When you get a chance to sit down with someone like Kudo Tsunoda, you jump at the opportunity. Many know him as the man behind Microsoft's Kinect motion-control sensor. He's the corporate president of Microsoft and is now overseeing multiple Xbox teams. Tsunoda is also in charge of developing <a href="">HoloLens</a>, a mixed-reality or augmented-reality platform that fills real-world environments with virtual objects.</p><p> Microsoft is keeping a lot of the underlying technology in HoloLens under wraps at the moment, though Tsunoda did tell us that one of the parts is a custom piece of silicon called the Holographic Processing Unit. Obviously there are multiple sensors involved too, but the overall spec sheet isn't something Microsoft is ready to reveal&mdash;we doubt the parts have been finalized yet anyway.</p><p> Though Microsoft has been focused on its Xbox consoles for the past several years, the company is getting back into PC gaming with Windows 10. Not that Microsoft ever completely left, but few would dispute that PC gaming hasn't exactly been a top priority of Microsoft's as of late.</p><p> Part of the reason Microsoft is making a bigger effort to cater to PC gaming is so that Xbox gamers can play with their PC gaming buddies. For example, Fable Legends features cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One gamers. This mindset, if fully embraced by developers, bridges the gap between PC and console gamers and creates one large community of gamers.</p><p> Tsunoda also talked about its partnerships with Oculus and Valve. Check out what he had to say about both:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"> </iframe> E3: Probing Alienware's Steam Machine and Steam Controller [Video] plans to invade the living room with official Steam Machine systemsThu, 18 Jun 2015 18:41:25 +0000 controllersteam machine <h3>Invading the living room</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Alienware Steam Machine"></p><p>Valve finally finished tweaking its Steam Controller and certifying is Steam OS, and as a result, official Steam Machines went up for <a href="">pre-order two weeks ago</a>. Dell, an OEM that's been collaborating with Valve for years, was one of the first to offer a Steam Machine under its acquired Alienware brand, and we got a chance to see one of these systems up close at E3.</p><p>Alienware's take on the Steam Machine starts at $450. The base model is configured with an Intel Core i3 4130T dual-core desktop CPU, 4GB of DDR3 memory, an unspecified Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU that's on the level of a GTX 860M, and a 500GB hard drive (7200 RPM). Alienware told us it opted for a 7200 RPM drive because the 5400 RPM models it shipped in the Alienware Alpha didn't meet the expectations of its customers.</p><p>As an official Steam Machine, there's no version of Windows included here, just Valve's Linux-based Steam OS. Alienware said it will continue to offer its <a href="">Alpha line</a> for those who prefer to roll with Windows.</p><p>For $100 more, you can double the storage and memory to 1TB and&nbsp;8GB, respectively. At the $650 price point, Alienware trades the CPU for a Core i5 4590T quad-core chip, while the $750 model jumps up to a Core i7 4765T quad-core CPU. All four models come with a Steam Controller.</p><p>Unfortunately there are no SSD options, though all the parts are upgradeable, meaning you could swap out the HDD for an SSD on your own.</p><p>Have a look:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe> E3 Hands-On: Logitech G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel's new wheel turns your PC into a driving machine. We got to play with it.Thu, 18 Jun 2015 18:09:37 +0000 HardwarelogitechNewsPeripherals <h3>Feel the pavement beneath your wheels</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="G920 wheel"></p><p>Last week, Logitech announced the launch of a pair of racing wheels: the G920 and G29. At E3, we got our grubby paws on the G920 and took it for a spin.</p><p>The first thing to know about the racing wheels is that they are pretty much identical, save for input buttons on the face of the wheel. Both have dual-motor force feedback, paddle shifters, leather grip, and responsive floor pedals. The G920 has XBox One buttons on its face, while the G29 has buttons for PS4. Both wheel units can be used on PC, so you can take your pick of button preference. Logitech also has an optional six-speed manual stick shifter.</p><p>When we got a demonstration of the G920, our unit was hooked up to an XBox One, but we were assured that everything would work identically on a PC. The wheel felt natural, but the way the rig was configured caused a problem: Logitech had the driving rig set up in a way that put a vertical metal bar between crotch and brake pedal, making it nearly impossible for a 6-foot 1-inch editor to slow his car quickly. This made for an interesting driving experience, to say the least.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="G920 pedals"></p><p>The lack of braking access did show off how the wheel reacted when the car had power and traction, lost traction, and when it hit a wall. Repeatedly. When coming into a turn, we felt how the car would carve into the road before our excess speed caused us to lose traction and send us into a skid.</p><p>The floor pedals come with the full set of clutch, brake and accelerator, and react pretty well. There is a definite disconnect between the real-world seat-of-your-pants feeling of acceleration and simply seeing it on screen. That disconnect led us to accelerate much faster than would be sane or traffic laws would advise.</p><p>The unit we tried also included the stick shift, which we opted to use instead of the wheel paddles. Despite our claims that we knew how to drive stick, a Logtiech engineer set the game to use "auto clutch" for us, so we wouldn't futz with stalling the car and trying to find the control to restart it in-game (which would take away from the limited time we had).</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Logitech Shifter"></p><p>The shifter has a relatively short throw distance, and we treated it gently so we wouldn't damage the show floor model Logitech had on display. When we get a review unit in our office, we'll definitely put the shifter through its paces.</p><p>The PS4 and Xbox One versions of the wheel will both be available for $400, and come with the floor pedals. The Driving Force Shifter is sold separately for $60.</p> E3: I Got to Try the Consumer Version of Oculus Rift into an outer body experience with Edge of NowhereThu, 18 Jun 2015 18:00:35 +0000 versionfeatureFeaturesimpressionsoculusoculus riftPreview <h3>Jumping into an out-of-body experience with Edge of Nowhere</h3><p> Some people said it would never come out. Said people called it vaporware. But I have seen it with my own eyes. Today, I got to try the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.</p><p> The head-mounted display will officially release in Q1 of 2016, with the recently revealed Oculus Touch controller following sometime within the first half of the year. I only got to play one demo today via a game called Edge of Nowhere (more on that experience later), and unfortunately that demo uses an Xbox One controller. I should be getting some hands-on time with the wireless motion controller later in the week, so please stay tuned for that write-up.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04888"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>This is my O face.</strong></p><p> What were my impressions of the actual head-mounted display then? It was great. As previously announced, the resolution runs 2160x1200 split across two displays. Like the Crescent Bay prototype before it, the "screendoor" effect is largely a non-issue. Can you still see the pixels? Yes, if you try. There's going to be plenty of room for improvement here over the years (I want an 8K-by-8K solution, personally), but for consumer version 1 (CV1), it's certainly good enough, and the pixels tend to disappear the deeper you dive into experiences.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04885"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>The consumer version of the Oculus Rift sitting next to its new sensor.</strong></p><p> In terms of field of view, without any official measurements, I would say it's 110 degrees, give or take 10 degrees or so. Do I wish it had a wider field of view? Of course, but it's good enough for CV1. I also made sure to use my pupils to peer at things off-center of the screen and saw no issues with the visuals on the outskirts of the optics.</p><p> Because everyone has different distances between their pupils, one new feature that CV1 introduces is an interpupillary distance (IPD) adjuster. Unfortunately, on the version that I used, the IPD adjuster was sealed off, and I couldn't adjust it. Luckily for me, the default distance worked fine for my eyes.</p><p> One annoying issue with past Oculus prototypes is a negative effect called chromatic aberration. This is the effect where you see a faint unintended rainbow of light on the optics. If you've ever rubbed your oily fingers over a glossy monitor, you might get the idea. While we saw some hints of it when the main character in our third-person platformer was carrying a torch, it looks improved upon when compared to Crescent Bay, though I’ll need more hands-on time with it to fully test.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04881"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>Through the looking glass.</strong></p><p> Latency was also a non-issue. With CV1 using a 90Hz refresh rate, I tried moving my head side to side and up and down as fast as I could without breaking my neck, and saw no blurring and felt no motion sickness. This is coming from someone who could get pretty sick with the development kit 2 headset.</p><p> As much as Oculus has tried to solve the nausea issues people have been having with VR up until now, Oculus has also spent a lot of time trying to perfect the ergonomics of the headset. In my opinion, it was time well spent, as CV1 feels light, balanced, and comfortable to wear. I've got a fairly small head (and a super small brain, from what I've been told), but I was able to strap my noggin in tight. There are three straps in total: two along the sides and one straight down the top of your head. Once I got it in place, it fit snugly and I encountered no wobbling issues.</p><p>Could you play with it for hours on end? Considering I only got to play with it for about 15 minutes or so, it's hard to say, but it's the most comfortable VR headset I've worn thus far. Oculus says there will be different facial templates you can swap out on the headset, because everyone's face is shaped differently. The version that I tried had plenty of room for people with large nose bridges. Considering I don't have a large nose bridge, there was a bigger gap then I would have liked and this inadvertently let in some unwanted light. It wasn't a deal-breaker by any means, but was more noticeable for me over development kit 2.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04890"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>This is the new tracking sensor.</strong></p><p> Another tweak that CV1 offers over the previous developer kit is that it does away with the external tracking camera in favor of a tracking sensor. The sensor is basically a little stick on a stand that just sits atop a table. When we asked the rep in the room how far the sensor would extend to, he mentioned that it was roughly 10–12 feet. It is worth mentioning that the rep was a hired hand for the event, and not an Oculus employee, so we should probably take his word with a grain of salt.</p><p> Regardless, this 10–12 foot guestimation also coincides with the length of the headset cable I saw, although I don't know if that will be indicative of the final length of the shipping units. In terms of tracking, it was definitely a step up from the DK2's tracking camera. I tried blocking the sensor by waving my hands, I tried turning my body a full 360 degrees, and not once did I see any weird clipping issues, which is something that is typically seen with DK2. It does help that there are tracking sensors on the back of the headset. If someone stands in between you and the sensor, however, or you move off center too far, tracking comes to a halt.</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"> </iframe><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>Edge of Nowhere trailer.</strong></p><p> With the technical aspects out of the way, I was able to choose among nine different titles to play in my short session. I chose Edge of Nowhere because Oculus VP of Product Nate Mitchell told me it was amazing at the recent Step Into the Rift press event. And yea, I’d have to agree. Developed by Insomniac Games, the guys responsible for the Ratchet and Clank games, the game plays a lot like Uncharted or Tomb Raider in that it’s a third-person adventure/platforming game. It veers away from the aforementioned titles by incorporating some sci-fi/horror elements, however. Some small spoilers follow, so skip to the end if you don't want to hear about the actual demo contents.</p><h5>Stepping over the edge</h5><p>The demo starts off with your character atop a snow-capped mountain environment. Off in the distance you see a giant monster/alien-looking creature roaming around the frozen tundra. You can look all around your character to check out the environment in 360 degrees and it feels like you are there watching over your protagonist. You eventually jump inside a cave and climb down a deep, dark hole with a rope to allow you to slide down. It really feels like you have a bat’s-eye view (well, if bats could actually see with their eyes) of this ice climber sliding down this deep dark cave here.</p><p>Eventually, you find some flat footing, and in the darkness some monsters start jumping out toward you. I literally jumped out of my seat for a second (mostly because I’m a wimp) and proceeded to run and platform the hell away from them. Later, you see an outside opening in the cave, and the giant monster from the beginning of the demo peers inside at you. It’s a little unnerving. Finally, the monster walks off and the demo ends. I’m generally not into horror games, but I’m looking forward to playing this game, and it’s nice to see a AAA game made exclusively for VR.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Dsc04892"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>CV1 features a pretty interesting fabric texture wrapping the shell of the HMD.</strong></p><p> With the game being in third-person, it sort of feels like an out-of-body experience, one that allows you to watch your virtual character go through this seemingly real journey. And in case you were wondering, you can’t really lean down toward your character. The camera kind of defaults to a certain distance. You are able to look wherever you’d like, however. In addition, the integrated headset still sounds great and the positional audio is amazing.</p><p> All in all, it was a great experience, and Q1 2016 can’t come soon enough for me.</p> E3: Microsoft Details Its Modular $150 Xbox One Elite Controller [Video] comes at a priceThu, 18 Jun 2015 16:27:31 +0000 one <h3>This is what a $150 controller looks like</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Xbox One Elite Controller"></p><p> Microsoft made the most out of E3 with several different announcements, one of which included the unveiling of a $150 game controller for the Xbox One. Apologies if you just spat your morning coffee all over your monitor and keyboard. What makes a controller worth $150?</p><p> That's what we wanted to find out, so we headed to Microsoft's booth for a closer examination. The Xbox One Elite controller's main characteristic is that it's modular; it comes with several different buttons that attach magnetically, including two versions of the D-Pad. One is a traditional four-way D-Pad button in the shape of a plus sign, while the other is a flatter design more suited for eight-way operation.</p><p> According to Microsoft, the alternative D-Pad is great for games like Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. The company won't claim it will make you better at either game, but it says that the new D-Pad is definitely one that gamers like, based on feedback it's received.</p><p> As for the thumbsticks, you can choose between concave or convex imprints, plus taller or shorter thumbsticks. Depending on how you grip the controller, you may find that one is more comfortable than the other.</p><p> The controller features 18 digital inputs&mdash;14 traditional ones found on the regular Xbox One controller, plus four additional paddles on the back. You'll be able to map these however you want, then save your custom profile in the controller itself for zero lag (since the custom button assignments don't need to be re-translated on the console). It will support up to 255 profiles.</p><p> Check it out and let us know if you think the Xbox One Elite controller is worth the asking price:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"> </iframe> E3: Getting Up Close with Razer's Wireless Mamba Mouse [Video] is Razer's new flagship rodent for gamersThu, 18 Jun 2015 16:06:18 +0000 <h3>A mouse for ultra high resolution displays</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Razer Mamba"></p><p> Razer got our attention the other day when it <a href="">announced</a> its new and rebooted Mamba mouse for gamers. This flagship rodent has a brand-new 5G laser sensor capable of tracking up to 16,000 DPI, and even more interesting is the ability to adjust the tracking in 1 DPI increments rather than the more standard 50 DPI. We knew we had to check it out, and that's exactly what we did at E3.</p><p> One of the things Razer was quick to point out in person is that the Mamba is laced with seven customizable LEDs on each side.&nbsp;This allowed Razer to add a wave effect to the Mamba, marking the first time Razer's done that on a mouse. And since the LEDs are customizable, you can create your own effects, too.</p><p> The LEDs aren't just there for the bling factor&mdash;you can configure the mouse to light up in a certain way when the battery is low. When that happens, you can plug it into your PC via USB so you can continue using it while the battery charges.</p><p> We mentioned before that the Mamba has an adjustable click system. To make adjustments, you take the screwdriver that's included with the Mamba and turn a pair of dials on the belly of the mouse, one for each main button. Turning left decreases the click force, and turning right increases it.</p><p> Check out our video interview for more information, including a look at the fancy hardware that Razer tests its mouse with:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"> </iframe> AMD Officially Launches the Radeon 300 Series’s official: AMD’s 300 Series Is now fully locked and loaded and ready to play. If you'rewondering what the new GPUs have to offer, get ready for a sense of deja vu.Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:00:00 +0000 radeon 300feature <h5>No More Rumors: the Official Radeon 300 Series Specs Are Here</h5><p> AMD has been leaking information on their “currently under NDA” 300 series graphics cards like a sieve. Never mind the press conference held earlier this week or demonstrations of their new GPUs at E3; it’s been a well-known fact for months now that the 300 series will be rebranded versions of existing GPUs, with some minor clock speed increases to help improve things in some cases. We’re not fans of renaming hardware and sending it out for another spin on the GPU merry-go-round, but both AMD and Nvidia have done it enough that we’re used to it by now. The fact that the major fabrication partner for high performance GPUs, TSMC, has been stuck at 28nm for three years certainly hasn’t helped matters, but regardless, we now have five “new” Radeon graphics card options in AMD’s 300 series. Let’s start with the specs table:</p> <div> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="6"> <strong>AMD 300 Series Specifications</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Card</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R9 390X</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R9 390</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R9 380</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R7 370</strong> </td> <td> <strong>R7 360</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>GPU</strong> </td> <td> Hawaii <br> (Grenada) </td> <td> Hawaii <br> (Grenada) </td> <td> Tonga <br> (Antigua) </td> <td> Pitcairn <br> (Trinidad) </td> <td> Bonaire <br> (Tobago) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>GCN Version</strong> </td> <td> 1.1 </td> <td> 1.1 </td> <td> 1.2 </td> <td> 1.0 </td> <td> 1.1 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Lithography</strong> </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> <td> 28nm </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Transistor Count (Billions)</strong> </td> <td> 6.2 </td> <td> 6.2 </td> <td> 5 </td> <td> 2.8 </td> <td> 2.1 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Die Size (mm2)</strong> </td> <td> 438 </td> <td> 438 </td> <td> 359 </td> <td> 212 </td> <td> 160 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Compute Units</strong> </td> <td> 44 </td> <td> 40 </td> <td> 28 </td> <td> 16 </td> <td> 12 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Shaders</strong> </td> <td> 2816 </td> <td> 2560 </td> <td> 1792 </td> <td> 1024 </td> <td> 768 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Texture Units</strong> </td> <td> 176 </td> <td> 160 </td> <td> 112 </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 48 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>ROPs</strong> </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 64 </td> <td> 32 </td> <td> 32 </td> <td> 16 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Core Clock (MHz)</strong> </td> <td> 1050 </td> <td> 1000 </td> <td> 970 </td> <td> 975 </td> <td> 1050 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Capacity</strong> </td> <td> 8GB </td> <td> 8GB </td> <td> 2GB/4GB </td> <td> 2GB/4GB </td> <td> 2GB </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Clock (MHz)</strong> </td> <td> 1500 </td> <td> 1500 </td> <td> 1425 </td> <td> 1400 </td> <td> 1625 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Bus Width (bits)</strong> </td> <td> 512 </td> <td> 512 </td> <td> 256 </td> <td> 256 </td> <td> 128 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)</strong> </td> <td> 384 </td> <td> 384 </td> <td> 182.4 </td> <td> 179.2 </td> <td> 104 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>TDP (Watts)</strong> </td> <td> 275 </td> <td> 275 </td> <td> 190 </td> <td> 110 </td> <td> 100 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>Price</strong> </td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565674&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$429</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565504&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$329</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565502&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$199</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565503&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$149</a><br></td> <td><a href=";N=100007709%20600565501&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">$109</a><br></td> </tr> </tbody> </table></div><p> One of the interesting aspects of the 300 series is that AMD actually has new code names for the graphics cards, i.e., Hawaii is now Grenada. But don’t let that codename fool you; just like Curacao was the same core hardware as Pitcairn last year, we’re still looking at GPUs that have already seen the light of day. There might have been a respin of the die to tweak a few minor details, but fundamentally, performance at the same clocks shouldn’t change. While that might be disappointing for the high-performance enthusiasts, rest assured that AMD has also given plenty of information on their upcoming Fury X graphics card that will launch next week. Basically, the 300 series launch is the calm before the storm.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon 390x Gpu Z"></p><p> There are a few items worth calling out, even with these recycled GPUs. For one, the R9 390X and R9 390 are only shipping in 8GB configurations. That’s good for those times when you’re pushing so many textures at such a high resolution that 4GB VRAM proves insufficient, but AMD already quietly launched an 8GB R9 290X last year. Perhaps even stranger, the 390X MSRP is currently $50 higher than the least expensive 8GB 290X, though once supplies dry up that may change&mdash;or the street prices on 390/390X may end up lower than the MSRP. The other item worth noting is that both the 390X and the 390 are now sporting official TDPs of 275W&mdash;25W higher than previously. As far as clock speeds go, nearly all of the 300 series GPUs are seeing a 50MHz increase to core clocks speeds (give or take a few MHz), and that’s about it. The one major exception is that the R9 390X/390 now clock the GDDR5 at 1,500MHz (effectively 6,000MHz), a rather impressive 20 percent increase over the stock 1,250MHz clock of the 290X/290.</p><p> Moving down to the R7 series, the 370 now holds the distinction of being the oldest GPU core in AMD’s lineup, with the Trinidad/Pitcairn core dating all the way back to March 2012 with the HD 7850&mdash;and strangely, we’re missing the full 1,280-core version, so we might even see a 370X in the future. These are all basically baby steps, and while there will be 2GB and 4GB models of the 370, this time we’re not as worried about having additional VRAM&mdash;the GPU isn’t going to be fast enough to benefit from having 4GB in most games. Then there’s the R7 360, which uses the Bonaire core that’s only two years old.</p><p> If you’re wondering, the main advantage of GCN 1.1 is that it added TrueAudio and an improved version of AMD’s PowerTune technology. The bigger jump came with GCN 1.2, which made some architectural tweaks and improved efficiency, including lossless delta color compression, improved tessellation, a higher quality video scaler, and a new multimedia engine. To date, GCN 1.2 is only found in the Tonga GPUs, but the Fury X will likely use the same features. Finally, it’s worth noting that the R9 300 cards all support bridgeless CrossFireX now, routing data over the PCIe bus via AMD’s XDMA instead of using a bridge connector;however, the two R7 GPUs still use a bridge connector.</p><p> AMD didn’t sample any GPUs to the press for this launch, leaving it up to their board partners. We were able to get&nbsp;<a href="">the&nbsp;Sapphire Tri-X&nbsp;R9 390X</a>, but since it’s not a stock configuration, we’re covering that in a separate review. The takeaway here is that the 300 series refresh is mostly about making the model numbers look new and current. Yes, performance is going to be a bit higher, and the added memory will certainly prove beneficial on certain models, but the Fury X is what everyone really wants to see. And for that, we have to wait another week.</p><p><em>Follow Jarred on&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em>Twitter</em></a>.</p><p><a href=""></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="R9 390 BlackReflective 4c 10inch"><br> <em>Radeon R9 390X Reference Card</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="R9 380 BlackReflective 4c 10inch"><br> <em>Radeon R9 380 Reference Card</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="R7 370 BlackReflective 4c 10inch"><br> Radeon R7 370 Reference Card</p> Sapphire Tri-X AMD R9 390X Review's more powerful and a regular R9 390X? Sapphire's Tri-xR9 390X comeswith three fans and two, yes, TWO, 8-pin PCIe power connectors. For overclocking, naturally.Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:58:22 +0000 r9 390xReviewssapphire <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">At a Glance</h5><p><strong>(+) Muscle Cars<br><br></strong>Lots of memory; high performance; good price;&nbsp;reasonably quiet.<br><br><strong style="background-color: initial;">(-) Muscle Heads<br><br></strong>Power hungry; weak factory overclock; requires a big case.</p></div><h3>That's a Lot of Power</h3><p>Sometimes you have to admire the power cars of the world. Forget being environmentally friendly and efficient: we want all the power you can give us and we want it now! That’s apparently the thinking behind Sapphire’s latest graphics card, as it takes&nbsp;<a href="">AMD’s new Radeon HD&nbsp;R9 390X</a>&mdash;which is really just a rebranded version of the R9 290X but with 8GB GDDR5 memory&mdash;and gives you three fans to keep the power-hungry GPU cool. Sapphire is clearly intending users to overclock the card as well, as it includes two 8-pin PCIe power connections; combined with the x16 motherboard slot, the card has access to a staggering 375W of power. Without some form of exotic cooling, however, the GPU will top out long before it uses its full capacity.</p><p>AMD’s suggested pricing on the new R9 390X is $429, and with the Tri-X cooling you’d expect to pay a slight premium, but that's not actually the case. The&nbsp;<a href=";cm_re=Tri-X_390X-_-14-202-147-_-Product">Tri-X 390X is listed at $429 on Newegg</a>, which is Sapphire's recommended price. It's difficult to say&nbsp;where prices will actually settle this soon after launch, and we've already seen 290X 8GB cards for quite a bit less, including&nbsp;<a href="">Sapphire's own Tri-X 290X 8GB</a>. At least you’re not paying for the factory overclock, though&nbsp;Sapphire only bumped speeds by 5MHz over the standard 1050MHz clock. Why even bother at that point?</p><p>The good news is&nbsp;we were able to goose things and managed a stable 10 percent (105MHz) core overclock. The memory is already running 20 percent faster than the 290X, so for most games there’s no need to push the GDDR5 any farther, but we were able to run stable at 1,600MHz. The results from the overclock are a consistent 5–10 percent improvement to performance, but power draw under load increases by more than 10 percent.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Radeon 390x Gpu Z"></p><p>This is our first chance to take the new R9 390X out for a spin, so we’re going to be pitting the Sapphire Tri-X against some of the other top-performing GPUs, including the new GTX 980 Ti along with the GTX 980, GTX 970, and R9 290X; we’ll even toss in an old GTX 770 for those wondering how the previous generation of hardware fares. AMD’s goal is clearly to take on the GTX 980, and with the increased clock speeds they’re able to go toe to toe with Nvidia. Who wins depends as much on the game of choice and settings as much as anything, with the Tri-X winning in several titles but trailing in others.</p><p> The usual suspects favor AMD and Nvidia cards, with the notable exception of Batman: Arkham Origins. Previously an Nvidia-ruled title, the latest drivers and hardware from AMD give the 390X an edge over the 980. The 390X also holds onto a moderate lead in Hitman: Absolution, with a smaller lead in Shadow of Mordor. The GTX 980 wins the rest of the match-ups, with Unigine Heaven, The Witcher 3, and GTAV all favoring Nvidia by 10 percent or more, depending on the resolution.</p><p> Of course, we’re running at standardized maxed out (or nearly so) settings, and it’s possible to tune each game to run substantially faster without sacrificing too much in the way of image quality&mdash;turning off HairWorks in The Witcher 3, for example, can provide a serious boost to frame rates. On average, however, Nvidia’s GTX 980 maintains a lead at 1080p and 1440p settings, but the 390X claims a victory at 4K, in part&nbsp;thanks to the 8GB memory, but mostly thanks to the 30 percent lead in Hitman; remove that game from the list and the 980 holds onto a small lead.</p><p> The GTX 980 Ti wins in all the races, but at $220 more than the 390X it's understandably not in reach of many gamers. In terms of bang for the buck, the GTX 970 and R9 390 are the best values.</p><h5><strong>Lost in the woods</strong></h5><p> The big problem here is that focusing purely on performance is missing the forest for the trees. Yes, AMD’s 18 month old design can still compete with Nvidia’s newer GTX 980, but even after overclocking, the GTX 980 is still going to use far less&nbsp;power than&nbsp;the stock R9 390X. And just to be clear, the GTX 980 can typically hit 15–20 percent overclocks, which puts it firmly ahead of the R9 390X.</p><p> As for the Tri-X,&nbsp;Sapphire’s inclusion of two 8-pin connectors is probably more than is strictly necessary, and we only managed&nbsp;120/100MHz overclocks. Even with only a moderate overclock,&nbsp;we had to boost the fan speeds to keep the card stable, which made the Tri-X&nbsp;pretty&nbsp;loud. It behaves a lot better at stock settings, where it’s much&nbsp;quieter than our old R9&nbsp;290X blowers. In other words, while the sheer power of a muscle car can really sound impressive, when it gets beat regularly by a smaller car with better handling it loses some of its glamor.</p><p> Toss in the fact that we know AMD’s Fury X is coming out next week, with promises of the standard Fury and the Fury Nano due later this summer. Even AMD knows R9 390X is a stop-gap solution, as they’re already bragging how the Fury Nano will deliver twice the performance per watt as the R9 290X. So if you haven’t already purchased an R9 290X, this is a tough sell, even with twice the memory.</p><p> From a performance standpoint, at stock speeds, the 390X may be&nbsp;slightly&nbsp;better than the GTX&nbsp;980 for 4K gaming, depending on the games you run,&nbsp;and it costs less as a bonus, but if you’re really serious about 4K gaming you should&nbsp;look at the&nbsp;<a href="">GeForce GTX&nbsp;980 Ti</a>. Yes, it costs 40 percent more, but it also delivers 25 percent better performance, which is pretty impressive scaling at the top of the performance pile. And if you simply don’t want to play for team green, we still recommend waiting to see what the Fury X brings to the table. Meanwhile,&nbsp;those looking for better value continue to be best served by lesser GPUs;&nbsp;the GTX 970 and now the R9 390 deliver 80-90 percent of the 390X's performance&nbsp;for only $330.</p><p> <em>Follow Jarred on <a href="">Twitter</a>.</em></p><p> <em>[Ed&mdash;Some have wondered how it is that a 390X, which is as fast as a 980, "only" earns a score of&nbsp;75. There are several factors at play, including price, efficiency,&nbsp;the age of the core hardware, and the pending launch of&nbsp;</em><a href="">AMD's&nbsp;Fury X</a><em>.&nbsp;<a href="">Sapphire's own Tri-X 290X 8GB</a> is currently available for $50 less, with very nearly the same hardware and performance. The reduced price alone would net a 5–10 point increase in the score. But the real problem is that with Fury X coming next week, plus the air cooled Fury and&nbsp;Fury Nano later this summer, we feel those are the better options and they're worth the wait. The final score reflects all of these facts. On a similar note, a brand new GTX 980 card released today wouldn't score as high as when the card first launched ten months ago; progress marches on, and what was once&nbsp;Kick-Ass hardware eventually becomes good, then average, and then too slow. Imagine if Nvidia released a slightly overclocked GTX 980 today, called it the GTX&nbsp;1080, and charged $50 more, only it was the same hardware as in the current GTX 980. We would give that a 75 as well, not because it's bad but because it's promoted as something new and improved when in reality it's only a minor change to existing hardware.]</em></p>