Maximum PC latest stories, 29 May 2015 20:05:28 +0000yesWindows 10 Vs. Windows 8.1: The Major Differences take a look at what makes Windows 10 different than the current Windows 8.1 platform.Fri, 29 May 2015 20:05:28 +0000 10windows 10 technical previewwindows 8.1 <p> With Windows 10 gearing up for a summer launch, many Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users may be skeptical about the upgrade, despite its zero-dollar price tag. Visions of the Windows 8 rollout are still pretty fresh in our collective mind, and despite the OS's many benefits, that Start screen can still inspire hyperventilation (and possibly hives) in desktop users. Although changes in Windows 8.1 helped ease the pain, Windows 10 aims to be what Microsoft was hoping for with Windows 8: the best version of Windows to date.</p><p> With Windows 10, Microsoft has opened the feedback doors to the average Joe, if said Joe is willing to be a participant in its Insider program. For the user, this should result in Windows 10 being more consumer-friendly. Sure, Microsoft is steering the boat, but Insiders have a significant hand in plotting the course.</p><p>So, what are the major differences between Windows 10 and Windows 8.1? Here are seven:</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Another Cortana 2 Screen"></p><h5><strong>Charms Bar</strong></h5><p>For starters, Microsoft has removed the Charms bar for desktop users. In the process, the Search app has been moved to&nbsp;the taskbar (see Cortana) and the Settings panel is now a Modern UI app. There's no "Devices" app in the new OS, but users can access the "Devices and Printers" section in the Control Panel. The Sharing option is still available, but only through individual apps.</p><p>(As a side note, if you're in Windows 8.1 and don't want the Charms bar popping up, there's a way to disable it. Actually, you're disabling the "hot corners," which brings up the Charms Bar and the Recent Apps bar. Simply right-click the taskbar, choose "Properties," hit the "Navigation" tab, and then uncheck both options in the "Corner Navigation" section. Want them back? Just do the above and check both boxes.)</p><p>For the curious, there's only one hot corner in Windows 10. The upper-left corner seems to have been disabled, but the upper-right corner can still be toggled on and off. You'll also see a reference to the Charms bar in the Navigation tab, but as previously stated, the Charms bar is not active in the desktop version of Windows 10.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Notifications Screen"></p><h5><strong>Notifications</strong></h5><p>This is one of our favorite changes to the Windows platform. While Windows 8.1 does an OK job at providing some notifications-such as a birthday reminder or Facebook message-they're somewhat ephemeral. Windows 10 slides out a notification card at the bottom of the screen; if you miss it, you can still access it by clicking the Notifications icon that sits to the system clock. This displays the Notifications panel that is normally tucked away to the right of the screen.</p><p>For instance, a click of the icon shows us a message from the Settings app regarding a mandatory system restart that take place at midnight. We have other messages, including one from Razer Synapse requesting that we download the software updates. Plus, a friend has a birthday today, and there's an Office document that needs attention before uploading to the cloud.</p><p>As of Windows 10 Build 10074, the Notification panel includes several quick commands, located at the bottom of its window. There's a button for turning on tablet mode, a shortcut to the Settings app, a shortcut to the Bluetooth settings, a button for turning location on or off, a button for locking the rotation, and a shortcut to the VPN portion of the Settings app.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Start Menu Screen"></p><h5><strong>Windows Start Screen</strong></h5><p>For desktop users, this is probably the biggest change to the Windows platform. As of Build 10074, the Start screen is no longer accessible from the desktop. Instead, clicking the Start button presents a very cool Start Menu. This menu is composed of both app listings and Live Tiles. The Tiles themselves have a 3D look, thanks to a rotation animation.</p><p>There are six components to the Start Menu: File Explorer, Documents, Settings, Most Used (Apps), the Power button, and the All Apps button. This latter button will pull up every installed app, whether it's from Windows Store or installed manually by the user. The Live Tile view of the Start Menu can be expanded full-screen, mimicking the Start Screen seen in Windows 8/8.1.</p><p>One of the benefits of having Windows 10 is that the Modern UI apps don't take up the entire screen like they do in Windows 8.1; they can "float" on the desktop. Because of this change, the Recent Apps bar is no longer tucked away on the left in the desktop version. However, users can still expand Modern UI apps to take up the entire screen, just like desktop software and web browsers.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Another Cortana Screen"></p><h5><strong>Cortana</strong></h5><p>Microsoft's popular A.I. software that graces the Windows Phone platform has finally arrived on the desktop. This Search tool, powered by Bing, resides next to the Start Menu button. There's a search box with that words "Ask me anything," with a small button with a microphone graphic on the right. Once Windows 10 is installed, Cortana will access your current location and ask for the your name. After that, Cortana will pull up various (possibly interesting) information, such as the weather, local news, and more. Ask Cortana to check out what's playing at the movies, and the tool will provide you with local listings in a browser window. Ask her to find the answer to "two times two," and she'll bring up a calculator with the answer "4."</p><p>According to Microsoft, Cortana will keep track of the user's calendar, providing reminders for appointments, meetings, birthdays, and so on. The app will also provide suggestions and information deemed important to the user, as Cortana will "get to know" the user over time, making the Windows 10 experience a more personal one.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Settings Screen"></p><h5><strong>Settings</strong></h5><p>In Windows 10, Microsoft pulled the Settings menu from the right side of the screen and created a Modern UI app that can be opened on the desktop. This app is has nine sections: System, Devices, Network &amp; Internet, Personalization, Accounts, Time &amp; Language, Ease of Access, Privacy, and Update &amp; Security. This is different from the Control Panel, which can still be accessed by right-clicking the Start button and choosing Control Panel from the menu.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Virtual Desktops Screen"></p><h5><strong>Virtual Desktops</strong></h5><p>This new feature is ideal for users who need more than one desktop. The button resides next to the Search tool on the taskbar, and when clicked, shows every app open on the current desktop. To add a new desktop, simply click the "+" sign in the bottom right-hand corner. Presumably, users can make as many virtual desktops as they want.</p><p>Virtual Desktops are ideal for users who have more applications and files than can fit on a single screen. For example, perhaps you're working full-screen on a spreadsheet and also need to have Photoshop open. If they're on separate desktops, you just hit the Windows key plus Tab to switch between the two.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Edge Browser Screen"></p><h5><strong>Project Spartan aka Microsoft Edge</strong></h5><p>In Windows 10 Build 10074, this becomes the default browser. Oh, sure, Internet Explorer 11 is still around, but the company insists that users jump on the Internet using Microsoft Edge. Unless, that is, you're surfing older content, which is where Internet Explorer 11 comes in. The Edge browser is quick, sleek, and fun to use.</p><p>One of Edge's cool features allows you to make notes directly on a web page. The toolset includes a pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a clip tool, and a text tool. You can save the markup to the local drive or share it with friends and family. Why is the capability necessary? Web authors may find this extremely helpful when building a site. A friend could highlight a particular item or article on a website that they find interesting, make a note, and send you the marked up page.</p><h5><strong>Is Windows 10 Right For You?</strong></h5><p>There are more changes and differences that could be listed, but these seven stand out the most so far. Hopefully, they'll pique your interest enough to get you thinking about making the upgrade to Windows 10 this summer. The upgrade will be free for the first year for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users, so it would behoove you to get Windows 10 on the early side, before Microsoft stops being so generous with its software.</p> Hola VPN Extension Caught Selling Bandwidth to Botnet popular browser extension is under fire for selling its users' bandwidth with a somewhat misleading disclaimer.Fri, 29 May 2015 19:49:34 +0000 <h3> Adiós, Hola!</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Hola"></p><p>Whoever first said that the best things in life are free forgot to mention that there's often a catch. For users of the super popular Hola VPN extension for browsers, the cost for using the free add-on came in the form of forking over bandwidth and unknowingly being a part of a botnet.</p><p>Let's back up a moment. You may have noticed that VPNs have risen in popularity as of late. There are multiple reasons -- some users want the added privacy that VPNs provide, while others are trying to sidestep regional restrictions for streaming services like Netflix, which is probably the bigger reason why VPNs are on the rise.</p><p>Hola is one of the more popular VPNs (or VPN-like service) with more than 46 million users around the world because it's free, whereas many of the good ones typically charge a fee. It's also easy to use. However, it was recently discovered that there's a cost, and pretty big one at that.</p><p>The service sells users' bandwidth. This ties in with how Hola operates -- instead of routing traffic through dedicated servers, it sends traffic through other users' connections, claiming to only use idle resources in the process (<em><a href="" target="_blank">ExtremeTech cries fou</a></em>l on that claim).</p><p>To be fair, Hola discloses this on its FAQ page:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Hola is free for private (non-commercial) use. The only exception is Hola VPN on iOS which costs $4.99 (monthly) or $44.99 (annual) due to Apple's restrictions. Commercial use of Hola for business class VPN is available through our <a href="">Luminati service</a>. The Hola peer to peer architecture makes Hola free and secure. However, some users may prefer not to contribute their idle resources to the Hola network, and thus can join the <a href="">Hola premium service</a> which lets you use Hola without your idle resources being used in return.<br> </p><p>The bottom line is Luminati sells Hola users' bandwidth for a fee. That's fine, though Hola should be a little more upfront and clear about that. However, the bigger issue is that Hola's screening process apparently needs some work.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to Business Insider</a>, Frederick Brennan (otherwise known as "Hotwheels"), administrator of 8chan, noted a 100x spike over peak traffic. He traced the attack to a user called "Bui" who later told him that he used Hola's Luminati service to create a botnet and carry out the attack.</p><p>There might not be much sympathy for 8chan, a rule-less destination on the web that's been <a href="" target="_blank">known to host some despicable content</a>. But the bigger point is that Hola users unknowingly participated in a botnet.</p><p>We suppose the moral of the story here is to always read the fine print.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: MSI Z97-Gaming 7 Motherboard, AMD Athlon 5350, and More! Theft Auto V. The Witcher 3. Mortal Kombat X. Batman: Arkham Knight. The list of games goes on and on and on and on, especially if you've taken advantage of Steam's many sales. It might not be a matter of when you'll have time to play them all, but when your rig will be up to the task.Fri, 29 May 2015 18:04:33 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MSI Z97-Gaming 7"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Grand Theft Auto V. The Witcher 3. Mortal Kombat X. Batman: Arkham Knight. The list of&nbsp;games goes on and on and on and on, especially if you've taken advantage of Steam's many sales. It might not be a matter of when you'll have time to play them all, but when your rig will be up to the task. If that's the only thing holding you back, then why not build a new PC? You can start by checking out today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MOBO-N82E16813130768-_-0529&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">MSI Z97-Gaming 7 Motherboard</a> for <strong>$150</strong> with $2 shipping (normally $190 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNT55</strong>]; additional $10 mail-in-rebate. It has three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, an M.2 port, and plenty of other features.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-EXT-HDD-N82E16822178587-_-0529&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Seagate Expansion 5TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$120</strong> with free shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW42</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-COOLING-N82E16835103052-_-0529&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">4x Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 120mm Silent Fan for Computer Cases, CPU Coolers, and Radiators</a> for <strong>$13</strong> with free shipping (normally $16 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW38</strong>]; additional $5 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819113364-_-0529&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini 2.05GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor</a> for <strong>$46</strong> with free shipping (normally $52 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW33</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817151095-_-0529&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">SeaSonic M12II 620W ATX12V Full Modular Power Suppl</a>y for <strong>$90</strong> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<strong>SSMONEND</strong>]; additional $5 Mail-in rebate)</p> Rig of the Month: The Tank metal-clad beast fit for virtual battleFri, 29 May 2015 18:00:00 +0000 Going with Godavari? Asus Gives FM2+ Owners the Green Light with BIOS Update BIOS update is all that stands between your Asus FM2+ motherboard and an AMD Godavari APU.Fri, 29 May 2015 17:46:15 +0000 <h3>A BIOS update awaits</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus Crossblade Ranger"></p><p>AMD yesterday <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> the arrival of a new APU, the A10-7870K. The new A-Series APU is part of AMD's "Godavari" lineup, which are basically extensions of Kaveri, and as we said they should serve as painless drop-in replacements on any socket FM2+ motherboard. Lest there be any doubt, Asus was quick to announce that its stable of FM2+ boards do in fact support Godavari, you just need to update the BIOS first.</p><p>While not entirely a risk-free procedure, updating a BIOS these days is&nbsp;really simple and generally safe. Just download the latest BIOS for your Asus board to a USB flash drive and save it to the root folder, then plug it into the USB BIOS Flashback port and hit the button next to it on your mobo for three seconds until the LED begins to blink.</p><p>If that's not possible for whatever reason, Asus lays out alternate ways of updating the BIOS on its FM2+ boards <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>Asus has over two dozen FM2+ motherboards, and the BIOS version you need will depend on which model you own. See <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> for a list of boards and the appropriate BIOS version.</p> Microsoft to Crack Down on Windows Store App Pricing and Clutter is making a concerted effort to improve the Windows Store app catalog.Fri, 29 May 2015 17:21:51 +0000 store <h3>Microsoft's way or the highway</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows Store Screen"></p><p>Microsoft this week made public the changes it's rolling out to the Windows Store app certification policies in an effort to clean up the clutter and improve the overall experience for customers. As part of that process, Microsoft will keep a closer eye on app pricing to make sure that developers aren't overcharging for their software.</p><p>That can be a bit tricky, especially since Microsoft in the same breath says&nbsp;that developers retain sole pricing discretion. In reality, that's no longer case -- developers will retain <em>partial </em>pricing discretion, because "if an app is priced significantly higher than other apps in its category and it is determined that users might be confused and believe (incorrectly) that the higher price is warranted based on superior functionality or value, it may be removed from the Store."</p><p>Microsoft doesn't detail how that process will work. Instead, it's telling developers that "similar apps should generally be comparable in price." Ultimately this could be a good thing for consumers, though at the same time, it remains to be seen how developers will react to essentially being told, "Hey guy/gal, price your apps however you see fit, it's totally up to you! But don't overcharge or we'll yank your app from the Windows Store faster than you can say 'WTF'!"</p><p>Somewhat less controversial is Microsoft's vow to eliminate app clutter by removing apps "that do not offer unique content, creative value, or utility." The example Microsoft gives is having too many flashlight apps that look, function, and feel the same.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows Store Distinguished Appls"></p><p>Microsoft is also requiring developers to appropriately distinguish their apps so that customers don't purchase an information title when they think they're getting a functional title. You can see examples of this above.</p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">revised policies</a> cover both new and existing apps.</p> Zotac's Zbox MA760 Mini PC Brings Four DisplayPorts to the Viewing Party tiny PC has more DisplayPorts than you can shake a three-pronged stick at.Fri, 29 May 2015 16:23:07 +0000 pcNewszotac <h3>DisplayPorts gone wild</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Zotac Zbox MA760"></p><p>Zotac is plenty experienced in the mini PC movement, and if you can conceive it, they've probably already built it or have it on a roadmap. That also means that some of its offerings are niche products -- or niche within a niche, since not everyone cares about NUC-sized systems -- like the new <a href="" target="_blank">Zbox MA760</a> that broke cover ahead of Computex.</p><p>The MA760 is unique to other mini PCs in that it wields a generous four DisplayPorts. That means you can connect up to four 4K displays with Eyefinity, though don't expect to game on any of them. The point of all those DisplayPorts is so that digital signage customers have plenty of flexibility for their display setups, whether it's a panoramic display or a 2 by 2 screening area.</p><p>Each Zbox MA760 is equipped with an AMD FX-7600 quad-core APU with Radeon R7 graphics, two SO-DIMM slots with support for up to 16GB of DDR3/DDR3L-1600 RAM, 802.11ac WI-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two GbE LAN ports, 7.1 channel audio, a single 2.5-inch drive bay, 3-in-1 card reader / USB 3.0 combo, and four USB 3.0 ports (including the combo port).</p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">"Plus" model</a> comes pre-configured with 4GB or RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Depending on what you want to use the MA760 for, my advice is to go with the barebones version and plop a solid state drive inside. I've tested previous models with hard drives and they present a clear bottleneck to overall performance.</p><p>No word yet on when the MA760 will be available or for how much.</p> Research Shows Overclocking is Cool Again continue to defy stagnant desktop market by buying high end parts.Fri, 29 May 2015 15:59:17 +0000 <h3>Pushing the pedal to the metal</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="No Speed Limit"></p><p>The number of people who overclock their desktop PCs is growing, according to data found in the latest HWInsights Quarterly Report. We have no idea how HWInsights tracks such things, but apparently there was a 50 percent uptick in the annual growth of overclockers from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, and 100 percent from 2014 to 2015, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em> reports</a>.</p><p>HWInsights says that despite the overall desktop market stagnating, demand for high end hardware with amenities for overclockers has been rapidly rising over the past few years.</p><p>"PC component makers and vendors have, over the past several years, seen their key markets - mainstream (high-volume) and gaming (high-margin) - steadily cannibalized by alternatives including tablets, notebooks and games consoles," noted Pieter-Jan Plaisier, Director, HWBOT. "With their market shares and margins under constant pressure, the healthy overclocking market represents an opportunity hardware vendors simply cannot continue to underutilize with outdated product positioning and marketing strategies."</p><p>According to HWInsights, a typical mainstream overclocking system in the first quarter of 2015 averaged $1,175, and for high-end systems it was around $2,850. However, it's an ongoing cost -- overclockers tend to upgrade their hardware more frequently than the average user.</p><p>The rise in overclockers is something that vendors can take advantage of, though it's not without certain challenges. While a vendor might be able to get away with shoddy hardware when it comes to sub-$500 systems, overclockers have much higher standards. It also presents a challenge in branding and marketing, as the overclocking community is very much driven by word-of-mouth testaments.</p> How To Back Up and Restore Steam Games show you how to back up your games, so you don't have to re-download them.Thu, 28 May 2015 21:26:51 +0000 gamesSteamValve <h3>We show you how to back up your games, so you don't have to re-download them</h3><p>With modern PC games tallying up download sizes of 20GB (and even soaring up to GTA V's massive 70GB), sometimes it's better to back up the game to an external drive rather than slog through the long download again. If you're using Steam, there are two methods you can use to back up your games to another drive and restore them later, and thus avoid the hassle of a re-download. We'll go over both methods and point out their pros and cons.</p><h5>Back Up Through Steam</h5><p>Steam has a built-in backup tool to use with any of the games and software you own. You can back up (or restore) individual or multiple items at once. Steam will then compress the game(s) to a location that you specify. There are a few limitations to the tool, however. One is that any modifications done outside of Steam Workshop will not be backed up. Another is that games that are updated outside of Steam cannot be backed up. This usually applies to MMO and F2P games.</p><p>1. To start the tool, either:<br>Go to Steam &gt; Backup and Restore Games. Select "Backup currently installed games" and click "Next" <br>or<br>Right-click on a game that you want backed up and select "Backup Game Files."</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 1a"></p><p><br>You can invoke the backup process either from the top menu...</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 1b"></p><p>...Or by right-clicking a game title.</p><p>2. A game selection window will come up. Tick the checkbox of each game you want to include in the&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 2"></p><p>3. Next, select where you want the backup to be saved. The selected games will be saved into one folder. For this example, we used C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Backups. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 3"></p><p>4. Name the folder for the selected games and how to split them up. If you plan on burning the games to a CD or DVD, you can select the appropriate option. There's a third option for a custom size. This will create folders named in the format Disk_#, starting with Disk_1. When the backup reaches the size limit, it creates Disk_2, and so on.</p><p>In this example, we will save into C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Backups\Cities Skylines and F1 2013.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 4"></p><p>5. Now, go enjoy a cup of coffee, have a shower, or run some errands. If you're backing up your entire library, this will take a while! Note that if you cancel now, you'll have to delete the folder where the backup would've been saved if you want to user to that folder again. Otherwise, Steam will complain that the folder exists when you try to use it. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 5"></p><p>6. When the backup process is complete, you'll get a confirmation page and the option to open the folder where the backup was saved. </p><h5>Restore </h5><p>To restore games:<br>1. Go to Steam &gt; "Backup and Restore Games..." From there, select "Restore a previous backup" and press "Next." </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU R1"></p><p>2. Steam asks for the saved backup directory. It's is a little picky in that it wants the root directory of all the Disk_# folders. If it's happy with the directory you've selected, it will show what games were found.</p><p>In this example, we saved our backup to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Backups\Cities Skylines and F1 2013. This folder must be specified; Steam won't find anything in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Backups. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU r2"></p><p>3. Tick the checkbox of the games you want to restore and press "Next." This will continue the install process like the normal Steam install process. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU 3"></p><p>Pros:<br>* It's built-in and straight-forward to use<br>* You can split the backup into chunks if you need to<br>* The backups are compressed</p><p>Cons: <br>* It's tedious to do at the individual game level<br>* Since it compresses/decompresses games, it takes a while and will be slower on less powerful machines.<br>* Backups don't preserve modifications you've made</p><h5>Manual Backup</h5><p>There's a manual process you can use to back up your Steam games. One of the reasons you may want to do this is that Steam's backup utility doesn't preserve game modifications. This can be useful if you have, for instance, a heavily modified version of one of the Elder Scrolls games. </p><p>First, locate the games in your system. In Windows, the default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps. On Linux, the default location is /home/[username]/.local/share/Steam/steamapps (or ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps).&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU m1"><br>The contents of a steamapps folder, where Steam programs live.</p><p>In the "steamapps" folder you'll find another folder named "common." This is where all your games and software live. A manual backup is a simple copy and paste of the game from this folder to the location where you want it stored. You can also right-click a game and select "Properties," then go to the "Local Files" tab, and click "Browse Local Files." This will open a file browser at the game's location.</p><p>However, there's another file you'll want to back up to avoid an additional headache. In the "steamapps" folder, there are several "appmanifest_####.acf" files. These files tell Steam which games are installed. To locate the appmanifest file that's tied to the game you've backed up, point your browser to the game's store page on Steam and look for the store ID number. For example, if Bioshock Infinite is to be backed up, its Steam store page URL is <a href=""></a> The number at the end is the store ID. So for Bioshock Infinite, the appmanifest file is "appmanifest_8870.acf."</p><p>To restore the game, copy the game back to the "common" folder and its appmanifest file to the "steamapps" folder. Restart Steam and the game will appear already installed.</p><p>If you don't have the appmanifest file for the game, you can still copy the game and then use Steam to install it. When Steam asks where the game should be installed, choose the drive where you restored the game. For example, if you restored the game onto the E:\ drive, have Steam install the game to the E:\ drive.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU m2"><br>As this copy of Bioshock Infinite is on the E:\ drive, point Steam to "install" it on E:\.</p><p>Steam will then run the install process, but will say "Discovering existing files...." This process takes several minutes, as Steam checks to see if every file is there. After this, Steam will either consider the game installed or it will download additional files for the game as needed.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SteamBU m3"></p><p style="text-align: center;">Steam finds Bioshock Infinite is already on the drive, and is checking it.</p><p>Pros:<br>* It's a simple copy and paste.<br>* It works well from individual games to groups.<br>* It preserves any modifications you've made.</p><p>Cons:<br>* You need the game's appmanifest file for the game to immediately show up on Steam. Doubly annoying is that the appmanifest file references the game by the game's Steam Store ID. <br>* Steam may end up downloading the game anyway. The best way to avoid this is, at the time of the backup, ensure the game is up to date and that you can run it without error.<br>* Backups take more space since they're not compressed.</p><h5>Bonus Tip: How To Back Up Save Files and Settings</h5><p>Of course, what's the point of backing up games if you don't back up your progress and settings as well? Unfortunately, there's only Steam Cloud and not every game supports that. You'll have to figure out where the game save files and settings, and manually back them up.</p><p>In Windows, your games' save files and settings are located in one of these places:<br>* In "Documents" under either the game's name, or the game's publisher's name, then the game's name. For example, "Documents\4A Games\Metro2033" or "Documents\Arma3."<br>* In "Documents\my games." Games will usually be stored by name.<br>* In "C:\Users\[username]\Appdata\Roaming." You can type %APPDATA% as the location in File Explorer and it will take you there. Files are stored either under the publisher's name or the game's name. <br>* Where the game is installed. This is more common in games made before 2005.<br>* Some games may store data in "C:\ProgramData," but it's not save files. For example, Codemaster's racing games store replay data here.</p><p>In Linux, most game saves can be found in /home/[username]/.local/share (or ~/.local/share), in a folder of the game name itself, or the publisher's name, then the game's name.</p><p>To restore those files, copy and paste the files where you found them.</p> AMD Launches A10-7870K APU launches a new A10-7870K APU based on an updated Kaveri architecture, codenamed Godavari.Thu, 28 May 2015 20:47:16 +0000 APU A10GodavarikaveriNews <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd A10-7870k"></p><p> Today <a href="">AMD announced the availability</a> of a new APU, codenamed Godavari: the A10-7870K. There’s also an A8-7670K coming soon, though it wasn’t part of today’s announcement. Despite the new codename, these APUs are effectively extensions of the existing Kaveri APU lineup, and they should be drop-in replacements on any socket FM2+ motherboard. Other than clock speeds, there aren’t any major changes. Here’s the quick overview of AMD’s current generation A10 APUs:</p> <div> <table style="padding: 2px; border-spacing: 2px;"> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="8"> <strong>AMD A10 APU Specifications</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <strong>APU</strong> </td> <td> <strong>GPU</strong> </td> <td> <strong>Compute Cores</strong> </td> <td> <strong>CPU</strong> <strong><br>Base/<br>Turbo</strong></td> <td> <strong>GPU Clock</strong> </td> <td> <strong>TDP</strong> </td> <td> <strong>L2</strong></td> <td> <strong>DDR3<br>Speed</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> A10-7870K </td> <td>R7 </td> <td> 12 (4CPU + 8GPU) </td> <td> 3.9GHz/<br>4.1GHz </td> <td> 866MHz </td> <td> 95W </td> <td> 4MB </td> <td> 2133 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> A10-7850K </td> <td>R7 </td> <td> 12 (4CPU + 8GPU) </td> <td> 3.7GHz/<br>4.0GHz </td> <td> 720MHz </td> <td> 95W </td> <td> 4MB </td> <td> 2133 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> A10-7800 </td> <td>R7 </td> <td> 12 (4CPU + 8GPU) </td> <td> 3.5GHz/<br>3.9GHz </td> <td> 720MHz </td> <td> 65W/<br>45W </td> <td> 4MB </td> <td> 2133 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> A10-7700K </td> <td>R7 </td> <td> 10 (4CPU + 6GPU) </td> <td> 3.4GHz/<br>3.8GHz </td> <td> 720MHz </td> <td> 95W </td> <td> 4MB </td> <td> 2133 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div><p> The new Godavari A10-7870K doesn’t radically alter the CPU part of the APU, with a moderate 200MHz (5 percent) increase to the base clock and an even smaller 100MHz (2.5 percent) increase to the maximum Turbo Core clock. The GPU, on the other hand, sees a far more substantial 146MHz (20 percent) increase in clock speed. In layman speak, that means the new Godavari APU will be better suited for gaming, as the GPU is still the limiting factor for systems running without a discrete GPU.</p><p> From a pure performance perspective, AMD’s APUs still place a distant second to Intel CPUs with discrete GPUs, but as a value proposition there’s a lot to be said. The most expensive AMD APU, the new A10-7870K, checks in at a modest <a href="">$150 online</a> (though the MSRP is actually lower, at $137), which means the Intel competition currently consists of Core i3 processors like the <a href=";N=100007671%20600436886%20600005584&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">i3-4170 and i3-4370</a>. If you’re intent on running without a discrete GPU, AMD holds a rather commanding lead over Intel’s similarly priced CPUs when it comes to gaming, and competitive performance in most other tasks.</p><p> Even with the addition of an inexpensive GPU like the <a href=";N=100007709%20600515071&amp;IsNodeId=1&amp;bop=And&amp;Order=PRICE&amp;PageSize=30">GeForce GT 740</a>, AMD claims to deliver a superior gaming experience in popular eSports titles (AMD tested CounterStrike: GO, League of Legends, and StarCraft II). AMD also makes note of their superior DX12 performance, where the A10-7870K performed roughly three times as many draw calls compared to an Intel i5-4570R with Iris Pro Graphics 5200. Even though AMD’s testing is limited to just a few titles, there’s no doubt that for processor graphics they’re beating Intel. They may not be able to compete as well with higher performance Intel Core i5 and i7 parts, but that’s not the goal.</p><p> Factoring in the cost of a complete system, including motherboard, RAM, storage, case, power supply, and OS, an AMD A10-7870K build will cost approximately $500. You can build a similar Intel setup for roughly the same price, but to equal AMD on graphics performance you’ll need to add at least a $75 GPU. If you want better gaming performance than the 7870K offers, we’d suggest looking toward $150 GPUs. Either way, for budget gaming, AMD picks up an easy recommendation. Just keep your expectations in check, as the A10-7870K isn’t going to run 1080p with maximum quality in most recent releases.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Corsair 750W Modular PSU, Acer 24-inch Monitor, and More! it from us, you don't want to smell smoke coming from your PC. That's one of the risks you take when you skimp on a power supply and buy a generic brand for pennies on the dollar. Just. Don't.Thu, 28 May 2015 20:44:47 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Corsair HX750i"></p><h3>Top Deal:</h3><p>Take it from us, you don't want to smell smoke coming from your PC. That's one of the risks you take when you skimp on a power supply and buy a generic brand for pennies on the dollar. Just. Don't. If you're in the market for a PSU, a much better idea is to check out today's top deal for a <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817139084-_-0528&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair HX750i 750W Full Modular Power Supply</a> for <strong>$130</strong> with free shipping (normally $140 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW36</strong>]; additional $20 mail-in-rebate). This is an 80 Plus Platinum model serving up 62.5A on the all-important +12V rail.</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MOBO-N82E16813130801-_-0528&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition LGA 1150 Intel Z97 ATX Intel Motherboard</a> for <strong>$125</strong> with $2 shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW35</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824009513-_-0528&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Acer S241HLbmid Black 24-inch 5ms LCD Monitor w/ Built-in Speakers</a> for <strong>$120</strong> with free shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW43</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819116989-_-0528&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel Core i5-4690 Haswell 3.5GHz LGA 1150 84W Desktop Processor</a> for $210 with $2 shipping (normally $225 - use coupon code: [EMCASNW32])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824236117-_-0528&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus VH238H Black 23-inch HDMI LCD Monitor w/Speakers</a> for <strong>$13</strong>0 with free shipping (normally $150 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNW47</strong>]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)</p> Store Unlimited High Resolution Pictures in Google Photos Photos will let you upload an unlimited number of photos up to 16MP.Thu, 28 May 2015 20:21:06 +0000 <h3>Endless storage</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Google Photos"></p><p>Thanks to the advent of the mobile phone, we're all photographers now -- just peek at your camera roll and see if you can scroll through all the pictures you've taken in less than a week. The more important ones we tend to back up, but with Google Photos, being selective is no longer a necessity.</p><p>That's because Google Photos is a new standalone service that allows you to upload as many pictures and videos as you want. There's no cap to the number of either one, though there is for resolution -- Google will maintain the original resolution of photos up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p.</p><p>More than just a simple storage container, you can organize your digital memories by people, places, and more. In addition, the app will let you make quick enhancements to adjust the color, lighting, and subject.</p><p>Google tried to making sharing easier, too. Using Google Photos, you can share your photos and videos across various services, or take a set of photos -- perhaps an album with hundreds of pictures -- and create a link that you can send to family to friends.</p><p>Google Photos will be available today across Android, iOS, and the web.</p> Samsung Chromebook 2 Review battery life, pedestrian performanceThu, 28 May 2015 19:19:52 +0000 <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">at a glance</h5> <p> <strong>Celery</strong><strong>:</strong> Fine for even heavy browsing; truly stupendous battery life. </p> <p> <strong>Rutabaga:</strong> Lackluster graphics performance; should be cheaper. </p> </div><h3>Insane battery life, pedestrian performance</h3><p> It may surprise you to know, but we absolutely love writing about Chromebooks. Sure, none of us would trade our daily drivers in for one, but the category is vastly more interesting than a lot of others.</p><p> That’s because most laptops get boring really fast. Once a new CPU is out, all of the older CPU models are flushed and there’s very little difference between them. With Chromebooks, it’s a smorgasbord of architectures. The new Samsung Chromebook 2 here, for example, packs a dual-core “Bay Trail” 2.18GHz Celeron N2840, which turbo boosts to 2.58GHz.</p><p> One thing we want to point out before it confuses the hell out of you is that this new Bay Trail–based Chromebook 2 is not to be mixed up with the eight-core Exynos 5–based Chromebook, which also happens to be named Chromebook 2. And yes, there are Celeron-based Chromebooks that use Haswell Celerons being sold alongside Chromebooks using Bay Trail–based Celeron Chromebooks, too. Got it? We don’t.</p><p> Since we were curious as to how well the Bay Trail Celeron would do, we compared it to our old standby, an Acer C720 Chromebook using the Haswell-based 1.4GHz Celeron 2955U, and also the HP Chromebook 11, which uses a dual-core 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 ARM processor. The upshot: the new Bay Trail Celeron is capable, but it ain’t no Haswell. It easily outperformed the HP Chromebook 11 but the results were close enough that we suspect a hotter ARM chip, such as Nvidia’s Tegra K1, might give it a good run. To be fair to this little Celeron, it’s fine for normal loads&mdash;we were able to load 20 web pages and scroll without the hellacious lag that ARM-based Chromebooks have given us in the past.</p><p> That’s a real issue, too. Older ARM-based Chromebooks are not recommended unless you want to slow down your life. Even if the benchmarks didn’t put it that far behind the Samsung, the ARM chip actually felt slow. The HP couldn’t even run the OortOnline.GL graphics benchmark, nor Tanki Online. On that front, the Samsung Chromebook 2 could push out a sub-optimal 11fps in Tanki Online. The Acer C720 brought us to a playable 30fps, while a Haswell Core i3–based C720 hit 60fps.</p><p> The Chromebook 2’s 11.6-inch TN panel is meh in off-axis, and colors are muted. Despite this, it’s actually a technically better panel than the IPS in the HP Chromebook 11 in white saturation, black level, and compression banding. The average Joe will still pick the HP’s IPS panel as being “better” side-by-side, though.</p><p> The keyboard on the Samsung is OK and has a standard 19mm pitch width. The speakers were passable but were tinnier than the Acer C720 and not as loud. We also did some write testing to the unit’s 16GB eMMC storage by copying a 3.7GB video to it via USB 3.0. Performance was not as pathetic as the HP Chromebook 11, but we do wish for a bit more heft, especially when Acer’s C720 series of Chromebooks offer better performance at a better price.</p><p> The battery life is nothing to scoff at, though. Sure, it’s maybe half the performance of the Haswell Celeron, but it’s also half its wattage, too, at 7.5 watts for the Bay Trail Celeron chip. The Acer C720, which we consider pretty good at more than five hours of constant use, was eclipsed by the Samsung, which took us up beyond seven hours. Considering that’s a constant repeating of an HTML5 benchmark, we’re pretty sure normal googling and email will give you a full day’s use.</p><p> In the end, what we have is a middle-of-the-pack Chromebook in features, on the lower end of the scale in performance, but stupendous battery life. On the street, the Chromebook 2 is $250. The older Acer C720 we compared it to with its 4GB of RAM would set you back $320. However, you can get that same C720 with half the RAM for $199. If we had to pick performance over battery life, the C720 is the go-to Chromebook, but there is something to be said about just (barely) good enough performance with insane battery life, too.</p><p> $250, <a href=""></a></p><p> <br> <a href=""></a></p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> Specifications </td> <td> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Dimensions (H x D x W) </td> <td> 0.7 x 8 x 11.4 inches </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Display </td> <td> 11.6-inches, 1366x768 TN </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Connectivity </td> <td> HDMI, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x Micro SD, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 ac </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Processor </td> <td> Intel Celeron N2840 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><table> <tbody> <tr> <td> Benchmarks </td> <td> </td> <td> </td> <td> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <br> </td> <td> Samsung Chromebook 2<br> </td> <td> HP Chromebook 11 </td> <td> Acer C720-2800 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> CPU </td> <td> 2.18GHz-2.58GHz Celeron N2840 </td> <td> 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 </td> <td> 1.4GHz Celeron 2955U </td> </tr> <tr> <td> RAM </td> <td> 2GB DDR3L/1600 </td> <td> 2GB DDR3L/1066 </td> <td> 4GB DDR3 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> SunSpider 1.02 (ms) </td> <td> 607.7 </td> <td> 756.6 </td> <td> <strong>358.3</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Google Octane V2 </td> <td> 7,579 </td> <td> 6,203 </td> <td> <strong>11,638</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Peacekeeper </td> <td> 1,659 </td> <td> 1,174 </td> <td> <strong>3,062</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Wirple<br> </td> <td> 449 </td> <td> 337 </td> <td> <strong>1,368</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Kraken 1.1 </td> <td> 3,897.6 </td> <td> 5,211.0 </td> <td> <strong>2,500.4</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> OortOnline.Gl </td> <td> 1,380 </td> <td> WNR </td> <td> <strong>3,258</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> File Copy Across USB 3.0 </td> <td> 122 </td> <td> 255 </td> <td> <strong>87</strong> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Battery Run Down (min) </td> <td> <strong>434</strong> </td> <td> 230 </td> <td> 309 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Weight (lb) </td> <td> 2.65 </td> <td> <strong>2.30</strong> </td> <td> 2.76 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> <em>Best scores are bolded. All three Chromebooks were tested using the latest ChromeOS update 38.0.2125.110.</em></p> Corsair Hydro H110i GT Review true successor was worth the waitThu, 28 May 2015 18:55:02 +0000 seriesReviews <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">at a glance</h5><p><strong>Mercury, God of Poetry:</strong> Runs cool; performs quietly; installs smoothly; looks snazzy.</p><p><strong>Mercury Tracer (1988):</strong> Thick tubing may make some installs tricky.</p></div><h3>The true successor was worth the wait</h3><p>When it comes to closed-loop liquid coolers, size does matter. You might not need a CLC at all for a dual-core CPU in an office computer. But if you’re overclocking a chip with four or more cores, bigger is better. A while back, Corsair came out with the Hydro H110, which has a 280mm radiator. But it’s not a “smart” cooler, meaning it doesn’t have its own software to tweak performance and acoustics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; some people swear by the fan-control software that comes with their motherboard. But when you’re trying to eke out every last drop of performance, sometimes digital feedback can help, or at least give you a lot more information to work with. Now Corsair has delivered the H110i GT, which communicates with your PC via a USB cable, and has several other niceties.</p><p>It makes a good first impression. Instead of a plain black radiator with rounded corners, this one is a hard rectangle. Add the chromed decorative plate running the length of the rad and sporting the Corsair logo, and you have an almost retro-futuristic look. The thick tubing is also sheathed in a glossy black braid, and the cooling plate has more chrome and shiny black surfaces. The whole package feels premium, yet understated and classy. The H110i GT is an executive-grade CLC.</p><p>The installation method hasn’t changed noticeably, but that’s not cause for complaint. Like most Corsair coolers, this one uses a sturdy metal backplate and a set of metal fasteners that come together intuitively. If you get stuck, the manual has a bunch of large and clear images to provide visual aid. The thick tubing isn’t very flexible, but the tradeoff is a higher volume of liquid getting shuttled back and forth. And the 280mm radiator won’t fit in a lot of cases, so check your measurements before you buy. And sometimes, it can technically fit but still require some maneuvering.</p><p>The main advantage of a radiator this large is that you can fit larger fans on it. Bigger fans can move the same amount of air, while generating less noise. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a general rule of thumb. And it’s certainly true for the GT.</p><p>With its fans and pump set to “Quiet” mode, we could barely tell it was operating, even when subjected to our torture test. When switched to “Performance,” the GT gets fairly noisy, but nowhere near the racket produced by the standard H100i, which uses 120mm fans instead of 140mm. The H100i’s fans get up to about 2,300rpm when cranked up, while the GT’s hover around 2,000rpm on the same setting. The pump can also switch between these modes, which is something we’re not accustomed to. Usually, pumps have either one speed, or they adjust themselves dynamically according to CPU temperature readings. Having different gears is an interesting change of pace, though we’d prefer an automatic shift over a manual one.</p><p>We should note that Corsair issued a partial “channel” recall on this cooler, meaning it asked stores to send it back. When subjected to sub-zero temperatures during shipping, some coolant could leak. If yours didn’t show any signs of leakage, Corsair indicated you didn’t need to do anything. If you haven’t purchased a GT by the time you read this, then the original inventory should’ve been replaced by now. Our review unit showed no leakage in the package or during testing. If you still have doubts, it’s covered by a five-year warranty.</p><p>Overall, the H110i GT’s cooling and fan noise were some of the best we’ve ever seen. As you can see from the chart, it does so well in “Quiet” mode that “Performance” arguably isn’t worth the additional noise. Then again, we test at a relatively manageable 4.2GHz, which keeps the playing field level for air coolers. If you’re going for epic overclocks, this CLC will be hard to beat.</p><p>$130 (MSRP), <a href=""></a></p><p><br><a href=""></a></p><table><tbody><tr><td>Specifications</td><td></td></tr><tr><td>Radiator Dimensions (H x D x W)</td><td>1.2 x 12.2 x 5.5 inches</td></tr><tr><td>Weight</td><td>2lb 13oz</td></tr><tr><td>Stock Fans</td><td>2x 14cm PWM</td></tr><tr><td>Socket Support</td><td>LGA 1150/ 1155/ 1156/ 1366/ 2011; AM2/ AM2+/ AM3/ AM3+/ FM1/ FM2/ FM2+</td></tr><tr><td>Additional Fan Support</td><td>2x 14cm</td></tr></tbody></table> <table><tbody><tr><td>Benchmarks</td><td></td><td></td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td></td><td>Corsair H110i GT Quiet / Performance Mode</td><td>NZXT Kraken X61 Quiet / Performance Mode</td><td>Cooler Master Nepton 280L Quiet / Performance Mode</td><td>Corsair H100i Quiet / Performance Mode</td></tr><tr><td>Ambient Air</td><td>24.7 / 23.2</td><td>23.3 / 22.7</td><td>22.1 / 22.4</td><td><strong>20.3 / 20.5</strong></td></tr><tr><td>Idle Temperature</td><td><strong>30.8 / 28.2</strong></td><td>34 / 32.6</td><td>33.2 / 30</td><td>30.7 / 29.3</td></tr><tr><td>Load Temperature</td><td><strong>65.7 / 62.7</strong></td><td>75 / 65.3</td><td>64.5 / 63.3</td><td>67.1 / 61</td></tr><tr><td>Load – Ambient</td><td><strong>41 / 39.5</strong></td><td>51.7 / 42.6</td><td>42.4 / 40.9</td><td>46.8 / 40.5</td></tr><tr><td>Price (street)</td><td>$130</td><td>$140</td><td>$120</td><td>$100</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>Best scores are bolded. All temperatures in degrees Celsius. All tests performed with an Intel Core i7-3960X at 4.2GHz, on an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard in a Corsair 900D with stock fans set to Standard.</em></p> Xidax X-5 Incisive Review may literally get a lifetime of service from this boxThu, 28 May 2015 18:42:17 +0000 <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">at a glance</h5><p><strong>Xenon:</strong> A lifetime warranty that is actually lifetime.<br><strong>Xenu:</strong> Dual-core feels simply quaint.</p></div><h3>You may literally get a lifetime of service from this box</h3><p>If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in life, it’s this: Don’t create false dichotomies. You know, such as: “There are only two kinds of Maximum PC readers: those who like to see, buy, and read about $12,000 PCs, and those who only want to hear about the budget rigs that you can actually afford.”</p><p>Since we’ve already created that false dichotomy, we’ll just roll with it. For the guys and gals who want to see something that’s budget and different, Xidax has your number and is texting you as we speak. And we can honestly say Xidax’s X-5 Incisive is truly different for us. To understand what Xidax was trying to pull off with the Incisive, you have to get that it’s not just any budget build here. It’s one intended for a budget gamer. That means there’s no fancy six-core Haswell-E Core i7-5820K, DDR4, or four-way GPUs here. In fact, it may surprise you but there isn’t even a quad-core inside. Instead, Xidax outfits this machine with a dual-core 3.7GHz Core i3-4360 part. Yes, an air-cooled dual-core. Xidax said it toyed with the idea of an overclocked Pentium Anniversary Edition but it saw bottlenecks in some games from the lack of Hyper-Threading on that chip.</p><p>On the other side of the PC equation, Xidax hopes to nullify your concerns over CPU performance with the new hotness: Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970 card. This “budget” card is currently making the rounds as the card to have, thanks to its price-to-performance ratio. The rest of the machine is well-apportioned&mdash;for a budget box, that is. There’s a 256GB ADATA SSD, 500-watt Corsair PSU, Asrock Z97M Anniversary board, and 8GB of DDR3/1600. The case is a BitFenix Pandora Window. This is the first time we’ve laid eyes on the micro-ATX Pandora, but we like what we see. It’s a fairly narrow case but has a few nifty features such as a brushed-aluminum sidedoor that pops off without having to unscrew it (and top, too), and a handy front LCD screen. The screen is a 2.4-inch TFT that shows the BitFenix logo&mdash;or any image you decide to drop into it.</p><p>Since performance matters, we can’t review this rig without comparing it to our standard zero-point&mdash;a six-core Sandy Bridge-E box with a dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690. There are two ways to look at how the Incisive did. You can glance down at the chart and see that a dual-core&mdash;even Intel’s newest Haswell core&mdash;isn’t going to put a dent into a six-core chip in our benchmarks. In some ways it’s not as bad as you’d expect, considering it’s two cores against six&mdash;but then, it didn’t win anything, either. The GeForce GTX 970 does OK, though. It’s really only about 20 percent slower than the GeForce GTX 690. In the real world, this machine should be able to comfortably play every modern game at 1080p at or near 60fps, which was Xidax’s aim with the machine.</p><p>Xidax has one more thing to entice you with this budget rig: a “real” lifetime warranty. The company says it will cover every component for life. That means if the GPU (well, except for AMD GPUs, which are only covered for two years due to Bitcoin mining abuse) nukes itself in 10 years, you’ll get a replacement. Some will scoff that a lifetime warranty means for the life of the company, but Xidax isn’t a newbie business.</p><p>It’s backed by PC Laptops, a company that’s been in business for 21 years. We looked around and it’s true, we couldn’t find any other vendor that offered such an aggressive warranty. Even high-end boutique PC vendors aren’t as generous with a warranty, so such a promise is truly different.</p><p>The warranty doesn’t give the box a free ride with us, though. While we get what Xidax was trying to do, we gotta say, corners could have been cut to get other components into this rig. We would have liked a motherboard that would at least offer the option for SLI support, even if it means swapping out the PSU down the road. And while a dual-core will work for most, it’s probably only $75 away from a K SKU quadcore and $35 away from a locked quad-core chip. As much as we know Xidax wanted to keep the box to a usable $1,200, a dual-core in this world just feels odd.</p><p>The price itself is actually good at $1,200, though. We priced similar builds from higher-volume system builders and the difference was nil. And yes, we priced it out at retail, too, to the same effect. And none of those offered lifetime warranties, either.</p><p>$1,200, <a href=""></a></p><table><tbody><tr><td>Specifications</td><td></td></tr><tr><td>CPU</td><td>Intel 3.7GHz Core i3-4360</td></tr><tr><td>Mobo<br></td><td>Asrock Z97M Anniversary</td></tr><tr><td>RAM</td><td>8GB ADATA DDR3/1600</td></tr><tr><td>GPU<br></td><td>MSI GeForce GTX 970</td></tr><tr><td>Storage</td><td>ADATA 256GB SSD</td></tr><tr><td>Optical Drive</td><td>None</td></tr><tr><td>Case/PSU</td><td>BitFenix Pandora Window / Corsair CX50</td></tr></tbody></table> <table><tbody><tr><td>Benchmarks </td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td></td><td>Zero Point</td><td></td></tr><tr><td>Premiere Pro CS6 (sec)<br></td><td>2,000<br></td><td>5,246 <em>-62%</em></td></tr><tr><td>Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec)<br></td><td>831</td><td>1,144 <em>-27%</em></td></tr><tr><td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)<br></td><td>1,446<br></td><td>1,761 <em>-18%</em></td></tr><tr><td>x264 HD 5.0 (fps)<br></td><td>21.1<br></td><td>8.3 <em>-61%</em></td></tr><tr><td>Batman: Arkham City (fps)<br></td><td>76<br></td><td>59.0 <em>-22%</em></td></tr><tr><td>3DMark 11<br></td><td>5,847<br></td><td>4,637 <em>-21%</em></td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K 3.8GHz, 8GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. We're running a GeForce GTX 690, an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.</em></p> Ask the Doctor: CPU Upgrades, Dual Monitors, and Full Hard Drives and switching your CPU, integrating your GPU, checking your HDD space, and fixing some Samsung issuesThu, 28 May 2015 18:28:18 +0000 Core i7Samsung 840 EVOskylake <h3>Upgrading and switching your CPU, integrating your GPU, checking your HDD space, and fixing some Samsung issues</h3><h3></h3><h5>Upgrade or Wait?</h5><p>My system: Intel Core i7-920 at 3.8GHz, an Asus P6T motherboard, 18GB RAM, Crucial m500 480GB SSD, 4TB HDD, Gigabyte WindForce GTX780, with Windows 7 64-bit Pro. Although I can play games maxed out at 1080p, I’m looking to upgrade the CPU and motherboard soon. Should I wait for next generation or go for Haswell-E now (i7-5820)? &mdash;J. Richard Burton</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> Whether or not you should wait for Broadwell, Skylake, or some other chipset/CPU combo depends on your needs. If you were to spring for a Haswell-based Intel Core i7-4970K on the LGA 1150 platform, that would be a big upgrade you’d definitely feel, and you could keep using your DDR3 RAM. If you went with a Haswell-E upgrade via a Core i7-5820K, you’d have to buy expensive DDR4 memory, plus a more expensive LGA 2011-3 mobo. But if you need 12 CPU threads, the Core i7-5820K CPU is the way to go. Its X99 mobo chipset should also be compatible with Broadwell-E CPUs when those come out in Q3 of 2015.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC107.qs doctor.motherboard"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Upgraders need to think hard about the X99 chipset’s arrival, as it will also require expensive DDR4 RAM.</strong><em><strong></strong></em></p><h5>The GPU Conundrum</h5><p>I have a custom made desktop computer that I’ve been tinkering with for some time. It uses dual GTX 780 GPUs plugged into a 4K Samsung monitor connected via Displayport. My question is whether or not it’s possible to have a dual monitor setup with the second monitor running 1920x1080 connected via HDMI to the onboard Intel HD4600 graphics chip that came integrated with my Core i7 processor? Currently my Windows 7 Home Edition does not even see the HD4600 graphics on my PC. I was told this is because when a discrete graphics card is used, it automatically turns off the integrated graphics. If this is true, how do I go about changing that so I can use my discrete GPUs for my 4K monitor and the HD4600 graphics for a second monitor? Do I have to reboot Windows without the GPUs installed to force it to recognize the integrated graphics, and then reboot again with the GPU installed, or will that turn off the HD4600 as well? Also, will the second monitor connected via HD4600 graphics need an HDMI connection or another Display port connection via the motherboard? Any help is greatly appreciated. -Jason Mesa</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> The short answer to your question is that it’s not possible with the combo of GTX 780 cards and integrated Intel graphics. You can use one or the other, but not both at the same time, and there’s no reason for you to use the integrated graphics at all. Some combinations of AMD hardware (both CPU and GPU) do allow this, but not on the Intel/Nvidia side of things since those camps don’t play nice with each other. However, you can run a second display from your GPUs, as rendering a 2D desktop requires very little processing power for today’s video cards. To do that you would just need to go ahead and plug both monitors into one of your 780s. Check Nvidia’s website for instructions on how to connect dual monitors for SLI to figure it out.</p><h5>Is It <em>Really </em>Full?</h5><p>I recently moved from Korea to Virginia because I’m part of the Army. I made sure to disconnect my hard drive cables to make sure they were not damaged in the move. When I reconnected them the primary hard drive was fine. However, the backup hard drive is saying that it’s low on space whenever I try to run my backup program. The weird thing is they are both the same size hard drives. I’m making sure to only keep the latest copy of the backup data, so what could be keeping the computer from properly backing up? &mdash;Alexander</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> We have no idea what backup program you’re running Alexander, or why one of your drives would suddenly be full, but step one for diagnosing any problem involving a surprisingly full hard drive is to investigate what is taking up all that space. We prefer the freeware program WinDirStat as it’s free, and we’re cheap, plus it’s also easy to use and shows you exactly what is hogging all them bits, both in graphical and numeric displays. Download that program and point it to your “backup” drive in order to find out what’s taking up all that space. Second, be sure to closely examine your backup program as it sounds like it’s just saving image files to the drive and not deleting the older one, or just updating the image file with what’s changed since the last time your ran it. For what it’s worth, we still use the popular freeware backup and syncing tool named SyncBack. It’s free, and can sync drives or perform backups, so if you’re in need of a new program to manage your data we highly recommend it.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC107.qs doctor.windirstat"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong></strong></em><strong>Find out what’s taking up space on your HDD with WinDirStat.</strong><em><strong></strong></em></p><h5>Samsung’s Slowdowns</h5><p>I was about to drop the hammer and purchase a 1TB Samsung 840EVO SSD until I came across some bad reviews online about slowdowns with older files on the drive. I did some online searching and the problem seems very real. Maximum PC is my primary reference to the PC world, so can you give your loyal readers the lowdown on this. What are your recommendations. &mdash; Joe Klein</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> This issue is real Joe, and it’s apparently caused by how the drive’s controller reads the voltage level of the individual cells. According to Samsung, when data is stored in a cell it has a particular voltage, and over time the voltage would change ever so slightly. This caused the drive to have to perform multiple reads on the same cell in order to correctly determine the voltage, thus causing a major slowdown in performance for data that’s been sitting on the drive longer than 30 days or so. The good news is Samsung recently addressed this issue with what it calls “Performance Restoration Software,” which is a firmware update available on its website. The update process will take up to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the drive. There is a caveat though, which is the “old” data has to be rewritten to the drive in order to function properly with the new firmware, so after the firmware update is applied you will have to sit and wait for that to occur, which could take a while if you have a lot of data on the drive. Also, since it’s monkeying with your data, be sure you have a backup of everything on the drive before you begin this process. Other caveats include a lack of support for RAID arrays, and you must have at least 10 percent of the drive’s capacity available for the update. Also, the update will fail if you are using an AMD controller, so switch to an Intel, Marvell, or other brand controller if you can before performing the surgery.</p><h5>Switching CPUs</h5><p>I recently purchased a loaded PC from Cyberpower including an Intel i7-4770K chip. As this $2,600 rig was being assembled, the Core i7-4790K became available at the same price. From what I understood from Cyberpower, the upgraded CPU came out too late for them to swap it. Can the Doctor tell me if there is a way to swap CPUs without having to reinstall the OS? Or is it possible to safely overclock the 4770k to 4GHz without damaging the chip? And how would I do this? As I understand from one of Maximum PC’s articles, the 4790K is essentially a factory-tweaked 4770K. &mdash;Guy</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> To answer your question Guy, you can upgrade or install a different CPU without having to reinstall your operating system. In general, as long as you’re not changing the motherboard, an upgrade is as simple as removing the CPU cooler and dropping in the new chip (after applying a new coat of thermal paste, obviously). However, because going from one chip to the next in the same socket usually results in a very small and unnoticeable performance delta, we don’t recommend it. You usually need to wait at least two generations for an upgrade in order to achieve noticeable improvements, so for example if you went from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge you would not see much improvement. However, if you were to upgrade from an older Nehalem CPU to Haswell, you would be stunned at how fast it feels, at least at first, before you adjusted to your newfound horsepower. That said, you can upgrade to the Core i7-4970K, but the delta between it and the 4770K would be so small that it’s not worth your time or money. That 4770K should last you at least a few years, so it won’t be until Skylake and beyond that you should even think about your next upgrade. As far as overclocking goes, yes, you should be able to get that CPU up to 4GHz very easily in its Turbo Boost mode. Most of the 22nm Intel parts can reach 4.2GHz or so just by fiddling with the BIOS, and since it’s a K-part, it’s already “unlocked,” so it should be quite easy. How you actually overclock it varies according to your motherboard model, so use the Google to find one to help you out with that. You shouldn’t need extravagant cooling either, so a simple and efficient CPU cooler such as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 should be sufficient.</p><p><em><strong>Submit your questions to: <a href=""></a></strong></em></p> Ask the Doctor: Multi-GPU Setups, Hard Drive Fears, and Cooling Cores Doctor helps you keep your cards cool, upgrade your GPU, heal a hurting HDD, and maintain your coresThu, 28 May 2015 18:24:03 +0000 <h3>The Doctor helps you keep your cards cool, upgrade your GPU, heal a hurting HDD, and maintain your cores</h3><h5></h5><h5>Feeling The Heat</h5><p>I’ve been a PC gamer since 1998 and a reader of Maximum PC for almost 10 years. I recently built my own system, mimicking the Turbo build in your February 2015 issue. It was easier than I could’ve ever imagined, and much faster than the heavily upgraded Alienware Aurora I bought in 2008. My Core i7-5820K and dual GTX 970 Gaming 4G LE cards are a perfect combo for the MSI X99S SLI Plus mobo with 16GB of G.Skill DDR4 SDRAM. Everything is great except for the heat that the second 970 cannot dissipate. I packed all of my goodies in a Rosewill Gaming ATX full-tower case and added an extra Noctua 120mm fan on the bottom for added air flow. Without overclocking, and with all the case fans running at 100 percent, GPU number two gets up to 91 degrees Celsius. I know why it’s running hot. There’s little room between the cards. What else can I do besides water cooling to keep the temps down? –Ssgt_Frag_Factor</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> Welcome to the world of multi-GPU troubleshooting, staff sergeant. Two GTX 970s become an incredibly powerful force&hellip; when they’re working together harmoniously. But a number of factors can affect an SLI- or CrossFire-equipped platform, from hardware considerations to more complicated software issues.</p><p>Axial-flow fans like the ones on your MSI cards are exceedingly popular because they’re quiet. They also exhaust all of their waste heat back into your case, though. That’s why the Doc favors centrifugal fans, which draw air in and typically push it out vents in the rear I/O bracket. Compounding the problem, your bottom card has very little room to “breathe,” and the air it’s pulling in through that narrow slit is already warm. Because MSI’s X99S SLI Plus won’t let you relocate either 970&mdash;they have to live in PCI_E1 and PCI_E3&mdash;so you’re stuck with the physical arrangement you’re currently using.</p><p>Armed with the knowledge that two high-end GPUs are heating up your PC’s internals, optimizing airflow becomes the priority. You mentioned case fans running at full-speed&mdash;but what direction are they pointing? Create a front-to-back stream with intake fans up front and exhaust in the back. And experiment with custom fan profiles for your graphics cards using MSI’s Afterburner software, spinning them up at lower temperatures. You could always try underclocking and undervolting as well. Both techniques (especially combined) will limit the heat those cards put out.</p><p>Unfortunately, your bottom board’s cooling issues are almost assuredly affecting its maximum GPU Boost frequency, robbing you of some performance. That’s not an easy conundrum to solve given your components. But the symptoms can be mitigated. The best way for others to combat this is by choosing a mobo with one extra space between PCIe slots designated for graphics (ASRock’s X99 Extreme4 is one example) and videocards that dump hot air outside of the case.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.qs doctor.X99 extreme4"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong></strong></em><strong>ASRock’s X99 Extreme4 lets you install two double-slot graphics cards with an extra space between them.</strong><em><strong></strong></em></p><h5>Time To Upgrade?</h5><p>Doc, I’ve some extra cash and have been thinking about getting a Radeon R9 270X to pair with my 7870 GHz Edition. The Internet is fraught with threads on CrossFire issues, but I thought there was a driver update a while back that significantly improved the situation, in addition to the Omega driver’s features. It seems a 270X would be a relatively cheap upgrade for what could be a healthy performance boost. Also, since the 270X has faster memory, should I overclock the 7870 to match or leave everything alone? What would the Doc recommend? My system’s specs include Windows 7, a Core i5-3570K, MSI’s Z77AGD65, a Gigabyte 7870 GHz Edition card, 8GB of DDR3, and a 750W Corsair PSU. –Daniel Hill</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> I’m going to share a secret, Daniel. But first let’s do some math. An R9 270X with 2GB of GDDR5 sells for $175 on Newegg. A Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition fetches $100 to $120 on Ebay. So, you could spend $175 and build a sweet dual-card Pitcairn/Curaçao-based array. Or, you could sell the 7870, add it to your new-card budget, and snag an R9 290 with 4GB.</p><p>Now, the secret: the Doc’s lab is equipped with some very sophisticated testing equipment, which has uncovered many multi-GPU issues over the years, most involving CrossFire. To AMD’s credit, its drivers are far better now than at any time in the past. The company listened to its customers and added features like frame pacing to smooth the rate at which content is displayed on-screen. But CrossFire is a moving target, requiring profiles for new games and optimizations for new platforms, on top of the development that goes into addressing the technology’s other challenges.</p><p>Whenever the Doc can, he favors single-GPU setups to circumvent all of that. The two cards you’re considering in CrossFire will almost certainly be faster than an R9 290 in measures of average frame rate. They’ll also consume more power, generate more heat, occupy more space on your motherboard, and create more noise. Don’t forget to consider memory! At resolutions up to 1920x1080, 2GB is appropriate. Should you wish to game on a QHD or 4K monitor, though, stepping up to 4GB makes sense. The same goes for Eyefinity setups.</p><p>At least in the Doc’s opinion, multi-GPU configs appeal to enthusiasts who can’t get enough speed from one card. You expect to weather occasional hiccups in the name of unmatched performance. Bargains do abound for mainstream gamers combining the muscle of capable graphics processors. The GeForce GTX 460 was notoriously attractive in SLI, for example. You’ll make certain compromises in the process though, and sometimes it’s more fun to simply enjoy a trouble-free experience on the day a game launches.</p><h5>Unhealthy Hard Drive</h5><p>Whenever my hard disk is active, it starts buzzing. I’m thinking that it’s going to go kaput soon. I performed a CHKDSK, but the system does not report anything adverse, saying my drives are healthy. This is an old computer (Windows XP), but I don’t have the money to purchase a newer system at this time. However, I might be able to afford a new hard disk and transfer everything to that media. Or should I buy a hard disk for the box I already have? Does the buzzing mean that the current hard drive is going to take a permanent vacation? –Eric Caruso</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> The Doc maintains a multi-disk network-attached appliance with all of his important files, so he’s all too familiar with the sounds mechanical drives can make when they’re about to become doorstops. Forgive the seemingly silly question, but are you certain the noise is coming from within the hard drive, and not some piece of your chassis around it?</p><p>You already know that hard disks employ platters spinning very, very quickly. They accelerate, they decelerate, and the read/write heads dart around in there, too. All of this creates vibration, which is most pronounced when the drive is active. And if your disk isn’t properly isolated from the case holding it in place, those vibrations can turn into a high-frequency buzz. They can also negatively affect storage performance or even cause I/O errors. Depending how your hard drive is mounted in your chassis, consider installing rubber grommets to better isolate the disk from its cage.</p><p>If the issue really is internal, then the noise you’re describing might best be described as a chatter, and it indeed precedes (or is accompanied by) failure. In either case, save your personal data to an optical disc, thumb drive, or cloud-based service right away. Google will give you 15GB for free through its Drive service. Whether your hard drive is healthy or not, the Doc gets the sense you may not have your important information protected against an unforeseen disaster.</p><p>With that said, in the Doc’s opinion, an inexpensive hard drive replacement is always worthwhile, even for an old PC, if it keeps that machine running until you can upgrade to something quicker.</p><p><img class="" style="display: block; margin: auto;" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC111.qs doctor.deep cool icedisk"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Deepcool manufactures an enclosure that not only minimizes vibration, but also keeps your 3.5-inch hard drive running cool.</strong></p><h5>Working Your Cores</h5><p>My CPU is an AMD Athlon II X3 455. After I got it a few years ago, I was able to unlock the die’s fourth core. Problem is, with the forth core enabled, my temps skyrocket, and undervolting even to the point of instability isn’t helping at stock speeds. It was running at 65 degrees at full load originally, which I didn’t worry about because it was never at 100 percent utilization.</p><p>But now I want it to fold 24/7 and the temps are up to 69 degrees at full load. That’s 18 degrees higher than when it was a triple-core config. I don’t plan on overclocking with my current board, so I’m not sure if I should just reseat it with some AS5 or just bite the bullet and buy a cooler I can take to another system down the road. What do you think? –James Lloyd</p><p><strong>The Doctor Responds:</strong> The Doc remembers fondly going through his first tray of Phenom II X4 and Phenom II X2 CPUs, checking to see which Deneb-based dies ran stably with additional cores or cache switched on. AMD never made it clear how many of its cut-down models suffered imperfect silicon, or if it remarked processors from higher-end bins to meet market demand for the cheaper parts.</p><p>We do know from testing that a great many of the deliberately handicapped chips only worked with certain on-die resources disabled. Those that could be enhanced in some way often demonstrated other strange behaviors&mdash;inexplicable crashes, for example, or abnormally high temperatures like you’re seeing.</p><p>That your Rana-based Athlon II X3 still operates with all of its cores enabled is definitely cool (and quite a testament to the value of those CPUs). But the Doc wouldn’t recommend spending money chasing rising temperatures. A beefier heatsink may help in the short term, but the phenomenon you’re describing will only worsen over time. And by then, even a three-core config could be dicey. Now’s the time to go easy on this aging component until it can be replaced.</p><p>Sure, if you’ve some thermal paste handy, feel free to pop your sink and reapply. Cleaning off a crusty old layer could help bring your peak temps down a bit. But then think about dialing back to three cores until it’s time to upgrade. An affordable Pentium G3258 or Athlon X4 760K would give you a lot more speed, and a modern graphics card&mdash;even a mainstream one&mdash;would augment your folding performance far more than that one missing core.</p><p><em><strong>Submit your questions to: <a href="mailto:mailto:"></a></strong></em></p> Half a Dozen 2-in-1 Chromebooks Slated for 2015, Does Anyone Care? and its hardware partners will try to win over non-education markets with dual-purpose Chromebooks.Thu, 28 May 2015 18:05:36 +0000 <h3>Convertible Chromebook, anyone?</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus Flip"></p><p>Apparently Google and its hardware partners are going to target non-education markets with at least six 2-in-1 Chromebook models scheduled for release this year. Two of them will come directly from Google, while Hewlett-Packard and Acer also plan to release branded models of their own. These upcoming systems will join existing 2-in-1 Chromebooks, which include Lenovo's N21 and the Flip 2-in-1 that Asus announced in April.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to Digitimes</a>, one of Google's planned Chromebooks is a 12.85-inch model powered by Nvidia's Tegra 6 SoC that will target the high-end segment, while the other is a 10.1-inch version with a Rockchip solution inside for the entry level market. Both will feature a detachable display and go into volume production in the third quarter.</p><p>As for HP, one of the two will feature a detachable display, while the other will sport a folding design similar to Asus' Flip. Acer, meanwhile, will launch a convertible powered by Intel's Skylake platform.</p><p>It will be interesting to see how consumers react to the new designs. According to data collected by Gartner, Chromebook sales are <a href="">expected to rise 27 percent</a> year-over-year, though that only equates to 7.3 million units. In addition, it's mostly the education segment that's buying these cloud-based systems -- the education market accounted for 60 percent of Chromebooks sales in the U.S. last year.</p> Lenovo's Concept Phone Turns Your Tabletop into a Keyboard project phone offers a glimpse of the future.Thu, 28 May 2015 15:47:16 +0000 <h3>Advancing the smartphone</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Lenovo Smart Cast"></p><p>Remember when telephones were used for making actual phone calls? They used to have cords and a rotary dial, and they weren't very smart. Not like today's devices, anyway. The modern day smartphone is used for all kinds of tasks, even occasionally making voice calls, and models continue to get smarter. Enter Lenovo's concept phone called Smart Cast, which among other things can project a virtual keyboard onto whatever surface you're working on.</p><p>This isn't the first time we've seen a projected keyboard. Laser projection planks already exist, like the one <a href="" target="_blank">Brookstone sells</a> for $120. But unless someone wants to set us straight, Lenovo's Smart Cast would be the first phone to integrate a projected keyboard.</p><p>To use it, you'd flip the kickstand in the back and prop the device up in portrait mode. On top is a swiveling projector that you turn so that it can beam the keyboard onto your table, counter, or whatever surface you have in front of you.</p><p>What's neat about this is that you're not limited to just a keyboard -- it can project a virtual piano, games like Fruit Ninja, and whatever else developers conceive. Check it out:</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe><p>"Whereas today smartphones are limited to consuming content, Smart Cast changes the paradigm by giving users a smart phone with built-in laser projector, infrared motion detector and high-performance algorithms," <a href="" target="_blank">Lenovo explains</a>. "This first ever technology combination opens a new world of interaction: Users can project a large virtual touch screen onto a table to type with a virtual keyboard and work with specific productivity apps (calculator, drawing, note-taking and even edit in Microsoft PowerPoint)."</p><p>As shown in the video, you can also use the built-in projector to show movies and video clips on a wall or give presentations.</p><p>Pretty neat, though whether it ever evolves from concept to shipping product remains to be seen.</p> Charter Champions Net Neutrality as Regulators Ponder Time Warner Merger says it will not throttle traffic even if the FCC's net neutrality rules are overturned in court.Wed, 27 May 2015 20:41:23 +0000 neutralityNewsTime Warner Cable <h3>Saying the right things</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Charter Van"></p><p>I'm going to make a prediction: Charter's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable will clear regulatory approval even though the FCC recently squashed Comcast's attempt to do the same. Why? For one, Charter is a smaller company than Comcast, so the same monopolistic concerns don't apply (not to the same extent, anyway). And secondly, Charter&nbsp;has publicly vowed not to implement so-called paid Internet fast lanes, even if the FCC's net neutrality rules end up being overturned in court.</p><p>That's a big deal. The FCC has <a href="" target="_blank">fought with cable companies and telecoms</a> over the issue of net neutrality for some time now, and only recently came out victorious by having broadband Internet reclassified as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This gave the FCC the power it needed to implement government regulated net neutrality rules.</p><p>Ever since the FCC issued its <a href="" target="_blank">Open Internet Order</a>, cable companies and telecoms have been fighting back. It's a divided issue, and whether or not you agree with the FCC's strategy isn't the point here. Charter's vow to honor certain stipulations no matter how things turn out, however, is the point.</p><p> <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Verge</em></a> reports that Charter boss Tom Rutledge stated during an interview yesterday that his cable company will "not block, throttle, or engage in paid prioritization of Internet traffic" no matter how things shake out. While probably not a legally binding promise, it is something that the FCC could bring up if the Open Internet Order is overturned in court and Charter proceeds to break its promise.</p><p>It's also worth pointing out that Charter doesn't own any TV networks. One of the things that worked against Comcast's proposed merger with TWC was its ownership of NBCUniversal. Had the deal gone through, Comcast would have been in better position to promote its own content over that of rivals, creating an uneven playing field. The same concern doesn't apply to Charter.</p><h3>Unlikely Supporter</h3><p>In related news, Comcast chief Brian Roberts is apparently in favor of Charter's merger with TWC. Rather than play the part of sore loser, Roberts issued a pretty strong statement backing the move.</p><p>"This deal makes all the sense in the world," Roberts said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to Engadget</a>. "I would like to congratulate all the parties."</p><p>Whether or not he's being sincere or perhaps has an ulterior motive isn't known, but at least publicly, he harbors no ill-will at Charter for swooping in.</p> How To Safely Share Your Home Wi-Fi with Friends and Family show you how to configure your router to share a wireless connection with visitors, without compromising securityWed, 27 May 2015 18:00:00 +0000 tonetworkingwi-fi <h3>Sharing your Wi-Fi doesn't mean giving up security</h3><p>When family and friends come over, the first thing they inevitably want to do is connect their mobile devices to your home network, especially if they’re staying for an extended visit. Picture a holiday like Thanksgiving. Your sister Suzy and her husband Jim both have mobile phones that get crummy service in your area, and their kids – your nieces and nephews – want to watch Netflix on their tablets. If you haven’t configured your wireless router to accommodate visitors who want to tap into your home’s Wi-Fi, then you have to choose between denying everyone access or sharing your main password.</p><p>Luckily there’s another way. Every modern day router should have an option for sharing your Wi-Fi on a guest account with limited or restricted access to knobs and dials that visitors have no business playing with. We’ll show you how to set this up, as well as make recommendations on how to secure your connection.</p><p><strong>Setup a Guest Network</strong></p><p>Setting up a guest account is rather easy. It starts with logging into your router, which is many cases involves opening your browser and navigating to This can vary by router model and manufacturer, and since we can’t read your mind or spy on your connection like the NSA, you’ll have to refer to your router’s user manual or look it up on Google, Bing, etc.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Router Login"></p><p>Once you’ve typed in the appropriate address, you should see a pop-up asking for a username and password. In most cases, a default username is Admin. Your password will be whatever you set when first configuring your router, or if you’re setting it up for the first time, check the router for a label that has the default login information.</p><p>We’ll assume this is all a piece of cake and you’re able to log into your router. Once you’re inside, look for a Guest Network option. Again, the location and steps to get there will vary by router. On most Asus routers, like the RT-AC68U we’re using for this guide, you’ll find the option in the left-hand column. </p><p>Turn on the Guest Network for either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, or for both. The 2.4GHz band is supported by more devices and is better at penetrating obstacles like walls and doors, whereas the 5GHz band will likely be less congested. It also offers more throughput, though this shouldn't be much of an issue for a friend or family member that’s temporarily tapping into your network to surf the web.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Router Freeloaders"></p><p>Give the guest network a name and be sure to select a security protocol – we recommend WPA2 Personal. Select a password that isn’t easy to guess, yet isn’t so complex that it’s going to take everyone dozens of tries to input correctly. Since this is a guest network with presumably limited access to the router’s mission critical controls, you can be slightly less vigilant here (though still avoid easy to guess passwords like “password” or “123456”). Otherwise, if you’re intent on selecting an overly complex password, you can print it on a business card or piece of paper before your guests arrive and then pass it around. Afterwards, destroy the card, change the guest password, or disable guest access.</p><p>On the Asus RT-AC68U, we also have the option of limiting the amount of time guests can be logged in, and whether or not we want to allow access to the Intranet, which is your local network. If your router gives you the option of restricting local access, take advantage of it. This ensures that your nieces and nephews can do things like check Facebook, but not tap into your NAS box.</p><p><strong>Keep It on the Down Low</strong></p><p>Some routers give you the option of hiding the SSID, which is the name of the network you configured. In our above example, the guest SSID is “Freeloaders” though on many Asus routers, there’s no easy to way to stop it from broadcasting the SSID like there is with the main SSID(s).</p><p>If your particular router has an option to disable broadcasting your guest network, you can enable it to keep the SSID hidden. Keep in mind that determined hackers can still sniff it out, so this doesn’t add a lot of security, though it will prevent casual snoops like a neighbor from knowing it’s there and trying to leech off of your Wi-Fi.</p><p>Continue on for more tips and tricks.</p><p><strong>Hey Mac, Where’s the Filter?</strong></p><p>Yet another option that adds a slim layer of protection is MAC (Media Access Control) filtering. Each Internet-connected device has a unique MAC address associated with its network adapter or network interface card (NIC), and by taking advantage of MAC filtering, you can limit which gadgets are allowed to connect to your network.</p><p>Here’s the rub – it’s not totally secure. As with hiding the SSID, a determined hacker can thwart your efforts, in this case by spoofing the MAC address of a device that you’ve allowed access. However, it’s yet another method to prevent casual leeches from sucking your bandwidth.</p><p>It’s also a bit of a pain to setup, especially when you’re dealing with multiple devices. But if you’re determined to go this route, you’ll need to know the MAC address of the PC or mobile device requesting access. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CMD MAC Address"></p><p>In Windows XP, 7, and Vista, click Start, select Run, type CMD and hit enter (if you’re rocking Windows 8, right-click the Start button and follow the same instructions). In the Command prompt that opens, type ipconfig /all and press enter. What you’re looking for is a set of six two-character entries separated by dashes. You’ll find this under the Ethernet adapter section next to Physical Address.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MAC Address"></p><p>Alternately, you can open up the Control Panel, select Network and Internet, click Network and Sharing Center, and select Change adapter settings in the left-hand side. Right-click on the connection that you’re trying to look up a MAC address for and select Properties. Finally, hover your mouse cursor over the “Connect using” text box and the MAC address will appear.</p><p>To find the MAC address on an Android device, tap Menu &gt; Settings &gt; About Phone &gt; Status. Scroll down until you see WiFi MAC address. Or you can navigate to Menu &gt; Settings &gt; Wireless and network &gt; WiFi Settings. TheMAC address will be listed under the Advanced section.</p><p>Finally, for iOS devices, tap Settings &gt; General &gt; About to see the MAC address.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MAC Filter"></p><p>Once you have the MAC addresses of the devices you want to allow, go into your router’s settings, find the MAC filtering option, and input them one at a time. The process for this varies by router, so once again, you’ll have to refer to your router’s documentation if you can’t find the option for MAC filtering on your own.</p><p><strong>Create a QR Code for Easy Access</strong></p><p>This final tip isn’t necessarily a security feature, but is intended for the convenience of your guests (and it will increase your geek cred among family and friends). By creating a QR code for your wireless connection, you can avoid having to repeat your SSID password to Android users. It also makes it more feasible to create stronger passwords, though this won’t be much benefit to iOS or Windows users.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="InstaWiFi"></p><p>In any event, there are multiple programs out there. Two that we recommend are <a href=";hl=en" target="_blank">InstaWifi</a> and <a href=";hl=en" target="_blank">Wifi QR Code Generator</a>. Both do essentially the same thing – fire up the app, input your guest network credentials, and then print out the QR code it generates. When your Android device-wielding friends arrive, they can simply scan the QR code you printed out and connect to your Wi-Fi.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Storage, Storage, and More Storage! state drives are where the performance is at, but when it comes to bulk storage, mechanical hard drives still offer the best bang for buckWed, 27 May 2015 17:22:49 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Toshiba Drive"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Solid state drives are where the performance is at, but when it comes to bulk storage, mechanical hard drives still offer the best bang for buck. Just ask yourself, can you configure 3TB of SSD storage for under a C-note? Yeah, right. But on the flip side, check out today's top deal for a <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-INT-HDD-N82E16822149396-_-0527&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Toshiba 3TB Internal Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$90</strong> with free shipping (normally $105 - use coupon code: [<strong>ESCASNT45</strong>]). 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First pics of the forthcoming card have found their way to the web, along with a few specs.</p><p> Both <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a> and <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a> posted separate images of the card, including full body shots. Nothing particularly wild stands out about the card from an aesthetic standpoint -- it uses what looks like a traditional Nvidia heatsink cooler with the "GTX 980 Ti" branding imprinted along the edge.</p><p> According to the former source, early benchmarks show the card rendering double the amount of hair on Witcher's chest compared to the GTX 980.</p><p> As for the hardware specs, it has two power connectors, 8-pin + 6-pin, and the same display connectors as the Titan X&mdash;DVI, HDMI, and three DisplayPorts.</p><p> Based on previous rumors and leaked info, it's also believed the GTX 980 Ti will feature 2,816 CUDA cores, 176 TMUs, 96 ROPs, 1,000MHz core clock, 1,079MHz boost clock, and 6GB of GDDR5 clocked at&nbsp; 1,753MHz on a 384-bit bus. Naturally, you'll want to take all those with a pinch of salt.</p><p> Pricing for the card is expected to be in the range of $700 to $750.</p> Microsoft Convinces LG and Sony to Pre-install Office and Skype on Android Tablets of tablet makers will pre-install select Microsoft apps on their Android slates in the coming months.Wed, 27 May 2015 16:51:08 +0000 <h3>Android partners line up for Office</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows Android"></p><p>Part of the reason Steve Ballmer stepped down as CEO of Microsoft was so that fresh blood could navigate Redmond in the mobile era that we now find ourselves in. Enter Satya Nadella, current boss of Microsoft, who continues to push an aggressive multi-platform strategy for the company's top applications. That includes Office, and in the coming months, you're going to see it pre-installed on several new Android tablets.</p><p>Earlier this week, Microsoft announced an additional 20 Android tablet makers that have agreed to pre-load select services and apps on their slates, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.</p><p>Several of them are likely to be unfamiliar names to anyone living in the U.S., such as Grupo Nucleo (Argentina), Inco (Mexico), Cube (China), and Postivo (Brazil), to list just a few. However, there are few familiar faces in the crowd -- Haier (China), LG (Global), and Sony (Global).</p><p>In particular, LG will pre-load the aforementioned apps on its forthcoming tablet and Sony has promised to do the same with its Xpera Z4 tablet within the next 90 days. Together with 11 other manufacturers including Dell and Samsung, Microsoft now has 31 hardware partners around the world that have agreed to pimp its apps on Android slates.</p><p>Cross-platform support is the key to Microsoft's strategy as it transitions to a <a href="" target="_blank">Windows as a service</a> business model. It remains to be seen what the long term costs for Windows will be, but however that shakes out, the company will continue to push its accompanying software on alternate platforms, namely Android and iOS. Incidentally, Microsoft also just <a href="" target="_blank">recently announced</a> that separate Cortana apps will be available for Android and iOS when Windows 10 ships.</p> Researchers Make Green Pitch for Wooden Semiconductors semiconductors could cut down on electronic waste.Wed, 27 May 2015 16:20:39 +0000 <h3>A semiconductor Mother Nature would approve of</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Green Semiconductor"></p><p>U.S. and Chinese researchers have come up with a potential solution for all the electronic waste that's created by obsolete semiconductors -- wooden chips. No, not the kind you decorate your yard with or use to fuel a camp fire, but biodegradable computer chips made out of cellulose nanofibril (CNF), an eco-friendly material that's derived almost entirely from wood.</p><p>Taking into consideration the rapid advances in technology and subsequent short lifespan of electronic devices due to frequent upgrades, the <a href="" target="_blank">researchers claim</a> that using a wood-based CNF substrate "is clearly an ideal substitution for electronics that exist today."</p><p>Since pure CNF film is vulnerable to water and moisture, the researchers coat the substrate with a special epoxy resin to make it much more hydrophobic.</p><p>"You don't want it to expand or shrink too much. Wood is a natural hydroscopic material and could attract moisture from the air and expand," project leader <a href="" target="_blank">Zhiyong Cai said</a>, according to <em>New Electronics</em>. "With an epoxy coating on the surface of the CNF, we solved both the surface smoothness and the moisture barrier."</p><p>One of the other benefits to wood-based chips is that they don't require the use of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a toxic material containing arsenic that's commonly found in high-speed communication devices like mobile phones and tablets.</p><p>As for the cost of these eco-friendly semiconductors, it would depend on the application.</p> Charter Buys Time Warner Cable hopes that its fourth attempt at buying Time Warner Cable will be approved.Wed, 27 May 2015 03:31:58 +0000 <p> Charter announced today that&nbsp;<a href=";p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2053012">it's buying Time Warner Cable</a>, with the intent to bolster its number of subscribers across the States. With the purchase of Time Warner Cable, Charter also announced that it would acquire Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion.</p><p> The three companies will form a new company under the name New Charter, and have a total customer base of roughly 23.9 million, which would place the company in second place behind Comcast's 27 million strong customer base.</p><p> The statement from Charter:</p><p>"The combination of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House will create a leading broadband services and technology company serving 23.9 million customers in 41 states. The announced transactions will drive investment into the combined entity's advanced broadband network, allow for wider deployment of new competitive facilities based WiFi networks in public places, and the footprint expansion of optical networks to serve the large marketplace of small and medium sized businesses. This will result in faster broadband speeds, better video products, including more high definition channels, more affordable phone service and more competition, for consumers and businesses."</p><p> The New Charter&nbsp;deal still needs to go through regulatory approval by the FCC. The most recent Time Warner Cable attempt by Comcast went through a barrage of hurdles and was ultimately canned at the regulatory stages. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, indicated that while the Charter and Time Warner Cable deal would go through the same scrutiny, he wasn't totally against such mergers as long as the results would be good for consumers.</p><p> According to&nbsp; <a href="">a statement by Tom Wheeler</a>:</p><p>“The FCC reviews every merger on its merits and determines whether it would be in the public interest. In applying the public interest test, an absence of harm is not sufficient. The Commission will look to see how American consumers would benefit if the deal were to be approved.”</p><p>This is the fourth time that Charter has tried to court Time Warner Cable.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD, Asus 23.8-inch Monitor, and More! Christmas in Dumb and Dumber had it all wrong, the most annoying sound in the world isn't him screeching. What's even worse is that dreadful clicking and grinding sound your hard drive makes when it's on its last legs.Tue, 26 May 2015 19:28:56 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Samsung 850 Pro"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber had it all wrong, the most annoying sound in the world isn't him screeching. What's even worse is that dreadful clicking and grinding sound your hard drive makes when it's on its last legs. And of course it always during that brief period where you've neglected to back up your data. It stinks, but if you want turn a sour situation into something sweet, then replace that dying HDD with today's top deal -- <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820147361-_-0526&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Samsung 850 Pro 2.5-inch 512GB SSD</a> for <strong>$260</strong> with free shipping (normally $300; free G.Skill 8GB desktop memory w/ purchase, limited offer). It's fast, capacious, and comes with free memory!</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824236335-_-0526&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus VN248H-P Slim Bezel Black 23.8-inch 5ms LED LCD Monitor w/ Built-in Speakers</a> for <strong>$150</strong> with free shipping (normally $170 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNT23</strong>]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824009588-_-0526&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Acer G6 Series G276HLGbd 27-inch 6ms Monitor</a> for <strong>$170</strong> with free shipping (normally $200 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNT22</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MEMORY-N82E16820233536-_-0526&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1866 Desktop Memory</a> for <strong>$105</strong> with free shipping (normally $110 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASNT42</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817139051-_-0526&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair CX750M 750W Modular Power Supply</a> for <strong>$72</strong> with free shipping (normally $80 - use coupon code: [<strong>0526USDMA20</strong>]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)</p> SanDisk Dangles Z400s Solid State Drive in Front of OEMs cost effective drives are intended to replace HDDs in laptops and specialized systems (like digital signage and surveillance).Tue, 26 May 2015 18:18:37 +0000 state drive <h3>SSDs at HDD prices</h3><p>Have you ever shopped a promising looking laptop only to be turned off by the fact that it's running a mechanical hard drive instead of a solid state drive? SanDisk feels your pain, and to alleviate the problem, the company came up with the Z400s line, purportedly a cost effective solution intended to convince PC OEMs and embedded application designers to roll with an SSD.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="SanDisk Z400s"></p><p>SanDisk isn't short on claims, such as saying these new drives are "designed to deliver a delightful user experience" while maintaining reliability and affordable price points. And really, aren't "delightful user experiences" what we're all after?</p><p>More specifically, the Z440s line is supposed to outperform HDDs by 20x, while providing 5x more reliability and consuming 20x less power, all at price points that are on par with HDDs.&nbsp;That translates into sequential read and write speeds of up to 549MB/s and 330MB/s, respectively -- not too shabby.</p><p>“With a single architecture, SanDisk is able to provide OEMs with an affordable solution for displacing HDDs in today’s cutting edge consumer devices, and help embedded application designers avoid overpaying for un-needed space&mdash;all while delivering the peak performance and high-reliability that only SSDs can supply," <a href="" target="_blank">said Rizwan Ahmed</a>, senior director of product marketing, client platform solutions, SanDisk.</p><p>The Z400s line comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities. SanDisk said it's begun sampling the drives in mSATA, 2.5-inch, and M.2 form factors. Unfortunately, the company didn't mention any MSRPs, so we'll have to trust its claim that they're inexpensive.</p> Will Your CPU Bottleneck Your Graphics Card? refund, graduation gift, bonus from work... you've got some long green burning a hole in your pocket and you want to use it for a sweet video card upgrade. Is your CPU up to it?Tue, 26 May 2015 18:00:00 +0000 <h5></h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Nvidia Titan X"></p><h5>How to figure out whether your system is going to put a damper on your video card upgrade plans</h5><p> Tax refund, graduation gift, bonus from work... you've got some long green burning a hole in your pocket and you want to use it for a sweet video card upgrade. There's just one hiccup: Your rig isn't exactly up to date with the most whizz-bang hardware. You might wonder how to determine if your video card upgrade will be held back by your CPU. In order to answer that question, it's important to know what a bottleneck is, what happens when a bottleneck occurs, and some examples so that you're aware of it when it occurs.</p><h5>What Is a Bottleneck?&nbsp;</h5><p> A bottleneck is when a PC is performing a very demanding application and it appears that some aspect of the application can (or should) be performing better. In games, a telltale sign of a bottleneck is that the video card achieves much lower benchmark scores and performance than what most people with the same setup experience. As the performance of the CPU and the video card are largely responsible for how well the game runs, the blame is put on the CPU for causing the performance bottleneck, hence "CPU bottleneck."</p><p> Fortunately, there's one easy test to figure out whether you'll have a CPU bottleneck: Monitor the CPU and GPU loads while playing a game. If the CPU load is very high (about 70 percent or more) and significantly higher than the video card's load, then the CPU is causing a bottleneck. <br> What's going on in a Bottleneck Condition?&nbsp;</p><p>Using video games as an example, a typical application cycle could look like this:</p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Chart 1" style="width: 550px;"></p><p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>A simplified flowchart of how a video game runs.</strong></p><p> When the CPU is under heavy load, it has trouble running through this loop in a timely manner. For example, in order to meet a buttery-smooth 60fps, the CPU has to reach the "Render Graphics" step in 1/60 of a second, or less. If the CPU can't, then it's going to perform that step less often. If the video card is more than capable of rendering the game at a frame rate faster than 60fps, then it will sit idly until the CPU gives it render commands.</p><p> This issue is similar on old eight-bit consoles, when there was too much going on at once. The game's logic would try to be done in 1/60 of a second. If it couldn't complete all of the processing in that time, another 1/60 of a second would be used, which would result in a slow-down effect.</p><h5>How To Monitor Your System</h5><p> In order to monitor your rig's CPU and video card load, you'll need to set up a couple of programs that will capture data over time. For monitoring the CPU, Windows has a built-in tool called Performance Monitor. To monitor the video card, the GPU profiling tool GPU-Z ( <a href=""></a> comes with a logger that captures data.</p><p> To start Performance Monitor:</p><p> 1. Go to Control Panel &gt; System and Security &gt; Administrative Tools, right-click Performance Monitor, and select "Run as administrator."</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 1"></p><p> 2. Select "Data Collector Sets" from the left pane, then right-click "User Defined" in the right pane, and select New &gt; Data Collector Set. This will open a wizard.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 2"></p><p> 3. Name the Data Collector Set and choose "Create manually (Advanced)," then click "Next."&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 3" style="width: 500px;"></p><p> 4. In "What type of data do you want to include?," select "Create data logs," and check only "Performance counter." Then click "Next." Picture</p><p style="text-align: center;"> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 4" style="width: 500px;"></p><p> 5. In "Which performance counter would you like to log?," click the "Add..." button. Look for the "Processor" category and expand it. Select "% Processor Time," and in the "Instances of selected object" below, add "&lt;All Instances&gt;," then press "OK." Set the "Sample Interval" to one second.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 5"></p><p> 6.&nbsp;Choose a location to save the data capture. Every time you run the capture, it will create a new folder in that location. You can click "Finish" at this point. When you want to begin capturing CPU load data, select the Data Collector that was created and press the green arrow button on the top toolbar. To stop, press the black square next to it.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 6"></p><p> 7. To open the captured data, locate the folder where you saved it and find the file named DataCollector01.blg. Opening that file will present a graph of the data capture.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 7"></p><p> 8. To start a video card data capture in GPU-Z, go to the "Sensors" tab and tick the "Log to file" checkbox at the bottom. It will ask you where to store the log file. To stop logging, tick it again.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Picture 8"></p><p> If you have Microsoft Excel or a similar program, you can change the extension of the GPU-Z log file to ".csv" and it will format it to be spreadsheet-friendly.</p><h4>Examples of the CPU Bottleneck in Action</h4><h5>The Test Setup</h5><p>Here's the hardware we're using for this demonstration:&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 1"></p><p>To simulate different levels of processing power, the CPU will be tuned to four different settings at the BIOS level. Using PassMark's PerformanceTest software, scores can be used to roughly compare what the CPU achieves versus other CPUs.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 2"></p><h5>The Games</h5><p>These games will be used to determine whether a CPU bottleneck occurs. They were chosen as a mix of older and newer games of varying genres. Unless noted otherwise, all games were tested at 1080p using the highest quality preset or options and no anti-aliasing, unless it was part of the preset. If a game did not have a benchmarking utility, FRAPS was used to capture a minute of data and the game was run under a repeatable test.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 3"></p><h5></h5><h5>Test Results</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 4"></p><p>With this as the baseline, the GTX 460 SE is certainly under almost full load for most of the games, but the CPU is under a high load of above 70 percent as well. This configuration will definitely bottleneck a video card upgrade. The question is, how much?&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 5"></p><p>While there is improvement across most games with a better video card, the system show signs of CPU bottlenecking, as expected. The GTX 980 should perform much faster, rather than up to double the performance improvement over the old GTX 460 SE.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 6"></p><p>Adding 50 percent more clock speed to the CPU shows a similar increase in performance across all games. In an interesting case, Unreal Tournament 3 was able to really stress the CPU to the point of bottlenecking, despite being a game from 2008.</p><p>To explain the lower GPU loads in some games despite having higher frame rates, the video card was running at full speed throughout this test. In the previous test, the video card didn't consider itself busy enough to run at full speed.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 7"></p><p>Another increase in speed gives the video card more render commands and the frame rate goes up accordingly. Still, with the average CPU load above 70 percent in most of these games, it may bottleneck future upgrades.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="CPUbn_Table 8"></p><p>At its fullest potential (at stock speeds), the CPU is able to keep the video card busy most of the time. A future video card upgrade wouldn't be bottlenecked, assuming CPU requirements for games don't increase dramatically.&nbsp;</p><h5>Will Your CPU Bottleneck that Video Card?</h5><p>In short, depending on the game, if the CPU's load is consistently very high already, the CPU will very likely hold back the performance of video card upgrades. By profiling the CPU and GPU load of games you normally play, you can make better decisions for your upgrade path. Based on the results from this test:</p><p>* If the CPU load is maxed out at 100 percent across the board, the CPU needs to be upgraded first.<br>* If the CPU load is hovering between 70 percent and 100 percent, a video card upgrade will still offer an improvement, but the upgrade path is limited. Unless you plan on upgrading the CPU in the near future, avoid high-end video cards. A GeForce GTX 960 or Radeon R9 280 is about the most powerful card that should be considered.<br>* If the CPU load is below 70 percent most of the time, any video card upgrade will likely not be bottlenecked.</p><p>However, with lower overhead APIs such as Mantle, DirectX 12, and Vulkan, one can expect a bit more life out of old CPUs in the future.</p> Red Hat Takes Fedora 22 Out of Beta, Now Available to All 22 marks the return to a six month release schedule.Tue, 26 May 2015 16:30:50 +0000 22linuxNewsred hat <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Fedora"></p><h3></h3><h3>Choose your own adventure -- Fedora 22 Cloud, Server, or Workstation</h3><p>It was barely more than a month ago that Red Hat made Fedora 22 available in beta form. If you've been holding out for a final release, today is your day -- Fedora 22 received its final coat of polish is now available in three different editions.</p><p>They include Fedora 22 Cloud, Fedora 22 Server, and Fedora 22 Workstation. This is the second version of Fedora to offer multiple targeted options for cloud computing, servers, and desktops and laptops belonging to developers and creators. It also marks a return a to Fedora's six-month cadence, meaning a new version should arrive around Halloween.</p><p>Fedora 22 builds on its predecessor and is "not radically different" from Fedora 21, though it does have a number of new and improved features. They're mostly specific to the individual releases. For example, Fedora 22 Cloud boasts updated Docker images that you can use as the base of your containerized applications, an official Vagrant box for developers, and several Atomic improvements; Fedora 22 Server features a new Database Server role through Rolekit; and Fedora 22 Workstation gets better notifications, refined themes, and several software improvements.</p><p>You can grab <a href="" target="_blank">Fedora 22 here</a>.</p> Microsoft's Cortana Voice Assistant Heads to Android and iOS long last, Cortana is expanding to non-Windows devices.Tue, 26 May 2015 16:06:52 +0000 10 <h3>New playgrounds for Cortana</h3><p>It's been sort of expected that Microsoft would eventually make its Cortana digital voice assistant available on Android and iOS, especially with its multi-platform push for other software, like Office. And wouldn't you know it, Microsoft today announced plans to make available separate Cortana apps for each platform.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Cortana Android"></p><p>Cortana on Android and iOS won't be as fully functional as it is on Windows devices, though it will deliver notifications and be able to "do most of the things" it does on your PC or on a Windows phone, Microsoft says.</p><p>"You can have Cortana remind you to pick up milk the next time you’re at the grocery store, and then your phone will wake up and buzz with the reminder. You’ll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you’re on so you don’t miss anything," Microsoft explained in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p><p>That said, you won't be able to toggle settings or open apps through Cortana on Android or iOS, nor will you be able to say "Hey Cortana" for hands-free operation. These are things that Microsoft says are too deeply integrated to incorporate in alternate OSes.</p><p>In addition to Cortana's expansion, Microsoft also announced a "Phone Companion" app that will be integrated into Windows 10. The app is intended to connect your Windows 10 PC to whatever device you own, regardless of platform (well, as long as it's Windows, Android, or iOS).</p><p>The companion app will configure your mobile phone so that you can sync files via OneDrive.</p><iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="620"></iframe> Intel's Braswell NUC Breaks Cover tiny PCs feature 6-watt processors.Mon, 25 May 2015 15:27:28 +0000 <h3>Braswell crashes the mini PC party</h3><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel NUC"></p><p> Intel continues to release new NUC models, the latest of which feature 6-watt processors based on the company's Braswell architecture inside. <a href="" target="_blank">Fanless Tech</a> discovered&nbsp;two new additions on Intel's website, the NUC5CPYH with a Celeron N3050 and the NUC5PPYH with a Pentium N3700.</p><p> Braswell is the 14nm successor to Intel's 22nm Bay Trail-D line and is intended for tablet PCs and low-end desktops. Processors based on Braswell don't consume much power and are cheaper than Intel's Core M Broadwell CPUs, which makes them attractive for systems like the NUC.</p><p> The Celeron N3050 found in the NUC5CPYH is a 64-bit dual-core chip clocked at 1.6GHz with a burst speed of up to 2.16GHz and 1MB of L2 cache. It supports up to 8GB of DDR3L-1600 memory and is armed with Intel HD Graphics clocked at 320MHz, with a burst frequency of 600MHz.</p><p> Other features of the NUC5CPYH include four USB 3.0 ports (one is a charging port), SDXC memory card reader, HDMI output, GbE LAN port, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a TOSLINK optical digital audio output. Pricing for a barebones model starts at $140.</p><p> The Pentium N3700 found in the NUC5PPYH is a 64-bit quad-core chip clocked at 1.6GHz with a burst frequency of 2.4GHz, 2MB of L2 cache, and support for 8GB of DDR3L-1600 memory. It has the same graphics as the Celeron N3050.</p><p> A barebones NUC5PPYH starts at around $180. It shares the same features as the aforementioned model, both of which support a single SO-DIMM memory module and a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD, according to <a href="" target="_blank">Intel (PDF)</a>.</p> Legal Rift: Oculus Founder Sued by Hawaii-based VR Firm He Once Worked With lawsuit to hit Oculus VR.Mon, 25 May 2015 14:17:17 +0000 riftPalmer Luckey <h3> This is the second lawsuit alleging use of stolen tech in the Oculus Rift </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Palmer Luckey 001"></p><p>Facebook-owned Oculus VR finds itself at the heart of another legal battle. <a target="_blank" href=";feedName=technologyNews">Total Recall Technologies (TRT) is suing both Oculus and its founder Palmer Luckey</a> for “breach of contract and wrongful exploitation” of its virtual reality-related intellectual property.</p><p> The Hawaii-based company alleges that it enlisted Luckey’s help to build a VR headset prototype in 2011 and that the ensuing collaboration lasted until 2012, when he brought it to an abrupt end without consulting them. Luckey, the company further alleges, subsequently began passing off as his own the prototype he had built using materials, design features and confidential info supplied to him by the company. The rest, as they say, is history. Luckey’s Oculus Rift headset became a crowdfunding darling later that year and got acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.</p><p> TRT filed its complaint (<a href="">PDF</a>) with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Thursday, May 20, 2015, almost a year to the day <a href="" target="_blank">ZeniMax Media brought a somewhat similar lawsuit against Oculus</a>. In its complaint, TRT states that Luckey was contractually obligated not to share the info and materials provided to him with any third party, let alone use it for his own benefit, but he flouted those obligations.</p><p> “As a result of Luckey’s breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, TRT has been injured in an amount to be determined,” reads the complaint. “The conduct by Defendants was fraudulent, oppressive, and malicious, and as such constitutes the basis for the award of punitive damages pursuant to California Civil Code 3294.”</p> First Image of AMD's Next-Gen Flagship Graphics Card Hits the Web R9 390X is said to have four 1GB HBM stacks.Mon, 25 May 2015 09:26:44 +0000 cardNewsRadeon R9 390X <h3> A formal announcement is likely next month </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Radeon R9 390x Fiji Hbm"></p><p>Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has promised to officially unveil its newest Radeon flagship graphics card before the ongoing quarter is out. The announcement is most likely to take place at either Computex in early June or a little later at E3's maiden <a href="" target="_blank">PC Gaming Show</a>, and the company and its partners have already begun teasing the product.</p><p> EA technical director <a href="" target="_blank">Johan Andersson</a>, one of the principal architects of the much-acclaimed Frostbite engine, took to Twitter a couple of days back to share an image of an upcoming AMD graphics card many believe is the much-anticipated R9 390X (not the official name). Coming from a man who is known to have worked closely with AMD in the past&mdash;Frostbite was the first major engine to support AMD's Mantle low-level graphics API&mdash;there's really no reason for us to doubt its authenticity.</p><p>"This new island is one seriously impressive and sweet GPU," Andersson wrote with regards to the upcoming card on Twitter Friday, promising AMD that it would be "put to good use." Well, he definitely seems mighty excited about the product.</p><p>Going by some reports, we're probably looking at a <a href="" target="_blank">water-cooled graphics card featuring four 1GB HBM (high-bandwidth memory) stacks on the same interposer as the GPU</a>. HBM has a couple of key advantages over GDDR5 memory in that it delivers greater bandwidth while taking up lesser space. That's probably why the above card looks smaller than current offerings. You can read more about AMD's HBM implementation <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> Zotac Announces Mini PCs with RAID Support RAID in a palm-sized PC.Mon, 25 May 2015 09:00:42 +0000 pcNewsRAIDzotac <h3> R Series PCs will let you combine two disks into a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Mini PC RAID"></p><p>Zotac is a seasoned campaigner when it comes to the mini-PC market, where it has been a key player for many years now. It's once again trying to make its presence felt with the new <a href="" target="_blank">R Series ZBOX mini-PC line</a>.</p><p> Aesthetically, the RI531 and RI323 aren't dissimilar to the company's other ZBOX devices. Deep down, however, there is something that will force those currently on the market for a mini PC to sit up and take notice: They both allow for two 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs to be organized into a <a href="" target="_blank">RAID 0</a> or <a href="">RAID 1</a> setup. The former drive configuration, for those who don't know, improves performance and delivers double the capacity of the smallest drive, whereas the latter is purely about redundancy.</p><p> The two mini PCs are identical in terms of specs, save for a couple of things. The RI531 will come with a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-5010u dual-core processor, whereas the the RI323 will ship with a 1.1GHz Intel 2961Y dual-core chip. Further, with the former you will also get an mSATA SSD slot in addition to the two 2.5-inch SATA slots mentioned above. Specs common to both include up to 16GB of RAM (not included), HDMI port, DisplayPort 1.2, four USB 3.0 ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and three-in-one card reader.</p><p> According to <a href="">Fudzilla</a>, the RI531 and RI323 will be available soon, priced at €349 (roughly $384) and €199 (around $218), respectively. While these are both barebone models with no built-in storage or RAM, there will also be a €459 ($504) RI531 Plus model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB solid-state storage.</p> Intel Lukewarm on Windows 10, Says OS Won't Boost PC Sales in Long Run doesn't see Windows 10 lifting PC sales.Mon, 25 May 2015 08:31:12 +0000 10 <h3> </h3><p><img class="" data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows 10"></p><h3>The chip maker is looking to data centers for growth </h3><p> The PC market fared rather poorly in terms of sales in the first quarter of 2015, recording a pretty significant decline compared to the same period last year. Attributing this decline to a slowdown in the Windows XP replacement trend, however, leading analysts forecast better things for the months and years ahead. While they may expect Windows 10 to have a positive impact on PC sales &mdash; especially in the long run &mdash; Intel isn't convinced.</p><p> "We continue to see growth from [the replacement of Windows XP PCs]," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said at the<a href=";find=Intel" target="_blank"> company's annual shareholder meeting</a> Thursday. "As we entered this year, we are going through another transition, Windows 10 upgrades. And we are seeing some quarter-to-quarter pushing, but we continue to take a view of our long-term forecast. A long-term forecast is the PC market should be flat to slightly down mid-single digits over the long-term."</p><p> The company is banking on other sectors to offset any future losses or stagnation in its consumer PC business. Krzanich, for instance, named data centers as a key area of focus going forward. That's hardly surprising as the company's data center business grew by as much as <a href="" target="_blank">17 percent in 2014</a>.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: PNY CS2111 240GB SSD, WD SE 4TB HDD, and More! knows that a cool graphic adds horsepower to cars and speed to solid state drives, right? Maybe not, but what if you could own an SSD that looks sweet and is fast to boot? Don't dream about it, just check out today's top deal!Fri, 22 May 2015 20:42:34 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Pny 240gb"></p><p><strong>Top Deals:</strong></p><p>Everybody knows that a cool graphic adds horsepower to cars and speed to solid state drives, right? Maybe not, but what if you could own an SSD that looks sweet and is fast to boot? 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According to ESET, the more than two dozen malicious apps were installed by over 600,000 Android users before Google showed them the door.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Creeper"></p><p>"It’s not easy to slip a malicious application into Google’s official Play Store these days. Google’s automated application scanner, Bouncer, helps in reducing the number of malware on the official app store. Yet, some baddies do occasionally get by, as demonstrated by our recent discovery of over 30 scareware applications that have been uploaded to the Play store in the course of the last 9 months," ESET stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p><p>While most of the fake apps pretended to be cheats, none of them delivered on their functionality promises. Instead, they displayed banners in hopes that users would think their Android device was infected. They would then offer to purge their device of the "dangerous virus" by activating a premium-rate SMS subscription.</p><p>All 30 apps behaved the same way, they only differed by name and icon. They were also uploaded by different developers, though ESET suspects they all came from a singular source using multiple accounts.</p><p>Moral of the story? Android users should keep an eye out for the same old tricks malware users have been pulling on Windows users for years.</p> PC Gamer and AMD Line Up Developers for PC Gaming Show at E3 platform gets its own event at E3.Fri, 22 May 2015 19:40:33 +0000 Gamer <h3>First of a kind event for PC gaming fans</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="PCGamingShow"></p><p>Let's face it, there's no other platform like the PC for playing games. You know it, we know it, and deep down inside, console gamers know it, too. That being the case, it's about time the PC got its due at E3, don't you think? Well don't you worry -- PC Gamer and AMD are busy lining up developers for the "AMD Presents the PC Gaming Show Powered by PC Gamer." Yes, that's a mouthful. It's also historically significant.</p><p>How so? Well, for the first time, the PC platform will have its own event during E3. It will give the PC community an opportunity to celebrate PC gaming alongside some of the biggest names in the industry and see what innovations are around the corner (and beyond).</p><p>Newly announced participants include ArenaNet, CCP Games, Creative Assembly, Fullbright, Frictional Games, Frontier Developments, Nexon, Pixel Titans, SCS Software, and Splash Damage.</p><p>They'll join a list of previously announced participants that include Blizzard, Bohemia, Cloud Imperium, Devolver, Paradox, Heart Machine, Square Enix, Tripwire, Humble Bundle, Dean Hall, Cliff Bleszinski and AMD.</p><p>The show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, with Sean 'Day[9]' Plott hosting the event. If you can't make it, don't despair -- it will be live streamed via Twitch.</p><p>For more information, check out the <a href="" target="_blank">show's website</a>.</p> FSP Hydro G Series Power Supplies Tout Swappable Logos's new line of power supplies are 80 Plus Gold certified.Fri, 22 May 2015 16:27:51 +0000 supplyPSU <h3>Pick your color logo</h3><p>Here's a tip -- don't ever pick out a power supply based solely on the design of the manufacturer's logo. That said, if you end up going with one of FSP's new <a href=";SID=532" target="_blank">Hydro G Series PSUs</a>, you'll have the option of applying a red or green logo'd sticker over top of the blue one that comes standard. Luckily (for FSP), these PSUs have more going for them than just stickers.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="FSP Hydro G"></p><p>FSP as a brand has been one of the more reliable makers of PSUs, and we'll give them the benefit of the doubt here unless we learn otherwise. What we know is that these new models are all 80 Plus Gold certified.</p><p>The new models have also been redesigned with an increased focus on cooling. Each one is equipped with a smart 135mm fluid dynamic bearing fan that automatically starts when over a 30 percent load, and then stops when dropping below 20 percent. In addition, the inside has been reworked to accommodate better airflow.</p><p>According to FSP, the Hydro G Series utilizes a server grade design. The PSUs are also modular, each with single +12V rail.</p><p>There are three models available:</p><ul> <li>HG850: 850W, 70.83A on +12V</li><li>HG750: 750W, 62.5A on +12V</li><li>HG650: 650W: 54.16A on +12V</li></ul><p>No word yet on price or availability.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: MSI 970 Gaming AM3+ Mobo, Asus Core i7 Laptop, and More! the budget route on your next build? In that case, AMD might be calling your name. The question is, where should you start? 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This board boasts USB 3.0 connectivity, Killer Gigabit LAN, half a dozen SATA 6Gbps ports, and lots more.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820226679-_-0521&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Mushkin Enhanced ECO2 MKNSSDEC240GB 2.5-inch 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)</a> for <strong>$87.99</strong> with free shipping (normally $99.99)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MOBO-N82E16813130770-_-0521&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">MSI Z97 Gaming 5 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard</a> for <strong>$134.99</strong> with free shipping (normally $149.99)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-LaptopHD-N82E16834232436-_-0521&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus N56JK-DB72 Gaming Laptop Intel Core i7 4710HQ (2.50GHz) 12GB Memory 1TB HDD</a> for <strong>$949</strong> with free shipping (normally $1049)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-EXT-HDD-N82E16822236519-_-0521&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">WD 2TB WD Elements Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive Storage (WDBU6Y0020BBK-NESN)</a> for <strong>$84.99</strong> with free shipping (normally $109.99 - use coupon code: [<strong>0521USMDM31</strong>])</p> AMD's Working on Beta Catalyst Drivers to Solve Hairworks Issue in Witcher 3 your eyes peeled for a Catalyst 15.5 beta release.Thu, 21 May 2015 17:58:50 +0000 witcher 3: wild hunt <h3>Fixing a hairy situation</h3><p>There have been complaints that enabling Nvidia's proprietary Hairworks technology in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt results in what seems like an unnecessary hit on performance, in particular on AMD Radeon graphics cards. Well, there's good news, both from developer and publisher CD Projeckt Red and AMD.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Witcher 3"></p><p>CD Projeckt Red will <a href="" target="_blank">release a patch</a> today for the PC version that aims to improve stability and performance in both cutscenes and gameplay, fix a bunch of bugs, and improve Hairworks performance (a patch for consoles is coming soon). Here's a full list of what the patch brings to the table:</p><ul><li>Improves stability in gameplay and the UI</li><li>Improves performance especially in cutscenes and gameplay</li><li>Fixes grass and foliage popping that could occur after density parameters were changed</li><li>Improves Nvidia Hairworks performance</li><li>Boosted texture anisotropy sampling to 16x on Ultra preset</li><li>Sharpen Post-process settings extended from Off/On to Off/Low/High</li><li>Blood particles will now properly appear after killing enemies on the water</li><li>Corrects a bug where player was able to shoot bolts at friendly NPCs</li><li>Improves menu handling</li><li>Corrects an issue with Stamina regeneration while sprinting</li><li>Fixes a cursor lock issue that sometimes occurred when scrolling the map</li><li>Generally improves world map focus</li><li>Improves input responsiveness when using keyboard</li><li>Corrects some missing translations in the UI</li><li>Corrects an issue in dialogue selections</li><li>Rostan Muggs is back</li><li>Minor SFX improvements</li></ul><p>Good stuff, right? Well, we'll have to wait and see how it affects AMD Radeon graphics card owners, and if you're one of them, don't despair. AMD said it's working on a beta driver release that will improve performance in both Witcher 3 and Project CARS. It will be available "soon," though in the meantime, AMD <a href="" target="_blank">posted some tips</a> on how to deal with performance issues specifically related to Hairworks in Witcher 3.</p> Consumers Continue to Buy Chromebooks as Secondary PCs, Enterprise Still Uninterested sales are predicted to grow 27 percent year-over-year in 2015.Thu, 21 May 2015 17:29:55 +0000 <h3>The platform that refuses to go away</h3><p>Chromebooks received a lukewarm reception when Google introduced them several years ago, though in more recent times, they've grown in popularity. Education remains the primary market for Chromebooks, followed by home consumers looking for a second system. Businesses aren't all that big on Chrome OS, but even with limited contribution from the enterprise market, Chromebook sales in 2015 are expected to rise 27 percent year-over-year, Gartner says.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Chromebook"></p><p>Around the world, Gartner reckons Chromebook sales will reach 7.3 million units. That's not a very big number in the grand scheme of things, but what's interesting to note is the growing interest -- these cloud based systems are slowly capturing more market share rather than fading away in the wake of lower priced Windows laptops.</p><p>In the U.S., the education segment accounted for 60 percent of Chromebook sales last year, while home consumers approached 40 percent. Other businesses made up just over 1 percent of Chromebook sales.</p><p>"The majority of Chromebook users are tech-savvy individuals who purchase one as a companion device to their primary notebook or desktop PC. Others are buying a Chromebook for the household to use as a second low-cost PC alternative," <a href="" target="_blank">said Isabelle Durand</a>, principal analyst at Gartner. </p><p>"The major factors that affect the adoption of Chromebooks by consumers remain the connectivity issue in emerging markets, but also the ability for users to understand and get used to cloud-based applications, and keep content in the cloud and ecosystem," Durand added.</p><p>North America is where the bulk of Chromebooks end up -- 84 percent of them, Gartner says. Part of the reason for that could be that Samsung exited the European Chromebook market so that it could focus on tablets.</p> Razer's Firefly Hard Gaming Mouse Mat Brings the LED Bling you always wanted a mouse mat that lights up, right?Thu, 21 May 2015 15:53:37 +0000 matsNewsrazer <h3>Let there be light</h3><p>Show of hands, how many of you always wished for a mouse mat with LED lighting? Anyone? We're willing to bet that the majority never even thought of such a thing, but Razer did, and the result is the Firefly, a hard gaming mouse mat infused with the company's Chroma lighting feature.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Razer Firefly"></p><p>Razer equipped the Firefly with lighting along its left, right, and bottom borders. The three zones are customizable with up to 16.8 million color options and various lighting effects like reactive, wave, and spectrum -- the same ones found on Razer's Chroma-enabled keyboards. Speaking of which, you can sync Firefly with other Chroma devices.</p><p>The mouse mat itself features a micro-textured finish that's supposed to offer a balance between control and speed. It has a reflective surface that's been optimized for precise mouse movements and rapid in-game responsiveness, Razer says.</p><p>Razer intends to include Firefly in its Chroma SDK, which will give game developers the ability to incorporate custom lighting effects into their game. For example, a developer could make it so that your Chroma devices flash incessantly when a bomb goes off near you, or turn red when your in-game health is in critical condition.</p><p>The Firefly runs $60 and is available to <a href="" target="_blank">pre-order now</a>; it will ship in June.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Linksys AC1900 Wi-Fi Router, Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward Collector's Edition Preorder, and More!'s no rule that says you need a high-end router. By that same token, there's no rule saying you need excellent wireless range or fast file transfers on your home network. But if you want those things, well, skimping on a router is not the way to go.Wed, 20 May 2015 19:37:25 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Linksys AC1900"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>There's no rule that says you need a high-end router. By that same token, there's no rule saying you need excellent wireless range or fast file transfers on your home network. But if you want those things, well, skimping on a router is not the way to go. Instead, check out today's top deal for a Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (EA6900) for $190 with free shipping (normally $200 - use coupon code: [EMCASKX39]; Free Motorola SB6141 cable modem w/ promo code). This router supports up to N600 and AC1300 simultaneous connections, has USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports (one each), six antennas (three internal, three adjustable external), and comes with a free cable modem!</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MOBO-N82E16813130679-_-0520&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">MSI 970A-G43 AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 ATX AMD Motherboard</a> for <strong>$60</strong> with free shipping (normally $70 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX89</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-MEMORY-N82E16820231528-_-0520&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory</a> for <strong>$95</strong> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX28</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-GAME-N82E16832166199-_-0520&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Pre-Order FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward Collector's Edition [Game Download]</a> for <strong>$60</strong> with free shipping (normally $60; $15 promotional gift card w/ purchase, limited offer)</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-EXT-HDD-N82E16822236568-_-0520&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">WD My Passport Ultra 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$85</strong> with free shipping (normally $90 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX48</strong>])</p> Limited Edition Asus Zenbook UX305 in Crystal White is Now Available is only making 200 Zenbook UX305 Ultrabooks in "crystal white."Wed, 20 May 2015 19:22:15 +0000 UX305 <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Asus UX305"></p><h3>Slim, sexy, and limited</h3><p>Our normal reaction to anything that says "limited edition" is to roll our eyes, as if making tens or hundreds of thousands of something truly qualifies as limited. Yeah, right. And that would have been our reaction to the Asus Zenbook UX305 in "crystal white," except that only 200 of these slim and sexy devices are up for grabs.</p><p style="text-align: center;"></p><p>In that case, we're willing to accept the "limited edition" status, especially at the asking price of $999. At that price, we imagine they'll sell out quickly. Here's what you get in return:</p><ul> <li>13.3-inch QHD+ IPS display (3200x1800)</li><li>Intel Core M 5Y71 processor / Integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300</li><li>8GB of LPDDR3 1600MHz RAM</li><li>512GB solid state drive</li><li>SDXC card reader</li><li>HD webcam</li><li>802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0</li><li>3 x USB 3.0; micro HDMI; microphone/headphone combo jack</li><li>Bang &amp; Olufsen ICEpower audio</li><li>45Whr battery</li><li>Windows 8.1</li></ul><p>Not the most powerful laptop in the world, but certainly respectable. We also have to give Asus kudos for going with a 512GB SSD instead of a 256GB or 128GB model, or worse yet, mechanical storage -- eww!</p><p>This is a fanless system that uses "rare chromium copper alloy coils for advanced cooling." It measures 12.8 inches (W) by 8.9 inches (D) by 0.5 inches (H) and weighs 2.6 pounds.</p><p>If you want one, you have to order it <a href="" target="_blank">direct from Asus</a>. Alternatively, you can save a few hundred by going with a non-limited edition black model with half the storage space (256GB), Core M 5Y10 processor, and 802.11n Wi-Fi for $699, also available in the <a href="" target="_blank">Asus Store</a>.</p> Android and iOS App Developers Aren't Real Keen on Porting to Windows 10 doesn't haven't enough market share in mobile to attract Android and iOS app developers.Wed, 20 May 2015 16:01:25 +0000 10 <h3>Uphill battle</h3><p>Several weeks ago, <a href="">Microsoft unveiled</a> a pair of SDKs intended to make it relatively easy for iOS and Android developers to port their apps over to Windows 10 (for mobile devices). Called Project Islandwood (iOS) and Project Astoria (Android), Microsoft envisioned its toolkits transforming Windows from an also-ran into the mobile space to a fleshed out platform, though the company may find itself in a standoff with iOS and Android developers who just aren't interested in porting apps over to a platform that doesn't have a lot of market share.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows Phone"></p><p style="text-align: center;"></p><p>Ironically, that's precisely the problem Microsoft is hoping to solve by offering up its toolkits. If iOS and Android developers port their apps over to Windows, it will flesh out the platform and, in theory, help boost its market share.</p><p>Be that as it may, only one out of more than a dozen app developers <a href="" target="_blank">interviewed by Reuters</a> has plans of porting an app over from Android or iOS to Windows. That app developer is, maker of Candy Crush.</p><p>Though the sample size is too small to reach a definitive conclusion, it doesn't look all that promising. Eight of the developers <em>Reuters </em>spoke with said they aren't planning to develop for Windows 10 at all, though four that already have Windows apps said they will continue to release ones for the platform.</p><p>According to market research firm Gartner, Windows held a 2.8 percent of the global smartphone market in 2014, compared to Android at 80.7 percent and iOS at 15.4 percent.</p> AMD Reveals High-Bandwidth Memory Plan is calling HBM a “revolution in chip design”Tue, 19 May 2015 22:58:34 +0000 bandwidth memoryNews <h5>AMD is calling HBM a “revolution in chip design”</h5><p>GDDR5 will soon stall GPU performance growth, says AMD. According to the red team, GDDR5 is entering an inefficient region of the power-to-performance curve.<img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Stall" style="font-family: &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>GDDR5 will soon reach a performance bottleneck.</strong><br> </p><p>Historically, AMD would try and solve these power-to-performance issues by shrinking chips and integrating functions, but the company says that on-chip integration isn’t ideal for DRAM, as DRAM is not size- or cost-effective for integration in a logic-optimized process.</p><p> You could theoretically scale GDDR5 to be faster, but this requires more bandwidth and would consume more power.<img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Interposer" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Here's the layout for AMD's HBM interposer.</strong><br> </p><p>AMD is attempting to solve these issues by introducing its interposer, which brings DRAM closer to the logic die. According to AMD, this closer proximity enables a much wider bus width, which also improves the bandwidth per watt as well. AMD says that bandwidth per watt is much more important than the sheer amount of RAM a graphics card has. And in case you were wondering, each stack here amounts to 1GB. So if AMD's hypothetical next-gen GPU were to have 4GB of high-bandwidth memory,&nbsp;there would be four stacks.</p><p> The benefits of using the interposer along with this high-bandwidth memory method is that it takes up much less surface area, and this combination gives you much more bandwidth than GDDR5 at less than 50 percent the power consumption.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Amd Dram For An Interposer"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Here's the anatomy of AMD's new high-bandwidth memory stack.</strong><br> </p><p>While this will be applicable to discrete graphics cards, AMD believes it will be able to leverage the technology to cover multiple verticals, including APUs, consumer applications, enterprise solutions, and more. The company is calling HBM a “revolution in chip design” that will ultimately allow for up to 3x performance per watt compared to GDDR5, and will consume 94% less PCB surface than GDDR5.</p><p>What do you think of AMD's approach to solving the GDDR5 issue? Let us know in the comments below.</p> Windows 10 Upgrade Paths Explained look at the various upgrade scenarios surrounding Windows 10.Tue, 19 May 2015 20:34:40 +0000 10 <h3>A look at various Windows 10 upgrade scenarios</h3><p>Sometimes it feels like the closer we get to the release of Windows 10 (slated for this summer), the less we actually know. Yes, Microsoft finally revealed a list of Windows 10 editions last week, of which there are quite a few, but how exactly will upgrades work for users rocking a copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? The answer is out there, or so it seems.</p><p>Podcaster and senior technical analyst for Windows IT Pro, <a href="" target="_blank">Paul Thurrott</a>, stumbled onto a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a> from the Microsoft Australia Partner Network that contained information on the various Windows 10 announcements of late.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Windows PCs"></p><p style="text-align: center;"></p><p>The blog post was written by Alex Snelson, a Windows product manager for Microsoft Australia. In it she lists the various editions that were announced, and then goes over the upgrade paths. Here's what she wrote:</p><ul> <li>Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified Windows 7, Windows 8 and&nbsp;Windows Phone 8.1 devices in the first year. After the first year, upgrades will be paid via boxed product and VL Upgrades</li><li>Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7 Home Basic and Home Premium devices upgrade to Windows 10 Home</li><li>Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate devices upgrade to Windows 10 Pro</li><li>If upgraded within the first 12 months following launch, the device will receive ongoing Windows 10 updates for free for the life of that device</li><li>Excludes Windows Enterprise and RT devices</li><li>The free Windows 10 upgrade is delivered through Windows Update; domain-joined machines can manually get the update via Windows Update. The upgrade cannot be deployed through WSUS</li></ul><p>One of the questions that comes up here on <em>Maximum PC </em>is whether or not Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional users will get an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. It looks like they will, as well as Windows 7 Ultimate users.</p><p>So, there you go. That is unless Microsoft changes things up.</p> Newegg Daily Deals: Intel Core i7-5930K, Corsair 750W PSU, and More! when single-core computing was awesome? Ya, neither to do we. The GHz race isn't quite over, but by and large, we're living in a multi-core world.Tue, 19 May 2015 17:53:35 +0000 dealsNewegg <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Intel Core I7-5930K"></p><p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p><p>Remember when single-core computing was awesome? Ya, neither to do we. The GHz race isn't quite over, but by and large, we're living in a multi-core world. If you want to take things to a whole other level on Intel's side of the fence, then check out today's top deal for an <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819117403-_-0519&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Intel Core i7 5930K Haswell-E 6-Core CPU</a> for <strong>$550</strong> with free shipping (normally $570 -- use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX23</strong>]; additional $30 mail-in-rebate). With half a dozen cores clocked at 3.5GHz (3.7GHz Turbo) and 15MB of Intel Smart Cache, there's not much you won't be able to do with this chip.</p><p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-INT-HDD-N82E16822236624-_-0519&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">WD Black Series 2TB 7200 RPM 3.5-inch Internal Hard Drive</a> for <strong>$110</strong> with free shipping (normally $125 - use coupon code: [<strong>ESCASKX22</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-PSU-N82E16817139055-_-0519&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Corsair RM750 750W 80 Plus Gold Certified Full Modular Power Supply</a> for <strong>$110</strong> with free shipping (normally $120 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX33</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-DISPLAY-N82E16824009700-_-0519&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Acer K242HL Bbid Black 24-inch LCD Monitor</a> for <strong>$110</strong> with free shipping (normally $130 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX42</strong>])</p><p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-NETWORK-N82E16833320168-_-0519&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Asus RT-N12/D1 Wireless-N300 3-in-1 Router/AP/Range Extender IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g/n</a> for <strong>$30</strong> with free shipping (normally $35 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCASKX56</strong>]; additional $10 Mail-in rebate)</p> Microsoft Office for Android Phones Arrives in Preview Form phone owners now have access to touch friendly versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.Tue, 19 May 2015 17:24:26 +0000 OfficeNewsPowerpointWord <h3>First tablets, now phones</h3><p>Following up on its launch of touch friendly Office apps for Android tablets back in January, Microsoft today announced that a preview version of Office for Android phones is now available. That includes previews for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all of which look similar to and share the same features as the ones available on iOS, and more recently, Windows phones.</p><p>Getting them installed is a bit of a process. First you have to make sure you're running Android 4.4.x KitKat or higher and have at least 1GB of RAM. If you pass the hardware and software requirements, you'll then have to join the Office Android Preview group, be a tester on Google Play, and join Microsoft's Google+ community.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Office Preview Android"></p><p style="text-align: center;"></p><p>Your reward for jumping through Microsoft's hoops is the ability to install Office apps that have been optimized for touch. Editing tools are fairly basic compared to the desktop, though if you need to touch up documents on the go, this is your ticket.</p><p>"Bringing these apps to Preview first provides you with an early look at the apps, while enabling us to gather critical user feedback helping us shape and improve the app experience on a wide range of Android phones across the world. The feedback we received from the Office for Android tablet Preview in January was critical to ensuring a high quality and consistent Office experience across Android tablet devices. Thank you!," Microsoft said in a blog post.</p><p>If you'd rather not test the new apps but still are interested in Office for Android, the existing Office Mobile app for Android will remain available during the preview.</p> After 25 Years, Microsoft Tournament Sparks Renewed Interest in Solitaire has been eating into office productivity for 25 years.Tue, 19 May 2015 16:12:45 +0000 <h3>Better start practicing again</h3><p>Office workers have been playing Solitaire in Windows for the past 25 years as a means of getting through the day. Hard to believe, isn't it? To celebrate Solitaire's 25-year anniversary on Windows, Microsoft is holding a pair of tournaments -- one for employees and a second one for everyone else around the world.</p><p>"It was 25 years ago that Microsoft Solitaire debuted on Windows, and to honor the decades of fun it’s given us all, we’re celebrating with two big competitions. First, an internal competition among Microsoft employees kicks off today to determine who leads the leaderboards here. Then, in early June, the same challenges used in the tournament will be released in the game for the world to play," Microsoft stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Solitaire"></p><p style="text-align: center;"></p><p>Details of the tournaments are fairly scarce, though it does look like they will include all five game modes available in Windows -- Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, TriPeaks, and Pyramid. Beyond that, there are several unknowns, like whether the winner will receive anything more than bragging rights.</p><p>If Windows 8 is your first Windows OS, you may not know what the big deal is. However, Solitaire has been included on every version of Windows from Windows 3.0 to Windows 7. It's not included by default in Windows 8 (it's available in the Windows Store), though will be a part of Windows 10.</p> Dell Jumps on Mini PC Movement with Inspiron Micro Desktop may look like a Chromebox, but it's a Windows PC powered by Bay Trail.Mon, 18 May 2015 19:30:31 +0000 <h3>Think small</h3><p>Dell apparently has big aspirations to compete in the mini PC market that's gaining a bit of steam. Over on the company's website, you can now configure an Inspiron Micro Desktop with Bay Trail-D inside and running Windows 8.1 with Bing starting at $179.</p><p>That's the first two available models. The $179 configuration comes standard with an Intel Celeron J1800 dual-core processor (2.41GHz to 2.58GHz, 1MB L2 cache), 2GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM, 32GB solid state drive, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI and DisplayPort output, one USB 3.0 port, three USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet jack, SD card reader, and Windows 8.1 with Bing 64-bit.</p><p>The second configuration bumps the processor up to an Intel Pentium J2900 chip, which is a quad-core part clocked at 2.41GHz to 2.66GHz with 2MB of L2 cache. Neither processor supports Hyper Threading.</p><p>These types of machines are neat for basic computing chores. It's not clear if the Inspiron Micro has a VESA mount, which would allow you to attach it to the back of a monitor. Add a wireless keyboard and mouse, and you have a home brewed all-in-one of sorts.</p><p>If you're interested, you can configure and purchase an Inspiron Micro <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> Welcome to Maximum PC 2.0 to the new Maximum PC! It's been a labor-intensive several months of sweat, tears, and sleepless nights, but we're finally here. We've come a long way.Mon, 18 May 2015 18:35:13 +0000 <p>You may have noticed that we look much like our sister site,&nbsp;<a href="">PC Gamer</a>. This is a good thing. The site is responsive now, and changes to fit whatever resolution and device you may be using to view it. More and more people are browsing Maximum PC on their phones, and we're happy to say that the site is actually readable on mobile devices now.</p><p>There were two options: Launch late in the year and get a more customized Maximum PC look, or launch earlier and look similar to PC Gamer. The decision was made to launch early so that the Maximum PC staff could start using a much more modern and faster CMS for producing content. So, we took the path that would allow us to produce better content more quickly. The aesthetic aspects of the new site, fine-tuning the look, will come later. Priority: content.</p><p>You may also have noticed that there's a lot more content that's readily available on the main page. How-To guides, Best of the Best, news, and reviews. It's easier to glance through the homepage now and filter out what it is that interests you and what doesn't. It's clean, easy to read, and just overall a lot better.</p><p>For launch, we're bringing you not just a new site, but new content. We rewrote and updated the entire Best of the Best section. We covered critical components, and more components are on the way. Check them out:</p><p><a href="">Best of the Best: GPUs</a><br><a href="">Best of the Best: CPUs</a><br><a href="">Best of the Best: Storage</a><br><a href="">Best of the Best: Gaming Displays</a><br><a href="">Best of the Best: Motherboards</a><br><a href="">Best of the Best: Cooling</a></p><p>And in case you missed them:</p><p><a href="">Choosing the best AMD Graphics Card</a><br><a href="">Choosing the best NVIDIA Graphics Card</a></p><p>Choosing good gear wouldn't be any good if we didn't also look at fully building out systems. So we did. Over the last two weeks, we gathered the parts for three killer builds at three different price points: entry-level, midrange, and high-end. We'll be doing these builds and other builds regularly, so take a look!</p><p><a href="">Maximum PC's Budget Gamer Build For May 2015</a><br><a href="">Maximum PC's Midrange Build for May 2015</a><br><a href="">Maximum PC's Turbo Build for May 2015</a></p><p>We're noticing that there are still a few emails rolling in about wanting Linux coverage, so in case you're a Linux fan, we started doing more articles for you!</p><p><a href="">How to Set Up a RAID 1 Array in Windows 8 and Linux</a><br><a href="">How to Set Up a RAID 5 Array in Windows 8 and Linux</a><br><a href="">How to Set Up a RAID 10 Array in Windows 8 and Linux</a></p><p>For those who subscribe to the magazine, we have a big Linux feature in the June issue as well, and more content to come. In case you're wondering where the PDF archives, RSS feeds, and podcasts are:</p><p><a href=""></a><br><a href=""></a></p><p>And RSS feeds are to the social menu on the top right. We're currently indexing the podcast section, so that'll be a lot more complete soon, and we'll add PDF archives as a permanent link to the footer.</p><p>If you're noticing that there's some missing content from the last few days, no worries, we're still syncing our old content with the new site and it should be complete anytime now.</p><p>The old commenting system is now gone, replaced with Disqus. If you don't yet have your name, go register for it now! With Disqus, you'll be able to use one login for multiple sites. A great number of popular publications use Disqus, and if you're a regular reader of some of them you'll now be able to comment on, track, and follow conversations in a single dashboard.</p><p>There's a lot more to do, and there's a lot more coming. We're working on a few site features that you're sure to enjoy, and we're hammering away at a very special magazine issue, too.</p><p>So given all that, we hope you like where we're headed! The future is bright, and all of us at Maximum PC are already plugging away at more kick-ass ideas.</p> Oculus Rift PC Requirements Leave Out Aging Hardware'll need a minimum a GeForce GTX 970 class graphics card to run Oculus Rift.Mon, 18 May 2015 17:12:31 +0000 riftvirtual reality <h3>Is your PC up to the task?</h3><p>Hype has been high for the Oculus Rift VR headset ever since it first debuted on Kickstarter what seems like a century ago (in reality, it was nearly two and a half years ago). Know what else is high? The system requirements to run Oculus Rift (we would have also accepted as answers "Snoop Dog" or "Snoop Lion").</p><p>Let's get right to it. In order to partake in the virtual worlds served up by Oculus Rift, it's recommended that your PC look like this:</p><ul> <li>Intel Core i5 4590 processor</li><li>Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290</li><li>8GB of RAM</li></ul><p>Those are the recommended specs. Aside from those, you'll need Windows 7 SPI or newer, two USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture.</p><p>"Today, that system’s specification is largely driven by the requirements of VR graphics. To start with, VR lets you<em> see </em>graphics like never before," Atman Binstock, Chief Architect at Oculus, explained in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>. "Good stereo VR with positional tracking directly drives your perceptual system in a way that a flat monitor can’t. As a consequence, rendering techniques and quality matter more than ever before, as things that are imperceivable on a traditional monitor suddenly make all the difference when experienced in VR. Therefore, VR increases the value of GPU performance."</p><p>There's a lot of raw rendering needed for Oculus Rift to work its magic, as it runs at 2160x1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays. That equates to 233 million pixels per second, versus a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz that requires 124 million shaded pixels per second.</p><p>"At the default eye-target scale, the Rift’s rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering," Binstock added.</p><p>So there you have it -- Oculus Rift is taking no prisoners. The scheduled launch is sometime in the <a href="">first quarter of 2016</a>, so there's still time to fill up that coin jar and upgrade your PC, if needed.</p> Nvidia Brews Up Game Ready Drivers for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has made available new Game Reader drivers for Witcher 3, along with a rather extensive optimization guide.Mon, 18 May 2015 16:31:44 +0000 witcher 3: wild hunt <h3>Optimizing for Witcher 3</h3><p> CD Projeckt Red's much anticipated The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases to PC in just a matter of hours (at the time of this writing), as well as Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Just in time for its Windows debut, Nvidia has made available a new set of WHQL drivers, release 352.86, that are "Game Ready" and optimized for Witcher 3. On top of that, Nvidia has put together a tweaking guide on how to squeeze the most performance out of the new title.</p><p> The Game Ready driver includes support for SLI and one-click optimizations via GeForce Experience when playing Witcher 3. In addition, it also adds or updates SLI profiles for a handful of titles. They include:</p><ul> <li>Hairworks: FurViewer - DX11 SLI profile added</li> <li>Magicka 2 - DX11 SLI profile added</li> <li>Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Updated DX11 SLI profile</li> <li>World of Warships - DX9 SLI profile added</li></ul><p> Nvidia also included a handful of fixes, which you can digest in the <a href="" target="_blank">release notes (PDF)</a>.</p><p> Once you've downloaded and installed the drivers, you'll probably be itching to jump into Witcher 3. Understandable, though if you have some time to kill, you can check out Nvidia's <a href="" target="_blank">Graphics, Performance, and Tweaking Guide</a> for a wealth of information on the various settings available.</p><p> You can download the <a href="" target="_blank">drivers here</a>, and if you haven't yet ordered Witcher 3 (but would like to), you can grab it from <a href="" target="_blank">Steam for 15 percent off</a> if you're quick (it will go back to normal price once it unlocks later today).</p><p>This driver also has something else going for it: It's the first officially WHQL driver for Windows 10. Previous Windows 10 drivers from Nvidia have been tagged as WHQL, but that was apparently due to Windows Update requirements -- it's difficult/not allowed to distribute a non-WHQL driver through Microsoft's service.&nbsp;Since the OS itself is beta, having non-WHQL drivers isn't generally a problem, but this is a sign of how close we are to Windows 10 shipping.</p> Maximum PC's Turbo Build, Spring 2015 $3,000 burning a hole in your pocket? We'll show you how to spend it.Mon, 18 May 2015 14:46:26 +0000 a PC <p> For the first web edition of Blueprints, we went big for our Turbo build. Big case, big on memory, and big on video performance. The Turbo is meant for gamers and enthusiasts with deep pockets, so we didn't have to hold back (well, at least not too much).</p><p> The Turbo budget allows a lot of flexibility in our builds, and we get the most room to play. And trust us, we had fun picking parts and building this rig.</p><p> So, what did we choose for this beast? Check it out:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC newegg header v4"></p> <table width="100%"> <thead> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;"> </td> <td> Part </td> <td> Price </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> CPU<br> </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Intel Core i7-5930K</a> </td> <td> $580<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Mobo </td> <td> <a href="">Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4</a> </td> <td> $245<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> GPU </td> <td> 2x <a href="" target="_blank">EVGA GeForce GTX 980</a> </td> <td> $1,120<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> SSD </td> <td> 2x <a href="" target="_blank">Samsung 850 Evo 250GB</a> </td> <td> $200<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> HDD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM</a> </td> <td> $90<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> PSU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">EVGA SuperNOVA 1300 G2</a> </td> <td> $230<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Memory </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB DDR4 2666MHz</a> </td> <td> $170<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Cooler </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Cooler Master Nepton 280L</a> </td> <td> $120<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Case </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Cooler Master CM Storm Trooper</a> </td> <td> $150<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <br> </td> <td style="text-align: right;"> <strong>Total</strong> </td> <td> <strong>$2,905</strong> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> Priced at a little under $3,000, the Turbo build took advantage of technologies like RAID and SLI to boost performance. After all, why have one when you can have two? The CM Storm Trooper provided a comfy home for all of our components, with plenty of room to spare. We took out the top hard drive cage and re-inserted it with the fan toward the front rather than the side, to provide extra airflow to the GTX 980s. Cable management in the case was a breeze, and we had plenty of room to mount the Nepton 280L up top.</p><p> The two 980s outperform a single GTX TITAN X for nearly the same price, and handle 4K gaming pretty well. The GPU pair had no problem with any of our benchmarks.</p><p> The omission of an optical drive is no mistake (okay, maybe a little one), because we only ever use one to install Windows. If you still crave a Bluray player, you can pick one up for as little as $50.</p><p> The 1300W SuperNOVA is little on the high side for power requirements, but we prefer having plenty of headroom for additional graphics cards and storage drives. On top of that, the 10-year warranty on SuperNOVA PSUs sounds pretty bangin' to us.</p><p> So, how did it perform? Take a look at these scores.</p> <table width="100%"> <thead> <tr> <td> Benchmark<br> </td> <td> Score </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra </td> <td> 5,939 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> BioShock: Infinite 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 189.9 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Grand Theft Auto V 1440p (fps) </td> <td> 47.2 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Shadow of Mordor 4K/2160p (fps) </td> <td> 66.8 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Gigapan Stitch Efx (sec) </td> <td> 825 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> TechArp x264 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 23.4 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 (sec) </td> <td> 888 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Crystal DiskMark Sequential Read (SSD) (MB/s) </td> <td> 939.9 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Crystal DiskMark Sequential Read (HDD) (Mb/s) </td> <td> 210.0 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Highend 01 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Highend 02 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Highend 03 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Highend 05 201505"></p> Maximum PC's Midrange Build, Spring 2015 to gear up for a summer of gaming. Here's a machine that will serve you well.Mon, 18 May 2015 14:45:49 +0000 a PC <p> Our midrange build is anything but average. As you know, we like power. We like speed. We like pretty, shiny things. Our midrange build attempts to give you all of that at a sensible price.</p><p> You won't find TITAN Xs in SLI here, but what you will find is a solid gaming machine that can handle damn near everything you throw at it. We keep our midrange build at $1,500 and below, which is what many people would expect to pay for a new laptop.</p><p> We went shopping at Newegg to see what we could build, and here's what we came up with:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC newegg header v4"></p><table style="width: 100%;"> <thead> <tr> <td> </td> <td> Part </td> <td> </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> CPU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank" style="font-size: 1em;">Intel Core i7-4790K</a> </td> <td> $340 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> GPU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 290</a><br> </td> <td> $285 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Motherboard </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Asus Z97-Pro Gamer</a><br> </td> <td> $145 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> SSD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Samsung 850 EVO 250GB</a><br> </td> <td> $120 <br> (Newegg) <br> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> HDD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200 RPM</a><br> </td> <td> $90 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Memory </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB DDR3 1600</a><br> </td> <td> $68 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> PSU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2</a><br> </td> <td> $145 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> CPU Cooler </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Corsair Hydro H110 Extreme</a><br> </td> <td> $110 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> DVD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Samsung DVD Burner 24X</a><br> </td> <td> $20 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Case </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">NZXT Source 530</a><br> </td> <td> $90 <br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> </td> <td style="text-align: right;"> <strong>Total</strong> </td> <td> <strong>$1,413</strong> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> While the choice of a larger cooler like the H110 is a little on the tight side for the Source 530, we were able to get it to fit by moving the DVD drive down to the second drive bay. We also were able to squeeze in our CPU power cable through the corner to the upper-left of the motherboard, which made for tidier cable management.</p><p> The NZXT case's sexy and stylish flat sides don't allow for lax cable management, so you really have to tie down your cables if you ever hope to get the right side panel closed. We managed to stow our cables with a little bit of work. The modular PSU helped out a lot in reducing the clutter. The 850W PSU also gives headroom for upgrades, in case you want to add a video card or a drive or two.</p><p> The SSD isn't massive enough to hold all of your Steam library, but it will be enough to hold Windows, some key apps, and a game or two. For an extra $120, you can add another EVO and RAID them together with the motherboard's onboard Intel Rapid Storage Technology, and get a screaming-fast 500GB SSD array.</p><p> This build had a respectable showing in our benchmarks, and won't leave you disappointed in any games. That is, unless you're attempting to run them at 4K with the settings cranked up. For that, you'll need something more like our Turbo build.</p> <table style="width: 100%;"> <thead> <tr> <td> Benchmark </td> <td> Score </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra </td> <td> 2,587 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> BioShock: Infinite 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 108.5 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Grand Theft Auto V 1440p (fps) </td> <td> 21.5 <br> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Shadow of Mordor 4K/2160p (fps) </td> <td> 36.55 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Gigapan Stitch Efx (sec) </td> <td> 747 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> TechArp x264 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 17.6 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 (sec) </td> <td> 1,097 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Crystal DiskMark Sequential Read (SSD) (MB/s) </td> <td> 518.7 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> CrystalDiskMark Sequential Read (HDD) (MB/s) </td> <td> 211.6 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Value 01 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Value 02 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Value 03 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Value 04 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Value 05 201505"></p> Maximum PC's Budget Gamer Build, Spring 2015 to build a gaming PC, but don't have tons of cash to throw down? No worries, we've got you covered.Mon, 18 May 2015 14:45:09 +0000 a PC <p> Everyone would like to have the biggest, meanest, and hungriest PC out there. Some of us, though, just can't afford to go too big or crazy.</p><p> We get it, homie. There's&nbsp;rent to be paid, and the landlord won't take 3DMark scores as currency. But that doesn't mean you can't game like a boss on less than executive pay.</p><p> Limited budgets mean compromises, and we like the challenge of finding out how to get the most out of each dollar. And for budget builders, we know that your rig is a work-in-progress. You might not have the coin for all the parts you want, so you have to leave room for upgrades. That's what we attempted to do for you here.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="MPC newegg header v4"></p><table width="100%"> <thead> <tr> <td> </td> <td> Part </td> <td> Price </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> CPU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">AMD FX-8350 Black Edition</a><br> </td> <td> $180<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> GPU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">XFX Black Edition Double D AMD Radeon R9 280</a><br> </td> <td> $210<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Motherboard </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">MSI 970 Gaming AMD</a><br> </td> <td> $90<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> SSD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Samsung 850 EVO 120GB</a><br> </td> <td> $80<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> HDD </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7,200rpm</a><br> </td> <td> $51<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> PSU </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Corsair CX750M</a><br> </td> <td> $90<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Memory </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB DDR3 1866</a><br> </td> <td> $65<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> CPU Cooler </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo</a><br> </td> <td> $35<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Case </td> <td> <a href="" target="_blank">Cooler Master HAF 912</a><br> </td> <td> $60<br> (Newegg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td> </td> <td style="text-align: right;"> <strong>Total</strong> </td> <td> <strong>$861</strong> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> With our Budget Gamer build, we try to stick close to the $800 mark, but we went a tad bit over here. The good news is that when we looked up the prices, there were $45 in rebates to be had. Rebates and prices fluctuate and rotate all the time, so you might find some of these parts for less if you spring on a Shell Shocker deal or holiday sale.</p><p> The motherboard we chose is solid for AM3+ processors, with plenty of options and features. We mounted it in Cooler Master's High Air Flow chassis, which is spacious as hell for a mid tower. Our only real complaint is that the case only has USB 2.0 front ports. That's not damning for this build, though.</p><p> We included a rather beefy 750W power supply for this build, because this is a base for upgrades. You shouldn't be forced to buy a new PSU with your first upgrade, so we opted for a little headroom in the wattage department.</p><p> During our CPU benchmarks, the back exhaust fan spit out air that was a good bit warmer than our ambient 72 degree Fahrenheit office environment. In 3DMark Fire Strike, temps topped out in the high 40s Celsius. That's a bit warmer than our Intel chips, but still not nearing the danger zone. We can attribute that to the air-cooled solution we chose for the build. It is cooling with air, you know. The heat's gotta go somewhere. For even cooler temps, we'd recommend going with a closed-loop cooler, as a cooling upgrade to accommodate overclocking.</p><p> In benchmarks this system did quite well for the price point, just don't expect to play anything besides movies at 4K.</p> <table width="100%"> <thead> <tr> <td> Benchmark </td> <td> Score </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> 3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra </td> <td> 1,561 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> BioShock: Infinite 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 72.6 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Grand Theft Auto V 1440p (fps) </td> <td> 14.2 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Shadow of Mordor 4K/2160p (fps) </td> <td> 20.1 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Gigapan Stitch Efx (sec) </td> <td> 1,454 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> TechArp x264 1080p (fps) </td> <td> 15.0 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 (sec) </td> <td> 1,480 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Crystal DiskMark Sequential Read (SSD) (MB/s) </td> <td> 502.8 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Crystal DiskMark Sequential Read (HDD) (MB/s) </td> <td> 209.3 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Mid 01 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Mid 02 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Mid 03 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Mid 04 201505"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Buildit Mid 05 201505"></p> The Maximum PC Freeze, and Thaw couple of weeks ago I wrote an article letting everyone know that Maximum PC would be going through a transition. It's here. During this weekend, will go through a short content freeze. The new site and platform will go live on Monday around noon PST. That means, you'll have enough time to be productive at work before drifting away into PC information land. So what exactly will you see?Mon, 18 May 2015 10:41:17 +0000 pcNews <br /> New site, more content, a lot more Kick-Ass<br /> <br /> A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article letting everyone know that<br /> <br /> Maximum PC<br /> <br /> would be<br /> <br /> going through a transition<br /> <br /> . It's here. During this weekend, will go through a short content freeze.<br /> <br /> The new site and platform will go live on Monday around noon PST<br /> <br /> . That means, you'll have enough time to be productive at work before drifting away into PC information land. So what exactly will you see?<br /> <br /> The current website is aging, and there's a lot of content coming that we want to highlight and make finding easier. The current platform that we use to publish on will change too. We're doing this for two main reasons: more articles presented in an easier to digest method, and making publishing less painful for our staff. It takes some wrangling in our current CMS to get articles to appear just right, and we would like to make everything as efficient as possible.<br /> <br /> So the site will change. Some may not like it and that's okay. Since it's all code and software, we can improve and tweak things as time goes on. We can do that because the new platform is more flexible and modular. Comments will change over to Disqus, so make sure you snatch the name you want. If none of this matters to you and you just want more content, we have that too.<br /> <br /> We're going to launch with a rewritten Best of the Best section. We'll keep it more frequently updated on what we think are the top picks for your money. But this time around, we're going to split categories into three: The best choice, the smart choice, and the value choice. We'd like to get a section on the worst stuff to avoid too, but that'll come a little later on. Our build guides are also relaunching with a focus on three price points: $2000, $1500, and $800. We attempt to pick smart choices in components for each one, with a lean towards being open for future upgrades. You'll see that go live on Monday as well. Reviews are being increased as well. You'll see more products and more product categories, and you'll also be able to see real time price tracking.<br /> <br /> You may have also noticed that we have some new friends on staff. I'd like to mention them now in case you didn't already see their names pop up on the site and the magazine. Say hi to:<br /> <br /> Jarred Walton, Senior Editor<br /> <br /> Jarred comes to us most recently from<br /> <br /> The Wirecutter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> AnandTech<br /> <br /> before that, where he spent 11 years distilling through an ocean of hardware and tech. Jarred is versed in everything from CPUs to GPUs to displays to laptops.<br /> <br /> Alex Campbell, Associate Editor<br /> <br /> Alex is our build commando and in-house Linux aficionado. He deeply cares about the Linux community and previously spent several months writing at IDG. Alex authored some of the new Linux guides you've been seeing. He also tends to stay at work until late at night, tinkering with hardware and benchmarks.<br /> <br /> We're moving in this direction: more tech, more how-tos, more builds, more gear. There are other things in the works that I'm excited to introduce but are in the cooking stages, so I'll have to leave you hanging for a little. Rest assured, they're features you will like. So, as we prepare for the new platform, enjoy the weekend! We'll see you on the other side.<br /> Best of the Best: Cooling you want to cool your CPU there are a lot of options to choose from. Coolers are a dime a dozen, so we show you the 3 best.Sat, 16 May 2015 23:29:46 +0000 of the Bestbuying guideTop Buying Guides <p>Air or liquid? That’s the decision you face after choosing a CPU&mdash;especially those one that doesn’t come with a stock cooler. Both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses, so the best choice will depend on many factors, including the motherboard, case, memory, and processor.</p><p>Liquid cooling uses a pump with circulating fluid to quickly draw heat away from your CPU, dissipating it in a radiator typically mounted on the back or top of your case. The radiators tend to be larger and spin slower, generating less noise. Air cooling heat sinks, on the other hand, don’t leak, and the fans can help cool other motherboard components like power circuitry.</p><p>Both technologies are subject to compatibility issues, so take measurements and don't be afraid to ask us for advice!</p><br/> <h3>The best liquid cooling solution</h3><p>Typically, anyone shopping for a CPU with an unlocked ratio multiplier intends to do a bit of performance tuning. And you shouldn’t start overclocking until you have the hardware able to keep those sensitive components nice and cool.Corsair’s H110 is celebrated for its ability to pull heat away from high-end processors with a copper base plate.</p><p>That thermal energy is transferred through bendable tubes to a 280mm aluminum radiator. Two 140mm fans blow through the fins at low RPMs, generating relatively little noise. You really can’t get any more aggressive without dipping a toe into open-loop liquid cooling.</p><br/><p>With an improved design over the previous H100, the H110 comes with a new pump design that is both quieter, and faster than before. The H110 also has Corsair-Link support, allowing you to connect the pump to a spare USB header on your motherboard for more specific and manual control. When in use with Corsair's Link software, you'll be able to see such things as: cold-plate temperature,&nbsp;liquid temperature, fan speeds, and pump speeds. You'll also be able to set custom thermal definitions to fine tune the H110 for either quiet, balanced, performance or custom operation modes.</p><h3>The best air cooler</h3><p>If you have worries about using liquid to cool your PC, you're not alone. Many out there stay away from liquid coolers due to the fear of leaks, which can be a devastating event if it occurs. These days though, there are a lot of closed-loop products on the market that are mature. Manufacturers have improved both design and quality of such systems. Although they don't happen as often, leaks do occur from closed-loop systems but they're rare.</p><p>Despite the the rage over liquid cooling, air cooling is still popular and air cooling technology has evolved too. Some of the best air coolers on the market today actually deliver equivalent cooling performance to that of the top rated closed-loop liquid coolers.</p><br/><p>Many enthusiasts still favor big heat sinks to cool their overclocked processors, and it gets no better than Noctua’s NH-D15. Six copper pipes are sandwiched in a thick copper base.</p><p>They run up into two towers of aluminum fins, which a pair of 140mm fans blow air across. These fans enable one big advantage that heat sinks hold over closed-loop solutions: motherboard component cooling. Voltage regulators and memory modules get hot, so it’s nice to have airflow down there. Noctua stands behind its quality with a six-year warranty, too.</p><h3>Best budget cooler</h3><p> For less than one-third the cost of a high-end liquid cooler or heat sink, Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 EVO serves up performance that seems almost too good to be true. Its four copper pipes contact your CPU’s heat spreader directly, drawing thermal energy up into aluminum fins. A 120mm fan blows through the sink and does its job without making a din. The Hyper 212 EVO isn’t a huge cooler, so it enjoys broad compatibility with all modern sockets and most motherboards.</p><br/><p>If you're not planning to do overclocking or just mild overclocking, the Hyper 212 EVO is your best choice for simplicity and low maintenance. There's only one fan, which is easily replaced, and the heatsink itself is easy to clean if you have dust build-up.</p><p>The current price at the time of writing for the Hyper 212 EVO is $34, and enjoys a 5/5 egg rating on Newegg with 3278 reviews. In terms of price-performance, you can't get much better than that.</p><p>For the full low-down on the Hyper 212 EVO,&nbsp;<a href="">check out our review here</a>.</p> <h3>Don't forget to add good thermal compound</h3><p> Alright, so we have a propensity for big, beefy coolers. But hey, that’s a requisite if you want to dial in the best overclock. Sure, you could go with a custom-built open-loop setup or something even more exotic. Those options get pricier and more difficult to maintain, though.</p><p> At the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of capable coolers that perform nearly as well as our favorites. Many of them cost less and fit better into smaller spaces&mdash;and they’re perfectly capable options if you need to make some compromises in the name of, say, a small form-factor enclosure.</p> Meet Maximum PC's New Senior Editor Maximum PC! It's great to be here. As the latest addition to the Maximum PC team, it's tradition for me to take a moment to introduce myself. I could tell you all about what I've done, about how I'm something of the "Old Man of the Mountain" now, but that's no fun. Instead, if you'll grant me some lenience as this is my first post here, join me as I reminisce about my computer history.Sat, 16 May 2015 12:48:45 +0000 pcNews Old school meets new school!<br /> Hello<br /> <br /> Maximum PC<br /> <br /> ! It's great to be here. As the latest addition to the<br /> <br /> Maximum PC<br /> <br /> team, it's tradition for me to take a moment to introduce myself. I could tell you all about what I've done, about how I'm something of the "Old Man of the Mountain" now, but that's no fun. Instead, if you'll grant me some lenience as this is my first post here, join me as I reminisce about my computer history.<br /> <br /> Like many of our readers, I’ve been involved with computers and technology since a young age, hailing all the way back to the time of the Commodore 64 and BASIC – or if you want to really dig, the first computing device I can remember using was the Magnavox Odyssey2, chugging along at 1.79MHz. Yeehaw! That showed up under a Christmas tree when I was just six years old, but we could all tell what was in the package. My brother “ruined Christmas” when he decided to get a sneak peak on Christmas Eve&hellip;the cartridges weren’t all that robust, and he broke one of the games. Oops.<br /> <br /> But as I was saying, my computer addiction (no, really, I can quit any time I want!) started with the C-64 and its rocking 1MHz processor, playing games like the Bard’s Tale, SSI Gold Box D&amp;D, Wasteland, Neuromancer, and many others. I also spent time typing in programs from a book and learning a bit of crude BASIC in the process. I didn’t know what all the commands and instructions did at the time, but I knew how to load games and it was a start. I later learned how to dial the local BBS (Bulletin Board System) as a precursor to the Internet. Watching ASCII stream across the screen using a 300 baud (300 bits per second) connection resulted in about one 40 character line per second. When we later upgraded to a 2400 baud modem, let me tell you, it was amazing!<br /> <br /> For the younger generation, talk of such crazy slow computing devices likely sounds incomprehensible. But then even for someone of my generation – those that grew up with computers being taught in elementary schools – the earlier days of vacuum tubes, ENIAC, and punch card readers seem equally absurd. Our job here is to look at the present and future of computing, however, so I think it’s great to also remember where we started.<br /> <br /> The changes in my youth came fast and furious (no, not the movies). We went from an early IBM compatible PC XT to a PC AT within a year, and the first time I used a hard drive was a revelation. I was twelve and used to waiting minutes to load games or other programs from floppy disks; now we had a computer that could load up a game in seconds. I was hooked. Goodbye C-64, hello DOS! The graphics were crude on those early ASCII games, sometimes worse than the C-64 sprites, but thankfully my father was enough of a computer geek that he fueled the fire within me, moving to a 286, adding an EGA card then VGA...<br /> <br /> Image courtesy of<br /> <br /><br /> <br /> As soon as I came of age, I saved up my pennies for an entire summer and plunked down a not-insubstantial chunk of money on a custom 386 with a whopping 4MB RAM, 40MB HDD, an early Cirrus Logic SVGA card with a 15-inch SVGA monitor, an AdLib sound card&hellip; and thanks to Origin Systems and Sierra Online, I just had to have a Roland CM-32L sound module. If<br /> <br /> Maximum PC<br /> <br /> had been around at the time, we would have been recommending the Roland MT-32/CM-32L for those that absolutely had to own the best sound money could buy. I was able to play Wing Commander in all its glory. Huzzah!<br /> <br /> And just like today’s high-end GPUs that cost $500+, the life of such a component was relatively short and it was retired from active use four years later. When people complain about how expensive PCs are today, they’re forgetting the past. My $3000 system wasn’t even top of the line at the time, and in today’s dollars that would be like spending closer to $6000 on a new PC. You can certainly do that, but $1500 will buy a system that can handle any reasonable task, including QHD gaming. We’ve never had it so good! It was also money well spent as far as I’m concerned. My passion for technology has allowed me to play all the latest and greatest games, but more importantly it got me involved with PCs and hardware at a much deeper level, with job opportunities always around for computer geeks.<br /> <br /> Anyway, that’s where my passion for technology was born, and I've kept it over the following decades. From my “Dream Machine” back in 1990 to the present day, I’ve used and abused more processors and components than I could hope to recall. I've run just about every major x86 CPU at one point or another, from the 8088 and 8086 through the latest Core i7 Haswell parts, and everything in between – including the AMD K6/K6-2/K6-III, Cyrix 5x86/6x86, and Transmeta to name a few. From CGA to EGA and VGA, then later to the 3dfx Voodoo paired with a ViRGE/325 and now the GeForce GTX 980, I've had the joy of sampling the best – and also the worst – that computer graphics chips have to offer. These days you can reasonably expect to run the latest and greatest PC games on a $200 GPU, though not necessarily at maximum quality or resolutions above 1080p. Again, we’ve never had it so good.<br /> <br /> I’ve spent most of the past decade writing about technology, covering systems, displays, notebooks, and more. And as much as I enjoy a good laptop, tablet, or smartphone, when it comes time to get “real” work done or play “real” games, I still typically end up at my desktop PC. There’s just no beating the large displays, powerful processors, and amazing graphics you can get with a PC. My personal system is about due for an upgrade – not because I really need it, mind you – and it’s as good a place as any to wrap things up. Here’s what I’m running right now:<br /> <br /> Intel i7-4770K (Overclocked to a mild 4.1GHz on all cores)<br /> <br /> Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 Z87 motherboard<br /> <br /> 2x8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 CL9 RAM<br /> <br /> 2x ZOTAC GTX 970 4GB GPUs in SLI<br /> <br /> 480GB Corsair Neutron GTX SSD<br /> <br /> 1TB Samsung HDD<br /> <br /> be quiet! 850W Straight Power 80 Plus Gold PSU<br /> <br /> Corsair Obsidian 350D Case<br /> <br /> Acer XB280HK 4K G-SYNC Display<br /> <br /> Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard Model 229<br /> <br /> Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex Mouse<br /> <br /> With Intel’s Broadwell and Skylake looming ever closer, not to mention Fiji, NVMe, Pascal, Oculus Rift, Windows 10, and dozens of other topics, it’s a great time to be a technology enthusiast. I’ve been building, troubleshooting, upgrading, and enjoying PCs and all they have to offer as far back as my memory goes. At times, it amazes me just how far we’ve come...but then I read a sci-fi book and wonder where we’ll go next.<br /> <br /> The Internet is both more and less than William Gibson’s cyberspace, but we’re not done with it. Companies are investing heavily in VR, software continues to improve, and smartphones are all part and parcel of our daily lives now. How do we make the most of these new technologies? When will the next quantum leap strike and what will it be? I’m as eager to find out as the rest of you, and I’m looking forward to the journey.<br /> <br /> Along with all the computing hardware I've used over the years there are stacks of computer magazines buried somewhere that I poured over. I used to dream about working for a computer magazine and I thought it would be the coolest job in the world. And you know what? I was right. I’m excited to join the team at Maximum PC, writing about the technology that makes our digital realm possible and sharing my passion with the world.<br /> Best of the Best: Storage about which SSD and HDD to get? The best solution is usually to have both an SSD and an HDD in one system. We show you which ones.Sat, 16 May 2015 10:48:24 +0000 hddBest of the BestBest SSDbuying guide <p>Storage is exciting. When was the last time you read those three words together? After many months of watching new SSDs slam into the SATA interface’s 6 Gb/s ceiling, PCI Express and NVMe are popping the cork and letting those IOPS flow freely. Of course, not all drives are created equal. A less-constrained bus means differences between controllers, flash technologies, and firmware maturity stand out.</p><p>You’ll have to pay particular attention to the nomenclature, too. Some M.2-based slots are wired to SATA; others connect to PCIe. From there, many motherboard vendors route their M.2 slots through the chipset’s slower second-gen lanes. More enthusiast-oriented implementations reserve a third-gen link to the CPU. And then there are the M.2 drives that drop onto an adapter card and plug into an available expansion slot.</p><p>That’s not to say vanilla 2.5-inch SATA-attached SSDs are suddenly boring. How quickly we forget what Windows feels like on a 7200rpm hard disk. No, today’s top solid-state drives offer more performance than most of us can use. They’re a lot less expensive than the premium PCIe-based stuff, too.</p><p>Don’t forget your hard drive. It remains the lowest level of any tiered desktop storage setup, providing plenty of capacity for not a lot of money. Dump movies, music, pictures, and documents on there&mdash;basically, anything that wouldn’t benefit from the speed of an SSD (and consequently doesn’t need to live on flash memory).</p><br/> <h3>The best SSD you can buy</h3><p>We’re in the midst of a storage revolution. While SATA-based SSDs are still plenty fast for most applications, 6Gb/s links are easily saturated nowadays. Enter Intel’s SSD 750 Series, designed to circumvent the bottlenecks imposed by previous-gen interfaces.</p><p>Solid-state storage relies on parallelization to maximize performance. You typically see controllers rocking four, eight, or even 10 channels over which they communicate with flash memory. Keeping those channels filled is how you get the biggest results. The latest processors have little trouble in this regard, and so it's common to see high-end drives posting benchmark numbers in the same range. This is largely attributable to SATA and the AHCI, the interface used to expose SATA’s features.</p><br/><p>Intel’s SSD 750 family is held back by neither SATA nor AHCI. It sports a four-lane PCIe interface (that’s nearly 4GB/s of bi-directional throughput) and NVM Express support for more efficient access to information in a highly parallel architecture. Driving this point home is Intel’s 18-channel controller, a much more sophisticated piece of logic than anything previously available for desktop storage. Together, the new interfaces enable sequential reads up to 2.4 GB/s and writes as fast as 1.2 GB/s. Random 4KB reads crest at up to 440,000 IOPS, while reads are rated for a maximum of 290,000. Those figures can only be truly appreciated by someone who works in a data center by day.</p><p>This drive is bootable too, provided you have a Z97- or X99-based motherboard and an up-to-date BIOS. Expect to pay close to $1/GB for the very best in solid-state storage, regardless of whether you choose the entry-level 400GB model or the 1.2TB flagship.</p><h3>The best all around SSD</h3><p>It’s easy to bemoan the limitations of SATA when every high-end SSD can hit its ceiling. But in truth, most desktop workloads don’t come anywhere close to replicating synthetic benchmark results.</p><p>Samsung’s 850 EVO is supposed to be the company’s mainstream drive. Yet it offers more than 500 MB/s in sequential read and write operations. You can chalk some of that up to hardware&mdash;the 120, 250, and 500GB models employ a powerful MGX controller, while the 1TB version sports the MEX controller carried over from the 850 Pro. It’s partly innovation in software, too. </p><br/><p>The 850 EVOs wield an improved version of TurboWrite, a firmware-based technology that sets aside a small amount of capacity to emulate super-fast single-level-cell memory, greatly accelerating write operations. You also get RAPID mode through Samsung’s SSD Magician utility, which leverages spare system memory for caching hot data, improving read speed.</p><p>Up and down the stack, Samsung uses its own 32-layer 3D V-NAND, enabling higher densities. The company claims its flash memory doubles the drive’s Total Bytes Written rating compared to the problematic 840 EVO, and backs its boast with a five-year warranty. Average power consumption lands in the four-watt range, though you can get down to the milliwatt level at idle thanks to DevSlp support. Best of all, the 1TB and 500GB models sells for around $.40/GB. Although faster drives exist, the 850 EVO is most certainly one of the smartest storage buys we’ve seen.</p><h3>Best rotating disk drive</h3><p>You’d be silly to build your storage subsystem using only SSDs. Solid-state space is perfect for operating systems, performance-sensitive apps, and games. But movies and music don’t play back any faster from an SSD. That’s why mechanical hard drives remain the right choice for your terabytes of user data.</p><p>Western Digital’s Black 4TB combines the best of performance, pricing, and protection. Its 7200 RPM spindle and dual processing cores can sustain up to 171 MB/s over a SATA 6Gb/s interface. A 64MB cache is controlled by an algorithm that balances between reads and writes in real-time, optimizing the fast memory for whatever workload is encountered.</p><br/><p>Perhaps even more important than a few megabytes per second here or there (particularly for those of us already leaning on SSDs for performance) is long-term reliability. You should always be backing your data up somehow&mdash;be it to a RAID array, to an external drive, or to the cloud. But we still need to trust our storage devices. WD implements something called Vibration Control Technology on the Black family to compensate when the drives aren’t properly isolated from the rest of your chassis. Apparently it’s more than a gimmick, since the company takes a bold step in covering this family with a five-year warranty. It’s a shame we’ve had to grow accustomed to three-year coverage elsewhere in the hard drive market.</p><p>For around five cents per gigabyte, the 4TB model is a nice complement to any enthusiast-oriented machine. Just make sure you grab the Advanced Format-enabled model (WD4003FZEX), which is just a bit faster than its predecessor.</p> <h3>Double down on capacity</h3><p>The storage market never slowed down, but SATA 6Gb/s sort of got in the way for a while there. Now, however, enthusiasts are being treated to a new class of PCIe-based devices that blow previous-gen SSDs away. Naturally, those drives are a lot more expensive (we’re back to $1/GB in a lot of cases).</p><p>Is the premium worth paying? If sequential reads in excess of 2GB/s matter to you, then yes. Otherwise, wait for the frenzy to subside a bit. More advanced manufacturing pushes down the price of solid-state storage. And once early adopters get their fill, the quickest M.2 drives will make a lot more sense. For now, take solace in the fact that most SATA-attached SSDs are plenty fast for desktops. You’re better off doubling down on capacity than chasing the last 1% of performance.</p> Terms and Conditions and ConditionsFri, 15 May 2015 21:09:35 +0000 <p>MAXIMUMPC.COM. Published by Future US, Inc.<br> LAST UPDATED: MARCH 16, 2009</p><p><strong>TERMS OF USE</strong></p><p><strong>ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS OF USE</strong></p><p>PLEASE READ THESE TERMS OF USE AS WELL AS THE PRIVACY POLICY CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THIS SITE. BY USING THIS SITE AND REGISTERING, YOU AGREE TO THESE TERMS OF USE. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS OF USE, PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS SITE.</p><p><strong>GENERAL</strong></p><p>These Terms of Use apply to all visitors to the MAXIMUMPC.COM website (the "Website"). 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Contact:</strong></p><p>Stacy Gaines</p><p>Vice President of Sales</p><p>[p] <a href="tel:415-260-5294">415-260-5294</a> [e] <a href=""></a></p><p>2015 Media Kit link: <a href=""></a></p><p>Subscribe link: <a href=";cds_page_id=6340"></a></p><p>Subscriber Service link: <a href=""></a></p><p>Disc Replacement link: <a href=""></a></p><p>Advertising Terms link: <a href=""></a>/</p><p>Upload Ad Materials link: <a href=""></a></p><p><strong>To upload advertising materials:</strong></p><p>Click on Upload Ad Materials and enter the below information when prompted</p><p>Username: pmxpc / Password: Adv3rts5</p><p>Buy Now link: <a href=""></a></p> Best of the Best: Motherboards are loaded to the brim these days, and there is an ocean of them. So how do know which one to get? We've played with many, and we recommend three.Fri, 15 May 2015 06:14:42 +0000 of the Bestbuying guidemotherboardsTop Buying Guides <p> There’s very little room for motherboard vendors to differentiate their wares through platform performance. Intel has its memory controller, graphics engine, much of its PCIe connectivity, and quite a bit of last-level cache built right onto a single die. AMD’s APU incorporate many of the same subsystems. So, the board vendors instead add value through third-party controllers, optimized layout, overclocking headroom, and even their own software products.</p><p> When we recommend a high-end processor, we know you plan to complement it with plenty of memory, robust graphics, and a smartly-tiered storage configuration. That’s why we look to flexible platforms loaded with the right slot layout, relevant connectors, and innovative extras. More affordable CPUs deserve solid foundations, too. While you won’t need as much room to expand, we still believe in balance above all else, and that includes support for CrossFire/SLI, lots of 6Gb/s SATA, and USB 3.0.</p><p> The three that we picked here will eventually change as we come across more options, but what you see will coincide with what we picked for the Best of the Best: CPUs.</p><br/> <h3>Best motherboard</h3><p>High-end CPUs deserve complementary platforms. If you didn’t flinch at the Core i7-5960X’s $1000+ price tag, then Asus’ Rampage V Extreme almost seems reasonable at $450.</p><br/><p>The motherboard is so feature-rich that it won’t fit in a standard ATX form factor. Asus uses E-ATX instead, creating a PCIe slot configuration meant to support four-way CrossFire or SLI. There are also 12 SATA 6Gb/s ports, four of which are shared with two SATA Express interfaces; a four-lane M.2 slot; a 3x3 802.11ac wireless controller; and a number of overclocking-specific features not available on any other motherboard.</p><h3>Smart choice motherboard</h3><p>Intel’s Core i7-5820K is unique in that its PCIe 3.0 controller is limited to 28 lanes. So shop for a motherboard able to maximize what you can do with the CPU’s available connectivity.</p><br/><p>MSI’s X99S MPower is one of the only platforms with support for three-way SLI on the 5820K. You can even drop an M.2-based SSD onto the board with a trio of graphics cards active. Beyond its clear symbiosis with Intel’s entry-level Haswell-E processor, you also get a 12-phase voltage regulator, an Intel GbE controller, and dual BIOS files for graceful overclocking recoveries.</p><h3>Value oriented motherboard</h3><p>New motherboards for AMD’s fastest processors are rare these days. After all, the FX-8320 was introduced back in 2012. That just means deals abound, though. If you're searching for options to build a good all around system, this one takes the cake.</p><br/><p>Gigabyte’s GA-990FXA-UD3 is priced just north of $100. It sports the 990FX northbridge and SB950 southbridge, extending support for two-way CrossFire and SLI, six SATA 6Gb/s ports, eight-channel audio, gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, and FireWire. While those capabilities aren’t bleeding-edge, they form the foundation of a fully modern PC ready for taxing workloads&hellip;and for cheap!</p> <h3>That's a mother lode!</h3><p> Let’s be honest: the motherboard market isn’t at its most exciting point right now. Intel’s X99 is a marginal improvement over what came before, Z97 is incrementally better than its predecessor, and someone should probably set up hospice care for AMD’s 990FX. Still, it’s exciting to see the pertinent players getting creative to attract power users. Incidentally, the storage space might do the most for compelling upgrades in the months to come as PCIe-based SSDs benefit from NVM Express, of course requiring compatible motherboards.</p><p> Fortunately, the last half of 2015 and 2016 should be much livelier. Intel’s Skylake platform will introduce mixed DDR4/DDR3L memory compatibility, third-gen PCIe on the PCH, and much more interesting overclocking (welcome back to the game, BCLK). AMD is also expected to launch its Zen architecture in a new family of FX CPUs&mdash;surely that means fresh core logic to support Socket AM4, right? Time will tell.</p> Best of the Best: GPUs frame rates at maximum settings? Balanced with good performance?Bestbudget offering? We have recommendations for all three.Fri, 15 May 2015 04:44:26 +0000 of the Bestbuying guidegpugpusTop Buying Guides <p>For gaming purposes, the GPU reigns supreme. You need reasonable components elsewhere,&nbsp;but gaming performance scales almost directly with the money you put into your graphics card. It's only at the very top of the performance ladder when we get multiple GPUs that things start to fall off.</p><p>Nvidia&nbsp;and AMD both offer plenty of performance, and while&nbsp;AMD is due to release their new Caribbean Islands parts in the near future, the current parts are no slouch. If you need a new graphics card, we have three choices for different budgets.</p><br/> <h3>The best GPU for gaming</h3><p>Would you like to game at 3840x2160 using a single graphics processor? Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan X is the only card able to make that happen. Any other configuration would necessitate two GPUs working cooperatively. The Titan X’s massive GM200 chip wields 3072 CUDA cores, 192 texture units, and 96 ROPs. All of those specifications represent a 50% increase compared to the already-fast GeForce GTX 980’s GM204.</p><p>An aggregate 384-bit memory bus connects the 8-billion-transistor processor to a staggering 12GB of GDDR5 memory. That's obviously overkill for even a single 4K display, but imagine three or four Titan X cards in a high-end gaming machine rendering to three Ultra HD monitors. Now that’s the stuff dreams are made of.</p><br/><p>Surely such a beast chugs power like a V12 engine does gasoline, right? Au contraire. Thanks to the Maxwell architecture’s exceptional efficiency, GeForce GTX Titan X is rated at a relatively modest 250W. It gets all of the juice it needs from a PCIe x16 slot, one six-, and one eight-pin connector.</p><p>Nvidia wraps up its hardware in an attractive dual-slot form factor with lighting, a polycarbonate window, and five display outputs (four of which you can use simultaneously). With the Windows 10 launch imminent, it’s good to know that the GeForce GTX Titan X supports feature level 12.1 of the new DirectX API. For serious 3D performance now and in the months to come, it gets no better.</p><h3>Smart choice for a gaming GPU</h3><p>Enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the Oculus Rift now know what sort of graphics hardware they’ll need for an enjoyable experience: The company recommends either a GeForce GTX 970 or Radeon R9 290. That makes it pretty easy for us to suggest one of those two cards as a baseline for your next gaming PC. We chose the GeForce for its performance and efficiency (the 970 is actually most comparable to the Radeon R9 290X, which sells for a little bit less).</p><p>The GeForce GTX 970 employs the same Maxwell architecture as Nvidia’s flagship Titan X, but costs about one-third as much. And it’s still really, really fast&mdash;again, comparable to AMD’s Radeon R9 290X by most accounts. But whereas AMD calls the 290X a 250W board, Nvidia rates its 970 at 145W.</p><br/><p>An uncut GM204 processor, which is what you’d find on a GTX 980, features 2048 CUDA cores. Nvidia shaves that number down to 1664 for the 970. It also trims the texture units to a not-so-round 104 and the ROPs to 56. The company then mates GM204 to 4GB of GDDR5. Perhaps its biggest misstep in recent memory was not disclosing that the memory bus isn’t one 256-bit aggregate, but is instead a 224-bit interface to 3.5GB of RAM and 32 bits to the remaining 512MB. Still, you can expect exceptional performance at 2560x1440 with the detail settings cranked up in your favorite games.</p><p>Value-added extras like G-Sync support, HDMI 2.0 connectivity, ShadowPlay, and GameStream further sweeten the deal.</p><h3>Best entry-level gaming GPU</h3><p>AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture is immensely successful. In fact, several of the company’s current products are based on GPUs launched more than three years ago! One of these, the Radeon R9 270, remains an exceptional value for gaming at 1920x1080.</p><p>The 270 is pretty much a direct replacement for AMD’s Radeon HD 7870. It employs the same GPU running at a lower core clock rate, complemented by faster memory, and rated at a lower power ceiling. The 7870 launched at $350 back in 2012. The 270 debuted at $180 in 2013. And today you can find it selling right around $150.</p><br/><p> For that price, you get 1280 Stream processors, 80 texture units, and 32 ROPs. The Curaçao GPU operates at 900MHz and is attached to 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 1400MHz on a 256-bit aggregate bus. Although partner boards typically expose four display connectors, you can attach DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport hubs and output to as many as six screens.</p><p> A modest 150W rating means your PSU only needs one six-pin auxiliary connector to drive this potent performer. And despite its advanced age, AMD still claims DirectX 12 support, though we doubt it exposes the API’s most advanced features. Regardless, the board’s continued success is a testament to AMD’s GCN design.</p> <h3>The Waiting Game</h3><p>There are great GPUs available right now, but something faster is always just around the corner.&nbsp;AMD should be launching their Fiji parts in the near future, and Nvidia will most likely have a non-Titan GPU to take the place of the existing GTX 980. If you're not happy with your current gaming performance, a new GPU is the most likely cure, and it beats playing the waiting game.</p> Best of the Best: CPUs frequency or more cores? How about both? What about TDB and cost? We show you three really good choices.Fri, 15 May 2015 04:43:00 +0000 of the Bestbuying guidecpuTop Buying Guides <p>If you're a gamer, the majority of your hard earned dollars are most likely going to be poured into GPUs. But for the all around system performance, the CPU is still a critical component for everything outside of blowing up your buddies. The MGHz (and GHz) race is pretty much over, and now it's all about multiple cores, efficiency, and TDP.&nbsp;</p><p>The current generation of processors from both AMD and Intel are great and have plenty of spare power to last you at least one to two years out, even with new parts on the way. However, if you're prowling the market for something you must have now, we&nbsp;give you three great choices.</p><br/> <h3>The best CPU for a desktop</h3><p>There's top of the line, and then there's everything else. In the land of desktop processing, Intel’s Core i7-5960X is top dog. No, it's not the highest-frequency CPU out there, but what it lacks in clock rate, it makes up for everywhere else. As in, this Haswell-E-based chip offers eight Hyper-Threaded cores capable of addressing 16 threads at a time, backed by 20MB of shared L3 cache and a 40-lane PCI Express 3.0 controller.</p><p>Let’s talk about the significance of those specs. Yes, AMD sells CPUs marketed as eight-core as well. But the two companies employ dramatically different architectures. As a result, the Core i7-5960X is in a league unto itself. If you’re into video editing, image manipulation, software development, or any other number of professional-grade workloads, there is no better single-socket processor.</p><br/><p>Of course, the 40-lane PCI Express 3.0 controller accommodates all of your add-ins. Think two, three, or even four graphics cards; PCIe-based SSDs; and high-end network adapters. Intel’s desktop processors are limited to 16 lanes, so the step up to 40 gives you a lot more flexibility.</p><p>Be advised you'll need an LGA 2011-v3 motherboard. The Core i7-5960X sports a quad-channel DDR4 memory controller, so it won’t drop into the same interface as Intel’s previous flagships. The transition to DDR4 does pave the way for higher data rates and greater densities though, so there is a silver lining as you dig deep for a complete platform overhaul.</p><p> <a href="">Read our full review here</a>.</p><h3>The smart choice</h3><p>We’re obligated to give the Core i7-5960X a call-out for its uncontested place at top of Intel’s desktop portfolio. And for many power users, all of that compute muscle is absolutely necessary. But you can save a bunch of money on the Core i7-5820K and still get most of Haswell-E’s goodness.</p><p>The -5820K boasts six Haswell-based cores operating at up to 3.6GHz and 15MB of L3 cache. Its 28 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity limit what you can plug in somewhat. However, some motherboard manufacturers work around this with PCIe switches. You get the same quad-channel DDR4 controller supporting up to 64GB of 2133 MT/s memory, and the -5820K is specified for 140W, just like Intel’s Core i7-5960X.</p><br/><p> Now, it might seem like the -5820K’s dialed-back specs force you to compromise for a lower price. But if you’re a gamer, this CPU is arguably a better buy. Not only can you purchase a GeForce GTX 980 with what you’ll save compared to a -5960X, but the higher clock rate is more useful to games than another couple of cores. It’d obviously be nice if the -5820K had enough PCIe lanes for two graphics cards on x16 links. Really, though, PCIe throughput isn’t a bottleneck, so feel free to drop high-end cards onto x8 slots guilt-free.</p><p> Like Intel’s flagship, the -5820K has an unlocked multiplier. Beyond its enviable stock specifications, you can usually push these processors beyond 4GHz without much effort. Check out our <a href="">motherboard</a> and <a href="">cooling</a> recommendations for the hardware to help you on your quest.</p><h3>Best entry level CPU</h3><p>AMD’s fastest FX processors do battle with Intel’s mid-range Core i5s in a majority of productivity-oriented benchmarks. But they’re so affordable. The FX-8320 sports four Piledriver modules, each with two integer cores, running at up to 4GHz. The modules have 2MB of shared L2 cache, totaling 8MB across the die, and an 8MB L3 cache accessible by all four modules.</p><p>As you might imagine, that means the chip fares best in software optimized for threading, which is good, since those applications are the ones most commonly bogged down by slow CPUs.</p><br/><p>The highly parallelized architecture is fed by an integrated dual-channel DDR3 memory controller. It’s not as fast as the competition, but that’s alright in this case; the FX isn’t typically bound by memory throughput. At least you’ll save some money on RAM, right?</p><p>Like Intel, AMD is pursuing integration wherever it can. And although the company’s APUs sport on-die PCI Express controllers, its FX CPUs do not. You’re left leaning on 990FX-based motherboards and last-gen PCIe 2.0 support. Again, it’s a good thing that modern graphics cards aren’t really affected by a bit less bandwidth.</p><p>Enthusiasts like the fact that AMD hands out unlocked multipliers to more of its products than Intel. The FX-8320 is easy to tune as a result. Given a capable cooler, the processor should operate at frequencies several hundred megahertz faster. There simply aren’t as many overclockable options in Intel’s portfolio. In fact, you’d have to spend $100 more for that privilege from a Core i5. No wonder the FX line-up is popular amongst power users on budgets.</p> <h3>There's Always Something on the Horizon</h3><p>Both Intel and AMD are set to unveil new CPUs in the coming few months. By that time, we would have them in house for full reviews.&nbsp;The current generation though, are still top performers in their respective categories, and will perform well for a long while yet. Some of us have CPUs in our gaming rigs that are actually 2 generations behind, and still do a great job with today's applications and games.</p> Best of the Best: Gaming Displays want it all: wide viewing angles, variable refresh rates, a good resolution, and low response times. What monitors come closest to reaching our ideal?Fri, 15 May 2015 04:41:58 +0000 of the Bestbuying guidegaming lcdTop Buying Guides <p>Most computer components have a life span measured in a few years. That shiny new processor or graphics card? It will last an enthusiast at most two or three years before they start pining for an upgrade. But where most of us are used to the biannual system upgrade cycle, if there’s one aspect of your PC that you can use for five or more years, it’s your display. Buy a good display and it can last through three or more computer upgrades. With such a long lifespan, then, it pays to get something you’ll be happy with for years to come. We put together a list of ideal technologies and features for a display, but sadly we can’t quite hit every element. Crap. But we can at least come close.</p><br/> <h3>The best gaming display</h3><p> The Acer XB270HU is the "who's who" of gaming LCDs, with a high resolution, high refresh rates, G-SYNC, a fully featured stand, and a wide viewing angle IPS panel. For gamers with NVIDIA GPUs, this is currently as good as it gets. It works with AMD GPUs as well, just not with dynamic refresh rates.</p><p> Let’s start by putting together our wish list for a new display. First we want a reasonable resolution; 4K and higher might be desirable on some levels, but 2560x1440 is a better target for 27-inch displays with no DPI scaling, and fans of ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio displays <em>[like me] </em>want 3440x1440. Second, we want a high quality panel, preferably not TN (Twisted Nematic); however, we also want fast response times, 1ms or 2ms ideally, which is one area where TN still leads.&nbsp;</p><p>We don’t need perfect colors, but we don’t want washed out or overly blue images, and we also want full sRGB coverage. Finally, we want a good range of variable refresh rates (VRR), and that means we need either G-SYNC for NVIDIA users or FreeSync for AMD users. 30–40 Hz at the low end is fine, but the upper boundary should ideally be much higher than 60Hz and at least double the minimum refresh rate.</p><br/><p>The best current display hits all our requirements, but only for NVIDIA users as it’s a G-SYNC panel: the <a href="">Acer XB270HU</a>. This is a 27-inch 2560x1440 (QHD) IPS display with a VRR range of 40­–144 Hz. The QHD resolution means you won’t need a Titan X to hit playable frame rates, and the wide VRR range means you’ll get smooth gaming without constantly bumping into the maximum refresh rate (and let's be honest: most people won't see a difference at more than 144 FPS). Colors are decent if not perfect, the IPS panel provides good viewing angles, and reviews have been very positive so far. The one drawback is the price: with a $900 MSRP, the XB270HU costs more than twice as much as 60 Hz static refresh rate displays with otherwise similar characteristics.</p><p>AMD GPU users on the other hand will want to wait&mdash;see below for an upcoming alternative with FreeSync support. Not also that the XB270HU&mdash;like all current G-SYNC displays&mdash;only supports a single DisplayPort input. DisplayPort is required to take advantage of VRR, and adding hardware to support other inputs can have a negative impact on latency, but if you want a display that can work with more than one device this isn’t it.</p><p>Note that there’s still some blurring present in fast motion on most displays, but there are ways to get around that via strobing (turning on/off) the backlight. The Acer XB270HU supports ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) mode, but only if you disable G-SYNC and run at 85 Hz or 100 Hz. For maximum clarity, Lightboost or ULMB tends to work best on TN panels, thanks to their faster response times, in which case the <a href="">ASUS PG278Q</a> is worth considering. It’s a TN QHD G-SYNC display, and the price of $750 is quite high for a TN panel, but for gaming it’s still a good alternative.</p><h3>Best gaming display for AMD</h3><p>The ASUS MG279Q is the closest AMD users will get to the XB270HU. It uses the same resolution, an IPS panel, and supports AMD’s FreeSync. It’s not scheduled to begin shipping until June, however, and the VRR range is 35­–90 Hz instead of 40–144 Hz, but it will likely cost less.</p><p>ASUS has announced that their <a href="">ASUS MG279Q</a> officially supports FreeSync, but it isn’t shipping yet. It will use an IPS panel, possibly the same one as the Acer XB270HU, but with a FreeSync VRR range of 35­–90 Hz instead of 40–144Hz. Given the other FreeSync alternatives consist of TN panels on the one hand or ultrawide 2560x1080 IPS displays with a limited VRR range of 48–75 Hz on the other (which is too narrow a range), the MG279Q is worth the wait. ASUS tells us the MG279Q will begin shipping in early June, but pricing hasn’t been disclosed yet.</p><p>Besides the manner in which VRR is handled, there are potentially other differences between G-SYNC and FreeSync displays. NVIDIA’s G-SYNC module acts as the hardware scaler, and besides VRR it has some “special sauce” that helps determine what to do when frame rates are not in the VRR range.</p><br/><p>Simply put, the G-SYNC module tends to be better when you fall below the minimum VRR range, working with the NVIDIA GPU drivers to refresh the display two or more times as needed. FreeSync at present will default to VSYNC on/off behavior, which means if you fall below the minimum VRR you’ll get either judder or tearing, somewhat defeating the point of FreeSync.</p><p>ASUS partially overcomes this by supporting a minimum VRR of 35 Hz, and since most gamers want to run at 40+ FPS it shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re running at the native QHD resolution, you’ll want at least a single R9 290 or R9 290X in many titles. And if you have CrossFire AMD GPUs, AMD hasn’t released a working FreeSync driver for such configurations, meaning you have to wait regardless.</p><h3>Smart gaming display</h3><p>TN panels are cheaper and generally have faster response times, so if you’re willing to lose the IPS panels of the above options and save some money, the XG270HU is a good alternative. It also supports AMD’s FreeSync as a bonus.</p><p>We’ve been fans of IPS and other wide viewing angle displays for a long time, but for gaming purposes a TN panel still has some benefits. Besides lower response times (1ms vs. 5ms), you’ll also save some money as the XG270HU costs several hundred dollars less than the XB270HU. There are compromises besides TN, however.</p><p>The colors are merely okay and the stand lacks many adjustment options&mdash;it only provides tilt with no height, swivel, or pivot support; there’s not even a VESA mount. The thin side bezels are great, particularly for those that run multi-monitor setups, but the bright metallic orange on the bottom bezel and the X-shaped stand may be too in-your-face for some people.</p><br/><p>Caveats aside, for gaming, particularly on AMD GPUs, this is a great option. NVIDIA users aren’t completely left out either, as the high 144Hz refresh rates are still available, and in our experience that gets you 90 percent of the way to the smoothness of adaptive sync. The reason is that with a typical 60 Hz display, the content on screen gets updated every 17ms whereas a 144 Hz display is updated every 7ms. Even if there is some tearing, the frequency of screen updates tends to make it less noticeable, and judder likewise isn’t as much of a problem.</p><h3>Overclock your display</h3><p>Did you know you can overclock certain displays? Well, you can, and the QNIX QX2710 can be pushed from the standard 60 Hz static refresh rate to as high as 120 Hz. You’ll need the right GPU, a software utility, and you can only do this with a dual-link DVI connection. You might not be able to reliably hit 120 Hz either, but even 90 or 100 Hz can make a big difference.</p><p>If you’re looking for something that will save you money, skip past all the G-SYNC vs. FreeSync hullabaloo, and still give higher than normal refresh rates without stooping to a TN panel, the <a href="">QNIX QX2710</a> is definitely worth a look. It uses a Samsung PLS panel and most users are reporting 100+ Hz refresh rate overclocks. Wide viewing angles, reasonable color accuracy, and high refresh rates make this a good compromise, though it’s not without flaws.</p><br/><p>The stand is pretty bad, with some users reporting that it’s so loose the hinge will tilt back simply due to the weight of the monitor. Also, QNIX is a Korean company that doesn’t have US support, so you’ll want to buy from a site that accepts returns, e.g. Amazon. One of the real concerns with the overclocking monitors is that some don’t <em style="background-color: initial;">really</em> overclock the display, simply dropping extra frames over 60 Hz. This seems to be a problem mostly on displays with multiple inputs, so we recommend sticking with displays that have a single DL-DVI input&mdash;no HDMI or DisplayPort. Note that not using a hardware scaler for multiple inputs also means less latency for rendering frames.</p><h3>Best value gaming display</h3><p> Is it even worth considering a “value” display? We generally recommend against going this route, but there are a few options that are still worth considering. The <a href="">LG 25UM57-P</a> is interesting in that it’s an ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio display with a native 2560x1080 resolution; it has an IPS panel as well. Since the display is the one element of your PC you will <em>always</em> see, you want it to look good and work well, and for a budget price of $200 the LG display does exactly that.</p><p>Running a 21:9 aspect ratio can be good or bad, depending on your particular application. If you watch anamorphic widescreen movies it’s great, and in normal use it can easily accommodate two applications running side by side, each with an effective 1280x1080 resolution. In that case, it’s almost like having two older 1280x1024 displays next to each other, only with no bezel in between. Many games will work fine with the native resolution as well, but some don’t support the necessary settings and will require registry hacks or other shenanigans to run properly without looking stretched&mdash;and there are bound to be a few games that simply won’t look right at 2560x1080.</p><br/><p>The larger 21:9 2560x1080 don’t make as much sense, as they lack the vertical pixels we like, but at 25 inches it’s not as much of a concern. The LG 25UM57-P is about 1.5 inches shorter than a 23-inch 1920x1080 display, but it’s also about three inches wider, and it still provides a respectable 110 DPI&mdash;basically the same DPI as a 27-inch QHD panel. The colors are decent if not exceptional, but you already know that was going to be the case, right? The display stand is about as basic as it gets, with no adjustments other than tilt, but a VESA mount at least is supported. Given the other compromises needed to keep the price to $200 or less, this is the best value display right now&mdash;we’d take it over the more common 1080p offerings.</p><p>If you’re looking to save even more money, you can go with a standard 1920x1080 23-inch IPS display for around $150 (e.g. the <a href="">Acer H236HLbid</a>), but all of the budget LCDs end up being flawed in one or more ways. The stand quality is always a concern, and color quality is almost uniformly suspect. Many of the budget IPS panels also have poor response times, making them less suitable for gaming. TN panels typically have better response times but are worse in other areas, like colors and viewing angles. Longevity of the budget displays is also questionable; some might last five years but others could fail after a couple years, likely just after the warranty has expired.</p><p>If you can’t afford something better, fine. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you!</p> <h3>You Can't Have It All (Yet)</h3><p>What we’d really like to see at the high end unfortunately doesn’t exist. The LG 34UM67 FreeSync display has been in our labs, and there’s a lot to like. The 21:9 aspect ratio, good color quality, and IPS viewing angles for example hit all the right notes. Unfortunately, the limited VRR range and the 1080 pixel height are both limitations. LG already makes the <a href="">34UM95</a> that runs at 3440x1440. Give us a 34-inch display with that panel and 100 Hz maximum refresh rates and we would be happy for a very long time.</p><p>There’s also the question of what will happen with display resolutions over the coming years. Windows DPI scaling still isn’t perfect, or at least there are applications&mdash;including games!&mdash;where setting DPI scaling to something other than 100% can create issues. With Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft made some improvements and Windows 10 should do even better. Meanwhile, OS X users are able to enjoy “Retina” resolutions with the OS handling DPI scaling much more elegantly than Windows users currently enjoy. Hopefully everything gets sorted out in the coming years, and if it does then you might wish you had a 4K display. But even the best 4K displays don’t support higher than 60 Hz refresh rates and it might be a couple years before that changes.</p><p>Users that want 4Kp60 should look at <a href="">Acer’s XB280HK</a> G-SYNC display. Samsung will have their UE850 and UE590 4Kp60 FreeSync displays in the coming months as well. In the meantime, for gaming most people will continue to be best served by one of the QHD displays discussed above.</p> Contact Us you can reach usFri, 15 May 2015 02:03:51 +0000 <h3> <p><img data-fullimage-src="" src="" alt="Future Office"></p></h3><h3><p>So you want to get in touch with the most bad-ass tech publication? Here's how:</p></h3><h3>Address</h3><p><strong>Maximum PC<br>4000 Shoreline Ct.<br>Suite 400<br>South San Francisco, CA 94080</strong></p><p><strong>Feedback:</strong> comments [at]&nbsp;<br>Our editors read each letter, and while we attempt to answer as many emails as possible, we can't guarantee we'll answer yours. We have to save a little bit of time to dish out reviews and guides you'd love to read.</p><p><strong>The Doctor:</strong> doctor [at]<br>If you have a problem with your PC or have a question on what upgrades you should get, hit up the Doctor. We can't cure your obsession with PC building though; your symptoms may actually get worse.</p><p><strong>Review pitches:</strong> jarredwalton [at]<br>If you're a company wishing to have a product review, contact us here. If you're a reader wishing for us to look at something, contact us here too. If you want to write a review and have it published, contact us at tuan [ at ]</p><p><strong>Magazine customer service, North America:</strong>&nbsp;maxcustserv [at]<br>If you have an issue with the magazine, contact us at the address above and we'll figure it out for you pronto.</p> Nvidia Starts Streaming Grid Games at Full HD 60 FPS this week improved its Grid cloud-gaming service by adding support for streams at Full HD 1080 at 60 frames per second (1080p60). While movie services are already streaming content at 1080p (and beyond), Grid becomes the first Internet-based streaming game service to offer 1080p60, which comes by way of yesterday's Shield Hub beta release. The 720p60 option streaming is still available as well.Wed, 13 May 2015 15:50:24 +0000 hdgamesgridNewsnvidia A new experience<br /> <br /> Nvidia this week improved its Grid cloud-gaming service by adding support for streams at Full HD 1080 at 60 frames per second (1080p60)<br /> <br /> . While movie services are already streaming content at 1080p (and beyond), Grid becomes the first Internet-based streaming game service to offer 1080p60, which comes by way of yesterday's Shield Hub beta release. The 720p60 option streaming is still available as well.<br /> <br /> To take advantage of 1080p60 streams, you'll need a fast Internet connection -- at least 30Mbps, and Nvidia recommends 50Mbps if there are multiple devices competing for bandwidth on your home network. By comparison, 720p streaming requires around 5-10Mbps of bandwidth.<br /> <br /> The reason Nvidia recommends so much more bandwidth at 1080p60 is because it's processing over twice as many pixels in real-time as 720p. And unlike movie services that might buffer on occasion, the combination of real-time encoding and maintaining a low latency requires some heavy lifting, both at the front end and presumably the backend -- Nvidia brought on board two new data centers bringing the total to six, and it wouldn't surprise us if Nvidia upgraded or added faster graphics cards to Grid.<br /> <br /> In any event, more than 35 games in the Grid game library support 1080p60, including Batman: Arkham Origins, Devil May Cry 4, and Dirt 3 Complete Edition.<br /> <br /> You can join the new Shield hub<br /> <br /> beta here<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Newegg Rolls Out New Line of Business Class PCs Starting at $649 carries all kinds of pre-built systems from third-party vendors, but in case you didn't know, the popular online vendor also builds PCs through NeweggBusiness, a wholly-owned subsidiary. As such, NeweggBusiness today announced its new ABS N Series of desktop PCs. Starting at $649, the ABS N Series is aimed at small and medium business (SMB) and education customers.Wed, 13 May 2015 15:02:31 +0000 NHardwareNeweggNeweggBusinessNewsrigs <br /> These PCs mean business<br /> <br /> Newegg carries all kinds of pre-built systems from third-party vendors, but in case you didn't know, the popular online vendor also builds PCs through NeweggBusiness, a wholly-owned subsidiary. As such,<br /> <br /> NeweggBusiness today announced its new ABS N Series of desktop PCs<br /> <br /> . Starting at $649, the ABS N Series is aimed at small and medium business (SMB) and education customers.<br /> <br /> There are five configurations to choose from, each one packing an Intel Core i5 4590 Haswell processor inside. These aren't systems that will knock your socks off with raw power, nor will they sufficiently run Crysis (before anyone asks). However, they're all priced at under $750.<br /> <br /> "These machines are filled with options all too rare these days: Samsung SSD, three types of monitor connections, USB 3.0 ports, a quiet power supply and Windows 7 Pro (upgradeable to Windows 10). The included Logitech keyboard and ambidextrous mouse round out the bundle, making the N Series the perfect machine to serve the computing needs of any busy office environment," NeweggBusiness says.<br /> <br /> The $649 configuration includes the aforementioned processor along with 4GB of DDR3-1600, 120GB SSD, DVD burner, and Windows 7 Professional. On the front panel are two USB 2.0 ports flanked by microphone and headphone jacks. Around back are four more USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, GbE LAN, HDMI, DVI, and D-Sub connectors.<br /> <br /> As for the other four configurations, they offer varying amounts of RAM and storage while retaining the rest of the specs laid out above:<br /> <br /> $680: 8GB RAM, 120GB SSD<br /> <br /> $700: 4GB RAM, 250GB SSD<br /> <br /> $730: 8GB RAM, 250GB SSD<br /> <br /> $740: 8GB RAM, 120GB SSD + 1TB SSD<br /> <br /> You can find these new systems<br /> <br /> here<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Updated: Lenovo Fesses Up to Hastily Pushing Flawed LaVie Z 360 to Market Lenovo reached out to us with the following clarification:Wed, 13 May 2015 00:05:46 +0000 z 360lenovoNews <br /> Update<br /> <br /> : Lenovo reached out to us with the following clarification:<br /> <br /> "Recently when the product went on sale on Lenovo had the wrong product info on the website regarding LaVie being capable of four use modes. To be clear, LaVie works in laptop mode and in tablet mode with full screen rotation. It was never designed to work in tent or stand mode’s [sic]. These were specific design decisions. With the best intentions in an effort [to] clear up any confusion Lenovo sent a letter to those who had ordered the product during the period when this information was on the website. However the letter wasn’t very clear on explaining the situation."<br /> <br /> Also, contrary to what the article originally claimed, Lenovo says the device hasn't shipped yet. It's worth mentioning here that if you are not satisfied with the LaVie Z 360, you could avail of Lenovo's 30-day refund policy and get the whole amount back. The original story follows below:<br /> <br /> Offers buyers a partial refund<br /> <br /> Touted as the “world’s lightest” 13.3-inch laptop, Lenovo LaVie Z was<br /> <br /> one of the most talked about products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show<br /> <br /> , but it has all been downhill since then. When the device became available a few days back, it became clear that the<br /> <br /> Chinese vendor had over-promised and under-delivered on at least two counts<br /> <br /> :<br /> <br /> weight and price<br /> <br /> . Sadly, the unwelcome surprises don’t end there.<br /> <br /> The fine folks over at<br /> <br /> Consumer Reports<br /> <br /> were among those who ordered the LaVie Z 360 (variant with 360-degree rotatable screen) when it came out but were shocked by an email that arrived ahead of the machine. It was a contrite letter from Lenovo North America’s web sales manager Steve St. Amant, in which he admitted to the company committing a “couple missteps” in trying to bring the product to market as quickly as possible.<br /> <br /> “We showed the product on as having a Tent Mode and a Stand Mode. You may be used to hearing of these usage modes from our Yoga products. However, in Tent Mode, the image on the display does not auto-rotate, causing the image to present upside down,” Amant wrote, adding that it’s possible to correct this behavior using Windows shortcuts but that does not make for a great experience.<br /> <br /> “In Stand Mode, the keyboard does not deactivate. A user may be okay in Stand Mode with LaVie Z lying down on a table, but if it were on your lap for example, the keys may depress and once again cause an unsatisfactory experience. I am very sorry that this happened and I hope that you can accept my sincere apology.”<br /> <br /> The LaVie Z 360 product page has been modified so as to not plug the aforementioned modes. The company is now marketing the device as something that can alternate between tablet and laptop mode. Further, it is offering a 5 percent refund on the $1,699 purchase price.<br /> <br /> Follow Pulkit on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> How To Use GIMP Photo Editor Microsoft Paint isn’t enough for your photo-editing needs, GIMP is the next logical step. Tue, 12 May 2015 22:29:52 +0000 photo editingHow-Tosphoto editor <h3> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p></h3><h3> Basic photo editing with GIMP </h3><p> If Microsoft Paint isn’t enough for your photo-editing needs, <strong> <a href=""> GIMP </a> </strong> is the next logical step. It’s totally free, open-source, and can go toe-to-toe with Photoshop&mdash;at least in terms of basic image manipulation. Need to crop a photo? Look no further. Want to add some basic filters or effects? GIMP has you covered. </p><p> Despite being free, it’s actually surprisingly intuitive for anyone familiar with image-editing software. If you’re comfortable with any feature-rich photo editor, the learning curve for GIMP should be fairly short. Regardless, whether you’re a Photoshop pro or an image-editing newbie, we’ll hold your hand while you learn the ins and outs of GIMP. </p><h5> Getting Started </h5><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> Keep calm and turn Single-Window Mode on. </strong> </p><p> Before you even import an image, we recommend setting GIMP to Single-Window Mode. It’ll consolidate all of the controls and sub-windows into a single, unified window. For beginners, it’s a life saver and will help keep you organized. The main downside here is that you can only manipulate one image at a time, although GIMP provides a handy tab-view to easily switch between images. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> That big white circle is in its own, distinct layer and hasn’t changed the original image. </strong> </p><p> You’ll also want to be familiar with the Layers Dialog, which displays all of the different layers of an image. This is one of GIMP’s (and most other powerful photo-editing software's) greatest features because it you lets separate images into multiple parts that you can manipulate individually. If you want to annotate an image or edit only parts of it, you can create a new layer (right-click in the Layer dialog and select New Layer) to keep your drawings separate from the original image. Click the eye icon beside each layer to toggle visibility&mdash;this is handy for quick A-to-B comparisons. Also keep in mind that the order of layers matters. The uppermost layers are literally overlaid on top of the lower layers. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> The Tool Options dialog gives you immediate access to tool-specific settings like size. </strong> </p><p> We haven’t gone over specific tools yet, but it’s important that we introduce the Tool Options dialog. It automatically updates with options specific to whatever tool you’ve currently selected. If you’re on the Paintbrush Tool, it will present you with options for settings like Size, Opacity, and Brush types. </p><p> As with most programs, basic hotkeys are all functional in GIMP. Ctrl+Z lets you undo the last edit, Ctrl+S lets you save the image, and Ctrl+O lets you open an image. We’ll cover tool-specific hotkeys later in the guide. </p><h5> Tools </h5><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> Here’s GIMP is all of its open-source glory. </strong> </p><p> The heart of any photo-editing software is the toolbox or toolbar. GIMP presents this by default as a three-by-eleven set of colored icons on the left side of the window that denote the essential tools and functions of the software. We won’t cover everything, but we’ll go over all of the basics. </p><p> The most important tool is probably the Rectangle Select Tool. It’s the first one on the toolbar and lets you select portions of your image by clicking and dragging an expanding rectangle&mdash;think Windows desktop style. Once you’ve drawn a selection box, a square will appear in each corner. Grab a square and drag in or out to expand or shrink the selection box. Once you’ve got a section selected, you can copy, cut, fill with colors, or do pretty much anything else you’d like. The Ellipse Select Tool should be self-explanatory at this point&mdash;it does the same thing, but with ellipses instead of rectangles. At any point, Ctrl+Shift+A will deselect everything and Ctrl+A will select everything in the image. If you want to make multiple selections, hold Shift as you draw your selection box. Hold Control if you want to remove parts of your selections. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> The Free Select Tool is on the left and the results of the Fuzzy Select Tool are on the right. </strong> </p><p> Next up are the Free Select Tool and the Fuzzy Select Tool. Just like the aforementioned tools, their names are fairly descriptive. The former lets you connect lines to select a region defined by a limitless number of straight lines. Simply click anywhere to drop an anchor point and click somewhere else to connect that point with another. Think of it as a game of connect the dots. Once you’re done, you simply click the first circle you created to finish up the selection. At any point you can also press Enter to finish the selection. The Fuzzy Select Tool will use a built-in algorithm to select sections of the current layer on the image by color. Click an area of the image that’s yellow and the Fuzzy Select Tool (or Magic Wand) will grab everything that’s yellow. If you aren’t getting acceptable results, try tweaking the Threshold setting in the bottom left Tool Options window. Increasing the threshold increases the sensitivity of the tool and will usually expand the area selected. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> All we want are those tires and a bit of the step ladder next to it. </strong> </p><p> The Crop Tool is super simple and lets you easily crop images by selecting a section of an image with a rectangular selection tool. Press Enter to perform the crop. As with the selection tools, you can use the square in each corner to resize the selection. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> 13.81 isn’t the prettiest angle, but it’s fine for demonstration purposes. </strong> </p><p> As with the Crop Tool, the Rotation Tool is relatively simple and doesn’t take much know-how to operate. Simply create a selection or select a specific layer and click-and-drag the item in either direction to rotate it. A window should pop-up with options asking you to confirm the rotation. You can select a specific angle and adjust the Center X and Y coordinates before confirming the rotation. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> The Scale Tool makes scaling easy. </strong> </p><p> Image resizing is also a cinch with GIMP’s Scale Tool. Select the tool and click your image to resize. A pop-up dialog presents options for width and height in a variety of measurements. Click the link icon to lock the dimensions&mdash;this is helpful if you don’t want to stretch the image outside of its original aspect ratio. </p><p> <em> Click on to the next page to read about a few more tools and how to get your images out of GIMP. </em> </p><h5> Tools Continued </h5><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> The Color Picker Tool is great for finding exact colors. </strong> </p><p> Another essential tool is the Color Picker Tool (or Eyedropper). As its name suggests, the tool gives you the ability to click anywhere on your image to find the color at that exact point. By default, the tool will set your foreground color as the color that you’ve clicked on. You can click the white double-sided arrow (see the image above) to swap the foreground and background colors. Click on the foreground or background color to open the Color Selector. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> Fine-tune your color selection with specific RGB or CMYK values. </strong> </p><p> After selecting a color, you can use it in conjunction with the Pencil, Paintbrush, Bucket Fill, Airbrush, and Ink tools to draw on or annotate your images. Keep in mind that if you’ve got an area of your image selected, your tools will only function within the boundaries of the selection. Use the Eraser Tool to get rid of any marks you’ve made to the image or to erase parts of the image itself. Make sure you’re in the right layer before you start making any marks or erasures. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> The Text Tool in action. </strong> </p><p> The Text Tool is also super useful for adding text to any image. Click anywhere on an image to create an undefined textbox that will expand to fit your text. Click and drag to create fixed text boxes that will wrap text to fit. Type your message or labels and click another tool or anywhere else in the window to finish. When you click on the text, GIMP will automatically re-open the text editing window, which has options for adjusting the font face, size, baseline, kerning, and color. By default, GIMP will create a new layer for each instance of text, so the words won’t be permanently added to the image. This means that you’re free to move text around the image with the Move Tool (denoted in the toolbar by two intersecting arrows). </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> Behold the glory of the Clone Tool in action. </strong> </p><p> The Clone Tool is one of GIMP’s supremely cool features. It’s used to clone a section of an image and overlay that section onto another part of the image. This can be used to correct mistakes, as seen in the image above, or to remove imperfections on photos, such as acne. Simply select the Clone Tool and set a reference point by holding Ctrl and clicking on the image. Then click and hold (as if using a paintbrush) to apply the selection area of the reference point onto the area underneath the cursor. </p><p> Another advanced feature is the Heal Tool. It’s a lot like the Clone Tool, but it uses a hidden algorithm to analyze the destination before applying the source area. Use it for jobs where the clone tool just isn’t working. This tool works really well for smoothing subtle features like wrinkles and can also remove acne, freckles, or small marks. </p><h5> Exporting the Finished Product </h5><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> We don’t even recognize half of the potential output file formats supported by GIMP. </strong> </p><p> Once you’re done working on your image and you’re happy with the results, make sure you select Export As&hellip; in the File menu&mdash;don’t click Save or Save as unless you’re happy with the original file format. This option provides you with a laundry list of potential file formats. Once you’ve clicked Export, you’ll be presented with some more options that usually include a Quality setting and an estimation of the final file size. </p><h5> Learning More </h5><p> There’s a whole host of features and capabilities&mdash;most notably: plug-ins&mdash;that we haven’t even touched on in this crash course. Fortunately, there are resources available for people interested in diving deeper. Head on over to the GIMP website and check out the official <a href=""> User Manual </a> for an abundance of in-depth information. </p><p> Already a GIMP power user? Tell us your favorite features or suggest some tips in the comments below! </p> How to Rip, Convert, and Stream Your Media’ve likely moved onto Netflix or Hulu or some other direct streaming way to watch “television.” But what about that massive collection of discs collecting dust in your AV room? Or the gigabytes of videos you want to share with relatives who haven’t figured out how to watch videos on your photo-sharing site? Or the eBooks for the reader that long ago died?Tue, 12 May 2015 22:29:17 +0000 FlickFrom the MagazineMakeMVriproku streaming stickstreamvlc <h3> Liberate your music, videos, and more </h3> <p> You’ve likely moved onto Netflix or Hulu or some other direct streaming way to watch “television.” But what about that massive collection of discs collecting dust in your AV room? Or the gigabytes of videos you want to share with relatives who haven’t figured out how to watch videos on your photo-sharing site? Or the eBooks for the reader that long ago died? </p> <p> Today, there’s simply no reason to let your valuable collection rot away in isolation. To help you, we put together a guide that shows how to easily free the media you own to use it where you want it—on your phone, on your tablet, or streamed across your network. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <h3> How to… put your videos on a DVD in one minute </h3> <p> The optical disc is dead. You know it, we know it, the American people know it. We also know that is a complete load of bantha dung. The truth is that even if you have moved to a fancy-schmancy cloud existence where you watch your entire transcoded video library at the coffee bar from your hybrid, convertible, solar-powered tablet, a lot of people are still living in the land of the DVDs and physical media. So when you want to show Aunt Peg the video of your kid snorting milk out of his nose, you have to burn it to DVD. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> After you've added video via drag-and-drop, you'll want to change the title to something appropriate by clicking Project Settings and selecting General. </strong> </p> <p> <strong> 1: Download DVD Flick </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> Perhaps one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get this chore done is to use DVD Flick. This app is free and handles most of the messy chores of creating title menus, transcoding, and burning to disc that scare most people off after five minutes. As far as combo disc burning/transcoding apps go, DVD Flick is pretty much fire and forget. </p> <p> First, download the program from <span> <span> <span> <span> </span> <span> <a href=""> </a> </span> </span> </span> </span> (it should link you to and install it. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> There's a basic functional menu system isn DVD Flick that works adequately. </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <strong> 2. Pick your videos </strong> </p> <p> Once you’ve launched it, you start a new project and being to drag-and-drop to it. You can also select “Add title” and browse to the folder that holds the file you want DVD Flick to add. <span> </span> </p> <p> The default for DVD Flick is to burn to a standard disc. If you want to burn a double-layer disc because Aunt Peg wants to see the hours of video at a higher bitrate, click the "Project settings" button; under General, change the target size. From there you can also pick how many threads you want the program to take during the encode and choose the encoder priority. If you intend for the disc to viewed on PAL, you can change that using the Video settings of “Project settings.” </p> <p> If you’re putting multiple videos on the disc, you can change how the disc plays back on a DVD player. By default, it will proceed to the next title, but you can click on Playback and change it return to menu or loop the particular title. Under Burning, you can also choose to create an ISO image rather than burn it directly to disc. This can be useful if DVD Flick has issues burning to your particular DVD burner. </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> Under Project Settings &gt; Playback, you can change the playback behavior of the disc. </strong> </p> <p> <strong> 3. Create menus </strong> </p> <p> By default, the disc you create with DVD Flick should just play on any commercial deck, but Aunt Peg probably wants a menu. Click on the Menu settings button and pick from several pre-canned menus that work fine. Just note that the title menu of the disc will be taken from the Title field of “Project settings.” To change it to "Kids Video," click on “Project settings” and General, and change the title to suit your preference. </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> 4. Burn it </strong> </p> <p> Once you’re ready, just click "Create DVD" and DVD Flick will begin transcoding the titles and burning the disc. Keep in mind that while we said we’d tell you how to put your videos on a disc in one minute flat, that time doesn't include the encoding and burning. </p> <p> If DVD Flick for some reason can't burn to your DVD player, you can either create an ISO and burn that or use another app such as CDBurnerXP ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> ), Ashampoo Burning Studio ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> ), or ImgBurn ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> ) to burn the files to a disc. The video files you need to burn are typically located in C:\Users\Your Login\Documents\dvd\dvd. Using CDBurnerXP, for example, you’ll want to choose "Video DVD," select the contents of the Video_TS folder, and then burn it. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> The time it takes to encode the media is lengthy, so you'll want to do something else for an hour or so during the creation process. </strong> </p> <p> <strong> 5. Final advice </strong> </p> <p> The real secret to DVD Flick is its ability to transmogrify (not an actual technical term) just about anything. The program supports 45 file formats, 60 video codecs, and 40 audio formats. From what we’ve seen, it’ll take anything from 3GP to MP4 and convert it without complaining. <span> </span> </p> <p> One weakness of the program you should be aware of, though, is that it’s not for editing video. It’s not a full-service video editor nor does it claim to be. If you want to edit out the part of your phone video where you whacked your privates on the hand-rail while trying to perform a skateboard trick, you can’t do it. (Although in today’s world, skateboarders actually want to edit <em> in </em> the part where privates are smashed on handrails.) And yes, videos that you shot with your phone held vertically (it’s officially called Vertical Video Syndrome) will typically be displayed sideways. DVD Flick does try to flip videos correctly when it can, but it isn’t consistent. If you want to edit video or add transitions and effects, you’ll need a real editor such as Adobe Premiere Elements or CyberLink Power Director. Neither are difficult to learn to use, but aren't apps that you can fire and forget like DVD Flick. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> If DVD Flick can't burn it to disc, you can just use another program, such as CDBurnerXP, to dump the contents of the Video_TS folder onto a disc. </strong> </p> <h3></h3> <h3> How to... rip discs to stream on your network </h3> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Let’s face it: Optical media is a pain in the butt. If you’re a real cinephile, you have to set aside a huge chunk of space on your bookshelf for all the Blu-ray discs and DVDs that you’ve been accumulating thanks to your love of film, TV episodes, and whatever else you happen to enjoy watching. </p> <p> The raw act of playing a movie can also be a bit annoying. You have to get up off your comfy sofa, chair, or beanbag-type creation; walk over to your movie stash; decide what you want to watch; and slap it in your player of choice. You then have to (likely) suffer through all those stupid advertisements and trailers that Blu-ray player manufacturers will never allow you to skip through. You’ll probably have to navigate some creatively designed menu or two just to triple-check that the Blu-ray’s audio tracks align with your home setup. And then, finally, you’ll get a chance to press play. By then, your popcorn has burned. </p> <p> It’s a lot easier to fire up a desktop or NAS box—or plug a USB key into your DLNA-friendly router—and stream your files around your house instead of fiddling with scratch-prone discs. To do that, you first have to convert your physical media into digital format. And that’s what we’re here to show you: how to convert your Blu-ray collection into multi-gigabyte files that are a lot easier to manage and view. </p> <p> <strong> 1. Own the movie </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> If only ripping Blu-ray discs were as easy as popping one into your drive, waiting for Windows to fire up a “Rip Disc” Autoplay option, and sitting back while your OS did all the work. Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle between you and digital file-making glory are the digital-rights-management schemes that the movie studios slap onto their discs in an attempt to prevent you from doing everything we're about to tell you how to do. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> Everything, that is, with an asterisk: We’re not going to tell you how to bypass this encryption directly. We’re going to assume that you’re simply using this article’s knowledge to rip all sorts of other films that aren’t locked down by annoying AACS encryption. Should you want to do the not-so-legal thing, you’ll just have to figure out that part on your own. The actual ripping process is the same; we just can’t tell you how to go about bypassing copy protection. Sorry! <span> </span> </p> <p> That all said, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that you have a Blu-ray drive either installed into your PC or attached somehow (yes, USB-friendly external Blu-ray drives exist). You don’t need anything super-fancy or super-speedy, since you’ll likely set the process to start and go off to make yourself a sandwich (or a three-course meal) while it churns along. Plenty of simple Blu-ray drives can be had inexpensively; don’t concern yourself with a writer, or Lightscribe support, or any of that—just get a simple Blu-ray/DVD combo drive. </p> <p> <strong> <span> 2. Download MakeMKV </span> </strong> </p> <p> Once you’re checked that one off your list, you’ll want to hit up your search engine of choice and track down a program called MakeMKV. If you casually do a search for “Blu-ray ripping app” beforehand, you’ll find that there are plenty (and we mean <em> plenty </em> ) of programs that will allow you to convert the contents of a disc into a digital format. Some will work with AACS-encrypted discs; some won’t. Finding a perfect app for Blu-ray ripping is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, given the proliferation of software that exists. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> <strong> <span> MakeMKV’s website makes it look like it’s a dodgy download; trust us, it isn’t. </span> </strong> </p> <p> MakeMKV, we argue, is that app. First off, it’s free; that already gives it a pretty strong advantage over most other contenders. Second, it couldn’t be much more user-friendly for ripping-newbies. With but a few clicks of some fairly large buttons, your system will be processing that which you’ve placed into its optical drive without hassle (usually). Third, it works very well with a wide range of discs we've thrown its way. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> Before you start ripping, you need to register MakeMKV—the program will, in fact, prompt you to do so before you can do anything else. If that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, given that we just gushed over the app for being completely free, hear us out. MakeMKV is technically in beta, and has been for some time. The developer continually releases updated registration keys via the official MakeMKV forums, which enable the program’s full functionality for a set period of time. Once that time runs out, you have to head back to the MakeMKV website to grab a new key (and often an updated version of the app). </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <strong> <span> MakeMKV’s registration key can be found in its online forums. </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> <br/> </span> </strong> </p> <p> If that sounds like a minor annoyance, you’re right. However, it’s a very, very small price to pay for MakeMKV’s killer functionality. The ability to rip the contents of Blu-ray discs and automatically convert them into full-fledged MKV files, thus preventing you from having to learn about the complicated world of media encoding, fiddle with all sorts of settings, and use more than one app to go from disc to digital file, is pretty amazing. </p> <p> <strong> <span> 3. MKV doesn't stand for "make killer videos" </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> A quick note about these MKV files, though. For the uninitiated, an MKV file is an open-source “container” that can combine multiple audio and video streams (as well as subtitle tracks) into a single, easy-to-modify file. The streams themselves can be encoded in any number of ways; MakeMKV doesn’t actually do any encoding itself, which is why the MKV files this app outputs tend to run a bit on the huge side. It just bundles. If you want to shrink your MKV files down to more a manageable size, you’ll need to do a bit of post-processing, which we’ll cover in a bit. </p> <p> And, naturally, since MKV is an open file format, a number of third-party developers build support for MKV right into their software players: VLC, MediaPlayer Classic, MPlayer, etc. You’ll still likely need a decoder for the apps to play your movies correctly. For that, we recommend the easy-to-install, crap-free Combined Community Codec Pack—give it a Google and a download, and you’ll be one step closer to playing the files you have yet to actually rip. </p> <p> <strong> <span> 4. Start your ripping </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Enough with the wind-up to the main event; let’s get ripping. Place your Blu-ray disc into your optical drive and fire up MakeMKV. When you do, the program will immediately perform a quick analysis of the disc and, presuming there aren’t any issues upfront, you’ll see a giant icon of an optical drive sitting below the Source drop-down menu. If for whatever reason you don’t, and your source isn’t actually your Blu-ray drive, click that menu and select the correct option. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <strong> This home video Blu-ray only has one title, so it’s easy to make your choice, but on a disc with multiple titles or videos, justmcheck off the ones that you want to convert. </strong> <span> </span> </p> <p> </p> <p> You’ll notice that there aren’t really any options you can edit within this screen on MakeMKV. That’s intentional. When you’re ready to begin the ripping process, click on the giant optical drive icon. MakeMKV will give your disc a thorough scan to ensure that there aren’t any abnormalities that could otherwise interfere with the ripping process. It’ll also build out the list of titles and chapters on the disc itself, which you’ll see in the leftmost portion of the window once the scanning process is complete. <span> </span> </p> <p> Here’s where things get fancy. You can either rip the entire disc as-is, or you can go through and piece together a custom MKV based on the various parts of your Blu-ray that you do (or don't) want to keep. The caveat about that is that MakeMKV can’t identify the various segments it’s identified on your disc; you might see 15 different titles (corresponding to 15 individual MKV files that the app might make), but only one of these will be your “primary” movie file. The rest will be other media elements that are also on the disc, which you may or may not want to rip as well. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> Our recommendation? Don’t worry about the individual titles; you can rip the entire disc and delete them later, if you’d like. What’s more pressing are the audio and subtitle tracks, as you might not want to, say, rip a Blu-ray disc’s full 5.1 track (adding to your file size) if you’re just planning to watch the movie on a two-speaker system. Or, for that matter, you might not care about subtitles; no need to increase the file size of your eventual film with features you aren’t going to use. <span> </span> </p> <p> Expand the various titles by clicking on the arrow next to each title’s checkbox (which determines whether or not MakeMKV will be making an MKV of that title). You can’t change the video (obviously), but you can select which audio tracks you want the app to pack into that title’s MKV container. Select and deselect audio tracks to your heart’s content; that’s the easy part. Subtitles are a bit trickier. </p> <p> <strong> <span> 5. Leave on subtitles </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> You might see subtitles split into two options: A Subtitles option and a second nested Subtitles option beneath it that contains the same language reference as the higher-level subtitle, but with the words “forced only” appended to it. If you’ll recall your favorite fantasy movie of choice, you’ve likely noticed times when non-human people speak languages that you can’t actually understand ( <em> Avatar </em> , anyone?) Forced subtitles are often the words that appear during these parts—different from normal subtitles, in that they’ll appear on screen regardless of whether you’ve turned on a movie’s subtitles or not. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> We recommend you leave forced subtitles on when ripping your films (for the English subtitles, at least). If you notice that you still aren’t seeing the subtitles you should be seeing during parts you can’t otherwise understand, you might want to go back and re-rip your movie with the full English subtitles enabled; you can always flip them on and off in your media player of choice. <span> </span> </p> <p> Once you’re ready to rip, click the big icon that looks like an optical drive. Your Blu-ray player will be off to the races—the very slow races, as ripping a full disc’s worth of data is going to take a decent amount of time. MakeMKV quoted us around 45 minutes to an hour for our test disc, a 25,799MB source being read at a rate anywhere between 9–12MB/s. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> <strong> <span> Sit back and relax; it takes MakeMKV a bit of time to rip a packed Blu-ray disc. </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> </span> </strong> </p><p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <h3> How to... convert movies for your phone or tablet </h3> <p> <span> So, you’ve ripped your movies into MKV files and you’re ready to watch them. You could always pull up a chair and hang out on your computer all day long, but you’re a busy person. Places to go. People to see. You’re not always going to have the luxury of being within arm’s reach of your little home cineplex. </span> </p> <p> <span> Thankfully, devices exist nowadays that allow you to carry and watch your films wherever you happen to be. We’re talking about your smartphone (or tablet), of course. Don't forget to bring earbuds or headphones, lest you tick off everyone around you with your home movies or whatnot. </span> </p> <p> <strong> <span> 1. It's too big </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> There's just one fatal flaw in our mobile movie plan: Those MKV files we previously created are downright huge. Even when we split out everything but the raw movie—no added features, no anything—our test disc provided us a file that was 20GB in size. That’s a <em> little </em> too much for your average smartphone. And, even then, you’re not going to want to be deleting and transferring new movies to watch all the time. </p> <p> Remember, when we first ripped our test movie as an MKV, we ripped the whole thing: video and audio in its uncompressed, raw form. Compressing your film will allow you to sacrifice a little bit of quality (likely imperceptible to you) for a great deal of space-savings. Plus, you’ll be able to shrink the beefier 5.1 audio that you likely ripped alongside your film to a more manageable stereo output—we have yet to see anyone rocking a smartphone in a 5.1 speaker setup, and highly doubt that will ever come to pass. </p> <p> A word about compression, though: If you really want to squeak out the best combination of file size and quality, you’re going to have to fiddle with a number of fairly complex settings. We won’t send you down that path if you’re just looking for a way to optimize your huge MKVs for Android or iOS sans hassle, but know that there are plenty of additional options you can play around with if you really want to—it’s all a matter of personal preference and just how much space, and what kind of quality, you’re looking for. </p> <p> <strong> <span> 2. Use 720p to save space </span> </strong> </p> <p> One thing we’ll recommend right off the bat: Go 720p. While it’s true that a number of today’s smartphones have 1080p-resolution screens, and your picture might look a smidge more pixilated than if you were running it at your screen’s native resolution, we found that we couldn’t notice a difference when playing a 720p and 1080p movie on our HTC One smartphone. We’ll gladly take the space savings: 49MB for 11 minutes of the 720p film versus 87MB for 1080p—a 44 percent decrease. <span> </span> </p> <p> The app that we’ll be using to do our conversation is a tried-and-tested bit of freeware: Handbrake ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> ). It costs you nothing to download or use, and it combines basic functionality—in the form of presets that you can pick from, for the casual converter, with advanced options for those who want to experiment with what the app can do to their movies. </p> <p> </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <span> <strong> Handbrake initially scans your files so it can figure out your default options. Handy! </strong> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> 3. Don't get overwhelmed </strong> </p> <p> Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, fire it up and try not to feel overwhelmed by the number of options that you can play around with. For our basic conversion task, you won’t have to fiddle with much. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> <span> Before you start editing video options, pick a destination folder (and name) for your movie. </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> <br/> </span> </strong> </p> <p> Start by clicking the Source button, selecting “Open File,” and browsing over to wherever you stashed your MKV file(s) on your system. Select the one you want to convert and hit “Open.” Pick whichever device on Handbrake’s sidebar matches what you’ll be watching your movies on—iPhone or Android, for example. This will automatically modify a number of settings within Handbrake, including the size the video itself that the program will output. In the case of Android, this defaulted to a 720p video automatically when we were using a 1080p video as our source file. <span> </span> </p> <p> While you could just slap the big green start button and call it a day right now, there are a few other settings worth exploring when converting your movie for mobile use. If you want to bump up the quality of your film, go to the Video tab and look for the slider for the preselected “Constant Quality” setting. The more you move the slider to the right (lower numbers), the higher the overall quality of your video—and the greater the file size. Go left, and you’ll reduce the file size at the expense of quality. </p> <p> <span> Why does this matter? We’re normally fine sticking with Handbrake’s presets quality-wise (especially given the size of the screen we’ll be watching the film on), but it might be worthwhile for you to know if the file size of your film is still especially large after Handbrake converts it on the app’s default settings. If you don’t mind a bit of quality loss—or test various iterations of the Constant Quality setting and find that you can’t really see much of a difference at all—it might be worth your while (and your ability to pack tons of movies onto your device) to reduce the movie’s overall quality and tighten up its file size. </span> </p> <p> <span> Otherwise, you'll want to do a little more tweaking in Handbrake's Audio tab. In there, go to the drop-down menu for the movie's audio Mixdown and chage it from whatever it happens to be to Stereo. Since your smartphone isn't a 5.1 device, you don't benefit from (nor do you need) the extra audio tracks, and that should help you shrink movie's file size a bit. If you want to play with quality settings on this screen, the Bitrate option is where you'll be able to dial down the audio track's quality in order to shrink the final file size even more. <br/> </span> </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> <span> The right-hand presets are pretty useful for those who want to encode movies sans fuss. </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> <br/> </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <span> <strong> 4. Start your transcoding </strong> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Ready? Ready! Click the green Start button at the top of Handbrake’s window to start the transcoding process, which transforms your MKV file into a more universally accepted MP4. While your video churns along, hit up the Google Play or Apple App Stores and look for two particular apps for playing your final films. We’re big fans of VLC—especially for iOS—but it’s currently in beta on the Android platform, so your mileage may vary as to just how well the app works on your particular hardware. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> If you’re finding that VLC is giving you a bit of a headache on Android, try switching over to MX Player. It’s one of the more popular Android apps for video viewing, but it doesn’t support any videos encoded with DTS audio. We already fixed that by converting our MKV file to stereo, but in case you passed up our advice, that might be the reason why you’re possibly seeing video and hearing nothing when you go to watch a ripped movie on your smartphone. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> <span> Ditch that 5.1 surround sound if you’re only going to watch movies on a stereo device. </span> </strong> </p> <p> By now (plus an hour or so, depending on your system’s speed and the size of the MKV you’re converting), your video should be just about done. If not, and Handbrake is reporting that the total estimated time for converting is going to be some hideous amount, you can always go to Tools &gt; Options. Once in the General section of Handbrake’s preferences, look for the option that allows you to set what the app should do “When Done.” Change that to Shutdown, and your system will power off as soon as Handbrake is done converting your movie—a useful option for when the app has to run all night long. </p> <p> <span> </span> </p><h3> How to... make your own audiobooks </h3> <p> The average American spends almost 2.5 hours a day in the car—that’s not counting those poor souls trapped in grid-locked cities on a 95-degree day. One way to keep your mind from turning to mush is interesting audio choices. In today’s world, though, that’s not easy, what with FM radio being a wasteland of pop music that drops your IQ by the second, and the AM band a wasteland of kooks and cranks screaming about the PC being king (kidding). Once you’ve burned through the free offerings on, you’ll need a new source of entertaining audio as you mash the gas and brake pedals for the next 27 miles. <span> </span> </p> <p> For some of us, that’s making your own audio books. Well, we loosely call it an “audio book,” but it’s really taking the audio track from your favorite movie or television show to listen to during your commute. </p> <p> <strong> 1. VLC to the rescue </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Ideally, car makers would use disc players (yes, people still use those) that could play just the audio track of a DVD in their default audio systems, but the best you can do in most cars today is play an MP3 file from a disc. So how do you listen to <em> Star Wars IV </em> on the way back from your 9-to-5? </p> <p> The cheapest (but not necessarily the easiest-to-work-with) piece of software that'll solve this dilemma is that Swiss Army knife of media tools: VLC Media Player. The basics are fairly easy but not as straightforward or full-featured as a commercial app. We’ve also found it to be little flaky on extraction at times, too, but it's hard to argue with the price tag of "free." Go download VLC from <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> and install it, then insert your disc in your optical drive and fire up the program. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> Is there anything VLC <em> won't </em> do? </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> 2. Set your quality level </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> If you intend to rip multiple discs, you can set your quality preferences by hitting Ctrl + p and clicking the “All” radio button under “Show Settings” on the left-hand side. Drill down and look for "Input /Codecs" and select Twolame under Audio codecs. This lets you set your default audio encoding quality. Click save. Now hit Ctrl + d or click "Media / Open Disc," and confirm that the DVD radio button is selected. You’ll also need to tell VLC which title to select. Typically, this is Title 1; you can also watch the movie using VLC to try to determine what the Title number is. If you’re trying to grab a secondary audio track, you’ll also need to play with the disc to determine which audio track you want as well. We’ve found that the -1 input on Audio track seems to work for most movies. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> You can set the encoding quality and mode for all encodes. This gets reset if you install an update, though. </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> <strong> <span> </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> </span> 3. Select convert </strong> </p> <h3> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </h3> <h3> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </h3> <p> On the bottom of the “Open Media Dialog” window, click the triangle and select convert. Then, under destination, click the Browse button, and give the file a proper name. Be aware, if you don’t browse to the location where you want VLC to put the file, it won’t convert the file. Now, under Profile, select "Audio - MP3." Click Start and VLC will begin ripping the audio track. When you’re done, you should have a meaty little MP3 file that can be moved onto your audio playback device of choice. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> Make sure you select the Destination file location and name, or it won't work. </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> <strong> <span> </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> 4. Gets the job done </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> For the most part, VLC will do the job for most folks, but if you’re really serious about producing your own audio discs, we actually recommend investing in a commercial product. We’ve had great luck with ImTOO DVD Audio; it lets you rip the audio track into small 10MB chunks that can then be burned onto a CD in chapters (make sure you burn the disc as a gapless disc) and can perform normalization of audio across the disc. ImTOO DVD Audio will set you back $29, though, and it doesn't handle encrypted discs. </p> <p> </p><p> </p> <h3> How to... archive your CD collection properly </h3> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> What’s that? You actually have physical discs for your music? You haven’t yet subscribed to the digital age of downloading all of your jams in a friendly MP3 or AAC format, for use on almost any device you can get your hands on? You still use your car’s CD player? <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> We don’t mean to be (too) glib; there are people who still purchase physical discs for their music (this writer among them), especially when bands pack all sorts of extras and lovely design work in a deluxe, physical package. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just hold onto your discs forever. Ripping them to your computer ensures that you’ll always have a copy of their contents should the unthinkable happen: your precious, impossible-to-repurchase disc gets a scratch, you accidentally break it, or the disc just becomes unreadable for a variety of random, annoying reasons like disc rot. </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <strong> <span> You can pull down information for your disc from the Web, and edit it. </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> 1. Let's talk formats </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Thankfully, converting your musical tracks to digital files is one of the easiest things you can possibly do on your PC. If you’ve ever used a handy little program called iTunes, the software practically does all the heavy lifting for you. If it’s set up correctly, you just have to fire up iTunes, pop in your CD, wait a few minutes, and you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your (minimal) labors via your iTunes library. <span> However, we think you can do better. </span> </p> <p> First off, let’s talk formats. MP3 is pretty much the standard for digital music tracks at this point, but it’s a lossy format. While it might sound indistinguishable from a CD track to your ears, it’s not a picture-perfect digital representation of the original source audio. For that, you have to turn to a lossless codec like Apple Lossless or FLAC—the latter, an open-source codec that does a slightly better job with compression at the expense of encoding speed. </p> <p> One secondary advantage of a lossless codec: You can copy and convert that file to a lossy codec sans issue. If you start lossy, like ripping all your files as super high-quality MP3s, then reconvert these files to another lossy codec at some point down the road (lower-quality MP3s that you want to fill your smartphone with), that’s definitely going to affect the audio quality. </p> <p> <strong> 2. Download FLAC </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> If you’re not an Apple / iTunes fan, we recommend you grab the all-encompassing app Foobar2000 ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> <span> ) for ripping and converting your CD into FLAC files. When you go to install it, make sure you’re performing a Full installation, which will also install the various converter utilities the app uses during the ripping process. Also grab the FLAC Windows binaries from Sourceforge, ( </span> <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> <span> ) and install them, too. </span> </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> <span> Make sure you pick FLAC as your output format (and have FLAC preinstalled!). </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> <br/> </span> </strong> </p> <p> <strong> <span> 3. Make perfect archives </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Open up Foobar2000 and go to File &gt; Open Audio CD, select your correct optical drive from the presented list, and then click Rip. We like to then click the Lookup button to ensure that Foobar2000 has correctly matched all the information it can glean from the MusicBrainz or freedb online databases to your disc (you can select either to use). After that, click the “Proceed to the Converter Setup dialog” button. <span> <span> </span> </span> </p> <p> The Converter Setup window is simple. For the output format, select FLAC. In the Destination options, you can customize the file names of what Foobar2000 will be creating; we like adding “%track%” to the beginning of the file names so that we can keep a CD’s contents in its correct order. Otherwise, those are the major options you have to consider; we didn’t add any processing effects, as we want our files to be faithful digital recreations of the original CD audio. Click the Convert button, select a destination for the files, point to the location where the FLAC executable was installed (likely in your Program Files x86/Flac directory), and wait! <span> </span> </p> <p> If you want to jam what you’ve previously ripped, you can play your FLAC files directly from Foobar2000, as well. For an app that’s a bit more comprehensive music library–wise, check out MediaMonkey ( <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> ). </p><h3> How to... put your e-books on any device </h3> <p> <span> So, you’ve been on a spending binge, buying e-books from wherever you like, whenever you like, as well as healthily partaking of the offerings at Project Gutenberg ( You’ve been using various apps to read all of your willy-nilly acquisitions, but now you’d like to consolidate everything into one tidy, centralized location. One where you can then push out your books in any format to most common e-readers and tablets. Heck, maybe you’d even like to get fancy and store your e-books in the cloud or have a piece of software function as a content server so you’re never without the written word. Enter Calibre and its plugin feature to the rescue. </span> </p> <p> <strong> <span> 1. Install and setup Calibre </span> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> There are other software programs that can do parts of what Calibre does—and some even do a few select things better, like offering prettier virtual bookshelves—but we much prefer just how comprehensive this program is. You can read, manage, format, sort, and convert all the books in your library, and even manage the books on your e-reader or tablet, as well. </p> <p> To get started with Calibre, first download it from <a href=""> <span> <span> </span> </span> </a> and install it. Next, Google for Apprentice Alf’s plugin for Calibre and download it from AA’s WordPress site. Be sure to uncheck the box that asks you to use the download manager, and also be careful to only click on the gray “Download” button to avoid installing unwanted, extra things. Then unzip the file and install the plugin via Calibre’s Preferences menu. </p> <p> <br/> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> This is what Calibre first looks like when you fire it up, but there's one more step to do before adding all your books </strong> <strong> —install Apprentice Alf's plugin. </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <strong> In the Plugin menu, choose "Load Plugin from File" to get started with the process. <br/> </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <strong> </strong> <!--[endif] --> </p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> <p> <strong> 2. Build your centralized library </strong> </p> <p> Close and restart Calibre, then make sure you’ve installed the Kindle application to download e-books bought from Amazon (.azw/.mobi formats) or Adobe Digital Editions for just about everywhere else (.acsm format). </p> <p> <span> To import your e-books, click on the “Add Books” button on the menu, then navigate to the folder where each program keeps its library. (For Kindle, the default is “\Documents\My Kindle Content”; for Adobe Digital Editions, “\Documents\My Digital Editions.”) You can add whole directories at a time, or just individual files. Unless you’re running Calibre on a netbook (which we’re pretty sure you’re not), the importing should go very quickly for each book. </span> </p> <p> <span> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </span> </p> <p> <span> <strong> Grab as many files as you like at one time, or just dump the whole directory into Calibre at once. </strong> <br/> </span> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> <strong> 3. Convert to your preferred format </strong> <br/> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> Now here’s the fun part: converting your e-books to the format you want them in. Select which books you want to process, then click on the “Convert Books” button, which will automatically bring up the “Bulk Convert” dialog box. (If you prefer to tweak each individual book’s settings before conversion—like tags, series information, and cover image—click instead on the drop-down arrow next to the Convert Books button and select “Convert Individually.” You can edit these settings after conversion, too.) <span> </span> </p> <p> Once everything’s set, click “OK,” and Calibre will take care of its task in a jiffy. </p> <p> <strong> 4. Take it further </strong> </p> <p> You can also use cloud storage as your library location to both backup your collection (for those paranoid about losing all their books to a hard-drive crash) and access your books from multiple computers. If you want to take it even further, you can also experiment with using Calibre function as a content server. Time to get fancy! </p> <p> </p><p> </p> <h3> Review: Roku Streaming Stick </h3> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Now that you’ve liberated all of your media, what to do with it? <span> </span> Sure, you could load it onto a NAS or home server, but that requires more work—it <em> would </em> be really nice if you could just buy a device for the time being so you could toss up videos and music from your smartphone or tablet to your big-screen TV as you wanted. <span> </span> </p> <p> One contender for being such a solution is the Roku Streaming Stick, the company’s most compact addition to their lineup of cable-box replacements—but does it actually work well in that capacity? </p> <p> <strong> Not quite </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Among its other touted features (namely, being able to choose from over 1,000 channels and 31,000 movies for entertainment), the Roku allows you to view photos, listen to music, and watch videos that you have stored locally on your device. <span> </span> The only problem? <span> </span> It can’t handle large videos without a fair amount of buffering, nor those not formatted as .mkv, .mp4, .mov, or .wmv using the H.264 codec. <span> </span> So if you’ve spent your time ripping all of your Blu-rays as .avi files, or you’ve got anything larger than a couple hundred MB, you’re out of luck. </p> <p> <strong> However... </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> If you want an <em> expansion </em> of all the media you have on hand, though, the Roku Streaming Stick works great for that—and even offers some competition for the Chromecast. <span> </span> Like Chromecast, you can cast Netflix and YouTube to your TV, but you’ve access to more than just a handful of integrated services—try over 1,000 channels. <span> </span> And unlike Chromecast, which requires you to install separate apps for each service you use, Roku’s “channels” are all accessible directly through its interface (which you can navigate with the included remote). <span> </span> </p> <p> The caveat, though, is that much of its channels require purchase, a paid subscription, or a cable subscription to take advantage of them. <span> </span> The freebies, while a nifty perk, offer rather scant viewing selections; generally, we got the most out of watching the news clips and PBS. </p> <p> We also weren’t fans of having to sign up for an account at in order to add channels—particularly because we also had to add a credit card to even complete setup of the unit. Sure, it might be “convenient” to buy content under this system, but we rather resent being strong-armed into participating their walled ecosystem. </p> <p> <strong> So, which to get? </strong> </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p> <p> Certainly, the Roku isn’t the only streaming stick around. <span> </span> But it occupies a different space than the Chromecast—the latter is more geared toward folks who like to do everything from their tablet or laptop. <span> </span> Video streaming from non-YouTube sites, though, is now quite smooth (a far cry from Chromecast’s early days), meaning if most of what you want to view is on the web, saving $15 could be a better bet. </p> <p> <span> </span> If you’re the sort to want more of a TV/cable experience, though, the Roku Streaming Stick is a better bet. <span> </span> While you can use a smartphone or tablet to control the stick via the Roku app, the included remote means you’ll never have to dig around (or charge) a second device in order to zone out in front of the boob tube. <span> With the addition of easy setup (even if it includes that dratted required account signup), it’s a worthwhile addition to your living room for media junkies. </span> It just won’t play all the stuff you’ve ripped. </p> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> <h3> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </h3> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p> Newegg Daily Deals: EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Video Card, Samsung 850 Evo 1TB SSD, and More! so many awesome games having come out lately and even more on the horizon, is your rig prepared to play them?Tue, 12 May 2015 19:57:11 +0000 dealsNewegg &nbsp; &nbsp;<br /> Top Deal:<br /> <br /> With so many awesome games having come out lately and even more on the horizon, is your rig prepared to play them? If not, take that tax return and do yourself a solid by checking out today's top deal for an<br /> <br /> EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB Video Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $325<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $335; additional $15 mail-in-rebate; Free EVGA backplate and free games w/ purchase, limited offer). This is the Superclocked version with EVGA's ACX 2.0 cooler. Plus you get a bunch of freebies, including the aforementioned backplate and a pair of games, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight.<br /> <br /> Other Deals:<br /> <br /> Samsung 850 EVO 2.5-inch 1TB SATA III 3-D Vertical Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $380<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $390 ; Free 1TB portable external hard drive w/ purchase, limited offer)<br /> <br /> Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2x8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1866 Desktop Memory<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $110<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $125)<br /> <br /> WD Black Series 1TB 7200 RPM 3.5-inch Internal Hard Drive<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $70<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $75 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> ESCASKN22<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> EVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB Video Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $250<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $260 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASKN26<br /> <br /> ]; additional $15 Mail-in rebate)<br /> Corsair RGB Keyboard Owners Can Now Share Lighting Profiles today announced a new thing called RGBshare, which is an online ighting profile browsing and sharing feature for Corsair RGB keyboard owners. We'll give you a moment to compose yourself. After all, you must be thinking, 'By Thor's hammer, this is the greatest development since sliced bread!' Okay, maybe not. But it does open the door to the possibility of snagging some cool lighting configurations.Tue, 12 May 2015 19:36:01 +0000 keyboard <br /> Light up someone's life<br /> <br /> Corsair today announced a new thing called RGBshare, which is an online ighting profile browsing and sharing feature<br /> <br /> for Corsair RGB keyboard owners. We'll give you a moment to compose yourself. After all, you must be thinking, 'By Thor's hammer, this is the greatest development since sliced bread!' Okay, maybe not. But it does open the door to the possibility of snagging some cool lighting configurations.<br /> <br /> The neat thing about Corsair's RGB keyboards is that they offer per-key backlighting. And with 16.8 million color options (assuming<br /> <br /> previous issues<br /> <br /> have been ironed out), there's the potential for what seems like an endless amount of customizations.<br /> <br /> You can create and share effects, too. Corsair reckons there are already thousands of advanced lighting profiles out there, and with RGBshare, it's easy to upload and share with other RGB keyboard owners.<br /> <br /> "RGBshare give Corsair keyboard owners instant access to the largest collection of lighting effects on the market," said Greg Agius, Director of Gaming and Community at Corsair. "Gamers who just want to enjoy their keyboard out of the box can now download these lighting works of art without any programming on their part, while RGB artists have a great platform to showcase their work."<br /> <br /> If you need added incentive to share to your lighting profiles, Corsair said it plans to host profile contests throughout the year. These will kick off in the "coming months."<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Gordon Moore Sees His Self-Titled Law Lasting 10 More Years co-founder Gordon Moore noted way back in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubled every year. It became known as Moore's law and was later revised in 1975 to reflect the doubling of transistors every two years, not one. The prediction has proved accurate since then, but after a 50-year run (40 years since being revised), is it time to rescind Moore's law? Not just yet.Tue, 12 May 2015 16:41:14 +0000 mooreintelMoore's LawNews <br /> Still following Moore's Law<br /> <br /> Intel co-founder Gordon Moore noted way back in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubled every year. It became known as Moore's law and was later revised in 1975 to reflect the doubling of transistors every two years, not one. The prediction has proved accurate since then, but after a 50-year run (40 years since being revised), is it time to rescind Moore's law? Not just yet.<br /> <br /> According to Moore, the shrinking of computer circuits will continue at this pace for at least another 5-10 years<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> In speaking with<br /> <br /> New York Times<br /> <br /> columnist Thomas Friedman, Moore called the 50-year run "amazing" but also noted that "no exponential can go on forever."<br /> <br /> "Five to 10 years is reasonably clear," Moore added. "And then it looks like you hit an insurmountable barrier, but that's been the case for the past 30 years,"<br /> <br /> PCMag<br /> <br /> reports<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Indeed, that's what makes the persistence of his law so amazing. There have been numerous challenges over the past several decades, both technological and economical. Nevertheless, Intel and other semiconductor players have managed to overcome them.<br /> <br /> Looking ahead, Intel should be at around 1nm in about a decade, provided it can overcome even more technological hurdles, including unique ones that crop up once transistors get relatively close in size to atoms (atoms used in chip fabrication are around 0.2nm).<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> G.Skill Finds New Frequency Ceiling for Retail Ripjaws 4 DDR4 Series at 3,666MHz in January, G.Skill announced the availability of its Ripjaws 4 DDR4 Series RAM in memory kits clocked at 3,400MHz.Tue, 12 May 2015 15:15:13 +0000 a PCddr4g.skillHardwareMemoryNewsramripjaws 4 <br /> Breaking the speed limit<br /> <br /> Back in January,<br /> <br /> G.Skill announced<br /> <br /> the availability of its Ripjaws 4 DDR4 Series RAM in memory kits clocked at 3,400MHz. The kits came with their own cooling fans, and soon after, we began seeing other DDR4-3400 kits, such as<br /> <br /> Corsair's Dominator Platinum DDR4-3400<br /> <br /> kit for Gigabyte's X99-SOC Champion motherboard. Apparently<br /> <br /> G.Skill didn't like having company, so now it's come out with a new Ripjaws 4 Series DDR4 memory kit clocked at 3,666MHz<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> G.Skill's new RAM kit is rated to run at 3,666MHz with just 1.35V. It uses "premium class" Samsung 4Gb IC chips and will initially be offered in 4GBx4 kits (16GB total). According to the email and screenshots G.Skill sent us, the new kit was validated on the aforementioned Gigabyte motherboard with timings set at 18-18-18-38.<br /> <br /> "DDR4 memory has come a long way since its release nine months ago in August 2014. With this latest achievement at 3666MHz extreme memory speed, the full potential processing power of the Intel X99 platform can now be realized," G.Skill says. "Your ultimate gaming system or workstation can now run smoother than ever as you progress from level to level in-game or switching from workload to workload."<br /> <br /> The new kit comes with Intel XMP 2.0 support and should work in any X99 chipset motherboard.<br /> <br /> No word yet on price or availability.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Build It: Big Capacity, Small Form of Time: 1–2 Hours | Level of Difficulty: Low Mon, 11 May 2015 21:29:19 +0000 a PCcorsairFeatured GuideFrom the MagazineHow-TosIntel Core i7Nvidia GeForce GTXSilverstone <h3> Can we combine compact size, high performance, and loads of storage? We’ll give it a shot </h3><p> <em> Length of Time: 1–2 Hours | Level of Difficulty: Low </em> </p><h3> <strong> The Mission </strong> </h3><p> If you couldn't tell by now, we’re performance junkies here at Maximum PC. Just last summer, we were crazy enough to build a $30,000 liquid-cooled computer with two PCs inside it. But you can’t drive in the fast lane all of the time. Sometimes it’s better to take a quiet Sunday drive down to the park and have a picnic. That doesn’t mean the meal has to be bland, but we will be shifting gears for a new palate (with a side of mixed metaphors). <br> <br> For this righ, instead of building for just speed, we’re also building for capacity. But that’s a pretty straightforward challenge; anyone can slap a bunch of hard drives in a case and call it a day. We’re going to up the ante by shoving eight hard drives into a mini-ITX case. At least, that was the original plan before motherboard maladies intruded. Whatever, we like having massive storage options in addition to our turbo-charged gaming PC or A/V production workstation. This way, we can create a library of full-system backups, and stream media to devices, in a discreet and portable form factor. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><h3> <strong> Rocking Out </strong> </h3><p> If you want to cram a large number of drives into a mini-ITX system, special gear is required. We were originally going to go with the Asrock C2550D4I, which has 12 SATA ports and an integrated lowpower Avoton quad-core CPU, and support for ECC RAM. Unfortunately, we discovered it’s quite finicky about what RAM it will accept, and appears to strictly adhere to modules on the qualifi ed vendor list. After many failed boot attempts and different slot confi gs and half a dozen DIMMs, we had to give up. It’s not just us either, the Internet is rife with people reporting similar problems. <br> <br> So, we had to switch to Plan B: a conventional Intel Z97 motherboard and Haswell CPU. This cuts our maximum drive count to four, but we could always install a RAID card in the PCIe slot to add more if we wanted. You can also remove a part of the 3.5-inch drive cage to make room for a long card, though this does sacrifi ce one drive tray. <br> <br> But what kind of mini-ITX case could even hold eight 3.5-inch drives? Enter the SilverStone DS380, whose entire front is a series of drive bays measuring about 11-inches tall. It’s also over 8-inches wide, giving us room for a variety of activities. This case also takes SFF (small form factor) power supplies, and we went with the Silver-Stone ST45SF-G, a bronze-rated unit pumping out up to 450 watts. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> 1. Step on Board </strong> <br> <br> Our replacement motherboard is the Asus ROG Maximus VII Impact. Compared to Plan A, this one has a full x16 slot, USB 3.0, shielded integrated sound, dualband 802.11ac, and of course, a spot to install a Haswell CPU. (We went with an unlocked model because we didn’t have the locked version handy and this board with a locked CPU would be a crime.) You have to install a couple of modules on the board such as the Wi-Fi. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> Our max RAM capacity is reduced to 32GB, and we lose eight SATA ports and one fan header. You can install a RAID card to add more SATA ports, instead of the video card, but we wanted a hybrid build. By way of compromise, we slapped in three 6TB hard drives and one high-powered 1TB solid-state drive. <br> <br> <strong> 2. Getting Cagey </strong> <br> <br> This is a compact case, so we need to temporarily remove both drive cages to give the board enough clearance for installation. The main drive cage in the front is secured with four small black screws on the side, and two chromed screws underneath the case. Once those are removed, you can slide the drive cage toward the rear, and lift it right out. Then, the 2.5-inch drive cage at the top of the case comes out. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> The motherboard has a vertical extension that holds additional voltage regulators, which is attached via two screws. Remove these, line the board’s four corner holes up with the pre-installed standoffs in the case, and screw in the board. <br> <br> <strong> 3. All Wired </strong> <br> <br> With the board installed, we can begin hooking it up. We attach all four SATA cables now, since they’re easy to reach with the drive cage removed. The Impact’s audio comes in though a daughterboard. We plug that in, screw it down, and connect the front-panel audio cable to it. There’s an additional minicard to add two fan headers, and another for Wi-Fi. The I/O shield has perforated holes that you tap out and send the Wi-Fi connectors through. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> <strong> 4. By the Power Supply of Greyskull </strong> <br> <br> Since we have the case open, now is a good t ime to install the power supply. It goes in the top, and there’s an intake grill right there for the PSU to get cool exterior air. We take the flatcable kit and connect the motherboard power, CPU power, SATA power, and Molex. Our hard drives will be getting their power from the PSU’s Molex cables; both of them plug into the drive cage’s backplane and provide all the juice needed there. We’d never find an SFF PSU with eight SATA connectors anyway (this one has two). </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> The motherboard power cable is a bit tricky to plug into the board because it’s nearly flush with the bottom of the case, but we managed to wiggle it in after a few tries. The CPU cable also has one end specifically for the PSU and another for the mobo. <br> <br> <strong> 5. Piecing it Together </strong> <br> <br> With the motherboard hooked up, we can drop the drive cages back in. Note that the backplane of the 3.5-inch cage has two data connectors per drive. One is actually for dualchannel SAS drives, while the other is for SATA or singlechannel SAS. (They’re clearly labeled to avoid confusion). </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> We take the other ends of those SATA cables we plugged into the motherboard earlier, and we attach them to the SATA side of the backplane, one by one. Then we put the cage’s screws back in and unlock the door, which uses a five-sided bit as a key. With the door open, the drive trays slide out from the front. Since the backplane has integrated SATA/SAS connectors, you just put the drive into the tray, attach a few screws, and slide the tray back in. The drive is now installed. <br> <br> Although we can’t populate the whole cage with drives, three 6TB units give us 18TB, which is a very good start. Plus there’s the 1TB on the SSD, which we’re using to boot Windows. If only we had 10TB drives! <br> <br> <strong> 6. In Plane Sight </strong> <br> <br> Since the SATA ports on the board are close to the backplane, we can tuck most of the SATA cabling behind the cage. All three fans have twist ties pre-attached, so they need minimal adjustment. The rear fan cable is a bit tricky, though. Its cable is not sheathed, so the wires are easily snagged. You can tuck away the wires, as there isn’t a fan header particularly close by. You also want to keep it well clear of the CPU’s heatsink, to keep the wire insulation intact. We ended up just stringing it along the bottom of the case. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <br> The other cables are mostly hidden by the sheer bulk of the 3.5-inch drive cage (which would weigh over 15 pounds after populating all eight trays). This is not a flashy case with a side window, but you’re unlikely to be fiddling with its innards often, so appearance is not a high priority. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <strong> 1.) These funny-looking cylinders are capacitors that help provide power to the storage devices in the 3.5-inch drive cage. 2.) With 8TB 3.5-inch drives on the way, this eight-tray cage could hold 64TB of data&mdash;plus the four-drive 2.5-inch cage. 3.) We wanted to add a third-party CPU cooler for overclocking, but the space here is just a little too tight. 4.) We added a grill to the rear fan, since there’s a non-trivial amount of wiring hanging around the area, even after tidying up. </strong> </p><h3> Fancy Toys Bring High Price and Mixed Results </h3><p> Ironically, we started with the Asrock C2550D4I because we wanted a more straightforward build. With an integrated CPU and cooler, it cut down on the steps we needed, giving us more time to fiddle with Ubuntu (the CPU on the original board doesn’t support desktop versions of Windows, and we couldn’t justify $700 Server 2012). It’s been a while since we gave desktop Linux a spin, but that’ll have to wait. <br> <br> As far as we can tell, the C2550D4I is picky as hell with RAM. Asrock has a very short QVL list for RAM and many of them aren’t sold in the United States. After burning hours trying to get the board to POST with a fistful of different modules in every possible configuration, we gave up. But rather than completely bail, we decided to make something of the system, especially since we had some nice hardware waiting in the wings. <br> <br> Almost no video card would be possible without the removable section on the 3.5-inch drive cage. Not even that shorty Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 that we used in one of the Minecraft builds last month. Even then, the dimensions of the cut-out clearly limit you to a reference-sized card&mdash;we ended up with only a few millimeters between the card and the edges of the cage. Luckily, we have several reference units lying around (and we made sure we chose one you could still buy). </p><h3> Problem Fans </h3><p> The other half of the equation was Silver-Stone’s cable kit, which is short and flexible. At $30, it’s not a cheap kit, but with over $3,700 already invested, it’s a relatively small expense. You could try using your own cable set, but, for safety reasons, we don’t recommend it. Each power supply’s set of cabling is designed for a specific range of tolerances. Our original power supply was 300 watts and had integrated cables, but only one PCIe connector. We needed two for the GTX 780. <br> <br> We almost fit a Cooler Master 212 EVO on top of the CPU, but the capacitors on the drive cage’s backplane poke into that space. Putting the fan on the other side of the radiator fin stack would also compel us to reverse the airflow of the rear exhaust fan, or else the rear exhaust and CPU fan would be fighting over the air coming their way. There would be no proper exhaust for the case, and heat would build up. We could’ve experimented with a 120mm closed-loop water cooler, but the build was already in overtime. <br> <br> We’d consider this build a qualified success but we honestly don’t recommend anyone follow our blueprint. It would have been cool to slap a load of high-capacity drives in there and see what the Asrock CPU-plusmobo combo could handle. At $280, the C2550D4I would also have been considerably cheaper. On the bright side, we get more adaptability with the higher cost and desktop OS driver support. But our price tag is on the high side. You’d probably be fine with an Intel Core i5 CPU, $125-ish mobo, 8GB of RAM, and 250GB SSD. That slashes about $1,000 off the build. Then you can go with much less expensive 4TB or 3TB drives. But like we said, why let the fancy toys collect dust? </p> Newegg Daily Deals: WD Green 4TB Intellipower HDD, Asus GeForce GTX 970, and More! state drives are the sexy storage option these days, but mechanical hard drives still have their place.Mon, 11 May 2015 18:28:02 +0000 dealsNewegg Top Deal:<br /> Solid state drives are the sexy storage option these days, but mechanical hard drives still have their place. They're comparatively cheap, capacious, and generally offer<br /> <br /> superior data retention<br /> <br /> if you need to unplug it from a power source. If you're looking for a new drive for your expanding data needs, check out today's top deal for a<br /> <br /> WD Green 4TB Intellipower Internal Hard Drive<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $130<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $140 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> ESCASAW27<br /> <br /> ]). This is a cool and quiet drive with a SATA 6Gbps interface and 64MB cache.<br /> <br /> Other Deals:<br /> <br /> WD Black Series 750GB 2.5-inch Internal Notebook Hard Drive<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $55<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $62 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> ESCASAW26<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> Seagate Hybrid Drive 2TB SATA 6.0Gb/s NCQ 3.5-inch Desktop SSHD<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $90<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $100 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> ESCASAW24<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> Seagate NAS HDD 3TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $110<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $115 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> ESCASAW25<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> Asus GeForce GTX 970 4GB Video Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $330<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $350 ; Free Games: Witcher 3 &amp; Batman w/ purchase, limited offer)<br /> JEDEC: Your SSD Needs a Power Source to Avoid Losing Data's more affordable than ever to build a new PC with a solid-state drive as the primary storage device, and as capacities increase, some people are using SSDs for storage chores, too.Mon, 11 May 2015 17:56:08 +0000 a PCHardwareJEDECNewssolid state drivessdstorage SSDs without a power source could begin losing data in just a single week<br /> <br /> It's more affordable than ever to build a new PC with a solid state drive as the primary storage device, and as capacities increase, some people are using SSDs for storage chores, too. That's fine and dandy if your SSD is receiving a constant or near-constant stream of power, but<br /> <br /> should you take an SSD out of your PC and set it aside, you risk losing data<br /> <br /> , the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) warns.<br /> <br /> KoreLogic Security<br /> <br /> took notice of a presentation by Alvin Cox on JEDEC's website titled "<br /> <br /> JEDEC SSD Specifications Explained<br /> <br /> " (PDF), and in the presentation is information on data retention when SSDs are powered off. For consumer/client SSDS, the power-off retention period standard is one year, while enterprise SSDs have a power retention period of just three months. These can (and do) vary wildly depending on a number of different factors, including temperature.<br /> <br /> One of the more interesting slides is No. 27. It shows the relationship of temperature to data retention and how even just a 5C change can cut the data retention period in half. Here's a look:<br /> <br /> Client SSD stored at 25C: 105 weeks<br /> <br /> Client SSD stored at 30C: 52 weeks<br /> <br /> Client SSD stored at 35C: 26 weeks<br /> <br /> Client SSD stored at 40C: 14 weeks<br /> <br /> Notice that storing a client SSD at 25C (77F) results in a data retention period of just over 2 years, but if the temperature rises 5C to 30C (86F), the data retention period is halved to 1 year.<br /> <br /> It's interesting to think about this in terms of legal situations where a PC with SSD storage might be held as evidence. When confiscated, not many are likely to think about active and power-off temperatures, though both are obviously important, especially for a case that might not go to court for a long time. If someone fails to back up the data in a timely manner, it could be bad news.<br /> <br /> This isn't just a theoretical thing, either. What prompted<br /> <br /> KoreLogic Security's<br /> <br /> investigation into data retention was an imaging job of a laptop SSD left in storage for well over the three-month minimum retention period quoted by the drive's manufacturer.<br /> <br /> "Later, I learned that the drive was functioning well when it had been placed into storage. When returned to its owner a couple of months after the imaging, the system would not even recognize the drive as a valid boot device,"<br /> <br /> KoreLogic Security<br /> <br /> noted.<br /> <br /> Something to keep in mind the next time you rip out an SSD for storage.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> FCC Denies Request to Delay Implementing Net Neutrality Rules Federal Communications Commission wasn't moved by a joint petition filed by a group of U.S. cable companies and telecom providers seeking to delay implementing new net neutrality rules until a court can rule on the matter. For that to happen, the petitioners would have to show that it would likely win its case and suffer irreparable harm if a delay isn't granted, among other criteria.Mon, 11 May 2015 17:17:05 +0000 neutralityNews <br /> FCC will forge ahead with new neutrality rules<br /> <br /> The Federal Communications Commission wasn't moved by a joint petition filed by a group of U.S. cable companies and telecom providers seeking to delay implementing new net neutrality rules until a court can rule on the matter. For that to happen, the petitioners would have to show that it would likely win its case and suffer irreparable harm if a delay isn't granted, among other criteria.<br /> <br /> The FCC didn't buy the claims and denied the petitioners' request for a delay<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> According to the petition, cable companies and telecoms (including wireless carriers) aren't opposed to the rules that have been laid out, such as not being able to block legal traffic, not being able to throttle traffic, and disallowing paid prioritization (otherwise known as Internet fast lanes). Their collective concern is reclassifying broadband as a utility and what "future conduct" might follow,<br /> <br /> PCMag<br /> <br /> reports<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> In addition to the above mentioned criteria, petitioners must also show that interested parties will not be harmed if a stay is allowed, and that the public interest would be in favor of the decision.<br /> <br /> "We established by looking at the petitions, the opposition, and the language of the Commission's Order that Petitioners have failed to meet the test for this extraordinary equitable relief," the FCC motion said.<br /> <br /> Barring anything unexpected, the new net neutrality rules will go into effect on June 12. In the meantime, you can read the<br /> <br /> Petition (PDF)<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> FCC Motion (PDF)<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Image Credit:<br /> <br /> Got Credit<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Ask the Doctor: Upgrade Timing, Software Updates, SSD Form Factors, and More Doctor is inMon, 11 May 2015 16:53:57 +0000 the Magazinegaming pcPremiere ElementsssdWindows Update <br /> The Eternal Question<br /> <br /> I would like to build a gaming PC with a budget of $1,800. Will there be a major hardware upgrade this fall? Should I wait or just upgrade now? &mdash; Fahd Boukhtioua<br /> <br /> The Doctor Responds:<br /> <br /> With your budget, you should indeed wait and see how Intel’s upcoming Haswell-E LGA2011-3 platform is received. Haswell-E will offer native 8-core chips as well as 6-core chips with additional PCIe lanes that aren’t included on the normal LGA1150 platform. For a gaming PC though, the real question is whether you need to pay the premium and wait for a six-core CPU. Most games are perfectly fi ne with quad-core chips with Hyper-Threading, and less. There is, however, a fear that once developers begin to take advantage of the number of cores on game consoles, more cores will be better going forward for all PC games. It’s just a theory at this point though, and most games run just fine on quad-core and even dual-core chips. One thing we do like about Haswell-E is its additional PCIe lanes, which can help with multi-GPU configurations. Since Haswell on LGA1150 and Haswell-E on LGA2011-3 are the same basic cores, you can’t lose with either on the CPU front. It’s everything around them that will matter. Haswell-E motherboards are likely to be premium-priced, and DDR4 memory&mdash;which will only be available on Haswell-E&mdash;will also be pricey. If the Doc had to pick between an LGA1150 box with a $700 video card or an LGA2011-3 with a $400 video card, the latter would be the choice for a gaming rig.<br /> <br /> Windows Update Woes<br /> <br /> My PC has been having freezing every now and again, and my friend who helped me build it using Maximum PC tips and tricks said that I have a lot of stuff that’s not updated. I thought whenever Windows updates that it updates all programs on the computer, but I guess I was wrong. So my question is this: What program do you recommend I use to monitor every single program and driver on my computer to keep them updated?<br /> <br /> The Doctor Responds:<br /> <br /> Keeping all your programs up to date is of critical importance. Malware authors target these programs (as well as Windows) to exploit vulnerabilities in them, so frequent updates are the only way to keep your system safe and running at top speed. As far as the Windows Update program goes, it’s a selfish program in that it only updates itself, though it also updates and downloads other Microsoft programs such as Bing Desktop, so be careful before allowing it to update and install all by itself. We always recommend that you let it download updates, but then you go through and install them manually.<br /> <br /> In terms of third-party software though, Windows Update totally ignores installed programs, so to keep them up to date you’ll need to run a separate utility. There are a lot of paid apps out there that do this, but we’ve never used any of them. Our favorites are both free&mdash;SlimDrivers and Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI). SlimDrivers just shows you what drivers need to be updated, if any, and lets you update them right from the utility. You can also schedule it to check for updates on a daily or weekly basis. And if things go sideways after a driver install, it lets you uninstall drivers and restore older drivers from backup. Secunia PSI is a second option, and it’s a handsfree updater in that it updates programs for you, unless for some reason the programs don’t allow that to occur. In those cases, PSI notifies you from the system tray that you need to update them yourself. Both programs get the job done well and are free, so try them out and go with the one you like the best.<br /> <br /> Refurbing an Aged Dell<br /> <br /> My Dell XPS 200, running Windows XP, had been the workhorse computer for the family for several years, and has served us well. In light of the end of support for XP and the desire to improve the performance of my PC, is it possible to upgrade/rebuild the computer using the XPS case? If so, would you be able to suggest some components and price range for such an upgrade/rebuild? &mdash; Erik Gilliam<br /> <br /> The Doctor Responds:<br /> <br /> Given that the XPS 200 is a small form factor case, and Dell that uses a number of semi-proprietary features on it to aid in the production-line building of it, the Doc thinks any upgrades would have to be pretty limited. To be honest, with the XPS 200 being based on the Pentium D, the Doc would recommend that you pull the hard drive and optical drive and recycle the rest in favor of building a more modern small form factor box. It’s just not worth the heartache and headache to figure out how to maneuver hardware into that proprietary box. Sometimes, however, people want to do it just to do it. In that case, dropping in a modern SSD, more RAM, Windows 7, and a lowprofile GeForce 750 card will make that machine faster, but ultimately, the Pentium D will be the bottleneck on system performance. The Doc likes to that Pentium D probably should have been named Pentium F because its performance isn’t deserving of a D.<br /> <br /> SSD Form Factor Confusion<br /> <br /> I’ve just completed a new Haswell build with an MSI “Gaming Series” Z97 motherboard, which has an M.2 interface. I’m a little confused about what exactly I’ll get over a regular 6Gb/s SSD using M.2. And I don’t quite get which is better: M.2, SATA Express, or the PCIe SSDs that I’ve seen popping up in a few articles lately. Since I have the M.2, I’ve been looking around and trying to find one (and can’t), but now I’m thinking I probably don’t need it anyway (and do they fail easily?). Can you give a layman’s explanation on the benefits/differences of these three formats, and why I would need an even faster storage device? My Samsung 240GB 840 EVO is already plenty fast, for me at least. &mdash; Ken Browning<br /> <br /> The Doctor Responds:<br /> <br /> Things are a bit confusing right now in the SSD world, Ken, because we’re seeing the final days of SATA as an interface for storage while simultaneously witnessing the transition to PCI Express–based devices like M.2 and PCIe SSDs. These transitions take time, and if you recall when SATA first arrived, all hard drives had both SATA and PATA connectors on them for a year or two before the PATA connectors finally disappeared and everyone was onboard with SATA. The same situation will likely play out in the SSD world, where we’ll see SATA stick around while we wait for everyone to get on the PCI Express train. In the meantime, a lot of motherboards are expected to use a PCI Express interface for SATA drives named SATA Express. Just like its name implies, SATA Express is a bridge between the old SATA interface and the next-gen PCI Express drives. It allows a SATA drive to connect to a motherboard’s PCI Express lanes, and will also eventually allow PCIe drives to connect to it as well. Your M.2 drive is a full-blown PCI Express drive though, so unlike SATA, which is capped at roughly 550MB/s, PCI Express can scale much higher, and will allow us to quickly and easily double and triple the amount of bandwidth available for data transmission. For what it’s worth, M.2 currently supports faster speeds than SATA 6Gb/s, but only up to around 800MB/s at this time, so we doubt it will “feel” any faster than your 840 EVO. One other thing to note is that SATA drives use the AHCI protocol to talk to the OS, but that’s a protocol designed in the hard-drive days. When PCI Express comes online for real, we’ll see a new protocol named NVME, which stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. This protocol is designed specifically for solid-state drives, and will allow for major increases in performance in the future, as it gives the drives more headroom to run as fast as they can instead of being hobbled by a hard-drive protocol.<br /> <br /> Long Load Times<br /> <br /> Doc, I currently have an ASUS PC with a 3.4GHz Core i7-3770 CPU, 16GB RAM, Windows 7, and a GeForce GT 620 2GB video card. When I open an existing slideshow project in Adobe Premiere Elements, it takes an extremely long time for all the pictures to load. The project opens and then I sit and wait for each photo to load. Am I waiting for the processor to read each image file, or am I waiting on the video card? Would upgrading to a Gigabyte GTX 750 speed this up? &mdash; Arthur Lang<br /> <br /> The Doctor Responds:<br /> <br /> Arthur, your system is actually fairly well spec’d for running Premiere Elements. The Ivy Bridge-based Core i7-3770 is a quad-core part with Hyper-Threading, you have 16GB of RAM, and you have discrete graphics. One you thing did not mention, and the Doc believes to be the main culprit, is your storage setup. First, don’t bother upgrading to the GeForce GTX 750. Unlike Premiere Pro, Premiere Elements doesn’t use the GPU to enhance previews or encoding. There is some GPU support but not enough to switch from that GeForce GT 620 card. The Doctor really suspects the issue lies with a slow HDD or an HDD that just seriously needs to be defragged and cleaned up (HDDs get drastically slower as they get full). The other possibility is that malware is to blame for dragging down your box, but to be honest, it’s usually a cop-out to blame “malware.” Still, it’s never a bad idea to root out malware, so run a full scan and get second opinions from Malware Bytes and AdwCleaner, too. One final thought&mdash;you didn’t say which version of Elements you’re running. Premiere Elements 12 has 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and chooses which version to run based on what OS it’s running on. The Doc believes that only Premiere Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 12 actually have 64-bit support. If you’re running an older version, you are likely running 32-bit mode, which isn’t the best environment for video editors, even if your machine has 16GB of RAM.<br /> <br /> Submit your questions to:<br /> <br /><br /> Fixstars Announces World’s First 6TB 2.5-Inch SATA SSD firm Fixstars may not be a familiar name in the storage space but it is doing everything it possibly can to change that.  In February, it introduced the 3TB SSD-3000M in the States, claiming it to be the world’s highest-capacity 2.5” SATA SSD (solid-state drive).Mon, 11 May 2015 13:08:52 +0000 <br /> SSD-6000M to begin shipping in July<br /> <br /> Japanese firm Fixstars may not be a familiar name in the storage space but it is doing everything it possibly can to change that.  In February, it introduced the 3TB SSD-3000M in the States, claiming it to be the world’s highest-capacity 2.5” SATA SSD (solid-state drive). But the SSD-3000M is no longer the<br /> <br /> highest capacity drive<br /> <br /> in the company’s own lineup, let alone in the world. That honor now belongs to the SSD-6000M.<br /> <br /> As you may have guessed from the name, the<br /> <br /> SSD-6000M<br /> <br /> is a 6TB monster. Like the 1TB 1000M and the 3TB 3000M, it too is a 2.5-inch SATA III offering that uses the company’s proprietary SSD controller. However, unlike both those drives, it uses 15nm MLC (multi-level cell) NAND and not 19nm MLC NAND. It is said to be capable of sequential read and write speeds of 540MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively.<br /> <br /> “The unparalleled performance of our previous model’s (The SSD-3000M) sequential I/O helped propel our SSDs and garner lots of attention. Since many of our customers desire even greater capacity, I am excited to offer a new solution and grow the product line with the inclusion of the larger SSD-6000M,” Fixstars CEO Satoshi Miki was quoted as saying in a press release.“Since our SSD’s capacity is now able to compete with high-end hard drives, we feel our product can draw the attention of data centers as well.”<br /> <br /> While you can order one now, the price of the drive is<br /> <br /> only available on request<br /> <br /> . Judging by the price of the 1TB variant (approximately $820), it is safe to say the 6000M won’t be cheap.<br /> <br /> Follow Pulkit on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> Microsoft: Surface 3 Not Yet Ready for Windows 10 Preview you just received the Surface 3 tablet you had pre-ordered a while back and are now planning to install Windows 10 on it? Not so fast. That's not what Microsoft would like you to do — and it has strong reasons for it.Mon, 11 May 2015 08:51:12 +0000 x7cherry trailDriversintelmicrosoftNewsSurface 3windows 10 <br /> Preview build lacks key drivers<br /> <br /> So you just received the<br /> <br /> Surface 3 tablet<br /> <br /> you had pre-ordered a while back and are now planning to install Windows 10 on it? Not so fast. That's not what Microsoft would like you to do — and it has strong reasons for it.<br /> <br /> The<br /> <br /> Surface 3<br /> <br /> is, for the time being, incompatible with Windows 10. That's because Intel has yet to release Windows 10-optimized drivers for the Atom SoC (system-on-chip) found inside the tablet.<br /> <br /> "Please do NOT try to install Windows 10 on the new Surface 3. There are no drivers for the Intel x5/x7 Atom processors. There are no drivers in the Preview Build because Intel has not yet provided drivers. There is no block/check for these processors in current builds," Microsoft's Barb Bowman wrote in response to a question on the<br /> <br /> company's Community site<br /> <br /> , adding that Intel is working on the said drivers but it is unclear when they might be ready.<br /> <br /> The particular SoCs she was referring to is a<br /> <br /> Cherry Trail (codename) Atom x7 part<br /> <br /> based on the 14nm Airmont CPU architecture. Airmont is basically a die shrink of the 22nm Silvermont architecture, or, in other words, a tick in the company's tick-tock cadence.<br /> <br /> As for using Windows 8.1 drivers with the Windows 10 preview, here is what she has to say: "Those are Windows 8.1 drivers, not optimized for Windows 10 - which you can obviously use at your own risk. I can't personally confirm that there will not be issues with these drivers. The 'proper' Win 10 experience would be to have optimized drivers in the build or have the W10 optimized drivers installed via WU during the install process."<br /> <br /> Follow Pulkit on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> Thousands Flock to Fund $9 Computer on Kickstarter Pi is probably the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of single-board micro computers, but if the folks at Next Thing Co. are successful with their latest product the micro PC movement could soon have a new poster child.Mon, 11 May 2015 07:57:56 +0000 thingottopocket chipraspberry pi <br /> CHIP is a single-board computer that runs Linux<br /> <br /> Raspberry Pi is probably the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of single-board micro computers, but if the folks at<br /> <br /> Next Thing Co.<br /> <br /> are successful with their latest product<br /> <br /> the micro PC movement could soon have a new poster child<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Founded last year, the Oakland, California-based startup is soliciting funds from the Kickstarter community for a<br /> <br /> tiny Linux computer called CHIP<br /> <br /> . This may not be its first stab at crowdfunding — it  raised over $71,000 for a<br /> <br /> $249 Raspberry Pi-based animated GIF camera<br /> <br /> last year — but it is arguably the most ambitious (and coolest) yet.<br /> <br /> Believe it or not, CHIP is a $9 computer. That unbelievably low price tag appears all the more incredible when one takes a glance at its specs. There is a 1GHz R8 ARM processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of flash storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a USB port.<br /> <br /> And for $49, you can get all of the above in a form you can use on the go. We're talking about the Pocket CHIP (pictured below), a device with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard, and 5-hour battery life.<br /> <br /> The Kickstarter campaign has been a resounding success so far. The company has already outstripped its original funding goal of $50,000 by more than eleven times and still has nearly four more weeks to add to that figure. Of course, the real test will come when it's finally time for  Next Thing to redeem its pledge. It expects to begin delivering backers their CHIP and Pocket CHIP units in May next year.<br /> <br /> Are you going to chip in? Let us know in the comments section below.<br /> <br /> Follow Pulkit on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> Image Credit: Next Thing<br /> 20 Best Android Games nothing can ever replace gaming with a keyboard and mouse on a killer rig, mobile games can be a godsend while you're in a waiting room, if, you’ve got the right games. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best Android games.Mon, 11 May 2015 03:37:37 +0000 android gamescoddead triggerFeaturesfreeGooglegrand theft auto san andreasMust ReadPlants vs. ZombiesTerraria How to Root Android offers a wide variety of advanced customization options, but that’s only scratching the surface of everything you can do with Google’s open-source operating system. With root access you can get down to the system level and tweak things to your liking, even going so far as completely replacing the OS.Mon, 11 May 2015 03:37:02 +0000 to root androidHow-Toshtc oneicsjelly beanNewsnexusnexus 7phonesamsung galaxy s4 <h3> Learn how to root your Nexus Android, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S4 </h3><p> <a href=""> Android </a> offers a wide variety of advanced customization options, but that’s only scratching the surface of everything you can do with <a href=""> Google </a> ’s open source operating system. With root access you can get down to the system level and tweak things to your liking, even going so far as completely replacing the OS. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> This is not an operation for the faint of heart, though. Rooting your device will probably void the warranty and could potentially leave your device in a nonfunctional state. Take extreme care before proceeding. If you need help deciding what to do, let’s go over the benefits of rooting. </p><h5> Benefits of rooting android </h5><p> Gaining root access on Android is basically running your phone or tablet as an administrator. Android is based on Linux, but it does not include the superuser support a desktop OS running the Linux kernel might. If you want to make changes to the fundamentals of the system or install unapproved components, root access is needed. </p><p> There is a whole subset of root-only apps in Google Play that allow some really interesting advanced options. Everything from UI tweaks to ad blocking, to system partition file explorers are possible with a quick app install as long as you have root. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> With root access you can also make complete backups of your device so it can be restored in the event of a mishap, or so you can restore application data to a new phone or tablet. </p><p> Another reason many users decide to get root is that it opens the door to installing custom operating systems, or ROMs. Installing a ROM is a bit more involved than simply gaining root access, but rooting is the first step. ROMs like <a href=""> CyanogenMod </a> and Paranoid Android offer extra features and a cleaned up collection of apps. </p><p> Installing a third-party ROM will also allow you to break free of the sluggish update cycle likely imposed upon you by the carrier (Nexus devices being the exception). As soon as a new version of Android is out, ROM makers start building on it. You’re looking at a few weeks for a beta build, and just a bit longer for stable ones. </p><h5> How To Root Android </h5><p> The rooting process will vary from one device to the next, but the first step is usually to either unlock, or bypass the bootloader. A bootloader is a piece of software that loads before anything else on the device. It verifies the authenticity of all the software running on the phone. So if you want to install something like a root package, that needs to be blocked. </p><p> Let’s go over the Nexus devices first, as they offer a good and straightforward introduction to rooting. Before you get started with any root procedure, backup EVERYTHING. Unlocking bootloaders wipes everything on the device as a security measure. </p><h5> <strong> Nexus device: </strong> </h5><p> 1 - Download and install the <a href=""> Android SDK </a> from Google and install the USB drivers package and Android tools. </p><p> 2 - If it is not present, download the fastboot.exe file (available on various places online, <a href=""> like here </a> ) and place it in the SDK/Tools (or Platform-Tools) folder. This will be the same folder with adb.exe in it. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 3 - On your phone or tablet, go into the settings and open the About Phone/Tablet menu. Tap the Build Number seven times. This will enable Developer Options in the main settings menu. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 4 - Turn on USB Debugging in the Developer Options, and plug the device into your PC via the USB cable. </p><p> 5 - Back on the PC, go to the folder where you placed the fastboot.exe file and open a command prompt window there. We’re going to use a tool called Android Debug Bridge (ADB). This is a way to issue commands to a device from your PC. </p><p> 6 - In the command prompt, type <em> adb devices </em> , then hit enter. The window should show a device ID. </p><p> 7 - Type <em> adb reboot bootloader </em> in the command prompt and hit enter. Your device will reboot into bootloader mode. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 8 - Now type <em> fastboot oem unlock </em> and hit enter. The device will pop up a warning as seen below. Select yes, but be aware this is the step that wipes the phone or tablet. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 9 - On your PC download the <a href=""> TWRP recovery </a> or <a href=""> ClockWorkMod </a> (varies by device) and <a href=""> SuperSU </a> root package. The versions change as new OS updates come out, but a quick search on <a href=""> XDA </a> will get you the most recent version. Put the recovery file &nbsp;in the folder with ADB. Get your device back into Android and transfer the SuperSU zip to the internal storage. </p><p> 10 - With your phone or tablet in bootloader mode again, type the following into the command prompt: <em> fastboot flash recovery twrp.img </em> , then hit enter. Substitute the MWN file name if you used that. This installs a new recovery over your old one so you can flash unsigned zip files. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 11 - Finally, disconnect the device from your PC and use the volume rocker to navigate through the list of options in the bootloader. Choose the Recovery option and select it using the power button. Once in the recovery, find the option to Install a zip from the SD card, then select the SuperSU zip. And that’s it. You’re rooted. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> A word about the toolkits: This is a separate program that can be used to automate the process above. It’s best that you know how to use ADB anyway, so we recommend that route. Sometimes things go wrong, and ADB might be the best way to fix it. However, you are welcome to try the <a href=""> Nexus Root Toolkit </a> from WugFresh. It’s the best one by far. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> Just plug in the device, click Unlock, wait, click Root, wait some more, and you’re done. If something goes wrong, it’s not easy to figure out exactly what it was. </p><p> <em> Click the next page to learn how to root the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and what to do once you have rooted your phone. </em> </p><h5> <strong> How to root the HTC One </strong> </h5><p> The new HTC flagship device is pretty hot right now, and it serves as an interesting middle ground between a Nexus-style root, and the more hackery ones. Like the Nexus, we need to unlock the bootloader, but it’s encrypted on this phone. To unlock, you need to register as an HTC developer on the <a href=""> HTC Dev site </a> (it’s free). </p><p> Just like above, you’ll need the Android SDK, USB drivers, and fastboot drivers. Installing the HTC Sync Manager will get you the drivers you need, but the HTC Dev site will provide you with Fastboot and a few other files. Backup the phone, as unlocking the bootloader will reset everything. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 1 - Go to the HTC Dev site and follow the instructions to get into bootloader mode. You will disconnect the device from PC, turn it off, press and hold Volume Down and the Power button to access the Bootloader. </p><p> 2 - Use the volume keys to select fastboot mode, and select it with power. When the device does its thing, connect it to the PC again. </p><p> 3 - On your PC, go to the folder with all the ADB and Fastboot files and open a command prompt. Type <em> fastboot devices </em> and hit enter. The HTC One should show up as a device ID. </p><p> 4 - Enter <em> fastboot oem get_identifier_token </em> . This will spit out a big block of text, which you will then copy and paste into the HTC Dev site when it asks for it. Wait a bit, and HTC will send you the unlock token. Place it in the Fastboot folder. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 5 - With the HTC One still in Fastboot mode, type <em> fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin </em> . Now you’re unlocked, so it’s time to root. Reboot the phone normally and download the SuperUser zip file from Koush. Transfer it to the device. </p><p> 6 - Download <a href=""> TWRP recovery </a> for the HTC One and place it in the directory with your Fastboot and ADB files. </p><p> 7 - Open another command prompt and get your device back into Fastboot mode just like above. Type <em> fastboot flash recovery twrp.img </em> and hit enter. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 8 - Turn off the HTC One and turn it on in Bootloader mode by holding the Volume Down + Power button. Select Recovery and wait for the device to load. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 9 - In Recovery, go to install and select the SuperUser zip. The zip will flash, and that’s it. You’re rooted. </p><h5> <strong> How to root the Samsung Galaxy S4 </strong> </h5><p> The Galaxy S4 is an interesting device as it’s simultaneously easier and more difficult to root. Unlike the HTC and Nexus devices, Samsung doesn’t offer an official bootloader unlock system for the carrier-locked phones. These are the overwhelming majority of GS4s, so that’s what we’re going over here. </p><p> Some carriers have more bootloader security than others, and just like the previously detailed phones, we need to get around that. Instead of using ADB, we need a tool called ODIN, which allows efficient communication with Samsung devices over a PC connection. </p><p> 1 - Install <a href=""> ODIN </a> and run it. Click on the PDA button. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> 2 - ODIN will ask you to select the root file, which it came with. </p><p> 3 - On your phone, power it completely off, then hold power and volume up to enter download mode. </p><p> 4 - Connect the Galaxy S4 to the PC and click the Start button in ODIN. </p><p> 5 - ODIN will churn for a moment and tell if your phone is supported for automatic root. Most are, and it will push the file over. Once you’ve seen the SuperUser Android logo, you’ve got root installed. </p><p> 6 - Reboot the phone, and you’re (hopefully) done. </p><p> Note: None of this replaced the recovery or unlocked the bootloader. The device is still more restricted than other rooted Android phones. A different method that replaces the recovery will give you more control and helps get around some of the roadblocks that stop ODIN from running the process automatically. </p><p> The process is the same as above, except you will point ODIN toward ClockWorkMod recovery, which you can find <a href=""> over here </a> . Then use ClockWorkMod to flash the SuperUser zip (reboot with power, volume down, and home pressed). Depending on your model, you may need to use the Loki tool instead of ODIN. A quick search on XDA will tell you which version of the device needs which tool. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> Samsung changes the security settings frequently, but as long as you know which version of the phone you have, you can probably gain root. Just remember: i9500 is the international variant, and i9505 is the Snapdragon US version. Carrier locked models have their own models sometimes, like the SCH-i545 for Verizon. There are a few versions of GS4 software that don’t have active roots yet, so you may have to be patient. </p><p> For other devices, you’re going to be doing the same basic things outlined above, or some variation of them. Check <a href=""> XDA </a> for the most up-to-date root files for your device, and get ADB ready. Most devices don’t have encrypted bootloaders, so it’s easy to get a custom recovery installed. From there, it’s clear sailing. </p><h5> What To Do With Root </h5><p> So now that you’re rooted, what can you do with it? Before you do anything else, do a full device backup. You will probably have a custom recovery after rooting, but if not, you can flash one manually with <a href=""> ROM Manager </a> in the Play Store (it’s easy if you have root access). Boot into recovery, and find the backup option. In some recoveries, it’s called Nandroid. This is essentially a full backup that makes an image of the device. That way, if you break anything the phone can be restored to a working state. These backups can be big, so you might want to store it elsewhere. </p><p> Making use of root-only apps is one of the main goals of this endeavor, so dive in. <a href=""> Root Explorer </a> is one of the first apps you’ll want to grab. This is a no-frills file manager that lets you manage permissions and access files in the system directory. </p><p> <a href=""> Quick Boot </a> is a very useful app that can replicate some of those ADB commands we were using up above. This root app can reboot the phone, boot into recovery, bootloader, and power off in one step. This one is essential. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <a href=""> OTA RootKeeper </a> is always a good idea. This app backs up your root files so that an OTA update can’t wipe them out. Just back up, and restore after the update through the app. Should work on most devices. </p><p> <a href=""> Greenify </a> lets you designate apps that you don’t much care for, but don’t want to uninstall to be silenced. If, for example, you don’t want Facebook running in the background because it’s a buggy, terrible app that often wastes battery (it is), then you can add it to Greenify. Greenify will wait a minute after you leave the app, then force it into hibernation mode. It won’t be allowed to carry out any operations until you open it, but you can still use it when you want. This is a great app, but use it wisely. </p><p> You should also grab <a href=""> Helium </a> or <a href=""> Titanium Backup </a> to save your app data and sync it to other devices. This lets you transfer saved games and settings between old and new phones/tablets. Helium is a bit more streamlined and user-friendly, but Titanium is more powerful. Helium also works without root, but its functionality is better with it. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> Finally, pick up <a href=""> Cerberus </a> . This is a security app that can track, lock, and wipe your phone if it is stolen. It can even take pictures with the camera and email them to you in hopes of catching the thief in the act. This app has a root capability allowing it to be installed to the system partition so it can survive device resets. The standard functions work on non-rooted devices, though. </p><h5> ROMs </h5><p> Okay, this is the ultimate endgame in rooting. If you want to completely change how your device works, installing a custom ROM is how you do it. There are several big names in Android ROMs, and that’s probably where you should start. <a href=""> CynaogenMod </a> supports a huge number of devices, and its very stable. Recent developments include a secure messaging platform and inproved data security. Visit the CM site for instructions on flashing this ROM. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""> </p><p> <a href=""> Paranoid Android </a> is also quite popular, and it includes some unique features like Halo floating app multitasking. This ROM has a very fast update cycle, but it’s a bit more buggy than CyanogenMod. This ROM is more distributed, so there's not a main site. The developers run a Google+ page, linked above. Keep up with news there, and grab the latest builds on XDA or in ROM Manager. </p><p> In general, all the ROMs you want to install can be flashed through recovery. Just transfer the zip file over, then use recovery to install it just like we installed root up above. </p><p> For a slightly easier time, grab <a href=""> ROM Manager </a> from Google Play. It can do much more than install a custom recovery. This app lists a ton of ROMs and can download them, then install in one step. You should only do this if you’re familiar with ADB, though. Rom Manager won’t give you any feedback if something goes wrong, and that might mean a real pain to fix your device. </p><h5> Conclusion </h5><p> You can get more out of your Android device by rooting, but it’s not for everyone. There is always risk in doing this. It’s possible the device could be damaged beyond repair, or that you’ll simply want to take advantage of the warranty in the future only to find you’ve voided it by rooting. </p><p> Undertake this at your own peril, but there’s a massive community or experienced modders on sites like <a href=""> XDA </a> and <a href=""> RootzWiki </a> to help you if you get stuck. Best of luck! </p> Android Guide (Version 4.2)'s new in Jelly Bean 4.2, best Android apps, and Android battery saving tipsMon, 11 May 2015 03:36:11 +0000 tweak guideappsFeaturesgalaxygoogle playhow toHow-Tosimprove batteryjellybeanmobilenexusphonestoretabletupdateWeb Exclusive Build It: Putting Together a Haswell-E Box of Time 2-4 hours | Level of Difficulty: MediumFri, 08 May 2015 20:04:51 +0000 a PCbuild itFeatured GuideFrom the MagazineoverclockPC rig <h3> It may not seem it at first, but Intel’s Haswell-E “Lite” is a sweet deal and a solid foundation for a build </h3> <p> <em> Length of Time 2-4 hours | Level of Difficulty: Medium </em> </p> <h3> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> The Mission </h3> <p> We've found there are really two kinds of PC builders today. Those who are content with Intel’s “consumer” LGA1150 socket, and those who always go for the big-boy socket. Yes, these are the folks who opted for an LGA1366 instead of LGA1155, and when faced with LGA2011 or LGA1150, they went for the larger pin- and core-count again. For you, the LGA2011-V3 and Haswell-E means it’s time get building with Intel’s “bargain” Core i7-5820K part. This $390 chip gets you six cores without paying the $560 premium pricing Intel applied to its previous six-core processor. <br/> <br/> With DDR4, a new chipset, and a new socket, it’s time to run you through the steps and know-how you need to build a new Haswell-E rig. And what do you know, we just built and overclocked one for this month’s cover story, so we decided to show you how we did it. </p> <h3> Not a Budget Box </h3> <p> This is a six-core, fire-breathing enthusiast machine meant to keep your computing needs satiated for the next 36 to 48 months. And just as you don’t buy a Mercedes with manual-crank windows and AM radio, we didn’t skimp here. We outfitted this rig with very nice components befitting its six-core royalty. Yes, there are ways to cut costs. If we really wanted to budget-out this baby, we could have used a cheaper case, cut the SSD size, and gone with RAM without a heat spreader. We could also notch down the GPU and ditch the optical drive, too. At that point, you might as well have built a Pentium K box. <br/> <br/> So, we’ve established our intention to build a nicely configured machine, but here’s the thinking behind a few of our choices. Of all the parts here, spending $60 on an optical drive may seem extravagant, but as it may be the last optical drive you own, it might as well do everything, including burning BDXL discs. The other part sure to get attention is the 500GB Samsung 840 EVO drive. With a 3TB HDD in the box, do we really need to spend that much on the SSD? Yes. With the prices today, we believe the 500GB mark is the new “normal” for primary storage. </p> <h3> 1. LGA2011-V3 What? </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> Here's the PSA for folks who don’t follow current events: LGA2011-V3 is not, repeat, NOT, compatible nor the same as the previous LGA2011 socket. You may snicker, but there will be people buying mobos and CPUs that are incompatible and not realize it until they’ve trashed the motherboard. Installing the LGA2011-V3 part isn’t all that different from its predecessor. Unlatch both arms on the socket, remove the plastic cap, and line up the chip by referencing the small triangle in the corner of the CPU with the triangle on the socket or motherboard. The notches in the CPU should also line up. Now, lower the CPU into the socket without sliding it around or touching the pins in the socket, and latch it in place. Don’t throw away the plastic cap. You’ll need it if you have to return the board for service. </p> <h3> 2. Because It's One Better </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> You don't have to put RAM in with the motherboard outside of the case, it’s just a lot easier. DDR4 is the new hotness and offers eventual higher capacity and higher speeds, too. As Haswell-E features a quad-channel memory controller, you should consult your motherboard manual on which slots to put your four DIMMs in. On boards that feature latchless connectors on one side, you need to ensure the RAM is fully seated; we’ve botched installs by not fully seating the RAM. There is a slight curve in DDR4 modules to aid seating it, but you should still make sure RAM is fully seated—it’s the typical rookie builders mistake. You should also now install the back plate that comes with the cooler, too. </p> <h3> 3. Put In Your Foundation </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> You’re now ready to install the board. First, install the I/O shield in the case firmly. Now, count how many mounts are in the case and make sure they are properly torqued down and cannot unscrew. The mounts should match the number of holes in your motherboard. Screw down the motherboard and begin connecting fans to available fan headers and the like. With this motherboard in particular, plug the wire from the I/O shield into the nearby header for it. This powers the nifty blue and red LEDs integrated into the I/O shield. If it bugs you, you can control this LED from within the Gigabyte utilities in the OS, which let you turn it off, turn it on, or even have it blink. You should also plug in the rest of the umbilicals you need, such as USB 3.0 and frontpanel controls. You should install your PSU now, too. </p> <h3> 4. SATA Confusion </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> One of the most common mistakes is to use the wrong SATA ports. Unlike that gimpy X79 chipset that only had two native SATA 6Gb/s ports, X99 has all SATA 6Gb/s ports. Still, rooks will plug into a third-party SATA port that isn’t as fast or isn’t even on. We prefer to run off of the native chipset ports first because they generally perform the best and there’s no need for drivers for most OSes. On this board, there’s also a SATA Express port that shares the SATA ports. Don’t worry about it. We haven’t seen a SATA Express device yet, and storage vendors seem pretty blasé, so for now, don’t sweat it. As with RAM, we recommend basic RTFM protocol before plugging in any drive. We also recommend installing the GPU after plugging in and running the SATA cables, as the card will block access to the ports. </p> <p> </p><p> </p> <h3> 5. Yolanda, What's Fonzie Like? </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> To cool this rig, we recommend mounting the radiator first so as not to put undue pressure on the hoses and motherboard. To do that, though, you’ll need to put the cooler in the top of the case and hold it in place with one hand while screwing down one of the corners. Keep the rest of the screws handy, too. Once you have one corner of the rad in place, put a screw in the opposite corner from the first point you mounted it. Only after you have done this can you remove your hand from the radiator. Now, just mount the pump and cold plate to the CPU and plug it into power. As this cooler is “smart,” you’ll need to plug it into an available USB header and download software from NZXT’s website for it, too. </p> <h3> 6. Bezel Removal </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> This normally wouldn’t be a step we would bother mentioning, but just this once, we wanted to let those of you who are running optical drives in your Obsidian 750Ds know how to remove the bezel. If you’re like us and can’t read the manual, you might be tempted to pry off the front of the case, but hold back a sec as it’s actually easier than that. The bezels are held in place rather tightly but can be removed by reaching inside the case and squeezing the two arms that secure it while pushing it out. It may seem like overkill but it’s better than bezels that pop out every time you look at them too hard. With it out, just slide in your ODD. Also add your SSD and HDD and plug them into power and data. </p> <h3> 7. Overclock It </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> With this CPU and a nice liquid cooler, there’s simply no reason not to overclock it. To start our overclock, we first consulted the Internets to get an idea of what others were getting from their retail CPUs and what methods they were using. Haswell-E has an additional “gear” or “strap” that allows you to run the b-clock at higher than a standard Haswell chip’s 100MHz, such as 125MHz. We, unfortunately, didn’t get very far with that method and so, with the clock ticking on our build, we fell back on a basic Turbo Boost overclock. To do that, we went into the Advanced CPU Core settings in the UEFI and manually set the turbo ratios based on the core loads. To hit our overclocks, we also increased the core voltage to 1.296 volts. </p> <h3> 8. Validate! </h3> <p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="" src=""/> </p> </p> <p> Validation of an overclock’s stability is always an open debate. Is running your favorite game enough? We initially reached for our old standby: Prime95. We know board makers don’t recommend it as it’s “too stressful,” but, for a quick test that gets you into the ballpark, we rely on it. However, it was too stressful on Haswell-E within a few minutes. Still needing to vet our settings, we used AIDA64 Extreme set to FPU mode and completed multiple runs. We’ll note a recommended AIDA64 by some is 12 hours. When you’re looking at 100MHz increments that means days of testing. We instead erred on the side of caution. We think Haswell-E can go further, but we wanted to be realistic about it, too. </p> <h3> Intel's "Lite" Is a Heavyweight Contender </h3> <p> First, let’s point out something. The predecessor of the six-core Core i7-5820K is the four-core Core i7-4820K, which cost $325. When you factor in that you’re getting the same core count of the $580 Core i7-4930K, this Haswell-E “Lite” is looking pretty damned good. To find out just how good, we took our zero-point system with its Sandy Bridge Core i7-3930K CPU overclocked full-time to 3.8GHz (on air) and its GeForce GTX 690 and put it against this month’s build. <br/> <br/> The result was pretty impressive. Remember, this is not a six-core chip wailing on a fourcore part—the Core i7-3930K is a six-core chip that set you back $580 in its heyday and is no slouch in multi-threaded tasks. In the singlethreaded tasks we saw the Build It with a 17 percent and 22 percent advantage. In multithread tasks the margin opens up further with a 27 percent advantage in Premiere Pro CS6 and a 29 percent advantage in the x264 HD 5.0 encoding test. <br/> <br/> Part of that is from the clock-speed advantage. We are pushing the Build It PC to 4.2 to 4.6GHz depending on loads, which is around a 14 percent clock-speed advantage. The rest of the difference comes from the greater efficiency of the Haswell cores versus the older Sandy Bridge cores. <br/> <br/> In gaming, the single GeForce GTX 690 is a dual-GPU card that’s basically the equivalent of two GeForce GTX 680 cards in action. You can view this two ways: Man, that GeForce GTX 980 is fast if it can basically nip at the heels of a dual-GPU card that’s still recognized as one of the fastest cards in town. Or, of course, you can also say: Man, that GeForce GTX 690 still packs some heat if it’s faster than the GeForce GTX 980 card. <br/> <br/> The real question is: Is it worth an upgrade? That depends on your needs. If cutting your multi-hour encodes down by a third is money saved and you want a modern chipset in X99, then yes. For many people who put down nearly $600 for a six-core Sandy Bridge part, though, that is still a viable part. </p> Newegg Daily Deals: Asus GeForce GTX 980 Graphics Card, CM Storm Trooper Case, and More! is too short to be stressed out, don't you agree?Fri, 08 May 2015 19:31:25 +0000 dealsNewegg Top Deal:<br /> Life is too short to be stressed out, don't you agree? Stress results in all kinds of nasty side effects, like diminished health, anxiety, graying of the hairs, and just plain bad moods. Want punch stress square in the face? Then check out today's top deal for an<br /> <br /> Asus GeForce STX 980 Graphics Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $534<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $550 -- use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAW29<br /> <br /> ]; additional $15 mail-in-rebate). It's tough to be stressed when you're playing a game with all the eye candy turned up (well, until you get stuck on a level), and the GTX 980 will certainly oblige!<br /> <br /> Other Deals:<br /> <br /> EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB Video Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $329<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $350 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAW76<br /> <br /> ]; additional $15 Mail-in rebate)<br /> <br /> Asus Radeon R9 290X 4GB Video Card<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $300<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $310 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAW32<br /> <br /> ]; additional $30 Mail-in rebate)<br /> <br /> CM Storm Trooper Gaming Full Tower Computer Case<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $145<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $150 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAW77<br /> <br /> ]; additional $15 Mail-in rebate)<br /> <br /> Acer G276HL Black 27-inch 6ms LCD Monitor w/ Built in Speakers<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $190<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $200 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAW38<br /> <br /> ])<br /> Don't Look Beyond Windows 10, It's the Last Version of Windows know that Windows 10 is coming and will arrive sometime this summer. Microsoft has said as much. But what comes after Windows 10? Windows 11? Windows 12? Yes and no. There's been plenty of chatter about Microsoft transitioning to a Windows as a service model, though for the first time, someone in Redmond's camp pretty much confirmed that Windows 10 is the end of the road for Windows.Fri, 08 May 2015 15:33:56 +0000 systemOSSoftwareWindowswindows 10 <br /> Windows 10 is the end-game, and the beginning<br /> <br /> We know that Windows 10 is coming and will arrive sometime this summer. Microsoft has said as much. But what comes after Windows 10? Windows 11? Windows 12? Yes and no. There's been plenty of chatter about Microsoft transitioning to a Windows as a service model, though for the first time,<br /> <br /> someone in Redmond's camp pretty much confirmed that Windows 10 is the end of the road for Windows<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Don't mistake that to mean Windows is going away -- it isn't. It's just that the business model is changing into one that will see frequent updates rather than major new releases every few years.<br /> <br /> "Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10," said Jerry Nixon, developer evangelist, while speaking at the Microsoft Ignite conference earlier this week.<br /> <br /> That sort of sounds like a death knell for Windows, but that's not how he intended it. Microsoft was quick to clarify things to<br /> <br /> The Verge<br /> <br /> , saying that "recent comments at Ignite about Windows 10 are reflective of the way Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner, with continuous value for our consumer and business customers."<br /> <br /> Microsoft also said that it isn't talking about future branding just yet, but wants to make it clear that Windows 10 will remain up-to-date.<br /> <br /> The move to Windows as a service ties in with the<br /> <br /> elimination of Patch Tuesday<br /> <br /> . Instead of a bundle of updates rolled out on the second Tuesday of each and every month, with Windows 10, Microsoft will dole out updates as they become available.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Newegg Daily Deals: Motherboard Madness Edition!'ve lived your life the philosophy of "Go big or go home," right? Hey, we can dig it!Thu, 07 May 2015 20:48:17 +0000 dealsNewegg <br /> Top Deal:<br /> <br /> You've lived your life the philosophy of "Go big or go home," right? Hey, we can dig it! We're all about excess, though at the same time, while going big can be pricey, there are still opportunities to save a bit of coin. Case in point, check out today's top deal for an<br /> <br /> Asus X99-E WS Motherboard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $431<br /> <br /> with $4 shipping (normally $507 - use coupone code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAV38<br /> <br /> ]). This beastly board is big, bad, and ready to be the centerpiece of your own dream machine.<br /> <br /> Other Deals:<br /> <br /> Asus Z87-C LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $115<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $135 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAV38<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> Gigabyte GA-X99-Gaming 5P LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $264<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $310 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAV38<br /> <br /> ])<br /> <br /> MSI X99S Gaming 9 ACK LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $357<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $420 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAV38<br /> <br /> ]; additional $20 Mail-in rebate)<br /> <br /> Asus X99-A LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> $217<br /> <br /> with free shipping (normally $255 - use coupon code: [<br /> <br /> EMCASAV38<br /> <br /> ])<br /> AMD Announces 7000 Series Mobile APUs, Cuts Price of Desktop Chips decided to shake things up at its 2015 Financial Analyst Day by announcing new AMD 7000 Series APUs for mobile systems (formerly codenamed Carrizo-L and part of the Carrizo platform in the 2015 AMD mobile APU family roadmap), new Radeon 300 Series desktop graphics cards for OEMs, new Radeon M300 Series mobile graphics, and price cuts for existing A-Series desktop APUs.Thu, 07 May 2015 20:37:56 +0000 <br /> New APUs, new prices<br /> <br /> AMD decided to shake things up at its 2015 Financial Analyst Day by announcing new AMD 7000 Series APUs for mobile systems<br /> <br /> (formerly codenamed Carrizo-L and part of the Carrizo platform in the 2015 AMD mobile APU family roadmap), new Radeon 300 Series desktop graphics cards for OEMs, new Radeon M300 Series mobile graphics, and price cuts for existing A-Series desktop APUs.<br /> <br /> Starting with the new Carrizo-L parts, here's a look:<br /> <br /> AMD A8-7410: 4 cores, up to 2.5GHz, 2MB cache, 1866MHz max DDR3, 12-25W<br /> <br /> AMD A6-7310: 4 cores, up to 2.4GHz, 2MB cache, 1600MHz max DDR3, 12-25W<br /> <br /> AMD A4-7210: 4 cores, up to 2.2GHz, 2MB cache, 1600MHz max DDR3, 12-25W<br /> <br /> AMD E2-7110: 4 cores, up to 1.8GHz, 2MB cache, 1600MHz max DDR3, 12-15W<br /> <br /> AMD E1-7010: 2 cores, up to 1.5GHz, 1MB cache, 1333MHz max DDR3, 10W<br /> <br /> These are all System-on-Chip (SoC) designs that combine CPU, GPU, AMD Secure Processor technology, and system I/O on a single chip. AMD intends for these SoCs to end up in laptops and all-in-one systems.<br /> <br /> The company didn't talk too much about its new M300 Series and 300 Series Radeon graphics, though it did list new prices for existing for A-Series desktop APUs. Here they are:<br /> <br /> AMD A10-7850K: $127<br /> <br /> AMD A10-7800: $127<br /> <br /> AMD A10-7700K: $117<br /> <br /> AMD A8-7650K: $95<br /> <br /> AMD A8-7600: $85<br /> <br /> AMD A6-7400K: $60<br /> <br /> AMD A4-7300: $42<br /> <br /> These are suggested retail prices, meaning it's still up to individual vendors to price them accordingly.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Gigabyte P55K is First in a New Line of Gaming Laptops is tapping into NVIDIA's newest mobile Maxwell GPUs to power its P55K, a 15.6-inch notebook that's the first of a new generation of "powerful gaming laptops." In this instance, Gigabyte chose the GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory.Thu, 07 May 2015 20:12:10 +0000 <br /> Let the games begin<br /> <br /> Gigabyte is tapping into NVIDIA's newest mobile Maxwell GPUs to power its P55K<br /> <br /> , a 15.6-inch notebook that's the first of a new generation of "powerful gaming laptops." In this instance, Gigabyte chose the GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. Combined with the other parts, including an Intel Core i7 4720HQ processor (Haswell), up to 16GB of RAM, and a storage scheme consisting of an mSATA SSD up to 512GB paired with up to a 2TB hard drive, Gigabyte says the P55K tops 7,000 in 3DMark 11 (Performance).<br /> <br /> The 15.6-inch display sports a Full HD 1080p resolution. Other features include a DVD or Blu-ray burner, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and D-Sub output, GbE LAn port, headphone jack, SD card reader, two 2W speakers, HD webcam, Kensington Lock, and a full-size keyboard with backlight and 2.2mm of key travel.<br /> <br /> We're seeing gaming laptops shrink in size, and while this one isn't quite sitting in Ultrabook territory, it's not a behemoth at 15 inches (W) by 10.6 inches (D) by 1.1 to 1.3 inches (H).<br /> <br /> The<br /> <br /> P55K<br /> <br /> starts at $1,249. No word yet on when it will be available.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Dell XPS 13 Review’s XPS 13 line of laptops has been around for many years now, and while the company’s 2015 model doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, Dell has made enough improvements to it to claim that it has the best Ultrabook on the market. We’ll see about thatThu, 07 May 2015 17:56:47 +0000 xps 13 reviewlaptopmacbooknotebookReviewsultrabook <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;"> At A Glance </h5> <p> <strong> Pros <br/> </strong> Beautiful, sharp screen; ultra-portable; super quiet. </p> <p> <strong> Cons <br/> </strong> Mediocre battery life; not super powerful. </p> </div> <h3> The new standard for Ultrabooks </h3> <p> Dell’s XPS 13 line of laptops has been around for many years now, and while the company’s 2015 model doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, Dell has made enough improvements to it to claim that it has the best Ultrabook on the market. We’ll see about that… </p> <p> The compact chassis gives the notebook some sex appeal. Measuring 11.9x8x.5 inches and weighing just two pounds, 12.4 ounces, it’s extremely portable. While a chassis this small usually sports an 11-inch panel, Dell impressed us with its finesse in squeezing in a 13.3-inch 10-point touch display. This is done through what Dell calls its “Infinity Edge” display. That’s marketing jargon for what amounts to really thin, flush bezels that measure 5.2mm across. </p> <p> While the panel isn’t huge, the resolution is enormous at 3200x1800. Certain Windows programs might look small but, surprisingly, it looks fine for most applications. Some users may also be put off by the glossy panel, but the viewing angles on this IPS display and the vibrant colors it offers are undeniably fantastic. </p> <p> The body shape puts it in the MacBook Air category of laptops, and while it even sports a downward slope that’s similar to Apple’s popular notebook, it’s got its own thing going aesthetically. The XPS 13 is mainly composed of machined aluminum, and has a carbon fiber palm rest. Most of the notebook is black, with the exception of its silver back; here you’ll also find the Dell logo etched in. It would be nice if the logo had a lighting option (all the cool kids are doing it), but maybe Dell designers thought it would be best to go minimal this time around. Luckily, it does have a backlit keyboard, which is more important. Because the laptop is small, some people may be bothered by the compact keyboard, but it didn’t bother us. We weren’t too crazy about the trackpad, however, which offers a little unwanted acceleration. The notebook’s speakers have a surprising amount of firepower, but we’re a little let down that they’re side-firing as opposed to front-facing. In terms of ports, you’ve got your charging port, two USB 3.0 ports, mini DisplayPort, headphone jack, and SD card slot. We wish the laptop offered Mini-HDMI, but it’s got all the bare essentials otherwise, and offers more ports than other leading notebooks (ahem, Apple, we’re looking at you). </p> <p> When it came to performance, our Dell XPS 13 and its 2.2GHz Core i5-5200U processor didn’t blow our socks off. It performed better than our Acer S7’s Ivy Bridge processor in our Stitch CPU benchmark by eight percent, but lagged three percent behind in our multithread-heavy x264 test. It’s worth noting that this isn’t an apples-to-apples tier comparison, however. Our zero point uses a Core i7-3517U processor that has a max turbo frequency of 3GHz, which trumps the i5’s 2.7GHz top speed. Also, when our S7 zero point goes full blast, it’s almost leaf-blower loud. The XPS 13, on the other hand, plays it cool and quiet. </p> <p> In graphics territory, the XPS 13 was gave our zero point a thorough thrashing. Intel has been making very noticeable improvements when it comes to integrated graphics; the fruit of its labors means a performance delta between 40–70 percent here. If you’re thinking this means you’ll be able to do some hardcore gaming on this thing, however, you’ll want to think again. Even with everything turned low, we got unplayable framerates (mid-20s) running Tomb Raider at 1080p. This proves that gaming laptops aren’t getting pushed off the table by lighter fare anytime soon. </p> <p> There were a few other areas where the laptop failed to impress, battery life being chief among them. In our video-rundown test, the XPS 13 lasted 223 minutes, which is fine for even the lengthiest of Peter Jackson movie edits, but if you’re hoping for something that will last an entire workday, this particular model isn’t for you. Dell says its 1080p configuration will last longer, since the laptop doesn’t have to push as many pixels, but as we don’t have that unit to test, we can’t validate the claim. Another gripe we had with the XPS 13 is that the camera is located on the lower left-hand corner of the monitor, as opposed to the top-middle, where most laptops place it. This placement sort of validates the old saying that the camera adds 15 pounds, at least that’s the excuse we’re going with in our case. Finally, the laptop does get a little warm underneath, but it won’t singe your lap. </p> <p> These knocks against the XPS 13 prevent us from awarding it a Kick Ass score, but quibbles aside, this is still a great Ultrabook. Its 12.9-second boot-up time is among the fastest we’ve ever seen, and the laptop is ultimately quite sleek, incredibly portable, and priced fairly. It’s not perfect, but it may very well be the best Ultrabook out there at the moment. </p> <p> <strong> Price, $1,400; </strong> <a href=""> </a> </p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> Benchmarks </td> <td> </td> <td> <br/> </td> <td> </td> <td> Delta </td> </tr> <tr> <td> </td> <td> </td> <td> 0-Point </td> <td> Dell XPS 13 </td> <td> Delta </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Lower is better </td> <td> Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) </td> <td> 1851.0 </td> <td> 1710.0 </td> <td> 8.2% </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Lower is better </td> <td> Proshow Product 5 (sec) </td> <td> 2387.0 </td> <td> 2392.0 </td> <td> -0.2% </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Higher is better </td> <td> x264 HD 5.0 </td> <td> 5.4 </td> <td> 5.2 </td> <td> -3.7% </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Higher is better </td> <td> Tomber Raier (FPS) </td> <td> 17.4 </td> <td> 24.9 </td> <td> 43.1% </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Higher is better </td> <td> 3DMark 11 Perf </td> <td> 645.0 </td> <td> 1094.0 </td> <td> 69.6% </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Higher is better </td> <td> Battery Life (min) </td> <td> 221.0 </td> <td> 223.0 </td> <td> 0.9% </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> Specifications </td> <td> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> CPU </td> <td> 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U </td> </tr> <tr> <td> RAM </td> <td> 8GB DDR3 </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Display </td> <td> 13.3-inch 3200x1800 IPS </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Storage </td> <td> 256GB SSD </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Connectivity </td> <td> 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, SD card slot, headphones </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Lap/Carry </td> <td> 2 lbs, 12.4 oz <br/> 3 lbs, 5.3 oz </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Myst to Make a Return (as a TV Series on Hulu) remember back when optical drives were new (and expensive), there was a game called Myst that helped drive sales. The point-n-click adventure game was just too massive to fit on floppy, so if you wanted to play it, you needed a CD drive. This is the early 1990s I'm talking about here, back when adventure games were as popular as FPS titles are today. Would it surprise you that Myst is coming back? It is, just not as a video game.Thu, 07 May 2015 17:45:22 +0000 show <br /> Blast from the past<br /> <br /> I remember back when optical drives were new (and expensive), there was a game called Myst that helped drive sales. The point-n-click adventure game was just too massive to fit on floppy, so if you wanted to play it, you needed a CD drive. This is the early 1990s I'm talking about here, back when adventure games were as popular as FPS titles are today.<br /> <br /> Would it surprise you that Myst is coming back? It is, just not as a video game.<br /> <br /> According to<br /> <br /> Deadspin<br /> <br /> , Hulu has snagged the rights to Myst and is using the IP for a new drama series. Matt Tolmach (producer of The Amazing Spider-Man and Sinister) and Evan Daugherty (Divergent writer) are said to be involved in Myst's return.<br /> <br /> The first episode will show a man waking up on an island with no recollection of who he is, where he is, how he got there, and so forth. Not exactly an original plot, though one that works with Myst.<br /> <br /> It will be interesting to see how much interest the show attracts. Myst, while known in the geek community, particularly old school gamers, isn't a franchise that most people are likely to recognize. However, the franchise seems to be in good hands, so we'll cross our fingers and hope for the best.<br /> <br /> Now, if only someone would pick up the rights to Sam &amp; Max and create a TV show around that!<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Google Lets Slip Forthcoming Android M Announcement's not really a secret that Google uses its Google I/O convention to unveil major versions of its mobile operating system known as Android. In case you were in doubt anyway, for a brief period, Google's schedule for Google I/O later this month included a mention of Android M.Thu, 07 May 2015 16:40:05 +0000 MGooglegoogle I/OmobileNewsoperating systemOSSoftware <br /> Android M is just around the corner<br /> <br /> It's not really a secret that Google uses its Google I/O convention to unveil major versions of its mobile operating system known as Android. In case you were in doubt anyway, for a brief period,<br /> <br /> Google's schedule for Google I/O later this month included a mention of Android M<br /> <br /> . The sultan of search has since pulled any reference to the next Android build, but as we often say, there are no mulligans on the Internet.<br /> <br /> The quick-fingered folks at<br /> <br /> ArsTechnica<br /> <br /> captured a screenshot of the listing before Google had a chance to yank it offline. Before it was pulled, Google's reference to Android M fell under a section titled Android for Work Update.<br /> <br /> "Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces. This opens huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small business, deskless workers, logistics, and warehousing jobs; all be empowered by adoption of Android devices at Work (Note: This Sandbox talk will be offered twice throughout the event. Check the schedule to confirm timings," Google wrote.<br /> <br /> The big question is, what tasty treat will Google M be named after? So far we've had Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop. It isn't known if Google will partner up again with a player in the candy industry like it did with KitKat. Perhaps Android M&amp;M, a candy that's seen quite a bit of TV time lately.<br /> <br /> Beyond the name, there's of course the question of what Android M will bring to the table, and unfortunately Google didn't leak out any details. So, we'll have to wait and see.<br /> <br /> Google I/O is scheduled to run from May 27-29.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br /> Linksys EA8500 is First Wireless-AC Router to Support MU-MIMO today announced the availability of what it claims is the industry's first MU-MIMO (multiple-user, multiple input, multiple output) enabled 802.11ac wireless router, the EA8500. Or if you prefer long product names, you can also find it listed as the Linksys Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router.Thu, 07 May 2015 16:11:41 +0000 <br /> For multi-device networks<br /> <br /> Linksys today announced the availability of what it claims is the industry's first MU-MIMO (multiple-user, multiple input, multiple output) enabled 802.11ac wireless router, the EA8500<br /> <br /> . Or if you prefer long product names, you can also find it listed as the Linksys Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router. No matter what you call it, the point of interest here is the router's ability to treat multiple devices as if they're all connecting to their own dedicated router.<br /> <br /> There are routers on the market that claim they're MU-MIMO-ready, but to the best of our knowledge, all of them are still waiting on official firmware to support the feature. That's not the case with the EA8500 -- it's ready to go right out of the box.<br /> <br /> Supporting MU-MIMO is an important part of the evolution of routers. According to Linksys, the average home now has more than eight connected devices. The router you're using now can only accommodate one of those devices at a time, meaning all the others have to get in line. You might not notice it much, if at all, because single-user MIMO routers are fast, they're just not as speedy or efficient as MU-MIMO enabled routers. Where it's probably most notable is watching a streaming video -- if the video temporarily degrades or hiccipus and there are several other devices in your home connected to the Internet, this could be a reason why.<br /> <br /> By way of MU-MIMO, the EA8500 can dish out bandwidth to all your devices at once, so it's like they're all connecting to their own router, provided your devices also support MU-MIMO. If not, well, we suppose the EA8500 amounts to future-proofing your home network, at least to the extent that home networks can be future-proofed.<br /> <br /> Linksys rates the EA8500 as an AC2600 router, though as we always feel the need to point out, the rating is a bit of marketing fluff because it combines the speeds of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies -- up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz channel and up to 1,733Mbps on 5GHz, or 2,533Mbps. Apparently that rounds up to AC2600, but aside from that, you can't combine the total bandwidth of both channels. We're not picking on Linksys here, as all router makers have adopted this way of marketing their devices.<br /> <br /> Other specs and features include a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU, beamforming support, four removable external antennas, four Gigabit ports, USB 3.0 port, and a combo USB 2.0/eSATA port for cloud streaming and sharing data across a network.<br /> <br /> The Linksys EA8500 is available now for $280 MSRP.<br /> <br /> Follow Paul on<br /> <br /> Google+<br /> <br /> ,<br /> <br /> Twitter<br /> <br /> , and<br /> <br /> Facebook<br />