Things you need to know to become a PC hardware expert
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to PCs that’s especially true, because only by knowing how your components’ specs actually affect performance can you get the maximum power you need for the type of computing you do—and avoid being seduced by features that sound impressive on the box but won’t do squat to improve your experience. Knowing your stuff has other benefits, too. An in-depth understanding of what makes all your parts tick enables you to better troubleshoot problems, upgrade in ways that make sense, and converse with other nerds in your own secret language. Turn the page to begin your crash course in PC spec-speak.
Note: This article was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
In the world of enthusiast system cooling, water is the new black. Even the fanciest, biggest air cooler can’t seem to keep up with a good closed-loop liquid cooler these days. NZXT ups the ante by expanding from the standard 12cm form factor to 14cm. It may not seem like much, but the increased surface area gets impressive results, especially when the Kraken X60 doubles it to 28cm.
Note: This review was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
Moving to 64-bit could introduce big performance gains in some apps
Intel has a lot of catching up to do in the mobile space. The big dog on campus in mobile is ARM, which powers many of the smartphones and tablets currently available. One thing Intel is looking at to change the tide is 64-bit computing in mobile, which it demonstrated during an investor meeting. The demonstration consisted of an Android tablet with a 64-bit Atom processor inside based on Silvermont.
It's no secret that Intel fell behind in the mobile race. Even though Intel is the largest semiconductor company in the world, most smartphones and tablets run on ARM hardware. Intel chief Brian Krzanich told analysts and investors at a meeting this week that he's "a little embarrassed" at how he and his company "seemed to have lost our way" in terms of its mobile portfolio.
We tackle the five most pressing problems in each major component category!
It’s happened to us all. You get home from a long day at work and you want to blow off some steam with an hour of gaming or maybe browsing the web, but when you tap your mouse button or punch the power switch, the unthinkable happens. You’re SOL.
Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2013 issue of the magazine.
Since the beginning of time (or thereabouts), Intel has dominated the x86 scene, even when AMD blazed a trail into 1GHz territory (Athlon) and 64-bit computing (Athlon 64) on the consumer side several years ago. Both of those architectures represent design wins for AMD, and if we fast forward to today, AMD has done well to get its hardware inside all three major game consoles, especially the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, both of which feature x86 foundations.
Following up last week's unveiling of AMD's A10 6790K APU, the Sunnyvale chip designer has settled on a suggested price point for the new part. In addition, AMD added prices for its FX-9370 and FX-9590 processors for the AM3+ platform, plus shaved in the neighborhood of 13 percent off the price of three existing A6 and A8 Series APUs, bringing each one down to below $100.
The transition from 22nm to 14nm isn't as smooth as Intel hoped
Intel this week told investors that the road to 14nm won't be without its bumps. Specifically, Intel has decided to delay its next generation processor architecture, codenamed Broadwell, until the first quarter of 2014, pushing the launch back by a quarter. Broadwell is based on a 14nm manufacturing process, which is quite a bit smaller than Haswell's 22nm process, and getting there has proven difficult.
Valve confirms Steam boxes will also support Intel and AMD
When Valve finally unwrapped the specs of the 300 beta Steam Machines last week, many assumed that Nvidia would have a lock on Valve’s Linux-based gaming machines. Today though, Valve broke cover yet again telling us that Steam Machines would support the three primary graphics vendors today.
There's no shame in rocking integrated graphics, especially if you only occasionally play games or don't typically gravitate towards demanding titles that push the envelope. If that's the category of gamer (or non-gamer, as it were) that you fall into, be advised that Intel recently released new graphics drivers for its family of 3rd and 4th Generation of Core processors, otherwise known as Ivy Bridge and Haswell, respectively.