Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!
Storage that uses flash memory is quite unlike the hard disk drives used to hold your computer’s data. The latter rely on speedy actuators to read and write information on spinning magnetic platters. SSDs use electrical charges to read and write the state of individual flash memory cells. An SSD’s flash memory is nonvolatile: Unlike your computer’s RAM, an SSD drive retains your data when you switch the power off. And since the handshake is electric, SSDs can access that data in a fraction of the time it takes a mechanical hard drive to do so.
Sounds ideal, right? Actually, the performance potential of SSDs needs to be weighed against some significant drawbacks. We’re going to outline the pros and cons of the technology and how it compares to traditional hard disk storage. We’re also going to put seven leading solid state drives to the test and let the benchmark numbers do the talking. At this stage in the storage race, an SSD is a big investment; we want to help you maximize your return.
Tick tock? More like ding-dong, mutha—shut your mouth. What baby? We’re talkin’ about Core i7.
Our apologies to Isaac Hayes, but if he were alive, we’re almost certain he would have been tapped to hammer out a theme song for Intel’s most significant CPU launch in, well, ever.
Why is this CPU more significant than the 8088, Pentium, or Pentium M? As the second new chip produced after a series of embarrassing losses to archrival AMD, the Core i7 will answer for the world whether Intel is prepared to ride the momentum of its Core 2 launch with another winning chip or if it’s content to rest on its laurels, as it did with the Pentium 4.
Core i7 also represents a major new direction for Intel, which has stubbornly clung to the ancient front-side-bus architecture and discrete memory controller for years. Indeed, with its triple-channel integrated DDR3 memory controller and chip-to-chip interconnect, the block map of a Core i7 looks more like an Athlon 64 than a Core 2 chip.
Intel actually has three quad-core Core i7 CPUs ready: the top-end 3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition, the performance-oriented 2.93GHz Core i7-940, and the midrange 2.66GHz Core i7-920. For the most part, all three are exactly the same except for clock speeds, multiplier locking (only the Extreme is unlocked), and QuickPath Interconnect speed. See the chart on page 42 for details.
The bigger issue is how Core i7 performs. To find out, we ran the Extreme 965 against AMD’s fastest proc as well as Intel’s previous top gun in a gauntlet of benchmarks. Read on for the results.
Continue reading for our comprehensive review and benchmarks!
From the Maximum PC Archive - Odds are, you already have everything you need to turn that big TV in your living room into an movie and music jukebox that will put all your media at your fingertips and amaze your friends. Whether you ripped your entire CD and DVD collection, purchase DRM-free content online, or you acquire your media from less legitimate sources, we'll show you everything you need to know to stream your audio, video, and pictures to your Xbox 360, PS3, or any other UPNP-compatible streaming device!
When man first booted the PC, he saw the BIOS screen: a jumble of monochromatic numbers that made about as much sense as the binary language of load lifters. Sadly, not much about the BIOS has changed since the DeLorean and skinny ties were cool. Decades later, in our modern, visual-based world, we’re still greeted with a screen full of text from machines 1,000 times faster than those that were around when the ol’ BIOS was born.
Most PC lightweights simply ignore the BIOS and wait for their OSes to take over. Power users, however, know that the BIOS can be a friendly and rewarding place to go spelunking.
And by spelunking, we mean caving. And by go, we mean hit the jump.
Sure, you overclock your rig to the bleeding edge, direct deposit your paycheck to Newegg, and are on the utility company’s watch list because of the blackouts you’ve been known to cause. Yes, you’re a badass power user, but let’s face it, none of your home-built rigs can touch these 10 beasts. So what if half of these machines only exist in the minds of sci-fi writers – their computational prowess transcends the fiction/reality plane, putting our mighty Petaflop age to shame. Peruse this list for inspiration and then get building, you’ve got some catching up to do before you can compete with the real big boys. We won’t settle until our rigs achieve sentience.
It’s the final hour—the last stretch in your race to freedom. Paper footballs litter your desk and paper basketballs surround the trash can. Yet even after these sporting events have ended, the little hand continues to hold a grudge against the 5. It’s high time you find a more efficient—and less obvious—way to pass the time.
Consider this your go-to guide against workplace stagnation. We’ve spent dozens of hours scouring the Internet in search of the most enjoyable and alt-tabbable browser-based games. They require no installation and, best of all, are 100 percent free. When the boss man walks by, you can easily switch to that budget report for accounts payable—he can’t fault you for grinning like a fool at a spreadsheet!
Grin like a fool at totally work-related stuff after the jump.
We invariably refer to the video memory in modern videocards as GDDR, differentiating it only by version (GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4, and now GDDR5), but the technology’s full acronym is actually GDDR SDRAM, which stands for Graphics Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory.
“Double data rate” describes the memory’s capacity for double-pumping data: Transfers occur on both the rising and falling edges of the clock signal. This endows memory clocked at 800MHz with an effective data-transfer rate of 1.6GHz. “Synchronous” refers to the memory’s ability to operate in time with the computer’s system bus. This allows the memory to accept a new instruction without having to wait for a previous instruction to be processed, a practice known as instruction pipelining.
The ubiquitous Zip file compression format has been a staple of PC users since it first made its debut as PKZIP in the early 90s. Back then, the size limitations of floppy disk media and the painfully low-bandwidth dial-up connections made file compression a complete necessity. The Zip format today, while still popular, has largely been eclipsed by RAR compression, which has offered slightly better compression at the cost of archiving speed. That’s why we were so surprised to hear that WinZip 12, which launched yesterday, boasted an unbelievable 25% compression ratio for JPEG images – without sacrificing image quality. Ever the skeptics, we put the new software to the test, and grilled WinZip’s VP of Development about how this new algorithm works.
Any bets as to whether WinZip's claims are justified?