Cheaper Windows 8, smaller PCs, SSDs of the future, reader questions, and a rant
We've assembled once again in the podcasting dungeon to argue about Windows 8 and the latest hardware; also known as the No BS Podcast episode #220. We begin by discussing Microsoft's strategy to give Bing a shot in the arm by packaging the search engine with a more-affordable version of Windows 8.1, and then we chat a bit about Nvidia's 800M mobile GPU series and its ability to conserve battery life. Next Gordon gives us his thoughts on wee PCs and finally Josh talks about his recent visit to Intel's SSD testing facility. We finish by answering reader questions, giving you our Editor's Picks, and letting Gordon pontificate in his trademark manner.
Available in multiple form factors and up to 1TB in capacity
Micron on Tuesday unveiled its new M550 solid state drive (SSD) family, which is available today to consumers, businesses, and system builders under the company's Crucial brand, and to OEM customers under the Micron name. The M550 is a high-performance line of drives available in a variety of form factors, including 2.5-inch, mSATA, and M.2 with capacities ranging from 64GB all the way up to 1TB.
Latest SSDs from Intel use a 3rd generation controller built in-house
Intel on Thursday launched a new line of solid state drives built specifically for power users and enthusiasts. The new 730 Series enters the performance storage scene wielding 20nm MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash memory chips and a third generation Intel controller rather than SandForce silicon as found on the company's 530 Series. According to Intel, the 730 Series was built with DNA extracted from the data center and tuned for gamers and other consumers that require speed and reliability.
If you thought Toshiba might simply hand over all solid state drive chores to its recently acquired OCZ Storage Solutions subsidiary, think again. Toshiba will continue to build its own brand SSDs alongside OCZ and today announced its new HG6 series. It's the newest edition to the HG family and is intended for a wide range of applications, everything from ultrabooks and ultrathins to data center servers.
Get free stuff when you order an EON17-S or EON15-S notebook
Consider it a belated Valentine's Day gift, if you will, but starting today, boutique builder Origin PC is offering some free swag when you order an EON17-S or EON15-S gaming laptop. When you configure either laptop, be sure to check the "Jump into the Fast Lane" bullet point at the top of the page (under "Current Special Offers") and you'll receive at no extra charge a 240GB solid state drive, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and Call of Duty: Ghosts.
With our lab coats donned, our test benches primed, and our benchmarks at the ready, we look for answers to nine of the most burning performance-related questions
If there’s one thing that defines the Maximum PC ethos, it’s an obsession with Lab-testing. What better way to discern a product’s performance capabilities, or judge the value of an upgrade, or simply settle a heated office debate? This month, we focus our obsession on several of the major questions on the minds of enthusiasts. Is liquid cooling always more effective than air? Should serious gamers demand PCIe 3.0? When it comes to RAM, are higher clocks better? On the surface, the answers might seem obvious. But, as far as we’re concerned, nothing is for certain until it’s put to the test. We’re talking tests that isolate a subsystem and measure results using real-world workloads. Indeed, we not only want to know if a particular technology or piece of hardware is truly superior, but also by how much. After all, we’re spending our hard-earned skrilla on this gear, so we want our purchases to make real-world sense. Over the next several pages, we put some of the most pressing PC-related questions to the test. If you’re ready for the answers, read on.
Note: This article was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine
The Samsung 840 Pro landed on our Best of the Best list when it was launched in December 2012, and it has remained at the top of the SSD pile ever since, thanks to its blistering speed, impeccable pedigree, and superb software. Shortly after the Pro launched, Samsung debuted a non-Pro drive, named simply “840,” that was designed for those who wanted a less expensive drive with a smaller three-year warranty. This month, Samsung is replacing the regular 840 with the 840 Evo, an all-new drive that slots in below the 840 Pro, thanks to its three-year warranty (the Pro’s is five years) and more reasonable pricing. The Evo is also offered in a full range of capacities, from 120GB all the way up to 1TB, making it the first Samsung SSD available at that size and putting the 1TB Crucial M500 directly in its sights, although the Evo does cost $50 more at $650 MSRP.
Note: This review was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.
Newest NUC boasts support for a single 2.5-inch drive
Intel has its eye on the mini PC market with the introduction of its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) systems, though a limitation of early run versions is that they all used mSATA solid state drives. That in itself isn't a deal killer (though mSATA may not be long for this world), but what did cause problems is having the Wi-Fi card plopped right on top of the mSATA SSD. There were several reports of Wi-Fi issues with first run models (which is something we observed ourselves), possibly as a result of overheating, but with the newest NUC kit, Intel added a 2.5-inch drive bay.
On the same day that Toshiba announced it finalized its acquisition of OCZ Technology, the newly formed and wholly owned subsidiary OCZ Storage Solutions rolled out its first product release, the Vertex 460 SSD Series. The new family of SSDs is an evolution of the 20nm-based Vertex 450 Series. It employs OCZ's proprietary Barefoot 3 (BF3) M10 controller with Toshiba's 19nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory for a high performance solution at mainstream prices.
Toshiba on Wednesday finalized the purchase of OCZ Technology Group, making it a wholly owned subsidiary and thus officially marking the end of an era that began over a decade ago. However, it's also a new beginning of sorts -- or a second chance, if you will -- as Toshiba said the division will operate independently as OCZ Storage Solutions and continue to churn out high performance solid state drives.