Hardware http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/1416/ en Amazon's Kindle Voyage Exits Pre-Order Status, Sets Sail for Homes Today Starting at $199 http://www.maximumpc.com/amazons_kindle_voyage_exits_pre-order_status_sets_sail_homes_today_starting_199_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kindle_voyage.jpg" alt="Kindle Voyage" title="Kindle Voyage" width="228" height="223" style="float: right;" />Amazon's latest e-reader sports a next-generation paperwhite display</h3> <p>Though we haven't evaluated Amazon's recently announced Kindle Voyage for ourselves just yet, a peek around the web shows that it's getting generally favorable reviews, some of which are calling it the best e-reader yet. That's high praise at this stage of the game. If you want to check it out for yourself, here's a heads up that the <strong>Kindle Voyage is now in stock and shipping to homes</strong> starting at $199 (Wi-Fi with Special Offers).</p> <p>"Kindle Voyage is designed to disappear so you can lose yourself in a story," <a href="http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1979814" target="_blank">said Dave Limp</a>, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. "This is the most advanced Kindle we’ve ever built. Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re working to build more as fast as we can. We can’t wait to get Kindle Voyage into the hands of readers starting today."</p> <p>The Kindle Voyage sports a high-resolution 300 ppi display that's supposed to read more like a printed page than ever before. It also comes with 4GB of internal storage to hold thousands of books, 802.11n Wi-Fi and optional 3G connectivity, free cloud storage for all Amazon content, pressure-based page turn sensors with haptic feedback, a built-in light that shines on the page, light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness, and a flush front bezel.</p> <p>It's a bit pricey, which is the consistent knock against the device, though the built-in light and high-resolution display might make the cost easier to swallow. Speaking of which, here's a price breakdown:</p> <ul> <li>Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi w/ Special Offers: $199</li> <li>Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi w/o Special Offers: $219</li> <li>Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi + 3G w/ Special Offers: $269</li> <li>Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi + 3G w/o Special Offers: $289</li> </ul> <p>If you're interested in one, head over to the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOY8XWQ" target="_blank">Kindle Voyage's product page</a> on Amazon.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amazons_kindle_voyage_exits_pre-order_status_sets_sail_homes_today_starting_199_2014#comments amazon e-reader ebook reader Hardware kindle voyage mobile News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:54:35 +0000 Paul Lilly 28757 at http://www.maximumpc.com Mozilla Approved Matchstick Dongle Nearly Quadruples Funding Goal, New Features in Sight http://www.maximumpc.com/mozillas_matchstick_dongle_nearly_quadruples_funding_goal_new_features_sight_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/matchstick_0.jpg" alt="Matchstick" title="Matchstick" width="228" height="140" style="float: right;" />Local Play and Ad Hoc Mode are next</h3> <p>It only took 24 hours for <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/mozillas_25_matchstick_dongle_running_firefox_os_hits_kickstarter_2014">Mozilla's Matchstick HDMI dongle</a> to reach its targeted $100,000 funding goal on Kickstarter, and since then, the project has skyrocketed to more than $390,000 with 9 days still to go. However, this is where things interesting, as they often do on these crowdfunded sites. <strong>If Matchstick hits $500,000 in pledges, the developers will implement two frequently requested stretch goals -- Local Play and Ad Hoc mode</strong>.</p> <p>To quickly recap, Matchstick is the first HDMI stick based on Firefox OS. You plug it into your TV, connect to it via Wi-Fi, and stream and interact with the web. It's similar to Google's Chromecast dongle, except that Matchstick is a completely open hardware and software platform with no approval or oversight system in place.</p> <p>There are hundreds of apps in the Mozilla app store, and as the developer program ramps up, many of those existing ones (and lots of new ones) will become available on the Matchstick app store. At launch, the Matchstick team promises to deliver a core set of content through apps like YouTube, HBO Go, Pandora, and others.</p> <p>Should the project raise another $110,000 within the next 9 days, Local Play and Ad Hoc will join the party. Local Play will allow Matchstick to stream content from your own local media servers (located on the same LAN).</p> <p>"We will provide an app for you to access content on your local media servers (NAS, SAMBA, NFS) in a list view so you can navigate to the exact content you want to fling. Of course, APIs are available for those of you who want to develop your own apps to access you local content," <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matchstick/matchstick-the-streaming-stick-built-on-firefox-os/posts" target="_blank">Matchstick explains</a>.</p> <p>Local Play is one of the most requested features, though not as much as Ad Hoc mode, or peer to peer playback. This will allow you to play any content you have local, on your device, without a connection to the cloud -- just connect your phone or tablet directly to Matchstick and start streaming.</p> <p>If this sounds like something you want to support, or if you simply want to learn more, hit up the project's <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matchstick/matchstick-the-streaming-stick-built-on-firefox-os" target="_blank">Kickstarter page</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/mozillas_matchstick_dongle_nearly_quadruples_funding_goal_new_features_sight_2014#comments Dongle firefox os Hardware HDMI matchstick Mozilla News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:17:07 +0000 Paul Lilly 28750 at http://www.maximumpc.com This HDMI Stick Rocks a Bay Trail Chip, Supports Windows 8.1 http://www.maximumpc.com/hdmi_stick_rocks_bay_trail_chip_supports_windows_817 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u46168/windows-81-intel-usb.jpg" alt="HDMI Stick with Intel Inside" title="HDMI Stick with Intel Inside" width="228" height="145" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>A thumb drive-sized PC powered by a quad-core Bay Trail Atom SoC</h3> <p>ARM clearly has the PC-on-a-stick niche cornered. What’s more, it has enjoyed a near unmolested run at the top in this category. But this might be set to change. Some Chinese suppliers have begun selling a <a href="http://liliputing.com/2014/10/windows-compatible-hdmi-tv-stick-intel-bay-trail-cpu.html" target="_blank">diminutive Bay Trail-powered PC the size of a USB stick. </a></p> <p>The device in question packs a quad-core <a href="http://ark.intel.com/products/80274/Intel-Atom-Processor-Z3735F-2M-Cache-up-to-1_83-GHz" target="_blank">Intel Atom Z3735F/G</a> chip with a clock speed of 1.3GHz (up to 1.83GHz burst frequency). Capable of running a wide variety of operating systems including Windows 8.1 and Android, this <a href="http://cew.en.alibaba.com/product/60038541335-800254009/2014_latest_Meegopad_Intel_Quad_Core_Z3735F_windows8_1_mini_pc_dongle_TV_dongle_windows_Android_Linux_Ubantu_set_top_box.html" target="_blank">thumb drive-sized PC</a> comes with up to 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, microSD card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and one HDMI out port.</p> <p>A Chinese seller on Aliexpress is selling this <a href="http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Sell-Mini-PC-with-both-Android-Windows-8-system/2044898752.html" target="_blank">mini PC for $110 a pop (shipping extra)</a>. However, it’s not clear whether this price is for the the basic version or the best configuration. The former has a Z3735G chip, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="https://plus.google.com/107395408525066230351?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/hdmi_stick_rocks_bay_trail_chip_supports_windows_817#comments android bay trail Hardware HDMI intel pc-on-a-stick windows 8.1 News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 03:42:24 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28745 at http://www.maximumpc.com Apple Starts Accepting Pre-Orders for iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 http://www.maximumpc.com/apple_starts_accepting_pre-orders_ipad_air_2_and_ipad_mini_3_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/ipad_air_2.jpg" alt="iPad Air 2" title="iPad Air 2" width="228" height="147" style="float: right;" />New tablets all around</h3> <p>Market research firms like Gartner report that <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/gartner_blames_slowdown_tablet_growth_hybrid_2--1_devices_2014" target="_blank">tablet growth is slowing</a> as consumers are <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/gartner_tablet_adoption_peaked_consumers_going_back_pc_purchases_2014" target="_blank">reluctant to upgrade</a>, but be that as it may, it hasn't stopped Google and Apple from releasing new models. Google earlier this week unveiled it's <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/google_unveils_nexus_9_tablet_64-bit_tegra_k1_inside_2014">HTC-built Nexus 9 tablet</a> with a 64-bit Tegra K1 SoC inside, and following yesterday's press event, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/google_unveils_nexus_9_tablet_64-bit_tegra_k1_inside_2014" target="_blank">Apple is now taking pre-orders for its iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 slates</a>.</p> <p>The iPad Air 2 is thinner than its predecessor at 6.1mm and faster courtesy of its custom A8X processor. It also features a Touch ID sensor, improved FaceTime HD camera that's better equipped to take those all-important selfies, and a superior 8MP rear camera that can take burst photos, timelapse videos, and record in slo-mode.</p> <p>Apple also upgraded the Wi-Fi to 802.11ac MIMO supporting data rates up to 866Mbps, along with faster LTE connectivity (up to 150Mbps).</p> <p>As for the iPad mini 3, not much is different, other than it too has a Touch ID sensor and comes with a gold color option.</p> <p>The iPad Air 2 runs $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB. LTE versions of each one carry a $130 premium. Meanwhile, the iPad mini 3 costs $399 and up.</p> <p>You can place your <a href="http://store.apple.com/us/ipad" target="_blank">pre-order on Apple's website</a>. Incidentally, Google's Nexus 9 will also be up for <a href="http://www.google.com/nexus/9/" target="_blank">pre-order sometime today</a> (scroll down) through Google Play, Best Buy, Amazon, and GameStop.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/apple_starts_accepting_pre-orders_ipad_air_2_and_ipad_mini_3_2014#comments apple Hardware ipad air 2 ipad mini 3 mobile slate tablet News Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:00:32 +0000 Paul Lilly 28743 at http://www.maximumpc.com FSP Brings the Juice with 80 Plus Platinum Aurum PT Power Supply Line http://www.maximumpc.com/fsp_brings_juice_80_plus_platinum_aurum_pt_power_supply_line_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/fsp_aurum_pt_1200w.jpg" alt="FSP Aurum PT 1200W Power Supply" title="FSP Aurum PT 1200W Power Supply" width="228" height="199" style="float: right;" />Keeping things tidy with modular cables</h3> <p><strong>FSP's new 80 Plus Platinum certified Aurum PT power supply family</strong> leaves few, if any stones unturned. Available in 850W, 1000W, and even 1200W models, the high-end Aurum PT line boasts super high efficiency (over 92 percent), enough wattage to run the most demanding gaming systems, flat-ribbon modular cables to help keep the inside of your case nice and clutter free (as possible), and a neat looking design, in case the opportunity to show off your PSU ever presents itself.</p> <p><a href="http://www.fsplifestyle.com/news.php?LID=1&amp;SN=159" target="_blank">According to FSP</a>, the Aurum PT uses full industrial grade Japanese capacitors and solid capacitors on the secondary side to ensure that the single +12V rail design delivers consistent, ripple-free power. The new PSU family also features FSP's proprietary "E-Sync Remote-Sensing" technology to provide synchronized 3.3V/5V/12V with a stable signal.</p> <p>Cooling chores are handled by a 135mm fluid dynamic bearing fan that supposedly stays cool and silent even during gaming sessions, and arrow-shaped ventilation holes that were aerodynamically designed to improve air extraction (FSP's claim, not ours).</p> <p>These PSUs ship with eight PCI-E 6+2 pin connectors to support up to four graphics cards, along with enough cables and connectors to hook up 13 SATA devices.</p> <p>The Aurum PT series is available now for <a href="http://www.fsplifestyle.com/product.php?LID=1&amp;PSN=1099" target="_blank">$220 (850W)</a>, <a href="http://www.fsplifestyle.com/product.php?LID=1&amp;PSN=1121">$240 (1000W)</a>, and <a href="http://www.fsplifestyle.com/product.php?LID=1&amp;PSN=1122" target="_blank">$280 (1200W)</a> MSRP, all backed by 7-year warranties.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/fsp_brings_juice_80_plus_platinum_aurum_pt_power_supply_line_2014#comments 80 plus platinum aurum pt Build a PC fsp Hardware modular power supply PSU News Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:02:43 +0000 Paul Lilly 28730 at http://www.maximumpc.com MSI Injects Gaming All-in-One Systems with Nvidia's Latest Mobile GPUs http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_injects_gaming_all--one_systems_nvidias_latest_mobile_gpus_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/2014-10_product_ag270_1.jpg" alt="MSI AIO" title="MSI AIO" width="228" height="155" style="float: right;" />High power gaming on an all-in-one</h3> <p><strong>MSI has gone and upgraded its 27-inch all-in-one gaming PCs with Nvidia's recently announced Maxwell-based mobile GPUs</strong>, the GeForce GTX 970M and 980M. These are supposedly the first AIO systems to feature Maxwell in mobile form, though the story doesn't end there -- they also feature a 4th generation Intel Core i7 4860HQ quad-core processor clocked at 2.4GHz (up to 3.6GHz via Turbo) and up to 16GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM.</p> <p>The 27-inch display on both the <a href="http://eu.msi.com/product/aio/AG270-2QC.html#hero-overview" target="_blank">AG270 2QC</a> (GTX 970M) and <a href="http://eu.msi.com/product/aio/AG270-2QE.html#hero-overview" target="_blank">AG270 2QE</a> (GTX 980M) models features a Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) resolution with multi-touch support, anti-flicker technology, and "Less Blue Light" technology applied to its anti-glare implementation -- <a href="http://game.msi.com/us/news?List=42&amp;N=3326" target="_blank">according to MSI</a>, the end result is less eyestrain during extended gaming sessions.</p> <p>"To provide gamers with an even better gaming experience, the AG270 uses an anti-glare matte display featuring Anti-Flicker technology, which stabilizes the electrical current to prevent serious flickering seen in standard displays. Together with Less Blue Light technology, this helps to reduce eye fatigue after extended use while also enhancing the quality of the gaming environment," MSI explains.</p> <p>Other features include Killer E2200 LAN, up to three mSATA SSDs in RAID 0, 3.5-inch HDD (various options), Blu-ray writer, dual Yamaha 5W speakers, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, four USB 3.0 ports (one with Super Charger technology), two USB 2.0 ports, a 3-in-1 card reader, 2MP webcam, HDMI input, HDMI output, VGA output, microphone and headphone jacks, and Windows 8.1.</p> <p>Depending on the exact configuration, these systems are pretty pricey. We've only spotted a few so far online, which ranged from around $2,100 to $2,700.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_injects_gaming_all--one_systems_nvidias_latest_mobile_gpus_2014#comments aio all-in-one Gaming geforce gtx 970m geforcegtx 980m Hardware msi nvidia OEM rigs News Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:41:38 +0000 Paul Lilly 28729 at http://www.maximumpc.com Lian Li's PC-T80 Open Air Test Bench Supports Liquid Cooling http://www.maximumpc.com/lian_lis_pc-t80_open_air_test_bench_supports_liquid_cooling_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/lian_li_pc-t80.jpg" alt="Lian Li PC-T80" title="Lian Li PC-T80" width="228" height="217" style="float: right;" />Keep those cups of coffee far, far away</h3> <p>Open air test benches aren't for everyone. Your mom and pop? They're probably not candidates. In fact, we'd venture to guess that the vast majority would prefer a traditional closed case. That's not to say there isn't a market for test benches -- reviewers, frequent upgraders, and those who are always tinkering will see the value in such a design. There aren't a ton to choose from, though <strong>the market for open air test benches did just grow by one with the introduction of Lian Li's PC-T80</strong>.</p> <p>Or it grew it two, if you want to consider the black (PC-T80X) and silver (PC-T80A) color options as two totally different beasts. Color differences aside, the PC-T80 follows in the footsteps of Lian Li's PC-T60 but adds native radiator support and a more modular design.</p> <p>It measures 17.3 (W) x 17.1 (H) x 13.1 (D) inches (440mm x 435mm x 335mm) and is separated into three zones. Up top is a dual-functioning bracket to install radiators up to 360mm or three 3.5-inch/2.5-inch HDDs. <a href="http://www.globalpr.com.tw/press-room/lian-li/press-releases/article/lian-li/lian-li-announces-the-pc-t80-test-bench-1/" target="_blank">According to Lian Li</a>, the HDD cage and power supply location in the lower zone can be exchanged without much effort, and if you need it, an additional HDD cage can be installed in the lower zone.</p> <p>The PC-T80 supports motherboards up to XL-ATX. It uses a tool-less mounting system for HDDs and features a pre-cut motherboard tray for the optional installation of USB and multimedia port connector cables.</p> <p>Both the <a href="http://www.lian-li.com/en/dt_portfolio/pc-t80/" target="_blank">silver and black PC-T80 models</a> will be available soon for $169 (MSRP).</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qYa04hFLjmc" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/lian_lis_pc-t80_open_air_test_bench_supports_liquid_cooling_2014#comments Build a PC case chassis enclosure Hardware Lian Li pc-t80 Test Bench News Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:17:42 +0000 Paul Lilly 28728 at http://www.maximumpc.com Google Unveils Nexus 9 Tablet with 64-bit Tegra K1 Inside http://www.maximumpc.com/google_unveils_nexus_9_tablet_64-bit_tegra_k1_inside_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/nexus_9_tablet.jpg" alt="Nexus 9" title="Nexus 9" width="228" height="172" style="float: right;" />World's first Android 5.0 Lollipop tablet</h3> <p>Today's a big day for Google and its Android platform. In addition to launching the big-size <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/motorola_rolls_out_nexus_6_handset_google_featuring_android_50_lollipop_2014">Nexus 6 handset</a> built by Motorola, <strong>Google today also unveiled the Nexus 9 tablet built by HTC</strong>. Like the Nexus 6 smartphone, the Nexus 9 rocks the newest build of Google's mobile operating system, Android 5.0, otherwise now known as Lollipop. Unlike the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 sports a 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor clocked at 2.3GHz inside.</p> <p>The Nexus 9 features an 8.9-inch IPS display with a 2048x1536 resolution (QVGA) and 4:3 aspect ratio. It also boasts 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage (non-expandable), 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and front-firing HTC BoomSound speakers.</p> <p>Brushed metal sides, clean lines, and a thin bezel give the tablet a sleek look, at least that's our impression from the press photos we've seen. There's also a soft grip back and "subtle curves," Google says. Optionally, you can add a keyboard folio that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9 -- it folds into two different angles and is supposed to rest on your lap like a laptop.</p> <p>The 16GB ($399) and 32GB ($479) <a href="http://www.google.com/nexus/9/" target="_blank">Nexus 9</a> will go up for pre-order on October 17th.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/google_unveils_nexus_9_tablet_64-bit_tegra_k1_inside_2014#comments android 5.0 Google Hardware htc lollipop mobile nexus 9 nvidia slate tablet tegra k1 News Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:42:18 +0000 Paul Lilly 28725 at http://www.maximumpc.com Motorola Rolls Out Nexus 6 Handset for Google Featuring Android 5.0 Lollipop http://www.maximumpc.com/motorola_rolls_out_nexus_6_handset_google_featuring_android_50_lollipop_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/google_nexus_6.jpg" alt="Google Nexus 6" title="Google Nexus 6" width="228" height="213" style="float: right;" />A new phone and a new OS</h3> <p>After all the rumors and speculation, the Nexus 6 is now a real device. <strong>Motorola and Google unveiled the Nexus 6, the largest Nexus phone Google has ever offered</strong>, and the first to run the company's Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system (sorry Lemon Meringue Pie fans, it just wasn't meant to be this time around). The Nexus 6 is being built by Motorola and offered by Google in the Play Store.</p> <p>Google's newest device sports a 6-inch Quad HD (2560x1440, 493ppi) display powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz with an Adreno 420 GPU. It also sports 3GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization and dual LED flash, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, dual front-facing stereo speakers, NFC support, and a few other bullet points.</p> <p><a href="http://www.motorola-blog.blogspot.com/2014/10/nexus-6-from-google-and-motorola-more.html" target="_blank">According to Motorola</a>, the Nexus 6's 3220 mAh battery will get your through a full day and more. That's aided by Android 5.0 Lollipop, which includes a battery saving feature.</p> <p>The Nexus 6 isn't the only handset getting the Lollipop treatment. Motorola announced in a <a href="http://www.motorola-blog.blogspot.com/2014/10/its-official-android-50-lollipop-coming.html" target="_blank">separate blog post</a> that Lollipop will be coming to the Moto X (both 1st and 2nd generation), Moto G (both 1st and 2nd generation), Moto G with 4G LTE, Moto E, Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini.</p> <p>Google's <a href="http://www.motorola.com/us/Nexus-6/nexus-6-motorola-us.html" target="_blank">Nexus 6</a> will be available to pre-order through the Google Play Store in late October starting at $649. You'll be able to choose between Midnight Blue or Cloud White.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/motorola_rolls_out_nexus_6_handset_google_featuring_android_50_lollipop_2014#comments android 5 Google Hardware lollipop mobile motorola nexus 6 smartphone News Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:50:29 +0000 Paul Lilly 28723 at http://www.maximumpc.com Intel Posts "Best-Ever" Third Quarter Revenue and Profits http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_posts_best-ever_third_quarter_revenue_and_profits_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/intel_man.jpg" alt="Intel Man" title="Intel Man" width="228" height="236" style="float: right;" />Intel's Q3 revenue jumped by $1.1 billion year-over-year</h3> <p>Go back a couple of years and you could criticize Intel for being slow to respond to the mobile shift in the market place. However, don't fret about any long-term repercussions -- for the first time ever, Intel shipped more than 100 million microprocessors in a single quarter. Those shipments led to <strong>Intel posting a record $14.6 billion in revenue for the third quarter</strong>, along with operating income of $4.5 billion and net income of $3.3 billion.</p> <p>"We are pleased by the progress the company is making," <a href="http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2014/10/14/intel-reports-record-third-quarter-revenue-of-146-billion" target="_blank">said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich</a>. "We achieved our best-ever revenue and strong profits in the third quarter. There is more to do, but our results give us confidence that we’re successfully executing to our strategy of extending our products across a broad range of exciting new markets."</p> <p>Being pleased might be a gross understatement -- Intel should be tickled pink with its results, which include a 9 percent year-over-year in PC Client Group revenue to $9.2 billion. Intel's Data Center Group revenue grew 16 percent year-over-year to $3.7 billion, while its Internet of Things (IoT) division saw a 14 percent rise to $530 million.</p> <p>Looking ahead to Q4, Intel expects to collect another $14.7 million in revenue, plus or minus $500 million.</p> <p>Image Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/plong/3317838947/" target="_blank">Flickr (Paul Long)</a></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_posts_best-ever_third_quarter_revenue_and_profits_2014#comments Hardware intel revenue sales News Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:32:28 +0000 Paul Lilly 28722 at http://www.maximumpc.com Gartner Blames Slowdown in Tablet Growth on Hybrid 2-in-1 Devices http://www.maximumpc.com/gartner_blames_slowdown_tablet_growth_hybrid_2--1_devices_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/asus_transformer_book.jpg" alt="Asus Transformer Book" title="Asus Transformer Book" width="228" height="160" style="float: right;" />The tablet frenzy is slowing down</h3> <p>Tablets are starting to look like that popular kid from high school who fizzled in his later years. After seeing a surge in sales, including a whopping 55 percent growth rate in 2013, market research firm <strong>Gartner predicts that tablet sales will only grow by 11 percent in 2014</strong>. By Gartner's estimate, worldwide tablet sales are on pace to hit 229 million units this year, representing 9.5 percent of total device sales (including smartphones, hybrids, traditional PCs, and ultramobile premium devices).</p> <p>According to Gartner, a big reason why tablet growth is slowing down is because current owners aren't in a big rush to replace their tablets. The firm also says that demand for hybrid 2-in-1 devices is cutting into the demand for dedicated tablets.</p> <p>"Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favoring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its share of the ultramobile premium market to 22 percent in 2014, and 32 percent by 2018," <a href="http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2875017" target="_blank">said Ranjit Atwal</a>, research director at Gartner.</p> <p>Meanwhile, combined desktop, laptop, and premium ultramobile device sales are due for an uptick. After declining from 317.6 million sales in 2013 to 314 million sales in 2014, Gartner sees combined PC sales ramping up to 325.3 million in 2015.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/gartner_blames_slowdown_tablet_growth_hybrid_2--1_devices_2014#comments 2-in-1 gartner Hardware mobile slate tablet News Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:12:04 +0000 Paul Lilly 28721 at http://www.maximumpc.com Asus and AMD Get Cozy, Look to Expand Partnership in Desktop Arena http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_and_amd_get_cozy_look_expand_partnership_desktop_arena_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/asus_store.jpg" alt="Asus Store" title="Asus Store" width="228" height="170" style="float: right;" />Did we just become best friends? Yup! - <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzBmQMyYDBk" target="_blank">Step Brothers</a></h3> <p>We're always hearing about Intel and Microsoft working with system vendors to promote cheaper systems, but what about AMD? Well, if the chatty heads entrenched in the upstream supply chain know what they're talking about, then <strong>AMD and Asus are fast becoming BFFs in the desktop space</strong>. AMD is even said to be using the name "Zen" for its next-generation desktop APU platform.</p> <p><a href="http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20141014PD203.html" target="_blank">According to <em>Digitimes</em></a> and its sources, the decision to roll with "Zen" is not a coincidence -- it's a branding that Asus has used on past products and a sign that the two companies are expanding their relationship. The sources also say that AMD has been offering Asus special discounts for its CPUs.</p> <p>Those same sources believe that AMD is trying to expand its desktop APU sales by cooperating with Asus and wants to bump its overall market share to above 30 percent, which is about where it's at now. However, AMD has to walk a fine line so as not to drive companies like Gigabyte and MSI towards the competition.</p> <p>Take all this with a grain of salt. One thing to keep in mind is that <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_president_and_ceo_rory_read_steps_down_dr_lisa_su_replaces_him_2014" target="_blank">AMD has a new CEO</a> in Dr. Lisa Su, who just last week replaced Rory Read as head of the company. Given how recently this happened, it's a bit too early to know what kind of strategy Dr. Su will put into place.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_and_amd_get_cozy_look_expand_partnership_desktop_arena_2014#comments amd apu asus Hardware laptop mobile notebook News Tue, 14 Oct 2014 17:03:53 +0000 Paul Lilly 28712 at http://www.maximumpc.com Fractal Design Announces Edison M Line of Modular Power Supplies http://www.maximumpc.com/fractal_design_announces_edison_m_line_modular_power_supplies_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/fractal_design_edison_m.jpg" alt="Fractal Design Edison M" title="Fractal Design Edison M" width="228" height="159" style="float: right;" />New PSUs from Fractal Design range in wattage from 450W to 750W</h3> <p>Fractal Design is perhaps best known for its line of cases, like the Define XL or Core 3000. However, that's not all the company is into. <strong>Fractal Design just rolled out a new family of modular power supplies dubbed Edison M</strong>. They're available in a variety of wattages, including 450W, 550W, 650W, and 750W, each with modular cables and 80 Plus Gold efficiency certification.</p> <p>Each unit sports a temperature controlled FDB-bearing 120mm fan, Japanese electrolytic capacitors, over-temperature protection, short circuit protection, and other safeguards that are relatively standard fare in today's power supplies. One area where the Edison M may stand out is by having an "extra-long" ATX 12V cable to accommodate cases with bottom-mounted PSU positions -- the 4+4 pin measures 700mm and the ATX 20+4 pin measures 550mm.</p> <p>The Edison M utilizes a single +12V rail design, with 37A available on the 450W model, 45A on the 550W, 54A on the 650W, and 72A on the 750W.</p> <p>Compared to other PSUs that appear to be in the same class, <a href="http://www.fractal-design.com/home/product/power-supplies/edison-m" target="_blank">Fractal Design's Edison M Series</a> seems to run a little high. MSRPs are $85 for 450W, $95 for 550W, $105 for 650W, and $120 for 750W.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/fractal_design_announces_edison_m_line_modular_power_supplies_2014#comments Build a PC fractal design Hardware modular power supply PSU News Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:43:24 +0000 Paul Lilly 28709 at http://www.maximumpc.com Computer Upgrade Guide http://www.maximumpc.com/computer_upgrade_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Avoid the pitfalls and upgrade your computer like a pro</h3> <p>Building a new PC is a relatively easy task—you pick your budget and build around it. It’s not the same with upgrading a computer. No, upgrading an older computer can be as dangerous as dancing Footloose-style through a minefield. Should you really put $500 into this machine, or just buy a new one? Will that new CPU really be faster than your old one in the real world? Are you CPU-limited or GPU-limited?</p> <p>To help give you more insight on how to best upgrade a PC that is starting to show its age, follow along as we take three real-world boxes and walk you through the steps and decisions that we make as we drag each machine back to the future through smart upgrades. While our upgrade decisions may not be the same ones you would make, we hope that we can shed some light on our thought process for each component, and help you answer the eternal question of: “What should I upgrade?”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.opener_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u154082/computer_upgrade.jpg" alt="computer upgrade" title="computer upgrade" width="620" height="533" /></a></p> <h3>Practical PC upgrading advice</h3> <p>There’s really two primary reasons to upgrade. The first is because you can—and believe us, we’ve upgraded just because “we could” plenty of times. Second, because you need to. How you define “need to” is very much a personal preference—there’s no way to put a hard number on it. You can’t say, “If I get a 5.11 in BenchMarkMark, I need to upgrade.” No, you need to determine your upgrade needs using everyday metrics like, “I will literally throw this PC through a window if this encode takes any longer,” or “I have literally aged a year watching my PC boot.” And then there’s the oldie: “My K/D at Call of Battlefield 5 is horrible because my graphics card is too slow.”</p> <p>Whether or not any of these pain points apply to you, only you can decide. Also, since this article covers very specific upgrades to certain components, we thought we’d begin with some broad tips that are universally applicable when doing the upgrade dance.</p> <h4>Don’t fix what’s not broken</h4> <p>One of the easiest mistakes to make with any upgrade plan is to upgrade the wrong component. The best example is someone who decides that his or her PC is “slow,” so they need to add RAM and take it from 8GB to 16GB, or even 16GB to 32GB. While there are cases where adding more RAM or higher-clocked RAM will indeed help, the vast majority of applications and games are pretty happy with 8GB. The other classic trap is deciding that a CPU with more cores is needed because the machine is “slow” in games. The truth is, the vast majority of games are coded with no more than four cores in mind. Some newer games, such as Battlefield 4, do indeed run better with Hyper-Threading on a quad-core or a six-core or more processor (in some maps) but most games simply don’t need that many cores. The lesson here is that there’s a lot of context to every upgrade, so don’t just upgrade your CPU willy-nilly on a hunch. Sometimes, in fact, the biggest upgrade you can make is not to upgrade.</p> <h4>CPU-bound</h4> <p>You often hear the term “CPU-bound,” but not everyone understands the nuances to it. For the most part, you can think of something being CPU-bound when the CPU is causing a performance bottleneck. But what exactly is it about the CPU that is holding you back? Is it core or thread count? Clock speeds, or even microarchitecture efficiency? You’ll need to answer these questions before you make any CPU upgrade. When the term is used in association with gaming, “CPU-bound” usually indicates there is a drastic mismatch in GPU power and CPU power. This would be evident from, say, running a GeForce Titan in a system with a Pentium 4. Or say, running a Core i7-4960X with a GeForce 8800GT. These are extreme cases, but certainly, pairing a GeForce Titan or Radeon 290X with a low-end dual-core CPU will mean you would not see the most performance out of your GPU as you could with a more efficient quad-core or more CPU. That’s because the GPU depends on the CPU to send it tasks. So, in a CPU-bound scenario, the GPU is waiting around twiddling its thumbs most of the time, since the CPU can’t keep up with it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.nehalem_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.nehalem_small.jpg" alt="One of the trickier upgrades is the original LGA1366 Core i7 chips. Do you upgrade the chip, overclock it, or just dump it?" width="620" height="605" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>One of the trickier upgrades is the original LGA1366 Core i7 chips. Do you upgrade the chip, overclock it, or just dump it?</strong></p> <h4>GPU-bound</h4> <p>The situation can be reversed, too. You can indeed get GPU-bound systems by running older or entry-level graphics with a hopped-up CPU. An example could be a Haswell Core i7-4770K overclocked to 4.5GHz paired with say, an entry-level GeForce GTX 750. You will certainly get the best frame rate out of the GPU possible, but you probably did not need the overclocked Haswell to do it. You could have kept that entry-level GPU well-fed with instructions using a cheaper Core i5-4670K or AMD FX part. Still, the rule of thumb with a gaming machine is to invest more in the GPU than the CPU. If we had to make up a ratio though, we’d say your CPU can cost half that of your GPU. A $500 GPU would be good with a $250 CPU and a $300 GPU would probably be OK with a $150–$170 CPU.</p> <h4>You can ignore the GPU sometimes</h4> <p>Keep in mind, this GPU/CPU relationship is in reference to gaming performance. When it comes to application performance, the careful balance between the two doesn’t need to be respected as much, or even at all. For a system that’s primarily made for encoding video, photo editing, or other CPU-intensive tasks, you’ll generally want as fast a CPU as possible on all fronts. That means a CPU with high clocks, efficient microarchitecture, and as many cores and threads possible will net you the most performance. In fact, in many cases, you can get away with integrated graphics and ignore discrete graphics completely. We don’t recommend that approach, though, since GPUs are increasingly becoming important for encoding and even photo editing, and you rarely need to spend into the stratosphere to get great performance. Oftentimes, in fact, older cards will work with applications such as Premiere Pro or Photoshop, while the latest may not, due to drivers and app support from Adobe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Core 2 Quad box</h3> <p><strong>A small Form Factor, Light-Gaming Rig before SFF was popular</strong></p> <p>This small box has outlived its glory days, but with a modest injection of capital and a few targeted upgrades, we’ll whip it back into shape in no time. It won’t be able to handle 4K gaming, but it’ll be faster than greased lightning and more than capable of 1080p frag-fests.</p> <p>This particular PC could have very easily resided on the desktop of any Maximum PC staffer or reader back in the year 2009. We say that because this is, or was, actually a pretty Kick Ass machine in the day. It was actually a bit ahead of its time, thanks to its combination of benchmark-busting horsepower and small, space-saving dimensions. This mini-rig was probably used for light gaming and content creation, with its powerful CPU and mid-tier GPU. As far as our business here goes, its diminutive size creates some interesting upgrade challenges.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Silverstone SG03/500w</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>Intel Core 2 Quad QX6800</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus P5N7A- VM</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4GB DDR2/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">GeForce 9800 GT</td> <td><strong>EVGA GTX 750 Ti<br /></strong></td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>500GB 7,200rpm WD Caviar</td> <td>240GB OCZ Vertex 460</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>DVD burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Misc.</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>USB 3.0 add-in card</td> <td>$12</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$330</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p>It’s built around a Silverstone SG03 mini-tower, which is much shorter and more compact than the SFF boxes we use nowadays. For example, it can only hold about nine inches of GPU, and puts the PSU directly above the CPU region, mandating either a stock cooler or a low-profile job. So, either way, overclocking is very much out of the question. Water-cooling is also a non-starter, due to the lack of space for a radiator either behind the CPU area or on the floor of the chassis. In terms of specs, this system isn’t too shabby, as it’s rocking an LGA 775 motherboard with a top-shelf Core 2 Quad “Extreme” CPU and an upper-midrange GPU. We’d say it’s the almost exact equivalent of a $2,000 SFF gaming rig today. The CPU is a 65nm Kentsfield Core 2 Quad Extreme QX6800, which at the time of its launch was ludicrously expensive and the highest-clocked quad-core CPU available for the Core 2 platform at 2.93GHz. The CPU is plugged into an Asus P5N7A-VM motherboard, which is a microATX model that sports an nForce 730i chipset, supports up to 16GB of RAM, and has one PCIe x1 slot in addition to two PCI slots, and one x16 PCI Express slot. GPU duties are handled by the venerable GeForce 9800 GT, and it’s also packing 4GB of DDR2 memory, as well as a 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive. Its OS is Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit.</p> <h4>Lets dig in</h4> <p>The first question that crossed our minds when considering this particular machine’s fate was, “Upgrade certain parts, or go whole-hog with a new motherboard/CPU/RAM?” Sure, this is Maximum PC, and it would be easy to just start over. But that’s not really an upgrade; that’s more like open-heart surgery. Besides, where’s the challenge in that? Anyone can put together a new system, so we decided to buckle down, cinch up our wallets, and go part-by-part.</p> <p>Starting with the motherboard, CPU, and RAM, we decided to leave those as they were. For Intel at the time, this CPU was as good as it gets, and the only way to upgrade using the same motherboard and chipset is to move to a Yorkfield quad-core CPU. That’s a risky upgrade, though, for two reasons. First, not all of those 45nm chips worked in Nvidia’s nForce chipset, and second, benchmarks show mostly single-digit percent performance increases over Kentsfield. So, you’d have to be crazy to attempt this upgrade. We also deemed its 4GB of DDR2 to be satisfactory, since we’re running a 32-bit OS and anything over 4GB can’t be seen by it. If we were running a 64-bit OS, we’d upgrade to 8GB as a baseline amount of memory, though. We’re not happy about the motherboard’s SATA 3Gb/s ports, and the lack of a x2 PCIe slot is a problem, but SATA 3Gb/s is fast enough to handle any late-model hard drive, or an SSD upgrade. Another problem area is its bounty of 12 USB 2.0 ports. We appreciate the high number of ports, but USB 2.0 just plain sucks, so we added a PCIe USB 3.0 adapter, which gave us four SuperSpeed ports on the back of the chassis.</p> <p>One area ripe for upgrade is the GPU, because a GeForce 9800 GT is simply weak sauce these days. It was actually a rebadge of the 8800 GT when it arrived in 2009. This GPU was actually considered to be the low-end of the GeForce family when it arrived, as there were two models above it in the product stack—the 9800 GTX and the dual-GPU 9800 GX2. This single-slot GPU was only moderately powered at the time and features 112 shader processors clocked at 1,500MHz, and 512MB of GDDR3 clocked at 1.5GHz on a 256-bit memory bus. Since this system has limited space and only a single six-pin PCIe connector, we decided to upgrade the GPU to the Sapphire Radeon R7 265, which is our choice for the best $150 GPU. Unfortunately, the AMD card did not get along at all with our Nvidia chipset, so we ditched it in favor of the highly clocked and whisper-quiet EVGA GTX 750 Ti, which costs $159. This will not only deliver DX11 gaming at the highest settings at 1080p, but will also significantly lower the sound profile of the system, since this card is as quiet as a mouse breaking wind.</p> <p>Another must-upgrade part was the 500GB WD hard drive. As we wrote elsewhere, an SSD is a must-have in any modern PC, and we always figured it could make an aging system feel like new again, so this was our chance to try it in the real world. Though we wanted to upgrade to a 120GB Samsung 840 EVO, we couldn’t get our hands on one, so we settled for a larger and admittedly extravagant OCZ Vertex 460 240GB for $160. We decided to leave the OS as-is. Despite all the smack talk it received, Windows Vista SP2 was just fine.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_3_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_3_small.jpg" width="620" height="404" /></a></p> <h4>Real-World Results</h4> <p>Since we upgraded the GPU and storage subsystem, we’ll start with those results first. With the SSD humming along, our boot time was sliced from 1:27 to 1:00 flat, which is still a bit sluggish but doesn’t tell the whole story. Windows Vista felt instantly “snappy,” thanks to the SSD’s lightning-fast seek times. Everything felt fast and responsive, so though we didn’t get a sub-20-second boot time like we thought we would, we still gained a very noticeable increase in day-to-day use of the machine. For the record, we blame the slow boot time on the motherboard or something with this install of Vista, but this is still an upgrade we’d recommend to anyone in a similar situation. Interestingly, we also saw a boost in one of our encoding benchmarks, which could be due to the disk I/O, as well. For example, Sticth.Efx 2.0 dropped from 41 minutes to 36 minutes, which is phenomenal. Stitch.Efx creates in excess of 20,000 files, which will put a drag on a 500GB hard drive.</p> <p>Our gaming performance exploded, though, going from 11fps in Heaven 4.0 to 42fps. In Batman: Arkham Origins, we went from a non-playable 22 fps to a smooth 56fps, so anyone who thinks you need a modern CPU for good gaming performance is mistaken (at least for some games); the GPU does most of the heavy lifting in gaming. We also got a major reduction in case temps and noise by going from the hot-and-loud 9800 GT to the silent-and-cool GTX 750 Ti. The old card ran at 83 C under load, while the new one only hit 53 C, and made no noise whatsoever.</p> <h4>No regrets</h4> <p>Since we couldn’t do much with the motherboard/CPU/RAM on this board without starting fresh, we upgraded what we could and achieved Kick Ass real-world results from it, so this operation upgrade was very successful. Not only does it boot faster and feel ultra-responsive, it’s also ready for at least another year of gaming, thanks to its new GPU. Plus, with USB 3.0 added for storage duties, we can attach our external drives and USB keys and expect modern performance. All-in-all, this rig has been given a new lease on life for just a couple hundies—not bad for a five-year-old machine.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15 64-bit</td> <td class="item-dark">WNR</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">WNR</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>3,060</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">3,334 <strong>(-8%)</strong></span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">2,481</td> <td>2,166</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>90</td> <td>60</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>22</td> <td>56 <strong>(+155%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">11</td> <td>42<strong> (+282%)</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <hr /></div> <h3>Skeleton Rises</h3> <p><strong>Flying the AMD flag</strong></p> <p>Our second rig flies the AMD “Don’t Underclock Me” flag. You know the type. No matter how wide a gap Intel opens up with its latest CPU techno-wonder, this AMD CPU fanboy won’t switch until you pry that AM3 CPU from his cold, dead motherboard. In fact, the bigger the performance gap with Intel, the deeper this fanboy will dig in his heels.</p> <p>The box itself is built around the eye-catching and now discontinued Antec Skeleton open-air chassis. It draws a lot of whistles from case aficionados when they walk by, but truth be told, it’s really not great to work in and not exactly friendly to upgrading. The base machine parts are pretty respectable, though. The mainboard is an Asus Crosshair IV (CHIV) Formula using the AMD 890FX chipset, with a quad-core 3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955 and GeForce GTX 570 graphics. For the record, this machine was not built by us, nor do we know who built it, but the original builder made the typical error of inserting the pair of 2GB DDR3/1066 DIMMs into the same channel memory slots, causing the sticks to run in single-channel mode instead of dual-channel. As any salty builder knows, there’s a reason the phrase “RTFM” exists. For storage, the machine packs a single 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive and a DVD burner. Power is handled by an AntecTruePower 750, which is plenty for a rig like this. Cooling is a stock AMD affair with dual heat pipes.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Antec Skeleton / TruePower 750</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">4GHz FX-8350 Black Edition</span></td> <td>$199</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Crosshair IV Formula</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4GB DDR3/1066 in single-channel mode</td> <td>8GB DDR3/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>$40</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD</td> <td>Asus GTX760-DC2OC-2GD5<strong><br /></strong></td> <td>$259</td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>1TB 7,200 Hitachi</td> <td>256GB Sandisk Ultra</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>DVD burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$657</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h4>The easy upgrade path</h4> <p>All in all, it’s not a bad PC, but the most obvious upgrade was storage. It’s been a long time since we used a machine with a hard drive as the primary boot device, and having to experience it once again was simply torture. We’re not saying we don’t love hard drives—it’s great to have 5TB of space so you never have to think about whether you have room to save that ISO or not—just not as the primary boot device. Our first choice for an upgrade was a 256GB Sandisk Ultra Plus SSD for $159. We thought about skimping for the 128GB version, but then figured it’s worth the extra $60 to double the capacity—living on 128GB is difficult in this day and age. The SSD could easily be moved to a new machine, too, as it’s not tied to the platform.</p> <p>The OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Pro, so there’s no need to “upgrade” to Windows 8.1. No, we’d rather put that $119 into the two other areas that need to be touched up. The GPU, again, is the GeForce GTX 570. Not a bad card in its day, but since the Skeleton’s current owner does fair bit of gaming, we decided it was worth it to invest in a GPU upgrade. We considered various options, from the GeForce GTX 770 to a midrange Radeon R9 card, but felt a GeForce GTX 760 was the right fit, considering the system’s specs. It simply felt exorbitant to put a $500 GPU into this rig. Even the GTX 770 at $340 didn’t feel right, but the Asus GTX760-DC2OC-2GD5 gives us all the latest Nvidia technologies, such as ShadowPlay. The card is also dead silent under heavy loads.</p> <p>Our next choice was riskier. We definitely wanted more performance out of the 3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955 using the old “Deneb” cores. The options included adding more cores by going to a 3.3GHz Phenom II X6 1100T Thuban, but all we’d get is two more cores and a marginal increase in clock speed. Since the Thuban and Deneb are so closely related, there would be very little to be gained in microarchitecture upgrades. X6 parts can’t be found new, and they fetch $250 or more on eBay. As any old upgrading salt knows, you need to check the motherboard’s list of supported chips before you plug in. The board has an AM3 socket, but just because it fits doesn’t mean it works, right? Asus’ website indicates it supports the 3.6GHz FX-8150 “Zambezi” using the newer Bulldozer core, but the Bulldozer didn’t exactly blow us away when launched and they’re also out of circulation. (Interestingly, the FX-8150 sells for less than the Phenom II X6 chips.) Upgrading the motherboard was simply out of the question, too. Our last option was the most controversial. As we said, you should always check the motherboard maker first to find out what chips are supported.</p> <p>After that, you should then check to see if some other adventurous user has tried to do it anyway: “Damn the CPU qual list, full upgrade ahead!” To our surprise, yes, several anonymous Internet forums have indeed dropped the 4GHz FX-8350 “Vishera” into their CHIV boards with no reported of issues. That FX-8350 is also only $199—cheaper than a used X6 part. We considered overclocking the part, but the Skeleton’s confines make it pretty difficult. It’s so tight that we had issues putting the GeForce GTX 760 in it, so using anything larger than the stock cooler didn’t make sense to us. We’re sure you can find a cooler that fit, but nothing that small would let us overclock by any good measure, so it didn’t seem prudent.</p> <h4 style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_2_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_2_small.jpg" width="620" height="401" /></a></h4> <h4>Was it worth it?</h4> <p>Let’s just say this again if it’s not clear to you: If you are running a hard drive as your boot device, put this magazine down and run to the nearest store to buy an SSD. Yes, hard drives are that slow compared to SSDs. In fact, if we had money for only one upgrade, it would be the SSD, which will make an old, slow machine feel young again. This machine, for example, would boot to the desktop in about 38 seconds. With the SSD, that was cut down to 15 seconds and general usability was increased by maybe 10 million percent.</p> <p>Our CPU upgrade paid off well, too. AMD’s Vishera FX-8350 offers higher clock speeds and significant improvements in video encoding and transcoding. We saw an 83 percent improvement in encoding performance. The eight cores offer a huge advantage in thread-heavy 3D modelling, as well. We didn’t get the greatest improvement with Stitch.Efx 2.0, but the app is very single-threaded initially. Still, we saw a 30 percent increase, which is nothing to sneeze at.</p> <p>In gaming, we were actually a bit disappointed with our results, but perhaps we expected too much. We tested using Batman: Arkham Origins at 1080P with every setting maxed out and saw about a 40 percent boost in frame rates. Running Heaven 4.0 at 1080P on max we also saw about a 42 percent increase in frame rate. Again, good. But for some reason, we expected more.</p> <h4>Regrets, I’ve had a few</h4> <p>PC upgrades can turn into a remorsefest or an inability to face the fact that you made the wrong choice. With our upgrades, we were generally pleased. While some might question the CPU upgrade (why not just overclock that X4?), we can tell you that no overclock would get you close to the FX-8350 upgrade in overall performance. The SSD upgrade can’t be questioned. Period. End of story. The difference in responsiveness with the SSD over the 1TB HDD is that drastic.</p> <p>When it comes to the GPU upgrade, though, we kind of wonder if we didn’t go far enough. Sure, a 40 percent performance difference is the difference between playable and non-playable frame rates, but we really wanted to hit the solid 50 percent to 60 percent mark. That may simply be asking too much of a two-generation GPU change, not going all the way to the GeForce GTX 570’s spiritual replacement: the GeForce GTX 770. That would actually put us closer to our rule of thumb on a gaming rig of spending about half on your CPU as your GPU, but the machine’s primary purpose isn’t just gaming, it’s also content creation.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15</td> <td class="item-dark">326</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">641</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>3,276</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,794</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">1,950</td> <td>1,500</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>37.9</td> <td>15 <strong>(+153%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>58</td> <td>81</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">29.5</td> <td>41.9<strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <hr /></div> <h3>One Dusty Nehalem</h3> <p><strong>The original Core i7 still has some juice</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to make upgrade choices on an old dog with AGP graphics and Pentium 4, or even a Core 2 Duo on an obsolete VIA P4M890 motherboard (yes, it exists, look it up.) When you get to hardware that’s still reasonably fast and relatively “powerful,” the upgrade choices you have to make can get quite torturous.</p> <p>That’s certainly the case with this PC, which has an interesting assortment of old but not obsolete parts inside the Cooler Master HAF 922 case. We’ve always been fans of the HAF series, and despite being just plain-old steel, the case has some striking lines. It does, however, suffer from a serious case of dust suckage. Between the giant fan in front and various other fans, this system was chock-full of the stuff.</p> <p>The CPU is the first-generation Core i7-965 with a base clock of 3.2GHz and a Turbo Boost of 3.46GHz. That may seem like a pretty mild Turbo, but that’s the way it was way back in 2008, when this chip was first released. It’s plugged into an Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard using the X58 chipset, and running 6GB of DDR3/1600 in triple-channel mode.</p> <p>In graphics, it’s also packing some heat with the three-year-old GeForce GTX 590 card. For those who don’t remember it, the card has two GPU cores that basically equal a pair of GeForce GTX 570 cards in SLI. There was a secondary 1TB drive in the machine, but in the state we got it, it was still using it’s primary boot device—a 300GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm hard drive that was 95 percent stuffed with data. Oh, and the OS is also quite vintage, with 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Cooler Master HAF 922 / PC Power and Cooling 910</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Rampage II Extreme</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>Corsair Hydro Cooler H75</td> <td>$69</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>6GB DDR3/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">GeForce GTX 590</td> <td>No Change</td> <td></td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>300GB 10,000rpm WD Raptor, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi </td> <td>256GB Sandisk Ultra</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>Lite-On Blu-Ray burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate </td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$277</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h4>Always Be Upgrading The SSD</h4> <p>Our first upgrade decision was easy—SSD. In its day, the 300GB Raptor was the drive to have for its performance, but with the drive running at 90 percent of its capacity, this sucker was beyond slow. Boot time on the well lived-in Vista install was just over two minutes. Yes, a two-minute boot time. By moving to an SSD and demoting the Raptor to secondary storage, the machine would see an immediate benefit in responsiveness. For most people who don’t actually stress the CPU or GPU, an SSD upgrade is actually a better upgrade than buying a completely new machine. And yes, we fully realize the X58 doesn’t have support for SATA 6Gb/s, but the access time of the SSD and pretty much constant read and writes at full bus speed will still make a huge difference in responsiveness.</p> <p>The real conundrum was the CPU. As we said, this is the original Core i7, a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading and support for triple-channel RAM. The CPU’s base clock is 3.2GHz. It is an unlocked part, but the chip is sporting a stock 130W TDP Intel cooler. Believe it or not, this is actually how some people build their rigs—they buy the overclocked part but don’t overclock until later on, when they need more performance. Well, we’re at that point now, but we knew we weren’t going very far with a stock Intel cooler, so we decided that this was the time to introduce a closed-loop liquid cooler in the form of a Corsair H75. Our intention was to simply overclock and call it a day, but when we saw some of the performance coming out of the AMD Skeleton, we got a little jealous. In two of our tests for this upgrade story, the AMD FX-8350 was eating the once-mighty Nehalem’s lunch. Would overclocking be enough? That got us wondering if maybe we should take the LGA1366 to its next-logical conclusion: the Core i7-970. The Core i7-970 boasted six cores with Hyper-Threading for a total of 12 threads. It has the same base clock of 3.2GHz and same Turbo Boost of 3.46GH, but it uses the newer and faster 32nm “Westmere” cores. Long since discontinued, it’s easy to find the chips used for about $300, which is about half its original price. This is that conundrum we spoke of—while the Westmere would indeed be faster, especially on thread-heavy tasks such as video encoding and 3D modeling, do we really want to spend $300 on a used CPU? That much money would almost get us a Core i7-4770K, which would offer far more performance in more apps. Of course, we’d have to buy a new board for that, too. In the end, we got cold feet and decided to stick with just an overclock.</p> <h4>Windows Vista Works</h4> <p>Even our OS choice had us tied up. There’s a reason Windows Vista was a hated OS when it was released. It was buggy, slow, and drivers for it stunk. For the most part, though, Windows Vista turned into a usable OS once Service Pack 1 was released, and Service Pack 2 made it even better. While we’d never buy Vista over Windows 7 today, it’s actually functional, and the performance difference isn’t as big as many believe it to be, when it’s on a faster system. The only real shortcoming of Windows Vista is the lack of trim support for the SSD. That means the build would have to have the SSD manually optimized using the drive’s utility, or we’d have to count on its garbage collection routines. For now, we’d rather put the $119 in the bank toward the next system build with, perhaps, Windows 9.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image1_small.jpg" width="620" height="403" /></a></p> <p>Even more difficult was our choice on the GPU. The GeForce GTX 590 was a top-of-the-line card and sold for $700 in 2011. Obviously, this card was put into the system after the box was initially built, so it has had one previous upgrade. In looking at our upgrade options, our first thought was to go for something crazy—such as a second GTX 590 card. They can be found used for about $300. That would give the machine Quad SLI performance at far less the cost of a newer top-tier GPU. That fantasy went up in smoke when we realized the PC Power and Cooling Silencer 910 had but two 8-pin GPU power connectors and we’d need a total of four to run Quad SLI. Buying another expensive PSU just to run Quad SLI just didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, since the PSU is perfectly functional and even still under warranty. Once the second GTX 590 was ruled out, we considered a GeForce GTX 780 Ti as an option. While the 780 Ti is a beast, we came to the realization that the GTX 590 honestly still has plenty of legs left, especially for gaming at 1080p. The 780 Ti is indeed faster by 20 to 50 percent, but we decided not to go that route, as the machine still produces very passable frame rates.&nbsp; In the end, we spent far less upgrading this machine than the other two. But perhaps that makes sense, as its components are much newer and faster than the other two boxes.</p> <h4>Post-upgrade performance</h4> <p>With our only upgrades on this box being an overclock and an SSD, we didn’t expect too much—but we were pleasantly surprised. Our mild overclock took the part to 4GHz full-time. That’s 800MHz over the base clock speed. In Cinebench R15, the clock speed increase mapped pretty closely to the performance difference. In both ProShow Producer and Stitch.Efx, though, we actually saw greater performance than the simple overclock can explain. We actually attribute the better performance to the SSD. While encoding tasks are typically CPU-bound, disk I/O can make a difference. Stitch.Efx also spits out something on the order 20,000 files while it creates the gigapixel image. The SSD, of course, made a huge difference in boot times and system responsiveness, even if it wasn’t on a SATA 6Gb/s port.</p> <h4>Regrets</h4> <p>Overall, we were happy with our upgrade choices, with the only gnawing concern being not upgrading the GPU. It just ate us up knowing we could have seen even better frame rates by going to the GTX 780 Ti. But then, we also have $750 in our pocket that can go toward the next big thing.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15 64-bit</td> <td class="item-dark">515</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">617</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>2,119</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,641<strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">1,446</td> <td>983</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>126</td> <td>18&nbsp; <strong>(+600%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>86</td> <td>87</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">68.2</td> <td>68.7</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h3> <hr /></h3> <h3>How to upgrade from Windows XP</h3> <p><strong>It’s game over, man!</strong></p> <p>Stick a fork in it. It’s done. Finito. Windows XP is a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace… on a considerable number of desktops worldwide, much to Microsoft’s chagrin.</p> <p>You’ve read Microsoft’s early-2012 announcement. You’ve seen all the news since then: the warnings, the pleas, the tomes of comments from frustrated users who wish they could just have a fully supported Windows XP until the launch of Windows 20. If you were a holdout, you even got a few pop-ups directly in your operating system from Microsoft itself, imploring you to switch on up to a more powerful (re: supported) version of Windows. So says Microsoft:</p> <p>“If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer should still work, but it will become five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. And as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, a greater number of programs and devices like cameras and printers won’t work with Windows XP.”</p> <p>There you have it: Keep on keepin’ on with Windows XP and you’ll slowly enter the wild, wild west of computing. We can’t say that your computer is going to be immediately infected once you reach a set time period past what’s been chiseled on the operating system’s tombstone. However, the odds of you suffering an attack that Microsoft has no actual fix for certainly increase. You wouldn’t run a modern operating system without the latest security patches; why Windows XP?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_4_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_4_small.jpg" width="620" height="397" /></a></p> <p>So, what’s a person to do? Upgrade, obviously. We do warn in advance that if your current Windows XP machine is chock-full of legacy apps (or you’re using more antiquated hardware like, dare we say it, a printer attached to a parallel port), then you might find that upgrading to a newer version of the OS ruins the experience you previously had. For that, we can only suggest taking advantage of the ability of newer versions of Windows to support virtualized Windows XP environments—Windows 7 supports the Virtual PC–based “Windows XP Mode” natively, whereas those on Windows 8 can benefit from freeware like Virtualbox to run a free, Microsoft-hosted download of a virtualized Windows XP.</p> <p>As for what you should upgrade to, and how, we’re recommending that you go with Windows 8—unless you can find Windows 7 for extremely cheap. Microsoft has greatly improved resource use in its flagship OS, in addition to streamlining startup times, adding more personalization, and beefing up security. Windows 8 has far more time before its end-of-life than Windows 7, even though, yes, you’ll have to deal with the Modern UI a bit when you make your upgrade.</p> <h3>Step-by-Step Upgrade Guide</h3> <p><strong>Anyone can upgrade, but there is a right way and wrong way</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_3_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_3_small.jpg" alt="The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a bit more useful than the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant in terms of actionable items that you’ll want to know about. Doesn’t hurt to run both!" width="620" height="457" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a bit more useful than the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant in terms of actionable items that you’ll want to know about. Doesn’t hurt to run both!<br /></strong></p> <p>Will your legacy system even run a modern version of Windows? That’s the first thing you’re going to want to check before you start walking down the XP-to-8 upgrade path. Microsoft has released two different tools to help you out—only one of them works for Windows XP, however. Hit up Microsoft’s site and do a search for “Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant.” Download that, install it on your Windows XP machine, and run the application.</p> <p>After a (hopefully) quick scan of your system, the program will report back the number of apps and devices you’re using that are compatible with Windows 8. In a perfect world, that would be all of them. However, the tool will also report back fatal flaws that might prevent you from running Windows 8 on your Windows XP machine to begin with—like, for example, if your older motherboard and CPU don’t support the Windows 8–required Data Execution Prevention.</p> <p>Since Windows 8 is quite a bit removed, generation-wise, from Windows XP, there’s no means by which you can simply run an in-place upgrade that preserves your settings and installed applications. Personal files, yes, but now’s as good a time as any to get your data organized prior to the big jump—no need to have Windows 8 muck things up for you, as it will just create a “windows.old” folder that’s a dump of the “Documents and Settings” folders on your XP system.</p> <p>If you have a spare hard drive lying around, you could always clone your current disk using a freeware app like Clonezilla, install Windows 8 on your old drive, and sort through everything later. If not, then you’re going to want to grab some kind of portable storage—or, barring that, sign up for a cloud-based storage service—and begin the semi-arduous task of poring over your hard drive for all of your important information.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_7_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_7_small.jpg" alt="The Windows Easy Transfer app, downloadable from Microsoft, helps automate the otherwise manual process of copying your files from your XP machine to portable storage." width="620" height="491" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Windows Easy Transfer app, downloadable from Microsoft, helps automate the otherwise manual process of copying your files from your XP machine to portable storage.</strong></p> <p>There really isn’t a great tool that can help you out in this regard, except perhaps WinDirStat—and that’s only assuming that you’ve stored chunks of your important data in key areas around your hard drive. If worse comes to worse, you could always back up the entire contents of your “Documents and Settings” folder, just to be safe. It’s unlikely that you’ll have much critical data in Program Files or Windows but, again, it all depends on what you’ve been doing on your PC. Gamers eager to make sure that their precious save files have been preserved can check out the freeware GameSave Manager to back up their progress.</p> <p>As for your apps, you’re going to have to reinstall those. You can, however, simplify this process by using a tool like Ninite to quickly and easily install common apps. CCleaner, when installed on your old XP system, can generate a list of all the apps that you’ve previously installed within the operating system—handy for making a checklist for things you’ll want to reinstall later, we suppose. And finally, an app like Magical Jelly Bean’s Product Key Finder can help you recover old installation keys for apps that you might want to reinstall within Windows 8.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_8_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_8_small.jpg" width="620" height="452" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Need to know what you’ll need to reinstall in Windows 8? Use CCleaner to make a simple text file of every app you installed on Windows XP, and check off as you go! </strong></p> <p>As for installing Windows 8, we recommend that you purchase and download the ISO version of the operating system and then use Microsoft’s handy Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to dump the contents of that ISO onto a portable flash drive. Your installation process will go much faster, trust us. From there, installing the OS is as easy as inserting your USB storage, resetting your computer, and booting from the flash drive—which might be accessible via some “boot manager” option during your system’s POST, or might be a boot order–related setting that you have to set up within the BIOS itself.</p> <p>Other than that, the installation process is fairly straightforward once Windows 8 gets going. You’ll enter your product key, select a Custom installation, delete or format your drive partitions, install Windows 8 on the new chunk of blank, empty storage, and sit back and relax while the fairly simple installation process chugs away.</p> <p>You might not have the speediest of operating systems once Windows 8 loads, depending on just how long your Windows XP machine has been sitting around, but at least you’ll be a bit more secure! And, hey, now that you have a license key, you can always upgrade your ancient system (or build a new one!) and reinstall.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/computer_upgrade_2014#comments computer upgrade Hardware Hardware how to June issue 2014 maximum pc Memory News Features Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:11:21 +0000 Maximum PC staff 28535 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Rumored to Refresh Never Settle Game Bundle http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_rumored_refresh_never_settle_game_bundle_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/never_settle.jpg" alt="Never Settle" title="Never Settle" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />More free titles from AMD might be on the way</h3> <p>With the recent launch of Nvidia's Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 970 and 980 graphics cards, the pressure is on AMD to respond, especially since we haven't heard much about its Tonga XT architecture as of late. One alternative to releasing a new graphics card that's proved popular is giving away free games, and <strong>rumor has it AMD is getting ready to announce a new Never Settle bundle</strong>.</p> <p>That's according to news and rumor site <a href="http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/36015-amd-preparing-new-never-settle-bundle" target="_blank"><em>Fudzilla</em></a>, which says it learned that AMD is planning the new game bundle for a launch later this month. There hasn't been a lot of chatter about the specific titles that will be included, though one that's cropped up around the rumor mill is Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth.</p> <p>AMD has supposedly told its hardware partners to be on standby for the announcement. If true, the refreshed Never Settle bundle would come not long after the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_marks_down_radeon_r9_290_and_290x_cards_compete_maxwell">recent price cuts</a> that retailers doled out to the Radeon R9 290 and 290X graphics cards, which can now be had for as little as $276 (street) and $360 (also street), respectively (or lower with mail-in-rebate).</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_rumored_refresh_never_settle_game_bundle_2014#comments amd Build a PC games Gaming graphics cards Hardware never settle Software News Mon, 13 Oct 2014 15:24:12 +0000 Paul Lilly 28704 at http://www.maximumpc.com