As we round the corner on our way out of another E3, it’s worth taking a look back and seeing what really stuck with us throughout the gigantic, announcement-filled gaming conference. Computers tend to take a back seat to consoles in the summer, but that doesn’t stop some big names from leaking through — here are some of our favorites, in no particular order.
At the top of the list, Age of Empires: Definitive Editionsnuck in at the end of PC Gaming Show. The remastered, re-engineered version brings updated graphics, better resolution scaling, and of course heavy doses of nostalgia. The updated version will make its appearance in the later part of 2017.
Next up, Bungie’s latest franchise is finally making the leap from console to computer with Destiny 2, and while PC gamers will have to wait a few weeks to actually play, it promises unlocked framerates, 21:9 and 4K support, and full keyboard and mouse integration. This MMOFPS looks gorgeous as ever, with a distinct art style and engaging social features to keep players talking and working together.
Although you may not have heard of it until E3, Lone Echo is poised to strike at the heart of virtual reality with a story-fueled, zero gravity adventure on a futuristic space station. Its multiplayer component, Echo Arena, pits real players against each other in a high-flying, full-contact version of Ultimate Frisbee. Intel announced that the game would be free for all Oculus Rift users to claim for a limited time after its July 22nd release date.
Finally, a unique Rogue-lite adventure from Devolver Digital makes our list for a unique take on the genre. The protagonist of Sword of Ditto attempts to cure the land of an evil force, but should they die, the world will collapse into darkness, and the player’s reincarnated spirit will have to try all over again. It’s always nice to see an indie game shine among titles with much bigger budgets.
What PC title are you most excited for that was announced at E3 2017? Let us know in the poll above, or respond on Twitter and Facebook to let us know if something else caught your eye.
The Akitio Node external GPU cabinet is here to give your Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop a big boost. This affordable unit—basically, a big steel box with a 400-watt PSU and a fan in front—lets you drop in most modern AMD or Nvidia graphics cards and then connect it to a laptop using PCIe over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.
For the most part, when it works, it’s amazingly smooth. For example, we cracked open the Node, dropped in a Founders Edition GeForce GTX 1080 Ti card, then plugged it into a HP Spectre x360 13t. Once we had the latest drivers installed from Nvidia’s website, we were off and running. As these results from 3DMark FireStrike Ultra show, the tiny HP Ultrabook gives what-for to big, giant, fast gaming laptops.
The score you see above, however, is the overall score for 3DMark FireStrike Ultra, which also counts CPU performance. The dual-core Kaby Lake chip in the tiny HP Spectre x360 13T isn’t going to compete with the quad-cores. In the 3DMark test that includes just the graphics performance, however, you’ll see a better spread from the GTX 1080 in the giant EON17-X laptop.
Yes, there’s a good chance the limited x4 PCIe Gen 3 could rob you of some performance over what you might get if the GPU were in a desktop. In fact, the same GPU will typically score in the 7,000 range when in a full x16 PCIe Gen 3 slot. But just remember: The alternative is being stuck with the integrated graphics in the laptop, unable to game at this higher level of performance.
Choosing the best laptop can be difficult these days. With companies like Dell, HP, Acer, and Asus continually launching updates of popular notebooks and expansions of product lines, we’re all but swimming in options right now.
Summer has pushed even more convertibles, 2-in-1s, and traditional notebooks onto store shelves. The most interesting ones poke holes in existing assumptions about certain categories. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, for example, is an attempt to revive the company’s battle with Chromebooks, while Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming—our “Best budget gaming laptop” pick—offers 1080p gaming for just $850. Vendors also are serious about squeezing AMD’s new CPUs into their lineups, with Asus recently debuting the first Ryzen laptop at Computex.
Given the number of choices out there, we’re hard at work evaluating more laptops. For our latest update, we’ve added “Best MacBook” as a category, in order to better help you compare the full range of laptops available.
Dell might be sticking to the adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to the XPS 13, but that strategy keeps producing the best ultrabook of the bunch. The Kaby Lake XPS 13 shares the same design as its predecessors: a quality aluminium exterior and carbon-fiber top, and that wonderfully compact, bezel-free 13-inch screen.
Dell actually released two updates to the XPS 13 in 2016: The one at the start of the year swapped in a Skylake CPU, added a USB Type-C port that served as an alternative charging port, and offered upgraded storage options. The most recent refresh—and our new pick for Best Ultrabook—keeps the same chassis changes as the Skylake XPS 13, features a jump to Intel’s new Kaby Lake processor, and sports a slightly larger battery. You get improved performance across the board, with a nice bump of an extra half-hour of battery life during video playback.
Our only lingering complaint is the small keyboard, but overall, you can’t lose with the newest XPS 13. It’s a truly compact ultrabook that punches out of its class.
Our review of HP’s Spectre x2 12.3-inch 2-in-1 tablet begins with a simple question: Can HP continue its tradition of being an elegant, yet durable alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Pro flagship?
The answer is Yes. HP took the best bits from its Elite x2 tablet and the first-generation Spectre x2 tablet (2015), then updated the new Spectre x2 with the latest Kaby Lake chips. The Spectre x2 gives you more features for the money than the Surface Pro: Our $1,300 review unit included both the keyboard and the stylus right in the box (hear that, Microsoft?). It’s a shame this solid value is let down by middling battery life and a pesky fan.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display
Kickstand, pen loop anchor the productivity
Performance: Marred by mediocre battery life
Conclusion: Good value despite a few flaws
Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display
HP will offer one $1,300 retail version of the Spectre x2 (the one we tested):
Model name: Spectre x2 12-c012dx
CPU: Core i7-7560U
RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
SSD: 360GB PCIe NVMe
Four more SKUs will be available via HP.com:
An entry-level Core i5 version for $1,150:
Model name: Spectre x2 12t
CPU: Core i5-7260U
RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
SSD: 128GB PCIe NVMe
An entry-level Core i7 version for $1,230:
Model name: Spectre x2 12-c052nr
CPU: Core i7-7560U
RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
SSD: 256GB PCIe NVMe
Two higher-end Core i7 versions have these starting configurations and can be upgraded. This one starts at $1,670:
Now that Apple’s next event is officially on the books for September 7, speculation can build about what won’t be announced, and when Apple might get around to updating those things: namely Macs, but also the iPad Pro. Bloomberg is reporting that, according to anonymous sources, Apple plans to refresh several Mac models and introduce new software features for the iPad Pro at an event in October.
This is plausible—Apple often has one event in September for new iPhones and another in October for new iPads. Last year broke this cycle, with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro announced alongside the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and the smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 4-inch iPhone SE announced in March 2016. But with so many of its products overdue for refreshes, it would make sense for Apple to knock out another round of introductions before the all-important holiday shopping quarter.
The Mac lineup has languished lately. The ever-helpful MacRumors Buyer’s Guide, which tracks how many days it’s been since each model has been refreshed to help you handicap when to buy a new Mac, shows a “Don’t Buy” recommendation for every Mac except the 12-inch MacBook, which was updated in April. (That MacBook is now considered “mid-cycle,” after 132 days, with an average time between refreshes of 375 days. And it’s alsonot a laptop for everyone, with less power than the other lines and just one USB-C port for charging and connectivity.)
We’ve already heard rumors about aredesigned MacBook Pro that would ditch the row of function keys along the top of the keyboard in favor of a strip of OLED keys that can change based on what application you’re using. This feature would require macOS Sierra, Bloomberg’s sources say, which is expected in the fall, likely in the next couple of weeks before the iPhone 7 goes on sale.
The MacBook Pro might not be the only refreshed model, either: Bloomberg reports that Apple plans new MacBook Air models with USB-C ports, as well as iMacs with new AMD graphics processors. And now that Apple’s no longer selling its own 27-inch Thunderbolt Display (which can’t connect to the USB-C MacBook), Bloomberg says it’s working with LG to release a 5K monitor, like an external version of the beautiful 5K displays in the Retina iMac line, just without the Mac.
The iPad Pro sold in stores today will likely stick around through the holiday buying season—Apple’s been backing away from yearly iPad refreshes for a while now. Instead, Bloomberg’s sources say Apple plans to supplement the iPad Pro’s functionality with moreiPad-specific software features—something we had complained was missing with iOS 10. Specifically, Apple Pencil users might be able to annotate content in more apps.
Swift Playgrounds is a new iPad-only app in iOS 10, but Apple hasn’t gone very far in adding new iOS 10 features for working on an iPad—yet.
The Bloomberg report says this update might not come until 2017, though, which jibes with research by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who predicted a 10.5-inch iPad Pro joining the lineup in 2017. Currently the iPad Pro comes in 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch sizes, along with the 7.9-inch iPad mini.
If the iPad Pro is available in three sizes, we predict the company will discontinue the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, which is still on sale, but we hope the iPad mini stays in the lineup as an affordable option for people who might balk at the iPad Pro’s higher starting price of $599.
What do you think? Have you been holding off on buying a new Mac until Apple refreshes the lineup? Do you think we need a medium-sized iPad Pro? Let us know in the comments.
Samsung’s quantum dot technology is getting serious for PC fans.
The company recently announced it will roll out two new curved monitor models (in three display sizes) rocking quantum dot displays. These are the first quantum dot computer monitors from Samsung, which already produces televisions using the cutting-edge technology.
The first new quantum dot model is the CFG70, which will come in 24- and 27-inch sizes. The second is the CFG791, which will ship with a drool-worthy 34-inch display.
Why this matters: If you aren’t familiar with the technology, quantum dots are small (as in a few nanometers in width) crystal semiconductors that emit colored light. Quantum dots can produce more accurate colors than traditional display technology, and are supposed to come close to OLED display quality.
Right now quantum dot monitors are of the LED-backlit variety, while the aforementioned OLED TVs don’t require backlighting. But there has been a major downside: Many quantum dot displays required the use of cadmium, an element that is frowned on by many environmental agencies. Samsung says its monitors are cadmium-free.
Meet the monitors
The CFG70 models will feature an 1800R curvature in what Samsung calls a “Super Arena” design. The two smaller displays boast a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time—numbers that should make PC gamers smile. These displays feature Samsung’s Gaming UX OSD interface, which will offer up all of the monitor’s crucial settings in an on-screen dashboard. You’ll also find hot keys on the front and rear of the monitor for tweaking gameplay settings.
The CF791, meanwhile, offers a curvature radius of 1,500mm (1500R), which Samsung claims is “the most curved gaming monitor currently on the market.” This monitor also has a 100Hz refresh rate, a 21:9 aspect ratio, and support for AMD’s FreeSync technology, which delivers buttery smooth gameplay by eliminating stuttering and screen tearing.
Samsung didn’t announce FreeSync support for the smaller CFG70 models, but the initial press releases were fairly light on technical details.
On paper, these look like darn attractive gaming monitors indeed. But for now, Samsung doesn’t have much to say about pricing, resolution, or a release date. Expect to hear more details out of the annual IFA Berlin technology conference later this week.
There has been a steady increase in Identity thefts and cyber-attacks by hackers recently, which has made Internet more dangerous for common users. Lately there have been several instances of massive cyber-attacks like the Hacking of Sony pictures Entertainment website and iCloud during which lot of personal information, e-mails, unreleased movies and even pictures of popular celebrities were leaked all over internet. There were also cyber-attacks targeted even at The White House,U.S. State Department and several International banks. Such instances of cyber-attacks have caused deep fear amongst the users of internet. People are concerned more about security and confidentiality nowadays. Some essential tips to protect your computer from being hacked are as below,
Always keep your Firewall up-to-date and turned on:
Firewall is an important security tool which safeguards your computer from unauthorized access by hackers and malware. If you have a windows operating system, it comes with a built-in firewall that you should always keep turned on. It will help in monitoring the incoming traffic from internet and will alert you automatically in case of any suspicious or malicious traffic. For personal computers, it’s sufficient to install a software based firewall, but for larger enterprises with multiple computers you should go for a hardware based firewall. You should define the rules and policies in your firewall so that you can monitor both incoming and outgoing traffic and also block any suspicious traffic. You should also keep your firewall software updated frequently to ensure that it catches all the newest threats.
Use stronger passwords and change them frequently:
You should always use stronger passwords for all your important online accounts as well as your Desktop login. The passwords should include combination of lower case and upper case letters, special characters and numbers. Also the minimum length of passwords should be eight characters or more. Do not use common words or names as passwords since they can be cracked easily. Also keep changing your passwords frequently to minimize vulnerability.
Install powerful anti-virus software in your computer:
Installing the best antivirus software is very important to protectyour computer from hackers and malware.Antivirus software can protect your system from malicious programs like viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware and spyware etc. Some of the modern antivirus software like Bitdefender Internet security has state-of-the-art machine learning technology which will help in protecting your system from all possible cyber threats without impacting its performance. Modern antivirus software can also protect your system from other kinds of security threats such as rootkits and ransomware.
Install Anti-spywareand Anti-Adware Programs:
Spyware are malicious programs used by hackers to secretly monitor your system and collect confidential data without your knowledge. Also Spyware programs are very dangerous because they will silently monitor your browsing habits and share your passwords and other confidential information to hackers for illegitimate purposes. Adware are programs which place advertisements in your browsers and throws several pop-ups which can be really annoying when you are browsing for some important information. Hence you should install both Anti-spyware and Anti-malware programs in your system to protect yourself from cyber-threats. Some anti-virus programs come as a package and are bundled along with such tools to protect your system from both spyware and adware.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi:
When you browse internet in public places like shopping malls, bus stations or airports you will be using public Wi-Fi which is not protected with a password. Hence all your information will be transmitted in clear text over the public Wi-Fi which hackers can easily snoop using tools like Wireshark. This can lead to identity theft and loss of sensitive personal information. So, you should be always careful when using internet in public places. Also you should clear your browsing history when you surf in public places. The cookies in your browser will keep track of your surfing habits and the websites you have accessed recently. This can be used by hackers to steal your personal information. Hence you should always clear your browsing history when you use public computers.
Be careful about links present in unsolicited e-mails and phishing websites.
Phishing websites are designed by hackers to steal confidential information like credit card details and bank account passwords from innocent users by fooling them as legitimate websites. Hence you should not share your personal details in any website without verifying its authenticity. Check whether the website uses HTTPS (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure) or SSL connectivity and ensure that the domain name is legitimate. HTTPS ensures that the website sends all data over internet in encrypted format. Also some hackers send phishing emails to corporate users asking them for passwords of their online account. Phishing mails can also contain links to harmful websites that may result in launch of viruses or malware. So you should always avoid clicking any links present in unsolicited emails. Always perform a thorough scan of your emails by using antivirus software when opening any attachments.
Axiomtek has this month unveiled new additions to its range of motherboards with the introduction of the new Axiomtek Nano-ITX NANO840 and NANO842, which are both very similar in design apart from their option of different Intel processors.
The latest motherboards measured just 120 mm x 120 mm and provide users with a choice of processor from 1.5GHz dual-core Celeron to a 1.91GHz quad-core Atom, all of which can be supported by up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory.
Specifications for the new Axiomtek for the NANO840 and NANO842 include :
• Processor — Intel Baytrail-I system-on-chip: – NANO840 — Atom quad-core E3845 (10W TDP) @ 1.91GHz – NANO840 — Atom dual-core E3827 (8W TDP) @ 1.75GHz – NANO842 — Celeron quad-core J1900 (10W TDP) @ 2.0 GHz – NANO842 — Celeron dual-core N2807 (4.3W TDP) @ 1.58GHz • Memory — 1x 204-pin SODIMM for up to 8GB DDR3L-1066/1333 • Storage — 1x SATA-300; mSATA via full-size mini-PCIe socket • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet • Display: – 1x VGA – 1x HDMI – 1x 8/24-bit sing/dual-channel LVDS (up to 1920×1200 in 24-bit channels) • Other I/O: – USB — 5x USB 2.0 plus 1x USB 3.0 – Serial — 1x RS-232/422/485; 1x RS-232 – 8-bit GPIO – Analog audio in/out • Expansion: – 1x full-size mini-PCIe (with mSATA support) – 1x half-size mini-PCIe • Other features — hardware monitoring, watchdog timer • Power — 12VDC @ 0.9A max. with 1.91GHz Atom E3845 or 0.8A max with 1.75GHz E3827 (both with 8GB DDR3L RAM) • Operating temperature: – NANO840 — -40 to 80 C – NANO842 — -40 to 70 C • Dimensions — 120 x 120mm; Nano-ITX form-factor • Operating system support — generic Linux kernel 188.8.131.52, as well as current Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat, and Debian distributions
For more information on the new Axiomtek Nano-ITX NANO840 and NANO842 jump over to the Linux Gizmos website via the link below.
Makers, developers and hobbyists that enjoy using the Raspberry Pi mini PC to build projects or are using the single board PC to learn more about coding, may be interested in a new simple LCD interface board that has been created by David M Saul.
The Pi-LCDAs it has been called provides an easy way to visually display anything you require on a backlit 16×2 LCD display that is also HD44780 compatible.
Its creator explains a little more about the features and functions you can expect to enjoy, once you have pledged £12 or more over on the Kickstarter website.
• The board is driven via the GPIO, no SPI or I2C interface to contend with – so easily programmable in Python without out the need to install any additional s/w modules • Vertically oriented display, making it much easier to manage the HDMI, power etc connections to the Raspberry Pi • Can sit on a shelf above your desk • Board allows control of single colour [mono] and full colour RGB backlit display types • Through the clever use of jumpers common anode and cathode RGB backlit displays can be accommodated • I2C and 1Wire interface pads are brought out on the PCB to allow additional devices to be connected if desired • 3 momently contact switches are included as standard on the rear of the PCB • Can be used with a number of pi cases – I particularly recommend the Pibow Coupé range from Pimoroni, the Pi-LCD can also be easily used with the official Foundation Pi-Case just leave off the 2 upper plastic mouldings
If you are interested in owning your very own Pi-LCD kit without an LCD module included it is now available to pledge for from £12 upwards and £23 will provide a kit complete with an LCD module. Jump over to Kickstarter via the link below for more information.
On paper, the modular desktop PC seems like a dream come true.
Companies like Acer, which recently announced its Revo modular computer, promise to make PC component upgrades as easy as snapping together a few Lego bricks. The idea is that anyone should be able to customize their own desktop rig without the usual tangle of wires, finicky connectors, and exposed circuit boards. You may recall Razer making similar promises a couple years ago with Project Christine, a modular PC that didn’t get beyond the concept stage. And of course there’s the recently released Micro Lego Computer and its accessories, all of which literally look like Lego blocks.
While these announcements always elicit oohs and aahs from the tech press, in reality they just don’t make a lot of sense. Without a concerted, industry-wide effort to make the modular PC a reality, you’d be wise to steer clear of the concept. Here’s why:
1. Upgrades aren’t guaranteed
The promise of a modular system is that you can easily add new components or update existing ones, but that assumes new components will actually be available a few years down the road, when you get around to needing them. You don’t see Acer making any sort of promises in that regard with the Revo Build, and a major reason Razer abandoned its modular PC was due to resistance from component vendors, who wanted guaranteed margins and sales projections before they started making any custom modules.
It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem. There’s no way your favorite graphics card maker would guarantee a lifetime of modular upgrades for a system that could easily be a commercial flop, and your average risk-averse PC maker isn’t going to make sales promises it can’t keep.
2. You lose buying power
Hypothetically, let’s say Acer does manage to get some vendors on board, promising at least five years’ worth of modules from various graphics card, CPU, and storage vendors. Unless each component type has support from at least a few vendors, buying this machine would essentially lock you into an ecosystem where there’s little to no competition. Combined with the use of specialized modules that likely cost more than a typical PC part, and you’d almost certainly be paying higher—maybe much higher—prices.
You’d also end up with fewer options overall. Want a specific graphics card from Nvidia? You’d better hope there’s a module for it—assuming Nvidia even supports the system in the first place.
3. The PC maker decides what you can swap
If you build your own PC, everything is replaceable, from the power supply to the wireless chip to the motherboard. That’s not necessarily the case with a modular design, which may bundle certain components together for simplicity’s sake. The Acer Revo Build is a case inpoint, with its motherboard, CPU, and RAM built into the base unit. Replacing any of those components individually will take a lot more work—if it’s even possible. Swapping motherboards would be an especially huge hassle, because OEM copies of Windows are typically bound to a single motherboard.
4. Your ability to repurpose old parts is hampered
One nice thing about building your own PC is how easily you can reuse old components. A spare hard drive could make its way to your next rig, while an old graphics card and CPU could form the heart of a new living room PC.
Repurposing proprietary modules could be a lot more difficult unless you happen to own another machine that uses the same modular system. Otherwise, you’d have to crack open each module to free the components inside. That could be a huge hassle if vendors don’t use standard screws or rely on adhesive to keep their designs slim and snug. And again, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to reuse components from a modular PC in a standard PC anyway.
5. Tweaking your own PC is kind of enjoyable
This is sort of a geeky point, but there’s something to be said for opening up a desktop PC and replacing the components yourself. Swapping a hard drive or adding a DVD player is not terribly difficult, and even building an entirely new PC is more intimidating than it is challenging.
Once you’ve done it, you’ll get the confidence to replace parts at will, without the risk of lock-in, higher prices, and reduced choice that modular machines could introduce. You can even decide what the computer looks like, for better or worse.
Where modularity makes sense
In fairness to Acer, for now the Revo Build is only aimed at emerging markets, where the goal is to sell people a basic affordable PC and let them add new pieces when they can. The idea at least comes from the right place, though it may still do more harm than good if the components are more expensive than they would be otherwise. (Acer still isn’t talking prices for the modules.)
For modular PCs to really make sense, the entire PC industry would have to band together for some sort of standard, or at least a broader platform that lots of vendors can tap into. In theory, PC vendors such as Acer, Lenovo, and HP would offer the base stations, and they’d all work with the same modules from a variety of component makers.
This sort of collaboration would eliminate many of the issues described above, from ecosystem lock-in to transferability of modules between different machines. If such as system became the norm for desktops, you could then be confident about the availability of upgrades five or ten years down the road. Unfortunately, one-off attempts like the Acer Revo Build do little to nudge the industry in that direction.