Computex 2015 Round-up: Robo PCs And A Whole Lot More


With tech conference Computex 2015 a wrap, it’s been a launchtastic week or two for PC clobber. We’ve seen a new GPU from Nvidia, those new Intel CPUs, 144Hz-plus-IPS-plus-G-Sync, all kindsa new SSDs, Transformer-style PC cases, G-Sync-touting laptops, pr0n-proof keyboards with pseudo-mechanical switches. The notion that the PC industry has become dull and commoditised hardly stacks up.

Here’s a round-up of the Computex news and what of it matters to you.

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Intel’s Baffling New Broadwell CPUs

Intel has finally, belatedly, possibly even reluctantly wheeled out its latest 14nm Broadwell CPU architecture in desktop processor trim (we’ve seen it before as a mobile chip). And it’s all a bit baffling. The new chips are not really direct replacements for Intel’s existing Core i5 and Core i7 gaming favourites. They’re not really faster, except when they occasionally are. And they set new standards for integrated graphics but still make absolutely no sense for gaming. In short, you needn’t rush out and buy one.
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The Best $700 / £500 Gaming PCs You Can Buy

It ain't pretty, but it will play games

Can you even buy a proper gaming PC for £500, or approximately $700? Not a PC that occasionally turns its hand to the odd ancient game. Quake III will run on an old smartphone, but that’s missing the point. Well, it’s missing my point, which is to sniff out whether half a grand is enough for a PC bought specifically, or at least substantially, for gaming. If so what you should go for and what, exactly, do you get for your money?
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Can AMD Make Gaming CPUs A Two-Horse Race Again?

This. Is. Zen. Probably

The roulette wheel of rumours that is PC hardware news is usually pretty pointless, unless bun fights over shader specs or clock speeds are your bag. But, occasionally, something really significant for the future moves into view. This is one of those times. AMD has been talking about its upcoming PC products and technologies in the last week or two, including a completely new CPU core and some fancy memory technology that might dramatically change the way we all think about integrated graphics and gaming. Is Intel’s stranglehold about to be loosened?
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Which SSD Should You Buy?

All of this has happened before. All of it will happen again. I speak of the seemingly constant state of flux that afflicts the solid-state drive or SSD market. Well, that and my posts on SSDs which routinely predict an end game for SSD tech that somehow arrives and then starts all over again. First it was stuttering drives, then it was random versus sequential and compressible versus incompressible. Latterly, it’s PCI Express versus SATA. Whatever, it’s time to catch up on SSDs. Have they finally attained the glories of BSG up to season 1.5 (don’t argue, it’s down the pan from season two, episode 11)? Or are we still looking at the horrors of the final five? Let’s find out if anything has really changed and what the best buy is here and now.
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Why £200 / $250 Is The 1080p Graphics Card Sweet Spot

Is this the best sub-£200 board you can buy?

What’s the best graphics card mere mortals can buy for around £200 / $250? This is a question for the ages. Or at least for a slow Thursday evening. In all seriousness, the £200 / $250 price point ticks a lot of important boxes. It’s been in and around the sweet spot for balancing price and performance for properly gameable graphics for a while. I reckon it’s also pretty near critical mass in terms of how much you lot are willing to spend on a video board. At a push, most of us can stretch to £200 / $250 if the payoff is great gaming. Luckily, it is.
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On Not Being Defeated

No, it's fine, I can do this

Almost the first thing I did when our family bought a PC was to break it. I can’t remember quite what I did, but I was probably attempting to customise something to be more to my liking or to speed something up, and as a result I mangled the Windows 3.1 installation on the very day that this 25MHz 486 SX arrived. The next thing I did was to fix it. Pre-internet, this meant hours of research, and still more hours of trial and error to establish what I’d done and how to undo it. I edited .bat files, I backed things up, I retrieved missing files from compressed directories, I tried and tried and I won. Oh, the perseverance of youth.
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The Most Pointless Hardware In PC Gaming

Catharsis comes in many forms. But there’s none so satisfying as a good old fashioned sweary rant. Hell, I’m not even talking about a pseudo-Charlie-Brooker-but-not-nearly-as-witty polemic. More shouting obscenities into the wind. The time has come for me to unload on my top ten most cursed ruses in PC gaming hardware. In truth, the following is not entirely devoid of practical insight. But you have been warned. It ain’t pretty. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Belatedly Think: Surface Pro 3

bigger on the outside

Older readers may recall not a lot, what with being old and all. Only slightly older readers may recall my talking about replacing my laptop with a Surface Pro 2 around 18 months ago. Microsoft’s tablet/laptop hybrid has served me reasonably well for work and play, but the one aspect of it I increasingly struggled with was the size.
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G-Sync vs. Freesync: Which Dynamic Refresh Is Best?

The best things in life aren't free

It feels like whole months since there was a good old fashioned fisticuffs between AMD and Nvidia. They do so love a PR punch up. But this one’s a bit different. Nvidia’s G-Sync technology versus AMD’s FreeSync isn’t the usual trench warfare over fractions of a frame per second. It’s much more interesting than that. It’s all about something called dynamic or adaptive refresh and how that can make games run much more smoothly without necessarily upgrading your video card and even at modest frame rates. G-Sync has been available for a while. But now the first FreeSync panels are out battle can commence…

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