Week in Tech: New Intel Chips, More Mega-Monitors

By Jeremy Laird on January 15th, 2015.

There but for the grace of US immigrations officials...

It’s January and that can only mean one thing. Well, apart from New Year’s resolutions serially and unceremoniously defenestrated by the second week and a general sense of futility. No, I speak of the festival of capitalism gone completely mad that is CES in Las Vegas. Which actually happened last week. CES isn’t exactly the epicentre of all things PC. But it’s so bleedin’ huge, even a tiny fraction of it dedicated to the PC adds up to a lot of interesting things. This year is no exception, what with bonkers-fast SSDs, screens that push all my IPS, 120Hz-plus and frame-syncing buttons, integrated graphics from Intel that might be (oh OK, won’t be) good for playing games and a cheap PC case from Corsair that looks tolerable. I know, I’m really selling this stuff.
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Week in Tech: 2015 Hardware Hotness

By Jeremy Laird on January 8th, 2015.

Your new gaming PC...

We wrapped up 2014 with the best hardware bits of the year. Ever the innovator, I’m thinking how better to start 2015 than a look at the likely highlights for the next 12 months? Empty speculation and a dash of rampant SEO cheekiness? Perish the very thought. Instead, hang your cynicism on a coat hook for half an hour and humour me. With upsides that start with faster graphics and cheaper SSDs and might extend to some free gaming performance for your PC courtesy of Microsoft, turning your TV into a massive gaming rig for under £100/$150 and perhaps even a VR revolution, 2015 might not be so bad after all.

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Healing The Rift: Razer Aims To Democratise VR

By Alec Meer on January 6th, 2015.

hello facebox my old friend

God only knows where they get the money from, but hardware firm Razer are a reliable source of massively optimistic gaming tech that it’s hard to believe will ever quite take off despite how it appealing it sounds on paper. Hands up who owns a Razer Hydra? Or a Razer Edge Pro? Or is planning on a Project Christine? Well, maybe this one will hit the big time: OSVR, an attempt to essentially make games which support one type of VR headset play nice with any type of VR headset.
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The Successes And Failures Of Building Powerful PCs

By Wasim Salman on December 28th, 2014.

Wasim Salman writes about videogames using short, mechanical sentences. He also sometimes builds PCs, and has written this article for us about the ups and downs of building and owning computers that are more powerful than they need to be.

Enclave.

It all started with a 2006 Lenovo T61 Thinkpad.

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Week in Tech: Epic End Of Year Review

By Jeremy Laird on December 18th, 2014.

It’s that time of year when the press releases stop flowing, the new product dries up and yours truly runs out of novel kit to verbally clobber. What more excuse do we need to round up the highlights of the year in PC gaming tech, from the proud victories and fearful gaffes to the simply-failed-to-ever-happens. Here we go…

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Week in Tech: Buy Yourself The Gift Of Graphics

By Jeremy Laird on December 11th, 2014.

Custom-cooled 290X is where it's at re AMD cards

As the festive season approaches and thoughts inevitably turn to gifts and giving, to those we love and cherish and want to keep safe from all the horror and the hurt, I can’t help but recall Captain Blackadder’s priorities at such moments. So, that’ll be me. Or rather you. Look, what I’m trying to say is that it’s nearly Christmas, graphics cards look cheap, so I suggest if you’re struggling for frame rates, now’s a good time to give yourself a treat and knock that particular problem on the head. Meanwhile, Samsung has wheeled out its first affordable SSD with 3D memory. Sounds exciting. But is it? Read the rest of this entry »

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Week In Tech: Decade-Long Monitor Marathon Is Over

By Jeremy Laird on December 4th, 2014.

You see that dinky little thing on the left? That, ladies and germs, is the once-mighty 30-inch Dell 3007. It’s taken 10 years of faithful patience. But at last it’s happened. I’ve seen the probable replacement for my trusty monitor. It’s none other than Philip’s new BDM4065UC. Poetic it ain’t, but never mind because this is the screen I have been waiting for this past decade. 40 inches, 4K, not TN, at least 60Hz and reasonably affordable (in this case circa £550, estimates vary for US pricing but sub $1,000 and possibly as little as $700 is the latest info).

Is this overkill, just a hulking great HDTV that has no business being a monitor? There is a whiff of truth in that. But there’s also method in my madness. I encourage the sceptical among you to roll with me for just a bit. I believe the new high-end default has arrived.

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Week in Tech: Desktop Vs Laptop, Kinda

By Jeremy Laird on November 27th, 2014.

Sometimes, the numbers aren’t enough. When you compare what the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M looks like on paper with what it will actually do stuffed into a laptop PC, grudgingly you concede this is one of those times. Nvidia’s latest graphics chip for laptops looked good at launch, but a few weeks later I’ve now had a play and it’s burst right through my cynical, dessicated, world-weary attitude to the technology refresh cycle. This thing takes laptop gaming to a new level. Great. But here’s the real question. Is it good enough to finally put that desktop vs laptop debate to bed? Time to find out… Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: SSD Update – It’s All About (NV)Me!

By Jeremy Laird on November 20th, 2014.

Turns out Samsung's 840 Evo is a bit borked...

One word. NVMe. Take it from me, you want some of it. So, you’d better start to get your head around it. Luckily, it’s all you need to know about solid-state drives or SSDs over the next year or so. Well, that and whether your motherboard can support NVMe. Oh, and the difference between M.2, SFF-8639 and SATA Express. I know. This whole SSD thing is a nightmare to keep up with right now. But let me simply say this: some early solid-state drives with that NVMe stuff I just mentioned have appeared in recent months, and these things absolutely fly.

Time, then, for an SSD update and for me to make something intelligible out of the technosoup that is emerging SSD tech. Also, can there really be any of you left without an SSD of some kind? If so, shout out below and let’s see if we can all encourage the laggards to finally make the leap. SSDs are cheaper than ever (an eminently viable 100GB-120GB drive can be had for as little as about £50 / $70, possibly even less with some deft shopping), and I can promise that you will not be disappointed.
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Week in Tech: Mobile Gaming Update

By Jeremy Laird on November 6th, 2014.

Embrace the brick

Long ago, in an age when PC magazines ruled the land, the internet had barely achieved broadband and being a tech journalist really meant something (OK, that last bit was probably never true), I used to be a laptop gaming junky. This, I’d largely forgotten until Nvidia’s new mobile GPUs launched the other day and were accompanied by some conspicuously OTT hyperbole from wet-behind-the-ears padawans in the tech press. How quickly they forget the great mobile GPUs of yesteryear. Thus, for a serious dissertation on the delights and, let’s be honest, drastic downsides of laptop gaming along with a grudging admission that the new GeForce GTX 970M and 980M do actually look pretty damn fine, you know what to do.

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Week in Tech: All Hail The Mighty Mechanical Keyboard

By Jeremy Laird on October 30th, 2014.

The cheap way to get a taste of those Cherries

Mechanical keyboards. What, dear readers, is the schitnitz? Dare I say it, there is such a thing as the mechanical keyboard movement. Indeed, we’re now at the point where there’s significant debate within that community over various types of mechanical keyboard switches. Knowing your Cherry MX Red from your Blue and Brown absolutely matters. But what exactly is a mechanical keyboard, why is it rapidly becoming so revered by some gamers and should you pop out and pick one up? While we’re talking keyboards, are programmable keyboards with per-key full-colour RGB LED backlighting the next big thing? For answers to all these questions (at best), ride your rodents to the other side. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: The PC Is Dead, Long Live The PC

By Jeremy Laird on October 23rd, 2014.

My desk drawer, yesterday

You know the one about the New Scientist editor and his philosophy for the magazine, right? Science is interesting and if you don’t agree you can bugger off? It comes second hand via the shy, retiring figure that is Richard Dawkins and, for all I know, it’s probably apocryphal. But it’s at least in broadly the same ballpark as my feelings about the computer industry. It’s just had such a huge impact on the way we live. And none so much as the PC, even if the image of the poor old thing being devoured alive by a swarm of vicious mobile devices gets repeated so often, nobody really bothers to check if it’s true. And yes, we’ve been here before, kinda.

But in recent weeks it’s all become more baffling than ever. Try this for size: Record revenues for good old Intel, AMD laying off staff while another bit of what used to be AMD is paid $1.5 billion to take away what’s left of IBM’s chip production facility – deep breath – tablet sales tanking, PC sales taking up the slack, an Apple iPad chip with more transistors than an eight-core Intel PC processor, graphics chip vendors stuck on 28nm while Apple pinches all the 20nm production capacity…I’m not sure what to make of all, especially in terms of, ya know, simply playing games on PCs. But one thing is for sure, it’s interesting. And if you don’t agree… Read the rest of this entry »

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Hard Choices: The Great DIY Vs Pre-built PC Debate, Part 2

By Jeremy Laird on October 16th, 2014.

After last week’s missive, the comments were alive with la passion PC. And it was all good. But the one critical aspect we didn’t look at in detail was the value proposition. Do you really save a chunk of change with a DIY build? A matter of some simple sums, you say?

Would that it could be so. The reality is that the variables quickly get out of control. Much depends on your budget, how flexible you are on spec, what kind of warranty you want, even where you are in the world. There are no definitive answers, folks. However, what I can do is spec up my ideal PC via both separate components and a few of the usual suspects from the PC building industry here in Blighty. The upshot makes for some interesting observations that highlight the various pitfalls, pros and cons, hell even some of my own personal peccadilloes, when it comes to DIY vs pre-built PCs. So get comfortable. This is going to take a while. Read the rest of this entry »

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