Posts Tagged ‘week in tech’

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: 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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Hard Choices: The Great DIY Vs Pre-built PC Debate, Part 1

By Jeremy Laird on October 9th, 2014.

To build or to buy. That is the fundamental philosophical, cultural, hell maybe even epistemological, question for we PC lovers. Some of you will already know the cut of your own jib. You’ll either gag at the thought of paying through the nose for an oily work-experience tick to inexpertly cobble your PC together using whatever bits the system seller bought cheap that week. Or you’ll wonder why anyone imagines the marginal savings of self build are worth the risk of bork.

I reckon a lot of us are floating voters on this issue. Is DIY a false economy? Is buying pre-built just paying the man? Let’s pick apart the pros and cons and have a proper powwow in the comments below. For part one, we’ll cover off the theoretical bases, the theories, assumptions and practical pros and cons. In part two, I’ll wheel out some examples from both sides of the equation and get forensic with the cost comparison. Here we go.

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Week in Tech: Windows 9 10

By Jeremy Laird on October 2nd, 2014.

Ignore the stupid branding. Embrace the uncharacteristically sane noises coming out of Microsoft. Windows 10 looks promising for old-school PC users. You know, like gamers with desktop PCs. Will I live to regret this sunny optimism? Maybe. Will Windows 10 stop the general Windows rot? Doubtful. Even now, Microsoft’s technical ambitions for Windows seem feeble compared to the grand vision it once had back in the early 2000s. But most of what Microsoft revealed in its mercifully brief presentation covering the new Windows 10 Technical Preview release was positive for desktop dinosaurs and relatively little made me gag.

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Week in Tech: Nvidia’s New GPUs Are Stupidly Good

By Jeremy Laird on September 25th, 2014.

Last week, Nvidia’s unstoppable NDA force ran up against the immovable object that is Week in Tech’s Thursday slot. Now it’s all out in the open and we can take in just what Nvidia has achieved with its new high performance Maxwell graphics. And not at an altogether offensive price either, at least for one of the new 3D chipsets Nvidia wheeled out last Friday, the £250 / $320 Nvidia GeForce GTX 970.

Is the 970 the new no brainer, the default weapon of choice for any of you lot with around £250 / $300 to spend on graphics? As I write these words, yes. Nvidia really has produced something very special. But then I’m writing these words roughly 24 hours before you’ll read them and by then it’s just faintly possible Nvidia’s main rival AMD might very well have buggered things up for me with its own announcement. Again! It was ever thus in the graphics card silly season…oh, and we have a little update on AMD vs Nvidia in the battle for virtual reality rendering supremacy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: Don’t Buy A New Video Card

By Jeremy Laird on September 18th, 2014.

Actually, do. But possibly don’t. Or probably do. The problem here is partly ye olde NDA or non-disclosure agreement and the threat of legal immolation at the hands of sharp-suited lawyers and their homicidal liability clauses. I’m not actually under NDA, but I’ve seen things that are and there’s little value in getting people into trouble for the sake of 24 hours. And apparently Nvidia doesn’t fancy shifting its global PR campaign to suit RPS’s Thursday hardware slot. Short sighted as that may be, we must make do.

Nvidia is outing some new GPUs tomorrow and they’re definitely going to shake things up. In fact, they already have in terms of the pricing of existing graphics cards with some conspicuous bargains popping up – on this side of the pond at least. Meanwhile, there’s some interesting LCD screen news, including high refresh IPS on the horizon, and the Beast of Redmond officially brings the Xbone’s controller to the PC. Yay! But there’s no wireless support. Boo! Read the rest of this entry »

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Week In Tech: Intel’s Haswell-E Is Actually Interesting

By Jeremy Laird on September 4th, 2014.

Remember when Intel’s top platform was relevant? When proper CPUs didn’t come with nonsense like integrated graphics and the Core i7-920 D0 was the weapon of choice for gamers and PC enthusiasts in the know? Good times. More recently, the LGA2011 socket and its CPUs have been irrelevant unless you had money to hose about with nonchalant abandon. Yeah, yeah, they’ve been the fastest PC platforms you could buy. But at a premium that massively outweighed the real-world benefit. No longer. Those good times are back. With its new ‘Haswell-E’ Core i7s, the new X99 chipset and revised LGA2011-v3 socket, Intel has finally delivered the goods that I, at least, have been waiting for. Haswell-E is something you’ll actually want to buy. Ride your rodents to the other side to find out why.

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Week in Tech: Intel Shrinks Desktop Apathy Down To 14nm

By Jeremy Laird on August 14th, 2014.

22nm apathy to the left, 14nm on the right

Spool up the apathy drive and buckle in for yet another family of unexciting new CPUs from Intel. The 14nm Broadwell generation is nearly upon us and Intel has begun the slow drip feed of info about a CPU hardly anyone will notice or care about in desktop PCs. It’ll be a while yet before we get full speeds and feeds. But we already know enough to say that Broadwell is more of the same. No more cores, barely any additional CPU performance, better graphics and battery life. Deathly dull and disappointing? Yup, except possibly for mobile gaming. It’s all too familiar. Of course, if it’s exciting desktop stuff you crave, Intel’s Haswell-E is, surprisingly, shaping up rather nicely. Pity I can’t tell you any more about that, for now…
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Week in Tech: Nvidia Laptop Graphics Update

By Jeremy Laird on March 13th, 2014.

Yes, we’ve done the Nvidia Maxwell graphics thing already. As a desktop GPU, the new GeForce GTXs 750 and 750 Ti aren’t all that exciting. But the same Nvidia GM107 chip rebadged Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M and stuffed into a laptop? Suddenly, things get a whole lot more interesting. The specifics aren’t official yet. But it looks like GM107 might just deliver twice the performance for the same power budget as its predecessor and that’s pretty exciting for thin-and-light gaming lappies. And remember, this is just the beginning for Maxwell – the arrival of second-gen 20nm Maxwell mobile GPUs could be spectacular. While we’re here, I thought a beginners guide to mobile GPUs would be useful for some of you. What with all the branding shenanigans both Nvidia and AMD get up to in the mobile space, keeping track of what’s actually on offer isn’t always easy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: Nvidia’s Mighty New Maxwell Graphics

By Jeremy Laird on February 20th, 2014.

Nvidia’s new Maxwell graphics kit, then. It’s out but what’s it all about? Epic performance density and power efficiency is the elevator pitch, with a spot of improved cryptocurrency hashing thrown in for good measure. But are the first new Maxwell boards – the GTXs 750 and 750 Ti – the bomb or a bum deal? Read the rest of this entry »

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Week In Tech: The Bifurcatin’ PC, Nvidia Spoils AMD’s Party

By Jeremy Laird on November 1st, 2013.


With AMD making noise lately with new(ish) graphics cards and the threat of console-derived gaming domination courtesy of Mantle, the inevitable has happened. Nvidia has hit back. Predictably there’s a new and pointlessly pricey graphics chipset to take on AMD’s mighty Radeon R9 290X. Of more interest to we mere financial mortals are a range of broader technologies and updates, one of which is alleged to deliver the smoothest gaming mankind has ever seen. Meanwhile, is there a worrying new trend in the PC’s technical development? Certainly, there are early signs that a split in the hitherto relatively happy community that is the PC platform itself is becoming a realistic threat… Read the rest of this entry »

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