Posts Tagged ‘intel’

Hard Choices: How To Choose The Right CPU

Apparently, some of you don’t dedicate every waking hour to keeping up with PCI Express lane counts, silicon production nodes and CPU socket redundancy. I know, some people, eh? But with that in mind, plus the tendency for product-driven reportage to get a bit jargon heavy, not to mention some significant recent CPU-related developments from Intel of late, now feels like a good moment to stick a peg in the sand, pull all the current CPU options together, outline the key technologies and issues and then point you in the direct of a few best buys. It’s time for another semi-newbie’s guide to CPUs.
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Week In Tech: Intel’s Haswell-E Is Actually Interesting

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

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’s Gaming Tablet, No More Moore

Nvidia has wheeled out its second effort at the obviously-not-actually-a-PC-but-does-interesting-things-with-PCs Shield gaming device. And this time it’s a tablet. Which is what it should have been in the first place. But doesn’t actually mean it’s automatically good idea. Still, it’s hard to imagine Shield the Second doing much worse than Shield the First, which ended up being given away in boxes of Cheerios (ish) and even then only escaped landfills on account of being handed out by the sackful to shameless media types addicted to freebies. Meanwhile, there’s more confirmation that Moore’s Law is really no, er, more, some interesting screens get priced up, another interesting screen turns out to be an epic dud…it was ever thus.
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Week in Tech: Buy A Decent Screen, That’s An Order

While I slave away gathering all the bits for our upcoming home-build vs factory-built PC comparo extraordinaire, here’s something to think about and even get on with in the meantime. Buy a decent screen. I’ve touched on this before, but some recent shenanigans with 4K monitors and Laird Minor (little brother) being in need of a new screen have reminded me of something. My main PC display is seven years old. My secondary PC display is eight years old. And it’s only now that I’m beginning to even think about upgrading. Imagine trying to game on an eight-year-old CPU or graphics card. Nasty. Meanwhile, the skinny is out on Intel’s new anniversary-themed CPUs and the rumour mill is building up for the next wave of high-end graphics cards.
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Week in Tech: Alienware’s Non-Steambox, SSD No-Brainer

Alienware's just-a-box, er, box

Can there be any of you left not running an SSD as your main boot drive? If so, do not pass go, do not worry about M.2 and SATA Express, do not collect 200 units in non-sequential, unmarked local denomination. Just buy a Crucial MX100. It’s now on sale with the 256GB effort yours for just £78 / $109. If you don’t do it, I shall sulk. Meanwhile, it turns out Alienware is pressing ahead with its Steambox thingie in spite of Valve’s foot dragging. Consequently, Alienware now plans to sell its Steambox without SteamOS or the Steam controller. Er, what? Oh, and there’s a spot of good news concerning Intel’s new Devil’s Dumplings CPUs. They’re confirmed compatible with a bunch of existing 8 Series motherboards.

Finally, home build versus factory built. Used vs new? What are your preferences and why? I’m planning on sourcing a pre-built PC from one of the UK’s better system builders in the next few weeks and comparing it to the home-built option using both new and used components. Speak now or forever hold your peace. At least, don’t complain if I’ve missed something you wanted to know!
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Week in Tech: Ultrawide Monitors, DDR 4 & New Intel CPUs

Utterly pointless, but ooh it's purty: Asus's Hoth-spec mobo

Christ, it is Computex again? I can’t keep up. Surprisingly, we’ve never had a round up from what remains the greatest show of PC hardware on earth. But let’s pretend we’re old hands and ponder what another 12 months has bought us barring an incremental uptick in cynicism and one step closer to cold, infinite oblivion? Quicker, cheaper SSDs (yup, that again). Yay! A properly cheap and fully overclockable Intel CPU. Huzzah! The fastest optical mouse sensor ever. Haroo! Super-wide, beyond ultra-HD monitors. Argh! DDR4 memory that will revolutionise gaming (allegedly). Er, zorg?! And even an Hoth-spec tundra-camo motherboard. Mother. Of. God. Oh, and I’ve finally clapped eyes upon one of those cheap TN 4K panels and can confirm that they’re damn good and put an end to the need for anti-aliasing – yes, really. Ride your rodents for the round up.

UPDATE:
Thanks to an AMD Freesync demo, the possibility, albeit still remote, of firmware Freesync updates for existing monitors has emerged…
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Week in Tech: Intel 9 Series, £200 GPUs, VR And Fast Food

Where awesome game developers go.

Bit of a mish mash this week starting with a quick update on Intel’s new 9 Series chipset and the motherboards that go with it. The boards are now on sale, but new CPUs of note are missing, so what gives? Meanwhile AMD has officially cut the price of ye olde Radeon R9 280 to $249 which seems like a good cue to look at the state of graphics at that £200 sweet spot here in Blighty (apologies for the mixed currency messaging). While we’re talking AMD, there’s confirmation that new high performance FX CPUs are on the way. Hurrah. But probably not until 2016. Haroo. Oh, and try this bombshell for size. Oculus Rift will be testing out its headsets on snotty youths at none other than the swashbuckling culinary trend setter and conspicuous Michelin star non-awardee that is Chuck E. Cheese’s. And some other stuff that I haven’t quite decided on as I write these very words. Click through and you never know what you might find. It might even be worth reading.
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Week in Tech: Intel Loves You, VR, $3,000 Graphics

The golden age of detachable twangers returns...

Right, then, it’s been an intriguing week or so in PC gaming tech. The virtual reality roadmap just got a rocket up the bum with the news that social network and moneybags megacorp Facebook has snapped up Oculus VR while Sony has injected additional momentum by showing off its own prototype headset for the PS4. Meanwhile, remember when you could buy a cheap Intel chip and overclock the twangers off it? Those days may be returning. Intel has apparently decided that it cares about we PC enthusiasts after all. Well, kinda. Oh, and Nvidia has another catastrophically expensive video card which you won’t be buying. Same old.

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Week in Tech: Intel Updates ‘Orrible Haswell, Faster SSDs

Intel's new CPUs Hz so good

An extra 100MHz. This is progress, Intel style. I speak of the expected refresh of Intel’s Haswell-vintage CPUs, due in a month or so. It’s a PR upgrade to what was already an underwhelming family of desktop processors and yet another example of some pretty specular foot-dragging from Intel in recent years. Will Intel’s next properly new family of chips, known as Broadwell, be any better? If not, we should at least be able to look forward to a big step up in SSD performance fairly soon in part enabled by Intel’s upcoming 9 Series chipsets. Well, it’s something to look forward to… Read the rest of this entry »

Week In Tech: Are SSDs Really Reliable?

Oh hell, it’s happened again. But this time it’s induced not only frustration but a sudden pang of guilt. Another of my SSDs has gone titsup.com and my borderline breathless fanboyism for SSDs is flashing before my eyes. What have I done? Have I been wrong all along? Are SSDs still not fit for public consumption? At the very least, it’s reason enough to re-examine just how reliable the latest solid staters are and whether the reward is worth the risk. Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Tech: The PC is Doomed, Long Live the PC!

Transparent aluminum?!

Or maybe it’s the other way round. Anyway, the Xbox One only has 16 ROPs. I know, 16 ROPs. The humiliation. The humanity! Nvidia’s GeForce 6800 had 16 ROPs in 2004. No idea what I’m on about? It’s cheap point scoring from a smug PC evangelist, of course, but also just a single entry in a long list of reasons why the PC is looking pretty clever now the new consoles are roaming the wild. On the other hand, I’ve had a grope around the latest factoids and rumours relating to PC processors for the next year or so and the shape of things to come feels awfully familiar. Maybe the prophets of doom are right, after all… Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Tech: SSD Update. Just Buy One

It’s been many moons since our last update on solid state of play. And now the SSD game finds itself in a bit of an odd spot. It seems like we’re on the cusp of a big transition, what with new PCI Express-based interfaces on the horizon. At the same time, existing SATA III drives feel like they’ve finally grown up, decided to give the ‘rents a rest and started behaving reliably and responsibly. The tech has matured and the end user experience is converging on something subjectively ‘good enough’. Just pick a drive at random from one of the decent outfits and you’re good to go. Then again, wouldn’t it be bloody annoying if you bought an SSD today only to find the entire market turned on its head by super-fast drives in the space of a month or three. What should you make of it all? Read on, chaps, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Tech: Ultra-SFF Gaming FTW?


Could it be true? That here in my mortal hand I do hold a nugget of purest gaming? Not exactly. It’s the latest and tiniest NUC, Intel’s so-called ‘Next Unit of Computing’. It’s a full-function PC with Intel’s best graphics ever. And it’s claimed to sport pukka gaming chops. Meanwhile, Valve has been punting SteamOS, the whole Steam Box thang is still on – as far as I know – and Xi3’s Piston has been priced up at a preposterous $1,000. Chuck all that into the mix and you might wonder whether the NUC looks a lot like a entry-level Steam Box, on the hardware side at least. And if so, does the small-form-factor gaming thing add up? Read the rest of this entry »

The Silence: Ubisoft Silent About AMD Customers

Nearly two weeks ago we received a press release from Ubisoft boasting about a new deal with NVIDIA, mysteriously described as a “gaming alliance”. This deal, they said, was designed to “offer PC gamers the best gaming experience possible for Ubisoft’s biggest upcoming titles.” The piece goes on to explain how the PC is the world’s most popular format, that gamers “demand a truly elite experience”, and how much they value their PC gamers. Or, 51% of them, at least. We got in touch with Ubi straight away to find out how this deal would affect the third of gamers who use AMD/ATI cards, and indeed the 14% who use Intel’s on-board graphics. (Source.) Reply came there none.

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Week In Tech: Haswell Mobile, AMD Goes GHz Gaga

Some of you were a teensy bit miffed by my unceremonious defenestration of Intel’s new Haswell CPUs as desktop chips. In fairness, when you’ve only played with the desktop iterations, that’s going to influence your outlook. And Intel really was asking for it. Anyway, while I mentioned Haswell has some serious mobile chops, it’s worth having a closer look at what it all means for mobile gaming and what you should be looking out for when bagging a laptop. In other news, AMD has annouced a 5GHz processor. Surely this can’t be the beginning of a new GHz war…? Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: Intel’s ‘Orrible New Haswell Chips


Move along. There’s absolutely nothing to see.

Still here? Fine. Intel’s new Haswell CPUs are a non-event for the desktop PC. In fact, with Haswell Intel’s indifference to the desktop might just have been upgraded to spite. If you really must have an explanation, here it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Week In Tech: Hands On With Those New Games Consoles

Ha, sorry. Not really. But it got your attention. And there’s a thin tendril of truth in it. It’s been a busy week in hardware and in my mortal hands I hold a laptop containing AMD’s Jaguar cores. The very same cores as found in the freshly minted games consoles from Microsoft and Sony. So what are they like and what does it mean for PC gaming?

Meanwhile, Nvidia drops a price bomb of the bad kind and Intel has some new chips on the way. Read on for the gruesome details. Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Tech: Intel Overclocking, Bonkers-Wide Screens

Don’t sling your old CPU on eBay just yet. Too many Rumsfeldian known unknowns remain, never mind the unknown unknowns. But the known knowns suggest Intel is bringing back at least a slither of overclocking action to its budget CPUs. It’s arrives with the incoming and highly imminent Haswell generation of Intel chips and it might help restore a little fun to the budget CPU market, not to mention a little faith in Intel. Next up, local game streaming. Seems like a super idea to me. So, I’d like to know, well, what you’d like to know about streaming. Then I’ll get some answers for you. Meanwhile, game bundles or bagging free games when you buy PC components. Do you care? I’ve also had a play with the latest bonkers-wide 21:9-aspect PC monitors… Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: The Week in Tech

The pitfalls of high performance PC graphics. Pitfalls. Geddit? Sigh

Graphics, graphics, graphics. It’s all you lot care about. Actually, it’s what I care about most when it comes to PC performance. So why fight it? Instead, I’ve got a couple of graphics-related titbits for you this week. Firstly, I’ve had a chat with Intel’s graphics guru, Richard Huddy. Odds are, you’ll be gaming on Intel graphics one day. What’s more, the mere fact that Intel has snapped up the likes of Mr Huddy, previously known for his dev-rel uberness at ATI, when there was an ATI, is symptomatic of Intel’s increasingly full-on attitude to graphics. The other part of this week’s awfully exciting package is NVIDIA’s new GeForce Experience. It’s an automated game settings optimisation tool. The idea is to take the headache out of graphics settings and give you the holy grail of PC performance and visuals with console levels of setup pain, which is to say zero pain.
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