The OWC Aura Pro X2 SSD Review: An NVMe Upgrade For Older Macs

See the original posting on Anandtech

Apple was an early adopter of PCIe SSDs, introducing them in 2013 when the NVMe specification was still in its infancy and before any M.2 NVMe hardware was available. As a result, Apple’s PCIe SSDs for the era used a proprietary form factor rather than the now-common M.2 standard. But form factor limitations aside, they were still physically and electrically stand-alone SSDs, meaning that unlike Apple’s latest machines with integrated SSD controllers, these machines could have their SSDs swapped out for an upgrade.

This is where Mac accessory and upgrade specialist Other World Computing (OWC) comes in. OWC has offered several aftermarket SSDs in Apple’s custom not-quite-M.2 form factor, culminating in the recent release of the Aura Pro X2 SSD. Designed to be a drop-in upgrade, this is a modern high-end SSD with 3D TLC NAND and the latest Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller, with the reference M.2 PCB layout adjusted to fit Apple’s form factor. So for older Mac users – and particularly Retina-generation MacBook Pro owners – the Aura Pro X2 SSD presents a chance to breathe some more life into these machines with a newer, larger SSD.

Apple Announces iOS 13: Dark Mode, iPadOS & Files

See the original posting on Anandtech

At today’s WWDC event in San Jose, California, Apple unveiled the newest update to its iOS operating system, iOS 13, as well as its forking of iOS for tablet devices into a new dedicated OS: iPadOS. We’ll be quickly covering the most important updates this year and see what’s to expect of this year’s newest features introductions.

System-wide dark mode

Most interesting visual change for iOS 13 is the addition of a new dedicated dark mode that switches the UI to a darker colour scheme that is easy on the eyes. Apple’s implementation of the feature is similar to what we’ve seen by other mobile vendors: It’s able to be quickly switched on or off, and also has a schedule feature which automatically adapts the mode based on time of day.

Wallpapers have been optimised to also feature variants for both light and dark mode themes. While dark mode isn’t supported by third-party apps immediately, developers can update their apps with the new SDK and also integrate with the system-wide switch via an API.

Dark mode will best work on OLED devices and will such provide users with notable battery life improvements due to the lower power draw required to display darker content.

Advanced Photos Editing & Photo Arrangement

The new Photos app allows users to now more extensively edit photos with new advanced techniques. New controls include vibrance, white balance, sharpening, “definition” (clarity filter), noise reduction and vignette filters right from the photo app. Most importantly is the ability to now do advanced editing on video content as well, something that usually had to be done by editing on a dedicated device can now be done on your phone, and you can now crop, rotate, change exposure or apply filter right from your iOS device.

The album feature of the Photos app has also been massively updated. The device and iCloud will now sort your photos based on dates, being able to view group of pictures based on the day, month or even year they were taken, a feature that mimics the way Samsung’s Gallery app has worked for a few years now. Furthermore the new app will be able to sort photos by events, able to better rediscover the collections in the future.

Portrait mode will now allow users to change the intensity and position of the lightning, giving much better control over their portrait shots and allowing for more customised lighting results.

Privacy & Security

Apple made a big emphasis on new privacy and security features in today’s keynote event. At the heart of the new improvements for iOS13 is the new addition of a “Sign In with Apple” feature. The new feature, relatively self-explanatory in its name, is linked to your Apple ID instead of your traditional email account.

The cool thing about the new feature is that Apple enables a “Hide My Email” feature where it creates a unique alias for a given particular app or website. In Apple’s privacy settings later you can have the alias forward emails to your real email or simply block emails if the third-party becomes a nuisance.

Part of the goal of increasing privacy and security, application location permissions will now work differently in iOS 13. You can now give out more fine-grained controls, such as only granting access once instead of permanently. Furthermore Apple will now notify you when an app is using your location, giving you the option to deny access.

A nifty new feature is that sharing photos will now give the option to strip off the location EXIF data based on your preference.

Maps With More Detail

Apple has completely revamped the mapping data for its own Maps app. Using new LIDAR technology, satellite and mapping vehicles, the new Maps app delivers significantly more detail. New functionality includes collections of locations and favourites which gives you a better handle of your most common locations.

Apple also essentially introduces its own version of Google StreetView: The new 360° view of locations promises to offer a similar experience to what Google is able to achieve, but Apple’s implementation seems a lot more seamless and in the event demonstration traveling along a route looks a lot smoother and eye-catching than what Google’s implementation.

The big catch with the new mapping data is that it’s only targeted to cover most of the US by the end of 2019 with some very limited European countries later in the year.

Memoji and Messages

Devices with A9 chips or newer now support generation of your own Memoji stickers. Stickers are essentially static Animojis that you can send in Messages and integrate into the new keyboard.

Messages now also give the option for you to share your name or photo (or animoji or any other photo) when starting a conversation, so the receiver on the other end will immediately know who it is.

Swipe Keyboard

Existing for years on Android devices and third-party Android keyboards, Apple now finally introduces swipe to type on its default iOS keyboard with the adoption of QuickType. Frankly personally this is a huge deal as I haven’t used a regular tap to type keyboard on my daily devices in like 5 years, so it’s great to see Apple get on to the bandwagon for this feature.

Performance – 2x App Launch Speed

Last year’s iOS 12 saw a large performance increase in overall user experience and responsiveness due to Apple’s revamped scheduler and DVFS scaling speed. This year iOS 13 further enhances performance of devices, particularly application launch speeds.

Apple is now employing a new application packaging standard that vastly reduces the size of apps. New application downloads from the App Store are said to be 50% smaller, while application updates will be up to 60% smaller. The new app packaging also increases the application launch times by 2x, a significant upgrade over past generations.

Files – An Actual Filesystem??

Probably what is the single most significant update for iOS 13 was something that was covered in the iPadOS part of the presentation: Files support with full local storage.

The addition of a files browser with full generic access to the local storage is finally resolving one of iOS’s single biggest lackings since its inception over a decade ago. The new iOS 13 now supports showcasing of full file metadata, zippin

Motorola Announces New Moto Z4: Moto’s 2019’s Flagship

See the original posting on Anandtech

Today Motorola launches the new Moto Z4 (stylised: moto z4). The Z4 follows up on last year’s Z3 and represents Motorola flagship device for 2019. Yet the Z4 isn’t targeting the flagship segment per se; the company attempts to target the “premium” segment, the category of devices just below common flagship phones, yet still offering most of the specifications and features at a lower price point.

The Moto Z4 comes with a brand-new 48MP camera as well as Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 675 SoC, all in an bezel-less OLED display that has a screen-to-body ratio competing against the best flagship devices from the competition.

Arm’s New Mali-G77 & Valhall GPU Architecture: A Major Leap

See the original posting on Anandtech

Along today’s announcement of the new Cortex-A77 CPU microarchitecture, the arguably bigger announcement is Arm’s unveiling of the new Valhall GPU architecture and the new Mali-G77 GPU. It’s been three years since the unveiling of the Bifrost architecture, and as the industry and workloads continue to evolve, so must the company’s GPUs.

Valhall and the new Mali-G77 follow up on the last three generation of Mali GPUs with some significant improvements in performance, density and efficiency. While last year’s G76 introduced some large changes to the compute architecture of the execution engines, the G77 goes a lot further and departs from Arm’s relatively unusual compute core design.

Dr. Lisa Su at Computex 2019: AMD Keynote Live Blog (10am TPE, 10pm ET, 02:00 UTC)

See the original posting on Anandtech

AMD is on a hell of a ride. With the public still wanting more information about Zen 2 and Navi from the CES announcements, Dr. Lisa Su will be taking to the stage here at Computex 2019 to deliver the show’s lead-off CEO keynote, a first for AMD. We’re all here ready to give you the details, stay tuned for our Live Blog. It starts at 10am local time, 10pm ET, 02:00 UTC.

Zoom Zoom: Testing 10x Hybrid Zoom in Dublin with the Huawei P30 Pro and Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

See the original posting on Anandtech

One of the main issues facing the smartphone industry is stagnation. From generation to generation, we see the main smartphone manufacturers gunning for differentiation, and we’ve seen features such as multiple cameras, all-screen displays, and in-screen fingerprint readers become widespread among the high-end devices in the past couple of years. One of the most recent features available on a couple of new smartphones is a strong zoom, up to 5x/6x optical zoom paired with software to offer a 10x ‘lossless hybrid’ zoom and up to a 50x digital zoom. We recently got hold of the Huawei P30 Pro and the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom for a quick showdown, given that these are the first devices to both offer this new feature.

The Honor 20 Pro: A Quad-camera Hands-On Review

See the original posting on Anandtech

As a sister brand of Huawei, Honor in the last few years has seen quite a rising success in terms of delivering high value devices. In fact Honor’s smartphones have become so popular that the brand by itself is able to take a notable amount of marketshare percentage in multiple markets, aiming to become #3 in some countries.

Today Honor is announcing the new Honor 20 Pro – a continuance of the company’s mainline series which made it so popular to begin with. The new Honor 20 Pro takes elements from Huawei P30’s series, such as new camera systems and adds its own touch, deriving design decisions from this year’s Honor View20.

The Honor 20 Pro continues to use the 48MP sensor we first saw in the View20 and adds a 3x optical zoom module, a new wide angle camera module, and curiously enough a new dedicated macro camera module. We’ve had the phone for a few days and were able to do some camera testing as well test essentials such as the battery life of the phone. 

Hands on with the Realme Pro 3: 6.3-inch Phone with Snapdragon 710 For Under €200

See the original posting on Anandtech

Midrange smartphones are the main market for volume sales. Over the years companies have tried to attack this segment with aggressive specifications followed by exuberant pricing, with a select few having a good deal of success. The latest entrant to this market is Realme, the budget brand of parent Oppo, who is coming out with its new Realme Pro 3 smartphone. This device, in terms of specifications for the price, is amazingly good value.

Upgrading from an Intel Core i7-2600K: Testing Sandy Bridge in 2019

See the original posting on Anandtech

One of the most popular processors of the last decade has been the Intel Core i7-2600K. The design was revolutionary, as it offered a significant jump in single core performance, efficiency, and the top line processor was very overclockable. With the next few generations of processors from Intel being less exciting, or not giving users reasons to upgrade, and the phrase ‘I’ll stay with my 2600K’ became ubiquitous on forums, and is even used today. For this review, we dusted off our box of old CPUs and put it in for a run through our 2019 benchmarks, both at stock and overclocked, to see if it is still a mainstream champion.

Google Announces Pixel 3a & Pixel 3a XL – Mid-Range Phones With Flagship Camera

See the original posting on Anandtech

Google’s Pixel smartphone line-up has been a mainstay of the industry for a few years now. We’re all familiar with devices such as the latest Pixel 3 which is Google’s latest entry in the high-end flagship market. In particular Google puts a lot of emphasis on the cameras of the Pixel devices, and last year in particular, Google, along with Huawei, have raised the bar in terms of what is possible to achieve thanks to computational photography.

While the Pixel devices definitely have their strengths, one inarguable competitive weakness of the phones is their pricing. At an official MSRP and current Google store price of $799 for the Pixel 3 and $899 for the 3 XL, Google demands quite a lot, especially in view of other newer possibly more attractive options from the competition.

In an attempt to widen its product range and adhere to a more price-sensitive audience, today we see the introduction of the new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The two new phones are very much placed at more mid-range price-points, yet without compromising much on what Google sees as the keystone of the Pixel phones: the camera.

Going over the specifications of the two new phones:

Google Pixel 3a’s
  Pixel 3a Pixel 3a XL
SoC Snapdragon 670

2x Kryo 360 (CA75)
@ 2.0GHz 
6x Kryo 360 (CA55)
@ 1.7GHz

Adreno 615

DRAM 4GB LPDDR4X
Display 5.6" OLED
2220 x 1080 (18:9)
6.0" OLED
2220 x 1080 (18:9)
Size Height 151.3 mm 160.1 mm
Width 70.1 mm 76.1 mm
Depth 8.2 mm 8.2 mm
Weight 147 grams 167 grams
Battery Capacity 3000mAh 3700mAh
Wireless Charging
Rear Cameras
Main 12.2MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PDAF
f/1.8 76° lens with OIS
Telephoto
Wide
Extra
Front Camera 8MP 1.12µm
f/2.2 84° lens; fixed focus
Storage 64GB
I/O USB-C
3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless (local) 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
Cellular UE Category 11 (DL) / Category 5 (UL)
600Mbit/s DL (3xCA 2×2 MIMO)
75Mbit/s UL
Other Features Dual Speakers, 18W Fast Charging
Dual-SIM 1x nanoSIM
Launch Price $399 / £399 $479 / £469

At the heart of both phones we find a new Snapdragon 670 SoC from Qualcomm. The chip was announced last August and comes with a 2+6 CPU core configuration consisting of 2 Cortex A75 cores at 2GHz and 6 Cortex A55 cores at 1.7GHz, accompanied by an Adreno 615 GPU. The chip is manufactured on Samsung’s 10LPP process node.

It’s actually quite odd to see Google go with the Snapdragon 670, given that Qualcomm offers a slew of other newer options such as the Snapdragon 675. Here it’s possible that the Pixel 3a phones just come at an odd timing between generations and weren’t able to employ the newer SoC.

Google fits the Pixel 3a’s with 4GB of LPDDR4X, which is a fair for mid-range devices. In terms of storage, the devices comes with a single 64GB option without expandable storage.

Design-wise, both phones looks night identical to the smaller Pixel 3, using the same design language and characteristic features. It’s interesting that for the bigger Pixel 3a XL, Google also opted to use the notch-less design, avoiding this much critiqued aspect of the Pixel 3 XL.

Both phones continue to employ OLED panels. The smaller Pixel 3a comes with a 5.6” 18:9 screen with a resolution of 2220 x 1080. The larger 3a XL has a 6.0” screen with the same resolution.

Instead of using a glass back like on the Pixel 3 series, the new Pixel 3a’s come with unibody polycarbonate designs. On one hand, this reduces the weight of the phones, with the Pixel 3a coming in at 147g and the XL at 167g, but also should result in a more scratch prone phone.

Battery capacity for the smaller 3a is 3000mAh while the XL gets a notably larger 3700mAh battery.

Even though Google removed the port 2 years ago in the Pixel 2, the new Pixel 3a sees the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack. We live in quite the weird world today where vendors decide that removing a feature on t

Shuttle XPC slim DH370 mini-PC Review: A Compact Digital Signage Powerhouse

See the original posting on Anandtech

Small form-factor (SFF) machines have predominantly used 5W – 45W TDP processors. The introduction of the mini-STX form-factor standardized a compact form factor for systems with processors having a TDP up to 65W. However, the mini-STX form-factor along with the associated cooling system is still too bulky for certain use-cases. Shuttle’s XPC slim line aims to serve the market segment requiring standard desktop processors in a compact form factor. These computers are a fit for a variety of business and commercial use-cases. Today’s review takes a look at the Shuttle XPC slim DH370, a barebones PC platform that can accommodate the Intel 8th Gen. desktop processors.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Review, Feat. Zotac: Fighting Brute Force With Power Efficiency

See the original posting on Anandtech

Following up on last week’s launch of NVIDIA’s new budget video card, the GeForce GTX 1650, today we’re taking a look at our first card, courtesy of Zotac. Coming in at $149, the newest member of the GeForce family brings up the rear of the GeForce product stack, offering NVIDIA’s latest architecture in a low-power, 1080p-with-compromises gaming video card with a lower price to match.

The LG G8 Review: Solid, But Not Great

See the original posting on Anandtech

Only a few years ago LG was largely considered one of the top smartphone brands, competing alongside Samsung and the likes of HTC for marketshare. In the last few years however, LG has had quite a bit of a rough time, unable to deliver differentiating products and sometimes failing to deliver on some important basics in a smartphone.

Today, the new LG G8 ThinQ is the newest iteration in LG’s line-up, bringing the newest technologies to the table and improving on last year’s model. One important thing to note about the G8 is that LG is no longer positioning the phone as the company’s flagship product, a position which now officially belongs to the V-series such as the upcoming V50.

The G8 thus doesn’t try to be revolutionary, and instead focuses on improving on some of the core aspects of what makes it a smartphone, with some gimmicks thrown in in an attempt to differentiate itself. Arguably, the most important distinction for the G8 is that this is the first phone in the series that comes with an OLED screen which represents a major shift in terms of LG’s past product segmentation between the G and V series.

ASRock DeskMini A300 Review: An Affordable DIY AMD Ryzen mini-PC

See the original posting on Anandtech

Small form-factor (SFF) machines have emerged as a major growth segment in the desktop PC market. Performance per watt is an important metric for such systems. Intel has pretty much been the only game in town for such computers, given that AMD platforms prior to the launch of Ryzen could barely compete on that metric. The NUC (UCFF) and mini-STX (5×5) were introduced by Intel as the standard motherboard sizes for the SFF market. We have previously seen AMD-based NUC-like platforms (namely, the Zotac ZBOX CA320 nano back in 2014), and earlier this year, ASRock became the first vendor to announce an AMD-based mini-STX system – the DeskMini A300. Read on to find out how the DeskMini A300 stacks up against other contemporary SFF PCs.

The Acer Predator Triton 500 Laptop Review: Going Thin with GeForce RTX 2080

See the original posting on Anandtech

Gaming laptops continue to be a bright spot in the PC market, and practically every manufacturer offers some sort of system targeted at gamers. Some of them more successfully target the market than others, offering features that improve gameplay and visuals, and others focus more on what I’ll politely call the “gaming laptop aesthetic” which includes a myriad of multi-colored LEDs, and generally angular design cues. Diving head-first into that subject, today we’re taking a look at Acer’s gaming-focused Predator Triton 500 laptop. Although Acer has touched on a couple of the aesthetic design choices, they’ve kept it subtle, and still offer all of the accoutrements expected in a premium gaming laptop design.

Hands On with the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom: 6.6-inch OLED with No Notch and Popup Selfie Camera

See the original posting on Anandtech

There are two distinct lines of development in the modern high-end smartphone space: the move to full screen devices, and the premium feature that makes a user go ‘wow’. For the new OPPO Reno series of smartphones, it succeeds on both fronts: it has a no-notch front display, and in order to provide that selfie camera, it has a motorized pop-up camera that comes out of the top. The question is if it is enough to draw users into buying the smartphone.

The Huawei P30 & P30 Pro Reviews: Photography Enhanced

See the original posting on Anandtech

The last year has been extremely exciting period for Huawei and its products: Starting with the P20, the company’s flagships have been truly transformative in terms of their camera photography capabilities. The P20 and P20 Pro last year were extremely intriguing products for the industry, as they ushered in the first step towards an ever more prevalent aspect of modern cameras: computational photography.

Huawei had pioneered the technique to bring new innovative use-cases such as the introduction of multi-frame combination mechanism for low-light capture (a.k.a. Night Mode), which really raised the bar and lead the way in terms of what we expect smartphone cameras be capable of in low light. Huawei didn’t only innovate in terms of software, but also using quite exotic hardware camera sensors, such as the 40MP units in the P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro.

This year, Huawei doubled down on the photography aspects of its predecessors with the introduction of the new P30 and P30 Pro. The two new flagships pick up where the P20s left off, and provide yet again a new set of generational improvements to the camera setups. This year, along with software optimisations, we yet again see big changes in the hardware of the cameras, with the introduction of an industry first RYYB 40MP main camera sensor, as well as the addition of an even more exotic 5x telephoto camera module that is enabled via a prism mirror and a 90° sensor layout.

Naturally, the P30 and P30 Pro also bring overall improvements and redesigns in the other aspects of what makes them flagship smartphones, with larger batteries, new screens, and overall design revamps.

Sony Teases Next-Gen PlayStation: Custom AMD Chip with Zen 2 CPU & Navi GPU, SSD Too

See the original posting on Anandtech

After years of speculation about what could be and what Sony may be up to, the company is finally starting to ramp up the long launch cycle for their next-generation PlayStation console. In an exclusive article published this morning via Wired, Sony games guru and system lead system architect Mark Cerny laid out a few tantalizing tidbits about the still unnamed console, offering some basic information on the underlying system architecture while promising that it’s “no mere upgrade.”

The focal point of Wired’s article is, as many AnandTech readers would expect, on the chip at the heart of the system. Cerny and Sony (and AMD) are now confirming that yes, AMD is once again putting the console’s central processor together. The cutting-edge chip will be built on an unnamed 7nm process, and will incorporate all of AMD’s latest Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU technologies. And while neither Cerny nor AMD are going quite so far as to call it an APU – AMD’s favored name for a chip with CPU and GPU cores integrated – it’s clear that this is very much a single chip, and seemingly an APU in everything but name.

The Zotac ZBOX CI660 nano Fanless mini-PC Review: A Promising HTPC Platform

See the original posting on Anandtech

Zotac is a major player in the SFF PC space, and the emergence of the ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) NUCs has broadened the available market for ther mini-PCs. The company markets their passively-cooled machines under the C-series moniker. Their C-series nano units adopt a form-factor very similar to Intel’s NUCs, providing performance and thermal efficiency commensurate with their size.

The company’s latest models, the CI6xx nano units, are based on the Kaby Lake-Refresh U-series SiPs, and they aim to improve on the older C-series units by adopting a larger form factor and adding more platform features. Today, we are taking a look at the ZBOX CI660 nano – Zotac’s flagship in the CI6xx lineup.

The GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI Motherboard Review: A Sturdy $200 Surprise

See the original posting on Anandtech

On Intel’s desktop Z390 chipset, there are around 7 different ATX sized motherboards to choose from in the $180-200 price bracket. This not only puts pressure on manufacturers to deliver a high blend of premium features for a better price than the competition and use unique visuals like a peacock’s plume to entice users. GIGABYTE’s Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI is one with its $195 price tag. The Aorus brand is aimed squarely at gamers and the Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI looks to stake GIGABYTEs claim in a highly contested segment with a premium feature set at an affordable price.

1 2 3 4 5 43