The Dell XPS 13 (9300) Review: Return of the King

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Dell changed the Windows laptop market in a single stroke with the launch of the updated XPS 13 back in 2015, ushering in the world of the InfinityEdge display, and moving the entire industry forward. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to check out the precursor to the new XPS 13 back in November, with a review of the XPS 13 2-in-1. Dell had chosen not to rest on their laurels, and the 2-in-1 proved to be one of the best notebooks around if you needed a compact and powerful convertible laptop.

Today we are evaluating the traditional clamshell version of the 2020 XPS 13, and while it offers many of the same features and design touches, it does so in a more familiar form factor that many customers are going to prefer. As a result, with the same Ice Lake processor underpinning it and Dell’s expert design capabilities on full display, the XPS 13 has the makings for one of the best 13-inch notebooks of the year.

The LG V60 and VELVET Review: A Classic & A Design Restart

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It’s been a few months since LG has released the LG V60, and since then the company has also finally managed to launch the new Velvet phone to western markets outside of Korea, such as Germany. The two new 2020 phones are quite contrasting devices for LG – representing what one could say the company’s classic design philosophy versus a newer, more refreshing design language. They’re also contrasting devices in terms of their specifications and positioning, with the V60 being a successor flagship devices with a high-end SoC, whilst the new Velvet is a “premium” design with the new Snapdragon 765, coming at a lower price point and some compromises in terms of specification – but not too many as to call it a mid-range phone.

Both phones are overdue a closer look, and that’s precisely what we’ll be doing today.

Best Intel Motherboards: July 2020

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There’s no disputing that Intel had a quiet first half of the year, with not much cadence in its product releases, aside from Comet Lake and its associated Z490 motherboards. During the middle part second quarter, Intel finally unveiled its revamped 14 nm processors through its release of the 10th generation Comet Lake for desktop, and along with it a heap of new models ranging from Z490 to H460, and even the more workstation focused W480 models. Moving firmly into the third quarter of 2020, Intel now has a fully stacked lineup and we’re unveiling our Best Intel Motherboards guide for July 2020.

The Intel Lakefield Deep Dive: Everything To Know About the First x86 Hybrid CPU

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For the past eighteen months, Intel has paraded its new ‘Lakefield’ processor design around the press and the public as a paragon of new processor innovation. Inside, Intel pairs one of its fast peak performance cores with four of its lower power efficient cores, and uses novel technology in order to build the processor in the smallest footprint it can. The new Lakefield design is a sign that Intel is looking into new processor paradigms, such as hybrid processors with different types of cores, but also different stacking and packaging technologies to help drive the next wave of computing. With this article, we will tell you all you need to know about Lakefield.

The OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro Pro Review: Becoming The Flagship

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It’s been a couple of months since OnePlus released the new OnePlus 8 & OnePlus 8 Pro, and both devices have received plenty of software updates improving the device’s experiences and camera qualities. Today, it’s time to finally go over the full review of both devices, which OnePlus no longer really calls “flagship killers”, but rather outright flagships.

The OnePlus 8, and especially the OnePlus 8 pro are big step-up redesigns from the company, significantly raising the bar in regards to the specifications and features of the phones. The OnePlus 8 Pro is essentially a check-marked wish-list of characteristics that were missing from last year’s OnePlus 7 Pro as the company has addressed some of its predecessors’ biggest criticisms. The slightly smaller and cheaper regular OnePlus 8 more closely follows its predecessors’ ethos as well as competitive pricing, all whilst adopting the new design language that’s been updated with this year’s devices.

Sponsored Post: Check Out all of the ASUS B550 Motherboards Available Now

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The arrival of the AMD B550 chipset is an exciting prospect for PC builders, as it’s the first to bring the potential of PCIe 4.0 to the forefront for mainstream builders. ASUS has a diverse selection of new motherboards to choose from with this chipset, and this useful B550 motherboard guide will help you figure out which one is right for you.

In ASUS B550 motherboards, the main PCIe x16 and M.2 slots are PCIe 4.0-capable. They also feature up to four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports that clock in with a maximum supported speed of 10Gbps each. The chipset’s built-in lanes now have PCIe 3.0 connectivity as well, which is great to see. Additionally, AMD has noted that future CPUs built on the Zen 3 architecture will be fully compatible with B550 motherboards, making them a safe and long-lasting investment for people who wish to upgrade to those new processors down the line.

AMD Succeeds in its 25×20 Goal: Renoir Crosses the Line in 2020

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One of the stories bubbling away in the background of the industry is the AMD self-imposed ‘25×20’ goal. Starting with performance in 2014, AMD committed to itself, to customers, and to investors that it would achieve an overall 25x improvement in ‘Performance Efficiency’ by 2020, which is a function of raw performance and power consumption. At the time AMD was defining its Kaveri mobile product as the baseline for the challenge – admittedly a very low bar – however each year AMD has updated us on its progress. With this year being 2020, the question on my lips ever since the launch of Zen2 for mobile was if AMD had achieved its goal, and if so, by how much? The answer is yes, and by a lot.

In this article we will recap the 25×20 project, how the metrics are calculated, and what this means for AMD in the long term.

The Intel W480 Motherboard Overview: LGA1200 For Xeon W-1200

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During Intel’s unveiling of the Z490 chipset and Intel Core 10th generation Comet Lake processors, Intel also announced its series of Xeon W-1200 processors. To accompany this announcement, without much fanfare, Intel also launched the W480 chipset which also features an LGA1200 socket. Aiming for a more professional feel for processors with ECC support, vendors have announced a variety of W480 models. Some target content creators, and others for workstation environments. These boards are paired solely with W-1200, and support both ECC and non-ECC DDR4 memory.

The Apple WWDC 2020 Keynote Live Blog (Starts at 10am PT/17:00 UTC)

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While COVID may have put a crimp on the tech industry, for Apple the show must still go on. Join us at 10am Pacific/17:00 UTC for our live blog coverage of this year’s Apple WorldWide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), which like so many other shows is taking a uniquely virtual tack this year.

The morning keynote for the developer-focused show is typically a rapid-fire two-hour run through Apple’s ecosystem, covering everything from macOS and iOS to individual Apple applications and more, and it sounds like Apple will be sticking to that strategy for their virtual show. Meanwhile there’s always the lingering question over whether we’ll also see a new hardware announcement this year – Apple tends to be about 50/50 with hardware at WWDC – something which has taken on an even greater significance this year as Apple is widely believed to be working on transitioning the Mac platform to its own Arm-based SoCs. Even if we don’t get hardware details at this year’s WWDC, even confirmation of that project and Apple’s transition plans would mark the kick-off point for a huge shift in the Apple ecosystem, and an event that could reverberate into the PC ecosystem as well.

So join us at 10am Pacific to see just what Apple is working on for this year and beyond.

Mobile Flagship Phone Camera Overview 2020 H1: Still Picture Battle

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These days whenever you select a flagship smartphone, you generally get more or less the same fundamental formula no matter the vendor you chose. It’s a glass slab with a screen, and more often than not even the internal hardware powering the phones isn’t all that different, with just a few exceptions. Whilst most vendors try to differentiate themselves in their designs and ergonomics – some with more success than others – the one aspect where smartphones can still be very different from each other is their cameras.

This year we’ve seen smartphones with more variety than ever in terms of their camera setups. The last few years has seen an explosion of fast-paced innovation in the image capture abilities of smartphones, with vendors focusing on this last aspect of a phone where they can truly differentiate themselves from others, and try to one-up the competition.

We’re halfway through 2020, and almost all vendors have released their primary flagship devices – many of which we still had yet to cover in full reviews. This was a perfect opportunity to put all of the new generation devices against each other and compare their cameras systems to really showcase just how different (or similar) they are to each other. Today’s article is a battle-royale for smartphone photography, providing an apples-to-apples comparison across the most important devices available today.

The SilverStone Permafrost PF120, PF240, and PF360 ARGB AIO Coolers Review

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SilverStone is a well-known name amongst advanced users and enthusiasts. The company earned its reputation from its first PSUs and original case designs, and soon diversified towards cooling related products. Their products usually are designed to be cost-effective, with a focus on practicality and quality instead of extravagant aesthetics. That tactic served SilverStone very well in the past, some of their CPU tower coolers have become very good values for the price.

Given SilverStone’s success with air coolers, today we are switching tracks to liquid coolers and taking a look at SilverStone’s latest all-in-one (AIO) “Permafrost” cooler series. With multiple models covering the most popular cooler sizes, SilverStone is looking to tap into what has continued to be a popular market for alternative high-performance coolers. And with the inclusion of Addressable RGB (ARGB) lighting, SilverStone is perhaps bowing to a bit to market pressures as well by including RGB lighting in their new AIO coolers.

AMD To Launch New Ryzen 3000 XT CPUs: Zen 2 with More MHz

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One of the more frequent rumors in recent weeks has been that AMD would have some new Ryzen 3000 processors to launch. Today AMD is announcing three new processors into the Ryzen 3000 family, each with the XT name, offering higher frequencies and further filling out the their CPU product stack. Each of these processors will be available on shelves in primary regions on July 7th.

Storage Matters: Why Xbox and Playstation SSDs Usher In A New Era of Gaming

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A new generation of gaming consoles is due to hit the market later this year, and the hype cycle for the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 has been underway for more than a year. Solid technical details (as opposed to mere rumors) have been slower to arrive, and we still know much less about the consoles than we typically know about PC platforms and components during the post-announcement, pre-availability phase. We have some top-line performance numbers and general architectural information from Microsoft and Sony, but not quite a full spec sheet.

The new generation of consoles will bring big increases in CPU and GPU capabilities, but we get that with every new generation and it’s no surprise when console chips get the same microarchitecture updates as the AMD CPUs and GPUs they’re derived from. What’s more special with this generation is the change to storage: the consoles are following in the footsteps of the PC market by switching from mechanical hard drives to solid state storage, but also going a step beyond the PC market to get the most benefit out of solid state storage. These are exciting times, to say the least.

To that end, today we’re taking a look at what to expect from the new console SSDs, as well as what it means for the gaming industry as a whole.

Electromigration: Why AMD Ryzen Current Boosting Won’t Kill Your CPU

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Electromigration is an issue that affects all electronics – the act of electrons bumping into silicon or copper atoms and moving them out of the crystal lattice raises the resistance of the wire, causing more voltage to be needed which exacerbates the issue. With modern processors, built on the nanometer scale, it becomes ever more important to keep the rate of electromigration low, as wires are only dozens of atoms wide. Things that affect the rate of electromigration include voltage, current, and temperature.

So when it was recently been discovered that motherboard manufactuers on AMD’s AM4 platform are adjusting the default current values as detected by Ryzen’s power delivery co-processors, increasing the thermals and ultimately providing more power being delivered to the CPU, what does this mean?. What does this mean for performance? What does this mean for the longevity of the processor? Does this affect electromigration to the extent that I should be worried? Here’s our take on the matter.

The Biostar Racing Z490GTN Review: $200 for Comet Lake mini-ITX

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Small form factor boards are always a key talking point for any desktop market. The usual breakdown on Mini-ITX sales for any given generation is usually around 10%, and because these boards end up in the lower-cost systems, there tends to be a focus on the cheaper end of the spectrum, even when it comes to the Z series chipset which is the one with all the bells and whistles. With Intel’s new Comet Lake-S processors, ranging from Celeron all the way up to Core i9, and with the new socket for Comet Lake, there will be a renewed demand for those looking to build a small form factor Intel system. One of the popular mini-ITX low-cost boards in each generation is from BIOSTAR, and today we’re testing the Z490GTN.

The Microsoft Surface Book 3 (15-Inch) Review: A Refreshing Dip Into Ice Lake

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The PC industry has introduced some remarkably exciting designs over the last five years or so. Some of those designs, such as the thin-bezel laptop, have been adopted by almost all players in the industry. Microsoft has certainly been an innovator in the space as well, and the Surface Pro series has become the baseline for an entire category that did not exist in any volume before their launch. But almost certainly, one of the quirkiest designs was the Surface Book. First launched in 2015, and then succeeded by the Surface Book 2 in 2017, Microsoft is now releasing the third generation of their most powerful notebook computer.

The ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review: Punching LGA1200 Into Life

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In our first Intel Z490 motherboard review, the ASRock Z490 Taichi takes center stage. With its recognizable Taichi clockwork inspired design, a 12+2 power delivery, three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, and a Realtek 2.5 gigabit Ethernet port on the rear panel, it looks to leave its stamp on the Z490 market. The Taichi remains one of ASRock’s perennial premium mid-range models.

Arm’s New Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 Microarchitectures: An Efficiency and Performance Divergence

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2019 was a great year for Arm. On the mobile side of things one could say it was business as usual, as the company continued to see successes with its Cortex cores, particularly the new Cortex-A77 which we’ve now seen employed in flagship chipsets such as the Snapdragon 865. The bigger news for the company over the past year however hasn’t been in the mobile space, but rather in the server space, where one can today rent Neoverse-N1 CPUs such as Amazon’s impressive Graviton2 chip, with more vendors such as Ampere expected to release their server products soon.

While the Arm server space is truly taking off as we speak, aiming to compete against AMD and Intel, Arm hasn’t reached the pinnacle of the mobile market – at least, not yet. Arm’s mobile Cortex cores have lived in the shadow of Apple’s custom CPU microarchitectures over the past several years, as Apple has seemingly always managed to beat Cortex designs by significant amounts. While there’s certainly technical reasons to the differences – it was also a lot due to business rationale on Arm’s side.

Today for Arm’s 2020 TechDay announcements, the company is not just releasing a single new CPU microarchitecture, but two. The long-expected Cortex-A78 is indeed finally making an appearance, but Arm is also introducing its new Cortex-X1 CPU as the company’s new flagship performance design. The move is not only surprising, but marks an extremely important divergence in Arm’s business model and design methodology, finally addressing some of the company’s years-long product line compromises.

Avantek’s Arm Workstation: Ampere eMAG 8180 32-core Arm64 Review

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Arm desktop systems are quite a rarity. In fact, it’s quite an issue for the general Arm software ecosystem in terms of having appropriate hardware for developers to actually start working in earnest on more optimised Arm software.

To date, the solution to this has mostly been using cloud instances of various Arm server hardware – it can be a legitimate option and new powerful cloud instances such as Amazon’s Graviton2 certainly offer the flexibility and performance you’d need to get things rolling.

However, if you actually wanted a private local and physical system, you’d mostly be relegated to small low-performing single-board computers which most of the time had patchy software support. It’s only been in the last year or two where Arm-based laptops with Qualcomm Snapdragon chips have suddenly become a viable developer platform thanks to WSL on Windows.

For somebody who wants a bit more power and in particular is looking to make use of peripherals – actively using large amounts of storage or PCIe connectivity, then there’s options such as Avantek’s eMag Workstation system.

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