The Corsair Gaming K100 RGB Keyboard Review: Optical-Mechanical Masterpiece

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In today’s review, we are taking a look at the successor of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum, the K100 RGB. The new flagship of Corsair’s gaming keyboards is visually similar to the older K95, but the K100 RGB actually marks a significant improvement to Corsair’s keyboard designs. With new optical-mechanical switches replacing traditional mechanical switches, a second rotary wheel, and more, Corsair has done a lot to not only stand apart in the crowded market for gaming keyboards, but has delivered something that’s pleasantly one-of-a-kind.

The 2020 Mac Mini Unleashed: Putting Apple Silicon M1 To The Test

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Last week, Apple made industry news by announcing new Mac products based upon the company’s new Apple Silicon M1 SoC chip, marking the first move of a planned 2-year roadmap to transition over from Intel-based x86 CPUs to the company’s own in-house designed microprocessors running on the Arm instruction set.

Since a few days, we’ve been able to get our hands on one of the first Apple Silicon M1 devices: the new Mac mini 2020 edition. While in our analysis article last week we had based our numbers on the A14, this time around we’ve measured the real performance on the actual new higher-power design. We haven’t had much time, but we’ll be bringing you the key datapoints relevant to the new Apple Silicon M1.

Apple Announces The Apple Silicon M1: Ditching x86 – What to Expect, Based on A14

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Today, Apple has unveiled their brand-new MacBook line-up. This isn’t an ordinary release – if anything, the step that Apple is making today is something that hasn’t happened in 15 years: The start of a CPU architecture transition across their whole consumer Mac line-up.

Thanks to the company’s vertical integration across hardware and software, this is a monumental change that nobody but Apple can so swiftly usher in. The last time Apple ventured into such an undertaking in 2006, the company had ditched IBM’s PowerPC ISA and processors in favour of Intel x86 designs. Today, Intel is being ditched in favour of the company’s own in-house processors and CPU microarchitectures, built upon the ARM ISA.

The new processor is called the Apple M1, the company’s first SoC design for Macs. With four large performance cores, four efficiency cores, and an 8-GPU core GPU it features 16 billion transistors on the new 5nm process node. Apple’s is starting a new SoC naming scheme for this new family of processors, but at least on paper it does look at lot like an A14X.

Today’s event contained a whole ton of new official announcement, but also lacked (in typical Apple fashion) in detail. Today, we’re doing to be dissecting the new Apple M1 news, as well as doing an microarchitectural deep dive based on the already released Apple A14 SoC.

AMD’s “Where Gaming Begins” Radeon Live Blog: Starts At Noon Eastern (16:00 UTC)

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AMD’s second and final product keynote of the month is taking place today, with an event AMD has dubbed "Where Gaming Begins". Hosted as always by AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, AMD will be focusing on the new Radeon RX 6000 series and more, unveiling for the first time their latest generation of video cards. Powered by the company’s new RDNA2 architecture, the RX 6000 cards and associated RDNA2-powered game consoles mark an important launch for AMD as they establish the technological cornerstone of gaming products for years to come.

So please join us at noon Eastern (16:00 UTC) for our live blog coverage of AMD’s latest and greatest in video cards.

Huawei Announces Mate 40 Series: Powered by 15.3bn Transistors 5nm Kirin 9000

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Today Huawei took the stage to unveil the new Mate 40 series of devices. In the form of the Mate 40, Mate 40 Pro and the Mate 40 Pro+, the new phones represent the company’s leading edge in terms of technology, mostly enabled by the new Kirin 9000 chipset which is manufactured on a new 5nm manufacturing node, promising great leaps in performance and efficiency.

The new phones also feature an updated design with a different camera layout, differentiated display design and improved speakers and charging features.

The new Kirin 9000 is are the core of the discussion – and it’s also Huawei’s biggest problem as the new silicon is no longer under production since September due to US sanctions on the company, representing a much more substantial threat than the already existing limitations on the company’s products, such as not being able to ship with Google Mobile Services.

AMD Reveals The Radeon RX 6000 Series: RDNA2 Starts At The High-End, Coming November 18th

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Preparing to close out a major month of announcements for AMD – and to open the door to the next era of architectures across the company – AMD wrapped up its final keynote presentation of the month by announcing their Radeon RX 6000 series of video cards. Hosted once more by AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, AMD’s hour-long keynote revealed the first three parts in AMD’s new RDNA2 architecture video card family: the Radeon RX 6800, 6800XT, and 6900XT. The core of AMD’s new high-end video card lineup, AMD means to do battle with the best of the best out of arch-rival NVIDIA. And we’ll get to see first-hand if AMD can retake the high-end market on November 18th, when the first two cards hit retail shelves.

Intel’s Discrete GPU Era Begins: Intel Launches Iris Xe MAX For Entry-Level Laptops

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Today may be Halloween, but what Intel is up to is no trick. Almost a year after showing off their alpha silicon, Intel’s first discrete GPU in over two decades has been released and is now shipping in OEM laptops. The first of several planned products using the DG1 GPU, Intel’s initial outing in their new era of discrete graphics is in the laptop space, where today they are launching their Iris Xe MAX graphics solution. Designed to complement Intel’s Xe-LP integrated graphics in their new Tiger Lake CPUs, Xe MAX will be showing up in thin-and-light laptops as an upgraded graphics option, and with a focus on mobile creation.

A Broadwell Retrospective Review in 2020: Is eDRAM Still Worth It?

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Intel’s first foray into 14nm was with its Broadwell product portfolio. It launched into the mobile market with a variety of products, however the desktop offering in 2015 was extremely limited – only two socketed desktop processors ever made it to retail, and in limited quantities. This is despite users waiting for a strong 14nm update to Haswell, but also because of the way Intel built the chip. Alongside the processor was 128 MB of eDRAM, a sort of additional cache between the CPU and the main memory. It caused quite a stir, and we’re retesting the hardware in 2020 to see if the concept of eDRAM is still worth the effort.

The Xbox Series X Review: Ushering In The Next Generation of Game Consoles

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What makes a console generation? The lines have been blurred recently. We can state that the Xbox Series X, and its less-powerful sibling, the Series S, are the next generation consoles from Microsoft. But how do you define the generation? Just three years ago, Microsoft launched the Xbox One X, the most powerful console in the market, but also with full compatibility with all Xbox One games and accessories. With multiple tiers of consoles and mid-generation refreshes that were significantly more powerful than their predecessors – and in some cases, their successors – the generational lines have never been this blurred before.

None the less, the time for a “proper” next generation console has finally arrived, and Microsoft is fully embracing its tiered hardware strategy. To that end, Microsoft is launching not one, but two consoles, with the Xbox Series X, and the Xbox Series S, each targeting a difference slice of the console market both in performance and price. Launching on November 10, 2020, the new Xboxes bring some serious performance upgrades, new designs, and backwards compatibility for not only the Xbox One, but also a large swath of Xbox 360 games and even a good lineup of games from the original 2001 Xbox. The generational lines have never been this blurred before, but for Microsoft the big picture is clear: it’s all Xbox.

Apple Announces iPhone 12 Series: mini, Regular, Pro & Pro Max, all with 5G

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A little later in the year than usual, but today we finally saw the announcement of Apple’s newest line-up of iPhones. This time around we didn’t get two, or even three phones, but a total of four new devices ranging both in size as well as in pricing. The iPhone 12 series is a major leap for Apple as they represent the company’s first ever 5G devices, preparing the company for the next generation of cellular networks for the better part of this decade.

The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are both straightforward upgrades to the 11 Pro series, whilst the regular iPhone 12 represents the mainstream option as a successor to the iPhone 11. The new entry in the line-up is the iPhone 12 mini – an incredibly exciting device for people who are looking for a more diminutive form-factor device, being smaller and more light-weight than even the iPhone SE released earlier in the year.

Thanks to the new A14 SoC, we’re seeing upgraded performance across the board, as well as greatly improve image processing on the camera systems, with particularly the iPhone 12 Pro Max standing out in terms of its camera systems.

The Apple 2020 Fall iPhone Event Live Blog 10am PT (17:00 UTC)

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Today Apple is holding its second fall 2020 launch event – only a few weeks after the traditional September launch which saw the unveiling of the a new Apple Watch, and a new line of iPads, including the new iPad Air which sports the new 5nm Apple A14 SoC. What was missing from the September event was any new announcements of new iPhones – which this year seem to have slightly slipped in terms of timing.

Today’s event should cover the new iPhones, and if industry reports are accurate, we actually should be seeing quite a slew of new devices in the form of two "regular" iPhones and two Pro models, for a total of four devices. It should demark the first time in 3 years that Apple will be introducing a new iPhone design, and this generation should be the first one to support 5G connectivity.

As always, we’ll be live-blogging the event and hold live commentary on Apple’s newest revelations. 

The event starts at 10am PDT (17:00 UTC).

AMD Zen 3 Announcement by Lisa Su: A Live Blog at Noon ET (16:00 UTC)

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One of the most anticipated launches of 2020 is now here. AMD’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, is set to announce and reveal the new Ryzen 5000 series processors using AMD’s new Zen 3 microarchitecture. Aside from confirming the product is coming this year, there are very few concrete facts to go on: we are expecting more performance as well as a competitive product. The presentation is scheduled to last 30 minutes, so we hope there is some juicy information to go on.

Come back at Noon ET for reporting and analysis at AnandTech.

ASRock Z490 Aqua Motherboard Review: The $1100 LC Monoblock Flagship

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It is no secret that Intel’s 10th generation processors are power-hungry. Intel has been squeezing every last drop of MHz out of the 14 nm process with its fastest desktop processors yet, but sometimes conventional air cooling just won’t suffice for those wanting to push the limits even further. ASRock understands this, and building on the success of the elegant (yet wallet-emptying) AMD Aqua, the company unveiled an Intel version.

The Z490 Aqua comes equipped as a premium feature motherboard. The large integrated monoblock which cools both the CPU and the board’s power delivery, amd it now features a very cool OLED display. There is also integrated Thunderbolt 3, 10 gigabit Ethernet, as well as its large 16-phase power delivery. 

Google Announces Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5: Focusing on the Mid-Range?

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Today through the company’s rather short virtual launch event, among other novelties, Google has officially announced the new Pixel 4a (5G) and the new Pixel 5. Both phones had been teased for some time now as Google had pre-announced them back in in early August with the announcement of the Pixel 4a.

The new Pixel 4a (5G) is very much what its name implies, a variant of the Pixel 4a with added 5G connectivity through the addition of a Snapdragon 765 SoC. The phone here is very similar to its 4G variant, although Google had to grow the device’s dimensions a bit, and a more apt name for it would have been the 4a XL (5G) but that’s quite a mouthful.

The new Pixel 5 is a quite different phone for Google’s mainstream line-up as here the company has abandoned any attempts at making a flagship device, relegating itself into the mid-range to premium price segment. Also featuring a Snapdragon 765, the phone’s other specs are quite more conservative compared to other devices in 2020 – it’s somewhat of a risky move at a still rather high $699 price point.

The ASRock Z490 PG Velocita Motherboard Review: It Means SPEED

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For the foreseeable future, or at least until Intel’s Rocket Lake is likely to be unveiled, Intel’s main platform for consumers is currently the Z490 chipset for Comet Lake. The options available for consumers offer a wide variety of models, but perhaps one of the most competitively priced mid-range ones is the ASRock Z490 PG Velocita. Some of the board’s main features include dual M.2 slots, eight SATA, 2.5 G Ethernet, and a competitive 13-phase power delivery. This is our review.

Sony Announces Xperia 5 II: 120Hz Full-Fledged Small Phone

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Today Sony is following up on one of its newer form-factors that the company had introduced last year with the Xperia 5. The new Xperia 1 II (read as mark two), follows up on the smaller flagship sibling device, retaining its form-factor, but also substantially improving its design as well as maintaining an almost complete feature-parity with the bigger Xperia 1 II.

The new phone also sets out to differentiate itself from other Sony offerings: the company seemingly has focused on the more gaming-centric usability of the device even though externally it does not have the flair of a gaming phone. With a new internal heat dissipation system and a 120Hz refresh rate OLED and 240Hz sample rate touch input, the Xperia 5 II punches above its weight when it comes to fluidity.

Apple Announces 5nm A14 SoC – Meagre Upgrades, Or Just Less Power Hungry?

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Amongst the new iPad and Watch devices released today, Apple made news in releasing the new A14 SoC chip. Apple’s newest generation silicon design is noteworthy in that is the industry’s first commercial chip to be manufactured on a 5nm process node, marking this the first of a new generation of designs that are expected to significantly push the envelope in the semiconductor space.

Apple’s event disclosures this year were a bit confusing as the company was comparing the new A14 metrics against the A12, given that’s what the previous generation iPad Air had been using until now – we’ll need to add some proper context behind the figures to extrapolate what this means.

On the CPU side of things, Apple is using new generation large performance cores as well as new small power efficient cores, but remains in a 2+4 configuration. Apple here claims a 40% performance boost on the part of the CPUs, although the company doesn’t specify exactly what this metric refers to – is it single-threaded performance? Is it multi-threaded performance? Is it for the large or the small cores?

What we do know though is that it’s in reference to the A12 chipset, and the A13 already had claimed a 20% boost over that generation. Simple arithmetic thus dictates that the A14 would be roughly 16% faster than the A13 if Apple’s performance metric measurements are consistent between generations.

On the GPU side, we also see a similar calculation as Apple claims a 30% performance boost compared to the A12 generation thanks to the new 4-core GPU in the A14. Normalising this against the A13 this would mean only an 8.3% performance boost which is actually quite meagre.

In other areas, Apple is boasting more significant performance jumps such as the new 16-core neural engine which now sports up to 11TOPs inferencing throughput, which is over double the 5TOPs of the A12 and 83% more than the estimated 6TOPs of the A13 neural engine.

Apple does advertise a new image signal processor amongst new features of the SoC, but otherwise the performance metrics (aside from the neural engine) seem rather conservative given the fact that the new chip is boasting 11.8 billion transistors, a 38% generational increase over the A13’s 8.5bn figures.

The one explanation and theory I have is that Apple might have finally pulled back on their excessive peak power draw at the maximum performance states of the CPUs and GPUs, and thus peak performance wouldn’t have seen such a large jump this generation, but favour more sustainable thermal figures.

Apple’s A12 and A13 chips were large performance upgrades both on the side of the CPU and GPU, however one criticism I had made of the company’s designs is that they both increased the power draw beyond what was usually sustainable in a mobile thermal envelope. This meant that while the designs had amazing peak performance figures, the chips were unable to sustain them for prolonged periods beyond 2-3 minutes. Keeping that in mind, the devices throttled to performance levels that were still ahead of the competition, leaving Apple in a leadership position in terms of efficiency.

What speaks against such a theory is that Apple made no mention at all of concrete power or power efficiency improvements this generation, which is rather very unusual given they’ve traditionally always made a remark on this aspect of the new A-series designs.

We’ll just have to wait and see if this is indicative of the actual products not having improved in this regard, of it’s just an omission and side-effect of the new more streamlined presentation style of the event.

Whatever the performance and efficiency figures are, what Apple can boast about is having the industry’s first ever 5nm silicon design. The new TSMC-fabricated A14 thus represents the cutting-edge of semiconductor technology today, and Apple made sure to mention this during the presentation.

Related Reading:

Apple Announces new 8th gen iPad with A12, iPad Air with 5nm A14 Chip

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This year’s September Apple event has been relatively unusual, not only because of the pandemic and online-only nature of the show, but also because amongst the new hardware releases there’s been an evident lack of a new iPhone at this point in time.

Apple however didn’t disappoint, and managed to showcase brand-new iPads and Apple Watches. Amongst the new tablet line-up, we find the new 8th generation iPad which sees an upgrade in its computing capabilities with the new A12 chip, and the newest iPad Air which sees a total redesign, adopting the design queues of the iPad Pro siblings, and also for the first time introducing the new Apple A14 chipset – the industry’s first 5nm processor.

The Apple 2020 Fall Event Live Blog – Starts at 10am PT (17:00 UTC)

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Today Apple is hosting its 2020 fall launch event. This year due to circumstances, we’ll be going virtual and remote, however we’ll still be live blogging the show for those who prefer non-video formats. Apple’s WWDC online event had been a great success and we expect a similar format for today’s announcements.

What will we be seeing today? Rumours state that the new iPhone won’t make it to the September event this time around, although we’re still expecting a set of different other new Apple devices. Maybe a new iPad? New Apple TV? Stay tuned as the event starts off at 10am PT (17:00 UTC).

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