The MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review: Testing The Waters Of Tiger Lake

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MSI is very well-known for their gaming products for the PC market, from motherboards, accessories, and right up to gaming laptops and desktops. The company was one of the first to focus almost exclusively on their gaming lineup, and that focus has made them very successful in that market. In the laptop space, MSI’s gaming lineup are some of the best systems around, even if they do often come with a price premium. But, while the gaming market has been strong even throughout some PC sales slowdowns, MSI is again dipping their toes in a wider market. The MSI Prestige series of laptops abstain from the gaming nomenclature, design, and marketing. The Prestige series targets a much more traditional Ultrabook buyer, with a thin, light design, quality materials, and less RGB.

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo, as the name suggests, is a 14-inch laptop which offers the modern design touches of an aluminum chassis, with thin display bezels, packing plenty of notebook into a smaller footprint. The 16 mm thick design weighs in at just 1.29 Kg, or 2.84 lbs, making it very portable for a 14-inch device.

Testing The World’s Best APUs: Desktop AMD Ryzen 4750G, 4650G and 4350G

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There are two very important levels of graphics performance in modern systems to consider – one is if the graphics system is sufficient for seamless use, and the second is such that it meets a substantial standard for gaming. On one side we use integrated graphics, which take advantage of a unified processor to simplify the system, and on the other we look to a range of options, such as smartphones, consoles, and discrete graphics options. Somewhere in there we have a middle ground – can an integrated option have enough thermal headroom and graphics power to worthwhile for gaming? This is the pitch of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 based APUs, which combine Zen 2 CPU cores with fast Vega 8 graphics. With a 65W headroom, it should surpass anything that mobile processors have to offer, but is it enough to replace the low-end discrete graphics market?

The Corsair MP400 1TB QLC NVMe SSD: A Quick Review

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Following up from our recent look at 8TB QLC SSDs, today we’re taking a look at the 1TB Corsair MP400. This is a QLC NVMe SSD using the Phison E12 controller, which puts it a step up from earlier QLC SSDs that used four-channel Silicon Motion controllers. However, at the more affordable 1TB capacity point, the downsides of QLC NAND are more pronounced, and there is much more competition from budget TLC drives that make very different tradeoffs.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q USB / Thunderbolt 3 Dual Mode External SSD Review: Yin and Yang

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The external storage market has shown renewed vigor in recent years, thanks in part to growth fueled by bus-powered flash-based storage solutions. The introduction of 3D NAND, coupled with the increasing confidence of manufacturers in QLC (4-bits per cell) has brought down the cost of these drives to the point where even a reasonably spacious external SSD can be had for an equally reasonable price. And though this means that NAND manufacturers like Western Digital, Samsung, and Crucial/Micron have an inherent advantage in terms of vertical integration, the availability of cheap flash in the open market has also enabled other vendors to come up with innovative solutions.

Today, we’re looking at a unique product in the external SSD market – the Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q. A true dual-mode Thunderbolt 3/USB drive, the Rocket XTRM-Q can be natively used with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB hosts. This means that it can deliver speeds over 2GBps on a Thunderbolt 3 connection, or fall back to USB mode and still deliver 1GBps or more with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection. Compared to most external SSDs on the market, which are virtually always USB-only or Thunderbolt-only, this allows Sabrent’s drive to offer USB-style universal compatibility while still making the most of the host it’s connected to, using USB when it’s available, or upgrading to Thunderbolt as appropriate to let the drive run as fast as it can.

Meanwhile, not unlike their efforts with internal (M.2) products, Sabrent is also at the leading-edge of storage capacity with the Rocket XTRM-Q, offering versions of the drive with up to 8TB of storage. Overall, the Rocket XTRM-Q is available in capacities ranging from 500GB up to 8TB, with Sabrent using QLC NAND across the family to hit their price and capacity goals.

For this review we’re looking at two of the mid-tier Rocket XTRM-Q models – the 2TB and 4TB models – in order to size up the performance of the drives and see how they stack up against the other products in the market.

Supermicro X12SAE W480 Motherboard Review: For Xeon W-1200 Workstations

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We have seen numerous Intel Z490 motherboards over the months since Intel’s platform for Comet Lake was announced back in April. While the Z490 is designed for regular consumers and gamers who intend to use the desktop Intel Core i5/i7/i9 processors, Intel also launched its W480 chipset slightly later which is designed for its workstation orientated Xeon W-1200 series. One such board designed specifically for the Xeon W-1200 processors is the Supermicro X12SAE with support for up to 128 GB of DDR4-2933 of ECC and non-ECC UDIMMs. Also included in the feature set are two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, dual Ethernet including a 2.5 Gigabit controller, as well as a dedicated Intel PHY with Intel AMT and vPro support. 

Qualcomm Details The Snapdragon 888: 3rd Gen 5G & Cortex-X1 on 5nm

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This year although we’re not reporting from Hawaii, Qualcomm’s Tech Summit is still happening in digital form, representing the company’s most important launch event of the year as it showcases the new flagship products that will power next year’s smartphones. Qualcomm yesterday announced the new Snapdragon 888 SoC and platform, and today we’re going in-depth into the specifications and features of the new silicon design.

The Snapdragon 888 is a big leap for Qualcomm, so much so that they’ve veered off from their usual naming scheme increments this generation and even skipped the 87x series altogether. The 888 number is not there only for marketing purposes as it represents fortune and luck in Chinese, but the new SoC has some substantial generational changes that sets it apart from the usual yearly improvements of past.

Featuring the first ever implementation of a Cortex-X1 CPU core as its performance engine, new Cortex-A78 cores for efficiency, a massive +35% boost in GPU performance, a totally new DSP/NPU IP redesigned from the ground up, triple camera ISPs, integrated 5G modem, all manufactured on a new 5nm process node, the new Snapdragon 888 touches and updates almost every part of the SoC design with significant uplifts in performance and capabilities.

The iPhone 12 & 12 Pro Review: New Design and Diminishing Returns

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The new iPhone 12’s have been out for a while now, and while we’ve had our hands on them for a few weeks, Apple’s news bombardment of the new Apple Silicon announcement and release of new Apple M1 Mac devices has meant the iPhones have had to be put on the back burner for a little while.

Having already covered Apple’s new A14 architecture in-depth in our coverage of the M1, it’s time to fill in the missing pieces for the actual new generation of iPhones.

The new iPhone 12 generation of devices mark a new design restart for Apple, moving away from the design that had been started with the iPhone X in late 2017. Re-gaining the flat side-frame look that was originally found in past iPhone generations of the 4, 4S, 5 & 5S series, Apple is making the old new again.

The new iPhone 12 series is also Apple’s widest range release ever, with a total of four new iPhones: the iPhone 12 mini, a new compact form-factor at the lower range, the iPhone 12, the “standard” iPhone part, and continuing to offer the Pro models in the form of the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. We’ll be focusing on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro for today’s review.

ASRock Brings Zen 2 NUC : 4X4 BOX-4800U Renoir Mini-PC Reviewed

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AMD-based ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) systems are slowly gaining market acceptance, with the Zen architecture slowly catching up with Intel on both the performance as well as power consumption front. AMD’s latest and greatest has been reserved for the high-end desktop market, with the parts meant for low-power / compact systems appearing a few quarters later. Zen 3-based desktop CPUs were introduced recently. However, it is only now that Zen 2-based parts with 12-25W TDP (Renoir APUs) have started to appear in compact desktop systems. ASRock Industrial launched the Ryzen 4000U-based 4X4 BOX-4000 series in September. Read on for a review of their flagship model – the 4X4 BOX-4800U.

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.

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