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This is the best price you’ll find on Rosetta Stone
Wed, 22 Mar 2023 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
World travelers know all kinds of tips for getting around safely and on a budget, from using credit card points to employing a VPN. But the best asset you can have when you’re traveling abroad is knowing how to speak the language. If you have some international travel planned (or even if you don’t), take advantage of this special offer on Rosetta Stone during our Spring Digital Blowout. The Wall Street Journal says Rosetta Stone “may be the next best thing to living in a country” when it comes to learning a new language, which is why it has been trusted for nearly three decades by international organizations like NASA and TripAdvisor. Between March 22 and April 3, you can get a lifetime subscription for more than half off at just $144.97 (reg. $299) with promo code SPRING20. You’ll have access to all 24 languages in the Rosetta Stone ecosystem, with award-winning interactive software and proprietary speech recognition technology to help you learn how to read, write, and speak a new language in your own time. This deal ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 3, so jump on it now. Grab a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone for just $144.97 with promo code SPRING20.   Rosetta Stone: Lifetime Subscription (All Languages) – $189 See Deal Prices subject to change. Entertainment
Google Bard’s AI search launch was, well, boring
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 18:46:19 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Already months behind, Google is slowly rolling out its AI-powered chatbot, Bard, today. But Google—once a powerhouse in search—looks like it’s taking an extremely conservative approach to its new chatbot. What is Bard? Google describes it as a “complementary experience to Google Search,” in its blog post Tuesday. Google announced the Bard chatbot in February, noting that it uses a different language model, called LaMDA (or Language Model for Dialogue Applications), which it will use to power the chatbot. But if you’re wondering if Google is taking a mighty swing at chat-powered search? No, not right now. In fact, its blog post seems quite muted, as if it’s simply trying to stand at the plate and not strike out. For one, there’s simply the approach: Complementing Google Search sounds rather conservative—since Google already controls roughly 90 percent of the search market, it’s clearly not willing to swing for the fences quite yet. Bard looks like the first instances of Bing’s AI chat: simple answers, idea generation, that sort of thing. We don’t know, for example, how long answers can be, and whether Bard will allow for creative responses like Bing and ChatGPT generate. It will, however, allow you to select from various “drafts” of the response, where you can actually see a sentence or two. Um, cool? Right now, Google Bard’s differentiating feature appears to be a “drafts” view.Google If you search within Bard, you’ll have the option to “Google It” to receive even more responses—but without any attribution for you to see where Bard is pulling its answer from. Bard is also limiting responses. Early versions of Bing Chat tended to get weird, or worse, when users engaged in long conversations with Bing. Bard isn’t risking the same sort of interaction, either, and will limit responses as well. That’s designed to keep responses on topic, according to Google. Google Bard also makes it clear that it can get it wrong.Google Finally, Google seems very conscious of the fact that its first demonstration of Bard included a well-publicized factual error by misidentifying the James Webb Space Telescope as the first to take pictures of a planet outside of the solar system. In an example today, Google even highlighted a search result where Bard got it wrong. But on a day when Microsoft added AI image generation to its Bing Chat, and shortly after Runway debuted AI text-to-video, you can forgive the world for just shrugging its shoulders at Bard. Google, in fact, doesn’t even characterize Bard as a product, but as an “experiment.” It all leaves one with the distinct impression that Google, once the home-run king of search, may be more of a minor leaguer among a number of new AI star players. Internet
Best laptops under $1,000 in 2023: Best overall, best for students, and more
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 18:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Nowadays, you don’t have to drop a ton of cash on a premium laptop to get everything you need. It’s entirely possible to get an excellent laptop for under $1,000. Whether you’re talking about a traditional Windows clamshell or a fully loaded Chromebook, spending less than a grand can get you a laptop you’ll enjoy using. Moreover, at this price point, you don’t have to sacrifice your budget to get excellent performance, a crystal-clear screen, or long battery life. The overwhelming amount of options on the market now means that it can take some time to find the right model for you, so we’ve highlighted our top picks to make the search easier. Read on to find your match. (To find laptop recommendations that span all price ranges, see our roundup of the best laptops). Updated 03/16/2023: Check out our review of the MSI Sword 15 A12UE. With a really unique and attractive design, the Sword 15 will definitely turn heads. It also features good budget level performance, but its price is a bit high for the features included. Also, be sure to read our latest review of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513. It offers a sharp screen with plenty of real-estate due to its 3:2 aspect ratio and an excellent battery life. Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon – Best overall under $1,000 Pros 2.8K OLED display is gorgeous Booming audio Quiet operation Strong application and multimedia performance Cons So-so keyboard Lid is so thin it flexes a bit too much Below-average battery life Price When Reviewed: $979.99 Best Prices Today: $979.99 at Newegg From zippy multimedia performance to punchy audio, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon has a lot to offer at a reasonable price point. The real star of the show is the 14-inch 2880×1800 OLED display. According to the reviewer, “the contrast is outstanding, with the deepest blacks and brightest whites.” As for colors, they’re “accurate and noticeably vibrant.” The screen is a perfect fit for creative professionals who do a lot of photo editing. In addition to its stunning panel, the laptop also weighs just a little over 2 pounds, making it a capable travel laptop. There are a few minor shortcomings, though. The keyboard isn’t the best and battery life is less than stellar. But in the end, the pros really outweigh the cons here. Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon review Asus Vivobook Pro 15 – Best gaming laptop under $1,000 Pros Good productivity performance Superb display Rugged design Great battery life Cons Boring aesthetics Unimpressive 720p webcam Unreliable fingerprint scanner Poor port selection Price When Reviewed: $1099.99 Best Prices Today: $749.99 at Adorama$919.99 at Asus$919.99 at Best Buy The Asus Vivobook Pro 15 provides an outstanding price-to-performance ratio. Sporting a Ryzen 7 processor, an RTX 3050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB M.2 NVMe hard drive, this laptop includes a lot of the same performance components of higher-end alternatives but for much cheaper. While the performance features are admirable, what makes the Vivobook Pro 15 stand out from the rest of the sub-$1,000 crowd is the stunning 15.6-inch OLED display. It’s almost unheard of to get an OLED screen on a laptop for this price and it doesn’t disappoint either, giving crisp visuals and a near-perfect contrast ratio. The overall design of the Vivobook Pro 15 is a little lackluster, but that’s not what this laptop is about. Asus wasn’t trying to beat premium laptops on design or build quality with this model. They instead wanted to load it with so much power and performance that the design doesn’t didn’t matter—and it was a success. For the price of a budget-friendly gaming laptop, the Asus Vivobook Pro 15 gives you the power and features of a much more expensive midrange option. Read our full ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop review Acer Aspire 5 – Best under $500 Pros Affordable price Rugged build Great keyboard Good selection of ports Cons Subpar webcam Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed Touchpad is a little hard to us Price When Reviewed: $369 (base model) $499 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $467.00 at Amazon$499 at Walmart With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent sub-$500 option. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” Although it lacks backlighting, the keyboard is quite nice. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general-use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look. Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 – Best Chromebook Pros Attractive design Affordable Punchy audio Excellent keyboard Cons Mediocre performance Subpar battery life Price When Reviewed: $389 Best Prices Today: $314.00 at Amazon$409.99 at Lenovo The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is a good mid-range Chromebook. It’s fast enough for web browsing, editing documents, and so on. That said, it can “feel taxed by demanding tasks.” When our tester opened up multiple tabs, he noticed a sag in performance. The port selection, however, is nice combination of old and new. It has two USB-C ports, a single USB-A port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. As for the keyboard, our tester liked the “crisp and taut” feel of the keys. Although this laptop is a 2-in-1—meaning the screen can fold back to make it function more like a tablet—it weighs about 3 pounds, which is on the heavier side for a convertible laptop. It may not be the most portable laptop in the world, but that flexibility can still be nice for applications that favor a tablet form factor. Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook Pros Gorgeous 2K touchscreen Solid performance Excellent battery life Robust design Cons Trackpad is too sensitive at times Light on ports Price When Reviewed: $599 Best Prices Today: $479.99 at HP Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find the detachable-keyboard design a pain to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet for hands-free use, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on. Read our full HP Chromebook x2 11 review Acer Swift 3 – Best for college students Pros Solid chassis and build quality Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad USB-C with charging and DisplayPort Cons Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives  Disappointing battery life Lots of bloatware Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $999.99 at Amazon If you’re a college student working with a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the lackluster battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and writing research papers on. Read our full Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 review Acer Aspire Vero 14 – Best eco-conscious option Pros Peppy performance Strong battery life Thunderbolt 4 Eco-friendly materials Convenient, fast fingerprint reader Cons Bloatware Weak speakers Soldered-on RAM, not upgradeable Price When Reviewed: $899.99 Best Prices Today: $899.99 at Acer$899.99 at Costco For those who demand that their technology be manufactured in a more eco-conscious way, the Acer Aspire Vero 14 is for you. Made from 30 percent post-consumer recycled materials, it is blazing a path for more eco-friendly options in our personal electronics. It’s no slouch in the performance department either, sporting a Core i7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, a solid 16GB of RAM, and a surprisingly large 1TB M.2 SSD. The only real drawbacks are the odd decision from Acer to solder on the RAM so it can’t be upgraded in the future, and the fact that it comes with some unwelcome bloatware. But both issues are minor and the bloatware can be removed with just a little bit of effort after purchase. Overall, the Acer Aspire Vero 14 provides decent performance and makes the decision to buy a new computer weigh a little less on your conscience thanks to its eco-friendly design. Read our full Acer Aspire Vero 14 review How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads. How to pick a laptop under $1,000 Ah, here we are at the million dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below. What laptop type should I choose? There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable. How do I pick a CPU? If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9. What about GPUs? You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive. How much RAM should I look for? 8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more. How about battery life? If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop. What kind of ports should I look for? A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for hooking up to an external monitor. FAQ 1. Do Chromebooks make good gaming laptops? The short answer is no, but it really depends on the type of gaming you intend to do. Chromebooks will handle web games and Android games just fine. But if you’re looking to play the latest high-powered 3D games, a Chromebook won’t suffice, because a) it doesn’t run Windows, and b) it probably has insufficient graphics power. All that said, Google is working hard to bring cloud gaming to Chromebooks. Cloud gaming services use a remote PC or console to play games streamed through the cloud down onto the Chromebook. Until this service becomes more popular, though, Chromebooks will not be able to compete in the gaming arena. 2. Can integrated graphics be used for gaming? Yes, some of the latest processors with integrated graphics can run modern PC games at reasonable settings. For example, Intel’s latest Iris Xe line of processors with integrated graphics have been shown to run some of the latest games at 1080p and 30 fps. Be careful, however, as not all integrated graphics are up to the task. Intel and AMD’s integrated graphics have made huge leaps in recent years with regard to gaming performance. If you’re on a budget or looking for an ultra thin laptop with integrated graphics you can still game on, we recommend checking out Intel’s Core 12th-gen Iris Xe or AMD’s brand new Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2. 3. What size laptop is best? This is really personal preference. If you intend to travel a lot with your laptop then a smaller, more portable size in the neighborhood of 13 to 14 inches is recommended. If you want to do gaming on a laptop, then you should look for something in the 15 to 17 inch range. Also, keep in mind the weight of the laptop before you buy it. Ultra thin laptops can weigh a featherlight 2 pounds while beefy gaming computers top the scales at three or four times that. 4. What is an Ultrabook? Originally a marketing term coined by Intel, it refers to a thin and lightweight laptop that fits somewhere between a tablet and a premium notebook. Ultrabooks typically come with more productivity features than tablets and are designed to be more portable than larger, heavier business laptops. Ultrabooks are usually around 2cm thick, come with an Intel processor and a fast SSD, have longer than average battery life, and retail for consumer-friendly prices. However, there are so many different Ultrabooks available nowadays that these specifications have become more like general guidelines rather than rigid standards. Gaming Laptops, Laptops
Hands-on with Microsoft’s Dall-E 2-based Bing Image Creator: It’s good!
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 17:48:20 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Today, Microsoft begins integrating AI art into its AI-powered Bing Chat chatbot with Bing Image Creator…and it’s surprisingly good. Microsoft began previewing Image Creator last fall in select markets, and its generative AI art later became the foundation for Microsoft Designer, the excellent design application that also uses AI art to help create templates, flyers, and simple greeting cards. Today, Bing Image Creator will begin integrating with Bing Chat’s textual chatbot, but also generate images at its own site, . Put another way, that means that you’ll be able to ask Bing’s chatbot to create your own images from an integrated text prompt within Bing Chat, or else use the dedicated site. There’s a third option, too: Use the new Edge Copilot sidebar within Microsoft Edge, which has been used for textual generation via AI. Microsoft now says that you’ll see a small image icon within the sidebar—or you will, when it rolls out. Image generation will be integrated within preview versions of Microsoft Edge, the company said in a blog post. Though PCWorld has access to Bing Chat, image generation doesn’t seem to be part of the chatbot’s capabilities at the moment. That’s coming shortly, however: “Bing Image Creator integrated into Bing Chat will begin to roll out to Bing preview users on both desktop and mobile starting today,” Microsoft said. Bing Image Creator is what you should be interested in, and for good reason. Here’s how Bing Image Creator works. How to use Bing Image Creator Bing Image Creator is well-designed, if basic. You’ll need a Microsoft account to log in. Bing Image Creator works like other AI image-generation algorithms: Type in a prompt, and Bing’s AI will generate for you. Microsoft is using Dall-E 2’s AI model, as the company said last year, which goes far beyond the original Dall-E, which you can use and compare for free. Bing Image Creator powered by Dall-E 2 is very, very good. Images are detailed, and the prompts are responsive; images take about 15 seconds or so to generate. (You’ll still see some of the traditional problems with AI art, however, such as issues rendering fingers and hands. Each time you enter a prompt, you’ll receive four 1024×1024 square images. Right now, however, there are no advanced options: You can’t specify the dimensions of the image, and there are no options to tweak, such as how closely the images will match your prompt. Inpainting, where you can adjust portions of the image, aren’t there either, though you could import the image into another service for that task. Generated images are detailed, but you can still see some problems with how Bing Image Creator generates hands. Microsoft hasn’t addressed the issue of copyright. Instead, it dances around it by adding a small watermark to the corner of each generated image. At press time, Bing Image Creator gives you 25 image “boosts,” which appears to be Microsoft’s version of the “fast” image creation used by sites like Midjourney. While Microsoft seems to be offering unlimited image generation, once your boosts expire, the time to generate an image will be slower. It’s not clear right now how quickly boosts regenerate, or if they do; other sites offer the ability to “rank” images for quality. What happens if you run out of Bing Image Creator boosts? Microsoft will use Microsoft Rewards as a carrot, essentially “paying” you to use Microsoft’s services. Microsoft Rewards is a handy way to earn credits for Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate, for example. “If you run out of boosts, you have the option to use Microsoft Rewards to redeem for additional boosts and enjoy faster processing times,” Microsoft says. If you generate a prompt that Microsoft deems unsafe, Bing will block it.Microsoft We haven’t had a chance to test out Bing Image Creator within Bing Chat, but remember that you can combine the two: You could always ask Bing Chat for an interesting prompt, and it will make its own suggestions. You’ll find it first within Bing Chat’s Creative mode, the company says, then later in the other modes as well. Microsoft has put content controls in place “to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images,” the company says. If you prompt an “unsafe” image, Bing Image Creator will shut the prompt down and refer you its content policy, and warn that repeated violations could cut you off entirely. (When we tried a prompt that asked for an image of “Donald Trump and Matt Damon playing tennis,” the prompt was flagged.) Here’s how Bing Image Creator will look in Bing Chat.Microsoft Given that Microsoft has frequently updated Bing Chat, we’d expect the Bing Image Creator experience to evolve and receive updates. Finally, Microsoft is also enhancing the basic search experience with what it calls Knowledge Cards 2.0 and Visual Stories, which are AI-powered summaries of your search topic. Basically, Bing Search now offers several ways of learning more about your search topic: traditional search results, a Chat summary of what it finds, as well as Knowledge Cards and Visual Stories, which will sum up information in infographics. Google’s Bard AI search, which entered waitlist status today, clearly has some work to do. Internet
How to adjust the brightness on your laptop
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Staring at a bright computer screen can cause eye strain and tension headaches. If you’re on a laptop everyday for work and suffer from these issues, you should consider changing up the brightness level. Not sure how to adjust it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find step-by-step guides on how to adjust the brightness level on your keyboard and within the Windows 11 settings menu. Looking to pick up a new laptop? Check out our roundup of the best laptops available right now. How to adjust the laptop brightness on your keyboard On most laptop keyboards, there are function keys with brightness adjustment icons that look like a sun with a positive or negative symbol next to it. IDG / Alex Huebner The positive will make it brighter while the negative will make it dim. The function keys are at the top of the keyboard and labeled F and a number from one to 12. To use them, hold the “Fn” button at the bottom of the keyboard while pressing the desired function. IDG / Alex Huebner How to adjust the laptop brightness in Windows 11’s settings You can also adjust the brightness within the settings menu on Windows 11. To get into the settings menu, click the gear icon in the Start Menu. IDG / Alex Huebner In the Settings menu, left click the “Display” button. IDG / Alex Huebner Inside the Display options, you’ll see a bar that says “Brightness” with a slider next to it. You can either click anywhere along the line or hold the circle down with the left mouse button and drag it to the desired brightness level. IDG / Alex Huebner Once you have it set, it will stay that way until you adjust it or have the Night Light feature enabled. Laptops
Asus and Noctua’s big, brown, beautiful RTX 4080 is now available
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 14:59:54 +0000
Source: PCWorld
I don’t know what it is about Austrian accessory brand Noctua’s brown-and-beige livery that its fans seem to love — the color combo seems to excite them even more than the admiral performance of the fans themselves. But here we are with another official collaboration between Noctua and Asus, resulting in their literally biggest card yet. We got a special preview of the Asus RTX 4080 Noctua OC Edition at CES, but it should be showing up at retailers starting today. The massive card is festooned with dual Noctua 120mm fans in that unmistakable brown-on-tan color scheme (which would probably look good in those new wood-paneled PC cases that keep showing up) on top of a custom-made heatsink. This makes it “the quietest graphics card in its class,” according to Asus, and it damn well should be since it stretches across four PCI slots and then some (“4.3” slots, according to the spec sheet). The card comes with a hardware switch to change BIOS settings between performance and quiet modes. You’ll need a case with 310mm of horizontal clearance to hold it, and the package comes with a weight-bearing bracket that doubles as a screwdriver. The included graphics card holder doubles as a screwdriver.Asus Between that massive cooler and the tweaks Asus has made to the base design of the card, you can expect an extra 120Mhz on the card’s boost clock (2625 vs. 2505), and a commensurate boost to the teraflops rating. For all that, Asus asks $1625 at retail — a whopping $450 over the already-high price of the standard Nvidia RTX 4080. Tom’s Hardware says that the card is officially available today, so check the usual suspects when you get a chance. If history is any indication, these cards will fly off the shelves even with a shockingly inflated price. Graphics Cards
Razer Naga V2 Pro review: Mouse MMO customization hits new heights
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 14:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsThe swappable button plates let you tailor your button setup to your game’s command loadThe sensor is very accurate and without a hint of lagThere’s tons of comfort and the build quality is excellentConsThe Razer Gen 3 Optical Switches are a little stiff at first and need wearing inIt weights 134 grams which is quite heavy even for an MMO mouseIt’s currently very expensiveOur VerdictThe Razer Naga V2 Pro is quick, precise, comfortable, and very versatile and excels in MMO and MOBA games. Its swappable gaming plates are an ingenious design feature that let you precisely align your mouse’s physical buttons to different games in your library. Price When Reviewed$179.99 Best Prices Today: Razer Naga V2 Pro Retailer Price $179.99 View Deal $179.99 View Deal Razer $179.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Razer’s Naga-branded mice are known for being some of the best for MMO/MOBA gamers, and the right-handed Razer Naga V2 Pro is no different. In addition to a spate of winning features inherited from the Razer Naga Trinity—including swappable button plates—it boasts some very respectable upgrades, such as a sportier sensor, wireless connectivity, and next-generation Razer Optical switches. While these changes come at the expense of a little extra weight and a hefty $180 price tag, the pros here completely outweigh the cons. Serious MMO/MOBA gamers are still likely to see the big performance payoffs that the more versatile Razer Naga V2 Pro will undoubtedly bring them. Note: See our roundup of the best gaming mice to learn about competing products, what to look for in a gaming mouse, and buying recommendations. Razer Naga V2 Pro design Making a checklist of V2 Pro’s features shows it’s definitely the quintessential MOBA/MMO gaming mouse of its time. As mentioned, it shares a great deal of its predecessor the Naga Trinity’s best features: Lots of customizable button options—check! A comfortable right-hand skewed design—check! A right-side ridge to rest your ring finger—check! It’s all there for gamers to enjoy. And, just like the Naga Trinity, its swappable button plates elevate it well above most rivals for functionality. You get three—a 12-, 6-, and 2-button plate—which ingeniously snap into the left-hand side via magnets. The predecessor Razer Naga Trinity Read our review Price When Reviewed: $99.99 Best Prices Today: $79.99 at Amazon | $99.99 at Razer But if the V2 Pro is so similar to its predecessor, why not just buy the Razer Naga Trinity that’s now $79 cheaper instead? One good reason is that Razer has splashed out on a host of upgrades that make the Naga V2 Pro the more versatile and powerful mouse, and the one I’d definitely choose if forced to decide between them. For starters, it sports a revamped six-button plate in a two-line configuration, which replaces the seven-button plate and circular button configuration we saw in the Trinity. This looks a lot neater, is easier to navigate and leaves ample space for your thumb below, where Razer has added some grip. The Razer Naga V2 Pro features three swappable button plates.  Dominic Bayley / IDG Razer has also added an upgraded Focus 30,000 DPI Optical Sensor, new Razer Gen 3 Optical Switches, and wireless connectivity options—low-latency 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity to be precise—so you can connect to a much greater selection of devices. The battery life is also very decent; you get up to 150 hours for Wi-Fi and 300 hours for Bluetooth on a single charge. What’s more, the V2 Pro sports a four-directional Razer HyperScroll Wheel with six customizable scroll modes and haptic feedback to elevate the MMO/MOBA experience even further. The V2 Pro handled quickly and accurately in each game, proving it has the muscle to perform across different genres. While these upgrades are very nice to have, they do mean a few compromises have been made, most notably to the V2 Pro’s size and weight. How much bigger is it? It measures 4.7 x 2.97 x 1.72 inches, which admittedly doesn’t blow out the Trinity’s 4.69 x 2.93 x 1.69 dimensions by any great amount, but does mean it’s wider and thicker than rivals like the SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless (5.08 x 2.76 x 1.67 inches). Razer The V2 Pro’s weight, though, is kind of a bigger deal. At 134 grams (4.72 ounces) it’s a whole 14 grams (0.49 ounces) heavier than the Naga Trinity’s 120 grams (4.23 ounces), and a whopping 45 grams heftier than the SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless. Let’s see how that extra weight holds up in our playtesting…. Razer Naga V2 performance The Naga V2 Pro’s 30,000 DPI Focus Pro Optical Sensor will get you pretty close to the best precision you can have. It has a maximum speed of 750 IPS (inches per second), 70 g maximum acceleration, and 1000ms polling rate—all quite impressive stats. A lighter alternative SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless Read our review Price When Reviewed: $149.99 Best Prices Today: $118.85 at Amazon | $149.99 at Adorama | $149.99 at Best Buy Regarding the V2 Pro’s Gen 3 Optical Switches, Razer says they can actuate in 0.2 milliseconds without any erroneous double clicking—so the V2 Pro’s buttons are absolutely primed to cook with fire too. Still, a truer sense of a mouse’s performance is had by playtesting it. To that end, I tried it out in three different games: the MMO Gloria Victis, the battle royale Fortnite Battle Royale, and first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, swapping down plates from 12 to 6 and then 2, respectively. As expected, the V2 Pro handled quickly and accurately in each game, proving it has the muscle to perform across different genres. The mouse’s design was fairly comfortable, and the sensor tracked movement perfectly with no detectable lag and a smoothness that felt polished and premium. The buttons, by contrast, felt a little bit stiff at first. But once I’d worn them in with a few hours gaming, they soon loosened up and were impressively fast. They’re rated for a life of up to 90 million clicks. The Razer Naga V2 Pro is well decked-out with PTFE glides on its underside.  Dominic Bayley / IDG If you haven’t tried an MMO/MOBA mouse with a swappable plate system, it’s something I can truly recommend. For example, once I’d swapped out plates, I could more easily find my core commands, and it helped prevent unwanted miss clicks in games with fewer commands. One thing to note, however, is that you’re better off keeping your 12-button plate in place in low-light conditions, since it’s the only one with RGB, so it’ll give you that added visibility when you need it. As to the mouse’s weight, it was quite noticeable in MMO and battle royale games, but was no hindrance. I actually liked the weightiness for sword duals in Gloria Victis where I may as well have been wielding a real sword in my hand, it felt so full and substantial. However, in the first-person shooter, the extra weight proved a little less useful, making top-line completive movements a little sluggish. That’s not to say it won’t keep you competitive, but for complicated maneuverers, you’ll want to consider something much lighter—like the 59-gram (2.08 ounce) HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless. This is no surprise really. It’s a long stretch to think such a heavy mouse could compete with much lighter FPS gaming mice and most players won’t expect it to. Razer Naga V2 Pro software Having those swappable plates to set up requires software that can do them justice. Thankfully, Razer’s Synapse app is more than up to the task. It lets you assign buttons using interactive diagrams that are split up to represent the V2 Pro’s different button regions—there’s one for on top and then one for each of the three button plates. It’s also super simple to change settings like the DPI sensitivity, scroll-wheel mode, the brightness of the RGB lighting, and the polling rate. In Synapse these functions are set out very clearly and the sub-menus are not difficult to find. I really liked how easy it was to import old profiles I’d made previously and link them to games in my library—something I achieved with just a few clicks. Razer Synapse helps you visualize the Naga V2 Pro’s various scrolling modes with helpful graphs.   Dominic Bayley / IDG Should I buy the Razer Naga V2 Pro? If you’re an MMO/MOBA gamer, the Razer Naga V2 is going to be just your thing, especially if you like the convenience of swappable button plates but also want the latest and greatest high-end Razer hardware on offer to optimize your performance. Although, the Naga V2 Pro is a little heavier than its predecessor, it’s very quick and accurate in MMO/MOBA games and brings an authenticity to weapon play that’s just sublime. Admittedly, the V2 Pro’s $180 price tag is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s unlikely you would ever regret shelling out on such a capable mouse. Gaming, Mice
Heads up: Fake Samsung SSDs are making the rounds
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 14:19:23 +0000
Source: PCWorld
SSDs are super-cheap at the moment. But if you happen to see a very specific version of a popular Samsung model, the 2TB 980 Pro, be wary of an especially good deal. According to Chinese forum posters, there’s a convincing counterfeit going around that swaps out the high-end PCIe 4th-gen drive for a much less speedy one, literally covering it with the appropriate Samsung sticker. The fake drives are even loaded up with firmware that completes the illusion, being recognized by Samsung’s own official Magician SSD management software. These aren't fake Samsung 980 Pro PCIe 4 NVMe SSD (1TB) Read our review Price When Reviewed: $90 250GB | $190 1TB | $380 2TB Best Prices Today: $69.99 at Amazon | $109.99 at Adorama | $109.99 at Best Buy But as Tom’s Hardware reports, once the user actually puts the drive to the test, the jig is up. One forum poster said that the fake drive’s poor performance, about 50-60 percent of the 7000 MB/s write speed of the genuine 980 Pro, is what tipped them off. With the branding sticker removed, the cheaper components were on display: 3D NAND memory (instead of V-NAND) and an off-brand memory controller. These combined to drop the speed down to 4800 MB/s. Crucially, that’s slow enough to make it unsuitable as expanded storage for the PlayStation 5, a popular application for this model of M.2 drive. Counterfeit storage is proving a persistent problem in consumer electronics, because it’s an easy thing to fake. This one is fairly innocuous, apparently offering the actual storage space advertised but with cheaper components to try and pass off a slower drive as a faster one. More brazen fakes offer near-impossible hardware and discounts, like a 30-terabyte portable SSD for $30. A quick Amazon search shows that these fakes are still prevalent, even on ostensibly “trustworthy” markets. In gadgets, as in life, follow the old proverb: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Storage
This vibrant gaming keyboard and mouse combo only costs $20
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 14:13:52 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Nothing gets my adrenaline going quite like finding a ridiculously good deal. Today, I’ve struck gold. Walmart’s currently selling the Shipadoo gaming keyboard and mouse for just $19.99, which is a savings of $26 over the usual price. Getting two peripherals for the price of one is a fantastic value! The keyboard features 104 floating keys, LED RGB backlights, multimedia keys, and anti-ghosting keys. It’s a “mechanical feel” keyboard that mimics the look and feel of a traditional mechanical keyboards while costing much less. This peripheral is also equipped to deal with accidental spills thanks to the four drain hole design. According to the reviews on Best Buy, the keyboard and mouse are easy to set up and the customizable RGB lights are a lot of fun. This is one heck of a value. You better scoop it up sooner rather than later. Get the Shipadoo gaming keyboard and mouse for $19.99 at Walmart Keyboards
LG’s latest Gram laptop has a groovy color-changing paint job
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 13:56:23 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Laptops are, by and large, a rather utilitarian bunch. Aside from the Macbook, ThinkPad, and XPS brands, you’d be hard-pressed to pick any specific ones out of a crowd, unless they’re covered in “gaming” RGB LEDs. LG is hoping to buck that trend with its latest design, the Gram Style. The laptop is available in 14-inch and 16-inch flavors, both coming in an eye-catching “iridescent” paint job. The finish subtly changes colors depending on the angle at which you view it, aping the bombastic effect of some custom car paint jobs. The off-white is a somewhat muted white overall, but subtle shades of purple, green, and gold shine through depending on the lighting conditions. The design also stands out with a thin chassis (0.63 inches/16 mm for both models) that still manages a full-sized fold-out USB-A port, and an “invisible” haptic trackpad that blends seamlessly into the palm rest. Other notable features include OLED screens standard on all models, a MicroSD card slot, and MIL-STD 810H compliance for added toughness. LG The 14-inch model starts at a fairly hefty $1500, though that much dough gets you a 13th-gen Core i7-1360p processor, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, 1TB of PCIe Gen 4 storage, and a high-res 2880×1800 screen at 120Hz. (If the screen is touch-enabled, it doesn’t say so anywhere in LG’s press materials.) The bigger 16-inch model is $1800, with mostly identical specs save for a slightly larger battery and higher-res screen. LG Both LG Gram Style laptops are shipping from LG’s online store today, but if you’re ready to buy, be sure to order the slightly more expensive models with the boosted 32GB RAM. They’re currently on sale for the same price as the base models. Laptops
Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 13:16:56 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re in the market for a new laptop, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re on the hunt for a ludicrously fast gaming rig or a featherlight 2-in-1, we put together a list of the best laptop deals available right now. In addition to covering various price points and features, we’ve also included a shopping advice section at the end of the article. Happy shopping! For more laptop options, check out our roundup of the best laptops. The best laptop deals in 2023 Microsoft Surface Pro X From: Woot (Amazon’s store) Was: $1,499.99 Now: $565.55 ($934.44 off) Microsoft My jaw dropped to the floor when I first spotted this deal. Microsoft’s Surface Pro X tablet, which usually costs $1,499.99 at full price, is on sale for $549 at Woot’s Amazon store. Although this tablet weighs a featherlight 1.7 lbs, it’s still durable for such a portable device. Under the hood, you’ll find a QUalcomm-powered Microsoft SQ 2 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It’s powerful enough for browsing the web, writing e-mail’s, and so on and so forth. It’s not the most powerful machine in the world, but that’s not what it was designed for and at a massive $940 off, that’s a suitable trade-off. The 13-inch PixelSense touchscreen features a resolution of 2880×1920, so visuals should be relatively crisp and vibrant. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with a keyboard or pen. The keyboard alone will set you back $110.53, which is a bummer. That said, if you don’t mind spending extra on those accessories and can live mostly off of the web or apps in the Microsoft Store, then the Surface Pro X is a fantastic deal. See the Microsoft Surface Pro X at Amazon Acer Aspire 5 From: Amazon Was: $499 Now: $419 ($80 off) Acer Need a general use laptop with a ton of RAM? Well, the Acer Aspire 5 certainly aims to deliver. This thing is packing an Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, 20GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage. With that amount of memory on board, you should be able to run multiple apps at once. The 15.6-inch display is quite roomy, too. It features a resolution of 1920×1080 and and an aspect ratio of 16:9. That’s perfectly suitable for day-to-day activities like browsing the web, writing e-mail’s, and so on. This is a good buy for anyone looking to save some moolah. See the Acer Aspire 5 at Amazon Samsung Chromebook Plus From: Amazon Was: $499 Now: $229.99 ($270 off) Samsung The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a good option for someone who needs a lightweight convertible. It has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage. It’s a little light on storage and memory, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you store most of your stuff in the cloud. The 11-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 1900×1200, and the Chromebook has two USB-C ports. It’s powerful enough for everyday browser tasks like checking e-mail, writing papers, listening to music, and so on. The 2-in-1 also weighs a little under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. Plus, it comes with a stylus for doodling or note taking. See the Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 From: Best Buy Was: $1,199.99 Now: $999.99 ($200 off) Microsoft The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a nice laptop for productivity or everyday use. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 2496×1664 and is touch-enabled. According to Microsoft, this machine can last up to 17 hours on a single charge. That’s positively bananas. However, with the brightness turned up, that number might be different in real world use. This is a great deal and a good pick for a student or young professional. Happy shopping. See the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 at Best Buy LG Gram (2022) From: Amazon Was: $1,499.99 Now: $1,199 ($300.99 off) LG The LG Gram (2022) is the perfect laptop for frequent travelers, as it weighs just 2.54 lbs. Don’t let the lightweight form factor fool you, though. It’s packing a good amount of power in its thin frame. It has an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This laptop should be capable of whizzing through most tasks like checking e-mail, streaming video, spreadsheet work, and so on. The 15-inch display features super narrow bezels and a resolution of 1920×1080. Overall, this laptop is a steal, especially at $500 off. Get it now. See the LG Gram (2022) at Amazon Acer Aspire 5 A515 From: Amazon Was: $399.99 Now: $299.99 ($100 off) Acer If you’re looking for a solid everyday laptop, you’ve come to the right place. The Acer Aspire 5 has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard SSD storage. The processor is a Ryzen 3 3350U, which has four cores, four threads, and a maximum boost to 3.5GHz. It’s packed with modern features like Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader for biometric logins. Acer starts this laptop off with Windows 11 in S mode, but there’s no reason not to do a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11. This is being sold by a third-party retailer, but Amazon is handling shipping, which means it falls under the company’s return policy. See the Acer Aspire 5 A515 at Amazon HP Envy From: Best Buy Was: $1,299.99 Now: $999.99 ($300 off) HP From the spacious 17.3-inch display to the powerful hardware, the HP Envy has a lot to offer. It has an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Basically, this machine is designed with productivity and general use in mind. The 17.3-inch 1080p display is nice, too. You definitely want a bigger display when you’re watching movies or busy with work-related tasks. It’s not the most portable laptop at over five pounds, but that’s not a massive deal breaker, especially if you don’t travel much. See the HP Envy at Best Buy HP Victus 15 From: Amazon Was: $1,219.99 Now: $1,158.99 ($61 off) HP If you’re in the market for a good budget gaming laptop, the HP Victus 15 is worth considering. It features an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD. You should be able to play most games on medium or high graphics. However, we’d recommend dialing things back on newer titles. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. That means you can expect smooth, lag-free visuals. This is a really good deal. If you’re on a tight budget, you should definitely scoop this one up. See the HP Victus 15 at Amazon Lenovo Legion 5 Pro From: eBay Was: $1,969.99 Now: $1,549.99 ($420 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a blisteringly fast gaming laptop. It has a AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That means you should be able to run most competitive games on high or ultra graphics. The 2560×1600 display measures 16-inches and has a refresh rate of 165Hz. In other words, you can expect a sharp and vibrant picture. For connectivity options, it has one HDMI, three USB 3.2 Gen 1, three USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a headphone/microphone combo. This is a super hot deal and it’s selling out fast (20 sold in the last 24 hours as of this writing), so you better grab it now before it’s too late. See the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro at eBay Asus ROG Flow X13 2-in-1 From: Amazon Was: $1,359.99 Now: $1,111.74 ($248.25 off) Asus Rarely do we see 2-in-1 gaming machines, but that’s exactly what the Asus ROG Flow X13 is. This unique machine has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can rotate the screen all the way around. The device weighs a little under three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling companion. Despite the smaller size, it still manages to pack a punch. It has an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. That’s plenty peppy for playing most games on low to medium graphics, but Asus also sells an external RTX 3080 GPU that can connect to the laptop if you need even more firepower when your stationary. The display measures 13.4-inches and has a resolution of 1920×1080. It’s not the biggest or most vibrant screen, but it’s perfectly fine for most games. This is a fantastic deal, especially if you’re looking for a gaming laptop you can travel with. See the Asus ROG Flow X13 at Amazon HP Omen 17 From: Microcenter Was: $1,999.99 Now: $1,199.99 ($800 off) HP If you’re looking to save a ton of cash on a gaming laptop, the HP Omen 17 is a whopping $800 off at Microcenter. Inside you’ll find an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s a good amount of power, so this laptop should have no problem running most games on the High or Ultra graphics preset. The 17.3-inch display features a resolution of 2560×1440, a refresh rate of 165Hz, and a response time of 3ms. It’s not the brightest display in the world at 300 nits, but visuals should be sharp enough for most games. This is a banger of a deal. Get it now. See the HP Omen 17 at Microcenter Laptop deal buying tips If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available. A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 11-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-11510U, or the Core i7-12800H; or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart. Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook. Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary. Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible. Updated on March 21 with new pricing and to remove expired deals. Laptops
Alienware AW2524H review: The first 500Hz monitor sets new clarity standards
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 13:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsThe best motion clarity available todayBright, vivid image qualityCompact ergonomic standConsLimited video input selectionMediocre image qualityHigh pricing for a 24-inch monitorOur VerdictThe expensive Alienware AW2524H delivers a 500Hz refresh rate that lives up to its promise of nearly perfect motion clarity. Price When Reviewed$829.99 Best Prices Today: Alienware AW2524H Retailer Price $829.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide A decade has passed since the first high-refresh LCD gaming monitors hit store shelves. The desire for ever-faster refresh rates has only increased in the years since and now, with the Alienware AW2524H, we’ve hit a new pinnacle: 500Hz, over eight times better than the 60Hz refresh rate that was once a gamer’s only option. That’s a whole lot of hertz, but Alienware charges a whole lot of money. Is it a worthy investment? Note: See our roundup of the best gaming monitors to learn about competing products, what to look for in a gaming monitor, and buying recommendations. Alienware AW2524H: Specs and features The Alienware AW2524H is a 24.5-inch IPS LCD gaming monitor with 1080p resolution. Its the first monitor available with a blistering 500Hz refresh rate, and it also provides Nvidia G-Sync support with Nvidia Reflex Analyzer. Display size: 24.5-inchNative resolution: 1,920×1,080Panel type: IPS LCDRefresh rate: Up to 500HzAdaptive-Sync: Nvidia G-SyncHDR: Yes, VESA DIsplayHDR 400 CertifiedPorts: 2x HDMI 2.1, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x headphone-out 3.5mm jack, 1x audio-out 3.5mm jackStand adjustment: Height, swivel, tilt, pivotVESA mount: Yes, 100x100mmSpeakers: NoPrice: $829.99 MSRP Priced at $829.99 MSRP, Alienware is charging a premium for early adopters. That will stop many gamers from pressing the buy button. If you’re into top-tier competitive play, however, the price won’t be hard to justify. Alienware AW2524H: Design Alienware’s Legend 2.0 design language is evident in the AW2524H’s charcoal “Dark Side of the Moon” chassis, which has a swooping, sci-fi look. Several AlienFX LED lighting elements provide a bit of spice and can be customized either through the monitor or Alienware software. It looks unique and aggressive but stops short of gaudy. Build quality is excellent, with great material quality and a durable feel. Alienware’s plastics feel thick, well-textured, and are free of glossy surfaces that will readily show wear over time. The only weak spot is the built-in headphone hanger on the upper left-hand flank. It’s spring loaded, bursting out when pressed, but wobbles slightly when handling a heavy headset. A spring-loaded arm on the Alienware AW2524H’s left bezel pops out to hold your headphones when not in use.Matthew Smith / Foundry The AW2524H opts for a compact stand that’s perfect for gamers with limited desk space and those who prefer a clean and uncluttered desktop. Most gaming monitors have a larger stand that takes up unnecessary space (though I should mention that the Asus ROG Swift Pro PG248QP, the only competing 500Hz monitor revealed so far, will also have a compact stand). The Alienware’s stand supports height, tilt, and swivel adjustments. It can also pivot 90 degrees into portrait orientation. A 100x100mm VESA mount is available for gamers who prefer a third-party monitor stand or arm. Alienware AW2524H: Features and menus The Alienware AW2425H offers a mixed bag of connectivity and features. While the inclusion of two HDMI 2.1 ports is a plus, they are limited to a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. The monitor’s full 500Hz can only be reached over the lone DisplayPort 1.4 input. This isn’t a shocker, given the limitations of HDMI, but still important to know if you plan to use the monitor with more than one PC. USB hub functionality is provided with support for four USB-A ports, but the lack of USB-C input feels outdated compared to other premium gaming monitors such as the AOC Agon Pro AG274QZM. The USB-A ports are instead driven by a USB-B upstream port. The competition AOC Agon Pro AG274QZM Read our review Price When Reviewed: $1049.99 Best Prices Today: $1049.99 at B&H Photo | $1,099.99 at Amazon Alienware skimps on color modes and adjustments, such as color temperature and gamma. Six-axis color adjustment is available but limited to a few specific preset modes. That’s disappointing. The monitor is focused on gaming and makes zero concessions for content creators or basic home office productivity. It also has a few gaming-specific features including a dark stabilizer (which increases the brightness of shadows to make foes visible), timer, and frame rate counter. Alienware doesn’t include a built-in crosshair. Speakers are missing, as well. This is typical of Alienware monitors: The company expects gamers will rely on a headset, which is probably true for most gamers interested in the AW2524H. The monitor has two audio line-out ports, so it can pass through audio to both a headset and external speakers. Alienware AW2524H SDR: Image quality The Alienware AW2524H is HDR capable, but focused on SDR image quality. This makes a lot of sense: Most games that have a professional competitive scene don’t even provide HDR support, and competitive players generally choose to play with HDR off because it provides fewer opportunities for image customization. So, how does the AW2524H’s SDR image hold up? The Alienware AW2524H is a motion clarity monster. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine future monitors somehow improving on this. Matthew Smith / Foundry SDR brightness comes in at a strong 426 nits, which, while not record-setting, is bright enough for use in nearly any situation. The monitor also has a low-gloss finish that minimizes direct glare. A hardcore gaming monitor such as the AW2524H is likely to be used in a room with plenty of light control, so I think most owners will end up using a mere fraction of its maximum brightness. Matthew Smith / Foundry Contrast comes in at a ratio of 1130:1, which is towards the high end of competing monitors. The Alienware has a small but significant advantage over some recent high-refresh monitors, most notably the Acer XB273U F and Asus PG27AQN, a pair of 27-inch 1440p monitors with a 360Hz refresh rate. Of course, monitors with newer display technology such as OLED and Mini-LED will smash all the monitors in this competitive set. Monitors with those technologies are currently limited to lower fresh rates, however, and not a great choice for highly competitive gamers. Matthew Smith / Foundry The Alienware serves up a color gamut that spans 100 percent of sRGB and 89 percent of DCI-P3. This isn’t enough to be considered “wide gamut,” in my opinion, but also an improvement over older gaming monitors. The Alienware AW2521H, for example, could only display 74 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Gamers will likely find the Alienware attractive and vivid in real-world use. It doesn’t have the hyper-saturated look of some alternatives, like the Gigabyte M27Q X, but remains attractive in real-world gaming. Matthew Smith / Foundry Color accuracy came in towards the high end of the competitive set. This level of color accuracy is fine for gaming, and I doubt any gamer will see reason to complain. The monitor’s image appeared realistic and lifelike. The Alienware AW2524H delivered a default gamma curve of 2.3. This is slightly off the target of 2.2, and indicates an image that looks a tad darker than it should, but the variance is tight enough that it’s difficult to notice. Color temperature came in at 6800K, which is slightly cooler and more blue than the target of 6500K. I found this to be noticeable, but only in very bright scenes. This is a 24.5-inch, 1080p monitor with a pixel density of 90 pixels per inch. That’s not impressive, and it leads to noticeable aliasing and pixelation around fine fonts. Sharp edges and small objects in 3D games are displayed with significant shimmer and stair-stepping in motion, so the use of effective anti-aliasing in 3D games is important. Ultimately, your opinion of the AW2524H’s image quality will depend on your perspective. The AW2524H falls short of the AOC Agon Pro AG274QZM, which is just a tad more expensive. It doesn’t even hold up to the Gigabyte M27Q X, which is sold for roughly half the price. A cheaper alternative Gigabyte M27Q X Read our review Price When Reviewed: $499.99 Best Prices Today: $429.99 at Amazon | $429.99 at Newegg When compared to other extreme high-refresh monitors, however, the AW2524H competes well. It’s bright, has a good contrast ratio, and provides vivid color. Gamers looking to hit 500Hz are giving up some image quality for the experience, but it’s a modest compromise I think most competitive players will accept. Alienware AW2524H HDR: Image quality The Alienware AW2524H is VESA DisplayHDR 400 Certified and, in my testing, was able to sustain a maximum HDR brightness of 465 nits (about 40 nits higher than its SDR brightness). That’s not terrible, but it’s also not great, and won’t provide the luminance needed to lift detail in bright areas of a scene. The monitor also has shortcomings in its contrast ratio and color gamut that hold it back. A dynamic backlight mode is included, but the monitor is edge-lit, so it can’t light small areas of the display independent of others. This adds up to an underwhelming HDR experience. HDR games look a bit brighter than in SDR but lack an added sense of dimensionality and depth, and colors seem no more vivid or vibrant than before. It’s not all bad news. The Windows 11 desktop experience is fairly good in HDR and the monitor provides good luminance uniformity in HDR scenes. The monitor doesn’t need time to ramp or adjust brightness in transitions from dark to bright or vice-versa. Still, I expect most owners won’t gain much from the monitor’s HDR mode. Using HDR doesn’t provide a major leap in image quality and locks down brightness control, so I expect most people will prefer to stick with SDR. Alienware AW2524H: Motion performance Now we get to the meat of the Alienware AW2524H: the refresh rate. The AW2524H has a native refresh rate of 480Hz, and can be overclocked to 500Hz. The difference between the standard and overclocked mode is trivial, and I’m not sure turning on the overclock is worth the trouble. This isn’t a criticism of the monitor. As refresh rates increase, the gains provided by a higher refresh rate get smaller with each rate increase. The step up from 60Hz to 80Hz is a 33 percent improvement, but stepping up from 480Hz to 500Hz is a gain of just 4 percent. Whichever mode you choose, the monitor’s refresh rate delivers on its promise of extreme motion clarity. I’ve witnessed some very, very clear monitors in recent months, and the Alienware AW2524H thumps them all. Motion clarity is close to flawless. Scrolling across the map in League of Legends reveals that nearly all details are preserved. Character names are easy to read, heath bars are crystal-clear, and character silhouettes are easy to identify. Compared to a 360Hz monitor, such as the Acer Predator XB273U F, the Alienware AW2524H is superior in text clarity and in preserving very fine details, like the tick marks in a character’s health bar. Clarity is also excellent in 3D games. Zipping around Borderlands 2, one of the few games that can reliably hit 500 frames per second, I noticed almost zero motion blur while flipping between enemies. Motion is so clear that I want to call it perfect. Technically, I know this isn’t true—but I’ve never seen a monitor with a 1,000Hz refresh rate (because it doesn’t exist!), so I have no way to compare the experience. What I can say is that when I lean back and just play, my eyes and brain fail to interpret any motion blur at all. Alienware adds in three response times modes: Fast (the default), Super Fast, and Extreme. The Super Fast and Extreme modes maybe make the image look a hair sharper, but the motion clarity is already excellent and makes an improvement rather difficult to pinpoint. I did notice some slight overshoot in Extreme, which appeared as an over-sharpened, shimmering look around high-contrast edges. While I have plenty of praise for the AW2524H’s refresh rate, I must pair it with a note of caution. You’ll only see the full effect in games that can actually hit 500 frames per second—and many can’t, either because of performance (the game is too demanding to hit 500 frames per second even on the best hardware available today) or because of hard-coded caps (the game engine does not allow a frame rate of up to 500 frames per second). Competitive players should double-check the maximum supported frame rate of their favorite games before buying. The Alienware AW2524H is a motion clarity monster. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine future monitors somehow improving on this. To be clear, I’m not declaring this the end of the refresh rate wars. If you had asked me in 2018 if I thought the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz was meaningful, I likely would have said no—a take that time has proven incorrect. Still, the AW2524H’s clarity is a step beyond anything available before it and worth the price of entry for gamers who want the absolute best clarity available. Should you buy the Alienware AW2524H? The Alienware AW2524H is a cutting-edge monitor that pushes motion clarity to new heights, though its high price and modest image quality will be barriers for all but the most dedicated competitive gamers. If motion clarity is your number one priority, however, the AW2524H delivers—and it’s likely to retain its lead for some time, as competing 500Hz monitors aren’t slated to arrive until fall of this year. Gaming, Monitors
Windows 11’s tabbed File Explorer is profoundly disappointing
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 10:45:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Microsoft spent several years tinkering with a tabbed interface for the Windows File Explorer, but plans to add the feature to Windows 10 fizzled. It wasn’t until late 2022 that Explorer tabs finally arrived in Windows 11. You would think after years in development that the feature would be fleshed out and intuitive, but alas, Microsoft delivered only the most basic of functionality. There are hints that Microsoft may add tabs to more built-in Windows apps, but it really ought to take another look at how people use tabs before doing that. Luckily, it needs to look no further than web browsers. Like, for example, the one Microsoft itself makes. More tabs, more problems For the entire history of Windows until late 2022, the File Explorer only showed one directory per window. Microsoft toyed with tabbed interface for Explorer in the Windows 10 era, but the feature was not fully realized until an after-the-fact patch for the big Windows 11 2022 Update. Now, you can click the “plus” button or hit Ctrl+T to open a new tab in File Explorer. While that part is the same as any modern web browser, that’s where the similarities end. Bizarrely, Microsoft still treats tabbed Explorer windows as separate entities. If you open a new directory in Windows 11, it will open in a new window. Surely you can simply drag one tab over to the other to merge them, right? Nope. How about dragging tabs out of a Window to split them? Also no. Nor can you drag folders or shortcuts up to the bar to open them as a new tab. What about dragging tabs to rearrange them? You can! But the mechanics are awkward, forcing you to move the cursor all the way to the other side of a tab before Explorer keeps the new order. If you don’t experiment with this, you might not realize rearranging is supported at all. Ryan Whitwam/IDG The only way to open a specific directory inside an existing window is to find it and right-click to access the context menu. There, you’ll find an option to open in a new tab. However, Microsoft has worked to optimize for touch in Windows 11—scarcely a single update goes by without Microsoft crowing about its more finger-friendly design.  However, digging around in context menus is terrible for touchscreen usability. Dragging and gestures, which don’t work in the Windows File Explorer, are much better for touchscreen interactions. Perhaps you’ve given up on dragging anything into the tab bar after a few frustrating interactions, but that’s what makes the way Windows 11 handles files in the tabbed explorer all the stranger. You can drag files and folders into the tab bar to copy or move them to another open directory, but it’s such a usability outlier as to be borderline undiscoverable. This approach limits the effectiveness of the tabbed Explorer UI—it’s better than not having tabs, but it’s almost like the new Explorer was designed by someone who’s never used a computer before. The browser standard Instead of inventing a new and more clunky way of managing tabs in Windows 11’s File Explorer, Microsoft should have turned to the software that taught everyone how tabs should work: the web browser. Technically, a file explorer isn’t a web browser, so there’s no rule that says the tabs must operate the same way. However, if the goal is to create a good user experience, there’s really no alternative. As the internet has become a larger part of daily life, we live more of our computing lives inside web browsers. Not only does the internet grant access to all the wealth of human knowledge, there are web apps that replace many of the dedicated programs we used to install on computers. Some of the most popular computers on Earth are Chromebooks, which are built entirely around an almost universal browser experience. Imagine if every time you clicked on a web link, it opened in a new browser window. You’d be understandably annoyed, but that’s the default behavior for the Windows 11 File Explorer. How does Windows 11’s File Explorer not let you drag tabs to rearrange them?Ryan Whitwam/IDG Maybe the tabbed Explorer wouldn’t seem so strange if browsers didn’t exist, but they do, and now even novice computer users are familiar with how those tabbed interfaces work. This is the user experience touchstone that Microsoft should have used as a model. Instead, it rolled out the tabbed Explorer with all the aforementioned oddities. Maybe none of this should come as a surprise. Microsoft has stumbled with File Explorer redesigns more than once. Remember the ribbon UI? It’s a mystery how Microsoft got all the way to release with the tabbed Explorer in such a state when the company also makes a web browser. Like all other modern browsers, the Chromium-based Edge has a tabbed interface that works in the standard way, letting you drag content and rearrange tabs effortlessly. Even before switching to the Chromium underpinnings, Microsoft’s custom Edge browser worked the same way. There’s just no reason for the File Explorer to ignore these established user experience principles. Before it adds tabs to more apps, Microsoft should decide if it really wants people to learn two different ways of managing them. Like it or not, browsers have set the standard, and it’s a waste to fight that. Windows
Best wireless gaming keyboards 2023: Top picks for untethered performance
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 10:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
While gaming keyboards once demanded to be tethered to a PC for the best performance, new wireless connections are now able to handle the twitchy reflexes of even the fastest gamer. That means it’s time to cut the cord and get yourself a wireless keyboard for a bit of modern creature comfort in your PC gaming setup. You’ll pay a little more—unless you go for a budget option—but it’s a worthwhile upgrade, we promise. You can use any old keyboard to play PC games, but there’s an additional element to consider when you’re looking for the best wireless gaming keyboard: latency. The Bluetooth connection on a keyboard like the otherwise excellent Keychron Q1 Pro just isn’t up to snuff for the fast-paced world of online shooters and other multiplayer games, so you’ll want something with a dedicated RF connection and a USB-based dongle. This is what truly makes a wireless keyboard a gaming keyboard, more so than fancy lighting or programming options. For more tips about what to look for in a wireless gaming keyboard, scroll to our buying guide below our list of recommendations. Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro – Best wireless gaming keyboard overall Pros Super-smooth switches  Great media controls  Comfy wrist rest  Cons Expensive  ABS keycaps are a little cheap Price When Reviewed: $229.99 Best Prices Today: $229.99 at Amazon The latest in a long line of high-end keyboards called BlackWidow, this particular model pulls out all the stops. In addition to dual Bluetooth and RF wireless for multi-device connectivity, it comes in a full-size frame with a 10-key area and robust media controls. Razer’s typical light show is on display, but the real star is the switches, high-quality hall-effect designs that come in smooth linear (yellow) or loud and clickly (green) varieties. The package includes a comfy magnetic wrist rest, as it should considering it’s one of the most expensive gaming keyboards on the market. Read our full Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro review Corsair K70 RGB Pro Wireless Mini – Best 60% wireless gaming keyboard Pros Amazing list of features Standard layout and hot-swap switches Great lighting Lightweight Cons Expensive Limited programming options No wrist rest Price When Reviewed: $180 Those looking for the tiniest gaming keyboard around might have to squint a little to see the diminutive K70 Pro Wireless Mini. This 60% design is as small as mainstream keyboards come while still packing in full high-end functionality, including hot-swappable switches for the ultimate in mechanical customization. (Even though the included “speed silver” switches are already pretty great. The keyboard includes a dazzling light show and both RF and Bluetooth wireless, as well as a secondary space bar for even more bling. Just be aware that you’re paying quite a lot for this board, and that some may find its programming options lacking, especially for a super-small design. Read our full Corsair K70 RGB Pro Wireless Mini keyboard review Razer Deathstalker V2 Pro keyboard – Best low-profile wireless gaming keyboard Pros All the features of a big Razer board in a small size Comfy media controls Many connection options Cons Default mute is a bit tricky No wrist rest Price When Reviewed: $249.99 Best Prices Today: $249.00 at Amazon$249.00 at Razer$249.99 at Best Buy The Deathstalker V2 Pro is a bit of a throwback for Razer, recalling the days when expensive gaming keyboards were thin and sleek. This one’s still mechanical though, so it has that great typing and gaming feel with a bit less key travel. The big, finger-friendly volume wheel is particularly nice. There are thinner options out there, like the Corsair KIOO Air, but it’s both more expensive and less comfortable. The Deathstalker V2 also comes in a TKL size if you don’t need a num pad. Read our full Razer Deathstalker V2 Pro keyboard review Redragon K596 Wireless Keyboard – Best budget option Pros Low price Included wrist rest Long battery life Volume wheel Cons Ugly keycaps Can only program G keys No Bluetooth Price When Reviewed: $75 Best Prices Today: $74.99 at Amazon$80 at Gamestop If you need a wireless gaming keyboard for under a C-note, Redragon (pronounced “re-dragon,” maybe, who knows?) is happy to provide. While this model lacks fancy features like multi-device Bluetooth, it includes a few that you wouldn’t expect at this price point, including a volume wheel and an included magnetic wrist rest. It also has a surprising focus on gaming functionality: Custom “G” buttons can be bound to individual functions or macros on the fly. The ABS plastic and branding aren’t exactly gorgeous, but you can use the money you’ve saved to grab some custom keycaps. Read our full Redragon K596 Wireless Keyboard review Asus ROG Falchion Wireless 65% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Best wireless gaming keyboard for travel Pros Long battery life Carrying tray Handy volume touch panel Cons RF-only wireless No USB-C dongle Poor programming options Price When Reviewed: $149.99 Best Prices Today: $109.10 at Amazon The Asus Falchion is another small keyboard, but its inclusion of arrow keys makes it a bit more comfortable and practical than a 60% design. The Falchion has a few touches that make it a superior board for on-the-go gaming, namely the touch-sensetive volume slider on the side and the included protective carrying case. Its RF-only wireless should cut out lag for mobile sessions, though you might need a USB-A-to-C cable (not included) for tablets or phones. The long battery life means you won’t be hunting for a charge when a session breaks out. Read our full ASUS ROG Falchion Wireless 65% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard review What to consider when shopping for a wireless gaming keyboard Pardon me for being obvious, but wireless keyboard shoppers should care about the same things they would for a regular keyboard…only wireless. Expect to pay a significant premium over wired designs, at least when looking at multiple models from the same category or brand. More personal and subjective features, like the feel of mechanical switches, might necessitate a trip to your local electronics store (or tracking down a handy key switch tester for trying dozens at once). Wireless options Gaming keyboards tend to use RF wireless with a USB dongle, instead of a Bluetooth connection, which is more popular with modern “standard” wireless keyboards. That’s because it allows manufacturers to use a more reliable, direct connection, with a higher polling rate—that means the connection between the board and your computer refreshes itself much more often, minimizing input lag. Some advanced models still include Bluetooth, along with fancier options like pairing multiple devices to the same USB dongle. Range typically isn’t a concern if you’re using a keyboard with a gaming desktop, but you might want to think about it if you have a gaming PC hooked up to your TV.
Most high-end wireless gaming keyboards can also use a direct wired USB connection, if you’re worried about wireless interference in a crowded environment. Key switches Modern mechanical keyboards come in a staggering array of switch varieties, from smooth and linear to loud and clickly, with tons of options for mechanisms and spring strength. The only real way to know which one you prefer is to try ’em out (retail store displays are great for this). That being said, more expensive keyboards tend to come with nicer, high-quality switches from name brands like Cherry and Gateron. For the ultimate in customization, track down a keyboard with hotswap switches, which let you swap out the switches for new and different ones whenever you want.

Recently more advanced types of switches have emerged, like optical and “laser” switches tripped by interrupting a beam of light, or “mag lev” switches that allow you to adjust the force it takes to activate the key. These are interesting, but tend to lack actual utility (unless you have truly superhuman perception), and increase the price of keyboards phenomenally. Keycaps Keycaps are the little pieces of plastic that sit on top of the switches—what your fingers press down on. Switching out the keycaps for a set of nicer ones, maybe made of better PBT plastic or themed after your favorite TV show, is a popular and easy keyboard mod. Some keyboard makers even sell their own upgrade sets. Keycaps with a Cherry MX-compatible stem will work with almost all modern mechanical switches, just make sure you find a set that matches the layout of your keyboard. Battery life Unlike gaming mice, battery life generally isn’t a big concern with gaming keyboards. They’re big enough that there’s plenty of space for internal batteries that last for weeks, or even months, between charges. That is, unless you over-use that fancy RGB lighting with dazzling animation…in which case, it might last just a few days or hours. If it’s available, check the milliamp-hour (mAh) rating for the battery. Layout The layout of the keys on your keyboard varies more than you might think. Full-sized keyboards include a 10-key area to the right of the arrow cluster, but gaming models often omit this in order to make more room for mouse movements, calling this the “10-key-less” layout. Some keyboards go even smaller, with 60% being the smallest that mainstream brands use, chopping off the Function row, 10-key area, and even the arrow keys (which have to be accessed via a Fn button). A few designs go even larger than the full layout, with an extra column or two of programmable keys for custom bindings or macros. Which one you want comes down to a matter of available space and, perhaps more pertinently, taste.

These general layouts shouldn’t be confused with country- and region-specific key layouts, like ANSI and ISO. Most popular designs are available in at least those two variants. Lighting Even budget gaming keyboards come with LED backlights these days, though they might not be the full programable, device-synced light show that companies like Razer and Corsair delight in. Unless you’re constantly playing in the dark and you can’t touch-type, it’s entirely cosmetic. It’s fun, that’s about it. Extras Keyboard makers are forever trying to one-up each other with extra features. For a mechanical board you can generally expect a removable USB cable (maybe a braided one for nicer boards), and possibly an included keycap puller and wrist rest. Larger boards usually include dedicated media controls, and the nicer ones get a fully programmable wheel or knob. An especially nice option is on-device memory, allowing you to keep key layout programs without running a driver program on each new computer. Gaming, Keyboards
Run Windows software on Mac and more with CrossOver+
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Even if you’re not a Windows user, you never know when you might need Windows to run a certain software. For instance, did you know TurboTax for Business is only available on Windows? If you’re running a Mac, Linux, or ChromeOS operating system, CrossOver+ Windows Compatibility App is a major asset. CrossOver is the easiest way to run Microsoft applications on your non-Windows computer without dealing with the clunkiness of a Windows emulator. Rather than an emulator, CrossOver translates Windows commands to your present operating system, allowing you to run Windows software as if it was designed for your native environment. From productivity software to games, it all runs better, and you can set it up in a matter of minutes. Michelle Delio of Wired writes, “In general, running CrossOver Office was so similar to using Office on a standard Windows system that it was sometimes difficult to remember the PC was actually running Linux.” Enjoy a smooth PC experience even when you’re not using a PC. Right now, you can get a one-year subscription to CrossOver+ Windows Compatibility App for Mac, Linux, or ChromeOS for 33% off $74 at just $49.   CrossOver+ Windows Compatibility App: 1-Yr Subscription – $49 See Deal Prices subject to change. Computer Accessories
AI already turns text prompts into stunning art. Next up: video
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 19:08:01 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Runway has shouldered aside Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, introducing the first clips of text-to-video AI art that the company says is completely generated by a text prompt. The company said that it’s offering a waitlist to join what it calls “Gen 2” of text-to-video AI, after offering a similar waitlist for its first, simpler text-to-video tools that use a real-world scene as a model. When AI art emerged last year, it used a text-to-image model. A user would input a text prompt describing the scene, and the tool would attempt to create an image using what it knew of real-world “seeds,” artistic styles and so forth. Services like Midjourney perform these tasks on a cloud server, while Stable Diffusion and Stable Horde take advantage of similar AI models running on home PCs. Text-to-video, however, is the next step. There are various ways of accomplishing this: has accumulated a few models which you can try out, one of which simply takes a few related scenes and constructs an animation stringing them together. Another simply creates a 3D model of an image and allows you to zoom around. Runway takes a different approach. The company already offers AI-powered video tools: inpainting to remove objects from a video (as opposed to an image), AI-powered bokeh, transcripts and subtitles, and more. The first generation of its text-to-video tools allowed you to construct a real-world scene, then use it as a model to overlay a text-generated video on top of it. This is normally done as an image, where you could take a photo of a Golden Retriever and use AI to transform the photo into a photo of a Doberman, for example. That was Gen 1. Runway’s Gen 2, as the company tweeted, can use existing images or videos as a base. But the technology can also completely auto-generate a short video clip from a text prompt and nothing more. Generate videos with nothing but words. If you can say it, now you can see it.
Introducing, Text to Video. With Gen-2.

Learn more at— Runway (@runwayml) March 20, 2023 As Runway’s tweet indicates, the clips are both short (just a few seconds at most), awfully grainy, and suffers from a low frame rate. It’s not clear when Runway will release the model for early access or general access, either. But the examples on the Runway Gen 2 page do show a wide variety of video prompts: pure text-to-video AI, text+image to video, and so on. It appears that the more input you give the model, the better your luck. Applying a video “overlay” over an existing object or scene seemed to offer the smoothest video and highest resolution. Runway already offers a $12/mo “Standard” plan that allows for unlimited video projects. But certain tools, such as actually training your own portrait or animal generator, require an additional $10 fee. It’s unclear what Runway will charge for its new model. What Runway does demonstrate, however, is that in a few short months, we’ve moved from text-to-image AI art into text-to-video AI art… and all we can do is shake our heads in amazement. Internet
Needy Windows 11 apps will beg you to pin them to your taskbar
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 18:13:07 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you don’t like insecure people who demand attention, you’re going to hate the changes Microsoft has planned for Windows 11. During the coming months, Microsoft plans to add two changes to Windows. First, it will give developers new API access to the default apps settings. Second, another API change will pop up notifications asking you to add the app to the taskbar. Here’s what it all means. In Windows, the Settings menu has a list of default apps (Apps > Default apps). As the name suggests, this controls which app will open a PDF, for example, or an HTML web page. Chances are you never bother adjusting these after you’ve selected your web browser and so on. But your choice also cuts out any of the competing third-party apps that reside on your machine, such as the multiple free web browsers that are available. What the change would mean is that the new browser would have access to the Default apps page, implicitly asking you to change your preference to the new browser. (Microsoft calls this a “deep link” URI [Uniform Resource Identifier], simply meaning that a file type is associated with an app.) Windows 11’s Default apps page.Microsoft It gets worse. Most apps don’t really ask you to pin them to the Windows taskbar, letting you decide if you want to add a quick shortcut to the apps down below. But that’s potentially changing, too. Now, you’ll see popups asking you to pin the app to the taskbar in addition to making the app the default. In both the case of the deep link URI as well as the pinning popup, you’ll have the option of approving or denying the request. The issue, of course, is that the request is being made in the first place, and there’s no indication of how frequently an app can beg you for preferred treatment. You could see a lot more of this.Microsoft Microsoft detailed the potential changes as part of a “principled approach to app pinning,” which it published on Friday. If there’s any saving grace, it’s that the changes will be pushed to the Windows 11 Insider Dev Channel in the coming months. Thankfully, the Dev Channel is for experimental code that may or may not be pushed to Windows. (The Beta and Release Preview Channels are for features that will arrive in Windows in the future.) On the other hand, Microsoft isn’t pushing the new feature in the newly-minted Canary Channel, likely oriented toward Windows 12. Microsoft also said that it remains committed to putting you in charge of your own preferences. “We have taken and will continue to take steps to mitigate unrequested modifications to a user’s choices and expect to do more later this year after application developers have had time to incorporate these new best practices,” Microsoft said. On the other hand, Microsoft also said that it will be adding a version of Edge that incorporates both the new “deep link” URI setting as well as the public pinning APIs, just to prove it all works. Hurray. Windows
Avoid bad YouTube recommendations with one tiny habit
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Everyone has that one YouTube link you wish you’d never clicked on. Not because of the content, but because it changed the suggested videos YouTube served to you after. But there’s an easy way to prevent this annoyance. Just open the link in an incognito browsing window. You won’t be logged into your account within a private window—it’s a blank slate. What you do in the incognito window won’t affect your normal browser windows and tabs, either, so when you close the window, it’ll be as if you never accessed those sites. (From the perspective of your browser, anyway. Your internet provider can still see what you’ve visited unless you use a VPN.) For Chrome, the fastest way to open a link in an incognito window is by right-clicking on the link, then hitting g on your keyboard or selecting “Open link in incognito window.” For Edge, Firefox, and Brave, right-click and hit p on your keyboard. If your browser doesn’t offer keyboard shortcuts in the right-click context menu, select and click on “Open link in private window.” In Chrome, you can open a link in an incognito by right-clicking the link, then hitting “g” on your keyboard. Or just select “Open link in incognito window.” As for general browsing (e.g., you’re not clicking on someone else’s link but you’re hunting for content on your own), you can use Ctrl + Shift + N (Chrome, Edge, Brave, Opera, and other Chromium browsers) or Ctrl + Shift + P (Firefox) to quickly open a new incognito or private window. Alternatively, you can right-click on your browser’s logo in the Windows taskbar and select the option to open a private window. As a reminder, your history won’t save. If you need to later refer to your research, you must manually save the links, or use a secondary profile or account. This method may sound unnecessarily complicated, but once it becomes habit, you’ll spend less effort than continually going into your YouTube history and deleting irrelevant videos from your history. It also works well for other platforms or websites where manual curation isn’t available (like looking at apartment listings on real estate sites), where retraining the algorithm takes time and work. Looking for more browsing tips? Check out the top 10 Chrome keyboard shortcuts you should know and the 5 Chrome extensions we can’t live without. Chrome and Edge’s tab groups are incredibly handy tools, too. Internet
Best external drives 2023: Backup, storage, and portability
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Chances are that you have important data that you don’t want to use on your PC. To protect and back up your data you’ll want to either store it on the cloud or copy it to an external drive. If you don’t wish to entrust your data to a cloud service, then the best way to make sure your data isn’t lost is to save a copy onto an external drive. It’s an inexpensive and convenient way to back up your important files or store any overflow. It can also be a handy way to transport your data or even transfer files between devices. As files get larger and you accumulate more of them, you’re all but guaranteed to continually need more storage. An external drive is one of the best ways to ensure you have enough storage capacity and to cover yourself in case of an emergency. Here at PCWorld we’ve tested numerous external drives and curated a list of the best external drives below. We’ve provided recommendations for everything from blazing-fast performance to budget options to portability and everything in between. Below our recommendations you’ll find additional helpful information on what you need to know to choose the best external drive for your needs. 1. Samsung T7 Shield – Best performance USB drive Pros Fast 1GBps sustained transfers Excellent real world performance Vast 4TB capacity Svelte and handsome Cons Not cheap Small 4K performance glitch under CrystalDiskMark 8 writing 4K files Price When Reviewed: $469 Best Prices Today: $299.99 at Amazon We’re fans of the original Samsung T7 Shield, and now we’re ever bigger fans of the follow-up, larger capacity 4TB version of the T7 Shield. Now upgraded to a 4TB capacity from the previous 1TB and 2TB versions, Samsung has continued with their excellent track record of speed and durability with their T7 drives. Whereas the T7’s predecessor, the Samsung Touch, distinguished itself with a fingerprint reader for data security, the Shield models lean in to physical protection, with IP65 ratings against particulate matter and water spray, making them good performance drives for out in the field. (Mind you, the Shield can still be secured with password protection.) While the 4TB model is capable of handling the largest end-user data sets, it is also a bit pricey. Thankfully, if you don’t need so much storage, you can simply purchase our previous best pick 1TB or 2TB versions for less. Regardless of the size, all T7 Shields boast USB 3.2 10Gbps implementation allowing for 10Gbps transfer speeds which gives it the edge over many other external drives on the market today. Read our full Samsung T7 4TB review 2. SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD – Best performance drive runner-up Pros Overall fastest USB SSD currently available Relatively affordable IP55 rated against dust and mild streams of water Cons Slightly slower reading files than Samsung’s T7 Price When Reviewed: $309.99 Best Prices Today: $129.99 at Amazon While we’ve moved SanDisk’s Extreme Pro Portable SSD (1TB) to runner-up status in light of the Samsung T7’s improved write speeds, make no mistake, it’s still one the fastest USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) external SSD we’ve tested to date. It’s slightly more expensive than the T7 Shield, at $190 for 1GB and $300 for 2GB, and it’s rated at IP55 for slightly less protection from the elements. But both are excellent performers. Note: There are faster USB 3.2 2×2 (also known as SuperSpeed 20Gbps) SSDs available, such as the WD Black P50 and Seagate Barracuda Fast SSD. However, SuperSpeed 20Gbps and USB4 ports are still so rare, we’re not sure it matters. Those drives are also just not as svelte as the Extreme Pro. Read our full SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD review 3. WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD (1TB) – Best for gaming Pros Up to 2GBps with SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps Distinctively militaristic styling Cons Pricey compared to SuperSpeed 10Gbps drives Requires the extremely rare SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps port for full performance Best Prices Today: Not Available at Amazon Today’s games can soak up 50GB or 100GB of storage and more. If you’re looking for a drive to quickly load that game from on your gaming laptop, we recommend WD’s Black P50 Game Drive. And no, not just because it’s literally called “Game Drive,” but because we prefer game’s to be launched from an SSD where it can literally be a competitive advantage in some titles. Running an external SSD for your games also means far, far faster level loads, too, compared to a plodding hard drive. While many PCs don’t have the USB SuperSpeed 20Gbps ports needed to make the Black P50 sing, it’s actually becoming fairly standard in newer desktops. The good news is, even running a game at USB 10Gbps speeds means reads and writes up to 1,000MBps, which is still a huge improvement over a hard drive. (Learn more about how we evaluate the best external SSD for gaming.) 4. SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD – Best for photographers Pros Fastest USB 10Gbps drive to date IP67 rated against dust and water Stylish The same or lower-priced than the competition Cons None to speak of Price When Reviewed: $139 – 500GB; $189 – 1TB; $349 – 2TB; $679.99 – 4TB Best Prices Today: $94.99 at Amazon$139 at Western Digital We’re a little torn between recommending a Thunderbolt-based drive for external storage versus a USB external drive. While a Thunderbolt 3 external SSD typically provides higher performance, that doesn’t help you if your laptop doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port, and many of those drives don’t have any USB support. That makes SanDisk’s G-Drive SSD the preferred drive. It doesn’t support the more advanced, and also rare, USB SuperSpeed 20Gbps speeds, but it’s in the top tier with USB 10Gbps speeds, which is what you’ll mostly find. Perhaps more importantly for a photographer moving files in the field, is its tough shell. The drive is built with IP67 water-resistance and dust-resistance ratings and can withstand 2,000 pounds of weight, so you won’t lose that precious photo of a ghost cat in the mountains of Afganistan. 5. Crucial X6 Portable SSD (2TB) – Best budget option Pros Ergonomic design Good everyday performance Very affordable for an external SSD Cons Performance tanks when cache runs out Price When Reviewed: $229.95 Best Prices Today: $119.75 at Amazon The Crucial X6 Portable SSD is square to be hip. Or placed in your hip pocket, at any rate. In a sea of portable SSDs whose shape makes them a literal pain when pocketed, the thin, rounded-edge X6 is a sigh of relief. It’s not state-of-the-art fast, but it’s fast enough for most users and extremely affordable. Read our full Crucial X6 Portable SSD (2TB) review 6. Adata Elite SE880 SSD – Most portable external drive Pros Very fast, over-20Gbps USB connection Extremely small form factor 5-year warranty Cons Slows considerably during long contiguous writes Somewhat low TBW rating Price When Reviewed: $79.99 for 500GB I $129.99 for 1TB Best Prices Today: $99.99 at Amazon$124.99 at Adata No external SSD we’ve seen can match Adata’s Elite SE880 for portability. Indeed, measuring in at only 2.55 inches long, 1.38 inches wide, and 0.48 inches thick, it reminds you more of a USB thumb drive than a standard external SSD. It weighs a mere 1.1 ounces to boot, virtually disappearing in your pocket. The Elite SE880 is also very fast at everyday tasks but slows down during long writes. In real-world 48GB transfer tests, the drive displayed outstanding marks, even beating out some other competitors on this list. But it lost significant ground in the longer contiguous write tests, showing that photo and video pros with large files to transfer might want to consider other options. Read our full Adata Elite SE880 SSD review 7. Kingston XS200 USB SSD – Most portable high-capacity drive Pros Super svelte Good 20Gbps performance Available in up to 4TB in capacity Cons Slower than much of the competition Not much of a looker Price When Reviewed: $75 for 500GB I $160 for 1TB I $285 for 2TB I $500 for 4TB Best Prices Today: 74.99 at Kingston The Kingston XS2000 is an admirable blend of size, capacity, and speed—all for a reasonable price. With up to 4TB in capacity, it is comparable to some of the largest drives on this list but it fits in your pocket. The Kingston XS2000 also has data transfer rates of up to 20Gbps, which isn’t lightning fast, but it beats the 10Gbps of some competitors. Overall, this small, surprisingly affordable, and decently fast SSD is a solid product, especially if you plan to carry a lot of data around with you. Read our full Kingston XS200 USB SSD review 8. Portable SSD X5 – Best Thunderbolt 3 drive Pros Blazingly fast Portable Cons Lack of AC jack makes it Thunderbolt 3 only Expensive, though not out of whack for NVMe SSDs Price When Reviewed: $199.99 If you have Thunderbolt 3 or 4 on your system, you owe it to yourself to check out a portable Thunderbolt 3 drive such as Samsung’s SSD X5. As an NVMe SSD using PCIe over a cable (that’s basically what Thunderbolt 3 is), it’s stupidly fast—over 2.5GBps reading and writing.  The only reason we don’t universally recommend the Portable SSD X5 is the relative rarity of Thunderbolt 3/4 ports on PCs. The advent of USB4 should alleviate this, but only if vendors decide to combine it with the superset technology that is Thunderbolt 4. Or you may simply soon see USB4 drives with the same 40Gbps transfer rates. It gets complicated.  9. WD My Passport 5TB – Best for backups Pros Excellent cost per gigabyte Nice styling Comprehensive software suite Cons Slower than average with large files Price When Reviewed: $139.99 Best Prices Today: $109.49 at Amazon You want to know why we chose WD’s My Passport 5TB for backups? It’s right there in the name—that extra 1TB can be invaluable in the age of 4K. Read our full WD My Passport 5TB review 10. Seagate Backup Plus Portable – Best for backups runner-up Pros Up to 5TB in a 2.5-inch package Affordable Cons Slow writing small files and folders Price When Reviewed: $159.99 Best Prices Today: Not Available at Amazon Like the WD above, Seagate’s Backup Plus Portable is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) drive—plenty enough bandwidth for the hard drive inside. Capacity tops out at 5TB, but the drive is also available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB sizes.  In our tests of the 4TB version, we found the Seagate to be slightly faster than the WD with large file transfers (think movies), but slower with small file transfers (think Office documents). All in all, a worthy runner-up. Read our full Seagate Backup Plus Portable review What you need to know before you buy Yes, USB4 will provide the same massive throughput as Thunderbolt 3 at lower prices eventually, and likely far more products too. Capacity and price For most consumers, the main shopping concerns for external storage are capacity and price. However, while you might think that the lowest-cost drive provides the most value, it often doesn’t. In fact, dollar for dollar, cheaper low-capacity drives are most often the worst deal historically. We’ve been doing this comparison for years and it’s always been the worst value. You can see that below where we compare the popular WD Elements desktop hard drive’s available capacities and prices. You’re paying more than twice as much for the lowest-capacity drive versus the next step up. It’s almost equally as bad on the WD Elements Portable drive. How much capacity do you need? The best “value” are typically for the largest hard drives as you can see, but it brings considerably higher prices and not everyone needs that much capacity. So how much do you need? We recommend a backup drive at least twice as large as the total capacity of your PC. If you have 1TB of storage in your PC, 2TB will allow you to make a full backup while keeping historical backups on the same drive. Having more storage allows you to keep more historical files should you need them or use the same drive to backup additional PCs. While the desktop drive provides a far higher capacity, they also require more cables, weigh more, and generally may not be quite as shock resistant as a portable hard drive that’s designed to take a few more bumps, even when on. The worst value for an external hard drive is typically the lowest-capacity drive. IDG Interface The vast majority of external drives today are USB drives. Beyond that simple statement, the story gets confusing—largely because of the plethora of variations: USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps, which is basically USB 3.0), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps), and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps), and now the up-and-coming USB4. In an attempt to simplify things, the USB Forum has recently changed the nomenclature to indicate throughput speed—SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, and SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps—because performance is a priority for most uses. For the sake of brevity (and sanity), we generally shorten those names to USB 10Gbps, or 10Gbps USB, for instance. No hard drive, unless combined in RAID with others, can outstrip the 5Gbps (roughly 500MBps real-world after overhead) throughput of USB 3.1 Gen 1. Don’t worry about Gen 2, 10Gbps, or Thunderbolt with single hard drive enclosures because it doesn’t really matter. Where SuperSpeed 10Gbps/20Gbps, USB4, or Thunderbolt will definitely help is with the aforementioned RAID hard drive setups, or more likely—an SSD. The good news is that while USB 3.1 Gen 2, which is more than fast enough for most users at 10Gbps, used to be expensive, it’s basically the standard today. A SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, our runner-up for portable storage, can be had for $90 in a 500GB capacity. The faster USB 3.2 SuperSpeed 20Gbps (Gen 2×2) moves you into a higher-price bracket, with the Seagate Firecuda Gaming SSD costing $200 for the same 500GB of storage. Although faster than the typical USB 3.2 SuperSpeed 10Gbps, there aren’t a lot of USB 20Gbps gen 2×2 ports out there, but these drives should work with the upcoming USB4 at the same 20Gbps pace. Thunderbolt 3 and the newer Thunderbolt 4 typically are the highest-performing interfaces for external storage, with the key limitation being a premium price and a general lack of compatibility with the far more popular USB 3.2 ports in the world. Still, if you want the most performance, you can get it in drives such as our recommended portable, the Samsung Portable SSD X5, which is $200 for 500GB of capacity. For comparison, a slower 1TB Samsung T5 on USB is only $125. The top drive uses the older, slower Mini-USB interface. The second drive features the connector that replaced it: Micro B SuperSpeed. The Orange drive features both a SuperSpeed Micro B and Thunderbolt 2 (mini DisplayPort connector). The bottom drive features USB-C or USB Type C. Ports External drives come with a variety of ports, though they’re gradually consolidating on the Type-C connector. Here’s what you need to care about: USB 3 Micro-B Superspeed. This is still a very common port on many lower-cost portable and desktop external hard drives today. It’s actually the same Micro USB port used on your phone, but beefed up with more data lines to hit USB 3.0 speeds. It’ll do 5Gbps and is fine for hard drives and SATA (internally) SSDs.  USB 3 Type-B is the larger, blocky version of USB 3.0 Micro B. Type B ports are becoming rare, though you might find one on enclosures supporting 5.25-inch hard drives or optical drives. It supports speeds up to 5Gbps.  USB-C is the latest of the USB connectors the world is coalescing around. You see it in everything from phones to laptops. Keep in mind, USB-C refers only to the connector itself. What is carried over the wires varies greatly. For example, for data transfers from an external drive, a USB-C port could mean everything from USB 2.0 High Speed (480Mbps) to USB 3.2 SuperSpeed 20Gbps as well as USB4 and Thunderbolt 3. Any higher performance port today should be USB-C—just remember that just because it’s USB-C doesn’t mean the actual electronics inside the PC or drive can hit the highest speeds of what a USB-C port can do. USB Type-A You won’t find this port on any drive, but you will find this familiar rectangular port on PCs and laptops. The reason we mention it is that any drive with a Type-C port should come with a Type-C to Type-A cable or adapter, hopefully, since most PCs have those. Thunderbolt 2 is at this point, a dead port. Using the mini-DisplayPort connector, it only really gained popularity on Macs, and even Apple put it out to pasture in 2017. There’s no need to invest in a Thunderbolt 2 drive unless it’s for legacy support issues. Note that Apple makes a bi-directional Thunderbolt 1/2 to 3 adapter if you need to connect the one to the other. It does not transfer power, however, so you can’t use it on its own with bus-powered external drives. You’ll need a powered dock for that. eSATA is another legacy port that’s basically disappeared. Created for attaching external storage to your computer’s SATA bus, eSATA was a cheap way in its day to get beyond the 60MBps performance of USB 2.0. USB 3.0 put the last nail in its coffin. As with Thunderbolt 2, the only reason to invest in an eSATA drive is for use with older computers. A second drive as backup? In backup, there’s a fundamental maxim appropriately named the Rule of Three. It states that you should always maintain three copies of your irreplaceable data: the original data, a backup, and a backup of the backup. Preferably, the two backups are kept in separate locations, one being offsite. Keeping a copy online is great for smaller amounts of data and certainly meets the offsite criteria. However, for vast photo, audio, and/or video collections, external drives in pairs (or more), are a faster, more practical solution.   Create complete backups alternately to the two drives every few months. True patrons of wisdom might even take the second drive to work, so there’s no chance of losing both drives to the same local disaster. For more guidance on building out the best backup plan possible, see our roundups of the best cloud backup services and best Windows backup software. Our storage testbed is a Core i7-5820K with 64GB of RAM on an Asus X99 Deluxe board. Older Asus Thunderbolt EX 3 and ATI graphics cards is shown. Currently a Gigabyte Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt card and x2 Nvidia 710 GPU card are employed.  How we tested We use our standard storage test bed to evaluate the performance of every external drive we review. It’s a six-core (twelve-thread) Intel Core i7-5820K on an Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard with 64GB of Kingston DDR4 memory running Windows 10.  A discrete Gigabyte Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 card and Ableconn USB 3.2 2×2 20Gbps card (Asmedia 2142 controller) are used for connecting the external drives. An Asus USB 3.1/10Gbps (Asmedia 1142 controller) card was employed for some of the older drives on the chart.  We run various synthetic benchmarks including Crystal Disk Mark 6/7/8, AS SSD 2, and Iometer. We also perform real-world transfer tests using a 48GB batch of small files and folders, as well as a single 48GB and 450GB files. The testbed boots from a NVMe drive, but the real-world (Windows) file transfers are performed to and from a 58GB RAM disk. External drive FAQ 1. What is the difference between an SSD and an HDD? HDDs (hard disk drives) have been around for more than 50 years and rely on spinning disks to read and write data. They are essentially composed of spinning metal platters with magnetic coatings where the data is stored and a read/write arm that moves across the platters to access the data.  SSDs (solid state drives), on the other hand, use flash memory and have no moving parts inside the drive. Data is instead stored on flash memory microchips which are interconnected with one another. This interconnectedness allows for data to be pulled from many different places at once and significantly increases memory read speeds. Generally speaking, SSDs will be a better bet for an external drive due to their smaller size, faster speeds, and overall durability. The main drawback to SSDs is that you will pay more money for the same storage capacity as HDDs. As technology improves however, the price of SSDs will continue to drop. 2. How often should you back up your data? Ideally, you should back up your data as often as possible. This is especially true if you are working on an important project or have data that you absolutely cannot afford to lose.  If you have your external hard drive connected to your computer at all times, it is a good idea to automate the backup process and have the drive back up your data every hour or so. If you disconnect or travel with your external hard drive, you should try to remember to back up your data onto it every time you change your data or at least every day. 3. Why is my actual hard drive storage smaller than specified? This comes down to the perceived size of storage (KB, MB, GB, TB)  versus the actual size of that storage. Most consumers are led to believe that a Kilobyte (KB) is 1,000 bytes when it is actually 1,024 bytes. Most consumers then are led to believe that a Megabyte (MB) is 1,000 KB when it is actually 1,024 KB. So a manufacturer’s hard drive that claims to have 1TB of storage actually has only 931.31 GB of storage. It is essentially a rounding error that manufacturers neglect to advertise because round numbers are easier to understand.  Another reason that actual storage may appear less than advertised is that hard drives have to be formatted to read and write data properly. When formatting, a portion of the storage space on the drive is allocated in order to catalog the data. 4. How long does an external hard drive last? The average lifespan of an external hard drive is about three to five years. However, this is highly dependent upon the make and model and the conditions of usage and storage. The more you use an external hard-drive, the less reliable it becomes.  One way to guesstimate the lifespan of your hard-drive is to look at the manufacturer’s warranty and the TBW (total terabytes written) number. You can determine the estimated daily amount of storage you write and then extrapolate from there to see how long you can continue to use it everyday until you reach the TBW. These numbers are not entirely reliable, and drives can last much longer than these two values, but they give an idea as to when you could begin to encounter issues. 5. How do external hard drives fail? There are a number of ways that an external hard drive may fail. They are especially susceptible to failure due to frequent mishandling, outdated drivers, connecting and disconnecting, and unsafe or forced ejections. To ensure that you keep your hard-drive working properly, keep it stored in a safe place, try not to drop it, update your drivers, and make sure that you connect and disconnect from devices properly. 6. Can I leave my external hard drive plugged in all the time? For the most part it’s fine to leave your external drive plugged in all of the time. However, there can be some minor drawbacks to this if you aren’t careful. Hard drives will continue to emit heat while they are working and if they are left plugged in continuously there is a chance this heat can build up and damage your data. A good way to mitigate this is to purchase a drive that has an enclosure with good heat dissipation such as those that are metal. Keeping your drive plugged in all of the time can also have some benefits. If you have your data set to automatically update then keeping it plugged in will allow more frequent backups. Additionally, keeping the external drive plugged in will allow for more convenient access to all of your data. Business, Consumer Electronics, Desktop PCs, Technology Industry
How to add other users to Windows 11 on PC
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 15:34:59 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Most people nowadays have their own individual devices. However, if you have a computer that’s shared by multiple people, you should really set them up with their own accounts on Windows 11. This will keep things more organized and free of file clutter. Not sure how to add them? Not a problem. We’ll guide you every step of the way. Adding an adult user to Windows 11 on PC To add more users to Windows 11, click the Windows icon in the task bar and select the settings icon. IDG / Alex Huebner In the settings menu, select “Accounts” from the left-hand menu. IDG / Alex Huebner In the Accounts settings page, click “Other users” toward the bottom of the menu. IDG / Alex Huebner Click the blue “Add user” button. IDG / Alex Huebner A Microsoft account login window will pop up. The new user will need an account to be added as a user. Once the account has been made, enter the login information and follow the prompts. IDG / Alex Huebner Now you can switch users by selecting the profile icon at the bottom of the menu. IDG / Alex Huebner You will also have the option to choose a different user from the password screen after a computer is locked, put in sleep mode, or powered back on. How to add a child user to Windows 11 on PC To add a child user to Windows 11, click the Windows icon and open the Settings menu. IDG / Alex Huebner On the left side of the screen, click the Accounts option. IDG / Alex Huebner In the Accounts page, click the “Family” setting. IDG / Alex Huebner Click the “Add someone” button on the right. IDG / Alex Huebner This will open a login window where you can either enter your child’s Microsoft account information or create a new one. IDG / Alex Huebner If you need to create a new account, another window will pop up. Follow the prompts. IDG / Alex Huebner Once you’ve logged your child in, enter their login email and select “Member” on the following screen. IDG / Alex Huebner Once you’ve added the account, you should be able to access the parental controls and adjust them however you’d like. Now your family is set to use the family computer with their own spaces. Windows
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