|Save $100 on a 4K drone|
|Thu, 07 Dec 2023 08:00:00 +0000|
It’s the holiday shopping season and you’re looking for ways to avoid breaking the bank. Well, for the techie in your life, why not get them a drone? Now through December 17, you can get the Ninja Dragon Blade K 4K Drone with 4-Way Anti-Collision & Optical Flow for $100 off, and it’s guaranteed to arrive by the holidays so long as you order by December 7.
This cutting-edge drone is equipped with dual 4K HD cameras to capture beautiful aerial photos and videos in real time. It’s easy to fly, even for complete beginners, thanks to a host of features like headless mode, 4-channel movement, one-key take-off and landing, and a 4-way anti-collision system that automatically avoids obstacles in flight. Plus, it has an optical flow sensor that enables precise hovering and positioning so you can get great aerial footage without shaking.
Get a loved one into drone piloting this holiday season! Now through December 17, get the Ninja Dragon Blade K 4K Drone with 4-Way Anti-Collision & Optical Flow for $100 off at just $69.97. Order by December 7 to guarantee delivery by the holidays.
Ninja Dragon Blade K 4K Drone with 4-Way Anti-Collision & Optical Flow – $69.97
Prices subject to change.
|Best PC computer deals: Top picks from desktops to all-in-ones|
|Thu, 07 Dec 2023 00:40:24 +0000|
Whether you’re looking for a productivity desktop, a gaming PC powerhouse, or a stylish all-in-one Windows machine, we’ve got you covered. The team at PCWorld sort through all of the daily computer sales and put together a curated list of the best deals available. But not all deals are really deals, so we only choose those offered by reputable companies and that include great hardware to ensure you get the best value for your money.
We’ve also included some helpful answers to common questions about buying a computer at the bottom of this article. If you’re considering a laptop instead, be sure to check out our best laptop deals, updated daily.
Note: Tech deals come and go quickly, so it’s possible some of these computer discounts will have expired before this article’s next update.
Best gaming desktop computer deals
Alienware Aurora R16, Core i7/RTX 4080/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $2,249.99 (12% off on Dell)
HP Omen 25L, Core i5/RTX 3060/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $899.99 (23% off on BestBuy)
HP Omen 45L, Core i7/RTX 4070/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,499.99 (29% off on BestBuy)
Skytech Nebula, Ryzen 5/RTX 4060 Ti/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,099.99 (12% off on Amazon)
Skytech Shadow, Ryzen 5/RTX 3060/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $799.99 (27% off on Amazon)
MSI Codex R, Core i5/RTX 4060/32GB RAM/2TB SSD, $1,098.00 (15% off on Amazon)
MSI Aegis R, Core i7/RTX 4060 Ti/32GB RAM/2TB SSD, $1,199.00 (25% off on Newegg)
My top picks:
It might be the post-Black Friday slump, but there are still some great deals to be found on gaming computers. For a budget gaming rig, the Skytech Shadow is a fantastic deal. For $300 off on Amazon, this is the cheapest you’re likely to find a desktop gaming PC with an RTX 3060 graphics card outside of a holiday sales event.
If you won’t settle for anything but the best, then the Alienware Aurora R16 deal from Dell for $300 is sure to do it. It’s loaded with the great performance features including a Core i7-13700F processor and an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU.
Best mainstream desktop computer deals
HP Elite Mini 600 G9, Core i3/16GB RAM/256GB SSD, $469.99 (48% off on BestBuy)
Inspiron Desktop, Core i7/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, $719.99 (22% off on Dell)
IdeaCentre Mini, Core i5/8GB RAM/512GB SSD, $493.99 (24% off on Lenovo)
Apple Mac Mini, Core i5/8GB RAM/512GB SSD, $499.00 (55% off on Adorama)
My top picks:
I noticed a ton of great deals this Black Friday on mini-PCs and the post-holiday period is continuing the trend. The two best deals I’ve found include the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini for $156 off on Lenovo and the Apple Mac Mini for $600 off on Adorama. Both of them come with almost exactly the same specs, but ultimately if I had to choose, I’d go with the Lenovo as it’s Core i5 processor is 13th-gen while the Apple Mac Mini comes with an 8th-gen processor—a decent performance boost for only a little bit more money.
Best all-in-one computer deals
All-in-one desktop computers combine a PC’s hardware with a modern display to make a desktop computer that has both form and function. Since everything is built together, you can save precious desktop space with an all-in-one. They make capable work computers and they can also be excellent home computers with the wide range of features appealing to the whole family.
IdeaCentre AiO 5i, Core i7/Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/24-inch 1080p touch display, $873.99 (22% off on Lenovo)
Yoga AiO 9i, Core i9/Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/31.5-inch 4K display, $1,439.99 (23% off on Lenovo)
HP Envy AiO 34, Core i5/GTX 1650/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/34-inch 5K display, $1,529.99 (23% off on HP)
Apple iMac, Core i5/Radeon Pro 5300/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/27-inch 5K display, $1,299.99 (35% off on Adorama)
My top picks:
Lenovo continues its post-Black Friday discounts with some great deals on both the IdeaCentre AiO 5i for $256 off and the flagship Yoga AiO 9i for $440 off on the Lenovo website. Both are loaded with great components and the reliability that comes with any Lenovo computer. The recently redesigned Yoga AiO 9i takes the cake with a very powerful CPU and a gorgeous 4K display.
If you have the desktop space, the HP Envy AiO 34 is about as big and beautiful as an all-in-one gets with a 34-inch 5K ultra-widescreen display. It is currently on sale for $470 off on HP. Oh, and did I mention that it comes with a discreet graphics card too? That’s practically unheard of with an all-in-one.
Computer deals FAQ
What are good websites to find computer deals?
There are a ton of sites that sell computers, and scouring through all of them would take you a lot of time—that’s why we do it for you here and highlight the best deals we find. However, to save you some time and frustration, you need to be smart about where you look at any given time of the year.
If you’re looking for a new computer during the holidays or around popular sale periods such as Black Friday or back-to-school, then you are likely to find great deals directly through first party vendor websites. These include the retail storefronts of popular computer manufacturers such as HP, Dell, and Lenovo.
However, if you are looking in between sales periods, it’s generally a good idea to search through large third-party retailers such as Amazon, Adorama, Walmart, BestBuy, and Newegg. Oftentimes these websites will offer limited Deals of the Day type sales in hopes of getting rid of excess stock. On the upside, you can score still-decent PCs at a steep discount.
When’s the best time to shop for a PC computer?
Typically you’ll want to time your PC computer shopping around a prominent sales period. The biggest sales periods are Black Friday/Cyber Monday in late November and Amazon Prime Day in early-to-mid July. The best sales often occur leading up to and during these two events and they are great times to snag a new PC computer for cheap. Other holiday shopping periods such as the New Year sales in January, President’s Day sales in April, and the back-to-school sales event in August are also good times to find discounts on computers.
What type of desktop should I get?
You’ll see a ton of options when searching for a desktop computer, but they all mainly fit into four main categories: productivity tower PCs, gaming PCs, mini PCS, and all-in-ones (AiO). Which you should end up buying is entirely dependent upon what your needs are and what you want to do with your computer. If you are looking for something that will work in a home office or family room, then a productivity PC or AiO with a solid CPU and lots of RAM and storage is probably the way to go. If gaming is your main concern, a gaming PC can offer a lot more bang for your buck than a laptop and you should focus on getting the best GPU possible. Or if you just want something that can fit anywhere and provide basic computing then a mini PC is a good bet.
What CPU and GPU should I get?
When looking at your new computer’s CPU, get at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, both of which will provide plenty of processing power for everyday computing tasks. If you don’t intend to do any PC gaming, then feel free to save some money by going with integrated graphics. However, if you are looking to get your game on, we recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT, as these are the least expensive discrete graphics cards that can handle ray tracing well. If you aren’t interested in those cutting-edge lighting effects, however, the RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6600 also provide good 1080p gaming performance at even lower prices.
How much memory and storage does my PC need?
As for RAM, we think its best to shoot for 16GB at the minimum for productivity and gaming, but for family computers and internet browsing, 8GB should suffice.
Storage size is dependent upon your personal needs, but it is generally a good idea to opt for an SSD over an standard HDD as they are much faster and don’t significantly affect the price of a desktop. Before deciding, it’s best to consider what your intended use of the computer will be. Are you just doing work or web browsing? Then something like 512GB will be plenty. If you want to load up a lot of large files such as games or content creation projects, then you’ll need at least 1 or 2TB or storage. However, just remember that even if your computer doesn’t have enough storage built-in you can always upgrade your SSD or go with an external drive to increase your available storage options.
Is it a good idea to buy a refurbished computer?
Refurbished computers are used machines that have been repaired, upgraded, and cleaned for the purpose of reselling. They’re usually open-box returns, overstock, or models with minor cosmetic damage (scratches, scuffs, etc). Refurbished computers can be a bargain hunter’s dream as they’re likely still in good (or great) condition and you can save a lot of money. That being said, refurbished computers can have their downsides as well. In addition to cosmetic blemishes, some of the internal components might be a little older or outdated and they might not be in peak condition due to previous usage.
If you do consider buying a refurbished computer I recommend looking at eBay as they offer a one-year warranty. You can also check out manufacturer’s retail storefronts like Dell’s Outlet Store and Apple’s Refurbished Store—just be sure to look at the terms of warranty offered before purchasing.
Desktop PCs, Gaming PCs
|AMD’s new Ryzen 8000 laptop CPUs are built for an AI future|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 20:01:19 +0000|
AMD announced the Ryzen 8040 series of laptop processors at the company’s AI-themed event, reframing what has been a conversation about CPU speed, power, and battery life into one that prioritizes AI.
In January, AMD launched the Ryzen 7000 family, of which the Ryzen 7040 included the first use of what AMD then called its XDNA architecture, powering Ryzen AI. (When rival Intel disclosed its Meteor Lake processor this past summer, Intel began referring to the AI accelerator as an NPU, and the name stuck.)
More than 50 laptop models already ship with Ryzen AI, executives said. Now, it’s on to AMD’s next NPU, Hawk Point, inside the Ryzen 8040. In AMD’s case, the XDNA NPU assists the Zen CPU, with the Radeon RDNA architecture of the GPU powering graphics. But all three logic components work harmoniously, contributing to the greater whole.
“We view AI as the single most transformational technology of the last ten years,” said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD’s chief executive, in kicking off AMD’s “Advancing AI” presentation on Wednesday.
Now, the fight is being waged across several fronts. While Microsoft and Google may want AI to be computed in the cloud, all the heavyweight chip companies are making a case for it to be processed locally, on the PC. That means finding applications that can take advantage of the local AI processing capabilities. And that means partnering with software developers to code apps for specific processors. The upshot is that AMD and its rivals must provide software tools to enable those applications to talk to their chips.
Naturally, AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm want those apps to run most effectively on their own silicon, so the chip companies must compete on two separate tracks: Not only do they have to produce the most powerful AI silicon, they must also ensure app developers can code to their chips in the most efficient manner possible.
AMD is claiming that all of these features will use its Ryzen AI.AMD
Silicon makers have tried to entice game developers to do the same for years. And though AI can seem impenetrable from the outside, you can tease out familiar concepts: quantization, for example, can be seen as a form of data compression to allow large-language models that normally run on powerful server processors to reduce their complexity and run on local processors like the Ryzen 8000 series. Those kind of tools are critical for “local AI” to succeed.
Meet the eight Ryzen 8040 mobile processors
Like many chips, AMD is announcing the Ryzen 8040 series now, but you’ll see them in laptops beginning next year.
The Ryzen 8040 series combines AMD’s Zen 4 architecture, its RDNA 3 GPUs, and (still) the first-gen XDNA architecture together. But the new chips actually use AMD’s second NPU. The first, “Phoenix,” included 10 NPU trillions of operations per second (TOPS) and 33 total TOPS—with the remainder coming from the CPU and the GPU. The 8040 series includes “Hawk Point,” which increases the NPU TOPS to 16 TOPS with 39 TOPS in total.
Donny Woligroski, senior mobile processor technical marketing manager, told reporters that the CPU uses AVX-512 VNNI instructions to run lightweight AI functions on the CPU. AI can also run on the GPU, but at a high, inefficient power level—a stance we’ve heard from Intel, too.
“When it comes to efficiency, raw performance isn’t enough,” Woligroski said. “You’ve got to able to run this stuff in a laptop.”
There are nine members of the Ryzen 8040 series. The seven most powerful include the Hawk Point NPU. They vary from 8 cores/16 threads and a boost clock of 5.2GHz on the high end, down to 4 cores/8 threads and 4.7GHz. TDPs range from a minimum of 15W to a 35W processor on the high end, stretching to 54W.
AMD’s Ryzen 8040 series of processors.AMD
The nine new chips include:
Ryzen 9 8945HS: 8 cores/16 threads, 5.2GHz (boost); Radeon 780M graphics, 35-54W
Ryzen 7 8845HS: 8 cores/16 threads, 5.1GHz (boost); Radeon 780M graphics, 35-54W
Ryzen 7 8840HS: 8 cores/16 threads, 5.1GHz (boost) Radeon 780M graphics, 20-30W
Ryzen 7 8840U: 8 cores/16 threads, 5.1GHz (boost) Radeon 780M graphics, 15-30W
Ryzen 5 8645HS: 6 cores/12 threads, 5.0GHz (boost) Radeon 760M graphics, 35-54W
Ryzen 5 8640HS: 6 cores/12 threads, 4.9GHz (boost) Radeon 760M graphics, 20-30W
Ryzen 5 8640U: 6 cores/12 threads, 5.1GHz (boost) Radeon 760M graphics, 20-30W
Ryzen 5 8540U: 6 cores/12 threads, 4.9GHz (boost) Radeon 740M graphics, 15-30W
Ryzen 3 8440U: 4 cores/8 threads, 4.7GHz (boost) Radeon 740M graphics, 15-30W
Using AMD’s model number “decoder ring” — which Intel recently slammed as “snake oil” — all of the new processors use the Zen 4 architecture and will ship in laptops in 2024. AMD offers three integrated GPUs—the 780M (12 cores, up to 2.7GHz), the 760M (8 cores, up to 2.6GHz) and the 740M (4 cores, up to 2.5GHz)—based upon the RDNA3 graphics architecture and DDR5/LPDDR5 support. Those iGPUs appeared earlier in the Ryzen 7040 mobile chips that debuted earlier this year with the Phoenix NPU.
Interestingly, AMD isn’t announcing any “HX” parts for premium gaming, at least not yet.
AMD is also disclosing a third-gen NPU, “Strix Point,” which it will ship sometime later in 2024, presumably within in a next-gen Ryzen processor. AMD didn’t disclose any of the specific Strix Point specs, but said that it will deliver more than three times the generative AI performance of the prior generation.
Ryzen 8040 performance
AMD included some generic benchmark evaluations comparing the 8940H to the Intel Core i9-13900H at 1080p on low settings, claiming its own chip beats Intel’s by 1.8X. (AMD used nine games for a comparison, not really claiming how it arrived at the numbers.) AMD claims a 1.4X performance boost on the same chips, somehow amalgamating Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 6.
AMD also claimed a gen-over-gen AI improvement of 1.4X on Facebook’s Llama 2 large language model and “vision models,” comparing the 7940HS and 8840HS.
Ryzen AI Software: a new tool for AI enthusiasts
With AI in its infancy, silicon manufacturers don’t have many points of comparison for traditional benchmarks. AMD executives highlighted localized AI-powered experiences, such as the various neural filters found within Photoshop, the masking tools within Lightroom, and a number of tools within BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve. The underlying message is that this is why you need local AI, rather than running it in the cloud.
AMD is also debuting AMD Ryzen AI Software, a tool to allow a model developed in PyTorch or TensorFlow for workstations and servers to run on a local AI-enabled Ryzen chip.
The problem with running a truly large large-language model like a local chatbot, voice-changing software, or some other model is that servers and workstations have more powerful processors and more available memory. Laptops don’t. What Ryzen AI Software is designed to do is to take the LLM and essentially transcode it into a simpler, less intensive version that can be run on the more limited memory and processing power of a Ryzen laptop.
Put another way, the bulk of what you think of as a chatbot, or LLM, is actually the “weights,” or parameters — the relationships between various concepts and words. LLMs like GPT-3 have billions of parameters, and storing and executing these (inferencing) takes enormous computing resources. Quantization is a bit like image compression, reducing the size of the weights hopefully without ruining the “intelligence” of the model.
AMD and Microsoft use ONNX for this, an open-source runtime with built-in optimizations and simple startup scripts. What Ryzen AI Software would do would be to allow this quantization to happen automatically, saving the model into an ONNX format that is ready to run on a Ryzen chip.
This is what AMD’s Ryzen AI Software platform will look like.AMD
Executives said that this Ryzen AI Software tool will be released today, giving both independent developers and enthusiasts an easier way to try out AI themselves.
AMD is also launching the AMD Pervasive AI Contest, with prizes for development for robotics AI, generative AI, and PC AI. Prizes for PC AI, which involves creating unique apps for speech or vision, begin at $3,000 and climb to $10,000.
All this helps propel AMD in what is still early in the race to establish AI, especially in the client PC. Next year promises to solidify where each chip company fits as they round the first turn.
CPUs and Processors
|Acer’s affordable Nitro V gaming laptop embraces Ryzen 8040 CPUs|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 20:00:00 +0000|
Acer has fleshed out its 2023 Acer Nitro V options with the Nitro V 16, a 16-inch Nitro V based on AMD’s latest Ryzen 8040 mobile processor that will serve as a premium alternative to the existing Nitro V.
While the 13th-gen Core version of the Nitro V ranges from $699 to $999, Acer’s Ryzen 8040 version is priced at $999.99 and up, shipping in March 2024. (Intel will launch its 14th-gen “Meteor Lake” chips at an event in New York City next Thursday, which Acer could support as well.) AMD announced its Ryzen 8000 series at an event in San Jose.
Acer’s Nitro 5 (or Nitro V) laptops have typically offered killer value, though the company has been forced to cut corners here and there. Our review of the 2022 version of the Nitro V noted that while the laptop offered a lot on paper, it had an uninspired design and poor battery life (which is fairly typical for a gaming laptop.) The same holds true for the 2023 Nitro V, though its undeniable price-to-performance ratio still earns high marks for budget-minded gamers.
On paper, though, the Nitro V 16 still has our attention. Acer will build the Nitro V around the Ryzen 7 8845HS, a Zen 4 design that taps Ryzen AI for additional capabilities. Acer said that the processor will be matched to third-gen power-management variations, dual fans, and smart battery optimizations, which appears to be Acer’s response to our prior battery criticisms.
Acer’s new Nitro V 16.Acer
Acer didn’t disclose the exact configurations of the new Nitro V models — including the memory and storage loadouts — but did say that they’ll include up to 32GB of DDR5-5600 RAM and up to 2TB of PCIe Gen 4 SSDs. They’ll also include GPU options up to a Nvidia GeForce 4060 inside with DLSS 3.5 support. It sounds like DTS X: Ultra audio is standard.
Finally, as you might expect, display options will include high-refresh-rate displays, including a 1920×1200 (16:10 ratio) and a higher-res 2560×1600 option, with refresh rates climbing up to 165Hz.
As this first generation of AI PCs rolls out, we’re on the lookout for what features and apps take advantage of local AI. There doesn’t seem to be that many, at least here. Acer identified the webcam’s AI-supported Acer PurifiedView and Acer PurifiedVoice 2.0 featuring three microphones with AI noise-reduction technology enhancing the webcam.
Since Intel essentially refuses to certify Thunderbolt for non-Intel systems, Acer chose the traditional alternative: USB4, which offers equivalent performance to Thunderbolt. Two USB3 ports will also appear, with support for offline charging, plus an HDMI port, microSD reader, and Wi-Fi 6e. One month of Xbox Game Pass is also included to get you started.
|Next-gen Windows leak: 6 AI features that could change PCs forever|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 19:36:19 +0000|
There’s no question about it: LAI is the new hotness in personal computers. An intriguing new report claims Microsoft will push the pedal to the metal even harder with a revolutionary new version of Windows 11 (or 12?) in 2024, which is designed to make AI helpful at deeply practical levels.
Microsoft just put AI front-and-center with Windows 11’s massive 2023 Update, which added the Windows Copilot AI assistant and awesome AI “Cocreator” features to Paint. Copilot is coming to Windows 10, too. And Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm have been busy integrating AI-boosting “NPUs” (neural processing units) to the PC chips destined to hit the streets next year, aiming to enhance tasks with local AI that runs on your computer’s hardware rather than hitting up servers in the cloud.
get windows 11 pro for cheap
Windows 11 Pro
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$59.00 at PCWorld Store – Win 11 Pro Upgrade Only |
$79.99 at PCWorld Software Store
Now, an explosive Windows Central report claims Microsoft is preparing a “groundbreaking” new version of Windows that’s absolutely brimming with helpful, practical AI tasks. You should take all leaks with a big pinch of salt but Windows Central’s reporters are deeply embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem and have a killer track record with Windows leaks.
Read the full Windows Central report for a deep dive into how Microsoft is revamping the very core of Windows to make this happen, and why its unknown whether this AI-enhanced version of Windows will be called Windows 12 or released as a Windows 11 upgrade. For folks who are more interested in what you can actually do with your computer, here are six AI features reportedly coming in 2024’s “groundbreaking” Windows overhaul.
1. AI in the Windows Shell
Windows Central says Microsoft is weaving AI deep into the Windows Shell itself – the graphical interface underpinning the operating system. Paired with an upgraded Windows Copilot, this is the secret sauce that would enable this new version of AI to offer numerous practical features. Such as…
2. A smart history feature
Windows Timeline, a feature that let you see your history of open files and tabs from any PC you’ve signed in on to jump back into the action, was one of my favorite Windows 10 features – until Microsoft killed it in Windows 11. Windows Central says an AI-powered history feature will return to Windows in 2024.
It reportedly allows you to comb through all the apps and sites Copilot remembers, and you can use natural language search to filter results. “For example, you could type “FY24 earnings” and every instance where that term was on-screen will reappear for you to see and open,” Windows Central writes.
3. Search gets smart
Natural language search would be a lot better than the current Windows 11 search experience.Jared Newman / Foundry
That natural language search could extend to the traditional Windows search experience as well, which is good, because Windows 11’s search kind of sucks. If you can’t remember a file’s name, Windows Central says you’ll be able to search using queries like “Find me the spreadsheet Bill sent me on Slack two weeks ago.” The operating system should be able to understand the query and summon the file on information like that alone.
If this happens, smarter search alone would be a killer feature for this new version of Windows. Being able to find files using natural language would be a massive upgrade over what we’ve got today.
4. Super Resolution
Maybe you’ve heard of Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) or AMD’s FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), which use AI and GPU hardware to intelligently increase the resolution in video games and/or increase performance. Nvidia’s Video Super Resolution does the same for (you guessed it) videos.
Windows Central says Windows itself will offer some sort of AI Super Resolution option in its 2024 revamp, using onboard NPUs rather than GPUs to upscale the visual quality of games and videos. I expect it wouldn’t match the quality of GPU-enhanced upscaling, but since DLSS and FSR aren’t supported by every game, if Microsoft can offer a universal Super Resolution feature that works across the board without active developer support, it could be another killer feature. The proof is always in the implementation pudding with upscaling features, though.
5. Smart Live Captions
Microsoft already added Live Captions to videos for Windows 11, but this report says AI will make it even better in the new version of Windows. Live Captions will allegedly be able to translate multiple languages simultaneously in real time, across videos and live calls alike.
6. AI wallpapers
Windows Central says Microsoft is working on having its AI identify multiple layers in desktop wallpapers, which would allow it to have a parallax-style effect that shifts based on the movement of your mouse or mobile device. Cool!
Here’s to 2024!
Again, read the full Windows Central report for the full scoop on how Microsoft is rearchitecting Windows to make all this AI magic happen along with info on some non-AI features like improved energy efficiency and a new section of the Start menu. It’s worth a read for Windows wonks.
All these AI features sound actually helpful and practical for people who aren’t media creators, which is more than we can say about most consumer AI features released thus far. If this report holds true, that’s an exciting revelation, but there’s a potential fly in the ointment.
Windows Central says many of these AI features could require a PC with an onboard NPU, so you’d only be able to use them with a small number of ultra-modern laptops. It’s likely that many of these groundbreaking Windows AI features would only be able to run on new PCs released in 2024 or later as Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm start their blitz of NPU-equipped AI PCs in earnest.
|Best external SSD for gaming 2023: Portable performance drives|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 19:23:28 +0000|
Maybe your gaming laptop doesn’t have enough storage. Or you simply want an easy way to make your game library portable. An external SSD can fix both of these issues (and more) by providing an easy way to expand storage that you can take on the go.
But choosing an external SSD means sorting through a dizzying array of options, and making a poor choice can leave you feeling hard done by. Lucky for you, we’ve done the testing and can offer some sure-fire recommendations that are guaranteed to help, and not hinder, your gaming setup.
Why you should trust us: We are PCWorld. Our reviewers have been putting computer hardware through its paces for decades. Our external drive evaluations are thorough and rigorous, testing the limits of every product — from performance benchmarks to the practicalities of regular use. As consumers ourselves, we know what makes a product exceptional. For more about our testing process, scroll to the bottom of this article.
Crucial X10 Pro – Best external SSD for gaming
Close to Thunderbolt 3 SSD performance in real-world transfers
Super-svelte form factor
IP55 rated to resist dust and spray
Pricier than 10Gbps SSDs
No Type-A adapter included
Price When Reviewed:
1TB: $119.99 I 2TB: $169.99
Best Prices Today:
$119.99 at Best Buy$119.99 at Crucial$131.39 at Amazon
The WD Black P50 Game Drive has been parked at the top of our list for a long time. And not just because it’s called “Game Drive.” But now the Crucial X10 has come along to knock the P50 off its perch, by offering superior performance at a better price.
The Crucial X10 shined brightest in our 48GB file transfers, besting the 20Gbps competitive set, and even nearing Thunderbolt 3 levels. With this kind of real-world performance, plus a compact, rugged (IP55), anti-slip exterior, you can see why we think the Crucial X10 is the best external SSD for gamers.
Read our full
Crucial X10 Pro review
Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD (1TB) – Best premium external SSD for gaming
2GBps transfers via SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps
Superspeed USB 20Gbps ports are few and far between
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$170.78 at Amazon
Seagate’s FireCuda Gaming SSD is a worthy alternative, but it has a much steeper price tag for similar performance. However, the FireCuda is an absolutely stunning external SSD and is worthy of a place on any desktop. It’s not just a pretty façade though—it’s compatible with a SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps port, meaning it can attain transfer rates of up to 2GBps. It’s certainly the coolest-looking external SSD on this list.
Teamgroup M200 – Best budget external SSD for gaming
Fast everyday performance
Available in up to 8TB (eventually) capacity
No TBW rating
Company will change components if shortages demand
Writes slow to 200MBps off cache
Price When Reviewed:
$40 for 256GB | $58 for 512GB | $260 for 2TB | $300 for 4TB
Best Prices Today:
$57.54 at Amazon$313.86 at Walmart
The Teamgroup M200 provides excellent bang for your buck with 20Gbps transfer rates and up to 4TB of storage for a very reasonable price. It has great everyday performance, too.
Its slick military-style design is based on the CheyTac M200 sniper rifle—a perfect fit for those late night frag sessions. Unfortunately, Teamgroup doesn’t provide a TBW rating or official IP rating for the M200 so it’s more difficult to compare it as a whole to its competitors. However the M200 is a fast, extremely well priced external SSD with a gamer-friendly design that will look good and perform well in almost any setup.
Read our full
Teamgroup T-Force M200 20Gbps USB SSD review
Adata Elite SE880 SSD – Most portable external SSD for gaming
Very fast, over-20Gbps USB connection
Extremely small form factor
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:
$49.99 at Amazon$74.99 at Adata
The Crucial X6 might be small, but it still can’t match the Adata’s Elite SE880 for portability. Measuring in at only 2.55 inches long, 1.38 inches wide, and 0.48 inches thick, it resembles a USB thumb drive more than a standard external SSD. It also weighs a featherlight 1.1 ounces—making it easy to forget it’s even in your pocket.
In terms of performance, the Elite SE880 is quick to handle everyday tasks but slows down during long writes. In a real-world 48GB transfer test, the drive came through with flying colors, but it lost a lot of ground in the longer contiguous write tests. This means that photo and video pros with large files to transfer might want to consider other options.
Read our full
Adata Elite SE880 SSD review
SanDisk Pro-G40 – Best USB/Thunderbolt combo
Both 10Gbps and Thunderbolt 3/4 connectivity
Fast, especially over Thunderbolt
IP68 weather and dust resistant
Price When Reviewed:
1TB: $160 I 2TB: $240 I 4TB: $400
Best Prices Today:
$159.99 at Western Digital$539.99 at WesternDigital.com$807.99 at WD Europe
The SanDisk Pro-G40 not only gives you superfast 40Gbps performance but it also allows you the flexibility to switch to a slower, less power-hungry USB connection, as well. It’s easily the best dual-bus compatibility drive that we’ve ever tested. The G40 provides the freedom of choice between optimizing speed via Thunderbolt 3/4 at up to 40Gbps or opting for the power-saving 10Gbps via USB. In our 48GB and 450GB transfer tests, the drive absolutely blew away the competition when connected with Thunderbolt.
If you decide to take the Pro-G40 on the road for some tougher outings you can rest assured it’ll be just fine given its IP68 rating for weather and dust resistance. Thunderbolt drives are never really cheap and SanDisk’s Pro-G40 is no exception. But it’s absolutely worth it if you value performance above cost or just need the versatility of a dual-bus SSD.
Read our full
SanDisk Pro-G40 SSD review
How we test external SSD game performance
The biggest question you want to know is, how much does using an external drive hurt game performance. To give us an idea of how much it matters, we used UL’s new 3DMark Storage Benchmark. To create the benchmark, UL essentially records the drive access patterns during several common gaming tasks to make “traces.” These drive-access traces are then run on the tested storage device multiple times to duplicate the patterns without having to actually load the game.
For its test, 3DMark reproduces what happens loading to the start menus of Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Overwatch. 3DMark Storage also tests using OBS, or Open Broadcast System, to record Overwatch being played at 1080p resolution at 60fps, installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic launcher, and saving a game in The Outer Worlds. For the final test, 3DMark Storage tests copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from an external SSD to the target drive.
We used a 12th-gen Intel Core i9-12900K running Windows 11 on an Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard. The board features native Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 10Gbps ports. We added a Silverstone ECU06 for USB 3.2 SuperSpeed 20Gbps support. We then used a Vantec M.2 NVMe SSD to USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20G Type C enclosure with a Western Digital SN700 NVMe SSD to test USB 3.2 20Gbps and 10Gbps performance. We also installed the same SN700 into a PCIe 3.0 riser card to test its native performance. This gives you an idea of how much you lose going from being installed inside the laptop or PC compared to using a USB port. For added contrast, we also ran 3DMark Storage on an older Plextor PX-512M7VG SATA SSD inside of a Silverstone MS09 SATA enclosure that was plugged into a USB 3.2 10Gbps port. And because you want to know how slow a hard drive would be, we also ran the same test on a Western Digital 14TB EasyStore hard drive plugged into a USB 3.2 10Gbps port. The EasyStore is actually limited to USB 3.2 SuperSpeed 5Gbps.
Longer bars indicate better performance. Right mouse click and select “open in new tab” to view larger image.IDG
What should you make of the above results? Well, clearly if you can install an SSD inside of your PC, you’ll get the most performance out of it. But you should consider some of the context. If you’re only looking at the big long red bar at the top of the chart, consider that the particular test is measuring what would happen if you copied a large folder of files to the SSD. For most people, that’s only done once in a while.
The more common scenario is waiting for a game to launch. Running an internal NVMe drive will still be faster, but the gap closes a little. Between the three popular USB interfaces: USB 20Gbps, USB 10Gbps, and SATA on USB 10Gbps, the fastest is USB 3.2 20Gbps. With a USB 3.2 20Gbps SSD, you might see Battlefield V shave 25 percent of the load time versus a USB 3.2 10Gbps drive. Of course, performance is also game dependent. For instance, both Call of Duty and Battlefield see 45 percent or so greater bandwidth on the internal SSD, but with the less graphically intense Overwatch, it’s closer to 30 percent.
The other surprise is the performance of the SATA SSD versus the NVMe SSD when the NVMe SSD is in a USB 3.2 10Gbps port. In game loads, saves, and install scenarios, they’re fairly close. The NVMe external SSD does open up to huge lead over the slower SATA once you move to a task where you’re copying a huge amount of files—such as the CS:GO results. But again, how often do you do that?
Of course we can’t leave this without pointing out just horrible hard drives are. Would it be more improved with a faster hard drive? Unlikely. The very minimum you should use if storing games on an external drive is a SATA SSD, so don’t run a game from your external hard drive unless you like to wait for everything.
|Ludicrous! This fast 165Hz Acer gaming monitor is just $99|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 15:52:16 +0000|
It’s time to level up your battlestation. Amazon’s selling the Acer Nitro for just $99.99, which is 43 percent off of the original $173.99 and a frankly ludicrous price for a fast gaming display.
This 23.8-inch monitor has a fast refresh rate of 165Hz, which means visuals should be buttery smooth. It also has a solid port selection as well as AMD FreeSync, which is designed to reduce screen tearing. It even has multiple gaming modes with different color profiles. These profiles are intended to line up with the type of game you’re playing, whether it be racing or sports.
The Acer Nitro has a resolution of 1920×1080, a refresh rate of 165Hz, and a response time of 1ms. The response time is quite good, as it’s designed to smoothly render dramatic or abrupt transitions in games, reducing the likelihood of visual defects like smearing or ghosting. It also has HDR10 built-in, which improves contrast by producing deeper levels of blacks and whites.
According to reviewers on Amazon, it’s a stellar monitor for the price, with an intuitive menu and sturdy stand. And did we mention it’s just $99? Insane. Don’t miss out!
Get the Acer Nitro for $99.99 at Amazon
|Best laptop deals today: Home use laptops, gaming laptops and more|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 14:44:49 +0000|
If you’re on the hunt for a brand new laptop without spending a fortune, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking for lightning fast gaming rig, a portable 2-in-1, or a barebones Chromebook, we’ve curated a list of the best laptop deals available right now, using our finely honed editorial judgement to only recommend truly compelling deals on worthwhile notebooks.
For even more notebook options, check out our roundup of the best laptops. We’ve got can’t-miss picks for every use case and budget, putting our thousands of hours of hands-on testing to work for you.
The best laptop deals today
Sometimes all you need is an everyday, no-frills laptop for browsing the web and checking e-mail. If you’re in the market for such a machine, check out our picks below.
Lenovo 14 Slim 7, Intel Core i7-1260P CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/14-inch 1800p display, $749 ($350 off at B&H)
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, Intel Core i3-1215U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/8GB RAM/128GB SSD/13.5-inch 1504p touch display, $1,099 ($220 off at HP)
Microsoft Surface Pro 9, Intel Core i5-1235U CPU/16GB RAM/256GB SSD/13-inch 1920p touch display, $1,099.99 ($440 off at Best Buy)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11, Intel Core i5-1335U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/256GB SSD/14-inch 1200p display, $1,319.45 ($1,079.55 off at Lenovo)
Lenovo IdeaPad 1, AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU/AMD Radeon Vega 7 graphics/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/14-inch 1080p display, $299.99 ($120 off at Microcenter)
XPS 13 Laptop, Intel Core i7-1250U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/13.4-inch 1200p display, $899 ($100 off at Dell)
Asus Zenbook 14X, Intel Core i7-13700H CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/14.5-inch 1800p touch display, $699.99 ($300 off at Best Buy)
MacBook Air, Apple M1 CPU/Apple M1 7-core graphics/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/13.3-inch 1600p display, $799.99 ($200 off at Best Buy)
Acer Chromebook Plus 515, Intel Core i3 CPU/Intel UHD graphics/8GB RAM/128GB SSD/15.6-inch 1080p display, $269 ($130 off at Best Buy)
My top pick: The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook offers a versatile 2-in-1 design, zippy performance, and a lightweight form factor. When it comes to price and features, it checks off all the right boxes, making it a great everyday machine for most people.
Whether you’re looking to catch up on some gaming after work or between classes, we’ve got a pretty solid list of gaming laptop recommendations below. The refresh rates on these machines are absolutely bananas and I mean that in the best way possible.
MSI Thin GF63, Intel Core i5-11400H CPU/Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/15.6-inch 1080p display, $584 ($115 off at Walmart)
HP Omen, Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/17.3-inch 1440p display, $1,639.99 ($760 off at eBay)
Gigabyte Gaming Laptop, Intel Core i7-12650H CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/15.6-inch 1080p display, $799.99 ($300 off at Best Buy)
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/14-inch 1440p display, $1,299.99 ($300 off at Best Buy)
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i, Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU/32GB RAM/1TB SSD/16-inch 1600p display, $1,249 ($550 off at B&H)
HP Victus, AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/16.1-inch 1080p display, $1,049.99 ($350 off at HP)
Asus TUF Gaming A16, AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU/AMD Radeon RX 7600S GPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/16-inch 1200p display, $729.99 ($370 off at Best Buy)
Acer Nitro, Intel Core i5-12450H CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/15.6-inch 1080p display, $699.99 ($250 off at Best Buy)
My top pick: For the ultimate gaming experience, shoot for the HP Omen. Thanks to the Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU, you’ll be able to breeze through most modern games on the High or Ultra graphics preset. The 17.3-inch 1440p display also has a crazy high refresh rate of 240Hz, which means you can expect lusciously smooth visuals.
2-in-1 laptops (aka convertibles) are great because they’re so lightweight and versatile. All you have to do is swing the screen around 360 degrees and boom! You’ve got a tablet. If you’re on the hunt for a super portable laptop, then check out the carefully curated list below.
Samsung Galaxy Book3 360, Intel Core i7-1360P CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/15.6-inch 1080 display, $999.99 ($550 off at Best Buy)
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, Intel Core i7-1260P CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/16-inch 1200p touch display, $899.99 ($350 off at Best Buy)
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5, Intel Core i7-1355U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/16-inch 1200p touch display, $679 ($320 off at B&H)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 8, Intel Core i5-1335U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/256GB SSD/14-inch 1200p touch display, $1,467.15 ($49.80 off at B&H)
Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1, Intel Core i7-1355U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/14-inch 1400p display, $749.99 ($300 off at Best Buy)
HP Pavilion 2-in-1, Intel Core i3-1215U CPU/Intel Iris Xe graphics/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/14-inch 1280p display, $419.99 ($160 off at Best Buy)
My top pick: The Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 is a fantastic pick because it’s powerful enough for solid productivity and the 1200p display is both spacious and touch-enabled.
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 12-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-12510U, or the Core i7-13800H; 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 4050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 3xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options.
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.
Read our round-up of the best laptop chargers.
|EA Sports WRC review: A promising new rally racing start|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 14:00:00 +0000|
At a glanceExpert's Rating
ProsCaptures that special rally feeling perfectlyFully licensed with races, drivers and vehicles in multiple classesA rally school that actually helpsConsUneven graphics with some technical issuesThe driving experience on asphalt is not perfectWeak career mode with unnecessarily complicated menusOur VerdictEA and Codemasters have released their first rally game with the official WRC license and it’s a mostly successful attempt. The wonderfully challenging rally feel is there, as is most of the expected content – and some unexpected stuff. Unfortunately, some technical issues and a convoluted yet limited career mode prevent the game from reaching the highest ratings.
Best Prices Today: EA Sport WRC
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
Price comparison from Backmarket
There are many types of racing games; from fast-paced and crash-friendly arcade racing, to realistic simulators where every detail can be customized. Rally games are also on a similar scale, except that the opposite of action-packed and forgiving rallying is pure terror on four wheels — category the spiritual Dirt Rally 2.0 sequel EA Sports WRC proudly places itself in.
Madness on wheels
Where more straightforward racing games usually take place on wide, finely paved tracks with run-off zones and protective barriers, EA Sports WRC is the exact opposite. Just like in a real rally, there are long, narrow and winding sections – with everything from trees and rocks to fences and fence-less cliffs doing their best to stop your journey to the checkered flag.
A journey on asphalt, gravel, mud, ice, and snow. Surfaces that all feel distinct and require different driving styles to master. Regardless of the surface, Codemasters has captured the feeling almost perfectly and it is a joy to drive along narrow forest roads, cozy winter villages, and gravel-filled plains with your heart in your throat and your tongue in your mouth.
The only downside is that the asphalt racing doesn’t feel as ‘right’ as the other surfaces; control isn’t quite as reliable and predictable.
Difficult, hard and fair
Getting through the race stages is challenging, but grabbing first place is far from impossible — even with a Sunday driving warning during the more difficult sections. The challenge is rather to keep a cool head and try to keep the number of mistakes down to zero.
At least at the normal level of difficulty. If it sounds boring, just increase the difficulty level, and at the same time increase the risk of nervous breakdowns due to too-high speeds on too-narrow roads.
Because regardless of the level of difficulty, it only takes a second of inattention and a small mistake to throw away the chance of a top position. Or the chance of a final position at all. Because if there are several minor crashes — or one major one — the result can be a completely wrecked car with an associated repair bill.
Rewind mistakes? Forget it. Do it again, do it right. Even if the distance to be travelled is 20 minutes long. It’s tough, but fair.
An extensive list
It’s not just on the gravel that EA Sports WRC impresses. There’s also some good things to say about the game options themselves. In the menus you’ll find the expected game modes, such as a career mode, speed races, time trials, and a helpful driving school — but also a few more exciting options.
For example, Moments offers special challenges based on fictional and real-life races and events from past WRC seasons, while Clubs provides unexpectedly sensible opportunities to create customized asynchronous online competitions. Add to that the Builder option, where it’s possible to build your very own car and determine its physical appearance, parts and colors.
No straightforward career
But despite the relatively large content list, I can’t shake a certain feeling of disappointment, mostly because of the career mode. It’s a mode that usually stands out in Codemasters racing games, not least in the F1 series.
In EA Sports WRC, Codemasters has tried to squeeze in things to do outside of driving, but somehow it feels both messy and too limited at the same time. Cars in several different rally classes must be bought and raced, while sponsors must be chased and their wishes fulfilled, staff hired and a co-driver trained. All according to budget and with a calendar that determines what can be done when, where and how.
On the surface, most of it is here, yet it fails to engage me. I never feel that what I do actually has any consequences. The career just rolls on with unnecessarily complicated menus — and really fun rallies.
With the feeling on top
Whilst I was hoping for more from Codemasters’ official WRC debut, there’s no denying that EA Sports WRC is a lot of fun and challenging. Rally really sets itself apart from other racing games with its almost horror-like experience — something that Codemasters has captured well here.
At release, EA Sports WRC had a lot of bugs, not least when it came to the graphics and flow. Thankfully, a number of patches have ironed out several problems since then, which makes me hopeful that even the remaining flaws will be resolved in the future. If you’re sensitive to a high but not perfect image update, however, it’s a good idea to wait.
EA Sports WRC is not for those who want an easy-to-digest rally race. But for anyone who wants a rally game that ranks realism and challenge a few notches higher than accessibility and flashy racing, EA Sports WRC is the best thing to happen to the genre since Dirt Rally 2.0.
This review was translated from Swedish to English and originally appeared on m3.se.
|How to protect yourself from email tracking|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 12:30:00 +0000|
Email has been around for over 50 years. Back in 1971, what is widely regarded as the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson as a test of an email feature on Arpanet. Since no one had told him what the historical event was, he just sent it to himself and the content was something like “QWERTYUIOP,” he said in an interview in the late 1990s.
The protocol still used to send emails, smtp, has been around since 1981. The most common protocol for retrieving and managing email, imap, was introduced in 1988. The biggest technical changes since then are the addition of encrypted connections using ssl/tls.
At no time in the early decades of email was privacy and protection of personal data included in the development of the email technology itself. Encryption for those who need to send secrets came fairly early with PGP (1991) and s/mime (1995), but 30 years later it has still not taken hold in the market. Other developments have meant that email today has less privacy protection than ever.
Threats to and from
Email can pose a privacy problem on two completely different fronts, with completely different requirements for protective measures. One is the monitoring of your communication along the path between you and the recipient — that is, an external threat to your emails. But a far greater concern for most people today is the threat that comes from within the email — various techniques to track and spy on you via the technical content of the emails you open.
Måns Jonasson at The Swedish Internet Foundation. Internetstiftelsen/Kristina Alexanderson
How you are tracked
As soon as you open an email, the person who sent it can find out where you are, when and how many times you open it. All this is thanks to so-called tracking pixels — tiny images, just a single white pixel, generated on the sender’s server with a random file name linked to you. This is used in everything from spam to newsletters and one-off emails.
Måns Jonasson, internet expert at the Swedish Internet Foundation, points out that tracking via the scanning of images with unique file names linked to user profiles or accounts is not limited to tracking pixels.
It can be any image in an HTML email.
“HTML emails also allow you to track recipients using other techniques such as cookies and dynamic content,” says Cooper Quintin, senior public interest technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Both Måns Jonasson and Cooper Quintin also talk about the other common way you are tracked: While tracking pixels and the like work passively, tracking links are an active type of tracking. There are basically two types of tracking links: links that don’t go to the final destination at all, but reach it via a server that tracks the click and sends you on, and regular links with an additional tracking code after the address itself.
In both cases, these are links that you are asked to click on in the email, leading to, for example, a blog post or a product page in a shop. In the former case, the browser will first go to a completely different domain and move on. You can often see the page start to load several times before it finally opens, with several different addresses appearing in the address bar.
The second type takes you directly to the destination, but if you click on the address bar to see the full address, you can see that it is very long and contains long codes and other things at the end after the regular address. You can also see this by copying the address and pasting it into the address bar instead of clicking on it.
Without images, some emails become unreadable.
To avoid being tracked by tracking pixels and other tracking images, there are two basic methods. You can either turn off HTML emails altogether and open all emails as plain text, or you can turn off the automatic loading of remote content (of which images are the most common type).
“Turning off the automatic loading of images is the best, most concrete example of simple protection if you’re worried about being tracked, and it’s done automatically on suspected spam in Gmail and many other clients,” says Måns Jonasson.
Cooper Quintin of the EFF.Pamela Palma/EFF
Cooper Quintin recommends the more drastic option of turning off HTML emails altogether. One advantage of this over stopping the loading of images is that it also prevents other potential security flaws in the handling of HTML, so it provides some protection against malware and hacking. But on the other hand, it makes many emails such as mailings with offers that you actually want to receive not work properly, so it is a balance between privacy protection and benefit.
As many users today have switched off the automatic loading of images, some marketers have chosen to send emails that contain hardly any plain text. Almost all content is placed in images, and a text near the top says something like, “Does this email not look right? Open in browser instead,” with a link.
“It’s a trend I’ve seen […] that you have to load images to read the email because all the text is in images,” says Cooper Quintin.
To prevent tracking in these cases, there’s not much you can do on your own. It is not possible to disable image scanning and only scan individual images by clicking on them, for example. If the images are links and you have not switched off HTML emails, you can of course click on them, but then it is probably a tracking link.
Effectively “washing” outbound links is difficult and tricky, because you need to know in advance which ones are being used for tracking and it will never be 100 percent effective, and it risks breaking legitimate links, just like any other filtering on the internet.
There are a few companies that are actively working to prevent email tracking. Apple users have access to a technology called Privacy Protection in Mail which protects against both active and passive tracking. The service scans all images and other data on Apple’s servers so that the sender cannot see your IP address and when you opened the email. It also scrubs away tracking code from many providers, such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft’s ad-saving codes.
Subscription-based email provider Hey also has several technologies that stop tracking. Like Apple, all images are loaded from the company’s servers rather than directly from your devices, and Hey automatically removes tracking pixels and other tracking from a long list of known trackers, plus any images and other content that follow typical tracking patterns (such as one-pixel-sized images).
Encryption and surveillance
So far, it’s been all about the email threat. But what about the threat to email, like mass surveillance? The only way to fully protect yourself from any form of surveillance is with full-strength encryption, where only you and the recipient have the keys to unlock the contents of your messages. However, this type of encryption has never been widely adopted for email.
Solutions like PGP, GPG, and s/mime are complicated to set up and use. Both sides must create key pairs and exchange their public keys, and get an email client that supports the technology. This is complicated enough on a computer but almost impossible on a mobile phone, where most people check their emails today.
I asked Måns Jonasson and Cooper Quintin whether it is even worth trying to get started with PGP as a private person.
“Honest answer: No,” says Måns Jonasson.
PGP turns out to be incredibly difficult even for IT security experts, not to mention ordinary users. “PGP is not the best solution for encrypted communication and I think it’s better to prioritize getting others to start using Signal, WhatsApp, ProtonMail and other forms of [total range encrypted] communication,” replies Cooper Quintin.
Both experts also point out that the common perception that email is not encrypted is, as Måns Jonasson says, a truth with modification.
Much of the email traffic today is encrypted via TLS/SSL. Email protocols were originally designed to be unencrypted, and for a long time all email traffic on the internet was completely unencrypted, but today Gmail, Outlook, and the other big giants are encrypted, at least from server to server. And in the longer term, almost 100 percent of email traffic will certainly be encrypted.
The traffic between users’ devices and the email servers is almost always encrypted, and since most people today have their email hosted by Google or Microsoft, Cooper Quintin says this often means that emails are encrypted all the way.
If you’re a Gmail user and you email another Gmail user, the email will never leave Google’s servers.
Major providers like Gmail and Outlook also encrypt emails when they are sent between the companies’ servers, so with few exceptions, emails you send will be encrypted all the way from you to the recipient. However, the companies handling the email can see the content, and also scan all emails for malware, child pornography, and spam. If the messages were fully encrypted, no such scanning could take place.
According to Cooper Quintin, this means that the threat to your privacy is that the police can, for example, request your emails during a criminal investigation, “so you might not want to send things via email that you don’t want to hear read out during a trial.”
The bottom line is that Signal, WhatsApp, Imessage, and other messaging services with full-strength encryption are better for exchanging secrets between friends, but other than tracking for marketing purposes, regular users don’t need to be particularly worried about email.
“Not loading images in unknown emails and not clicking on links in such emails goes a long way,” says Mr Jonasson.
This article was translated from Swedish to English and originally appeared on pcforalla.se.
|Atari 2600 Plus review: Party like it’s 1977|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 11:30:00 +0000|
At a glanceExpert's Rating
ProsStylish design true to the originalCan run original game cartridgesIncludes HDMI and USB-CConsShort cablesNo instructionsExpensiveNot so many gamesOur VerdictThe Atari 2600 Plus is a nostalgia dream for those who remember the original, but also fun for new generations. Equipped with HDMI, you can now play the games on a modern TV. Not everything is perfect, though. The game list is short and you’ll want to buy at least one more controller, which really bumps up the price.
Price When Reviewed$129.99
Best Prices Today: Atari 2600 Plus
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
Price comparison from Backmarket
For the right generation of gamers, this console is resurrected right out of their most beloved core memories. The Atari 2600 Plus is everything the original was, but in a slightly smaller format and with modern ports. You’re getting the slightly bulky game cartridges, the great feel of all the controls and buttons, and the legendary CX40 joystick to play with. The games look simple compared to modern titles, but in many cases, they require both patience and timing. The console landed right in my living room and was tested by both young and old in the family.
Incredibly similar to the original. Foundry
This new edition with HDMI and USB-C ports lets you play both new and original 2600 and 7800 titles. If you own the original controllers, you can plug them in and use them. You can switch between color and black and white, change the difficulty level and select the game mode, and start games with the reset lever. You can also chose between widescreen and 4:3. Screw the first option though, it doesn’t feel right at all.
The Atari 2600 Plus may seem a bit like a 2600 met a 7800 and had a happy baby, but inside this modern version is a Rockchip 3128 Arm SoC that emulates the games. The Atari 2600 Plus has 256 megabytes of internal memory and an equal number of megabytes for storage. We don’t notice any lag or graphics artefacts. Everything runs smoothly.
You need to reach these levers while playing.Foundry
If you splurge on an Atari 2600 Plus, you get the console, a joystick, and a game cartridge with 10 titles. You’ll also get all the cables you need (except a USB adapter for power). The included titles are Adventure, Combat, Dodge ‘Em, Haunted House, Maze Craze, Missile Command, Realsports Volleyball, Video Pinball, and Yars’ Revenge.
Of course, we would have liked even more games, but there’s something for everyone, including sports games, classic arcade titles, and a first-person shooter. We got to borrow a press kit which, in addition to the standard gadgets you get if you buy the Atari 2600 Plus, also included the classic paddle controllers and additional games.
These controllers were by far the most fun to play with. Foundry
We really liked the paddle controllers, as the wheels roll nice and smooth in games that require precision. Like the console, these controllers are faithfully recreated from the CX30 controllers of yesteryear.
The car game Night Driver is all about driving without crashing into the edges of the track.Foundry
We also got to play Mr. Run and Jump, a side-scrolling game designed for this console. It can otherwise be purchased for $24.99 on Steam. It’s challenging and requires both patience and careful timing. Thankfully, your successes are saved at the end of each level. The classic Berzerk is also available for $9.99 on Steam. Here they have added robot voices, diagonal images, and improved the graphics.
Old game cartridges work
If you have old game cartridges for the Atari 2600 or 7800, they can work in this modern version as well. Atari has a list of compatible games here. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get ahold of any original games while we had the console in for testing. The Atari 5200 had a different type of cartridge and those games are therefore not available on the Atari 2600 Plus. Can we keep our fingers crossed that a cartridge with the best games from the 5200 will be released? Maybe not, but that would be fun!
Short cables and inadequate manuals
I wasn’t around when the Atari 2600 was launched, but still when I started gaming in the 80s and 90s you sat on the floor near the small TV and played. The cords on this modern Atari console are short and feel suited to just such an arrangement, but it’s not nearly as much fun to sit on the floor in front of a 65-inch TV and play. Sure, you can get extensions, but in 2023, maybe we shouldn’t have to.
Another thing that drags down the joy meter is the lack of instructions. There are no manuals included, except for a short guide on how to start everything up. If you haven’t played the games before, it’s almost impossible to understand what to do (for example, you pull the somewhat confusingly named Game Reset lever to start the games). There are manuals online and, of course, guides on YouTube. So, be prepared to do some research if you don’t happen to remember exactly what to do because you spent hours with the originals.
This console will probably attract gamers who experienced the original themselves and already have game cartridges and old controllers at home. It’s simply a bit too expensive for younger generations to buy everything new.
Product: Atari 2600 Plus
Tested: November 2022
In thepackage: Console, joystick, game cartridge, hdmi cable, usb cable
Connections: 1 pc usb-c (for charging), hdmi and two ports for hand controllers
Number of games: 10
This review was translated from Swedish to English and originally appeared on m3.se.
|These money-awarding puzzles make great gifts|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 10:00:00 +0000|
Still getting your holiday shopping done? Well, we’ve got a fun proposal. If you order by December 7, you’re guaranteed to get The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle by the holidays, and your special someone will waste no time at all in getting it done.
That’s because this puzzle actually awards prize money when you finish it. When you complete the puzzle, it makes a big QR code. Scan that code and you’ll be taken to a page that will award you your prize money. Prizes range from $1 to $1,000,000, so absolutely everyone is a winner. This puzzle is rated an average of 4.7/5 stars by verified purchasers.
Could you give $1 million this holiday season? Get The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle for $29.99, or save $10 by getting two for $50, or $200 with ten for $99.98. Order by December 7 to get them by the holidays, guaranteed.
The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle – $29.99
Prices are subject to change.
|Save an extra $5 on this wireless iPhone charger for the holidays|
|Wed, 06 Dec 2023 08:00:00 +0000|
Wireless charging is becoming more and more common for phones these days, and if you or someone on your gift list is in the market for a new charger, look no further! We’re currently offering the Speedy Mag Wireless Charger for iPhone at a special discount of 70% off through December 17.
This sleek charger has a built-in magnet and metal plate to securely attach to your iPhone 12 or later, keeping it firmly in place while you charge up. It has built-in safeguards against overcharging and is guaranteed to work with the highest speed charging protocols for your phone. Rated 4.3/5 stars by verified purchasers, this charger offers an easy way to get powered up while reducing cable clutter.
Give the gift of wireless charging this year! Now through December 17, you can get the Speedy Mag Wireless Charger for iPhone for 70% off $119 at just $34.97. Order by December 7 for guaranteed arrival by Christmas.
Speedy Mag Wireless Charger for iPhone (Black) – $34.97
Prices subject to change.
|Microsoft Copilot turns 1, promising deeper, more sophisticated search|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 18:26:46 +0000|
For the first birthday of Microsoft Copilot, Microsoft laid out a roadmap of additional features that it plans to add, including a more sophisticated language model and better ways of generating AI art.
Microsoft plans to add these things to Copilot, which is now the company’s catchall term for its large language model chatbots on the web, on Windows, and in Microsoft 365. Of particular interest is the imminent addition of GPT-4 Turbo, notable for two things: an information cutoff of April 2023 as well as the ability to handle 128k of input (or about 300 pages of text.) The feature is currently in testing, Microsoft said.
Still, there is a cutoff — and to solve that problem, Microsoft is launching Deep Search. While Microsoft and ChatGPT have used “plugins” to help dive deeper into specific topics, Deep Search is a more generic version of that. If Copilot isn’t sure what you’re asking about, it may pop up a small window asking for more detail: For example, what you mean when asking about “points systems in Japan.” If Bing isn’t sure whether you’re asking about loyalty cards or immigration, it will ask, Microsoft explained.
Otherwise, expect Copilot to get better at what it already does: image generation (now with Dall-E 3), inline composing (now with rewrite capabilities, which will make obfuscating plagiarism easier, unfortunately), better code interpretation, and more. It will also do a better job interpreting images, Microsoft promised.
Microsoft didn’t address the weakest link of Copilot, however — that, within Windows, it’s just slow to respond. Hopefully that improvement is coming too over the next few months.
|Microsoft will charge consumers for extended Windows 10 support|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 18:00:00 +0000|
If you’re loath to give up Windows 10 when support expires in about two years, there’s some good news and bad news: Microsoft is extending your support options — but you’ll be forced to pay an additional fee.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 will reach the end of support on October 14, 2025. That will still mean, as it usually does, that Microsoft will release no new features after that date.
What it usually also means is that Microsoft won’t release any new security patches after a product exits its support window. That typically translates to an end-of-life scenario: Without security updates, your use of Windows 10 or another product is subject to any bugs or vulnerabilities that are discovered. You use it at your own risk, basically.
Microsoft sometimes offers an escape hatch. As it has done previously, businesses will be offered an Extended Security Update — a chance to pay Microsoft for additional bug fixes and patches while it transitions over to Windows 11. What’s different is that consumers will now be offered the chance to buy an Extended Security Update, too — the first time that Microsoft has allowed consumers to do this.
“While we strongly recommend moving to Windows 11, we understand there are circumstances that could prevent you from replacing Windows 10 devices before the EOS date. Therefore, Microsoft will offer Extended Security Updates,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
“Like the Windows 7 ESU program, your organization will be able to purchase a yearly subscription to security updates. The yearly commitment is renewable for three years. Devices enrolled in ESUs will receive monthly security updates to keep these Windows 10 PCs secure.”
Though that statement refers to the business subscriptions, consumers are being offered the same deal. The ESU program just includes critical and/or important security updates on a monthly basis, but no new features, or customer-requested security improvements or features. More importantly, Microsoft will not provide technical support, either.
Businesses will be provided Windows 10 ESUs if they subscribe to Windows 365, Microsoft’s Windows-in-the-cloud solution. But a Microsoft representative confirmed that this loophole won’t be applied to the consumer ESU subscriptions.
The question that Microsoft isn’t answering is, how much will this all cost? Microsoft is going to make you wait before it answers. We do know that Microsoft absolutely loves subscriptions, so this decision doesn’t come as an absolute surprise. And yes, you will have to eventually move to Windows 11. But there will at least be a safety net, though it will cut into your wallet.
|Best gaming laptops 2023: What to look for and highest-rated models|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 17:00:00 +0000|
Are you in the market for a fancy new gaming laptop? If so, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Whether you’re into esports titles or cinematic fantasy games, the folks at PCWorld went ahead and carefully assembled a list of our best gaming picks. We’ve got everything from powerful laptops with the latest Nvidia graphics cards to more portable options, if that’s your cup of tea. These laptops can pretty much do anything a souped-up desktop PC can do.
Why you should trust us: Hey, it’s in our name! PCWorld prides itself on laptop experience and expertise. We’ve been covering PCs since 1983, and we now review more than 70 laptops every year. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts, who’ve applied not only performance benchmarks but rigorous usability standards. We’re also committed to reviewing PC laptops at every price point to help you find a machine that matches your budget.
See our roundup of the best laptops for even more recommendations—premium laptops, ultraportables, Chromebooks, and more.
Razer Blade 14 (2023) – Best gaming laptop
The CPU and GPU power is impressive
The QHD+ display looks superb and is very smooth
The build quality is exceptional
The keys are quick but can sometimes feel a bit mushy
The audio sounds a bit flat at times
The top-tier configuration is quite pricey
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$1,800.00 at Amazon$2799.99 at Razer$3499 at Gamestop
From the 240Hz refresh rate display to the powerful hardware and portable form factor, the Razer Blade 14 has it all. This beastly machine is rocking an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. It should have no problem blazing through most titles and the ample amount of memory should be plenty for your files and games. The 14-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1600, a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz (wow!), and an aspect ratio of 16:10. The laptop itself also weighs a little over four pounds, which is considered lightweight for a gaming laptop. The silver finish is a nice touch, too. The design is more subtle and sophisticated, a welcome departure from the world of garish red accents and big boxy designs.
If you’re on the hunt for a gaming laptop that’s both powerful and portable, then the Razer Blade 14 (2023) is definitely worth considering.
Read our full
Razer Blade 14 (2023) review
MSI Thin GF63 2023 – Best budget gaming laptop
Decent 1080p gaming
Attractive red keyboard backlighting
Not the most powerful
Poor battery life
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$840.00 at Amazon$888.79 at Walmart$889.99 at Adorama
If you’re looking for an affordable laptop that’s lightweight and reasonably powerful, the MSI Thin GF63 is a good option. It weighs just over four pounds, which is light for a gaming laptop. For context, most gaming machines weigh six pounds or more (and sometimes much more). In addition to the lightweight form factor, it also packs a decent amount of power for 1080p gaming.
The MSI Thin GF63 is rocking an Intel Core i7-12650H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Given the hardware, you should be able to run most games on the Medium or High graphics preset. For more graphically demanding games in which every second of response time matters, we’d recommend dialing back the graphics a bit. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. Although it manages just 300 nits of brightness (which is common for a budget gaming laptop), gameplay should be reasonably smooth thanks to the high refresh rate. It’s not the most vibrant or color-accurate screen we’ve ever seen, but it’s passable, especially for a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop.
If you can live with those sacrifices, then the MSI Thin GF63 is a great budget option for most gamers.
Read our full
MSI Thin GF63 (2023) review
Razer Blade 16 – Best 4K gaming laptop
Ridiculous 3D performance
Best-of-both-worlds dual-mode display
Gorgeous, understated design
Switching display modes requires rebooting
Case is fingerprint magnet
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$4299.99 at B&H$4299.99 at Microcenter4299.99 at Razer
So we need to talk about Razer’s dual-mode display option on the Blade 16. Not only does the mini-LED display act as a native 4K panel with 120Hz refresh rate, but you can switch it to be a 1080p panel at 240Hz as well. It’s the best of both worlds, it’s ludicrous, and we love it. The option to play richly textured games in all of their 4K glory or change it up and play twitchy shooters at a blazing-fast 240Hz is unparalleled in today’s laptops. In 4K mode, the display is rated at 1,000 nits and looks stunning with vibrant and bright colors. Plus, the added vertical space of the 16:10 panel compared to a regular widescreen 16:9 display provides more screen real-estate than one would think.
All of this great display potential requires solid performance features to back it up and the Razer Blade 16 doesn’t disappoint. It’s packing a 13th-gen Core i9-13950HX processor, Nvidia’s flagship RTX 4090 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a giant 2TB M.2 SSD—those specs will put most gaming desktops to shame. It comes with the classic minimalist design we’re used to seeing from Razer and weighs 5.52 pounds, which is about average for this size gaming laptop. While we can’t say that the price on this laptop is reasonable, at least with these awesome specs, it’s not unreasonable either. Besides, just the 4K dual-mode display on its own makes this laptop stand out from the crowd.
Read our full
Razer Blade 16 review
Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition – Best battery life
Outstanding all day battery life
Gorgeous and smooth FHD+ 16:10 display
Robust chassis with US military grade certification
Left-side port orientation won’t suit left handers
Keys feel a bit soft and fatiguing
The 720p HD camera isn’t the best
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$949.99 at Best Buy
Gaming on a laptop while unplugged can seemingly drain your battery in the blink of an eye. This makes it difficult to game on the go without having to constantly be seeking the nearest outlet. But Asus has done wonders with the battery life in its A16 models and the latest 2023 version is even more efficient. In our battery tests, the A16 ran for a whopping 11.5 hours of continuous use without stopping. Now, intensive gaming will reduce this significantly, but the 90 watt-hour battery should still net you about seven hours of 1080p gaming without having to plug into an AC outlet. That’s way better than most of the competitors on this list.
The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is no slouch when it comes to performance either. It’s loaded with a Ryzen 7 processor, AMD Radeon RX 7600S graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Plus, it’s also relatively affordable. All of this makes the A16 an excellent option for 1080p gamers—especially those who want to take their gaming on the go.
Read our full
Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review
Asus ROG Strix G16 – Best keyboard for gaming
The cyberpunk styling looks very appealing
The laptop makes excellent use of its performance hardware
The display looks brilliant and handles motion well
A cluster of left side ports won’t suit left handers
Battery life is middling
There’s more plastic in the chassis than some rivals
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$1259.95 at Walmart$1,280.00 at Amazon$1599.99 at Asus
Looking like something out of a cyberpunk dream, the Asus ROG Strix G16 comes with all of the futuristic punk aesthetics you could wish for in a gaming laptop. It also sports the best keyboard for gaming we’ve come across on a laptop yet. The full-size keyboard and trackpad are ideal for competitive gaming with programmable hotkeys at the top, a creatively hidden numpad within the trackpad, and springy keys with a generous 2mm of travel.
The Asus ROG Strix G16 doesn’t lack for performance either. It combines the latest-gen Core i7-13650HX processor with a Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU to give you excellent performance. The gorgeous 16-inch 2560 x 1600p 240Hz refresh rate display is another highlight. Sure, the chassis has a bit more plastic than we would like and the battery life sits firmly in the average category, but those quirks are soon forgotten as soon as you boot this neon-lit beauty up.
Read our full
Asus ROG Strix G16 review
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 – Best connectivity features
CPU and GPU performance is quite decent for the laptop’s low price
The keyboard is large, flashy and with an excellent selection of keys
The port selection is extremely good – it includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports
The speaker’s audio is quiet and tuned mostly for the mid and high frequency sounds
My display’s 165Hz refresh rate didn’t do a lot to prevent stuttering
The off-center positioning of the trackpad isn’t ideal
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$1199.99 at Acer$1,899.99 at Amazon
Acer’s Predator Helios Neo 16 is not only a mouthful to say, but it’s also a laptop packed with ports and impressive game performance. This affordable option from Acer sports a Intel Core i7-13700HX processor and the new RTX 4060 GPU from Nvidia. That pair means you’ll get solid performance for both productivity and gaming.
We were impressed with the performance, but where this laptop really shines is its incredible array of ports. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, three USB-A ports, an HDMI port, Ethernet, Micro SD card slot, and a 3.5 combo jack for audio. Acer did have to make the laptop a bit chunky in order to fit all of this in along with the gamer-centric performance features—14.18 x 11.02 x 1.11-inches and weighing 5.73 pounds. Those dimensions aren’t unheard of in gaming laptops, but it does feel a bit heavy and unwieldy when on the go. However, as far as connectivity and price-to-performance, there aren’t many better options than the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16.
Read our full
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 review
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 – Best 16-inch gaming laptop
Upgrades to the CPU and GPU provide very respectable performance
The display is both graphically impressive and exceptionally smooth
Price-wise it beats some competitors
The keys feel a bit mushy
It lacks a dedicated LAN port relying instead on upgrades to wireless connectivity
The styling is quite modest
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$1699.99 at Best Buy2699.99 at Asus
In the past, Asus has focused on making its Zephyrus line of laptops thinner and lighter with each iteration. That all changed with the M16, which instead added potent performance upgrades, and we are glad for the change. The M16 sports a powerful Core i9-13900H processor and the new Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics card for a one-two punch that should keep you on top of the latest releases and provide a little bit of future-proofing as well.
Asus has also included a gorgeous 16-inch Mini-LED display in the M16, yet again raising the bar for Zephyrus fans. And even with all of these generous performance upgrades, Asus still managed to keep the Zephyrus M16 at only 0.78-inches thick. It’s packing a bit more weight, though, so it can no longer be considered one of the most portable gaming rigs, but the extra features make it well worth the additional heft.
Read our full
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review
Acer Predator Triton 17X – Best 17-inch gaming laptop
The hardware is extremely powerful – expect high FPS scores
The QHD+ display is large, produces brilliant color and is remarkably smooth
The port selection is very decent
The styling could be more original and gamer-centric
It’s quite heavy
The battery life is short
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$2879.1 at Adorama$3,499.99 at Amazon$3499.99 at Walmart
From the high refresh-rate display and rugged build to the diverse port selection and powerful internals, the Acer Predator Triton 17X has it all. Inside, you’ll find an Intel i9-13900HX CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That’s a beastly amount of power right there. In our graphics testing, it outperformed a number of big players like the Razer Blade 18 and the Alienware X16. The 17-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1600, a refresh rate of 240Hz, and a response time of 3ms. According to our reviewer, the display has “the best contrast” he’s ever seen in a “panel of this size.” Talk about high praise! As for connectivity options, you’re getting two USB-A, two USB-C (Thunderbolt), one HDMI 2.1, one SD card reader, one 3.5mm combo audio jack, one 2.3 Gigabit Ethernet, and one Kensington lock.
If you’re in the market for a 17-inch gaming laptop with fantastic performance, look no further than the Acer Predator Triton 17X.
Read our full
Acer Predator Triton 17X review
Asus ROG Strix 18 – Best 18-inch gaming laptop
The CPU and GPU produce impressive power
The 18-inch QHD+ display is large and brilliantly colorful
Aura Sync RGB light bars lighten things up
Battery life is just average
The trackpad is too firm for all-day use
A 1080p webcam would have made it more suitable for creators
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$2499.99 at Best Buy3899.99 at Asus
Looking for something a little bit bigger? The Asus ROG Strix 18 is our favorite large 18-inch gaming laptop on the market. Not only do you get a gorgeous 18-inch 2560x1600p display that maximizes screen real-estate, but you get great performance features as well. It comes complete with a Core i9-13980HX processor, a top-of-the-line RTX 4090 GPU, and a substantial 32GB of DDR5 RAM. In fact, it’s stacked with so much power it’s likely to become the prized possession in any gamer’s household.
Due to its size, the ROG Strix 18 is likely to be more of a desktop replacement than an average everyday portable—it weighs a hefty 6.61 pounds. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying all that it has to offer. This laptop is a beast and swept away all comers in our tests including a surprisingly efficient thermal load benchmark that stands as a testament to the Strix 18’s innovative and effective design. If you’re after the very best performance on offer and you want a large laptop, the ROG Strix 18 is an absolute gem.
Read our full
Asus ROG Strix 18 review
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 – Best dual-screen gaming laptop
This laptop has enough high-end CPU and GPU power to run AAA games and creative programs smoothly.
The primary display renders images in rich and vivid color and with deep blacks.
A new dual screen design provides better visual continuity between the displays.
The trackpad is small, and its right-handed positioning still feels a bit awkward.
There’s no space to rest your hands on the laptop’s chassis when you’re not using the keyboard.
This laptop doesn’t come cheap.
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$3,499.00 at Amazon$3584.99 at CDW$3999.99 at Asus
A dual-screen laptop might still not be mainstream, but for enthusiasts who know how to take advantage of one—whether placing a handy map on the second screen, or being able to quickly look down to reference your discord chat—it’s an excellent choice. And right now there is no dual-screen laptop we like more for gaming than the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16. It packs a Ryzen 9 CPU, RTX 3080 Ti GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. That’s a ton of firepower in a laptop. Asus even managed to squeeze all of this and a second screen into a chassis no bigger than most single-display gaming laptops. Did we mention that it also comes with a 2560×1600 165Hz Mini-LED primary display? The secondary display has also been redesigned from previous versions to tilt up at a 13-degree angle, allowing for simultaneous viewing of both panels.
The main issue with a laptop such as this Zephyrus Duo 16 is the price. At the time of writing, this model will set you back close to $4,000—that’s a lot for any kind of laptop. You have to be an enthusiast and completely sold on a dual display for this to seem like an excellent value. However, the Asus Zephyrus Duo 16 was so good that it made a dual-screen convert out of our reviewer.
Read our full
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 review
MSI Titan GT77 HX 13V – Best high-end gaming laptop
Excellent mechanical keyboard
Class-leading Mini-LED display
Incredible CPU and GPU performance
2TB of solid state storage with PCIe Gen5 support
Short battery life
Price When Reviewed:
Best Prices Today:
$5299 at Newegg$5299 at XoticPC
If you’re on the hunt for the best gaming experience, the MSI Titan GT77 HX 13V is a phenomenally powerful machine. It’s packing an Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU, an Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU, 64GB of RAM, and 2TB of PCIe SSD storage. You can pretty much play any game on the Ultra graphics preset. In our testing, the Titan handled Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most technically demanding games out there right now, like a champ. The laptop also has a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches, which is a major plus for gamers. While performance is no doubt fantastic, the Titan has some tradeoffs you should be aware of: It’s loud, heavy, and astronomically expensive. That said, if you’ve got the budget for it, this thing is an absolute beast.
Read our full
MSI Titan GT77 HX 13V review
How we test gaming laptops
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. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them:
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.
Gaming tests: We benchmark each gaming laptop using several titles.
Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.
Buying Guide: How to pick the perfect gaming laptop
The MSI GS63VR features a 4K resolution panel but not enough GPU to really drive it for today’s games.
What’s the ‘best’ screen for a gaming laptop?
When you buy a gaming laptop, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make regards the screen. After all, what you get on day one is what you’re stuck with until you junk the device. You could run an external monitor but then, what’s the point of a laptop?
What’s the ‘best’ screen size for a gaming laptop?
The size of the screen dictates the size of the laptop itself, and thus weight. You can’t, for example, get a 17-inch gaming laptop that’s four pounds (although MSI’s excellent GS75 gets awfully damned close at five), so think long and hard about whether you’re willing to take the weight penalty in exchange for the screen real estate.
If the laptop is going to be your only gaming machine, having a 17-inch screen might be ideal. We should also add that a 17.3-inch screen is easier on weaker eyes than a 15.5-inch screen. This is very much a matter of personal preference.
What’s the ‘best’ screen resolution for a gaming laptop?
The buzzword today is “4K.” That high resolution delivers sharper photo viewing and more space for video editing, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Anything not using the panel’s native resolution of 3840×2180, such as games running at lower-than-4K resolution, won’t look quite as sharp unless you exponentially increase the graphics power of the laptop.
If you’re running at 1920×1080 resolution because your GPU can’t hit 60 fps at 4K, that feature is moot. For many gamers, 1920×1080 (1080p) or 2560×1440 (1440p) is more optimal.
IPS vs. TN vs. OLED: What’s the difference?
The panel technology is also a key feature. IPS (in-plane switching) generally produces much greater color accuracy and superior off-axis viewing, but tends to lag in response times, which can lead to blurring. TN (twisted nematic) panels can offer far higher refresh rates and usually better response times than IPS, but can look washed out or just blah.
A middle-ground technology that’s appearing more often is VA (vertical alignment). VA is sometimes alternately referred to as “wide viewing angle” technology. (Many assume this to spec to be IPS, but it’s not). In our experience, we’ve found VA panels to run the gamut from being worthy competitors to IPS to being worse than the better TN panels.
Generally, if color accuracy is important, go IPS (a trademark of Sharp), and if you want the fastest response times go for a gaming-oriented TN panel. With the variability of VA, we recommend you check feedback from reviewers and users of a particular model.
The wildcard in all this is OLED. OLED-based panels have been used in phones for years but have recently migrated to larger screens in laptops. IPS, TN, and VA all use LEDs behind the screen or along the edges. “Black” is produced by a shutter-like mechanism that blocks light from coming through. As you can imagine, there’s usually some light leakage, which means the black tends to be gray.
OLED panels don’t rely on edge- or backlighting. Instead, each pixel generates its own light. To produce black, it just switches off the light. This amounts to truly stunning contrast ratios and vibrant colors. OLEDs also boast fantastic response times.
The negatives include smaller screen sizes (we haven’t seen anything larger than 15.6 inches yet), higher cost, and lack of support for variable refresh rate. OLED panels can also use more power than conventional methods if the image is on a white background.
Should a gaming laptop have G-Sync or FreeSync support?
Okay, we called this section G-Sync and FreeSync, but the reality is, when it comes to beefy gaming laptops, it’s a GeForce GPU world. And that means it’s a G-Sync world. In a nutshell, Nvidia and AMD’s respective variable-refresh-rate technologies help synchronize the monitor and the GPU to greatly reduce screen tearing. Variable refresh rates can make gaming at 40 fps far smoother to your eyes than a screen without it.
The first variable-refresh-rate panels for laptops maxed out at 75Hz, only marginally better than the standard 60Hz. More recently, we’ve begun to see laptop panels that can push 120Hz, 144Hz and even 240Hz. This generally means smoother and sharper gaming to your eyes. It even helps smooth out everyday tasks such as scrolling a browser page or Word document.
The downside of high-refresh rate panels is the technology it’s available on: TN. As we said earlier, TN generally looks less vibrant and less accurate than IPS. The off-axis view is generally inferior, too. You’ll also need a far more powerful GPU to feed that high-refresh rate monitor at its native resolution.
One last very important note: G-Sync screens have to be connected directly to the laptop’s discrete GPU, which means a large hit in battery life. In most laptops without G-Sync, the Intel integrated graphics is connected directly to the screen, so the GPU can be turned off when not being used. So while G-Sync is beautiful to behold, the cost in battery life is huge.
Which is right for you? If it’s primarily a gaming laptop—go for a high refresh rate and G-Sync (or FreeSync, if you can find a laptop that supports it with a Radeon GPU). If you tend to also push pixels in Photoshop or do any color-critical work, skip variable refresh for an IPS panel.
What should you look for in a gaming laptop keyboard and trackpad?
A new trend in gaming laptops is the offset trackpad, which is more conducive to gaming than a dead-center trackpad. The concept is sound, but anyone who actually cares about PC gaming will just plug in a mouse. The worst thing about that offset trackpad is when you try to use it for non-gaming purposes.
As far as keyboards go, the most important gaming feature is n-key rollover. This means the keyboard physically scans each key separately. If you wanted to, you could press 20 keys simultaneously and they’d all register, as each is independently wired. That probably sounds excessive, but keyboards that lack this feature can suffer missed keystrokes, which both ruins gameplay and hurts in everyday tasks. Anyone who’s used an Adobe product that might require a left-Alt, left-Shift, left-Ctrl plus two more keys to do something may have run into the limitations of non-n-key keyboards.
Other keyboard considerations include LED backlighting (which adds ambiance but does nothing for gameplay) and mechanical keys vs. membrane. Mechanical keys are excellent—but are available on only a handful of laptops that usually weigh a ton. We have seen a few designs with low-profile mechanical keyboards, but even we admit they can be an acquired taste.
What kind of storage is best for a gaming laptop?
Having your games load from an SSD instead of a hard drive significantly cuts down on load times. But beyond that, we haven’t found it to matter that much whether it’s a super-fast NVMe PCIe drive or a slower SATA SSD.
What does matter more today is the size of the SSD rather than the interface it uses. With games now topping 50GB and some touching 100GBs, a once-spacious 256GB SSD will feel too small with just four games installed.
So when spec’ing out that gaming laptop, be mindful of just how much total storage you have. If you go for laptop with a small SSD and large hard drive combo, expect to install your games to the hard drive. If the laptop will have an SSD only, choose an absolute minimum of 512GB, with 1TB preferred.
How much RAM do you need in a gaming laptop?
When laptop makers spec out gaming laptops, one of the levers they use to try to convince you to buy their product is upping the amount of RAM. It’s not hard to find gaming laptops with “upgraded” configurations that go from 16GB of DDR4 to 32GB.
While having an adequate amount of RAM is important for gaming, today’s games typically top out at 16GB of RAM, and sometimes can run fine with just 8GB of RAM. Anything more than 16GB (our standard recommendation) is usually a waste of money.
You might want to blame laptop and PC makers for cynically using an erroneous spec to manipulate the public, but the blame actually lies with the average buyer. PC makers have told us for years they only over-spec RAM because the public thinks more is better.
Should a gaming laptop have dual-channel or single-channel RAM?
Besides the amount of memory, a couple of other important, but not critical, questions to ask is what clock speed and what mode. Modern CPUs let you run RAM in sets to increase the memory bandwidth.
More memory bandwidth immediately helps laptops that are running integrated graphics, but the conventional wisdom has long been that discrete GPUs in laptops don’t benefit as much because they have their own dedicated, much faster GDDR5 RAM to use. That’s typically the case, but the performance of today’s GPUs and CPUs can make this conventional wisdom wrong.
Gaming performance is often about a balance between the CPU and the GPU, and how graphically intensive a game is. With games that are graphically intensive, the GPU is the primary bottleneck on performance. Play a game that isn’t graphically intense, though, and the CPU can rapidly become the bottleneck on performance.
With the power of today’s GPUs, a lot of games, especially at a sedate resolution of 1920×1080, have shifted more performance to the CPU. The reason we’re talking about this now is if you rob the CPU of memory bandwidth, even a decently fast one, you can take a sizable hit in gaming performance.
The basic lesson is you should opt for dual-channel memory bandwidth configurations when possible. On a laptop spec sheet, you typically would see this expressed as “dual-channel” or “2 x 8” to indicate that two 8GB memory modules were used in a laptop.
Some laptop makers will express memory in clock speed, so you’ll see “DDR4/2,133 or DDR4/2,400.” While a higher memory clock does increase memory bandwidth, the impact isn’t quite as great as going from dual-channel to single-channel mode.
How many CPU cores do you really need in a gaming laptop?
How many cores do you need in a gaming laptop? For most people on a budget, a 4-core CPU with Hyper-Threading will function just fine in most games, especially when combined with a lower-cost and lower performance GPU.
Still, if you have the extra cash, a 6-core CPU with Hyper-Threading is likely the sweet spot for today and tomorrow. If you plan to stream your gaming live or edit it, investing in a 6-core is recommended.
Intel and AMD’s top-end 8-core CPUs will deliver the greatest benefit to those who might do other graphics-intensive tasks, such as 3D animation or video editing. If you also plan to record and stream video, the 8-core will offer a performance benefit there, too.
If you’re thinking, great, let me buy a 4-core Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU with a luxury laptop to save money, you usually can’t, because PC makers typically only offer budget CPUs with other budget parts. Why? Well, most budget shoppers can’t afford any luxury items, and most PC makers like to add in the extras to increase the profit.
What GPU is best for a gaming laptop?
The single most important piece of hardware in a gaming laptop is undoubtedly the GPU. For AMD fans, the situation is as sad as it is in CPUs: It’s an Nvidia GeForce world. As with CPUs though, the good news is that the dominating products are top-notch.
The hardest part will be deciding just how much GPU you need. Our general guidance is to buy as fast a GPU as you can afford and are willing to heft. Generally, the faster the GPU (or GPUs), the larger and heavier the laptop. If you’re talking about playing on a higher-resolution panel of 2560×1440 at high-refresh rates, then keep increasing the amount of money spent on the GPU.
What about external graphics support?
The last category you should think about is the burgeoning support for external graphics in gaming laptops. Customers of Alienware have long enjoyed this with its relatively inexpensive (and proprietary) Graphics Amplifier technology, but many new laptops support external graphics cabinets using Thunderbolt 3.
These cabinets let you plug your laptop into a more powerful discrete GPU. The Akitio Node (which you can find on Amazon for $300) is one such Thunderbolt 3 cabinet that’s helped usher in lower prices. Although external graphics are primarily desired by users who run on integrated graphics, a gaming laptop with Thunderbolt 3 support could come in handy when the GPU inside gets too old to play the latest games.
What kind of battery life should a gaming laptop have?
The last topic we’ll cover is battery life. The best way to understand battery life on a gaming laptop is to accept that it’ll be horrible for all things gaming.
The minute you crank up a GPU on a gaming laptop to play a game, you’re basically limiting yourself to an hour or an hour and a half of battery runtime. Period. And in some cases, far less than that.
The only reason to consider battery life on a gaming laptop is if you want to use your laptop unplugged for non-gaming purposes. In that respect, you’ll find a lot of variance, with some—such as Gigabyte’s Aero 15—offering decent battery life, albeit with a trade-off in gaming performance.
Gaming, Gaming Laptops, Laptops
|Logitech’s new Astro HDMI headset instantly switches from PC to console|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 15:39:25 +0000|
If you’ve been browsing the Reddit “battlestation” sub for any length of time, you know it’s getting popular to integrate a console like a Nintendo Switch or the PlayStation 5 into an elaborate PC gaming setup. The latest gaming headset from Logitech will appeal to these kinds of users, who switch between PC and console gaming on a whim. The Astro A50 X foregoes Bluetooth and USB dongles in favor of a full HDMI-based solution, allowing for high-quality, high-speed audio that doesn’t care about platforms.
The Astro A50 X headset manages this trick by being more than just a headset. Its wireless dock is also an input switch, supporting the latest HDMI 2.1 standard. Plug any two HDMI sources into the charging dock, and it becomes a switch for a single display, supporting up to 4K and 120Hz. You can get more advanced audio features with each input thanks to two additional USB-C ports, on top of the charging input. It’s a nifty if somewhat confusing setup — if your gaming PC doesn’t have at least one HDMI out, you’ll need to fall back on the USB connections and manually switch your monitor’s video input. Like some kind of peasant.
And peasants are unlikely to be in the market for this particular headset. With features like 24-bit audio support, 40mm graphene drivers, an omnidirectional booom mic, Bluetooth for connecting to phones or other devices, and the ability to mix game and chat volume directly on the headset, it doesn’t come cheap. Logitech is taking pre-orders right now for the Astro A50 X at a whopping $379, making it one of the most expensive gaming headsets on the market and rivaling pure audiophile cans for price. At least you can pick between black and white.
|I loved this zippy Acer Chromebook and now it’s on sale for $300|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 15:34:20 +0000|
If you’re looking for a zippy everyday Chromebook, you’ve come to the right place. Best Buy’s selling the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 for just $269, which is a savings of $130.
I actually reviewed this specific machine last month and awarded it four out of five stars, because it’s great. The audio quality is surprisingly punchy, performance is fast and reliable, and it offers a pleasant typing experience. As far as everyday laptops go, it checks off all the right boxes. I really enjoyed this machine and, for under $300, I think you will too.
The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is rocking an Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, Intel UHD graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. Personally, I didn’t any notice any lag when jumping from tab to tab and it boots up and shuts down within seconds. The bezels are thicker than I like, but the display is spacious at 15.6-inches and it has a resolution of 1920×1080. In other words, it’s a perfectly usable display for day-to-day productivity. It’ll last about 13 hours on a single charge, which is a little below average for a Chromebook, but it’s still a fantastic day-long result.
This is a phenomenal deal on a Chromebook that’s very good, so don’t miss out!
Get the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 for $269 at Best Buy
|How to prevent the Brave browser from saving sites you’ve visited|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 15:30:00 +0000|
The Internet browser Brave now offers a “Request Off the Record (OTR)” feature that hides your surfing from other users on your PC. This means that a visited website is not saved in the browser’s history, cookie, or temporary folders, making it similar to the “incognito window” in Chrome and other browsers.
A website can use the new feature by adding the code Request-OTR: 1 to the header. But you must first activate OTR in Brave. Enter brave://flags in the URL bar. Now enter the term “OTR” in the search field and select “Enable” from the drop-down menu after “Enable Request-OTR Tab.” After restarting the browser, the feature is activated.
If you subsequently call up such a website with Brave, the browser asks whether the website should be opened confidentially. If you click “Yes,” a temporary storage area is created for caches, cookies, authorizations, and the like. This storage area is deleted again when you leave the website.
To be able to use this feature, you must update Brave to version 1.53. You can view the current version of your browser via the “About Brave” menu icon. The feature is useful, but the number of web services that offer OTR still seems to be limited, so you might have better results using an Incognito window in Firefox or another browser until Brave’s new OTR feature spreads further.
This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.
|Windows update bug labels all printers as “HP LaserJet”|
|Tue, 05 Dec 2023 15:22:44 +0000|
HP is the biggest manufacturer of consumer printers in the world, according to this 2021 statistic. But with just under 25 percent of the market, it’s hardly a monopoly. So, it’s no surprise that many Windows users were confused when all their printers, from any manufacturer, suddenly started showing up as an “HP LaserJet M101-M106” last week.
The culprit appears to be a Windows update that erroneously re-labeled some or all of the hardware printers connected to PCs with incorrect metadata, either directly or over the network, and automatically installed the HP Smart app. (Windows Update can download third-party executables in addition to standard drivers for some partner companies — you may have noticed this when plugging in a new gaming mouse or keyboard.) The issue was reported by Windows users to various Microsoft support systems and spotted by Tom’s Hardware.
The bug doesn’t appear to cause any further technical problems for most users, though incorrectly labeled printers might be a big problem for a busy office blowing through expensive ink or toner by sending print jobs to the wrong printer. Both HP and Microsoft are aware of the issue, but no one’s committed to a timeframe for a fix just yet, and there doesn’t appear to be a workaround discovered.