Tech News

Nikon confirms Nikkor Z 24-70MM f/2.8 S for its Z system

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 23:01

Nikon has confirmed full details of the Nikkor Z 24-70MM F2.8 S lens, an optic the company revealed would soon arrive for users of its Z6 and Z7 full-frame mirrorless cameras.

The Z 24-70MM F/2.8 S joins the existing quartet of S-series lenses released so far, namely the Z 35mm F/1.8 S, Z 50mm F/1.8 S, Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/4 S and the recently announced Nikkor Z 14-30mm F/4 S.

Designed for professional photographers shooting portraits, landscapes, weddings and events among other things, the optic arrives with a handful of features not seen in any of the previous S-series lenses. 

These include a new ARNEO lens coating, which joins the existing Nano Crystal Coat technology to further minimize flare and ghosting. Nikon states that while the goal of the Nano Crystal Coat is to suppress ghosting and flare that forms as a result of light coming from diagonal angles, the ARNEO coat is used to deal with light entering the lens vertically.

Other features include a Function (L-Fn) button, which can activate one of 20 separate features of the user's choosing, together with an Organic EL Lens Information Panel that not only displays focus distance and depth of field, but aperture and focal length, among other information. The optic also becomes the first in the series to sport a manual focus ring that's independent of the customizable control ring.

Said to be 24.7% lighter and 18.4% shorter than the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens that's compatible with the company's DSLRs, the 17 element/15-group optic has been constructed with dust and drip resistance, with a fluorine coat on the front element that's said to repel dust, water, grease and dirt. Focusing, meanwhile, is handled by a stepping motor, while a new Multi-Focus System is intended to deliver fast and quiet autofocus, regardless of subject distance.

The company has promised that it will be introducing 24mm f/1.8 S, 85mm f/1.8 S and 70-200mm f/2.8 S lenses into the system, together with the ultra-wide-aperture Z 58mm f/0.95 Noct lens. Further lenses are slated for release in 2020. 

Price and availability 

The Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is set to arrive in the next two to three months and has a suggested retail price of $2,299.95 in the US. Pricing for the UK and Australia is yet to be confirmed.

Categories: Tech News

Canon confirms six further RF-mount lenses are in the works

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 23:00

Taken by the new Canon EOS RP? Or lucky enough to be using an EOS R already? However invested you are in the R system, you'll be pleased to learn that six further RF-mount lenses are on the way.

This means the company should have at least 10 RF lenses on the market by the end of 2019, having already announced four in September.

Each of the new lenses has been designed to satisfy the full-frame dimensions of the sensors inside the EOS R and EOS RP, and all but one of the new optics also bear the 'L' designation, which indicates superior optical performance and high-quality build.

The first lens, the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM (pictured above), is an image-stabilized superzoom, whose 10x zoom range makes it an obvious choice for holidays and traveling.

This will be joined by the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM, a wide-aperture prime lens primarily intended for portraiture, while an RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS variant, whose DS suffix indicates the presence of a Defocus Smoothing feature, will also be made available.

The fourth lens, the RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM, will join the existing RF 28-70mm f/2L USM and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lenses in Canon's standard zoom portfolio, its USP being the presence of both a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and an image stabilization system. 

Meanwhile, those keen on landscapes, architecture and any other wide-angle applications will be happy to know that an RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM is also set for release, while the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM will provide sports, nature and event photographers with a suitable telephoto working range.

Canon has also released a roadmap (above) that shows how the lens system looks so far, although this doesn't offer any additional details on other forthcoming lenses.

As is fairly typical for such an announcement, there's no word on exactly when these lenses will be available, nor is there are indication of what kind of price they will command, but it's encouraging to see the line will be cater for a much broader range of users and applications over the next year.

Categories: Tech News

Canon EOS RP: second EOS R-series model confirmed

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 23:00

Canon has finally confirmed the much-leaked, highly anticipated EOS RP, the second full-frame camera in the company’s newest EOS R series.

The model arrives just five months after the launch of the EOS R, the first camera in the series. Aimed at the more novice user looking to step up to full-frame photography, the model has the honor of being not only the smallest interchangeable-lens camera with a full-frame sensor to bear Canon’s branding, but with a weight of just 485g with a battery and memory card in place, it’s also the lightest by some margin.

Furthermore, with an asking price that’s less than half of the EOS R’s, it presents a more accessible option for budget-conscious users keen on adopting the EOS R system.


Canon EOS RP: features
  • 26.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor 
  • 4K video to 25p (Full HD to 60p) 
  • RF lens mount

The EOS RP brings together a 26.2MP full-frame sensor with the same RF lens mount that features on the EOS R. The sensor bears the same total and effective pixels as the one inside the EOS 6D Mark II DSLR, although Canon has said that the version here is slightly different (presumably to support 4K video recording).

The RF mount in front of the sensor accepts a limited number of lenses right now, although Canon has separately confirmed the development of further RF-series lenses that will shortly become available, which should bring the total number of native options to 10 by the end of the year.


In the meantime, users are also able to mount an exhaustive number of EF and EF-S lenses from Canon’s EOS DSLR stable via one of three EF-EOS R adapters, and the model will be made available with the most basic of these adapters as standard. 

Image stabilization for stills is only available when using a lens with this technology in place, although an additional bonus of using such an optic is that the camera will provide information from the sensor to deliver better correction over blur, a previously-seen partnership known as Dual Sensing IS.

The EOS RP’s 26.2MP sensor provides a native sensitivity range of ISO100-40,000, although extension settings alongside boost this to settings equivalent to ISO50 at the lower end of the scale and ISO102,400 at the other extreme. Processing is handled by the same DIGIC 8 engine as the EOS R, while raw files can be recorded in the most recent CR3 format, which shaves 40% off the size of standard files.

This processing engine also allows the camera to record 4K footage to a maximum 25fps, as well as Full HD videos to 60fps. This is bolstered by 3.5mm ports for both headphones and microphones, together with a range of video-specific functionality, from 4K timelapse shooting and a Video Snapshot mode, through to Movie Servo AF and a five-axis Movie Digital IS option that provides (electronic) compensation over shaky footage. 

The longstanding Digital Lens Optimiser correction feature is also on hand to help improve sharpness when capturing images at smaller apertures, as well as to offset the effects of the low-pass filter, and this can be used across RF and EF lenses registered to the camera. 


Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, meanwhile, make it possible to operate the camera with a smart device using the Canon Connect App. This app also allows for GPS information to be embedded into images captured on the EOS RP, while a separate Canon DPP Express app can be used to import raw files for processing on smart devices.

Metering is handled by the main imaging sensor, with 384 separate zones used for measurement, and this provides the familiar evaluative, center-weighted average, spot and partial quartet of patterns. A silent shooting mode is also on hand, although this appears to mirror the option on the EOS M50 in being confined to a scene setting, rather than available as an option the can be called upon regardless of exposure mode. It’s not clear whether this will allow any extension to the shutter speed range allowed by the mechanical shutter, which has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000sec.


Canon EOS RP: AF and burst shooting
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF system 
  • AF working range down to -5EV 
  • 5fps burst shooting

Familiar focusing features on the EOS RP include Canon’s well-established Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which uses phase-detect AF pixels on the main imaging sensor to perform autofocus. This system is also at the heart of face detection and Eye AF, the latter keeping a lock on the subject’s eye to ensure it remains in focus. Dual Pixel CMOS AF works for both stills and videos, although videos captured at a 4K resolution can only make use of contrast-detect AF.

It’s possible to call upon 4779 individual AF points, which cover 88% of the horizontal area and 100% of the vertical stretch. Spot AF, used for focusing on particularly small subjects, and focus bracketing for macro work can also be called upon where required.

Images can be captured continuously at a maximum rate of 5fps, although this drops to 4fps when shooting with Servo AF activated. Impressively, Canon claims that with a fast UHS-II memory card in place the camera will essentially provide an unlimited buffer, whether you’re capturing raw files or JPEGs.


Canon EOS RP: LCD screen and viewfinder
  • 0.39-inch OLED EVF, 2.36million dots 
  • 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD, 1.04 million dots 
  • Touch-sensitive LCD panel

The EOS RP’s electronic viewfinder isn’t quite the same as the panel on the more senior EOS R, in that it’s been designed with a 2.36 million-dot OLED panel rather than the familiar 3.69 million-dot alternative. Likewise, its 0.39-inch size and 0.7x magnification should provide a smaller view than the EOS R’s 0.5-inch panel with its 0.76x magnification, although it does at least match it in providing approximately 100% coverage of the scene.

The viewfinder is joined by a 3-inch vari-angle LCD that can be pulled out and twisted to face in different directions, including all the way round to face the front. This screen is touch-sensitive, enabling the user to set the focusing point when composing images and videos through the LCD screen, although additional support for the Touch and Drag AF feature – whereby the user can swipe the screen with their thumb to the chosen point of focus while using the viewfinder – can also be used where necessary.

Touch sensitivity extends to other parts of the camera’s operation, such as swiping through and zooming into captured images, as well as for the adjustment of camera settings in the Quick menu, among other things.


Canon EOS RP: build and design
  • Magnesium alloy chassis 
  • 440g (485g including battery and memory card) 
  • 250-shot battery life

Canon has designed the EOS RP’s body with magnesium alloy paneling for rigidity and lightness, with aluminum, polycarbonate resin and glass fibers used elsewhere. Reassuringly, seals on the inside provide protection against both dust and moisture, which isn’t something we always see on models aimed at more novice users.

In further good news, Canon has decided to drop the EOS R’s awkward M-Fn bar for this new model, while there’s a single card slot for SDHC and SDXC cards rated to UHS-I and UHS-II specifications on the side of the body. Disappointingly, the camera looks set to offer just a 250-shot battery life, which is relatively weak even for a mirrorless model. 

Canon has also confirmed that it’s developing a new superzoom optic for the range, the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM, which combines a 10x optical zoom range with an Image Stabilizer. Aimed at the traveling photographer, it joins five other lenses set for release throughout 2019.


Canon EOS RP: price and release date

The EOS RP is set for release on February 27, with two configurations confirmed for the UK market. 

As with the EOS R, it won’t be possible to buy the body on its own – instead, the most affordable option includes the body and the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, which will be priced at $1299.99 in the US and £1,399.99 in the UK.

A kit that adds the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens on top of this, meanwhile, will retail for $2,399.99/£2,329.99 in the UK. Pricing in the Australia is yet to be confirmed.

Categories: Tech News

YouTube TV: Everything you need to know about the TV streaming service

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 22:15

YouTube TV is available now to everyone in the United States, from Los Angeles to New York City, and it's a brought an absolute reckoning for mainstream cable providers – you know, those guys who hose us with equipment rental fees and HD service when those things should just be free of charge. 

For far too long, cable contracts have penalized us if we so much as look at another cable option while bundles pack in things we don't use (cough, home phones) and channels we don't watch all so cable companies can maintain their bottom line.

Well, bad news cable companies: Those days are over.

YouTube TV is a cable replacement, full stop, offering live TV to your phone, tablet and streaming device without a costly cable subscription and contract.

  • Want something cheaper? Sling TV starts at just $25 per month

It's a deal that feels too good to be true for those of us and while it has some problems of its own, it could one day put cable companies out of business.

While cable-cutters are definitely on YouTube's radar, it's the so-called cord-nevers out there - those of us who have never paid for cable, and likely never will - that YouTube TV really speaks to. It's all the channels we've come to expect from our parent's house, but at a price we can actually afford.

Are you ready to cancel cable once and for all? Are you ready for dozens of channels streaming live wherever you are without the need for a cable box? If so, then pull up a seat and we'll give you the 411 on this game-changing new service.

How to watch YouTube TV on your TV

First thing's first, you'll need to sign up for a free trial of the service. Once that's done, you can either tune in on your browser (tv.youtube.com) or find the YouTube TV app on your iOS and Android phone or tablet.

If you're looking for the old-school sit back experience, YouTube TV is available on Chromecast and Apple TV compatible by casting from your aforementioned phone and tablet or, if you're the proud owner of an Android TV and/or Roku device, you can find a dedicated app for YouTube TV on their respective channel stores. 

Now, it's also worth pointing out that to access YouTube TV, not only are you going to need a subscription to the service but also an internet service plan from one of your local ISPs (for most folks, that's AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon).

This is something most folks pay for already and therefore hasn't been figured into the cost of YouTube TV - but it's worth noting nonetheless. 

Why YouTube TV is new, but important

Why is YouTube TV going to be big? Well, while PlayStation Vue and Sling TV had to carve out a new audience for their products, YouTube TV already has one – one billion users that live in 88 countries and speak 76 different languages. 

So far, that massive user base, combined with the YouTube brand – plus the offer of a contract-free cable experience – has attracted a lot of customers, some 800,000 at last count in July 2018. 

While YouTube TV isn't the most popular live TV streaming service in the country - an honor that belongs to Sling TV with its 2.4 million subscribers and followed closely by   DirecTV Now - it's growing quickly thanks to its better DVR support.

And, should the service ever make its way to the UK where folks watch around 180m hours a day – a number that, according to The Guardian, is growing 45% year on year – it could spell big trouble for traditional service providers.

OK, so YouTube TV is going to be big, you get that. But what exactly is YouTube TV and why should you care? Let’s talk about it.  

So how is YouTube TV different?

YouTube TV is a US-exclusive live TV streaming service – think Netflix but instead of on-demand TV shows and movies you’ll see cable channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN and Disney among many, many more. It’s like cable in the sense that everything is divided by channel and, yes, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for it, but the difference here is that you’ll be able to take shows whenever and wherever you go. 

Loading up the service for the first time, we were recommended shows like Archer, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and many more. We easily found enough content to keep us entertained for the time-being, plus will have plenty to watch next time we log-on thanks to YouTube TV's stellar Cloud DVR. 

Cloud DVR, if you've never heard that term before, allows you to record your favorite shows as they air and save them, well, to the cloud so that you can watch them later. It’s TiVo, but everything’s online. 

YouTube TV promises unlimited storage for shows for up to nine months – a serious advantage over the competition which usually only offer 28 days of storage. 

If you think you're going to just jump past the advertisements, though, think again. Like traditional cable, YouTube TV and its line-up of channels still need revenue beyond your month-to-month subscription fee – and advertisements, as much as we despise them, are YouTube's way of keeping the lights on.

YouTube TV on every device? We hope so.

But your monthly subscription isn't without its benefits – YouTube says that its service will allow up to six people in the family to access the service and will allow up to three of them tune into the service simultaneously on the same account – a big advantage when you’re looking to replace cable and you have a big family.

The other thing you need to know about YouTube TV is its price: $40 a month. For comparison, that’s slightly more expensive than Sling TV’s basic $20-per-month package and a few dollars less than PlayStation Vue’s basic $45 package that includes local stations like CBS, NBC, etc…

Cut to the chase
  • What is YouTube TV? A live TV streaming service like Sling TV
  • When is it coming out? It's available right now!
  • How much will it cost? $40 per month, unless you get an add-on package
  • Where can you watch it? Almost anywhere in the US
What channels are available on YouTube TV?

At last count, YouTube TV offers over 60 networks, including popular cable networks and on-demand programming available for viewing. That includes ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and more (which means every NFL game up to and including the Super Bowl, are yours to watch every Sunday) plus all the channels that fall under the umbrella of those companies – i.e. ESPN, CSN, FOX Sports, USA, FX, Disney, E!, Bravo, SyFy, FXX, National Geographic, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC and more.  

Here's the complete picture of every channel so far.

On top of all those channels shown above, you’ll also get access to YouTube’s own network of shows, YouTube Red Originals. Shows on this ‘network’ (a term we use very lightly here) include Scare PewDiePie and exclusive films that you’ve probably never heard of. This really isn’t a huge draw for most people, but hey, maybe the money that comes in from YouTube TV can be used to crank up the quality of this content to near-Netflix levels.

Now, like Amazon Video, you can actually tack on additional premium stations for an extra fee. Right now the list of premium offerings include FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime, which cost around $10 extra per month. 

How is it different than YouTube Premium?

This can be sort of confusing, so listen up. YouTube Premium (what used to be called YouTube Red) is an ad-free version of YouTube that has a few fun features like allowing you to keep a video playing even when your phone is turned off. 

What YouTube Premium won't allow you to do is watch live TV or cable TV content. For that you'll need YouTube TV. y. 

Is there some crossover potential here between these two services? Absolutely. Maybe a subscription to YouTube TV also nets you a free subscription to Red. But we'll just have to wait to find out more from YouTube if that's the case. 

Is YouTube TV a better deal than cable? 

That’s a good question. The answer here is ‘maybe’. Depending on how your cable service provider packages its internet and cable bundles. If you’re already paying for internet service, you can tack on an extra $40 for YouTube TV and maybe a $10-per-month subscription to Netflix and have just as much content as you’d have from a cable TV service that can cost upwards of $120 to $150 a month. 

That being said, if you’re paying for one of those bundles that allows you to package cable, internet and phone service together for a lower price, YouTube TV might not come out to be significantly less. 

You're still going to need cable (or HBO Now) for your Game of Thrones fix

The benefits of going for a streaming service over a cable service are the ability to watch shows wherever you go, the potential to use Cloud DVR to save shows for later and the no-obligations contract that allows you to cancel your account without a termination fee. On top of everything else, you don’t need to rent a cable box from companies like Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T, because the streaming service comes in through whatever device you’re using. 

In short, YouTube TV can offer as many channels as basic cable does, without the need for a cable box and 12-month contract, which is why we consider it a win. It does all that and offers Cloud DVR, is available a plethora of apps for devices like Apple TV and the Xbox One family of consoles and does video-on-demand, making it one of the best streaming services on the planet. 

It'd be nice if there were even more channels thrown in there, but as it stands, this is probably the best TV streaming service in the US right now, and well-worth its monthly fee for the majority of folks out there.

How soon can you start watching it? Right now. Just head over to tv.youtube.com to start your free trial.

Categories: Tech News

Best Bluetooth speakers 2019: the best portable speakers for any budget

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 21:55

Best Bluetooth Speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2019. 

Bluetooth speakers are often associated with days at the beach, nights out by the bonfire and long weekends away in the woods, but that doesn't mean you won't need them to say, DJ a tailgate party or take with you on the slopes. 

Summer doesn't have a monopoly on music, after all.

To help you track down the best Bluetooth portable speaker for every occasion we've put together a guide to the best speakers on the market, based on our comprehensive reviews and our knowledge of the speaker space. Stick with us and you'll be able to bring an amped-up version of your music anywhere and everywhere. 

Concerned you might have to spend a fortune on a fantastic speaker? Absolutely not. Instead, there are many options for great speakers that’ll cost you as much as your weekly trip to the grocery store. 

In fact, the only problem you’ve got to face when you’re choosing a new speaker is that there’s so many great ones to choose from, it can be overwhelming. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you. Here are some of our favorite, portable, audio companions that’ll let you pump out the tunes whether you’re in the garden, at the beach, on the slopes, camping, cooking or anywhere in-between. 

[Update: If you noticed that our list looks a bit different in 2019, it's because we've added the relatively unknown (but absolutely fantastic) Tribit XSound Go to the #8 spot on our list. If you're looking for an ultra-budget portable speaker, it's the one to buy.]

How to pick out the best Bluetooth speaker

We're glad you're here, but not the big question is: how do you find the right Bluetooth speaker? It may seem like the choice is endless, but there are plenty with unique selling points that'll suit your needs. Some are rugged. Some are stylish. Some are weatherproof and some aren't fit for the outdoors. 

If you're having trouble figuring out which speaker might be best for you, start by picturing where you're going to use it and find a speaker that matches that setting: If you're a beach person, water- and dust-proofing are key. 

If you're a party person, you might want the ability to connect two speakers together or a speaker with multi-point pairing that allows multiple devices to connect at a time. Battery life and sound quality are paramount for all speakers, and we've our best to take these in the utmost consideration when creating our list.

That said, here are 10 of our favorite Bluetooth wireless speakers, ranked by their price-to-performance ratio, that will surely work for you.

UE Boom 2

While we weren't as impressed with the UE Boom 3 as we were with its predecessor, this is still the best Bluetooth speaker money can buy in 2019. This is a speaker that can get loud and not distort at higher volumes; be light enough to carry on a camping trip but remain durable enough to tumble in a bag unprotected. 

It's both water- and dust-proof, and now has a one-touch mix button that lets you pull up your favorite playlists without ever picking up your phone. 

There are certainly more detailed speakers out there (see: Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin down below), but at a price that's relatively affordable to all, the UE Boom 3 hits all the right notes for the third year in a row. 

Read the full review: UE Boom 3

Fugoo Style

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent sound speaker for folks looking for true 360-degree sound. It’s great for sharing music during a party or for moving around the room without losing audio fidelity. However, the Bose SoundLink Mini II sounds slightly better and is slightly cheaper to boot. 

On the debit side, it’s also not fully dust or waterproof so you’ll want to think twice before bringing the Revolve to the beach. 

For half the price, the Wonderboom is a great speaker that is completely dust and waterproof and while it can’t match the audio fidelity or features of the Bose, it's still great for on-the-go listening. If bass is your game, the JBL Charge 3 is an excellent fully waterproof speaker that sounds great, but is big and heavy along with it.

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Revolve

JBL Charge 3

As a package, the JBL Charge 3 offers a compelling set of features and excellent sound quality to boot. It punches well above its weight, playing loudly and distortion-free. 

The Charge line of speakers have been on our shortlist of recommendations for a long time thanks to the way they combine great sound quality with the ability to charge your devices over USB. 

The latest iteration maintains JBL's dominance in the portable Bluetooth speaker market.

Read the full review: JBL Charge 3

Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

The new Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is a beautiful piece of design. It's a solid, reassuringly weighty wireless speaker delivering on all the B&W audio heritage which the British audio maestro has been building up throughout its  lifetime: The sound is clear and natural, delivering room-filling audio with seriously punchy mid-range, and dynamic, controlled bass.

Its price might put a bit of a damper on your wallet, but if you have audiophile tastes that extend into the portable speaker space, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is the only speaker you should be considering.

Read the full review: Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

Bose SoundLink Mini II

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. 

That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound, and other Bose conveniences like a charging pad. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II

Anker Soundcore Flare

Anker has a history of making excellent budget wireless speakers. While we weren’t entirely impressed with the Anker SoundCore 2’s sound, we couldn’t be too mad since the speaker was so affordable. 

So what happens if you can stretch your budget? For around $20 more you get the Anker Soundcore Flare, an excellent waterproof Bluetooth speaker that can stand toe-to-toe with the competition. 

The Soundcore Flare is an amazing value in the sub-$100 wireless speaker segment. Competitors like the UE Wonderboom (listed above) give the Flare a run for its money in terms of build quality but we give the Flare the slight edge with sound quality. We recommend the Flare for anyone looking for a wireless speaker that can do it all without breaking the bank. 

Read the full review: Anker Soundcore Flare

UE Wonderboom

When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. We loved the Roll 2’s unique form factor, 50-foot wireless range and, obviously, it sounded good, too. Where it was lacking was in the bass department. Logitech, UE’s parent company, has fixed the Roll 2’s lack of bass by creating the appropriately named UE Wonderboom. 

In our eyes, the UE Wonderboom bests the Roll 2 in just about every way –except for the Roll 2’s handy bungee cord. Still, ignoring that, if you’re looking for one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market today, it’s hard to do better than the UE Wonderboom. 

Read the full review: UE Wonderboom

Bang and Olufsen Beoplay P2

The Tribit XSound Go shouldn’t sound this good for the price, but it does. The speaker impressed with balanced sound, is near distortion-free at high volumes, and lasts and incredible 20+ hours of playtime at medium volume. Plus, the speaker is IPX7 water and dust resistant so it’ll put up with a day at the beach or pool without a problem. While its design may be forgettable, you won’t care once you hear how good the XSound Go sounds. 

In terms of competition, you’ll have to spend a lot more for better sound quality. The UE Wonderboom is an excellent outdoor speaker, but will cost twice the money and doesn’t last as long as the Tribit. However, the UE Wonderboom does offer 360-degree sound and multi-speaker pairing if that matters to you. The JBL Flip 4 is also a good alternative if you want more bass emphasis and 360-degree sound but, if you're on a budget, you can't beat the XSound Go.

Read the full review: Tribit XSound Go

Marshall Kilburn

Marshall’s Kilburn II is a fantastic update to its bestselling predecessor, with a stunning retro amp-inspired design and a well-rounded sound. While the bass can be a little muddy at times, it’s excellent for playing guitar music, and its portability means the Kilburn II is great for taking on the road - although it is fairly heavy.

It's rugged design stands out from other Bluetooth speakers on the market, and rock fans will like its heritage design - but if you're all about the minimalist look, the Kilburn II probably isn't for you

Read the full review: Marshall Kilburn II review

Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)

The newest speaker in the Denon Envaya line is one of the first speakers to absolutely blow us away in 2018. It offers powerful, room-filling sound that will sound great to most ears, plus comes with an IP67 rating, make it both dust and waterproof. It's also built like a tank, making it one of the most durable speakers we've ever laid our hands on.

Despite a nearly flawless performance, the Envaya isn't perfect: While sound quaity is full, powerful and rich, it doesn’t have the treble bite some like and the buttons located along the side can feel stiff and difficult to operate. These are ultimately minor complaints, however, and the Denon Envaya remains a great Bluetooth speaker – easily one of the best you can buy this year.

Read the full review: Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)

  • Need something to listen to? Check out our collection of the best podcasts
Categories: Tech News

Super Mario Maker 2 is making its way to Switch this June

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 19:49

The original Mario Maker for Nintendo's under-appreciated Wii U console was one of the best games in the platforming plumber's entire legacy, allowing users to create and upload their own crazy levels (usually in an attempt to stump other players in the game's passionate online community). It was also followed shortly after by a Nintendo 3DS port

Now, Nintendo has announced a surprise sequel to its creativity-focused title with Super Mario Maker 2 set to arrive on Nintendo Switch this coming June. 

Announced at the top of the company's latest Nintendo Direct earlier today, Super Mario Maker 2 brings with it a host of new features and placeable objects, including the ability to add slopes to levels for some classic butt-sliding action. 

It also appears that a new theme based on Super Mario 3D World has been added to the game, allowing users to place clear pipes and don a catsuit for wall-climbing, which should bring some fresh new approaches to level creation.

While the original Mario Maker made use of the Wii U gamepad's second screen and stylus for swift item and platform placing, Super Mario Maker 2 will bring all of its tools to a single, primary screen with the implementation of new pop-up radial menus.

It's expected that Super Mario Maker 2 will employ similar touchscreen-based controls to its predecessor, though the game's first trailer doesn't explicitly show this – we'll surely find out more in the lead-up to its June 2019 release.

Check out some screenshots of the upcoming game below.

Categories: Tech News

Google planning Pixel Watch and new Home device for release this year: report

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 19:47

As Google’s prominence in the hardware space continues to rise – thanks in no small part to product lines such as its Pixel smartphones and Home smart speakers – the tech giant seems set to expand its repertoire even further in 2019.

A report from respected Japanese media outlet Nikkei via “sources familiar with the company’s plans” claims that Google has a host of new hardware releasing this year, including the company’s first Google-branded smartwatch that we’ve been hearing about for so long.

Rumors of a Pixel Watch have been floating around for quite some time, and with the company recently purchasing $40 million worth of tech from smartwatch manufacturer Fossil, it seems highly likely that Google is cooking up something in the wearable realm.

Not just a pretty (watch)face

The article also mentions that a more affordable Pixel phone (likely the Google Pixel 3 Lite) will be part of the company’s 2019 roadmap and will enter the market earlier than the other speculated devices, landing at a price below Apple’s iPhone XR – the most affordable iPhone in the Cupertino firm's recent lineup.

Although the Nikkei report largely focuses on the Pixel 3 Lite – albeit without offering up any new details – it does also mention Google’s plans to launch a new smart speaker (likely another Home product) and web camera, which could potentially manufactured by Nest, the smarthome security company purchased by Google in 2014.

The Nikkei report also affirms that we can expect the usual iteration of flagship smartphone updates this year – we expect the Pixel 4 will arrive in October, just like its last three predecessors.

Of course, at this stage we don’t have anything concrete on these devices from Google, but given the confluence of rumors bubbling up about all these products, it seems very likely that we’ll be seeing a Google Pixel 3 Lite, a Pixel Watch and an updated Home speaker launch some time before the end of 2019.

Categories: Tech News

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is coming to Nintendo Switch in 2019

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 19:23

Nintendo has just announced a remake of its 1993 GameBoy classic, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The remake will be available on the Nintendo Switch later this year, but Nintendo didn’t give an exact release date. 

The game was announced at the tail end of today’s Nintendo Direct presentation which also saw a Super Mario Maker 2 announcement and Dragon Quest XI port for the Nintendo Switch, alongside gameplay for Yoshi’s Crafted World. 

While the presentation was packed full of small surprises, the remake of Link’s Awakening is by far the most unexpected - despite being critically acclaimed, the game is an oft-forgotten entry in The Legend of Zelda series. 

That said, we're happy Nintendo's updating it for a new generation.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening screenshots

As you might've noticed, the game looks very different from how you might remember it. In fact, while there’s only a few seconds of gameplay footage in the trailer above, it’s apparent that Nintendo is giving the game a massive overhaul in terms of its presentation: To wit, the 8-bit original game now has a vibrant, almost claymation-esque art style. It’s a big change, but a necessary one. 

The change in art direction follows similar moves Nintendo made with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on Nintendo 3DS, where the old 2D-style graphics were ditched for something more modern.

While the difference between the old Link's Awakening and the new one is night and day, here's hoping Nintendo found a way to keep the excellent dungeon design and unique overworld just how we remember it.

Want to see more screenshots from the game? We've got 'em right here.

Categories: Tech News

Google plans US expansion for 2019

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 16:49

Google has announced that it will spend $13bn to build new data centers and offices as it expands its presence across several key locations in the US.

The company's CEO Sundar Pichai explained in a blog post that the search giant will open new data centers in Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska. 

This will be Google's first time having infrastructure locations in those states and it will also be adding staff to its existing offices.

In Virginia, the company plans to double its workforce, add more data center space and open a new office. Google's New York campus at Hudson Square will also be expanded as it looks to build up its power on the East Coast.

Image Credit: Google

New US data centers

As the cloud wars between Amazon, Microsoft and Google heat up, Google's decision to bolster its cloud computing division by building more data centers makes a great deal of sense especially as Google search, Gmail and YouTube all rely on its data centers as well.

Pichai also stressed that its new data centers would help create jobs in the US, saying:

“These new investments will give us the capacity to hire tens of thousands of employees, and enable the creation of more than 10,000 new construction jobs in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. With this new investment, Google will now have a home in 24 total states, including data centers in 13 communities.”

Google's capital spending more than doubled last year to reach $25.46bn and if today's announcement is any indicator, it will likely end up increasing this year as well.

Via CNBC

Categories: Tech News

Apple's video streaming service could launch without Netflix and HBO content

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 16:16

Apple’s long-rumored video content streaming service could launch as early as April – and without either Netflix or HBO – CNBC reports.

Apple is reportedly looking to launch its video streaming service this April or early May, CNBC learned from “people familiar with the matter.” It will include original content available for free on Apple devices but will also have a number of streaming service ‘Channels.’

These Channels will include options to access subscriptions to other services, which so far include Starz, CBS and Viacom, per CNBC’s sources. However, CNBC reports that HBO is not as far along in partnership discussions as these aforementioned networks for reasons unknown. It's unclear whether that will impact its availability on Apple's service.

Likewise, neither Netflix nor Hulu are expected to be part of Apple’s service, CNBC sources say, just as they aren’t available on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels initiative.

Every company associated with CNBC’s report has declined to comment.

Is Apple simply asking for too much?

Most reports reacting to Apple’s big doubling down into services for 2019 haven’t exactly been rosy. The lukewarm response is mainly due to the supposed terms that Apple is approaching publishers and networks with – including, unsurprisingly, Apple's cut.

CNBC reports that Apple is asking for 30% off the top from subscriptions activated through its upcoming service, which is twice as much as it does today for service sign-ups through its App Store. This lines up easily with news that publishers aren’t happy with Apple’s terms regarding its upcoming News subscription service.

We’ll see whether Apple’s lineup of original content can entice enough viewers, as launching a streaming service without Netflix or HBO behind it seems like a bold move.

Categories: Tech News

40 best PC games 2019: the must-play titles you don’t want to miss

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:55

Now that we have the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and Intel has launched its Coffee Lake Refresh lineup that promises to hold the best processors for gaming, 2019 is the best time to dive into the best PC games. So, if you want to get in on the action of the top PC games 2019 has to offer, like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we’ll show you the best PC games of 2019.

We went ahead and gathered up 40 of the best PC games on the market right now. And, believe us when we say you’ll want to try all of these PC games out for yourself. Even if you’re not super efficient with the mouse and keyboard, you can play many of the best PC games with a controller. Even if you don’t exactly have the best gaming PC in the world, many of these games can be played across a host of different platforms, like the Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch and PS4 Pro.

If you’re new to PC gaming, there’s never been a better time to jump in on the action. We’d love to extend you a warm welcome. While some PC gamers are elitist gatekeepers, we here at TechRadar believe in inclusivity. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into the best PC games you can play in 2019.

Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article

Over the last decade, From Software has grown into one of our favorite developers, bar none. The minds behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne have crafted some of the most unique RPGs, and have essentially crafted their own sub-genre. And, with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From Software is shifting focus once more. 

It will draw some inspiration from the classic ‘SoulsBorne’ games, but it will more resemble the studio’s earlier work – namely Tenchu. 

Sekiro will place you in feudal Japan, as the “one-armed wolf”, and you’ll have to seek out vengeance. The game will feature this unique prosthetic arm mechanic, where you can swap out several different tools and weapons to tailor your playstyle.

Oh, and because it’s a From Software game, prepare to die. A lot. 

Expected: March 22, 2019 

Look, we know that this game is starting to get old, but it is aging like fine wine. Even three years after its release it’s one of the most ambitious open world games that’s ever existed – combining Skyrim’s unabashed scale with Grand Theft Auto V’s insane depth. It’s such a jam-packed games, that it’s still one of the best PC games in 2018. Huge, beautiful and an absolute time sink – in a good way – The Witcher 3: Wild hunt isn’t just the best PC game in 2018, but it may be one of the best video games of all time. 

Dragon Age: Inquisition, while not perfect, puts you in the midst of a huge, vibrant world on a much larger scale than past Dragon Age titles. Packed with hours of engrossing story and a wealth of side content, Dragon Age: Inquisition brings the series to an open world setting in a smart and compelling way. It might not be a new game, but for this excellent blend of Elder Scrolls and Baldur’s Gate, it’s still one of the best PC games available in 2018. 

Assassin’s Creed is basically a household name among the best PC games in 2018. And, starting with last year’s Origins, Ubisoft has been making huge efforts to revitalize the aging franchise. Well, we’re happy to report that they’ve succeeded. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey feels like an improvement in every sense of the word over last years entry, feeling like a completely different game than older games in Ubisoft’s flagship series. 

This time around, despite the drama about microtransactions, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey places you in the shoes of Kassandra or Alexios, in the middle of the Peloponnesian War, as you look for your lost mother and father. And, while the main story – which will have you switching alliances between the Spartans and the Athenians – will likely get lost in the mix along the way, the world that Ubisoft has created is as rich and beautiful as ever before. 

Just make sure you have one of the best graphics cards before you even try to run Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at a higher resolution. 

If you’re looking for one of the best open world games on PC, you can’t go wrong here. So, join us in exploring ancient Greece in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Although it's arguably not as difficult as previous entries in the series, From Software's Dark Souls 3 takes everything you like about the Souls series and combines it with elements found in Bloodborne, the developer's more recent game for PS4.

We’re not going to lie – Dark Souls 3 isn’t easy. It still takes skill and, more importantly, patience to master its complex combat system, but it plays fair too, inviting more casual gamers to take part in its bleak, fantastical world. Plus, on the bright side, it brings remarkably better PC optimization than that of the first game. And, now that you can pick up Dark Souls: Remastered and see where this apocalyptic series got its start – there’s never been a better time to link the first flame.

Pillars of Eternity made a huge splash in the PC gaming scene when it launched a few years ago – Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire follows faithfully in its footsteps. Not only is this one of the best RPGs you can play today, but it’s also one of the best PC games 2018 has to offer. 

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire puts players in the middle of the Deadfire Archipelago in pursuit of an ancient god. Along the way you’ll find yourself immersed in a rich, dense and long story crafted by Obsidian Entertainment – arguably the masters of RPGs.

If you enjoy old school RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, and long for a return to those storied days – do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. It’s one of the best RPGs we’ve ever played. 

Do yourself a favor, though, and check out Pillars of Eternity first – it still holds up as one of the best PC games and your story will carry over to the sequel. 

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most anticipated console ports to ever hit the PC. You probably didn't need telling twice to head back into Los Santos's hugely detailed and interactive world, but it's 10 times more fun with the PC's richer graphics and smooth 60 frames per second gameplay. After you’ve completed its 30-hour campaign, there’s an overflow of post-game content to enjoy here. Most recently that includes The Doomsday Heist in GTA Online and even a radio station hosted by Frank Ocean.

BioShock is a first-person shooter that takes concepts from Ayn Rand's Atlast Shrugged and tosses them underseas. To be exact, BioShock takes place in an underwater city called Rapture, free from government regulation, designed for artists and entrepreneurs to thrive. Of course, not all goes well in a city where the residents have all the power and, well, stop what you're doing and play it right now if you haven't already.

You're in for one of the great games if you play BioShock, one that balances story elements with horror nigh-perfectly. There's a remastered version out there now, too, which is free of charge if you own the original.

Set 15 years after the events of the first Alien film from 1979, Alien: Isolation is the suspense-packed game that fans of the franchise have been crying out for. Playing the role of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Alien protagonist Ellen Ripley, your mission is to track down and recover the flight recorder of the Nostromo spacecraft from the first Alien film which has been located aboard the Sevastopol space station. First and foremost a stealth game, Isolation ramps up the tension by providing you with minimal weaponry. Its excellent graphics shine on high-end PCs and clever AI helps ramp up the dread, leaving you to quiver when turning every corner.

Overwatch, if nothing else, completely changed the landscape away from the norm of gray-ish cover shooters in the realm of competitive gaming. Its bright, vibrant colors are complemented by likeable characters, each decorated with their own interesting backstories which, though not present in game, make for a collection of awesome webcomics and cinematics.

Overwatch is also one of the best PC games, because of how well it runs on all kinds of different hardware. Sure, it’s a bit old now, but even in 2018, it’s the best PC game for anyone looking for some competitive action. If somehow you’ve missed out on this game, do yourself a favor – sign in to your Battle.net account and take Overwatch, and its colorful cast of characters, for a spin today.

Even if it came out almost 6 years ago, Counter-Strike Global Offensive is still a fantastic update to a timeless classic that continues to thrive thanks to its vast online communities – it’s truly one of the best PC games. Global Offensive is a well-rounded tactical shooter that builds on the simple Terrorists vs Counter-Terrorists gameplay of Counter-Strike 1.6, by updating classic maps such as Italy and Dust – while also adding new modes in Arms Race and Demolition. Simpler than Battlefield, but more complex than Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a shooter for those who like to think – if only just a little bit. 

In a lot of ways, Far Cry 5 is the ultimate Far Cry game – combining all of the elements that has made the series successful, while cutting a lot of the fat (including the towers, thank god). And while on its own it doesn't do anything entirely new, it perfects the Far Cry formula to a point where Far Cry 5 is one of the best open world First Person Shooters you can play in 2018.

After a very heavy and intense intro, you’re dumped in the middle of rural Montana and given the task of dismantling the local cult. But, that quickly fades into the background as a myriad of activities – from hunting down aliens to taking out outposts – ultimately become your focus. But it’s precisely this focus on playing your own way that makes Far Cry 5 so special. 

Monster Hunter has been one of the biggest gaming franchises you’ve never heard of for years now. However, with Monster Hunter: World, the series broke into the mainstream, and it’s also come to the PC (finally). And, well, it’s one of the best PC games you can play today. 

Monster Hunter: World places you in the shoes of a, well, monster hunter, and you’ll hunt progressively bigger and nastier monsters, strip them for parts and craft bigger and badder armor. It’s a deceptively simple gameplay loop, that ends up being one of the most enthralling and rewarding PC games you can play today. 

There’s a never-ending onslaught of content in this game, and Capcom, the developers of this monster hunting hit, are dedicated to bringing a wealth of free DLC to the game. Not to mention a new frosty expansion in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. So, if you’re looking for an addictive, engaging and most importantly, fun game to play by yourself or with all your best friends cooperatively, check out Monster Hunter: World – it really is one of the best PC games you can buy today.

A 90s classic brought back to life (unlike its main protagonist), Grim Fandango Remastered is a successful attempt at reviving one of the PC's best adventure games of all time. Combining writing that matches the funniest dark comedies with clever puzzles and a still-impressive art style, Grim Fandango was the most entertaining work of art to take place in a Mexican setting for years until Breaking Bad came along. Now with updated graphics, sound and better controls, Manna Calavera's adventure has never looked so good.

Six years after its initial release, Skyrim is going as strong as ever thanks to a vast selection of mods and high-resolution texture packs. Even if you're only interested in playing the vanilla version of the RPG, it offers more than 100 hours of gameplay.

Throw in three action packs DLC expansion packs (Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn), and it lasts even longer. That Skyrim has been compared to graphically superior but similar RPG blockbuster The Witcher 3 is testament to its enduring popularity. Step into Skyrim and you too can be an adventurer - just try not to take an arrow in the knee.

And, if you’re looking for a more, well, special version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda has you covered – it can’t seem to stop releasing and re-releasing Skyrim for every platform. You can even play it in VR.

If you’re anything like us, and you secretly pine for the days of ultra-fast arena shooters, you’re going to absolutely love Quake Champions. 

Unlike many 90’s series, Quake Champions completely retains that classic Quake style. You’re dumped into a relatively small map with a ton of verticality and armed with the craziest weaponry you could imagine. And, there’s no battle royale or any other trendy game modes here – it’s deathmatch all the way, baby.

Much in the same way that Id Software mastered the reboot of Doom and brought it to a modern audience, Quake Champions is a nostalgic shooter that still manages to feel fresh in 2018. The kicker? If you act fast, you can score it for free on Steam ahead of its full release.

The phrase "build it, and they will come" literally rings true when it comes to Minecraft, the survival-based sandbox RPG that has now been purchased more than 100 million times since its conception in 2009. In it, you can create your own worlds using resources you find in the wild or explore worlds created by other players online. 

In Minecraft, you can either limit yourself to the numerous tools and blocks provided by the developer, Mojang, or you can install mods to truly capitalize on your investment. What’s more, come 2018, you’ll be able to take part in the Super Duper Graphics Pack, an optional piece of DLC that adds more realistic lighting effects and textures to an already fantastic product.

The Orange Box may be showing its age, but it remains a must-play collection of games - particularly for FPS fans. Half-Life 2, technically still the most recent game in Valve's franchise (excluding its Episode 1 and 2 add-ons), remains a modern masterpiece and is famed for being the first game to intelligently apply physics to its puzzles and combat set-pieces.

The collection's other titles aren't too shabby either: Portal takes gravity-based puzzles to the extreme by equipping the player with the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (also known as the Portal Gun), which places two portals for objects to pass through, while Team Fortress 2 continues to go from strength-to-strength thanks to the introduction of custom gear and well-balanced team combat.

Sometimes a game that’s been out for 10 years becomes temporarily free on Origin and you just have to play it. Dead Space is one of those games. A survival horror game by definition, this acclaimed piece of science fiction stars a fittingly named Isaac Clarke, whose name itself is a combination of the famous sci-fi authors Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. Told from an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective, Dead Space is a rescue mission story, wherein you (as Isaac) are tasked with investigating a mining ship mysteriously full of alien virus-infected dead bodies. All the while, you’ll have to stay on top of upgrading your futuristic ‘RIG’ suit too.   

Id Software's Doom was a phenomena for PC gamers in the 90s. The crudely rendered first-person shooter series was as controversial as it was beloved, largely thanks to its cutting-edge depictions of gore and violence that only a computer could deliver. Parents be damned, the franchise has made a comeback in 2016 with a fresh restart, appropriately titled Doom. Although the multiplayer might not appeal to shooter fans regardless of age, the single player campaign will pit you against demons in Hell for a lengthy experience that's as bloody as it is satisfying.

If Forza Horizon 3 is the racing game for newcomers to racing games, Asetto Corsa is the game for the grizzled experts. Its obtuse handling and insane difficulty straight from the get go makes it a toss up for one of the most realistic racing simulators of all time. And, even if you can get it on consoles, unlike Project Cars, this is a game that was developed for PC first. Everything about this game, from its demanding career mode to its deep seated driving mechanics – which basically require a racing wheel accessory – make it a joy for die-hard petrolheads, even if its difficulty curve is often just backbreaking. 

Modelled after the 1984 game Elite, Elite: Dangerous is one of the most ambitious space sims around. Featuring an in-game galaxy based on the real Milky Way (how's 400 billion stars for depth?), the ultimate goal is to advance your rankings to Elite status by levelling up combat, trading and exploration.

Starting out with a rickety ship and 1,000 credits in your space suit's back pocket, you'll need to turn to piracy, trading, exploring, mining or bounty hunting to rise through the intergalactic ranks. Doing so takes time and requires serious graft, but the experience provides a level of satisfaction that few other titles can match. And then there's the Oculus Rift...

Among the best PC games, there’s this tendency to romanticize the apocalypse. Whether it’s zombies, like in Dead Rising or a nuclear wasteland like in Fallout 4, the apocalypse is oddly a place you want to visit. But, with Metro Exodus, that’s not the case. 

Metro Exodus takes a more dark and gritty approach to the apocalypse. The air is poison, the wildlife is all mutated, and the survivors are all at each other's throats. And, while past Metro titles have explored this darker post-apocalypse from underground, through the titular ‘Metro’, Metro Exodus takes things to the Surface.

You’ll set out on an Exodus across the nuclear wasteland in order to find a home, but along the way you’ll experience the horror and supernatural weirdness that the Metro series has become known for. 

And, as a bonus, it’s one of the most beautiful PC games on the market today, provided you have the graphical horsepower to back it up. 

Described as "achingly beautiful" by Unity Engine boss John Riccitiello, Ori and the Blind Forest borrows its game mechanics from old-school 2D games such as Metroid and Castlevania while adding a modern twist. If any word can describe Ori's atmospheric world, it's alive. You'll have to think fast and use new abilities gained along the way to bash, stop and manoeuvre your way through its gorgeous locations, and with no automatic saving system or easy difficulty level, it's no walk in the park. As satisfying to master as it is to look at, Ori and the Blind Forest will re-open your eyes to what 2D games still have to offer.

There aren’t many franchises that are as iconic as Resident Evil. Since the first game launched way back in 1996, it has served as a watermark of where Survival Horror is – even in its worst days (looking at you, Resident Evil 6). So, when Capcom finally announced the Resident Evil 2 remake, we instantly started paying attention. And, we have to say – it paid off. 

Resident Evil 2 isn’t just a remake of the best horror game ever made, but it might actually take the mantle altogether. Gone are the ancient tank controls that divided fans, giving way to the same over-the shoulder perspective introduced in Resident Evil 4. But, this time around, through the use of Resident Evil 7’s RE Engine, Capcom has transformed the ancient horror game into a title that’s terrifying by today’s post-Amnesia standards.

And, thanks to just how much you can customize how the game performs and looks, Resident Evil 2 will serve as a benchmark for the best PC games throughout 2019 – even if it doesn’t use as much VRAM as the settings menu says it does.

Besides Final Fantasy, there isn’t a franchise that carries as much weight in the Japanese RPG genre as Dragon Quest. For decades, these have been the penultimate JRPGs for many – even inspiring many modern classics like Pokemon. And, for the first time in 14 years, Dragon Quest has made its way to home consoles, and more importantly to PC for the first time ever.

Dragon Quest XI is a beautiful, colorful JRPG that’ll put you in the shoes of a young prince that’s set out to – save the world, obviously. You’ll get about 80-100 hours out of the game, and every moment will be memorable and magical. It even features art from Akira Toriyama, best known for his work on Dragonball – it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best PC games of 2018. 

Already familiar to millions before they've played a played a second of it, Rocket League turns the age old game of football (or soccer, depending) on its head. Played with rocket-propelled cars in futuristic low-gravity environments, the aim is simple: knock the ball into the opposing team's goal. Doing so is harder said than done because there could be up to three cars on the opposing team trying to steal the ball off you - or ram you into submission - at any one time. Gorgeous to look, simple to learn but difficult to master, Rocket League is the surprise smash hit of 2015 - and a wonderfully addictive one at that.

Read: 8 real-life footballers in Rocket League: which one are you?

When Insurgency first launched way back in 2014, it was a breath of fresh air – a shooter that completely opposed the arcade-like approach of games like Call of Duty. And, Insurgency: Sandstorm takes this formula and goes all-in. 

Insurgency: Sandstorm is a brutally difficult and visceral online shooter, meant to give Counter Strike: Global Offensive a run for its money. This is a game where you won’t get respawns, you won’t be able to absorb bullets, you will die easily – it’s awesome. If you’re looking for a game that rewards patience and tactics, Insurgency: Sandstorm is one of the best PC games for you. 

Metal Gear Solid V, the last Metal Game which will be helmed by Hideo Kojima after his forceful ejection from Konami, is a hugely ambitious title. Its massive open world setting allows you to tackle missions using stealth, but you’re still able to go in guns blazing if you prefer – though you won’t get as good a score.

Taking place nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain’s story unravels through its main missions and more than 100 Side Ops tasks. The action is interspersed with beautiful cutscenes, and while you sometimes have to decode annoying pseudo-military babble to figure out what’s happening, TPP’s fast pacing and beautiful Afghanistan and African settings make sure the game never feels like a chore.

You can ask basically any veteran PC gamer, and they’ll tell you that Battlefield games have always been among the best PC games. And, with Battlefield V, the trend continues – it’s one of the best PC games 2018 has to offer, period. 

The core mechanics remain the same, drive, fly, or run to capture points on a map and defend them against the enemy team. However, this year’s offering refines the Operations mode from 2016’s Battlefield 1, and transforms it into, well, Grand Operations. This epic game mode takes place across up to 4 maps, and is meant to portray crucial battles of World War II. It’s an absolute blast, just make sure you have an hour to spare. 

Battlefield V is also one of the best PC games when it comes to visuals. Never before has war looks so terrifyingly real in a virtual space. The environments are more realistic than ever before, and if you’re rocking an Nvidia Turing card, like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, you can turn on ray tracing and experience out-of-this-world reflections. We’re not exaggerating when we say it’s the best PC game in 2018 for FPS fans.

The 2016 revival of Hitman was a revelation, a rebirth of a classic series that showed what Hitman could be. So, we went into Hitman 2 with high expectations – expectations that paid off. Hitman 2 puts players in even bigger environments, with more complicated missions that will test your creativity in deadly ways. 

What’s especially notable here though, is the new game modes on offer. You’ll have access to a new Sniper Assassin mode, and most importantly, a co-op game mode – a first for the Hitman series.

If you’re looking for an engaging stealth experience, you really can’t go wrong with Hitman 2 – it’s one of the best PC games of 2018, easy.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide was one of the best PC games for anyone who loves playing the best PC games with friends. And, we’re delighted to say that Warhammer: Vermintide 2 takes the deep co-operative gameplay of the original and improves on it in every conceivable way.

Although it technically allows you to form complex strategies with your teammates, the action often turns into chaos, where the only way you can survive is mindlessly bashing at enemies until you, and your teammates (preferably), are the only things left standing. And, because Vermintide 2 adds a wide range of Orc enemies on top of the familiar Skaven enemies, you’ll never run out of things to hack to pieces.

It's official: Fallout 4 has lived up to the hype. Despite feeling a little bit like Fallout 3 but with nicer graphics at times, its tighter shooting, in-depth crafting system and well-thought out story make it a wholly more enticing affair.

As the Sole Survivor (the first fully-voiced protagonist in the Fallout series) in Boston's post-apocalypse wasteland, you'll take on Feral Ghouls, Raiders, Syths and Bloodbugs and more with high-powered weaponry that includes the Fat Man mini nuke cannon and the fusion cell-powered Laser Musket.

If the Call of Duty series is the poison that dumbed down the FPS genre with its run-and-gun gameplay, then Rainbow Six: Siege is the antidote. Working as a team to out-wit the enemy, Siege plays out like a thinking man (or woman's) Counter-Strike that doesn't simply encourage cooperation if you want to win - it requires it.

When you're not peering down your gun's iron sights, you'll be laying traps, scouting ahead using drones, strategising with your teammates and building walls that could keep a herd of demented bulls at bay. While Siege's heavy reliance on tactical team-based gameplay can prove its biggest weakness if you're hoisted into a server with a particularly uncooperative bunch, when it does click, it provides a level of satisfaction rarely found in online multiplayer games.

After the rebooted Tomb Raider and its sublime sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, the seminal series has won its place among the best PC games with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Instead of simply porting over a console version and calling it good, Crystal Dynamics has created a technical masterpiece with Lara Croft’s latest adventure. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider finds Lara heading down to South America to thwart a Mayan apocalypse. While the scenery isn’t as diverse as in previous titles, it’s still just as arrestingly beautiful throughout. And, with Nvidia’s RTX technology coming later this year, it’s going to be a great way to put the best graphics cards to the test while having some fun at the same time. 

Imagine a survival-based shooter where every match starts with your avatar being ejected from a cargo plane alongside 99 other players with no weapons or items. That’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or at least the solo, free for all mode. After spending the early minutes of the game digging for resources, you’ll soon be forced to reckon with your own mortality as the body count ticker at the top of the screen descends into desolation.

Abbreviated PUBG, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is based on another “last man standing” game released back in 2013: PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale. It doesn’t require a copy of Arma III or H1Z1 to run, but you’ll need to keep your wits about you. There’s no respawning in PUBG, so it’s less about the precision of your aim as it is about your ability to scavenge quickly for weapons, first aid kits and clothing. 

Picking up immediately after the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will inevitably be heralded as a classic. For some, it’s the punishing old-school gunplay that’s to thank for this. Even on the default difficulty, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will have you fretting for your life. 

Yet, for others, story reigns supreme. And, if The New Colossus serves as an interactive showcase for anything, it’s story, the most interesting parts of which are told through flashbacks. We won’t go as far as to spoil the plot, but what we will say is that B.J. Blazkowicz’s motives become a lot clearer in this iteration of Wolfenstein, not that he needs to justify killing Nazis.

From the developer behind Persona and Shin Megami Tensei, Catherine takes unique puzzle gameplay and shoves it in the middle of a complex story of romance and inner struggle. You’ll take over the role of Vincent, and you’ll have to decide whether to take your relationship with your girlfriend, Katherine, to the next level. A decision that’s complicated after Catherine – with a C – comes into your life.

The ensuing drama takes place in a series of cutscenes each day, and when you go to bed at night, you’ll have to deal with nightmares – in the form of puzzle gameplay. It’s an extraordinarily unique game, and now that it’s finally made its way to PC, there’s no reason to not check it out. Even after 7 years, it’s still one of the most unique and best PC games 2019 has to offer.

X-Com 2 is one addictive game, and we still can't put it down. Following up from 2012's XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which reimagined the 1994 cult classic UFO: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 has delivered everything we wanted in a sequel. Bigger, deeper, faster and even easier on the eyes, the turn-based tactics game takes place 20 years after its predecessor.

It pits you in control of the Avenger, a converted alien ship that serves as your mobile base of operations used to devise strategy and execute fight plans against otherworldly enemies. With a greater focus of stealth, more intelligent alien AI and deeper customization options, XCOM 2 is bound to end up one of our games of the year.

Anyone familiar with World of Warcraft knows that it's among the most successful and influential massively multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs) of all-time. Comprising nearly 14 years of content, with over thousands of hours just waiting to be invested, there are few better games to spend your money on than World of Warcraft.

In the new expansion, Battle For Azeroth, players explore two new continents – Kul Tiras for Alliance players and Zandalar for the Horde – though there’s something much more sinister hiding beneath the surface. Blizzard has kept the leveling system from Legion, too, meaning you can tackle the new zones in whatever order you want. This will of course come with the all-new raids and dungeons we’ve grown accustomed to over the years and a storyline that will see the two playable factions at each other’s throats in a major way. 

You’ll get hours upon hours of content to play through here, as is custom with World of Warcraft throughout its 14-year history. And, you can count on updates throughout the expansion, like the recently released Tides of Vengeance that add even more stuff to do.

From PlatinumGames and Square Enix, Nier: Automata is a sequel to the 2010 cult classic Nier, which itself is a spin-off of the Drakengard series. Technically an action role-playing game, Nier: Automata’s most gripping quality is that it never truly adheres to one particular genre. At times, it’s a 2.5D platformer and, at others, it’s a twin-stick shooter. It’s unpredictable and a breath of fresh air when compared to other PC games out on the market.

The story centers around a femme android by the name of 2B who is aided by a survey android called 9S, or Nines. With many questions being asked along the way, both of these characters are tasked with extricating Earth from alien machines that have engulfed the planet. Just be conscious of how you play because not only does Nier: Automata feature different endings, but with each new path comes vastly different gameplay. 

Categories: Tech News

macOS 10.14 Mojave release date, news and features

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:50

macOS Mojave launched back in September, bringing with it access to some key iOS apps, namely News and Stocks. What might be bigger, though, is the new system-wide Dark Mode and increased productivity possible through finder – macOS 10.14 Mojave might just be the best Mac operating system yet. 

Apple has suggested that more iOS apps are going to show up on the best Macs over the next few years, but there’s plenty to love today – even in the face of some macOS Mojave problems, like KeySteal, a flaw that makes your Keychain passwords vulnerable.

macOS Mojave has been on our Macs for a few months at this point, and the various problems are being patched out. For instance, the latest build of macOS Mojave fixes some problems with third-party USB-C monitors. So, now that macOS Mojave is here, we’ll dive into all the features the new OS offers, so you can decide whether it’s worth the (free) upgrade in 2019.  

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The 2018 edition of Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS
  • When is it out? macOS Mojave is out right now
  • What will it cost? macOS 10.14 is free


macOS 10.14 Mojave release date

Apple announced macOS Mojave back in June 2018 at WWDC 2018, where most of the features were detailed.

This was followed by a public beta launch back in July, then finally the macOS Mojave launch on September 24 2018.

Then, in late January 2019, Apple released macOS 10.14.3. And, while it doesn’t have any standout features, it should help with stability and security. Then, Apple followed up with a fix to the FaceTime bug that would allow people to access your camera without you answering the call. This is admittedly a minor update, but we’d still advise most people to download and install macOS 10.14.3. And, earlier, Apple launched a supplemental update to macOS 10.14.1 to boost the reliability for the new MacBook Air.

Apple has also seeded the first developers beta for macOS 10.14.4. It’s too early to tell what exactly this update will hold, but given that 10.14.3 was basically a stability fix, we can expect some meatier updates when this update goes live.

Keep it tuned, because we will keep this section updated with all the newest updates as they release.


macOS 10.14 Mojave features

So, now that macOS Mojave has been out for a while, there are a ton of new features available to your Mac. And, we’re going to dive into a detailed overview of everything your Mac can do. 

From Finder improvements to more rigid security, the best Macs are about to become a lot better.

Read on to discover all the new features coming to your Mac when you update to macOS Mojave.


Dark Mode

Apple’s macOS Mojave introduces a system-wide dark mode, which will extend to every first-party program on your Mac.

Even Xcode gets a full makeover, completely in black, making those extended programming sessions more comfortable for your eyes.

Third party programs will also be adopting this new theme, with changes happening automatically for any app that uses standard colors through AppKit.

Even developers that don’t use AppKit are working on bringing Dark Mode to their programs. For example, in a recent bug report, Google Chrome developers confirmed they’re working on a way to implement Dark Mode into the hugely popular web browser – they just have some issues to iron out first.

Group FaceTime

Initially shown as part of the initial release of MacOS Mojave, Group FaceTime has finally been released as part of macOS 10.14.1. This feature allows you to have FaceTime conversations with up to 32 people across iOS and macOS devices. 

This feature is implemented in a way that makes it extremely intuitive in macOS Mojave. You can start a group FaceTime chat from any group iMessage thread, and invites will be sent via  a ringless notification, so you won’t be disruptive.

Once you’re in a Group FaceTime Chat, it will automatically detect whoever’s speaking and bring them front and center, so that you’re always looking at the person actively speaking.


Stacks

If your desktop starts to look like a virtual hurricane blew through it after a full day of work like ours does, your days of cluttered desktops end with macOS Mojave. 

With Stacks, macOS Mojave will sort similar files together so that you have a less cluttered desktop – photos with photos, pdfs with pdfs – it’s great.

You’re even able to scrub through thumbnails with a two-finger scroll, so that you can make sure the file you’re looking for is actually in the stack.


Gallery View

In macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has added a new Gallery View to Finder. This will let you quickly browse through, annotate and edit files. No matter what kind of file you select, you'll be able to quickly and easily find exactly what you're looking for. 

This is made even easier, thanks to Apple adding a very detailed metadata display to the Preview pane. This makes it easier than ever before to take note of all the information of any file on your Mac.

And, thanks to the inclusion of Quick Actions in the Preview pane, you won’t even need to leave Finder to work on files. You should be able to edit images, add protection to files and more. You can even assign Automator tasks as Quick Actions to make browsing through files even easier.


Continuity Camera

Have you ever found yourself working on a project, and you needed to implement a document or a photo? Well, with Continuity Camera, it’s easier than ever to do just that. 

Across a multitude of different apps, like Numbers and Pages, you’ll be able to simply Control + Click in the body of the document, and select “Take Photo” or “Scan Documents.” It’ll then open the camera on your iPhone or iPad, where you’ll be able to take a photo and instantly pop it right into what you’re working on. 

It’s smooth, it’s convenient, and it’s going to be a boon for anyone that needs to save some time while doing schoolwork or that next big project. 


Markup in Quick Look and Screenshots

Quick Look is already an easy way to look at files quickly, and in macOS Mojave, you'll be able to quickly and efficiently use Markup to edit files you open in Quick Look. 

Markup is also implemented into screenshots. You’ll be able to bring up any screenshot and instantly edit any content within. Being able to quickly crop screenshots in macOS Mojave without any third-party photo-editing software is going to be a huge time-saver. 

Once you capture a screen, you’ll see a preview image open up, similar to iOS 12, which you can click to preview and edit your screenshot.

That's not all though, Screenshots are still a simple shortcut away, but with macOS Mojave, a new easy-to-use menu includes screen-recording tools, so that you can capture animated content. And, perhaps most importantly, you can choose to save the screenshot to your clipboard, saving time if you just need to send someone a quick screenshot.


Apps

Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home are all brought over from iOS to macOS Mojave, with special care given to reformatting them to fit your computer.

These apps leverage the power of the best Macs to deliver an awesome experience. Voice Memos, for instance, will automatically transfer any memos you take between your iOS and macOS devices – rewarding anyone who utilizes the ‘Apple Ecosystem’.

This isn’t a full iOS app migration, however, but Apple did say it’d be bringing more iOS apps to the Mac in 2019, so we’ll just have to wait.


Security

Apple is concerned about your device security, and now macOS Mojave asks for permission with more features, now including the camera and microphone. Mojave’s security also provides more robust protection for your file system.

Safari also has its own share of security enhancements, shutting down cookies that track you across websites, making sure Safari asks permission before it allows cookies of any kind to access your browsing data. This even includes those annoying social buttons that mysteriously appear on every page – Facebook and Twitter can’t track your activity outside of their own websites unless you grant them permission to.


New Mac App Store

The App store has been a macOS staple for years now, but it always seemed a little out of place. That all changes with macOS Mojave. Apple has completely refreshed the Mac App Store, and it’s now designed exclusively for the best Macs.

Not only does it look great, but it also lets you browse through apps depending on what you’re trying to install. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Logic Pro X or Adobe Photoshop, it’s simple to find the best Mac apps for you.

The new Mac App Store also adopts the iOS App Store’s approach to editorializing its content. It’ll now have a much more modern interface with featured apps getting tutorials, spotlights and other such content. It really does bring the Mac App Store into the modern age.

And, perhaps more exciting is that a ton of third-party developers, like Adobe and Microsoft, are bringing their apps to the Mac App Store, so you don't’ have to go through dodgy websites to get the apps you need.


macOS 10.14 Mojave specifications

Unfortunately, with all these new features, some older Macs will have to go without updating to macOS Mojave. This is a departure from macOS High Sierra, which basically had the same requirements as macOS 10.12.

First off, macOS 10.14  requires at least 14.3GB of hard drive space for the installation, as that’s what was required last year. To keep it on the safe side, make it 20GB.

However, macOS Mojave requires more powerful hardware than High Sierra. macOS 10.13 required at least 2GB of RAM and OS X 10.8 or later – that’s not the case anymore. These are the Macs supported by macOS 10.14 Mojave.

  •  MacBook (Early 2015 or newer) 
  •  MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer) 
  •  MacBook Air (Late 2012 or newer) 
  •  Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer) 
  •  iMac (Late 2012 or newer) 
  •  Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer, or older models with Metal-compatible GPU) 
  •  iMac Pro (2017) 

Unfortunately, while the required models rarely change year over year, they have with macOS 10.14, so if you have an older MacBook, you might need to upgrade to enjoy this new version of the OS. 

  • These are the best Macs we’ve tested within the past year
  • Images Credit: Apple 
Categories: Tech News

AMD Navi release date, news and rumors

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:45

Now that AMD has revealed its first 7nm consumer graphics card, the Radeon VII, it’s about time for Team Red to reveal its other 7nm GPU architecture, Navi.

There have been rumors that suggest AMD Navi won’t occupy the high-end immediately, and judging by the recent reveal of the AMD Radeon VII, we’d have to say those rumors are on point. Rather, AMD Navi looks like it’ll occupy the midrange, along with the rumor of a GPU designed for the next generation of consoles.

So, before we start exploring all the juicy gossip, speculation and even some official information, consider that nothing is set in stone yet. Still, you should keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll update it as soon as we hear anything new.

Cut to the Chase
  • What is it? AMD's next-generation 7nm GPU architecture
  • When is it out? 2018
  • What will it cost? Pricing remains yet to be confirmed

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Navi release date

Right now, the only official proof that Navi will be launch anytime soon is a small statement from AMD titled “Expanding our High-Performance Leadership with Focused 7nm Development.” 

In the release, AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster states that “We have already tapped out multiple 7nm products at TSMC, including our first 7nm GPU planned to launch later this year and our first 7nm server CPU that we plan to launch in 2019.”

Unfortunately, even with that statement we don’t really have a full picture of when or how AMD Navi is going to hit the market. Especially when the only 7nm GPUs have been the Radeon Instinct cards for workstations, Vega II and the AMD Radeon VII – a high-end part tapped to compete with the RTX 2080.

A lot of the speculation right now revolves around Navi being designed to power the next generation of game consoles, with gaming graphics cards to follow later. 

This all comes from that leaked roadmap we mentioned earlier, which suggests that AMD Navi will show up in the second half of 2019. However, the entire line probably won’t make an appearance at the same time. Instead, the cards that will likely show up in 2019 will be more mid-range products for budget-minded gamers with full-fat enthusiast grade 7nm cards showing up as late as 2020. 

This all comes from a leaked benchmark, however, but it would seem to fall in line with when we can expect the next generation of consoles – late 2019/early 2020. And, recent leaks that point to AMD Navi launching in October 2019 seem to back up that speculation.

AMD Navi also may come in laptops and even the next line of MacBooks if newly found code in macOS Mojave is to be believed. These Navi-powered MacBooks are rumored to arrive in July, which would follow just a month after the  purported debut of next-gen consoles.

Either way, we know that AMD Navi is coming, we’ve even seen rumors about Navi’s follow-up, called Arcturus, according to a report from Wccftech. It seems like AMD has a lot of stuff coming out in the next few years, we just have to wait to see what happens.  

Image Credit: TechRadar

AMD Navi price

Over the last decade or so, AMD has essentially built a name for itself in the GPU space as the budget king. And, as Nvidia gets ready to release its next generation of Turing RTX graphics cards that cost upwards of a thousand bucks, AMD will probably double down on this – just like it released Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper to counter Intel.

As for the exact pricing, we’re not entirely sure, but we expect the pricing to follow in line with the Radeon RX 500 series. Those prices are below.

  • AMD Radeon RX 550 - $114 (£99, AU$104)
  • AMD Radeon RX 560 - $139 (£140, AU$235)
  • AMD Radeon RX 570 - $280 (£250, AU$340)
  • AMD Radeon RX 580 - $289 (£289, AU$450)

We can expect the prices to go up, however, due to the likely inclusion of GDDR6 memory, which we’ll dive into later. Either way, expect to pay more for the Radeon RX 650.

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Navi specs

Beyond the rumor that it’s going to be running on a 7nm process and GDDR6, there’s not much we know about AMD Navi. Because AMD Navi is going to be the first mainstream GPU processor to break away from the GCN architecture, we could see more shaders and and faster clock speeds, while improving efficiency substantially.

However, we don’t think AMD is going to be doing much to compete on the high-end with Nvidia this time around. AMD Vega 7nm, which would have the horsepower to compete with Nvidia Turing, won’t be coming to gamers. Instead, it will likely appeal more towards professionals and creatives – with Apple likely being a huge customer. 

In the past AMD would compete with high-end Nvidia GPUs by just shoving multiple chips into a graphics cards and passing it along as a enthusiast-grade GPU. This time around, though, AMD has made it clear that it’s not interested in making multi-GPU setups, according to a report from PCWorld. This is backed up by the fact that only two of the AMD Radeon RX 500 series cards were even compatible with Crossfire. 

So, instead of any high-end GPU, we’ll likely see a Radeon RX 600 series that’ll continue the legacy of cards like the AMD Radeon RX 580, delivering respectable performance in modern titles at 1080p while keeping prices attainable for more budget-conscious gamers. So instead of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti rival, think more Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in terms of direct competition.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to keep waiting for concrete information on AMD Navi. But, until then, keep this page bookmarked for all the latest news, rumors and speculation.     

Categories: Tech News

Best 4K monitors 2019: the top Ultra HD monitors and displays

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:40

For a while, the best 4K monitors were the golden ideal of computing, but these days, its available for basically anyone. Which is good, because these days everything is designed for ultra high definition displays, from operating systems to the best PC games. And, just like all the best monitors out there, they’re designed to provide users with a beautifully immersive – or productive – experience.

With the new wave of affordable 4K monitors recently hitting the market, considerably cheaper than 4K TVs, they’re naturally all the rage right now. If you’re one of the many currently in the market for a 4K monitor to meet your PC gaming needs while still keeping within budget, we’re here to help you find the right one.

Dell’s P2715Q has often been name-dropped as one of the best 4K monitors in the market. With its sharpness, vivid colors, and ultra high resolution, it delivers excellent image quality for an affordable price no less. It also affords a range of features that rival its more expensive competitors. One such feature is its ergonomic stand for adjustable height and a screen you can pivot to your heart’s content. There’s also its 60Hz refresh rate as well as its gamut of ports. P2715Q is a strong contender for professionals and gamers alike.

If you’re looking for one of the best 4K monitors for everyday computing and productivity, you don’t want to buy into all the fancy frills that most modern monitors boast – you’re going to want to consider the BenQ PD2700U. This monitor doesn’t feature fancy Quantum Dot tech, or Adaptive Sync, it doesn’t even have USB-C input! But, what the PD2700U does have is pixels and lots of them. It’s not cheap, but it’s color accurate, has plenty of desktop real estate and will fit in any office. 

Read the full review: BenQ PD2700U 

Monoprice isn’t the most revered on the market, the brand makes some of the most affordable panels in the market. Its Ultra Slim Aluminum monitor, for one, is praised for is sleek, ultra thin bezel design and ultra wide viewing angles at 178°. Though limited in features – there are no built-in speakers, for example – its IPS panel allows for super sharp image display, the FreeSync technology reduces screen tearing, and the brand’s Pixel Perfect Guarantee gives it a vibrant color performance. Additionally, it supports more connectivity than its better-known competitors with the two DisplayPorts and two HDMI ports.

Those looking for a 4K monitor with crisp image quality and G-Sync’s smoothing, anti-tearing technology will certainly benefit from the Asus ROG PG27AQ. That is, if you’re willing to spend $900. It does have more than enough makings of a gaming panel: Asus’ Flicker-Free technology, a five-way joystick for on-screen display settings, a button for its built-in GamePlus technology, an ergonomic (LED-lit) stand, and six display modes. Still, for that price, you’re certainly allowed to expect more bounce for your once including a higher refresh rate and access to more image quality adjustments.

While 4K monitors are becoming more and more common, even without particularly powerful hardware, we still run into the kind of monitor that changes everything. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is one of these. Asus has managed to craft a 4K gaming monitor with HDR and the kind of color support you see in professional displays – and render that all at 144Hz with G-Sync no less. There are only a few monitors out there that packs as many features as this Asus screen, and that’s why it’s one of the best 4K monitors. But, keep in mind, you’re going to have to pay for something this advanced – and we mean pay.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

If you’re looking for a 4K monitor for gaming, ViewSonic’s XG2700-4K is the perfect fit. It is not without quirks: the screen brightness could be higher, the red on black trim is an acquired taste, and it has no built-in speakers. On the other hand, you get amazing picture quality, quick response time, accurate color performance, multiple ports, and a versatile stand for multiple viewing angle options. Its most notable feature is AMD FreeSync to prevent tearing and ensure that your games are running smoothly. Of course, the picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes are also helpful because who doesn’t multitask nowadays.

Though IPS monitors offer better viewing angles and color reproduction, a TN monitor is  better for competitive gaming with much faster response time, higher refresh rates, and affordability. This is how AOC’s U2879VF has a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz all for a low, low price. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows however. If you can forgive the restricted viewing angles, the occasional flickering at 144Hz, the absence of a USB port, and the ho-hum color performance, this AMD FreeSync-enabled monitor is for you.

Read the full review: AOC U2879 VF 

If you have an absolute beast of a gaming computer – think two Nvidia RTX 2080 Tis in SLI – and you need a monitor that can keep up, you might want to take a look at the Acer Predator X27. Not only is it a 27-inch 4K monitor with HDR, but it also has a refresh rate of a whopping 144 Hz. If you have the horsepower, you can play games in 4K competitively without losing an edge to the person playing in 1080p. But, as you may expect from a spec sheet like this, it’s very expensive – but if you need the tech, it’s definitely there.

Read the full review: Acer Predator X27

You’ll need a bigger desk with 43UD79-B’s hefty, 42-inch screen. Unfortunately this bigger than life screen might also be darker around the edges and a sluggish refresh rage. However, this 4K monitor’s other features will more than make up for its flaws. The screen split software, for one, allows for a range of screen configurations. This, coupled with its four HDMI inputs, a DisplayPort 1.2a port, and a USC-C port, will let you effortlessly run multiple devices at once. Along with its true IPS screen, color-rich display, and FreeSync compatibility, you might just be getting a bargain.

LG UltraFine 4K might feel like David in a sea of Goliaths. Yet this monitor still screams Apple when it comes to functionality. The setup process is incredibly easy there’s not even a power button—you just plug the power adapter and then connect to your MacBook with the a single USB-C cable, which is for power, data, and display. It’s not without limitations, namely the absence of a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, it’s configured P3 color space renders  a wider gamut of colors than other displays. Its small screen size coupled with Ultra-HD gives you extreme sharpness without sacrificing your deskspace.

  • Looking for a more great gaming monitor? Check out our list for the best 
Categories: Tech News

AMD Vega II release date, news and rumors

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:35

It was a fairly quiet year for AMD’s graphics department in 2018, but now that AMD has released the Radeon VII graphics card for gaming, 2019 is the year of the 7nm GPU. 

The wait for a new AMD graphics card has been long and arduous, but the Radeon VII puts AMD back on the map. Thanks to the new 7nm GPU architecture, AMD was able to pack its newest graphics card with more transistors than ever before, without increasing the power draw. 

Priced the same as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, while delivering comparable performance – albeit without Nvidia Turing’s ray tracing or DLSS features – 2019 is an exciting year for the best graphics cards.

While the Radeon VII seems to be at least a bit related to Vega, it hasn’t been confirmed whether or not it’ll be part of the Vega II family – or, if Vega II is actually real. Based on what we were hearing before its announcement, the Radeon VII lines up well with everything we expected, so for now we’ll be treating AMD’s newest graphics card as a Vega II GPU, even if it’s not official.

So, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, and we’ll dive into everything there is to know about AMD Vega II. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? AMD’s first 7nm consumer graphics cards
  • When is it out? February 7, 2019
  • What will it cost? $699 (about £550, AU$980)

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Vega II release date

At CES 2019, AMD announced the Radeon VII, the first 7nm consumer graphics card. Launching on February 7, 2019, what we believe to be the first of the Vega II graphics cards arrived with Devil May Cry V, Resident Evil 2 and The Division 2. However, if you want to get your hands on this card, you might want to act fast – AMD’s Navi cards may not show up until October, and the Radeon VII is out of stock at many retailers.

Whether availability is going to be an issue remains to be seen, but we’ll be sure to update this article with whatever information comes out. 

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Vega II price

Right now there’s only one AMD Vega II card, the Radeon VII, and that has launched at $699 (£649, AU$1,109), bundled with three games. We’re sure that AMD will fill out the product stack with lower priced GPUs in the future, but we don’t know what the pricing will look like quite yet. However, you can probably assume it’s going to compete with Nvidia’s Turing product stack directly. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

AMD Vega II specs

The switch from a 14nm process to a 7nm process allows AMD to pack even more power into each GPU. For its graphics cards, this move means more transistors in each GPU without having to increase the die size or the power requirements.

And, the AMD Radeon VII is the fist 7nm graphics card for gamers, with 3,840 stream processors, 16GB HBM2 VRAM and 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. This goes directly against the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, which has 2,944 CUDA cores, 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM and 448GB/s of memory bandwidth. 

The Radeon VII will definitely outperform its competitor in some workloads thanks to sheer horsepower. But, it’s especially going to shine in creative workloads, meaning that it’s going to be the best graphics card for hobbyist video editors and content creators who don’t have the cash to drop on a professional product.

But, the AMD Radeon VII won’t offer the double-precision capabilities that the enterprise Radeon MI60 does, according to ExtremeTech, so it’s still very much a consumer graphics card. 

Aside from standalone cards, it seems all but guaranteed that the Vega II series will find its way into mobile and lower-power devices as integrated graphics processors. With a new generation of Ryzen processors expected, a new generation of Vega graphics to integrate into APUs is only fitting.

In fact, laptops will soon see a flurry of 2nd Gen Ryzen Mobile processors equipped with brand new Vega graphics.  time. Even the anticipated Xbox Scarlet Cloud could see Vega II built into its APU.  

Categories: Tech News

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation release date, news, and rumors

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:35

Now that AMD has revealed its its first 7nm Ryzen 3rd Generation processors, what will the future look like for Threadripper 3rd Generation – its next line of HEDT processors?

Now that AMD Ryzen is nearly two years old at this point, and we’ve seen Team Red come out with winning CPU after winning CPU, we’ve been asking ourselves where things go from here. 

AMD announced its 7nm Zen 2 architecture at CES 2019, and it should dramatically improve both performance and efficiency. This is certainly exciting news for Ryzen 3rd Generation chips, but we’re here specifically for what’s coming next for Threadripper. So, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, and we’ll keep it updated with all the latest AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation news and rumors. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? AMD’s next line of HEDT processors 
  • When is it out? Likely Summer 2019
  • What will it cost? TBD

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation release date

While AMD hasn’t come out and announced the release date for its next Threadripper chips, the last two Threadripper generations have been pretty consistent, so we have a basis for speculation. 

Both the original Threadripper and Threadripper 2nd Generation launched in August of 2017 and 2018, respectively. We’re fairly sure that AMD is going to follow the same general release schedule this time around, but, obviously we don’t know that for sure. 

The Zen 2 architecture will launch in mid 2019, likely in Q2 or Q3, in the form of consumer-focused Ryzen chips. We didn’t get any clue about when we could expect Threadripper, but it’s safe to assume it will at least be teased at Computex 2019, with a release in the late summer or early Autumn.

We’ll update this article as soon as we hear more substantial rumors about the release date.

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation price

Now, so far ahead of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation’s launch, we don’t have any official pricing information, but we can look at past generations to get an idea of what AMD’s next HEDT chips will cost. 

The original lineup of Threadripper topped out with the $999 (£999, AU$1,439) AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, but the second generation introduced surprisingly lower priced replacements. There were also two higher specced – and higher priced – additions. We believe Threadripper 3rd Generation will follow the latter model.

The prices of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation chips are as follows: 

  • Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX: $1,799 (£1,639, AU$2,679)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX: $1,299 (£1,159, AU$2,039)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2950X: $899 (£809, AU$1,415)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2920X: $649 (£583, AU$1,019)

AMD could very well surprise us and introduce an even higher-end SKU, but we don’t think that’s likely. Stay tuned, and we’ll update this page as soon as we hear any Threadripper 3rd Generation price information.

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation specs

With AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation, we expect to see a huge bump in core counts, efficiency and per-core performance with Threadripper 3rd Generation. If you need a refresher on last year’s Threadripper lineup’s specs they’re as follows:

  • Ryzen Threadripper 2920X: 12-cores, 24-threads, clocked at 3.5GHz to 4.3GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2950X: 16-cores, 32-threads, clocked at 3.5GHz to 4.4GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX: 24-cores, 48-threads, clocked at 3.0GHz to 4.2GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX: 32-cores, 64-threads, clocked at 3.0GHz to 4.2GHz

We’re sure that with the move to 7nm, AMD is going to massively improve specs. But, with Threadripper 3rd Generation, or Castle Peak, rumors are thin on the ground. However, there is plenty of buzz about the AMD Ryzen 3000 series, not to mention the 64-core AMD Epyc server CPU.

While we’ve seen speculation that suggests a 16-core Ryzen 3000 processor, that hasn’t been confirmed. What has been confirmed, though, is a new 8-core Ryzen processor that matches the Intel Core i9-9900K’s Cinebench score, getting 2,023 points.

AMD also showed off the system power in its test, the whole system ran at just 130W during the Cinebench run, compared to the Intel system’s 180W. We don’t know what frequency this chip was running at, but this high performance combined with the high efficiency is promising for whatever Threadripper chips come from Zen 2. 

What’s more, the chip AMD showed off revealed that 8-core chiplets are smaller than the IO die. What this means for Threadripper is many more cores in the same amount of space. It’s possible that we could see a 64-core Threadripper chip in 2019.

It wouldn’t even be the first 64-core processor in AMD’s lineup. AMD recently showed off its latest Epyc processors, based off its Rome microarchitecture, with up to 64-cores. 

If AMD is able to bring those high core counts to Castle Peak HEDT processors, we could see AMD absolutely dominate Intel’s Basin Falls Refresh. And, if Intel can’t answer with anything but 14nm silicon, AMD might claim the HEDT throne like it did when it topped Intel’s mainstream sales.

Categories: Tech News

Intel Skylake-X release date, news and features

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:30

Over the last few years, there has been a ton of newfound competition in the CPU space – reigniting the endless war of AMD vs Intel. Enter Skylake-X, Intel’s answer to AMD’s massively successful Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs.

In 2017, AMD launched its Ryzen line or processors, and Intel was caught completely by surprise. For a while, we didn’t know how Intel would respond. We had heard rumors that Intel would launch Cannon Lake at Computex 2017, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Intel announced Skylake-X, a new line of Core i9 HEDT processors

Intel successfully competed with AMD, thanks to Skylake-X. The Intel Core i9-7980XE was launched at Computex 2017, and while we all saw it coming, we were impressed by the performance – even if it was so expensive that most users couldn’t afford it. But, it doesn’t end there. 

About a year later, in 2018, Intel announced the new HEDT Basin Falls Refresh processors, like the beastly Intel Core i9-9980XE, based on the an improved 14nm architecture, along with a 28-core Xeon W chip to extend the Skylake X family.   

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Intel’s 8th Generation high-end desktop processors
  • When is it out? June 2017
  • What will it cost? From $389 (£329, AU$519) to $1,979 (£1,649, AU$2,729)

Image Credit: TechRadar

Release date

Intel released the lower-end Skylake-X processors immediately following their reveal at Computex 2017 with the Core i7-7800X, Core i7-7820X and Core i9-7900X. All of which released on June 19, 2017. 

And then, Intel released three more enterprise-level processors in the following months, with the Intel Core i9-7920X, Core i9-7940X and Core i9-7960X all releasing by September 2017. Then, finally, Intel launched the beast itself, the Core i9-7980XE in late September, absolutely destroying everything in its path.

And, now that Kaby Lake-X chips are a thing – or, were a thing when they died unceremoniously – you might be thinking to yourself that all the fun ended with the 7980XE. However, Skylake-X isn’t dead yet. 

Intel also announced a Skylake SP 28-core server chip, which would later be christened the Intel Xeon W-3175X, back at Computex 2018. Intel’s newest addition to this family was officially announced on October 8, 2018 and release in February 2019 to dethrone Threadripper 2nd Generation.   

Image Credit: TechRadar

Price

The biggest thing holding Intel Skylake-X chips from an easy recommendation is their price – they’re some of the most expensive consumer CPUs you can buy today. If you want to pick up a Core i9 processor for your latest build, you might actually need to sell your car first, as they start out around $999 (about £750, AU$1,340).

Now, the Core i7 Skylake X processors are a bit more reasonable, but you’re still paying to adopt a high-end platform, so don’t expect to base a budget build off of Skylake-X. Below you can find the pricing for all of the Skylake-X processors currently available.

  • Intel Core i7-7800X: $383 ( £329, AU$519)
  • Intel Core i7-7820X: $589 (£509, AU$799)
  • Intel Core i9-7900X: $989 (£819, AU$1,309)
  • Intel Core i9-7920X: $1,189 (£990, AU$1,589)
  • Intel Core i9-7940X: $1,387 (£1,099, AU$1,899)
  • Intel Core i9-7960X: $1,684 (£1,399, AU$2,279)
  • Intel Core i9-7980XE: $1,979 (£1,649, AU$2,729)

We also finally know that the 28-core A-series chip is going to be extremely expensive – if you want to get your hands on the Intel Xeon W-3175X, you’re looking at $2,999 (about £2,330, AU$4,250). Get ready to drop at least $10,000 if you’re planning on building an equally powerful rig around this chip.   

Image Credit: TechRadar

Specs

Intel newest Cascade Lake chip, the Intel Xeon W-3175X, seems to be beyond the realm of these other Skylake-X HEDT chips. With a name like Xeon, this CPU is designed for more enterprise usage than enthusiast overclocking.

Although the chip first debuted at Computex 2018 with a 5.0GHz boost clock, it was later revealed that Intel was actually overclocking while immersing the processor in liquid-nitrogen. Without an extreme setup, you're more likely to see this chip running at a maximum of 4.3GHz.

However, the next actual HEDT processors lie within the Basin Falls Refresh lineup. Chips like the Intel Core i9-9980XE are positioned to take on the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and Threadripper 2970WX. And, while it is faster, it’s still hard to justify the high price. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

Intel newest Skylake chip, the Intel Xeon W-3175X, is beyond the realm of these other HEDT chips. With the Xeon name, this CPU is designed for more enterprise usage – think 3D animation – than enthusiast overclocking.

Although the chip first debuted at Computex 2018 with a 5.0GHz boost clock, it was later revealed that Intel was actually overclocking while immersing the chip in liquid-nitrogen. We finally have the final specs, and it looks like the Intel Xeon W-3175X will have a core clock of 3.1 GHz, with a boost of 3.8GHz across all 28 cores and a 4.3GHz single-core turbo clock.

And, with the new Intel C621 chipset, this CPU comes with a greatly expanded support platform. This chip supports 68 PCIe lanes, 6-channel memory for up to 512GB of RAM running at 2,666MHz. 

Image Credit: Intel

Intel newest Skylake-X chip, the Intel Xeon W-3175X, seems to be beyond the realm of these other HEDT chips. With a name like Xeon, this CPU is designed for more enterprise usage than enthusiast overclocking.

Although the chip first debuted at Computex 2018 with a 5.0GHz boost clock, it was later revealed that Intel was actually overclocking while immersing the chip in liquid-nitrogen. Without an extreme setup, you're more likely to see this chip running at a maximum 4.3GHz.

Although Intel has yet to reveal a new chipset for the Xeon W-3175X, this CPU comes with a greatly expanded support platform. Team Blue has said the chip will support 68 PCIe lanes, 6-channel memory for up to 512GB of RAM running at 2,666MHz. All told, this maybe the processor to finally outpace the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and Threadripper 2970WX.

Categories: Tech News

Intel Basin Falls Refresh release date, price and features

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:30

The wait for the next iteration of Intel’s HEDT lineup is over, and it’s been quite a ride. There was speculation everywhere that there would be a Coffee Lake-X, a Cascade Lake-X or a new Skylake-X HEDT platform. The latter proved to be the one that actually existed, this ‘Basin Falls Refresh’ is out now, helmed by the new 18-core Intel Core i9-9980XE.

In a lot of ways, the Basin Falls Refresh lineup mirrors the initial Skylake-X lineup, with the same amount of cores, but higher clock speeds and some enhanced features. And, these new HEDT processors largely follow in the footsteps of Coffee Lake Refresh, another CPU lineup announced at the same event

However, perhaps the most important question in regards to this new Basin Falls Refresh, especially in this heightened age of Intel vs AMD – is whether or not these new chips provide a better value than the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation chips. 

And, the answer, after reviewing the Core i9-9980XE, is “most of the time”. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Intel’s 9th-generation Core X-series processors
  • When is it out? November 2018
  • How much will it cost? From $589 (about £450, AU$830) to $1,979 (about £1,520, AU$2,800)
Intel Basin Falls Refresh release date

The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation platform launched back in August 2018, and ever since then, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for Intel to launch something to compete with it. Now Basin Falls Refresh processors are finally here, and ready to take Threadripper 2nd Generation on.  

Intel Basin Falls Refresh price

We were initially hoping that Intel would price this new HEDT platform more competitively – especially considering how AMD is gaining popularity right now. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to happen, with Intel instead pricing its Basin Falls Refresh pretty much exactly how it priced its 7th-generation Skylake-X processors. 

The prices for all the new X299 chips are as follows, from lowest to highest price.

  • Intel Core i7-9800X – $589 (about £450, AU$830)
  • Intel Core i9-9820X – $898 (about £690, AU$1,270)
  • Intel Core i9-9900X – $989 (about £760, AU$1,400)
  • Intel Core i9-9920X – $1,189 (about £910, AU$1,680)
  • Intel Core i9-9940X – $1,387 (about £1,060, AU$1,960)
  • Intel Core i9-9960X – $1,684 (about £1,290, AU$2,380)
  • Intel Core i9-9980XE – $1,979 (about £1,520, AU$2,800)

It’s pretty clear that these processors, like their predecessors, are extremely expensive, and are probably not a great value for most everyday desktop users. However, with some of these chips being nearly double the price of their Threadripper equivalents (at least in terms of core counts), it remains to be seen whether or not they will be competitive among content creators and enthusiasts. Only time and benchmarks will tell.

Image Credit: Intel

Intel Basin Falls Refresh specs

It goes without saying that these new Basin Falls Refresh processors bring some major improvements to Intel’s HEDT lineup. The biggest improvement here is the support of up to 68 PCI-E lanes (still only 44 natively on the CPU, though, the chipset supports the remaining 24). These new processors also feature much higher clock speeds, which should help in single threaded applications like gaming. 

The Specifications of the Basin Falls Refresh is as follows:

  • Intel Core i7-9800X – 8-cores, 16-threads, 3.0GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9820X – 10-cores, 20-threads, 3.3GHz base clock, 4.2GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9900X – 10-cores, 20-threads, 3.5GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9920X – 12-cores, 24-threads, 3.5GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9940X – 14-cores, 28-threads, 3.3GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9960X – 16-cores, 32-threads, 3.1GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost
  • Intel Core i9-9980XE – 18-cores, 36-threads, 3.0GHz base clock, 4.5GHz boost

It should be immediately noticeable that as the core count goes up, the base clock speeds go down, this is largely due to increasing power and heat constraints as the core denisty goes up throughout the processor family  Still, the boost clocks are pretty stable throughout. 

Unfortunately, cache on these new Basin Falls Refresh processors is identical to the last generation, with 24.75MB on the Core i9-9980XE, which is the same amount found on the 7980XE.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Intel Basin Falls Refresh performance

Now, we’ve only tested one of the Basin Falls Refresh chips, the Core i9-9980XE. However, we can use this flagship chip to get a feeling for how the Basin Falls Refresh lineup performs.

The improved clock speeds on these Basin Fall Refresh processors lead to improved performance across the board, but in heavily threaded workloads, like Cinebench R15, the Intel Core i9-9980XE still lags behind the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX.

Now, Intel claims that this new lineup is going to lead to up to 108% faster performance over the 2990WX in Adobe Premiere. You might want to take this with a grain of salt, because while we haven’t measured Adobe Premiere performance ourselves, we do have Cinebench numbers for both the Intel Core i9-9980XE and the 2990WX. 

The Threadripper 2990WX scored 4,913 in Cinebench, whereas the Intel Core i9-9980XE scored 3,640. Now, obviously Cinebench and Adobe Premiere aren’t the same program, but the tasks are comparable enough to make Intel’s claims seem fishy.

  • Looks like you won't need a new motherboard to use these processors
Categories: Tech News

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation release date, news and features: everything you need to know

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:30

Intel used to be the de facto ruler of the processor world, crafting the best processors on the market – no contest. However, with Ryzen, the game changed entirely. And, now that AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation has been out for a while, it looks like things are going to keep getting better for Team Red. 

As far as the current generation goes, though,we’ve had a chance to review a wide range of Ryzen 2nd Generation processors from the Ryzen 5 2600X to the powerhouse that is the Ryzen 7 2700X, we know AMD isn’t holding back as it pushes power and value even further.

AMD has also announced a Ryzen 5 2500X and Ryzen 3 2300X, but these are processor you’ll never be able to buy as standalone chips for your DIY PCs. Simultaneously, we’ve heard rumors of a Ryzen 7 2800X, which should give the recent Coffee Lake Refresh processors a run for their money – but, with the advent of AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation processors, we’ll likely never see it show up.

Plus, AMD is hard at work on Zen 2, the architecture behind AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation. And, according to the latest internet rumors, we could see core counts rising up to 16 and clock speeds up to 5.0GHz. If any of this is true, the desktop processor landscape is going to be extremely compelling when these next-gen chips release sometime in mid 2019. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? AMD's upgraded, budget-friendly processor chips
  • When is it out? April 19, 2018
  • What will it cost?  $199 (about £140, AU$260) starting price for the Ryzen 5 2600

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation release date

The wait for the new AMD chips is finally over. The first generation Ryzen processors shipped out in March 2017 and rolled out throughout 2017. Now, Ryzen 2nd Generation chips have launched at around the same time of year, on April 19, 2018.

Beyond the first few chips AMD released, the timeline points to released for both the 2nd Generation Ryzen Pro and Ryzen Threadripper chips throughout the second half of the 2018. Ryzen Pro chips are designed for business and IT use-cases, with up to 8-cores and 16-threads. Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation is the ‘big daddy’ of AMD’s offering with up to 32-cores for for die-hard creative types. 

We’ve also seen an announcement for the Ryzen 5 2500X and Ryzen 3 2300X, however we’re not sure when these mid-range chips are going to make it to market. We here at TechRadar think these chips will be launched in October, to offset Intel’s rumored launch of Coffee Lake Refresh.

Those are all desktop chips, and AMD has launched the Ryzen 7 2700U, along with Ryzen 5 and 3 parts earlier this year. And, laptops are starting to roll out with these chips.

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation price

AMD plans for its second generation of Ryzen chips to be just as affordable as the first batch. Granted, delivering more affordable CPUs has always been AMD's edge, but for the first time in years, the cheaper Ryzen chips could honestly hang with, if not surpass, Intel's offerings.

AMD has decided to continue its course with the 2nd Generation models. It was imperative that it delivered affordable, high-performing CPUs. And while we haven’t seen the pricing for the mid-range chips, what we’ve seen so far seems to fall in line with the pricing for the first generation.

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X: $329 (about £230, AU$420) 
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700:  $299 (about £210, AU$380) 
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X: $229 (about £160, AU$290) 
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2600: $199 (about £140, AU$260) 

Last year, the quad-core Ryzen 3 1300X debuted at $129 (£112, AU$169), while Intel's Core i3 7350K went for $149 (£169, AU$299). Bump up to the hexa-core Ryzen 5 1600X, and we saw it offered for $249 (£249, AU$359) – compare that to the quad-core Intel Core i5-7600K at $239 (£219, AU$339), although you lose a couple of cores in the process.

We saw the biggest price difference with the Ryzen 7 1800X, which at $499 (£500, around AU$650) was nearly half the price of Intel's Core i7-5960X/6900K. Of course, this lead to Intel introducing a more affordable Intel Core i7-8700K and Intel Core i7-7820X. Meanwhile, the AMD Threadripper 1950X came in at $999 (£999, AU$1,439) and delivered even stronger performance than Intel's like-priced Core i9-7900X.

Of course, AMD recently dropped its Ryzen prices across the board alongside the 2nd Generation announcement, keeping things competitive with Intel as the two companies wage war for your CPU-buying dollars.

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation specs

Ryzen 2nd generation processors offer quite the generational leap over their predecessors. They're built using a new 12-nanometer process, which will cram in even more transistors and thus provide more raw speed along the way.

According to AMD 12nm process results in an approximately 16% performance increase and 11% better lower power draw over the original Ryzen's 14nm process.

We have finally seen some rumors swirling around about the Ryzen 2nd Generation APUs, which will succeed the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. According to PCGamesN, the next generation APUs will be coming out next year, and will feature the same Zen+ 12nm architecture as current Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs. This could mean APUs could see a similar boost to performance as we saw when the first generation Ryzen chips were succeeded.

AMD says that the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will be the smallest and fastest desktop processors to date – lofty promises, but ones that are sure to excite PC enthusiasts and users of all stripes. Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will deliver higher clock speeds and introduce the enhanced Precision Boost 2 technology to boost performance during high-drain scenarios.

And, now that we’ve gotten our hands on the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X, we know that AMD has succeeded in pushing its specs. The 2700X with its 8-cores, 16-threads and speedy boost clock of 4.3GHz that outperforms the Intel Core i7-8700K, AMD has fully embraced the enthusiast market. Even the lower-end Ryzen 5 2600X pushes performance into the next generation with 6-cores, 12-threads and a 4.2 GHz boost clock. 

We’ve also seen leaked benchmarks for the yet-to-be announced Ryzen 3 2300X and Ryzen 5 2500X. The former is apparently a four-core, four-thread processor clocked at 3.5GHz and a 4.0GHz boost clock. Meanwhile the rumored Ryzen 5 2500X is a four-core, eight-thread chip, featuring a 3.6GHz core clock, boosting up to 4.0GHz. 

We don’t have any pricing or release date information on these rumored chips, but we assume they’ll be great entry-level and mid-range options, respectively – when and if they come out.

Recently, we saw a leak from ASRock pointing to the existence of some low-power E-series Ryzen 2nd Generation chips, the Ryzen 5 2600E and Ryzen 7 2700E. These chips will have a much lower 45W TDP and feature an 8-core design for the Ryzen 7, and 6-cores for the Ryzen 5 – according to the rumor reported by Wccftech.

But, it doesn’t end with the desktop chips. AMD has also released Ryzen 2nd Generation mobile chips in the Ryzen 7 2700U, Ryzen 5 2500U, Ryzen 3 2300U and Ryzen 3 2200U. These all have Vega graphics packed in, meaning you can comfortably do some light gaming on them. The two higher-end chips are four-core, eight-thread processors with boost clocks of 3.8GHz and 3.6GHz for the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5, respectively. 

The Ryzen 3 2300U and 2200U are four-core, four-thread chips with 3.4GHz boost clocks. The core difference in these two chips is that the former features stronger Vega graphics, while the 2200U has a higher base clock of 2.5GHz. 

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation is a distillation of everything AMD wanted to do with Ryzen. And, if the specs of the early Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs are anything to go off of, we’re very excited to see what this lineup looks like by the end of 2018.

AMD has a very technical primer on Precision Boost 2 from its Ryzen Mobile Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics, in case you want to dig into the specs.

We've seen some SenseMi improvements in AMD's recent Ryzen-based desktop APUs, so it stands to reason that we'll see similar performance and efficiency increases in the Ryzen 2nd Generation line. That could include optimized power usage through Pure Power smart sensors and improved overclocking potential from Extended Frequency Range 2.

Image Credit: AMD

Anyone looking to upgrade from Ryzen Gen 1 will be happy to know that AMD has kept the same AM4 socket intact, so you won’t need to buy a new motherboard to slot one of these CPUs into your machine. There is also an enhanced X470 chipset that’s optimized for Ryzen 2nd Generation with lower power consumption.

Keep in mind that AMD calls the heart of Ryzen 2nd Generation the Zen+ architecture, rather than Zen 2. What’s the difference? Well, Zen 2 will be an entirely new architecture built on a 7nm process, which – as you can imagine – could provide a world of difference when it comes to power and performance.

Image Credit: TechRadar

AMD's roadmap shows the Zen 2 and Zen 3 (listed at "7nm+") cores coming somewhere between the release of the Zen+ and the year 2020, so that's more likely to appear in 2019.

Zen 2 design is reportedly complete at this point, and it "improves on Zen in multiple dimensions" according to AMD. And the Zen 3 is "on track," as well. AMD could be primed to shake up the CPU industry all over again with the Zen 2, but that's not what we'll see this year: Zen+ is what's powering the Ryzen 2nd Gen chips.

Even so, there's plenty of reason to be excited for the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips, especially if you’re in the market for a PC upgrade this year. And, even with Intel on the defensive, it’s safe to say that AMD knocked it out of the park.

Categories: Tech News

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh release date, news and features

Latest Tech News - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:25

When it released its 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors, Intel had everyone guessing. But, we weren’t fooled again when it released the 9th Generation Intel Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs. This time around, Intel is bringing higher core counts and faster core speeds across the board – the 9th Generation is here.

Coffee Lake Refresh bridges the gap between Coffee Lake and AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation – at least until Ryzen 3rd Generation comes out later this year. We’ll see how successful it is once we’ve finished testing all the different chips, but just judging by the Intel Core i9-9900K, Intel has succeeded. With Intel’s first mainstream, 8-core, 16-thread processors for consumers, Coffee Lake Refresh changes everything. 

Now, these are just the highlights, but there is so much more Coffee Lake Refresh information out there, so strap in for the long ride and we’ll tell you everything there is to know about the latest from Intel.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Intel’s 9th Generation mainstream processors
  • When is it out? October 19 
  • What will it cost? From $262 or £349 (about AU$370)  

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh release date

At its 2018 Desktop Launch Event, Intel finally revealed when we can get our hands on its 9th Generation desktop lineup. The good news is that all the speculation was pretty much spot on – preorders are live now, and the chips will start shipping out on October 19. 

However, we’ve only seen the announcement of there of the Coffee Lake Refresh processors – the Core i9-9900K, Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600K. We’re sure that the lineup won’t end here, so keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll update it when new processors get announced.

And, at CES 2019, Intel announced a few new processors along with variants of existing CPUs without integrated graphics to flesh out its Coffee Lake Refresh lineup, and to better compete with lower-end Ryzen chips – without lowering the prices.

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh price

Now that Intel has announced its new desktop platform, we now know what the pricing is going to look like. For the most part, it falls in line with what Intel charged for Coffee Lake desktop chips, though the Intel Core i9 is much more expensive than the competition, namely the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X. But, at least Intel is giving users the choice to get processors without integrated graphics for the same price. The prices are as follows:

  • Intel Core i3-9350KF – $173 (£194, about AU$230)
  • Intel Core i5-9400F – $182  (£188, about AU$250)
  • Intel Core i5-9400 – $182 (£194, about AU$250)
  • Intel Core i5-9600KF – $262 (£259, about AU$360)
  • Intel Core i5-9600K – $262 (£254, about AU$370)
  • Intel Core i7-9700KF – $374 (£399, about AU$510)
  • Intel Core i7-9700K – $374 (£409, AU$659)
  • Intel Core i9-9900KF – $488 (£509, about AU$675)
  • Intel Core i9-9900K – $488 (£519, AU$899) 

We’re sure that Intel is going to pad this lineup with other mid-range and entry-level processors over the next year or so to pad out these massive price gaps. Until then, though, we can still expect fantastic multi-core performance at a reasonable price. 

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh specs

Now that Intel has shown us what Coffee Lake Refresh is capable of, we have a clear picture of what these new processors look like. And, while only three Coffee Lake Refresh processors have been revealed, we’re sure there’s more to come in the near future.   

  • Intel Core i3-9350KF: 4-cores, 4-threads, no integrated graphics, clocked at 4.0GHz to 4.6GHz
  • Intel Core i5-9400: 6-cores, 6-threads, Intel UHD Graphics 630, clocked at 2.9GHz to 4.1GHz
  • Intel Core i5-9400F: 6-cores, 6-threads, no integrated graphics, clocked at 2.9GHz to 4.1GHz
  • Intel Core i5-9600KF: 6-cores, 6-threads, no integrated graphics, clocked at 3.7GHz to 4.1GHz
  • Intel Core i5-9600K: 6-cores, 6-threads, clocked at 3.7GHz to 4.6GHz 
  • Intel Core i7-9700KF: 8-cores, 8-threads, no integrated graphics, clocked at 3.6GHz to 4.9GHz
  • Intel Core i7-9700K: 8-cores, 8-threads, clocked at 3.6GHz to 4.9GHz 
  • Intel Core i9-9900KF: 8-cores, 16-threads, no integrated graphics, clocked at 3.6GHz to 5.0GHz
  • Intel Core i9-9900K: 8-cores, 16-threads, clocked at 3.6GHz to 5.0GHz 

This initial lineup is noteworthy, as it marks the first Intel Core i7 chip in a while without hyperthreading – instead it just features eight single-threaded cores. Still, that should be plenty, especially considering the impressive 4.9GHz boost clock. Luckily, there is still a 9th-generation consumer chip that retains hyperthreading in the Intel Core i9-9900K. 

Intel might be pushing these core counts even higher, too. A recent forum post suggests that Intel might be pushing out deca-core ‘Comet Lake’ processors, based on the same 14nm process as Coffee Lake Refresh. This is a pretty thin rumor, but, it could see an even bigger performance boost over the Ryzen 7 2700X.

These new processors also feature much improved thermal performance, thanks to a soldered thermal interface material (STIM). This should help these processors overclock more efficiently without having to resort to exotic cooling solutions to stretch the performance out. 

This is big, because Intel has stuck with non-soldered thermal paste to transfer heat between the processor dies and the IHS – much to the chagrin of enthusiasts and overclockers. This new soldered material should be a much more efficient heat transfer medium, which Intel says will lead to easier overclocking. 

However, some of the new F-series Coffee Lake Refresh chips will be sticking with the non-soldered solution. Intel says this is because standard F-series chips won’t be overclocked, and thus won’t need the more robust cooling solution. Luckily, the processors model names with a ‘KF’ suffix will include the same STIM as earlier 9th-generation processors.

One more thing – an Intel Core i9-9900T leak showed up on Yahoo Auctions. It seems to be a 35W version of the Intel Core i9-9900K with the same amount of cores and threads, but with a severely cut down clock speed. This part hasn’t been announced by Intel, so we would take it with a grain of salt – but this wouldn’t be the first time Intel launched low-power T-series chips for prebuilt computers.  


Intel Coffee Lake Refresh features

Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Intel processor lineup with a new motherboard and chipset platform. Interestingly enough, Intel’s forthcoming Z390 chipset is on the way, and can finally be preordered, after months and months of speculation.

This new platform supports t onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 – both of which are features not found natively supported on the current Z370 chipset. This new chipset now supports up to 40 lanes of PCIe Express 3.0, but is still limited to dual-channel, 2,666MHz memory.

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh performance

We have finally fully reviewed and tested Intel Core i9-9900K and it is, without a doubt, the fastest consumer processor on the market right now. Intel’s high end chip absolutely dominated everything else in both single core and multi core performance, scoring a ridiculous 33,173 multi-core score in GeekBench 4 – compared to the Ryzen 7 2700X’s 26,011 – it even destroys AMD’s HEDT Threadripper chips in many everyday situations. 

However, be careful of the inflated price you’re paying for this higher performance. WE haven’t tested either the Intel Core i7-9700K or the i5-9600K yet, but those reviews are on the way. Until then, though, we have some preliminary results from Intel, but take these with a grain of salt.

Back at Intel’s reveal event for Coffee Lake Refresh, we were able to test the new processors in gaming specific workloads, where the Intel Core i7-9700K was able to hit 30,339 points in a World of Tanks benchmark – compared to the Intel Core i9-9900K’s 33,108 in the same test at the same event.

Meanwhile, the Intel Core i7-9700K was able to hit 30,339 points in that same World of Tanks benchmark – which is impressive given that chip doesn’t feature multithreading.

That’s all we got right now. There’s surely a ton of information to come – so, per our usual advice, we encourage you to keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll keep it updated with in-depth coverage of the latest Intel Coffee Lake Refresh news, information and reviews.

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