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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tip: Get 3 years of access for dirt cheap
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 01:14:16 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Currently gamers can pay just $1 to access hundreds of titles across PC and Xbox via Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service—but don’t activate that one-month trial just yet. If you play your cards right, you can use that same dollar to lock in a steep discount on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for up to three years. (Update January 2023: This trick still works as of January 31, 2023.) When you activate Microsoft’s promotion, it not only begins the trial, but also converts existing Xbox Live Gold and standard Xbox Game Pass subscriptions on your account to Game Pass Ultimate (normally $15 per month) at a 1:1 rate. Any prepaid time up to the maximum of three years gets the upgrade. Looking to load up on Xbox Live Gold at a discount? Keep an eye out for sales at Newegg. The retailer still drops the cost of a 1-year subscription to $50 USD periodically. (You can set a deal alert for “xbox live” at Slickdeals.net for an email or push notification of future deals.) But even at the regular price of $60 USD per 12-month code, this hack is smoking. So if you have only three months of Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass (or a combination of the two) on your account, you’ll end up with three months for your Game Pass Ultimate subscription, plus the additional one month from the trial tacked on. Equally, 36 months of prepaid time transforms into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a full three years. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles together Microsoft’s Netflix-esque Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC subscriptions with its Xbox Live Gold multiplayer service. Pretty sweet, right? Multiplatform gamers obviously gain quite a bit from this deal, as Game Pass Ultimate bundles together Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, and Xbox Game Pass for PC. You’ll get unlimited access to a full range of titles across platforms, including upcoming Halo, Gears of War, and other Microsoft first-party game releases on PC. But even gamers who play exclusively on PC benefit: Though Xbox Game Pass for PC only initially cost $5 per month, that price lasted only through the beta period, which ended September 16, 2020. Loading up an account with three years of Xbox Live Gold ($180) and then converting it to Game Pass Ultimate for an additional $1 essentially locks in that $5-per-month rate for three years, which outlives the beta period pricing by a long shot. (You should be able to do this conversion trick if you participated in the Xbox Game Pass for PC beta.) Afterward, you can still convert Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass memberships to Game Pass Ultimate, but at a pro-rated amount. Read on for a step-by-step guide of how to secure this deal, which includes tips on how to maximize your savings. Halo games will be included in Xbox Game Pass for PC (and by extension, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate). !- News alert -! Talk is swirling that Microsoft may eliminate Xbox Live Gold, which would kill this deal hack. A report from Brad Sams (of Thurrott.com) claims that the company is seeking to make Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (and its $15-per-month rate) the base-level plan. You can hear the details from Sams himself in this YouTube video, in which he also suggests that the death of Gold could happen when Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard closes in 2023, if approved by U.S. regulators. On top of that, current energy prices are driving up costs for Microsoft’s cloud computing services, leading the company to hint that price increases on Xbox consoles and subscriptions (like Game Pass) could come to pass. Our best guess is that no changes would be likely during the brisk holiday sales period, but after the start of 2023 it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen. How to convert Xbox Live Gold (or Xbox Game Pass) to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate The most basic description of what you’ll do is this: Buy Xbox Live GoldActivate the $1 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate trialAgree to a conversion of your Gold and/or standard Game Pass subscription(s) to Game Pass Ultimate However, you can run into a few pitfalls during this process—especially if you’re going for the maximum of three years. The detailed instructions below will help you avoid those mistakes. Step 1 Decide how long you want Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. To make the most of the deal, get as close to three years of Xbox Live Gold (or Xbox Live Gold + standard Xbox Game Pass) as possible, which is the maximum amount of time you can prepay. Add months to an Xbox Live Gold subscription using digital subscription codes purchased from Microsoft or another retailer (Amazon, Newegg, Target, etc.). Increase the time on Xbox Live Gold, not standard Xbox Game Pass—Xbox Live Gold is the cheaper option. Note: Microsoft discontinued selling 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions on its website during the summer of 2020, but third-party retailers (like Amazon, Newegg, Target, etc) still sell them for now. Amazon is one of the easiest places to purchase digital subscription codes for Xbox Live Gold, but you can sometimes find better prices at other retailers. Add time in the largest increments possible—a 12-month code for Gold works out much cheaper per month than the one-month, three-month, and six-month varieties. When purchasing codes, always remember that Microsoft’s servers won’t let you redeem a code for a duration that exceeds the 36-month cap. (Example: You’re at 34 months, but attempt to redeem a three-month code. The servers will not let you activate it.) Short multi-day trial codes for Xbox Live Gold won’t work for this promotion, like those for three days or two weeks. WARNING: If you buy three 1-year subscriptions, do not turn on recurring billing while redeeming the codes. Any extra freebie months you get for doing so will make it impossible to redeem the final code. Tips: Don’t forget that this Game Pass Ultimate $1 promotion includes one month of service that stacks on top of whatever amount of Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscription time you convert. You won’t get the full month if it puts you over the 36 month limit, though. When redeeming an Xbox Live Gold digital subscription code, agreeing to recurring billing will give you an additional one month for free. If you turn off recurring billing before redeeming your next code, you can usually continue to take advantage of this bonus. (Don’t do this if you are redeeming three 1-year codes—the system will refuse to let you redeem the final code because it’ll put you over the limit.)
To verify you’ve turned off recurring billing, head to the Services & Subscriptions section of your account info. Under “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate,” you’ll see an expiration date for your subscription, and the option to the right will say “Turn on recurring billing.”
Microsoft Reward members with point balances of 30,000 or more should also check to see if the 12-month option for Xbox Live Gold exists for them. Nothing’s sweeter than a free way to max out a deal.
Buying discounted codes will further your savings. Costco is the best for members who need a 12-month Xbox Live Gold code, while CDKeys offers a modest discount available to everyone and sells 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month codes.
 Before buying any digital subscription codes, incorporate any of the above freebies or bonuses you can obtain into your calculations. Example: You need 17 months to max out. (You already have 16 months of Xbox Live Gold and 3 months of Xbox Game Pass active on your account.) As a Costco member who also has a surplus of Microsoft Reward points, you buy one 12-month code and then use the points to obtain a single 3-month code. You will then get two bonus months by choosing recurring billing when you redeem each code. The $1 Game Pass Ultimate trial will then tack on the final month needed to hit a total of 27. Step 2 Activate your Xbox Live Gold codes. Again, as your final reminder, if you have three 1-year subscription codes for Xbox Live, do not agree to recurring billing in order to redeem your final code. If you are using a patchwork of different codes, triple-check your math to be sure you know how many times (if any) you need to agree to recurring billing. OOPS: Did you have three 1-year XBL Gold codes and accidentally make it impossible to redeem that final code? You can wait a month or two, then redeem code #3 and convert. Or you can wait to activate it after you upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate—you’ll be able to redeem it on a pro-rated basis to extend your Ultimate subscription. Step 3 The next screen that follows this one will request billing info to pay for the $1 trial. Activate the $1 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate trial. (You can also do so via the Store on an Xbox console.) You will have two screens to pass through. The first, shown at right, explains how the conversion works if you already have an active Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscription. (Which you should, if you followed Step 2’s instructions.) The second that follows will ask for billing information, in order to process the $1 charge for the one-month Game Pass Ultimate trial. You should now see “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate” listed under Services and Subscriptions on your Microsoft account page. By default, your Game Pass Ultimate subscription will be set to recurring billing. We suggest you turn this off, lest you be taken by surprise when your subscription expires (especially if that’s three years from now). You can do so by clicking on “Manage” just to the right of the billing information. Outside of that, you’re set to go. Happy gaming! Editor’s note: This article originally published in August 2019 but has been since updated to keep it current. Recent updates includes new info on discounted Gold codes, plus news about possible product and price changes related to Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass Ultimate. Our tutorial video was also added. Desktop PCs, Gaming, Technology Industry
ChatGPT’s creator releases tool for detecting AI text, and it stinks
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 00:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
OpenAI said Tuesday that it has released an AI “classifier” for identifying AI-authored text written by AI like its own ChatGPT. The problem? ChatGPT is pretty good at evading OpenAI’s new tool. ChatGPT has absolutely overwhelmed academia, where students are using it as a virtual assistant of sorts in a variety of tasks. Unfortunately, some students are crossing the line and using it to create content that they are passing off as original—cheating, in other words. The trouble is trying to determine which answers were written by a human, and which by an AI. OpenAI’s Classifier tool has one weakness, though: It’s somewhat easily fooled. In a press release, OpenAI said that the classifier identified 26 percent of AI-authored text as authentically human, and deemed 9 percent of text written by a human as AI-authored. In the first case, that meant that OpenAI’s tool would, on average, fail to catch about a quarter of those who used AI and failed to disclose it. Unfortunately, the classifier also comes with a number of caveats. First, the more words, the better: Anything less than 1,000 characters and the tool has a good chance of getting it wrong, OpenAI said. Second, for now it only works with English, and absolutely can’t determine if code has been written by an AI or a human. Finally, AI-authored text can be edited to evade the classifier, OpenAI said. “Our classifier is not fully reliable,” OpenAI says in its press release, in bold print. In a quick test, the AI classifier couldn’t tell whether a random passage from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was AI-authored, but said that a similar passage from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was “very unlikely” to be AI generated. The classifier also passed a random article authored by our executive editor Brad Chacos (good job, boss). Unfortunately, ChatGPT was down when we initially tried to access it, but emerging search engine You.com, which integrates its own AI chatbot, served as another test platform. OpenAI’s classifier tool in action.OpenAI You.com differs from ChatGPT in that it (now) cites its sources, so a command, “Write an explanation of how colonialism has shaped Western civilization” cited Wikipedia, Britannica.com, and an honors seminar at the University of Tennessee in its YouChat chatbot. OpenAI’s classifier identified it as “possibly AI-generated.” The classifier generated the same result for an AI-generated short story about an emu who could fly. Later, though, we were able to generate a similar response to our question of colonialism on ChatGPT. “The classifier considers the text to be unclear if it is AI-generated,” the classifier concluded. A similar fiction test query on ChatGPT, “Write a short story about a dog who builds a rocket and flies to the moon,” also generated the same “unclear” response. Our conclusion: Not only does OpenAI’s tool generate wishy-washy conclusions, it’s not enough to determine which results are AI-generated. Forget OpenAI, and try Hive Moderation Interestingly, OpenAI isn’t the only game in town when it comes to AI detection. An ML engineer at Hive AI created Hive Moderation, a free AI detection tool which performs the same function—only this one seems to work. For one, Hive Moderation returns a confidence percentage, or the likelihood that the text sample contains AI text. In our test of the colonialism question above, (with answers from both ChatGPT and You.com) Hive Moderation said it was “likely to contain AI text,” with a rock-solid 99.9 percent confidence score. The short story about the dog and his rocket generated the same 99.9 percent likelihood, too. Hive Moderation also gave a 0% likelihood that the Alice in Wonderland and Catcher in the Rye snippets were AI-generated, as you’d expect. The Nvidia story on PCWorld.com also passed muster, with an absolute 0 percent confidence that it was authored by an AI. Hive Moderation, however, delivered clear, confident results.Hive Moderation We even tried this prompt in ChatGPT: “Write an explanation of how colonialism has shaped Western civilization, but do it in a way that it’s not obvious an AI wrote it.” Nope—Hive Moderation caught that too. In fact, in every test that we threw at it, Hive Moderation was absolutely confident in which samples were AI generated, and which were absolutely right. So while OpenAI’s “classifier” may be noteworthy because of its OpenAI lineage, it appears that Hive Moderation may be the early front-runner in detecting which text is authored by an AI, and which is not. Professional Software
Corsair’s funky new power supply moves the connectors to the side
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 20:11:54 +0000
Source: PCWorld
On the whole, power supplies haven’t changed much for DIY builders. The back gets mounted to a computer case, while the power supply cables link to the front. If you end up working in a chassis with little clearance for cables, it can transform cable management into a puzzle. Not so with Corsair’s new line of RMx Shift ATX 3.0 modular power supplies, which make the radical change of moving the power supply connections to the side of the PSU. Or at least—the design reduces the issue, depending on your computer case. Narrow cases created with traditional power supplies in mind may not have enough side clearance; you’ll need at least 30mm of space. But if your computer case is compatible, you can take the full benefit of having a side panel of connectors. For starters, you won’t need to make hard angles when routing your cables from the PSU to the motherboard or other components. (Good-bye and good riddance to wrestling bouts with a chunky 24-pin power cable.) That should allow for cleaner, more elegant lines. Corsair The bigger advantage is the ease in connecting cables to the power supply—you can add or remove them without having to unmount the PSU. With a modular power supply, that’s a huge time saver. Because you insert the cables yourself, user error is always an ever-present possibility. Forgetting to add a cable, not seating a cable fully, needing to remove one that you didn’t actually need: These are all common mistakes made while building, and often discovered after you’ve screwed the power supply in place. Corsair is offering these fully modular RMx power supplies in wattages ranging from 750W to 1200W, with every model ATX 3.0 certified, PCIe 5.0 compliant, and backed by a 10-year warranty. You also get a PCIe 5.0 12VHPWR GPU cable in the box, making the SHIFT line compatible with GeForce RTX 40-series cards out of the box. Currently, the $160 850W, $210 1000W, and $270 1200W versions are available now on Newegg and Corsair.com. Computer Components
Unusual collab will make Office much easier to run on Chromebooks
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 19:40:45 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Google is promising a closer collaboration between its ChromeOS, Chromebooks, and Microsoft 365, an unusual commitment given that the two companies are usually fierce rivals in the productivity space. Google said recently that the company will migrate users to a “new integration later this year on ChromeOS, making it easier to install the app and open files.” For most purposes, Chrome OS functions as a primarily web-based experience. Currently, ChromeOS allows users to open Office apps as Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, which are essentially web apps that can be stored and run locally on a PC. The new integration, as Google describes it, will connect the OS more seamlessly with both Office 365 and Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. “Users will be offered a guided setup experience that takes them through the process of installing the Microsoft 365 web app and connecting Microsoft OneDrive to their Chromebook Files app,” Google said in a blog post. “Files will be moved to Microsoft OneDrive when opening in the Microsoft 365 app.” The latter addition is particularly interesting, given that Google usually considers its cloud to be closely tied to its Workspace applications, as does Microsoft. By integrating OneDrive with the Files app, however, the process of moving, viewing, and otherwise managing OneDrive files will be a lot easier than trying to navigate multiple interfaces. It’s worth noting, too, that OneDrive is now closely integrated within the File Explorer app within Windows. Google said that it plans to formally launch the new experience in the coming months, though it will allow testers in its developer and beta channels to try out the program earlier. The story was reported earlier by The Verge. Microsoft has also been particularly sensitive to Chromebooks encroaching on low-end Windows laptops, even designing multiple versions of its Windows operating system to take them on. Windows 10X, whose interface was repurposed to create Windows 11, was eventually cancelled. Microsoft pitched Windows 11 SE as its latest Chromebook killer, though just for the education market. That’s struggled, too. Microsoft still advertises its Surface Laptop SE for $249.99, though just three of the eight resellers Microsoft lists on its website appear to actually sell it: Connection, Douglas Stewart, and Insight. But it’s possible that Microsoft is simply adapting the strategy it adopted in smartphones to ChromeOS. For years, Windows 10 Mobile was Microsoft’s foray into the mobile space. When Windows 10 Mobile went under, Microsoft changed tactics; today, Microsoft has developed many mobile applications for Android phones and tablets, including Office. Having found success with that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy, ChromeOS is apparently next on the list. Chromebooks, Professional Software
A trove of classic calculators can now be emulated online
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 19:08:34 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Before the smartphone, before the Palm Pilot, before…I dunno, actually, I’m not that old. But at some point in the nebulous past, you didn’t have an ounce of nerd cred if there wasn’t some kind of advanced graphing calculator in your backpack. Thanks to the Internet Archive (of the Wayback Machine fame), you can now see how these classic machines operated without having to spend a fortune on eBay. Spotted by Ars Technica, the Calculator Drawer is a collection of emulated calculators that can be run online from any browser. Emulating graphing calculators is nothing new — you can find any number of them for your phone. But this is surely the most complete collection as yet assembled in one place. At launch there are 14 classic models to choose from, mostly from the Texas Instruments catalog. Heavy hitters include the TI-83 Plus, the TI89, and the “big daddy” TI 92. A few models from HP (popular with accountants and economics majors) are present as well, along with the “Electronic Number Muncher” from kid’s electronics manufacturer VTech. And if you really want to nerd out, you can peruse 10 different uploaded text manuals as well. Gadgets
Best free VPNs for Windows in 2023: Cover your tracks
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Free VPNs are a tricky business because you always want to know how the company covers its costs and if it has ulterior motives in offering a free product. Some services pester you to upgrade or just use the free version as advertising for the paid service. Others, however, may host third-party ads, meaning your browsing habits are likely being tracked—which defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place. While we recommend paying for a VPN if you plan to use it in the long term, we understand that sometimes you just need something quick and free or you want to try out a service before opting to pay. Therefore, we’ve curated a list of our favorite free VPNs, which all provide reliable security and good relative speeds. So if you don’t mind the restrictions and possible ads with a free service then our recommendations below are your best bets. If you decide that you want to upgrade to a full-fledged paid service, check out our comprehensive roundup of the best VPN services to see the best VPNs from every category. 1. ProtonVPN – Best overall Pros Fantastic speeds Easy-to-use multi-hop feature Supports TOR over VPN connections Cons Only one device connection with free version MSRP: $96 Best Prices Today: $96 at ProtonVPN AG When it comes to Windows and free VPNs you can’t beat ProtonVPN. The free version only allows one device connection at a time per account, but that’s all you need if Windows is your focus. ProtonVPN’s speeds are second best in our tests of the paid services, but ProtonVPN does limit free account speeds somewhat to what it calls “Medium speed.” These speeds were entirely acceptable, however, for all the various things you might want to do such as video streaming or regular web browsing. Note, however, that explicit Netflix support is not part of the free offering. We also like ProtonVPN’s app design, which can be expanded to a larger version with an interactive map. Alternatively, it can be reduced to something more like a smartphone app. ProtonVPN requires an email address and password to use the free version and users are limited to three country choices. Read our full Review ProtonVPN 2. Windscribe – Best for multiple devices Pros Simple setup Good performance Great free plan Cons Tricky security track record with 2021 server incident Slow loading of browser extension MSRP: $9.00 per month Best Prices Today: $9.00 at Windscribe Windscribe is the value choice if you want a lot of extra features and fewer limitations than other free services with one big exception. Namely, that you only get 10GB worth of data per month. That is not enough for a lot of video streaming, but it’s fine for everything else. As a trade-off there are no device limits and you get 10 location choices, which is more than most free services. The Windscribe app is also pretty straightforward Windscribe requires you to sign up with an email address. Read our full Review Windscribe Pro 3. Hide.me – Also recommended Pros Good download speeds Easy-to-use Windows app No-logs promise Cons Speeds were inconsistent in our tests One device at a time MSRP: $100 Best Prices Today: $100 at eVenture Ltd. Hide.me is a mix of both ProtonVPN and Windscribe. Similar to Windscribe you only get 10GB per month with the free version, and like ProtonVPN you only get one device at a time. Country choices are narrowed down to four with two regions in the U.S. for a total of five location options. Read our full Review Hide.me What to look for in a free VPN on Windows When you’re shopping for a free service for Windows the criteria are similar to what you’d consider for a general free VPN. You want a service that is not displaying third-party ads or harvesting your browsing habits. Privacy is key with VPNs and even on a free one there’s no reason to compromise. Next, you can consider what’s important to you such as ease of use with an interface you understand, speeds, and country choices. That last point is going to be fairly restricted when going free, because that’s standard practice for free VPNs. Nevertheless, if you want a U.S. connection, for example, most free services will offer that. If you’re hoping to use Netflix overseas with a free VPN you may be out of luck. Sometimes it might work on a regular U.S. server, but for the most part Netflix streaming requires specialty servers provided as part of a premium package. Other streaming services, however, may not be as picky as Netflix is when it comes to detecting VPN connections. How we test VPNs All VPNs tested on Windows go through a three-day process. Each day we test the VPN speeds in five different countries plus the base speed without a VPN connection. Each country is tested three times per day taking the average. When the testing is done we take the average of the base speed, and the overall global average of the VPN speeds. Then we represent the drop from the base speed as a percentage. The idea is to show how generally good a VPN is across all locations, and not just Europe or the United States. We also don’t show specific megabytes-per-second speed since those speeds can vary greatly, but how much dip to expect as a percentage can be more generalized. Free VPNs can sometimes hamper the speeds compared to what you see on free VPNs; however, that’s not as much of a concern here as all the VPNs we recommend have good speeds regardless. Finding a good free VPN for Windows is fairly simple. It all depends on whether you prioritize features like unlimited data usage, extra features, or a higher number of country options. FAQ 1. What is a VPN? A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts your internet traffic and disguises your identity while you browse the internet. A VPN is mainly used for two reasons. The first is that it can anonymize your internet traffic and keep your ISP or any other outsiders from snooping on what you’re doing. Secondly, a VPN allows you to connect to servers all across the world. This is great for accessing location-restricted content, such as streaming services. All you have to do is connect to the appropriate country’s server and voilà, you’re computer appears to websites as if it were located in that country. 2. Will a VPN affect my internet speeds? Yes, but not as bad as you may think. A VPN can have an effect on your internet speeds, but nowadays it’s largely the exception rather than the norm. When you connect to a VPN, it reroutes your traffic through its own servers. Depending on where these servers are located, the extra distance added to travel to and from those servers may lead to a higher ping—this is especially relevant if you are gaming. Also, VPNs encrypt your data, which can lead to slower download and upload speeds. Since it takes time to encrypt and decrypt your data, this can affect everything from page load times to video buffering speeds. Thankfully, advances in encryption technology and server optimization by modern VPN providers have lessened these impacts significantly. 3. Does a VPN protect against malware and computer viruses? Unfortunately, no, a VPN will not protect you from malware or viruses. If you use a VPN and accidentally happen to click on a malicious link or download a file with a hidden virus, there isn’t anything a VPN on its own can do to help. It is highly recommended that you use an antivirus program or find a VPN provider with additional threat protection features to help keep you safe while browsing and downloading. 4. Are VPNs legal to use? Yes, in the U.S. and many other countries, using a VPN is completely legal. Just be careful as some websites might try to block VPN connections for their own reasons and this can lead to confusion. They are legal to use, but the terms of private websites can trump that. Also note that while using a VPN is legal, some of the activities done while using a VPN might be illegal. Activities such as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing dark web markets are both illegal with and without a VPN. Thinking of using your VPN for something other than with a Fire Stick? Check out more of our best VPN roundups to help you make the right decision: Best VPN for gamingBest free VPNBest free VPN for ChromeBest VPN for streaming Netflix Personal Software
The first ferocious RTX 4090 gaming laptop is now available to pre-order
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:47:45 +0000
Source: PCWorld
The Gigabyte Aorus 17X, one of the first high-end gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, is now available to pre-order on Amazon ahead of the official launch on February 8th. The 40-series graphics cards are packing a tremendous amount of power, which is good news for content creators and hardcore gamers. According to Nvidia, “this is the biggest leap in generational performance ever while running much more efficiently than before.” If Nvidia’s claim proves to be true, then you’re in for something special. Let’s dive right into the details. Gigabyte The Aorus 17X is rocking an Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU, an Nvidia GeForce 4090 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 2TB of SSD storage. Those specs are absolutely jaw-dropping and I mean that in the best way possible. This machine should be able to chew through most games on High or Ultra graphics, and it should be a beast for content creation as well. The spacious 17.3-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1440 and a refresh rate of 240Hz. Based on those numbers alone, the visuals should be damned near flawless. The bezels are super narrow, too. This specific configuration is available to pre-order for a whopping $3,899 on Amazon. It’s wildly expensive, sure, but the power is unreal. If you’ve been on the hunt for the ultimate gaming experience, the Aorus 17X may very well deliver on that front. Laptops
Take $500 off Samsung’s swanky AMOLED convertible laptop, today only
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:02:44 +0000
Source: PCWorld
The Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 (it’s a mouthful, I know) is a fantastic convertible laptop for productivity or personal use. Luckily for you, it’s on sale today. Best Buy’s currently selling it for $999.99, which is a savings of $500. As of this writing, the deal ends in 15 hours. That means you better swoop in sooner rather than later. However, before you jump the gun, let’s take a quick look at the specs and features, as this laptop has a lot to offer. The Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 features a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s enough oomph for day-to-day tasks like checking e-mail and streaming video as well as basic productivity. The 13.3-inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. Given the specs, the display should produce vivid colors and deep blacks. It’s also a 2-in-1 laptop, which means you can swing the screen around 360-degrees. This is a phenomenal, limited-time deal. Act now! Get the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 laptop for $999.99 at Best Buy Laptops
4TB Samsung T7 Shield review: The best portable SSD gets bigger
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsFast 1GBps sustained transfersExcellent real world performanceVast 4TB capacitySvelte and handsomeConsNot cheapSmall 4K performance glitch under CrystalDiskMark 8 writing 4K filesOur VerdictIf you need a lot of capacity in your shirt pocket, there’s nothing better than the Samsung T7 Shield 4TB for most users. It’s a very good external 10Gbps USB SSD made better. Price When Reviewed$469 Best Prices Today: Samsung T7 4TB Retailer Price Not Available View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Though we’ve already reviewed the Samsung T7 Shield, we couldn’t resist revisiting it for the just-announced $429 4TB capacity. It was a great drive already—our favorite external drive, in fact—but now it’s at home with massive data sets. This new version of the already-excellent Samsung T7 Shield is bigger and faster than ever. What’s not to love? Design The Samsung T7 Shield 4TB is basically an NVMe SSD nestled inside a USB 3.2 10Gbps housing. The SSD would likely hold up nicely if the enclosure offered 20Gbps transfer speeds, but Samsung stuck with the older, far more common USB 3.2 implementation. The T7 Shield measures 3.5-inches long by 2.3-inches wide by 0.5-inches thick, and weighs just under four ounces. That’s a little heavier than the T7 Touch, but wrapped in a silicone protective sleeve, that’s to be expected. Samsung’s 4TB T7 Shield is a fast and capacious external 10Gbps SSD. The new 4TB version will set you back the aforementioned $429, but the Samsung T7 Shield is also available in 1TB and 2TB capacities for $160 and $290 respectively (though those models are on sale for roughly 40 percent off at the time of writing). The drive is sold in three colors: blue or beige, in addition to the black model Samsung sent us. I performed a couple of drop tests from about three feet onto hard surfaces, and with the drive being solid state and protected, there were no ill consequences. Indeed, it feels nice in the hand should you find yourself in a David versus Goliath circumstance. The T7 Shield’s USB connector is Type-C, and both USB Type-A to Type-C and Type-C to Type-C cables are included. As to the IP65 rating, the 6 means the Shield can ward off most particulate matter, while the 5 means you can spray it with water, if not immerse it. A 7 would indicate that immersion up to three meters is survivable. No doubt the bare Type-C port has something to do with the lesser rating. If you want the complete run down on Ingress Protection ratings, this article on our sister publication TechHive will explain it. This new version of the already-excellent Samsung T7 Shield is bigger and faster than ever. What’s not to love? While the T7 Shield lacks the T7 Touch’s fingerprint reader, it can still be password-secured using Samsung’s Portable SSD software (shown below). To use this feature, said software will need to be present on any computer you want to access the drive from. Honestly, it you want secure, opt for the T7 Touch, which—though a lesser performer—will save you lots of time and frustration by bypassing password entry. Alas, there’s no 4TB capacity of the Touch yet. Bummer. Samsung provides its Toolbox software to secure the drive via password. The software will need to be on any PC you want to access the drives from if you choose secure mode. Performance The sustained large file performance (over 1GBps in some cases) of the 4TB version of Samsung’s T7 Shield was no surprise. More capacity generally means more NAND for caching and better sustained throughput–especially with large data sets such as our single 450GB file. However, the 4TB capacity did glitch slightly in the CrystalDiskMark 8, 4K random write with 32 queues and a single thread test, scoring half what most other drives do. This was not reflected in real world performance and all the other numbers are an overall improvement over the 2TB version we previously tested. In CrystalDiskMark 8’s sequential write tests, the 4TB T7 Shield aced the competition. It took a retest to see it, but the 4TB Shield proved the fastest 10Gbps SSD we’ve tested, finishing only behind the three 20Gbps drives we’ve tested. The 4TB T7 Shield also raced by the competition in our 48GB transfer tests. The 4TB T7 Shield was also the fastest 10Gbps external SSD we’ve tested writing 450GB, and somewhat surprisingly, bested two of the 20Gbps drives we’ve tested. It placed second overall to the WD Black P50–a 20Gbps external gaming SSD. Other than the slight glitch under CrystalDiskMark 8 in the 4K writes, the 4TB T7 Shield is easily the fastest 10Gbps external SSD we’ve tested. As said glitch didn’t affect real world operations, we’re assigning it little weight. Vast and quite fast The Samsung T7 Shield is a great external SSD in any capacity, but the 4TB version was a revelation. Capable of handling the largest end-user data sets, it also features excellent performance, and a decent price per terabyte. It’s great stuff for storing your stuff. External drive tests are run using Windows 11 64-bit on an MSI MEG X570/AMD Ryzen 3700X combo with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card, and an ASMedia ASM3242 USB 3.2×2 card. Copy tests utilize an ImDisk RAM disk using 58GB of the 64GB total memory. Each test is performed on a newly formatted and TRIM’d drive so the results are optimal. Over time, as a drive fills up, performance will decrease due to less NAND for caching and other factors. The performance numbers shown apply only to the drive we were shipped and of the capacity tested. SSD performance can vary by capacity due to more or fewer chips to shotgun reads/writes across and the amount of NAND available for secondary caching. Vendors also occasionally swap components, though we’ve never known Samsung to do so. Storage
Cyberpunk 2077 levels up frame rates with Nvidia’s DLSS 3
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 14:59:32 +0000
Source: PCWorld
It’s been a little over two years since CDProjekt Red’s sci-fi opus landed, and the general consensus is that, yeah, it’s pretty much fixed now. While Cyberpunk 2077 was plagued with bugs and performance issues at launch, the developer has worked tirelessly to improve it. The latest update brings support for Nvidia’s DLSS 3, which can work with the latest GeForce cards to dramatically improve frame rates even with demanding effects enabled. For the uninitiated, DLSS stands for Deep Learning Super Sampling. It’s an incredibly complex technique that combines custom hardware processing with hundreds or thousands of hours of graphics analysis for each game. By combining this deep neural network processing with dedicated cores on RTX cards, it can allow games to enable intense effects like ray tracing without the huge hit to framerates that normally result. DLSS 3 is particularly impressive, as seen on preview builds of Cyberpunk 2077 in our RTX 4090 review, leveraging Nvidia’s new “Frame Generation” technology that inserts a fully AI-generated frame between every GPU-generated frame to supercharge overall frame rates. With high resolution and RTX-branded ray tracing effects enabled, DLSS 3 can triple or even quadruple the frame rate versus the game running without DLSS. DLSS 3 made a massive difference to Cyberpunk’s performance in our testing. (RT = ray tracing.)Brad Chacos/IDG Unfortunately you’re going to need some serious hardware power in order to take advantage of it. Only RTX 40-series cards can use it — while older cards should see some improvements on DLSS version 1 or 2, they won’t be anywhere near as dramatic. The RTX 4090 is a monster GPU with dlss 3 support GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition Read our review MSRP: $1,599 Best Prices Today: $1599.99 at Best Buy Video Games
Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 13:43:28 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Picking the right laptop for your lifestyle is hard work. Do you spring for a traditional clamshell or a versatile convertible? What about battery life and ports? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t sweat it. To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best laptop deals available today. From ridiculously fast gaming machines to lightweight 2-in-1’s, we’ve got a plethora of options to pick from below. We’ve also included a shopping advice section at the end of the article. For more laptop options, check out our roundup of the best laptops. The best laptop deals in 2023 Samsung Chromebook 4 From: Amazon Was: $229.99 Now: $128 ($101.99 off) Samsung If you’re looking for a barebones machine, the Samsung Chromebook 4 is a good option. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics 600, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. That’s not a ton of power, but it’s enough for everyday tasks like checking e-mail and browsing the web. The display is on the smaller side at 11.6-inches and has a resolution of 1366×768. It’s not the sharpest picture we’ve ever seen on a Chromebook, but it’s fine for scrolling through social media and such. For a little over $100, it’s a good deal. See the Samsung Chromebook 4 at Amazon Acer Aspire Vero From: Amazon Was: $699.99 Now: $578.49 ($121.50 off) Acer The Acer Aspire Vero is a fantastic option for eco-conscious buyers, as it’s made of recycled materials. It’s no slouch in the performance department either given the specs. This laptop has an Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage—a killer package for under $500. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like watching Hulu, writing papers, browsing social media, and so on. The 15.6-inch display should provide clean visuals thanks to the 1920×1080 resolution. This is an awesome deal for an everyday laptop. See the Acer Aspire Vero at Amazon HP Samsung Chromebook Plus From: Amazon Was: $499 Now: $269.99 ($229.01 off) Samsung The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a good option for someone who needs a lightweight convertible. It has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage. It’s a little light on storage and memory, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you store most of your stuff in the cloud. The 11-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 1900×1200, and the Chromebook has two USB-C ports. It’s powerful enough for everyday browser tasks like checking e-mail, writing papers, listening to music, and so on. The 2-in-1 also weighs a little under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. Plus, it comes with a stylus for doodling or note taking. See the Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 From: Best Buy Was: $1,199.99 Now: $899.99 ($300 off) Microsoft The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a nice laptop for productivity or everyday use. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 2496×1664 and is touch-enabled. According to Microsoft, this machine can last up to 17 hours on a single charge. That’s positively bananas. However, with the brightness turned up, that number might be different in real world use. This is a great deal and a good pick for a student or young professional. Happy shopping. See the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 at Best Buy Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED From: Newegg Was: $1,399.99 Now: $999.99 ($400 off) Asus The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED is sleek, zippy, and $400 off. It’s a fantastic deal, especially for a laptop with an OLED display. This machine is rocking an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. This laptop is designed for creative folks, so it’s not that unusual to see one with a discrete graphics card to go along with the other potent internals. Still, it’s a welcome boost of power. he 15.6-inch OLED display is rather roomy with a resolution of 1920×1080. Asus even claims the display has a maximum brightness level of 400 nits, which is nothing to sneeze at. This is a fabulous deal and a solid pick for students or young creative professionals. See the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED at Newegg LG Gram (2022) From: Amazon Was: $1,499.99 Now: $1,149.90 ($350.09 off) LG The LG Gram (2022) is the perfect laptop for frequent travelers, as it weighs just 2.54 lbs. Don’t let the lightweight form factor fool you, though. It’s packing a good amount of power in its thin frame. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This laptop should be capable of whizzing through most tasks like checking e-mail, streaming video, spreadsheet work, and so on. The 15-inch display features super narrow bezels and a resolution of 1920×1080. Overall, this laptop is a steal, especially at $500 off. Get it now. See the LG Gram (2022) at Amazon Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon From: Lenovo Was: $2,399 Now: $1,199.50 ($1,199.50 off) Lenovo Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is the perfect laptop for productivity. It’s packing an Intel Core i5-1240P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. That means it’s capable of handling tasks like spreadsheet work, Word processing, videoconferencing, and so on. The 14-inch 1200p display has narrow bezels and, according to Lenovo, a maximum brightness level of 400 nits. The display’s taller 16:10 aspect ratio makes scrolling through documents a heck of a lot easier, too. There’s also a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint reader. If you’re looking for a proper business laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is well worth considering. See the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon at Lenovo Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 From: Newegg Was: $2,199.99 Now: $2,057.99 ($173 off) Asus The Asus ROG Strix Scar gaming laptop is an absolute powerhouse. It comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. This laptop will chew through most games on max settings. The 15.6-inch display has resolution of 1920×1080, a blistering 300Hz refresh rate, and a 3ms response time, so competitive gamers will find a lot to like here. Regarding connectivity options, you’re getting one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one HDMI, and one 3.5mm combo audio jack. The keyboard is also an optical mech keyboard, which uses infrared light to detect key presses. See the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 at Newegg MSI Summit E13 From: Newegg Was: $1,499 Now: $599 ($900 off) MSI The MSI Summit E13 is a luxurious convertible laptop with touchscreen functionality. It has an Intel Core i5-1155G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage. In other words, this laptop should zip right through day-to-day tasks. The 13.4-inch touchscreen has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a tall 16:10 aspect ratio, which is perfect binging your favorite Netflix show or scrolling through work documents. The laptop itself also weighs just under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. See the MSI Summit E13 at Newegg Acer Aspire 5 A515 From: Amazon Was: $399.99 Now: $349.71 ($50.28 off) Acer If you’re looking for a solid everyday laptop, you’ve come to the right place. The Acer Aspire 5 has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard SSD storage. The processor is a Ryzen 3 3350U, which has four cores, four threads, and a maximum boost to 3.5GHz. It’s packed with modern features like Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader for biometric logins. Acer starts this laptop off with Windows 11 in S mode, but there’s no reason not to do a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11. This is being sold by a third-party retailer, but Amazon is handling shipping, which means it falls under the company’s return policy. See the Acer Aspire 5 A515 at Amazon Gigabyte Acer Nitro 5 From: Amazon Was: $929.99 Now: $794 ($135.99 off) Acer The Acer Nitro 5 is a fantastic budget gaming laptop. It features an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This laptop is powerful enough to run most games on medium to high graphics settings depending on the game but will struggle if you try to play with strenuous ray tracing effects turned on. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080, an aspect ratio of 16:9, and a refresh rate of 144Hz. That’s perfect for 1080p gaming. If you’re looking to save some serious cash, then the Acer Nitro 5 is definitely worth considering. See the Acer Nitro 5 at Amazon Lenovo Legion 5 Pro From: eBay Was: $1,969.99 Now: $1,399 ($570 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a blisteringly fast gaming laptop. It has a AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That means you should be able to run most competitive games on high or ultra graphics. The 2560×1600 display measures 16-inches and has a refresh rate of 165Hz. In other words, you can expect a sharp and vibrant picture. For connectivity options, it has one HDMI, three USB 3.2 Gen 1, three USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a headphone/microphone combo. This is a super hot deal and it’s selling out fast (20 sold in the last 24 hours as of this writing), so you better grab it now before it’s too late. See the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro at eBay Gigabyte G5 KE From: Amazon Was: $1,199 Now: $899 ($300 off) Gigabyte The Gigabyte G5 KE gaming laptop is fast, sleek, and $260 off. It comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-12500H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This machine should be more than capable of running most games on medium to high settings. The 15.6-inch 1080p display is rather spacious with a refresh rate of 144Hz. For connectivity options, this thing is rocking one HDMI, one USB 2.0, one USB 3.2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Type-C, one Thunderbolt 4, one mini DisplayPort 1.4, one audio in/out, one RJ-45, and one MicroSD card reader. That’s a lot of connectivity right there, which is perfect for those times when you want to hook up to an external monitor or mouse. See the Gigabyte G5 KE at Amazon Asus ROG Flow X13 2-in-1 From: Amazon Was: $1,359.99 Now: $1,149 ($210.99 off) Asus Rarely do we see 2-in-1 gaming machines, but that’s exactly what the Asus ROG Flow X13 is. This unique machine has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can rotate the screen all the way around. The device weighs a little under three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling companion. Despite the smaller size, it still manages to pack a punch. It has an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. That’s plenty peppy for playing most games on low to medium graphics, but Asus also sells an external RTX 3080 GPU that can connect to the laptop if you need even more firepower when your stationary. The display measures 13.4-inches and has a resolution of 1920×1080. It’s not the biggest or most vibrant screen, but it’s perfectly fine for most games. This is a fantastic deal, especially if you’re looking for a gaming laptop you can travel with. See the Asus ROG Flow X13 at Amazon Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming From: B&H Was: $2,029 Now: $1,399 ($530 off) Lenovo If you’re on the prowl for serious graphics power, the Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming is definitely worth considering. It has an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage. That’s powerful enough to run most games on high or ultra graphics. The 15.6-inch display is roomy and has a resolution of 1920×1080 as well as a refresh rate of 165Hz. It’s also G-Sync compatible, which helps with any screen tearing or stuttering issues. This is an awesome deal. Availability is limited, though, so you’ll need to act fast. See the Lenogo Legion 5i Gaming at B&H Laptop deal buying tips If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available. A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 11-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-11510U, or the Core i7-12800H; or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart. Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook. Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary. Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible. Updated on January 31 with new pricing and to remove expired deals. Laptops
Windows 11’s big annual update comes to your PC: 5 features to try first
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:45:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
You may have found that your Windows PC recently updated itself, whether or not you wanted it to, as Microsoft recently began automatically upgrading Windows 11 PCs with its big annual update. It’s been an optional upgrade since its September release. But that’s okay: there are plenty of new things to check out in the huge Windows 11 2022 Update, codenamed 22H2. The system has been given a bit of spit and polish pretty much everywhere — you probably noticed some of the more obvious interface changes, like new icons for changing volume. Here are five of the more substantial changes you should check out first in the Windows 11 2022 Update. Clipchamp: A new, free video editor Windows now has a new default video editor: Clipchamp. As a sort of spiritual successor to the likes of Windows Movie Maker, it’s simpler and more accessible than professional video editors — the kind of thing you can use for a quick cut or fade-in if you’re sharing a YouTube video with friends. The tool includes the usual basic timeline and editing capabilities, and it can upload directly to YouTube, TikTok, and various web storage services.  Mark Hachman / Foundry As of Windows 11 version 22H2, Clipchamp should be included in your operating system — just search for it in the Start Menu. If it’s not there, you can download it for free from the Microsoft Store. Here’s a full guide on the basics for this new tool. Tabs in File Explorer  Power users have been waiting for this one for a long time. Tabs are a feature that more advanced alternative file browsers have been using for decades, and Microsoft finally—finally—delivered a tabbed File Explorer in the Windows 11 2022 Update. Here’s a full guide on how to use them. Mark Hachman / IDG To open a new tab in any Explorer window, just click the “+” button in the top most menu bar. Tabs work just like you’re used to in any modern web browser, though you can’t click and drag them into a new Explorer window (yet). While you’re here, check out the new, streamlined left-hand menu, with faster access to system folders and your most used locations.  Folders in the Start Menu  If you like to have a lot of apps within easy reach in the Start Menu, you’ll love the new folders feature. It works more or less just like folders do on the homescreen for Android or iOS (or perhaps more pertinently, Chrome OS). Any two or more shortcuts can be combined into a folder, and any folder can have a custom name.  Michael Crider/IDG To get started, just click and drag one Start Menu icon onto another. When you see both of them shrink, release the mouse button and a folder will be created automatically. Click the new folder, then click the title to rename it. Any additional programs can be dragged in or out of the folder, and you can have as many folders as you like.  New ways to use the Snap Bar  The Snap Bar is one of the most useful multitasking tools in newer versions of Windows. You might have seen it if you frequently drag windows around by their title bar: it’s that thing that lets you move them to halves, thirds, or quadrants of your screen easily. But there are new ways to access it.  Michael Crider/IDG Hover your mouse cursor (don’t click!) on the maximize window button, in between the close (X) and minimize (_) buttons in the upper-right corner. You’ll see the six most common layout options. Click on any of the sub-grids in this pop-up to send the window to that location. You can also activate this view by typing Win + Z, then a number, then a number again to “drill down” into the options.  Revamped NotePad NotePad is one of the oldest, simplest tools in all of Windows, but this basic text editor is a little more capable than you might remember. In the most basic version, it now follows the dark or light color scheme in your personalization settings.  Michael Crider/IDG Microsoft might have even more in store for the humble NotePad. As you read this, testing versions of Windows 11 are being updated with tabs in NotePad in a similar addition to Windows Explorer. Whether or not this will come to the full release remains to be seen.  Want to discover even more cool computer tricks? Check out our roundup of 10 little-known Windows features that will blow your mind. Windows
Switch faster between Chrome tabs with this keyboard shortcut
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Navigating between tabs in Chrome with a mouse is a slow method—no matter how many tabs you have open or how fast your reflexes are. You still have to transfer your hand to another object (whether that’s an actual mouse or a trackpad), then move the cursor to the desired tab, and then click. A keyboard shortcut is much more efficient. You can often jump straight to the tab you want in the same time it takes to put your hand on a mouse. How? With this set of keystrokes: Ctrl + a number between 1 and 8. Chrome assigns a number to the first eight tabs it has open, starting from the left. If one of the tabs you need falls within that group, you only have to press Ctrl + the number of that tab to switch directly to it. Ctrl + 1 gets you to the first tab, while Ctrl + 8 takes you to the last tab in the set. When collapsed, tab groups (like the one in magenta-pink shown here) do not count as a tab for this keyboard shortcut.PCWorld What if you have more than eight tabs open? Ctrl + 9 will jump you to the last tab you opened—the one farthest right in the row. If you have exactly nine tabs open, this one style of keyboard shortcut is all you need for still directly hopping to the tab you want. Otherwise, if you have more than nine tabs open, you’ll want to memorize a second set of keystrokes: Ctrl + Page Up or Page down. This allows you to move to the tab to the immediate left (Page Up) or right (Page Down) of the tab you’re in. So if you have a bunch of tabs open, you may find it faster to pop over to tab #8 or the last tab opened, and then work forward or backward, respectively.  Of course, once you’ve got dozens of tabs open, these keyboard shortcuts are only good for popping over to your first and last opened tabs—I most often use them for pinned tabs. If you hoard tabs as I do, you’re better off searching your tabs instead. (Which you can do with Ctrl + Shift + a, if you were wondering.) These tab-focused shortcuts are just the tip of the iceberg for time-saving keystrokes—if you like using them, definitely check out 10 Chrome keyboard shortcuts you should know. You’ll likely come to lean on these daily. Internet, Personal Software
You can now turn on Gmail package tracking in Android and iOS
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 20:54:42 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Back in November, Google promised help with tracking shipments—you know, all the many things we bought as gifts for ourselves loved ones. No need to click through email links or copy and paste tracking numbers into a different website to get details on our package’s location. You could just open the shipment notification email to get that info. That feature didn’t materialize in time to help us with the deluge of holiday parcels, but it is live now at last. You’ll have to manually enable package tracking yourself and, for the moment, it’s only available on Android and iOS devices through the Gmail app. To turn the feature on, open the Gmail app and tap on the hamburger icon in the upper left. For Android, scroll down and select Settings, then choose an email account. In these account-specific settings, scroll toward the middle of the list to find Package tracking and check the box. For iOS, scroll down to Settings > Data Privacy, then check the box for Package tracking. Settings in the Android version of the Gmail app.PCWorld Now when you open a shipment email, you should see dynamically added information at the top with the delivery status—whether it’s shipped, in transit, or delivered. Don’t use the Gmail app on your phone? The web version is presumably just around the corner. In the meanwhile, you can use the downtime to clean up your inbox a little. Internet
The fastest VPN 2023: We identify the speediest performers
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 19:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
When looking for a top-notch VPN, the two most important things to look for are privacy and speed. While privacy is crucial to a good VPN, speed should not be overlooked. Faster speeds mean quicker file downloads and website load times, a better streaming experience, and just a better all-around experience. To find the fastest VPN, the two most important factors are download and upload speeds. Download speeds are most likely the primary concern because when using the internet, it is imperative to get data from remote servers as quickly as possible. However, upload speeds can be equally as important for some. Gamers, for example, need low server ping in order to register their actions as quickly as possible. When evaluation VPN connection speeds, we look at both download and upload speeds, focusing on the percentage of the base speed that is maintained (or exceeded). That percentage of speed that is retained is the best measure for the true experience of using a particular VPN. This is due to the fact that numbers can differ quite a bit from ISP to ISP, device to device, or connection type to connection type so retained relative speed is only constant. We’ve tested numerous VPNs and put their servers through countless speed tests to determine the fastest services on average. We then put together a list of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. Read below to see our picks for the fastest VPN, as well as our recommendations for best choice for upload speeds and the VPN with the best speeds while staying as private as possible. If you’re looking for even more VPN options, check out our comprehensive roundup of the best VPNs in all categories. Updated 01/23/2023: Check out our latest review of IPVanish. This appealing U.S.-based VPN has made great improvements to its server spread and speed in recent years and they now have an independently verified no-log policy to top it all off. 1. Hotspot Shield – Fastest VPN, period Pros Very fast Large country selection and plenty of servers Cons Domain visits are recorded, though not tied to you Expensive MSRP: $7.99 per month Best Prices Today: $7.99 at Aura To readers of our VPN reviews this first choice will come as no surprise. The fastest VPN we’ve tested is HotSpot Shield and it’s not even close. HSS is in a class of its own, retaining 67 percent of the base speed. That is simply a standout score. HSS has its issues, as we haven’t been fans of the company’s privacy policy, though it’s slowly getting better. Of course, it may simply be that to provide the speeds that it does HSS requires the analytics it collects. We can’t really say. Regardless, if you’re interested in pure download speeds and nothing else matters then HSS is the one you want. Read our full Review Hotspot Shield 2. ProtonVPN – Second-fastest overall, fastest upload speeds Pros Fantastic speeds Easy-to-use multi-hop feature Supports TOR over VPN connections Cons Expensive MSRP: $96 Best Prices Today: $96 at ProtonVPN AG The second place winner is ProtonVPN, which is still quite a ways back at around 57 percent of the base download speed. ProtonVPN is expensive compared to other services, but the privacy policy is better than HSS in terms of the amount of data collected from its users. It’s not as fast as HSS, but ProtonVPN is about as close as you can get with an improved privacy policy. Upload speeds are a different story. In that competition, HSS doesn’t even crack the top 20. Proton, however, is the leader there, retaining more than 80 percent of the base upload speed. If you want something that offers a higher degree of privacy, and has top-rated download and upload speeds, then ProtonVPN is the way to go. ProtonVPN also has extra features that may interest some, such as a multi-hop VPN, called SecureCore, support for Netflix and other streaming services, and a few TOR-friendly routers to boot. Other honorable mentions for upload speeds include Ivacy, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Private Internet Access. Any of those VPNs will do the job nicely if upload speeds are a bigger concern than downloads. Ivacy, Nord, and Express are also excellent choices for extra features that go beyond just upload and download speeds, from various locations around the globe. These services also promise features similar to ProtonVPN such as Netflix compatibility, multi-hop VPNs, and more. Read our full Review ProtonVPN 3. Mullvad – The most private speed demon Pros Good speeds Higher level of anonymity possible than with most VPN services Windows desktop is easy to use Cons Not guaranteed to work with Netflix Lacks the extra services that some VPNs offer No password protection for your account MSRP: $6.88 per month Best Prices Today: £5 at Amagicom AB If you don’t want to compromise on privacy and anonymity, while still getting solid speeds, then Mullvad is the best choice. This super-simple VPN supports connections via 38 different countries, and it costs 5 Euros per month (around $5.70 at this writing). We’ve often referred to Mullvad as the “Swiss bank account” version of VPNs, because Mullvad actively resists obtaining any of your personal information. Instead of signing up for an account with the standard email and password, Mullvad assigns you a random account number and that’s it. No birth date or anniversary passwords to give you away. One number and that’s it. In our tests, Mullvad was sixth place for download speeds, though its upload speeds were on the weaker side, maintaining just under 60 percent of the base speed. After Mullvad, we have to turn back again to ProtonVPN since it’s so fast, and the privacy promises are good, though you won’t get the same amount of anonymity as you do with Mullvad, as email and password combos are the norm. Read our full Review Mullvad 4. ExpressVPN – The bronze medalist Pros Consistently good speeds Easy-to-use desktop program Broad device support Cons Logs data transfer amounts More expensive than many competitors MSRP: $6.67 per month Best Prices Today: $6.67 at ExpressVPN Our current all-star as the best VPN overall is a good choice for speeds. It ranks third overall in our download speed tests, retaining more than 53 percent of the base speed in our testing. For uploads, it ranks in the top 20, though the differences in speeds there are much slimmer than in downloads. ExpressVPN is one of the more costly VPNs out there at $100 per year. For that money, however, you get solid speeds, a promise to work with Netflix, split tunneling, and a wide range of device support. The app is also pretty easy to use and there are a wide range of country locations to choose from. Read our full Review ExpressVPN 5. NordVPN – Honorable mention Pros Excellent speeds Enough features to appeal to power users and novices No-logs policy Diskless servers Cons Expensive MSRP: $4.92 per month Best Prices Today: $4.92 at NordVPN Nord regularly appears at the top of many VPN rankings, and it’s no surprise to see it here. In our tests, NordVPN retained 49 percent of the base speed, which is plenty fast. It’s also inside the top 10 for upload speeds. Of all the VPNs here, NordVPN also has to be one of the most feature packed, rivaling ProtonVPN. It supports multi-hop connections, TOR over VPN, ad and tracker blocking at the server level, and a variety of other options. Read our full Review NordVPN How we tested Testing is pretty simple. We test the speeds in five countries on a given day, testing each country location three times. These countries are typically the U.S., the UK, Germany, Australia, and Japan, but that can change depending on the locations the VPN offers and if there are any unique testing requirements. The daily speeds are averaged together to get a daily average speed. We test a total of three days at different times of the day to account for any variation. Then we take the average of each testing day to get an overall average. That overall average is then expressed as a percentage of the base speed. That way the test results provide a sense of how much speed a VPN retains versus hard numbers, which can vary based on internet service providers, routers, and other equipment, time of day, and so on. How to pick a VPN VPNs are a tricky subject. First of all, many security experts often don’t have a very high opinion of VPNs. That’s due in part to shenanigans from early VPN companies, as well as the fact that the entire use of a VPN is based on trust. You have no way of knowing for sure if your service is doing what it says it’s doing, hence the need for trust. VPN companies are going a long way to improve trust with third-party audits and upholding their privacy promises in court. Company leadership So how can you put your trust in a VPN? There are a few steps you can take. First, make sure you know who is behind the company. It’s easier to trust a company if you know where they are located and who is running the show. Next, consider VPNs that aren’t in exotic locations half a world away. You can raise objections about the so-called “Fourteen Eyes” all you want, but if you’re using a VPN to access Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter, then far more sensitive information than your browsing history could potentially be exposed under force of law. Logging policy Once you’re comfortable with the company providing your service, it’s time to see what kind of information they’re logging from your activity, if any. Some VPNs promise to log nothing, some take minimal data to improve their networks, while others log a surprising amount. Ideally, you want a VPN that logs as little data as possible, especially when it comes to which websites you’re visiting–though if speed is your primary concern, you may be able to forgive HotSpot Shield for collecting the TLDs you visit on an anonymized basis. Server count Next, you may want to consider how many servers a VPN has. The more servers there are, the less chance of congestion and reduced speeds. It also makes it easier to switch servers in the same country when you need to for viewing Netflix or other needs. Free vs. paid Finally, you want to be a paying customer with a VPN when possible. Free and paid VPNs can have differing privacy policies, and free VPNs often have paltry data limits that aren’t helpful. If you only need a VPN for a limited time, many services have month-to-month commitments at prices ranging from $5 to $10. Final points After you go down the speed rankings behind HSS and ProtonVPN, the speeds start to group up into tiers pretty quickly within the top 10. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Perfect Privacy make up the third tier after the top two leaders. Then Mullvad, Surfeasy, Private Internet Access, Air VPN, and HMA round out the top 10 for download speeds. The drop-off for upload speeds is much more gradual making any of the services mentioned in the upload section a good choice if this is your primary concern. Speeds aren’t the only consideration one can have for a VPN, but for many people it’s the primary one. We’ll also be looking soon at the best VPNs for other uses including streaming, torrents, mobile, and more. FAQ 1. What does a VPN do? A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts your internet traffic and disguises your identity while browsing the internet. A VPN will anonymize your online traffic and keep your ISP or other third parties from snooping on your internet browsing. Additionally, VPNs allow you to connect to servers all across the world. So if you’re looking to access location-restricted content, such as streaming services, you can connect to the appropriate country’s server and gain access that way. 2. How does a VPN work? A VPN hides your IP address by redirecting it through a remote server hosted by the VPN company. To anyone looking in, the VPN server then becomes the source of your data instead of yourself. These remote servers can be in your own country or located in different countries around the world. All of your network traffic from your computer to the VPN is sent over a secure and encrypted connection.  When connected to a VPN while browsing the internet, the VPN acts as a middleman between your computer and a website. Your computer sends a request to the VPN which then passes it on to a website. The website then sends its response back to the VPN which forwards it through the secure connection to your computer. All of the traffic rerouted through the VPN shows as coming through their server rather than your own computer. This keeps your ISP and other third parties from snooping on your internet activity. 3. Can you use a VPN to watch Netflix? Yes! If you’re located in a country where particular Netflix content isn’t accessible, you can use a VPN server located in a different region to access that content. While certain streaming services try to prevent VPN connections, you can usually find a server that isn’t blocked. Good VPN companies offer thousands of servers in which to connect to from all over the world. If your intended use for a VPN is to watch a streaming service such as Netflix, connection speeds and unblocked server availability will be the most important factors to look out for. (See our roundup of the best VPNs for our recommendation for Netflix streaming, as well as a host of other use cases.) 4. Will a VPN affect my internet speeds? In the past, VPNs were notorious for slowing down internet speeds. But nowadays it’s the exception rather than the norm. When you connect to a VPN, it reroutes your traffic through its own servers. Depending on where these servers are located, the extra distance can lead to a higher ping. While one of the great features of VPNs is to encrypt your data, this can lead to slower download and upload speeds because it takes time to encrypt and decrypt your data—affecting everything from page load times to video buffering speeds. Thankfully, advances in encryption technology and server optimization by modern VPN providers have significantly lessened these impacts. 5. Do VPNs protect against malware and computer viruses? Unfortunately, no, a VPN will not protect you from malware or viruses. If you use a VPN and accidentally click on a malicious link or download a file containing a virus, there isn’t anything a VPN can do to help. In conjunction with a VPN, it is highly recommended that you use an antivirus program. Alternatively, you can find a VPN provider that offers additional threat protection features to help keep you safe. VPN
Today’s whimsical Google Doodle game is like a playable Studio Ghibli film
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 17:13:34 +0000
Source: PCWorld
I’m not sure about you, but Google Doodles bring me tremendous joy. Google occasionally makes fun alterations to their logo to celebrate holidays, achievements, historical events, and so on. Today’s interactive Google Doodle game lets you make delectable bubble tea for your furry friends. The artwork is cute and reminds me of a Studio Ghibli film. Bubble tea also happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine (one of many), so I couldn’t wait to jump in and play. Whaaaaa, today's Google Doodle is a bubble tea game!!! 😭😭😭🧋🧋🧋 pic.twitter.com/o7XcdWzmjh— Steph Orme, Ph.D. (@stephorme on Hive) (@stephanieorme) January 29, 2023 The premise is simple and easy. You’re tasked with making different types of bubble tea for an array of customers. You fill the oblong-shaped cup up to the dotted line with tapioca balls (aka boba), milk, and syrup. Some drinks require more tapioca balls than others and if you mess up the measurement, then you’ll disappoint the cart owner (cue the sad trombone noise). It’s a fun game that’ll definitely make you smile. It’s also one of the more unique Google Doodle’s I’ve seen in a while and a great celebration of the Taiwanese drink. If you’re interested, you can read all about the history of bubble tea on Google’s Doodle page. Although it has deep roots in Taiwanese tea culture, bubble tea really started to take shape in the 1980s. Nowadays, there are so many different flavors and versions of this drink. If you haven’t given bubble tea a try yet, you’re really missing out! And if you want to delve even deeper into the fun, check out our roundup of 14 popular Google Doodle games you can still play. They’re a hoot! Internet
Building a tiny PC? This accessory can save your cables from a sad fate
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 17:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Assembling a small form factor PC is all the rage these days. (Even if some people still like their builds big and burly.) But downsizing can create unexpected problems if you’re used to a mid-tower sized case—like cables getting chewed up by fans. Ideally, your little case will offer good cable management, but sometimes your components fit together in a way that results in wonky routing. And, if the chassis lacks adequate cable tie-off points, your power or fan cables may end up running a little too close to the fan blades. Cue gnarly sounds and mangled cable sleeves. This 4-pack of 120mm fan grills on Amazon costs just $8.Easycargo / Amazon Thankfully, you can easily fix this problem with an inexpensive accessory: fan grills. They’re not used as often in PC builds these days, but you’ll find them readily available at the usual stores like Amazon and Newegg. A multi-pack costs $10 or less. Installing these with your fans will keep the cables crossing within the narrow interior of a small form factor case safe. Not all SFF cases will need them—you’ll be able to tell after finishing the build if you might need to place an order. You can even go a step further and buy fancy fan shrouds, but that starts to border into pure aesthetics (and thoughtful consideration about effect on airflow). But otherwise, the basic style of fan grill will more than suffice, allowing you to enjoy your build without worry. Computer Components
The best laptops for live streaming 2023: Best overall, most portable, and more
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 15:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
PC gaming isn’t just a pastime anymore. In fact, it’s entirely possible to turn your hobby into a very profitable business with live streaming. You can broadcast yourself as you play your favorite games to fans from all over the world. But to become the next Twitch superstar, you need a computer capable of HD streaming to all of those adoring fans. A good live streaming laptop requires high-performance components such as a powerful GPU and a fast CPU. It’s not always easy to discern which laptops will be optimal so we rounded up our top picks for live streaming to help. These picks not only deliver lightning-fast GPU and CPU performance, but some of them are even portable enough to hit the road with. Knowing that not everyone is already making mega-star streamer bucks, we’ve also kept various budgets in mind. So, whether you’re just getting started with a tight budget or you’re looking to take the next step and upgrade to a premium setup, we’ve got you covered with these picks. For even more laptop options, see our comprehensive roundup of the best laptops for all purposes, at all price points. Of course, if you’re serious about live streaming you’ll also need a good mic. So check out our picks for the best USB microphones to help your voice come through crystal clear while you thank your subscribers or trash talk the opposition. 1. Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 – Best overall Pros Excellent CPU and GPU performance Robust and innovative design Comfortable and customizable keyboard Cons Trackpad requires some pressure Very high price MSRP: $2,200 (base unit) up to $3,700 (review unit) Best Prices Today: $3699.99 at Asus$3699.99 at Costco The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is a streamer’s ultimate dream. This laptop features lightning-fast GPU and CPU performance plus a stunning 17.3-inch 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The rugged all-metal chassis, six speaker sound system, and customizable keyboard really adds to the premium experience as well. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it. If you’ve got a flexible budget and you won’t settle for anything other than the best of the best, the Zephyrus S17 is truly the bees knees. Read our full Review Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 2. ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Most portable Pros Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design AniMe Matrix screams unique It has a webcam Cons Half permanent RAM Keyboard backlighting is subpar MSRP: $1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM) Best Prices Today: $1649.99 at Best Buy$1,699.00 at Amazon The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard, which our tester describes as “meh.” It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick. Read our full Review ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) 3. XPG Xenia 15 KC – Most quiet Pros Very light Very quiet (relatively) very fast Cons Subpar RGB Just barely adequate audio SD card reader barely adequate MSRP: 1999 Best Prices Today: $1,699.00 at Amazon When it comes to gaming laptops, many, if not most, of them are pretty bulky and heavy, often tipping the scales at five or six pounds. Well, that’s not the case with the XPG Xenia 15 KC. It weighs a little over four pounds, which is fairly lightweight for a laptop that’s capable of delivering respectable gaming and streaming performance. Plus, it runs very quiet. According to our review, it “rarely makes noise under normal use.” That’s impressive, as most gaming laptops tend to sound like a rocket blasting off. If you’re looking for something that’s both quiet and portable, the Xenia 15 KC is an excellent choice. Read our full Review XPG Xenia 15 KC 4. GE76 Raider 12UHS – Best premium option Pros 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK simply sings New “AI” performance mode greatly moderates fan noise. 1080p webcam and good mic and audio makes for decent video conferencing PC Cons Third iteration in the same body MSI Center is confusing and cluttered UI Painful pricing MSRP: $4,200 (Core i9, RTX 3080 Ti) Best Prices Today: $4200 at Adorama$4200 at MSI The MSI GE76 is rocking a 17.3-inch 4K UHD 120Hz display and the latest 12th-gen Intel processor. In other words, it’s one slick machine. If it’s blazing-fast gaming performance that you’re after, this laptop will most definitely deliver. The display is pretty massive as well, which adds to the immersion factor. However, the biggest drawback is the astronomical price tag, as it costs over $4,000. Woof. But if you’re willing to cough up the cash in exchange for some serious power, you won’t be disappointed. Read our full Review GE76 Raider 12UHS 5. Predator Triton 500 – Good battery life Pros Velvety 165 Hz refresh rate in a 16-inch, 16:10 display Strong battery life for a gaming laptop Port selection includes HDMI 2.1, gigabit ethernet, and dual USB-A Cons Display could be more vibrant and better-calibrated out of the box Middling onboard speakers 16:10 aspect ratio isn’t ideal for all content types MSRP: $1749.99 Best Prices Today: $1749.99 at Best Buy The Predator Triton 500 is a good option for both work and play. According to our tester, the design “doesn’t scream gamer,” which is a good thing, especially if you’re shooting for a more mature aesthetic. As for performance, it does a fine job “balancing productivity and gaming duties.” You can thank the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (Max-Q with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM) GPU for that. Battery life is decent as well (8 hours and some change) for a gaming laptop, though you’ll likely always use this machine at a desk, as it weighs close to five pounds. Read our full Review Predator Triton 500 6. HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr) – Good value Pros Very good value Surprisingly comfortable keyboard Large 16-inch 1080p screen with a high 144Hz refresh rate Cons Budget RTX GPU Audio doesn’t feel quite right Display hinge is a bit flimsy MSRP: $1,249.99 Best Prices Today: $878.93 at Amazon$1249.99 at HP From solid performance to a decent display, the HP Victus 16 is a well-rounded option for most people. The 16-inch screen has a 1080p resolution and a high refresh rate of 144Hz, and the keyboard is pretty darn comfortable. In our review, the tester was “happy to use the keyboard on a long-term basis.” HP even squeezed in a number pad, which is perfect for gamers. Although this laptop has a lot to offer, it isn’t the sexiest-looking machine in the world. But if you can live with the plain design, the Victus 16 is a good choice. Read our full Review HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr) 7. Nitro 5 17-inch (2021) – Value alternative Pros Strong CPU/GPU pairing for the price Roomy 1TB SSD with room to add second drive Cons Plastic chassis is bulky Dim display Terrible webcam MSRP: $1099.99 base price | $2099.99 as reviewed Best Prices Today: $2099.99 at Acer$2099.99 at Newegg$2099.99 at Walmart The Acer Nitro 5 17 is a good buy if you’re looking for a decent value. It delivers respectable graphics performance and it can easily handle more demanding tasks like photo editing. Acer even provides the bits and bobs (i.e, screws) for swapping out the storage or RAM. That said, the bulky plastic chassis won’t have anyone mistaking this for a premium product and the display is pretty dim. If those trade-offs don’t bother you much, then the Nitro 5 is definitely worth considering. Read our full Review Nitro 5 17-inch (2021) How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. What to look for in a streaming laptop When it comes to picking the right laptop for live streaming, it really depends on what you want to do with it. Do you plan on broadcasting lightweight indie titles like Stardew Valley (no shade, I love this game) or something more visually demanding like Cyberpunk 2077? Are you going to use the machine for work as well as play? While it’s possible to get reliable streaming and gaming performance out of laptop that costs under a grand, you’ll need to take a hard look at the individual components. You don’t need a powerful GPU for something like Fortnite, say. It’s all in the individual components. That’s what matters. GPU: The thing about the GPU is that it can’t be swapped out and upgraded later, so you need to be real choosy about which one you pick, as this component will determine how well your machine runs games. Luckily, you don’t need the best of the best to get reliable gaming performance. The GTX 1650 is an entry-level GPU that’s affordable and good enough for 1080p gaming with mid-to-high graphics settings. That said, expect lower frame rates on newer titles. If you’re looking for a bit more power, we recommend opting for a GTX 1660 Ti or higher, or a more current RTX 30-series GPU. CPU: Like the GPU, the processor can’t be upgraded either, so you’ll want to be selective. For Intel, we recommend an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7. For AMD, you’ll want to spring for a Ryzen 4000 or 5000. A processor with at least four cores is good, but six cores or more is better. RAM: You’ll want at least 8GB of RAM. If you can afford 16GB of RAM, go for it. Memory is normally upgradable, so you can always swap it out and add more later on.Storage: Storage impacts how many games and applications you can install on your laptop. Like RAM, storage is upgradable and can be swapped out later. However, you should aim for at least 512GB of SSD storage plus a hard drive, as AAA titles tend to eat up a lot of space. SSDs load games faster, as data is stored on chips rather than spinning disks.Display: 1080p with a 60Hz refresh rate is the bare minimum. As for size, that’s a personal preference. If you’re streaming and dealing with multiple windows, I’d recommend springing for something big like 17-inches.Battery life: Generally speaking, gaming laptops are known for having poor battery life. That’s because they use a ton of power. They also tend to be heavier than other laptops because they need more space for heatsinks and other cooling components. Depending on the use, most will last anywhere from four to six hours on a single charge. Laptops
Save $500 on this pixel-packed 4K Acer gaming monitor
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 15:13:59 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate gaming monitor, you best listen up, as we’ve struck gold today. Best Buy’s currently selling the Acer Nitro gaming monitor for $599.99, which saves you a whopping $500. This peripheral has a lot to offer, so let’s not waste anymore time and get right into it. The 31.5-inch Acer Nitro has a resolution of 3840×2160, a refresh rate of 144Hz, and a response time of 1ms. Those are some delectable gaming specs right there. The picture should be sharp and clear, and visuals should be smooth and stutter free. It’s also packing AMD’s FreeSync Premium, which helps reduce any screen tearing issues by synchronizing the refresh rates of your display and graphics card. You’ll find two HDMI, one DisplayPort 1.4, and four USB 3.0 Type-C ports included. For connectivity options, that’s a pretty solid selection. This is a killer deal on a great-looking gaming monitor. Don’t miss out. Get the Acer Nitro gaming monitor for $599.99 at Best Buy Monitors
Phony, malicious Bitwarden ads slip past Google’s watch
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 15:04:37 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Popular password managers like LastPass and 1Password have had a rough time of it for the last year, and open-source competitor Bitwarden has quickly emerged as an ideal alternative. But with notoriety comes vulnerability: it’s the opposite of security through obscurity. Bitwarden has become so popular that it looks like some unscrupulous actors are trying to take advantage of it, and hosting Google ads for phony, presumably malicious downloads masquerading as the security tool. After users on Bitwarden’s company forums and Reddit started seeing suspicious ads (as chronicled by Bleeping Computer), company representatives have alerted the userbase of the phishing scheme, recommending that people go directly to the Bitwarden download page instead of Googling for it. Those who spot the illegitimate ads should use Google’s built-in reporting tools to remove them. Our review takes you to the real bitwarden site Bitwarden Read our review MSRP: $0 Best Prices Today: $0 at Bitwarden Paying legitimate advertising networks to spread fake information is an indictment of said networks’ lack of moderation. But it’s also nothing new. Earlier this year Google ran ads for AMD Radeon drivers that were, in fact, sending users to malware downloads. Google’s intentionally vague labeling of text ads, taking the place of the first search results on pretty much every major, lucrative search term, doesn’t help. And Google isn’t the only guilty party: I’ve personally seen similar fakes showing up in high-ranking Microsoft Bing searches, too. According to user screenshots, the Bitwarden fake is a convincing one, recreating the password manager’s login page in a nearly pixel-perfect fashion. The only way to spot the fake was by knowing the genuine URL and comparing it to the phony (“bitwardenlogin.com”, in this case). Signing into this fake page would give its owners the full login information for your password manager—a potentially disastrous outcome. Since Bitwarden is becoming a popular tool, and a frequent recommendation for less technically-savvy users, it’s disheartening that Google appears to be putting the burden of policing its own advertising network on the backs of regular internet surfers. Security
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