It's that time of year again! When those of us lucky enough with the ability, get and share the best in technology with our friends and family. You are already the family IT manager so why not help spread the holiday cheer by picking up some items for them, and hey...maybe for you. :)
This year we are going to break up the guide into categories. We'll have a page dedicated to PC components, one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets and one for PC accessories. Then, after those specific categories, we'll have an open ended collection of pages where each PC Perspective team member can throw in some wildcards.
We thank you for your support of PC Perspective through all of 2014. The links included below embed our affiliate code to Amazon.com (when applicable) and if you are doing other shopping for the holidays this year we would appreciate it if you used the button above before perusing Amazon.com. In case you want to know the affiliate cod directly, it is: pcper04-20.
Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Processor
Last year our pick for the best high-performance processor was the Core i7-4770K, and it sold for $379. This year we have a part running 500 MHz faster, though at higher power, for $80 less. If you are still waiting for a time to upgrade your processor (and hey, games will need more cores sooner rather than later!), the Core i7-4790K looks like a great option and now looks like a great time.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Likely the most controversial selection in our gift guide, the GeForce GTX 980 is an interesting product. It's expensive compared to the other options from AMD like the Radeon R9 290X or even the R9 290, but it is also a better performing part; just not by much. The selection process of a GTX 980 stems from other things: G-Sync support, game bundles with Far Cry 4 and The Crew available, GeForce Experience, driver stability and frequency, etc. The GTX 970 is another good choice along these lines but as you'll see below...AMD has a strong contender as well.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 25, 2014 - 07:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, shield, grid, shield tablet, Psychonauts, red faction: armageddon
Last Tuesday, NVIDIA launched the November SHIELD update with Android 5.0 Lollipop, The Green Box promotion, and a refreshed GRID service. Regarding the last part, which is a game streaming service, they also committed to adding at least one extra title per week. Now, seven days later, they pushed two titles to the service: Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon.
While I have never played Red Faction: Armageddon, I did purchase Psychonauts for the Xbox and, later, the PC. It is a fun, linear narrative about kids in a summer camp that specializes in telekinetic/telepathic education for gifted individuals. If you have a SHIELD device, and you are able to play it on GRID, try it. Like it or not, it's free and does not require an installation.
As will be the case until June 30th, access to the service is free for owners of the SHIELD and SHIELD Tablet. Future titles are expected to be announced on Twitter via the “#GRIDTuesday” hashtag. We will probably have a news post about them, too.
Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2014 - 12:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: osx, ubuntu 14.10, linux, apple, OS
Over at Phoronix you can see a comparison between the new Apple OS X 10.10 and the newest release of Ubuntu 14.10. This offers an interesting comparison in performance as both OSes were tested on the same system, a 2013 Macbook Air with a Haswell i5-4250U with onboard HD 5000, 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz and the Apple branded SSD. For content creators and those with no interest in running Windows it highlights the contrasts you can expect between the two operating systems in data transfer and graphics applications. Right from the start you can see that the contest is somewhat one sided, the first benchmark, PostMark, showed the disk with Ubuntu installed performing three times as fast as with OSX. The results get a little closer in some benchmarks but overall Linux outpaces OSX significantly.
"While I delivered some OS X 10.10 Yosemite preview benchmarks back in August, here's my first tests of the official release of Apple OS X 10.10.1 compared to Ubuntu 14.10 Linux. Tests were done of OS X 10.9.5 and OS X 10.10.1 against Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn when running the benchmarks under both GCC and LLVM Clang compilers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- ARM seeing troubles penetrating into PC, server industries; IoT becomes new battlefield for Intel, ARM @ DigiTimes
- BitTorrent users are 170 percent more likely to download legally than non-torrenters @ The Inquirer
- Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist @ Slashdot
- Regin Malware In EU Attack Linked To US and British Intelligence Agencies @ Slashdot
- You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes @ The Register
- Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2014 - 12:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, Intel, 3d nand
Great news flash fans, Intel will be increasing the storage density of SSDs quite significantly over the next few years. They will be using the 3D NAND technology we have just been introduced to to stack flash memory with 32 planar layers for 32GB per cell with MLC and 48GB per cell if TLC flash is used. This increased density could lead to 10TB SSDs by 2017 as well as mobile devices with 1TB of local memory that runs at higher speeds than the current generations as well. As The Register noted this will have to be accompanied by price reductions as at $1.00/GB no one would even dream of a 10TB drive and even at $0.50 it would be far too expensive. Perhaps Ryan's dreams of low cost flash storage are not as far out there as some seem to feel, indeed he may not be aiming low enough for price per GB. You can also get a peek at what Samsung, Hynix and Sandisk will be up to in the same article.
"IMFT, Intel Micron Flash Technologies, a partnership between Intel and Micron, has a 3D MLC NAND technology, which will be used to build 10TB SSDs in two years."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Linux distributor SUSE delves into software-defined storage @ The Inquirer
- Intel decides to keep tablet subsidies, say sources @ DigiTimes
- Mozilla remembers 2013. Y'know, back when it still gobbled at the Google money-trough @ The Register
- Digitimes Research: Samsung, Apple, LG rank as top-3 smartphone vendors in 3Q14 @ DigiTimes
- KitGuru visits Logitech’s G Labs in Switzerland
- First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you @ The Register
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest
Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 01:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gladius, ASUS ROG, gaming mouse
ASUS has tried something new with their Gladius mouse, detachable USB cables and swappable switches. The mouse ships with a 2 meter braided cable and a 1 meter rubber cable which uas a standard microUSB connector to connect to the mouse, theoretically allowing a wide variety of other possible cabling choices. As well the switches for the top and side buttons are also changeable, you can replace them with a variety of Omron D2F and D3FC Series switches if you so desire. This is definitely aimed at games, the mouse supports 2000Hz USB polling rates and the Pixart 3988 optical sensor has a 6400dpi resolution. Read Benchmark Reviews article here to see what they thought of this mouse that should fit most right hands.
"The ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) line of products is no stranger to gaming peripherals, however recently, ASUS has turned to it’s newer product line, Strix, to release most of it’s gaming oriented products. This made the release of the ASUS ROG Gladius mouse confusing at first, but after realizing that this is ASUS’ premium mouse option it only made sense to put it in ASUS’ most prominent line of products. In this article, Benchmark Reviews takes a look at the ASUS ROG Gladius Gaming Mouse."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- ASUS Strix Claw gaming mouse and Strix Glide Speed mat @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master Mizar Gaming Mouse Review @ OCC
- Zowie FK1 gaming mouse @ Kitguru
- Aorus Thunder M7 MMO Gaming Mouse Review @ Modders-Inc
- GAMDIAS Aegis Multi-Function Gaming Set @ eTeknix
- Tesoro Tizona Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ OCC
Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 01:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, game jam
Update 3: Day 3 is live. Clearly not going to be done before the Game Jam, but it sounds like this should be a regular thing that I do.
Update 2: Day 1 is starting just after 2 PM EST (~10-15 minutes from now). Stream is up. Link in first update.
Update: Live in less than five! Join me at Twitch.tv/ScottMichaud
It is all for fun, right?
Last week, the official Unreal Engine Twitter account tweeted about an online game jam being held, which starts this Friday (November 21st) at midnight and ends just 72 hours later. In that time, participants will attempt to create a full video game. All art, music, code, and so forth must be created in that short window. Existing engines, libraries, and utilties are allowed though, and they are actively encouraged with several license of Unreal Engine 4, Unity Pro, Clickteam Fusion, and GameMaker: Studio being provided to contestants. There are no prizes, except that the top ten, highest-voted entries will be featured in a PewDiePie YouTube video. He is the host of this game jam.
The theme of this game jam is, “Fun to play and fun to watch”. Funny is a bonus.
Oh why not? I have an idea for a quick-ish Unreal Engine 4-based game. While expectations should be kept low, I will enter the jam and I intend to stream the whole development process live on Twitch. Whether or not I am successful, I hope that it will be fun and entertaining for everyone involved. Drop in! Talk in the chat room! Say your opinion! Give suggestions! Embrace exclamation points!
I am not, by any metric, a professional game developer, but it should be a good weekend!
Barring technical issues, the stream will start at around 11:55 PM on Thursday, November 20th, 2014. I will probably work for a few hours that night outlining the concepts and creating assets. I hope you will attend! (Details will be available before the event both here and on Twitter).
Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
The Tech Report have put together a collection of what they have found to be the most interesting mobile devices you can get your hands on for yourself or to give to others. With the new Broadwell based Core-M available they've recommended a few convertible laptops for your gifting needs in addition to more traditional style laptops including a very inexpensive Bay Trail powered model. If you would rather a device which is neither fish nor fowl then their four tablet recommendations which includes NVIDIA's Shield or the recommended phablets would intrigue you more than a convertible laptop. In keeping with their tradition, no one is recommended to injure themselves or others with the purchase of a Chromebook thanks to the continued draconian limitations on application support on these ChromeOS powered devices.
"Quite a lot has changed since we spun off the mobile section of the TR System Guide into our first mobile staff picks. In just five months, we've seen the arrival of the Core M, Android 5.0, iOS 8.0, and a fresh batch of Nexus hardware and iDevices. All of this calls for a new edition."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop @ The Register
- DerpTrolling hacker group leaks thousands of PSN, Windows Live log-ins @ The Inquirer
- Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP @ The Register
- Asus RT-AC87U 4×4 (Bridge Mode) @ Kitguru
- As Insomnia i53 kicks off explore its origins with Craig Fletcher: KitGuru TV
Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2014 - 10:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: yahoo, mozilla, google, firefox
Mozilla, developer of the Firefox web browser, has been mostly funded by Google for the last decade. Between 2005 and 2011, the search giant slowly ramped up its contributions from around $50 million USD for a single year to just over $100 million for the last year. All of this money was to keep the default search engine set to Google for the location and search bar. At that time, journalists were voicing their concerns that Mozilla would be cut off after the success Google saw with their Chrome browser.
In December 2011, Google and Mozilla surprised the world with a different announcement, $300 million dollars per year until November 2014, or almost three times their previous annual contributions. I could not help but feel it was like a light bulb that flares before it extinguishes, although later rumors claimed that Microsoft and Yahoo drove up Google's bid with high counter-offers. Of course, that deal ends this month and Google is no longer the winning bid, if they even proposed a deal at all.
This time, Yahoo won for the next five years (in the US) with a currently undisclosed sum. Yandex will be the default for Russia, and Baidu has been renewed as the default in China.
Yahoo also committed to supporting the Do Not Track (DNT) header for Firefox browsers. If your settings have DNT enabled, the search engine will adjust its behavior to acknowledge your request for privacy. One thing that has not been mentioned is how they will react to your request. This could be anything from treating you as completely anonymous, to personalizing your search results but not your ads, to personalizing your ads but not your search results, to only looking at the geographic location of your IP address, and so forth.
The search experience is not what you will get by going to the Yahoo homepage today; the new site was developed in collaboration with Mozilla and will launch for Firefox users in December. It will go live for every other Yahoo user in 2015.
Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2014 - 03:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nexus 9, nokia n1, lollipop
Sticking with the Lollipop theme of today is a comparison of two large tablets which will be competing for the same market, both powered by the 64 bit version of Lollipop. They are both fairly large, the Nokia N1 is 201 x 139 x 6.1mm (7.9 x 5.4 x 0.25") and a weight of 318g, the Nexus 9 is 228x154x7.9mm (9 x 6 x 0.3") at a weight of 425g. Both of the tablets have IPS displays with a resolution of 1536 x 2048, obviously the smaller Nokia has a slightly higher pixel density. It is when you examine the internals that the differences really start, Nokia has gone with a quad-core 2.3GHz Atom Z3580 while the Nexus is powered by a dual-core 2.3GHz Tegra K1. The Nokia is the tablet of choice for those who take selfies as the front facing camera is 5MP though both have an 8 megapixel camera on the back. The Nexus will likely last longer on the run with a 6,700mAh battery compared to Nokia's 5,300mAh battery. The Inquirer has not had a chance to run benchmarks but there is one final statistic worth noting, the Nexus 9 is to retail for $400 while the N1 is planned to sell for about $250.
"MICROSOFT-FREE Nokia unveiled the Lollipop-powered Nokia N1 tablet this week, which looks to steal buyers away from Google's Nexus 9 with its stock Android 5.0 software, 64-bit Intel chip and fully aluminium design."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- PHONDLESLAB-ULOUS: Motorola Moto X Android phablet @ The Register
- Nexus 6 @ The Inquirer
- ThL 5000 Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Diamond USB 3.0/2.0 to HDMI/DVI Mini Ultra Dock Review @ OCC
- LUXA2 PL3 10400mAh Leather Power Bank Review @ NikKTech
- Best iPhone 6 Cases @ The Inquirer
- Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2014 - 02:40 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, am3+, windows 10, Inateck, corsair, Neutron XT, nvidia, mfaa, shield, grid, gigabyte, raptr, Dell 4K
PC Perspective Podcast #327 - 11/20/2014
Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA MFAA, Corsair's Neutron XT SSD, New Dell 4K Monitors
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:33:45
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Ryan: ProClip for your car