Besiege your friends on custom levels

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2017 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Besiege, Spiderling Games

Remember Besiege, the game which allowed you to create your own engines of destruction and which lead to an influx of rather amusing videos of successful and not so successful inventions.  Spiderling Games have announced that they will be releasing an update which will allow you to design custom levels and invite up to 7 friends to join you in that level.  As you can see from the video below you can work together or battle it out after creating your particular machine.  Drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more details.

"Multiplayer and a level editor are coming to physics-based warmachine workshop Besiege later this year, developers Spiderling Games have announced."

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It has been a while since the last legal battle but Qualcomm may be our next contender

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2017 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: sueball, qualcomm, Intel, blackberry, apple

Ah, the old days of Microsoft versus governments, Apple and Samsung, Intel and AMD, SCO and ... well just about everyone; lately there has not been much legal vitriol in the headlines.  This may change as Qualcomm is now involved in several suits which are likely to become high profile.  First up is what may be the driving force behind their need to seek restitution from Apple; they were just ordered to pay Blackberry $815 million after that company was successful in their legal battle to dispute certain royalty payments.  Even a company as large as Qualcomm is going to feel the pain from that.

On to the real upcoming battle royal, featuring Apple and Qualcomm over the iPhone 7.  It seems that Apple has taken offence to Qualcomm's claims that Apple handicapped their chip to ensure it did not out perform the models which contained an Intel chipset.  Qualcomm released a large rebuttal to the lawsuit which Apple launched this January which you can read about at Ars Technica, or follow the link to read the entire document.  This may prove to be the next interesting technological legal battle, stay tuned for more.

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"For example, Qualcomm’s technological contributions enable popular smartphone apps such as Uber, Snapchat, Spotify, Apple Music, Skype, Google Maps, and Pokémon GO, among others."

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Source: Ars Technica

UNIGINE Superposition GPU Stress Test Released

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, UNIGINE, unigine 2

There are quite a few game engines available these days. Unity stepped up its game and Epic Games, Crytek, Amazon, and others entered the market with various free-to-start licensing options. Back in the early DirectX 11 days, UNIGINE released their popular Heaven benchmark to promote their engine, which had a relatively affordable, up-front fee. (I don’t remember what it was at the time, but the engine currently starts at $1495 USD, albeit royalty-free.)

Available up to 8K60, because lol why not?

Today, they have released a new benchmark, called Superposition, which focuses on two things: VR and GPU stress testing. The setting is some old-timey physics lab, and it includes some minigames to keep you entertained after you determined that your overclock is stable and your performance is assigned some value. According to Phoronix, UNIGINE has been looking into Vulkan, but they haven’t added it to the engine yet. On Linux, you’ll be using OpenGL 4.5, but Windows has a choice between that and DirectX 11.

UNIGINE Superposition is available for Windows and Linux.

Source: UNIGINE

Take 5 to read through the Ryzen roundup

Subject: Processors | April 11, 2017 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: z270, ryzen 5, ryzen, amd, 1600X, 1400

As you have already read through Ryan's review of the Ryzen 1600X and 1500X running on MSI's B350 Tomahawk you know about how the chips measure up to Intel's offerings at the same price point.  Life being what it is, there is always a trade between testing everything and publishing results in a timely manner so it is possible that we missed your favourite game, benchmark or test setting which is why roundups such as this exist.  For instance over at [H]ard|OCP the tests were performed on an MSI Krait Z270 Gaming motherboard and they also had a chance to review the $169 Ryzen 5 1400. 

Drop by to take a look and don't forget there are a whole lot more just below.

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"AMD has been on a tear with its new Ryzen 7 CPUs over the past few weeks and now it is time for the Ryzen 5 processor family performance to be explored. We are giving away the AMD Reviewer's Kit with a 1600X and 1500X, instead we bought 1600 and 1400 processors to review here today. All data is retail CPUs, and all overclocked to 4GHz."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

SK Hynix has huge stacks of NAND

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, 72 layer, tlc

SK Hynix have created an impressive die which has 72 layers of TLC 3D NAND.  The storage density of their chips are somewhat lower than the competition, this particular chip sports 256Gb of capacity.  This is due to the larger size of SK Hynix's cells, which has the benefit of allowing more layers than other manufacturers have been able to successfully create.  The Register was told that compared to the previous generation of 48 layer NAND you could expect to see up to a 20% increase in read and write speeds, another benefit to their new process.  To think, it was just a year ago that Al first introduced us to what 3D NAND would mean to the PC industry.

sk_hynix_72_layer_nand.jpg

"Korean flash fabber SK Hynix has built a 72-layer 3D NAND die with 256Gb capacity. That number of layers, in effect a higher-rise flash chip than anybody else has built, is impressive but the 256Gb capacity is not; Toshiba's 64-layer flash die has a 512Gb capacity. Like the SK Hynix chip, it is a TLC (3bits/cell) device. It started sample shipping in February."

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Source: The Register

Ryzen 5 surfaces on eBay

Subject: Processors | April 10, 2017 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen 5, ryzen 5 1600, ryzen 5 1400

Perhaps it is best not to ask how this came about, but you can order the Ryzen 5 1600 and 1400 from eBay.  The seller has an impressive reputation and as Kyle over at [H]ard|OCP has already ordered and received some, this should be a fairly safe opportunity to take advantage of.   The full review has not yet been published but that did not stop them from putting together a quick overclocking video.  If you have 20 minutes to spare and an interest in AMD's new processors you should take a look.

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"Much to our surprise, AMD Ryzen 5 CPUs started showing up online for sale last week in North America, so we did what any PC hardware review site would do. We went out and bought four of those and started working on seeing just how much overclocking headroom each of these new CPUs have."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

EpicGear's Morpha X gaming mouse, you can swap the sensors and switches as well as the weight

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2017 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: epicgear, Morpha X, gaming mouse, input, ADNS-9800, PMW3360, pixart

Modular gaming mice with changeable weights and shells have become common; ones that allow you to switch the sensor on the other hand are rather rare.  EpicGear's Morpha X lets you do exactly that, it comes with two PixArt sensors, a PMW3360 optical sensor and an ADNS-9800 laser sensor.  The Tech Report strongly suggests disconnecting the mouse when swapping sensors to avoid any possibility to need to reset the mouse.  It is not just the sensors you can swap, the mouse ships with several Omron D2F switches of varying colours as well as a tool to help swap them.  The mouse is a little pricey but for those with a strong opinion as to which sensors and swiches are the best, this mouse is worth a look.

mousewhite-2.jpg

"EpicGear's Morpha X gaming mouse offers a wealth of customization options, from its shell to its sensor to its RGB LED accent lighting. We swapped out every component and tested every setting to see whether the Morpha X delivers a spot in the gaming-peripheral hall of fame."

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ADATA Announces XPG SX7000 Line of NVMe PCIe SSDs

Subject: Storage | April 10, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: adata, pcie, M.2, NVMe

ADATA has added another line of M.2 PCIe SSDs to their catalog with the XPG SX7000. These drives support NVMe and claim up to 1800 MB/s sequential read performance and 850 MB/s sequential write performance, with both tests measured on CrystalDiskMark at a queue depth of 32. Interestingly enough, their ATTO sequential write results, 860 MB/s, exceed their claimed maximum. Again, each of these numbers are provided by ADATA, so it’s still up to third-parties (like us) to verify. That said, ADATA provided a lot of information in their performance chart, which is nice to see.

adata-2017-xpg-sx7000.jpg

The spec sheet (pdf) provides performance results for three SKUs: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. A fourth model (if you guessed 1TB, then you would be right) is also acknowledged, but not elaborated upon. These are all based on 3D TLC flash, with some undefined amount of SLC cache.

Pricing and availability are TBD, but it will come with a 5 year warranty.

Source: ADATA

Another successful VLAN thanks to the Fragging Frogs, AMD and PCPer

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2017 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

The Fragging Frogs' VLAN 15 was a success, wrapping up early Sunday morning as the final golfers headed for the 19th hole.  At its peak we had over 50 people on simultaneously, with 70 unique participants joining throughout the event.  There were over a dozen games played, from newer releases such as Rocket League, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Escape from Tarkov through classics like TF2 and UT2K4 as well as some games only the truly odd can love like Dino D-Day.

Prizes included four motherboards, a cooler, a case and a keyboard which have all featured in reviews here at PCPer as well as a Ryzen 7 1700 straight from AMD.  You should drop by the forum thread to pass on your appreciation of the contributions mmettin, Brandito and of course Lenny, without whom these events would not be possible. 

Hope you had fun at VLAN 15, if you didn't make it this time we hope to see you for the next one!

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Fragging Frogs VLAN 15 on Saturday April 8 10:00 AM ET, come celebrate 14 years of gaming!

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2017 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

A long time ago on a website far far away, a brave group of Frogs embarked on a long journey of fun and well ... virtual murderation.   In April of 2003, back when UT2k4 was shiny and new and not retro-gaming the Fragging Frogs held their first live event, a tournament to crown one of us the king of Unreal Tournament.  Since then the gang have been hosting drop-in games every week in a come as you are format and every once and a while Lenny and the crew put together a VLAN party.

FraggingFrogs.jpg

The time has come again to announce another official Fragging Frogs VLAN, this one kicking off at 10AM EDT on Saturday April 8th and going as long as there is still someone gaming.  The previous VLAN saw over 90 people join in at one time or another, with an average of over 50 people active on TeamSpeak and in games.  No matter what type of game you are looking to play, there will be a group you can hook up with to play together or against!

As is tradition, there will be an undisclosed amount of prizes given away at the event but you will have to be on Teamspeak in order to qualify to win.  These prizes are supplied by hardware manufactures, software developers and even from the closets of certain reviewers here at PC Perspective.  You could end up with your own Joshtekk memorabilia!

Post to the official thread to let Lenny and the gang know you plan to attend, especially if you are not yet a forum member as the thread will let you know what you need to do to be eligible to win as well as how to connect to the TeamSpeak server and what patches and mods you should set up.  The list of games people plan on playing has hit 20, if you have one you want to play that is not on the list then make sure to comment in the thread.

See you there!

G.SKILL wants to make sure you have enough RAM, Trident Z RGB DDR4-3333MHz 128GB kit

Subject: Memory | April 7, 2017 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: Trident Z RGB, intel z270, Intel X99, G.Skill, DDR4-3333MHz, AM4, 128Gb

You did read that correctly, the new Trident Z RGB kit consists of eight 16GB DIMMs which should give you more than enough memory to play with in a variety of ways, including a decent sized RAM drive. There are also some smaller kits available as well as different frequencies, something that Ryzen users should take a peek at as AMD's new chip loves fast RAM.  They do not specify AMD support but one would expect to be able to utilize these chips. This particular kit sports timings of CL16-18-18-38 and below you can see the sizes, frequencies and timings of the other Trident Z RGB kits.

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As the name implies, these DIMMs do indeed have LEDs on them, supporting a wide variety of colours and with a variety of modes so you can have dynamic lighting effects, if that is your desire.  You can see a video of them in action below.

PR below the fold

Source: G.SKILL

LG's G6 beats the G5 but ...

Subject: Mobile | April 7, 2017 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: LG, g6, smartphone, Snapdragon 821

The new LG G6 sports a 5.7", 2880×1440 IPS LCD powered by the aging Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 with a pair of 2.35GHz Kryo cores and two 1.6 GHz Kryo cores.  The hardware is going to have a hard time competing against other phones powered by newer chips such as the Snapdragon 835or Exynos 8895.  Ars Technica ran the phone through benchmarks in their full review here.  The phone itself is attractively made and does offer a wide variety of features, however it will have trouble once the new Galaxy and iPhone arrive on the market.

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"The LG G6 seems to be launching in the US at the worst possible time. The phone uses Qualcomm's 2016 SoC—the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821—in 2017, making it already seem dated. The G6 is also launching right as Samsung's hype machine for the Galaxy S8 is revving up."

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Source: Ars Technica

Windows 10 obsessive net nanny edition

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2017 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, creators update, stalking

The discussion surrounding the telemetry and data of users of Windows 10 which is collected by Microsoft has been energetic and not without a certain amount of vitriol.  Until this past week, much of it has been based on educated guesses and traffic analysis, with Microsoft deigning to provided specifics.  That has changed with the upcoming release of the Creators Update and Microsoft have finally released the details of what data they collect in both the new Basic and Full modes. 

The list is impressive.

The new Basic mode is the same as the previous Full mode, collecting hardware and software information and how they are used, driver usage data, inking and typing data and allowing remote access of your machine and documents without your knowledge.  While this will certainly help with troubleshooting Windows issues it does seem a bit much to collect without users approval.

The new Full mode is even more like an overly attentive software company, it includes all of the above plus it collects your user settings and preferences, installed browsers and the use thereof, an inventory of attached peripherals and how long you use them, a list of every application you've ever installed and a long list of other data which the Register lists here.

Windows 10 Enterprise and some of the Windows Server 2016 editions offer a bit more control which is good, considering many companies sign agreements with clients to the effect that none of their data will be shared with third parties.  That is something Microsoft seems to have trouble comprehending as they continue to pressure businesses to update their infrastructure.

All of this data does help Microsoft collect errors and develop effective fixes but one questions the necessity of the sheer amount of extraneous data collected at the same time.  Perhaps some of the more paranoid claims made by people on the internet were not all that far off base after all. 

If Microsoft does not offer ways to disable at least some of these features, let us hope that security companies find ways to block them; every single one is a vulnerability which could be exploited by people other than Microsoft.

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"Right now, it's doing a little damage control, and preempting complaints about privacy, by listing the types of information its operating system will automatically and silently leak from PCs, slabs, and laptops back to Redmond."

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Source: The Register

Western Digital Announces USB Type-C My Passport SSD

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: WD, ssd, external ssd

Western Digital has just announced the My Passport SSD line of portable solid state hard drives. As you might expect, the major advantage of SSD-based portable storage is speed. This one connects with a USB Type-C port and is rated at up to 515 MB/s, although that hasn’t been benchmarked yet. The drives also support hardware, 256-bit AES encryption via their security software.

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According to Best Buy, the 256GB model ($99.99 USD) is already sold out, but the 512GB model ($199.99) and the 1TB model ($399.99) are both still available for the 14th of April.

AMD Releases Ryzen Balanced Power Plan - Test Results Inside

Subject: Processors | April 6, 2017 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, Power Plan, Power Management, Balanced, amd

AMD Releases Ryzen Balanced Power Plan - Test Results Inside

AMD has published Community Update #3 to their blog. This update details a new Power Plan that should yield improved gaming performance for those who were previously using the Windows default Balanced Power Profile. There has been lots of speculation on reasons for performance differences when gaming in various power modes and even on different Operating Systems. With this new Ryzen Balanced profile also came some info that should help us clear up some of the other misconceptions out there.

After we determined that the Windows 10 Scheduler was not at fault for the Ryzen performance issues we were seeing in some applications, we received some testing feedback from those who had noted performance differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10. While many believed that to be confirmation of scheduler differences between both Operating Systems, the actual cause was down to how Windows 7 and Windows 10 park their cores, as demonstrated by the points AMD sent us earlier today:

  • Windows 7 only parks SMT cores, keeping all physical cores awake.
  • Windows 10 keeps the first core awake (logical core 0 + 1 on a HT system) and parks the remainder when possible.
  • Windows 10 disables core parking by default on Intel CPUs (Speed Shift support).

Since Windows power management (not the scheduler) is not yet Ryzen aware, its default settings result in overly aggressive core parking when driving a Ryzen CPU. Until a lower level change can take place, AMD has released a custom Ryzen Balanced Power Plan that tweaks some of the P-state transition values and a few other settings to help realize the performance gains previously seen by folks shifting to the High Performance mode while keeping idle power consumption much closer to that of the Balanced plan. Here are AMD’s claimed performance gains (vs. Balanced) with their new Ryzen Balanced Power Plan:

1.png

AMD provided claimed gains for Ryzen Balanced profile vs. default Windows Balanced profile.

Realize these gains are all going to be nearly identical to any prior comparison showing Balanced vs. High Performance profile deltas, but this profile retains most of the idle power savings accomplished by the Balanced plan. We’ve been doing some testing with the tool and can partially confirm the above results, while adding in some more of our own that were not included in AMD’s data:

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The blue highlighted bars denote the overlapping titles tested. A few other titles we tested showed lesser (or no) gains, but that’s not necessarily the fault of this new profile as those same titles saw similar results with a switch to High Performance mode when tested previously.

I did a bit of digging into exactly which power profile parameters are being tweaked and how. Laymen poking around in Windows Power Management will only find this single difference:

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However, deconstructing the actual profile data reveals more changes that do not appear in the Windows GUI. Here are the low-level changes we discovered, including the ‘Minimum processor state’ previously noted above:

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Note: Units differ varying by parameter in this chart - compare within each set of 3 bars.

As you can see, changes were made to help minimize the parking of Ryzen cores, and to also speed up their waking when required. It may not be a perfect solution as it is another step that the user must perform to get good ‘out of the box’ Ryzen performance, but it does help alleviate the dilemma of running your desktop machine at full tilt 24/7 or having to switch power modes on either end of your gaming sessions. This is a solid stop-gap until native Ryzen support makes its way into Windows, so all of you Ryzen users out there, run over to the AMD Blog and grab/install the Ryzen Balanced Power Plan!

Source: AMD

Canonical (Ubuntu) Abandons Funding for Unity Desktop

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2017 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, canonical

For the next long-term support (LTS) build, Ubuntu 18.04, Canonical is moving back to the GNOME desktop. For the last several versions of the operating system, they have put their home-grown Unity desktop at the forefront. The official blog post also announces that Canonical “will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell” to focus on desktop, cloud, and internet of things.

As always with open-source software, it’s possible that someone could take the project and keep it going, but I doubt that this will happen (outside of the hobbyist and archivist circles). The general consensus, from what I’ve seen, could be summarized as: “Finally!”

Update (April 6th @ 6:45pm EDT): Speaking of, UBports, which is a Patreon-supported group of hobbyists that port Ubuntu Touch to new devices, apparently expects to continue Unity development.

I haven’t heard any discussion over what this means for Canonical’s engineering team. I hope that this will just lead to reassignments, rather than lay-offs.

Also, this has nothing to do with the Unity game engine. That's a very different company and a very different product. I just thought I'd make that clear in case it comes up.

Source: Canonical

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 381.65 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 6, 2017 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Lining up with yesterday’s Windows 10 Creators Update opt-in, NVIDIA releases OS Game Ready drivers. GeForce 381.65 also includes their game-specific optimizations for the Quake Champions closed beta that you have probably seen people tweeting about over the last day or so. Also, as you would expect from a graphics card and graphics driver launching on the same day, this version adds support for the new TITAN Xp.

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This driver also adds Ansel support to a pair of titles: Snake Pass and Kona. Snake Pass is a puzzle platformer with a bit of a Rare art style. Kona is a mystery title with, as NVIDIA describes it, adventure, puzzle, and survival elements, set in the fictional, northern Canada village of Atamipek Lake.

You can get the new drivers from GeForce Experience or their website.

Source: NVIDIA

If you are going to go RGB, tempered glass is a wise choice; Corsair's Crystal 460X case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 6, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: corsair, crystal 460X, tempered glass, RGB

The Corsair Crystal 460X RGB is described as a compact ATX case, at 440x220x464mm it is less deep than many ATX cases thanks to the complete lack of a standard drive cage.  It will still fit two 3.5″ drives and three 2.5″ drives hidden away on the back of the case or in line with the bottom mounted PSU.  The front and side panel are tempered glass to show of the glow of your internal components and the front fans sport LEDs which can be controlled with the six fan lighting hub. 

Check out Benchmark Reviews full article here for a closer look.

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"If there are two big trends in computer accessories and peripherals these days, it’s “tempered glass” and “RGB illumination”. And if you can combine the two, as Corsair has done with the Crystal 460X RGB Compact ATX mid-tower case, so much the better!"

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NVIDIA Releases TITAN Xp with Fully-Unlocked GP102

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 6, 2017 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: titan xp, pascal, nvidia

While I realize that it’s the other way around if anything, part of me wants to believe that NVIDIA released this new graphics card, the TITAN Xp, solely to prevent people from calling last year’s Titan X “Titan XP”. Alternatively, they could be trolling everyone, but doing so with a legit product launch.

nvidia-2017-actualtitanxp.png

The NVIDIA TITAN Xp is, finally, a fully-unlocked GP102 for the consumer market, which was previously exclusive to the Tesla P40 and Quadro P6000 graphics cards. The extra 256 CUDA cores and slight bump in boost clocks equate to an expected 10.7% increase in boost shader capacity (12.15 TFLOPs vs 10.97 TFLOPs). Memory bandwidth, for its 12GB of GDDR5X, has also increase from 480 GB/s to 547.7 GB/s, which is a 14.1% increase.

NVIDIA's blog post also mentions that macOS drivers are coming this month.

The NVIDIA TITAN Xp is available now from NVIDIA’s website for $1200 USD. 2016’s NVIDIA Titan X is also listed at $1200, but is out of stock for some weird reason… hmm. It’s almost like they released an all-around better product at the same price point.

Source: NVIDIA

I want my ... I want my ... I want my CMD

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2017 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: powershell, cmd, windows 10

One thing you may notice about Windows 10 Creators Update is that the open command window here option in your context menu has been replaced with Powershell.  You can do a lot more with Powershell than from cmd.exe but there are many commands which do not immediately translate and you may not want to take a bash at new things. 

You can follow the instructions here to restore the option to your context menus, as with most things Windows the feature has not been lost but only hidden.  It does involve rooting around in the registry please do back up before trying either of the methods here at Winareo.  You will have your beloved cmd back and also retain the Powershell option in case you are feeling adventurous.

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"Starting with Windows 10 build 14986, Microsoft enabled PowerShell by default in the context menu in File Explorer. The good old command "Open command window here" was removed. You can get the command prompt back in the context menu of File Explorer in Windows 10 Creators Update with a simple Registry tweak."

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Source: Winaero