Start freeing up drive space. This week's news is all about Call of Duty and Red Dead and their massive install footprints, plus Blizzard's troubles with China, a new Surviving Mars spin-off, a Doom delay, a detective game that involves Picross, and more.
This is gaming news for October 7 to 11.
Survival is cheap
This week's Epic Games Store freebie comes with a side helping of news. Paradox is giving away Haemimont's space-age city builder Surviving Mars, along with last year's Space Race expansion. I haven't been back since the earliest days, but I've heard Space Race and the latter Green Planet expansions have put the game in a much better state than it was at launch. And hey, as always: It's free. No reason not to grab it.
And...it’s gone. Recent reports that Intel had confirmed ray tracing support in its Xe graphics cards are wrong, a company spokesman said Friday.
News broke earlier this week that a briefing given to analysts in Tokyo had confirmed hardware ray tracing support in Intel’s upcoming Xe consumer graphics cards. It turns out the presenter never confirmed ray tracing support, and in fact, never even mentioned ray tracing, an Intel spokesman said.
So how did multiple tech news sites come to believe it had been confirmed? Blame machine translation of a news story covering the Intel presentation. Intel officials said they believe computer-based translations of a Japanese language story on MyNavi.jp somehow conflated what was essentially a rehashed graphics presentation with the site’s speculation on upcoming graphics features in Tekken 7 into “ray tracing in Xe confirmed.” Intel says the presentation never mentioned ray tracing, nor did it “refer to the Xe graphics architecture found in Tiger Lake processors as ‘Gen 12’,” as some sites reported. Specific frame rate targets also weren’t formally announced.
It’s a killer time for PC memory enthusiasts. A pair of recent RAM releases should bring a smile to your face regardless of whether you’re into ultra-fast memory speeds or kits with massive capacity.
On Thursday, Corsair became the first memory vendor to commercially ship DDR4 RAM that can break the 5GHz barrier on Ryzen 3000-based systems. The company’s 16GB Vengeance LPX kit, a pair of 8GB modules, are based on Micron dies and can hit 5GHz with a CAS Latency timing of 18 at 1.5 volts.
If you’re shrugging because you’ve already seen people hit memory clock speeds over 5.7GHz, remember that most of memory overclocking records are performed with exotic cooling. Corsair’s announcement of a commercial product can be bought and essentially guaranteed to hit such sky-high clock and memory timings is another matter. That blistering performance doesn’t come cheap, though, as Corsair charges $1,225 for its 5GHz Vengeance LPX memory kitRemove non-product link.
Microsoft is finally launching two keyboards with new, dedicated shortcut keys for Office and Windows 10’s emoji menu.
Both the $59.99 Microsoft Ergonomic KeyboardRemove non-product link as well as the $49.99 Microsoft Bluetooth KeyboardRemove non-product link have shown up on Microsoft’s site, though they won’t be available for purchase until October 15. Microsoft already has a line of ”Surface” keyboards to go along with its Type Covers, as well as a similar Sculpt Comfort keyboard, too. The implicit point Microsoft seems to be making with its new keyboards are that these will be the mainstream keyboards most users should buy.
A great wireless router is an essential element of tech life, whether you’re building out a smart home or you just want the best experience streaming music and video at home. If you’re suffering with low wireless throughput or dead spots in any area of your home, we heartily recommend deploying a mesh network consisting of a Wi-Fi router with one or more satellite nodes that you sprinkle around your home, because it will blanket your home with coverage.
You can deploy a mesh Wi-Fi router without any satellites, but you’d be losing out on all the coverage benefits that mesh technology provides. We pick the best mesh systems here, because even those of us fortunate enough to have ethernet drops everywhere have devices—smartphones and tablets, for instance—that depend on Wi-Fi to connect to the home network and the internet.
Mesh tech is as beneficial to smart home devices as it is to home networking, so it makes sense to deploy a single product that can handle both missions—provided that single device offers best-in-class performance in both areas. While the second-generation Samsung SmartThings Wifi mesh router is a great smart home hub, it’s far from being a state-of-the-art router. But if you don’t need a top-shelf router, and not everyone does, the SmartThings Wifi’s price tag and its performance as a smart home hub renders it a good enough value.
SmartThings Wifi as a smart home hub
In some respects, the Samsung SmartThings Wifi three-pack reviewed here is an even better smart home hub than our top pick in that category—the third-generation Samsung SmartThings Hub—simply because it has three nodes to the Hub's one. That said, we’re sticking with our recommendation of the SmartThings Hub as the best smart home system for most people because the SmartThings Wifi router simply isn’t the best mesh router you can buy. You won’t want to replace a superior router with this one just to get a smart home hub.
Roku Streaming Stick vs. Amazon Fire Stick vs. Chromecast vs. Apple TV, and more. Which streaming device is best for cord cutters? Our buying guide will help you pick the right accessories for your TV.
Microsoft has made it official: Windows 10’s “19H2” release will now be officially known as the Windows 10 November 2019 Update.
Microsoft is giving itself plenty of runway with what’s also known as the version 1909 release. Typically, the version number incorporates the month and the year, so that “1909” would be assumed to ship in September. That’s the schedule Microsoft committed to, anyway. Microsoft hasn’t changed the November 2019 Update’s version number to accommodate the revised shipping date.
Microsoft hasn’t committed to an official rollout date for shipping the Windows 10 November 2019 Update to the millions of “stable” PCs who aren’t in the Insider testing program, either, though sometime in November is a safe bet.
The PC market grew in the third quarter of 2019 year over year, largely due to looming tariffs and the end of the road for Windows 7.
According to IDC, the PC market grew 3 percent to 70.4 million units. Gartner, which measures growth slightly differently, said that the PC market grew 1.1 percent to 68.1 million units. Gartner excludes tablets like iPads and alternative OS devices like Chromebooks from its tally; IDC does not.
Both firms said that Lenovo, HP, and Dell represented the top three PC makers worldwide. U.S. PC sales grew in the low single digits, IDC said, without specifying numbers. According to Gartner, U.S. PC sales fell by 0.3 percent, to 14.8 million PCs,
When you’re looking for a good, cheap laptop, knowledge is power. Every budget machine (which we’re defining as Windows laptops costing $500 or less) is the product of compromise—corners carefully cut here and there to hit a price point.
Your job is to find the one that checks off the most boxes for your needs. We’ll show you what to look for by highlighting which budget laptops among the best-sellers currently listed at Amazon and Best Buy are worth buying. We haven’t necessarily tested these specific machines (we’ll let you know if we have), but we’ve seen enough similar ones to have a good idea of the pros and cons. We’re also focusing on 14-inch and larger laptops, because part of the great deal should be getting a decent-sized display.
WD’s My Passport external 2.5-inch USB 3.0 hard drive is now available in up to 5TB in capacity, which means you can stuff even more data in your pocket than with the last iteration. At $150 retail, you pay $30 more than the previous top-capacity 4TB unit, but that’s the same price as its Seagate Expansion rival, as well as one-fifth the price per gigabyte of SSDs.
The 5TB My Passport measures 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.75 inches and weighs 0.46 pounds. It’s also available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, with the 1TB and 2TB versions being thinner at 0.44 inches and weighing only 0.27 pounds. All capacities carry a three-year warranty. (Note that if this drive is like other WD My Passports, you’ll likely find a decent discount if you shop around.)
Dell’s XPS 15 (version 7590) is a test of just how much hardware you can jam into a 4.2-pound laptop. This latest iteration includes up to an 8-core “overclockable” Core i9-9980HK and a discrete GeForce GTX 1650 card. That is a lot of hot hardware in a body arguably not built to handle it. Hardware you'd expect to see in a gaming laptop, not a high-end, thin-and-light workhorse.
We know why Dell likely did it: to compete with another high-end 15-inch laptop that's stuffed to the gills, the MacBook Pro 15. That's not a gaming machine either—both are systems designed for programmers, engineers, content creators, and other computing-intensive professionals. But the sad truth is most consumers will compare the top CPUs in both laptops, and buy the one with the “faster” CPU. So yes, if Apple is going to cross the line with a Core i9, Dell is apparently ready to cross it too, thermal limitations be damned. Our review will see if the XPS 15's stretch was worth the sacrifice.
It’s been more than two years, several price cuts, and one mass layoff since Andy Rubin’s Essential burst into the scene with a new kind of phone. Hailed by critics and instantly declared the next big thing, it was the first Android phone with a notch, no headphone jack, a modular magnetic system, and an overinflated sense of purpose.
In no uncertain terms, Essential Phone was a beautiful disaster. Initial figures put sales south of 100,000, the promised charging and audio mods arrived late or not at all, and the AI-powered home hub turned out to be pure vaporware.
Battery life remains one of the key shortcomings for most wireless headsets. Nothing is more frustrating than donning your device and realizing you forgot to charge it the night before, waiting for the low-battery beeps to kick in. Companies have taken various stabs at combating the dreaded dead headset these past few years. Astro built a little charging display stand for its 2016 A50 refresh. SteelSeries provides backup batteries for the Arctis Pro Wireless.
Dash cams are already essential in many countries because of scam artists who try to create accidents so they can sue you. They’ve also proven useful for catching cars flying into buildings, or the occasional meteor, as happened in Thailand and in Russia, all thanks to dash cams in the right place at the right time.
When Kaby Lake G debuted at CES 2018, it made a big bang. No one expected sworn rivals Intel and AMD to collaborate on a CPU package, marrying a 7th-gen Kaby Lake CPU with a unique AMD Radeon RX Vega GPU.
But what began with a bang ended Monday with an unceremonious memo. First noticed by Paul Alcorn of Tom’s Hardware, the Product Change Notification published by Intel on Monday confirmed that pretty much every single Kaby Lake G, including the Core i7-8706G, the Core i7-8705G, and the Core i5-8305G, would be discontinued. Last call for orders will be on January 17, 2020, and the final shipments are scheduled for July 31, 2020.
I didn’t quite know what to make of Soliom’s G1 380° ($100 on Amazon) the first time I saw the horizontally split-frame front/rear, surround video that it captures by default. It’s unique among dash cams in my experience, and while the quality is weak, this camera is arguably the best I’ve seen for pure legal daytime protection to the front and sides. For everything else, not so much.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.
When it first shipped, the Owlcam broke new ground by cherry-picking the best ideas from the competition and adding an excellent trick of its own: uploading incident video in real time to the cloud. It’s also easily the slickest consumer experience in the market, with some real top-notch design flourishes.
But at $349 on Amazon plus a yearly subscription (the first year is included), it’s pricey over the long haul. It’s also highly co-dependent with your phone. If neither of those factors bothers you, it’s the real deal.
Note that this is actually our second look at the Owlcam. We tested what was basically a shipping beta, then known as the Owl Car Cam, just over a year ago. It lacked key features such as Android support, some of which were added after that review. Reviewed here is the mature product.
Microsoft has been showing off Your Phone’s ability to place and make calls, and now it’s finally arrived on a significant portion of Android phones and Windows 10 Insider PCs. Yes, you can leave your phone in your pocket.
Calls promises to do what its name implies: permit you to answer incoming calls from your PC, as well as initiate calls from your PC using either the dialer app or your existing contacts. Calls will be placed from your nearby Android phone, but you’ll be able to control your phone via Windows, as well as hear and talk to your caller via your PC’s mic and speakers.
You’ll be able to decline incoming calls and send them to voicemail, or respond with a text. A call history will also be available. (Note that this assumes your contacts are from your Windows People app, and not your Android contact list.) Finally, you’ll be able to swap calls between your PC and the phone, and vice versa.
Microsoft now allows more specific limits on kids playing games on Windows PCs and Xbox Ones, permitting parents to set limits on specific games and websites.
Although Microsoft rolled its new “app and game limits” feature out as part of the October 2019 Xbox Update, the new limits can be applied to both the PC and the console. They’re accessible via the existing family settings associated with your Microsoft account.
Specifically, Microsoft now allows parents to specify times that their kids can play games—from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, say—as well as the total time that they can play the game. Each option can be configured for a specific game, such as Roblox, for example. Previously, parents were simply allowed to specify a chunk of time—two hours, possibly—during which their kids could be online.
Join The Full Nerd gang as they talk about the latest PC hardware topics. Today's show covers the recent CPU price cuts from Intel, AMD's new Radeon RX 5500, and our upcoming Dune Pro case build. As always we will be answering your live questions so speak up in the chat.
It always starts with one. One is manageable. One is easy even, if their back is turned. Walk up behind, that sort-of hunched at-the-ready walk, then slam them into the ground.
Then doors start opening, men rush out with guns drawn. You crouch, roll, fire off two shots. Don’t even stop to confirm he’s down. Throw your gun into the guy rounding the corner, punch him twice in the face. Steal his gun. Fire twice behind you. Another one down.
All hell breaks loose. Luckily, you’re the devil.
Good evening, Mr. Wick
We rarely see licensed video games these days, let alone ones as daring as John Wick Hex. Best case scenario, you’d expect the John Wick films to get a middling first-person shooter adaptation. Worst case scenario, a mobile collectible card game or something.