Turns out Hippodamus of Miletus is known as “the father of European urban planning,” a Greek born in 498 B.C.E. who argued that cities should be built rationally (a.k.a. on grids) instead of devolving into haphazard labyrinths. Most important: His ideas were adopted by Deinokrates, principle planner for the city of Alexandria.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Walk like an Egyptian
I’ve been waiting for Assassin’s Creed: Origins’s “Discovery Tour” mode ever since Ubisoft showed it off to us last year. The gist: Ubisoft took the world from Origins, the sprawling recreation of Ptolemaic Egypt that played host to Bayek’s adventures last year, and stripped most of the “game” elements out of it. There are no missions here, no throats to slit, no Phylakes to fend off.
The Papers Please movie finished up its paperwork and nabbed a release date, Overwatch had puppies play Capture the Flag, Warcraft III is hosting a tournament, you’ll soon (probably) be able to buy Geralt’s bathtub figurine, and Final Fantasy XV is doing a Half-Life crossover.
Yes, it’s certainly been a weird week in video game news. Let's recap February 19 to 23.
As far as bang-for-your-buck goes, the new Humble Classics Return Bundle (that’s a mouthful) might be the best the company’s ever featured. It’s full of those isometric CRPGs that suck up dozens and dozens of hours of your time, plus a few strategy and adventure games to boot.
The Core i7-8700K is part of Intel's newest line of CPUs that rolled out in late 2017. These eight-generation "Coffee Lake" chips were a notable upgrade over previous generations, due to an increase in core count: While Kaby Lake (and earlier) Core processors offered two or four cores, Coffee Lake parts offer four or six cores. Thanks AMD.
Now's a great time to snag EA games on the cheap. The gaming giant is running a massive "Publisher sale" on its Origin storefront and Amazon through March 6, with more than 50 games and DLC packs discounted heavily. Let's look at some of the highlights.
Google Assistant had its coming out party at Mobile World Congress 2017 with the announcement that it was expanding beyond Google’s own Pixel phones, and now it’s ready to take on the world. Literally. Google has announced it will be expanding Assistant to nearly two dozen more languages this year as it expands its influence to some “95 percent of all eligible Android phones worldwide.”
Google Assistant already speaks English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese (Brazil), but its linguist capabilities will be greatly expanded over the next 10 months as Google plans to add support for more than 30 languages. First up will be Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai, all of which should arrive by summer.
The new phones are coming! Mobile World Congress is nearly upon us, and soon we'll be feasting our eyes on the latest and greatest Android has to offer. So whether you're attending the big show or just checking out the keynote streams online, here's everything we expect (and hope) to see:
“Games as a Service” has become a buzzword in recent months, especially in the wake of November’s Star Wars Battlefront II lootbox controversy. The lootbox association has also tainted the term, tying it inextricably to what’s at best seen as a “necessary evil” in the industry.
But the basic idea behind Games as a Service is a net positive in theory: The games you like get expanded upon after release. Not just one big expansion or a handful of smaller DLCs, but near-constant support for years at a time. It’s what people liked about MMOs, but for all genres—the silver lining to this digital future, with its Day One patches and all the other stuff players like to grumble about.
Spoiler alert: We’ve never tested a gaming laptop as all-around powerful as the Origin PC EON17-X.
This big, badass notebook pushes the pedal to the metal with the most potent hardware available, and then Origin PC cranks things to 11 by overclocking both the full-fat GeForce GTX 1080 and the Core i7-8700K processor. Yes, this laptop rocks a desktop processor, and not just any desktop processor—it’s the fastest one currently available. With 6 cores and 12 threads, the EON17-X demolishes CPU benchmarks. It blazes through triple-A games. Hell, it might be able to literally crush its slim, trim Nvidia Max-Q competition.
The Logitech Craft keyboard is what happens when a keyboard engineer glimpses Microsoft’s Surface Dial hockey-puck peripheral and decides: We can do that, too. But if you want to spend $200 for just a keyboard, don’t bother: The only way the Craft makes sense is if you see value in its Surface-Dial-like navigation knob that also integrates with Logitech’s PC-spanning Logitech Flow software.
Aesthetically, there’s room for improvement. The Craft weighs a ponderous 2.08 pounds, anchored by a broad metal bar that runs across the top of the keyboard and houses the 1,500mAh battery, plus the electronics driving the crown. You can’t adjust the Craft’s slope. And personally, I found the Craft’s scalloped keys to have a shallower travel than I’d like.
Massive security vulnerabilities in modern CPUs are forcing a redesign of the kernel software at the heart of all major operating systems. Since the issues—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—exist in the CPU hardware itself, Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS, Chromebooks, and other operating systems all need to protect against the first exploits that have begun circulating. And worse, plugging the hole can negatively affect your PC’s performance.
Everyday home users shouldn’t panic too much, though some proof-of-concept exploits are being circulated in the field. Just apply all—well, most—available updates and keep your antivirus software vigilant, as ever. If you want to dive right into the action without all the background information, we’ve also created a focused guide on how to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre.
Operating system patches alone can protect against the nasty Meltdown flaw affecting Intel processors, but fixing Spectre—Meltdown’s nasty sibling, which affects all CPUs—requires firmware updates for your hardware. Those firmware fixes are finally starting to appear after Intel’s first round of Spectre patches were yanked for causing system instability and potential data loss. Stable patches for 6th-gen Intel Skylake CPUs and newer chips are now available, and both Intel and AMD are working on CPU microcode updates for other chips.
A pair of nasty CPU exploits have serious ramifications for home computer users. Meltdown and Spectre let attackers access protected information in your PC’s kernel memory, potentially revealing sensitive details like passwords, cryptographic keys, personal photos and email, or anything else you’ve used on your computer. These are serious flaws. Fortunately, CPU and operating system vendors pushed out patches fast, and you can protect your PC from Meltdown and Spectre to some degree.
It’s not a quick one-and-done deal, though. They’re two very different CPU flaws that touch every part of your operating system, from hardware to software to the operating system itself. Check out PCWorld’s Meltdown and Spectre FAQ for everything you need to know about the vulnerabilities themselves. We’ve cut through the technical jargon to explain what you need to know in clear, easy-to-read language. We’ve also created an overview of how the Spectre CPU bug affects phones and tablets.
With the first deployments of 5G high-speed wireless technology within the U.S. scheduled for later this year, Intel and its PC partners are already thinking about the next step: rolling out 5G-equipped PCs late in 2019.
Intel, along with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft said Thursday that the companies expect the first 5G Windows PCs to become available during the second half of 2019. That’s about the same time that Intel plans to begin shipping its XMM 8000 commercial modems, marking the company’s entrance into the 5G market.
Intel will show off a prototype of the new 5G connected PC at Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. In addition the company will demonstrate data streaming over the 5G network. At its stand, Intel said that it will also show off eSIM technology—the replacement for actual, physical SIM cards—and a thin PC running 802.11ax Wi-Fi, the next-gen Wi-Fi standard.
The promise of cloud gaming holds clear appeal. High-end gaming on any Internet-connected PC, even crappy old laptops that couldn’t dream of running games normally? Yes please!
But the reality has been much more disappointing. Forebears like OnLive and Gaikai are remembered more for their bugginess and lag than genuine gaming goodness. The small horde of cloud gaming services popping up over the last couple of years likewise struggle with reliability issues.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming could be the real deal.
The GeForce Now beta finally landed on PCs in late January, and it’s the first cloud gaming service I’ve used that doesn’t require major compromises on a regular basis. Hell, it actively takes a lot of the headaches out of maintaining a gaming rig. If your network can handle it—and even my humble 25Mbps Comcast home Internet connection could—and you can wrap your brain around some weird interface quirks, you’ll be pulling off headshots and executing other precision moves in-game in no time.
With manufacturers again shipping Meltdown and Spectre updates to fix security exploits in CPUs, you may be wondering just how much of a hit your PC has taken.
After testing how much the updates affected older PCs and my own Surface Book performance laptop, and studying the benchmarks run by colleagues at Techspot and PCMag as well, we believe we've found a simple way for the average consumer to gauge the slowdown.
GogoToro recently released a series of power banks inspired by classic video games: There’s the DexCharge, Cheeky-Charger, and Outlet Evaders. Each pack comes with a different color scheme, as well as a sheet of stickers for the user to customize the pack. For this review, I’m specifically evaluating the Outlet Evaders pack, available for $39 from GGTR’s site or Amazon.
For small businesses (SMBs) the margins between success and failure are tiny. So, it’s vital to do everything possible to maximise employee performance and minimise costs, and this is where the company’s choice of business technology plays a pivotal role.
Yet research has continually shown that many SMBs are slow to move to modern PCs, even though such a PC Refresh – the act of regularly upgrading computers being used in the organisation -- enables them to cut bottom-line costs and improve productivity.
A 2014 study by Techaisle  found that 36% of SMBs had PCs that were four years or older, which resulted in application and system performance issues, malware attacks and connectivity issues for many of the respondents. This, in turn, had a direct impact on diminishing productivity and employee satisfaction.
Truly wireless earbuds let you ditch all cables in our post–headphone jack world, but like with anything else, their quality varies. Our top picks offer great audio without sacrificing battery life or comfort.
Today's a good day to stock up on light bulbs for your smart home. Walmart is selling a single Philips Hue White A19 bulb for $10—or for 33 percent off the usual price. This deal is particularly nice since you can buy the exact amount of bulbs you want. Previously, the best price we've seen is a two-pack for $30.
The Philips Hue White A19 is a plain white LED bulb (read our review here). It doesn't have colors and doesn't come with a Philips Bridge. The Bridge is the go-between for the ZigBee-based Hue bulbs and a home network.
In a normal year, Blade’s Shadow cloud-gaming service might seem superfluous: Do you really need to stream games to your PC as components quickly drop in price? But that was before today’s cryptocurrency miners began snapping up GPUs left and right. Now, the Shadow service is something of an option for leasing a pricey GPU, rather than buying one. In our hands-on time with the service, it works acceptably—though a bit of lag, bugs, and an obtuse setup process muddy the experience.
The Shadow service takes a page from its spiritual ancestor, OnLive, the cloud-gaming service that disappeared in 2012, was reborn in 2014, and then sold to Sony. Blade provides a powerful virtual PC, currently housed at or near the company’s Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters. You, the user, are asked to pay $49.95 per month ($34.95 per month if you sign up for a year) to use it—and for now, it’s limited to Californians.
By now, a dual-monitor setup has become commonplace. Multitasking on a single screen is just way too confining. But why stop at two displays? I can speak from experience: Having multiple monitors (and I’m talking three, four, five, or even six) is just…awesome, and something you totally need in your life.
Right now, my main PC has a triple-monitor setup: my main 27-inch central monitor, with a 24-inch monitor on either side. I use my extra monitors for a number of things, such as comparing spreadsheets side-by-side, writing articles while also doing research, keeping tabs on my social media feeds, and, of course, watching Netflix.
Intel said Tuesday afternoon that it’s shipped updated patches to mitigate the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities for Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake Core processors, plus additional Skylake chips. Intel’s patch roadmap also indicates that beta patches for Broadwell, Haswell, and Ivy Bridge-based PCs are in the works.
The microcode updates have been shipped to Intel’s hardware partners, some of which have already begun passing them along to customers. As always, the best protection against Spectre and Meltdown is to patch your PCs, especially as the new, updated code appears.
Today's a great day for a deal on some crazy fast SSD storage. Amazon, B&H Photo, and Newegg are all selling the 500GB Samsung 960 Evo NVMe M.2 module for $200.
The 960 Evo features V-NAND flash memory, sequential read speeds up to 3,200MB/s, and write speeds up to 1,900MB/s. We didn't review the consumer-grade Evo variant of this drive, but we did review the Samsung 960 Pro and loved it.
The solid-state drive pictured above may look like any other, but don’t be fooled: Samsung’s PM1643 crams a staggering 30.72 terabytes of storage into the traditional 2.5-inch SSD form factor. That’s enough room for 5,700 full HD movies, Samsung says.
Samsung created its 30TB SSD by combining 32 sticks of 1TB NAND flash packages together, each built with 16 layers of stacked 512Gb V-NAND chips. This drive nearly doubles the capacity of Samsung’s previous champion, which topped out at 16TB.