• chevron_right

      Intel’s Core i5 is the best bargain in CPUs right now, but which should you get? / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 April - 11:30 · 1 minute

    An Intel Core i5-13400 processor in a black computer motherboard.

    Enlarge / Intel's Core i5-13400. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Fancy expensive processors are fun, but for most people who just want to build a decent middle-of-the-road PC for gaming (and anything else), the best advice is usually to buy a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 for somewhere in the $200–$250 range and pair it with the fastest graphics card you can afford.

    Intel's Core i5-13400 (and the graphics-less 13400F) caught our eye when Intel announced it because it was adding a cluster of four E-cores to the Core i5-12400, which was one of Intel's best mid-range desktop CPUs in years . E-cores don't matter much for games, but they can help when you're trying to run background tasks behind your game, and they can also provide a decent boost to heavily multithreaded CPU workloads like video encoding or CPU-based rendering.

    This is nominally a review of the Core i5-13400, which is a good CPU and (when considered together with the cost of a motherboard and RAM) one of the better bargains you'll find if you're building a PC right now. The problem is that Intel sells a lot of very similar 12th- and 13th-generation Core i5 chips, and the prices are constantly bouncing around in that $160–$250 band. The one you should usually get depends on what you're doing and which one happens to be the cheapest at the moment you're buying.

    Read 35 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Ryzen 7950X3D review: An expensive but incredibly efficient 16-core CPU / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 March, 2023 - 15:01

    AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D.

    Enlarge / AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Toward the end of Ryzen 5000's run, AMD released the Ryzen 7 5800X3D , a special version of the eight-core 5800X with 64MB of extra L3 cache stacked on top of it.

    The result was an interesting but niche experiment. The extra "3D V-Cache" helped the CPU perform particularly well in games, but lower clock speeds (plus higher power use and heat generation) hurt its all-around app performance. The extra cost was (and remains) way out of proportion to the speed gains over the 5700X or 5800X. And the 5800X3D was the end of the line for the old socket AM4 platform, making it an interesting upgrade option if you already had an older Ryzen PC but an awkward choice to build an all-new PC around.

    Now AMD is back with an expanded range of Zen 4-based Ryzen 7000X3D processors. The $599 12-core Ryzen 9 7900X3D and $699 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X3D are available now, while the 8-core Ryzen 7 7800X3D will arrive on April 6.

    Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro review: More than enough buttons, too much software / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 18 February, 2023 - 12:00 · 1 minute

    Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro

    Enlarge / Razer's BlackWidow V4 Pro wired mechanical keyboard. (credit: Scharon Harding)

    Specs at a glance: Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro
    Switches Razer Green (clicky) or Yellow (linear)
    Keycaps Doubleshot ABS plastic
    Connectivity options USB-A cable
    Backlighting Per-key RGB
    Size (with wrist rest) 18.3×9.35×1.73 inches
    (466×237.5×44 mm)
    Weight (with wrist rest) 3.37 pounds  (1,530 g)
    Warranty 2 years
    Price (MSRP) $230
    Other 1x USB-A passthrough port, detachable wrist rest

    If you've ever wished your keyboard had more buttons, Razer's BlackWidow V4 Pro may be for you. It expands the full-size keyboard layout to include a column of macro keys and three non-mechanical buttons on the keyboard's left edge. The keyboard also has a volume roller and a so-called Command Dial, which lets you twist your inputs to control zoom, scroll through a long spreadsheet, or tweak the size of a Photoshop brush.

    Despite Razer's gaming focus, the BlackWidow V4 Pro fits well in work settings thanks to its extreme, multi-layer programmability, a strong but imperfect typing experience, and a USB-A passthrough port. It's easy to dim the RGB lighting and get to work with complex key bindings; you can launch frequently used apps and sites with a keypress and navigate programs with the dial.

    But many of the BlackWidow V4 Pro's best features require you to keep Razer's Synapse app open, and while this isn't a new complaint, the introduction of the multi-function dial puts a harsh spotlight on this limitation.

    Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      2023 MacBook Pro review: A refined second generation / ArsTechnica · Monday, 23 January, 2023 - 14:38

    One of the interesting side effects of Apple's move toward using its own silicon in the Mac is that the Mac update cycle now looks a lot more like the iPhone's: mostly predictable, regular updates that offer modest generation-to-generation boosts to performance and maybe a few additional refinements or new features.

    That's very much the case with the 2023 MacBook Pro. For most intents and purposes, it is the 2021 MacBook Pro. The only difference is the inclusion of the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for boosted CPU, graphics, and machine learning performance over 2021's M1 Pro and M2 Max, plus some connectivity upgrades that directly address some of our very minor quibbles with the otherwise excellent 2021 models.

    That said, the 2021 MacBook Pro was far from a disappointment when it launched, and the market hasn't changed enough in the past two years to make the mostly similar 2023 models any less attractive. These are still the best laptops you can buy for many use cases—provided you don't mind spending a small fortune, that is.

    Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      M2 Pro Mac mini review: Apple’s Goldilocks desktop for semi-professionals / ArsTechnica · Monday, 23 January, 2023 - 14:00 · 1 minute

    Apple's 2023 Mac mini. If you've seen one, you've seen them all, but it's what's on the inside that counts.

    Enlarge / Apple's 2023 Mac mini. If you've seen one, you've seen them all, but it's what's on the inside that counts. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Apple's Mac Studio was its most interesting desktop in years. It lacks the internal expandability of the Mac Pro, but the raw performance and power efficiency of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra plus a great port selection make it a viable option for plenty of people who would have bought a fully loaded 27-inch iMac or a low-to-mid-end Mac Pro in the Intel era.

    But the $2,000-and-up desktop is still overkill for a lot of people, even for pros and power users. There was a lot of room between the cheapest Studio and the best M1 Mac mini for a cheaper-but-more-capable system, something for people who could benefit from pro-level performance and extra ports occasionally but who don't need them often enough to justify dropping the money on a Mac Studio.

    Enter the new Mac minis . Both the M2 and M2 Pro versions are augmented in ways that will benefit multi-monitor multitasking workstations, and they can do so for substantially less money than the Studio—the M2 mini starts at $599, $100 cheaper than the M1 mini and cheaper than any Mac mini has been since 2014. Apple sent us the M2 Pro version of the mini to review, and for many price-conscious power users who prefer or require macOS, it injects just the right amount of Mac Studio performance into the mini's 13-year-old design.

    Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Amazon’s Kindle Scribe is pen-centric hardware let down by book-centric software / ArsTechnica · Monday, 16 January, 2023 - 11:45 · 1 minute

    Amazon's Kindle Scribe e-reader.

    Enlarge / Amazon's Kindle Scribe e-reader. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Amazon's Kindle e-readers have been around for 15 years, and they've remained steadfastly focused on displaying books for reading (and, to a lesser extent, audiobooks). Input has never been something they've been particularly concerned with. The devices' poky processors and laggy touchscreen keyboards are best suited for short annotations or looking up the name of a book or author—not for writing anything longer than a sentence or two, and certainly not for taking notes or jotting down idle thoughts.

    That's the main change to the Kindle Scribe , the newest and most expensive member of the e-reader family. It's the first Kindle with its own purpose-built pen accessory and a 10.2-inch screen that's more suitable for input than the 6-to-7-inch screens on other Kindles. It doesn't come cheap—it starts at $340 and goes up quickly from there. It's over three times as expensive as the Kindle Paperwhite and not much cheaper than a baseline iPad and Apple Pencil combo. But it's also trying to do some new things that older Kindles aren't built for.

    The problem for the Scribe is that the Kindle's software, likewise laser-focused on the reading experience and not the input experience, doesn't feel robust enough to deliver on the pen's promise. The actual handwriting experience is great, which gives us some hope that further updates could make this device more useful. But as it is, most of the things it's trying to do are things that an iPad is better at, and they come at the cost of some of the regular Kindle's best features.

    Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 review: Fast, expensive, toasty powerhouse / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 21 December, 2022 - 19:07 · 1 minute

    Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

    Enlarge / Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Specs at a glance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 (As reviewed)
    Display 16-inch 3840×2400 IPS  touchscreen (283 PPI)
    OS Windows 11 Pro
    CPU Intel Core i7-12800H (six P-cores, eight E-cores)
    RAM 16GB 4,800 MHz DDR5 (2 DIMMs)
    GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (8GB, 100 W), Intel Iris Xe
    Storage 1TB NVMe SSD
    Networking Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
    Battery 90 WHr
    Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 2x 5Gbps USB-A, SD card reader, HDMI 2.1, headphones
    Size 13.57×9.06×0.17 inches (344.7×230.1×18.0 mm)
    Weight Starts at 4.14 pounds (1.88kg)
    Warranty 1 year
    Price as reviewed $3,280 from Lenovo

    Our take on the fifth-generation version of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme is—spoiler—pretty much the same as what we said about the fourth-generation version . It runs hot and it's expensive, but it’s powerful and arguably a better choice than Dell’s XPS 15 for people whose laptop is their primary computer rather than a sidecar for a desktop workstation or gaming PC, thanks to an expanded port selection and more powerful GPU options.

    It also changes even less than is typical for a year-over-year laptop refresh, adding Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake CPUs but sticking to the same RTX 3000-series GPUs from Nvidia and similar memory and storage configurations. We’ll point you to last year’s review for extended commentary on the keyboard, ports, and general look and feel, which haven’t changed much year to year. It uses the typical comfortable Lenovo laptop keyboard plus the pointing nub and trackpad, all among the best you can get in a laptop from Lenovo, Dell, Apple, or any other company.

    The X1 Extreme is also reasonably easy to upgrade and repair compared to thinner and lighter laptops, with easily accessible DDR5 RAM slots and a pair of M.2 SSD slots. In our review model, one had a 1TB SSD in it, and the other was open for upgrades. Lenovo still publishes a hardware maintenance manual ( PDF ) to help people perform those and other upgrades and repairs.

    Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Review: HP’s Dragonfly Folio G3 stays cool and quiet in faux leather / ArsTechnica · Friday, 16 December, 2022 - 12:00 · 1 minute

    HP Dragonfly Folio G3 with the screen pulled forward

    Enlarge / The HP Dragonfly Folio G3 2-in-1 laptop. (credit: Scharon Harding)

    Specs at a glance: HP Dragonfly Folio G3
    Worst Best As reviewed
    Screen 13.5-inch 1920×1280 IPS touchscreen 13.5-inch 1920× 1280 IPS touchscreen with HP Sure View Reflect Privacy 13.5-inch 1920×1280 IPS touchscreen
    OS Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Pro
    CPU Intel Core i7-1255U vPro Intel Core i7-1265U vPro
    RAM 16GB LPDDR5-6400 32GB LPDDR5-6400 16GB LPDDR5-6400
    Storage 512GB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD 512GB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD
    Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G
    Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x 3.5 mm 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x 3.5 mm jack, 1x Nano SIM card reader
    Size 11.67×9.22× 0.7 inches
    (296.42×234.19×17.78 mm)
    Weight Starts at 3.09 lbs (1.4 kg)
    Battery 53 Wh
    Warranty 1 year
    Price (MSRP) $2,379 $4,715 $2,749
    Other Stylus with 3x extra tips included

    Dressed to impress, HP's Dragonfly Folio G3 is a unique machine with a high price tag to match (it starts at $2,379 as of press time). Like other Dragonfly laptops, including the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and Elite Dragonfly G3 , the Folio G3 is largely aimed at business users. But this isn't the type of 2-in-1 that IT managers will be distributing company-wide.

    Instead, the Folio G3 will land in the hands of executives and big-spending power users willing to splurge for a distinct look and feel—and way more flexibility than almost every other convertible PC can boast. With its current-gen CPU, this machine is an intriguing alternative to Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio , which has a screen with a similar pull-forward design that lets it prop onto the deck or lay on top of the keyboard to work like a tablet.

    HP's Folio G3 is finely crafted, it stays cool and quiet, and it begs to be shown off. But if you prioritize performance over things like stylus input and an adaptable screen, there are more suitable ultralight laptops.

    Read 46 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Radeon 7900 XTX and XT review: Faster, hotter, and cheaper than the RTX 4080 / ArsTechnica · Monday, 12 December, 2022 - 14:00 · 1 minute

    The Radeon RX 7900 XTX's three-fan cooler.

    Enlarge / The Radeon RX 7900 XTX's three-fan cooler. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Nvidia's RTX 4080 and 4090 GPUs are amazing performers. They are also amazingly expensive, starting at $1,200 and $1,500 and going way up for cards from partners like MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus. The 4080 is nearly twice as expensive as the original $699 MSRP for the RTX 3080.

    These price hikes are caused in part by pandemic-era concerns like supply chain snarls and inflation and partly by a cryptocurrency-fueled boom (now over, blessedly) that encouraged a network of scalpers to snap up every single high-end GPU they could. Also at play was a lack of competition and the increasing cost and complexity of building gigantic, monolithic chips on cutting-edge manufacturing processes. Today, AMD is trying to solve the latter two problems with the launch of its Radeon RX 7900 series GPUs.

    At $899 and $999, the RX 7900 XT and RX 7900 XTX are still objectively expensive—but because they're not a further escalation over the starting price of the RX 6900 XT, both cards are what pass for a bargain in today's GPU market. If you're looking for cards that can consistently handle 4K gaming at 60 fps and higher, these GPUs do it for less than Nvidia's latest, and they're good enough and fast enough that they'll hopefully start driving Nvidia's prices down a bit, too.

    Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments