Nvidia just unleashed what it calls the “ultimate GeForce card,” and the blisteringly fast GTX 1080 Ti indeed delivers unparalleled levels of gaming performance. But the version you can buy today isn’t truly the apex of graphics technology, even if the core graphics processor itself is.
Customized graphics cards always push performance far past what reference cards offer, thanks to a mixture of beefy cooling solutions and mild-to-heavy overclocks. But while the initial salvo of GTX 1080 Tis are limited to $700 “Founders Edition” reference cards, the likes of MSI, EVGA, Asus, Zotac, and other Nvidia partners haven’t been shy about showing off their plans for the new GeForce flagship… even if they haven’t been forthcoming about concrete price and release date details.
Here’s a look at all the custom GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards destined for release sooner than later. Nvidia tells us it expects partner cards to hit the streets later in March, and a recent outpouring of details from Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, and others suggest that might actually happen.
Editor’s note: This article originally published on March 9 but has been repeatedly updated with new info, most recently with Gigabyte’s Aorus GTX 1080 Ti specifications and MSI Armor edition info.
We’re big fans of keyboard shortcuts. Memorizing key combinations takes some work, but once you have, shortcuts make using an operating system so much more efficient.
Many people know the everyday keyboard shortcuts, such as how to copy, cut, and paste text with the keyboard, how to close a window, and how to lock a PC.
That’s a solid start—but there are even more powerful keyboard shortcuts lurking beyond the basics. Here are some of our favorite less commonly used shortcuts. We’ve grouped these by operating system to make it easier for users of Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 to see what’s available for their system.
Windows 7 and up
F2: Prepare selected file for renaming—no more careful clicking.
Alt + Enter: Select a file and then use this shortcut to display its properties
Windows Key + M: Minimize all windows to the taskbar (Windows Key + Shift + M restores them).
Windows Key + Home: Minimize everything but the active window
Windows Key + Pause: Display the system properties dialog box
Windows key + Shift + right or left arrow: Move the active window to the next monitor in the direction indicated
Ctrl + Y: Redo an action (the opposite of Ctrl + Z)
Windows 8.1 and up
Windows Key + comma key: Peek at the desktop
Windows 10 only
Windows key + Alt + D: Display the time and calendar panel (equivalent of clicking the time on the taskbar)
Windows key + Tab: Open task view. Remember Task View? It’s how you create virtual desktops in Windows 10. A handy feature for people who like to multitask.
Intel’s Optane Memory could be the most revolutionary letdown in storage history. Announced Monday morning, these first consumer Optane-based devices will be available April 24 in two M.2 trims: A 16GB model for $44 and a 32GB Optane Memory device for $77. Both are rated for crazy-fast read speeds of 1.2GBps and writes of 280MBps.
If you’re wondering how you can install Windows 10 on one of these, you can’t. The first two Optane Memory devices
instead are meant to be used primarily as cache drives for a traditional hard drive, using a technique similar to the Smart Response Technology Intel introduced in 2011.
Why this matters: Optane Memory is a far cry from what we expected after Intel and Micron announced 3D XPoint in 2015. The non-volatile memory was hyped as the next fast thing, promising “1,000X” the performance of today’s NAND-based SSDs with far higher density and lower cost than DRAM. 3D XPoint had me wondering just how it would reshape the PC down the road, when a computer could potentially have a simple 4TB of 3D XPoint memory doing it all, rather than 16GB of RAM and a hard drive. Apparently we have to be patient.
Why you shouldn’t dismiss Optane
Anyone who expected the first Optane drives to re-balance the galaxy is likely to be very disappointed with Intel Optane Memory. These first two Optane drives aren’t intended for enthusiasts, nor anyone with a beefy computer. They’re aimed at the huddled masses who still use traditional, spinning-platter hard drives. There are a lot of them: IDC data cited by Intel shows roughly 80 percent of desktop PCs in the world still use hard drives. (Full disclosure: IDC and PCWorld are separate business units of International Data Group.) They’ll continue to do so, too, because the cost per megabyte is so affordable.
Add Optane Memory to a current PC, and drive performance will be exponentially better, Intel claims.
Optane Memory hands-on
Intel let the media try Optane Memory during a recent briefing at the company’s Folsom, California campus. This was a controlled atmosphere: I was not allowed to take photographs or screenshots, and we were closely supervised by Intel staff. Take these observations with a grain of salt.
I booted a NUC PC with a 2.5-inch hard drive to Windows 10, launched the GIMP photo editor, and recorded how long it took to load. I then shut down the NUC and inserted a 32GB Intel Optane Memory drive into the NUC’s M.2 slot. I booted back into Windows and launched GIMP. Then I shut down the NUC and booted back into Windows.
Lather, rinse, repeat. With each duplicate task, the launching speed accelerated. The load time for Gimp, for example, dropped from about 14 seconds to 8 seconds, and then to 3 or 4 seconds as the Optane Memory cached the task.
While Optane Memory’s mission echoes that of Smart Response Technology, it’s a far better implementation. Pairing the drive, or setting it up to cache the hard drive, is truly a snap. You simply fire up the Optane Memory utility, tell it to pair, and you’re done.
Anyone who remembers the original Smart Response Technology can tell you it wasn’t so easy to use and was prone to pairing problems. Like SRT, Intel Optane Memory keeps parts of the OS on the drive to speed up performance. This means if you want to pull the hard drive from the system, you’ll have to unpair it first so you don’t jeopardize your data.
The current Intel Optane Memory implementation is also limited to a single hard drive. If you run two hard drives, the second one will see no caching improvement. Very much like SRT, Intel Optane Memory increases responsiveness overall. Of course, anything is an improvement over a hard drive.
Competing with SSD
When the price of a 128GB SATA SSD is roughly $50 to $60 today, you may rightly wonder why Optane Memory would be worth the bother. Intel says most consumers just don’t want to give up the capacity for their photos and videos. PC configurations with a hard drive and an SSD, while standard for higher-end PC users, aren’t popular among newbies.
Think of the times you’ve had friends or family fill up the boot drive with cat pictures, but the secondary drive is nearly empty. Intel Optane Memory would give that mainstream user the same or better performance as an SSD, with the capacity advantage of the 1TB or 2TB drive they’re used to.
Intel claims Optane Memory performance is as good or better than an SSD’s, offering better latency by magnitudes and the ability to reach peak performance at much lower queue depths. (A queue depth is basically how long it takes the system to access data on the hard drive.) Here’s an Intel slide that shows the traces of several consumer applications in use. You can see all of the action is with a queue depth of one, two, or three at the most.
Intel says the problem with NAND SSD is in its method of increasing performance: Increasing the number of channels nets performance only at very high queue depths that consumers don’t reach.
You probably want the next drive
What we all wanted to know, of course, is whether actual Optane SSDs aimed at consumers would come to market. Intel will only say that’s in the works.
If Intel repeats its previous pattern of offering consumer drives based on its server products, some hints may lie in the launch of the DC P4800X—see the roadmap for Optane SSDs in the lower right-hand corner.
One limitation of Optane Memory could be a deal-breaker for many users: Intel says Optane Memory will be tied to Kaby Lake CPUs, and not just the associated 200-series chipsets. That means, for example, if you have a Z270 motherboard with a Skylake Core i7-6700K in it, it won’t work. Intel said it wanted to limit the validation work it had to do. We’d also guess that by limiting Optane to Kaby Lake, Intel gets to eliminate supporting Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
Optane Memory’s first step
When something is hyped as “1,000X” of anything, people have expectations. The speed booster announced today falls short of the full-on SSD-killer performance enthusiasts were hoping for. All Intel says, though, is wait and see: Storage VP Rob Cooke described this first rollout of Optane as an “exciting moment in time” that would become the new normal.
Cooke actually compared Optane’s launch to the big changes brought about by the steam engine, electricity, space travel, the PC, and the interne. “I believe you will look back in time 10 years from now and say ‘I was there.’”
Amazon is on a roll with monitor sales. Following up its recent sale of a Dell 4K monitor, the online retailer is selling one of the more popular gaming displays at a great price: The Asus VG248QE is available right now for $205. This monitor first showed up at CES 2013 and has been a popular choice ever since it rolled out.
The panel features a 144Hz refresh rate with a 1ms response time, which Asus says gives games “ultra-smooth motion” even during busy scenes. It also has Asus GamePlus, a function that adds crosshair and timer overlays—the timer is helpful for real-time strategy games. It also features Nvidia’s 3D LightBoost that makes the LED backlight brighter for 3D games, and it’s Nvidia 3D Vision ready. Both of these features were a bigger deal in 2013, but if you still sneak on a pair of 3D glasses in the middle of the night to play Battlefield 3 or Witcher 2, you’ll be happy the features are there.
The back of the monitor packs a DisplayPort, DVI-D, and HDMI. It also has two 2-watt speakers built-in. The stand offers several handy features including swivel, pivot, tilt and a height adjustment that can add about four inches to the display.
Late last year Razer resurrected its Blade Pro laptop line, finally stuffing it with hardware worthy of the “Pro” appellation. Our three-word review: We loved it. It’s a great machine, if you can afford it.
And now it’s a bit better, thanks to the standard year-over-year refresh. Razer released details on a new Blade Pro today—it’s keeping Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080, but moving over from an Intel i7-6700HQ at 2.6GHz to an overclockable i7-7820HK processor at 2.9GHz. The Blade Pro’s 32GB of RAM also gets a timing bump up to 2,667MHz (from 2,133MHz).
The really interesting news though: The Blade Pro is now the first-ever laptop to receive THX Mobile Certification, “an accreditation reserved for high-performance mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.” From the press release:
[ Further reading: Our picks for best PC laptops ]
“Through the processes of THX, the Razer Blade Pro screen is calibrated and tested for resolution, color accuracy and video playback performance…Similarly, the audio jack on the new Razer Blade Pro met THX requirements for voltage output, frequency response, distortion, signal-to-noise ratio, and crosstalk that guarantees clear sound through headphones.”
It’s worth noting that only the headphone jack is THX-certified, not the built-in speakers—an important point, I think, given people usually associate THX with surround sound systems. While the Blade Pro’s speakers are certainly better than your average laptop’s, they’re still not amazing by any means.
We could also debate all day about the usefulness of THX certification. Is your non-certified Blade Pro from six months ago suddenly a decrepit old hag? Not at all. Razer’s even using the same 4K IGZO display on this new THX-certified laptop as it did on the 2016 model—just calibrated slightly differently, and with (presumably) a big ol’ THX stamp on the box. So yeah, this is a bit of a marketing win more than anything else.
On the other hand it does prove the Blade Pro is one hell of a laptop. A THX representative confirmed to me that competing laptops have undergone testing, but Razer’s is the first to meet the standards of this new Mobile Certification program. That makes it somewhat-objectively the best laptop in the world for the moment, at least by THX’s standards—meaning as far as the display and headphone jack are concerned.
[UPDATE: A reader reminded me that THX is now owned by Razer as of last year so who knows whether “somewhat-objective” even applies here.]
Is that useful? I don’t know. The display is certainly an important aspect with laptops, so THX Mobile Certification isn’t a wholly made-up honorific. Still, it does seem of limited use to tech nerds—no consideration given to internal hardware, benchmarks, or anything we usually use to compare laptops. The Blade Pro is THX-certified to be easy on the eyes, and that’s about it.
I guess you’ll have to keep reading our PCWorld reviews for the full picture.
The good news in this case is we agree with THX: The Blade Pro is one of the finest laptops available, provided you’ve got $4,000 burning a hole in your pocket. Look for the updated Kaby Lake model in April on Razer’s website, and be sure to brag to all your friends about that THX Mobile Certification. They’ll love hearing about it.
Netgear’s Orbi RBK50 is one of the best Wi-Fi systems we’ve tested, and now the company is expanding the brand into a broader family of products with today’s introduction of the Orbi RBK30 and the Orbi RBK40. Like the original Orbi, both of the new models are tri-band routers that dedicate one 5GHz Wi-Fi channel for data backhaul from satellite access points.
Both of the new systems will use the same router, but will have different satellites. The router is an AC2200 model supporting two spatial streams up and down on each frequency band to support one 2.4GHz network with to 400Mbps of bandwidth, a 5GHz network with up to 866Mbps of bandwidth, and a third 5GHz network dedicated to data backhaul with up to 867Mbps of bandwidth. The original Orbi RBK50 is also a tri-band router, but it operates a 4×4 radio for backhaul, delivering up to 1733 Mbps. Like that router, the new model will come equipped with a four-port ethernet switch, but it won’t have a USB port.
The $300 Orbi RBK30 is designed to cover an area up to 3500 square feet. It consists of the new downsized router and a satellite that’s designed to plug straight into a AC outlet. Netgear product manager Amit Rele said Netgear “took inspiration from [its] plug-in range extender business” in designing the plug-in module. It’s a one-piece design, unlike the curious magnetic-ball modules in Ubiquiti’s Amplifi HD Wi-Fi system.
Rele admited that there will be “some loss of range [with the plug-in design], due to the presence of power lines in the wall and more obstacles in the signal path” because most outlets are just a few inches above the floor. Still, promising 3500 square feet of coverage with just two modules is an impressive claim.
The $350 Orbi RBK40 will use the same router as the RBK30, but it will come with a larger and more conventional satellite that’s designed to operate on a table or counter top. Rele said consumers should expect this combination to cover up to 4000 square feet.
Netgear is also selling all three satellites separately for consumers who need to expand the range of their existing Orbi networks. The Orbi wall-plug satellite is priced at $150 and promises to add 1500 square feet of coverage, the AC2200 table-top satellite is rated to add 2000 square feet of coverage for $200, and the original satellite costs $250 to add 2500 square feet of range.
Netgear says all of its new components are available for sale now. We’ll have hands-on reviews as soon as we can get our hands on eval units.
This story, “Netgear expands its Orbi Wi-Fi system into a product family, adding two less-expensive models” was originally published by TechHive.
Now that Ubisoft’s heavy hitters have had a few months to lure high-end gamers to GeForce Experience, Nvidia’s targeting the mainstream masses.
On Tuesday, Nvidia announced that the GeForce GTX 1060 ($250 and up on Newegg for 6GB model) is being added to the “Prepare for Battle” bundle, joining the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. When you buy one of the graphics cards from a participating retailer or PC vendor, you’ll be able to take your pick of For Honor or Ghost Recon: Wildlands for free. The former’s a satisfying melee brawler with samurais, Vikings, and knights, while the latter tasks you with disrupting drug dealers in a massive open-world recreation of Bolivia. Both are better played with pals.
The catch? You can’t redeem the game codes through Uplay itself. Instead, you’ll need to install Nvidia’s GeForce Experience software to snag the freebies. PCWorld’s initial coverage of the Prepare for Battle bundle explained why Nvidia’s keen to get you using its otherwise optional software.
But I’m keen on making you aware of the hidden super-screenshots lurking in these games. For Honor and Wildlands both support Nvidia’s Ansel technology, which is the best GeForce feature you’re not using—probably because games don’t explicitly point out Ansel’s inclusion. Just press Alt + F2 in-game to get started making glorious gaming art of your own. I don’t recommend doing it in multiplayer though.
The offer lasts until April 17, and yes, Nvidia’s cut-down 3GB GTX 1060 ($180 and up on Newegg) is also eligible. Word of warning: Make sure your chosen retailer’s participating before you buy!
Fight! AMD’s rival graphics cards don’t support Ansel, but they’re being bundled with a game of their own. Many Radeon RX 480 models at Newegg and Amazon are still coming with a free copy of Doom, one of the most exhilarating single-player shooters of all time. Wondering which hardware is right for your needs? Check out PCWorld’s guide to the best graphics cards for PC gaming for no-nonsense buying advice on entry-level $100 cards to $1,000 beasts.
The PlayStation 4 Pro is finally getting some serious 4K video playback capability. Since launch, the beefed up console has only worked with 4K video from streaming sites such as Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. But Sony recently started rolling out a Media Player update for the PS4 Pro to add 4K local file playback.
With the new update, PS4 Pro owners can watch 4K content streamed from a home media server or files connected directly to the PS4 Pro via USB. Sony notes that any USB storage you connect to your console cannot use the extended storage format for the PS4—that’s only for games and apps.
Currently, the PS4 Pro only supports MP4 file playback. Other popular video containers are not supported. Home media servers should appear automatically as an option when you open the player app.
[ Further reading: The best surge protectors for your expensive electronics ]
Beyond regular videos, the Media Player can also play 4K VR videos, but there’s a catch. The PSVR headset has a maximum resolution of 1080p, but VR content will look as good if not better than regular HD VR. That’s because the PS VR uses RGB OLED pixel tech that makes images “pop” a little more than they would on standard displays.
If you don’t see the Media Player app update yet it should roll out to all PS4 Pro consoles in the coming days.
The story behind the story: The PS4 Pro is slowly adding more 4K capabilities, but it’s lacking a big feature found on Microsoft’s 4K-friendly Xbox One S. The newer Xbox One is rocking an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive, which makes it possible to view 4K discs (in HDR, no less). The PS4 Pro, meanwhile, doesn’t support 4K Blu-ray. That’s a nice feature to have, but it’s not all sunshine and light for 4K on the Xbox One S, either. Microsoft’s console has its own growing pains when dealing with local media files—as we explained in our Xbox One S media review in November.
V-Moda today announced the Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones, a signifiant upgrade to the company’s highly successful Crossfade Wireless and Crossfade M-100 over-the-ear headphones. The new Crossfade 2 Wireless sport Hi-Res Audio certification (when used with a cable), larger cushions, new color options, a longer battery life, and a CliqFold design that makes the headphones travel-friendly. The Crossfade 2 are the first over-the-ear product announcement from V-Moda since Roland acquired a majority stake in the company in August 2016
“V-Moda’s Crossfade headphones are the epitome of versatility,” said Val Kolton, CEO of V-Moda, through a press release. “Once people own a truly great set of our headphones, they use them constantly in various use cases. And whether you are critically listening, producing music, DJing, gaming, watching movies or even working out, Crossfade 2 Wireless delivers on every level. How you connect them is irrelevant–you will love what you hear.”
Hi-Res Audio certified
The Crossfade 2 have been certified to meet the Hi-Res Audio standards set by the Japan Audio Society (JAS) in wired mode. New dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers use a hi-resolution CCAS coil to achieve an extended frequency response of 5Hz to 40kHz—both well beyond the limits of human hearing. V-Moda says that in wired mode, users playing 24bit/96kHz or higher music files will experience increased dynamic range and more precise high frequency definition through the new Crossfade 2 headphones. Because the new headphones appear to have the same voicing as the previous generation, we would expect that the Crossfade 2 will retain V-Moda’s signature bass response that we noted in our review of the original model.
V-Moda claims that like their predecessors, the Crossfade 2 are voiced to sound the same whether plugged in or via Bluetooth. You can run the Crossfade 2 wirelessly up to 33-feet away (10-meters) from a Bluetooth source.
The new rose gold model is the only version to add aptX codec support for near CD-quality, low latency audio streaming. Your Bluetooth streaming source must also support the aptX codec to get the full benefit. None of the models support the new aptX HD codec, which streams high-resolution music files over Bluetooth. The rose gold version with aptX support carries a $20 premium over the other models.
Now foldable with CliqFold
The previous generation Crossfade Wireless headphones came with a nice carrying case, but were still bulky to carry around. The Crossfade 2 address the shortcoming of the original by introducing V-Moda’s patent-pending CliqFold design, which the company says folds the headphones down into a far smaller footprint that fits into a neat travel case. Like the previous generation, the travel case is designed with room to store charging and audio cables and other accessories.
Memory foam ear pads standard
The Crossfade 2 not only come with larger ear pad cushions, but the cushions have also been enhanced with new memory foam that V-Moda says brings better comfort. We were excited to hear this upgrade to the included ear pads. As noted in our original Crossfade Wireless review, we preferred the optional memory-foam ear-pads to the foam pads that shipped with the unit.
Customization and compatibility
As with all V-Moda headphones, the new Crossfade 2 Wireless are fully compatible with V-Moda’s accessory ecosystem, which includes the BoomPro Mic; XL cushions; CoilPro cable; 1/3-button Speakeasy cables; and more. The headphones can also be personalized with 3D printing and 2D laser customizations from V-Moda’s web site.
V-Moda’s Crossfade 2 Wireless is now available in three colors optimized for personalization: Matte black ($330) which was not available with the original Crossfade; matte white ($330); and rose gold featuring Qualcomm aptX codec support ($350).
Planescape: Torment is still one of the all-time great RPGs. I should know—I just replayed it in January in preparation for the then-impending launch of spiritual successor Torment: Tides of Numenera.
If only I’d waited two more months though, eh? Today a countdown timer at planescape.com (cheekily titled “Plan Escape”) was supposed to tick down to zero and pull back the curtain on Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition, coming to PC, Mac, and Linux later this year. Then uh…well, the trailer leaked early. Best laid plans.
It’s another Beamdog joint, so anyone who’s played Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, its sequel, or Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition should probably know the score. Native 4K widescreen, reworked interface, crisper sprites, remastered soundtrack, probably some bug fixes and balance changes, maybe some new companions or restored quest lines, all layered on top of the Infinity Engine classic.
[ Further reading: These 20 absorbing PC games will eat days of your life ]
Basically you can expect something resembling a fully modded-out Planescape: Torment, but without actually installing mods and with a bit less jank overall, making it friendlier to first-timers and longtime fans alike. I’d expect the Enhanced Edition to fix Planescape’s wacky leveling system for instance, making it so you always accrue the maximum health on leveling instead of assigning it to a dice roll. We’ll see.
Anyway, this is huge news for everyone who didn’t replay Planescape: Torment in the last six months. I’m way more excited to see this remastered than I was for Icewind Dale, and I hope the experience survives intact. It is, as I said, one of the all-time great RPGs almost 20 years after its release—still weird, still thought-provoking, and still a point of comparison for every story-centric game. Play it, and maybe you’ll finally be able to answer the question: “What can change the nature of a man?”