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What Are The Best Graphic Cards for 4K Gaming?

What Are The Best Graphic Cards for 4K Gaming?

What Are The Best Graphics Cards For 4K Gaming?

You’ll need a powerful graphics card (or two) to run cutting-edge PC games at 4K resolution. These high-end GPUs are the top performers.

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4K Gaming: High-End Cards and Dual-GPU

At the moment, to deliver smooth frame rates at high settings at 4K resolution on a PC (that’s 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, for the record) with the most-demanding games, you’ll need to opt for one of the most powerful consumer-grade graphics cards available. These days, those cards include Nvidia’s “Turing”-architecture GeForce RTX 2080 Ti , the one-step-down Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition and GeForce RTX 2080 Super, or one of the many custom-cooled and/or overclocked models based on these cards’ GeForce RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti graphics processors (GPUs).

The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the card you’ll want to opt for, though, if you want butter-smooth frame rates at or above 60 frames per second (fps) in anything above high settings. Alternatively, you could pick up two GeForce RTX 2080 cards and use them in a paired NVLink arrangement, or scrape the bare minimum with a single GeForce RTX 2080 Super. In some games, that setup should deliver significantly better gaming performance than a single RTX 2080 Ti card. Note, though, that if you do go this route, multi-graphics setups can introduce side issues. Most games don’t ship on launch day with the optimizations to take advantage of multiple-card graphics, and some games never deliver multi-graphics support at all.

And then there’s Nvidia’s aptly named Titan line of cards. The pricey Nvidia Titan RTX is the beast of beasts, the crème de la crème, the absolute beefiest consumer-level graphics card you can buy today. And while technically the card is more powerful than anything that’s come before it, much of that power would be wasted on games alone.

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These cards are made for much more than gaming, deployed more often in creative fields that do a lot of 4K and 8K video editing, 3D rendering, or 3D modeling. In a price-for-performance sense, they’re way, way overkill for games, and they are often not optimized to take advantage of top titles as well as the gaming-centric GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards (and its lessers) are.

If your budget can’t quite bear laying out $600 or more for a graphics card, you can find some less-expensive cards that can handle 4K gaming at lower settings. You won’t get the absolute best visuals possible, but 4K gaming is technically attainable.

If you don’t mind running games closer to medium detail settings at 4K, but you still want to experience the pixel-dense glory of games running at 3,840 by 2,160, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, and GeForce RTX 2060 Super are all capable engines. Just remember that you won’t be able to play many games at the highest detail settings.

GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Speaking of the RTX 2070 Super, GeForce RTX 2070 Super cards start at around the $499 mark, challenging cards like the older GeForce GTX 1080 Ti on performance. The RTX 2070 Super will even beat the AMD Radeon VII, or at least tussle with it, in some games.

Overall, we can’t recommend going much lower than $400 on your card today if you’re serious about 4K gaming, though. One of the biggest concerns that any cost-conscious PC gamer should have when choosing new hardware is how “future-proof” a card is, and given that these options barely scratch the surface of pushing 60 frames per second (fps) on most current titles at middling settings, that viability will only continue to drop for new games released later this year.

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How to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life

How to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life

How to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life
The inconvenient truth is that the battery in your PC or Mac laptop won’t last as long as the manufacturer advertises unless you pay attention to some key factors: your power settings, how many apps you’re running, even the temperature of the room in which you’re working. The good news is that none of this requires very much work to sort out, once you know which settings to adjust. Let’s take a look at the highest-yield ways to get the most out of your laptop’s battery.
How to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life
Use the Windows Battery Performance Slider
Use the Windows Battery Performance Slider

The first stop on our battery-life betterment tour is the Windows battery performance slider, a recent addition to Windows 10. It aims to group all of the settings that affect battery life into a few easy-to-understand categories. The company that made your PC determines exactly which settings the battery slider controls. But in general, keep these guidelines in mind:

The Best Performance mode is for people willing to trade off battery runtime to gain performance and responsiveness. In this mode, Windows won’t stop apps running in the background from consuming a lot of power.

The Better Performance setting limits resources for background apps, but it otherwise prioritizes power over efficiency.

Better Battery mode delivers longer battery life than the default settings on previous versions of Windows. (It’s actually labeled “Recommended” on many PCs.)

Battery Saver mode, a slider choice that will appear only when your PC is unplugged, reduces the display brightness by 30 percent, prevents Windows update downloads, stops the Mail app from syncing, and suspends most background apps.

Simplify Your Workflow: Closing Apps, and Using Airplane Mode
Simplify Your Workflow: Closing Apps, and Using Airplane Mode

On the other hand, if you’re writing a novel or playing a local video file and don’t need to be distracted by notifications, it’s fine to enable Battery Saver. It’s a good habit to adjust your laptop use in more battery-conserving ways, such as by sticking to one app at a time and closing everything else when you’re not using it. It’s a bit like turning off the lights when a room is vacant. If you’re going back and forth between the kitchen and the pantry all the time, or between Firefox and Word, by all means keep both sets of lights and apps on and open. But if you’re just cooking or watching a YouTube video, you’ll be best served by turning off and closing everything else.

In addition to aiming to single-task, consider enabling Airplane mode in Windows, or turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in macOS if you know you’ll be editing a document with no need for web access. In addition to eliminating distractions, Airplane mode eliminates a significant source of battery drain: not only the wireless radios themselves, but also the background apps and processes that constantly use them, such as updaters and push notifications.

Close Specific Apps That Use Lots of Power
Close Specific Apps That Use Lots of Power
Multiple apps and processes running on your system will chew through battery life more quickly, and chances are you probably aren’t actively using everything that’s currently running on your PC. In Windows 10, the Settings App is the first step to find energy-hogging programs.

Type “see which apps are affecting your battery life” into the Windows search bar for a list of apps that are consuming the most power. If you see an app that you rarely use hogging a lot of power, make sure you close it. Often, these are apps you’ve opened in the background and forgot about, such as Spotify or Adobe Reader.

Next, type “See which processes start up automatically when you start Windows” into the search bar. This will open the Task Manager’s Startup tab, which lists every utility that runs as soon as you start your PC. Anything with a name like “Download Assistant” or “Helper” is usually safe to disable. For example, unless you frequently open Spotify playlists, tracks, or albums from links in a web browser, you can disable the Spotify Web Helper.

Take Heed of Airflow
Take Heed of Airflow
Most laptops now come with lithium-polymer batteries that require much less maintenance than batteries of a decade ago, thanks as much to software and firmware improvements as innovation in the battery technology itself. You no longer have to perform a full battery discharge on a regular basis to calibrate it, nor do you have to worry that draining the battery completely will damage your laptop.

You do have to be careful about heat, however, which will hasten a battery’s demise. The biggest problems come from physical obstruction of the ventilation ports. Dust buildup is one problem, which you can take care of by cleaning the laptop’s vents and fan. (Periodically, use a can of compressed air to blow out some of the dust.) A more frequent issue that crops up, though, is using the laptop on a pillow or blanket, which can both obstruct the ventilation fan and retain the heat coming off of the system. Avoid this by using your laptop only on firm surfaces such as a table or a desk, which won’t flex and block airflow or cooling.

Keep an Eye on Your Battery’s Health
Keep an Eye on Your Battery's Health
In Windows 10, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and delve into world of the command prompts. First, type cmd into the Windows Search Bar in the lower left of the screen to summon the Command Prompt in Windows 10. Right-click on its search item and choose to run Command Prompt at an administrator level. Then, type powercfg /batteryreport at the prompt. Your PC will generate an HTML file whose location is displayed in the command prompt window. Open it, and check near the top for your battery’s design capacity, full charge capacity, and cycle count.
Carry a Battery Backup
Keep an Eye on Your Battery's Health
Finally, the easiest way to ensure that you always have enough battery power is to bring along an external battery pack.

These external power sources plug in to your laptop the same way your charger does. They generally cost between $100 and $200, but come with adapters for use with many different laptop models. They can be used on more than one system, and even for other devices, such as your phone or tablet.

OWC ThunderBlade external SSD offers 16TB of super-fast storage

OWC ThunderBlade external SSD offers 16TB of super-fast storage

OWC ThunderBlade external SSD offers 16TB of super-fast storage
Creative professionals working with 4K or 8K video, or anyone who just wants an enormous amount of portable storage, can turn to the OWC ThunderBlade. Starting Thursday, this SSD now offers up to a whopping 16TB in capacity, and can transfer data at 2800MB/s.

OWC also updated its Envoy Pro EX line with 4TB version. And the Accelsior 4M2 internal SSD now also offers up to 16TB of capacity.

Creative professionals working with 4K or 8K video, or anyone who just wants an enormous amount of portable storage, can turn to the OWC ThunderBlade.  Starting Thursday, this SSD now offers up to a whopping 16TB in capacity, and can transfer data at 2800MB/s.  OWC also updated its Envoy Pro EX line with 4TB version. And the Accelsior 4M2 internal SSD now also offers up to 16TB of capacity.
At the heart of all these products is the new 4TB Aura P12 M.2 NVMe. This includes 3D NAND flash memory and security features including TCG Opal and TCG Pyrite.

The ThunderBlade includes dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, and can be connected with multiple drives with SoftRAID. With speeds up to 2800MB/s, OWC points about that a 1TB content transfer can be completed in under 4.5 minutes. It can hold almost an entire day — 22.7 hours — of 4K RAW footage, or almost a full month of GoPro 4K footage.

The 16TB version of the SSD costs $4,999. It’s available in smaller capacities too, down to a 1TB version for $729.

10 Tips for Working From Home

10 Tips for Working From Home

10 Tips for Working From Home

Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life. What about office equipment, career development, training opportunities, and building relationships with colleagues? Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and others. Here are 10 tips for leading a better and more productive remote-working life, based on my experience and what I’ve learned from others.

1. Maintain Regular Hours

Set a schedule, and stick to it…most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.

2. Create a Morning Routine

Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine indicates you’re about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed (wearing pajama pants to work is a perk for some, but a bad strategy for others). A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.

3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space

Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.

4. Schedule Breaks

Know your company’s policy on break times and take them. If you’re self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seems to be the standard for full-time US employees.

5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety

Don’t short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

6. Leave Home

To the extent that it’s allowed and safe where you are during the COVID-19 outbreak, get out of the house, provided you can maintain social distancing of course. The same advice applies to people who work in traditional office settings, too. Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good.

7. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need

If you’re working from home unexpectedly due to coronavirus, ask for what you need within reason. You could be working from home for weeks on end and you should be comfortable, but ordering a new office chair and desk might be asking too much. Consider a mouse and keyboard, plus a back-supporting cushion instead.

8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space

In an ideal world, remote employees would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for personal use. It’s more secure for the employer, and it lets you do all your NSFW activities in private. But not everyone has a separate office in their home, and keeping two machines isn’t always realistic. Instead, dedicate a desk and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it’s work time. When it’s on your lap, that’s personal time. You may want to go as far as partitioning your hard drive and creating a separate user account for work.

9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number

Set up a phone number that you only use for calls with colleagues and clients. It doesn’t have to be a landline, second mobile phone, or even a SIM card. It can be a free VoIP service, such as Google Voice or a Skype number. Similar to some of the other tips, having a separate phone number helps you manage your work-life balance.

10. Socialize With Colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have chat channels where remote employees can talk about common interests, meetups for people in the same region, and (once the coronavirus ends) in-person retreats. It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you’re highly introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If you’re not at a company with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.

What Is 5G?

What Is 5G?

What Is 5G?

Read in PCMAG News Spotlight:  https://www.pcmag.com/news/what-is-5g

5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless, and the initial standards for it were set at the end of 2017. Let us take you down the 5G rabbit hole to give you a picture of what the upcoming 5G world will be like.

First of all, if you’re hearing about 5G Wi-Fi or AT&T’s “5G E” phones, they aren’t 5G cellular.

And if you’re hearing that 5G means millimeter-wave towers on every lamppost, that’s not true. That’s only one of the three main forms of 5G we’re seeing right now.

The G in this 5G means it’s a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or “air interfaces,” that make it incompatible with the previous generation.

1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.

5G brings three new aspects to the table: bigger channels (to speed up data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).

The actual 5G radio system, known as 5G-NR, isn’t the same as 4G. But all 5G devices in the US, for now, need 4G because they’ll lean on it to make initial connections before trading up to 5G where it’s available. That’s technically known as a “non standalone,” or NSA, network. Later this year, our 5G networks will become “standalone,” or SA, not requiring 4G coverage to work.

It turns out that SA 5G is much more important than we thought it was in 2019. Except on Sprint, carriers’ 5G cells are shaped differently than their 4G ones, so they’re losing coverage where the 4G signal cuts out but the 5G one continues. When the networks evolve into standalone mode, we may see a sudden growth in urban coverage.

4G will continue to improve with time, as well. The Qualcomm X24 modem, which is built into most 2019 and 2020 Android flagship phones, supports 4G speeds up to 2Gbps. The real advantages of 5G will come in massive capacity and low latency, beyond the levels 4G technologies can achieve.

That symbiosis between 4G and 5G has caused AT&T to get a little overenthusiastic about its 4G network. The carrier has started to call its 4G network “5G Evolution,” because it sees improving 4G as a major step to 5G. It’s right, of course. But the phrasing is designed to confuse less-informed consumers into thinking 5G Evolution is 5G, when it isn’t.

How 5G Works
Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves. Each cell site must be connected to a network backbone, whether through a wired or wireless backhaul connection.
5G networks use a type of encoding called OFDM, which is similar to the encoding that 4G LTE uses. The air interface is designed for much lower latency and greater flexibility than LTE, though.

With the same airwaves as 4G, the 5G radio system can get about 30 percent better speeds thanks to more efficient encoding. The crazy gigabit speeds you hear about are because 5G is designed to use much larger channels than 4G does. While most 4G channels are 20MHz, bonded together into up to 140MHz at a time, 5G channels can be up to 100MHz, with Verizon using as much as 800MHz at a time. That’s a much broader highway, but it also requires larger, clear blocks of airwaves than were available for 4G.

That’s where the higher, short-distance millimeter-wave frequencies come in. While lower frequencies are occupied by 4G, by TV stations, by satellite firms, or by the military, there had been a huge amount of essentially unused higher frequencies available in the US, so carriers could easily construct wide roads for high speeds.

5G networks need to be much smarter than previous systems, as they’re juggling many more, smaller cells that can change size and shape. But even with existing macro cells, Qualcomm says 5G will be able to boost capacity by four times over current systems by leveraging wider bandwidths and advanced antenna technologies.
The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency, at which point very interesting things begin to happen.

Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller

Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller

Here’s What the Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller Will Look Like
The upcoming ‘DualSense’ controller promises to offer improved haptic feedback to make you feel like you’re inside the game. The base controller also drops the single color scheme for two.

The company gave the public its first look at the “DualSense” wireless gamepad, which Sony has started shipping to developers so they can begin customizing their games around it. 

The new look features two colors instead of a single color scheme. The controller also retains the same layout as the DualShock 4 model, but it’s been outfitted with a curvier shell case. (Some might even say it looks a bit like the controller for the rival Xbox Series X.)

Sony is calling the gamepad DualSense due to the improved haptic feedback, which can shake the controller at varying degrees of intensity to make you feel like you’re experiencing the gameplay in real life. To immerse you even more, the company has now placed “adaptive triggers” into the L2 and R2 buttons, “so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow,” Nishino said.

“Based on our discussions with developers, we concluded that the sense of touch within gameplay, much like audio, hasn’t been a big focus for many games,” he added. 

The potential downside of adding more haptic feedback is how it can drain the controller’s battery. However, Sony is indicating it was able to add the new features to the DualSense gamepad without diminishing the rechargeable battery life or loading too much added weight on to the device.