We recently prolonged the life of GN Andrew’s Lenovo laptop, a task accomplished by tearing the thing down and cleaning out the dust, then re-applying thermal compound. This brought temperatures down well below 80C on the silicon components, where the unit was previously reaching 100C (or TjMax values and thereby throttling). The laptop has lived to work many more long render sessions since that time, and has been in good shape since.
That’s gotten us a bit of a reputation, it seems, as we just recently spent a few hours fixing a Dell Studio XPS 1640 and its noise issues.
The 1640 had a few problems at its core: The first, loud noise during idle (desktop); the second, slowing boot times with age; and the third, less-than-snappy responsiveness upon launching applications.
Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook equivalent has moved to the new Intel Kaby Lake architecture. For the past few generations, Intel's small gains in IPC and processing performance have been largely overshadowed by the focus on power efficiency increases. NVIDIA and AMD are also on-board with this focus, and all three silicon manufacturers are pushing to use clock-gating, non-planar process, and algorithmic advancements to lower watt draw.
Reductions in TDP and moves by Intel to improve power efficiency (including idle improvements & S0iX) lengthen battery life, a move with which Dell has synergized by increasing battery capacity to 60Wh. The two together should grant a specified 22 hours of battery life on the XPS 13 notebooks; we are not sure the specifics of the methodology used to make that measurement.
Dell's XPS 13 units ship with Intel i3, i7, and i5 Kaby Lake CPUs (Gen 7). Bottom-up, the laptops will host Intel i3-7100U, i5-7200U, or i7-7500U CPUs and will start at $800 with Ubuntu (unclear on Windows price). Display, CPU, and memory choices dictate price scaling, with the displays alone specified at 1080p (minimally) to 3200x1800. This latter resolution is also used by Razer in the new Blade, which we hope to look at within the next month or two.
Dell also noted the following specifications in its press release:
Recently, the monitor industry has amusingly reminded me of laundry detergent. It seems like everybody is coming out with detergents that are four times as potent, and the monitor industry isn't too different in its marketing language. With the rising popularity of 4K, it's just a matter of time until the norm is to have a monitor with four times as many pixels as a 1080p screen.
The normalization of 4k monitors is certainly very exciting, but current-gen GPUs still struggle with playing games at such a high resolution. Similarly, prices for 4K monitors may be dropping, but are still high for the average gamer. Luckily, 2560x1440 screens are a reasonable compromise between performance, pixels, and price.
This round-up looks at some of the best 1440p displays on the market, particularly with a focus on gaming needs.
The Steam Machine delay into 2015 imposed a set-back for hardware manufacturers hoping to license Valve's official branding and software, but hasn't stopped the release of systems under new names. With to-be Steam Machines like Gigabyte's Brix, Alienware's now-renamed Alpha, and Zotac's now-renamed mini-PC, hardware vendors have already invested resources heavily into HTPC platforms for gaming. The companies were originally expecting a holiday 2014 release, but recent delays by Valve pushed that into 2015; with resources tied-up in platform development, a few of these vendors have decided to release ahead of time with new names and Windows.
Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell, announced the "Alpha Console" at $550 starting, with various configuration and upgrade options for purchasers.
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