This week, we can finally look forward to official news on the long-brewing Windows 10 update, code named Sun Valley, as Microsoft has officially named an event where it will disclose major changes coming to Windows. We also have major news in the form of TSMC’s Technology Symposium 2021, and a new lawsuit against Dell, targeting alleged false advertising for its Alienware Area-51M R1 laptop. 

In other news, there’s Atari announcing that it will bring its VCS console to public retail markets, Dell’s eGPU hardware being discontinued, the Steam Hardware and Software Survey for May 2021, and more. 

At GN, we’ve focused on Computex 2021 coverage, which includes Intel’s new products, AMD’s 3D V-Cache and FidelityFX SuperResolution, and more. We’ve also started digging into RTX 3080 Ti coverage, which so far includes a proper review and our usual teardown.

This week, we see VESA issue a rare press release squashing a run-away rumor claiming a new VESA DisplayHDR 2000 specification. We also have new developments regarding the potential Nvidia-Arm deal, as the UK is becoming increasingly more scrutinous of the deal, now citing national security concerns. AMD also finally got around to releasing its big Radeon Software update, after delaying it out of the usual end-of-year/holiday release window. There’s plenty more to go over, of course, like RTX 3070 Ti rumors.

At GN, we recently dove into the dangers of using cheap cables, and documented the various fire hazards and false marketing therein. We also looked at how Intel has become AMD, in a sense, and looked at Intel’s Phantom Canyon NUC11PHKi7C.

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-alpha1

Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell, announced the "Alpha Console" at $550 starting, with various configuration and upgrade options for purchasers.

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