Categories
Game

Sony details the game library for PlayStation Plus’ new high-end tiers

Sony has revealed the first games set to arrive with the launch of its new PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium subscriptions services, and it’s an impressive lineup. PlayStation Studios titles include Demon’s Souls (PS5) and Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut (PS4/PS5), along with third-party games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (PS4/PS5) and NBA 2K22 (PS4/PS5). Those games will arrive in the “launch time frame,” starting May 24th, according to Sony, on the PlayStation Plus Extra ($15/month) and Premium ($18/month) tiers.

Along with the main lineup, PlayStation Plus Premium members will get access to classic games “with some titles that will show improved frame rates and higher-quality resolution compared to their original launch versions,” Sony wrote. Some of those include Ape Escape, Hot Shots Golf, Tekken 2 and Worms Armageddon, along with remasters like Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy and Borderlands The Handsome Collection. Premium members will also get access to PS3 games like Infamous, Hot Shots and the Ratchet & Clank series.

As part of all that, Ubisoft announced that Ubisoft+ is coming to PlayStation Plus starting on May 24th. On top of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, titles arriving include The Division and For Honor, “as well as beloved classic games like Child of Light, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Watch Dogs, Werewolves Within, and more,” Ubisoft wrote in its blog. Again, all of these titles will be available on the PlayStation Plus Extra and/or Premium tiers, but not the Essential ($10/month) plan.

Sony will also let Premium (aka Deluxe in certain regions) members get time-limited trials with two hours of gameplay available before purchasing. Some of those on offer include Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, Horizon Forbidden West, Cyberpunk 2077 and Tiny Tina’s Wonderland

All tiers including Essential, Extra and Premium/Deluxe will see monthly games, much as you get right now on PlayStation Plus. “We have yet to announce the monthly games for June, but stay tuned to PS Blog,” Sony wrote. 

On top of all that, new games will be added regularly, with updates on the first Tuesday of the month for PlayStation Plus Essential, and in the middle of each new month for Extra and Premium/Deluxe plans. The service is launching in Asia on May 24th, followed by Japan on June 2nd, North and South America on June 13th and Europe, Australia and New Zealand on June 23rd. There’s more information available at the PlayStation Plus website and for a full list of games coming on launch, check Sony’s announcement post

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Categories
AI

High-end braking company, Brembo to release AI braking system in 2024

High-end Italian brake manufacturer Brembo announced in October its plan to release Sensify, an AI-enhanced braking system that promises both “driving pleasure and total safety” when it rolls out via an unnamed manufacturer in 2024. Going beyond anti-lock brakes, traction, and stability control, it replaces hydraulic controls with electronic ones for design flexibility and, potentially, more precise control.

Incorporating AI into vehicles isn’t new, as algorithms control playlists, maps, driver assistance, and even “self-driving” to various degrees. AI-based brake systems, however, are enough to raise eyebrows about how exactly they will work or enhance safety.

“As you start to deal with artificial intelligence and neural networks, they’re only as good as the training data you have,” said J. Christian Gerdes, an engineering professor and co-director of the Center of Automotive Research at Stanford University. “If you have a new case that represents something it hasn’t seen before, it’s hard to know in advance what it decides to do.”

Autocar UK reports that Sensify is using a “dedicated app” to program itself based on data and enhance the driving experience. The system supposedly will use predictive algorithms, sensors, and data management tools that give it a “digital brain” capable of controlling each wheel independently.

Gerdes says that modern anti-lock brake systems, first introduced in the 1970s, are a Band-Aid for wheels locking up under heavy braking. “What would make more sense is to have an understanding of what’s going on at each of your wheels. And to then intelligently ask for brake force at different wheels.”

Car with various labels describing the Sensify system

Brembo Sensify system
Image: Brembo

Despite the digital footprint with AI and Sensify, the physical mechanics have more of a presence compared to the software in the Sensify system, according to Brembo chief executive Daniele Schillaci. The exec told Reuters “the mechanic and software contents will soon be equivalent and by the end of the decade software will become predominant in braking systems.”

The company plans to open a technology lab in Silicon Valley by the end of the year to further its digital strategies. Brembo says, “Data collection is leveraged to improve the driver experience and allows the system to be constantly updated,” but how it will handle questions like privacy and security of that collected data is unclear.

One of Sensify’s benefits is adapting to driving styles, adjusting to weather and road conditions, and shorter locking times. Brembo also says its system will be cheaper over the life of a car because it removes brake fluid by adding electromechanical control, has lower maintenance costs, lower disc consumption, and lower or zero drag torque. In an electric or hybrid vehicle, better control of regenerative braking can help reduce the battery size.

What happens when there is a hardware failure in that AI brain? In a demo for Autocar UK, Brembo explained the system has two ECUs (electronic control units) that are connected as a fail-safe but send their commands separately.

The system is set to be released in 2024. Brembo said that it’s designed to work on multiple car types like sedans, racecars, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, but it’s not clear how much it needs to be customized for each type.

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Categories
Computing

The Best Intel Processors for 2021: High-End CPU Performance

Although we haven’t had a ton of options for our list of the best Intel processors over the past few years, that changed with the arrival of the 12th-generation Alder Lake platform. Intel is back on top in gaming and productivity, with a range of new chips that massively improve on the previous generation while outperforming the AMD competition.

The Core i5-12600K tops the list thanks to its aggressive price and high performance. It’s the best CPU you can buy right now, not just the best Intel CPU. With 10 cores available, it has plenty of room for productivity work, and the performance cores offer enough juice to outpace the competition in games.

The best Intel processors at a glance

Intel Core i5-12600K

Why you should buy this: It’s the best Intel processor on the market right now.

Who it’s for: Gamers who need a little extra bandwidth.

Why we chose the Core i5-12600K:

The Core i5-12600K is the best CPU you can buy right now. It’s not just the best Intel processor or the best gaming processor, but the best processor overall. It comes packed with 10 cores for around $300, with six performance cores and four efficient cores. The performance cores shred through games, while the extra efficient cores provide some extra bandwidth for more demanding workloads.

The single-core improvements with Intel’s 12th-gen processors shine with the Core i5-12600K. In games, it can outpace even the Ryzen 9 5950X in some cases — and that processor is nearly three times as expensive. Overall, it manages to top the gaming charts, only playing second fiddle to the more expensive processors from Intel’s 12th-gen lineup.

It also benefits from the hybrid 12th-gen architecture. This class of CPU is usually best for pure gaming. For gaming and streaming, we usually recommend bumping up a step. That’s not the case with the Core i5-12600K. The 10 cores provide plenty of bandwidth for gaming and streaming, which is something we rarely see on a $300 processor.

Intel Core i5-11600K

Intel Core i5 11600K in box.

Why you should buy this: It’s still a solid midrange CPU, and you can usually find it on sale.

Who it’s for: Gamers looking for a deal.

Why we chose the Core i5-11600K:

Intel’s 11th-gen Rocket Lake platform isn’t perfect, but the Core i5-11600K is still a decent option. It’s worse than the Core i5-12600K by a long shot, but you might be able to snag a chip for cheap — which will open up a little more budget for one of the best graphics cards.

It depends on the game, but the 11600K maintains a small but measurable lead over the 10600K in most titles. In some games, such as Death Stranding, the 11600K actually beats last-gen’s 10700K and can match the 10900K in others. Although not quite the generational improvement Intel fans hoped for, the 11600K proves that you don’t need a high-end processor for gaming.

The gen-on-gen improvements are clearer in non-gaming tasks. The 11600K blows past Intel’s last-gen offerings and offers more credible competition to AMD’s mid-range chips in productivity tasks, leveraging application-specific accelerators to great effect. Single-core performance is up, too, without a big trade-off in multi-core performance.

The 11600K is a great gaming processor. It comes with enough juice for gaming while offering decent power for productivity tasks, and that combination is tough to find under $300. That said, the 12600K is a better option overall, so only go with the 11600K if you can find it at a steep discount.

Intel Core i5-10400F

Intel Core i5 10400F box in front of a PC.

Why you should buy this: It’s still a decent performer in 2021, and it’s a great budget option.

Who it’s for: PC builders on a tight budget that only need a few cores.

Why we chose the Core i5-10400F:

Despite not sporting the Core i3 tag, the 10400F is one of Intel’s cheaper processors. It’s an incredible value at around $150, packing in six cores and 12 threads, a base clock of 2.9GHz, and a boost clock of 4.3GHz. It’s around $80 cheaper than the 10600K while sporting similar specs. The biggest difference is the “F” suffix, meaning that the 10400F requires discrete graphics.

Even with the low price, the 10400F performs well. In tasks like rendering, the 10400F is able to match the 9700K while surpassing AMD’s budget Ryzen 3000 chips. Although the 10400F is underpowered for most CPU intensive workloads, it’s still a great Intel processor for web browsing, light image editing, and office applications.

If you’re a gamer, the 10400F is an even better choice. With plenty of cores and a solid boost clock, the 10400F can put CPUs three times its price to shame. If you pair it with a nice graphics card, you can achieve gaming performance on par with an i7, and sometimes even an i9.

The 10400F marks a sweet spot in Intel’s range. Below it, performance drops significantly without much cost savings, and above it, price scales faster than performance. If you’re looking for an everyday CPU with enough power for light productivity and gaming, it’s hard to beat the 10400F.

If you can afford it, a viable alternative is the new-generation 11400F. It is slightly faster, but it runs about $80 more than the last-gen part.

Intel Core i9-12900K

Intel Core i9-12900K in a motherboard.

Why you should buy this: It’s the most powerful Intel processor you can buy right now.

Who it’s for: Anyone who needs the best of the best.

Why we chose the Core i9-12900K:

Intel’s flagships haven’t been impressive over the past couple of generations, but the Core i9-12900K changes that. It’s the flagship of flagships, sporting 16 cores and single-core boost speeds of up to 5.2GHz. It blows past everything else on the market, making it a great choice for gaming, content creation, and everything in between.

Our testing shows that the Core i9-12900K can outperform AMD’s competing Ryzen 9 5950X by as much as 30% in some cases. And keep in mind that the Ryzen 9 5950X is anywhere from $100 to $200 more expensive. It holds a solid lead in gaming, but the Core i9-12900K really shines in content creation workloads, where it’s much faster than the competition.

It’s power-hungry, but most Intel chips are these days. The Core i9-12900K is a clear showcase of Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture and what it can do for PCs, offering up a high core count and plenty of bandwidth for multitasking.

Intel Core i7-11375H

Laptop built with an Intel Core i7-11375H under the hood.

Why you should buy this: It’s the most powerful mobile Intel chip, at least until 12th-gen mobile chips come out.

Who it’s for: Mobile users that demand a little more power than a normal mobile CPU.

Why we chose the Core i7-11375H:

Although a new Intel desktop processor can have some problems, the Tiger Lake mobile processors are excellent. For a great balance of performance and power, we recommend the i7-11375H. It comes with four cores and eight threads, a base clock of 3.3GHz, and a staggering boost clock of 5GHz, all while keeping power demands under 35 watts. The i7-11375H leads Intel’s new Tiger Lake H35 processors, which target portable gaming laptops with 14-inch screens.

The processor shows up in laptops like MSI’s Stealth 15M, but many manufacturers are still shipping notebooks with last-gen CPUs. Despite sporting similar specs, the i7-11375H passes even the top Tiger Lake chips with its extended power budget. That translates to some performance improvements in single-core performance. With the same underlying architecture, however, you should expect more of a performance benefit in multithreaded tasks.

It’s hard to say anything definitive about a mobile CPU, though. The wrong build can make even the best processors look weak, and a decent configuration can make underpowered CPUs shine. The i7-11375H is undoubtedly the most powerful mobile Intel CPU available, but it’s important to consult individual laptop reviews.

If you’re looking for more raw power, Intel also offers the Core i9-11980HK in premium gaming laptops. It comes with eight cores and 16 threads and a turbo speed of 5GHz, so it’s certainly faster than the i7-11375H. However, it mainly shows up in high-end gaming machines, so it’s not for everyone.

FAQs about Intel processors

What’s the difference between K and F Intel processors?

Intel uses multiple suffixes to indicate different features, but “K” and “F” are among the most common. “K” processors are unlocked, so you can overclock them with a compatible motherboard. “F” processors don’t come with integrated graphics, so you’ll need a dedicated graphics card. You may even find a “KF” processor, indicating that it’s unlocked and requires discrete graphics.

You can usually find variants of Intel’s leading i9, i7, and i5 processors with either or both suffixes. If you’re planning on building a gaming computer, you can save a few dollars by purchasing the “F” variant of a processor. On the other side, “K” processors are slightly more expensive with their overclocking capabilities. If you want a full breakdown on Intel’s naming scheme, make sure to read our CPU buying guide.

How good are AMD processors compared to Intel?

Intel and AMD both offers excellent processors at different price points and in different forms, so one brand isn’t definitively better than the other. That said, if you’re shopping for a desktop processors in the second half of 2021, AMD generally has better options. The newer Ryzen 5000 processors have better single-core performance and pack more cores compared to the Intel competition, making them great for gaming and content creation.

In the mobile world, Intel used to dominate. Now, you can find machines with AMD Ryzen processors, too, and they perform great. That said, there is still a far greater number of machines that come with Intel processors, and they stack up well against the AMD competition.

In short, an AMD processor is generally better on desktop, and Intel and AMD are evenly matched on mobile, though Intel has more options available. Keep in mind that the power balance between Intel and AMD changes with each processor release, so although AMD is better right now, it may not always be that way.

How do you know which processor is best for your needs?

To find the best processor for your needs, you need to consider the applications you want to run. If you’re into gaming, for example, a processor with strong single-core performance is a good choice because games usually stress only a handful of cores at a time. On the hand, content creation applications like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve can take advantage of a greater number of cores, so a processor with a lot of cores is better for them.

Those are good rules to follow. Games like a fast processor over one with a lot of cores, and content-creation apps like more cores over faster ones. Some processors, such as the Intel Core i9-10900K and AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, offer both. If you want a processor for browsing the internet and using basic apps, any processor with four or more cores from the last few years should work well.

How can you tell if a PC processor is any good?

The best way to tell if a PC processor is good is to look at individual benchmarks. Specs like core count and clock speed don’t tell the full story — they only show what the processor is capable of within its own range of products. If you’ve settled a certain brand or series, however, looking at core counts and clock speeds can show you where the processor sits in the range.

If you want to test your own processor, there are plenty of tools available. Cinebench is a great benchmarking tool that focusing solely on the processor, while PCMark 10 provides an overview of performance across a suite of day-to-day tasks.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Tech News

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are looking like amazing high-end earbuds

Sony‘s upcoming WF-1000XM4 earbuds, a replacement for the already quite good WF-1000XM3, have been leaking extensively over the past couple of months. But thanks to a report by WinFuture, we are now getting our clearest look yet at the devices — including some notable specs. Behold:

You can find more images in WinFuture’s report.

The seemingly official renders, show a very different design from the XM3s, one that’s apparently smaller — or at least more bulbous. The case definitely looks smaller, which I appreciate as the XM3’s case was absolutely ginormous compared to most options on the market.

Here’s what else the report has to say:

  • The XM4’s will apparently support Sony’s LDAC codec, which is the gold standard for Bluetooth audio quality
  • The headphones will be able to last 8 hours on a single charge with ANC on, with two more full charges in the case, for a total of 24 hours. While the total time isn’t more than most other earbuds, the single-charge duration should make them useful for long-flights
  • With ANC off, you get an extra four hours per charge, so 12 hours on a single charge and 36 hours total.
  • Speaking of ANC, Sony’s new V1 processor will reportedly improve noise-cancelling sound quality
  • The headphones will be IPX4 water-resistant
  • They’ll support Qi wireless charging and USB-C charging
  • A new ‘Precise Voice Pickup’ technology should help improve microphone quality
  • There will be at least black and white color options

They WF-1000XM4 (I really wish Sony would come up with a better name, that’s a bit of a pain to type) will retail for €279.90, or approximately $341. The XM3’s retailed for €250/$230, so I’d expect the US price to be somewhere between $300 and $350.

That definitely puts them more towards the premium price bracket for wireless earbuds, but with LDAC onboard, Sony has some more audiophile appeal. With the headphones reportedly making an appearance in June, it shouldn’t be long until we find out more.

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Categories
Computing

The Chromebook Spin 713 is Acer’s high-end model for work or home

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 takes the company in a new direction. Acer has sold vast quantities of inexpensive, basic Chromebooks for school and home use—and it announced a new one on Tuesday, at the company’s next@acer virtual event: the $260 Chromebook Spin 311. In contrast the Chromebook Spin 713, also announced Tuesday, is a far fancier product that will have a starting price of $630 when it ships in the United States in July. An enterprise version will start at $1,100.  

If you stopped reading there, you embody the big question about high-end Chromebooks: Who’s going to buy these things? Chromebooks gobbled up a fair chunk of the PC market by being simpler and super-cheap alternatives to Windows-based models. Some people are clearly ready for something a little better—the HP Chromebook x360 12b is selling well, for instance, at $360 on Adorama.

At higher prices, it’s harder to say that a Chromebook is a better deal than a like-priced Windows laptop. But vendors are trying: Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook, starting at $1,000, is another recent example. 

We don’t know how the Chromebook Spin 713 will fare. Based on the specs and the design information we have, however, it sounds like a nice laptop. Here’s everything we know. 

Intel Project Athena pedigree

The most notable aspect of the Chromebook Spin 713’s design is that it has a design. Most Chromebooks are anonymous plastic slabs. The Chromebook Spin 713 is the result of a partnership between Acer and Intel’s Project Athena, an initiative to encourage innovation in the design and performance of Intel-based laptops. Project Athena laptops have to meet standards for being thin, light, and long-lasting on battery, among other criteria. This is Acer’s first Chromebook to go through the program. The all-aluminum chassis has also passed the MIL-STD 810G spec, meaning it can withstand more bumps, shocks, and drops than the typical laptop shell.

acer chromebook spin 713 cp713 2w high 01 Acer

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 has a 360-degree hinge for the versatility of working in clamshell, presentation, or tablet modes.

Many Project Athena qualities bear out only in testing, which we haven’t had a chance to do yet with the Chromebook Spin 713. If and until we do, we can at least share the specs and a few photos provided by Acer, so you can think about how much you’d be willing to pay for a nicer Chromebook.

Chromebook Spin 713 features and specs

The Chromebook Spin 713’s spec list could hold up well against that of any midpriced Windows laptop. The 360-degree hinge means it’s versatile, too, functioning as a tablet, presentation display, or traditional clamshell laptop. Note that we have only the starting price of $630, and models with the higher-end options will cost more.  

CPU

The CPU options, all from Intel, are unusually broad for a Chromebook. At the lowest end, there’s a Pentium Gold 6405U, which we assume is the CPU for the lowest-cost version. Manage your expectations accordingly: This CPU can handle everyday tasks, but it will struggle with intensive web applications or games. 

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Categories
Computing

Why you can’t get a high-end GPU in a Ryzen gaming laptop

Why aren’t Ryzen gaming laptops getting the same GPU love that their Intel-based rivals are? In the same week that Alienware updated its M17 and Area 51m with GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPUs, and Gigabyte introduced its Aorus 15P aimed at professional gamers with its 10th-gen Intel CPU and GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Ryzen got blanked, with no new gaming laptops featuring anything faster than a GeForce RTX 2060.

Even HP’s recently released Ryzen-based Omen 15 can’t get a break. The version of the Omen 15 with an 8-core Ryzen 7 4800H offers a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti right now, with an RTX 2060 Max-Q version on the way. The Intel version, however, comes with a 6-core Core i7-10750H and up to a GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q.

Conspiracy!

The situation is so baffling that reputable media outlets like Notebookcheck.net have openly wondered where the Ryzen laptops with high-end GPUs are. The mystery has, of course, also spawned conspiracy theories by those who speculate that the real or imagined hand of Intel is at work.

“…the fact that not a single OEM offers a high-end Ryzen laptop to me sounds like the OEMs are being bribed by Intel or something similar,” one Redditor guessed in the AMD subreddit. “I don’t want to have to give Intel money, but if there’s not a single option for a high-end Ryzen laptop, I’ll have no choice.”

Ryzen 4000 doesn’t have enough PCIe?

Igorslab.de (the successor to Tom’s Hardware Germany) actually throws out a theory that the dearth of Ryzens with high-end GPUs may be due to AMD’s mobile chip itself. According to the laptop makers it spoke to, Igorslab.de says, the Ryzen 4000’s access to only eight lanes of PCIe 3.0 was seen as too much of a penalty. “A gaming laptop with a more powerful GeForce RTX would already have to struggle with unnecessary limits today,” Igor Wallossek said.

While Wallossek makes a good point, that hasn’t stopped other laptop makers from making the same design choice on purpose, and with higher-powered hardware. Alienware’s original Area 51m, for example, features a desktop Core i9 and a GeForce RTX 2080. While that chip has 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0, Alienware purposely uses half of it for the Amplifier expansion port. Asked why, Alienware officials told PCWorld its research, plus independent research, has long shown that PCIe bandwidth wasn’t a limiting factor in today’s games.

So if it’s not a technical reason, it must be darker forces? PCWorld asked Nvidia for comment, but the company was mum.

Good burn, Intel

Intel officials, however, readily volunteered that maybe, just maybe, Core is better, and that’s why it comes with high-end GPUs.

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Categories
Tech News

The Verizon-exclusive Motorola Edge+ has high-end specs and a headphone jack for $1,000

If you’ve been patiently hoping for Motorola to get back in the premium Android phone game, your wish has been answered. Following years of solid mid-range offerings, Motorola has launched the Edge Plus, a full-on premium Android phone that’s locked to Verizon and costs as much as the Galaxy S20.

The bigger news might be that it features a 3.5mm headphone jack. Long extinct from iPhones and endangered on most Android phones, the tiny port is a welcome sight on the Motorola Edge+, which also sports speakers tuned by Waves audio.

You’ll also get a dramatic waterfall screen with a near-90-degree edge, 5G with support for Verizon’s super-speedy mmWave network, and the latest Snapdragon 865 processor, along with other ultra-premium specs:

  • Dimensions: 161.1 x 71.4 x 9.6mm
  • Display: 6.7-inch Full HD+ OLED, 90Hz
  • Processor: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Front camera: 25MP
  • Rear camera (triple): 108MP main + 8MP zoom (3X) + 16MP ultra wide + time-of-flight
  • Battery: 5,000mAh

Those specs match up well with other similarly priced phones, and it also comes with wireless charging and an expandable storage slot. However, you won’t find a couple of things you’d expect. For one, while Motorola claims the Edge+ has a “water-repellant design,” the phone doesn’t have an official IP rating, so you probably won’t want to take it swimming. Also, its wired charging tops off at 15W, slower than most other phones. You can, however, use it to charge other phones or earbuds with reverse wireless charging.

To take advantage of its dramatic curves, Motorola has a new software feature called Edge Touch, similar to Samsung’s own Edge screen settings. When on a table, the sides of the phone will light up to show charging status, incoming calls, alarms, and notifications, while you can swipe on the edge to bring up the notification panel or switch apps.

In addition to a camera that rivals the S20 Ultra on paper, the Edge+ also can record in 6K and lets you pull 20MP pictures from videos. It also comes equipped with Quad Pixel technology with four times the light sensitivity “to capture incredibly clear and crisp photos in all lighting conditions.”

The Motorola Edge+ will be available exclusively at Verizon on May 14 for $1,000.

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