Categories
Computing

GPU benchmarks: How they can misguide a GPU upgrade

GPU prices are finally normal, and you might have found yourself in recent weeks browsing graphics cards reviews to see which ones top the charts. After all, the best graphics cards live and die based on their performance in gaming benchmarks, right?

But those benchmarks are far from a definitive answer, and in most cases, they skew the conversation away from the games you actually play and the experiences they offer.

I’m not saying we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. GPU benchmarks offer a lot of value, and I don’t think anything needs to change about how we (or others) conduct GPU reviews. But now that it’s actually possible to upgrade your graphics card, it’s important to take all of the performance numbers in context.

Games, not benchmarks

The most popular Steam game of 2022 so far? Lost Ark, which only calls for a GTX 1050.

DT’s computing evergreen coordinator Jon Martindale made a joke concerning GPU prices the other day: “I need a new GPU so I can get 9,000 frames in Vampire Survivors.” Silly, but there’s a salient point there. When looking at performance, it’s important to recognize the fact that there are around four times as many people playing Terraria or Stardew Valley as there are playing Forza Horizon 5 or Cyberpunk 2077 at any given time.

The best games to benchmark your PC are not the most popular games that people play. In the top 25 most popular Steam games, only two of them are regularly used in benchmarks: Grand Theft Auto V and Rainbow Six Siege. Virtually no “live” games are included in benchmark suites due to network variation, despite the fact that these games largely top the charts in player count, and recent, GPU-limited games are usually overrepresented.

The games that we and others have chosen as benchmarks aren’t the problem — they offer a way to push a GPU to its extreme in order to compare it to the competition and previous generations. The problem is that benchmark suites frame performance around the clearest margins. And those margins can imply performance that doesn’t hold up outside of a graphics card review.

Benchmarks are often misleading

A hand grabbing the RTX 3090 Ti graphics card.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Especially when it comes to the most recent graphics cards, benchmarks can be downright misleading. Every benchmark needs at least an average frame rate, which is a problematic number in and of itself. Brief spikes in frame rate are over-represented in an average of 1% lows and 0.1% lows — which average the lowest 1% and 0.1% of frames, respectively. But those numbers still don’t say much about how often those frame rate dips occur — only how severe they are.

A frame time chart can show how often frame rate dips happen, but even that only represents the section of the game the benchmark focused on. I hope you see the trend here: The buck has to stop somewhere, even as more data points try to paint a picture of real-world performance. Benchmarks show relative performance, but they don’t say much about the experience of playing a game.

The RTX 3090 Ti is 8.5% faster than the RTX 3090 in Red Dead Redemption 2, for example. That’s true, and it’s important to keep in mind. But the difference between the cards when playing is all of seven frames. I’d be hard-pressed to tell a difference in gameplay between 77 fps and 84 fps without a frame rate counter, so while the RTX 3090 Ti is technically faster, it doesn’t impact the experience of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 in any meaningful way.

Performance benchmarks for the RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti in Red Dead Redemption 2.

The recent F1 2022 is another example. The game shows huge disparities in performance between resolutions with all of the settings cranked up (as you’d usually find them in a GPU review). But bump down a few GPU-intensive graphics options, and the game is so CPU limited that it offers almost identical performance between 1080p and 4K. No need for a GPU upgrade there.

No one is lying or intentionally misleading with benchmarks, but the strict GPU hierarchy they establish is an abstraction of using your graphics card for what you bought it for in the first place. Benchmarks are important for showing differences, but they don’t say if those differences actually matter.

How to make an informed GPU upgrade

Installing a graphics card in a motherboard.

You should absolutely look at benchmarks before upgrading your GPU, as many as you can. But don’t put your money down until you answer these questions:

  • What games do I want to play?
  • What resolution do I want to play at?
  • Are there other components that I need to upgrade?
  • What’s my budget?

Relative performance is extremely important for understanding what you’re getting for your money, but better isn’t strictly better in the world of PC components. Depending on the games you’re playing, the resolution you’re playing at, and potential bottlenecks in your system, you could buy a more expensive GPU and get the exact same performance as a cheaper one.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t splurge. There’s a lot to be said about buying something nice just because it’s nice, even if it doesn’t offer a huge advantage. If you have the means, there’s novelty in owning something super powerful like an RTX 3090 — even if you just use it to play Vampire Survivors. Just don’t expect to notice a difference when you’re actually playing.

This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing biweekly column that includes discussions, advice, and in-depth reporting on the tech behind PC gaming.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Security

1Password syncing went down for a few hours today during a database upgrade

Whenever we talk about password managers, especially ones that sync their data to the cloud, there’s always discussion about whether or not your information is secure and what happens if the servers go down. The second thing is exactly what 1Password users in the US experienced earlier today, as a problem affecting 1Password.com kept mobile, desktop, and browser clients from syncing.

A status page first noted the problem at 10:42AM ET and listed it as stabilized, with clients able to connect again by 2:42PM ET. During the outage, the status page noted that the issue didn’t affect any offline data stored in clients, and other domains like 1password.ca, 1password.eu, or ent.1password.com were operational.

Before I knew there was an outage, I saw it on my own account when I tried to save a password, and it simply would not do it. All of my local clients still had all of my current passwords, so I think most people didn’t even notice it was down. However, if you don’t store your passwords on a local device or had lost access to it during the outage, there could have been a real problem.

In a statement provided to The Verge, 1Password CTO Pedro Canahuati said:

Earlier today, 1Password experienced a brief service outage due to our planned database upgrade. This was not a security incident, and customer data was not affected in any way.

The 1Password.com service was down during this outage and that affected new user signups and syncing new data across devices. Our system is designed to ensure any stored passwords are always safe and accessible locally on their devices.

At this time, we have stabilized the system while we investigate the performance regression. Customers’ devices should be syncing all new data and sign-ups are working.

We’re taking steps to avoid similar disruptions in the future, and will be providing updates on our status page and social media channels, as well as our blog over the next day or two.

Anyone who uses a password manager that stores data in the cloud does have some risk of this happening to them, but it doesn’t seem to have been very disruptive. On the other hand, cloud storage makes keeping tons of logins accessible from every device you use easier and enables features like the Travel Mode that wipes out data stored on your device if you’re in a situation where it may be confiscated or searched. Still, given the fact that the new 1Password 8 client will only sync with the cloud and doesn’t give the option of sticking exclusively to local storage, it’s something to be aware of. For customers who prefer local storage, 1Password has said they can continue using 1Password 7.



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Categories
Computing

Why the M2 MacBook Air is easily worth the $200 upgrade

The new M2 MacBook Air isn’t yet available to purchase, but you’ve probably already heard the chorus of opinions about why the older M1 MacBook Air is a better purchase.

“It’s fast enough for most people,” they will say. “Why would you need anything more?”

And as fair as those statements are, the reality of just how good this new M2 MacBook Air appears to be has been drowned out. There is certainly a demographic for the older model, but people are getting hung up on the branding more than the laptop itself.

The MacBook ‘Air’

Price is often quoted as the M2 MacBook Air’s biggest problem. At $1,199, it’s $200 more expensive than the M1 MacBook Air — and probably even more considering how often the M1 is on sale. That knee-jerk reaction is understandable, especially since we’re used to products in the same line replacing the previous models at no extra charge.

But the M2 MacBook Air is far from just a yearly upgrade over the previous model. It’s a complete reboot of the MacBook Air, especially in how it looks and feels. The chnages may not be as drastic as some of the leaks were saying before the announcement — but even as is, it shares very little in common with the M1 MacBook Air. You might even say that it doesn’t make much sense to even call it a “MacBook Air.”

I’m not about to say Apple hasn’t made a bit of a disaster of its MacBook line. Having three distinct products within $300 of each other is very strange, especially when all three seem to be targeting a similar demographic. It’s the main reason so many people are writing off the M2 MacBook Air.

But get beyond the name for a moment, and you’ll see there’s a lot more on offer here than just a standard update.

It’s beyond time for an upgrade

The gold MacBook Air M1's logo and keyboard.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As I said, the M1 MacBook Air is beloved for its value proposition. But when you consider the physical laptop itself, it’s not exactly looker. It comes from a different era of Mac design. The chassis itself hails from 2018, known then as the Retina MacBook Air. At the time, it was an enormous leap ahead from the iconic MacBook Airs that it succeeded. The thinness of the chassis was staggering, as were the shrunken bezels and move to USB-C.

In 2022, it’s quite the opposite. It looks downright old school compared to the new M2 MacBook Air. The new Air drops the thickness to just 0.44 inches thick, which is among the thinnest laptops you can buy. And though I haven’t handled the device myself just yet, I won’t be surprised to find that it has excellent build quality despite its size.

The MacBook Air also fixes the thick bezels, which gives you a sleeker look but also a slightly larger screen. It measures 13.6 inches diagonally, giving you more usable screen space for whatever you’re doing. That comes with a notch, yes, but it’s a fair trade-off in my book.

Of course, the M2 MacBook Air also ditches the wedge shape of the old Air. Given how many laptops have copied the wedge look over the years, it’s become a bit stale. The flat, ultrathin design of the M2 MacBook Air trades that for something simpler and more modern.

It’s more than just the industrial design though. The new model also upgrades the screen, the speakers, and the webcam — bringing them up to par with what we expect out of modern Apple products. Those things alone are worth the $200 in my view, especially if you spend a lot of time on video calls.

A new era for Mac design

The M2 MacBook Air sitting on a desk.

But most importantly, this design is actually built around the efficiency benefits of the M1 and M2 chips. In that sense, it really is the first MacBook Air to take advantage of the extreme efficiency of Apple Silicon. That’s what allows it to be this thin, remain fanless, and not give up any of the performance.

A similar thing happened with the 24-inch iMac when it was redesigned in 2021. By using a more efficient, mobile-style chip (and a far smaller logic board), Apple was able to completely reimagine the design and internal structure of that product. With the iMac, Apple went as far as nestling the entirety of the “computer” into the bottom chin of the display. Like the design or not, it’s the M1 that allowed Apple to try something new with the design and make the device considerably slimmer.

The M2 MacBook Air is no different, and it’ll likely become the basis for the MacBook Airs of the next few years. The M2 might not end up being that big of a performance upgrade over the M1, but it doesn’t really need to be. As many people have stated (including myself), the M1 was more than enough performance for the target audience of this laptop.

But having a design that actually makes use of that chip? That’s what the new MacBook Air is all about — and it’s what makes it an intriguing alternative to the M1 MacBook Air. I’ll know for sure once I review it myself, but for now, I know which of the MacBooks in this price range I’d pick.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

PlayStation fixes PS Plus Premium’s hidden upgrade fees

PlayStation announced that it would no longer charge players who bought PS Plus subscriptions at a discounted rate a higher fee when they upgrade to PlayStation Plus Extra or PlayStation Plus Premium.

This announcement came via the official Ask PlayStation support Twitter account after reports of the PS Plus upgrade issue spread over the past couple of days. “Due to a technical error, players in Asia who have previously purchased a PlayStation Plus membership at a discount have been incorrectly charged for their upgrade pricing,” the tweet says. “This error has been fixed and impacted players will receive a credit. We thank you for your patience.”

Due to a technical error, players in Asia who have previously purchased a PlayStation Plus membership at a discount have been incorrectly charged for their upgrade pricing. This error has been fixed and impacted players will receive a credit. We thank you for your patience.

— Ask PlayStation (@AskPlayStation) May 25, 2022

As that tweet mentions, players trying to upgrade to these new versions of PS Plus were the people who first encountered this issue. The two new tiers of PlayStation Plus debuted in Asian markets on May 23, ahead of a rollout in Japan, North America, and Europe throughout the month of June. As players can convert their previous PS Plus and PS Now subscriptions to get PlayStation Plus Premium or Extra, many players bought PS Plus subscriptions at discounted rates so that they would end up technically paying less overall for the $120 a year service.

Unfortunately, when these players went to upgrade on May 23, the PlayStation Store required them to pay back that discount if they wanted to upgrade. So, if someone got a year of PS Plus for $45 instead of $60, they’d have to pay $15 on top of the already more expensive free for Extra or Premium if they wanted to upgrade. While a VGC report suggested that this move was intentional, Sony is crediting this issue to a “technical error.”

The early days of any subscription service are typically fraught with technical issues like this. Hopefully, Sony can fix PlayStation Plus Premium’s key issues before it rolls it out to new markets like North America. 

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Computing

How to Upgrade to MacOS Monterey

MacOS Monterey is here. Apple’s latest Mac operating system has finally been released with a bunch of great new features for your computer. Want to install it on your Mac? You’re in the right place, as we’ll take you through the necessary steps to get MacOS Monterey onto your Apple computer.

Just follow the steps below and you’ll be good to go.

Step 1: Check compatibility and back up

Not every Mac will be able to install MacOS Monterey. Check your Mac against the following list of devices that Apple says can run MacOS Monterey:

  • MacBook Air (early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (early 2015 or later)
  • 12-inch MacBook (early 2016 or later)
  • iMac (late 2015 or later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or later)
  • Mac mini (late 2014 or later)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013 or later)

Once you know your Mac qualifies, you should back up your Mac to ensure you can recover your computer if something goes wrong. The best way is to connect an external drive and use Time Machine, which comes installed on your Mac. Simply connect the drive, open System Preferences and click Time Machine, then tick the checkbox marked Show Time Machine in menu bar. Click the Time Machine icon in your menu bar, then click Back Up Now.

Back in System Preferences, make sure the Back Up Automatically checkbox is also ticked so your Mac will handle backups for you in the future.

When the backup has finished, continue to step 2.

Step 2: Open About This Mac or System Preferences

The About This Mac screen in MacOS Big Sur.

There are two ways to find the MacOS Monterey update on your Mac. The first method is to click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your Mac’s screen, then click About This Mac. From there, make sure you are on the Overview tab, then click Software Update.

Alternatively, open System Preferences and click Software Update.

Step 3: Download and install the update

The Software Update screen in MacOS Big Sur.

Your Mac will now check to see if it has the latest updates. If you are not already on MacOS Monterey, an update will appear giving you the opportunity to update. When you are ready, click Upgrade Now.

Your Mac will begin downloading the update. When it is finished, you will be prompted to restart your Mac so that the update can install. Click Restart Now.

Your Mac will restart and begin installing MacOS Monterey. This can take a little while, and your Mac might restart a couple times during the process.

Step 4: Successful installation

The Software Update screen in MacOS Monterey.

When the installation process has finished, your Mac will load into your login screen. MacOS Monterey has now been installed!

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Cyberpunk 2077’s Current-Gen Upgrade is Delayed to 2022

In another twist for the Cyberpunk 2077 saga, CD Projekt Red delivered bad news concerning the current-gen port of that game, as well as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 releases of both titles are being delayed from their initial “late 2021” release to 2022.

In September, CD Projekt Red reassured fans that the upgraded current-gen releases of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077 were still on track to release this holiday season. The new press release says the company based the decision to push this planned release back on “recommendations supplied by persons supervising development.”

Projekt Red claims that it wants to allocate additional time to both upgraded port projects, with Cyberpunk 2077 now releasing in the first quarter of 2022 and Witcher 3 releasing in the second quarter of 2022.

As with its previous financial report concerning these two new ports, Projekt Red still hasn’t given any solid word on what will be included in Cyberpunk‘s new release. However, The Witcher 3‘s current-gen edition will come packed with all of the game’s previous expansions, visual upgrades, and additional items inspired by the game’s spinoff Netflix series.

The financial report also includes a graph showing how much work was being allocated to each of Projekt Red’s different projects, including Cyberpunk 2077 and its new port. The graph shows that the work focused on Cyberpunk shrunk from 2020 to 2021 to handle other projects, which may have something to do with the delay.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Computing

Razer Keycap Upgrade Kit Hands-on: Keycap Upgrades For All

Customized mechanical keyboards are taking the world by storm, whether it’s easy keycaps swaps or building your board from the ground-up. Razer is already a leader in the keyboard space, and today, the company has announced the Razer Keycap Upgrade kit. It’s a simple way to customize and upgrade your keyboard without needing expensive tools or extensive knowledge.

I got a chance to play with the upgrade kit and keycaps myself to see how successful they are at bringing keyboard upgrades to the masses.

The Razer Keycap Upgrade kit experience

Inside the Razer Keycap Upgrade Kit box.

Depending on the solution you choose, the keycap upgrade kit comes with a number of items inside the box. Our pink keycap upgrade includes a keycap removal tool to pry out your existing keycap, a color-matched coiled USB-C to USB-A cable, optical and mechanical keyboard stabilizers, and an assortment of keycaps to fit U.S. and U.K. keyboard layouts. The beauty of this upgrade is you can swap out as many keys as you want to create a custom keyboard with colored keycaps.

If pink isn’t to your liking, the new PBT keycaps are also available in other colors — black, white, and green. Minimalists can choose a more covert look with a Phantom keycap kit, available in either black or white, where the caps appear to be blank when the Razer Chroma RGB backlighting on your keyboard is turned off. When the RGB keyboard lighting is turned on, you’ll see the individual letters, numbers, or characters on each key. This black- or white-out look, depending on the keyboard option you choose, can add a level of stealth and minimalism to your desk setup.

The company said that to achieve this look, it laser-etched the keycaps from the bottom, rather than the top.

“Unlike regular keycaps which are layered from the top, this method ensures legends won’t wear off and features brighter shine-through legends thanks to a thinner layer between the keycap and light source,” the company said of the process.

Razer's phantom keycaps are etched from the bottom.

Razer’s other keycap upgrades have the keycaps inscribed and visible whether the Chroma RGB lighting is turned on or off. The standard PBT Keycap Upgrade Set, priced at $29, comes with 120 keycaps. Razer also offers an upgraded PBT Keycap and Coiled Cable Upgrade Set, priced at $49, which comes with a coiled USB-C to USB-A cable that matches the Quartz Pink, Mercury White, Razer Green, or Classic Black caps. The stealthy Razer Phantom Keycap Upgrade Set, priced at $34, is only available in black or white tones and comes with 128 keycaps.

Razer claims that the company’s keycap upgrade is compatible with most cross-shaped axis switches on standard bottom row U.S. and U.K. keyboard layouts. In terms of Razer’s own keyboards, these PBT Keycap Upgrade kits work with 60%, 65%, tenkeyless, and full-sized keyboards, Razer stated.

I tested the upgraded keycaps on Razer’s Blackwidow v3 Mini Hyperspeed, which is a wireless mechanical keyboard that features a 65% key design, meaning you won’t find a 1o-digit keypad on the right side of this keyboard nor a dedicated row of function keys.

Our Blackwidow already shipped with the Phantom keycaps in black, meaning the keycaps are stealth when the Chroma LED lighting is off, so if you’re looking for phantom keys, you won’t need an upgrade kit. Some of the symbols, however, are printed discretely on the front-side of the keyboard, like the symbols for the Function keys and those to adjust keyboard backlighting, for example.

Razer keycap removal tool in place.

How to use the Razer Keycap Upgrade kit

To remove the cap, use the keycap removal tool inside the box. You’ll want to just insert the tool directly onto the keys on the keyboard so that the clamp attaches to the top and bottom sides of the key. The tool acts as a set of pliers or tweezers, and then you just gently pull upward and the keycap will pop out.

If you’re replacing keycaps on a Razer-made keyboard, you may not need to use the mechanical or optical stabilizers, though these can come in handy if you’re trying to retrofit keyboards from other brands.

Pulling the Razer keycap off.

Once the keycaps are off, find the matching keycap from the upgrade set and press the new keycap firmly down in place — you don’t need the removal tool for this step. We recommend you do the replacement one key at a time to ensure you’re putting the proper keycap upgrade in place.

Upgrading the number row.

Since the keycaps contain U.K. and U.S. key layouts, be sure to find the appropriate replacement key. For example, the alternate character on the “3” key for U.S. keyboard layouts is the hashtag, or #, sign, while the corresponding alternate character for U.K. layouts is the British pound sign.

The process is fairly simple and really requires no technical knowledge whatsoever. The hardest part is finding the corresponding key in the plastic packs. Razer did a great job making the keycap replacement process easy. Combining sets together could add multiple pops of color if that’s your style.

One thing to note with our particular keyboard setup is that since the keys on the number rows can also be used as Function keys, the replacement keycaps don’t include the corresponding function key — like the “F1” — marker on the front side, as the original keycap on the keyboard did. Razer stated that the kit with the coiled cable isn’t intended for 65% keyboards, like ours, as evident with the lack of function key markers. That said, the keys fit and functionality isn’t impacted. The Phantom kits would be a more suitable upgrade in this case.

Razer keycap upgrade kit for the number row.

Given how great of a job Razer had done with the keycap upgrade, I do hope the company eventually branches out from its gaming roots and into adjacent segments with a similar upgrade kit for creators. A keycap upgrade set for Adobe shortcuts for Photoshop and for Premiere would be wonderful to have for photo or video editing.

If you opt for the Keycap Upgrade kit with the coiled cable, it’s worth noting that the cable inside is a USB-C to USB-A. The USB-C end connects directly to the keyboard, while the USB-A end hooks up to your laptop or PC. I do wish Razer would offer a future-proof solution and deliver a kit with a USB-C to USB-C coiled cable as an option.

Razer ergonomic wrist rest.

In addition to the keycap kits, Razer also launched its ergonomic wrist rests that fit a number of its keyboards. The wrist rests are wrapped in a supple leatherette material and come with memory foam padding for comfort, and, in use, I like the way that the leatherette feels — it doesn’t get as warm compared to leather, so your wrist doesn’t get sweaty after prolonged use. The memory foam padding could be a bit thicker, but the overall experience with the wrist rest is very comfortable.

The wrist rest costs $19 and is available in different sizes to fit mini, tenkeyless, and full-sized keyboards. Razer also sells an upgraded full-sized wrist rest with heat transfer fabric for $34. That model comes with cooling gel-infused memory foam to keep your wrists cool during long gaming sessions.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Razer Blade 17 model gets massive upgrade with 11th-gen Intel processor

Razer has introduced its latest and most powerful gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 17. This next-generation model is Razer’s first laptop to feature the 11th-gen Intel Core i9-11900H processor. Despite the high-performance hardware, Razer promises an “ultra-thin” design and the ability to replace your desktop with something far more portable.

The Intel Core i9-11900H features eight cores and 16 threads, as well as a max turbo frequency of 4.90Ghz. Razer has also launched a Blade 15 Base model with the 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor for gamers who want the more affordable option.

The new Blade 17 model likewise packs up to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU and up to a 4K UHD touchscreen display. Razer has introduced some other changes with its next-generation gaming laptop model, including the addition of a fingerprint-resistant chassis coating, an upgraded 1080p webcam, four instead of two microphones, plus there are four upward-facing speakers.

Beyond that, Razer says it has also improved this model’s touchpad for better palm rejection, as well as improving the vapor chamber to better handle heat dispersion for keeping the laptop cool. As a result, the company claims the new Blade 17 model can be “a true desktop replacement” for consumers who desire that.

The inclusion of Intel’s 11th-gen hardware brings things like Thunderbolt 4, as well as faster memory and storage. Other features include the company’s Chroma RGB keyboard backlighting, THX Spatial Audio, as well as “an abundant offering of ports,” according to Razer, so you won’t need to carry around multiple dongles.

The next-generation Razer Blade 17 is available to preorder now with a starting price of $2,399.99 USD. The upgraded Blade 15 model, meanwhile, can also be preordered from Razer itself with a starting price of $1,799.99 USD.

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Categories
Computing

How to Install and Upgrade GPU Drivers in Windows 10

If you want to keep your graphics card running as fast as possible with all the latest features, it’s important to install the latest GPU drivers. Graphics drivers optimize new games and fix bugs, and staying up to date with them can squeeze extra performance out of your card. In this guide, we have a simple two-step process for how to install and upgrade your GPU drivers in Windows 10.

We have steps below for the best graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD. If you have integrated graphics from Intel, you can find the most recent graphics drivers on Intel’s software download page.

Before getting started: Identify your GPU

Before you can install or upgrade your GPU drivers, you need to know your GPU model. If you built your own computer or otherwise know what graphics card you have, you can skip down to the steps below. If you don’t know what card you have, don’t worry; you can easily figure it out in Windows 10.

Press Windows Key + S and enter System Information. Select the top result to pull up a window with everything you need to know about your computer. In the left menu, expand the Components option and select Display. The main window will refresh with some information about your display and graphics card. You can find your graphics card model under the Name item.

You can also find your GPU driver version in this window if you want to manually check if you have the right version. You don’t need to, though. AMD and Nvidia offer software that can automatically detect if your driver is out of date.

Step 1: Install graphics card driver software

Nvidia and AMD have graphics driver software that can auto-detect your card and notify you of the latest updates. As far as these types of applications go, they’re unobtrusive, so we recommend installing them so you can easily upgrade your GPU drivers in the future.

Nvidia GeForce Experience

The home page in Nvidia GeForce Experience.

Nvidia’s graphics card drivers come from GeForce Experience, which also includes game capture through ShadowPlay and automatic game optimizations in supported titles. Download GeForce Experience from Nvidia’s website and follow the steps in the installer. Once it’s done, GeForce Experience will automatically open and attempt to detect the games installed on your PC.

If you don’t want GeForce Experience, you can update your graphics driver manually. You can use Nvidia’s product search page to find your graphics card. The search function speaks for itself, but make sure Download Type is set to Game Ready Driver (GRD) and Operating System is set to Windows 10. Otherwise, you just need to know your product series and the card you have (see above).

Run the installer for the latest driver, and you’re all set. During the installation, Nvidia will ask if you want to install GeForce Experience, but you can install the driver by itself if you want.

AMD Radeon Software

Home screen in AMD Radeon Software.

AMD’s drivers come from Radeon Software, which includes a bunch of useful features for AMD graphics cards. In addition to updating your driver, the software lets you monitor temperature and performance inside your computer, set up a livestream scene, and use features like Radeon Chill and Radeon Anti-Lag. Download the latest version of Radeon Software from AMD and follow the steps in the installer.

Alternatively, you can find your card manually, but you’ll need to still install the driver through Radeon Software. You can search for your card using AMD’s product search tool, which is easier to use than Nvidia’s. Just make sure to select Graphics as your category, then select the product series and the card you have.

On the next screen, expand the Windows 10 – 64-bit Edition dropdown to reveal the available drivers. Under the Revision Number, look for the driver with the Recommended tag. You’ll also see an option for an Optional driver, which includes upcoming features but may carry bugs or other issues. Click Download, follow the installer, and you’re good to go.

Step 2: Install the GPU driver

With the software installed, you can easily update your GPU driver. You don’t need to know what graphics card you have or what driver it needs. Both pieces of software will automatically detect your system and recommend the most recent driver.

Nvidia GeForce Experience

Game Ready Drive in Nvidia GeForce Experience.

Open up GeForce Experience after it’s done installing and head to the Drivers tab. You should see the most recent driver available, which you can download. Just to make sure you’re getting what you need, though, click the three dots in the upper right corner and select Game Ready Driver, then select Check for Updates. Nvidia also offers studio drivers that are optimized for creative apps. You can have one or the other, not both. For most people, we recommend the Game Ready Driver.

After you’ve checked for updates, click the big green Download button. Installation only takes a few minutes, during which your screen will temporarily go black and your sound will cut out. Both will come back after the installation is done. When it’s finished, restart your computer and you’re all set.

Whenever there’s a new update, you’ll be able to see it by opening GeForce Experience from the taskbar.

AMD Radeon Software

The driver update section in AMD Radeon Software.

AMD’s Radeon Software has a lot more going on, but it’s still easy to find the drivers you need. Even better, Radeon Software allows you to automatically install new updates, so you should only have to go through the process manually once.

Open the software and click the Settings icon in the right corner. Ensure you’re on the System tab on the next page and look under the Software & Driver section. Select Check for Updates to see if there’s a new driver available. If you’re installing a driver for the first time, Radeon Software will automatically detect your card and download the latest driver during the installation process.

Below this area, you can set up automatic installs. First, toggle the switch next to the Check for Updates section, which will automatically check for new driver versions. This option is enabled by default. Below that, you can toggle on Download Drivers & Software, which will install the latest driver and software versions automatically. Finally, make sure Preferred Software Version is set to Recommended. 

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Game

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Nintendo Switch: Upgrade or pass

The tech community was expecting a Pro version of the Nintendo Switch but on July 6 an OLED model was announced as the fourth major release of the handheld console. Called Nintendo Switch (OLED model), the new version of Nintendo handheld game console is a bit of a subjective choice depending on whether you already own the Switch or you’re a first-time user of a handheld console.

Anticipation for the Nintendo Switch’s next version has been on an all-time high for an agonizingly long time. Now that the handheld is finally a reality, let’s take a look at the key differences and similarities that’ll help you make up your mind whether to buy or pass on this hot new gadget.

Comparing the display

Nintendo choosing to highlight the OLED aspect in the name of its new console is somewhat strange, but then, we’ll have to live with it. That’s where one of the biggest differences in the two consoles lies. The latest announced Switch gets a 7-inch OLED multi-touch capacitive display with 1280x720p resolution. The standard Nintendo Switch on the other hand has a 6.2-inch multi-touch capacitive LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 1280x720p.

This means the new OLED model will have deeper blacks, far better contrast and an overall vibrant look. The resolution being the same for both is slightly disappointing as there will be no bump up in the level of details which is really valuable for gamers. It actually gives a strategic advantage in some gaming titles where a sharper level of detail means better viewing capability.

Design comparison

Both the consoles are more or less similar (if not identical) in basic shape and aesthetics. The bigger OLED screen eats up the somewhat dated large bezel design of the standard model – thereby having a very sleek look to it. Other minor changes come in the form of a taller profile – the new model measure 0.1 inches larger – and weighs 0.05 pounds heavier.

The biggest and most satisfying change however is in the kickstand which has been delightfully revamped. Compared to the old plastic kickstand on the standard Switch that was a sort of wobbly and non-reliable, the newer kickstand is a full-width rear stand to keep the console sturdy in tabletop mode.

Coming on to the main consoles, both are offered in the Neon color option – paired to one red and one blue Joy-Con. The standard Switch other than that has the all-gray option. The OLED model on the other hand has a clean white option with off-white controllers matched to the off-white dock.

Controllers, dock and Ethernet port

Of what’s known so far and by the look of things, the Joy-Cons shipping with the OLED version is identical in form to their predecessors. The rail system on the new console looks identical to the old one – meaning your old Joy-Cons will work with the new one and the new ones will function just as fine with the standard model.

Switch OLED gets a slightly redesigned dock in off white color. The older console had a black dock, so that is another change when the two are compared. The new version ditches the USB Type-A port on the standard Switch for a LAN port – a feature you’ll either like or dismiss.

The new model gets an Ethernet (LAN) port to allow gamers to plug in the cable from the internet router to the console’s dock for better connectivity and signal strength in comparison to Wi-Fi. This will come in handy when outputting to a big screen. Unfortunately, the console cannot output 4K signal as it does not improve from its predecessor, which is capped at 1080p.

Storage and processing power

Nintendo Switch OLED gets double the storage of the standard version. That means you will get base storage of 64GB as compared to 32GB with the option to bump the storage via the microSD card.

A big disappointment on the new console is the same chipset as on the predecessor. It is powered by the custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset, and this could be one reason we aren’t excited about this new offering. Nintendo should have provided a better chipset for superior performance and rendering of graphics of the current as well as the games in the future.

Battery life comparison

There is no upgrade in the battery capacity between the two models; the OLED option features the same 4,310mAh Lithium-ion power cell as the original Switch. According to Nintendo, the new model should be able to eke out almost the same battery life of about 4.5 to 9 hours on a single charge as the predecessor. The 2017 classic Switch model had a battery life of around 2.5 to 6.5 hours.

The new model has a bigger screen and OLED display yet it’s incredible to achieve almost the same backup as the previous version. The display panel of the old model has a brightness of 320nits while the newer OLED variant is expected to feature better peak brightness, it would not be close to the 500-600nits delivered by OLED phones though.

Price and availability

To get your hands on the Switch OLED model you’ll have to wait until October 8, 2021. The handheld gaming console will carry a price tag of $349.99, which is right on point when it comes to attracting prospective buyers. The price is $50 more than the current Switch that misses on a few features the new kid in town will offer.

The UK pricing of the Switch OLED is not yet announced but we assume it is going to be around the £300 mark since the Nintendo Switch is currently priced at £280 in the region.

Wrap-up

Nintendo Switch OLED comes with some worthy upgrades but it has certain disappointments that should not have been ignored. Omission of 4K is one feature that’ll be missed deeply since a huge collection of TVs are capable of the output resolution today.

Similarly, the handheld’s display resolution should have been beefed up, at least to 1080p. On the hind side, the inclusion of the Ethernet port is a welcome step and the kickstand is another design overhaul worth a mention.

Should you buy the new OLED version of the Switch or not? The answer is fairly simple – if you already own the older Switch model then there is no compelling case for you to upgrade to the new model. However, if you don’t have one, the Switch OLED will not disappoint.

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