Thursday, April 13, 2017

Any library needs you

Free internet and free space? It's LUGs o'clock! e remember the library Libraries are still a key component of being a wonderful place ­ how we learn and are ideal partners for when our ten-year-old self hackspaces, LUGs and Raspberry Jams. wasn't being shushed by a stern Libraries need more people to use their librarian ­ we'd pick up all manner of services and user groups are the key. books and use the photocopier to make Lots of groups meeting in a central our own Star Trek scrapbook. But fast space such as a library will encourage other groups to meet. In 2015, we did a forward to the present day and libraries tour of libraries in our local area and ran around the world are now hubs for free a Raspberry Jam in each one. We had internet access rather than for picking great fun and inspired many children to up a book. This isn't a bad thing and learn computing. libraries are now adapting to the needs Pop into your local library, have a of their users in the 21st century. For chat with the staff, you can make lots of example, Exeter Library has its own noise these days, so use it to shout Makerspace inside of the library. about your user group, hackspace or We had chance to visit the space in Raspberry Jam and host an event at 2015 and were astounded that the two your library! LXF very different spaces co-existed harmoniously. Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire are working with the local community to outfit its libraries with the latest Raspberry Pis and supporting equipment. Michael Rimicans, known to many as Heed, has taken the lead and is working with the libraries to ensure that they have the support and Libraries have plenty of rooms and spaces that you can use for free or for a small fee.

Of course, you need to get out of your car, which is where some of the fun of Mad Max can start to fizzle. Invading enemy camps is always done on foot, melee combat works similarly to what we've seen in the Arkham games, but it's simply not as fluid or flexible. The camera can be awful during fights, sometimes completely obscuring Max and his enemies. We have plenty of fun stories about car combat, but none about the fistfights we had. The dozen-or-so boss fights aren't great, either. Camp bosses are identical: lumbering damage-sponges wielding giant hammers, quickly attack to shave off slivers of their health, then dodge again. A couple other bosses are of the quick and agile variety, but there's really no difference in strategy. Besides car and melee combat, there are other things to do in the wasteland. We played for 45 hours and the map is still cluttered with icons, though there's honestly not a whole lot of variety in these activities. At least the wasteland itself is a solid pleasure. You'll find sun-bleached white sand, rolling yellow dunes, dark jagged peaks and cliffs, vast swamps of oily muck, and rusty red buttes and boulders. Then there's Gas Town, with its belching smokestacks and mountains of trash, looking for all the world like an industrial Mordor. We wish the story complimented the visuals, most of the characters, including Max himself, are fairly uninteresting. There are a lot of negatives, but the exciting and satisfying car combat goes a long way toward making up for the rest of Mad Max's shortcomings. Whenever we became bored with the endless fist-fights, we'd just hop back in the car and race around, looking for the telltale plumes of dust that indicated a rolling war party or convoy. Then we'd ready the harpoon, blast the nitro, and get up to ramming speed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

That wont change anything

Inside the ThinkCentre X1 are an Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of DDR4/2133MHz RAM, a 256GB SATA SSD, and an Intel Wireless-AC 3165 card for dual-band 1x1 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. As expected with this choice of components, the ThinkCentre X1 is as fast as most people need for everyday tasks, like word processing and web browsing. In PCMark 8's Home Conventional benchmark, which runs web browsing, writing, casual gaming, photo editing, and video chat workloads, this all-in-one machine scored 2,615. While processors with more cores and more power do outpace it, the X1 should feel plenty quick for basic tasks. The ThinkCentre X1 also performed as expected in our Handbrake encoding test, which involves converting a 30GB MKV file into a smaller MP4 using the program's Android Tablet preset. For machines using a thermally constrained CPU, Handbrake is more of a soak test than a measure of performance: We use it to see how well the machine holds up under long, intensive tasks. The ThinkCentre X1 isn't the fastest machine using a Core i5-6200U, but it's still within the expected range. The Dell XPS 13 still comes out ahead likely due to fan speeds, whereas the Samsung Notebook 9 lags incredibly far behind because its processor's clock speed drops (throttles) under prolonged heavy load. The ThinkCentre X1 tilts to far greater angles than the average AIO, and doing so doesn't take a lot of force. In 3DMark's Cloud Gate benchmark, which is a synthetic DX11 test designed for typical home desktop systems and laptops, the X1 netted an overall score of 4,946. While that's a little surprising, it again likely has to do with how Lenovo tweaked the fan profiles. However, even if the X1 had matched other Core i5-6200U systems' scores, that wouldn't change the fact that this all-in-one is only good enough for lightweight games. As for video playback, 4K UHD files played quite smoothly, as long as they were H.264 and not HEVC (H.265) or 60 frames per second The Thinkcentre X1's SSD, a Samsung MZ7LN256HCHP-000L1, has a middling write speed of a little less than 300MBps, but it reads at a reasonable pace of 500MBps. To be fair, while faster SSDs are available, this kind of throughput speed is still light years better than a hard-disk drive. One aspect of the X1 that could be better is its speakers. There's Dolby software on board to enhance the sound, but it's still a bit weak. You'll definitely want to use headphones or hook it up to a sound system.

You can get a ThinkCentre X1 for as little as $845 at the time of this review (thanks to an instant rebate through Lenovo's storefront), with only 4GB of system memory and a 500GB hard drive. I highly recommend against that configuration because of the slower performance you'll get from the hard drive compared to an SSD. Our 8GB/256GB SSD configuration costs a little over a thousand dollars, and you'll be much, much happier with it (or even the 128GB SSD) than the HDD version in the long run. The standard warranty is one-year on-site. Upgrading to as much as four years of on-site service costs from $79 to $149. To be perfectly honest, I'd like to see Lenovo take the outstanding basic ThinkCentre X1 design and realize it to the max: a 4K UHD display, a PCIe-NVMe SSD, Type C USB 3.1, and...a red (not yellow) always-on USB port. As it stands, however, 1080p is all most users need. The ThinkCentre X1 is easily fast enough, and forking over one $1,000 bill (instead of two) for a computer is more in line with the average budget. So let's forget the wish list and just say that if you're looking for a solidperforming, exceptionally well-designed all-in-one, this machine should be your starting point. And probably ending point. Look Ma! No wires. Actually, you will see some such as the power cord and ethernet cable, which are not shown here.

What we tested

Testing the RX 480 in 6 benchmarks As ever, we tested the RX 480 on PCWorld's dedicated graphics card benchmark system, which is loaded with high-end components to avoid potential bottlenecks in other parts of the machine and show unfettered graphics performance. Key highlights of the build: t Intel's Core i7-5960X ($1,016 on Newegg) with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i closed-loop water cooler ($105 on Newegg). t An Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard ($380 on Newegg). t Corsair's Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory ($65 on Newegg), Obsidian 750D full tower case ($140 on Newegg), and 1,200-watt AX1200i power supply ($308 on Newegg). 480GB Intel 730 series SSD ($250 on Newegg) Windows 10 Pro To see how hard the 8GB Radeon RX 480 punches, we compared it to some obvious rivals. The current crop of $200-ish graphics cards are represented in the form of EVGA's GTX 960 SSC, VisionTek's Radeon R9 380, and Sapphire's Radeon R9 380X. You'll also find results for more potent cards: The Sapphire Nitro R390, EVGA GTX 970 FTW, MSI Radeon 390X Gaming 8GB, and the reference Nvidia GTX 980. We're not including Radeon RX 480 overclocking results for the reasons stated earlier. I would have liked to pit the reference AMD RX 480 against reference versions of each of those cards; but well, I simply didn't have any on hand. Of particular importance for comparison purposes: note that the EVGA GTX 970 FTW is a highly overclocked version of the GTX 970, which puts its overall performance midway between that of the stock GTX 970 and stock GTX 980. Read Anandtech's EVGA GTX 970 FTW review if you want deeper details on how the custom card compares against its stock counterparts. Beyond the hardware, we test each game with the default graphics settings unless otherwise noted. But we disable all vendor-specific special features--such as Nvidia's GameWorks effects, AMD's TressFX, and FreeSync/G-Sync--to keep things on an even playing field.

Why wouldn't you use DX12 if you owned this card? Ashes's DX12 implementation makes heavy use of asynchronous compute features, which are supported by dedicated hardware in Radeon GPUs, but not in the older GTX 900-series Nvidia cards. In fact, the software preemption workaround that Maxwell-based Nvidia cards use to mimic the async compute capabilities tank performance so hard that Oxide's game is coded to ignore async compute when it detects a GeForce GPU. Those cards actually perform worse when running Ashes in DX12. Speaking of poor performance, the $200 2GB graphics cards from last generation really can't handle playing at 1440p (or even 1080p, in DX12) on Ashes' "crazy" preset.

Yes, DX12 could very well wind up being a major boon for Radeon cards. But until DX12 and Vulkan games hit the streets in larger numbers and we're able to observe wider trends, buy the RX 480 because it kicks ass today, not for what it might--or might not-- do in the future. Again: Buy the Radeon RX 480 for what it can do today, and consider all these future-proofing technologies a bonus cherry on top. And I definitely recommend weighing the risks before you pick up two of these over a $380 GeForce GTX 1070. I only had a single card on hand, so I couldn't test CrossFire performance, but Radeon chief Raja Koduri made waves when he ran a demo that showed dual RX 480s beating a GTX 1080 in the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark in DX12. But multi-GPU support has waned over the past couple of years, with numerous big-name games patching in CrossFire/SLI late or not at all. DirectX 12's multi-GPU support is being heralded as the future for extreme system setups, but that puts the onus on time- and money-deprived developers to dedicate money and time to coding in and supporting multi-GPU configurations. Frankly, I'm skeptical about the future of multi-GPU systems (and sad about it). Something to keep in mind. What I'm not skeptical about is whether you should buy the Radeon RX 480. The answer's an absolute, unequivocal yes. This is an unprecedented amount of performance in the $200 price range, and unprecedented power efficiency for AMD's recent GPUs. Even if Nvidia slashes the price of remaining GTX 970 stocks to $200 to match the Radeon RX 480's price, I'd still recommend AMD's card. Really, there are only three graphics cards worth considering right now. If you've got deep pockets, Nvidia's $380 GTX 1070 and $600 GTX 1080 offer mind-blowing performance for high-end gaming rigs. For anything under that, the Radeon RX 480's the only game in town.