Starting college is expensive. In addition to, you know, the tuition, you and the parentals will probably be making a large shopping trip to buy all manner of sweaters, snacks and extra-long twin sheets to round out your dorm room. And that’s not counting all the gear you’ll need to actually get work done. In addition to a few laptop recommendations (the XPS 13 is our reigning favorite), we have suggestions on things like cloud storage, backpacks and peripherals like travel mice and backup batteries. Check out the gallery below for all our first-year picks (think of it as a college starter kit), and be sure to read the rest of Engadget’s back-to-school guide here.
Source: Engadget’s 2016 Back-to-School Guide
With the GeForce GTX 1080, NVIDIA pushed the boundaries of what a $600 graphics card can do. That flagship card was joined by the GTX 1070 and GTX 1060, two lower-power cards based on the same 16nm Pascal architecture at a much more affordable price. Now, it’s bringing mobile versions of those cards that match their desktop counterparts in almost every area — including being VR ready.
That’s not hyperbole. The top-of-the-line 1080M has 2,560 CUDA cores and 8GB of 10Gbps GDDR5x memory. The desktop chip has the same. The only difference is clock speed: it’s set at 1,556MHz, while the desktop version is 1,607MHz. The two do share the same boost clock (1,733MHz) though, and both have access to all the new technology introduced for the Pascal architecture. That means simultaneous multi-projection, VRWorks, Ansel and the rest.
If you want an idea what those specs translate to in real-world performance, how’s this: when paired with an i7-6700HQ (a quad-core 2.6GHz chip with 3.5GHz turbo), Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, 126; Overwatch, 147; Doom, 145; Metro Last Light, 130; Rise of the Tomb Raider, 125. Those are the 1080M’s FPS figures when playing at 1080p with “ultra” settings at 120Hz. NVIDIA is really pushing 120Hz gaming, and many of the first crop of Pascal laptops will have 120Hz G-Sync displays.
4K gaming, too, is more than possible. At 4K with “high” settings the same setup can push 89FPS on Overwatch, 70FPS with Doom, and 62FPS with Metro Last Light (according to NVIDIA). Only Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Rise of the Tomb Raider fall short of 60FPS, both clocking in at a very playable 52FPS. At the chip’s UK unveil, NVIDIA showed the new Gears of War playing in 4K in real-time, and there were absolutely no visible frame drops. With figures like that, it goes without saying that VR will be no problem for the 1080M. The desktop GTX 980 is the benchmark for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and the 1080M blows it away. If you’re looking for more performance, the 1080M supports overclocking of course — NVIDIA suggests as high as 300MHz — and you can expect laptops sporting two in an SLI configuration soon.
The major drawback for the 1080M is power. We don’t know its exact TDP yet, but given the near-identical desktop version runs at 180W, you’d imagine it’s got to be at least 150W. NVIDIA has tech that counters that heavy power load when you’re not plugged in, of course. Chief among these is BatteryBoost, which allows you to set a framerate (i.e. 30FPS), and downclocks the GPU appropriately to save power — if your card is capable of pushing 147FPS plugged in, that’s going to be a fair amount of power saved. Whatever the battery savings possible, though, it won’t change the fact that the 1080M is only going to slide into big laptops.
That’s fine for those already used to carrying around behemoths on the go, but plenty of gamers prefer something more portable. Enter the 1070M. NVIDIA says this chip will fit into any chassis that currently handles the 980M, which covers a lot of laptops.
Just like the 1080M, the 1070M matches its desktop sibling in many ways. You’ve actually got slightly more in the way of CUDA cores — 2,048 vs. the desktop’s 1,920, but again they’re clocked slower (1,442MHz vs. 1,506MHz). Memory is the same — 8GB 8Gbps GDDR5 — and it too benefits from both the Pascal architecture itself and the new software features that come with it.
|Memory||8GB GDDR5X||8GB GDDR5X||8GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5|
When faced off against the desktop 1070, the 1070M holds its own. In nearly every test we saw, it got within a couple of percentiles of the desktop card. We’re talking 77FPS in The Witcher 3 (1080p maxed settings, no HairWorks) vs. 79.7FPS on the 1070; 76.2FPS in The Division (1080p ultra) vs. 76.6FPS; and 64.4FPS in Crysis 3 (1080p very high) vs. 66.4FPS. The one outlier was Grand Theft Auto V, which dropped down to 65.3FPS vs. 73.7FPS on the desktop 1070. 4K gaming is a stretch on the desktop 1070, and that carries over here, but this card is more-than VR ready. NVIDIA says that it’ll support factory overclocking on the 1070M soon, so you may see laptops offering a little more grunt “in a couple of months.”
Rounding off the lineup is the 1060M, the mobile version of NVIDIA’s $249 “budget” VR-ready card. It’s something of the exception to the rule here. Yes, it offers 1,280 CUDA cores and 6GB 8Gbps GDDR5 memory, which is equal to the desktop 1060. But at the lower end of the range the fact that they’re clocked lower (1,404MHz vs. 1,506MHz) hurts performance quite a bit more. In side-by-side comparisons, NVIDIA’s benchmarks suggest you’ll get within ten percent or so of the desktop card. That’s not to say that the 1060M is a slouch. For traditional gaming, you’re not going to hit 60FPS at 1080P in every game without thinking about settings, but if you can play it on a desktop GTX 980, it’s probably a safe bet that the 1060M can handle it. That’s insanely impressive when you consider that the 1060M will fit into the same chassis as the 970M — think “ultra portable” gaming laptops.
|Memory||6GB GDDR5*||6GB GDDR5||4GB GDDR5|
In reality, the 10-percent gap between the 1060 and the 1060M probably makes it slightly slower than the GTX 980, but the difference is almost negligible. I wasn’t able to push the 1060M too hard on the “VR ready” promise — you can read about the demo and why the 1060M matters in a separate article — but the demo I had was solid. And really, being able to plug an Oculus into something as slim as a Razer Blade was unthinkable a few months ago, so it’s probably best not to complain.
Acer, Alienware, Asus, Clevo, EVGA, HP, Gigabyte, Lenovo, MSI, Origin, Razer, Sager and XMG are just some of the OEMs signed up to make laptops with the new Pascal chips. Many will announce updated and all-new models today, while some might hold off a while. But expect lots of super-powerful, VR-ready gaming laptops very soon.
Oh yes, it’s already that time of year. Temperature are still sitting in the triple digits in some places, but many of you are just four weeks away from a new school year, heralding the end of summer. Once again, Engadget has put together a back-to-school gear guide, but this time, we did something a little different.
This year’s guide was curated with college students in mind (sorry, high schoolers), with sections for five broad archetypes: party kids, academics, jocks, freshmen and study abroad students. (What’s that you say? You’re a scholar-athlete and you’re spending the semester in Madrid? Have we got picks for you!) As always too, we endeavored to recommend things across different price points, with a few free options, some more aspirational objects and lots of stuff in between. Check out the whole guide here, and stay tuned throughout the month as we spotlight different picks for different students.
Source: Engadget’s 2016 Back-to-School Guide
Nearly two months after Google confirmed the Play Store and more Android apps are coming to Chrome OS, it finally added support for the feature on some new hardware. The Acer Chromebook R11 and Chromebook Pixel have joined ASUS’ Chromebook Flip — where we recently gave Android apps a try — with support as long as owners switch their devices to the dev channel. Naturally, it’s all still early ahead of the real rollout later this year, but if you’re a developer or curious user trying to find out how it works for yourself, they might be a couple of laptops you already own.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the PC world… for once. Both Gartner and IDC estimate that PC shipments actually grew in the US for the first time in over a year, climbing in the second quarter to either 4.9 percent according to Gartner (which includes Windows tablets) or 1.4 percent if you ask IDC (which doesn’t). There’s no one answer as to why the computer industry is bouncing back, regardless of who you ask. A stronger US economy is playing a part, but the analyst groups also point to strong Chromebook sales to schools as well as a possible spike in purchases from governments and other public outfits.
Just don’t look at shipments in the rest of the world, as they’re rather ugly. Both Gartner and IDC reckon that worldwide deliveries dropped between 4.5 to 5.2 percent. That’s not as bad as it could have been (IDC was predicting a 7.4-point drop), but you’ll have to forget any visions of an imminent return to the PC’s heyday. Economies are still weak outside of the US, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are still a higher priority for cash-strapped buyers. Lenovo may have extra reason to worry — its shipments shrank enough that it’s barely holding its market share lead over HP.
On the bright side? While researchers are cautious, they do see ways the industry could climb out of its hole. As upgrading to Windows 10 will soon cost you $119, there’s the chance that people will decide to replace their PCs rather than fork over cash to update existing machines. You could also see the corporate crowd take a serious look at buying Windows 10 computers instead of clinging to aging systems for dear life. Although that amounts to a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” that could easily change, it’s the best hope yet for a PC business that has been declining for years.
Source: Gartner, IDC
If you bought an Acer device from the company’s store in the last year, there’s a chance that your credit card info was hijacked. The Taiwan-based company informed California’s attorney general that attackers made off with the “name, address, card number, expiration date and three-digit security codes” of users between May 12, 2015 and April 28, 2016. It sent form letters to the 34,500 affected customers, all of whom are in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico.
The theft isn’t particularly large and no social security numbers were taken. However, it’s one of the few we’ve seen involving a major PC company’s online store. Acer hasn’t yet revealed how it happened, but such breaches are usually a result of employees opening infected email, not any fancy hacking. While the breach was still ongoing, Acer recently held an event to reveal its latest laptops and desktop computers. If you bought something from its stores soon after, you may want to ensure that your credentials weren’t stolen.
Source: US Attorney General
Those problems with security holes in big PC makers’ software bundles? They might not be over yet. Duo Security says it found vulnerabilities in the update software for Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Some vendors were more secure than others in Duo’s testing, but all of them were insecure enough that you could launch a man-in-the-middle attack and run your own code. In the worst cases, they’d send update data without any encryption or validation.
Also, don’t think that you’re safe by springing for one of Microsoft’s cleaner Signature Edition versions of these PCs. Duo says that some of these models still have vendor update software, so you might be in the same boat as someone who bought the garden variety PC.
We’ve asked all five companies for comment, and we’ll let you know what they say. However, Duo adds that the research took place between last October and this April, which suggests that some of the holes might have already been patched up. Dell already said that it would tackle the eDellroot flaw that created a minor panic last year, for example. Even if there’s more fuss than necessary, though, this is a reminder that your PC’s operating system is only part of the security puzzle — you have to be mindful of third-party apps, too.
Via: International Business Times
Source: Duo Security
Acer will be launching quite a few devices at Computex this year, including a range of Windows 10 laptops (that come with fingerprint readers) and a new phone. Two of those laptops, a 14-inch and a 15.6-inch TravelMate, are powered by Intel’s 6th-gen core (aka Skylake) processors that became available late last year. They’re also equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics cards, can support up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM and will ship with Windows 10 Pro. These models are geared more towards small businesses, so they come bundled with some enterprise-level software. But if you’re shopping for Skylake-based laptops and think either model could be a contender, you can check them out yourself when Acer releases them in North America sometime in the fourth quarter. One will cost you at least $599.
The laptop in the image above, however, is part of Acer’s 2-in-1 budget line for students. There are two models in the series — the Switch V 10 and the Switch One 10 — both of which transform into 10-inch tablets when you detach them from their keyboards. They’re powered by quad-core Intel Atom processors and will ship with Windows 10, though the V 10 also has a USB Type-C port. The tablets will be available in both 32GB and 64 GB configurations, but the keyboard dock adds 500GB of storage. The One 10 will come out in North America in July, with prices starting at $199. Acer doesn’t have an exact release date for V 10 yet, but it’s also coming in the third quarter and will cost you at least $249.
The Taiwanese manufacturer is also announcing US availability for the LTE-enabled, 5.5-inch Android Marshmallow phone called Liquid Zest Plus. It has a 13-megapixel camera with what the company calls “an ultra-fast hybrid tri-focusing system” that can focus on what you want to capture within .03 seconds. Plus, it comes with the ability to take timed selfies when you shake the phone. Zest Plus will set you back $199 if you decide to buy it when it comes out across North America in July.
Besides those laptops and the phone, Acer will also take the chance to show off a new 4K home cinema projector and a 4K monitor at the expo. Our Computex team will be testing out some of the devices on display at the event, so make sure to check back to see them take these laptops, phones and other gadgets for a spin when the show begins on the 31st.
Starbreeze may be comparatively new to virtual reality headsets (and hardware in general), but it’s getting some big allies in its corner. The Payday 2 game studio has revealed that Acer will help design, make and sell its theme park-oriented StarVR headset as part of a planned joint venture. Yes, the computer industry veteran is doing more than just making VR-ready PCs. While Starbreeze already has some help from outsiders (Toshiba is one of its partners), the alliance should give it a better shot at becoming a significant player in the VR world. And for Acer, this isn’t just about entering an undiscovered country — this and the company’s existing mobile efforts are a hedge against a declining PC market.
Source: Starbreeze (BusinessWire)
If finding Microsoft apps on the Galaxy S6 caught you off-guard, you’re in for a real surprise this year. Microsoft has announced that its apps are now bundled with current and future Android devices from 74 companies, including newcomer Acer as well as ASUS, LG, Samsung and Sony. That’s a healthy boost from 31 vendors last year. There are bound to be gaps in coverage, but the odds are now fairly high that you’ll find the Office suite, OneDrive, Skype and other Redmond-made tools on your brand new smartphone or tablet.
As is usually the case, though, this isn’t coming out of sheer eagerness to embrace Microsoft’s vision. The Windows maker notes that “IP alignment” is a key factor here — to put it another way, these companies are bundling Microsoft apps in part to avoid patent disputes over their use of Android. They do stand to profit from the deal, but it’s clear that Microsoft is using its leverage to get its apps and services on as many gadgets as possible.