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Date: Friday, 11 Apr 2014 03:06

As excited as we may be about Steam machines democratizing PC gaming in the living room, there's no question Valve's new platform will encounter some obstacles on its road to success. Valve will have to persuade other developers to support a new platform, for starters, and it will be forced to work with hardware makers, particularly AMD and Nvidia, to ensure SteamOS gets top-notch driver support. On top of that, Valve will need to convince PC gamers to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a wildly different operating system without support for many familiar apps and games.

At the Game Developers Conference last month, I became aware ...

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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 15:39

In early March, Intel gathered industry analysts and members of the tech press in Folsom, California to talk SSDs. The city is home base for Intel's Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, otherwise known as NSG, which is responsible for the development and testing of Intel solid-state drives. The NSG had a story to tell about how its design and validation work produces extremely reliable SSDs. We got hard numbers on failure rates, details about efforts to make SSDs more dependable, and a peek behind the scenes at the Folsom facility.

We were also let in on a little secret—an easter egg, if you will. Remember the Intel 730 Series we reviewed in February ? You know, the one ...

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Date: Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 12:00

Several weeks ago, I received a slightly terrifying clandestine communique consisting only of a picture of myself in duplicate and the words, "Wouldn't you agree that two is better than one?" I assume the question wasn't truly focused on unflattering photographs or, say, tumors. In fact, I had an inkling that it probably was about GPUs, as I noted in a bemused news item.

A week or so after that, another package arrived at my door. Inside were two small cans of Pringles, the chips reduced to powder form in shipping, and a bottle of "Hawaiian volcanic water." ...

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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 04:41
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When we introduced our new System Guide format in February, we cut out peripherals in order to focus more closely on internal PC components. Our plan was to revisit keyboards, ...

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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 01:30

Adata SSDs have appeared in several of our deals posts in recent months. They're competitively priced, and in the increasingly commoditized world of solid-state storage, cost-per-gigabyte is often the deciding factor. Anecdotal evidence suggests Adata SSDs are pretty reliable, too. The user reviews at Amazon and Newegg are largely positive, with relatively few reports of problems or premature failures.

The thing is, we haven't actually tested any Adata SSDs. So when the company offered us its latest Premier Pro SP920, which is reasonably priced and available in capacities ...

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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 04:38

At the Game Developers Conference this year, Microsoft pulled back the curtain on Direct3D 12, the first major update to its graphics APIs since 2009. The company announced some pretty big changes, including support for a lower level of abstraction and compatibility with not just Windows, but also Windows Phone and the Xbox One. This will be the first version of Direct3D to unify graphics programming across all of Microsoft's gaming platforms. It may also be the first version of Direct3D to eke significant performance gains out of current hardware.

I already covered some of those developments in a couple of news posts during the GDC frenzy. Now that I'm back home with all my notes from various sessions and meetings with Microsoft and GPU vendors, ...

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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 01:33

What's this? Another Corsair Obsidian Series enclosure? These things are multiplying faster than Duggar children, but we're not complaining. Some of our favorite PC cases come from the Obsidian Series, which combines understated styling with builder-friendly features and robust cooling capacity.

The Obsidian Series runs the gamut from the bit-sized 250D , which is built for Mini-ITX boards, to the gargantuan 900D tower , which stands over two feet ...

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Date: Monday, 24 Mar 2014 05:06
The Tech Report Podcast

Date: March 23, 2013
Duration: 1:25:50

Hosted by: Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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Date: Friday, 21 Mar 2014 17:40

like many other high-end products, pricey PC gear has a tricky value proposition. The best bang for your buck usually lies near the middle of the product range. Diminishing returns set in after that: higher prices typically deliver smaller performance gains and less critical added features.

This trend is especially apparent in motherboards. The increased integration of modern CPUs has largely removed performance from the equation. For most applications and games, high-end motherboards are no faster than their budget peers. They may offer more ...

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Date: Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 00:00

Although Intel hasn't exactly been neglecting its desktop PC business in recent years, I think it's safe to say the company has had most of its energies focused elsewhere. Intel was famously caught off-guard by the ascendancy of ARM-powered mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and it has been working feverishly to carve out a place in a mobile landscape that seems to prefer cheaper ARM-based silicon. That focus on mobility has caused Intel to treat its desktop business like something of a second-class citizen in certain respects. You've probably heard us complain about things like the lack of a socketed desktop version of Haswell GT3e, the CPU with Iris Pro graphics and a 128MB L4 cache.

Intel simply hasn't been addressing the desktop market with ...

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Date: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 20:22

You've seen all the bleak headlines: the PC industry is shrinking, collapsing, withering away... It's certainly true that, overall, PC sales are on a downward trend. However, it's also true that parts of the market are very much alive and still growing. One of those parts is PC gaming hardware, and another comprises mini-PCs, including Intel's fabled NUCs.

In a recent interview with the guys at Ars Technica, Intel's PC Client Group VP Lisa Graff didn't mince words about the success of NUCs and mini-PCs. "The whole category is growing," she said. "A million ...

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Date: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 12:00

When someone asks me which SSD to buy, I typically recommend getting the highest capacity they can afford from a reputable brand. Some budget drives should be avoided, especially at lower capacities, but most decent SSDs offer similar all-around performance. For the majority of consumers, the differences in pricing are more important than the differences in performance.

Right now, the Crucial M500 is one of the most affordable contenders. Crucial is the consumer brand of memory giant Micron, so it gets a family discount—and first dibs—on the latest and greatest flash ...

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Date: Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 18:53

Several days ago, we introduced our pay-what-you-want subscription system. We asked for you all to support us, and we offered a handful of extra perks on the site in return. So far, your response has been overwhelmingly positive and gratifying.

In a short span, we've already received enough subscription funds to improve our bottom line by $1,100 ...

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Date: Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 16:52

We've been independently publishing The Tech Report for nearly 15 years, and today, we've come to a crossroads. You see, TR has ...

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Date: Monday, 10 Mar 2014 06:08
The Tech Report Podcast

Date: March 9, 2014
Duration: 1:05:21

Hosted by: Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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Date: Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 15:51

Mechanical keyboards come in all kinds of flavors these days. Just about every PC peripheral maker has one in its arsenal, and most offer multiple variants. Some are loaded with extras, while others offer a more basic approach. There are also numerous switch options, each one with noticeably different characteristics.

Despite this variety, most mechanical keyboards are slight variations on the same theme. The majority of them mirror the standard, 104-key U.S. layout that's been around since the early days of Windows. There's a numpad on the right and lettering on the tops of the keys. That's great, but it's also a little bit boring, which is why the Cooler Master QuickFire Stealth caught my eye. This compact contender ditches the numpad in favor of a tenkeyless design with space-saving and ergonomic benefits. It also trades traditional lettering for a uniquely stealthy approach.

So, yeah, ...

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Date: Friday, 28 Feb 2014 21:22
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The TR System Guide has been around for a little over eight years. Starting with the original edition in November 2005 and ending with the Christmas 2013 guide, which went up last December , we followed roughly the same ...

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Date: Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 17:00

Intel's X25-M solid-state drive was a special piece of hardware back in the day. The SSD market was still in its infancy, and the X25-M represented the chip-maker's initial entry into an exciting new arena. It was a pretty good first offering, too. The drive had wicked-fast performance, and it was reasonably affordable for its day. Intel's chip-making prowess, combined with its expertise in designing storage and memory controllers, seemed perfectly suited to tackling solid-state storage.

The X25-M's flash controller anchored three generations of desktop SSDs before it was finally retired. Instead of using another in-house chip, Intel started ...

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Date: Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 04:07
The Tech Report Podcast

Date: February 26th, 2013
Duration: 1:20:01

Hosted by: Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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MP3 (61MB)

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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 05:35

Six weeks have passed since our last SSD endurance update. When we last visited our heroes, they had just crossed the half-petabyte threshold—no small feat for a collection of consumer-grade drives that includes the Corsair Neutron GTX, Intel 335 Series, Kingston HyperX 3K, and Samsung 840 Series and 840 Pro. Those drives have now left the 600TB mark in the rear-view mirror, so it's time for another update.

If you think it's taken longer than usual to add 100TB to the total, you're right. The truth is, the SSDs have been on hiatus, and so have I. The drives hit the 600TB mark about a week before I was scheduled to escape to Thailand for a two-week ...

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