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Watch us build an over-the-top RGB PC

Mon, 2018-04-09 06:30

Whether you love them or hate them, it's hard to ignore the number of PC components with RGB lights. Multi-colored PC lighting has crept into almost every category out there—even sound cards and power supplies.

What's less clear is just how easy it is to build a system entirely of RGB parts and then simultaneously control all of the lighting. So to put it to the test, we're building a PC that houses as many RGB components as possible.

Parts list

When choosing the parts for this build—which we've affectionately dubbed our "Viva Las Vegas" machine—it became clear that even four years into this RGB fad, you can't throw together whichever components you want and expect to control them through a single interface. You have to commit to an ecosystem.

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Nest x Yale Lock review: Nest’s first smart lock is a solid effort, but it needs refinement

Mon, 2018-04-09 06:00
Nest’s partnership with Yale is a rocky combination.

Intel 8th-gen CPU motherboards explained: Z370 vs. H370 vs. B360 vs. H310

Mon, 2018-04-09 06:00

Selecting the best Intel 300-series motherboard to fit your needs was straightforward when the initial wave of 8th-gen Core desktop processors launched in October 2017, because only the enthusiast-class Z370 chipset released alongside the new chips. That was enough to help the flagship Core i7-8700K CPU counter AMD’s Ryzen threat at the high end, but left PC users looking for more affordable options in a pickle. Buying a $100 Core i3 chip doesn’t make much sense when you’re forced to slap it in a $130, high-end motherboard, especially with AMD offering a full arsenal of Ryzen motherboards at all price points.

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Anker SoundCore 2 Bluetooth speaker review: Good sound in a super small, very affordable package

Mon, 2018-04-09 06:00
Compact, with good sound for its size, the SoundCore 2 is a bargain at $39.

Best smart home systems for a connected domicile

Fri, 2018-04-06 15:41
Your home is only as smart as the hub that orchestrates everything behind the scenes. These DIY tools are the best of the bunch.

Microsoft plans to bring native 64-bit apps to Qualcomm-powered PCs, but it'll take time

Fri, 2018-04-06 13:43

Windows PCs that use the battery-sipping Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processor are just beginning to roll out, but they include some major caveats. One of them, the inability to run 64-bit apps, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

According to a Microsoft representative, the company will "share more details" on  a preview of its ARM64 software development kit (SDK) at its Build developer conference at the beginning of May. It’s unclear when the preview version of the SDK will be released, when a final version will debut, or when apps based upon it will roll out to end users.

“We will be sharing more details on the ARM64 SDK Preview at Build,” a Microsoft representative said in a statement. “Applications that are 64-bit only typically want to run natively for performance reasons. As a result we decided to focus our engineering investments on the native ARM64 SDK to enable developers to natively write their application for the device.”

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This week in games: Free copies of Crusader Kings II, Shadow of War removes loot boxes

Fri, 2018-04-06 11:40

Did you know in Crusader Kings II you can make a horse become ruler of the Roman Empire? And if that doesn't convince you to pick up a copy of the game for free this weekend, then I don't know anything that will.

More details on that below, plus Assassin's Creed: Origins adds cheat codes, Shadow of War deep-sixes loot boxes, Path of Exile temporarily goes battle royale, Lawbreakers studio Boss Key starts work on a new project, and maybe some Shaquille O'Neal news too.

This is gaming news for April 2 to 6.

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The easy-to-use Ecobee 3 Lite smart thermostat is cheaper than we've ever seen it

Fri, 2018-04-06 10:34

Smart thermostats help you get temperatures just right in your home, bolstered by handy extras like remote adjustment and the ability to communicate with other devices around the house. Right now, you can get the Ecobee3 Lite smart thermostat for an all-time low price of $144, or about $25 off its average price on Amazon.

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A 4K, HDR Dell UltraSharp monitor is $240 off, and comes with a $200 gift card

Fri, 2018-04-06 10:06

High-dynamic range displays deliver stunningly bright colors with deep, dark blacks, and the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update dropping any day now will include enhanced HDR support. But HDR is still relatively new to PCs. If you’re looking to upgrade, Dell’s UltraSharp 27-inch U2718Q 4K HDR monitor is on sale for $500 right now, with something extra to sweeten the deal.

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Microsoft's new Cortana chief plans to put her smarts in more places

Fri, 2018-04-06 06:30

Cortana, where art thou? That’s what PCWorld wanted to know when we spoke with Microsoft’s recently-minted Cortana czar, Javier Soltero, late last week. The digital assistant who made a splash in Windows 10 with her snappy comebacks and silly knock-knock jokes is still offering to help you with your calendar and search. She’s even migrated to mobile apps for Android and iOS. But Cortana hasn’t talked her way into our homes like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have, making her staying power look uncertain.

That’s where Soltero comes in. We sat down with Cortana’s new chief in the wake of a significant management shakeup that will see senior executive Terry Myerson leave, as well as the creation of a new "Experiences and Devices" team that seemingly downplays Windows.

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Notion home monitoring (2nd Edition) review: Modest upgrades advance a winning formula

Fri, 2018-04-06 06:00
Improvements in battery life and wireless range, coupled with Nest integration, teach Notion some new tricks.

GE Smart Lighting review: ZigBee or Z-Wave? In-wall or plug-in?

Fri, 2018-04-06 06:00
Jasco Products markets in-wall and plug-in ZigBee and Z-Wave lighting controls under the GE brand. Are they worthy of your smart home?

Intel's Kaby Lake-G mystery: Why Radeon Vega M may be more Polaris than Vega

Fri, 2018-04-06 06:00

Intel’s Kaby Lake-G chip harbors a mystery. PCWorld has learned the company’s exciting CPU/GPU combo chip may actually be based on AMD’s older-generation Polaris cores rather than the newest Vega cores. 

This revelation doesn't change how we feel about the chip, having already tested it (and liked it) in Intel's Hades Canyon NUC. But an industry-standard system utility identifies the Kaby Lake-G as having an AMD Polaris bloodline. And we've discovered other evidence suggesting the chip's GPU core is Polaris. 

Kaby Lake-G: Making the impossible 

In January, Intel unveiled it had linked a Core i7 to an AMD Radeon RX Vega M with its advanced Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge. And thus the Kaby Lake-G mobile chip—and a once-unthinkable Intel/AMD partnership—was born.

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Microsoft adds ransomware protections to make OneDrive and safer

Thu, 2018-04-05 16:14

If your PC is infected with ransomware, it will spread from file to file, encrypting them until you pay the bad guys for the digital key. But ransomware can also spread to your files stored in the cloud—and that’s what Microsoft’s new OneDrive protections are designed to address.

On Thursday Microsoft announced the ability to “roll back” the files stored in OneDrive to versions stored up to a month ago, to help you return to a point before you were infected by malware. The company also said it will use its automated threat-detection systems to figure out when the ransomware began infecting those files and alert you via your phone that an infection has taken place.

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The Razer Game Store is a Steam alternative that gives you free games and PC hardware

Thu, 2018-04-05 12:19

Razer creates virtually every type of PC peripheral you can think of, from headsets to mice to keyboards, but today it’s taking on a new challenge: Steam. Yes, Razer’s launching a gaming store of its own. Aptly called the Razer Game Store, the new marketplace taps into the zVault rewards system that Razer debuted last year to give loyal customers free games and gear.

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Get Alexa's smarts for less than $20 with this deal on the Eufy Genie smart speaker

Thu, 2018-04-05 10:12

Smart speakers are a useful and convenient way to control your smart home devices, but their price tags can be a little steep, even for inexpensive models like the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini. But right now you can get an Alexa-compatible smart speaker for super cheap: the Eufy Genie smart speaker is $19.99, a savings of nearly 45 percent off its $34.99 list price.

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Boost your setup with big deals on near-perfect G.Skill gaming peripherals

Thu, 2018-04-05 10:08

If you're looking to upgrade from the ho-hum peripherals that came with your PC, two great pieces of G.Skill Ripjaws gaming gear—both of which earned 4.5/5 star ratings in PCWorld reviews—are on sale today with sweet discounts. First up is the G.Skill Ripjaws MX780 ambidextrous gaming mouse for $30 at Amazon. That's about $10 to $12 cheaper than usual, and it also matches the mouse's all-time low price.

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Western Digital Black 3D NVMe SSD: High-end performance at near entry-level prices

Thu, 2018-04-05 08:00

Western Digital’s WD Black 3D NVMe SSD delivers much the same performance as the chart-topping Samsung 960 Pro, but for significantly less cash—$200 less in the 1TB capacity.

This is a good thing, and a big deal. Samsung has been unchallenged in the end-user, performance NVMe SSD market since its inception. If you wanted best speed at a fairly reasonable price, the company’s SSDs were your only choice. Until now.  

Design and specs

Announced Thursday, the WD Black 3D NVMe is an M.2, PCIe x4 SSD in the 2280 (22 millimeters wide, 80 mm long) form factor. It uses WD’s 3D TLC NAND. The NAND resides on only one side of the PC board, so the Black 3D NVMe can fit in the narrow confines of thin-profile laptops.

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Skyrim VR review: Staring down life-sized dragons is terrifying

Thu, 2018-04-05 07:42

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been remastered and re-released so many times it’s an inside joke at this point, and yet I haven’t really felt drawn to go back—until last night. Last night I once again took that fateful wagon ride through the mountains, put my head down on the chopping block, watched a dragon burn a village down, and helped my ol’ pal Ralof escape from those nasty brutes in the Imperial Legion.

Only this time, I did it in virtual reality.

Fus ro dah, for real

Yes, after six-ish months of PlayStation VR exclusivity, Skyrim VR released on PCs this week ($60 on Green Man Gaming) with official support for both the HTC Vive and, in huge news for Bethesda, the Oculus Rift. I wouldn’t say there’s peace between Zenimax and Oculus, but some sort of detente evidently prevailed finally.

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9.7-inch iPad (2018) review: Apple’s tablet is ‘pro’ enough for many of us

Thu, 2018-04-05 07:00
Apple Pencil support and a faster processor make a good case for leaving behind your iPad Pro.