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Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts

Posted on 7th Apr 2014 at 13:20 by Antony Leather with 22 comments

As we reported here, Intel has announced the rest of its 2014 line-up. However, I for one am extremely excited by what the future holds for LGA1150.

With Broadwell being delayed and Haswell seemingly focusing more on power efficiency than giving anything significantly new to the enthusiast and performance user, I was pretty amazed when I read the finer details of Intel's latest roadmap that was announced on 19th March.

In the press release, the company has announced its intentions to better-support the enthusiast and overclocking communities and has detailed a couple of very interesting products.

The first is a new Pentium that will feature an unlocked multiplier to celebrate 20 years of the brand. Could this be the first cheap overclockable CPU since the likes of the Pentium G9650, all the way back on LGA1156? If so, it could prove a huge boon to those looking to overclock on a budget and give a massive boost to overclocking and the enthusiast market.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
Click to enlarge

At the moment we're forced to buy comparatively expensive K-series CPUs, and there have only been two to choose from for each of the last several generations too. It never used to be this way and certainly for the majority of my overclocking life, it wasn't a case of if you could overclock a CPU, it was a question of which one out of an entire range of CPUs was the best at it.

If the Pentium retails for current Pentium prices - ie around £80-100, but you can add 500-1000MHz to the clock speed, this could potentially match the performance of a Core i5, at least in software that isn't massively multi-threaded, and give AMD's cheap FX-series CPUs some competition too.

The new Pentium will be supported by current 8-series chipsets and also forthcoming 9-series chipsets, presumably Z97, although we'll have to wait and see whether it will need a BIOS update to run in current boards.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
Click to enlarge

Another gleeful bit of information is that Intel will also be launching its first 8-core desktop CPU. The monster will likely feature hyper-threading, for 16 threads in total, will also support DDR4 and will be supported by the new X99 chipset.

Ivy Bridge and Haswell CPUs meanwhile have suffered from hot-running chips, especially when you've overclocked them. It's fairly common for people to de-lid their CPUs - having done so with my Core i5-3570K, I can honestly say it made a huge difference. However, Intel appears to have admitted the issue as it will be introducing 'Improved thermal interface material' to the expected Haswell refresh CPUs, codenamed Devil's Canyon, due out this summer.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
Click to enlarge

As well as the expected performance boost that comes with every refresh, this could mean better overclocking too. The new CPUs are slated to be supported by a new Intel 9-series chipset, although it's likely Z87-based boards will support them via a BIOS update too.

Finally, there was scant information on Broadwell - Intel's 5th gen Core processor range. However, it did confirm the new CPUs would be based on a 14nm manufacturing process, will feature unlocked CPUs, and for the first time, offer its Iris Pro Graphics to socketed unlocked processors too, which could give AMD some competition in the APU department.

It looks like we could have some exciting new products just around the corner. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Is 2014 the year that 4K goes mainstream?

Posted on 6th Mar 2014 at 08:42 by Antony Leather with 67 comments

Antony Leather
We’ve been lucky enough to have a resident 4K monitor here at bit-tech for a while and I’ve written about the so-called Ultra HD experience elsewhere too. It is, for the most part, mightily impressive and not just in games either.

Anything that benefits from a higher pixel density is markedly improved, from viewing images and movies, to simple content creation. The sharpness on offer compared to current 30in 2,560 x 1,600 displays that boast some of the highest pixel densities is palpable, even staring at the desktop.

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Are low-power desktop CPUs worth buying?

Posted on 6th Oct 2013 at 12:43 by Antony Leather with 22 comments

Antony Leather
It's easy to forget that Intel and AMD have low-power versions of most of their current line-up of CPUs. For most of us there's little reason to consider them, with them only registering on our radar when it comes to thinking about all-in-ones, media PCs or net tops. There's a good reason for this too. While they have lower power consumption, these CPUs are very often clocked slower than their full-fat counterparts but cost noticeably more.

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Super-wide monitors - the next big thing?

Posted on 11th Jul 2013 at 08:24 by Antony Leather with 55 comments

Antony Leather
The whole 16:9 vs 16:10 argument is a long-raging one. However, there’s a new kid on the block which looks set to create a whole new camp in the exchange of words over which aspect ratio is best. Super-wide monitors are still pretty scarce, with just a handful available at the moment, but before 16:10 fans dismiss them as stretched heresy, take it from this Dell U2412M owner that you shouldn’t knock them till you’ve tried one.

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Don’t be fooled by Laptop CPUs

Posted on 25th May 2013 at 16:31 by Antony Leather with 64 comments

Antony Leather
I was speaking to a friend recently and we started discussing laptops. Specifically, he wanted something to replace his desktop PC, which sported an Intel Core-i3 2100 Sandy Bridge CPU.

He was moving to a flat and didn’t have the space for a PC, but still wanted something with some grunt to edit photos and videos. He’d clearly given it some consideration, but I was shocked when he started quoting laptop specs and how he thought they’d be twice or even three times as fast as his PC.

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The downside to cheap storage

Posted on 17th May 2013 at 08:16 by Antony Leather with 51 comments

Antony Leather
Casting my mind back 20 years or so, I remember when hard disks were barely breaching the 1GB barrier. Even though programs at the time generally took up a lot less space than they do today, space was very much a premium.

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A Week With Windows 8

Posted on 28th Apr 2013 at 16:26 by Antony Leather with 91 comments

Antony Leather
Windows 7 was largely well received from the moment it was released. It looked and felt a lot like XP and Vista, but with some noticeable and useful tweaks including everything from Snap (aligning two windows side by side in a matter of seconds) to Snipping tool and decent SSD support. It’s little wonder, then, that Windows 7 sold very well indeed.

With Windows 8, however, Microsoft has made the most significant visible changes to the OS that we’ve seen in over a decade, and most reviews have been far less glowing. So when ordering my new laptop the plan was to install Windows 7 on it as soon as it arrived. But, not one to blindly take other people's word for it, when the laptop did arrive I thought I’d relent on my original plan and actually give Windows 8 a go for a week. Here’s how I got on.

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Intel NUC - a mini-PC revolution?

Posted on 25th Feb 2013 at 10:00 by Antony Leather with 22 comments

Antony Leather
It’s an immensely exciting time for anyone interested in small form factor hardware. Whether you’re gaming and performance focused or interested in gear perfect for an HTPC, there’s plenty of new stuff arriving on shelves at the moment.

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It's time to bin your optical drive

Posted on 8th Feb 2013 at 09:37 by Antony Leather with 132 comments

Antony Leather
I absolutely loathe the optical drive. The only times I've felt remotely attached to this historically flaky device is the first time I used one 20 years ago, when I got my first CD burner, and maybe when they finally started using SATA cables and not mile-wide IDE monstrosities.

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Just Cloud is a terrible backup service

Posted on 23rd Jan 2013 at 13:33 by Antony Leather with 50 comments

Antony Leather
So, I’ve been duped. The story began in my quest for a hefty online backup service. I was after something in excess of 100GB to backup my important photos and other paraphernalia – stuff I’d probably shed a few tears over if the house was burgled or burned down.

Needless to say, anything like that isn’t totally safe in your home, even if it's backed up. And not one to go through the palava of dumping stuff onto an external backup drive and leaving at my parent's house, I was also happy to ditch the idea of buying a 2TB drive and shoving it in the shed and investigate online backups instead.

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