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  • Intel decides to leave some older processor families vulnerable to Spectre

    Intel has dropped Bloomfield and some other processor architectures from its Spectre/Meltdown microcode update roadmap.

    In the end, it was just too much work for too little benefit for too few customers. We're talking about Intel's decision to stop developing and releasing microcode updates to mitigate Spectre and Meltdown for certain older processor architectures.

    The change is reflected in the latest microcode revision guidance (PDF) from Intel, which now lists a new "stopped" status next to a handful of processor families. They include the following:

    • Bloomfield (including Xeon)
    • Clarksfield
    • Gulftown
    • Harpertown Xeon C0 and E0
    • Jasper Forest
    • Penryn/QC
    • SoFIA 3GR
    • Wolfdale C0, M0, E0, R0, and Xeon E0
    • Yorkfield (including Xeon)

    Intel's decision to abandon mitigations for older processor architectures affects chips such as the Core 2 Quad Q8200 (Yorkfield) and Core i7-920 (Bloomfield), to give just a couple of examples.

    "After a comprehensive investigation of the microarchitectures and microcode capabilities for these products, Intel has determined to not release microcode updates for these products for one or more reasons including, but not limited to the following:

    • Micro-architectural characteristics that preclude a practical implementation of features mitigating variant 2 CVE-2017-5715.
    • Limited commercially available system software support.
    • Based on customer inputs, most of these products are implemented as 'closed systems' and therefore are expected to have a lower likelihood of exposure to these vulnerabilities."

    Some of the affected processors are more than a decade old, dating back to 2007, and the majority were sold between then and 2011—Intel's SoFIA Atom processor is a lone exception. It seems that Intel decided it was more trouble than it was worth to try and mitigate recently disclosed flaws in older processors—some of the earlier patches have caused problems on certain platforms.

    For the affected CPU families, Intel recommends discontinuing the use of previously released microcode updates "due to stability issues." While this means that several older processors are forever vulnerable to certain side-channel attacks, Intel feels there are too few systems and not enough demand to warrant patching chips that are not as widely deployed as more recent CPUs.

    "We've now completed release of microcode updates for Intel microprocessor products launched in the last 9+ years that required protection against the side-channel vulnerabilities discovered by Google. However, as indicated in our latest microcode revision guidance, we will not be providing updated microcode for a select number of older platforms for several reasons, including limited ecosystem support and customer feedback," Intel said in a statement to ZDNet.

    It remains to be see if Intel's decision will have any legal ramifications. Back in February, Intel revealed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it was facing 30 customer class-action lawsuits and two securities class-action lawsuits related to Spectre and Meltdown.

  • Recommended Gaming PC Chairs

    "recommended gaming chair

    When budgeting a PC setup, how much do you allocate for a new chair? Probably a lot less than you spend on the graphics card, but consider how integral the chair is to the overall experience. A good chair can last you a decade, and you’re not going to be upgrading to spine 2.0 anytime soon. We set out to find the best chairs for extended gaming sessions by talking to experts and spending months researching and testing a variety of options. Here are our latest findings and top picks.

    How we test gaming chairs and others we tested?

    Between recent articles about the effects of sitting down on your body, and our experimentation with standing desks, you might think Console Killer has fallen out of love with the humble chair. Dear reader, that could not be further from the truth. As gamers and office workers, our writers spend a significant chunk of each day sat on their money makers in front of screens. Given that most of us don’t plan to change that anytime soon, it only makes sense to do so in a great chair. So that’s what I set out to find.

    Another feature to look for, though it tends to be found on more expensive models, is a seat pan slider. This enables you to slide the positioning of your butt forwards or backwards relative to the backrest.

    When it comes to fabric and other materials, it’s pretty much a purely aesthetic decision—though whether you prefer plush leather or breathable mesh should be dictated by how hot you are. No, really.  As for what you should definitely avoid, Afterman recommended steering clear of overly rigid seat pans and fixed height armrests—both are likely to lead to discomfort.

    In terms of how much you should expect to spend, she suggested that in order to tick all the boxes an ergonomist would hope to find, 300-400 pounds ought to be enough for a supportive chair that looks and feels great. Below that, there are going to be tradeoffs. Likewise, if you’re willing to spend more, you can open up greater levels of customisation and luxury.

    Future testing

    When it comes to rating graphics cards, we judge their performance based on strict benchmark tests. Not so with chairs. Of all the elements in your dream gaming set-up, none is likely to be so subjective as the choice of chair. Personal preference in terms of look and feel, plus your own body shape, have a huge bearing on what will be the right chair for you. That said, I think the ones highlighted here are all strong options for most people.

    One of the main things We learned during testing is that there’s even less uniformity across countries with chairs than there is with PC component parts, making it tricky to find universal recommendations except at the high-end. When we revisit the topic We want to find more midrange options that will be easy to find for readers in Europe and the rest of the world.

    As part of testing We wanted to take a look at the racing-style bucket seats which you often find Twitch streamers sponsored to sit in, and had better customer reviews than I expected. I couldn’t get hold of anything from the DXRacer range, but did try three Maxnomic models—the Casual Sport (pictured top), Pro-Gaming & Office and the Office Comfort. These are fun, eye-catching chairs, which offer reasonable amount of adjustability. The variation in price point largely amounted to niceties like extra cushioning and optional head and lumbar support pillows—neither of which I was a fan of, although others who tried them were more impressed. At this sort of price, though, I think that you’re better off going for a dedicated ergonomic task chair like the Office Master ones, which unquestionably provide a more supportive experience long-term.

    The right seat will only take you so far. Getting your gaming space set up correctly is every bit as crucial, a subject we plan to revisit soon.

    Our recommended PC gaming chairs:

    AKRacing Team Dignitas Edition Max Gaming Chair in Black/White PU Leather
    Aerocool TGC30 Thunder X3 Pro Black/Red Gaming Chair
    Corsair Red T1 RACE Black/Red Gaming Chair

  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands: Year 2 Announce | Trailer | Ubisoft [NA]

     

    Ghost Recon Wildlands Year 2 begins next week

    Ubisoft's deep-woods drug bust shooter Ghost Recon Wildlands will kick off Year 2 on April 10 with the launch of Special Operations 1, the first of four major updates planned for the year. Each Special Operation will have its own theme, campaign updates with free missions and special challenges and rewards, and other "highly community-requested features."

    Special Operations 1 will include a new teammate customization option, "the number one feature requested by the community," which will enable players to dress up their teammates' outfits with the items they've unlocked for their own character. Also in the op is a new PvP game mode called "Sabotage," with five exclusive maps and the first of six new PvP classes coming in Year 2, and a themed (but not named) PvE mission. It will also contain the content that had been planned for the fifth and sixth updates listed on the original Ghost War development roadmap.

    A Ghost Recon Wildlands: Year 2 pass, offering a week of early access to all six new Year 2 classes, an exclusive customization pack, and eight Battle Crates (four Special Ops and four Ghost War), will also be available for purchase for $30. More information, including the theme of Special Operations 1, will be revealed "soon."

    Source: Ubisoft North America

  • 6 Best Gaming PCs Under 500 Pounds in 2018 You Can Easily Buy!

    6 Best Gaming PC

    PC gaming need not be too expensive, as the market is teeming with the most cutting-edge technology so it makes total sense that you’re looking to find the best gaming PC under 500 Pounds. Fair enough, it’s not going to be a walk in the park finding the best gaming PC under 500 as frankly if you’re looking for the ultimate experience the best gaming PCs will cost you an upwards of 1500 pounds.

    So you’re on a budget and would rather not opt for a gaming console, what other options are you left with?

    What if I told you that you don’t have to spend a penny more for today, you can own a robust gaming PC for under 500 pounds? I will get to that in a minute, but let’s first talk about the components that make up a good gaming PC.

    What components make up a good gaming PC under 500£ ?
    The processor (suitable for a gaming PC)

    Probably the most important component to consider when looking for a cheap gaming PC under 500Pounds – and for a good reason. What a processor does is to determine how well your PC will perform when running your gaming software.

    You’ll need to choose between quad-core or dual processors but if money isn’t really an important factor for you when looking for a good gaming PC then I would recommend that you go for a quad processor.

    Whereas a good number of gamers favor Intel’s hexacore and octa-core processors (which in essence cost a truckload of money), I believe the extra cost hardly add any value to the processor and personally I would recommend against opting for the later. Intel’s would be the better choice.

    Gaming Desktop Vs Gaming Laptop

    True enough, gaming laptops have really come a long way especially in the last 10 years but the facts are, they remain to this day an inherently compromised solution. Laptops have been forced to cut back on performance as components like good processors or top notch video cards require a lot of power while they produce so much heat that a regular laptop’s cooling system would not be able to handle.

    A modest gaming desktop computer that costs £500 can easily put a gaming Laptop worth £800 to shame and run today’s most demanding games at a higher resolution.

    The GPU

    The Graphical Processing Unit also called the video card is just as important as the processor. It is designed to accelerate the creation of images in a frame buffer and put out beautiful graphics on your gaming PC’s screen. It does this by rapidly altering and manipulating memory.

    It simply translates to faster video cards giving out smoother and better-looking graphics that offer a better gaming experience than that of sub-standard video cards. As a gamer, you don’t want to be spotted anywhere near low-end video cards.

    If you’re going to go for Nvidia graphic cards I recommend that you stay away from those with the model numbers that have a 20, 30, or 40 (like the GT 730). If you prefer AMD’s product line, model numbers with a 4, 5, or 6 as the second digit should be a no-no for any genuine gamer (like the Radeon R7 240).

    You want to stay within the range of video cards like the Nvidia GTX 960 and the AMD Radeon R9 380. These can without a doubt handle any graphically demanding PC game in 1080p with full detail.

    If you’re going to run a video game on a resolution below 1080p I recommend at the minimum 1GB of memory, and 2GB at the minimum for 1080p. Anything beyond 1080p will need at least 3GB to run seamlessly but 4GB would be optimum.

    Both Nvidia and AMD remain at the top of all brands of video cards although Nvidia is slightly ahead. Still a close call.

    You don’t need too much RAM for a gaming PC under £500

    Unlike the processor or video card, the RAM is not as expensive as it used to be a couple years ago. You will easily find a gaming PC under 500 bucks with 32GB of memory. So while adding more memory may seem like a good thing to the average consumer, it is of no significance because most video games developed today will run smoothly on gaming computers with only 8GB of RAM. For best results, I would recommend that you settle for 16GB.

    Check our 6 best Gaming PC's under £500:

    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i5 Quad Core,8GB DDR3 Ram,1TB HDD,GT 1030 2GB,Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit Ready

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    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i5 Quad Core,8GB DDR3 Ram, 1TB HardDrive,Geforce GT1030 2GB ,Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit Ready
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    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i5, 8GB DDR3 Ram, 120GB SSD+1TB HDD, GTX 1050 2GB, Windows 10 Pro-64 Bit Ready

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    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i7,8GB DDR3 Ram ,1TB HDD,GT 1030 2GB ,Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit Ready

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    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i5 Quad Core ,8GB DDR3 Ram,1TB HDD,GT 1030 2GB,19.5" Screen,Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit Ready

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    CK Gaming PC Intel Core i7,8GB DDR3 Ram,1TB HDD,Geforce GTX 1050Ti 4GB,Windows 10 Pro

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  • How To Build a Gaming PC: The Best Gaming PC|Beginner Guide

     


    Excellent performance today, and in the future

    You want the best gaming PC possible? You're going to need to get your hands dirty, because the best gaming PC isn't one you buy: it's one you build. Building PCs can be a very expensive hobby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great, powerful build for a reasonable price. You don't need to play games at 4K, after all. The trick is to build a PC that will offer impressive performance now while still delivering the power needed to play games at least two to three years in the future.
    We have system builds for everyone here at Console Killer, with five builds each targeting a different price. From the cheap build starting below £150 to £500 up through an extreme system priced well north of £3,000 and upto. we have your back. This guide represents the balanced option, giving you what we feel is the best PC gaming system that balances price and performance.
    This midrange PC is designed to give outstanding marks for 1080p and 1440p gaming. There are multiple GPU options that are all viable, including the 1070, 1070 Ti, and 1080 from Nvidia, and the RX Vega 56 from AMD. The GPU is the most important part of a gaming PC, but we still need to include a good processor, motherboard, RAM, and SSD.

    Our build won’t be strictly aimed at those who need extra computing power for video, sound, and image editing. It can do those tasks, but you’ll normally want to spend more on a faster CPU if those are major concerns. Similarly, gaming at 4K is best reserved for builds sporting one or more GTX 1080 Ti GPUs, and we're sticking with a single graphics card.
    The price point also doesn't account for the operating system or any peripherals. Check out our buying guides for the best mouse, keyboard, and gaming monitor for our favorite picks to pair with your new rig.

    CPU: Intel Core i5-8400

    Intel's new Coffee Lake processors deliver the biggest boost to mainstream Intel platform performance in more than a decade. The key benefit is the move from 4-cores as the base configuration to 6-core parts. While Intel has had 6-core processors for a while, they've been confined to the enthusiast platforms and were priced accordingly. The new Core i5-8400 changes that, delivering 50 percent more cores than the previous generation. The result is performance that typically matches that of the i7-7700K, at a substantially lower price. And unlike the enthusiast K-series parts, you get a cooler in the box.

    It's not just core counts that have improved, the turbo clocks on Coffee Lake are also higher than on Kaby Lake. The i5-8400 for example has a 4.0GHz turbo clock, and can run all six cores at 3.8GHz. This despite the low 2.8GHz base clock. Compare that to the i5-7400, which has a 3.0GHz base clock and 3.5GHz max turbo, and ends up running all four of its cores at 3.3GHz. That's a 15 percent increase in clockspeed at the same price, plus 50 percent more cores.

    In our testing, even with a GTX 1080 Ti, the only CPUs that beat the i5-8400 in gaming performance are the faster Coffee Lake chips: the i5-8600K, i7-8700, and i7-8700K. And even the fastest of those, the i7-8700K, is only about six percent faster in games at 1080p. If you happen to run a slower GPU, like the GTX 1080, or at a higher resolution, like 1440p, the differences between the CPUs become even smaller.

    What about for non-gaming purposes? The extra cores still keep the i5-8400 basically tied with the i7-7700K, though chips like AMD's Ryzen 7 and Intel's i7-8700K and i7-7820X (not to mention Core i9 and Threadripper) are all substantially faster. They're also substantially more expensive.

    There are only two real drawbacks with the i5-8400. First is that it's in high demand, so while it should cost less than $200, it's priced quite a bit higher at some places. The second potential drawback is that it's multiplier locked, so other than some minor tweaks to performance available via the motherboard BIOS, what you see is what you get.

    If you want something faster, there's always the i5-8600K for overclocking, the i7-8700, or the i7-8700K. Those will all work in the same Z370 motherboard, though again the K-series parts require a third-party cooler. Bottom line is that for most gamers, the Core i5-8400 is currently the best option.

    GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080

    For a long time, this build recommended Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It's an outstanding card, and well worth consideration if you want to shave a hundred dollars off your build, but since prices have dropped on both the GTX 1070 and 1080, we were able to fit the 1070 into our $800 budget build, while the 1080 gets the nod here. There's also the newer 1070 Ti as a middle ground, though we feel the 1080 is still the better overall buy, particularly for a completely new PC build.

    Prices for the GTX 1080 have come down significantly since the $599/$699 launch is 2016. With the advent of the GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia dropped the 1080 to $499/$549. This makes the GTX 1080 a much better value than at launch, with cards available for around $500, sometimes even cheaper on sale. The 1080 also remains readily available at those prices, unlike the RX Vega cards, and the fact that the 1080 remains faster than the RX Vega 64 while using less power makes it the easy choice.

    As for which GTX 1080 to buy, the modest factory overclocks don't make a huge difference, so we recommend buying whichever 1080 is cheapest. If you want to overclock on your own, most cards will hit similar speeds, though larger coolers can help a bit and aren't as noisy as blower fans.

    Motherboard: Asus Prime Z370-P

    The Asus Prime Z370-P is a mainstream offering that will deliver everything needed to run the i5-8400. The board is capable of overclocking, if you have a K-series chip, though if you're going that route you might want something geared more toward enthusiasts.

    Not that there's anything wrong with the Prime Z370-P. It supports memory speeds up to DDR4-4000 and includes two M.2 slots for fast SSDs. It's an excellent entry-level Z370 board performs great and comes at an affordable price. About the only thing missing is USB 3.1 Type-C support, and there's also no WiFi or extra accoutrements, so for example SLI isn't supported either (though CrossFireX is).

    If you're interested in those extras, the least expensive board with a Type-C port is the ASRock Z370 Pro4, and if you want WiFi there's the ASRock Z370 Killer SLI/ac. If that's the case, you're probably also looking at a higher-end build, which we cover in our best high-end PC.

    Memory: 16GB (2x8GB)

    Memory is one of the toughest components to make recommendations for, since it is especially susceptible to diminishing returns. You really just want a solid choice that will get the job done, though if the price isn't much higher you can improve performance a bit with faster RAM.

    If you're looking for options, G.Skill, Corsair, Crucial, Kingston, Samsung, and others) are equally viable. If you can find something that will do DDR4-2666 or higher speeds with CAS latency of 14, you should be set. There's not much benefit to sky-high RAM clocks, particularly with the i5-8400, so really it's about finding a good balance.

    Unfortunately, DDR4 prices have been rising lately, due to increased demand from both PC builders and smartphones. Memory prices change often, so you can always find a deal near this price point. Grab whatever costs the least (or not much more), and remember that sometimes tighter timings are more important than raw bandwidth.

    Drive: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB M.2 SSD

    Storage is one of the most subjective parts of any build, as people can have wildly different opinions on how much storage they need in their rig. Obviously, more is better, but prices can easily skyrocket if going that route. But regardless of size, the most important factor when choosing storage is speed.

    At PC Gamer, we've reached a point where spinning disc drives are simply not worth our time. If you’ve never used an SSD-powered system before, the difference between running on an SSD and HDD is like night and day. We consider it an essential part of any gaming PC—as such, even our super-cheap sub-$500 build uses an SSD.

    For this build, you have a couple of choices. If you want to save money, the Crucial MX300 525GB is a slower SATA drive that's still more than fast enough for gaming—it's our pick for the best budget SSD. But SATA is old school, and with a new build we felt it was time to step up to a higher performance M.2 NVMe drive. While we previously recommended the 512GB Intel 600p, the price is close enough now that we feel the faster Samsung 960 Evo is the better buy. Both drives show up in our best budget NVMe SSDs guide, so you can't go wrong.

    If you want more capacity, an alternative would be to drop down to a 240-256GB SSD and then grab a larger 1-3TB HDD. With some games now hitting the 100GB mark, even a 500GB SSD can get full fast, so a larger HDD picks up the slack in that regard. Unfortunately, any games installed there will load on the slower side of things.

    PSU: Corsair CS650M 650W

    Power supplies are one of the least sexy parts of any build. After all, it can be hard to tell them apart in terms of features. Even so, you don't want to skimp on your PSU. Corsair has an excellent and well-deserved reputation for its power supplies, and the CS650M comes at a reasonable price and delivers 80 Plus Gold efficiency.

    Most power supplies from the bigger names are generally good, but we wouldn’t recommend that you put your money in anything with a warranty of less than five years or an efficiency rating below 80 Plus Gold. The $10 or $20 saved just isn't worth the risk.

    We also tend to go with modular PSUs where possible. It means less cable mess inside the case, since you don’t have to stash unused cables somewhere. Instead, the unused cables have to find a home in your closet. If you’re looking for more details, check out our article on what to look for in a PSU.

    Case: Phanteks Eclipse P400

    Cases can be as sexy or boring as you want. We're going to go for the former rather than the latter, with the Phanteks Eclipse P400, a sweet tempered glass case. It's available in white or black, and there are also variants that skip the tempered glass and go with a windowed side panel instead. The Phanteks Eclipse P400 is also reasonably priced, which is always a bonus.

    It's not a perfect case in all areas, and may not be the best option for a beginner, but if you can follow a set of Lego instructions you can put together a PC inside the P400.

    If you want other options, check our guide to the best ATX mid-tower cases. The NZXT S340 was our previous pick, and it's still highly recommended. The clean look goes well on any desk and doesn't obnoxiously stand out like many so-called "gaming cases."

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