THE 11 GREATEST GADGETS OF THE YEAR

Moto Z: Swappable Phone Features

If you’ve ever wished your phone had more memory, a massive zoom lens, beefier battery life, or improved speakers, the Moto Z makes it possible—all without having to buy a new phone. Any of five accessories, called MotoMods, magnetically attach to the back of the Android handset. The phone’s 0.2-inch-thick design manages to keep heft down—even when it has a Pico projector modded to its back. $624 (mods from $60)

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Acer Switch Alpha 12: Liquid-Cooled Laptop

Many ultrathin laptops pack a punch but have no room for fans, leading to overheating. So Acer turned to liquid cooling in the Switch Alpha 12, a laptop-tablet hybrid with Intel’s latest processors. As the system heats, so does coolant moving through a circular pipe; as the liquid condenses, the CPU cools down. In tests, the underside of the computer remained a comfortable 85 degrees after 30 minutes of video playback. $600

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Jibo: An A.I. Bot for the Countertop

Query-answering virtual assistants are nothing new. (Right, Siri and Alexa?) But an A.I. that can recognize who’s talking, swivel in response, and emote with humanlike features is rare. Add on top of this the ability to take messages, video chat, shoot family photos, and serve up calendar reminders, and you have Jibo. A developers’ kit allows third parties to create skills for the foot-tall device. Welcome to the era of the social robot. $749

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Pebble Core: Apps On Your Keychain

When dashing out the door for a quick run or to grab some eggs, the Pebble Core, announced in May and launching in January, lets you leave your phone behind. Equipped with cellular, GPS, 4 gigs of storage, and the ability to play Spotify songs stored on the device, the 1.5-inch dongle keeps the essentials in tow. Fire up Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to hear the weather, get a news briefing, or to summon an Uber or Lyft to whisk you away. $99

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Samsung Gear Icon X: In-Ear MP3 Player

Samsung’s wireless, heart-monitoring fitness earbuds are a completely self-contained music system. Four gigabytes of onboard storage hold your workout playlist—go for a run without your smartphone. $200

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Eora 3D : Portable 3D Scanning

DIYers looking to copy parts have had a tough choice: Buy an expensive industrial scanner or settle for a low-res scan of stitched-together photos. The Eora 3D is a quality, compact scanner that connects a phone via Bluetooth. The soda-can-size device uses a laser to capture 8 million depth readings, while the phone’s camera takes over 1,000 images. Eora 3D’s app merges both into formats compatible with CAD software and 3D printers. $319

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Securifi Almond 3: Wi-Fi For Huge Houses

Most wireless routers struggle to deliver consistent, fast Wi-Fi to every corner of our McMansions. The Almond 3 can blanket an entire 5,000-foot house with powerful Wi-Fi. With one unit set up as a base and establishing the network, two additional Almonds act as Wi-Fi extenders. The router also doubles as a ­smart-home hub, communicating with connected devices like lights and thermostats. $399 (set of three)

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Doppler Labs: Here One

The world is a noisy place. And traffic, jackhammers, planes, and trains aren’t only annoyances, they can also do real harm to your eardrums. The Here One earbuds let listeners tune out the noise. Paired with a smartphone app, the ’buds allow users to raise or lower specific sounds from the environment around them and better hear exactly what they want. Turn down the roar of the subway and crank the Kanye to 11. $299

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Lenovo Phab 2 Pro: A World-Altering Phone

Augmented-reality apps have had a breakout year, but as satisfying as it is catching Pikachu, experiences can fall flat. The Phab 2 Pro phone uses new software from Google, called Tango, to give AR extra depth. Three imagers (a 16-megapixel sensor, infrared sensor, and fisheye lens) let your phone create a 3D map of the world—for apps that produce engineering schematics or superimpose video-game worlds onto the actual one.$500

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Canon 1DX Mark II: Fast-Snapping 4K

Recording 4K video means filming at frame rates that outpace most memory cards. The 1DX Mark II is Canon’s first consumer camera that keeps up. Support for the new CFast 2.0 card means capturing video at a blazing 350MB per second. $5,999

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Project Fi: The United Nations of Mobile Networks

Inconsistent service is the great Achilles’ heel of our ultra-connected lives. In urban canyons, signals can be fickle; abroad, staying online can be fruitless and costly. Google’s Project Fi, an experimental cellular network that rolled out this past spring, fills in those connectivity gaps. Instead of relying on one carrier’s towers, Project Fi ­connects to the strongest signal from among T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and a number of international partners. When the connection from one of Google’s 1 million trusted Wi-Fi hotspots is stronger, the call—or webpage or video stream—will go from cellular to Wi-Fi completely uninterrupted. Google hopes other carriers will one day adopt similar service-jumping schemes, but for the time being, data-hungry consumers can try it out on one of the company’s flagship Nexus phones. From $20 Per Month

 

 

Desktop Processor Buying Guide 2016

The CPU most determines how a PC performs, which is why finding the right computer processor is essential for making a system upgrade or starting a new build. It is important to buy a desktop processor that can handle the tasks you need your computer to perform. Equally as critical are budget considerations; you want the best CPU performance for the dollar, and do not want to pay for unneeded features. With hundreds of CPUs to choose from, options abound. Understanding how CPU specifications and model numbers relate to performance will help you make a proper processor comparison.

Brands: AMD vs Intel

When it comes to desktop CPUs, consumers have two choices: AMD and Intel.

In 2016, AMD is typically associated with budget processors, with the Intel brand better known for performance computing. Both AMD and Intel have options at all points of the performance spectrum. We will go into more detail about specific CPUs below.

Anyway, discussion around brand dominance usually contains more bluster than substance. You will want to pay attention to features and compatibility, as well as cost-to-performance considerations when choosing a desktop processor—these are more important than brand.

Compatibility: Motherboard Sockets

Whether a CPU and motherboard share compatibility is determined by the type of CPU socket on the motherboard. If you are purchasing a CPU to upgrade an existing system, you must know which CPU socket your motherboard has in order to pick the right CPU.

If you are building a new system, usually you will shop for the CPU and motherboard together. Sometimes retailers offer discounts on CPUs and compatible motherboards.  Just make sure to pick a CPU that fits the processor socket and vice versa.

As you might guess, AMD and Intel hardware are incompatible with each others’ motherboard sockets. Not all AMD processors are compatible with all AMD motherboards, either—and likewise with Intel hardware.

Clock Speed or Operating Frequency (Ghz)

A CPU’s clock speed is measured in gigahertz (Ghz), a frequency metric of how many times per second a processor cycles. In the old days of single-core processing, frequency was really tied to performance—the more hertz, the faster your system.  Today, as technology has moved to multi-core processing, clock speed is less of a performance indicator than other facets of a CPU.

Where clock speed remains a factor is when comparing CPUs that have otherwise similar specifications—the same number of cores and amount of cache memory, for instance. This is why CPU models of the same processor family are organized by SKU in increments of operating frequency.

You can filter CPUs by clock speed in the Desktop Processor store.

Multi-Core CPUs

Modern processors commonly have several individual CPUs—called cores— built onto one die. Operating systems recognize each core as its own separate CPU and yield a system  performance boost when performing multiple tasks at the same time.  The physics is the same as having multiple CPUs in your system.

Most if not all mainstream desktop processors on the market are dual- or quad-core CPUs. Certain models of AMD desktop processors have six or eight cores. Multiple cores help a computer work on several tasks at the same time, or run complex applications like creative programs and analytical software.

For basic web browsing and office work, a dual core suffices most of the time. For running specialized software, a quad core is likely the way to go.

You can filter CPUs by number of cores in the Desktop Processor store.

Cache Memory

Cache memory is what a processor uses to access the main memory of a computer faster. CPUs have a small amount of RAM built into them called—you guessed it—the cache. The cache stores frequently or recently used files and instructions for faster recall and processing similar to how a web browser would store frequently accessed URLs in its memory. CPU cache makes for more responsive system performance for the end user.

CPUs in 2016 have multiple layers of cache, referred to as L1, L2, and L3.  Data stored in L1 is recalled fastest, but is smallest in terms of capacity. L2 has a larger capacity and more latency. L3 has the largest storage space and the most latency.

Generally speaking, the higher capacity the cache memory, the faster the system responds.

You can filter CPUs by cache memory capacity in the Desktop Processor store.

Multithreading (Hyperthreading)

The tasks that a CPU core executes are called threads. Normally a CPU core can execute one thread at a time every time they cycle. Multithreading allows the CPU core to schedule multiple tasks that are processed in a more time-efficient matter. This results in better throughput and performance gains for the end user.

Note that enhanced performance will only be experienced when running multithreaded applications, however.

Examples of applications that benefit from a multithreaded processor:  video editing, 3D rendering, mathematics and analytical applications, programming, heavy multi-tasking, or if a computer is used as a server. Typical office work normally does not benefit from a multithreaded processor.

Intel uses the term hyperthreading to talk about its multithreaded CPUs.

You can filter processors by multithreading in the Desktop Processor Store.

Instructions Per Cycle

Perhaps the best raw indicator of CPU performance, Instructions Per Cycle (IPC) measures how many instructions a processor executes in each clock cycle. High end CPUs are able to complete more instructions per cycle and therefore will outperform a CPU with a comparatively lower clock speed when used for the same application. IPC can vary depending on other components in a system and the applications running, which is why vendors tend not to publish the metric. To find IPC you have to look at independent benchmark testing.

Benchmarking

Several sites on the Internet publish CPU benchmark tests. Benchmarking results are a fine way to do a processor comparison, just make sure you look for benchmark testing performed in a system with similar specifications and running similar applications as what you have or are planning to use.

What is an APU?

APU is a creation of AMD’s marketing efforts. Certain CPUs are designed to act as a CPU and graphics accelerator (GPU) on one chip. The AMD A-Series processor are examples of APUs. Many Intel processors have integrated  GPUs as well, but do not denote processors in a different manner.

Budget processors ($40-$100)

AMD offers several options in the sub-$100 price range. You will find lots of AMD A-Series and older model AMD Athlons here. On the Intel side, Pentium and Celeron processors round out the budget arena.  For basic office work and web browsing, any of these processors will suffice.

Mainstream processors ($100-$200)

System builders can get a very capable CPU for under $200. Browsers in this range can handle moderate multi-tasking, programming, and creative applications. Unless users are running multi-threaded applications, there is little reason to purchase more than a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor.

On the lower end of the mainstream spectrum, Intel Core i3 and mid-range AMD A-Series processors are more than capable for light multi-tasking with office programs or SaaS work in a web browser.

Performance processors ($200+)

When it comes to the market for CPUs, Intel Core i7 is the dominant processor for performance builds; in 2015, the Haswell-E Intel Core i7 processors were the top selling CPUs at NeweggBusiness.  Users in AMD environments typically opt for a high-end FX-series processor for workstation builds.

Processor Comparison Charts

The charts below show how groups of processors break down by performance. Certain metrics like clock frequency fall into a range across SKUs within processor groupings. More information about specific processors can be found on NeweggBusiness product pages.

Desktop processor chart 2016

 

Hopefully this information helps with making a proper processor comparison; note that NeweggBusiness product pages in the Processor – Desktop store have additional details and pricing for individual computer processors.

The desktop buying guide

Finding the perfect PC can seem a little overwhelming with all the choice and features available. We’ve created this guide to get you started and to help you make the right decision.

You can pour over specs and features if that’s your thing (we explain what they all mean if you’re after something specific), but a great way to start narrowing things down is to think about what you want to use your new PC for.

Whether you want a new family computer, a business workstation or a performance PC for gaming and design, we’ll help you find a desktop PC that’s right for you.

If you’re still stuck, have some extra questions or just want to see them in action, call into one of our stores to try them out for yourself.

What’s important to you?

1.Gaming

2.Family

3.Business, education or everyday use

4.Design and creative

1.Gaming PCs

Gaming PCs are built purely with performance in mind. They all feature dedicated graphics cards, powerful processors and plenty of memory to make sure you get the best out of your games.

PC gamers tend not to replace computers as frequently as normal users. They usually upgrade and add hardware as technology develops to make sure they stay current. Not only is this much more cost-effective over the years, it makes sure you always experience the latest games at their very best.

As you’re likely to be keeping hold of a gaming PC for a good few years, it’s important to choose one with enough performance to keep you current for as long as possible between upgrades.

Things to consider when buying a gaming PC

Graphics card

A graphics card is a processor that deals only with visuals. You can tell the difference in performance by comparing memory size, number of cores and clock speed. A bigger number is typically better, and enables you to run newer and more demanding games at higher graphics settings. We list this info on our gaming PCs to help you find the right one.

You can easily upgrade or even add a second graphics card to your gaming PC, so don’t worry if your budget is preventing you from getting the exact graphics card you want.

Look out for the NVIDA GTX and AMD R9 range to experience today’s games as intended.

Processor

Unlike the graphics card, RAM and storage, the processor isn’t particularly easy to upgrade. While it can be done, you’ll have to match a very specific chipset and more than likely upgrade the power supply.

It’s advisable to choose a gaming PC with the most powerful processor you can find within your budget. Even the most demanding games don’t need vast amounts of power, but we’d recommend a quad-core processor with a clock speed of over 3 GHz to prevent it from restricting the graphics card.

Intel™ i5 and AMD FX processors are ideal, although look out for Intel™ i7 processors for top-end performance.

Memory (RAM)

RAM isn’t as important in gaming as it is in design or media editing, as running a game typically doesn’t use that much – anything over 8 GB is plenty. If you find yourself needing more for demanding tasks or the next generation of gaming, RAM is one of the quickest components to upgrade.

Gaming PCs feature plenty of space and ports for adding more, just make sure you match the specification and slot type with the existing RAM. This is as easy as opening the case and having a look at what’s already installed.

Expansion

Gaming PCs are usually quite spacious inside, which lets you easily customise and add components as you see fit. You can add almost anything you want, including performance storage such as an SSD, a Blu-ray drive or additional graphics card.

This allows you to create the perfect PC over a few years, and when the time comes to replace the whole thing, your upgraded components can easily be swapped over to your new machine.

Accessories

From mice and keyboards to gaming surfaces and controllers, there are lots of ways to personalise and expand your gaming set up. If you’re serious about gaming, a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse give you much more precision and comfort.

Normal mice and keyboards are built specifically for typing or cost. Gaming accessories have been designed by gamers and dedicated gaming companies to let you game at your best. Once you try a gaming mouse or keyboard, you won’t settle for anything else.

Family :All-in-one PCs

All-in-ones are the ideal multimedia hub for the whole family. They are just as suited to entertainment as they are to school and college work. They combine the screen and base unit to save space, so can be used in even the cosiest home.

All-in-ones are available with either Windows or OS X operating systems. Apple iMacs are the only all-in-ones that feature OS X – they also come with powerful processors, beautiful LED screens and are built from premium materials.

There are powerful Windows-based all-in-ones too, so you can work and create on the same PC the rest of the family use for school work, games and web browsing. Look out for touchscreen all-in-ones for a fun and intuitive way to navigate your PC.

Things to consider when buying an all-in-one PC

Screen Type

All-in-ones are available with different screen sizes and types, ranging from a compact 21.5″ to a huge 29″. Smaller screens are great if space is at a premium, while the larger ones are ideal for streaming TV and playing games.

If you’re into films, look out for PCs with Full HD screens for media streaming that can rival your TV in terms of quality and detail.

Windows 8 is the first version of the popular operating system to be designed around touchscreen. While you can still navigate with a mouse and keyboard, touchscreen control is quicker, easier and much more enjoyable.

Dedicated graphics

If you love watching films or streaming catch up TV, dedicated graphics will improve your experience with more much detail and smoother playback.

You can’t add dedicated graphics to all-in-one PCs at a later date, so it’s worth considering if you or your family plan on using your PC as a media hub or as an additional screen when the mains TV is taken.

Storage

If the whole family is planning on using the computer, we recommend a large amount of onboard storage. A 1 TB hard drive offers plenty of room for every user to store their files, photos and documents. You should consider a 2 TB hard drive or bigger if you know everyone in the household likes downloading films and music.

Look out for solid-state hybrid drives (SSHD). These drives combine the capacity of a full-size hard drive with the performance of a solid-state drive (SSD) for faster booting and smoother all-round computing.

Processor

The processor powers your PC, and is primarily responsible for how fast it works. Typically the more expensive all-in-ones have faster processors, although lower-priced PCs are more than capable of everyday computing.

Intel® Core™ i3 and AMD A8 processors offer a good mix of performance, efficiency and price and are ideal for most families. Look for Intel® Core™ i5/i7 or AMD A10 processors for more speed.

Business, education or everyday use:Tower PCs

Tower PCs are the box that you plug your monitor, mouse and keyboard into. They are available in lots of different specifications, but to keep things simple, we’ve split them into two categories.

Business, education and everyday PCs are designed for daily computing – that might mean typing up essays, creating presentations or browsing the internet. If you need a simple workstation or are looking for your first family PC, they are a great-value way to work, play and stay connected.

Design and creative PCs are much more powerful and are capable of running specialist software for activities like photo editing, graphic design and music production. They feature powerful processors, more memory and other features tailored to high-performance computing.

Everyday Use

From typing up essays and researching projects to working through mountains of emails and spreadsheets, tower PCs are perfect for business, education and everyday computing.

Finding the right one is easy if you think about what you want to do with it. Browsing the web, office work and typing up essays don’t require a lot of processing power, but a faster PC will run smoothly and allow you to do more at once.

We have PCs ranging from great-value, simple workstations to more powerful setups that are ideal for running more demanding software such as databases and occasional photo editing.

Things to consider when buying a PC for business, education and everyday use

Processor

The processor powers your computer, and although everyday computing doesn’t require a great deal of performance, a quicker processor is worth considering if your budget allows.

Processors like the Intel® i3 and AMD A8 make your computer boot quicker, open software faster and allow you to do more at once, so are worth considering for regular users.

Memory (RAM)

When you ask your computer to do something, the request goes to the memory (or RAM), where the processor picks it up and makes it happen. More memory lets the processor take on more at once, so you can download, chat, browse, work and listen to music at the same time without worry.

6 GB is enough for everyday computing, but you should consider 8 GB or more if you find your current computer slows down a lot.

Storage

The hard drive is where you save your documents, software, media and information. 500 GB is plenty for general use, while a 1 TB hard drive (twice the capacity of a 500 GB drive) is ideal if you plan on saving films, music and photos.

Dedicated graphics

Dedicated graphics let your PC produce images, videos and games with much more detail. They’re essential on gaming PCs but can also benefit your family PC by greatly improving the quality of videos. If you ever use your PC for streaming films, TV on demand or playing the occasional game, dedicated graphics give you more detail and a smoother performance throughout all your daily computing.

Software:

If you’re using your PC for college, university or business, Microsoft Office is essential. From lifetime licences for students to yearly subscriptions for the whole family, there are different versions available to suit your needs.

Staying safe online is equally important, especially if you have children. We have a large choice of anti-virus and internet security software to keep your PC protected, your little ones safe online, and your files and personal data secure.

Monitors:

Whether you’re simply using your PC as a simple workstation or need true-to-life colour representation for design, a great monitor setup can drastically improve the way you work. We have monitors in a wide range of sizes, with each one capable of delivering Full HD images.

If you use your PC regularly, a dual-monitor setup is a great way to improve productivity. We recommend using two versions of the same monitor so that the image is exactly the same across both screens.

Refurbished towers:

Whether you’re looking for an everyday PC or something with more power, refurbished tower PCs are worth considering for their value and performance.

Refurbished PCs are available from all of our brands, including Lenovo and HP, and are available in a huge range of specifications.

They come with the same one-year guarantee as a brand new computer, so you can buy and use with confidence.

Design and creative

Graphic design, music production and photo editing software all require serious power to run at their best.

A PC tuned to deliver high-speed processing and instant multitasking lets you stretch your imagination and create something you can be proud of.

We recommend a Tower.