Tech Advisor July 2021

Every issue of Tech Advisor is packed with the latest news, reviews and features plus comprehensive and impartial buying advice as well as easy-to-understand tutorials and workshops to help you to get the most from your PC. Whether you want to buy the best value equipment or make the most out of equipment you already own, Tech Advisor delivers expert advice you can trust.

United Kingdom
IDG Communications - UK
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
microsoft in talks to buy discord for over $10bn

Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy gaming chat service Discord for a price tag that’s above $10bn, according to Bloomberg. Neither Microsoft nor Discord have confirmed the talks, Bloomberg reported. Venturebeat reported earlier that Discord was trying to put the service up for sale, and named the $10 billion figure as a target. Venturebeat had also reported that Discord was hoping to be acquired by a major game platform company, including the possibility of Microsoft. Microsoft, meanwhile, has both struggled and succeeded in creating its own chat service. It owns Yammer, bought Skype and created Microsoft Teams, each of which can communicate via text. Skype and Teams are similar, both including instant messaging, voice and video communications. Microsoft, however, has never really owned a true social network. It launched…

5 min
big changes coming with intel’s next cpu, code-named alder lake

Even though Intel just announced its Rocket Lake-S desktop processor, eyes are already turning to what Intel has next up its sleeve: the next-generation CPU code-named Alder Lake, expected before the end of 2021. The latest Alder Lake leaks, provided by Videocardz, suggest that Alder Lake will represent a sharp break from existing Intel designs, for better or worse. Last year, Intel confirmed that Alder Lake existed, and that it would ship in 2021. Originally, however, Alder Lake didn’t seem like that big of a deal. It’s built upon the same mixed-core design as Lakefield, which shipped in 2020 as the 9-watt Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology, inside the Samsung Galaxy Book S. Reviews called the Galaxy Book S performance anaemic, and more of the same was expected from…

4 min
intel reveals rocket lake’s secrets in a reddit ama

Intel’s 11th-gen Rocket Lake chip was green-lit well before AMD’s Zen 2 and Zen 3 architectures rocked our worlds, company officials acknowledged. In an AMA posted recently on the Intel subreddit, Scott Rouse, Intel’s platform engineer for Rocket Lake, attending with other Intel officials, revealed that Rocket Lake was given the go-ahead in early 2019. Its two-year journey to the launchpad on 30 March is break-neck speed for a new CPU (which might take years longer normally). Still, the world that Rocket Lake woke up to in 2021 probably wasn’t what Intel anticipated in 2019, when the company created the chip by marrying its yet-to-be-released 10th-gen, 10nm Ice Lake x86 cores with its already-aging 14nm manufacturing process. The match wasn’t made in heaven. While our review of Intel’s flagship Core i9-11900K…

3 min
why you may not be getting the solid-state drive you paid for

The SSD you’ve bought may not be exactly the SSD you think it is. That’s because of a common vendor practice of swapping out internal parts due to supply, pricing pressure or other reasons. Usually this practice has focused on the NAND flash storage modules on SSDs, and the vendor has met or exceeded the promised specification. If the change is significant, the vendors have usually changed the SKU. But as Sean Webster of Tom’s Hardware discovered in his investigation of the Adata XPG 8200 Pro, the company changed the SSD controller without changing the name – except the performance changed, for the worse. There was no way of knowing the difference from the outside. Such practices leave both SSD buyers and we who review SSDs in the dark, with no idea…

6 min
microsoft launches surface laptop 4

Microsoft has announced the Surface Laptop 4, offering a potent combination of performance upgrades and battery life improvements in the familiar 13.5in and 15in clamshell sizes, for prices as low as £999. Unlike its predecessor, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 now offers choices in both sizes between AMD’s Ryzen 4000 Mobile processors or Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake Core chips. Microsoft promises up to 70 per cent more performance versus the Surface Laptop 3, and even up to twice the performance of its predecessor under certain testing scenarios. Another major upgrade users will see is battery life. Microsoft claims (according to its own metrics) that the Surface Laptop 4 will offer up to 19 hours of battery life, 7.5 hours more than the Surface Laptop 3. That would be the longest battery life of…

4 min
microsoft’s modern peripherals include headsets and a speaker

Microsoft is launching a host of productivity accessories geared for remote work. Its Modern Webcam ($70, £tbc) is just one of several peripherals introduced alongside the Surface Laptop 4, including the Microsoft Modern USB Headset ($50, £tbc), the Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset ($100, £tbc); the Microsoft Modern USB-C Speaker ($100, £tbc), and the Surface Headphones 2+ for Business (£289). In light of how the pandemic has made remote work the norm for many, Microsoft’s new peripherals make sense. Both of the new Modern headsets are Teams certified include a dedicated Microsoft Teams button. Webcams have become essential equipment for videoconferencing, while Microsoft’s noise-cancelling Surface Headphones were designed with noisy offices in mind. MICROSOFT MODERN WEBCAM Microsoft already has vibrant, 1080p webcams in Surface and Surface Book devices. The affordable Surface Laptop’s integrated webcam…