PCWorld February 2021

We review the Google Pixel 4a, plus what to expect if you’re switching from an iPhone SE. Find out if your Chromebook is expiring. Reviews of Note 20 Ultra, Norton 360 Deluxe, Mullvad vs. NordVPN, and much more!

United States
12 Issues

in this issue

6 min
ces 2021: the most intriguing and innovative pc hardware

CES 2021 was virtual, but the parade of PC hardware went on regardless. Big names AMD, Intel, and Nvidia all made splashy announcements, and PC manufacturers followed in their wake with new products, many coming soon. No time to sift through all our CES coverage? No problem! Read on for our Best of CES picks—the most intriguing and innovative products we saw. AMD RYZEN 5000 MOBILE Last year you couldn’t find a high-end gaming laptop with a Ryzen CPU in it to save your life. This year the tables are turning, with probably a dozen different designs announced or in the works. That should confirm the confidence laptop makers have in AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Mobile, based on the award-winning Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 desktop chip. While we don’t have independent testing yet, we expect…

7 min
amd’s laptop resurgence continues with ryzen 5000 mobile processors

AMD officially launched its Ryzen 5000 Mobile processors at CES 2021 in January, hoping to continue what it’s accomplished on the desktop: bring its powerful Zen 3 architecture to bear and oust Intel’s Core i9 as the best gaming CPU. The unexpected bonus AMD adds is a renewed focus on battery life, potentially solving a noted weakness in Ryzen-powered laptops. AMD chief executive Lisa Su ushered in the new lineup of mobile chips as part of her keynote address at CES 2021, now held virtually rather than in Las Vegas. Su didn’t announce any new GPUs, but did say that the AMD RDNA 2 GPU architecture found within the RX6800 and similar chips will arrive in mobile GPUs in the first half of 2021, along with “mainstream” desktop graphics cards. She…

7 min
intel takes on ryzen with rocket lake s and the core i9-11900k

Intel debuted its next-generation 11th-gen “Rocket Lake S” desktop Core chips at CES 2021, boasting that its flagship Core i9-11900K processor offers a 19 percent performance improvement over the prior generation, and with gaming performance that rivals AMD’s most powerful Ryzen chip. Intel’s Core i9-11900K does take a step back: Intel’s 10th-gen Core i9-10900K offered 10 cores and 20 threads. The new i9-11900K wields just 8 cores and 16 threads instead, at turbo speeds up to 5.3 GHz (single core) and a slower 4.8GHz (all cores) than the i9-10900K offered. It’s also a 14-nanometer chip. But there are subtle, significant improvements, too: a new, wider, 8-lane DMI interface between the processor and chipset, and an increased 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 off the CPU for GPUs and SSD storage, matching the…

7 min
nvidia woos mainstream gamers with the $329 geforce rtx 3060 and rtx 30-series laptops

Nvidia held its big “GeForce RTX: Game On” event as part of CES 2021, and as expected, the company revealed a flood of fresh features and hardware for gamers. Not only did Nvidia unveil mobile GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs for laptops, but it also announced a new GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card for the desktop, an expansion of its Reflex Latency Analyzer displays, and plans to support the performance-boosting PCIe Resizable BAR feature that AMD introduced with the Radeon RX 6000-series as AMD Smart Access Memory. Oh, and Call of Duty: Warzone and the next Five Nights at Freddy’s game are getting Nvidia’s spectacular DLSS 2.0 technology, with Freddy’s wrapping in real-time ray tracing as well. Phew. GEFORCE RTX 30-SERIES FOR LAPTOPS Let’s start with the mobile GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs, which will likely…

4 min
microsoft launches surface pro 7+ tablet with tiger lake and lte

Microsoft unexpectedly launched the Surface Pro 7+, a refreshed Surface Pro tablet with Intel’s 11th-gen “Tiger Lake” processors inside, LTE options, and the removable SSD that Microsoft first introduced with the Surface Pro X. Microsoft began taking orders for the Surface Pro 7+, part of the Surface Pro for Business line, on January 11 via its business partners. Prices start at $900. Adding the LTE Advanced option essentially tacks on a substantial premium, with the option only available on more powerful configurations whose price begins at $1,150. Neither price factors in a Signature Type Keyboard and Surface Pen, which cost about $160 and $100, respectively. Matte black and platinum color options are available. The Surface Pro 7+ name is appropriate, as the Surface Pro 7 included Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake processors but…

3 min
acer’s swanky new gaming monitors marry high resolutions with ultra-fast speeds

If you’ve felt the need for gaming speed, Acer’s trio of ultra-fast high-resolution monitors might just catch your eye. Announced ahead of CES 2021, all three also offer adaptive sync technology for buttery-smooth, tear-free gaming experiences, as well as TÜV Rheinland Eyesafe-certifierd screens designed to emit less blue light than standard LCDs. Maybe that’ll help you get to sleep more quickly after a long, late-night gaming session. The most interesting display actually rocks the lowest resolution. The 27-inch Predator XB273U NX features a 2560x1440-resolution IPS display—PC gaming’s sweet spot—but pushed to insane speeds. It hums along at a blistering 265Hz when overclocked, with a 0.5-millisecond grey-to-grey response time. Acer said the monitor is “HDR capable” without offering more detailed specifics (don’t expect true 1000-nit HDR visuals) and says the screen covers…