Maximum PC January 2021

Maximum PC is the magazine that every computer geek, PC gamer, or content creator should read every month. Get Maximum PC digital magazine subscription today for punishing product reviews, thorough how-to articles, and the illuminating technical news and information that PC power users crave. Maximum PC covers every single topic that requires a lightning-fast PC, from video editing and music creation to PC gaming; we write about it all with unbounded enthusiasm for our collective hobby.

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looking forward

WE’VE FINALLY MADE IT to 2021! And with that, I’ve gathered the very best technological minds I could find to figure out what exactly is going to launch in the next 12 months. From GPUs, to processors, to SSDs, cooling, and more, 2021 is going to be an exceptionally interesting year. On top of that, it’s time for Maximum PC’s irregular annual Geek Quiz! Try your mind at some of the most complex, pain-in-the-butt tech questions we’ve ever devised from this year’s news. We’ve also got features on writing your own OS, setting up a smart home, and a kick-ass full-tower server build with 12TB of WD NAS SSDs! This issue we also have the Ryzen 9 5900X, the AMD Radeon RX 6800XT, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 in the…

apple’s m1 generation

APPLE’S MOVE away from x 86 architecture has begun in earnest with the release of the first batch of machines sporting the Apple-designed M1 processor. This isn’t the first time Apple has jumped horses—it started out using Motorola chips in 1983, and stuck with these until 1995 when it switched to PowerPC chips, then in 2006 it moved to Intel x86 silicon. Following the success of the ARM chips in its iPhones and iPads, it has gone and launched new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac minis all sporting the new M1 chip, and all considerably faster than their predecessors. Dubbed “the first chip designed specifically for the Mac,” the M1 is a SoC built using a 5nm process. It has four performance cores (Firestorm), and four high-efficiency cores (Icestorm),…

feds seize bitcoin

SILK ROAD WAS A HIGHLY CONTENTIOUS dark-web marketplace launched in 2011, and shut down by the FBI in 2013. Payments for its dubious offerings were made in Bitcoin. Its creator, Ross Ulbricht, was hit by hackers, and had over 70,400 Bitcoins stolen. Apparently the coins had been stolen in increments while Silk Road was operational, and have been sitting in an account ever since. Recovering lost Bitcoin is difficult, and as Silk Road acted as a “tumbler” to hide the transactions, following the blockchain wouldn’t work. After much data analysis, law enforcement agents have caught up with the stolen coins, and the unnamed hacker who originally purloined them has signed a forfeiture agreement and handed the coins over to the government. At the time the coins were originally stolen they were…

first discrete intel xe gpus

INTEL’S ASSAULT on the GPU market took another step with the release of discrete GPUs for system builders. At the bottom of the stack is the Xe-LP, branded Intel Iris Xe Max. This is essentially what we’ve seen coupled to a CPU on the Tiger Lake chips. It delivers moderate gaming performance, but it’s not being marketed as a gaming chip—Intel pushes “content creation.” It runs with a peak clock of 1,650MHz, and has 96 EUs (Execution Units). The Xe-HP is aimed at data centers, and is currently with developers, notably the Argonne National Laboratory. Meanwhile, the design for Xe-HPC (the supercomputers version) has been finalized. The first discrete graphics card, DG1, is a low-end affair, due shortly. We’ll have to wait for DG2, the Xe-HPG card, for a real…

tech triumphs and tragedies

TRIUMPHS ✓ MICROSCOPIC VOYAGES Researchers have 3D-printed a “micro-swimmer” USS Voyager just 0.015mm long, with its own chemical propulsion system. ✓ 80GB AMPERE Nvidia has upgraded its A100 cards to 80GB of HBM2E memory, capable of shifting data at over 2TB per second. ✓ 176 LAYERS Micron has started shipping the world’s first 176-layer 3D NAND (two 88 layers chip-stacked). TRAGEDIES ✖ PIXEL FAILURES Google’s Pixel Slate didn’t sell well, and are now starting to suffer flash memory failures. ✖ ARECIBO OBSERVATORY Failed support cables have left the iconic 1,000-foot diameter radio telescope too badly damaged to fix. ✖ THINGS YOU DON’T NEED How about spending $300 on the Revolution R180 toaster, complete with a touchscreen? And it only fits two slices.…

google photo ends unlimited storage

GOOGLE IS to start charging for Google Photos from May 31 if you want to store more than the free 15GB that comes with every Google account (which is shared by Google Drive, Gmail, and Photos). Currently images uploaded at high compression don’t count towards the total. Only Google Pixel owners will be excluded from the new deal. Why the change? Because free unlimited storage is an open invitation for people to fill countless rack-mounted hard drives with pictures of their cat. Google claims that 28 billion images and videos are uploaded every week, and that the total number of photos has topped 4,000,000,000,000. One piece of good news is that anything added before the new policy kicks in won’t count, so if you do have a huge library of…