Maximum PC March 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.

United States
Future Publishing Ltd
SPECIAL: Get 40% OFF with code: START40
13 Issues

in this issue

3 min
tinkering with 4k

I’VE GOT THAT ITCH a gain for a new system. Honestly, it’s the biggest curse of this job. Once you’re in, and you’re tinkering and playing with hardware, and writing about it and building systems all the time, you sit down, and you’re like “This is enough, I’m happy, Core i5-10600K, RTX 2080 Super, it’s all good.” Then things start launching; AMD releases new processors, Nvidia announces new GPUs, performance increases over here, new awesome software and tech out over there, then a few cool-looking cases pop up. All of a sudden your mind is back on the idea of liquid-cooling the proverbial out of some poor chassis that’s likely going to have its front I/O cut out because it looks “aesthetically displeasing” to you. That is my life, and…

3 min
world chip shortage

THE MODERN world runs on silicon—even if a product doesn’t have chips in it, the machines that make it, deliver it, or supply the raw materials will. Manufacturing chips is expensive; the machines that make the wafers cost $100 million a pop. Such expensive machines are kept running continuously, and production runs are planned months in advance. Spare capacity is lost money, so the total capacity is close to total demand. If a manufacturer orders too few chips it can take a while until there’s a production slot available to build more. The pandemic has thrown a spanner into the works, and the industry is struggling to adapt. The result is a chip famine. This isn’t unique—it happens regularly as part of the supply and demand cycle. But circumstances have combined…

1 min
ryzen 5000 goes mobile

AMD HAS LAUNCHED THE RYZEN 5000-SERIES mobile chips, and what a tasty bunch they are. In the performance group we have the 45W H series, the 35W HS chips with slighter slower clocks, and the new HX chips, which can be overclocked and are rated at “45W+”. All have eight cores, bar two base versions with six cores. Top dog is the Ryzen 9 5980HX with a base clock of 3.3GHz, and a boost of 4.8GHz. All this silicon has Zen 3 cores. There’s also a 15W U range running up to the eight-core Ryzen 7 5800U, with a base clock of 1.9GHz, and a boost of 4.4GHz. At the bottom sits the Ryzen 3 5300U with just four cores. This group includes re-branded 4000-series chips with Zen 2 cores. The…

1 min
ampere for the masses

A NEW CARD from Nvidia, the GeForce RTX 3060 sits in the middle of the current Nvidia range, aimed at 1440p gaming. The engine is an Ampere GA106 GPU, which has 3,584 CUDA cores and 112 TMUs, and is coupled to 12GB of GDDR6 memory on a 192-bit interface. The base clock is 1.32GHz, with a maximum boost of 1.78GHz, so it clocks slightly faster than the RTX 3060 Ti. As an Ampere-powered RTX card we get all the fancy ray tracing and DLSS. Performance figures from Nvidia have it comfortably beating the GTX 1060 (and so it should), and manages (roughly) an extra 10fps over the RTX 2060. Nvidia is calling it “the Ampere for every gamer,” which means it is actually affordable. Cards are available now (if you…

1 min
tech triumphs and tragedies

TRIUMPHS ✓ FUSION REACTOR WORKS South Korea’s KSTAR got its experimental fusion plant to run for 20 seconds. It’s a start. ✓ PC SALES BOOM The pandemic has helped PC sales; the last quarter of 2020 saw numbers up 26 percent, and last year rose by 13 percent. ✓ TEXAN FOUNDRY Samsung is to build a chip foundry in Texas to make 3nm chips. The plant will cost over $10 billion to build. TRAGEDIES χ CYBERPUNK 2077 It sold 13 million copies and reached over 1 million PC players; a month later that crashed to under 200,000. χ GOOGLE’S BALLOONS High costs have grounded Project Loon, the idea of using balloons to bring internet access to remote areas. χ CAR MEMORY FAILURE Tesla has recalled 159,000 cars with flash memory failures in the Media Control Unit.…

1 min
intel’s good year

INTEL JUST HAD a good year. This may be something of a surprise when we’ve all been waiting in vain for it to launch killer new desktop chips. Its range is still filled with 14nm designs that use core architectures dating back to 2015—which is ancient when it comes to modern technology. Intel’s problems moving to 10nm have been myriad, and 7nm looks like a tough ask. Yet despite all this the company is in good shape, and has the numbers to prove it. Last year Intel had a revenue of $77.9 billion—eight percent more than 2019. Personal computing earned it just over $40 billion last year. A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to get the processor business back on track, and 10nm chips are finally being…