Maximum PC May 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
13 Issues

in this issue

3 min
virtual futures

I’VE ALWAYS had a soft spot for virtual reality, but it stems perhaps from something a little more abstract than what we can see today. Back in the day, when I was but a mere toddler, wobbling around my family home, my old man would religiously watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV every week. I grew up with that and the voice of Jean-Luc Picard, along with other sci-fi series and actors, in the background, and became obsessed myself. The one thing in particular that always fascinated me with almost all of the Star Trek sagas was the idea of a Holodeck. A virtual playground in which light itself could be warped into any form and take you anywhere you wanted. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the far future was…

4 min
rocket lake lands

IT FEELS as though we’ve been waiting an age for this. Intel has finally released a desktop CPU with a new microarchitecture: Rocket Lake. It carries a Cypress Cove core, a derivation of Sunny Cove, which was first unveiled in 2018. Originally destined to be a 10nm design, due to myriad technical reasons, Intel had to change tack and “back port” the design to 14nm. So, what we have is the CPU from an Ice Lake chip, combined with Tiger Lake’s GPU, all rejigged on to a 14nm die. It’s a clumsy compromise. AMD smoothly moved to 7nm nearly two years ago. Officially, the new arrivals are 11th Generation S-Series processors. Whenever a new CPU micro-architecture arrives, the first question is: What is the IPC (Instructions Per Clock) improvement? Intel claims…

1 min
chip shortage reaches phones

PROBLEMS with the worldwide supply of chips have reached Qualcomm. Increased demand, exacerbated by US-China trade relations, and the fact that Samsung’s plant in Texas had production disrupted by power outages (which cause problems that take time to fix) mean there are significant shortages across the Qualcomm range, specifically the Snapdragon chips that power smartphones. As prices increase, companies order more to avoid paying more later, and it gets worse. By the second quarter, the shortages will reach the market, with 5G phones hardest hit—production is due to fall by around 30 percent. Elsewhere, shortages continue to worsen. General Motors has even started selling some pickups minus a fuel management chip. Lead times on some minor components have reached 11 months; other vital chips, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and power…

1 min
new update, new crash

WINDOWS UPDATES have a reputation for causing somebody, somewhere, a headache. A recent automatic security update (KB5000802 specifically) proved no exception, and the headache was the Blue Screen of Death. The issue revolved around printer drivers for many major brands, including Kyocera and Ricoh. If you tried printing, your PC died, comprehensively. You could uninstall the update, which worked, mostly, but it had to be done individually. Since updates bundle all sorts of things together, including important security updates, this isn’t ideal. If this sounds like a small problem, imagine being in charge of a company with hundreds of machines that go bang every time somebody tries to print something. System administrators quickly made their feelings known on forums. Don’t worry now, though—yet another update followed a few days later…

1 min
tech triumphs and tragedies

TRIUMPHS GAMES GET HDR Microsoft is to bring the Xbox’s Auto HDR feature to Win 10—about 1,000 games will feel the benefit of deeper, richer colors. WANT A PC SWITCH? The crowdfunded Aya-Neo is here. It follows Nintendo’s lead, and has a 7-inch screen with AMD silicon—but costs $689. AMD’S MEMORY BOOST Smart Memory Access is coming to 3000-series CPUs; expect a 3-10 percent games boost. TRAGEDIES APPLE’S LITTLE FAILURE Production of the iPhone Mini has been cut by 70 percent; it only accounts for about 6 percent of all iPhone sales. MINERS WANT LAPTOPS Cryptocurrency miners are buying up gaming laptops, solely for the RTX 3000 GPUs. Bah. INTEL’S HEAVY FINE Courts have hit Intel with a $2.18 billion judgment over patent infringements, equal to a month’s income. It will go to appeal.…

2 min
cheapest rdna 2 card yet

AMD HAS A NEW RDNA 2 CARD, the RX 6700 XT, which joins the range at the bottom. Essentially a replacement for the 5700 XT, it competes between the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070, or so AMD would have it. The GPU has 40 compute units, 160 texture units, 2,560 stream processors, and 64 ROPs. The base clock speed is 2,321MHz, with a maximum boost of 2,581MHz. It carries 12GB of GDDR6 over a 192-bit bus, giving a maximum memory bandwidth of 384GB/s. You also get 96MB of zippy Infinity Cache. This equates to a peak single precision computing power of 13.21TFLOPs. AMD quotes frames rates at 1440p of up to 126fps for Fortnite, and 71fps for Dirt 5 in Ultra High, and it’ll chew through 230W at…