PC Magazine July 2019

PC Magazine provides lab-tested reviews, detailed tips and how-tos, insightful feature stories, expert commentary, and the latest tech trends to help you at work, at home, and on the road. And for a limited time, we're offering a copy of Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation with new subscriptions. This brand-new book is all about what made Atari's computers great: excellent graphics and sound, flexible programming environment, and wide support.

United States
Ziff Davis
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
10 years of fastest mobile networks

Back in 2010, PCMag launched its very first Fastest Mobile Networks project. I remember thinking that it was incredibly ambitious: recruiting enough testers to drive through enough of the United States to determine which of the Big Four carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless—would earn the top scores for data speeds and reliability. Imagine my surprise (and massive respect) when we proceeded to repeat the testing every year since then. 2019 marks our tenth year of FMN. This year, we drove 9,652.5 miles through and around 30 US cities to determine which wireless carrier is the fastest where you live. We did regional drives as well, to get a sense of how well carriers perform outside urban areas. AT&T took the crown away from Verizon this year as overall fastest mobile network,…

3 min
cloud gaming? no, thanks

After spending years trying to optimize their code to make a great gameplay experience with minimal lag, developers are then going to hand their games off to these “services,” which will serve them up with an additional 500ms lag. Doesn’t seem optimal. And the cost of building data centers able to host hundreds of thousands of individual instances of players is most certainly going to be passed down to players. —Moe Curley Renting games and apps from the cloud is a bad deal for the vast majority of individuals or even small groups of users. (Of course, businesses might get more use out of rental apps, but the little research I have done shows that it becomes extremely expensive over the long haul for the benefit derived.) I suppose if you…

3 min
the semiconductor market: worst downturn in a decade

If all you noticed was the big news that came out of Computex Taipei in May, the PC market seems to be doing great: DRAM prices have fallen, and new 7nm CPUs from AMD and 10nm CPUs from Intel are poised to deliver further gains. But under the hood, the semiconductor firms have taken a collective beating. Global chip sales fell to $101.2B in Q1 2019, down from $116.2B in Q1 2018. This represents the largest year-on-year decrease since the depths of the Great Recession, according to IHS Markit. The largest whack hit Samsung, whose sales fell 34 percent year-on-year as the bottom fell out of both the NAND and DRAM markets. Prices on both of these components have improved dramatically: Memory chips and IHS notes were responsible for most of…

9 min
the best of computex 2019

The code words of this year’s Computex? Ryzen, X570, PCI Express 4.0, twin-screen, and RGB, RGB, RGB. We can’t recall a more consequential show. Perennial chip underdog AMD came roaring out of the gate with some serious twin-fisted attitude, making weighty claims for performance leadership in its next-gen Ryzen desktop CPUs, while simultaneously taking jabs at Nvidia with its upcoming “Navi” family of GPUs. Backing AMD, the desktop-motherboard world rallied with an extraordinary mix of high-end and real-world boards under the new-for-Ryzen X570 chipset. Intel didn’t stay still either: It showed off some nifty twin-screen laptops that it sees as the potential future of mobile computing, and teasing its eventual entry into the discrete graphics market, showing some conceptions of its GPUs, which are being dubbed “Xe” while under development. Our best-in-show picks…

4 min
no, 5g won’t ruin your weather forecasts

Some battles aren’t worth the cost. As the FCC tries to cobble together valuable airwaves for new 5G wireless networks, it’s gotten into a spat with meteorologists over the airwaves used for storm tracking. As Wired reports, Neil Jacobs, acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Congress in May that if the FCC auctions off the 24GHz band as planned, weather forecasts could be 30 percent less accurate. Horrors, right? I can see the YouTube videos already: “5G will expose us to DEATH BY TORNADO.” Ultimately, this is just a starting point for negotiations. A meteorologist interviewed by Wired said the FCC just has do set lower 24GHz emitting levels so the networks don’t interfere with weather satellite sensing technology. That seems like a reasonable outcome, and it’s the…

5 min
the road to evo is paved with positive gaming communities

Evolution Championship Series, the world’s largest fighting game tournament, is now just a couple of months away. The multi-day celebration of all things fighting games (and fighting game adjacent) makes its annual return to Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay in August. If you’re into fighting games like I am, Evo is your Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, and Stanley Cup. This year’s Evo, however, will mean more to me than previous tournaments, as it will be the first one that I attend. These middle-aged fingers won’t let me keep up with the young'uns forever, so it’s now or never. As Evo approaches, the concept of community and its importance dance in my thoughts. We’re social creatures, after all. We seek out others with similar beliefs and interests, hence the existence of churches,…