PCWorld December 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

7 min
intel 12th-gen ‘alder lake’ vs. ryzen 5000: 5 key things to know

If you’re looking to build a powerhouse PC, one of the first things you need to do is pick your poison: AMD or Intel? Both companies are making some absolutely fantastic CPUs and adjacent platforms, so there’s really no wrong decision here. But to hell with that fence-sitting BS: It’s still a decision you have to make. So you might as well make the right one, right? Intel’s spanking-new 12th-gen Alder Lake CPU series is busting benchmarks, but there are still plenty of reasons to stick with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 architecture from last year — or to wait it out and see what comes next. Let’s break it down, shall we? THE CONTENDERS Assuming that you’re basing your decision on a budget for a PC build, and that you’re phenomenally lucky and manage…

2 min
adobe photoshop finally comes to the browser, and chromebooks

Users of Google’s Chrome OS have been waiting years—and years, and years, Adobe—for the industry-standard Photoshop image editing tool to become available to them. Today that wait is finally over. Sort of. Adobe announced that subscribers to its Creative Cloud service now have access to a web-based version of Photoshop, which offers a limited selection of tools for editing images and projects stored on Creative Cloud servers. The system is available to subscribers today in an open beta, with the vector-based Illustrator also available in closed beta testing. The web-based version of Photoshop handles most of the basics of image editing, but power users might find it a bit limited, both in terms of its available tools and its compatibility with long-memorized keyboard commands. (Trying to activate the Free Transform tool…

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1 min
windows 10’s november update is a lot smaller than we’re used to

PC users are all in a tizzy about the shiny new Windows 11 that recently dropped. But don’t forget that Microsoft is still supporting and updating the long-in-the-tooth Windows 10 until at least 2025. As if to prove its point, Microsoft released an update to Windows 10 in November. What’s new? Not a whole lot, now that Microsoft’s technical and marketing powers are focused on the future. Windows Hello for business users will be updated to support passwordless deployments for faster multi-machine setup. The Windows Subsystem for Linux and Azure IoT Edge for Linux systems are getting GPU compute support, which has been in the works for a while. And Wi-Fi connections will now be compatible with the new WPA3 H2E standard. Those are some welcome changes for very specific users, but…

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6 min
is nvidia’s geforce now cloud gaming worth it?

Nvidia’s GeForce Now is a cloud streaming service that targets the current weak spot in the market: hardware availability and pricing. Essentially, you pay a subscription fee for the ability to use Nvidia’s Superpod computers to stream games from your library in lieu of having a physical GPU in your PC at home. The company recently announced an RTX 3080 tier, which claims lower latency and ray tracing–enabled performance. We will discuss how it works, potential drawbacks, and price. The technology is very exciting, but can it replace a real GPU during the great shortage? Let’s find out! HOW DOES IT WORK? By utilizing Superpod computers with 1,000 GPUs in each (if you opt for the top RTX 3080 tier), Nvidia leverages cloud streaming to allow you to access your game libraries…

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3 min
how amazon’s new kindle paperwhite e-reader compares to the old one

Our pick for the best Kindle just got an overhaul. The Kindle Paperwhite now sports a larger screen, faster hardware, longer battery life, and the addition of an amber tone for the front light as new standout features, and that’s just the headliners. (Fans of the USB-C connector can rest easy at last.) But the new Paperwhite also costs more, especially if you want the version with more storage. To make it easier to decide if you want to upgrade (or which version you want if you see the 2018 edition on sale), we’ve highlighted the key differences for you, along with putting the full specifications for each side by side. KEY DIFFERENCES Size The 2021 model of the Paperwhite is larger than the 2018 version. It’s about a quarter inch (7mm) taller and…

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1 min
valve’s hotly anticipated steam deck handheld delayed until 2022

The infamous “Valve time” strikes yet again. Valve has delayed the launch of the Steam Deck, a handheld portable PC gaming system similar to the Nintendo Switch, until February 2022. Unfortunately, that means it won’t be available to purchase in time for the 2021 holiday season. Valve says it’s unable to deliver due to the global supply chain issues. “We’re sorry about this—we did our best to work around the global supply chain issues, but due to material shortages, components aren’t reaching our manufacturing facilities in time for us to meet our initial launch dates,” Valve says. If you’re worried about losing your pre-existing reservation, don’t sweat it. Valve claims that existing reservation holders will keep their place in line. As for the time frame of those reservation dates, that information will…

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