Improbable Insights Podcast: What AMD’s Ryzen Means for the Industry and Consumers

Scott Gardner, former industry analyst and tech company executive, joins David Bryant and me on the Improbable Insights podcast to discuss the impact of AMD’s Ryzen CPU release will have on the industry. AMD just began shipping the Ryzen 5 CPUs, which sport four or six cores, with two threads per core. More importantly, AMD has priced Ryzen 5 directly against Intel midrange processors.  Can lilliputian AMD compete with the Intel juggernaut? Can the Ryzen processor deliver the goods for end […]

The State of the PC: 2017

The personal computer evolution seems to be slowing. Apple seems to be ignoring high-end customers, 2-in-1 designs are proliferating, and the desktop PC stagnates. On the OS side, MacOS seems to be stagnating and Windows continues to be overly intrusive. What’s going to happen to the PC going forward? Eric, David, and I discuss happenings in the Mac arena, what’s going on with Windows, the slowdown in CPU progress, how displays have been evolving, and how storage has become the […]

My Next PC May Not Run on Intel

Last week, AMD partially unveiled its upcoming Ryzen processor, aka Summit Ridge. AMD only demonstrated the high-end model running at an estimated base clock frequency of 3.4GHz. AMD CEO Lisa Su compared its high-end Ryzen to Intel’s Core-i7 6900K. It’s clear from the demos that Ryzen isn’t quite fully baked yet. The company hasn’t enabled boost clocks, hasn’t fully settled on the 3.4GHz base clock, and didn’t disclose pricing. AMD’s new progeny runs on the existing socket AM4 platform, although […]

A Gaming PC for Emily

My younger daughter surprised me when she asked for a desktop PC prior to heading off to graduate school. She had been using an HP Omen, which included reasonably decent graphics (mobile GeForce GTX 960) as well as a quad-core processor. I’d often see her online playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fallout 4, and other PC games. Apparently, though, trying to play Rise of the Tomb Raider convinced her that her laptop no longer handled games well. So I built her […]

Hard Drives in the SSD Age

If you’re a PC performance enthusiast without severe budget constraints, you’re probably running an SSD in your system. Solid state drive prices continue to plummet, dropping below $0.22 per gigabyte on some 1TB models. While older systems may continue to run a secondary hard drive with rotating platters, newer systems, most users can get by with a single 1TB SSD. Alas, I’m not “most users”. I just bought a Western Digital Black 6TB hard drive, which spins at 7,200RPM and […]

Cloud Services Need Hardware Too

I found myself in an interesting online discussion about Intel several days ago that triggered a few thoughts. In addition to restructuring itself to be more cloud-focused, Intel just announced it had given up on the mobile phone and small tablet business, abandoning its Sofia and Broxton processors, targeted at high-end mobile phones. Also abandoned is its Cherry Trail line of tablet / low-end laptop processors. So long, atom. One person argued this spelled the end for Intel, that the […]

Choosing Your PC Processor

Choosing the right PC processor lies at the intersection of what you need, what you can afford, what you want to accomplish, and your self image. The focus here is on desktop processors — in particular, desktop systems you plan on building youreself. Since laptop CPUs ship inside complete systems, that’s a topic for another day. Note also that these are my rules of thumb. You may see things differently. When I’ve written these articles for other publications, I try to be […]

The Itty Bitty Gaming PC

I’ve attempted to build small form factor gaming PCs over the years — anyone remember the tiny boxes Shuttle sold, complete with proprietary motherboards and power supplies? Those never lasted long, mostly because the anemic PSUs would eventually fail trying to deliver power to high end CPUs and graphics cards. Today, we’ve got a plethora of mini-ITX motherboards, making it easier to build tiny, but full-featured PCs. I’ve built several PCs using mini-ITX motherboards, but none have been particularly small […]