Intel Coffee Lake Refresh may finally correct a six-year-old mistake

Rumors of Intel switching back to soldered processors is looking a little more certain every day, and now we’ve gotten our most official confirmation from a computer hardware maker.

Eurocom, a maker of high-end gaming and workstations laptops, confirmed to OC3D that Intel’s upcoming Core i9-9900K and Core i7-9700K will indeed come with soldered integrated heat spreaders (IHS). In theory, soldered Coffee Lake Refresh processors will deliver much improved thermal performance than Intel’s previous generations of chips, and this in turn could lead to massive increases in overclocking capacity.

This seems to be exactly the case, given that we’ve seen reports of the Intel Core i7-9700K hitting speeds of 5.5GHz while liquid-cooled and at 5.3GHz while air-cooled.

“New Intel [Core] i9-9900K and [Core] i7-9700K CPUs are coming with gold soldered TIM/IHS to the CPU die. This should help manage the temperatures of the higher-clocked CPUs and will also help with achieving higher overclocked frequencies. Our Sky ‘C’ super-laptops are ready for 9900K /9700K.”

Eurocom

Ever since Intel introduced Ivy Bridge CPUs in April 2012, the company replaced the soldered IHS it had used for years with a cheaper Thermal Interface Material (TIM – aka thermal paste). Unfortunately for Intel, the change in manufacturing seemingly resulted in hotter running processors, which infuriated many enthusiast users and overclockers.

We’ve heard and seen rumors of Intel going back to a gold-plated solder, but Eurocom is our most official source yet, as the company is an actual hardware maker rather an unknown leaker. Eurocom even claims partial credit for convincing Intel to go back to a soldered IHS by pressuring the company for years to make the swap.

Via PC Gamer

Lead image credit: XFastest

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Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019 is the commercial edition of Avira’s popular antivirus software.

The new release sees the debut of ‘Project AGEN’, which supplements checksum-based virus definitions with far more efficient pattern-based machine learning. This can cut virus definition files by up to 75%, improving startup times, speeding up detection and reducing the time and bandwidth required for updates.

Avira claims that the 2019 edition now averages ‘2-5 times better performance than other security products on the market’ in terms of minimizing any lag during startup and operation. Sounds good to us, although these figures come from ‘internal studies’, apparently, so we’ll need to wait for confirmation from the big testing labs.

You’ll get much the same speed gains with Avira Free, of course, but the Pro release has benefits of its own. The 2019 incarnation introduces smarter ransomware protection, with new behavior monitoring which can detect even brand new and undiscovered ransomware by looking out for suspicious actions.

Other benefits of the Pro release include scanning of attachments, downloads and USB devices; faster cloud scanning; filtering of malicious websites, unlimited customer support, and no ads at all.

Pricing options starts with a monthly plan, a rarity amongst antivirus vendors. This can protect a single device for £2.99 ($3.89) a month, three devices for £3.99 ($5.07) or five for £4.99 ($6.49). Although this is the most expensive way to buy Avira, it could be interesting if you’re looking to test the service for a few months before you commit.

A more conventional annual plan is priced at £29.99 ($39) for a single year, £51.99 ($67.60) for two years, £68.99 ($89.70) for three.

Adding further devices saves you even more, so for instance a three device, one-year license costs only £38.99 ($50.70), and protecting five devices for three years costs you just £108.99 ($141.70), or £0.61 ($0.79) per device per month.

Figuring out what’s the right subscription plan for you could take a while, but we like Avira’s flexibility. Whatever you buy, there’s fair value on offer here, and Avira’s prices compete well with Bitdefender, Kaspersky and the best of the competition.

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

Setup

The easiest way to try out Avira Antivirus Pro is to download and install the free version. You won’t get the premium benefits, but there’s enough to give you a good idea of its speed and ease of use, and of course you can carry on using it for as long as you need.

Testing the Pro version is more difficult, as we couldn’t find a direct download for a trial build. Fortunately, there’s a simple alternative.

We went to the Avira Prime page (Avira’s all-in-one plan which gets you all of its products for a simple monthly fee), moved our mouse cursor back to the browser tab, and a prompt asked us if we’d like a free one-month trial, no payment details required.

We accepted the trial offer, then downloaded and installed Avira Prime, which got us access to Avira Antivirus Pro 2019 and every other Avira product and service.

There’s a price to pay for this in the shape of up to 10 background processes running on your PC. Most require minimal system resources, though, and overall we didn’t notice any significant performance impact on our system.

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

Features

Avira Antivirus Pro has a clear and straightforward interface which makes it easy to find the core functions you need.

The opening console displays your security status, for instance, along with any active modules (Real-Time, Ransomware, Web and Mail protection), a Quick Scan button, and the date and time of your last scan. One glance tells you everything you’re likely to need to know, and you can run a scan with a click.

If the Quick Scan isn’t enough, clicking Scan on the left-hand sidebar displays buttons to run a full system scan, or launch a custom scan to check a specific area of the system.

Choosing a custom scan in most antivirus apps results in a prompt asking you which drive or folder you’d like to check. Avira gives you far more choice, with predefined scans to check your Documents folder, the Windows folders, removable drives, active processes and more. You can also save new custom scans to check specific drives and folders, making it easier to recall them later.

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

You’re not able to define how these custom scans work (file types to check or ignore, detection methods to use, and so on), unfortunately, as you can with Avast and some others. Experienced users might miss that flexibility, but this isn’t a major problem, and if you don’t plan on creating custom scans you’ll never even notice it’s an issue.

If you’re intent on customizing scanning operations, Avira Antivirus Pro has some interesting expert-level settings. You don’t just get the usual ‘Scan archives’ checkbox, for instance: you can choose the scan types to check, have Avira detect archive files even if they have a different extension, and set the recursion depth of the scan. The latter means that if a ZIP file contains a ZIP, which contains a ZIP, which contains a ZIP, and so on, how far down the archive-related rabbit hole do you go?

There’s a similar level of control elsewhere. While other antivirus tools might allow you to turn web protection on and off, and that’s about it, Avira allows blocking suspicious I-frames, particular file or MIME types, adjusting the detection level, tweaking the reporting rules, and more.

The average user may not care about any of this, but they won’t have to deal with these complications unless they go looking, and on balance we think it’s good to have this level of configurability available.

One issue we noticed is that Avira’s local help file didn’t explain all the available options, presumably because it was dated 2014. We found more advice online, but that’s still a poor performance for a commercial product, and we would expect a company the size of Avira to keep its documentation more up-to-date.

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

Protection

AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test regularly checks 18 top antivirus engines against the very latest malware threats.

The August 2018 results saw Avira manage an excellent third place, only very fractionally behind Bitdefender and Kaspersky (all three blocked 100% of threats, Avira’s sole issue being that it raised a single false positive).

Single tests can be misleading, but AV-Comparatives’ February to June report (a summary of five tests) places Avira in a very similar fifth place with a still-very-capable 99.7% protection rate.

The AV-Test Home User Windows tests offer more confirmation, with the previous edition of Avira Antivirus Pro achieving a top 6/6 rating for Protection, Performance and Usability. Only three packages managed that, out of a field of 18.

As Avira Antivirus Pro also claims to have improved ransomware detection, we decided to pit the program against our own custom ransomware simulator. This was very basic and didn’t use any stealthy malware tricks, but as we coded it ourselves, we knew it wouldn’t be in Avira’s signature database. The only way the package could detect our threat was by recognizing its behavior.

Avira Antivirus Pro 2019

We launched our ransomware simulator, then watched as it successfully spidered through multiple folders in our test folder tree, encrypting more than 6,000 documents and data files, without Avira Antivirus Pro raising any alarm or making any attempt to spot it.

This isn’t what we wanted to see. Kaspersky 2019, for instance, not only managed to detect and kill our test software, the package also recovered the six files which were encrypted.

However, these results should be interpreted carefully. We think our ransomware simulator is a good way to highlight tools with effective malware detection, but failing the test doesn’t necessarily mean a package is bad.

The reality is that our ransomware simulator wasn’t real malware, and there’s no way to be completely sure why Avira Antivirus Pro ignored it. This issue has to be a concern, but the reality is that AV-Comparatives and AV-Test regularly test Avira’s engine against known and brand new threats, and in these more thorough tests, the program performs very well.

Final verdict

Avira Antivirus Pro has a great detection engine, but you can get almost as much functionality with Avira’s free version. Even if you’re happy to pay, competitors like Bitdefender give you more for a very similar price.

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iPhone XS & XS Max Out Now: Price & Specs

The successors to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have been officially confirmed as iPhone XS and XS Max, and they are available to buy now. Clad in surgical-grade stainless steel, they adopt the all-screen notch design introduced with last year’s iPhone X, and will be available in gold, silver and space grey.

They sound great, but we reckon it’s the cheaper iPhone Xr everyone will want.

The new phones squeeze larger screens into similar size bodies as their predecessors, now packing the biggest screens found on any iPhone to date. But the 5.8- and 6.5in screens are not just a lot bigger, but also infinitely better.

Marketed as ‘Super Retina Displays’, these are OLED panels with super-high resolutions (2.7m pixels XS; 3.3m pixels XS Max) and crystal-clear 458ppi density. They have 60 percent higher dynamic range than the iPhone X, 1m:1 contrast ratio, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz touch sensing and 3D Touch.

iPhone XS and XS Max

The new iPhones are also protected with the most durable glass used in any smartphone, and now support IP68 waterproofing, able to endure up to 2m of water for up to 30 minutes.

We’ve compared the XS and XS Max with the Galaxy S9.

Nicely complementing the redesigned screen for multimedia and gaming is the implementation of improved stereo speakers for wider stereo sound.

As expected performance has also seen a bump, but it’s more of a push than a bump. The A12 Bionic SOC is, according to Apple, the world’s first 7nm chip (we’ll just forget about Huawei’s latest Kirin chip then). It is faster and more powerful than any of the competition, says the company.

The SOC builds in 6.9 billion transistors, and as before comprises a CPU, GPU and neural engine. Each of these components has been enhanced, with the two-performance cores of the six-core CPU running 15 percent faster and 40 percent more efficient than in the A11, the quad-core GPU an amazing 50 percent faster than in the A11, and the octa-core neural engine now able to process 5 trillion operations per second (up from 600 billion).

iPhone XS camera

Cameras have also been upgraded, with the iPhone XS fitted with a dual-camera at the rear that has two 12Mp lenses and dual optical image stabilisation. The wide-angle camera has a six-element lens, 1.4um pixels and an f/1.8 aperture. There’s also a telephoto camera with f/2.4 aperture and 2x optical zoom, and an improved True Tone flash.

Round at the front there’s a 7Mp selfie camera, with a faster sensor and f/2.2 aperture, an IR camera and dot projector. 

Battery life has improved too, and the iPhone XS lasts 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X, while the XS Max can last a whole hour and a half longer.

iPhone XS

iPhone XS price & release date

The iPhone XS is available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities, starting at £999/US$999. Available in the same capacities, the XS Max will start at £1099/$1099. See Best iPhone XS deals.

Here’s the full pricing:

  • 64GB iPhone XS: £999/$999
  • 256GB iPhone XS: £1149/$1149
  • 512GB iPhone XS: £1349/$1349
  • 64GB iPhone XS Max: £1099/$1099
  • 128GB iPhone XS Max: £1249/$1249
  • 512GB iPhone XS Max: £1449/$1449

Pre-orders started on 14 September, with the new iPhones officially on sale on 21 September. Click here to buy the new iPhone XS.

There will also finally be a dual-SIM version of iPhone XS and XS Max available in China, but elsewhere there will be both single-SIM and E-SIM versions.

iPhone XS specs

  • 5.8in Super Retina HD OLED Display (2436×1125, 458ppi)
  • Apple A12 Bionic six-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64/256/512GB storage
  • 12Mp, f/1.8 + 12Mp f/2.4 dual-camera, dual optical image stabilisation, 4K video
  • 7Mp, f/2.2 selfie camera
  • Face ID
  • A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • 20 hours talk time, 14 hours video playback
  • Qi wireless charging
  • IP68 waterproofing
  • 70.9×143.6×7.7mm
  • 177g

iPhone XS Max specs

As above but:

  • 6.5in Super Retina HD OLED Display (2688×1242, 458ppi)
  • 25 hours talk time, 15 hours video playback
  • 77.4×157.5×7.7mm
  • 208g

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2018 & beyond


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Facebook stops sending staff to help political campaigns

Facebook will no longer send employees to work at the offices of political campaigns during elections, the company has announced.

The social network used to offer dedicated staff to political campaigns to help them develop their online advertising campaigns.

Donald Trump’s digital director for the 2016 presidential election has said Facebook’s assistance helped him win.

Facebook said rival Hillary Clinton was offered the same support, but declined.

The social network is the second largest online advertising broker, behind Google.

Google and Twitter also offer specialised advice to political campaigns. They have not indicated that they will end the practice.

Facebook said it would instead offer free advertising advice to all political parties through its website.

However, campaigns will still be able to get support online and the company did not rule out holding meetings with politicians.

According to internal documents seen by Bloomberg, Donald Trump’s campaign spent $44m (£33m) on Facebook ads from June to November 2016, compared with $28m by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

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Cube Escape: Paradox review: There’s nothing else like this surreal room-escape/short film mash-up

“Do be warned, detective…some men find this place hard to leave.” It’s meant as a threat, but I laughed. Even for the Rusty Lake series, this is one hell of a wink-nod, fourth-wall-breaking moment.

Yes, one of the most prolific game development teams is back for its second game of 2018, Cube Escape: Paradox—and perhaps the most ambitious of the series, thanks to a 20-minute short film that’s integral to the plot. Just when you think Rusty Lake can’t get any weirder, it does.

Empty the mind

You’ll note of course that this is titled Cube Escape: Paradox, not Rusty Lake: Paradox. A bit confusing, no? To recap, the Rusty Lake games (HotelRootsParadise) spun out of a series of browser-based escape rooms, titled Cube Escape. Until now the main distinction has been that the Cube Escape games are both shorter and free, while the Rusty Lake entries are longer, more complex, and sold through Steam.

Cube Escape: Paradox IDG / Hayden Dingman

Cube Escape: Paradox bridges the gap though. It’s much smaller in scale than the sprawling Rusty Lake: Paradise released this past January. In Paradise, players explored an entire island. Here, you’re trying to escape a simple four-walled parlor—and I suspect it’s this constraint the developers would claim makes it a Cube Escape game.

But Cube Escape: Paradox is being sold on Steam, and it’s significantly longer and more complicated than the Cube Escape collection thus far. It also, as I said up top, contains a 20-minute short film set in the Rusty Lake universe.

The integration’s a bit weird, at least on Steam. Paradox is coming to mobile platforms too, and I tested that version briefly at PAX West earlier this month. There, tapping the “Movie” button on the main menu launched directly into the film, as you’d expect. On Steam, at least our pre-release build tried to launch the movie in a browser—or alternatively I could launch the movie directly from the “Videos” tab on Steam. Those were my only options, and both are a bit clumsy.

Still, I’d recommend watching it. The short’s surprisingly good. I wouldn’t expect the Rusty Lake games, with their macabre cartoon style, to translate well to live-action. Paradox nails the look though, and even manages to include some of the creepier characters (like the crow-headed Aldous Vanderboom) without coming off as cheesy. No mean feat.

Cube Escape: Paradox IDG / Hayden Dingman

In any case, you’re welcome to watch the film first, watch the film second, or not watch it at all. The developers claim all three are valid choices. The short is loosely tied to the story, but isn’t required to solve any puzzles—or when it is, those clips are embedded in the game proper. Paradox’s main gimmick is “Rusty Lake TV,” an old TV set you tune to see video clips that are integral to the solutions. It’s a fun way to tie the mixed-media setup together.

Best GoPro 2018

GoPro’s range of action cams has been slimmed-down over the past few years, but it can still be confusing to decide which one to buy and there are lots of cheaper alternatives that are worth a look. We compare GoPro cameras and alternatives.

The latest GoPros are the Hero 7 series, but we’ve also listed older models that you can still buy on Amazon for cheaper than their RRP.

In this article, we explain the differences between all the GoPro models to help you decide which is the best action camera to buy. We also outline the alternatives, including some of the clones, as well as some of the other action cams you can buy right now in the UK.

You’ll find our detailed comparison of the GoPro cameras below, but let’s look first at why you should – and shouldn’t – consider the alternatives.

Best GoPro alternatives

The clones

Best GoPro alternatives

The real-deal GoPro cameras may be pricey, but they’re generally worth the money.

As well as being reliable and rugged with good-quality mounts, they also have loud beeps which tell you when they start and stop recording and turn on and off. Don’t underestimate the importance of this, since once the camera is mounted, it’s often in a place where you can’t easily see it. Plus, the Hero 5 and 6 cameras have voice control so you don’t have to be able to reach the camera, or touch it.

We’ve yet to see a clone with the same features, which means you’ve no idea if you successfully started recording when the camera is mounted on your bike helmet: you have to start recording, then put on the helmet to be sure.

Some allow remote control but apps tend to be flakey and not nearly as slick and reliable as GoPro’s, while battery life can be worse.

However, these drawbacks aren’t always deal-breakers and are worth trading off for the amazingly low prices. One of the better clone manufacturers is SJCAM, but you have to be careful not to buy a fake as there are also SJCAM clones!

Take a look at SJCAM’s website here.

One GoPro that’s not included below is the Fusion, which is now on sale in the UK, Europe and the US. This is GoPro’s 360-degree camera and at £699.99 from GoPro, it’s possibly too expensive to buy for the odd bit of kayaking, sky diving or mountain biking. 

It has two lenses – one on the front and one on the back – and captures fully spherical video so you can choose where to look when you play it back (YouTube also supports this). Plus, you can use a VR headset to watch the footage, or choose the view as you’re editing it before saving a standard video. 

Best GoPro - Fusion 360

Live streaming action cams

Some action cams include models with SIM cards that allow you to stream action live to YouTube and other video sites.

You’ll have to really need the ability to live stream video as these cameras are typically sold by mobile operators just like a smartphone: you pay a monthly contract or opt for a pay-as-you-go package, so they work out much more expensive than a normal action cam.

One is EE’s 4GEE action cam, ‘free’ if you pay £12 per month and share the data from your 4GEE phone data plan, but can cost as much as £399.99 if you want to pay everything up front and get a whopping 24GB allowance. It takes 13Mp photos and full HD video.

GoPro Hero 7 Black

GoPro Hero 7 Black

GoPro Hero 6 Black

GoPro Hero 6 Black

GoPro Hero 5 Black

GoPro Hero 5 Black

GoPro Hero 5 Session

GoPro Hero 5 Session

GoPro Hero Session

GoPro Hero Session

Yi 4K Action Camera

Yi 4K Action Camera

SJCAM SJ7 Star

SJCAM SJ7 Star


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