It may have a True Tone display, and voice-activation for Siri, but the Core i9 MacBook Pro 2018 isn’t all it’s made out to be.
It looks as if the new MacBook Pros for 2018 may not be quite what they’re cracked up to be – specifically the 15in MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i9. Those wanting to go for Apple’s top-line MacBook Pro will be disappointed to know that Apple is throttling its performance quite heavily.
As revealed by tech YouTuber Dave Lee, the Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro is unable to provide adequate cooling for any CPU-intensive tasks. This means that, even when running at its base clock speed, it can’t maintain output before it overheats and has to be throttled. Essentially, it’s useless if you bought it for high-end video editing capabilities.
According to Lee’s video footage, the Core i9 MacBook Pro render times in Premier Pro are actually underperforming compared to the 2017 Core i7 model. Doing the same test with the MacBook Pro rendering while in a freezer (because who doesn’t work in a storage freezer?), Lee was able to get incredible performance out of the Core i9 as it no longer needed to throttle itself for cooling reasons.
Lee explains that, while thermal throttling isn’t unusual, the level seen in the Core i9 MacBook Pro is “unacceptable”.
Interestingly, it’s not clear if this is simply just a defective unit that’s ended up in Lee’s hands, or if this is something that will come out of the woodwork for other users in time. It’s hard to believe Apple didn’t test for this during production, but perhaps it was simply deemed acceptable. You can watch Lee’s full teardown below.
Several methods can be used to rotate your computer screen in Windows. You might use the built-in Display settings, your graphics card settings, or even a keyboard shortcut. We’ll outline all three options here.
The first way you can try to rotate your laptop or PC screen is with a keyboard shortcut. Whether this work for you or not will depend on the hardware and software on yourPC. Some software, for example Nvidia and AMD drivers, allow you to create ‘Hotkeys’ to rotate the screen using a shortcut such as Shift-Alt-Arrow keys.
However, the lack of a hotkey option could be because you don’t have the software installed. For example, Intel’s Graphics and Media Control Panel needs to be installed if you have Intel graphics.
The other method requires you to delve into the Control Panel to change orientation, which could be a pain if you rotate your monitor from landscape to portrait (and vice-versa) regularly.
Rotate screen using Windows Display settings
The quickest way to rotate the screen in Windows 10 is to right-click on the desktop and choose Display settings. You can switch between portrait and landscape in the Orientation drop-down menu – it couldn’t be simpler.
In Windows 7 or 8, right-click on the desktop and choose Screen resolution.
You’ll see a graphic showing how Windows thinks your monitors are arranged, but you can click on a display to select it, and then drag it to the appropriate position. If you’re not sure which is which, click the Identify button and giant numbers will clear things up.
Rotate screen with Intel graphics
On a laptop or PC equipped with an Intel graphics chip, rotating the screen (or the external monitor attached via HDMI) is as simple as choosing the orientation you want from the drop-down menu.
Right-click on the desktop and look for a ‘graphics options’ entry.
Rotate screen with Nvidia graphics
If you have an Nvidia graphics card, you’ll see an option to launch the Nvidia Control Panel when you right-click on the desktop, so choose this instead of Screen resolution.
In the left-hand menu, choose Rotate display. If you see a message saying you can’t rotate the display with Stereoscopic 3D enabled, click the link and untick ‘Enable Stereoscopic 3D’. Then you will see the options for rotating the display back in the Rotate display section.
On our test machine, 3D was enabled despite us not having a 3D monitor connected.
Rotate screen with AMD graphics
If you have an AMD graphics card, click on Catalyst Control Centre when you right-click on the desktop.
Then, look for the rotation option, which may be under different headings depending on how old or new your Catalyst Control Centre version is. On newer versions it’s under Common Display Tasks.
This Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 proves you don’t have to put up with a 4.5kg gigantic beast of a machine if you want top-end gaming performance. It has a Max-Q GTX 1080 graphics card, among the most powerful available in a laptop, but is under 20mm thick.
There are compromises. The keyboard is as shallow as that of a skinny laptop, and sits at the front. Its ergonomics are odd. Battery life is terrible too.
However, it’s the best ultra-powerful gaming laptop of this size. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 is more practical than the rival Acer Triton 700, with a more useful trackpad and better heat management.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Price and availability
Some of you are probably here out of sheer curiosity, because the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501’s price puts it out of reach of most of us.
This is an extremely powerful laptop. It has a GTX1080 graphics card, Core i7 CPU and 16GB RAM. In the UK your main choice is between a 512GB SSD or a 1TB one.
Asus sent us the 1TB version (GI-EI012T), which costs an eye-watering £2,999. The 512GB model (GI-EI005T) costs £2,799/$2,899 and you can find both on Amazon in the UK and the US.
The difference is a reminder of quite how expensive high-end SSDs are. Or, at least, how expensive SSD upgrades from big laptop makers are. Some bundles also include a headset and mouse, to get you fully kitted-up.
The GX501 comes with a 2-year warranty, and you have to send it to a service centre should a problem arise.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 is not a normal laptop. To fit a large graphics card and enough cooling to make it function properly, Asus has had to play around with where the core parts of the computer sit.
The top half of the base is given over to the GPU and other internals, shifting the keyboard to the front. It looks and feels strange like the Acer Triton 7000. But Asus has done a good job of making the GX501 seem relatively normal. There are no windows onto the internals, and the entire upper area is perforated plastic.
This helps the heat dispersal system, and stops that heat from transferring too quickly to the nearby metal. You see, some parts of the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 are aluminium. The keyboard surround and lid are metal, making sure all the right parts feel expensive.
The lid’s texture is brushed in two opposing directions, to give it a more eye-catching look than the average laptop.
But how portable is the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501? This is a 15.6in laptop with a substantial screen surround. It’s no Dell XPS 13. At 2.28kg we wouldn’t want to take it out all day, every day.
However, compared to the Alienware 15, it’s very portable. That laptop is 1.3kg heavier and 50 per cent thicker. The GX501 is only 17.9 mm thick.
There’s yet another oddity to the design too. When you open up the lid, a hatch opens up on the underside, the equivalent of a very large air vent. We’ll be honest: on first seeing this we thought Asus might have sent us a broken sample.
This panel is plastic and slightly flex-happy, making it seem out of place in a laptop this pricey. However, it’s a crucial part of making a laptop as powerful and thin as the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 work in a practical sense. There’s a lot of heat to dissipate, so large vents are needed.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Keyboard and trackpad
One element you can be sure of: for the first few days, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 will feel strange. While the keyboard’s button arrangement is standard enough, that it pushes you further away from the screen is initially off-putting.
Asus does help out with a wrist rest, though. This is simply a slab of rubber that sits in front of the keyboard. It doesn’t hook onto the laptop, but definitely helps.
The keys are high-quality, with a decent amount of resistance. However, they are of a standard, slim 1.4mm-travel chiclet design. They feel more like good ultrabook keys than the meatier, deeper style some gamers may want.
That said, the space key does have a slightly different action, which is a nice touch.
There’s also a backlight. Like the best gaming laptops, it can adopt any colour you like. And you can choose one shade for the WASD buttons, another for the rest. There are also the usual “animated” settings, which pulse or cycle through different colours.
The trackpad is perhaps odder even than the keyboard. It sits to the right of the keys, a portrait-aspect pad with two big, deep buttons below.
This is Asus making the best of a bad situation and it has done pretty well. The main issue is we found was continually press the “>” button instead of the left mouse button, our fingers being used to a wider pad.
However, you’ll probably want to use the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 with a mouse anyway. When doing so, you can switch the trackpad into a NUM pad with the press of a button. Red characters appear below the pad’s surface which looks really cool.
They’re not as ergonomic as real buttons of course, but it’s a smart way to avoid too much compromise or wasted space.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Screen
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 has a 15.6in 1080p LCD screen. It sounds pretty conventional, but has some impressive extras.
This display has G-Sync, a hardware-based equivalent to screen tear-killing V-sync, and a brilliant refresh rate of 144Hz. Asus also says the response time is just 3ms, perfect for fast action.
These specs are usually associated with TN panel screens. Asus calls this an “IPS-level” panel rather than specifying IPS. There’s a little more contrast loss at an angle than a traditional IPS screen, but it does otherwise have the alluring look of this popular screen type.
Colours look rich, contrast deep, and as it’s a matt screen you don’t have to worry as much about reflections. All excellent elements for a gaming laptop.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501’s screen is not an ultra-wide gamut display, though. It covers 82.7 percent of sRGB, 60.3 percent of Adobe RGB and 64.6 percent of DCI P3. This means it’s not perfect for colour graders or professional photographers, who’ll likely want at least 100 percent sRGB coverage.
Initially, it doesn’t seem great for the price. But until we took out our colorimeter, there was no sense the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 is undersaturated. It looks great, and doesn’t make games or movies seem remotely lacking in visual energy.
You’ll see similar compromises in Razer’s top-end Blade 15. You can either get a 144Hz “sRGB” screen or a richer 60Hz one matched to Adobe RGB. For competitive gamers, a faster screen refresh with quick response time matters more.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 screen is also very bright, reaching 365cd/m2. You won’t need to use anything close to max brightness indoors.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Specs and Performance
This is the main event, performance. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 has an Nvidia GTX1080 Max-Q GPU. “Max-Q” is a graphics card design for slimmer laptop frames, sacrificing a little performance in the process.
However, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501’s gaming power is still sensational. It’s a thin laptop after all!
In the ultra-demanding Total War: Warhammer it averages 73.6fps at Ultra settings, or 134fps at Medium. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands runs at 46.8fps, Ultra, or 87.8fps Medium settings.
These are similar to the result from a desktop PC with a full-fat Nvidia GTX 1070. Yes, this isn’t true desktop GTX 1080 performance, but for a laptop this thin and light the results are still excellent.
Asus’s cooling system also works better than those of other powerful thin and light gaming laptops. While the GPU section up top gets quite hot, relatively little heat bleeds into the keyboard. And it’s significant quieter than other ultra-slim models too.
The “hatch” vent on the bottom is quite bizarre, but has real benefits.
Other elements of performance are also very good. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 has an Intel Core i7-8750H processor. This has six cores and twelve threads, and in all the game test we tried it didn’t get closed to maxed-out. It’s unlikely to prove a performance roadblock in any but the most CPU-centric titles.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 scores 5689 points in PC Mark 10, the best result we’ve seen to date in a laptop. Similarly, its Geekbench 4 score of 21862 is the highest we’ve recorded in a laptop.
However, at this point it’s worth highlighting want you can get if you “go fat”. At a similar price the Dell Alienware 15 has the i9-8950HK CPU, which is up to 20% more powerful. Don’t worry about this difference too much if you’re mostly a gamer, though. It’s GPU performance that matters most.
General performance is excellent, in part thanks to the ultra-fast SSD. It reads at 3202MB/s and writes at 1754MB/s, up to six times faster than a solid external SSD.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Connectivity and Audio
Few people will buy the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 as a work machine. But it can be one if you like. There are four full-size USB 3.1 ports and a Gen 2-speed USB-C, as well as a full-size HDMI.
You don’t need a desktop dock to fill-in connections sacrificed in favour of slim build. However, there is no memory card slot, which some of you may want.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 doesn’t have speakers to do justice to games and movies, either. While loud enough, these speakers have virtually no bass. Asus has tried to make them seem meatier with a prominent mid-range, but these are ultimately not great speakers. Headphones or speakers are a must.
Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501: Battery Life
Battery stamina is one other big black mark you have to consider. In the last couple of years we’ve seen a few mid-powered gaming laptops with amazing battery life, like the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, which can go for almost nine hours.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501’s longevity is poor. It lasts an hour and a half when playing a movie at 120cd/m brightness, which is way off the maximum backlight level.
This is a reminder that while Intel and Nvidia have worked some minor magic in letting such high-power components work in a slim laptop, there are still compromises. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 is a portable laptop in the sense it is relatively easy to move between places with power outlets. But, whatever you do, don’t buy one of these expecting it to last like a MacBook.
The rather drab Brother HL-L5100DN may look uninspiring, but this simple cube can hold a lot of paper and a lot of toner and print at speeds that make some other laser printers look like leisurely inkjet machines.
Designed for the small, but busy office, this relatively compact mono printer can perch on a desk, although you’ll probably prefer to tuck it out of sight. It is large enough, however, to hold 300 sheets of A4 paper in its two in-trays and 150 sheets in the out tray. There’s no inbuilt Wi-Fi with this model, but if you plug into your office router via an Ethernet cable (not included), it will serve a moderate-sized work group well and you can also connect via smartphone using the Brother iPrint&Scan app.
Keeping things simple also keeps the cost down and the price tag of around £182 (about US$170, AU$228) looks very reasonable.
The box includes Windows drivers on a CD-ROM and a single toner cartridge that should give you around 3,000 mono pages. When this runs out, you could upgrade to the high yield option, which promises an impressive and much more economical 8,000 pages.
The grey plastic cube design couldn’t be any more utilitarian, but at least the Brother HL-L5100DN is relatively compact and could be accommodated by a small office. The main paper tray holds 250 pages, while the folding front tray can hold another 50 sheets, or envelopes and smaller paper sizes. The printed pages simply land in the open tray on the top.
The toner cartridge is removed by opening the front section and pulling it out from the guts of the machine. This is quite an undertaking, so be sure to follow the printed pictorial user guide. All of the plastic parts feel fairly robust when you do this and the whole unit is reassuringly heavy. Aside from the wobbly front multi-purpose tray, there are few moving parts to break off.
The LCD panel is a basic one-line affair, which is both small and quite reflective making it difficult to read at a glance. At least the buttons beside it are fairly logical and self-explanatory. The paper level indicator is difficult to read too, being just a very small grey window in the drawer of the main paper tray.
Here are the full specs of the Brother HL-L5100DN:
Type: Mono laser printer
Functions: Print only
Ink: Black toner cartridge
Paper size: Up to A4
Connectivity: Ethernet, USB
Data storage slot: None
Print speed: 40ppm (10ppm duplex)
Paper capacity: 300 sheets
Print quality: 1,200 x 1,200dpi
Scan quality: N/A
Apple AirPrint: Yes
Google Cloud Print: Yes
App support: iOS/Android
Consumables included: One toner cartridge (3,000-page)
Size/weight: 373 x 388 x 255mm (HxWxD)/10.7kg
Being a mono, print-only device, the feature list is a short one. Crucially, the Brother HL-L5100DN can print on both sides of the page and in addition to the main paper tray, it has a muti-purpose tray that can feed in envelopes and smaller paper sizes. Ten envelopes can be pre-loaded here and this is where headed letter paper goes too.
Wi-Fi is not included with this model, for that you should look at the otherwise identical HL-L5200DW. Instead you will need to connect via Ethernet cable to access this printer wirelessly. There’s no front USB port, but there’s a square USB interface at the rear.
Using Windows software, you can use the HL-L5100DN to print posters consisting of up to 25 sheets of A4, or print A5-sized booklets automatically, or print subtle watermarks onto you paper. And using the useful companion app on an Android or iOS device, you can wirelessly print from cloud services like Dropbox and Evernote.
Setup and operation
Setting up the Brother HL-L5100DN means opening up the front section and lifting the toner cartridge and drum from the guts of the machine in order to remove the disposable plastic packing. You’ll need to follow the printed step-by-step user manual for this bit. With no Wi-Fi to setup, the rest of the installation is easy. You just need to plug in the Ethernet cable to hook the printer up to your office network.
The small and reflective mono display doesn’t make everyday operation of the Brother HL-L5100DN any easier, but at least the buttons beside it are intuitive enough. Filling the main paper drawer and the multi-purpose tray is straightforward and you can command the printer from the companion app and also monitor the toner level remotely too.
How we test printers
Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app. To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colours, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, colour fidelity, contrast and grey scale.
We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.
The Brother HL-L5100DN lives up to expectations by churning out black and white pages at remarkable speed. For single pages the rate is quoted at 40ppm and we found its duplex page rate to be faster than all of its rivals. Switch to quiet mode and the speed is reduced a little and the running noise drops noticeably.
Text documents appear consistently crisp and legible, even in very small font sizes. Like many laser printers, it has a light touch that never allows the toner to splash, or vary in perceived weight, giving you a very professional-looking finish. Its handling of images and photos is not so slick and you tend to see banding where the greyscale is not wide enough to distinguish subtle colour shading, but it’s no worse than most laser printers at this price point.
Despite its small footprint, the Brother HL-L5100DN has the toner and paper capacity to serve a busy small office and a modest-sized workgroup. You can load 250 sheets of paper in the main tray and stuff ten envelopes in the multi-purpose tray at the same time and if you choose to upgrade to the high yield toner cartridge, you wont need to change it again for around 8,000 pages. Even the bundled cartridge should manage a respectable 3,000 pages. You can expand the paper capacity to 1,3000 by buying additional drawers too.
Print quality is pleasingly sharp, thanks to a relatively high resolution of 1,200dpi, but the chief benefit of the Brother HL-L5100DN is the speed at which it turns out crisp dual-printed pages of text.
In this drab livery, the Brother HL-L5100DN is not much to look at and while it has the potential to print 8,000 pages, it only comes with enough toner for 3,000, which makes more expensive to run than the Kyocera Ecosys P5026cdw and while text looks good, photos lack contrast and appear banded. The small display, the lack of a Wi-Fi and a front USB port all count against it too.
If you’re looking for a compact print-only mono device, but you need to print a lot of pages and quickly, the Brother HL-L5100DN could fit very well. It certainly doesn’t take up much room, while handling a lot of paper and toner, which means it will work away tirelessly without interference and could service a workgroup of several people. If you upgrade to high yield toner, its running cost is competitive.
Overclocking is the process of making your processor (CPU or central processing unit) run faster. The performance is already there, but by default, the manufacturer (Intel and AMD) restricts the CPU’s performance to a ‘safe’ level to ensure it’s reliable for a longer time. You can choose to make your CPU work faster by changing a few settings, but there are risks – see below.
Depending on your chipset, for example having a Devil Canyon versus Ivy Bridge chipset, they will have different ways of overclocking. Therefore, if you’re looking to achieve the highest possible overclock on a specific chipset, it would be best if you followed a dedicated guide for your chipset and processor.
You’ll only be able to overclock a processor if it’s ‘unlocked’. For example, Intel has a ‘non-K’ Intel Core i7 which has a locked clock speed, preventing you from overlocking it and a unlocked-K version of its Intel Core i7, allowing you to overclock the processor.
In order to make this guide relevant for all readers, we will not concentrate on a specific chipset, but rather look at the tools and auto overclocking methods available to you. If you’re looking to fine-tune and get the maximum performance out of your processor, you’ll need to fully understand the process of overclocking and also sacrifice several weeks to overclocking, as it’s a lengthy process through trial and error.
Achieving the best overclock is no simple task and often requires a good ‘silicone lottery’. The lottery comes from various different processors having different voltage requirements to reach a certain clock rate. For example, looking at the same model Intel Core i7 3770K processor, on CPU will need 1.35 Volts for a 4.5Ghz overclock, whilst another will do 1.15 Volts for the same clock speed.
Due to the complications you might run into with overclocking a laptop, we’ve chosen to stick to desktop computers. If you’re looking to overclock a laptop you have to be extremely cautious, given that their heat dissipation is limited.
Dangers of overclocking a CPU
Before jumping into doing this, there are some risks to consider. For starters, overclocking will almost certainly void any warranty on your machine – although some are built with overclocking in mind. You may also damage your CPU or even other components by overclocking. In this guide we’ll try to make it as fail-safe as possible, whereby you shouldn’t ever run into problems nor run the risk of damaging any components.
However, if you are going to overclock your processor, you should be aware that you can damage your components by ramping up your BCLK too high, whereby the BCLK determines your motherboard’s overclock. Without getting too technical, a BCLK overclock boosts the performance of your whole motherboard, meaning anything directly connected to your motherboard will be overclocked. Yes that also includes your wireless card!
BCLK overclocking is therefore a little dangerous, but if done properly, you’ll be able to achieve fantastic results. We would suggest only doing a BCLK overclock, if you know the ins and outs of your motherboard chipset and processor.
Multiplier overclocking can also be dangerous, but is often a lot easier to understand. In order to achieve a faster processor speed, you need to increase its multiplier. In order for your processor to cope with the faster speed, you need to pump more power (volts) to it – this is known as increasing the Vcore. When you increase the Vcore, your CPU temperatures also increase as there are more volts going in and out of your processor at a ridiculously fast speed. Imagine it as a motor, the quicker the motor spins, the hotter it gets. More VCore means more cycles within your CPU and thus more heat.
Before you start
Since overclocking involves pushing your CPU beyond its factory settings, you should monitor it.
A processors maximum temperature, also known as the TJ Max is arguably the most important figure to track when overclocking, as every processor has a thermal threshold. If you exceed that temperature, your PC will have a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD); if this happens regularly you could face data loss and more importantly hardware damage with your CPU frying. If you’re going to be going above and beyond with your overclocking, we would suggest buying an after-market cooler; something like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo or Arctic Freezer 7 Pro are popular choices for low-moderate overclocks. If you’re serious about overclocking, a Noctua NH-D15 or a Corsair H115i liquid cooler is what you’ll need to adequately cool your processor.
In order to be safe and always be in the know about your processor’s temperature, we suggest you download Core Temp, Real Temp or HW Monitor. This will inform you of the core temperatures of your processor and also inform you of the maximum temperature your processor can handle before it shuts off.
To test an overclock, a lot of users trust the results of Prime95, Aida64 and Cinebench, these programs put a max load on your processor and stress your processor. If it fails, you often have an un-stable overclock, whereby adjusting the Vcore is needed. We would only suggest using these programs if you’re going for a non-factory overclock. In this article we will only be covering overclocks that should be fully stable at the click of a few buttons, meaning a stress test will often not be needed as your components should be capable of coping with the low overclock you will set out to achieve.
We would also recommend downloading CPU Z, as it will display a real time measurement of each processor core’s internal frequency, your memory frequency and even your motherboard’s details.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher-end processors are approved for overclocking. Not every CPU can be overclocked so you’ll need to have one which is unlocked in order to manipulate the base clock rate or multiplier.
If you’re not sure then Intel has detailed specs here or you can simply attempt to overclock and you’ll soon find out. AMD’s FX range of processors come unlocked and generally most modern AMD chips can be overclocked.
Using software to overclock a CPU
Overclocking an Intel processor
If you’re trying to overclock an Intel processor you can download the Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) software. It provides access to the settings you need to overclock such as power, voltage, core, and memory.
The software is easy to use and often safe for all types of overclockers. Again, remember that you should be constantly monitoring your CPU temperatures and maybe running a stress test like Prime95 for a few hours to ensure stability.
On AMD you’ll need to download OverDrive which is effectively the same thing as Intel XTU. It includes automatic tuning if you’re unsure of what you’re doing, control over your fans, monitoring and also stability tests. It’s a decent package which makes overclocking more accessible and doesn’t require multiple reboots as the changes are done in real-time.
Again, just like on Intel, you should ensure you’ve got the right monitoring tools set in place, so that you can ensure you’re not frying anything.
Using the BIOS to overclocking a CPU
Most overclockers, especially the experienced ones will tell you to overclock through the BIOS. This is often recommended as you won’t have any software conflicts and more so, have total control over all the settings your motherboard and processor can offer.
Depending on your motherboard, there should be a one-click option to overclock. For example, on mid-range and high-end Asus motherboards you should have the option to enable Ai Overclock Tuner, which will automatically provide you with a low-moderate overclock.
If you understand the BIOS and feel confident with what you’re doing, you can achieve your maximum overclock through the BIOS’ settings. Do lots of reading around your motherboard and processor and then proceed. Being over-prepared is never a bad thing!
Pete Hannah is head of channel UK&I for Zyxel, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of DSL and networking devices, better known for creating the first integrated modem in 1992.
Small business is the lifeblood of the UK economy, accounting for more than 99 per cent of all private sector businesses, and employing over 16 million people – representing 60% of the nation’s private sector employment.1
Many of the country’s five million plus small businesses are at a sensitive stage of growth, and in today’s modern and digitalised economy, Wi-Fi is imperative to any growth strategy.
However, smaller sized businesses often don’t have the required IT knowledge and, as such, often rely on home Wi-Fi standards, such as a home hub provided by their networking provider.
This is often because they assume that they can’t afford or simply don’t need business or enterprise class equipment and employees with networking skillsets. But the truth is they do!
Small business owners therefore have a responsibility to their staff and customers to offer a reliable and secure network or face these consequences. So where do you begin?
Data protection is more important than ever, given the rise of ransomware attacks and new GDPR legislation that involves severe penalties for data breaches.
So, the best place to start is security access policy – who has access to what information, and from what device? From there, you can monitor and protect all sensitive data against the myriad of cyber threats by using solutions like firewalls, filters and anti-virus software, to name a few.
Go wireless and be sure to support multiple devices in key areas
A reliable wireless network keeps employees and customers connected. This raises productivity, improves service and ultimately makes a business more competitive.
Tablets, smartphones and laptops all require a Wi-Fi connection, and unnecessary strain can be placed on the network if the estimate of connected devices is not realistic. It is also important to ensure that Wi-Fi signal reaches strategic areas of the premises like boardrooms, for example.
A wireless site survey will identify any interference from electrical devices like fire alarms, and will ensure that staff and visitors are provided with the best possible network coverage.
Use size to your advantage
Small businesses are far more agile than large enterprises, giving them the ability to adopt new technology such as flexible network infrastructure quicker and more efficiently, which enables them to adapt to constantly evolving user needs, and gives them an advantage over their competitors.
Future proof your business with the cloud
Managing what can be a very complex set of connections and mission-critical services can be difficult. But with so many businesses relying on cloud-based services to operate, the answer for managing and future proofing the network could be closer than you think.
The cloud offers many benefits to businesses and managing the network via this channel is no exception. A cloud-based solution can help to monitor who is on the network, at what time – from anywhere and at any time, providing greater flexibility, security and insight into what is going on.
Real-time information about what is happening on the network can also help IT managers to deal with extra demand placed on it or to fix problems remotely, such as boost an access point or scale up or down network capacity as business demands change.
Stay competitive in a digital era
By adopting a fit for purpose business network solution, small businesses can seamlessly undertake most day to day business processes such as file sharing and flexible working. It also attracts the millennial workforce where bring your own device (BYOD) and app usage is much higher for internal and external communications – and this new workforce is key to enabling business growth.
Talented individuals, especially younger generations, are attuned with this way of working, which makes it imperative that businesses of all sizes, no matter how small or large, actively pursue a networking first approach to attract a talented workforce to support fast paced growth, while keeping the company assets secure.
Unlike a games console where developers optimise their games for a specific set of hardware, PCs come in all shapes and sizes. Some rely on a graphics chip that’s integrated into the main CPU, while others have blazing-fast PCI Express graphics cards.
No matter your setup, here are some general tips on how to eke out extra fps (frames per second) from what you have. Of course, if you’ve just bought the latest shooter, MMO, or racer and have found that it’s completely unplayable even after trying all these tricks, you may need to invest in better hardware.
However, here’s what you can do without spending a single penny on new hardware.
1. Get the latest drivers for your graphics card
Running old drivers isn’t a good idea if you want the best performance, but a surprising number of people fail to update to the latest versions. It’s much easier these days (with certain brands, at least) since pop-up notifications tell you when a new driver is available.
First, find out which graphics card you have, and also check which version of Windows your PC is running. Head to Device Manager in the Control Panel and click on Display adapters. You’ll see the name of your graphics card.
To find out the specific version of Windows, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties (or click on System in the Control Panel). This will tell you whether you have the 32- or 64-bit, as well as exactly which version of Windows is installed.
Then, head to the relevant website to get the latest drivers. This will be either Intel, Nvidia or AMD. Don’t go to the card manufacturer’s site, such as Asus, MSI, Gigabyte or Sapphire. Be sure to choose the correct model of card, and the appropriate operating system.
Once downloaded, install the drivers and reboot your PC if necessary. Depending on the game, you might get up to 30 percent better performance with just a driver update.
Similarly, check if there’s an update to the game itself. If you bought it via Steam, it should be updated automatically. Otherwise, check the game developer’s website.
Finally, make sure Windows itself is fully up to date. Unless you chose to disable the feature, updates should be installed automatically. If they’re not, search the Start menu (or Start screen in Windows 8) for Windows Update.
2. Optimise game settings
Updating drivers will get you only so far. The biggest gains in frames per second come from tweaking and compromising on graphics settings.
Ideally, you want to run your game at your monitor’s native resolution. For most PCs that’s 1920×1080; on a laptop it’s likely to be 1366×768. To find out your monitor’s resolution, right-click on the desktop in Windows 7, 8 or 10 and click on ‘Screen resolution’. In earlier versions, click ‘Properties’ instead.
The highest selectable resolution should tell you the native resolution, and should say ‘recommended’. You can also search Google for your monitor’s make and model if you’re still unsure.
Lowering the resolution should give you more frames per second, but don’t adjust the resolution here. Instead, load your chosen game and look for the graphics settings. Here you can change the resolution and many other settings.
Anti-aliasing is one setting to watch out for. AA smoothes out jagged lines, but incurs a performance penalty. Typically you’ll see a slider, but it might be just a number, such as 2x, 4x 8x etc.
First, try disabling AA altogether and see how your game plays. If it’s fast enough, you can enable AA again at the lowest setting and progressively increase it until you find the best balance between quality and performance.
The same sentiment goes for most other graphics settings, including draw distance and shadows. Lighting effects, including shadows, tend to be real performance drains, so if you can live with basic effects, you can make the difference between a game being unplayable and playable.
Essentially, it’s a process of trial and error. Unless, that is, your graphics card drivers can optimise each game’s settings to work well using the hardware available. For example, the Nvidia card in our test PC has drivers which can do precisely that.
3. Check and benchmark performance
If your game has an FPS readout (you will need to enable this somewhere in the options, or install a third-party utility such as FRAPS), you’ll be able to see how fast it’s running. The minimum figure (on average) that you want is 25 frames per second. Anything less looks jerky.
The fps will vary depending on what’s happening on-screen. When there’s lots of action, it can drop considerably, so aim for graphical settings at which the game will run acceptably when that happens.
4. Overclock your hardware
This isn’t something we recommend for everyone, but if you know what you’re doing and understand that there’s a risk of breaking your graphics card, CPU, and RAM, you can run them faster. This should give you a few extra fps.
Your first port of call should be the graphics card, since this has the most direct impact on fps. You may find an option to overclock the GPU in the driver itself (launch the interface from the relevant icon in the Windows Notification area). Alternatively, you might need to track down third-party software.
Overclocking the CPU and RAM is easier, as you should find the settings in your PC’s BIOS. Simply reboot, press Delete (or whichever key takes you to the BIOS) and look for the performance settings.
5. Use optimisation software
Lots of programs run in the background in Windows, and they use up resources including memory and CPU time. You can use PC optimisation utilities to ensure there are no superfluous processes running that could hamper game performance. You can also clear out temporary files and defragment your hard drive (don’t do this on an SSD though).
Windows includes some optimisation tools, but you can also try Razer Cortex, which does a lot of the hard work for you, and is compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10.
If you have Windows 10, you should make sure to install the Creators Update, released in April 2017. This includes a Game Mode feature, which prioritises your computer’s resources on whatever game you’re playing, delegating background tasks to specific CPU cores for an overall performance boost.