Category Archives: laptops

Nvidia Max-Q laptops: Impressively thin, but industrial design needs work

Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

Nvidia's Max-Q initiative, which aims to slim down bulky gaming laptops with hand-picked chips and recommended dimensions and acoustics, has produced three laptops so far: The Clevo P950, Asus Zephyrus, and MSI GS63. While the MSI GS63 uses the same slim chassis as its predecessor—which was part of Nvidia's 10-series laptop launch—both Clevo and Asus have created something new for Max-Q. In the case of Asus at least, the new design is particularly wacky.

But let's start with the basics. Max-Q is Nvidia's attempt to make the gaming laptop more portable by giving OEMs like Asus and Clevo access to GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060 GPUs that hit a sweet spot between performance and power. These specially selected chips perform nearly as well as the standard laptop parts, but require far less power when under load. The GTX 1080 goes from a rated max power consumption of 150W to between 90W and 100W, the GTX 1070 goes from 115W TDP to 80W-90W, and the GTX 1060 goes from 80W to 60-70W.

Less wattage means less heat, which in turn means less cooling, resulting in thinner and quieter laptop designs. While Nvidia hasn't put a hard restriction on the physical dimensions of Max-Q laptops—the Clevo comes in at 19mm thick, the Asus at 18mm—it is pushing for a limit on fan noise. Max-Q laptops have an upper limit of 40dbA when under load. If a laptop goes over that it doesn't make the cut, and misses out on access to Max-Q chips and branding.

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Samsung adds the S Pen to the Notebook 9 Pro, making its best Surface Book impression

 Let’s start off the work week saying that Samsung’s favorite pent tool, the S Pen — with a 0.7mm tip, Windows Ink support the capability to detect more than 4,000 levels of pressure and hasn’t been featured since the Note 7 — has found its next host, a Surface Book competitor: the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro. It’s not exactly similar in design approach to the… Read More

Nvidia Max-Q wants to make gaming laptops thinner, lighter, less fugly

Enlarge (credit: Nvidia)

In a thinly veiled branding exercise, graphics card marker Nvidia has unveiled "Max-Q," a series of thin and light gaming notebooks. Much like Intel's Ultrabook initiative, Nvidia is hoping that Max-Q will encourage laptop makers to create gaming laptops that can actually be used on the go, rather than remain permanently tethered to a wall socket because humanity's best scientists haven't yet created a battery-sized fusion power cell.

To that end, Max-Q (a co-opted NASA term that defines the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximised) has some recommended physical specs. Those include a thickness of 18mm and a weight of 2.3kg—a significant reduction over the 51mm and 4.5kg of GTX 880M-era laptops. Naturally, Max-Q laptops sport one of Nvidia's desktop-class graphics cards, which include the GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080.

Fan noise, a perpetual problem for gaming laptops, is kept low by a new feature dubbed WhisperMode. WhisperMode dynamically changes the game's frame rate, while simultaneously tweaking the graphics settings in order to save GPU resources. While Nvidia is yet to reveal the technical details behind WhisperMode, it sounds an awful lot like AMD's Radeon Chill feature, which lowers the frame rate during less action-orientated scenes in order to save power.

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Xiaomi Air 12 laptop review: Like a MacBook, but a third of the price

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Specs at a glance: Xiaomi Air 12
Screen 12.5-inch 1080p IPS
OS Windows 10 Home (Chinese Edition)
CPU Intel Core m3-6Y30 dual-core @ 900MHz (2.2GHz Turbo)
RAM 4GB LPDDR3 (non-upgradeable)
GPU Intel HD Graphics 515
HDD 128GB SATA SSD (M.2 slot available)
Networking Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1x USB 3.0 Type-C, USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, headphone jack
Size 11.5" x 7.95" x 0.51" (292mm x 202mm x 12.9mm)
Weight 2.36 lbs (1.07kg)
Battery 5000mAh
Price £400/$490 (price varies)
Other perks 720p webcam, backlit keyboard
Notes You cannot directly buy the Xiaomi Air 12 in the UK, US, or indeed many markets outside China. Instead, you will most likely have to import it. As such, you will likely receive less customer support if things go wrong.

If you're in the market for a compact laptop and have an eye on style there's one obvious choice: the Apple MacBook. Unfortunately, while the MacBook is a desirable piece of kit, its starting price of £1,250 for a mere Core m3 processor and 8GB of memory is hardly what you'd call good value.

While there are Windows alternatives to the MacBook—Microsoft's Surface and Dell's XPS 12 spring to mind—few are based on the same compact 12-inch laptop form factor, or cost substantially less money. Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi wants to change all that with the Xiaomi Air 12, a MacBook-style laptop that retails for a third of the price. Not only does the Air 12 feature a remarkably similar industrial design to Cupertino's offering, it boasts similar specs too. It's almost too good to be true.

Buying an Air 12 is not a wholly risk-free undertaking. Xiaomi hasn't officially released the Air 12 (or its 13-inch big brother the Air 13) in the UK, US, or other western markets. Buying one means dealing with grey importers and sucking up the associated ramifications regarding import duties and after-sales support, or lack thereof. My review sample came from Chinese reseller GearBest, which, at the time of writing, wants just under £400 ($490 in the US) for an Air 12. Unfortunately, DHL charged another £19 of import duty before delivery, bringing the total cost to just shy of £420.

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HP laptops covertly log users’ every keystroke, researchers warn

Enlarge / Keyloggers like this one surreptitiously store passwords and other confidential data entered into a computer. (credit: infosectoday.com)

HP is selling more than two dozen models of laptops and tablets that covertly monitor every keystroke a user makes, security researchers warned Thursday. The devices then store the key presses in an unencrypted file on the hard drive.

The keylogger is included in a device driver developed by Conexant, a manufacturer of audio chips that are included in the vulnerable HP devices. That's according to an advisory published by modzero, a Switzerland-based security consulting firm. One of the device driver components is MicTray64.exe, an executable file that allows the driver to respond when a user presses special keys. It turns out that the file sends all keystrokes to a debugging interface or writes them to a log file available on the computer's C drive.

"This type of debugging turns the audio driver effectively into keylogging spyware," modzero researchers wrote. "On the basis of meta-information of the files, this keylogger has already existed on HP computers since at least Christmas 2015."

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VMware and Google extend partnership to include Chrome OS management in Workspace One

 One of the beautiful things about owning a Google Chromebook laptop is the surprising lack of maintenance involved. The browser is essentially the OS and you connect to applications via the cloud. Everything gets updated automatically. Easy, peasy right? Well, it gets a bit more complicated when you bring a device into a mixed environment in the enterprise, and VMware announced a partnership… Read More