Computers

Microsoft’s new patches may be harming your PC

The Meltdown and Spectre patches are duds!

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The Meltdown drama continues. Days after researchers confirmed the existence of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, big firms like Microsoft and Apple started issuing patches against the bug. Microsoft’s fixes, however, might be doing more harm than good.

Microsoft’s series of patches have been causing issues among those who installed it already. Users are reporting that the patches have caused their PCs to run slower than usual.


Surprisingly, Microsoft themselves have confirmed the reports. A wide range of devices are indeed slowing down because of the patches. The firm has also listed down the affected PCs, as described below.

First, PCs that run Windows 10 on newer processors like Skylake and Kaby Lake show “single-digit” but hardly noticeable slowdowns. Meanwhile, PCs that run Windows 10 on fourth generation or earlier chips will suffer from noticeable slowdown. Finally, those that run Windows 8 or 7 on older chips will be most hit by the performance issues.

The chaos doesn’t even stop there. Some users have even reported that their PCs have stopped booting entirely. In an open thread on Microsoft’s support forums, a user suffering from a bricked PC has been joined by a torrent of users who are suffering from the same issue.

As with the performance issues, Microsoft has issued a statement regarding the unbootable state. This time, they have pinpointed that AMD processors are to blame for the issue, citing a lack of documentation on AMD’s part.

Microsoft has since halted distribution of the erring security patch to AMD processors. Their support team is working to resolve the issue among those already affected by the issue. Meanwhile, Microsoft and AMD developers are working to put out a more stable fix for the Spectre flaw.

Despite the lack of workable fixes for the issue, Microsoft is assuring its users that harmful exploits have not been discovered out in the wild. Not yet, that is.

SEE ALSO: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

Computers

Acer’s new Predator Orion 5000 goes up to 9th-gen Core i9, RTX graphics

Even more serious power

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Acer’s well-received Predator Orion 5000 has gotten an upgrade, and it includes some of the best hardware you can find on any gamer-centric desktop PC to date.

The new Orion 5000 (model name PO5-605S) can now accommodate up to a 9th-generation Intel Core i9-9900K processor with a Z390 chipset and GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card. That’s a seriously powerful combo, especially since the CPU can be overclocked thanks to Cooler Master’s liquid cooling system.


You also get up to 64GB of RAM and an assortment of SSD and HDD options on easy-to-swap expansion bays. 2.5Gbps Ethernet is available, as well as tunable RGB lighting visible through the mid-tower’s see-through panels.

“With the latest gaming technologies like a GeForce RTX GPU and overclockable 9th-gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor, the new Orion 5000 packs enough power to satisfy even the most demanding gamers,” said Jeff Lee, General Manager for Stationary Computing, IT Product Business, Acer Inc.

Acer also announced a new 43-inch Predator LFGD (large format gaming display) which features a 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. Its VA panel offers Adaptive Sync and a wide color gamut of 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color space.

No exact pricing or availability dates have been mentioned, but these two products will definitely hit Asian markets in the coming months.

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Computers

ASUS PA34V is a curved monitor for professionals

Also works for gaming

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While bigger computer monitors are obviously for a more immersive experience while watching or playing games, professionals who spend hours working on their desktops will also benefit from this.

For one, a bigger display literally translates to a larger screen real estate and more space to work in. Plus, if it has special features specifically tailored to certain needs, then it makes your workflow all the more efficient.


Enter the ASUS PA34V — a 34-inch, curved display designed with professionals in mind.

The PA34V has a 1900R curve for better immersion and less eye strain over time

Its 21:9 aspect ratio works well for multitasking between websites and other productivity apps

With a screen resolution of 3440 x 1440, this IPS display shows detailed images

The rear has physical buttons for tweaking the monitor’s settings

It comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two HDMI 2.0, and one DisplayPort 1.2

The company’s signature concentric circle design also makes its appearance here

Tried hooking it up to my 55-inch TV; it was over the top but looked pretty nice

Having a curved design with a pixel-packed IPS display is great, but those alone don’t make this a professional’s tool; it’s the fact that ASUS calibrates each PA34VC before it ships out. This way, customers are guaranteed that the monitor they get reproduces color accurately and consistently out of the box.

Speaking of calibration, if you still require a certain look, you may choose to adjust the color profiles yourself. ASUS has ProArt Calibration technology that gives you an easy-to-use look-up table (LUT) for color correction and the ability to switch between saved profiles.

Apart from using this display for CAD projects or video editing, it also has features that work well for gaming. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?

The PA34V has refresh rates that can go up to 100Hz. It’s not the highest out there but that’s almost twice the standard and makes gameplay more fluid as compared to conventional monitors. Adding to that, it boasts this feature called Adaptive V-Sync that avoids screen tearing or those unsightly breaking of images while playing or watching.

Another feature I enjoyed while gaming is the capability for HDR. This allows for realistic images especially when playing titles like Far Cry: New Dawn. Lastly, it supports Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture to show multiple images from different sources if, for example, you need to compare colors between two inputs while you edit.

If you do a lot of 3D drafts, video editing, or even gaming, the PA34V will complement your workflow and make things enjoyable for you. It’s a bit of an investment at PhP 75,220 (US$ 1,440), but for a pre-calibrated monitor that’s versatile enough for both work and play, I’d say it’s not that bad of an asking price. It’ll be available by June in the Philippines.

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Computers

Explaining OLED screens and Dark Mode

Why that screen fits in the dark

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Most of the applications you’re currently using must have rolled out their own version of dark mode by now. The smooth transition from a light to dark interface can be done through a push of a button, or by sending the moon emoji on Messenger. A lot of people also find dark mode quite sexy, and that’s probably because of the screen they’re looking at.

A lot of newly released smartphones now have OLED screens, and dark mode seems to work best on such displays! But why is that? How do OLED panels allow dark mode to flourish?


Better, blacker, affordable screens

Organic LED (light-emitting diode) or OLED is essentially a kind of display technology. In a nutshell, OLED panels allow for better and clearer images and colors.

Thin layers of carbon fiber make up OLED screens. Because of these lightweight fibers, screens show brighter and more vibrant colors. Apart from that, OLED screens show deeper blacks and reduce instances of motion blur when navigating. The best part is that OLED screens are becoming gradually cheaper to manufacture. That explains why more and more of today’s smartphones use this panel.

More colorful than the rest

In comparison to regular LED screens of the past, OLED promises more accurate colors by producing light from individual pixels, instead of relying on backlighting. Back then, LCD screens relied heavily on the backlight of the display to make colors pop. Although, such displays also make the colors seem washed, especially when compared to OLED.

Image credit: Denise Chan

However, OLED’s colors don’t always turn out better than on LED and LCD screens. One such case is when you turn your screen’s brightness to its maximum, especially under strong daylight conditions. LED and LCD screens are designed to perform relatively better in color accuracy when your screen’s brightness is set to max. OLED screens were not designed for maximum brightness, so colors at that point would be saturated.

Which OLED is best?

There are two types of OLED technologies that currently exist: AMOLED and PMOLED. A lot of people hear AMOLED tossed around a lot because lots of smartphones use it. Essentially, AMOLED uses a storage capacitor that controls how much light each individual pixel will give off. It’s the one responsible for projecting all sorts of vibrant colors on most OLED smartphone screens. Apart from that, AMOLED screens do support wider resolutions at a more affordable and efficient rate.

PMOLED, on the other hand, does not have a storage capacitor and instead relies on user control. Essentially, the user will control lighting settings, and the individual pixels will adjust accordingly. You can find PMOLED screens on smaller devices like older iPods and pocket Wi-Fi devices. Take note that these screens use more power to implement such color changes.

Joining the dark side

Ever since dark mode rolled out for different apps and interfaces, people have been contemplating on switching to it — and for good reason. On normal LED or LCD screens, the new feature does not bode well with the technology. The depth of the black their dark mode possesses is not reflected well, to the point that the blacks look more gray than actual black. This is much more obvious when the screen’s brightness is turned all the way up.

Image credit: Mike Enerio

Aesthetically, dark mode looks better on OLED screens because of the technology’s emphasis on deeper blacks. Most OLED screens have capacitors that control light passing through each pixel, which also works for blacks and whites. As such, dark mode shows up deeper and blacker, which is the intended look compared to regular modes. But, there’s actually more to just aesthetics for this mode.

It’s also been proven that dark mode on OLED helps save your battery life. Google confirmed this at its Android Dev Summit, citing that on max brightness, blacks consume less power than all other colors. Individual pixels need less electricity to show blacks on screen, which results in lower power consumption through time. Note that Google got these findings through tests on their original Pixel smartphones and their own apps like YouTube.

What’s left for OLED and dark mode

Apps and operating systems are now starting to embrace or consider incorporating dark mode into their software. While apps like Twitter and YouTube introduced such an option early on, others are beginning to take notice. Of course, you’re gonna need the right screen to fully immerse yourself.

Image credit: Simone Dalmeri

It has been proven: OLED and dark mode are indeed a perfect match. But, it is entirely up to you whether you want to stay in the light or switch to the dark side.

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