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Dell XPS 13 (9300) Review : Incredible Ultra-Light Laptop!

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) features the first-ever InfinityEdge display with Gorilla Glass 6 protection.

Find out why we think it’s an incredible ultra-light laptop worthy of our Reviewer’s Choice Award!

 

Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Featuring The InfinityEdge Display

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) continues the evolution of the XPS 13 line, with an ultra-light chassis built from machined aluminium and woven glass fibre, with Gorilla Glass 6 protection.

With the first-ever InfinityEdge display, the XPS 13 (9300) offers a 13.4-inch display in an 11-inch form factor, that fits neatly on an airplane’s seat tray.

 

Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Colour Options

Our unit comes in the Frost White colour with an Arctic White woven glass fibre palm rest.

Dell also offers the Platinum Silver colour option, with a Black carbon fiber palm rest.

 

Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Specifications + Options

Specifications XPS 13 9300
Display Size 13.4-inch
Display Options 4K touch screen (3840 x 2400)
Full HD touch screen (1920 x 1200)
Full HD non-touch (1920 x 1200)
Display Features WLED backlight
60 Hz refresh rate
500 nits max. brightness
35 ms response time
1200:1 contrast ratio
Colour Gamut 4K : 90% DCI-P3
Full HD : 100% sRGB
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
CPU + GPU Options Intel Core i7-1065G7 + Iris Plus Graphics
Intel Core i5-1035G1 + UHD Graphics
Intel Core i3-1005G1 + UHD Graphics
Memory Options LPDDR4X-3733 (8 / 16 / 32 GB)
LPDDR4-3733 (4 GB)
Storage Options PCIe NVMe SSD (512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB)
Audio Realtek ALC3281-CG audio chip
2 x 2.5 watt speakers
Dual microphone array
3.5 mm audio jack
Wireless Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.1
External Ports 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C) ports
– with Power Delivery and DisplayPort
1 x 3.5 mm audio port
1 x microSD card slot
Camera HD webcam
Fingerprint Sensor Yes, capacitive 500 dpi sensor
Keyboard Backlit keyboard
19.05 x 18.05 mm key pitch
Touchpad 1300 x 722 pixel resolution
Battery 4-cell 52 Whr lithium-ion battery
Charger 45 watt USB Type C charger
Dimensions 296 mm wide
199 mm deep
14.8 mm thick
Weight 1.27 kg (touch screen)
1.20 kg (non-touch)

 

Unboxing The Dell XPS 13 (9300) Laptop

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) comes in a premium white cardboard box. Once you fully unbox it, you will find these items :

  • Dell XPS 13 (9300) laptop
  • Dell USB Type C to USB Type A dongle
  • 45 watt charger with integrated USB Type C cable
  • Power cord with localised plug
  • XPS 13 9300 Quick Start Guide + Safety and Regulatory Information

 

Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Hands-On Experience!

This Dell XPS 13 (9300) is an eminently thin and light laptop. It offers a 13.4-inch display in an 11-inch form factor that weighs only 1.27 kg, and is less than 15 mm thick.

It easily fits into the smallest laptop bag, and even a large handbag. And when you can fly again, you will love how it fits onto the airplane’s seat tray!

Once you try it out, you will find it hard to go back to regular laptops – you will find them heavy and unwieldy!

Next Page > Dell XPS 13 (9300) : A Closer Look!

 

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Dell XPS 13 (9300) : A Closer Look!

13.4-inch Display In 11-Inch Form Factor

This Dell XPS 13 (9300) model comes with a 4K UHD+ touch display, with a resolution of 3840 x 2400 pixel, a colour gamut of 90% DCI-P3 and DisplayHDR 400 certification.

The incredibly high resolution and wide colour gamut allow your high resolution photos and HDR content to really pop.

Dell also offers a Full HD+ display, with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and 100% sRGB colour gamut; in both touch and non-touch options.

All three display options are 25% brighter at 500 nits, and are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6 against scratches and impact.

Cameras + Security

The thin bezel at the top conceals two cameras – a regular 720p webcam, and an infra-red camera for facial recognition.

So you can either unlock the XPS 13 using the IR camera and Windows Hello, or the fingerprint sensor, which integrated into the power button.

While its 720p webcam may be rather low in resolution, it uses a new 4-element lens for sharper image quality. It also supports temporal noise reduction to improve video quality in low-light conditions.

We hope that Dell would look at upgrading it to a 1080p camera, with a physical or electronics privacy shutter.

Performance

Our Dell XPS 13 (9300) is powered by the Intel Core i7-1065G7 – a 4-core, 8-thread processor with 8 MB of cache and built-in Iris Plus Graphics.

You can opt for a Core i5-1035G1 or the Core i3-1005G1, both of which come with integrated UHD Graphics.

A redesigned cooler keeps things cool, using a single heat pipe and evaporator design with dual condensers and GORE thermal insulation. The hot air is exhausted through the hinge at the back.

It can get a little toasty from the hot exhaust when you use it on your lap, especially if you’re doing compute-intensive tasks like rendering videos.

It also comes with 16 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4X memory running at 3733 MHz. The memory is soldered onto the motherboard and cannot be upgraded.

Our unit came with a 1 TB SK hynix PC611 PCIe NVMe SSD, but you can opt for a smaller 512 GB SSD, or a larger 2 TB SSD.

Ports

Due to its ultra-slim profile – 14.8 mm at its thickest point, the XPS 13 has very limited ports.

On the left side, you will find a microSD card reader; as well as a single Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C) port, which supports Power Delivery and DisplayPort output

On the right side, you will find a 3.5 mm microphone and headphone combo port, with a second Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C) port, which also supports Power Delivery and DisplayPort output.

You can plug the USB Type C charging cable into either Thunderbolt 3 port. But unless you are using it on-the-go, you really only have one free port to use.

The good news is Dell actually bundles the XPS 13 (9300) with a free USB Type C to USB Type A dongle, so you can use your USB Type A drives and devices (including cables) with it.

Keyboard + Touchpad

The Dell XPS (9300) comes an edge-to-edge keyboard, and a 17% larger touchpad for maximum working comfort.  The keyboard is backlit, and comes with larger key caps!

It definitely offers a far superior typing experience to the horrible butterfly switch keyboard used in Apple MacBook Pro laptops.

Connectivity

Our XPS 13 (9300) comes with the Killer AX1650 module, which offers Wi-Fi 6 connectivity with 2×2 antennas, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity.

It is much too thin to support a LAN port, but you can add LAN connectivity using a USB-C dongle.

Audio

The two long stripes on both sides of the XPS 13 are not cooling vents, but ports for its 2.5 watt stereo speakers, which are tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro.

Its 3.5 mm microphone / headphone combo jack is also optimised with the 360-degree Waves NX 3D virtual surround sound with head tracking.

Finally, its dual microphone array is powered by Waves MaxxVoice Pro, which supports VOIP and is Cortana Farfield-capable.

Next Page > XPS 13 (9300) Performance, Verdict + Award 

 

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Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Performance

Our Dell XPS 13 (9300) is powered by the 15-watt Intel Core i7-1065G7 (Ice Lake) with 4 cores and 8 threads, and Iris Plus Graphics with 64 Execution Units.

It comes with 8 MB of cache, and has a 1.3 GHz base frequency that ramps up to 3.5 GHz during intensive tasks.

Our review sample came with 16 GB LPDDR4X-3733 dual-channel memory, and a 1 TB SK hynix PC611 PCIe NVMe SSD.

Work Performance : PCMark 10

The Intel Core i7-1065G7 is a 25 watt processor that can be configured to run at a lower TDP of 15 watt – to improve battery life and reduce thermal output.

At the full 25 watt TDP, it should deliver PCMark 10 scores in excess of 4700. It is obvious now that Dell configured it for the cooler 15 watt TDP. This is why benchmarks are important.

This makes the Dell XPS 13 (9300) about 7.6% slower than the HUAWEI MateBook X Pro, which uses the Intel Core i7-10510U processor.

Gaming Performance : 3DMark Time Spy

The integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics sounds powerful on paper – with 64 Execution Units – but it is only about as fast as the NVIDIA GeForce MX130 / GeForce 940MX.

So this is most definitely NOT a gaming laptop, although you should have no problem playing older games and games that are not 3D graphics-intensive like DOTA 2.

Battery Life : YouTube + Modern Office

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) comes with a 4-cell smart lithium-ion battery that is rated for 52 Whr.

Dell claims a battery life of up to 18 hours and 49 minutes with the Full HD+ display, and up to 12 hours and 13 minutes with the 4K UHD+ display.

In our general use, we have no problem working a full day on it without recharging, which makes it really convenient when travelling.

That said, we locked the brightness at 50% – higher than the average of 40% – to see how it performs in these worst-case scenarios :

YouTube Streaming

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) lasted 8 hours 15 minutes streaming YouTube videos in theatre mode using WiFi, before its battery dropped to 10%.

PCMark 10 : Modern Office

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) lasted 6 hours 36 minutes before it powered off while running the Modern Office benchmark.

Battery : Recharging Speed

Its 65 watt fast charger took about 52.5 minutes to hit the mid-point (55%), but 2 hours 23.5 minutes to fully recharge its battery from 10%.

Here are the times it takes to recharge from 10% :

  • 15% – 5 minutes 57 seconds
  • 20% – 11 minutes 53 seconds
  • 25% – 17 minutes 45 seconds
  • 30% – 23 minutes 22 seconds
  • 35% – 29 minutes 25 seconds
  • 40% – 35 minutes 8 seconds
  • 45% – 41 minutes 22 seconds
  • 50% – 46 minutes 56 seconds
  • 55% – 52 minutes 39 seconds
  • 60% – 58 minutes 27 seconds
  • 65% – 64 minutes 13 seconds
  • 70% – 70 minutes 15 seconds
  • 75% – 76 minutes
  • 80% – 81 minutes 58 seconds
  • 85% – 89 minutes 41 seconds
  • 90% – 100 minutes 50 seconds
  • 95% – 118 minutes 45 seconds
  • 100% – 143 minutes 20 seconds

This gives it a battery life : recharging time ratio of 3.45 : 1 for video streaming, and 2.76 : 1 for office work.

As a rule of thumb, you will need to recharge its battery about 22 minutes for every hour of battery life.

 

Dell XPS 13 (9300) : Verdict + Award

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) is a really great ultra-light laptop for people who are always on-the-go.

It packs serious processing power, memory and a huge SSD with the latest wireless connectivity built-in, in a very thin and light package.

It is less than 15 mm at its thickest point, and weighs less than 1.3 kg. But this is something you have to hold in your hand to actually get a feel of how much engineering went into the XPS 13.

Even the latest 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, powered by the new Apple M1 SoC, is largerthicker at 15.6 mm and weighs more at 1.4 kg!

The extremely thin profile offers some challenges to first time users – limited physical ports. Yet the XPS 13 (9300) managed to squeeze in an extra microSD card reader over the new 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1).

Even so, you will have to live with just two USB Type C ports – one of which is not available when you recharge its battery. Fortunately, the XPS 13 (9300) comes with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 wireless connectivity.

Thankfully, Dell threw in a free USB-C to USB-A dongle, so at least you have ready access to your USB Type A drives and devices out-of-the-box.

Security-conscious users will love the fingerprint sensor and IR camera, which allows for easy and secure logins. However, the webcam lacks a physical shutter, and the lid clearance is too tight to safely use a third-party shutter.

As far as battery life is concerned, the XPS 13 (9300) will last more than full day’s work without recharging. After a while, you will get used to leaving the office without the charger!

All-in-all, the Dell XPS 13 (9300) is an engineering marvel that must be experienced to truly understand. If you want the very best Windows 10 ultra-light laptop money can buy, this should be right at the top of the list.

That is why we wholeheartedly award it our Reviewer’s Choice Award!

 

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Dell for sending us this review unit, and making us part of the #DellInsideCircle

 

Recommended Reading

Go Back To > First PageComputer | Home

 

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Apple M1 Gaming : Watch It Run The Witcher 3!

Windows gaming on the ARM-based Apple M1 is possible!

Watch how well the Apple M1 runs The Witcher 3 using CrossOver 20!

 

Apple M1 Gaming : Watch It Run The Witcher 3 On CrossOver 20!

AppleGamers successfully ran The Witcher 3 on CrossOver 20, using the 2020 Apple MacBook Pro with the new ARM-based Apple M1 SoC.

Here was their recorded gameplay of The Witcher 3 at the 1080p resolution, with the Medium graphics and post-processing presets, and VSync enabled.

They could not get the FPS counter to work, but it looks smooth and very playable, albeit with some visual artefacts.

Basically – Apple M1 gaming is not only possible, it is possible to play Windows games!

 

Windows Gaming On Apple M1 : Rosetta 2 + Windows API Translation!

That quick gameplay showcase of The Witcher 3 shows that Windows gaming is possible on the Apple M1.

The ability to run The Witcher 3 on CrossOver 20, and at such playable frame rates, is important for two reasons.

Windows App Compatibility

The Witcher 3 is a 64-bit Windows-only game, so you wouldn’t expect it to run well on the ARM-based Apple M1, right?

Running it on the Apple M1 involves translating Windows API calls using CrossOver, and then translating x86 instructions to ARM instructions using Rossetta 2.

Yet it not only worked, it ran pretty well on the Apple M1!

Performance

While AppleGamers was not able to obtain a frame rate, The Witcher 3 appears to run pretty well at the 1080p resolution.

That shows that the Apple M1’s integrated 8-core GPU is fast, and will have no problem handling native ARM games at 1080p, and likely 1440p as well.

 

Apple M1 : A Quick Primer

The Apple M1 is the first ARM-based SoC (System on a Chip) designed by Apple for use in Mac computers.

Packing 16 billion transistors, it is the first chip to be manufactured on the new 5 nm TSMC process technology.

It comes with 4 high-performance Firestorm CPU cores, 4 power-efficient Icestorm cores, an 8-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine.

As the M1 is based on the ARM architecture, you can natively run iPhone and iPad apps on it. However, existing macOS apps will have to be ported over, or translated on-the-fly using Rosetta 2.

It is currently available in these Apple Mac computers :

  • 2020 MacBook Air : US | UK | AU | MY | SG
  • 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch : US | UK | AU | MY | SG
  • 2020 Mac mini : US | UK | AU | MY | SG

 

Recommended Reading

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Influent + 3 DLCs : How To Get Them FREE!

The language game, Influent and 3 DLCs, are FREE for a limited time!

Find out how to get Influent and the three DLCs for FREE, and make sure you tell your friends!

If you missed this, well, next time join the Tech ARP Facebook page to get these updates quickly!

 

Influent

Influent immerses players in a fully interactive 3D environment where the names for absolutely every object in the game can be gleaned with a single click! Even more information can be learned with a double-click!

Every door, drawer, and cabinet can be opened with a right-click here and a right-click there, revealing more and more things to be learned!

Packed to the brim with hundreds of native audio pronunciations (painstakingly recorded specifically for this game), Influent offers players a unique opportunity to enjoy learning both vocabulary and pronunciation in the language of their choice.

  • Audio from native speakers
  • Synonym swap functionality
  • Learn at your own pace!
  • Fully interactive modern apartment
  • Over 420 words to collect and master
  • Includes Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs
  • 15+ Languages to choose from (more to come!)

 

Influent : How To Get It Free!

Adding to your Humble Bundle Account

Humble Bundle is giving away Influent for FREE up till 1 December 2020, at 4 PM MYT (GMT+8).

  1. Log into Humble Bundle, or create your free account.
  2. Go to the Influent page.
  3. Click on the green Add To Cart button.
  4. Click on the green Checkout button.
  5. In the pop-up window, click on the Get it for free! button.
  6. Scroll down and click on the Get It Now button.
  7. Go to the Purchases page and select Influent to get your Steam key, or click on the Redeem Now link in the Humble Bundle email.
  8. You will be given access to the Windows, Mac and Linux direct download links, as well as the Bittorrent torrent link.

Direct Downloads

You can also skip all those steps if you don’t want to add it to your Humble Bundle account, and use these direct download links :

 

Influent + 3 DLCs : How To Get Them Free!

Note : This method may no longer work. Please let us know if it no longer works!

Follow these steps to get Influent as well as the French, Italian and Korean DLCs for FREE :

  1. Log into your existing Steam account, or create a new account.
  2. Go to https://store.steampowered.com/account/licenses/ using a web browser.
  3. Open the Console in your web browser
    – in Google Chrome, use Ctrl+Shift+J (Windows) or Ctrl+Option+J (Mac)
    – in Firefox, use Ctrl+Shift+K (Windows) or Command+Option+K (Mac)
  4. In the Console, copy and paste the code below, and press Enter
jQuery.post('//store.steampowered.com/checkout/addfreelicense',
{action:'add_to_cart',sessionid:g_sessionID,subid:451929});

jQuery.post('//store.steampowered.com/checkout/addfreelicense',
{action:'add_to_cart',sessionid:g_sessionID,subid:43186});

jQuery.post('//store.steampowered.com/checkout/addfreelicense',
{action:'add_to_cart',sessionid:g_sessionID,subid:39871});

jQuery.post('//store.steampowered.com/checkout/addfreelicense',
{action:'add_to_cart',sessionid:g_sessionID,subid:39884});

That’s it! You now have Influent and the three DLCs in your Steam account!

 

Recommended Reading

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2020 Surface Laptop Go : Price + Availability In Malaysia!

Microsoft just announced the official price list and availability of the 2020 Surface Laptop Go in Malaysia! Check them out!

 

2020 Surface Laptop Go : What Is It?

The Surface Laptop Go is Microsoft’s lightest and most affordable laptop option for both business and home users.

The 2020 Surface Laptop Go boasts a 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen display, a large precision trackpad and a full-sized keyboard with 1.3 mm key travel.

It is built around the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, and comes with up to 16 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of SSD storage.

They also come with a built-in 720p HD camera with Studio Microphones and Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio support.

For a quick and secure sign-in, select 2020 Surface Laptop Go models have a Fingerprint Power Button with One Touch sign-in through Windows Hello.

They all have a long battery life of up to 13 hours, with Fast Charging capability, to let users keep working all day.

Finally, they all have both USB Type A and USB Type C ports, an 3.5 mm radio jack and the Surface connector.

 

2020 Surface Laptop Go : Price + Availability In Malaysia!

The 2020 Surface Laptop Go is available in Malaysia, starting 24 November 2020, at these price points :

2020 Surface Laptop Go Consumers Business
Core i5, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC RM 2,758
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD RM 3,388 RM 3,780
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD RM 4,288 RM 4,561
Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD RM 5,416

Here are some online purchase options :

Surface for Business devices provides specific experiences and features built especially for commercial customers including :

  • enterprise-grade security, and leading modern management with Autopilot,
  • Surface Enterprise Management Mode (SEMM) and Microsoft Intune.
  • Windows 10 Pro comes standard on Surface for Business devices
  • In addition to the standard hardware warranty, Surface for Business customers get free Advanced Exchange – a warranty service with expedited device replacement, at no additional cost.

 

Recommended Reading

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WD NAS Can’t Be Seen In Windows? Here Are The Solutions!

You may be wondering why your WD NAS is no longer visible in Windows 10.

Where did it go? How do you get it back?

Find out why your WD NAS cannot no longer be seen in Windows, and what are the solutions!

 

WD NAS Can’t Be Seen In Windows : What Happened?

You may have been using your WD NAS for some time, but one day, its network share – the “drive” that you directly access – can no longer be seen in Windows 10.

The NAS links in Windows File Explorer will only lead you to the login page for the WD NAS management page, not the actual drive where you can directly read, copy, write or edit your files.

All these NAS issues are happening because Microsoft disabled the Network Browse function from Windows 10 v1709 onwards.

The problems started after Windows 10 Fall Creators Update 1709, which :

The Computer Browser service relies on the SMB 1.0 protocol to discover network devices and display them in the Windows Network Neighbourhood.

Disabling SMB 1.0 breaks the Computer Browser service, so it is automatically uninstalled and your NAS drives “disappear” from Network Neighbourhood.

Disabling guest access prevents guest or public access to your NAS drives, even to folders you specifically set to allow for public access. Hence, the Public folder they had access to earlier “disappears”.

 

Why Did Microsoft Disable Those Network Features?

The SMB1 network protocol was first implemented in Windows back in 1992, so it’s old… very old.

It’s so old that it lacks encryption. Everything transmitted via SMB1 can be captured and read, and even modified, by any attacker who gains access to the network.

Guest logins even on SMB2 do not support standard security features like signing and encryption. This makes them vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

That’s why Microsoft (finally) disabled them both, starting with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update 1709.

 

WD NAS Can’t Be Seen In Windows : Before We Start…

Preliminary Step #1 : Update Your NAS

Before you do anything, you should log into your WD NAS management system and update its firmware, in case it’s not already set to automatically update.

Updating its firmware will ensure that your NAS supports at least SMB 2, if not SMB 3 as well.

WD NAS Windows URL macOS URL
My Cloud EX2100 http://wdmycloudex2100 http://wdmycloudex2100.local
My Cloud DL2100 http://wdmyclouddl2100 http://wdmyclouddl2100.local
My Cloud EX4100 http://wdmycloudex4100 http://wdmycloudex4100.local
My Cloud DL4100 http://wdmyclouddl4100 http://wdmyclouddl4100.local

Preliminary Step #2 : Use A Higher SMB Protocol

Then, enable the highest SMB protocol your WD NAS supports (Settings > Network). Set it to SMB 3 if possible.

This will ensure that both your WD NAS and your network support the most secure network protocol possible, for your security.

 

WD NAS Can’t Be Seen In Windows : The Solutions!

Best Solution : Map Your WD NAS By Device Name

The best way is to manually map your WD NAS by its device name. This lets you use the more secure SMB2 or SMB3 network protocols, with direct access to your files as usual.

  1. Determine your WD NAS network path, which is based on the device name.If you changed your WD NAS device name to TechARPCloud (for example), the network name will be \\TechARPCloudHere is a list of default network paths for different WD NAS :
WD NAS Default Network Path
My Cloud Home \\MYCLOUD-last 6 digits of serial number
Example : \\MYCLOUD-123456
My Cloud Home Duo
My Cloud \\WDMYCLOUD
My Cloud Mirror \\WDMYCLOUDMIRROR
My Cloud Mirror Gen 2
My Cloud EX2 \\WDMYCLOUDEX2
My Cloud EX2 Ultra \\MYCLOUDEX2ULTRA
My Cloud EX4 \\WDMYCLOUDEX4
My Cloud EX2100 \\WDMYCLOUDEX2100
My Cloud EX4100 \\WDMYCLOUDEX4100
My Cloud DL2100 \\WDMYCLOUDDL2100
My Cloud DL4100 \\WDMYCLOUDDL4100
My Cloud PR2100 \\MYCLOUDPR2100
My Cloud PR4100 \\MYCLOUDPR2100
  1. Open Windows File Explorer and click on Network on the left pane.
  2. Key in the network path of the WD NAS, which is based on its device name. Make sure you include \\ before the network path.

  1. You will be asked to key in a user name and password.
    This can be the administrator’s login, or the login of any registered user of your WD NAS.
    Remember – Windows 10 no longer allows guest logins or public access. So you will need to create a password-protected account even for guests to use.

  1. Once you successfully authenticate your user name and password, the network shares of your WD NAS will become visible in File Explorer under Network!You can stop here, but you will need to keep keying in the network path and login to access your NAS every time you boot into Windows.

  1. For more convenience, you can create a password-protected Private Share.Start by right-clicking on a network share from your WD NAS and select Map network drive…

  1. Select a drive letter for the network share.
    Check Reconnect at sign-in if you don’t want to automatically log into the drive.
    Then click Finish to map the drive.

That’s it! If you expand This PC in Windows File Explorer, you should now see that the WD NAS network drive has now been mapped by its device name!

 

Alternate Solution : Enable Network Discovery Without SMB1

This Windows 10 workaround can be used if your WD NAS supports SMB2 or SMB3 and you prefer not to map the network drives.

  1. Go to Windows Services.
  2. Start these two services :
    Function Discovery Provider Host
    Function Discovery Resource Publication
  3. Set the Startup type for both those services to Automatic (Delayed Start).
  4. Open Windows File Explorer and go to Network.
  5. When prompted, enable Network Discovery.

Your WD NAS shares should now be visible in Windows File Explorer.

 

Worst Case Solution : Enable Network Discovery Without SMB1

This should only be attempted if your WD NAS simply cannot support SMB2 or SMB3, and can only use SMB1.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Programs.
  2. Click on Turn Windows features on or off.
  3. Expand the SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support option.
  4. Check the SMB 1.0/CIFS Client option.
  5. Click the OK button.
  6. Restart Windows 10

After Windows 10 restarts, your WD NAS shares should now be visible in Windows File Explorer.

 

Recommended Reading

Go Back To > Computer Hardware | Home

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2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 : What You Need To Know!

Acer just launched the 2020 Predator Helios 700, with the latest 10th Gen Intel processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics.

Here is what you need to know about the refreshed Acer Predator Helios 700 gaming laptop!

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 : What You Need To Know!

The newly-refreshed 2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 is available in two variants, differing in their processor and graphics choices.

The base model comes with the Intel Core i7-10875H processor, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER graphics.

The top-of-the-line model, on the other hand, has the Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER graphics.

They both come with a large 17.3-inch Full HD IPS display with a 144 Hz refresh rate, with NVIDIA G-SYNC support for tear-free gaming.

The Core i9 model comes with two 512 GB SSDs in RAID 0, while the Core i7 model comes a 512 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD.

They both come with Killer AX1650i for fast Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, and Killer E3100G for Gigabit LAN connectivity with Killer DoubleShot Pro capability.

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 : Specifications

For your convenience, we compare the two 2020 Predator Helios 700 variants in this table :

Specifications Predator Helios 700
(Intel Core i9)
Predator Helios 700
(Intel Core i7)
Model PH717-72-944E PH717-72-76GW
Display 17.3-inch G-SYNC IPS display (144 Hz)
– Full HD resolution
(1920 x 1080)
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
Processor Intel Core i9-10980HK Intel Core i7-10875H
Memory 1 x 16 GB DDR4-2933 (upgradable to 64 GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce
RTX 2080 SUPER
NVIDIA GeForce
RTX 2070 SUPER
Storage 1 TB PCIe NVMe SSD
(512 GB x 2 in RAID 0)
512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
+ 1TB HDD (7.2K RPM)
Connectivity Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650i
Killer Ethernet E3100G
Bluetooth 5.1
Card Reader NA
Ports 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C
3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2
1 x HDMI 2.0 with HDCP
1 x Display Port 1.4
1 x Microphone
1 x Headphone
1 x RJ-45 Ethernet
Audio DTS X Audio + Acer TrueHarmony
Webcam Acer Full HD Webcam (1920 x 1080)
Dimensions 430 mm wide
299 mm deep
41.7 mm thick
Weight 4.8 kg

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 : Price + Deal

The 2020 Acer Predator Helios 700 is available for PRE-ORDER in August 2020, with the following recommended retail price in Malaysia :

  • Intel Core i9 : RM 17,999 (about US$4,246 / £3,244 / A$5,962 / S$5,828)
  • Intel Core i7 : RM 12,999 (about US$3,066 / £2,343 / A$4,305 / S$4,209)

If you pre-order them during Acer Day 2020 (2 – 4 August 2020), you will receive these free gifts :

  • Acer Predator RGB Mousepad / Redmi TV Soundbar
  • Acer Predator Gaming Chair
  • Acer Predator Gaming Utility Backpack

 

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2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 : What You Need To Know!

Acer just launched the 2020 Predator Helios 300, with the latest 10th Gen Intel processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics.

Here is what you need to know about the refreshed Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop!

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 : What You Need To Know!

The newly-refreshed 2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 is available in two variants, differing only in their processor choice.

The base model comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H processor, while the top-of-the-line model has a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor.

They both come with a large 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display with a 144 Hz refresh rate, powered by NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics.

In addition to a large and fast 512 GB PCIe SSD, it comes with a spare SSD slot, and a spare HDD slot, for storage upgrades.

The 2020 Predator Helios 300 comes with Killer AX1650 for fast Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and Killer E2500 for Gigabit LAN connectivity.

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 : Specifications

For your convenience, we compare the two 2020 Predator Helios 300 variants in this table :

Specifications Predator Helios 300
(Intel Core i7)
Predator Helios 300
(Intel Core i5)
Model PH315-53-77CF PH315-53-5462
Display 15.6-inch IPS display (144 Hz)
– Full HD resolution
(1920 x 1080)
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
Processor Intel Core i7-10750H Intel Core i5-10300H
Memory 1 x 8 GB DDR4-2933 (upgradable to 32 GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6 GB)
Storage 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
1 x SSD slot, 1 x HDD slot
Connectivity Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650
Killer Ethernet E2500
Bluetooth 5.0
Card Reader SD Card Reader
Ports 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.0 with HDCP
1 x mini Display Port 1.4
Audio DTS X Audio
Webcam Acer HD Webcam (1280 x 720)
Dimensions 363.4 mm wide
255 mm deep
22.9 mm thick
Weight 2.2 kg

 

2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 : Price + Deal

The 2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 is available with in August 2020, with the following recommended retail price in Malaysia :

  • Intel Core i7 : RM 5,199 (about US$1,226 / £941 / A$1,724 / S$1,688)
  • Intel Core i5 : RM 4,599 (about US$1,085 / £833 / A$1,525 / S$1,493)

However, they are both available with a RM 100 discount during Acer Day 2020 (2 – 4 August 2020) :

  • Intel Core i7 : RM 5,099 (about US$1,203 / £924 / A$1,690 / S$1,656)
  • Intel Core i5 : RM 4,499 (about US$1,061 / £815 / A$1,488 / S$1,460)

In addition, you will receive these free gifts :

  • Acer Predator Mousepad (M)
  • Acer Predator Flask
  • Acer Predator Urban Gaming Backpack
  • Redmi Airdots Earbuds / Acer Slim Wireless Mouse / Predator Cestus 310 Mouse

 

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HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (2020) Review : Ultra-Light Beast!

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro is a premium ultra-light laptop, targeted at the discerning business user and professional content creators.

While HUAWEI doesn’t come right out to say it, it seems squarely designed to offer a cheaper and better Windows 10 alternative to the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro.

Let’s take a close look at the new HUAWEI MateBook X Pro, and see how it bests the much-vaunted 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro!

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Specifications

First, let’s take a look at the specifications of our review sample, which is the top-of-the-line model :

Specifications HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (2020)
Display 13.9-inch LTPS touchscreen display
– 3000 x 2000 pixels, 260 ppi
– 450 nits maximum brightness
– 100% sRGB, 1500:1 contrast ratio
– 10-point touch, anti-fingerprint coating
– Corning Gorilla Glass protection
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
Processor Intel Core i7-10510U
– 4 cores, 8 threads
– 1.8 GHz base clock, 4.9 GHz boost clock
– 1 MB L2 cache, 8 MB L3 cache
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 (2 GB GDDR5)
Memory 16 GB LPDDR3-2133
Storage 1 TB PCIe SSD (Samsung MZVVLB1T0HBLR)
Connectivity Intel Wireless-AC 9560
– WiFi-AC (2×2 MIMO, 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz)
– Bluetooth 5.0
Camera 1 MP front camera (720p)
Fingerprint Sensor Yes, integrated into Power button
Ports 1 x 3.5 mm stereo jack
1 x USB-A port (USB 3.0, 10 W max)
1 x USB-C port (USB 3.1, 10 W max)
1 x USB-C port (15 W max)
Audio 4 x digital microphones
4 x speakers
Battery 56 Whr Lithium-polymer battery
Charger 65W HUAWEI USB-C power adaptor
Dimensions 304 mm wide
217 mm deep
14.6 mm thick
Weight 1.33 kg

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Price + Deal!

HUAWEI is offering the 2020 MateBook X Pro in two colour options – Space Grey and Emerald Green.

Here in Malaysia, only one variant will be available for sale starting 16 May 2020 :

  • Core i7, MX250, 16GB, 1TB : RM 7,999 / ~US$1,845 / ~£1,495 / ~A$2,843 / ~S$2,615

Every purchase will come with these free gifts :

  • HUAWEI Sound X Bluetooth speaker
  • HUAWEI Bluetooth Mouse
  • HUAWEI Backpack
  • HUAWEI Band 4

Here are online purchase options in various countries :

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Unboxing

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) came to us in a large brown box, but that’s just the shipping box. Inside is the actual white retail box, which is what you will find in a retail store.

Once you fully unbox it, this is what you will find inside :

  • HUAWEI MateBook X Pro laptop
  • HUAWEI MateDock 2 dongle
  • HUAWEI MateBook X Pro documents
  • HUAWEI USB-C Charger (65W) + USB-C power cable

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Hands-On Experience!

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) is a compact, premium ultra-light laptop, that packs the very best that HUAWEI has to offer.

Display

Despite its larger 13.9-inch display – the 2020 MateBook X Pro is slightly smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, thanks to its narrow bezels which gives it an incredible 91% screen-to-body ratio.

In addition, this is a 10-point touchscreen display, with a higher resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels, and 100% sRGB colour gamut.

The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, and an anti-fingerprint coating – helping to keep it scratch-free and smudge-free.

Build Quality

Thanks to its CNC-machined metal unibody, it is only 14.6 mm thick and weighs just 1.33 kg – making it thinner and lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

HUAWEI also gave it a sandblasted finish for that premium look and feel. We are also glad to note that the finish is smear-resistant.

Keyboard + Touchpad

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) comes with a full-size keyboard with back-lit chiclet keys that are 16 mm in size.

Its multi-touch touchpad is large for a Windows 10 laptop, measuring 12 cm x 7.7 cm (4.7″ x 3″) – almost as large as the Force Touch trackpad on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Naturally, it doesn’t have a Touch Bar and that’s just fine because it gets hot at the strip above the keyboard. Precisely where the Touch Bar is on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and precisely why that’s such a stupid idea.

Next Page > 2020 MateBook X Pro : A Closer Look!

 

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2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : A Closer Look!

Available Ports

Like all ultra-thin laptops, the 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) lacks ports. On the left side, you will find a 3.5 mm audio jack, and two USB Type C ports.

The USB Type C port with the charging icon is a USB 3.1 port with a maximum power output of 10 watts. The other USB Type C port has a higher power output of 15 watts.

They both support 40 Mbps transfer rates, and DisplayPort output, and double as the MateBook X Pro’s charging port.

On the right side, you will find a single USB 3.0 Type A port. It would have been nice if HUAWEI added a third USB Type C port here, but we cannot underscore how important it is to have this Type A port.

Many of us still have many USB Type A devices – thumb drives, portable drives, mouse, etc. so having even a single USB Type A port would let you use them without resorting to a dongle.

Dongle

That brings us to the next point – . The lack of ports on ultra-light laptops virtually require you to purchase a USB Type C dongle.

Fortunately, HUAWEI includes their MateDock 2 dongle with the 2020 MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK), which offers these ports :

  • USB Type A : supports USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 drives
  • USB Type C : supports USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 drives
  • HDMI 2.0 : supports video resolution up to 3840 x 2160 (30 Hz) or 2160 x 1440 (60 Hz)
  • VGA : supports WUXGA resolution up to 1920 x 1200 (60 Hz)

Recommended : HUAWEI MateDock 2 : A Nifty Little USB-C Dongle!

Pop-Up Camera

HUAWEI was able to squeeze in the large 13.9-inch display into a form factor smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Pro because they used extremely thin bezels.

Unfortunately, this meant displacing the camera, which is usually hidden in the top bezel of the display.

They opted to hide the 720p camera and an LED light under a special camera key on the keyboard. It pops-up when you press on it, and pressing it again hides it.

This is a great security measure because the camera is physically blocked until you actually need to use it – no hacker will be able to surreptitiously use it to take your photos or videos!

There is only one problem with such a design – it takes photos and videos at an unflattering upward angle. You will also always appear to look upwards on video conferences, and videos that you record.

Fingerprint Sensor

It may not seem obvious, but the 2020 MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) comes with a Goodix fingerprint sensor built into the Power button, located on the upper right edge of the keyboard.

This is a useful feature for those on-the-go, because it lets you login without keying your password in public.

Quad Speakers + Microphones

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) comes with four speakers offering both tweeters for clear treble, and woofers for deep, resonant bass.

It also comes with quad microphones, which not only offer 360° sound reception up to 4 meters away, but also noise cancelling capabilities.

HUAWEI Share Multi-Screen Collaboration

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) supports HUAWEI Share for multi-screen collaboration.

It basically lets you connect your smartphone, and use it directly on the MateBook X Pro!

You can control the apps and files on your phone directly on the laptop, even drag and drop files!

The only downside? It is limited to HUAWEI and HONOR smartphones with NFC.

HUAWEI MeeTime

The 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) also supports HUAWEI MeeTime, which is their version of Apple FaceTime – a free, proprietary video call service.

It offers some advantages over its competitors – FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc. but can only be used by HUAWEI devices.

Recommended : MeeTime : Free Voice + Video Calls On HUAWEI Devices!

Next Page > 2020 MateBook X Pro : Performance | Verdict

 

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2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Performance

Our 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) came powered by the 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10510U processor, which is a 4-core, 8-thread processor with a 1.8 GHz clock speed that ramps up to 4.9 GHz during intensive tasks.

The processor has Intel UHD Graphics built-in, but can switch to the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics (with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory) for more strenuous graphics demands.

Our unit came with 16 GB of LPDDR3 memory, and a 1 TB Samsung PCIe SSD. Keeping all that powered is a large 56 Whr lithium-ion polymer battery.

Work Performance : PCMark 10

The Intel Core i7-10510U processor was powerful, delivering high scores in PCMark 10.

It is, frankly, overkill for basic work applications, but will be very helpful in tackling compute-intensive tasks, like rendering videos.

Gaming Performance : 3DMark Time Spy

The NVIDIA GeForce MX250 is entry-level mobile graphics, and it shows – it’s slightly slower than a desktop GeForce GT 130.

That means it will be good enough for esports gaming, at the lower 1080p resolution with lower quality settings.

Battery Life : YouTube + Modern Office

HUAWEI claimed 13 hours of video playback, albeit with the display set to 150 nits (⅓ of max brightness).

YouTube Screen-On Time

We locked the brightness at 50% and streamed YouTube videos in theatre mode using WiFi.

The 2020 MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) lasted 9 hours 11 minutes before its battery dropped to 10%.

PCMark 10 : Modern Office

With the brightness locked at 50%, we then ran PCMark 10’s Modern Office benchmark until it powered off.

The 2020 MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) lasted 7 hours 40 minutes before its battery dropped to 3%.

Battery : Recharging Speed

Its recharging time was even better, especially up to the 90% point. Here are the times it takes to recharge from 10% :

  • 25% : 12 minutes
  • 30% : 16 minutes
  • 50% : 31 minutes
  • 60% : 39 minutes
  • 75% : 52 minutes
  • 90% : 72 minutes
  • 95% : 84 minutes
  • 100% : 121 minutes

Its 65W fast charger takes about 35 minutes to hit mid-point, but 2 hours 1 minute to fully recharge its battery.

That gives it a battery life : recharging time ratio of 4.6:1 for video streaming, and 3.8:1 for office work.

As a rule of thumb, you will need to recharge its battery about 16 minutes for every hour of battery life.

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Verdict + Award

Despite its innocuous looks, the 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) is truly an ultra-light beast.

It is smaller and lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and yet boasts a touchscreen display that is larger and offers a higher 3K resolution!

On top of that, it comes with a powerful quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, with NVIDIA GeForce MX250 mobile graphics, 16 GB LPDDR3 memory and a spacious 1TB PCIe SSD.

Its large 56 Whr battery lasts a phenomenal 9 hours 11 minutes in our test, and recharges in just 2 hours. That means you can really be on-the-go all-day with this ultra-light laptop.

That said, 2020 MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) is not a gaming machine. The GeForce MX250 will handle games like Civilizations VI and Dota 2 just fine, but don’t expect it to take on Red Dead Redemption 2!

And if you are expecting more ports, then it’s not for you. You have to learn to live with two USB Type C port – one of which you will need to use to recharge the laptop!

But the good news is unlike most ultra-light laptops, the MateBook X Pro comes with one USB Type A port, and a MateDock 2 dongle. That gives you great flexibility, right out of the box.

Now, the biggest impediment for many people would be its price. Like other premium ultra-light laptops, the 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) costs a pretty penny.

There are really no two ways about it. It is expensive to make super-thin, ultra-light laptop computers that are this powerful. Especially one with a large, 3K touchscreen.

The truth is – the 2020 MateBook X Pro offers great performance and features in a really light and compact form factor, and it is at least 20% cheaper than a comparable 13-inch MacBook Pro!

For those reasons, we believe the 2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro (MY|SG|UK) deserves our Reviewer’s Choice Award. Congratulations, HUAWEI!

 

2020 HUAWEI MateBook X Pro : Price + Deal!

HUAWEI is offering the 2020 MateBook X Pro in two colour options – Space Grey and Emerald Green.

Here in Malaysia, only one variant will be available for sale starting 16 May 2020 :

  • Core i7, MX250, 16GB, 1TB : RM 7,999 / ~US$1,845 / ~£1,495 / ~A$2,843 / ~S$2,615

Every purchase will come with these free gifts :

  • HUAWEI Sound X Bluetooth speaker
  • HUAWEI Bluetooth Mouse
  • HUAWEI Backpack
  • HUAWEI Band 4

Here are online purchase options in various countries :

 

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7 : Everything You Need To Know!

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 boasts a number of improvements, including new Intel processors and a USB Type C port!

Here is EVERYTHING you need to know about the new Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – its key features, specifications, price and availability!

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 is Microsoft’s response to the Apple iPad Pro. Like its rival, it promises a powerful computing experience in a tablet form factor, with a phenomenal battery life.

New Intel Processors

The Surface Pro 7 comes with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processors, which gives it a significant performance boost over its predecessor.

Faster Connectivity

It also comes with support for faster Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.

With USB-C Port

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 now comes with both a Type A USB port, as well as a Type C USB port. This gives you more flexibility connecting it to an external display, docking stations or USB accessories.

Improved Microphones

Your conference calls and voice dictation will be much clearer with the enhanced dual far-field Studio microphones.

10.5 Hour Battery Life

The cost of having much faster processor and graphics is battery life – it’s down to 10.5 hours.

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Specifications

Here are the key specifications for the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (without the Type Cover) :

Specifications Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Display 12.3-inch PixelSense Display
Display Resolution 2736 x 1824 pixels (267 ppi)
Multi-Touch Capability 10 point multi-touch
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
Processor Options Intel Core i7-1065G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i3-1005G1
Intel Core i7-8650U
Intel Core i5-8250U
Graphics Processor Intel Iris Plus Graphics (i7, i5)
Intel UHD Graphics (i3)
Intel UHD Graphics
Memory 4 GB / 8 GB / 16 GB LPDDR4X 8 GB / 16 GB DDR4
Storage 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB SSD
Wireless Capabilities Wi-Fi 6 : 802.11ax
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 5 : 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Camera Windows Hello face authentication camera
5 MP front camera (1080p video recording)
8 MP rear camera (1080p video recording)
Audio Dual far-field Studio mics
1.6 W stereo speakers
Dolby Audio Premium
Dual microphones
1.6 W stereo speakers
Dolby Audio Premium
Connectivity Options 1 x USB Type C
1 x USB Type A
1 x Surface Connect Port
1 x Surface Type Connect port
1 x 3.5 mm headphone jack
MicroSDXC card reader
1 x mini Display Port
1 x USB Type A
1 x Surface Connect Port
1 x Surface Type Connect port
1 x 3.5 mm headphone jack
MicroSDXC card reader
Sensors Ambient Light
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer

Ambient Light
Accelerometer
Gyroscope

Battery Life Up to 10.5 hours Up to 13.5 hours
Dimensions 292 mm wide / 201 mm deep / 8.5 mm thick
Weight Core i7 : 790 g
Core i5 / i3 : 775 g
Core i7 : 784 g
Core i5 : 770 g
Colour Options Platinum, Matte Black Platinum

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Price + Availability

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is available for pre-order now, with general availability beginning 9 December 2019, and retail sales starting in January 2020.

Here are the prices for the first models and accessories :

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 MY SG US UK AU
Core i3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD $748 £797.90 A$1,349.98
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD S$1,637 $980 £899 A$1,581.98
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD RM 5,499 S$2,037 $1,165.49 £1,169 A$2,045.98
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD RM 6,799 S$2,437 $1,472.49 £1,387.47 A$2,470.95
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD RM 8,299 $1,899 £1,827.01 A$3,135.95
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD $2,299 A$3,706.95

Accessories

Model MY SG US UK AU
Surface Arc Mouse RM 339 S$118 $69.99 £59 A$101.96
Surface Pen RM 399 S$148 $64.99 £68.50 A$122.99
Signature Type Cover RM 639 S$249 $114.95 £134.99 A$230.95

 

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Trump Lifts HUAWEI Ban – No Great National Emergency!

US President Donald Trump not only walked back the HUAWEI ban, he now says that it’s “no great national emergency problem“.

No, it’s not an April Fool joke, although US President Trump seems to behave like it’s all a big fucking joke.

Here is the latest twist in the 4 year comedy-horror show that is the Trump Presidency.

 

Trump In May : HUAWEI Is A National Security Threat

On 15 May 2019, President Trump signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment from sources that are “national security threats“.

He then had the US Commerce Department add HUAWEI to the Entity List of US national security threats, basically labelling HUAWEI as a national security threat.

That barred American companies, or companies using “significant American technology”, from selling their services or products to HUAWEI.

 

Trump In June : No Great National Emergency Problem

Less than 1.5 months after declaring HUAWEI a national security threat to the United States, Donald Trump not only walked back his HUAWEI ban, he contradicted his earlier reason for the ban!

According to CNN, he said that after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on 29 June 2019, “he would allow Huawei to once again buy US products“.

US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei… there’s no great national emergency problem. – US President Donald Trump

Credit : CNN

CNN also pointed out that :

He said he “agreed easily” in his meeting with Xi to continue allowing US companies to do business with the telecom giant.

 

The Donald Is A Thoroughly Confused Idiot

Seriously? Is HUAWEI a national security threat to the United States or not?

If HUAWEI is a genuine national security threat, then it cannot be part of any trade bargain on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

But Trump has now officially lifted the HUAWEI ban and announced that there will be NO NEW TARIFFS, all without an official trade deal, which is very perplexing.

Does he know what he’s doing? Or is he just making stuff up on the spur of the moment?

One thing is for sure – The Donald is a thoroughly confused idiot.

 

The Damage Caused By The Trump Ban On HUAWEI

The HUAWEI Trump ban immediately forced many companies or organisations to immediately suspend business with HUAWEI, including :

[adrotate group=”2″]

It led to some customer support woes for HUAWEI, some embarrassing reversals (BT, WiFi, SD, IEEE, FedEx), and some interesting ideas (Windows on ARM, rare earths) to circumvent or beat the ban…

 

Is HUAWEI Safe From Another Ban?

As if he’s trying to close the barn door after the horses have bolted, Trump hinted that HUAWEI isn’t 100% safe from his wrath.

“We mentioned Huawei,” Trump said of his talks with President Xi Jinping of China earlier Saturday. “We’ll have to save that for the very end.”

In other words, HUAWEI just scored a welcomed reprieve, but Trump will likely demand concessions during the next trade talks, or he could possibly initiate another ban…

 

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PPM Mode from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

PPM Mode

Common Options : Native, SMM

 

Quick Review of PPM Mode

The PPM Mode BIOS option allows you to change the operating mode of the Processor Power Management (PPM).

When set to Native, the operating system will use its native PPM support to directly control the processor’s performance states and power management.

When set to SSM, the operating system will revert to the ACPI System Management Mode (ACPI SMM), leaving power management to the processor.

If you are using an older operating system like Windows 98 or Windows 2000, you should set this BIOS option to SSM.

You should also select SSM if you are using Windows XP or Windows 2003 in a multi-processor or multi-core environment.

On the other hand, you should select Native if you are using a newer operating system that supports ACPI 3.0. This includes Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 7, Windows 2008, and Windows 10.

 

PPM Mode Details

Prior to Windows XP, Microsoft operating systems cannot directly control the processor’s power management. They can only put the processor into its SMM (System Management Mode), whereby the processor would then perform its own power management routines.

Support for ACPI 2.0 processor performance states was first introduced in the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. It finally allowed the operating system to directly control the processor’s power and performance through the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI).

However, Processor Power Management in Windows XP is limited to a single processor with a single core and running a single thread. It does not support multi-processor systems, or multi-core processors, or even multi-threading.

Support for multi-processor systems and multi-core processors was eventually added to the ACPI 3.0 specifications. Microsoft Windows Vista was the first Microsoft operating system to offer native support for PPM of multi-processor systems or multi-core processors. This includes systems using processors with multiple logical threads, multiple cores or multiple physical sockets.

[adrotate group=”1″]

This is where the PPM Mode BIOS option comes in. It allows you to change the operating mode of the Processor Power Management (PPM).

When set to Native, the operating system will use its native PPM support to directly control the processor’s performance states and power management.

When set to SSM, the operating system will revert to the ACPI System Management Mode (ACPI SMM), leaving power management to the processor.

If you are using an older operating system like Windows 98 or Windows 2000, you should set this BIOS option to SSM.

You should also select SSM if you are using Windows XP or Windows 2003 in a multi-processor or multi-core environment.

On the other hand, you should select Native if you are using a newer operating system that supports ACPI 3.0. This includes Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 7, Windows 2008, and Windows 10.

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84% of New PCs with Pirated Software Infected with Malware!

A recent Microsoft PC test purchase sweep revealed that 84% of new PCs sold in Asia with pirated software were infected with malware. Here are the details of their report…

 

The Microsoft Asia PC Test Purchase Sweep

The Microsoft Asia PC Test Purchase Sweep examined a total of 166 new PCs from 9 markets across Asia – India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The PC samples selected were purchased from retailers that offered PCs  at much lower cost and free software bundles to lure customers. In many cases, these retailers also sold pirated software at their store.

 

84% of New PCs with Pirated Software Infected With Malware!

The sweep found that one of the most common practices for vendors installing pirated software on new PCs is to turn off the security features, such as anti-virus software and Windows Defender as doing this allows them to run the hack-tools needed to activate the pirated software.

However, this leaves PCs vulnerable to malware and other cyberthreats, and the buyers of these PCs may not even realize that their PC is not being protected.

The sweep also uncovered that 84%of the new PCs loaded with pirated software were infected with some type of malware, with the most common malware being :

  • Trojans are a type of malware that is employed by cybercriminals to gain remote access and control of devices, allowing them to spy on the users and steal private data. While Trojans typically depend on some form of social engineering to trick users into loading and executing them, bundling them with pirated software makes it easier for cybercriminals to compromise and control PCs.
  • Viruses are another type of malware whichcan cause infected computers to do a variety of things which are not beneficial to the PC owner, such as terminating devices’ security features, sending spam messages, and contacting remote hosts to download additional malware.

These findings are particularly concerning as customers buy PCs that offer special deals which are cheap and come with free software, not realizing the risks they may be exposing themselves to. In most cases, they may not even realize that the security features of their PCs are turned off and may fail to spot suspicious activities on their devices.

Many of these infected PCs’ users are highly susceptible to data loss, including personal documents and sensitive information such as passwords and banking details, as well as identity theft where they lose control of their social media and email accounts. Users might also experience compromised PC performance as malware, running in the background, can slow down devices.

All these factors can lead to consumers and businesses chalking up significant monetary, time and productivity losses as they work to resolve the issues.

 

Key Cyber-Hygiene Practices for Individuals and SMEs

The most fundamental step that users can take to safeguard themselves digitally is to always insist on buying PCs from established retailers and not ones that also sell pirated software, and ensuring they are getting genuine software. Consumers should refer to software vendors’ websites to learn how they can distinguish between genuine and pirated software.

Besides using genuine software, people can also consider and adhere to the following recommendations to better protect themselves:

  • Keep software current with the latest security patches, which are always free.
  • Follow safe Internet practices and do not visit potentially dangerous websites, such as those that offer adult content, illegal downloads, and pirated software, as well as file sharing portals.
  • Avoid using very old software which has reached its end of life and is no longer supported by the software vendor for updates and security patches.

 

Recommended Reading

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The Acer OJO 500 Windows Mixed Reality Headset Preview

At IFA 2018, Acer revealed the Acer OJO 500 –  the world’s first VR headset to feature a detachable design, as well as sound pipe and inter-pupillary distance adjustment technologies. What does that mean to us – the users? Let’s find out!

 

The Acer OJO 500 Windows Mixed Reality Headset

The new Acer OJO 500 headset brings several new features to the Windows Mixed Reality platform. It now features a one-of-a-kind detachable design, as well as new patented audio and visual adjustment technologies.

The Acer OJO 500 Detachable Design

The Acer OJO 500 has a unique detachable design that enables the lens and head strap to be individually removed. This makes the headset easy to store and clean – especially beneficial for businesses who want to provide customers with clean headwear for each use.

Available with either a hard or soft head strap, both options provide a snug yet comfortable fit. The soft head strap is machine washable (for a limited number of times), and the extra-large padding on the hard head strap helps the headset fit securely and firmly in place.

In addition, the mask can be flipped up, eliminating the need to remove the entire headset to answer the phone or converse with people in the room.

Inter-Pupillary Distance Adjustment Wheel

For maximum clarity, the Acer OJO 500 includes a built-in inter-pupillary distance (IPD) wheel and a patented smartphone app to measure IPD distance (the gap between the eye’s pupil and the display).

The software-assisted IPD measurement app, Acer IPD Meter, along with Acer IPD Indicator software lets you modify this distance for sharper, clearer images and a more enjoyable experience.

High-Speed, High-Resolution Displays

Two front-hinged 2.89-inch high-resolution liquid crystal displays provide a wide 100 degree field of view and deliver a 2880 x 1440 resolution.

A fast refresh rate of up to 90 Hz delivers clear and realistic images for an immersive mixed reality experience.

Sound Pipe Design Eliminates Need For Earphones

In a first for VR headsets, the integrated audio system uses a patented sound pipe design that directs sound from the built-in speakers toward the wearer’s ears. The unique sound pipe design means you can hear audio without wearing earphones, allow you to remain aware of your surroundings while still enjoying an immersive experience.

This is ideal for use in public spaces where you may not want to be totally cut off from their surroundings. The integrated audio system consists of embedded speakers, a patented sound pipe, and a built-in mic array. If you require more privacy and deeper immersion, you can use the built-in earphonethat come with the hard head strap, or an earphone of their own choice with the soft head strap.

Easy Set Up with Inside-Out Tracking

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Featuring inside-out tracking, the camera is on the headset so there is no need to drill holes in a wall or set up extraneous hardware. As soon as the headset connects to a Windows Mixed Reality-ready PC, it installs the required software. Setup is quick and easy taking about 10 minutes.

The 6 degrees of freedom positional tracking includes forward / back, up / down, and left / right as well as pitch, yaw and roll. The headset comes with a 4 meter (13 feet) cable allowing a wide range of movement, and connects to a PC via HDMI 2.0, while a USB 3.0 connector downloads data.

Optional Motion Controllers

The Acer OJO 500 comes in an optional configuration that includes two Bluetooth-enabled motion controllers that sync with the headset; a Windows 10 button, touchpad, and grab button to letusers interact with digital objects in mixed reality.

The Acer OJO 500 Price + Availability

The Acer OJO 500 will be available in North America in November, starting at $399; and in EMEA in November, starting at €499.

Suggested Reading

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The New Windows 10 Features In 30 April 2018 Update!

On 30 April 2018, Microsoft released the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. This is the latest major update, with a number of new Windows 10 features and improvements.

In this article, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft Windows and Devices Group, shares with us the new Windows 10 updates and improvements being introduced in the April 2018 update.

 

New Windows 10 Feature – Timeline

The proliferation of devices, combined with the explosion of information, has led to an influx of screen time. In fact, today, practically all free time goes toward screens. Your information is spread across multiple devices – making it increasingly harder to find your stuff.

We’ve all had the experience of digging through your email or file folders for the document you know you wrote, but can’t find. Or looking for photos and videos that you know you’ve seen and love, but can no longer locate. Timeline can help you get back this wasted time.

With Timeline, your Windows 10 PC lets you go back in time up to 30 days to find your stuff, whether you were working on it earlier today, last week, or a few weeks ago. Because much of our activity is on the go, you can even pick up what you were doing if signed into your Microsoft account while using Microsoft Edge or Office 365 on your iOS or Android device when you return to your Windows 10 PC.

Imagine looking at bathroom vanity options for that home remodel when you’re out and about on your phone, and then finishing that purchase when you’re back at your PC. Or working on a document on the bus during your commute and seamlessly picking it back up when you’re at your desk.

 

New Windows 10 Feature – Focus Assist

Today, most of us spend between 3-6 hours – each day – on screens. Much of this time is spent on social media, where the constant stream of distractions across our myriad of devices makes it hard to focus. In many ways, our attention is being hacked, pulling us into continuous scrolls of information, but distracting us from what matters most.

This war on attention is real – in the workplace, the average amount of time people spend on any single event before being interrupted or switching tasks is about three minutes (outside of meetings). Since the average person needs about 23 minutes to regroup after being interrupted, we see our productivity and creativity diminished.

With the April 2018 Update we’re introducing Focus Assist to help you stay in the zone. Turn on Focus Assist whenever you want to get things done without distractions, like social media or other notifications. Or set it to turn on automatically at certain times during the day when you want focused time.

When you finish, you receive a summary of what came through, whether notifications, emails or updates, while you were heads down. If you’re waiting on a specific call or email, choose people who you want to break through.

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Microsoft Edge Improvements

We’re also helping you focus while on the web with updates to Microsoft Edge. You can now click the audio icon to mute and unmute a tab that is playing sound. Books, PDFs and Reading View pages can go full-screen for a distraction-free reading experience.

Shopping gets easier as your address, payment and other information can be securely saved with the option to autofill on web payment forms. You can now clear out clutter from your printouts by printing web pages in a cleaner format with the new clutter-free printing option.

Finally, anyone needing a little help with reading can use the new Grammar Tools button to enable comprehension aids. Grammar Tools can break the words on the page into syllables, as well as highlight different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

 

Improved Dictation

Natural computing experiences enable us to speak directly to our devices to accomplish tasks, without typing. We see potential for voice input to dramatically change how people interact with their devices, far beyond novelty experiences or entertainment.

One way we’ve done this in the April 2018 Update is with Dictation. It’s now easier than ever to take a note or write a paper, with just your voice. With your cursor in any text field either in Windows 10 or in an app, simply press Win+H and start talking.

The improved Dictation feature in Windows 10 will capture your thoughts quickly and accurately so that brilliant idea you just riffed on with your colleagues or the speech you’re practicing for your best friend’s wedding isn’t lost forever.

With the April 2018 Update and Cortana enabled on your Windows 10 PC, you can manage your smart home right from your PC using just your voice. For example, want to come home to a warm house from a long day at work? Just tap Cortana on your PC and say “Hey Cortana, set the living room thermostat to 72 degrees” to control your ecobeeHoneywellNest Learning thermostat and more4.

Of course, there are many more great new Windows 10 features in the April 2018 Update including simplified IT management tools for our enterprise customers, new ways to create with Photos, 3D and Windows Mixed Reality, new ways to keep you safer online and enhancements to your PC gaming experience.

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The Microsoft Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule Rev. 2.0

Ever since the Meltdown and Spectre exploits were exposed, Microsoft has been working overtime to patch Windows against them. Unfortunately, they were quite secretive about their Spectre and Meltdown patch list and schedule. We usually only find out when something bad happens, like when some patches bricked AMD systems.

They changed that stance recently, quietly releasing their Windows Spectre and Meltdown patch schedule. This schedule listed the patches they have released so far, or are about to release. For your convenience, we have divided and sorted them according to the applicable Windows version.

Please note that the current Microsoft Spectre and Meltdown patch schedule covers the January and February 2018. We will update the schedule as and when Microsoft releases them.

Article Update History

Click here for the Article Update History

Updated @ 2018-02-22 : Added the late January and early February 2018 Spectre and Meltdown patch schedule for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.

Originally posted @ 2018-01-24

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 10

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 10 (1703) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074592
Windows 10 (1607) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074590
Windows 10 (1511) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074591
Windows 10 (RTM) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074596
Windows 10 (1709) – Quality Update Released January 31 WU, Catalog KB4058258
Windows 10 (1709) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog, Azure Image Gallery KB4056892 *
Windows 10 (1703) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056891 *
Windows 10 (1607) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056890
Windows 10 (1511) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056888 *
Windows 10 (RTM) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056893 *

* KB4056888, KB4056890, KB4056891, KB4056892, KB4056893 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows Server 2016

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows Server 2016 (1607) – Container Images Released February 13 Docker Hub KB4074590
Windows Server 2016 (1607) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074590
Windows Server 2016 (1709) – Server container Released February 13 Docker Hub KB4074588
Windows Server 2016 (1709) – Quality Update Released January 31 WU, Catalog KB4058258
Windows Server 2016 (1709) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog, Azure Image Gallery KB4056892 *
Windows Server 2016 (1709) – Server container Released January 5 Docker Hub KB4056892 *
Windows Server 2016 (1607) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056890 *
Windows Server 2016 (1607) – Container Images Released January 4 Docker Hub KB4056890 *

* KB4056890, KB4056892 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 10 Mobile

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 10 Mobile (OS Build 15254.192) – ARM Released January 5 WU, Catalog KB4073117
Windows 10 Mobile (OS Build 15063.850) Released January 5 WU, Catalog KB4056891
Windows 10 Mobile (OS Build 14393.2007) Released January 5 WU, Catalog KB4056890

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 10 IoT Core

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 10 IoT Core (1703) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074592
Windows 10 IoT Core (1607) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074590
Windows 10 IoT Core (1511) – Quality Update Released February 13 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4074591
Windows 10 IoT Core (1709) – Quality Update Released January 31 WU, Catalog KB4058258
Windows 10 IoT Core (1709) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog, Azure Image Gallery KB4056892 *
Windows 10 IoT Core (1703) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056891 *
Windows 10 IoT Core (1607) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056890 *
Windows 10 IoT Core (1511) – Quality Update Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056888 *

* KB4056888, KB4056890, KB4056891, KB4056892 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 10 HoloLens

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 10 HoloLens – OS and Firmware Updates Released February 13 WU, Catalog KB4074590
Windows 10 HoloLens Released January 5 WU, Catalog KB4056890 *

* KB4056890 can brick some AMD PCs.

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The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 8 & 8.1

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 8.1 – Security Only Update Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056898 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056898 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056898 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Pro Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056898 *
Internet Explorer 11-Cumulative Update for Windows 8.1 Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows 8.1 Monthly Rollup Released January 8 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056895 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise Released January 8 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056895 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro Released January 8 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056895 *
Windows Embedded 8.1 Pro Released January 8 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056895 *
Windows Embedded 8 Standard Coming

* KB4056894, KB4056895, KB4056898 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows Server 2012

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows Server 2012 R2 – Security Only Update Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056898 *
Windows Server 2012 R2 Monthly Rollup Released January 8 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056895 *
Windows Server 2012 Security Only Coming WSUS, Catalog
Windows Server 2012 Monthly Rollup Coming WU, WSUS, Catalog

* KB4056895, KB4056898 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows Server 2008

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 – Security Only Update Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056897 *
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Monthly Rollup Released January 4 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows Server 2008 SP2 Coming WU, WSUS, Catalog

* KB4056897, KB4056894 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

The Spectre + Meltdown Patch Schedule For Windows 7

Update Title Status Release Date Release Channel Knowledge Base
Windows 7 SP1 – Security Only Update Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056897 *
Windows Embedded Standard 7 Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056897 *
Windows Embedded POSReady 7 Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056897 *
Windows Thin PC Released January 3 WSUS, Catalog KB4056897 *
Internet Explorer 11-Cumulative Update for Windows 7 SP1 Released January 3 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows 7 SP1 Monthly Rollup Released January 4 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows Embedded Standard 7 Released January 4 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows Embedded POSReady 7 Released January 4 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *
Windows Thin PC Released January 4 WU, WSUS, Catalog KB4056894 *

* KB4056897, KB4056894 can brick some AMD PCs.

 

Meltdown + Spectre Reading Suggestions

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Everything On The Meltdown + Spectre CPU Flaws! Rev. 3.0

The Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws that the Google Project Zero team discovered are arguably the worst we have ever known. These vulnerabilities were built into BILLIONS of CPUs that we have been using for the last decade or so.

Not just Intel CPUs, but also CPUs made by AMD, Apple and ARM. Even those that power our smartphones and other smart devices!

Let’s take a look at what we know so far about Meltdown and Spectre, how they affect you, and what we can do about them.

This story is still developing. We will update the article as and when new details emerge. Be sure to check back and refresh the page for the latest information!

 

Article Update History

Click here for the Article Update History

2018-02-17 : Updated the table of CPUs vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre. Updated four sections with new information.

2018-02-05 : Added a table of CPUs vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre. Updated three sections with new information.

2018-01-25 : Revamped the entire article. Added a new section on the difference between Meltdown and Spectre, and a new section on InSpectre. Updated the list of vulnerable processors, mitigation efforts by Microsoft and Apple, as well as the Intel spontaneous reboot issues with their Spectre 2 patches.

2018-01-16 : Updated the list of vulnerable processors, and added a new section on Intel CPUs spontaneously rebooting after applying Meltdown and Spectre patches. Also added cautionary advice on holding off these updates.

2018-01-12 : Updated the article with the AMD confirmation that their processors are vulnerable to both Spectre exploits. Also added details on the Google Retpoline mitigation technique against Spectre attacks.

2018-01-11 : Added new sections on the performance impact of the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation patches, and reports of those patches bricking some AMD PCs. Also expanded the list of affected CPUs, and corrected information on the Intel-SA-00086 Detection Tool.

Between 2018-01-09 and 2018-01-10 : Numerous updates including details of patches and affected CPUs.

Originally posted @ 2018-01-09

 

The Meltdown + Spectre Vulnerabilities

  • The Project Zero team identified these vulnerabilities in 2017, reporting it to Intel, AMD and ARM on 1 June 2017.
  • These vulnerabilities take advantage of the Speculative Execution and Branch Prediction features of the modern processor, that have been used for many years to improve performance.
  • Speculative Execution lets the CPU predict and pre-execute the next instruction, allowing it to “instantly” deliver the results if it’s correct.
  • Branch Prediction helps the CPU predict future execution paths that should be speculatively-executed for better performance.
  • There are THREE (3) variants of the speculative execution CPU bug :
    • Variant 1 : Bounds Check Bypass (CVE-2017-5753)
    • Variant 2 : Branch Target Injection (CVE-2017-5715)
    • Variant 3 : Rogue Data Cache Load (CVE-2017-5754)
  • The Spectre attack (whitepaper) exploits variants 1 and 2.
  • The Meltdown attack (whitepaper) exploits variant 3.
  • There is a Variant 3a, which appears to affect only certain ARM processors.

 

What’s The Difference Between Meltdown & Spectre?

  • Spectre tricks the CPU branch predictor into mis-predicting the wrong path, thereby speculatively executing code that would not otherwise be executed.
  • Meltdown takes advantage of the out-of-order execution capability of modern processors, tricking them into executing malicious code that would normally not be allowed.
  • The Spectre name is based on both the root cause – speculative execution, and the fact that it is not easy to fix, and will haunt us for a long time like a spectre (ghost).
  • The Meltdown name was chosen because the vulnerability “basically melts security boundaries which are normally enforced by the hardware“.

 

How Bad Are Meltdown & Spectre?

  • The Spectre exploits let an attacker access and copy information from the memory space used by other applications.
  • The Meltdown exploit lets an attacker copy the entire physical memory of the computer.
  • Unless patched, the affected processors are vulnerable to malware and cyberattacks that exploits this CPU bug to steal critical information from running apps (like login and credit card information, emails, photos, documents, etc.)
  • While the Meltdown exploit can be “fixed”, it is likely that the Spectre exploit cannot be fixed, only mitigated, without a redesign of the processors. That means we will have to live with the risks of a Spectre attack for many more years to come.

 

How Many Processors Are Affected? Updated!

For the complete list of affected AMD, Apple, ARM and Intel processors, please see this separate article – The Complete List Of CPUs Vulnerable To Meltdown / Spectre

Company Spectre 1 Spectre 2 Meltdown
AMD 295 Server CPUs
42 Workstation CPUs
396 Desktop CPUs
208 Mobile CPUs
295 Server CPUs
42 Workstation CPUs
396 Desktop CPUs
208 Mobile CPUs
None
Apple 13 Mobile SoCs 13 Mobile SoCs 13 Mobile SoCs
ARM 10 Mobile CPUs
3 Server SoCs
10 Mobile CPUs
3 Server SoCs
4 Mobile CPUs
3 Server SoCs
IBM 10 POWER CPUs 10 POWER CPUs 10 POWER CPUs
Intel 732 Server / Workstation CPUs
443 Desktop CPUs
583 Mobile CPUs
51 Mobile SoCs
732 Server / Workstation CPUs
443 Desktop CPUs
583 Mobile CPUs
51 Mobile SoCs
732 Server / Workstation CPUs
443 Desktop CPUs
583 Mobile CPUs
51 Mobile SoCs

Total

2786 CPUs 2786 CPUs 1839 CPUs

For the complete list of affected AMD, Apple, ARM and Intel processors, please see this separate article – The Complete List Of CPUs Vulnerable To Meltdown / Spectre

 

Intel Detection Tool?

The Intel-SA-00086 Detection Tool does NOT detect the processor’s susceptibility to these vulnerabilities. It only checks for different vulnerabilities affecting the Intel Management Engine.

 

InSpectre

Our reader Arthur shared that the Gibson Research Corporation has an aptly-named utility called InSpectre.

It checks for Meltdown and Spectre hardware and software vulnerabilities in a Windows system. It will help you check if your system is getting patched properly against these vulnerabilities.

 

What Is Being Done??? Updated!

Note : The terms “mitigate” and “mitigation” mean the possibility of a successfully attacked are reduced, not eliminated.

  • Intel has started issuing software and firmware updates for the processors introduced in the last 5 years. By the middle of January 2018, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90% of those CPUs. However, that does not address the other Intel processors sold between 2010 and 2012.
  • Microsoft and Linux have started to roll our the KPTI (Kernel Page Table Isolation) patch, also known as the KAISER (Kernel Address Isolation to have Side-channels Efficiently Removed) patch.
  • The KPTI or KAISER patch, however, will only protect against the Meltdown exploit. It has no effect on a Spectre attack.
  • Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 received the KB4056890 security update on 3 January 2018, to prevent a Meltdown attack.
  • Firefox 57 includes changes to mitigate against both attacks.
  • Google Chrome 64 will be released on 23 January 2018, with mitigations against Meltdown and Spectre attacks.
  • For Mac systems, Apple introduced mitigations against Spectre in macOS 10.13.2 (released on 8 January 2018), with more fixes coming in macOS 10.13.3.
  • For iOS devices, Apple introduced mitigations against Meltdown in iOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2.
  • On 8 January 2018, Apple released iOS 11.2.2, which mitigates the risk of the two Spectre exploits in Safari and WebKit, for iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPod touch 6th generation or later.
  • ARM has made available the KPTI / KAISER kernel patches for Linux, while Google will provide them for Android.
  • Google patched Android against both exploits with the December 2017 and January 2018 patches.
  • Google shared details of their Return Rrampoline (Retpoline) binary modification technique that can be used to protect against Spectre attacks. It is a software construct that ensures that any associated speculative execution will “bounce” (as if on a trampoline) endlessly.
  • NVIDIA issued six driver and security updates for affected devices and software between 3-9 January 2018.
  • On 11 January 2018, AMD announced that the “majority of AMD systems” have received the mitigation patches against Spectre 1, albeit some older AMD systems got bricked by bad patches. They also announced that they will make “optional” microcode updates available for Ryzen and EPYC processors by the same week.
  • In the same 11 January 2018 disclosure, AMD also shared that Linux vendors have started to roll out OS patches for both Spectre exploits, and they’re working on the “return trampoline (Retpoline)” software mitigations as well.[adrotate group=”2″]
  • On 23 January 2018, Apple released Meltdown patches for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan, but not macOS High Sierra.
  • On 23 January 2018, Microsoft finally revealed their Spectre and Meltdown patch schedule.
  • On 24 January 2018, AMD revealed their 11 software mitigations for both Spectre exploits.
  • The 24 January 2018 AMD whitepaper also revealed that the AMD K10 and K8 processors are vulnerable as well, adding an additional 663 CPU models to the list of vulnerable processors.
  • On 2 February 2018, Microsoft released KB4078130 to disable the Spectre 2 patches that were causing many Intel systems to randomly and spontaneously reboot.
  • On 8 February 2018, an Intel microcode update schedule revealed that their Penryn-based processors are also vulnerable, adding an additional 314 CPU models to the list of vulnerable processors.
  • On 14 February 2018, Intel revealed an expanded Bug Bounty Program, offering up to $250,000 in bounty awards.

 

Some AMD PCs Got Bricked

In the rush to mitigate against Meltdown and Spectre, Microsoft released Windows 10 patches that bricked some AMD PCs. They blamed the incorrect / incomplete documentation provided by AMD.

You can read more about this issue @ These Windows 10 Updates Are Bricking AMD PCs!

 

Buggy Intel Spectre 2 Patches Updated!

Intel’s rush to patch Meltdown and Spectre resulted in buggy microcode patches, causing several generations of their CPUs to randomly and spontaneously reboot.

So far, over 800 Intel CPU models have been identified to be affected by these spontaneous reboot issues. If you have one of the affected CPUs, please hold off BIOS / firmware updates!

Intel has identified the cause as the Spectre 2 patches in their microcode updates for some of these processors. They’re still investigating the cause of the other affected CPU models.

Fortunately for Windows users, Microsoft issued the KB4078130 emergency update to stop the reboots while Intel worked to fix the issue.

You can read more about this issue @ The Intel Spectre Reboot Issue, and the Microsoft solution @ KB4078130 : Emergency Windows Update To Disable Intel Spectre Patches!

 

What Should You Do? Updated!

First and foremost – DO NOT PANIC. There is no known threat or attack using these exploits.

Although we listed a number of important patches below, the buggy updates are worse than the potential threat they try to fix. So we advise HOLDING OFF these patches, and wait for properly-tested versions a few weeks down the line.

  • If you are using Windows, make sure you install the latest Microsoft Spectre and Meltdown updates.
  • If you are using a Mac system, get the latest Apple Spectre and Meltdown patches.
  • If you are using an iOS device, get updated to iOS 11.2 or tvOS 11.2.
  • If you are using Firefox, update to the latest Firefox 57.
  • If you are using Google Chrome, make sure you watch out for Chrome 64, which will be released on 23 January.
  • Download and install the latest software firmware updates from your PC, laptop, motherboard brands. In particular, install the latest driver for the Intel Management Engine (Intel ME), the Intel Trusted Execution Engine (Intel TXE), and the Intel Server Platform Services (SPS)
  • If you are running an ARM processor on Linux, grab the kernel patches.
  • IBM POWER system users can download and install these firmware updates.
  • Users of affected NVIDIA systems can download and install these driver and firmware updates.
  • If you are using an Intel system, hold off updating your firmware, unless you have already verified that your CPU is not affected by the buggy Intel patches, or Intel has already issued corrected patches.

 

The Performance Impact Of The Mitigation Patches

Many benchmarks have been released, showing performance impacts of between 5% to 30%, depending on the type of benchmark and workload. Microsoft has called those benchmark results into question, stating that they did not cover both operating system and silicon microcode patches.

They released an initial report on their findings, which we have summarised in our article – Pre-2016 Intel CPUs Hit Worst By Meltdown + Spectre Fix.

 

Meltdown + Spectre Reading Suggestions

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KB4078130 : Emergency Windows Update To Disable Intel Spectre Patches!

You may recall our extensive coverage of Intel’s buggy Spectre 2 patches that were causing random and spontaneous reboots in over 800 CPU models. It’s gotten so bad that Microsoft was forced to issue KB4078130 – an emergency update to disable the Intel Spectre 2 mitigations that were causing the spontaneous reboots.

 

Spectre Variant 2

Colloquially known as Spectre 2, it is more accurately known as Spectre Variant 2Google Project Zero Variant 2 (GPZ Variant 2), or officially as CVE-2017-5715.

After deploying the Spectre 2 patches in their new microcode updates, Intel started receiving reports of “higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behaviour“.

Microsoft confirmed this, stating further that their “own experience is that system instability can in some circumstances cause data loss or corruption“.

 

KB4078130 : Update To Disable Mitigation Against Spectre, Variant 2

Unwilling to wait for Intel to fix the problem, Microsoft decided to issue KB4078130 – an “out of band” or emergency update. All it does is disable the mitigation against Spectre 2.

Their tests proved that this update is sufficient to prevent the random and spontaneous reboots experienced by the affected Intel processors.

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The KB4078130 update covers the following Windows version :

  • Windows 7 SP1 (client and server variants)
  • Windows 8.1 (client and server variants)
  • Windows 10 (client and server variants)

 

Where To Download KB4078130

This update is not applied automatically because it’s meant only for Intel systems affected by these reboot issues.

You will need to download and install it manually at the Microsoft Update Catalog.

 

For Advanced Users Only

If you are a system administrator, or a 1337 techie, Microsoft is making available a new registry key to manually disable and re-enable the mitigation against Spectre 2.

  • Instructions for Windows administrators – KB4073119
  • Instructions for Windows Server administrators – KB4072698

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The Alibaba DingTalk App Features & Details Revealed!

The Alibaba Group is taking their Dingtalk enterprise communication and collaboration platform worldwide. DingTalk CTO, Hugo Zhu and their Head of Global Business Development, Chris Wang, flew in to demonstrate how DingTalk will help businesses small and large improve their staff communication and collaboration.

 

What Is DingTalk?

Alibaba created DingTalk in January 2015 as a proprietary enterprise communication and collaboration platform that enables text, photo, voice and video communication, workflow management and collaboration among team members and enterprises of various sizes. More than 5 million companies and organizations are currently using it in China.

 

DingTalk Security

As a Chinese app targeted at enterprises, Alibaba is eager to assure users of the security of the DingTalk platform. It features end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption over SSL/TLS connections. It is also one of the first Chinese apps to have obtained the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard.

Enterprises that require additional security can opt for third-party encryption services that will provide assurance that the messages and data sent or shared on DingTalk cannot be accessed, even if their servers are compromised in any way.

 

DingTalk Communication Features

  • Phone / Chat: DingTalk can support up to 3,000 members in a single group chat.
  • Voice Conferencing: Multi-party participation with ease of clicking a button on the group chat for up to 50 people. Voice service is currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China.
  • Video Conferencing: High-definition video conferencing equipment for up to 16 parties, view conference status at a glance and easily switch between training and discussion mode, supports both desktop and file sharing. Video services is currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China.
  • Ding Mail: Effective email messaging and receive email notifications in chats. Ding Mail makes email messaging more like chats instead of threads.
  • Organization Chart: View organization’s structure in a glance, find people and contacts with ease.
  • Read/Unread Status: All types of messaging display read / unread statuses for improving communications efficiency.
  • Secret Chat: Send a traceless secret message for ultimate privacy and protection. Once read, the message automatically delete itself after 30 seconds. No Copy& Paste is allowed during Secret Chat mode. Both profiles within the Secret Chat are masked, hence the identities remain concealed.

 

DingTalk Office Automation Features

  • Attendance: User-friendly and smart Clocking-In and Out system, automatically generates attendance reports, approvals for business trips and leave are automatically.
  • Approvals: all your workplace tools in one place – requests for leaves, applications for business trips or reimbursements at the convenience of your phone. Recommended process templates are provided for each industry. Approval functions lets you view pending applications, keep track of all your approved applications and submit your own applications for approval.
  • Ding Drive: quick and easy file collaboration, integrated company chats, making sharing files between colleagues even easier. Easy and sharable files between companies through your external contacts or keep files only accessible to employees. Free storage for every registered organizations. Different permission settings available in regular chars, private chats or organization chats.
  • Check-In: More of a field-force feature. NO setup is required and it captures all check-in records in one report.
  • Log: View work reports from previous days, weeks or months to help identify problems
  • Announcement: Announcements can be made within your department / organization. Members will receive notifications once announcement has been posted.

 

DingTalk Collaboration Features

  • DING Message: Send important messages via SMS, phone or in the app ( DING message via phone is only available for a few customers and the function is available only to a “White List” of users and is not available to the general public)
  • DING Tasks: create and assign work tasks in seconds
  • DING Meetings: Book offline meetings, video conferences and conference calls (voice and video services are currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China)
  • External Contacts: Batch add from Phone Contacts / import from PC, Add manually or Scan Business Card to add external contacts to your DingTalk. Under the Scan Business Card function, all you need to do is scan the business card and all information will be automatically extracted and saved under External Contacts.
  • Hot Line: Local hotline number for customers in Malaysia is +603 20929588
  • Field Support: When required, DingTalk’s local team will provide onsite deployment service or training for organizations and companies.

 

DingTalk Smart Office Devices

Enterprises, small and large, can further leverage the capabilities of DingTalk with the addition of these DingTalk Smart office Devices :

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  • With the C1 Smart Wi-Fi Router, users can complete the 4-step configuration in 5 minutes. With one-click setup and seamless roaming, the router enables smart network traffic control and supports up to 256 devices.
  • Besides screen sharing between offices powered by DingTalk, users can also use D6 Wireless HD Projector or V1 Wireless Portable Projector for presentation.
  • DingTalk enables enterprises to conveniently record attendance in the workplace and at external meetings with the M1 Finger Print Attendance Machine and M2 Facial Recognition Smart Receptionist.

 

DingTalk Price & Availability

Originally designed as a Chinese app, DingTalk is now available as an English app in Google Play Store, and the Apple App Store. It is also available on the desktop for Windows and Mac systems.

The native features of DingTalk are FREE for all enterprises to use, irrespective of their size. Optional third-party, or value added services (e.g. additional Ding Drive storage) may be applicable.

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ACPI 2.0 Support – The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

ACPI 2.0 Support

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review of ACPI 2.0 Support

While its name hints that this BIOS feature is a toggle to enable ACPI 2.0 features, this is not the case. Enabling this BIOS feature does not turn on ACPI 2.0. Similarly, disabling it does not turn on the original ACPI 1.0 standard. It disables ACPI completely.

The ACPI 2.0 Support BIOS feature merely determines if ACPI support is enabled on the motherboard chipset level. The name ACPI 2.0 Support merely means that this motherboard supports the ACPI 2.0 standard.

If enabled, ACPI support will be enabled on the motherboard chipset level. If the operating system supports ACPI, it can then use ACPI to configure the hardware, as well as control the system’s power management features.

If disabled, ACPI support will be disabled on the motherboard chipset level. Even if the operating system supports ACPI, it cannot use ACPI to configure the hardware or control its power management features.

It is recommended that you enable this BIOS feature. This allows an ACPI-compliant operating system to fully control the configuration of hardware devices and their power management.

Please note that for Microsoft Windows to run in ACPI mode, it needs to be installed with ACPI enabled in the BIOS. If you switch from ACPI to non-ACPI mode, or vice versa, Microsoft Windows will fail to boot. You need to reinstall Microsoft Windows everytime you switch modes.

 

Details of ACPI 2.0 Support

The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) is an open industry standard jointly developed by Intel, Microsoft, HP, Phoenix and Toshiba. It establishes standards for hardware and software interfaces that allow the operating system to configure hardware devices, as well as manage their power.

First published in 1999, it has since undergone numerous updates. Released in August 2000, Revision 2.0 of the ACPI specifications was the first major specification revision. It boasts of the following changes :

  • 64-bit addressing support added
  • Processor and device performance state support added
  • Numerous multiprocessor workstation and server-related enhancements
  • Consistency and readability enhancements throughout (the document)

For ACPI to work properly, both the motherboard and operating system must support ACPI. This means using Microsoft Windows 98 or newer, if you are on the Microsoft Windows platform. Even so, ACPI may not be enabled if ACPI support is not enabled on the motherboard.

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While its name hints that this BIOS feature is a toggle to enable ACPI 2.0 features, this is not the case. Enabling this BIOS feature does not turn on ACPI 2.0. Similarly, disabling it does not turn on the original ACPI 1.0 standard. It disables ACPI completely.

The ACPI 2.0 Support BIOS feature merely determines if ACPI support is enabled on the motherboard chipset level. The name ACPI 2.0 Support merely means that this motherboard supports the ACPI 2.0 standard.

If enabled, ACPI support will be enabled on the motherboard chipset level. If the operating system supports ACPI, it can then use ACPI to configure the hardware, as well as control the system’s power management features.

If disabled, ACPI support will be disabled on the motherboard chipset level. Even if the operating system supports ACPI, it cannot use ACPI to configure the hardware or control its power management features.

It is recommended that you enable this BIOS feature. This allows an ACPI-compliant operating system to fully control the configuration of hardware devices and their power management.

Please note that for Microsoft Windows to run in ACPI mode, it needs to be installed with ACPI enabled in the BIOS. If you switch from ACPI to non-ACPI mode, or vice versa, Microsoft Windows will fail to boot. You need to reinstall Microsoft Windows everytime you switch modes.

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AMD CPUs Are Also Vulnerable To Spectre 2 Exploit Rev. 2.0

AMD updated their security advisory, confirming that their CPUs are also vulnerable to the Spectre 2 exploit. We updated our article Everything On The Intel, AMD & ARM CPU Bug, but it looks like many AMD fanboys still insist that AMD processors are only affected by Spectre 1. So let us burst their bubble and update them on what AMD actually said about this “issue”.

Updated @ 2018-01-15 : Added two new sections addressing the criticisms of the AMD and Intel fanboys.

Originally posted @ 2018-01-13

 

AMD CPUs Are Also Vulnerable To Spectre 2 Exploit

When AMD first released their security advisory on the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, they stated that, “Differences in AMD architecture mean there is a near zero risk of exploitation of this variant.

Just over a week later, on 11 January 2018, Mark Papermaster, AMD Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, posted an update of their assessment, stating that “GPZ Variant 2 (Branch Target Injection or Spectre) is applicable to AMD processors.

He clarified that while AMD believes that their “processor architectures make it difficult to exploit Variant 2“, they have defined “a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches” to mitigate the Spectre 2 threat.

You can read more about the Spectre and Meltdown exploits in Everything On The Intel, AMD & ARM CPU Bug.

 

Why Is Spectre 2 Important?

This development is significant, because Spectre 2 is the more problematic exploit of the two. Mainly because any efforts to reduce its risks significantly reduces performance.

According to Microsoft, only Spectre 2 mitigation patches have a significant performance impact. Their initial performance tests show that Spectre 1 and Meltdown mitigation patches have minimal or small performance impact, and are unlikely to be noticed by users.

 

What Is AMD Doing About Spectre 2?

AMD has already defined the “additional steps” that consists of processor microcode updates and operating system patches that will mitigate the threat of Spectre 2 to their affected processors.

They will make the microcode updates available for the Ryzen and EPYC processors this week, with microcode updates for older processors in the coming weeks.

Notably, Mark said that they would be OPTIONAL. This ties in with their assessment that it would be difficult (albeit not impossible) to exploit Variant 2 in an AMD processor. So AMD users will get the option of NOT applying these microcode updates, at least while no actual Spectre threat exists in the real world.

Linux vendors have started to roll out Spectre 2 patches, while Microsoft will be releasing Spectre 2 patches for Windows shortly.

 

AMD Fanboys Are Missing The Big Picture

Many AMD fanboys say that we are biased against AMD, because that the risk of a Spectre 2 exploit is small or “virtually non-existent”.

We love the AMD Ryzen just like you do, and find their performance-value proposition incredibly refreshing. In fact, we even wrote an article crediting The Ryzen Effect for creating better Intel processors.

What we reported is no different from the official statement by Mark Papermaster – the AMD CPUs are vulnerable to Spectre 2. But you are all missing the big picture.

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The point here isn’t to rub our collective noses in some kind of childish Intel vs. AMD fanboy war, it’s to point out that these Spectre 2 patches will have a significant performance impact.

Because there is no real world exploit of both Meltdown and Spectre, and because AMD’s microarchitecture is more robust against the Spectre 2 vulnerability, there is arguably no real need to apply the Spectre 2 patches.

That’s why we specifically pointed out that “Mark said that they would be OPTIONAL“, so you should have the option of “NOT applying these microcode updates“.

You guys would have realised that if you actually read the article, instead of just stopping at the title.

 

Intel Fanboys Should Stop Throwing Stones

Some Intel fanboys are using this article as evidence that “AMD got caught lying” or “AMD CPUs are just as bad”. Well, let us address those claims.

  1. AMD did not lie – In their original disclosure, they stated very clearly that “there is a near zero risk” of a Spectre 2 exploit working on an AMD CPU. We specifically mentioned and underlined that in the original article to stress that AMD was already aware that their CPUs are somewhat vulnerable to Spectre 2.
  2. AMD CPUs are far less at risk – Even with this upgraded risk assessment, AMD CPUs are still much less vulnerable to Spectre 2 than Intel CPUs, and they are completely impervious to the Meltdown exploit. Because they are less vulnerable, AMD users have the option of not applying Spectre 2 patches that can have a significant performance impact.

 

Meltdown + Spectre Reading Suggestions

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The NVIDIA GeForce NOW Free Beta Details Revealed!

Thanks to NVIDIA GeForce NOW, your underpowered PC can now let you play games as if it is powered by a high-performance GeForce GTX graphics card! And best of all, NVIDIA is now offering GeForce NOW as a free beta for Windows and Mac desktops and laptops!

 

What Is NVIDIA GeForce NOW?

NVIDIA GeForce NOW is a game-streaming service that connects your Windows or macOS computer to supercomputers in the cloud that stream 1080p graphics at up to 120 frames per second!

Since all of the graphics processing happens in NVIDIA’s data centers, you can now play the latest PC games even on PCs with low performance integrated graphics. All you have to do is connect to your game library on digital stores like Uplay PC and Steam, and start playing!

 

Always Updated, Always Expanding

NVIDIA GeForce NOW receives regular updates, including service enhancements, new games and additional data centers. In fact, the 10th NVIDIA GeForce NOW data center was recently opened in Amsterdam.

GeForce NOW also handles your system maintenance tasks, ensuring that patches and driver updates are installed automatically. It also enables cloud saves for cross-platform play.

 

The Free Public Beta Details

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NVIDIA GeForce NOW is currently available as a free public beta for Windows and Mac desktops and laptops in most of North America and Europe.

The app has been localized in French and German, with local language support for many top and diverse gaming experiences including PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, Arma 3, Garry’s Mod, Fortnite, and more.

Due to the overwhelming demand, there is currently a waitlist to give the free public beta a try. You can get yourself on the waitlist!

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HPET Support – The BIOS Optimization Guide

HPET Support

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review of HPET Support

The HPET, short for High Precision Event Timer, is a new system timer developed by Intel and Microsoft to replace the four system timers currently in use.

Because of its higher precision and performance, it is naturally desirable to use the HPET instead of the older system timers. However, older operating systems do not support HPET. This is where the HPET Support BIOS option comes in.

Setting it to Enabled allows the operating system and applications to use the High Precision Event Timer (HPET) for higher precision and better performance.

Setting it to Disabled disables the High Precision Event Timer (HPET). The operating system and applications will use the older system timers instead.

If you are using a newer operating system like Windows Vista or Windows 2008, you should enable the HPET Support BIOS option. Other operating systems that support HPET include Linux 2.6, FreeBSD and x86 versions of Mac OS X.

If you are using an older operating system like Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, you should disable this BIOS option.

 

Details of HPET Support

The HPET, short for High Precision Event Timer, is a new system timer developed by Intel and Microsoft to replace the four system timers currently in use :

  • the 8254 Programmable Interval Timer (PIT),
  • the Real Time Clock (RTC),
  • the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) timer and
  • the PM clock (or ACPI timer).

The HPET was originally called the Multimedia Timer (MM Timer) but they changed it to its current name to avoid confusion with a Microsoft DirectX timer of the same name, as well as to better describe the timer.

The HPET is also designed to provide aperiodic functionality and higher precision, both necessary to support the tighter timing requirements of multimedia and other time-sensitive applications. High-definition video playback, for example, requires a timing resolution of 1 millisecond to decode and synchronize the video frames and audio streams.

The aperiodic functionality allows applications to issue commands “out of sync” with the system timer. This allows the application to achieve much greater precision without the need for the system timer to actually issue the clock interrupts at the frequency required to achieve that precision. By allowing the system timer to run at a much lower frequency, this feature improves system performance and in mobile systems, extends battery life.

The higher precision is afforded by the HPET’s higher frequency of at least 10 MHz, which gives it a granularity of 1 microsecond or less. Its aperiodic functionality though ensures a nanosecond level of accuracy. It also has registers that are at least 32-bits wide. Some HPETs have 64-bits wide registers which can also run in the 32-bit mode.

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Because of its higher precision and performance, it is naturally desirable to use the HPET instead of the older system timers. However, older operating systems do not support HPET. This is where the HPET Support BIOS option comes in.

Setting it to Enabled allows the operating system and applications to use the High Precision Event Timer (HPET) for higher precision and better performance.

Setting it to Disabled disables the High Precision Event Timer (HPET). The operating system and applications will use the older system timers instead.

If you are using a newer operating system like Windows Vista or Windows 2008, you should enable the HPET Support BIOS option. Other operating systems that support HPET include Linux 2.6, FreeBSD and x86 versions of Mac OS X.

If you are using an older operating system like Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, you should disable this BIOS option.

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HPET Mode – The BIOS Optimization Guide

HPET Mode

Common Options : 64-Bit Mode, 32-Bit Mode

 

Quick Review of HPET Mode

The HPET Mode BIOS option is linked to the HPET Support BIOS option. HPET Support must be enabled for this BIOS option to be active.

The HPET, short for High Precision Event Timer, is a new system timer developed by Intel and Microsoft to replace the four system timers currently in use. Some HPETs have 64-bits wide registers which can also run in the 32-bit mode. This is where the HPET Mode BIOS option comes in.

Setting HPET Mode to the 64-Bit Mode allows the 64-bit operating systems and applications to make full use of the HPET’s 64-bit registers.

Setting HPET Mode to the 32-Bit Mode forces the HPET’s 64-bit registers to run in the 32-bit mode. This allows proper operation when used with a 32-bit operating system.

If you are using a 64-bit operating system, you should select the 64-Bit Mode so that the operating system and 64-bit applications can make full use of the HPET’s 64-bit registers. There is no harm in selecting the 32-Bit Mode although it will mean a potential reduction in counter resolution and/or functionality.

If you are using a 32-bit operating system, you should select the 32-Bit Mode.

If you are dual-booting between a 64-bit operating system and a 32-bit operating system and both support the HPET, select the 32-Bit Mode. If the 64-bit operating system supports HPET while the 32-bit operating system does not (e.g. Windows XP), then you can select the 64-Bit Mode.

 

Details of HPET Mode

The HPET Mode BIOS option is linked to the HPET Support BIOS option. HPET Support must be enabled for this BIOS option to be active.

The HPET, short for High Precision Event Timer, is a new system timer developed by Intel and Microsoft to replace the four system timers currently in use :

  • the 8254 Programmable Interval Timer (PIT),
  • the Real Time Clock (RTC),
  • the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) timer and
  • the PM clock (or ACPI timer).

The HPET was originally called the Multimedia Timer (MM Timer) but they changed it to its current name to avoid confusion with a Microsoft DirectX timer of the same name, as well as to better describe the timer.

The HPET is also designed to provide aperiodic functionality and higher precision, both necessary to support the tighter timing requirements of multimedia and other time-sensitive applications. High-definition video playback, for example, requires a timing resolution of 1 millisecond to decode and synchronize the video frames and audio streams.

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The aperiodic functionality allows applications to issue commands “out of sync” with the system timer. This allows the application to achieve much greater precision without the need for the system timer to actually issue the clock interrupts at the frequency required to achieve that precision. By allowing the system timer to run at a much lower frequency, this feature improves system performance and in mobile systems, extends battery life.

The higher precision is afforded by the HPET’s higher frequency of at least 10 MHz, which gives it a granularity of 1 microsecond or less. Its aperiodic functionality though ensures a nanosecond level of accuracy. It also has registers that are at least 32-bits wide. Some HPETs have 64-bits wide registers which can also run in the 32-bit mode. This is where the HPET Mode BIOS option comes in.

Setting HPET Mode to the 64-Bit Mode allows the 64-bit operating systems and applications to make full use of the HPET’s 64-bit registers.

Setting HPET Mode to the 32-Bit Mode forces the HPET’s 64-bit registers to run in the 32-bit mode. This allows proper operation when used with a 32-bit operating system.

If you are using a 64-bit operating system, you should select the 64-Bit Mode so that the operating system and 64-bit applications can make full use of the HPET’s 64-bit registers. There is no harm in selecting the 32-Bit Mode although it will mean a potential reduction in counter resolution and/or functionality.

If you are using a 32-bit operating system, you should select the 32-Bit Mode.

If you are dual-booting between a 64-bit operating system and a 32-bit operating system and both support the HPET, select the 32-Bit Mode. If the 64-bit operating system supports HPET while the 32-bit operating system does not (e.g. Windows XP), then you can select the 64-Bit Mode.

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Execute Disable Bit – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Execute Disable Bit

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Execute Disable Bit Quick Review

This BIOS feature is a toggle for the processor’s Execute Disable Bit option. In fact, the acronym XD is short for Execute Disable and is specific to Intel’s implementation. AMD’s implementation is called NX, short for No Execute.

When enabled, the processor prevents the execution of code in data-only memory pages. This provides some protection against buffer overflow attacks.

When disabled, the processor will not restrict code execution in any memory area. This makes the processor more vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks.

It is highly recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for increased protection against buffer overflow attacks.

However, please note that the Execute Disable Bit feature is a hardware feature present only in newer Intel processors. If your processor does not support Execute Disable Bit, then this BIOS feature will have no effect.

In addition, you must use an operating system that supports the Execute Disable Bit feature. Currently, that includes the following operating systems :

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1, or later.
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, or later.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, or later.
  • SUSE Linux 9.2, or later.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 Update 3, or later.

Incidentally, some applications and device drivers attempt to execute code from the kernel stack for improved performance. This will cause a page-fault error if Execute Disable Bit is enabled. In such cases, you will need to disable this BIOS feature.

 

Execute Disable Bit Details

Buffer overflow attacks are a major threat to networked computers. For example, a worm may infect a computer and flood the processor with code, bringing the system down to a halt. The worm will also propagate throughout the network, paralyzing each and every system it infects.

Due to the prevalence of such attacks, Intel enhanced their processor architecture with a feature called Execute Disable Bit, which is designed to protect the computer against certain buffer overflow attacks. First released for the 64-bit Intel Itanium processor in 2001, this feature only appeared in Intel desktop and workstation processors from November 2004 onwards. Intel mobile processors with Execute Disable Bit only started shipping in February, 2005.

Processors that come with this feature can restrict memory areas in which application code can be executed. When paired with an operating system that supports the Execute Disable Bit feature, the processor adds a new attribute bit (the Execute Disable Bit) in the paging structures used for address translation.

If the Execute Disable Bit of a memory page is set to 1, that page can only be used to store data. It will not be used to store executable code. But if the Execute Disable Bit of a memory page is set to 0, that page can be used to store data or executable code.

The processor will henceforth check the Execute Disable Bit whenever it executes code. It will not execute code in a memory page with the Execute Disable Bit set to 1. Any attempt to execute code in such a protected memory page will result in a page-fault exception.

So, if a worm or virus inserts code into the buffer, the processor prevents the code from being executed and the attack fails. This also prevents the worm or virus from propagating to other computers on the network.

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This BIOS feature is a toggle for the processor’s Execute Disable Bit option. In fact, the acronym XD is short for Execute Disable and is specific to Intel’s implementation. AMD’s implementation is called NX, short for No Execute.

When enabled, the processor prevents the execution of code in data-only memory pages. This provides some protection against buffer overflow attacks.

When disabled, the processor will not restrict code execution in any memory area. This makes the processor more vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks.

It is highly recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for increased protection against buffer overflow attacks.

However, please note that the Execute Disable Bit feature is a hardware feature present only in newer Intel processors. If your processor does not support Execute Disable Bit, then this BIOS feature will have no effect.

In addition, you must use an operating system that supports the Execute Disable Bit feature. Currently, that includes the following operating systems :

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1, or later.
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, or later.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, or later.
  • SUSE Linux 9.2, or later.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 Update 3, or later.

Incidentally, some applications and device drivers attempt to execute code from the kernel stack for improved performance. This will cause a page-fault error if Execute Disable Bit is enabled. In such cases, you will need to disable this BIOS feature.

Go Back To > The BIOS Optimization Guide | Home

 

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Gate A20 Option – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Gate A20 Option

Common Options : Normal, Fast

 

Quick Review

The Gate A20 Option BIOS feature is used to determine the method by which Gate A20 is controlled. The Normal option forces the chipset to use the slow keyboard controller to do the switching. The Fast option, on the other hand, allows the chipset to use its own 0x92 port for faster switching. No candy for guessing which is the recommended setting!

Please note this feature is only important for operating systems that switch a lot between real mode and protected mode. These operating systems include 16-bit operating systems like MS-DOS and 16-bit/32-bit hybrid operating systems like Microsoft Windows 98.

This feature has no effect if the operating system only runs in real mode (no operating system currently in use does that, as far as I know!) or if the operating system operates entirely in protected mode (i.e. Microsoft Windows XP or newer). This is because if A20 mode switching is not required, then it does not matter at all if the switching was done by the slow keyboard controller or the faster 0x92 port.

With all that said and done, the recommended setting for this BIOS feature is still Fast, even with operating systems that don’t do much mode switching. Although using the 0x92 port to control Gate A20 has been known to cause spontaneous reboots in certain, very rare instances, there is really no reason why you should keep using the slow keyboard controller to turn A20 or or off.

 

Details

The A20 address line is a relic from the past. It came about because the father of x86 processors – the Intel 8088 had only 20 address lines! That meant that it could only address 1 MB of memory. Of course, in the 8088 days, 1 MB of memory was a LOT!

When the Intel 80286 processor was introduced, it had 24 address lines. This represented a tremendous leap in the amount of addressable memory. Although there were only four extra address lines, that allowed the 80286 to address up to 16 MB of memory.

To maintain 100% software compatibility with the 8088, the 80286 had a real mode that would truncate addresses to 20-bits. Unfortunately, a design bug prevented it from truncating the addresses properly. Thus, the 80286 was unable to run many 8088-compatible software.

To solve this problem, IBM designed an AND gate switch to control the 20th address bit. This switch was henceforth known as the Gate A20. When enabled, all available address lines would be used by the processor for access to memory above the first megabyte.

In the 8088-compatible real mode, the Gate A20 would be used to clear the 20th bit of all addresses. This allowed the 80286 to function like a superfast 8088 processor with access only to the first megabyte of memory.

Even today, Gate A20 is still an important part of the computer. The processor needs to turn A20 on and off when it switches between real mode and protected mode. Since operating systems like Microsoft Windows 98 switch a lot between real mode and protected mode, relying on the understandably slow keyboard controller was not acceptable.

The motherboard chipset’s I/O port 0x92 (System Control Port A) was summarily recruited to take over the job. A lot faster than the keyboard controller, the 0x92 port allows the processor to switch much faster between real mode and protected mode. This translates into faster memory access and better system performance.

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The Gate A20 Option BIOS feature is used to determine the method by which Gate A20 is controlled. The Normal option forces the chipset to use the slow keyboard controller to do the switching. The Fast option, on the other hand, allows the chipset to use its own 0x92 port for faster switching. No candy for guessing which is the recommended setting!

Please note this feature is only important for operating systems that switch a lot between real mode and protected mode. These operating systems include 16-bit operating systems like MS-DOS and 16-bit/32-bit hybrid operating systems like Microsoft Windows 98.

This feature has no effect if the operating system only runs in real mode (no operating system currently in use does that, as far as I know!) or if the operating system operates entirely in protected mode (i.e. Microsoft Windows XP or newer). This is because if A20 mode switching is not required, then it does not matter at all if the switching was done by the slow keyboard controller or the faster 0x92 port.

With all that said and done, the recommended setting for this BIOS feature is still Fast, even with operating systems that don’t do much mode switching. Although using the 0x92 port to control Gate A20 has been known to cause spontaneous reboots in certain, very rare instances, there is really no reason why you should keep using the slow keyboard controller to turn A20 or or off.

Go Back To > The BIOS Optimization Guide | Home

 

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Fixed Disk Boot Sector – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Fixed Disk Boot Sector

Common Options : Normal, Write Protect

 

Quick Review

The Fixed Disk Boot Sector BIOS feature provides rudimentary anti-virus protection by write-protecting the boot sector.

If this feature is enabled, the BIOS will block any attempt to write to the boot sector and flash a warning message. This protects the system from boot sector viruses. Please note that it offers no protection against other types of viruses.

If this feature is disabled, the BIOS will not block any writes to the boot sector.

This feature can cause problems with software that need to write to the boot sector. One good example is the installation routine of all versions of Microsoft Windows, from Windows 95 onwards. When enabled, this feature causes the installation routine to fail.

Many hard drive diagnostic utilities that access the boot sector can also trigger the system halt and error message as well. Therefore, you should disable this feature before running such utilities, or when you intend to install a new operating system.

 

Details

The Fixed Disk Boot Sector BIOS feature provides rudimentary anti-virus protection by write-protecting the boot sector.

If this feature is enabled, the BIOS will block any attempt to write to the boot sector and flash a warning message. This protects the system from boot sector viruses. Please note that it offers no protection against other types of viruses.

If this feature is disabled, the BIOS will not block any writes to the boot sector.

This feature can cause problems with software that need to write to the boot sector. One good example is the installation routine of all versions of Microsoft Windows, from Windows 95 onwards. When enabled, this feature causes the installation routine to fail.

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Many hard drive diagnostic utilities that access the boot sector can also trigger the system halt and error message as well. Therefore, you should disable this feature before running such utilities, or when you intend to install a new operating system.

Please note that this BIOS feature is useless for storage drives that run on external controllers with their own BIOS. Boot sector viruses will bypass the system BIOS with such anti-virus protection features, and write directly to the drives. Such controllers include additional IDE, SATA or SCSI controllers that are either built into the motherboard or part of add-on PCI Express or PCI cards.

 

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Intel RAID Technology – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Intel RAID Technology

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review

The Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature controls the RAID function of the Intel SATA controller.

When enabled, the SATA controller enables its RAID features when the computer boots up. You can then press Ctrl-I, when prompted at the boot screen, to access the RAID setup utility.

When disabled, the SATA controller disables its RAID functions when the computer boots up.

If you would like to make use of the SATA controller’s RAID features, you should enable this BIOS feature. But please note that enabling this feature requires you to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

If you do not intend to use the RAID features, it’s recommended that you disable this BIOS feature. This allows you to use the native Windows SATA driver. You won’t need to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

Please note that changing the Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature after installing the operating system may cause a boot failure. You may be required to reinstall the operating system.

 

Details

Intel introduced their unique Matrix Storage Technology with the Intel 82801 (ICH6R) series of I/O controller hubs. Also known as Matrix RAID Technology, it combines the performance benefits of RAID 0 and the data protection of RAID 1 using just two hard disk drives.

For more information on the Intel Matrix Storage Technology, please refer to our Intel Matrix RAID Guide.

The Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature controls the RAID function of the Intel SATA controller.

When enabled, the SATA controller enables its RAID features when the computer boots up. You can then press Ctrl-I, when prompted at the boot screen, to access the RAID setup utility.

When disabled, the SATA controller disables its RAID functions when the computer boots up.

If you would like to make use of the SATA controller’s RAID features, you should enable this BIOS feature. But please note that enabling this feature requires you to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

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When you load the Windows installation routine, the following message will appear on screen :

Press F6 if you have to install a third-party SCSI or RAID driver.

At this point, press the F6 key and insert the drive containing the Intel Matrix Storage Manager. Once it is loaded, the Windows installation will proceed as usual.

If you do not intend to use the RAID features, it’s recommended that you disable this BIOS feature. This allows you to use the native Windows SATA driver. You won’t need to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

Please note that changing the Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature after installing the operating system may cause a boot failure. You may be required to reinstall the operating system.

 

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32-bit Transfer Mode – The BIOS Optimization Guide

32-bit Transfer Mode

Common Options : On, Off

 

Quick Review

This BIOS feature allows you to command the IDE controller to combine two 16-bit hard disk reads into a single 32-bit data transfer to the processor. This greatly improves the performance of the IDE controller as well as the PCI bus.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to enable 32-bit Transfer Mode. If you disable it, data transfers from the IDE controller to the processor will only occur in 16-bits chunks.

 

Details

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This BIOS feature is similar to the 32-bit Disk Access BIOS feature. The name 32-bit Transfer Mode is actually a misnomer because it doesn’t really allow 32-bit transfers on the IDE bus.

The IDE interface is always 16-bits in width even when the IDE controller is on the 32-bit PCI bus. What this feature actually does is command the IDE controller to combine two 16-bit reads from the hard disk into a single 32-bit double word transfer to the processor. This allows the PCI bus to be more efficiently used as the number of transactions required for a particular amount of data is effectively halved!

However, according to a Microsoft article (Enhanced IDE operation under Windows NT 4.0), 32-bit disk access can cause data corruption under Windows NT in some cases. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that Windows NT 4.0 users disable 32-bit Disk Access.

Lord Mike asked ‘someone in the know’ about this matter and he was told that the data corruption issue was taken very seriously at Microsoft and that it had been corrected through the Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2. Although he couldn’t get an official statement from Microsoft, it’s probably safe enough to enable 32-bit Disk Access on a Windows NT 4.0 system, just as long as it has been upgraded with Service Pack 2.

Because it realizes the performance potential of the 32-bit IDE controller and improves the efficiency of the PCI bus, it is highly advisable to enable 32-bit Transfer Mode.

If you disable it, data transfers from the IDE controller to the processor will only occur in 16-bits chunks. This degrades the performance of the IDE controller as well as the PCI bus.

As such, you should disable this feature only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0).

You can also find more information on the Windows NT issue in the details of the IDE HDD Block Mode feature!

 

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PNP OS Installed – The BIOS Optimization Guide

PNP OS Installed

Common Options : Yes, No

 

Quick Review

What this BIOS feature actually does is determine what devices are configured by the BIOS when the computer boots up and what are left to the operating system.

Non-ACPI BIOSes are found in older motherboards that do not support the new ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) initiative. With such a BIOS, setting the PNP OS Installed feature to No allows the BIOS to configure all devices under the assumption that the operating system cannot do so. Therefore, all hardware settings are fixed by the BIOS at boot up and will not be changed by the operating system.

On the other hand, if you set the feature to Yes, the BIOS will only configure critical devices that are required to boot up the system. The other devices are then configured by the operating system. This allows the operating system some flexibility in shuffling system resources like IRQs and IO ports to avoid conflicts. It also gives you some degree of freedom when you want to manually assign system resources.

Of course, all current motherboards now ship with the new ACPI BIOS. If you are using an ACPI-compliant operating system (i.e. Windows 98 and above) with an ACPI BIOS, then this PNP OS Installed feature is no longer relevant. This is because the operating system will use the ACPI BIOS interface to configure all devices as well as retrieve system information.

But if your operating system does not support ACPI, then the BIOS will fall back to PNP mode. In this situation, consider the BIOS as you would a Non-ACPI BIOS. If there is no need to configure any hardware manually, it is again recommended that you set this feature to No.

If you are using an old Linux kernel (prior to 2.6.0), Jonathan has the following advice –

Although Linux (prior to kernel 2.6) is not really PnP-compatible, most distributions use a piece of software called ISAPNPTOOLS to setup ISA cards. If you have PnP OS set to No, the BIOS will attempt to configure ISA cards itself. This does not make them work with Linux, though, you still need to use something like ISAPNPTOOLS. However, having both the BIOS and ISAPNPTOOLS attempting to configure ISA cards can lead to problems where the two don’t agree.

The solution? Set PnP OS to Yes, and let ISAPNPTOOLS take care of ISA cards in Linux, as BIOS configuration of ISA cards doesn’t work for Linux anyway (with the current stable and development kernels). Most times, it probably won’t make a difference, but someone somewhere will have problems, and Linux will always work with PnP OS set to Yes.

Britt Turnbull recommends disabling this feature if you are running the OS/2 operating system, especially in a multi-boot system. This is because booting another operating system can update the BIOS which may later cause problems when you boot up OS/2.

To sum it all up, except for certain cases, it is highly recommended that you to set this BIOS feature to No, irrespective of the operating system you actually use. Exceptions to this would be the inability of the BIOS to configure the devices properly in PnP mode and a specific need to manually configure one or more of the devices.

 

Details

This BIOS feature is quite misleading because its name alludes that you should set it to Yes if you have an operating system that supports Plug and Play (PnP). Unfortunately, it isn’t quite so simple.

What this BIOS feature actually does is determine what devices are configured by the BIOS when the computer boots up and what are left to the operating system. This is rather different from what the name implies, right?

Before you can determine the appropriate setting for this feature, you should first determine the kind of BIOS that came with your motherboard. For the purpose of this discussion, the BIOS can be divided into two types – ACPI BIOS and Non-ACPI BIOS.

You will also need to find out if your operating system supports and is currently running in ACPI mode. Please note that while an operating system may tout ACPI support, it is possible to force the operating system to use the older PnP mode. So, find out if your operating system is actually running in ACPI mode. Of course, this is only possible if your motherboard comes with an ACPI BIOS. With a Non-ACPI BIOS, all ACPI-compliant operating systems automatically revert to PnP mode.

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Non-ACPI BIOSes are found in older motherboards that do not support the new ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) initiative. This can be either the ancient non-PnP BIOS (or Legacy BIOS) or the newer PnP BIOS. With such a BIOS, setting the PNP OS Installed feature to No allows the BIOS to configure all devices under the assumption that the operating system cannot do so. Therefore, all hardware settings are fixed by the BIOS at boot up and will not be changed by the operating system.

On the other hand, if you set the feature to Yes, the BIOS will only configure critical devices that are required to boot up the system. For example, the graphics card and the hard disk. The other devices are then configured by the operating system. This allows the operating system some flexibility in shuffling system resources like IRQs and IO ports to avoid conflicts. It also gives you some degree of freedom when you want to manually assign system resources.

While all this flexibility in hardware configuration sounds like a good idea, shuffling resources can sometimes cause problems, especially with a buggy BIOS. Therefore, it is recommended that you set this feature to No, to allow the BIOS to configure all devices. You should only set this feature to Yes if the Non-ACPI BIOS cannot configure the devices properly or if you want to manually reallocate hardware resources in the operating system.

Of course, all current motherboards now ship with the new ACPI BIOS. If you are using an ACPI-compliant operating system (i.e. Windows 98 and above) with an ACPI BIOS, then this PNP OS Installed feature is no longer relevant. It actually does not matter what setting you select. This is because the operating system will use the ACPI BIOS interface to configure all devices as well as retrieve system information. There is no longer a need to specifically split the job up between the BIOS and the operating system.

But if your operating system does not support ACPI, then the BIOS will fall back to PNP mode. In this situation, consider the BIOS as you would a Non-ACPI BIOS. If there is no need to configure any hardware manually, it is again recommended that you set this feature to No.

Please note that bugs in some ACPI BIOS can cause even an ACPI-compliant operating system to disable ACPI. This reverts the BIOS to PnP mode. However, there is an additional catch to it. Certain operating systems (i.e. Windows 98 and above) will only access the buggy BIOS in read-only mode. This means the operating system will rely entirely on the BIOS to configure all devices and provide it with the hardware configuration. As such, you must set the feature to No if you have a buggy ACPI BIOS.

If you are using an old Linux kernel (prior to 2.6.0), Jonathan has the following advice –

Although Linux (prior to kernel 2.6) is not really PnP-compatible, most distributions use a piece of software called ISAPNPTOOLS to setup ISA cards. If you have PnP OS set to No, the BIOS will attempt to configure ISA cards itself. This does not make them work with Linux, though, you still need to use something like ISAPNPTOOLS. However, having both the BIOS and ISAPNPTOOLS attempting to configure ISA cards can lead to problems where the two don’t agree.

The solution? Set PnP OS to Yes, and let ISAPNPTOOLS take care of ISA cards in Linux, as BIOS configuration of ISA cards doesn’t work for Linux anyway (with the current stable and development kernels). Most times, it probably won’t make a difference, but someone somewhere will have problems, and Linux will always work with PnP OS set to Yes.

Britt Turnbull recommends disabling this feature if you are running the OS/2 operating system, especially in a multi-boot system. This is because booting another operating system can update the BIOS which may later cause problems when you boot up OS/2. In addition, if you add or change hardware, you should enable full hardware detection during the initial boot sequence of OS/2 (ALT-F1 at boot screen -> F5) so that the new hardware can be registered correctly.

Thomas McGuire of 3D Spotlight sent me this e-mail from Robert Kirk at IBM :-

“Actually, the setting “PnP OS” is really misnamed. A better thing would be to say “do you want the system to attempt to resolve resource conflicts, or do you want the OS to resolve system conflict?”. Setting the system to PnP OS says that even if the machine determines some kind of resource problem, it should not attempt to handle it… Rather, it should pass it on to the OS to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, the OS can’t resolve some issues…. which sometimes results in a lock or other problems.

For stability reasons, it is better to set EVERY motherboard’s PnP OS option to No, regardless of manufacturer but still allow the BIOS to auto configure PnP devices. Just leave the PnP OS to No. It won’t hurt a thing, you lose nothing, your machine will still autoconfigure PnP devices and it will make your system more stable.”

Thanks, Thomas! That was really useful info.

To sum it all up, except for certain cases, it is highly recommended that you to set this BIOS feature to No, irrespective of the operating system you actually use. Exceptions to this would be the inability of the BIOS to configure the devices properly in PnP mode and a specific need to manually configure one or more of the devices.

 

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Total War : Warhammer Giveaway Contest Results

If you like games, especially FREE GAMES, we have some awesome news for you. We have FOUR (4) digital copies of Total War : Warhammer worth US$64.99 to give away!

Total War : Warhammer is a turn-based strategy game with real-time tactical battles between armies from the Warhammer universe. You will be able to play one of the four available factions – the Empire, the Greenskins, the Dwarfs and the Vampire Counts.

Don’t forget to join our Microsoft Wise Pad W7 phablet giveaway contest too!

 

Total War : Warhammer Giveaway Contest Mechanics

To win a copy of Total War : Warhammer, all you have to do is look for this contest icon :

It has been inserted into 12 articles that we posted recently. Once you find one, all you have to do is :

  1. Click on the Total War : Warhammer contest icon, and it will open a contest registration form
  2. Key in your name and email address
  3. Click the Send button

That’s it! That’s all you have to do! Simple, isn’t it?

You only need to submit one entry to be in the running to win a copy of Total War : Warhammer. But you can greatly increase your chances by locating more of the same contest icon to submit more entries.

Note : Each contest icon will have their own contest registration form.

 

Where Do I Find The 12 Contest Icons?

To make it easy for you to find the 12 contest icons, here are some clues :

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  1. What AMD graphics card did we recently review? Answer : AMD Radeon RX 480
  2. What is your ultimate travel buddy? Answer : Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro
  3. Which smartphone is powered by the Kirin 650 processor? Answer : honor 5C
  4. Which tablet runs on Windows 10? Answer : Wise Pad W7
  5. What is gold in colour and has 8TB of storage? Answer : WD Gold
  6. What HDD is best for CCTV recording? Answer : WD Purple
  7. What did NVIDIA reveal recently for gaming laptops? Answer : GeForce 10 Series For Notebooks
  8. What mirrorless camera did we recently preview? Answer : Fujifilm X-T2
  9. What smartphone has a 5,000 mAh battery? Answer : Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro
  10. What killer features will the next-generation Apple MacBook Pro have? Answer : OLED Touch Bar & More
  11. What NVIDIA graphics card did we recently review? Answer : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founder’s Edition
  12. What helps travellers change foreign cash into useful credit? Answer : WorldKoins

 

Winner Selection

The contest ends at midnight, September 30, 2016 (GMT+8). We will randomly select four winners, and announce the results in the morning of October 1st.

If you are a winner, you will receive further instructions and the redemption code via email on the very same day. You must use the redemption key by October 15th at the very latest.

Tech ARP will NOT be responsible if your redemption key does not work because you fail to use it by the deadline.

Don’t forget to join our Microsoft Wise Pad W7 phablet giveaway contest too!

 

The Winners!

Congratulations to all four winners! We have already emailed you your redemption codes. Please email us if you do not receive your redemption key in the next hour.

  • Ivan Ng
  • Aleksandar Trpcevski
  • Low Chern Lin
  • Syed Rafie

If possible, use your redemption key right away. The last day you can use the redemption key is on October 15, 2016.

 

More Giveaways?

How about a FREE Microsoft Wise Pad W7 phablet? 😀

 

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