vendredi 20 avril 2018

Motorola’s Moto G6 and Moto E5 series will have really poor software support

Motorola announced the new Moto G and Moto E series lineup on Thursday, and we have posted our first impressions of the new devices. The Moto G6 Plus is the flagship Moto G series device, and it will launch in various international markets, but not the US. In the US, the Moto G6 and the Moto G6 Play will be available, while the Moto E5 Plus (known as the Moto E5 in international markets) and the Moto E5 Play are the company’s latest devices in the Moto E series.

The new Motorola phones have their plus points, including stock Android and useful software features. However, they will have a major flaw: poor software support.

At one point, Motorola was known for providing quick software updates to its devices. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been true for quite some time. Phones such as the Moto G5S Plus and the Moto G5 Plus (as well as other Motorola devices) still haven’t received their Android Oreo update yet, despite the fact that eight months have passed since Android Oreo’s release.

Motorola has now stated that the Moto G6, G6 Plus, and G6 Play will get one major Android update. However, the Moto E5 series is not guaranteed a major update. When it comes to security updates, there is more bad news. The Moto G and Moto E series will not get monthly security updates. Instead, updates will reportedly arrive every 60-90 days.

It’s unknown why Motorola has slipped up so badly when it comes to software updates. The situation looks worse when considering the fact that new competitors such as HMD Global have been acclaimed for their fast updates.

Motorola’s update track record has steadily kept getting worse, and the latest announcement won’t do anything to take it on an upward track. We hope that Motorola changes its update policies, as the company’s consumers deserve better.

Via: Android Authority

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, Honor 10, Moto G6, and Moto E5 Forums now open

This week, we have seen major smartphone launches from Sony, Honor and Motorola. Two months have now passed since Mobile World Congress, and many device makers have launched their device portfolios for the first half of 2018. In March, we saw the launches of the Huawei P20, P20 Pro, and P20 Lite, as well as the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. There are still more upcoming smartphone launches in the horizon, such as the LG G7 ThinQ, OnePlus 6, HTC U12+, and more.

The first major smartphone launch this week was the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium. The phone has the best specifications in Sony’s device portfolio. Its list of specifications includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip, 6GB of RAM paired with 64GB of storage, and a 5.8-inch 4K (3840×2160) Triluminos HDR IPS LCD with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

It has the Motion Eye dual camera module consisting of 19MP (RGB) + 12MP (monochrome) rear cameras with support for 4K HDR video recording, and a 13MP front-facing camera. It’s powered by a 3540mAh battery. The phone will launch with Android 8.0 Oreo, but disappointingly, it won’t be available until “summer 2018.” Our forum for the Xperia XZ2 Premium has now gone live.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium Forum

Next up is Honor. After launching the Honor View 10 at the start of this year, the company has now launched the Honor 10 for the Chinese market, with a global launch set to take place next month. The Honor 10 is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC. It has 6GB of RAM paired with 64GB/128GB of storage.

It has a 5.84-inch Full HD+ (2280×108) IPS LCD with a display notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Its dual camera module is branded as “AI Camera” and consists of a 16MP RGB camera paired with a 24MP monochrome camera. The front-facing camera has a 24MP sensor. It’s powered by a 3400mAh battery with Huawei SuperCharge support (5V/4.5A), and it runs EMUI 8.1 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. Our forum for the device is now open.

Honor 10 Forum

Finally, Motorola launched the Moto G and Moto E series lineup on Thursday. The flagship device in the Moto G series is the Moto G6 Plus, but it won’t be coming to the US. US buyers can choose from the Moto G6 and its lower-end variant, the Moto G6 Play. They will also be able to buy the Moto E5 Plus and the Moto E5 Play. We have posted our first impressions of the Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Plus, and Moto E5 Play.

It should be noted that the Moto E5 Plus is known as the Moto E5 in international markets. Our forum for the Moto G6 and the Moto E5 has now gone live.

Moto G6 ForumMoto E5 Forum

You can now ask questions, read guides, and stay up to date on development news for all these devices. Check out the forums via the source links.

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Xiaomi Mi 7 delayed to Q3 because of 3D facial recognition technology

3D facial scanning sensors haven’t made their way to Android smartphones yet. It should be noted that this doesn’t mean that face unlock isn’t found in Android phones. In fact, device makers such as OnePlus and Honor have improved upon Android’s default face unlock feature with their own implementations. Face unlock on phones such as the OnePlus 5T and the Honor View 10 is incredibly fast, but the downside is that it isn’t said to be secure, unlike a fingerprint sensor.

This is where 3D facial recognition sensors come in. In November, Digitimes reported that many Android smartphone vendors would adopt 3D facial scanning technology in 2018. However, a new report by the publication states that the world’s first Android-based smartphone with 3D facial recognition technology will be a new high-end Xiaomi phone, generally believed to be the Xiaomi Mi 7. However, it’s unlikely to launch until Q3 2018 due to insufficient capability to integrate related hardware and software at 3D sensing providers.

A 3D sensing module jointly developed by Qualcomm, Himax Technologies and Truly Opto-electronics is believed to be the most mature 3D sensing solution currently available in the market, but the limit of using only Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip is said to have deterred the top five Android smartphone vendors from using this module for their high-end smartphones, with the exception of Xiaomi.

Digitimes states that Samsung and Huawei “obviously do not want to use Qualcomm’s chips on their high-end models” (although it’s worth noting that Samsung uses the Snapdragon 845 in the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy S9 and S9+). Instead, both companies plan to develop their own 3D algorithms. This means that according to Digitimes Research, the two vendors won’t be the first Android device makers to launch phones with 3D sensing technology.

Samsung is said to be “unlikely” to launch smartphones with 3D sensing until 2019 for the sake of using its own AI chips while controlling algorithms by itself. Huawei, on the other hand, has gathered its internal labs, HiSilicon Technologies, and third-party developers to develop related algorithms and other solutions to integrate hardware and software products. However, it has yet to include 3D sensors into its latest flagship phones such as the P20 series.

Interestingly, the report states that Xiaomi originally planned to launch a high-end phone which will be powered by Snapdragon 845 and which will have 3D sensing in the first half of 2018. This is believed to be the Xiaomi Mi 7. However, such a plan “is likely to be delayed to the third quarter of 2018” due to a low success rate for facial recognition, which is caused by slow adjustment processes of related software at Qualcomm, according to Digitimes.

Previously, we have exclusively reported on the Xiaomi Mi 7’s specifications. The device’s code-name is dipper, although a dipperold code-name exists as well. We expect to learn more about the device in the coming weeks.

Source: Digitimes

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LG G7 ThinQ will have a dedicated Google Assistant button

The LG G7 ThinQ will launch on May 2nd. At this point, most of the major specifications of the device have been leaked, including the fact that it will have a M+ LCD panel with a display notch, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip, 16MP + 16MP rear cameras, and AI features. Previously, a report stated that the phone will have a dedicated AI button.

Now, CNET states that the LG G7 will sport a dedicated hardware button specifically for Google Assistant. The Google Assistant button will be on the left side of the phone, and the power button will be on the right. The fingerprint sensor will be placed on the back of the device.

The G7 ThinQ will be the first smartphone to have dedicated Google Assistant button. The Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9, and Galaxy S9+ have dedicated physical buttons specifically for Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant. Samsung does not officially allow users to remap the physical button, but users can opt to disable it entirely.

CNET adds that the easy access to Google Assistant is part of a broader push by LG to sell AI as a bigger differentiating factor. The company has already made AI a key focus of its products, as it has included AI features in the LG V30S ThinQ. The LG V30’s Android Oreo update also contains the ThinQ branding and the AI features.

The report also states that there will be unique custom LG commands that users can ask Google Assistant. However, users won’t be able to remap the button to call another app, which is sure to disappoint enthusiasts. The Bixby button on Samsung’s flagship devices behaves in the same manner.

The Google Assistant was launched in 2016 as the successor to Google Now. It’s found in many products, including the Google Home lineup of smart speakers. Google’s arch rival in this field is Amazon’s Alexa, which has also been integrated with some phones. Google Assistant and Alexa dominate the virtual assistant market.

It remains to be seen how LG’s decision to include a dedicated Google Assistant button on the G7 ThinQ is received by users. If the button can’t be remapped, it will definitely be a disappointment as many users would have found use for the button as a shortcut key for launching the camera, or triggering other tasks.

Source: CNET

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RhinoShield Galaxy S9 Case Review: Testing CrashGuard Bumper and the Updated SolidSuit Case [Save 20% with Code]

RhinoShield has been making the best cases for flagship phones for quite some time. With the CrashGuard bumper case they designed a low-profile protective solution that doesn’t take away from the visual appeal of your phone. Their new SolidSuit line is a full-body protective case that offers maximum impact protection while weighing only 30 grams.  These cases are available for the Galaxy S9, S9+, and many other flagship phones.

Take a look at these cases and see the level of detail and research that has resulted in a far better product than the competition.

Use code “XDA” for 20% off

The SolidSuit Case

The SolidSuit case is a single piece that fits snug around your phone. There are cutouts for your cameras, sensors, and ports which leave the heart rate/ blood pressure monitor uninterrupted. The port for the charger is extra large to accommodate cables of varying sizes. The case itself is made of a honeycomb structure that is designed to absorb the impact of a drop from up to 11 feet. The case comes in Classic Black and Carbon Fiber finishes, depending on your own personal style. You’ll have even more options for customization for the different colored button covers.

These cases are extremely tough and will be very difficult to break. Even the buttons are very clicky and feel durable and solid. A raised lip which sits around the screen of your phone will protect the front from scratches and impacts. The material that the case is made of gives it a very smooth but grippy finish. This is a great bonus especially for phones like the Galaxy S9 which are very slippery.

There are many protective cases on the market. But without innovations like the honeycomb shock-spread technology, they end up being bulky and clunky compared to RhinoShield. As a result, the SolidSuit case is much thinner than other protective cases.

It is instantly noticeable that RhinoShield put so much care into making sure that this is the best quality case of its kind.

The CrashGaurd Bumper

The CrashGaurd Bumper is a super-slim bumper that sits tightly around your phone, leaving the back and front of the phone fully visible. The same roomy port cutouts can be found here, making sure you can fit most cables in the charge port. The case is extremely lightweight and gives the effect that you’re not even using a case at all. At only 14 grams this bumper has a minimal profile, making sure you can can still show off your phone without it being too clunky. With the same ShockSpread material as the SolidSuit case, you’ll have up to 11ft of drop protection for your phone.

The CrashGaurd bumper has a snug fit and wont get loose over time, like some of the cheaper bumpers out there. The raised lip design will protect the front and back from scratches that you’d normally get from your phone sitting on rough surfaces.

The small details like the oversized ports, clicky buttons, lanyard cutout and overall quality make this the best bumper case you can get for your Galaxy S9.

RhinoShield’s research and dedication to quality has made their products unmatched when it comes to protective cases. Save 20% by using our code “XDA” when you’re buying your new case from RhinoShield.

Shop RhinoShield

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jeudi 19 avril 2018

Microsoft Translator adds AI-powered Offline Language Packs

Microsoft Translator is Microsoft’s competitor to Google Translate. The app has a broad feature set, and it features translation capabilities in many languages. Users can use it for text-to-speech translation in many languages.

Now, Microsoft has announced that Translator has added new capabilities that allow users and developers to get AI-powered translations whether they are connected to the Internet or not. The new capabilities allow users and third-party app developers to benefit from neural translation technology regardless of whether their device is connected to the cloud or offline.

End users can now download free AI-powered offline packs in Microsoft Translator. Microsoft states that this development comes after two years of work, and it’s said to complement its effort to make sure developers and users can access AI-powered tools for their data, regardless of whether it’s in the cloud or in a device. The ability is referred by experts as edge computing.

The company notes that Microsoft Translator released AI-powered online neural machine translation (NMT) in 2016. This capability was only available online because of “the computing power needed to run these high-quality translation models. In late 2017, the capability was launched for specific Android phones that had a dedicated AI chip–namely, the Huawei Mate 10 series as well as the Honor View 10, as they have a customized version of Translator. This was because the Kirin 970 SoC has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU). According to Microsoft, it allowed users of these devices to get offline translation quality on par with the quality of online neural translation.

The Microsoft Translator team was then able to further optimize the algorithms, which allowed them to run directly on any modern device’s CPU without needing a dedicated AI chip. The new Translator apps therefore now bring neural machine translation “to the edge of the cloud” for all Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire devices, with support for Windows devices coming soon.

According to Microsoft, the new NMT packs produce higher quality translations which are up to 23 percent better and about 50 percent smaller than the previous non-neural offline language packs. The NMT packs are available in Translator’s most popular languages, and the company states that new NMT languages will be added regularly. Users can check the complete up to date list here.

The second feature which Microsoft has announced today is a preview of the new local feature in the Translator Android app, which enables Android developers to “quickly and easily” add text translation to any Android app that benefits from translation capabilities. Additionally, Android developers can add offline NMT to their apps for the first time thanks to the new NMT offline packs, which allows their users to get access to NMT translated content without an Internet connection.

To integrate translation in their app, developers will need to add “some simple code” that will use Android’s bound service technology with an AIDL interface to silently call the Translator app, and the Translator app will then do the rest. If the user’s device is online, the Translator app will retrieve the information from the Microsoft Translator service on Azure. If there is no Internet connectivity, the app will use local NMT offline language packs to deliver the translation back to the developer’s app.

Microsoft states that this feature is expected to be generally available within 90 days of the preview release.  The company also notes that when the user’s device is online, translations can also leverage customized translation models that match the app and company’s unique terminology.

Developers can learn more about how the local feature preview works in the company’s GitHub documentation and sample app.

Source: Microsoft

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AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen Review: Improvements In All The Right Places

Last year AMD finally pulled off something that many had, even until the release, believed wasn’t possible: They brought back real competition to the CPU marketplace. AMD’s Ryzen didn’t accomplish that feat by raw performance alone though. It did it by offering a very competitive product in comparison to Intel’s CPU lineup. But then Ryzen went even further by allowing AMD to challenge Intel’s status as the go-to for many PCs across the varied segments. It added cores and a very real competition in multi-threading that didn’t previously exist, and it offered all of this at prices that almost demanded a re-evaluation of the loyalty to Intel that many consumers and business decision makers had in place.

As we noted in our previous reviews of Ryzen, the blend of performance at a selling point to make higher processing accessible to even those on modest budgets has been its selling point. It’s safe to assume that if Ryzen had not succeeded as well as it did last year that we wouldn’t have seen Intel respond with the end of a workhorse four core, eight thread mainstay flagship. Intel responded not only with two more cores and four threads in the desktop arena, but its brands were entirely re-done as a detachment between its enterprise Xeon lineup and the consumer Core lineup was completed. And very recently, Intel introduced a higher core and thread count to the mobile segment.

The competition was great in 2017, resulting in consumers winning overall. Now we start our look at 2018’s new products with the second generation of Ryzen and its socket AM4 motherboards. And at the onset of the review, we had one main request for AMD, one that I personally asked its CEO at SIGGRAPH last year: please keep doing what you’re doing right. The second generation of Ryzen seems to show that AMD has very carefully listened to its consumers and read the reviews. While this is a process improvement of the original Zen, many things beyond the technology seem to have been done here that will help keep AMD’s competitive streak in place.

2nd Generation Ryzen Changes

One of the biggest issues with the first generation lineup was that despite the different speeds, many of our samples in the first Ryzen review ended up in virtually the same performance level when manually overclocked. This really meant that there were three price tiers for essentially the same performance. After all, if a person is going to manually overclock it—why pay extra for the 1800X instead of the 1700 when both typically could achieve the same (or near same) results?

AMD seems to have taken this particular feedback to heart—in this case by using the KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”) approach. Rather than three product levels at the six and eight core counts, we now see two: a version with and without XFR support. AMD sent us the 2600X and 2700X for review. We did perform some basic, multiplier only, overclocking tests with both. Based on what we have seen with both the first and second generation, we suspect that little has changed in manual overclocking. This means that overclockers, while factoring in the ever-present silicon lottery, should theoretically be able to get near similar results overclocking a non-XFR. AMD’s own testing suggested that the sweet spot here would be 4.2 GHz. Since last year’s estimates were very different to our actual findings, we’ll pay a bit of attention to this to see if it holds true this year. The other benefit is that this leaves room for a new 2800X to enter later in the year, should AMD desire to do so.

Overclocking aside, the 2nd generation Ryzen benefits from a 12nm LP (leading performance) manufacturing process which should offer us improvement by itself. At the same speeds, AMD’s own testing indicated about an 11% decrease in power draw, part of an overall 10-15% range of improvement for this new generation over the previous one. The additional power can then be used to increase clock speeds, which now easily is possible both for single and all cores over 4 GHz. The XFR for the 2700X, for example, can achieve a single core speed of 4.3 GHz out of the box.

Separately a SSD caching feature that AMD is calling StoreMi (in a similar naming to its SenseMi features) was also introduced. Much like Intel’s Optane, these seem to rely upon Windows usage and so for now we have not tested these new features. But the benefit to those who wish to use it should be fairly similar, except that the limitations in SSD cache sizes are only what the consumer wishes those to be. This could actually be a good selling point for Intel Optane SSDs as they have been confirmed to work in this role.

Unboxing, Set Up – And Put Aside?

The review package we received from AMD was a bit unusual in that we received two X470 motherboards. Both seem to be the very high end offerings – in this case, from MSI and ASUS. The Republic of Gamers Crosshair series is well known for its very deep options in configuring and tweaking, so we decided to use this for the review. As for the other motherboard and included memory—well, I did mention something in a recent video about a build. But rather than link to that video let’s add the short unboxing video that was made.

Testing Configuration and Methodology

In order to minimize variables during testing, we kept the changes to processors and motherboards only. All other components were shared across the testing platforms and all used the same build and install of Ubuntu 17.10.1 with all updates through April 10th installed. As usual, any components were sourced by us unless noted that it was provided by others. In that case, we will inform who provided us with the particular component. And, as requested by other reviewers, we are including the BIOS version on each.



Test Bench (Shared Across All)

Operating System & Software

Testing Methodology

As requested, we’ve been adding the “monitor=all” flag for Phoronix Test Suite, but I’ve yet to see details coming back from the sensors. All 6 processors were tested at stock speeds and then given a multiplier only overclock at the highest possible speeds where the Phoronix Test Suite completed. As we have continued to do now for some time, our testing script is available on Google Drive, with a few missing packages now added.

Non-Build Benchmarks

Benchmark Notes: Phoronix Test Suite’s CPU suite offers a plethora of tests and not all are included in this review. The full list of tests and results are available here, with the exception of our LineageOS build times. Those will be included later in the article. Color scheme for benchmarks continues to follow XDA’s traditional color scheme.


FFTW is a single-threaded benchmark of fast Fourier transform. No surprises here—we’re still bound by clock speeds. 2nd generation Ryzen gets a boost here as a result, especially with Precision Boost 2 in effect at stock speeds. Noteworthy here is that the gap between Intel and AMD is shrinking—which may indicate the IPC is indeed improving with this new generation.

GZip Compression

GZip is a common compression method and so it makes sense to check out the performance here. Similar story to what we saw with FFTW, though that gap shrink is a lot more visible here. So if your tasks are heavy on single core performance, these results have been worth your while. A jump from first to second generation Ryzen may not be a bad idea if this helps improve your performance.

SciMark 2 (Java) v1.3.1

The SciMark 2 benchmark utilizes Java for arithmetic operations and then provides scoring based on those results. Intel continues its domination here, and it’s odd that we see little improvement in this benchmark between first and second generations of Ryzen.

John The Ripper

On the cryptography front, John The Ripper offers similar results as before. The additional cores get put to work quite well here, but even at the same core/thread count, the 2600X at a lower clock speed stays within a margin of error of the 8700K at 4.9GHz. That’s quite impressive, though we see that 8 cores continues to be the best performer.

C-Ray v1.1

C-Ray demonstrates a similar result, with the 2600X now properly competing against its 6 core counterpart i7-8700K instead of deferring to the higher core counts of the 1800X and 2700X. The i7-8700K still beats the 2600X when given a massive boost thanks to high overclock speeds, but at stock speeds, it’s a lot tighter than it used to be. That’s great news for consumers and for AMD.

Benchmarks: Build Performance

Build Test: ImageMagick

Although we saw one outlier PTS build test (LLVM) most of the build tests this time showed a significant improvement with Intel over AMD. But even then we’re talking differences of 5% between the 2700X and 8700K, which sticks to AMD’s original strategy of Ryzen. Ryzen won’t win every benchmark against Intel… but it will stay close enough that this performance combined with good pricing will still make it worth consideration.

Build Test: LineageOS cm-14.1 Pixel XL

Since the Pixel XL is no longer sold by Google this will likely be our last time using it as our device of choice. It’s also the last time we’ll be building using cm-14.1 (Android 7.1) given its age. Thankfully we’re now in a place where more cores and higher speeds both seem to play a role in build times—and so while the i7-8700K beats out the 1800X at an even higher overclock than before, the 2700X takes back the title of building LineageOS from source in the shortest time possible.

But let’s look more at the 2600X against the i7-8700K. Yes, the i7-8700K outperforms the 2600X. But that difference, before over 10 minutes, has now seen that gap reduced to 7 minutes at stock speeds and 5 minutes at a 4.2 GHz overclock. That’s 15% slower at stock and 11% at overclock speeds. But at MSRP the 2600X is 40% less expensive than the i7-8700K, and for about 13% less expensive a CPU is available that can outperform the i7-8700K in builds here.

One thing that did finally rear its ugly head in these benchmarks was the issues building with the first generation of Ryzen. I was able to accomplish builds for all but the Ryzen 5 1600X using ccache, but it took several attempts in order to complete these. I did not run into these issues with the second generation samples.

Final Thoughts

Ryzen’s second generation took what it needed to from the first generation, improved on it, and bring those improvements to the masses. But this begs the question—who should make the jump to this? And if you are an owner of first generation Ryzen and an X370 motherboard, does it make sense to upgrade?

The motherboard question is almost assuredly yes. We’re going to revisit this here soon because I was able to achieve a better overclock with the Ryzen 7 1800X on the ASUS X470 Crosshair VII Hero than I was ever able to on any 300-series motherboard. This is likely due to improvements that came with the 400-series chipset, knowing how to squeeze even a little more from those processors as possible. But then this leaves another question unanswered: How much do overclockers gain in performance from a first generation CPU like the 1800X over the 2700X?

There’s no doubt that Ryzen, for the second year in a row, continues to offer the best performance at its price point. It’s not always the fastest out there and, for those who want that, they’ll pay a premium to go with Intel. But AMD’s strategy is to get consumers to even raise the question and think if they should look at AMD. And right now the answer for many is undoubtedly yes. As for which generation to go with, that will largely depend on your circumstances at the time you buy.

Right now there’s likely to be some good sales going on with the first generation lineup—enough that it may be possible to get a first generation Ryzen 7 for the price of a second generation Ryzen 5. Based on the benchmarks and results, almost everyone would be better off going this route. Those sales will eventually end, and as it does the clear choice for most will be the second generation of Ryzen. AMD has also done very well by removing some of the fragmentation in the various offerings, consolidating them into very effective options.

We’re still working on the idea of awards or badges, but in the absence of those, we would continue to say this: If you’re in the market for a new desktop, you really should be looking at AMD and what Ryzen can offer your use case at your budget. In almost every case right now a consumer is better off choosing Ryzen and investing that difference into other hardware, such as a higher end graphics card. 2017 was a great year for consumers in the CPU market. And for the second year in a row, in the realm of desktop processors… consumers still win.

I can’t help but love that.

We want to know: how have you been liking these reviews? Have they helped influence your decision on buying PC hardware? Still on the fence or unsure about what to buy? Feel free to let us know in the comments below! Alternatively, you can reach us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the PC Hardware forums!

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