The TR Podcast 126: As the second turns, an unexpected journey


Plus Samsung's newest SSD and listener mail
— 6:44 PM on January 6, 2013

The Tech Report Podcast Date: January 6, 2013
Time: 1:17:58

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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Show notes
We've got a lot to talk about in our first episode of 2013. We kick things off with four listener mail questions, which cover everything from Windows 8 to the state of the union for PC gaming. Then, our panelists discuss Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, and Cyril talks about his review of AMD's Radeon HD 8790 mobile GPU.

To bring a measure of conclusion to our recent inside-the-second benchmarking controversies, Scott brings us up to speed on the industry voices—including Intel and AMD—that have weighed in on the matter. Finally, Geoff gives us the low-down on his review of Samsung's speedy 840 Pro SSD.

Send in listener mail, and we'll answer on the podcast. - jdrake@techreport.com

Follow us on Twitter - Scott - Jordan - Geoff - Cyril - The Tech Report

Listener mail/tweets:

Surface RT and high end audio - from Garrett - (0:02:23):

"Hey guys, If any of you have spent some time with the Surface RT tablet have you drawn any definitive conclusions? My experience has been pretty disappointing and I originally had really high hopes for the FUI interface. My conclusion is that I think the best experience for Windows 8 will be on a phone. The issues for me have to do with the lack of apps, the on-screen keyboard not recognizing all text fields, the lack of need for the Desktop on the tablet and the terribly high pricing.

Do you really think touch for desktop systems is going anywhere? Windows 8 may be better for touch, but I don't think that it makes sense to use a touch monitor in a desktop/workstation scenario. Try holding your arm out in front of you and waving it around for 3 minutes and tell me how it feels. I really think Windows 8 is missing the boat for traditional photographer/gamer/enthusiast configurations. Are you guys going to consider focusing on higher end audio for the Desktop/Mobile? Some of us out hear really appreciate good quality bookshelf speakers, awesome headphones, amps and so on. I recently purchased a pair of V-Moda headphones for my daughter and was really impressed having owned some Sennheiser HD280Pros and Grados 60is in the past. I also found a good deal on some surprisingly good sounding cheap headphones. You guys need to check them out if you are using crap headphones from Best Buy, Frys or Walmart.

Thanks for all the work you do...still reading and listing after all these years"

Thumbs up for Windows 8 - from Jack - (0:08:54):

"Dear Tech Report,

A week and a half ago, I installed Windows 8 on my home-built desktop for only $15 using the offer from WindowsUpgradeOffer.com. Before doing so, being cautious, I confirmed with Microsoft that my Windows 7 license key would still be valid if I changed my mind. I did a clean install of Windows 8, since I'm anal like that.

Windows 8 is super fast. My computer boots in 9 seconds, far faster than Windows 7 with the same SSD. The improvements to the File Explorer and Task Manager are great, and I appreciate them daily. I frequently discover new little features and shortcuts that I like. Yes, the Modern User Interface is awkward, and no, I don't prefer any Modern UI apps over the actual desktop programs they are meant to replace. I do find it rather hard to find certain settings or customizations, but that's just because it's unfamiliar. However, it is fast to start a program that I want: I mouse to the bottom-left corner and click to bring up the Modern UI, and then I click on the program that I want. It is just as fast as the Start Menu in that regard, or as easy as minimizing everything to click on a desktop icon. Also, if I know the name of the program I want, I can just hit the Windows key and start typing "calc" to pull up the calculator, for example. And if I don't know the name of the program, with a few extra clicks I can view a full list of installed from within the Modern UI. I'm purposely waiting to install Start8 by Stardock to see if I can get used to the Modern UI first. It hasn't happened yet, so in a week I might cave and spend the $5 for it. It allows you to boot straight to the desktop, and either restore the original start menu or a small Modern UI menu in its place (that doesn't cover the whole screen).

All my programs work, and all my hardware (including the unusual stuff) is fully supported with working drivers, including my weird Chinese high-end USB DAC. Automatic driver installations are faster and more consistently right than Windows 7, even. I don't have issues with charms interrupting games like League of Legends, and Steam works just fine. I'm a gamer, a computer geek, and someone is very happy with Windows 7, so view this as a shout-out to my peers: don't be afraid of Windows 8 - it doesn't bite. In fact, it is quite nice in many aspects. Two thirds of the complaints against it are imaginary, and the final third are merely preferences that can be overcome for $5 by purchasing Start8. It makes sense to upgrade to Windows 8 for only $40 before the offer expires. And for $15, it's a no-brainer.

Regards,
Jack Aubrey
HMS Sophie"

Have we ever had it so good? - from Mike - (0:10:06):

"Hey Jordan and The Tech Report team,

I am emailing from the UK and I have been an avid reader of the site and listener to the podcast for many years. Well done for producing excellent quality articles and information, keep up the great work. I will keep this short so it can be read out on the podcast if possible. Hope you get where I am coming from.

Over the holiday season I have managed to get a bit more time playing PC games and I have started to think about the PC gaming industry and era we live in today. I know you guys have talked about the state of the gaming industry before on your podcast and would like to re-visit it with some new thoughts. Due to the excellent deals on steam and other vendors lately I have been playing lots of different games at the moment from Max Payne 3 to Saints Row to Dead Island to the excellent Deadlight to name a few. I am having so much fun with all these games, especially coop with friends, that I have picked up so cheap, that I feel we are living in a golden age of PC gaming. I am already looking forward to new releases in 2013, upcoming indie games and the future 'Star Citizen' game. Never before have we had so many fun, great looking and great performing games than we do today. It makes me think; have we ever had it so good?

Regards, Mike"

Data allocation for the SSD/HD hybrid configuration? - from Danny - (0:18:54):

"Hi Guys, Love the podcast, and the great work everyone does at the Tech Report.

I did a PC build a little over 3 years ago following along with one of your system guides. This was back pre-flooding, when mechanical hard drive prices were at their lowest they'd ever been and that they'll probably ever be, while SSD's were only just starting to creep down from their sky-high introductory pricing. That being the case, I skipped the SSD's and equipped my new machine with four mechanical hard drives in two Raid 1 arrays. The first array is a pair of faster 640GB hard drives for the OS and quick-access programs, and the second is a pair of slower 2 TB drives for mass storage. (I also have another pair of 2 TB drives I interchange for redundant off-site system backups... did someone say redundancy???)

Anyway, now that the cost scenario is more or less flipped between HDD vs. SSD, I'm considering what you guys have mentioned a couple of times as the most sensible upgrade for a machine like mine... I'd like to switch out the mechanical drives for solid states. (or possibly just introduce a third SSD Raid 1 array) Since the SSD's are now winning all of the battles in your system build guides, I'm starting to feel left out with my slowpoke HDD's. I would love to see an article or at least hear a verbal discussion on the podcast of the "right" way pros like the Tech Report crew would go about this hardware trade out? Especially in my particular situation where the mechanical drives are twice the size of their likely SSD replacement. (I'm thinking this has to be a pretty common situation). I still have plenty of room on the 2TB array to pare down what's on the OS array, but how do I decide what should be where? Most articles I can find seem to gloss over some really critical details that seem pretty important if you're trying to do something as risky as transfer your OS from one physical drive to another.

I feel a little silly asking about this, since I've done some pretty advanced stuff with my machine, but this just seems like one of those straightforward procedures that could easily become a huge mistake if it's done incorrectly. I'd just like a little more in-depth discussion of the pitfalls awaiting me along the way and the right steps to prevent them. I think a pretty large group of readers would find a short guide for this procedure quite useful and easy to pass along to friends looking to do the same thing.

Thanks again for the great work. On a side note, I'm really enjoying this saga about the newer Radeon's stutter problems vs. Nvidia. A few months ago I traded out my own Radeon 5850 for a Radeon 7850, and have seen the same issues Scott has been pointing out on newer games like Skyrim. I look forward to AMD's resolution, spurred on by the Tech Report's fantastic "inside the second" review process. Keep it up!

Thanks,
Danny Mercier
Mechanical Engineer"

Tech discussion:

That's all, folks! We'll see you on the next episode.TR

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