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PC gaming in 2021: The hardware highlights and lowlights

No matter what’s been going on this year, there have been reasons to be cheerful despite the pandemic backdrop, supply crisis, chip shortage, and crypto mining explosion. There is PC gaming hardware to be had, and you can buy a new GPU if you really, really put in the hard graft. And, y’know, the money. 

The end of this year has seen some of the best mainstream gaming CPUs ever released, with Intel’s Alder Lake Core i5 chip wowing us, and the GPU makers have been hard at work to ensure you can squeeze as many frames per second out

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This Insane M.2 SSD Cooler Will Blow You Away

Some ultra-high-end M.2-2280 SSDs tend to overheat under high loads, which is why some users tend to install high-performance aftermarket coolers on such drives. We have recently seen ultra-large M.2 coolers with heat pipes and a fan from RaidSonic and a couple of other makers. But ElecGear probably decided to outperform all of them with its M11 cooler in terms of performance, usability, dimensions, and… noise levels. 

The ElecGear M11 M.2-2280 SSD cooler (discovered by @momomo_us) features two aluminum heatsinks, a backplate, a 6-mm heat pipe that is in direct contact with the drive, and a 30mm high-pressure fan

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AMD Giving Away Radeon RX 6900 XT Halo Infinite Cards

Coming on the heels of Nvidia’s Matrix Resurrected sweepstakes, AMD this week kicked off its Halo Infinite Advanced Combat Exercises (ACE) Contest that gives participants a chance to win AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT Halo Infinite Limited Edition graphics board, which is one of the best graphics cards available today.

AMD’s Advanced Combat Exercises Contest offers several ways to win a one of 28 Radeon RX 6900 XT Halo Infinite graphics boards:  

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Lian Li’s O11D EVO Is a Morphing Case Monster

If you’re the type of PC builder who’s never quite happy with the features of any case, or you want a chassis for your rig that can grow and change along with your evolving rig, Lian Li’s O11D EVO might be perfect for you–so long as you have lots of space.

The Lian Li O11D EVO is, as you might guess, an evolution of the company’s 2018-era O11 Dynamic while incorporating lessons the company learned from subsequent chassis like the O11 Air Mini and the O11D XL. It definitely leans toward the latter in terms of sheer size, at 18.07

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Windows 11 vs Windows 10 GPUs Tested: Which Games Faster?

I’ve been rather happily running and benchmarking graphics cards with Windows 10 since just after it launched in 2015. Microsoft tried to encourage people to upgrade by initially offering Windows 10 for free, plus it was the only OS with support for DirectX 12. Portions of DX12 were eventually backported to Windows 7, and you can still get Windows 10 for cheap, but now Windows 11 is the new kid on the block. So how does it perform, specifically with games? That’s what we wanted to find out, so we grabbed the two best graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia

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We’re Pretty Sure This Crypto Mining Farm Is Where All the RTX 3070s Went

Finding an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070—or pretty much any other modern graphics card—has seemed impossible throughout 2021, especially for anyone looking to buy a new GPU at MSRP. Of course, we already knew that cryptocurrency miners were partly responsible for those problems, but a walkthrough of a full-time mining operation makes the sheer number of graphics cards devoted to mining clearer than ever.

The walkthrough in question was shared by self-described “Full Time Crypto Miner, 4-year crypto veteran, Macro investor,” and “Advocator of all things Crypto, Guns, and Freedom” Jaxson Davidson by way of a Twitter video posted on Tuesday.

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AMD Becomes TSMC’s Third Largest Customer

AMD’s focus to produce all of its most advanced products at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and increasing orders have made the company the foundry’s third largest customer, according to estimates from Bloomberg and DigiTimes. Apple is still TSMC’s No.1 customer and will remain so for the foreseeable future. But AMD’s position ahead of Broadcom, Nvidia, and Qualcomm enables the company to negotiate better business terms, work closer with the contract maker of chips, and have an influence on development of next-generation nodes.

Top TSMC Customers as of December, 2021

2021
Apple 25.93%
MediaTek 5.80%
AMD 4.36%
Qualcomm 3.90%
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Solid Snake-Oil Storage: This SSD Is Aimed at Audiophiles

If you thought a $2,500 audiophile-focused ethernet switch was strange, then you’ll also be amused with this NVMe SSD designed specifically for audiophiles. Last known to be in the sampling phase, the new device was posted to the Audiophilestyle forums. Supposedly, the drive can increase audio quality and give you real 3D sound along with an experience that only comes from vinyl recordings, but don’t look for this drive on our list of Best SSDs any time soon — its impact on audio quality is questionable, to say the least.

The developer claims to have designed and built the

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Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G Review: Light Work, Anywhere

When someone considers a 2-in-1 as the best ultrabook for them, it’s clear that person wants a certain degree of flexibility. And not just the screen. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G ($1,399.99 as tested) is a lightweight, portable notebook that allows for multiple forms of connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 5G) and inputs (touch, keyboard and mouse, included stylus).

In its base configuration, with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM, it isn’t for heavy workloads, and with just 256GB of storage, you’ll want to have some good cloud

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10 Ornaments You Can 3D Print Right Now for Christmas

Extrude some holiday cheer with these ten Christmas ornaments you can make on your FDM printer right now. We’ve selected models that are both easy to print and totally free from some of the best designers in the 3D printing community. 

3D printed plastic ornaments are not only inexpensive; they’re fairly unbreakable, a real bonus if you have pets or kids. This list includes classic baubles and pop culture icons, from TIE fighters to Minecraft creepers.

These highly-detailed, 3D printed ornaments take anywhere from two to 16 hours to print, depending on their size and levels of detail. While having

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