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AMD Ryzen Processors Are Finally Coming to Chromebooks


Today AMD announced its Ryzen processor series is joining the Chromebook family—Athlon, too. Both APUs (that means CPU and integrated graphics in non-AMD terms) include Radeon Vega integrated graphics and will be found in mid-level to high-end Chromebooks with Athlon on the mid-level, and Ryzen on the high-end…

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joanna Nelius

The star of Netgear’s first WiFi 6 gaming router is its software

c0692b30-f863-11ea-8ed7-5d4807369790The PlayStation 5 will support WiFi 6 upon its release this November, but it won’t mean much if gamers don’t have a router that also supports the standard. There are some good models on the market from companies like D-Link and Linksys, with great ge…

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OLED vs. QLED, and More: Which TV Should You Buy?

Want a new TV, but confused by the barrage of acronyms and jargon manufacturers love? One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want a traditional light-emitting diode (LED) model, or a set that features the newer organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim Brookes

16 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Gadgets

Tech is constantly being outdated, and because of that, you might have a small gadget graveyard building up in your house somewhere. But you spent a decent amount of money on all that stuff, it shouldn’t go to waste! So before you get rid of it, let’s go over some cool stuff you can do with those dated pieces of tech.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

USB Explained: All the Different Types (and What They’re Used for)

Hand holding a USB C cabledhehaivan/

USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is a common type of computer port that makes it easy to charge a device or transfer data between two devices. Since it was first developed in the ’90s, USB has continued to evolve alongside technology, progressively becoming smaller, faster, and more powerful. With so many devices that use USB, it’s easy to get confused by the different connectors. But fear not—we’re going to demystify all of that today.

When it comes to USB, there are really only four things that matter: form factor, transfer speeds, power delivery, and video delivery. Let’s dig in.

Form Factor

USB 2.0 and 3.0 connector typesMilos634/

There are multiple types of USB that have popped up over the years, each with a unique design and use case. The most common types are USB-A, Micro-USB, and USB-C, but we’ll briefly discuss all of them.


USB-A, or USB Type A, is the original flat and rectangular connector that no one could ever figure out how to plug in correctly the first time. These cables always have USB-A on one end with a different port type on the other, and can be used for device charging and data transfer. USB-A is still widely used and can be found on devices like computers, gaming consoles, TVs, and all kinds of peripherals.


USB-B is pretty much only used on large devices, like scanners or printers. Visually, this connector looks almost square. Most of these are USB-B to USB-A cables, though some newer devices have moved on from USB-B to smaller options, like Micro-USB or Mini-USB.


Micro-USB was the standard a while back for certain portable devices, like Android tablets and smartphones because it can transfer data and provide charge. It comes in both Type-A Micro and Type-B Micro flavors, and is smaller than USB-A. Some manufacturers still opt for using Micro-USB parts for their devices, as they’re less costly than those for USB-C.


As its name suggests, Mini-USB is a smaller version of USB-B. It was the standard for charging or transferring data from devices like tablets before Micro-USB was. There are also Type-A and Type-B versions of this connector. It’s uncommon to see many products using Mini-USB today, though you can still find them on older electronics like MP3 players or the PlayStation 3 controller.


This is the current standard, and it marries power and data delivery with display connectivity. USB-C is what you’ll see on most new devices like smartphones, game controllers, earbud cases, microphones, and laptops. Its form factor is small, oblong, and reversible, so it can be plugged in either way (take that, USB-A). The port’s 100-watt connection makes it perfectly suited for fast charging and data transfers, even with larger devices.

USB-C can do more than other USB types can, and get it done faster. USB-C has the potential to replace all other cables, thanks to its diverse multi-tasking abilities. It has the ability to power even the most power-hungry devices, like laptops and TVs. It can also transfer 40 gigabits of data per second (Gbps), and can be used to deliver 4K video to external monitors.

While manufacturers continue to release new products with ports other than USB-C (looking at you, Apple), we aren’t yet able to live in a single-cable society, but we’re getting there we, and we may eventually be freed from the burden of lugging around multiple cords.


Technically, Lightning is not USB, but rather Apple’s proprietary connector type that works similarly to USB. You’ll see it on Apple’s devices, like the iPad and iPhone. It’s similar to USB-C in that it is reversible. It supports speeds similar to USB 3.0.

Data Transfer Speed

Close up of computer cable USB isolated on white background, selective focustristan tan/

In addition to coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, USB types also have multiple speed standards. Keep in mind that some USB cables are data transfer only, and others are power delivery only, but also that there are options that can handle both tasks. Be sure to verify a cable’s abilities before purchasing it.

The first, USB 1.x, is old and incredibly slow, and can only move 1.5 Mbps. Your odds of finding a device in the wild still on 1.0 are slim to none. The slightly less old (and comfortably slow) USB 2.0, however, is still relatively common, though you’ll really only find it on older electronics. 2.0 has a full-speed option that can handle 12 Mbps, and a high-speed version that can handle 480 Mbps. SuperSpeed USB 3.x can transfer data between 5-20 Gbps.

The latest entries, USB 4.0, Thunderbolt 3, and Thunderbolt 4, are where you’ll find the highest data transfer speeds: a maximum capable throughput of 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt is another transfer speed standard used in some USB-C cables—all Thunderbolt 3 and 4 cables are USB-C, but not all USB-C cables are Thunderbolt. So if Thunderbolt is what you’re after, you’ll need to make sure that’s part of the cable you’re buying.

These super-high transfer rates are impressive, but they don’t matter much if you aren’t regularly transferring hundreds of GB of data or doing something wild like editing video on an external hard drive. If you are, however, you’ll want at least Thunderbolt 3.

Power Delivery

As we mentioned above, some USB cables are only capable of delivering power or transferring data, though most can do both. PD (power delivery) standards fall into one of three main categories: power only, slow charge, and fast charge.

USB 2.0 supports 2.5W charging and USB 3.0 supports 4.5W charging. To put things in perspective, 10W is enough power to slow charge your phone, and 18W is enough to fast charge your smartphone or power a Netbook or similar bare-bones laptops.

In contrast, USB PD can handle up to 100W, which is powerful enough to power things like a MacBook Pro, monitors, docking stations, and most TVs. It can also fast-charge smaller compatible devices like your phone or Nintendo Switch. PD also only provides the necessary charge to your device but won’t overcharge it. Newer battery banks are starting to support USB PD, which are more capable of keeping your power-hungry devices powered and fully charged.

Video Delivery

Smartphone connected to laptop via USB cableLTim/

Being able to transfer data and power a device is already impressive. But you can also choose to use USB-C to connect to monitors in place of a bulky HDMI or VGA cable. USB-C also has support for 4K video delivery to a screen. Thunderbolt 4 cables can handle displaying 4K content on two monitors at a time, or 8K on a single monitor. Again, this isn’t going to be the use case for most people, but as 4K and 8K video becomes more commonplace, you’ll eventually need a cable that can keep up.

How to Know if You’re Using a Safe USB Cable

The rule of thumb is that you should always use the cable that came with your device and that you should buy any replacements from the manufacturer as well. That cable is specifically engineered to be used with your phone, tablet, or computer.

However, if you want to purchase one from a third party, be sure to stick with trusted established brands like Anker, Aukey, or Belkin, or at least look to see if a different brand lists the cable’s USB certification. Otherwise, you could end up with an inferior cable that lacks official USB-IF certification and could potentially damage your device.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Which Old Components Can You Reuse When Building a New PC?

Building a new PC is fun, exciting, and . . . expensive. After you’ve built a few desktops, all those new boxes of Corsair, NVIDIA, and Intel gear can lose their luster—especially after you tally up the bill.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ian Paul

Plastic Phones Are the Best Phones—Here’s Why

A photo of the Google Pixel 4a.Justin Duino

Plastic’s got a bad rap. We fool ourselves into thinking that plastic phones are cheap and ugly, but they’re just as good as a glass-backed and aluminum devices. In fact, you might prefer a lightweight and durable plastic phone over the greasy glass sandwich that’s weighing down your pocket.

Glass Sandwiches Are Heavy and Fragile

The Google Pixel 3a---a plastic phone that hardly weighs nothin'.The Google Pixel 3a—a plastic phone that hardly weighs nothin’. Google

I’m currently using a Pixel 3a, and for all of its standout features, I’m constantly impressed by its weightlessness. It’s one of the lightest smartphones I’ve ever used, and a far cry from the weighty gigantic glass-backed phones that Samsung and Apple are releasing today.

Some people may argue that the Pixel 3a is lightweight because of its small 5.6-inch footprint. But size ain’t everything; the Pixel’s weightlessness is all because of the plastic! Just look at the new Pixel 4a, which weighs a paltry 5.04 ounces despite its 5.8-inch display. That’s significantly less weight than the new 4.7-inch iPhone SE, which pushes the scale to 5.22 ounces and feels like a shiny $400 bludgeon.

Not that I would use the iPhone SE as a weapon—it’s too fragile! There’s no landing on your feet with a glass-backed phone. If it drops hard enough, you’re gonna end up with a cracked display or a shattered backside (or both). A plastic phone that lands on its back probably won’t need any repairs, although it may come out with a scuff or a scar.

Lots of Plastic … Looks Fantastic!

The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, a plastic phone from 2017.The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, a plastic phone from 2017. Sony

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 marks a turning point for phone design. Not because it was especially attractive or ambitious looking, but because critics thought that its dimpled plastic backside looked cheap. Complaints were so bad that Samsung replaced its design chief and spit out the S6 and S6 Edge, two phones that set today’s design standard for glass backs and curved displays.

Phone critics were probably envious of the aluminum-wrapped iPhone 6, which looks futuristic next to the Galaxy S5. But the complaints about plastic suddenly extended to every device from 2014 onward. Even phones that look modern today, like 2014’s Nexus 6, were criticized for their “cheap” plastic appearance.

But we both know that plastic looks fine. Ugly phones don’t look that way because they’re made of plastic; they look that way because of poor design choices. Plenty of phones rock the plastic look, and even years-old devices like the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact look futuristic thanks to a satin finish and smart color design.

Speaking of satin finishes, don’t you hate the fingerprints and smudges on your glass-backed phone? Plastic phones are perfect for people who like to go without a phone case, as they’re (mostly) fingerprint-proof and resistant to unsightly cracks or blemishes. (And if you use a phone case … then why do you care what the back of your phone looks like?)

Plastic Doesn’t Interfere with 5G or Wireless Charging

Samsung's Galaxy Note20, a plastic 5G machine.Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20, a plastic 5G machine. Samsung

One of the difficult things about 5G phones and wireless charging technologies is that they don’t have a lot of range. They’re also easy to obstruct, which is just one reason why manufacturers like to make their phones out of glass instead of aluminum. But it just happens that plastic is perfect for wireless charging, and it may be better suited for 5G than glass.

You know the white or gray lines that run on the top and bottom edges of your phone? Those are antenna bands—although they aren’t actually antennas. Instead, they’re strips of plastic that allow your cellphone’s antenna signal to slip past the metal frame that holds all that glass together.

But plastic is practically invisible to radio waves. Phone manufacturers don’t need to worry about antenna bands or signal strength while working on plastic phones, which makes it a lot easier to deal with sensitive 5G technology. It’s also (maybe) the reason why both the $1,000 Galaxy Note 20 5G and the sub-$500 Moto G 5G Plus rock our favorite material—plastic! Turns out it’s not just budget phones, even in 2020.

Repairs Are a Breeze! (Kinda)

When the lead designer behind Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was asked why the company stuck with plastic, he answered that it makes battery-swaps and repairs easier. You can open the back of an S5 and replace its battery using just your fingernail, which is a far cry from the hour-long process of replacing the glass-backed Galaxy S6’s battery.

While plastic phones aren’t as repairable as they used to be, they’re easier to fix than their glass-backed counterparts. Take the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a—two phones that are easy to open and secured by light manageable adhesive. The newer Pixel 4a is also notable for its accordion design, which allows you to quickly navigate the phone’s internals by removing the display and taking out a single midframe screw.

Repairing a plastic phone is still a frustrating time-consuming process that most people won’t (or shouldn’t) bother with. But hey, at least you know that your Pixel 4a will be refurbished and resold after you’re done with it. Phones that are more difficult to repair don’t always enjoy the same fate.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn’t buy a phone based on its backside. Plastic phones have a lot to offer. They look fantastic with satin or matte finishes, they don’t screw with 5G signals, they’re practically weightless, and they’re slightly easier to repair than your average glass-backed phone.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

MOGA XP5-X Plus Review: A Premium Mobile Controller for the Game-Streaming Future

While most mobile games are designed with touch screens in mind, we’re starting to see more console/PC games playable on mobile devices through streaming platforms like Google Stadia and GeForce NOW. When it comes to those types of games, you’re going to need a controller to properly play them, and the MOGA XP5-X Plus from PowerA was specifically designed with these platforms in mind.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

External PC Drive Bays Are Dying, And That Sucks

Two 5.25-inch drive bays: one a standard DVD drive, the other a 3.5-inch card reader in an adapter.bump Michael Crider

Even now that PC gaming is a bigger market than ever, those who build their own desktops are niche customers. So when I talk about desktop PC cases, I do so knowing my position represents a niche of a niche, and one that might fairly be criticized as old-fashioned. That said: Let’s talk about external drive bays!

Even more specifically, about the 5.25-inch external drive bay—the one that holds a CD DVD Blu-ray removable disc-based media drive. Please don’t kill it, PC case makers. I’m begging you.

Hard to Find

A couple of months ago, deep in the work-from-home malaise of the pandemic, I decided to upgrade my desktop PC’s case. I’d been using the Fractal Design R4 for my desktop for almost eight years, carrying it across three major system rebuilds and more individual parts than I can remember. I wanted something with a more modern internal layout for better cable routing, maybe easier-to-access bays for my hard drive and SSD, and—the real draw—a fancy USB-C port on the front panel.

So, I got to looking. In order to keep all of my current hardware, I’d need to find a case with two external drive bays, because I use a standard 5.25-inch DVD drive (the oldest dustiest piece in my case, which has been pulling sterling service since my very first PC build 12 years ago) and a camera card reader, which is technically a 3.5-inch drive in a 5.25-inch adapter. A 3.5-inch bay is the one you might remember as the “floppy drive.”

So, I plugged my needs into Newegg’s handy search filters: full-sized ATX motherboard case, at least one USB-C port on the front, two 5.25-inch drive bays. Here’s what I got:

Newegg screenshot

“Alright,” I thought, “External drive bays have kind of gone out of fashion now that everyone’s streaming movies and downloading games from Steam. I’ll have to settle for just one, and pick between my DVD drive and my card reader. Let’s drop the 5.25-inch bay requirements down to one.”

Oh dear.

Newegg screenshot

As it turned out, I could find precisely one modern ATX case with both a front USB-C port and one (and only one) 5.25-inch bay: the Fractal Design Define 7, the spiritual descendant of my own Define R4. So, I ordered it … and found out that, while my 1.5-year-old motherboard can handle the USB 3.0 connector necessary for some USB-C ports, it doesn’t have the 3.1 gen 2 connector that the R7 case uses.

So, in order to use this very fancy very expensive case, I’d need to ditch either my trusty dusty DVD drive or the camera card reader that I use on a regular basis, and I’d have to go without access to the USB-C port I wanted in the first place. Alternately, I could replace my motherboard, for something approaching a full PC rebuild—for another $300 or so.

Fractal Design Define 7There’s a 5.25-inch bay in there somewhere. If you look. Really hard.

I sent the Define 7 back, and shoved all my parts back into my old R4. I could find a similar case to the one I’m using now, but it wouldn’t have access to USB-C, and my current case isn’t so useless that I’m ready to ditch it. I’ll upgrade my PC case eventually, but it looks like this one’s going to make it to double digits in years.

Discs Aren’t Dead

As someone who hasn’t bought a physical game in years, I’m an odd champion for the physical disc drive, if not the disc itself. But it’s worth pointing out that physical media, while absolutely on the decline, still has some utility left.

The most obvious application here is movies. Cinemaphiles still demand Blu-ray for their gigantic uncompressed video files, especially now that more and more are coming in 4K: That’s why you shouldn’t watch a movie like Into the Spider-verse on a streaming platform (if you can help it). To say nothing of the arbitrary and somewhat random nature of actually buying movies on streaming—if a movie I want isn’t available on a platform I’m currently paying for, it’s often much cheaper to buy the DVD or Blu-ray than to buy it (or even rent it!) on a streaming platform.

Blu-ray discsOngala/

Which brings up another point: for some people, getting shipped physical media is the best option! When I was living in rural Texas, streaming a movie for two hours was less than a given on an unlimited LTE connection. Getting a 50GB Steam game might take a week or more. Going to the store or ordering something off of Amazon made more sense on a regular basis. Even Microsoft acknowledged this, offering the massive Flight Simulator 2020 in an admittedly unwieldy 10-DVD physical edition.

And that ignores the vast libraries of music and movies that many people already own in disc format. Plenty of people like to digitize that—bloated Plex libraries are an indication—and need a disc drive to do so. Sure, it’s possible to do that with an external disc drive, but then what’s the point of having a gigantic ultra-customizable desktop PC in the first place?

More Options Are Better

I’ve already said that my situation—needing or at least wanting a weird combination of the latest ports and compatibility with older equipment—is niche. But catering to niches via flexibility is what building your own PC is all about!

Multi-card readerStarTech

Take that card reader, sitting in the second 5.25-inch bay via a 3.5-inch adapter. I have to take photos for reviews on a regular basis—my photos need to be higher-quality than my phone can handle, and my camera’s old enough that Wi-Fi transfers are achingly slow. So a dedicated gadget inside my PC is great, both for the standard SD card and the occasional microSD transfer for fooling around with phones.

But that’s hardly the only use for a full-sized drive bay. Another common alternative for this space is a hot-swap hard drive bay, which allows users to insert and remove massive amounts of storage for high-speed transfers instantly. Gamers and enthusiasts like to use this space as a dedicated fan or light controller. If nothing else works, you can add just tons and tons of USB ports, connected directly to your motherboard.

A full-sized hard drive bay.Kingwin

More creative uses for the space include an unobtrusive reservoir for liquid cooling, or a handy little hidey-hole for your screws and tools, secondary status screens, or even a cup holder. (Okay, maybe not that last one.)

Admittedly, some of these uses for the 5.25-inch drive bay are more practical than others. But in a product category that includes pyramids and cruise ships and whatever the hell this thing is, I think a modern case with modern ports and the option for some old-school expansion isn’t too much to ask for.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Michael Crider

It’s Official: Xbox Series X is $499, Series S is $299, Coming November 10th

Xbox Series X and Series S pricingMicrosoft

After finally spilling the beans on the cheaper variant of its new Xbox yesterday, Microsoft is ready to lay out the whole enchilada. It’s been officially confirmed: the Xbox Series X and disc-free Xbox Series S will be on sale starting November 10th, for $499 and $299, respectively. Pre-orders for the hardware will begin September 22nd.

That’s half of the layout for this holiday season’s console conundrum. Sony’s up next, having shown off the PlayStation 5 and a cheaper PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, but not giving a specific price or date for either. Rumors have been fling that Sony won’t be able to beat Microsoft on price, especially for the cheaper disc-free option.

This is the tweet…

Xbox Series X: $499 (ERP)
Xbox Series S: $299 (ERP)

Release date: November 10

Pre-order starts September 22: | #PowerYourDreams

— Xbox (@Xbox) September 9, 2020

Microsoft’s economic advantage doesn’t end with the hardware. The company is pushing the Xbox Game Pass hard, after a year of adding new titles and features like mobile game streaming. The Xbox All Access service is a monthly subscription that includes an Xbox Series console, Game Pass Ultimate, and full online play, with a cell-phone style interest-free payment plan. The Xbox Series X plus Game Pass will be $35 a month for two years, with the Xbox Series S being just $25 a month. That’s an incredible value considering the 100+ games in the Game Pass library, which is now bolstered by EA Play being included.

Xbox Series financing optionsMicrosoft

For comparison, the Game Pass Ultimate is $15 a month on its own. So over two years, buying an Xbox Series S outright and subscribing to the service costs $660, while the zero interest financing is only $600. The Xbox Series X doesn’t save quite as much, just $20 over the course of two years, but it’s still telling that there’s no downside to the payment plan.

By focusing on both affordability and a low-cost subscription for popular and new games, Microsoft is making a compelling offering for the next generation. It will be interesting to see how Sony and Nintendo respond.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Michael Crider

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