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Apple AirPods Max: Need one before Christmas? Don’t get these colors!

The Apple AirPods Max have been officially unveiled by the Cupertino-based tech giant, promising high-fidelity audio, industry-leading active noise cancellation and a comfy knit-mesh design.

If you’re hoping to get your hands on Apple’s highly anticipated over-ear headphones before Christmas, beware! Some variants will not be delivered before we say goodbye to 2020.

AirPods Max unveiled: Apple takes on Bose with $549 noise cancelling wireless headphones
Apple AirPods Pro review
Best noise cancelling headphones

Apple AirPods Max units won’t be delivered until 2021
The Apple AirPods Max comes in five colors: Space Gray, Silver, Green, Sky Blue and Pink. If you were planning on snagging one of the striking color variants before the holidays, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

As of today, the Space Gray and Silver AirPods Max models can be delivered before Dec. 22 — just in time for Christmas. However, the Green, Pink and Sky Blue variants have shipping dates that slip into 2021.

The Pink model will arrive sometime between Jan. 15 and Jan. 22 of next year. If you wanted to channel your inner Grinch this year, sorry to burst your bubble, but the Green variant has a Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 shipping time frame.

Sky Blue fans will have to be the most patient; this color variant will not ship until March 2021. 

The Apple AirPods Max has a $549 price tag. The over-ear headphones, equipped with Apple’s H1 chip, is available for pre-order today and will begin shipping on Dec. 15.

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How to get the most out of your lithium-ion batteries

We all hear about ways to save energy and green behavior, but little is said about actually taking care of your battery, here are a few tips to stretching the life of your batteries to 500 recharges and beyond….

Batteries love to be cool
Heat is the number one battery killer, Lithium-ion is happiest around 20C-25C. Batteries in a fully charged state are most vulnerable to deteriorate and should be kept away from heat sources.

Locations to avoid,
Hot Cars
Sunshine
Near heaters in winter

Get a high-capacity battery not a spare
Use or don’t use, an ignored battery will slowly be killed with time so if looked after and kept cool a spare really won’t last will last a lot longer than your primary. If you have the option, buy a larger battery.

Buying a new battery? The newer, the better, try to find manufacturing dates and get the most recently produced battery, although its unused in the shop, a year old lithium-ion will still age over time.

Don’t wait until you only have 1% power left
Unlike older battery types there is no “memory effect,” you don’t need to take the battery all the way down to red before you plug in the charger. For Li-Ion, it is healthier to regularly partially discharge and recharge. It is ok to occasionally fully discharge to keep the battery meter accurate, see below.

Gauge recalibration: Once a month or after 35 charges it is good to do a full discharge just to keep the battery meter accuracy. Fully discharging to the state it automatically powers off the device resets the gauge for the battery and keeps the battery meter accuracy.

Never completely discharge
In some more basic devices like torches and lights you can keep the power turned on until the battery completely dies, this usually happens below 2.5V. If this happens your standard charger will not be able to charge the battery and you will need an advanced charger with recovery options. Batteries in this state deteriorate faster and should not be stored and if it has been left in this state for 90 days or more it should be thrown away.

Long term storage: Charge to about 40% and put into a ziplock bag and place into your fridge, the bag is to keep the moisture out so it needs to be a tight seal. When you need it, take it out of the fridge and wait until it reached room temperature and then open the bag.

If you have a spare you rarely use or if you are not using your equipment for more than a month this can extend the life by slowing the temperature deterioration.

Be gentle with your battery
Some internal batteries are very soft and if you are handling them be careful to not squash and bend them, this can be dangerous as you could create an internal short circuit or damage the case and contaminate the battery with air.

If you do notice any swelling or damage put the battery somewhere safe outside and take it to be disposed of safely.

Nothing last forever and time will eventually kill the capacity of your battery, manufacturers give an estimated number of recharges e.g. 500 cycles, 1000cycles, if you are following these guidelines your battery will have a good life.

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Top outdoor bluetooth speakers

If you are going outside as lockdown restrictions end, a speaker can make any gathering more entertaining. Here are our top recommendations for speakers that can connect your phone and let you crank up the sound for all to enjoy.

Waterproof
This IP67 Bluetooth speaker is rugged and robust with the strength to survive some massive drops and knocks above and below the water. Keep playing rain or shine. You can even swim with it if you wanted to. The 40W of total output makes it the most powerful fully waterproof speaker we have; if you need water-friendly sound, this is our top pick.

Portable
This Xiaomi speaker is tiny and has a lanyard so you can carry or tie it easily to your bike, keys or backpack. Although it is not going to win any bass competitions, it still is loud enough for outdoor use, and the metal case is almost impossible to break. Since 2016 it has remained a popular outdoor speaker.

Loud
The BW-WA2 has the best quality sound we have seen; it also has the loudest output so balances power and sound quality. It even doubles as an emergency powerbank for charging your phone on the go.

The Longest Playtime
When it comes to making it through a whole day, the Hopestar A6 has a massive 6000mAh battery with enough power to last a full day of music. The internal battery can also charge your devices like a powerbank, so you can keep the music going the whole day and keep your phone topped up.

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Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon 888 for 2021 Flagships

Qualcomm has unveiled its new flagship SoC that will power most of the flagship devices of 2020. The latest chipset codenamed- Snapdragon 888 is a 5nm chip with next-generation architecture. The first devices with the 888 will be out in Q1 of next year, several smartphone makers are already vying for who will be first.

The 888 is the first chip to go official with the Cortex-X1 core (ARM’s base design has some Qualcomm tweaks). Compared to the A78, the X1 can execute 33% more instructions per clock, has double the SIMD hardware and the capacity of the L1 and L2 caches has been doubled as well. This core is running at 2.84GHz.

Next is a cluster of three Cortex-A78 cores clocked at 2.4GHz. They are joined by four A55 cores running at 1.8GHz. The CPU is also equipped with 4 MB of L3 cache and 3 MB of System cache.

All told, the Kryo 680 CPU promises a 25% performance boost over the processor of the S865 chipset. Power efficiency is also up by 25%.

The Adreno 660 targets 35% faster rendering performance while increasing power efficiency by 20%. It’s designed for high frame rate, low latency gaming. The goal is to enable 144fps play for games that want it, but there are also several features to enhance image quality as well.

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is a new trick found in recent GPUs from Nvidia and AMD (including those of the PS5 and Xbox consoles). It allows shaders to work on two or four pixels at a time, instead of just one.

This saves on computational resources and if game developers are careful with how they apply it, the rendered frame will be visually indistinguishable. VRS can increase performance up to 30%. Alternatively, it can be used to increase power efficiency.

Game Quick Touch can reduce touch latency by up to 20%. This works at up to 120fps, but is most effective at 60fps so all games can make use of it, even if they don’t support higher frame rates.

The Adreno 660 supports 10-bit HDR and sub-pixel rendering. It can also improve the uniformity of OLED displays with Mura compensation (“mura” or “clouding” is the result of uneven calibration of neighboring pixels).

Camera
The 888 is the first Snapdragon with a triple ISP (previous 800-series chips had dual ISP). This allows for three separate camera streams to be processed simultaneously, which has multiple uses. For one, it can handle three 4K HDR video streams or capture three 28MP photos at the same time.

This will also make for smoother transitions from ultrawide to wide to tele cameras since each camera gets its own ISP. Previous three camera/two ISP designs led to a “jump” as the phone switched between video feeds.

Spectra 580’s three ISPs are also used for Staggered HDR as they can process the short, medium and long exposures simultaneously. The S888 can record 10-bit HDR photos in the HEIF image format, in addition to the HDR video capabilities of its predecessor (the S865 introduced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support for video).

Speaking of videos, the new chipset can capture and play 4K videos at 120fps, so it can make the best of a high-resolution 4K display. Going back to photography, the chip can snap 120 photos a second at 12MP resolution.

Connectivity
This is the first chipset to use the Snapdragon X60 5G modem. And unlike the 865, the modem is integrated instead being an external chip. This third-generation modem supports the sub-6 and mmWave flavors of 5G. It offers downlink speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps and uplinks up to 3 Gbps.

The FastConnect 6900 system features Wi-Fi 6G (ax in the 6 GHz band) and it can reach speeds up to 3.6 Gbps, the fastest mobile Wi-Fi in the industry, says Qualcomm. The 6E standard also offers lower-latency, a boon for streaming games from a local PC (or the cloud, there the 5G modem can help as well).

FastConnect 6900 supports Wi-Fi 6E and advanced Bluetooth 5.2 with dual antennas, plus the aptX suite of high quality, low-latency wireless audio tech.

AI
The 6th generation AI Engine combines the new Hexagon 780 and the GPU’s number-crunching power to deliver 26 TOPS (up from 15 TOPS on the S865). Power efficiency is hugely improved as well, performance per Watt has increased by up to 3x.

The 2nd gen Sensing Hub reduces power usage as well. It can operate at under 1 milliamp but can handle much more than the 1st gen – now 80% of simple AI tasks go through the Hub instead of having to wake up the powerful Hexagon processor. This is for simple applications like lift and activity detection and listening for wake up words.

Security
The Snapdragon 888 is the first mobile chipset to comply with the Content Authenticity Initiative standard. It can capture cryptographically-sealed photos, which include tamper-resistant metadata that proves an image is authentic (but does it in a privacy-sensitive way).

The 888 also features a Hypervisor, a feature first added to the PC-oriented 8cx Gen 2 chip. This is more of a server and desktop feature as it allows multiple OSes to run on the same hardware while being completely separate from each other (so, if one is compromised, the security of others is unaffected).

It’s possible to run every app in its own OS instance for maximum security. It’s not clear if we’ll see this on Android, but it’s clear that the Snapdragon 888 will be used in ARM-powered tablets and computers too where such virtualization is much more common.

Charging
This wasn’t featured heavily today as QuickCharge 5 was announced months ago. The new Snapdragon supports it, of course, meaning it can handle 100W+ fast charging while keeping heat to a minimum. It’s compatible with USB Power Delivery and backwards compatible with previous QC generations going back to 2.0.

The Snapdragon 888 will be used in devices coming in early 2021. Xiaomi called dibs, Motrola will use it in an affordable Moto G phone, many other makers have announced plans for 888-powered phones as well.

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Samsung announces 5nm Exynos 1080 Chipset

Samsung has today unveiled its first 5nm chipset-the Exynos 1080. It is the first platform by the Korean company built on the 5nm EUV FinFET technology and comes as a successor to the Exynos 980 with its integrated 5G mod

Samsung has decided to go with an octa-core CPU with triple cluster design featuring four Cortex-A78 cores and four Cortex-A55 units. The most powerful Cortex-A78 core runs at 2.8GHz, while the other cluster of three Cortex-A78s reaches 2.6GHz. The A55 quartet is clocked at 2.0GHz. The GPU is Mali-G78 MP10.

The 5G integrated modem supports both Sub-6GHz and mmWave standards, and phones with Exynos 1080 chipset can also enjoy Cat.18 LTE downlink and uplink. Other connectivity options include Blue tooth 5.2, all the Wi-Fi bands, and FM Radio.

For photos the Exynos 1080 supports up to 200MP single camera or dual 32MP + 32MP units and videos go up to 4K@60fps.

You get support for the latest LPDDR4x and LPDDR5 RAM standards as well as UFS 3.1 storage. It can be hooked to WQHD+ displays of up to 90Hz refresh rate, or Full HD+ panels at up to 144Hz refresh rate.

First phones with Exynos 1080 are expected to arrive in early 2021. During an event in China, a company representative revealed that it’s actually vivo that will first adopt the platform as it did with the Exynos 980 last year.

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Computer disposal, donation, and recycle information

Below is a listing of locations and information on properly disposing of your computer equipment and batteries, and donation information for working computers and electronics. Users who have older working computers may also want to see: What to do with an old computer.

Recycling batteries
Because of how many devices use batteries today, it’s important to dispose of batteries not only properly but safely to help the environment and other beings. Also, there are now over 500 recycling laws in the United States and not disposing of the batteries appropriately may result in fines to you or your company.

Caution:
In no instance can a battery be incinerated. Disposing of a battery by burning causes them to explode. In case of rupture, leaking electrolyte or any other cause of skin or eye exposure to the electrolyte, immediately flush with water. If eye exposure, flush with water for 15 minutes and consult a physician.

Computer and related equipment dismantle
If you have a computer or computer equipment, including computer networking equipment, beyond repair or too old to be useful, we recommend one of the below services for proper dismantle. If you have a usable computer, even if it’s old, you may want to consider donating the computer instead of dismantling or recycling it.

Computer donation
Rather than disposing of your computer, the best option for proper management of “retired” computer equipment is material recovery for all usable parts. If the equipment still functions, consider donating it to a local school or non-profit organization. 

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Best & Worst Laptop Brands 2020

For every student working on a class project, creative professional making their next masterpiece or businessperson putting the finishing touches on an important presentation, there’s a laptop to match their needs and budget. However, many shoppers have brand affinities that might keep them from venturing beyond the rivers and the lakes that they’re used to. It’s the reason we see a certain brand of laptop occupying so many coffee shops. 

But just how good is your favorite brand? The Laptop Mag staff put the top brands to the test every year, evaluating each brand and the laptops we’ve reviewed during a designated time period (May 15, 2019 to May 15, 2020). The brands and their eligible laptops are judged using several important criteria: Reviews, Design, Support & Warranty, Innovation and Value & Selection. The scores are tallied and a winner is determined. 

This year finds Asus as our best brand. Throughout the year, the laptop OEM consistently produced systems that were equal parts powerful, beautiful and innovative. Plus, the company has a robust offering of laptops from Chromebooks to gaming systems. It’s only weak spot was its showing in the Tech Support Showdown, but even that wasn’t enough to keep the company from the top spot. 

1. Asus (88/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Asus
2. Dell (85/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Dell
3. HP (82/100) ———- Laptop Battery for HP
4. MSI (78/100) ———- Laptop Battery for MSI
5. Lenovo (77/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Lenovo
6. Acer (76/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Acer
6. Razer (76/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Razer
8. Samsung (75/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Samsung
8. Alienware (75/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Alienware
10. Apple (73/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Apple
11. Microsoft (70/100) ———- Laptop Battery for Microsoft

How we rate brands
Reviews (40 points): The most important aspect of any brand is the quality of its products. To determine a company’s Reviews category score, we used the ratings we gave its laptops. We took the average laptop rating for each brand (Laptop Mag rates on a scale of 1 to 5), converted that average rating to a 40-point scale and then added a 0.75-point bonus for each Editors’ Choice award.

Design (15 points): We absolutely will judge a notebook by its cover — and its sides, deck, bezel and base. Though no two notebooks look exactly the same, each brand has a design language that cuts across its product lines.

Tech Support and Warranty (20 points): When you buy a laptop, you want to know that the manufacturer is going to stand behind that machine and help you with technical problems. We base this category’s score primarily on the ratings from our annual Tech Support Showdown, in which we go undercover and pose questions to all of the companies, using their phone, web and social channels. However, 2 out of the 20 points were awarded based on the quality of the company’s standard warranty coverage.

Innovation (10 points): The laptop market is moving fast, and if you stand still, you’ll get rolled over. For the Innovation category, we awarded points based on the brand’s ability to move the market forward by implementing or developing new technologies, as well as by taking risks.

Value and Selection (15 points): How many different kinds of shoppers does the manufacturer address, and do the products provide good bang for your buck? For this category, we awarded points for offering a wide range of laptop types (budget, business, gaming, etc.) and for providing aggressive pricing.

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Laptops with best battery life in 2020 – longest lasting laptop batteries

Only the laptops with best battery life can crush the most premium machines no matter how stacked their specs are, because laptops are useless if they can’t hold a charge. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of notebooks that go the distance. Using our Laptop Mag Battery Test 2.0, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, we’ve identified the laptops with best battery life on the market.

We’re talking more than 10 hours of endurance, which should more than suffice for that cross-country flight, a long day of meetings or multiple, back-to-back classes. These laptops can be anything, from premium consumer laptops to business laptops to even gaming laptops, yes, gaming laptops, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which achieved more battery life than the 16-inch MacBook Pro thanks to its AMD Ryzen CPU. With AMD pushing battery life as one of its key features, Intel has a ton of work cut out for it. We recently reviewed the Dell Precision 7550, which lasted 8:45. That’s not enough to make this list, but for the specs, it’s plenty impressive. There’s also the recent Dell XPS 13 (11:07), Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (10:52) and Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel (9:57).

What are the laptops with best battery life? 
It’s all a numbers game, so deciding which are the laptops with best battery life is objective. Right now, the laptop with best battery life you can buy is the Dell Latitude 9510, which comes in at a ridiculous 18 hours and 17 minutes. This is one of the best business laptops that you can buy. Along with its epic endurance, this ultraportable enterprise machine has a slim yet durable chassis, a solid 1080p display and plenty of security features, including a fingerprint sensor and IR camera.

If you’re looking for a portable 2-in-1 laptop, the HP Spectre x360 is perfect for you. It lasted 13 hours and 20 minutes. Updated with Intel’s 10th Gen processors and a modernized chassis, the Spectre x360 takes everything we loved about its predecessor and ramps it up. It starts with the laptop’s design, which is more stunning than ever thanks to thinner display bezels and smaller footprint. Other highlights include a bright, vivid display, a comfortable keyboard, fast performance and an included stylus.

However, if you’re looking for a MacBook that matches up with the laptops with best battery life, then you’ll have to spring for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which lasted exactly 11 hours on our test. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is a beast, packing a totally new keyboard, a bigger display with thinner bezels, and gobs of power with up to an 8-core Core i9 CPU, 8GB of VRAM and 8TB of storage. On top of that, the audio from the 16-inch MacBook Pro is even more impressive than the visuals.

The laptops with best battery life you can buy today
Dell Latitude 9510: 18:17
Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1: 16:54
Asus ExpertBook B9450: 16:42
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020): 16:32
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15: 15:44
MacBook Air with M1: 14:41
LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2020): 14:00
Dell Latitude 7400: 13:23
HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, Late 2019): 13:20
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1: 13:08
Lenovo Chromebook Duet: 12:46
Dell XPS 13 9380 (2019): 12:22
Lenovo Yoga C630: 12:14
Dell XPS 15: 11:53
Lenovo Yoga C940: 11:46
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: 11:32
Google Pixelbook Go: 11:29
HP Envy 13: 11:11
Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen 7 4700U): 11:09
MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019): 11:00

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Laptop Battery

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Sony: More PlayStation 5 Units Are on the Way

Sony has good news for consumers still trying to buy the PlayStation 5 during the holiday shopping season: More stock should be arriving soon.

Sony said the PS5 was its biggest console launch ever. Indeed, the product has been selling out in minutes across all the major retailers due to massive demand from consumers and scalpers. To get the product immediately, have been hawking the normally $499 console for prices ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. 

Last week, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan also gave a gloomy take on supplies of the PS5. “Everything is sold. Absolutely everything is sold,” he told a Russian media outlet. “I’m spending a lot more time on trying to increase supply to meet that demand.”

Fortunately, it looks like more PS5s are inbound. However, Sony is only selling the console online through the major retailers, so you’ll have to act fast to secure your order. We recommend consumers use an online inventory-tracking service, which can immediately alert you about PS5 restocks, giving you a better chance to buy one. Both Best Buy and Walmart also plan on selling limited quantities of the PS5 during their Black Friday sales event.

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Which CPU Should You Buy? Intel Core i5 vs. i7

For many consumers on the hunt for a new desktop or laptop PC, one of the biggest considerations is the type of processor the system should have. Two of the CPU families most often in contention in mainstream systems are the Intel Core i5 and the Intel Core i7. And that makes picking tricky, because the two lines have a lot in common.

The differences among Intel’s key processor families are clearer when you’re looking at the Core i3 (found mainly in budget systems) or the Core i9 (powerful CPUs for content-creation and other high-performance scenarios). The differences between the Core i5 and the Core i7 can seem subtle and more nuanced, especially when the prices for a Core i5 versus a Core i7 PC sometimes can be so close.

There isn’t always a clear-cut, definitive answer to which is better in a given situation, and often, it just comes down to your budget. But knowing the essentials about each can help you make a smarter choice. Let’s get into the key differences between the Core i5 and the Core i7.

How Many Cores Is Enough?
Simply put, a Core i5-equipped system will be less expensive than a Core i7-equipped PC, if all else is equal. But in most cases, if you’re comparing apples to apples (that is, a desktop chip to a desktop chip, or a laptop chip to a laptop chip, and the same generation to the same generation), the Core i5 will have fewer, or dialed-down, capabilities. A Core i7 will typically be better for multitasking, media-editing and media-creation tasks, high-end gaming, and similar demanding workloads. Often, though, the price difference will be small, so it’s worth playing around with the online configurator of whatever PC you’re buying to see if you can afford a Core i7-powered machine.

When you’re using software that can leverage as many cores as it can get (modern content-creation programs, like the ones in the Adobe Creative Suite, are excellent examples), the more cores you have in your CPU, the faster it will perform.

Most of the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs have four or more cores, which is what we consider the sweet spot for most mainstream users. Many late-model desktop Core i5 and Core i7 chips have six cores, and a few ultra-high-end gaming PCs come with eight-core Core i7s. Meanwhile, a few ultra-low-power laptop Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs have just two. You’ll find these mainly in ultra-thin laptops.

The same rough Core nomenclature has been used for quite a few generations of Intel CPUs now. To make sure you’re buying a system with a recent-generation processor, look for the Core ix-11xxx or Core ix-10xxx naming structure. Some CPUs designed for thin or mainstream laptops have a “U” or a “Y” appended to the end of the model name, while others have a “G” followed by a number that denotes the capabilities of the chip’s graphics processing. Chips meant for power laptops tend to end in “H” or “HK”; and those intended for desktops have a “K” or a “T” at the end (or just end in a zero).

Unless you’re shopping the used-PC market, you’ll find Core i5 and i7 chips of the 8th and 9th Generation (or older) in end-of-life/closeout systems and some budget PCs, while you’ll find 10th and 11th Generation chips in most new models. The rough guide, if you don’t want to get in too deep: To get better performance within each generation and within each class (Core i5 or Core i7), buy a processor with a higher model number. For instance, an Intel Core i7-1060G7 generally has better performance than an Intel Core i7-1065G7.

A Quick Word on Cache
In addition to generally faster base clock speeds, Core i7 processors have larger amounts of cache (the memory installed on the chip) to help the processor deal with repetitive tasks or frequently accessed data more quickly. If you’re editing and calculating spreadsheets, your CPU shouldn’t have to reload the framework where the numbers sit. This info will sit in the cache, so when you change a number, the calculations are almost instantaneous. Larger cache sizes help with multitasking, as well, since background tasks will be ready for when you switch focus to another window.

Cache size isn’t a make-or-break spec, but it illustrates advances from generation to generation and family to family. The latest Core i5 and Core i7 laptop processors have cache sizes of 16MB or less.

Turbo Boost and HyperThreading
Turbo Boost is an overclocking feature that Intel has built into its processors for many generations now. Essentially, it allows some of the chip’s cores to run faster than their base clock speed when only one or two of the cores are needed (like when you’re running a single-threaded task that you want done now). Both Core i5 and Core i7 processors use Turbo Boost, with Core i7 processors generally achieving higher clock speeds.

Each chip you’re looking at will have rated base and boost clock speeds, and while higher is generally better (again: all else being equal), it depends on the specific design and cooling of the PC how long a chip can sustain its boost speeds, how high, and on how many cores. That’s where looking at nitty-gritty performance testing comes in.

Intel Hyper-Threading, in contrast, is a has-it or doesn’t-have-it feature. It uses multithreading technology to make the operating system and applications think that a processor has more cores than it actually does. Hyper-Threading technology is used to increase performance on multithreaded tasks, letting each core address two processing threads at the same time instead of just one. The simplest multithreaded situation is a user running several programs simultaneously, but other activities can leverage Hyper-Threading under certain conditions, such as media creation and editing work (notably, transcoding and rendering, where the software supports multithreading) and even at times web surfing (loading different page elements, like videos and images, simultaneously).

In general, all else being equal, a CPU that supports Hyper-Threading in a given family will be more capable than one that does not, if what you do day to day is heavily influenced by this feature. This is even true between Core families, which means that it may be better, if your software relies heavily on multithreading, to choose a four-core chip with Hyper-Threading over an equivalent six-core without.

When shopping for PCs, alas, it’s not always easy to find information on the number of cores, or the presence or absence of Hyper-Threading support, on a PC vendor’s spec list. If you can find the chip’s exact model number, though, plug it into Intel’s specs database, which will show you clock speed, core count, Hyper-Threading support, and much more.

Understanding Integrated Graphics
Most thin and light laptops with Core i5 or Core i7 processors that aren’t gaming machines rely on integrated graphics-acceleration silicon that’s part of the CPU die. Gaming machines and certain high-end systems, on the other hand, have dedicated graphics chips that are separate from the CPU.

Core i5 and Core i7 chips come with different kinds of integrated graphics capabilities. At the low end are Intel HD Graphics and Intel UHD Graphics. Iris Plus is a step up, available on many 10th-generation chips. The latest and greatest integrated graphics is Iris Xe, available on only a few 11th-generation Core i5 and Core i7 models.

Integrated graphics save power, since there’s no extra graphics chip on your laptop’s or desktop’s motherboard drawing juice. Intel’s integrated graphics solutions work well for mainstream productivity and display (including multidisplay) tasks. Both Iris Plus and Iris Xe can rival the capabilities of a low-end discrete GPU like Nvidia’s GeForce MX series.

Integrated graphics are not so great at handling demanding PC games, though. While these integrated Intel graphics processors will let you play some recent games at low quality and resolution settings (how well varies significantly by the game), you will definitely need a discrete graphics card from AMD or Nvidia to play 3D games at 1080p, 1440p, or 4K resolutions with the quality settings turned up. Nor are integrated solutions the best choice for tasks that demand GPU acceleration in addition to CPU muscle, such as certain specialized, heavy rendering and scientific applications.

Making the Core Choice
In our testing in recent years, we’ve seen a few trends to keep in mind when you’re deciding between processor options. On the desktop, Intel’s Core i5 caters to mainstream and value-minded users who care about performance, while the Core i7 is made for enthusiasts and high-end users. On the laptop side of things, it’s a little fuzzier; there, you’ll want to look more at whether Hyper-Threading is supported by a given chip and how many cores the chip has, as well as how a chip performs in independent testing in a given laptop configuration. How the laptop maker implements a chip and cools it can be just as important as the CPU’s spec traits.

That’s solid advice for mainstream buyers. Beyond that, only extreme users need to consider Intel’s desktop Core X-Series, and only people for whom a laptop’s weight and portability matters above all else need to consider the Y-Series.

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