High-dynamic range (HDR) gaming on PCs and HDR in general has never been more prevalent than today. However, there’s a clear dichotomy of pricing that’s creating a rift in the gaming monitor world.On one side, there are FreeSync 2 HDR gaming monitors priced well below a grand. Meanwhile, Nvidia is going for the jugular by introducing its two first G-Sync HDR gaming monitors at an astronomical price.Likewise, Nvidia and AMD have opposing stances and philosophies regarding how they are developing ecosystem of displays HDR gaming. Luckily, we had a chance to speak with both AMD’s Antal Tungler, Senior Manager of Global Technology Marketing, and Nvidia’s Vijay Sharma, Product Management Leader for Nvidia G-Sync, to get both companies’ takes on where the next generation display technology is going.Tungler doesn’t mince his words and calls out Nvidia on the sizable two-grand price tags of the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27.
“The Samsung CHG70 does 1440p, 144 Hz, HDR, FreeSync 2, basically all the same things,” Tungler says. “Granted, not in an IPS panel, it’s a VA panel, but the difference is not that big, and you pay four times as much on the Nvidia side than you pay on the FreeSync side.”“I think there’s some tone-deafness on the side of Nvidia, in terms of when it comes giving people a really great HDR and variable-refresh gaming experience,” he tells us.Sharma from Nvidia, on the other hand, argues that cutting-edge technology is always expensive to start, but he strongly believes that the price will go down quickly given the recent history of ultra-wide monitors.“That’s the case with a lot of new, leading edge technology, and the good news is, with technology, the prices come down really fast,” Sharma says.“Over a year ago, the curved 34-inch G-Sync monitors were launched by a number of Alienware, AOC, ASUS, Acer, HP. The starting price point when they launched was about $1,299. And at that time, over a year ago, it was unheard of,” Sharma tells us. “‘Are you crazy? $1,299 for a PC monitor?'”“And, then, within six months, it was common to see those curved monitors at $999 –so they saw a $300 drop in less than a year,” he says. “So, that’s what has happened historically with other monitors. Now we’ll see what happens with the G-Sync HDR, but if what has happened in the past with technology holds true, the price is going to come down.”
The Acer Predator XB271HK (left) vs Acer Predator X27 G-Sync HDR (right)
HDR gaming for everyone
In our last discussion with Nvidia about G-Sync HDR monitors, Sharma and team clearly desired to deliver the best looking gaming monitor that ever existed. Sharma not only saw this as a goal to create the ultimate gaming monitor, but to also steer clear of the confusion that exists with the current slew of HDR gaming monitors that qualify for various levels of HDR certification and peak brightness.“It’s certainly confusing for me and I’m very close to this stuff,” Sharma says in response to the gamut of HDR gaming monitors available today. “It reminds me of when HD televisions first started appearing. I had always been an early adopter, and then when HD television started appearing, it was so confusing because some were 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, this and that. And, I didn’t buy one for years.”“I don’t want to make a mistake, because I’m going to live with this thing in my living room for a long time and I didn’t buy one,” Sharma tells us. “So, I think when you have such a spread or variance in product experience, it confuses people, and that’s not good.”“Part of our philosophy and guiding principle is G-Sync, that sticker, that logo, our brand promise should cut through the confusion,” Sharma says. “So, if you buy a G-Sync HDR, you’re getting the best available technology put together in the best possible way. You’re going to have a good experience and you don’t have to feel cautious about buying G-Sync HDR.”
The Philips 436M6VBPAB is an incredible 43-inch HDR gaming monitor for $999 (£699, AU$1,398)
Similarly, with FreeSync 2, Tungler and AMD also believe in only picking out the panels with the best image quality, but they also want to make HDR gaming more accessible.“FreeSync 2 is on the path of, ‘let’s make sure that is has the best quality panels’, it’s also on the path of, “let’s make it affordable and let’s make it accessible to all gamers,’” Tungler says. “That’s really the mission of FreeSync 2, is to combine variable refresh, so smooth gaming, with the best quality pixels that HDR content can offer.”Like Nvidia G-Sync HDR, FreeSync 2 qualified panels must meet certain brightness, contrast ratio, color gamut, and latency requirements.“We know it’s not that easy to hit, that combined with variable refresh. But that’s where we want to ensure that people have the best experience,” Tungler tells us. “Now, with that in mind, we also were cognizant that people don’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on monitor upgrades.”“People are somewhat leery about upgrading their monitor” he says. “That’s the last piece they consider upgrading, because they believe that is going to cost them a lot of money. They don’t necessarily know what to look for when it comes to monitor tech. I think Nvidia’s strategy of putting the best tech or gamer tech into the top of the top line only is not helping the cause. It’s actually detrimental.”
The HP Omen X 65 BFGD is one of Nvidia’s biggest G-Sync HDR screens
A bright future for HDR gaming
Despite Tungler and Sharma’s differing – and sometimes opposing – stances on how HDR market should develop and grow, they’re both equally excited about its future.Tungler himself believes it’s his and AMD’s task to drum up the importance of HDR in PC Gaming with developers and their users.“Basically, no TV today that doesn’t have HDR support and on the console side, they are well taken care of too. But on the PC side, the ecosystem is growing every day; we’re seeing more and more HDR displays coming out to market, and I think that’s just going to accelerate. Compared to some other gimmicky technologies in gaming, I think HDR is definitely here to stay and it’s going to keep growing.”Sharma echoes similar sentiments, noting how “HDR gives us a brand new roadmap, a new path to go down, so I think the refresh rates will increase. I think you’ll see better color performance. I think the HDR performance is going to get better and better over time.”
You’re going to need one of the best graphics cards for HDR PC gaming
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The Apple TV is a neat device that turns any TV into a Smart TV and you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for Apple TV deals, including all the latest information on how to buy the new Apple TV 4K.
You’ll be able to stream online content from major apps like Netflix and iPlayer, and there’s a huge wealth of App store and iTunes content to enjoy on the big screen too. For the older Apple TV units, there is no native app for Amazon Instant Video though. Thankfully, Apple and Amazon have called a truce for the upcoming Apple TV 4K, which will finally see the Netflix rival join Apple TV.The new Apple TV 4K is available now from $179/£179. The fourth generation Apple TV (aka the 2015 model) usually costs around $149/£139 for the 32GB version, so you shouldn’t pay any more. We’ll run through the best deals for the 3rd and 4th generation models too. The outdated older-gen models have been discontinued, so we haven’t included them in the roundup. Apple is remarkably slow to the 4K streaming race and hasn’t done itself any favours by coming in with the most expensive price compared to the Amazon Fire TV, or the best Roku deals and Chromecast Ultra deals.
Apple TV 4K deals
Talk about being late to the party! Fans of all things Apple have been waiting for a Ultra HD Apple TV 4K for a few years now while the likes of Amazon, Roku and Google have all beaten the Cupertino firm to the punch. Apple TV 4K is finally available to buy though.The Apple TV 4K has some catching up to do, but will come with 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. The inclusion of Amazon Instant Video support means this could become your new all-in-one device if you’re already settled into the Apple ecosystem. It can go one better than the competition too thanks to Dolby Vision support, not that there’s a huge amount of DV content yet. Apple TV 4K prices start at $179, £179, AU$249 for the 32GB version, then $199, £199, AU$279 for the 64GB model.
Apple TV 4th gen (2015) deals
The 2015 version of Apple TV is on sale now and was seen as the best yet in the series before the Apple TV 4K came along. An updated remote control with a touchpad and a Siri-friendly microphone will make iPhone users feel right at home. There are 32GB and 64GB models available. The 32GB Apple TV should be enough for most users, especially if you’re mainly going to stream media.
Apple TV 3rd gen deals
You can save a lot of money if you’re willing to opt for the older third generation Apple TV. This was the first Apple TV to feature 1080p, so you’re still set for full HD loveliness. The remote control is a bit dated compared to the new Siri-friendly one on the 4th gen machine, but you still have the option of using the AirPlay app on an iPad/iPhone instead. There’s no on-board storage, so this model is strictly for streaming only. This version has an optional optical out audio connection – a feature cut from the 2015 model for some reason.
Check out the popular Roku deals for even more streaming boxes.
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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has resigned from the company over allegations he had a relationship with a fellow employee.The computing giant confirmed that Kraznich, who has been chief executive since May 2013, has left the company with immediate effect due to breaking Intel’s non-fraternisation policy.Mr Krzanich, who has been credited with transforming Intel from a purely hardware-focused company into a multi-faceted computing organisation, had been married to wife Brandee, and was reportedly paid over $21 million last year.
Krzanich leaves Intel
“Intel was recently informed that Mr Krzanich had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee,” the company said in a statement.“An ongoing investigation by internal and external counsel has confirmed a violation of Intel’s non-fraternisation policy, which applies to all managers. Given the expectation that all employees will respect Intel’s values and adhere to the company’s code of conduct, the Board has accepted Mr Krzanich’s resignation.”Finance head Robert Swan has been named interim Intel CEO, with the news coming shortly before the company was set to release its second quarter results. In a guidance alert issued today, Intel raised its expectations for the quarter, predicting earnings of 99 cents a share, equivalent to $16.9bn in revenue.
These are the best cheap laptop deals in June 2018
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A firewall is an important aspect of computer security these days, and most modern routers have one built in, which while helpful, can be difficult to configure. Fortunately there are also distributions (distros) of the free operating system Linux which have been specifically designed to function as firewalls.These will generally have much more advanced features than those found on a router, and allow you to have far greater control over keeping your personal or business network safe.
These are the best Linux training providers and online courses
In this article, we’re going to evaluate six of the most popular free firewall distros. We have tried to emphasise both power and ease of use when considering these offerings and their relative merits. If you want to see all the firewall distros available out there, feel free to visit the DistroWatch website for a comprehensive list. These distros can either be installed to a physical computer, or if you only have one device, run from a virtual machine. See our guide on setting up a virtual machine in Windows.Most distros can be downloaded as an ISO file. You can use programs like UNetbootin to copy them to a USB stick and boot. Follow the steps in our guide here to do this.
5 of the most popular Linux gaming distrosWhat’s the best Linux distro for beginners?10 of the best lightweight Linux distros
ClearOS is by far the sleekest looking firewall distro in this roundup. It’s obvious that a lot of time and care has gone into developing the interface.As most firewall distros are written for the stereotypical geek, it’s nice to see a refreshing change in what seems to have become the de facto standard of ‘cobble it together and think about the interface afterwards’. This said, ClearOS will run quite happily from the command line for more advanced users.The installation is painless and takes around 10 minutes to complete. You’re given the choice to start in Public Server or Gateway mode, depending on how you want to use ClearOS. Once done, reboot and you’ll be given all the info you need to access and administer your new firewall remotely. Everything is straightforward – it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into making ClearOS as easy-to-use as possible.Once you’ve completed setup and accessed the web-based admin system, it doesn’t take long to familiarise yourself with the various settings and features of ClearOS as the distro provides ‘Getting Started’ help once you log in to the web interface. Setting up firewall rules is quick and painless, as is much of the other configuration.The most pertinent feature of ClearOS is its usability, but this distro is about a lot more than just sleek looks. It packs in plenty of features as well – not only does it give you a simple, clean way to manage a firewall, but it enables the addition of extra services to your network.Overall, ClearOS is a powerful distro. As it’s available in both free ‘Community’ and paid ‘Professional’ versions, it’s perfect for both homes and small businesses.
ClearOS Community 7.2.0Website: www.clearos.com/clearfoundation/software/clearos-7-communityRating: 9/10
This distro, while entirely separate from IPFire, uses a helpful colour-coding scheme similar to the latter, in order to represent different connections. Green is for LAN, red for the internet, orange for DMZ, and blue for wireless clients.IPCop was originally a fork of Smoothwall (which we’ll also cover later) and was in turn forked by the IPFire team as updates to IPCop are few and far between. The most recent version (2.1.9) was released in February 2015.Installation is relatively straightforward, but there are some wildcard questions thrown into the mix. While these may puzzle the novice user, accepting the default options won’t cause any issues unless you have a very specific network configuration. One of the main advantages of IPCop is that the installation image is very small (around 60MB) and can be copied onto a DVD or flash drive. IPCop’s web interface feels clunky, although our tests proved that this was merely psychological, because it was actually incredibly responsive. However, other than the ‘real-time’ graphs that Smoothwall provides, IPCop gives a lot more information about your LAN setup, and about the running of the firewall itself, including a list of the connections that are currently open.The Firewall also provides a ‘caching proxy’, so that you can cache frequently accessed pages locally.IPCop does a good job as a firewall, giving plenty of information about traffic on your network, and while it might not be the prettiest distro in the world, it does what it’s designed to do.
IPCop 2.1.9Website: www.ipcop.orgRating: 8/10
OPNsense is an easy-to-use open source firewall based on FreeBSD 10.1 to ensure long-term support. Obviously enough, the project’s name is derived from the words ‘open’ and ‘sense’, standing for: ‘Open source makes sense.’The OPNsense project started out as a fork of the more established firewall pfSense in January 2015. The team claimed their reasons for forking the project were partly due to the type of licence pfSense used at the time, and partly because they believed they could create a more secure firewall. The firewall now shares only around 10% of its code with the original pfSense project. Also note that the fork generated quite a lot of controversy between pfSense diehards and OPNsense supporters on Reddit.OPNsense offers weekly security updates so can respond quickly to threats. It contains many advanced features you’d usually find only in commercial firewalls such as forward caching proxy and intrusion detection. It also supports using OpenVPN.OPNsense incorporates a very rich GUI written in Phalcon PHP which is a real pleasure to use. Aside from being more appealing than pfSense’s interface, OPNsense was created partly due to the fact that the team felt the graphical interface shouldn’t have root access, as this can cause security issues. The GUI has a simple search bar as well as a new System Health module. This module is interactive and provides visual feedback when analysing your network. You can also now export your data in CSV format for further analysis.The firewall uses an Inline Intrusion Prevention System. This is a powerful form of Deep Packet Inspection whereby instead of merely blocking an IP address or port, OPNsense can inspect individual data packets or connections and stop them before they reach the sender if necessary. OPNsense also offers LibreSSL over OpenSSL.
OPNsense 18.1 (Groovy Gecko)Website: https://opnsense.orgRating: 8/10
IPFire is a Linux firewall distro focusing on user-friendliness and easy setup without compromising your security, supporting some useful features such as intrusion detection. IPFire takes a serious approach to security by using an SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) Firewall built on top of netfilter. IPFire is specifically designed for people who are new to firewalls and networking, and can be set up in minutes. The installation process allows you to configure your network into different security segments, with each segment being colour-coded. The green segment is a safe area representing all normal clients connected to the local wired network. The red segment represents the internet. No traffic can pass from red to any other segment unless you have specifically configured it that way in the firewall. The default setup is for a device with two network cards with a red and green segment only. However, during the setup process you can also implement a blue segment for wireless connections and an orange one known as the DMZ for any public servers. Once setup is complete, you can configure additional options and add-ons through an intuitive web interface. The ISO image for IPFire is only 171MB in size, so once burned to DVD it’ll happily load into your computer’s system memory and work from there. Alternatively you can download a flash image to install it to a router or even an image for ARM devices such as the Raspberry Pi. The IPFire project is in the process of crowdfunding a ‘captive portal’. This is perfect if you wish to show people who connect to your Wi-Fi network a landing or login page before connecting directly to the internet. It also prevents rogue devices connecting automatically.
IPFire 2.19Website: http://www.ipfire.orgRating: 9/10
Like OPNsense, pfSense is based on FreeBSD and designed specifically to work as a firewall and router. As we’ve mentioned already, the fork between these two projects was controversial and pfSense still has many loyal users. Updates are released quarterly. This distro runs on a range of hardware but currently only supports x86 architecture. The website has a handy hardware guide to allow you to choose a compatible device. The installation is done from a command line but it’s very simple. You can choose to boot from either a CD or USB drive.The setup assistant will ask you to assign interfaces during the installation, rather than once you’ve booted to the web interface. You can use the auto-detect feature to work out which network card is which. The firewall has a small number of built-in features, such as multi-WAN, Dynamic DNS, hardware failover, and different methods of authentication. Unlike IPFire, pfSense already has a feature for a captive portal, whereby all DNS queries can be resolved to a single IP address such as a landing page for a public Wi-Fi hotspot. This distro has a clean interface and is very smooth to use. Once again, as it’s based on BSD, some of the terminology used is confusing, but doesn’t take long to get to grips with. pfSense is possibly the most feature-rich firewall distro out there, but falls down due to a lack of non-firewall-related extra features. If you’re just after a simple firewall, you can’t go wrong by choosing pfSense, but if you need anything above and beyond that basic functionality, you may want to consider one of the other distros.
pfSense 2.4.3Website: www.pfsense.orgRating: 7/10
Smoothwall Express is probably the most well-known firewall distro. To test this, we did a quick poll of 20 Linux geeks, asking them to name a firewall distro. 19 of them came up with Smoothwall first.The installation of Smoothwall Express is text-based, but you don’t need to be familiar with the Linux console and it’s all fairly straightforward. You may prefer to download or indeed print out the installation guide to walk you through the setup process. In order to do this you’ll need to create a my.smoothwall profile.There are three installation options: Standard, Developer and Express. Developer is reserved for those people who actually want to work on coding the Smoothwall project. Express is a stripped-down version of Smoothwall which ensures maximum compatibility with older hardware. Unless you have a very specific network configuration, you can usually accept the default options. The web-based control panel is simple and easy to understand. Smoothwall Express doesn’t provide much in the way of extra features, but does allow you to have a separate account to control the main connection, which is especially useful if you’re using dial-up, alongside its caching web proxy service.One of the benefits of Smoothwall Express is the simplicity it offers when running internal DNS – adding a new hostname takes only a few seconds. Assigning static IPs and enabling remote access can also be accomplished with a few mouse clicks. The only issue we noticed during testing was that assigning static DHCP lease assignments requires you to click Add followed by Save, and it isn’t particularly obvious that you have to perform the second step. This led to a fair bit of confusion with our network attached printers jumping from one IP address to another.
Smoothwall Express 3.1 (Standard)Website: www.smoothwall.orgRating: 8/10
Choosing the right firewall distro is largely dependent on your specific requirements, but whatever they may be, having protection from a firewall is simply a matter of common sense given the multitude of dangers on the internet these days. That said, aside from basic protection, once your firewall is installed it can also be helpful to have a few extra features for good measure.
Just a firewall
If you’re after a basic firewall, then all of the distros here will do a good job, with some performing better than others. If this sounds like you, you can’t go wrong with IPFire, which probably has the easiest setup process. Failing that, IPCop and Smoothwall Express are excellent options if you’re not after anything too complex. If you need a commercial-grade solution and have money to burn, check out Smoothwall’s paid-for arm.If you want something with a small footprint, or to run on an embedded device, pfSense’s website contains helpful guides to do this, although it will only run on x86 architectures. For other types of hardware, consider IPFire.
For us, however, a box in the corner that isn’t being used to its full extent is a wasted box. This is why we prefer to use virtualisation, whereby the firewall can run as a virtual server on the same hardware you use for web browsing. While ClearOS remains the most powerful firewall, virtualisation is not as easy as it is with other firewall distros such as IPFire. And this, combined with the fact that IPFire allows easy customisation through its own add-on service Pakfire, means it’s the narrow winner over ClearOS, receiving our gold medal. Nevertheless, Smoothwall Express deserves an honourable mention. It’s the only firewall that once installed will keep on running with minimal prompting and interference from you. If you ever need to locate specific settings, these are simple to find as well.
Also check out: 10 of the best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs
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