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AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review

Manufacturer: AMD
UK price (as reviewed): £40.72
US price (as reviewed): $63.99

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There was some interesting news regarding AMD recently. Financially, it recorded some significant losses throughout 2013, which can arguably be traced all the way back to Intel’s launch of its Core architecture and AMD’s somewhat ill-fated Phenom. However, while it hasn’t really clawed back any significant ground in the high performance desktop CPU market, the APU arena is a very different story.

The case for budget gaming systems is pretty strong, and Kaveri and Richland (think A10-7850K and A10-6800K) have strengthened the idea that there are playable frame rates to be had below your typical budget CPU and cheap discrete GPU setup.

AMD has seen enhanced sales of GPUs thanks to cryptocurrency mining (not forgetting that the company is also in a fairly equal fight with Nvidia when it comes to frame rates too), and it also has fingers in plenty of next-gen console pies. Its Q1 2014 net income of -$20m is actually a lot better than what we’ve seen recently – the same quarter last year, for example, saw its net income at -$146m.

Things are arguably looking up for AMD, then, and with Intel’s inferior but ever-increasing graphics performance on its CPUs, with Kabini, AMD’s latest APU, it is looking to cement its dominance at the extreme budget end of the market, and fend off competition from budget Intel CPUs.

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) ReviewAMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review
So where exactly does Kabini fit in? Well, AMD wanted to be clear here – this isn’t a 1080p gaming setup, nor is Kabini going to be competing with Pentiums or Core i3′s in 2D performance stakes either. It’s not even really a cut down version of Kaveri – Kabini is essentially a low power desktop version of its latest mobile and console-based silicon sporting up to four Jaguar cores along with a Radeon GPU portion – more on the technical side of things over the page.

As we reported here on the day of launch, Kabini is essentially AMD’s answer to Intel’s Bay Trail, which is found in some low-power Pentium, Celeron and Atom-based systems including NUCs amongst other things. Steam OS, HTPCs and generic budget systems all come into play here, especially as Kabini APUs also sport Radeon graphics, and this market is precisely what AMD is aiming at.

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review
It’s certainly lucrative given the sheer volumes involved, especially in the home/office PC side of things. However, something that’s really raised some eyebrows is the cost of the APUs and indeed their counterpart Socket AM1 motherboards. The latter are currently available for as little as £20, and the top-end APU that we’re looking at here today, the Athlon 5350, only costs £40 with the low-end Sempron 2650 retailing for just £24. Throw in a budget PSU, 4GB of RAM and a mini-ITX case such as Cooler Master’s Elite 130, and you’re looking at a complete base unit price of no more than £150 – something Intel simply cannot match, at least if you’re buying up-to-date gear.

AMD has cited a need from developing countries for a low-cost offering and price-wise it’s certainly met that, but where the new Socket AM1 also surprised us when we first heard about it, is that it’s socketed – not embedded like its predecessors. The reason for this, again according to AMD, is to offer a modicum of future proofing for the new socket but also to allow some flexibility when it comes to hardware choice, even if at launch there are only four models to choose from.

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Novena laptop gets new stretch goals

Novena laptop gets new stretch goals

Andrew ‘Bunnie’ Huang has added stretch goals to his crowd-funded Novena laptop, including GPIO break-out boards and software defined radio modules.


Andrew ‘Bunnie’ Huang has announced new stretch-goals for his crowd-funded Novena open hardware laptop project, currently approaching 80 per cent of its $250,000 goal with 24 days left on the clock.

First unveiled in December 2012 as a very early prototype, and given the name Novena in January this year, the project aims to produce an ARM-based laptop with features designed to appeal to the hobbyist. With a fully open hardware design and running entirely on open source software – no binary blobs required to boot, Bunnie has promised – the design includes a quad-core ARM chip with a Xilinx Spartan 6 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) as a co-processor.

Earlier this month, Bunnie launched a crowd-funding drive designed to bring the first Novena models to production. With 77 per cent of the ambitious $250,000 goal raised with 24 days still to go, Huang has now announced stretch goals for the project – and they include some impressive add-ons.

First, a heartfelt “thank you” to all those who have backed our crowdfunding campaign to bring Novena-powered open computing devices to the world,‘ wrote Bunnie of the project’s success so far. ‘One excellent outcome of the campaign is a lot of people have reached out to us to extend the Novena platform and make it even better, and so we’re offering a diverse range of stretch goals to provide an even better open laptop for all walks of users.

If the pot reaches $300,000, Bunnie has promised to hire deevloper Jon Nettleton to develop fully open-source accelerated 2D and 3D graphics drivers for the Novena; $350,000 and all hardware shipments will include a general-purpose breakout board with 16 outputs and eight inputs connected to the FPGA with user-space drivers for use in Linux; a $400,000 pot will add a ROMulator breakout board, allowing the Novena to be used to capture and modify traffic from ROM chips; if the project doubles its goal to $500,000 or has more than 200 backers picking the desktop, laptop or limited edition heirloom Novena hardware, buyers will get a bundled MyriadRF software-defined radio (SDR) module.

Details of the stretch goals are available on the project’s CrowdSupply page.

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Soulcalibur goes free-to-play with Lost Swords

Soulcalibur goes free-to-play with Lost Swords

Taki is one of the characters returning after an absence in Soulcalibur V. More characters are planned to be added over time.


The Soulcalibur series is dipping its toe into the free-to-play pond with Soulcalibur: Lost Swords which launches today.

Debuting on the Playstation 3, the game will take a slight departure from its previous entries in that it is a single player only title where players progress through a series of quests to gain items including new clothing or weaponry options.

A small element of multiplayer gameplay is included as players can upload their character for other players to use as an ally in their own games in exchange for ‘friend points’ which can be spent on more bonuses.

Extra bonus items are also available for players who log in to the game during its first four weeks after launch.

The Playstation Blog boasts that the game is putting some fan-favourite characters that were cut from the most recent entry to the series, Soulcalibur V, including Taki and Sophitia and that they will be adding more characters to the game over time.

Soulcalibur publisher Namco Bandai has already experimented with this sort of free-to-play formula with Tekken Revolution which it launched in June last year, also only for the Playstation 3.

The free-to-play model in arcade style beat-em-ups has also been demonstrated successfully in Killer Instinct, a remake of the 1994 cult classic and one of the Xbox One’s launch titles. The game was essentially a free demo with the ability to buy additional fighters individually.

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HummingBoard, Banana Pi take on the Raspberry Pi

HummingBoard, Banana Pi take on the Raspberry Pi

The Banana Pi pictured, and HummingBoard SBCs offer pin-compatibility with Raspberry Pi accessories but significantly improved features and performance.


The success of the Raspberry Pi project has kick-started interest in low-cost Linux-powered single-board computers, but it has been surprisingly free of clone designs – until now.

Unlike rival development platforms such as the Olimex OLinuXino family or the popular Arduino microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi is not open hardware. Its design is locked-down and proprietary, and its principle components – namely the Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip (SoC) processor – not available in small quantities or without signing restrictive non-disclosure agreements. This may have contributed to a lack of compatible clones appearing on the market since its launch more than two years ago – until now, with two companies announcing Pi-compatible creations featuring considerably improved specifications: the HummingBoard and the Banana Pi.

First, the HummingBoard. Created by Solid-Run, the company behind the ultra-compact CuBox product line, the HummingBoard boasts the same features, design and layout as the Raspberry Pi – right down to the 26-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header at the top-left of the board, which is pin-compatible with existing Pi accessories. Unlike the underpowered single-core 700MHz ARMv6 processor of the Pi, the HummingBoard boasts a quad-core 1GHz Freescale i.MX6 chip, 2GB of RAM – four times that of the Pi – and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Additional enhancements over the Pi include an upgrade to gigabit Ethernet, an on-board real-time clock module, and an infra-red receiver.

The Banana Pi goes a step further. Created by OSSUG Company, The Banana Pi again duplicates the layout and footprint of the Raspberry Pi and includes both the 26-pin GPIO header and the smaller P5 header of its established rival. Although its 1GB of RAM and dual-core AllWinner A20 processor can’t match the performance of the HummingBoard, the Banana Pi boasts an on-board SATA connector with 5V power output for mass storage. The board also includes gigabit Ethernet, an infra-red receiver, three on-board buttons and, interestingly, a microphone.

Thus far, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been slow to offer an upgraded version of its award-winning single-board computer. The initial Raspberry Pi Model B was succeeded by a Revision 2 design which added the P5 connector and doubled the memory to 512MB but retained the slow single-core ARMv6 processor, while the Model A is a cut-down version which drops to a single USB port and loses the Ethernet networking chip. Its most recent product, the Compute Module, still uses the outdated BCM2835 chip – leaving the market open for Pi-compatible devices like the Banana Pi and HummingBoard that can offer buyers higher performance and more features.

Pricing for the HummingBoard has yet to be confirmed, with the Banana Pi available on import from Chinese resellers for $59 (around £35, a mere £7 more than a Raspberry Pi Model B.)

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AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle

AMD is today extending its Never Settle Forever bundle to include more games and cards


AMD is today rolling out an update to its Never Settle Forever bundle, promising more titles and variety as well as availability with a wider range of its graphics hardware.

The Never Settle Forever bundle is AMD’s ongoing promotion, whereby purchasers of certain AMD graphics cards from participating retailers are eligible for up to three free games, as well as a few other bonuses.

The company claims that this latest update is a response both to customer demand for more and newer titles as well as to the fact that the previous bundles were a few months out of date and did not incorporate the full range of AMD’s latest cards.

As you can see, everything from the R7 240 series up to the mighty R9 295X2 is now included in the promotion. The tiered system of bronze, silver and gold (one, two and three free games respectively) is being maintained. Users will need an R7 260 or R9 270 series card to qualify for the silver tier, while only those who buy an R9 280 series card or higher are eligible for the gold one.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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While games from the previous offer are being carried over, AMD is adding a number of new and unreleased ones to the lineup from which users can pick. Thief, AMD’s TrueAudio launch title and the latest Mantle-compatible game, was recently added, and will continue to be offered in both the gold and silver tiers. Murdered: Soul Suspect, which is a few months out, is now also available for the gold and silver tiers – users will receive the code upon the game’s release. It doesn’t support Mantle, but will have AMD optimised technologies, much some other recent Square Enix titles like Tomb Raider and Deux Ex: Human Revolution.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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Also introduced as of today are a selection of indie titles, a first for a graphics card package. Guacamelee!, Dyad, The Banner Saga and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack are the current choices. It’s also worth noting that for each game choice you have (i.e. two in the silver tier) you’re able to pick two indie games.

Other new additions include what AMD is referring to as classic titles. For these, AMD is working closely with developers who have optimised their game codes for AMD hardware, and offering a selection of games released in the past few years which users may have missed at the time.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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The full list of the current 21 games and their global availability is listed below – in case where games aren’t available, AMD ensures us it’s due to regional availability issues rather than their own program.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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Finally, each tier of the Never Settle Forever bundle comes with some extra bonus offers. First is a key code for three months’ free use of Splashtop, which lets you stream games from a PC to mobile devices over your home network. Next up is $10 off the AMD Radeon RAMDISK 64GB software, and lastly is the AMD Operator Bundle for the free-to-play game FireFall, which includes some exclusive armour and equipment.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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The Never Settle Forever codes will be delivered physically or digitally, depending on the retailer and board partner in question. The coupon is good for a single transaction only – you must select all of your games at once. The reason this is relevant is that AMD has promised to continue updating the selection, so it may pay off to wait to redeem your code. The current codes are valid until August 31 2014.

What do you think of the updated Never Settle Forever package? Has such a package ever been the deciding factor in your GPU purchases? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards

Non-reference graphics cards often have capacitors and VRM circuitry in different places to reference PCBs making it tricky to make universal waterblocks. Alphacool will be soon be able to tailor-make blocks for specific non-reference models.


Alphacool has announced that it will soon be able to 3D-scan graphics cards with non-reference PCBs in order to make custom waterblocks far more easily.

It has made use of a cutting-edge 3D scanner to accurately measure the PCB to allow it to quickly manufacture custom cooling plates that are compatible with a new range of waterblocks.

In addition, it’s offering a free waterblock set for your graphics card (see requirements below) in return for you loaning it to the company. This means it can scan your model and add it to its manufacturing database so others can potentially buy it too.

In the past, if you owned a graphics card with a non-reference PCB – that is one that’s maybe had additional power circuitry added to offer better overclocking or even just a few capacitors moved around, you were very often out of luck if you later wanted to water-cool it.

This is due to the simple reason that it wasn’t worth the time of waterblock manufacturers to go through their usual lengthy production process to create a new waterblock that far fewer people would buy compared to reference models.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
The dimensions will be used to create a custom base plate that cools the memory and VRMs, which attaches to a backplate and universal waterblock that cools the GPU core directly. As the waterblock is universal, you can re-fit it to future GPUs and just buy a new base plate and backplate for the new GPU.

The baseplate is made from aluminium (at no point does it come in contact with the coolant), and Alphacool claims the mosfets on the card will be cooled to the same level as they would be on an air cooled graphics card running its fan at full speed while the core and ram would see a temperature drop in the region of 30-40°C.

The new waterblock range and 3D-scanning service will cater for any Nvidia GeForce 7XX-series model and any AMD Radeon 2XX-series models only at the start, with both reference GeForce GTX 750 Ti and Titan Black waterblock kits available at launch.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
If you’re interested in sending your non reference GeForce 7XX-series or Radeon 2XX-series card to Alphacool, you can contact them directly at www.alphacool.com or via your local Alphacool etailer.

Alphacool will also be producing a unique ‘multi-bridge’ connection system for customers with more than one GPU. The bridge will effortlessly connect the waterblocks as well as letting the customer illuminate the Alphacool logo with 5mm LED’s.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
To support the modding community Alphacool will be publishing the dimensions of the ‘multi-bridge’ cover so you have the ability to make your own. Also if there is enough demand for a specific brand or logo Alphacool will be making custom covers available.

This could in theory be one way to create a proper water-cooling solution for AMD’s new R9 295X2 as well. Do you think Alphacool’s idea could be useful? Have you had to opt for reference models in the past as you needed to water-cool them? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

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Kingston launches entry-level HyperX Fury RAM

Kingston launches entry-level HyperX Fury RAM

Kingston’s HyperX Fury adds a new entry point to the gamer-oriented family, offering 4GB and 8GB modules in a choice of four colours.


Memory giant Kingston has announced a new line of memory modules for gamers and overclockers on a budget: the HyperX Fury range.

Designed as a new entry-point for the company’s existing HyperX family, the HyperX Fury is designed to offer performance without breaking the bank. The modules come with pre-loaded ‘overclocked’ profiles, the company claims, which mean peak performance when connected to a system without the need for manual overclocking – although that functionality will, naturally, still be available for those who want it. How this differs from any existing memory modules with AMD Memory Profile (AMP) or Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) support has not yet been explained by the company.

The Fury modules themselves boast a new heatspreader design, which will be available in black, blue, red and white finishes for coordination with existing system components; all modules will feature black PCBs. The range will also be extended with the addition of a matched Fury SSD family in the near future, with Kingston yet to provide a release date.

We are excited to offer our newest addition to the HyperX DRAM family for entry-level enthusiasts who want to maximise their gaming and user experience,‘ crowed Lawrence Yang, business manager of Kingston’s HyperX division, at the launch. ‘This is a great product for someone looking to upgrade their gaming system at an affordable price.

The HyperX Fury range is available in 4GB and 8GB singles along with 8GB and 16GB double-packs at speeds of 1,33MHz, 1,600MHz and 1,866MHz; those looking for 2,100MHz or higher speeds are pushed up to the more expensive members of the HyperX family. UK pricing is set at around £30 for the 4GB modules, £55 for the 8GB, £58 for the 8GB kit and £110 for the 16GB kit. Buyers can choose CAS Level 9 or 10 timings for most modules, with the faster modules affording a higher price.

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Sony announces The Last of Us Remastered for PS4

Sony announces The Last of Us Remastered for PS4

The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4 includes revamped Full HD visuals, commentary for cinematics, and bundled DLC.


Sony has announced plans to release a remastered edition of hit PlayStation 3 title The Last of Us for the PS4, promising revamped Full HD visuals at 1080p.

Recently the subject of a film deal with Ghost House Pictures and Sam Raimi, The Last of Us follows the exploits of the player-character Joel and Ellen Page-inspired companion Ellie as they work together to survive in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by a mind-controlling fungus. Its gripping storyline has led to numerous awards, with many critics proclaiming it a must-have title for all PS3 gamers.

For those who have made the jump to the non-backwards-compatible PS4, though, Sony has promised a rerelease. Dubbed The Last of Us Remastered, the new version of the game will include higher-resolution character models, improved shadows and lighting, upgraded textures and other visual tweaks – all, developer Naughty Dog has promised, running at a targeted 60 frames per second Full HD.

As well as the improved graphics, the Remastered edition will include commentary for all cinematics from creative director and writer Neil Druckmann alongside voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson who play Joel and Ellie respectively. The PS4 rerelease will also come bundled with the Left Behind single-player expansion, the Abandoned Territories multiplayer map pack, and an as-yet unreleased map pack dubbed REclaimed Territories.

Sony has raised eyebrows with its promised pre-order bonuses, however. Those buying the game from selected retailers can receive extra Supply Points for Factions mode along with boosted abilities – increased healing and crafting speeds, increased reloading speeds and ammunition capacities – for the single-player campaign, leaving those who prefer to buy their games at the time of release at a disadvantage.

A formal launch date has yet to be announced, with Sony aiming for a summer release.

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Newegg goes live in the UK

Newegg goes live in the UK

Noted North American retailer Newegg has finally opened its doors to the UK, launching a pilot scheme dubbed Newegg Global.


North American retail giant Newegg has finally entered the UK ecommerce market, sending a selection of its products live for delivery to the UK and Australia.

Rumoured back in July last year, the UK pilot is part of the company’s international expansion plans. Although not covering all of its products initially, it’s not exactly small-scale: Newegg has confirmed that several thousand products will be part of the pilot programme, with more due to become available for UK delivery throughout the year.

We’re extending the Newegg customer experience beyond North America, selectively addressing English-speaking countries overseas to begin that process,‘ explained Soren Mills, Newegg’s chief marketing officer. ‘This is an important step forward for our company and we’re taking a very deliberate approach to our international growth.

‘We want to ensure our new international customers have the same great experience our customers in North America have come to expect,’ Mills added. ‘Although the initial selection of products available in the UK and Australia represents only a small subset of the Newegg catalogue, we’ll be greatly increasing the selection in the coming months.

Those interested in trying the company on for size can visit Newegg.com and click Newegg Global banner at the top-left for access to the UK and Australian pages. To limit the products on show to only those valid for international shipping, the ‘Newegg Global Eligible’ filter in each sub-category can be used.

It’s worth noting before ordering, however, that Newegg has no direct UK logistical presence; items ordered through Newegg Global will be shipped from the US to the buyer’s country, with the company’s checkout system estimating the tax and other fees to be paid during customs clearance.

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Intel’s 2014 line-up: It’s looking good for enthusiasts

As we reported here, Intel has announced the rest of its 2014 line-up. However, I for one am extremely excited by what the future holds for LGA1150.

With Broadwell being delayed and Haswell seemingly focusing more on power efficiency than giving anything significantly new to the enthusiast and performance user, I was pretty amazed when I read the finer details of Intel’s latest roadmap that was announced on 19th March.

In the press release, the company has announced its intentions to better-support the enthusiast and overclocking communities and has detailed a couple of very interesting products.

The first is a new Pentium that will feature an unlocked multiplier to celebrate 20 years of the brand. Could this be the first cheap overclockable CPU since the likes of the Pentium G9650, all the way back on LGA1156? If so, it could prove a huge boon to those looking to overclock on a budget and give a massive boost to overclocking and the enthusiast market.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
At the moment we’re forced to buy comparatively expensive K-series CPUs, and there have only been two to choose from for each of the last several generations too. It never used to be this way and certainly for the majority of my overclocking life, it wasn’t a case of if you could overclock a CPU, it was a question of which one out of an entire range of CPUs was the best at it.

If the Pentium retails for current Pentium prices – ie around £80-100, but you can add 500-1000MHz to the clock speed, this could potentially match the performance of a Core i5, at least in software that isn’t massively multi-threaded, and give AMD’s cheap FX-series CPUs some competition too.

The new Pentium will be supported by current 8-series chipsets and also forthcoming 9-series chipsets, presumably Z97, although we’ll have to wait and see whether it will need a BIOS update to run in current boards.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
Another gleeful bit of information is that Intel will also be launching its first 8-core desktop CPU. The monster will likely feature hyper-threading, for 16 threads in total, will also support DDR4 and will be supported by the new X99 chipset.

Ivy Bridge and Haswell CPUs meanwhile have suffered from hot-running chips, especially when you’ve overclocked them. It’s fairly common for people to de-lid their CPUs – having done so with my Core i5-3570K, I can honestly say it made a huge difference. However, Intel appears to have admitted the issue as it will be introducing ‘Improved thermal interface material’ to the expected Haswell refresh CPUs, codenamed Devil’s Canyon, due out this summer.

Intel's 2014 line-up: It's looking good for enthusiasts
As well as the expected performance boost that comes with every refresh, this could mean better overclocking too. The new CPUs are slated to be supported by a new Intel 9-series chipset, although it’s likely Z87-based boards will support them via a BIOS update too.

Finally, there was scant information on Broadwell – Intel’s 5th gen Core processor range. However, it did confirm the new CPUs would be based on a 14nm manufacturing process, will feature unlocked CPUs, and for the first time, offer its Iris Pro Graphics to socketed unlocked processors too, which could give AMD some competition in the APU department.

It looks like we could have some exciting new products just around the corner. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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