April - June
AprilAs the clocks went forward an hour, AMD wanted you to stay at home and play games on its new Radeon HD 4890 GPU. NVIDIA, too, launched a high-end card on the same day, the GeForce GTX 275, and we took a look at both £200 cards here.
With Windows 7 building up a head of steam, we changed tack and had a look at GPU performance on Linux, with some interesting results. AMD made our labs manager age a few years by launching product after product; this time the 40nm-based Radeon HD 4770 and, a little later, the Phenom II X4 955 BE chip.
Acer jumped on the Intel CULV bandwagon with the impressive Timeline series, promising a genuine eight hours battery life, and Corsair decided to really play in the premium SSD market with the admittedly rebadged P256 SSD.
NVIDIA's GPU-led innovation was on the wane, it seemed, so focus was placed elsewhere. The ION-powered Acer Revo caught our eye. MSI clearly thought that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery with the news of the Apple MacBook Air-like X340 hitting UK shores - yours for around £850.
At the end of the month, the rumour mill hit overdrive with the conjecture that AMD's Radeon HD 5870 graphics card was due for release in July 2009.
MayA good month for Microsoft, really. Windows 7 Release Candidate became available to download, sweetened by the knowledge that the try-it-for-free pre-release wouldn't expire until June 2010, albeit with a few restrictions.
With little innovation, high-end GPU pricing began to tumble for both NVIDIA and AMD. The dearth of releases meant that partners went back to the drawing board and revised cooling and frequencies on existing parts - Sapphire's Vapor-X-clad HD 4890 a case in point.
Holding the dominant position in the high-end CPU space and not unduly worried by AMD's encroachment by a succession of mid-price Phenom II chips, Intel vacillated over the release of Lynnfield-based Core i5 and i7 chips. It would take until September for them to make a formal appearance.
ASUS, however, went from the sublime to the ridiculous, whilst most manufacturers kept their powder dry for COMPUTEX 2009.
JuneOut in force in the Far East, in sweltering Taipei, everyone, it seemed, had boards ready for that elusive LGA1156 Intel chip which was conspicuous by its absence. The very real, very expensive Core i7 975 Extreme Edition became, predictably, the fastest desktop chip around. The company did its level best to confuse customers with a new brand structure, though.
AMD rolled out yet more AM3 chips, GeIL brought its own 'factory' to COMPUTEX, Enermax tried to incinerate PSUs, Corsair's new chassis got another outing, and NVIDIA made even more noise about Tegra.
Intel, too, continued to make mobile machinations of its own, highlighting 'Atom 2', and talking up memory-acceleration technology. SSDs became cheaper, and single-PCB GeForce GTX 295s were shown a-plenty. We first saw fuzzy videos of AMD's DX11 tech, as well. And one of our reporters got bitten by an as-yet-unidentified spider. Busy times, eh?
On the review side of matters, we took an in-depth look at Acer's Timeline 5810T, AMD's maligned Yukon mobile platform, and Corsair's rather good H50 cooler.
Microsoft ended considerable speculation by detailing Windows 7 pricing, and many managed to snag Redmond's finest for under £50.