Se­cu­rity Con­cerns

While I gen­er­ally find your mag­a­zine in­for­ma­tive and well writ­ten, I feel com­pelled to point out that the com­par­i­son of Linux se­cu­rity to Win­dows se­cu­rity in your re­cent be­gin­ner’s guide to Linux is largely in­ac­cu­rate. I un­der­stand that Nick Peers’s opin­ion is that Linux is more se­cure.

The re­al­ity is that Linux, BSD in the form of OS X, and Win­dows are sta­tis­ti­cally about equal in the num­ber of an­nual vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties by sever­ity, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple se­cu­rity re­ports re­leased over the last decade. Mi­crosoft Win­dows is usu­ally rated as the most se­cure of the OSes, be­cause Mi­crosoft gen­er­ally patches its vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties faster than the oth­ers. Also, if users ac­tu­ally leave UAC turned on, or set it back to “Al­ways no­tify,” as it was by de­fault in Vista, they func­tion­ally have the same pro­tec­tion as sudo; UAC en­forces least priv­i­lege. Stat­ing, “Win­dows does this to some de­gree with its NTFS filesys­tem, but it’s no sub­sti­tute for Linux,” is mis­guided at best. Win­dows has all the file per­mis­sion gran­u­lar­ity of Linux and more; in­clud­ing ex­plicit de­nials. Open a com­mand prompt and type “ica­cls /?” with­out the quotes, then at­tempt to make a case that Win­dows is miss­ing per­mis­sions func­tion­al­ity. Fi­nally, Win­dows is the only non- re­search OS I am aware of that has im­ple­mented In­tegrity Lev­els, which is a fea­ture that has been present since Vista.

Linux is a great OS. So is Win­dows. So is OS X, for that mat­ter. Take your pick. Just do not rep­re­sent mis­guided opin­ion as fact. Peo­ple rely on your mag­a­zine for ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion.

–Mark Van Noy

AR­TI­CLE AUTHOR NICK PEERS RE­SPONDS: There’s one key thing miss­ing from your ar­gu­ment, and that’s be­hav­ior. Which is sur­pris­ing, given that th­ese days most forms of mal­ware tar­get peo­ple by their be­hav­ior, rather than by tar­get­ing known (and un­known) vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Peo­ple who run Linux tend to be more clued up about vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties than their Win­dows- us­ing brethren.

And Win­dows falls far short of Linux (and OS X) by not de­mand­ing you en­ter your pass­word each time a process asks for ad­min­is­tra­tor ac­cess. It's all too easy to wave through pro­cesses with­out re­view­ing them prop­erly— at least the pain and ex­tra few sec­onds of tap­ping in your pass­word could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween spot­ting a sus­pi­cious process and miss­ing it.

We can’t ig­nore the fact that the pro­lif­er­a­tion of Win­dows makes it a much tastier tar­get than ei­ther. Or the fact that the open source na­ture of Linux means that there are po­ten­tially more eyes look­ing at pos­si­ble vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties than Redmond can man­age. Ul­ti­mately, though, it comes back to the user far more than the op­er­at­ing sys­tem. To quote the FBI’s Den­nis Hughes: “The only se­cure com­puter is one that’s un­plugged, locked in a safe, and buried 20 feet un­der the ground in a se­cret lo­ca­tion… and I’m not even too sure about that one.”

Overzeal­ous Bud­get­ing

Your tech­ni­cal de­tails are ap­par­ently above my pay grade. Help me out. The July Bud­get Blue­print went from the G4600 to the G4560 which “only loses out a touch.” For the same Bud­get Blue­print in the Au­gust is­sue, it’s the G4560 to a G4600 for “a sub­stan­tial in­crease.” – Dal­las EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEX­TER RE­SPONDS: Hands up, you got us there. In the first in­stance, we were try­ing to make the en­forced drop in pro­cess­ing power an easier pill to swal­low, while in the se­cond we were just happy to go back to the slightly faster of­fer­ing. Ul­ti­mately, there isn’t a lot be­tween the two: The G4560 runs at 3.5GHz, while the G4600 runs at 3.6GHz. The only other dif­fer­ence is the graph­ics sub­sys­tem, which goes from an In­tel HD Graph­ics 610 with a max dy­namic fre­quency of 1.05GHz up to an In­tel HD Graph­ics 630 max­ing out at 1.10GHz. Given that we used a dis­crete card, this last point isn’t even that rel­e­vant.

Count­ing Lanes

The Au­gust edi­tion of Max­i­mumPC has an ar­ti­cle on PCI Ex­press. It was very in­for­ma­tive but it con­tained a state­ment that re­quires

me to make an as­sump­tion of which I’m not sure.

On page 56 of the ar­ti­cle, there is a para­graph (far- right, se­cond from the bot­tom) that sum­ma­rized PCIe lanes for Z170 and Z270 moth­er­boards. The state­ment “the Z170 adds 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes and the Z270 sports 24” is con­fus­ing. My as­sump­tion is that the Z170 has a to­tal of 20 lanes and the Z270 has a to­tal of 24; of which 16 are ded­i­cated to the CPU and the oth­ers to the moth­er­board chipset.

This may be a nit, but for those of us who are rather lit­eral minded and not in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with tech­ni­cal de­tails ( which makes an ar­ti­cle like this most use­ful), it does pose a ques­tion. – Peter Lup­tovic EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEX­TER RE­SPONDS: PCI Ex­press lanes come from one of two places: the pro­ces­sor or the moth­er­board chipset. In the case of a Core i7 in the Z170, you’re look­ing at a to­tal of 36 lanes—16 from the pro­ces­sor, and a fur­ther 20 from the moth­er­board chipset. The Z270 has a to­tal of 40 lanes (16 from the CPU, 24 from the chipset). Take an­other look at the im­age on page 57, en­ti­tled “Lane Split­ting Ex­plained,” which shows you how the lanes are split up.

Dou­bling Up

As of right now, I have an over­clocked Core i7- 5820K on an mATX EVGA X99 Mi­cro2 moth­er­board that's paired with an EVGA GTX 980 Su­per­clocked ACX 2.0 graph­ics card in­side a Frac­tal De­sign Node 804.

I'm look­ing to im­prove my graph­ics hard­ware as I want to step up to a 120–140Hz mon­i­tor or 1440p, be­cause my cur­rent mon­i­tor is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing screen tear­ing in a lot of games, and I don’t want to lock my­self to 60fps if my card is ca­pa­ble of go­ing higher. My is­sue is that the 5820K only has 28 PCIe lanes, and I’m wor­ried that it might bot­tle­neck my sys­tem if I put in an­other 980 for SLI.

The se­cond PCIe slot sits very close to the first, and I think it will starve my first card of air. How­ever, if I place it in the fourth PCIe slot, that would make it run at x4 I be­lieve, which doesn’t sound ideal. My other op­tion is to ditch the GTX 980 I own and get a GTX 1080, but is that too much of an overkill for what I’m try­ing to achieve? I only play a hand­ful of AAA games, along with video edit­ing, live stream­ing, and heavy mul­ti­task­ing.

–Mar­cus Day

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEX­TER RE­SPONDS: Of the two op­tions you set out, we per­son­ally fa­vor an up­grade to a GTX 1080, but that’s mainly down to our own frus­trated ex­pe­ri­ences wait­ing for good SLI pro­files— as you’re not a big gamer, this may not be an is­sue. Hav­ing said that, adding an­other 980 is a good so­lu­tion. As you sug­gest, though, those cards are go­ing to be tight up against each other, so you’re go­ing to need to en­sure there is plenty of air­flow in your sys­tem to stop your hard­ware get­ting too hot.

You should be able to pick up a se­cond- hand GTX 980 for around $260, which isn’t bad. Of course, by ex­ten­sion, you could sell your cur­rent card for around $200, and then pick up a GTX 1080 for only a lit­tle more than you would pay for the GTX 980. You should see com­pa­ra­ble per­for­mance from ei­ther op­tion (roughly a 70 per­cent im­prove­ment over your sin­gle card), with the ad­van­tages of the 1080 be­ing that it won’t run as hot as two 980s, will con­sume less power, and will be run­ning at full speed, with­out hav­ing to wait for those SLI pro­files. It also gives you the op­tion of up­grad­ing to SLI later on if you want.

Vir­tual Re­turn

Last Septem­ber, you ran an ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle on VR. Are you plan­ning to do an up­dated ar­ti­cle with hard­ware soon?

– John Van Pelt

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEX­TER RE­SPONDS: The take- up of VR hasn’t been the run­away suc­cess that many an­tic­i­pated it to be, and there have been scant few apps worth get­ting ex­cited about. How­ever, with the likes of LoneE­cho (pg. 91), it would ap­pear that de­vel­op­ers are be­gin­ning to get a good grasp of what VR can do, and a se­cond round of wire­less hard­ware is on the way as well, which could shake things up. So, we’ll con­tinue to watch things care­fully.

The se­cond round of VR hard­ware should be hit­ting us soon.

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