Andrew Gebhart CNET Staff

Short Bio: Andrew has been writing for a while, especially if you include the superhero comics he wrote as a kid. More recently, he was the lead writer on a textbook for Kaplan, but now, he’s made the trek from Chicago to review appliances in Louisville.

Make a bold impression on your wedding day with this stunning 14k black gold and black spinel bridal ring set. This unusual piece has a striking beautiful contrasting effect. 
Andrew gets excited by smartly designed tech, particularly when it gives him superpowers in his own home.

Meet Cozmo, the AI robot with emotions

Cozmo is a mini companion robot powered by a so-called emotion engine that develops as it learns about you. Developers will have access to an SDK to program the robot.


Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Four tall, gray buildings stand among the homesteads and farms on Route 126 outside Prineville, Oregon.

They house a Facebook data center stuffed with servers. Sitting on racks that resemble rows of grain, the servers store the videos of your Ice Bucket Challenge and the photos of your nephew’s graduation.

The facility, however, is an outlier. That’s because it’s also packed with phones.

The social network has chosen rural Oregon to test roughly 2,000 phones — almost all of them out-of-date models that many of us would hesitate to use in public.
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There is an Apple iPhone 4S, as well as a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, both from 2011. Why is Facebook testing this tired tech? To rope in its next billion users.

“Guys in Brazil and Southeast Asia, they don’t have the cool new phone,” said Ken Patchett, Facebook’s director of western data center operations.

Facebook has already saturated the richer countries, where consumers have the luxury of lining up for the latest gadgets and, more importantly, the cash, credit or subsidies to buy them.

Top-shelf phones typically cost about $700, which millions of people around the world are willing to pay. But for someone who makes about $5,000 a year, like the average Chinese worker, that’s too pricey. A Galaxy Nexus, by contrast, can be had for $140 or less.

Facebook therefore needs to make sure its app works on those phones too. This need leads to the data center sitting 500 miles away from the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters. Facebook developers have been instructed to send their latest code to the data center to make sure it works well, no matter which phone it runs on.

Inside Facebook’s massive Oregon datacenter
Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

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Focusing on the future

Facebook already attracts more than a billion users every day, but its focus on the next billion can be traced back to initiatives like Launched three years ago, was pitched as an effort to “bring affordable internet access to everyone in the world.”

“We believe that every person should have access to free basic internet services — tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the initiative’s first anniversary.

But as phones proliferated across the planet, Facebook realized its app — one of the most used in the world — didn’t run as well on low-end phones. Sometimes updates to the app would perform even worse on older devices.

So last year, the company began a weekly tradition of slowing internet speeds in its offices to simulate the slower internet connections in emerging markets. “To build for a global audience like ours, we know that we need to design features that work seamlessly even on a 2G network,” Facebook said at the time.

It also began testing its service on low-end devices, telling employees to ditch their beloved iPhones for low-end Androids instead. Engineers began testing various phones at their desks. Now, there are thousands of phones in Prineville, and more to be added in other data centers as well.

It’s an odd way to use a data center, but Facebook isn’t your typical company. Most of the technology in this 110,000-square-foot facility — called Building 4 — is designed to store, retrieve and transmit everything from cat videos to 360-degree photos of Wimbledon.

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryearEnlarge Image

Facebook tests code on nearly 2,000 phones, with more to come.

James Martin/CNET

Touring the center

When you type into a computer or tap on one of the company’s apps on your phone, your device is connected with an intricately designed network filled with hundreds of thousands of servers sitting in large facilities like the one Facebook opened up to journalists on Tuesday in Prineville.

Facebook searching for that next billion
  • Zuckerberg muses on Net neutrality, defends
  • Facebook goes slo-o-ow with ‘2G Tuesdays’
  • Facebook to beam free Internet to Africa

Think of it like the digital equivalent of a warehouse. The floors are gray, there’s a hum of fans blowing and the walls are barren, save for the occasional exit sign or art project from a Prineville school.

Prineville was Facebook’s first data center, opened in 2011. The company has since built five more in Sweden, Ireland, Iowa, Texas and North Carolina.

Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryearEnlarge Image

Facebook’s data centers use a lot of blue lights. Why? Blue lights happen to cost a half-cent less than others.

James Martin/CNET

The facility doesn’t rely on that much energy to power your “Happy Birthday!” posts either. Though Facebook wouldn’t say how much the facility needs, it has about 84 megawatts worth of backup power on site. By comparison, the city of San Francisco peaked at 950 megawatts back in 2010.

It also only counts about 165 staff between employees and contractors. That’s nearly one person for every 10,000 Facebook users logging in each month.

So what happens if Prineville suddenly goes offline? There are effectively several copies of all our data in the company’s other centers. And to make sure it works, Facebook sometimes takes one of the data centers offline, without warning to staff.

It’s hard not to notice the chilly air next to these servers, and that’s by design. The air in the data center is kept between about 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal operating temperature for these servers, which were designed by Facebook just like the wiring, the cooling and even the bins employees use to move parts around the floor. Facebook chose Prineville in part for its cool, dry air, which is mixed with water and computer exhaust until it’s the ideal temperature.

“It’s like an old Dodge 318 — an engine doesn’t run well when it’s cold,” said Patchett. If a computer is too hot or too cold, it also isn’t efficient.

Facebook isn’t done building these data centers. The Prineville location, for example, has been under construction since the start, with the latest building set to open in December. Facebook is also still building its Texas data center, which was announced last year.

Inside Facebook’s massive Oregon data center

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The company has an 110,000 square-foot building — called Building 4 — that’s designated as “cold storage.” The servers here store older, less used content in low-power servers, retrieving and transmitting your birthday photos and anniversary videos only when Facebook sees you digging back further into your archives.

James Martin CNET Staff

Short Bio: James is the Senior Photographer at CNET, as well as an award-winning Photo Editor, Producer and Creative Director.
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Facebook stocks data center with phones from yesteryear

The world’s largest social network needs its app to work on all our phones — not just brand-new, top-of-the-line iPhones and Androids. CNET traveled to the company’s Oregon data center to see how it’s done.


21 shortcuts for Safari you need to know

21 shortcuts for Safari you need to know

If you use Apple’s own browser on your Mac, then I’ve got some shortcuts to share with you. With just a handful of these keyboard shortcuts, you can become a superior Safari surfer.

Tab and window management

1. Open link in new tab

Some links are coded to open in the current tab while others open in a new tab. To take control of this behavior, press Command when you click a link to stay on your current page while opening the link in a new tab in the background. Likewise, use Command-Shift-click to open link in new tab and switch to it.

2. Jump to next or previous tab

Use Command-Shift-right arrow to jump one tab to the right and use Command-Shift-left arrow to jump one tab to the left. Alternatively, you can use Control-Tab to move to the right and Control-Shift-Tab to move to the left

3. Jump to specific tab

To jump to a specific tab of the many you have open, press Command and any number key between 1 and 9. Command-1 jumps you to your first (left-most) tab. Command-5, for example, jumps you to the fifth tab from the left.

4. Bring back closed tab

You probably use Command-T to open a new tab, but did you know that Command-Z opens your previously closed tab. Undo that last tab closure! Unlike Chrome and Firefox that remember your last 10 closed tabs, Safari brings back only your last closed tab with this shortcut. For other closed tabs, you’ll need to find them in Safari’s History.

5. Drag tabs

Safari is quite flexible when it comes to moving your tabs around. You can click and drag a tab to move it to another spot among your row open tabs in the current window. You can also drag a tab out of the current window and start a new window or drag it from one window to another window.

6. M for minimize

Hit Command-M to minimize your current window.

7. Close current tab or window

This shortcut saves you from needing to click the little X to close a tab. Instead, use Command-W to close your current tab. To close your current Safari window, use Command-Shift-W.

8. Close all tabs but current tab

After an explosion of tabs, you can close all tabs but the current tab (and any pinned tabs) by hitting Command-Option-W.

9. Enter Reading Mode

Hit Command-Shift-R to enable Safari’s reading mode to get a clean, clutter-free version of the page you are viewing.

10. Add to Reading List

Hit Command-Shift-D to add the current page to your Reading List so you can return to it later.

11. Open the Sidebar

Hit Command-Shift-L to open Safari’s Sidebar to see your Bookmarks, Reading List, Shared links. Hit the keyboard shortcut again to close the Sidebar.

12. Go fullscreen

Hit Command-Control-F to move in and out of fullscreen mode.

13. Private, keep out

Hit Command-Shift-N to open a Private Browsing window.

14. Mute noisy tab

Like Chrome, Safari displays a speaker icon on any tab that is playing audio. Unlike with Chrome, with Safari you can click on the speaker icon to mute the tab. You can also click the blue speaker icon in the URL bar to mute all tabs.

Page navigation

15. Forward and back

You can go back a page on your current tab by hitting Command-left arrow. To move forward a page, use Command-right arrow.

16. Page up and down

When you are viewing a page (and not filling out a form, using Google Docs or otherwise engaging your cursor in Safari), hit the spacebar to page down on a page and Shift-spacebar to page up.

17. Top or bottom

Hit Command-up arrow to return to the top of the web page you are viewing and Command-down arrow to go to the very bottom of the page.

18. Stop a page from loading

If a page is taking too long to load, hit the Escape key to stop it from loading. To reload the page, hit Command-R.

19. Zoom controls

If you have trouble reading a small font on a page, hit Command-Shift-[equals sign] to zoom in. To zoom out, use Command-Shift-[minus sign] to zoom out. To return to the default zoom level, hit Command-Shift-0 (zero).

20. URL bar

Hit Command-L to take control of URL bar.

21. Find bar

Use Command-F to open the Find bar to search for text on the current page. When searching for text with the Find bar, hit Return to go to the next instance of your search term on the page and use Shift-Return to go to the previous instance.

Many of the shortcuts are the same, but I’ve got Chrome shortcuts and Firefox shortcuts if either is your preferred browser.

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Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Editors’ note:This post was first published on March 26 2013 and updated on July 1 2016 with up-to-date information.

It might seem like a daunting task to set up a new home router. But it doesn’t have to be if you understand the most common way routers are managed: through the web interface. The hardest part of using the web interface is getting to it. Once you have gotten there, the rest, at least most of it, is self-explanatory.

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Most routers’ web interfaces are similar and self-explanatory.

Dong Ngo

Note: Almost all home routers on the market come with an web interface, which is a web page from which users can view, manage, and monitor the router’s settings and features. The only company that doesn’t offer a web interface for its router is Apple. There are also some new type of routers with vendor-assisted setup and management using a mobile app, such as the Google OnHub, or the Eero or the Starry that also don’t have a web interface. With that in mind, this guide is intended routers with a web interface only.

In this post, I’ll talk about how you can quickly set up any router by accessing its web interface using a web browser and manage it from any connected computer or even a tablet or smartphone.

Let’s start with the basics.

1. What is a browser?

Home networking explained
  • Part 1: Here’s the URL for you
  • Part 2: Optimizing your Wi-Fi network
  • Part 3: Taking control of your wires
  • Part 5: Home router setup
  • Part 6: Securing your network
  • Part 7: Powerline explained
  • Part 8: Cable modem shopping tips
  • Part 9: How to access your home computer remotely

A web browser is a software application designed for retrieving, presenting, and exchanging information resources on the Internet. All browsers have an address bar where you can type in the Web address of a website, such as After that, you hit Enter and the browser will let you browse (hence the name) the content of the site. As you surf the Internet, the address bar automatically displays the current address of the web page you’re looking at, whether you typed in the URL or got to it by clicking on a link, such as one from within an email or from another web page. This web page address is called a uniform resource locator (URL).

Among the most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Internet Explorer. You’ll find at least one of these browsers on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, and any of them can be used to manage a router’s web interface.

Common home router Web interfaces (pictures)
Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

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2. Setting up the hardware

When you get a new router, setting up the hardware is very simple. (If this part of home networking is new to you, check out part 1 of this series first). All you need is a computer that has a network port (most computers do) and two network cables (a new router comes with at least one network cable). Follow these steps, regardless of what the router’s included setup guide might say:

  1. Connect the router’s WAN port to your Internet source, such as a DSL or cable modem, using the first network cable. All home routers have just one WAN port (sometimes labeled the Internet port); this port is always separate from the other network ports and often is a different color to further differentiate it. Note: If you do not have Internet access at home, or want to have an isolated (non Internet-enabled) network, you can skip this step. Later on you can always complete this step when the Internet is available or needed.
  2. Connect one of the router’s LAN ports (most routers have four LAN ports) to the computer using the second network cable.
  3. Plug the router into the power outlet using its power adapter, as you would with most electronics. If the router has an on-off switch, make sure the router is on. Many routers don’t have this switch and will turn on as you plug it in.

That’s it — you have just finished the hardware setup.

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router

A router’s WAN (Internet) port is always clearly distinguished from the LAN (Ethernet) ports. Also note the reset button, which brings the router’s settings to default value.

Dong Ngo/CNET

3. Accessing the web interface

The next step is to use the web browser to display the router’s Web interface. Basically, you will need two things: the router’s URL, which is always its default IP address, and default log-in information. You’ll find this information in the router’s manual, and sometimes it’s printed on the underside of the router, as well.

Most, if not all home routers on the market have a default IP address in this format: 192.168.x.1, where, depending on the vendor, x tends to be 0, 1, 2, 3, 10, or 11. For example, routers from Trendnet almost always have a default address of, while D-Link routers use or

And the log-in information is also quite predictable. The username (if any) is almost always admin and the password (if any) tends to be one of these: admin, password, default, or 1234.

Once you have gotten these two pieces of information, just type the router’s IP address in the address bar of a browser on a connected computer, press Enter, and then enter the log-in information, after which you’ll be greeted with the web interface.

Vendor Default IP Default log-in (username/password)
Most AT&T gateway / (blank)/(the device’s serial number or access code)
Amped Wireless admin/admin
Asus admin/admin
Belkin (blank)/(blank) or admin/1234
Buffalo root/(blank)
D-Link or admin/(blank)
Linksys or admin/admin or (blank)/root or (blank)/admin or Administrator/admin
Motorola admin/motorola or admin/password
Netgear or admin/password or Admin/1234
Trendnet admin/admin
ZyXel admin/1234
Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router
You can quickly find out the router’s default address by using the ipconfig command on a Windows computer. Dong Ngo/CNET

Also, from a connected computer, you can always find out what the current IP address is of the local network’s router. This is helpful if a router’s default IP address has been changed. On a Windows computer do this:

  1. Run the command prompt (you can find it in the Start menu, or in Windows 8 just type cmd when you’re at the Metro Start menu, then press Enter).
  2. At the Command Prompt window, type in ipconfig then press Enter. You will see a lot of things, but the IP address following the Default Gateway is the address of the router.
Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router
On a Mac, it’s also quite easy to find out the default IP of the local network’s router. Dong Ngo/CNET

On a Mac: Head to System Preferences > Network > select the current connected connection (it’s likely Ethernet) > click on Advanced > on the first tab, TCP/IP, the router’s IP address is shown next to Router.

4. A new router’s basic settings

Though the design of the Web interface is opened varies from one vendor to another, most of them have granular menus. Listed below are typical main menu items and what they do.

Wizard: This is where you can start a step-by step guided setup process. Many routers’ interfaces show the wizard when the Web interface is accessed for the first time. You just have to go through and set up a few of the routers’ settings, such as its log-in password (to be changed from the default — you should definitely do this to keep your network secure) and the name and password for the Wi-Fi network (or networks, for dual-band routers). Some wizards also ask for your time zone, the current time and date, and so on. With most routers you can skip the wizard and set up the router manually, if you want to, or you can finish the wizard and get back to the interface to further customize the network.

Home networking explained, part 5: Setting up a home router
It’s a good practice to save the router’s current settings before making changes. This way you can always restore the previous settings if something goes wrong. Dong Ngo/CNET

Setup section

Wireless (or Wireless settings): Where you can customize the router’s Wi-Fi network(s). You can pick the name of the network, change the password, turn the Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature on or off, and a lot more.

WAN (or Internet): Most of the time you should use the Auto setting for this section. However, some ISPs might require special settings; in those cases you can enter them here.

LAN (or Network settings): This is where you can change the local network settings, including the default IP address of the router itself. (Note that if you change the router’s default IP address, which is recommended for security reason, you’ll then need to use the new address to access the router’s Web interface.) Here you can also change the range of IP addresses used for local clients, and add clients to the DHCP Reservation list. Once on this list, the clients’ IP addresses will remain the same, which is required for some Internet applications. Most of the time, you don’t need to change anything in this section at all.

Tools (or Administration) section

Admin password (or Password): Change the router’s password. This is the password required when you log in the router’s Web interface.

System: Where you can back up the current settings of the router to a file, or restore settings from a file; update the router’s firmware; and so on. It’s always helpful to back up the router’s settings before you make changes.

You’ll find a lot more settings and features on a router’s Web interface, and when have time, you should try them out. If worst comes to worst, you can turn to the last-resort step below to restore the router to its default settings.

5. The last resort

All routers come with a reset button. This is a tiny recessed button that can be found on the bottom or side of the device. Using something pointy, such as an unfolded paper clip, to press and hold this button for about 10 seconds (when the router is plugged into power) will bring its settings back to the factory default. In other words, the router will be reset to the state it was in when you bought it. You can set it up again from the beginning, or you can log in to its web interface and restore the router’s settings from a backup file.


How to build a VR-ready PC

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are here. But your PC has to be pretty powerful to use these cutting-edge VR headsets. If your PC is lacking performance, don’t worry. We’re going to show you how to build a VR-ready PC.

Update, July 1 2016: We’ve added information about the new AMD Radeon RX 480 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 graphics cards, which change the VR landscape in a big way. We’ve also rechecked all our prices.

Getting started

Building a PC is simpler than you might think. You simply:

  1. Pick out the right components
  2. Plug them into the correct slots
  3. Install your operating system

We’re not going to rehash that entire process here, because CNET’s Dan Graziano wrote a comprehensive three-part guide that covers all the PC-building bases.

But when it comes to building a VR-ready PC, not any old component will do. We’ve spent hours piecing together parts, quizzing hardware manufacturers and speaking to VR developers to figure out the best parts for you — both today and into the future.

Then, we sat down to build a VR gaming rig.

(We got a little help from PC component vendor Newegg, which provided the CPU, GPUs, motherboard, memory and liquid cooling system for our computer after we finished our research.)

Don’t want to build a VR-ready PC? Here’s my colleague Dan Ackerman’s guide to buying one instead.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image

CNET’s Future-Proof VR Gaming PC.

Josh Miller/CNET

Here’s what you need to play games in VR

As you read through this guide, you’ll see up to three options for each major component of a VR-ready PC. If you just want to comfortably play every VR title today, you’ll be just fine with the bare minimum.

If you pick what we used, you should be well-equipped for next year’s titles and beyond. We wanted CNET’s Future-Proof VR Gaming PC to be ready for anything.

Future-proof PCs tend to be pretty large, but if you want a small, cool and quiet computer that’ll easily fit your office or home, be sure to look for our mini PC options.

You can also simply skip down to the bottom of this story for our full parts list.

A graphics card

The bare minimum:

  • AMD Radeon RX 480 ($200, £180, AU$320 and up)

For a mini PC:

  • Asus Mini GTX 970 ($355, roughly £270 or AU$475 converted) or AMD Radeon R9 Nano ($500, £450, roughly AU$670)

What we used:

  • Two Nvidia GTX 980 Ti graphics cards ($1,000, roughly £750 or AU$1,350)

The graphics card is the heart and soul of any VR-ready gaming PC, and unless you’ve picked up new hardware recently, yours might not be up to snuff. The right graphics card will keep you from feeling sick, so it’s important to go with a powerful one.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image

Two Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPUs. We used two, and it’s definitely overkill.

Josh Miller/CNET

To hit smooth, satisfying gameplay on a PC, you’ll generally want your games at a frame rate of 60 frames per second. That means your PC is capable of pumping out 60 images every second; dip too far below that, and you’ll encounter staggered, choppy visuals.

For virtual reality, 90 frames per second is the holy grail. With high-resolution displays this close to your face, any lag or choppiness in movement is going to be magnified. Worse still, if the action doesn’t react in time with your motions, you could end up feeling nauseous. And keep in mind, virtual reality needs to render the action twice — once for each eye.

When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive first came out, that meant starting with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290, each of which cost around $320 back then, and the best you could get was a $700 GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

As of June 2016 there’s a new sheriff in town: the $200 AMD Radeon RX 480. We put it through a battery of VR tests, and it seems just as capable as the GTX 970 for a good bit less money. (In fact, it’s a bit smoother in some games.)

How to build a VR-ready PC

Yes, that’s a $200 graphics card.


But Nvidia hasn’t stood still. The GTX 970 can now be found for as low as $270 — and more importantly, the new (but hard to find) $380 GTX 1070 and $600 GTX 1080 are mopping the floor with every other graphics card. If you’re going to pay more than the bare minimum to get a futureproof VR system, you’ll want one of those two new Nvidia cards — though you may want to wait until they come down in price before you buy one.

It’s worth noting that current VR titles don’t support more than one GPU at a time, although a dual-GPU system will still work fine with VR, and even a single high-end GPU like a GTX 980 can be overkill for the initial crop of VR games.

That said, popular development platforms such as Unreal Engine 4 will incorporate Nvidia’s tech to link two graphics cards together, and there’s also no guarantee that game developers will stick to the system specs that Oculus and Valve recommend. We found we could already turn up the graphical settings in a few games (Eve: Valkyrie, Project Cars and The Gallery) to higher levels than a $200 AMD Radeon RX 480 can handle.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image

Intel’s high-end Core i7 Skylake processor requires newer motherboards and memory.

Josh Miller/CNET


The bare minimum:

  • Intel Core i5-4590 ($190, roughly £145 or AU$255 converted)

For a mini PC:

  • Intel Core i5-4690K ($235, roughly £180 or AU$315)

What we used:

  • Intel Core i7-6700K ($350, roughly £265 or AU$470)

The CPU or central processing unit is your gaming rig’s brain, and while the graphics card will be doing most of the heavy lifting in virtual reality, you’ll still need a CPU that’s up to the task. Recommendations for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive start at Intel’s Core i5-4590, a solid mid-range part that’s a little long in the tooth, but still plenty capable.

But capable isn’t good enough for our future-proofed rig, so we’re heading right to the top of Intel’s stack with the Core i7-6700K. This processor throws a few wrenches in the works. It’s using a new socket type, which means we’ll need a new motherboard to support it. It also supports DDR4 RAM. No self-respecting future-proofed PC should be without the latest in speedy memory, but that’ll inflate the price of our build further still.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image

The Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 7 motherboard.

Josh Miller/CNET

We’ve also picked an unlocked processor. That’s what the “K” at the end of the processor’s name means. An unlocked processor means we can overclock (manually speeding up the card’s internal processor beyond that intended by the manufacturer) if we want even more power. You might actually be able to get away with an even less powerful CPU if your graphics card is up to snuff, but if your goal is future-proofing, you’ll want to aim higher.

For a mini PC build, you’ll notice we still recommend an older i5-4690K chip. There are two reasons for that. First, we weren’t able to find a small motherboard for Intel’s newer Skylake processors with enough user reviews for us to trust it. Second, we figured if you’re going to build a mini PC, you’ll probably pick liquid cooling to keep it quiet, and if you’re going with liquid cooling you might as well take advantage of the ability to easily overclock that CPU, too. If you’re ever a few frames short of the 90 fps you need to feel comfortable in VR, it could come in handy.

Why no AMD CPUs? VR experts told us that right now, they’re not up to snuff when it comes to something called single-threaded performance, which is how fast the processor can work on any single tiny task put in front of it.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image
James Martin/CNET

Memory (RAM)

RAM is fairly cheap, and more RAM generally means your PC can do more things at once before it bogs down. You’ll want a bare minimum of 8GB of DDR3 ($40, £30, roughly AU$55). VR game developers tell us that more than 8GB is probably overkill for now.

Our future-proofed rig is going a different route: we used a single 16GB stick of DDR4 RAM ($90, £70, roughly AU$120). DDR4 RAM is fairly new, and pricier than DDR3, but it’s required for newer processors. 16GB will give us plenty of oomph for now, and we can easily double it to 32GB as prices come down.

For a mini PC, you might as well go for 16GB of DDR3 ($60, £60, roughly AU$80) since it’s likely to go up in price as DDR4 takes over, and it may be harder to reach inside a tiny mini PC case to swap out memory sticks when the time comes to upgrade.

Power supply

Power supplies are the unsung heroes of most PC builds, and getting a great one will save you a lot of headaches down the road. Power supplies are available in a wide range of wattages: you’re going to have to pick the one that will provide ample power for the components you’ve settled on. We recommend using PCPartPicker to keep track of the components you pick and estimate how much power you’ll use, but if you need a specific pick we’d suggest Corsair’s 500-watt CX550M power supply ($60, roughly £40 or AU$75 converted) as the bare minimum.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image
Josh Miller/CNET

Our future-proofed rig takes things quite a bit further: We used a massive 1,200 watt power supply from SeaSonic that gets stellar reviews. This amount of power will be overkill for most people, but it gives us the opportunity to use three giant graphics cards if future VR games wind up using them, and it provides an incredibly stable source of power if we decide to do any overclocking in the future.

Besides, power supplies tend to outlive every other PC component. A good power supply is an investment.

How to build a VR-ready PCEnlarge Image
Josh Miller/CNET

And the rest

I’ve left out a number of key components here, but they’re not exactly specific to virtual reality. You’ll want a motherboard that will support your processor and your upgrade goals — our Gigabyte GA-Z170X Gaming 7 has room for three graphics cards, supports DDR4 RAM and has a Thunderbolt 3 port for external graphics if you ever need them.

You’ll need enough hard drive space to store your games and operating system. A $50 magnetic hard drive will be fine as a bare minimum, but we stick to speedy solid state drives (SSDs) on all of our PC builds. You’ll get much more storage space out of a traditional hard drive, but an SSD will make your entire system feel faster. We used a speedy 500GB SSD, paired with a reliable 2TB 7,200 rpm standard hard drive for storage. That’s more than enough space for now.

Pick a case that works for you. Maybe it makes allowances for airflow, or quiet performance, or one that just looks cool. Our Corsair 760T has loads of space to work inside, and a full actual window to look through — what’s the point of getting sweet hardware if you can’t look at it from time to time? Here are some popular cheaper options.

We just used monitors, mice and keyboards that were lying around because they’re no good to us in VR. And of course, you’ll also need an operating system — we’re rolling with Windows 10.

Building a PC isn’t hard, but it isn’t a cakewalk, either. (There are some easy ways to trip up.) Here’s wishing you the best of luck in your PC building adventure!

Want to see all these parts in a more digestible, browsable format? Take a look at our basic, mini and future-proof builds at PCPartPicker. Please note we’ve included US pricing and approximate conversions for Australia and the UK.

VR PC Buying Guide

Part Basic Estimated Price Mini Estimated Price Future-proofed Estimated Price
CPU Core i5-4590 $190 (AU$255, £145) Core i5 4690K $235 (AU$315, £180) Core i7 6700K $350 (AU$470, £265)
GPU AMD Radeon RX 480 $200 (AU$270, £150) Asus Mini GTX 970 $355 (AU$475, £270) 2x GTX 980 Ti $1,000 (AU$1,350, £750)
RAM 8GB DDR3 $40 (AU$55, £30) 16GB DDR3 $60 (AU$80, £45) G.Skill Ripjaws V Series, DDR4 3200, 16GB (1x 16GB) $90 (AU$120, £70)
CPU cooler Stock n/a Corsair H60 $60 (AU$80, £40) Corsair H90 $90 (AU$120, £70)
PSU 550W Corsair CX550M $55 (AU$75, £40) Silverstone ST45SF-G $90 (AU$120, £65) SeaSonic Platinum-1200 $220 (AU$295, £165)
Motherboard ASRock H97 Pro4 $80 (AU$110, £60) Gigabyte GA-Z97N-WiFi $130 (AU$175, £100) Gigabyte G1 Gaming GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 $200 (AU$270, £150)
Storage 1 Samsung 850 EVO 250GB $90 (AU$120, £70) Samsung 850 EVO 250GB $90 (AU$120, £65) Samsung 850 EVO 500GB $150 (AU$200, £115)
Storage 2 None n/a WD Black 2TB, 7200RPM $120 (AU$160, £90) WD Black 2TB, 7200RPM $120 (AU$160, £90)
Case NZXT S340 (White) $60 (AU$80, £45) Silverstone Fortress FT03-MINI $130 (AU$175, £100) Corsair 760T (White) $165 (AU$220, £125)
OS Windows 10 Home $95 (AU$130, £70) Windows 10 Home $95 (AU$130, £70) Windows 10 Home $95 (AU$130, £70)
Total (before tax and shipping) $810 (AU$1,085, £610) $1,365 (AU$1830, £1030) $2,480 (AU$3,325, £1,865)

With contribution from Eric Franklin.

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4 ways to Force Quit an app on your Mac

If you encounter an unresponsive app on your Mac, you have four methods at your disposal to close it using Force Quit.


For an app whose icon you have parked in the Dock, you can right-click on the icon and hit the Option key. With the Option key pressed, the Quit menu item turns into Force Quit.

Apple menu

You can access Force Quit from the Apple menu. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner and choose Force Quit. This opens the Force Quit Applications window, which provides a convenient list of all of your open applications, denoting any that are not responding. Highlight the troublesome app and click the Force Quit button to close it.

4 ways to Force Quit an app on your Mac
Matt Elliott/CNET

Keyboard shortcut

You can call up the Force Quit window with a keyboard shortcut. And that keyboard shortcut is Command-Option-Escape.

Activity Monitor

If you are using the Activity Monitor to see how much system resources a sluggish or unresponsive app is consuming, you can Force Quit the app from right within the Activity Monitor. To do so, highlight the app you want to close, click the X button in the upper-left corner of the Activity Monitor window and then click the Force Quit button.

I will close with a warning: when you choose to quit an app normally, you will likely get a warning asking you to confirm your intentions. With Force Quit, you receive no such such warning and may lose any unsaved changes. Then again, if an app is not responding, you may have no other recourse than to use a bit of force to close it.