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We are beginning to be concerned by Intel’s benchmarks for high-end laptop GPUs

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We are beginning to be concerned by Intel’s benchmarks for high-end laptop GPUs
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU



(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s Arc A730M has popped up in some early reviews over in China – tentative material given the sources, and we’ll come back to that point – but this time one of the testers of the Alchemist GPU has used the latest driver which does officially support the A730M.

That driver was introduced yesterday (version 30.0.101. 1735) carrying said support, and as laptops are now on sale with the A730M inside – but only in China – this is our first proper glimpse of the potential performance of Intel’s laptop graphics card which nestles just beneath the flagship A770M.

The situation is that two sources (flagged up by VideoCardz (opens in new tab)) have benchmarked a Machenike gaming laptop now on shelves in China, which has the A730M GPU inside. The first set of results come from ‘Golden Pig Upgrade’, a Weibo denizen who brought us a previous leak as we reported yesterday – but has now installed the latest Intel driver for this latest round of testing as noted.

The other results come from IT-Home, a Chinese tech site, although this didn’t use the new driver with support for the A730M, and overall, we’d still keep a healthily skeptical frame of mind when chewing over these scores.

Let’s look at Golden Pig Upgrade’s findings first, who compared the A730M to the RTX 3060 laptop GPU, using benchmarks of notebooks running one of Intel’s Alder Lake Core i7-12700H processors to give a fairly level playing field.

While the A730M still did well in synthetic testing – as we saw in the 3DMark results from yesterday – and beat the RTX 3060 by a long way (indeed, the Intel GPU outdid the 3070), that wasn’t the case with actual gaming benchmarks.

To pick some examples, Gears 5 hit 90 fps (frames per second) with the A730M, but that was a fair way behind the RTX 3060 which managed 133 fps. For Hitman 2, the Nvidia card led Intel’s GPU hitting 100 fps compared to 76 fps. Both of those were DX12 results – the resolution and settings weren’t shared, but clearly this is 1080p – but some DX11 benchmarks were run too, like Total War Saga: Troy, where Nvidia won by 136 fps to 114 fps.

There was some brighter news with Metro Exodus, mind, where the A730M beat the RTX 3060, averaging 77 fps compared to 72 fps (and we do know that was with high graphics settings at 1080p).

IT-Home’s testing was based on Intel’s Arc driver version 30.0.101. 1726, before the A730M was officially supported, so technically falls into the category of pre-release leakage for us – but the 3DMark results were similar to Golden Pig Upgrade, and the findings broadly line-up for real-world gaming, too.

Meaning that the A730M falls somewhat behind the RTX 3060, although in this case, the benchmark comparisons weren’t made directly by IT-Home, and were instead drawn to existing benchmarks for the games via Notebookcheck.net; so we need to be especially cautious here. For what it’s worth, the A730M looks considerably slower than the RTX 3060 in Cyberpunk 2077, whereas Control saw roughly similar performance, but the Intel GPU actually edged ahead for Elden Ring – though we’re positively wading through salt here, really.


Analysis: Optimization aplenty still to be done for Arc?

The sum total of these benchmark comparisons – some of which are definitely shaky – is that the A730M is slower than Nvidia’s RTX 3060 in most of the games tested, but not all of them (and certainly not the synthetic testing with 3DMark, but that’s not as important as real-world gaming results). The clear indication is that Intel is still working on improving the Arc graphics driver.

Metro Exodus is the key benchmark to focus on here, because we saw Golden Pig Upgrade run the game in their previous testing, but with an outdated driver – so now we can compare that result to the new driver that officially supports the A730M.

Previously, Metro Exodus (at high settings, 1080p) managed 70 fps, but with the new driver, it pushes up to 77 fps – but there’s a bigger tale to tell in terms of the lowest frame rate recorded. Previously, that dipped to a horrendous 9 fps – meaning at times, Metro Exodus became a seriously jerky slideshow – but now, we see a low of 45 fps, which is much more in line with what we’d expect.

In other words, the latest driver looks to have been tuned for Metro Exodus now, but not for some other games going by a number of the results witnessed here. This again indicates that Intel is still optimizing the driver and making it work for different games. (Note that there are also reports of multiple games crashing or not even running at all with the Arc A730M, which really isn’t a good sign at all).

And all that ties in with what we’ve seen thus far – a very limited launch of discrete Arc laptop GPUs, only in Asia, mainly because Intel simply isn’t ready to unleash Alchemist products on the broader world and to regions like the US and Europe. Not to mention delays on desktop Arc, likely bound up in the same reasons of needing to further tune the software side of things, even if the hardware is ready to go.

Remember, all of this is just speculation, but things clearly haven’t gone to plan for Intel thus far with Arc GPUs, so it’s not exactly a massive leap to make when you look at early benchmarks such as the ones shared here.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.



(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods



Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels


Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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