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The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more
Wed, 05 Oct 2022 00:16:24 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Looking to upgrade to a brand-new laptop? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve scoured the market looking for the top laptops and curated an even more select list of the very best available right now. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts here at PCWorld. From classic clamshells to versatile 2-in-1’s, we’ve got you covered. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry, we’ve also thrown in the best affordable options such as Chromebooks as well. Read on to learn more about our picks for the best laptops. And if you’re looking to save some cash on your purchase, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best laptop deals, updated every weekday. Also, with just a few weeks left before the new semester, be sure to check out our back-to-school deals page to help stretch that college budget even further. We will be updating it with the best deals on Chromebooks, MacBooks, iPads, and more. Without further ado, these are the best laptops we’ve tested. Updated 10/03/2022 Check out our latest review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16. This well designed and solidly built laptop comes with some unique features that make it a good day-to-day choice, but it struggles to provide as much value for the money as some competitors. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best productivity laptop Pros Roomy 16:10 display Thin and light yet rugged Stellar keyboard Quiet operation Booming audio Two Thunderbolt 4 ports Cons Webcam limited to 720p Display color is a bit cool MSRP: $1,799.60 Best Prices Today: $1308 at Lenovo | $1,706.77 at Amazon ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9review Razer Blade 17 (2022) – Best gaming laptop Pros Excellent gaming performance Great selection of ports including 2 x Thunderbolt 4 Sturdy robust design Cons Poor battery life unplugged Keyboard lacks a numpad MSRP: $3,999 Best Prices Today: $3999 at Micro Center | $3999 at Razer | $3,999.99 at Amazon The Razer Blade 17 (2022) is a gamer’s ultimate dream. It’s a robust laptop with a stunning 240Hz display and a wide array of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4. Plus, you can expect awesome gaming performance thanks to the Intel 12-gen i7 CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU. That’s some serious power. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it, as it costs thousands of dollars. If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, then the Blade 17 is phenomenal option. If your budget is more limited, check out the ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED below, which is our best budget gaming laptop pick. Read our full Razer Blade 17 (2022)review ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop – Best budget gaming laptop Pros Good productivity performance Superb display Rugged design Great battery life Cons Boring aesthetics Unimpressive 720p webcam Unreliable fingerprint scanner Poor port selection Best Prices Today: Not Available at Amazon Looking for a reliable budget gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for “gaming, streaming, and day-to-day productivity.” Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on high graphics during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely beautiful and battery life is surprisingly good. There are a few minor shortcomings, however. The overall design is a little plain and the port selection is limited, and you’ll need to drop down to Medium or High graphics in strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050. Nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for reliable performance on a gorgeous OLED screen, the VivoBook Pro 15 is where the party’s at. If you don’t mind giving up those luscious OLED visuals for a bit more graphics firepower, you should take a look at the Acer Swift X, which is our next entry. Read our full ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptopreview Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) – Best affordable ultraportable Pros Stellar ultraportable performance. Sneaky gaming laptop with RTX 3050 Ti graphics. Impressive battery life considering high-end parts. Cons Display feels cramped for creative work. Fan gets loud during heavy workloads. Poorly placed Pg-Up and -Down buttons. Best Prices Today: $919.90 at Amazon Don’t judge a laptop by its chassis. The Swift X may not look all that threatening at first glance, but under the hood you’ll find some seriously powerful components. This ultraportable is packing an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. In our review, the Swift managed “48 frames per second at the Highest preset” when running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p. There are a few downsides, though. The fans get loud under heavy loads and the keyboard runs a little warm. But if you can live with those shortcomings and you’re looking for strong CPU and GPU performance, the Swift X will definitely deliver. Read our full Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6)review Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget laptop Pros Affordable price Rugged build Great keyboard Good selection of ports Cons Subpar webcam Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed Touchpad is a little hard to use MSRP: $369 (base model) $499 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $394.05 at Amazon | $499 at Walmart With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget option for most people. While the color scheme is a little boring to look at, the build is surprisingly rugged. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” The keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look. Alternatively, you can check out our review of the Acer Aspire 5 (2022 edition) for the latest updated version of this laptop. However, we didn’t feel that the upgrades—as well as the price hike—warranted replacing our original best budget pick. Read our full Acer Aspire 5review Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook Pros Strong performance Good build quality Nice selection of ports Beautiful display Solid battery life Cons No privacy shutter on the webcam Boring design Fan noise is a bit loud MSRP: From $629.99 Best Prices Today: $629.99 at Acer | $872.00 at Amazon If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 will surely fit the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and diverse selection of ports. The design is a little utilitarian, but this is the kind of machine that favors function over aesthetics. The build is robust and there was hardly any flex in the keyboard tray. There are a couple of downsides like the loud fan noise and the lack of a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but these issues are relatively minor. Overall, the Spin 713 is a solid convertible laptop that performs well. Dell XPS 17 (2022) – Best content creation laptop Pros Solid performance for the price Massive, bright, colorful display  Offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports  Long battery life Cons Heavy and thick  Mediocre keyboard Lacks USB-A, HDMI, or Ethernet RTX 3060 is the quickest available GPU MSRP: $2,799 Best Prices Today: $2949.99 at Best Buy | $2999 at Micro Center Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 11th-gen Intel CPU, and GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. By packing its 4K, 10-bit color screen into such a compact laptop, and loading the notebook itself with every feature professionals ask for (hello, SD card reader and abundant Thunderbolt 4 ports), the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop should be. If you’re looking for something different, the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is a great alternative, thanks to its gorgeous OLED display and unique dial controls. It also happens to be our runner-up pick for the best content creation laptop. Check out the entry below. Read our full Dell XPS 17 (2022)review Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED – Best content creation laptop (runner up) Pros Beautiful 4K OLED display Long battery life Useful DialPad tool Cons Design lacks flair Lackluster webcam MSRP: $1,599.99 Best Prices Today: Not Available at Adorama | Not Available at Amazon The Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is another great option for content creators. It has a use DialPad feature, a 4K OLED display, and a micro SD card slot—all coveted specifications for image and video editing. Compared to the Dell XPS 17 9710 (our top pick for content creators), this laptop has a weaker 3050 Ti GPU. That said, the Ryzen 5900HX CPU has more cores. Therefore, the Asus may be a better option for those with CPU-intensive workloads. It’s also lightweight and compact, and it’s packing a whopping 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. Overall, this is another great choice for creators. Read our full Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLEDreview Acer Swift 3 – Best for students Pros Solid chassis and build quality Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad USB-C with charging and DisplayPort Cons Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives  Disappointing battery life Lots of bloatware MSRP: $999 Best Prices Today: $769.26 at Amazon If you’re looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows. Read our full Acer Swift 3 SF316-51review Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best tablet Pros Superior screen: larger, higher-res, higher refresh rate Inking is a pleasure Good audio, with louder speakers New optional Type Cover integrates pen well Cons Webcam might need some tweaking Pen and keyboard still cost extra Still pricey MSRP: $1,599.99 Best Prices Today: $799.99 at Best Buy | $1,466.84 at Amazon | $1599.99 at Microsoft Microsoft’s Surface tablets were already atop our list of best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft reworked the Surface Pro 8 in numerous ways by adding a larger, higher-resolution, faster screen, a pair of Thunderbolt ports that replace the legacy Surface Connector, and a new inking experience, among other features. While this generation of the Surface Pro tablet forgoes an always-connected LTE option as well as the choice of a cheap Core i3, performance still soared to the top of the heap. Benefits like how the increased display refresh rate improves inking are subtle improvements that matter, too. It’s the most dramatic revamp of a Surface in years and it’s all for the better. Read our full Surface Pro 8review Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Best mid-range gaming laptop Pros Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design AniMe Matrix screams unique It has a webcam Cons Half permanent RAM Keyboard backlighting is subpar MSRP: $1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM) Best Prices Today: $1649.99 at Best Buy | $1,749.00 at Amazon The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful—a very rare combination. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard. It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick. Read our full ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)review Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G – Best coffee shop laptop Pros Fantastic 16-hour battery life Ultra thin, light and svelte Excellent 1080p OLED display and Dolby audio Solid value, though a premium price Cons Shallow keyboard A ton of preloaded apps, many from Samsung No 4K display option MSRP: $1,399.99 Best Prices Today: $1249.99 at Samsung | $1399.99 at Samsung The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G offers a gorgeous OLED screen, superb battery life, and an excellent inking experience. It also has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can fold it up like a tent or swing the display around and use it like a tablet. It’s very versatile, which may appeal to students or business professionals. In our review, our tester described it as “an excellent coffee shop PC.” The only drawback is the slow SSD. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5Greview HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook Pros Gorgeous 2K touchscreen Solid performance Excellent battery life Robust design Cons Trackpad is too sensitive at times Light on ports MSRP: $599 Best Prices Today: $219.95 at Amazon | $479.99 at HP Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find them cumbersome to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on. Read our full HP Chromebook x2 11review Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) – Best convertible Pros Sturdy and sleek all-metal chassis Long battery life Impressive audio output Comfortable keyboard Cons 16:9 screen feels cramped  Included stylus is too skinny Undersized touchpad Limited ports all on left side MSRP: $1,230 (entry level) | $1,449 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $1230 at Lenovo | Not Available at Best Buy The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a fantastic convertible. It has an attractive design, a dazzling OLED display, and great sound quality. Plus, the 12th-gen Intel processor really boosts performance. According to our tester, the processor “packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.” That’s quite a bit of power. The 74 watt-hour battery is quite large for a compact 2-in-1 as well. When we put the laptop through our battery test, it died in about 12 hours. You can expect this laptop to last through the work day. There’s a couple of minor nitpicks to be aware of, though. The 19:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel a bit squished and the touchpad is smaller than we like. If you can live with those small drawbacks, the Yoga 9i is well worth considering. Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022)review How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads.Laptop FAQ Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below. What type of laptop should I get? The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable. How much processing power will I need? If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9. What’s the difference between discrete graphics and integrated graphics? You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive. What about memory? 8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more. How big should my display be? If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value. How long should my laptop last on a single charge? If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop. How much should I spend? The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it. What about connectivity? A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor. Laptops
Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 18:33:27 +0000
Source: PCWorld
USB-C has come a long way since its debut in 2014, now becoming the standard for charging and basic data transfer (on everything except the iPhone, of course!) as well as audio and video for more and more devices. The European Parliament, long enamored with the idea of a consumer- and environmentally-friendly standard for charging devices, is pushing it forward even further. A newly-passed law says that almost all portable electronics will need to charge via USB-C by 2026. At this point, most new laptops already use USB-C charging, taking advantage of the standard’s flexibility to deliver a range of wattages up to 100 watts. There are two exceptions: the top of the market and the bottom. Cheap budget laptops are still sometimes equipped with less expensive, semi-proprietary barrel charging cables or something like Lenovo’s rectangular charger. On the other hand, power-hungry laptops that need more than 100 watts still use proprietary connections for their massive adapters. The USB Implementers Forum is working on expanding that limit and some of these laptops can still charge slowly over USB-C. These are the only laptops that Europe will allow to be sold with proprietary chargers after the spring of 2026. While nothing forces manufacturers to follow this new law worldwide, streamlined manufacturing and economy of scale will effectively force the rest of the world to follow in practice if not in legislation. Parliament posted its reasoning online (spotted by Windows Central), saying that this move will encourage technological innovation and give consumers access to more interoperability with a bonus that more easily-reusable cables and chargers means less electronic waste. The post estimates that it will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year on new charger purchases. The bigger news is that this move is likely to finally force Apple to abandon the Lightning connector for the iPhone, cheaper iPads, and a few lingering accessories. (Apple already uses USB-C charging on most iPads and all Macbooks.) The switch for smaller mobile devices will happen by the end of 2024. This includes “all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable.” (Note: This technically creates a loophole for any device that recharges via wireless only.) That should give laptop manufacturers plenty of time to flush out the remaining old-fashioned chargers from their assembly lines. Laptops
Windows 11 22H2 bug can slow file downloading by 40%
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 17:05:31 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Downloading and even copying local files may be as much as 40 percent slower using Windows 11 22H2, a Microsoft program manager has confirmed. Ned Pyle, a principal program manager at Microsoft, wrote that there is a performance regression in Windows 11’s 2022 Update (22H2) when copying files from a remote computer using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. The performance hit was unearthed by Petri.com. It’s not entirely clear whether copying files will slow down when downloading them from a remote server, or merely accessing them from a remote PC. Microsoft doesn’t appear to know quite yet, either. “The issue is not actually in SMB code, so I can’t give you an ETA for a permanent fix yet; SMB is just the most likely scenario to be noticed,” Pyle wrote. “You could see this behavior even with local file copies not using SMB. We’re working with another team to understand this and get to a permanent solution.” The slowdown appears to manifest when copying down or downloading “large” (multi-gigabyte) files from a remote machine onto a PC running Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). Files that are copied to another PC not running 22H2 won’t see the slowdown, Pyle wrote. There is a workaround. “[U]se robocopy or xcopy with the /J (unbuffered IO) parameter,” Pyle wrote, which will return performance to the expected levels. Pyle provided an example of the code: robocopy \\someserver\someshare c:\somefolder somefile.ned /J Last week, Microsoft reported a printer bug that manifested when printers were unable to communicate their advanced features to a host PC, which prevented those features from working. Microsoft blocked users with the issue from upgrading to 22H2. Windows 11
Best PC deals: Prime Early Access Sale top picks
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:45:59 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Amazon’s next sales event, Prime Early Access Sale, will run between October 11th and 12th. This smaller version of Prime Day should include great deals on everything from gaming PCs to all-in-ones, as well as more traditional desktop machines. The deals have already begun and we have curated the best sales on computers leading up to what some are calling “Prime Day 2.” You’ll need to be a Prime member to take advantage of these steep discounts. If you aren’t a member already, check out our guide for how to get Amazon Prime for free. This year, we expect to see some great deals on desktop computers, particularly gaming PCs and all-in-ones. Other retailers have jumped in on the Prime Early Access Sale action, and some of the best desktop PC deals can even be found outside of Amazon, so we’ve included those deals too. Best Prime Early Access Sale PC computer deals There are bound to be enticing computer deals all over the place, but it’s not always easy to distinguish a steep discount from a great value. Different manufacturers often offer computers with the same specs at wildly different prices. So, if you’re not careful, you could unknowingly purchase a computer that you think is a good deal when in fact there’s another retailer selling their version of that computer for much less. That’s where we come in. We’ve made it our job to find you the best computer deals that also represent excellent value. Here’s what we’ve uncovered so far: iBuyPower Gaming PC, Ryzen 5 5600G/GeForce RTX 3060/16GB RAM/500GB SSD, $949.99 (27% off on Amazon)Asus ROG Strix Gaming Desktop, Ryzen 7 5700G/GeForce RTX 3060/16GB RAM/ 256GB SSD/1TB HDD, $999.00 (23% off on Walmart)Skytech Prism II, Ryzen 7 5800X/GeForce RTX 3080/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,999.99 (33% off on Amazon)Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Tiny Workstation, Core i7-12700T/Nvidia T400/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, Windows 11 Pro 64, $1,649.00 (42% off on Lenovo)Dell Inspiron 24 5000 All-in-one, Core i5-1135G7/Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics/12GB RAM/256GB SSD/1TB HDD, 24-inch 1080p touchscreen display, $737.95 (13% off on Amazon)Dell Inspiron 5400 All-in-one, Core i5-1135G7/Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics/32GB RAM/1TB SSD, 24-inch 1080p touchscreen display, $1,089.00 ($871.99 with 20% off coupon on Amazon)HP Victus, Ryzen 7 5700G/Radeon RX 6600 XT/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, $999.99 (25% off on Newegg)What to look for when buying a desktop computer You’ll see a ton of options when searching for a desktop computer, but they all mainly fit into four main categories: productivity tower PCs, gaming PCs, mini PCS, and all-in-ones (AiO). Which you should end up buying is entirely dependent upon what your needs are and what you want to do with your computer. If you are looking for something that will work in a home office or family room, then a productivity PC or AiO with a solid CPU and lots of RAM and storage is probably the way to go. If gaming is your main concern, a gaming PC can offer a lot more bang for your buck than a laptop and you should focus on getting the best GPU possible. Or if you just want something that can fit anywhere and provide basic computing then a mini PC is a good bet. As for a CPU, we recommend opting for at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 which will provide plenty of processing power for everyday computing tasks. If you don’t intend to do any gaming on your computer then feel free to save some money by going with integrated graphics. However, if you are looking to get your game on, then we recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT as these are the least expensive discrete graphics cards that can handle ray tracing. As for RAM, we think its best to shoot for 16GB at the minimum for productivity and gaming, but for family computers and internet browsing, 8GB should suffice. Storage size is dependent upon your personal needs, but it is generally a good idea to opt for an SSD over an standard HDD as they are much faster and don’t significantly affect the price of a desktop. Additionally, if you intend to go for an AiO, you should look for a display with a minimum resolution of 1080p. Desktop PCs
The best 4K monitors for desktops
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
4K resolution is going mainstream—even among PC monitors. Delivering a pixel count four times higher than a 1080p display, 4K provides a massive and obvious improvement to image quality. It’s useful not only in games and movies but also when editing documents or browsing web pages. The extra pixels make text look clear and crisp. Here are the best 4K monitors available today. If you’re looking for additional options, we also have roundups of the best monitors overall and the best gaming monitors.  Updated 09/28/2022: To include the Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC as our pick for best 4K monitor for professionals. Check out the review below for more info. 1. Dell U3223QE – Best 4K monitor Pros IPS Black panel fulfills its promise  Accurate color with wide gamut  High brightness in SDR   USB-C hub with 90 watts of power  Cons Edges of display are noticeably bright  HDR performance disappoints  Only a 60Hz panel  MSRP: $1,149.99 Best Prices Today: $862.94 at Amazon | $919.99 at Dell Home | $919.99 at Dell Small Business The Dell U3223QE, which also tops our list of the best monitors overall, is an excellent 4K monitor for professionals and everyday users who want excellent image quality.  Technology is what sets this monitor apart. It has a new IPS Black panel that offers roughly twice the contrast of computer monitors with older IPS panels. This provides a richer image with a better sense of depth and darker black levels in dark scenes. The U3223QE also has a high maximum brightness and excellent color performance with high color accuracy. Images are vibrant and true to life.  Yet there’s more to the Dell U3223QE than image quality. It’s also a versatile USB-C hub monitor with up to 90 watts of Power Delivery. The built-in hub has multiple USB-A ports, Ethernet, and even DisplayPort out.  This is a 32-inch 4K monitor, which may be too large for some desks. Dell also has a 27-inch model, the U2723QE, which offers 4K resolution and the same IPS Black panel. We haven’t reviewed that model but expect it will deliver similar performance. Read our full Dell U3223QEreview 2. Asus ProArt PA279CV – Best budget 4K monitor for creatives Pros Accurate image High maximum brightness Menu settings allow calibration Has USB-C with 65 watts Power Delivery Competitive price Cons Unimpressive design Luminance uniformity could be better HDR is bright but otherwise falls short MSRP: $499 Best Prices Today: $449.99 at Best Buy | $499 at Best Buy | $499 at Microcenter Want a great 4K monitor, but need to spend less than $500? The Asus ProArt PA279CV is an excellent choice. The ProArt PA279CV is a 27-inch 4K monitor that targets entry-level professional use. It has excellent color accuracy, high maximum brightness, and a good contrast ratio for an IPS monitor.  This monitor also throws in USB-C connectivity. It’s not a great USB-C hub, as it has only a couple USB-A ports, but it offers 65 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet. Asus throws in adaptive sync support compatible with AMD and Nvidia video cards. This prevents screen tearing and provides smooth motion in 3D games. The monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz.  The ProArt PA279CV carries an MSRP of about $500, but that price can swing significantly lower when retailers run a sale. We recommend waiting for a discount if possible. Read our full Asus ProArt PA279CVreview 3. Dell G3223Q – Best 4K 144Hz monitor Pros Bright, sharp SDR image Good color gamut and accuracy Solid build quality and ergonomic stand Great motion clarity at 120Hz or 144Hz Cons Disappointing HDR performance Odd menu choices for creators  Modest USB connectivity MSRP: $1099 Best Prices Today: $699.99 at Dell Home | $699.99 at Dell Small Business | $769.99 at Dell Want a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate for smooth gaming? The Dell G3223Q is an excellent option.  The G3223Q is a 32-inch, 4K monitor with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz and support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro (Nvidia G-Sync also works, unofficially). You can play games at high refresh rates with no screen tearing and smooth frame pacing.  You’ll find two HDMI 2.1 ports on the rear. They’re great for connecting a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X game console, since you can play at each console’s maximum resolution and refresh rate. There’s also a DisplayPort input for connecting your PC.  None of this would matter if the G3223Q’s image quality wasn’t excellent—but it is. The monitor has great color performance, high brightness, good contrast, and a razor-sharp image thanks to its 4K resolution.  It’s a good value, too. The G3223Q is towards the low end of pricing for a 32-inch, 4K 144Hz monitor but doesn’t sacrifice features or build quality to achieve it. Read our full Dell G3223Qreview 4. Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX – Best 4K HDR monitor Pros Excellent gaming performance 4K resolution Dimmable mini-LED backlight Ergonomic adjustment options Cons High power consumption Extremely expensive MSRP: 2,999 Best Prices Today: $2999.00 at Adorama | $2,999.00 at Amazon Want the last word in high-resolution, high-definition gaming and entertainment? You need a fantastic HDR monitor like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX. This monitor has a Mini-LED backlight with 1,152 independent backlight zones. The backlight greatly improves the monitor’s contrast ratio and achieves eye-searing levels of brightness in small areas of the display. The monitor’s maximum sustained brightness is exceptionally high, as well.  As a result, the PG32UQX delivers excellent detail in bright areas of the screen while maintaining good contrast and black levels in darker scenes. It also has exceptional color, which further contributes to a great HDR experience. Overall HDR performance rivals the best HDTVs and blows away most HDR monitors. This is also a 4K 144Hz monitor with support for Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate. HDMI 2.1 is missing, but Xbox Series X|S consoles can achieve 4K 120Hz over HDMI 2.0 through a chroma subsampling mode.  The only problem? You can expect to pay up to $3,000 for this monitor. Viewsonic’s XG321UG is a less expensive alternative that performs similarly, though it lacks 4K 120Hz support on Xbox Series X|S. Read our full Asus ROG Swift PG32UQXreview 5. Samsung M8 Smart Monitor – Best 4K monitor for entertainment Pros Has Samsung’s Tizen OS with smart TV features Remote, webcam, and speakers included Excellent SDR image quality HDR quality is good for the price Cons Limited connectivity Annoying to set up and access some features No adaptive sync or enhanced refresh rate Narrow viewing angle MSRP: $729.99 Best Prices Today: $579.99 at Amazon | $629.99 at Samsung A 32-inch 4K monitor is great for everyday PC tasks like web browsing and document editing, but it can be more than that. Monitors in this category are an ideal substitute for a television in a small mixed-used space like a studio apartment, rented room, or dormitory.  Samsung’s M8 Smart Monitor leans into this by fusing the features of a Smart TV with a traditional 32-inch 4K monitor. The monitor comes with a remote and runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system. You can access streaming content, like Netflix or Hulu, directly from the monitor. Yet this is still a great PC monitor. A connected PC or other external device can be used by flipping the input source, as you would on a television. Image quality is solid with excellent sharpness, top-tier contrast, high brightness, and attractive color performance.  The monitor also comes in a variety of attractive stand and bezel color options, with a detachable webcam, and has a USB-C port with up to 65 watts of Power Delivery. It supports Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 5, too. Read our full Samsung M8 Smart Monitorreview 6. Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC – Best 4K monitor for professionals Pros The best SDR image quality yet Good HDR performance Long list of image quality features Exceptionally sturdy Numerous inputs, plus USB hub Cons HDR brightness could be better  Glare can be an issue in bright rooms Only 60Hz, no adaptive sync MSRP: 3,499 Best Prices Today: $3499 at Asus Most professional monitors support 4K resolution, but the Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC stands above the pack. The secret is in the OLED panel. OLED looks fantastic, of course, with excellent contrast, a wide color gamut, and superb color accuracy. What sets the PA32DC apart from less expensive OLED monitors, though, is its use of a conventional RGB subpixel layout. This delivers the best clarity on modern PCs and prevents the color fringing issues that can appear on competitors that use QD-OLED display panels.  Asus provides a long list of image quality presets and options. The monitor has built-in modes for sRGB, DCI-P3, Rec. 709, and AdobeRGB, among others. It also includes multiple, accurate color temperature and gamma modes. A built-in colorimeter can be used to precisely calibrate color accuracy.  The monitor is built for use in a variety of professional settings. It’s a rugged, beefy display with thick bezels and a built-in carrying handle to help with transportation. A standard VESA desk stand is available for use in an office or at home, and the monitor has built-in legs for easy setup at a mobile studio or jobsite.  Priced at $3,000, the PA32DC may seem expensive, but it undercuts competitors like the LG UltraFine 32EP950, Apple Pro Display XDR, and Asus’ older ProArt OLED displays. This is a top-notch professional monitor suited to a wide range of content creation, and those who need excellent color performance will find that it’s well worth the price. Read our full Asus ProArt OLED PA32DCreview What to look for in a 4K monitor 4K monitors are more expensive than other monitors, so they pack numerous features and a quality display panel. A typical 4K monitor will have features that are optional on a 1080p monitor. Still, there are a few details you should know before buying a 4K monitor. USB-C USB-C is an excellent choice for connecting a 4K monitor to a modern laptop with USB-C or Thunderbolt. USB-C can bundle Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode, which means the monitor can charge a connected device while it outputs video to the monitor. Some monitors, like the Dell U3223QE, are USB-C hubs that expand connectivity for the connected device. Refresh rate Most 4K monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate. Those that go beyond 60Hz may only support an enhanced refresh rate over a specific port, so be sure to check the specifications. A monitor will need to support HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.4 to handle 4K at up to 144Hz.  HDR Many 4K monitors support HDR, but most offer lackluster HDR performance. HDR will function, and may look better than SDR, but won’t approach the quality of a good HDTV. If you want quality HDR, look for a minimum of VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification (or VESA DisplayHDR True Black). How we test 4K monitors We test 4K monitors with a DataColor SpyderXElite color calibration tool. It provides objective measurements for contrast, brightness, black levels, color gamut, color accuracy, and gamma, among other metrics. These objective results can be compared with other monitors to see how each performs against the competition. These objective image results are supplemented with our subjective evaluation of a monitor. We evaluate out-of-box image quality, sampling all types of content from gaming to movies. We look at the feature set. We closely consider details like a monitor’s on-screen menu, ergonomic stand (or lack thereof), and overall build quality.  FAQ 1. Does a 4K monitor need HDMI 2.1? HDMI 2.1 is only important if you want to connect a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X game console at 4K resolution and play titles with 120Hz support. These consoles only support HDMI output, so an HDMI connection is your only option. Most desktop PCs and laptops also have a DisplayPort output. This is preferable to HDMI 2.1 because it supports higher resolutions and refresh rates, so HDMI 2.1 is not necessary to connect a PC. 2. Can my PC handle a 4K monitor? Support for 4K video output went mainstream around 2015. If you have a computer newer than 2015, odds are high that it supports 4K. Most PCs sold prior to 2015 will not support 4K.  Want to be sure? Our guide to checking what graphics card you have will help identify your PC’s graphics hardware. You can then reference its official specifications to find its maximum supported resolution. Gamers be warned: 4K resolution is demanding in 3D games, so you may struggle to see smooth gameplay unless you have the latest graphics hardware. You’ll need at least an Nvidia RTX 3070 or AMD Radeon RX 6800 to play the latest titles at 4K and 60 frames per second. 3. Is text too small on a 4K monitor? Early adopters of 4K monitors often struggled to read small text. That’s because many older applications were programmed such that interface elements have a defined, concrete size in pixels. The higher a display’s resolution, the smaller the interface appears.  Thankfully, this problem is mostly solved. Windows and MacOS have excellent text scaling options and most software developers have updated their applications to properly support 4K displays. It’s still a problem with very old apps that were never updated but, in general, it’s rare to see tiny, unreadable text on a 4K monitor. Monitors
Intel’s new CPUs and GPUs are ready to win a price war
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 14:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Anyone who’s been looking to build a PC in the near future knows that it’s gonna be pricey. Between advances to PCIe 5.0 and ATX 3.0 for motherboards and power supplies respectively, and expensive new AMD processors and Nvidia GPUs recently announced, the next gen is looking like a hard time for bargain hunters. Enter Intel, putting out new Core CPUs that have barely changed in price and brand new Arc GPUs that look incredibly competitive. Gordon Mah Ung and special guest Dave Altavilla from HotHardware examine this news in our latest YouTube video. If you’re looking for cores, Intel has really stepped up its game. At the top end the Core i9-13900K has jumped from 16 to 24 total cores, handily beating the top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 7950X. Even at the midrange, the new Core i5-13600K packs 14 cores (6 performance, 8 efficiency) to the Ryzen 5 7600X’s 6 “big” cores. And despite stating previously that its chips will be more expensive, the only one that gets a price bump is the low-end i5 at just $30 more. It seems like after a few years of letting AMD win the value game, Intel is ready to step up. Of course, all of those comparisons are before we get direct benchmarks for Intel Core versus AMD Ryzen this generation. In Dave’s words, “It’s gonna be a dogfight.” Now, how about those graphics cards? After a long-delayed launch, Intel announced that the flagship Arc A770 desktop GPU will arrive on October 12th for $329. With Intel aiming for the more budget-focused gamer, even its most powerful card is only being pitted against the Nvidia RTX 3060 or AMD RX 6600 XT (around AMD and Nvidia’s lower-mid range). But that being said, the retail price is sliding under its rivals by a solid $50. Intel has a lot to prove as the newcomer in a duopoly that’s been going strong for decades. As Dave says, “They’re competing with the juggernauts.” It makes sense for Intel to compete on price, especially as its game drivers might make it difficult to beat the established players on performance. For more in-depth looks at the PC market and what it means for you, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube. Oh, and check out HotHardware while you’re there! CPUs and Processors
Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 13:38:14 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Finding the right laptop is hard work. Do you go with Intel or AMD? What about memory and storage type? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for a powerful gaming rig for those late-night gaming sessions or a portable 2-in-1 laptop for work, we’ve got a bunch of options to pick from. The team at PCWorld has been scouring the web for the best laptop deals. Not all laptop deals are considered actual deals, though. That’s why we’ve been parsing out all of the bad ones. Right now, we’re seeing steep discounts on high-end gaming machines, Dell XPS laptops, and Chromebooks. As a way to better guide you, we’ve also included a shopping advice section at the end of the article. If you’re interested in perusing the top notebook options regardless of price, check out our roundup of the best laptops period. The best laptop deals in 2022 Dell XPS 13 From Dell Was: $999 Now: $829 ($170 off) Dell The Dell XPS 13 is a lovely laptop for productivity, and the latest in a long line of beloved ultraportables that have been earning our strong recommendation for years now. It has an Intel Core i5-1230U CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s enough juice for checking e-mail, watching Netflix, spreadsheet work, and so on. The 13.4-inch non-touch display has a resolution of 1920×1080. It’s also rather lightweight at two and a half pounds, which really ups the portability factor. If you’re looking for a great all-around laptop with plenty of class, the Dell XPS 13 is definitely worth considering—especially at this price. See the Dell XPS 13 at Dell Microsoft Surface Pro 8 From: Best Buy Was: $1,349.99 Now: $999.99 ($350 off) Microsoft The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a great pick for anyone who values portability, but still needs processing oomph. It’s more compact and lightweight than traditional clamshell laptops thanks to the versatile 2-in-1 design with a detachable keyboard. It comes armed with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. That means this laptop is fast enough to handle productivity work as well as day-to-day tasks. The 13-inch display has a resolution of 2880×1920 and is touch-enabled. There’s even a 1080p webcam, which is always a plus. This is a fantastic deal. See the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 at Best Buy HP Envy From: HP Was: $1,749.99 Now: $1,449.99 ($300 off) HP The HP Envy laptop is a good choice for either work or play. Aesthetically speaking, it doesn’t look like a traditional gaming laptop, meaning you won’t find any red accents or sharp edges here. The silver chassis is chic and clean. That said, it’s more than just a pretty face. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. This potent laptop is capable of chewing through most games on high graphics. The 16-inch, edge-to-edge glass display is nice as well. It has a resolution of 2560×1600 and a refresh rate of 120Hz. HP even claims the screen is capable of up to 400 nits of brightness, which is pretty darn bright. Overall, this is an excellent deal. You better swoop in now before it vanishes into the nether. See the HP Envy at HP Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 From: Best Buy Was: $1,649.99 Now: $1,449.99 ($200 off) Samsung Between the convertible form factor and the impressive battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 is an excellent pick for business professionals or students. Under the hood, you’ll find Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. That’s zippy enough for tasks like word processing, spreadsheet work, web browsing, and so on. The roomy 15.6-inch AMOLED display also has a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. This is an epic deal. You better jump on it before it’s too late. See Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 at Best Buy HP Omen From: HP Was: $1,299.99 Now: $1,049.99 ($250 off) HP The HP Omen is a good option for budget-conscious gamers. It has an Intel Core i5-12500H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That’s enough oomph to run most games on high graphics. However, when it comes to newer titles, you may want to scale things back to medium. The 16.1-inch display is rather spacious and has a resolution of 1920×1080. The refresh rate is 144Hz, which should provide you with smooth visuals. If you’re looking for solid gaming bang for your buck, the HP Omen is definitely worth considering. See the HP Omen at HP Lenovo Legion 5 From: eBay Was: $899.99 Now: $589.99 ($310 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Legion 5 is an excellent laptop for the gamer on a budget, and you almost never see gaming laptops going this cheap. It has an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. The display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Given the entry-level GPU, you may want to scale the graphics back to medium or high on newer titles. That said, this laptop shouldn’t have any trouble running older games. For ports, it has one HDMI, one USB Type-C, one DisplayPort, and one headphone/microphone combo. This laptop will likely sell out fast, as it’s a killer deal. See the Lenovo Legion 5 at eBay Lenovo IdeaPad From: Best Buy Was: $779.99 Now: $579.99 ($200 off) Lenovo The Lenovo IdeaPad is a great pick for productivity use. It’s armed with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU, AMD Radeon integrated graphics, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s plenty of power for spreadsheet work, checking e-mail, and so on. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080, which is perfectly suitable for most tasks. For connectivity options, it has one HDMI, one USB 2.0 Type-A, one USB 3.0 Type-A, and one USB 3.0 Type-C. This is a good deal for anyone who needs a laptop with some decent processing chops. See the Lenovo IdeaPad at Best Buy Samsung Chromebook Plus From: Amazon Was: $500 Now: $357.95 ($142.05 off) Samsung The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a good option for someone who needs a lightweight convertible. It has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage. It’s a little light on storage and memory, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you store most of your stuff in the cloud. The 11-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 1900×1200, and the Chromebook has two USB-C ports. It’s powerful enough for everyday browser tasks like checking e-mail, writing papers, listening to music, and so on. The 2-in-1 also weighs a little under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. Plus, it comes with a stylus for doodling or note taking. See the Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon Dell XPS 15 From: Dell Was: $1,899 Now: $1,499 ($400 off) Dell The Dell XPS 15 is both powerful and easy on the eyes. It’s rocking an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU (4GB GDDR6), 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. This laptop should be able to handle some gaming as well as productivity and content creation tasks thanks to its powerful internals and discrete GPU. The 15.6-inch display is roomy and has a resolution of 1920×1200. Dell even claims the screen measures up to 500 nits of brightness. The platinum silver exterior is also chic and sophisticated, nicely complimenting the black interior. Overall, this is a really nice laptop, going for an even nicer price. See the Dell XPS 15 at Dell Dell Inspiron 7506 From: Best Buy Was: $899.99 Now: $649.99 ($250 off) Dell The Dell Inspiron 7506 is a good laptop for productivity. It features an Intel Core i5 1135G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080, which is perfectly fine for working on spreadsheets and writing e-mail’s. This laptop also happens to be a 2-in-1. That means you can prop it up like a painter’s easel for sharing information or swing the screen all the way around for when you want to use it like a tablet. It’s a really nice, versatile device. It’s definitely a solid option for business professionals or students. See the Dell Inspiron 7506 at Best Buy Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400 Asus From: Walmart Was: $749 Now: $529 ($220 off) If you’re into creative work, the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 is a fantastic option. This laptop has a 14-inch 2880-by-1800 OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. OLED screens are great, so you can expect a sharper, more vibrant image. The Vivobook is also packing a Core i5-1330H, a Tiger Lake CPU with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. There’s even 8GB of RAM, which is a good amount for some video editing. Onboard storage is a 256GB NVMe SSD, and you’re getting Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. This is a nice laptop with a very good display, but for storage you’ll likely have to rely mostly on the cloud. Speaking of which, you also get a free three month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud as part of the package. See the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400 at Walmart Lenovo Slim 7i From: Costco Was: $1,499.99 Now: $1,199.99 ($300 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Slim 7i is a fantastic machine for editing work. It features an Intel Core i7 12700H CPU, Intel Arc-A370M graphics (4GB), 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. The real highlight here is the whopping 32GB of memory, though. That’s a rare find, especially at this price point. The 16-inch touchscreen display is lovely, too. It should provide a vibrant picture thanks to the 2560×1600 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. When it comes to connectivity options, you’re getting one Thunderbolt 4, two USB Type-A, one HDMI, one headphone/microphone combo jack, and one SD media card reader. Overall, this is a real gem. You better jump on it before it’s gone. See the Lenovo Slim 7i at Costco Acer Aspire A5 (Intel) Acer From: Amazon Was: $389.99 Now: $320.99 ($69 off) We already have a similar model from the same series available in this roundup, but this one is a little cheaper and swaps a Ryzen 3 APU for an Intel Core i3 processor. This version of the Acer Aspire A5 still has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard NVMe storage. It’s also rocking Windows 11 Home in S Mode. You can do a one-way switch to regular Windows 11 Home if you prefer, but you may not want to given the CPU. The big difference is the processor. This model has the Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i3-1115G4, which has two cores, four threads, and a boost to 4.1GHz. That’s good enough for casual uses like web browsing, video streaming, and so on. It would likely struggle as a productivity laptop, but for someone with light computing requirements, it offers a nice size screen at a solid price. See the Acer Aspire A5-515-56-36UT at Amazon Acer Aspire 3 Acer From: Walmart Was: $549 Now: $479 ($70 off) You don’t often find a laptop deal with an Intel Alder Lake CPU, which is why we decided to highlight this specific sale. The Acer Aspire 3 features Intel’s Core i5-1235U with eight efficiency cores and two performance cores with HyperThreading for a total of 12 threads and a maximum boost to 4.4GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM, a 15.6-inch display with 1080p resolution, 256GB of onboard storage, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and it’s running Windows 11 Home. See the Acer Aspire 3 at Walmart Acer Aspire 5 A515 Acer From: Amazon Was: $399.99 Now: $352.58 ($47.41 off) If you’re looking for a solid everyday laptop, you’ve come to the right place. The Acer Aspire 5 features a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard SSD storage. The processor is a Ryzen 3 3350U, which has four cores, four threads, and a maximum boost to 3.5GHz. It’s packed with modern features like Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader for biometric logins. Acer starts this laptop off with Windows 11 in S mode, but there’s no reason not to do a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11. This is being sold by a third-party retailer, but Amazon is handling shipping, which means it falls under the company’s return policy. See the Acer Aspire 5 A515 at Amazon HP Victus 15 From: Amazon Was: $979.99 Now: $800.94 ($179.04 off) HP If you’re in the market for a reasonably priced gaming laptop, then you’ve come to the right place. The HP Victus 15 is affordable and has decent specs. It’s rocking an Intel Core i5 12500H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. It should run most older games on high or very high, but you’ll want to scale back the graphics on AAA titles. The 15.6-inch display is a good size and the 1920×1080 resolution is fine for most games. This is a good deal, but it’s not going to last very long. It’s part of Amazon’s gaming week sale, which runs until September 9th. See the HP Victus 15 at Amazon Lenovo 5 Pro From: eBay Was: $1,969.99 Now: $1,399.99 ($570 off) Lenovo The Lenovo 5 Pro delivers some serious graphics power at a competitive price. This gaming machine features an AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. The processor has eight cores and a maximum turbo speed of 4.70 GHz. In other words, it should be powerful enough to run most AAA titles on high or ultra graphics. The 16-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1600 and a refresh rate of 165Hz. You can expect buttery smooth visuals as well as a vibrant picture. For connectivity options, you’re getting one HDMI, three USB 3.2 Gen 1, three USB 3.2 Gen 2, and one 2.3m headphone/microphone combo jack. This is a hot ticket item, so we don’t expect it to last very long. See the Lenovo 5 Pro at eBay Laptop deal buying tips If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available. A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 10-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-10510U, or the Core i7-11800H (for even more details see our Intel 10th-gen mobile CPU buying guide); or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart. Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook. Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary. Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible. Updated on October 4 with new pricing and to remove expired deals. Laptops
This 144Hz 4K Samsung gaming monitor is fast, sharp, and $220 off
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 13:19:32 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If it’s the ultimate gaming experience you’re after, you should check out the Samsung Odyssey G70A gaming monitor. It’s adjustable, has a fast refresh rate, and visuals are buttery smooth. Amazon’s selling it for $579.99, which is a savings of $220. Let’s get right into the specs and features then. The 28-inch Samsung Odyssey G70A has a resolution of 3840×2160, a refresh rate of 144Hz, a viewing angle of 178-degrees, and an aspect ratio of 16:9. Not only is this monitor a good size for a home office, but the picture should be sharp and vibrant as well. It’s also packing Nvidia G-Sync, which syncs the panel up with your computer’s GPU. This helps reduce any lag and screen tearing issues. This is an absolute steal. You better jump on it, though. We don’t expect a deal like this to last very long. Get the Samsung Odyssey G70A gaming monitor for $579.99 at Amazon Monitors
Lenovo Slim 9i review: Ultra-awesome OLED ultraportable
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 10:45:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsBeautifully designed and thin chassisGorgeous 4K OLED displayStrong application and multimedia performanceImpressive audio outputConsHigh priceMerely average battery lifeLimited ports require the inclusion of an adapterOur VerdictThe Lenovo Slim 9i is one of our favorite ultraportables of the year for its thin profile, gorgeous OLED display, and strong performance. Price When Reviewed$2,140 Best Prices Today: Lenovo Slim 9i (2022) Retailer Price Connection $1874.27 View Deal $2139.99 View Deal Lenovo $2140.00 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Luxuries abound on the Lenovo Slim 9i, a premium, 14-inch ultraportable. Let’s start with the gorgeous 4K OLED display protected by the smooth and glossy lid made from an iPhone-like 3D glass. The all-aluminum chassis is thin yet rigid and features rounded edges that make carrying and using the laptop eminently comfortable. The wide hinge allows for one-finger opening of the laptop, smooth screen adjustments, and wobble-free positioning. The webcam goes to 1080p and has IR capabilities for easy, secure logins. Even the audio output, typically disappointing in a laptop, is impressively powerful and dynamic.  The hits keep coming when you peer inside the Slim 9i. It features a speedy 12th-gen processor and an ample amount of RAM for steady and strong performance. Its price puts the Slim 9i squarely in the premium ultraportable category, but if you have the money to throw at a high-end ultraportable for work or home use, the Slim 9i has the muscle for multitasking Windows use and the looks to turn heads and start conversations. Even its average battery life and limited port selection cannot prevent the Slim 9i from winning at Editors’ Choice as one of our favorite ultraportables we’ve seen this year. Lenovo Slim 9i specifications and features As configured, our Lenovo Slim 9i test system is selling for $2,140 direct from Lenovo and features the following specs:  CPU: Intel Core i7-1280PMemory: 32GBGraphics: Intel Iris XeStorage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDDisplay: 14-inch, 3840 x 2400, OLEDWebcam: 1080p IR camera with shutter switchConnectivity: 3 x USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, combo audio jack.Networking: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1Biometrics: IR facial recognitionBattery capacity: 75 Watt-hoursDimensions: 12.5 x 9.1 x 0.6 inchesMeasured weight: 3.0 pounds (laptop), 0.56 pounds (AC adapter)Price: $2,140The Slim 9i is a premium laptop that starts at a lofty $2,070. For that sum, it provides an Intel Core i7-1280P CPU, an ample 32GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 14-inch OLED touch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 3840×2400 resolution. The only hardware upgrade available is doubling the storage to a 1TB SSD. Our test system features the SSD upgrade, which adds $70 to the price for a total of $2,140. Lenovo regularly rotates discounts on its site, and the Slim 9i can be found selling for as low as $1,760 for the baseline config and $1,819 for our 1TB test model. Design If the Slim 9i had a camera lens or two mounted in the corner of its 3D glass lid, you might mistake it for a giant iPhone. The glass covering lends a look and feel of luxury right off the bat. Pearl white in color with a smooth, glossy finish, the Slim 9’s lid and clean lines make it look like a device from Apple’s design team. In another unstated, Apple-like move, a small, silver Lenovo badge tucked along the edge of the lid is the only ornament to be found on the top of the laptop. The Slim 9i boasts a refined look, and the illusion isn’t lost when you pick up or open the laptop. The smooth surface of the lid blends seamlessly into the rounded side edges of the system. The rounded edges provide a soft feel, one that isn’t interrupted by sharp corners. The hinge runs nearly edge to edge and allows for easy, one-finger opening of the display. The hinge offers smooth adjustments of the display yet is strong enough to keep it firmly rooted in place. It has the perfect amount of resistance. IDG / Matthew Elliott True to its name, this is one slim laptop at only 0.6 inches thick. It’s a thin laptop that looks even thinner than it is because of the rounded edges. It weighs three pounds, which is about average for a 14-inch laptop and heftier than some ultralight 14-inch models we’ve seen recently. It’s about a half pound heavier than the LG Gram 14 and Lenovo’s own ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9. It’s also slightly heavier than the HP Pavilion Plus 14 that’s just under three pounds.  Three pounds isn’t a chore to carry on a daily commute, however, and given the solid, rigid feel of the all-metal chassis, I wouldn’t look to shed any weight. And helping with the overall travel weight is the Slim 9i’s tiny charger that weighs only a hair more than half a pound. The interior of the laptop is silver — silver keyboard deck with silver keys and a silver bottom panel. The side edges are a bright chrome to offer some contrast. Speaking of contrast, the silver keys with gray key symbols offer less contrast than a traditional black keyboard with white symbols. It’s a recent laptop trend that the Slim 9i follows, and one in which can make it unnecessarily difficult to see the key symbols in certain lighting situations, usually in bright light or a dark room. I’m happy to report that the dark gray key symbols offer enough contrast that making out the key symbols isn’t an issue with the Slim 9i. Plus, there’s two-level keyboard backlighting to help out in dark environs. IDG / Matthew Elliott The keyboard offers wide, flat keys and shallow travel. I felt fast typing on the Slim 9i; the roomy keys were easy to hit and resulted in very few typos during my tests. I particularly enjoyed the extra-wide keys — Tab, Shift, Enter, Backspace — on either side of the keyboard as well as the large arrow keys in the lower-right corner. The up- and down-arrow keys are half-height but wider than most half-height arrow keys that they were easy to access without hitting the other by mistake. The touchpad is huge and responsive. It accurately recorded my pinches and swipes and other mouse gestures, but I wish its palm rejection was a bit stronger because I would sometimes accidentally misplace the cursor when typing. I also wish the travel of the touchpad’s click mechanism was a bit shallower. Performing a click on the Slim 9i’s touchpad certainly isn’t a chore, but the click response feels a bit slow compared with the fast, shallow keys of the keyboard.   Display and speakers An OLED display is a requisite for any premium laptop, and the Slim 9i serves up such a panel and does so with a fine 3840×2400 resolution. That’s a 4K resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The picture it produces is outstanding, with sharp edges, absolute black levels, and vivid colors. The 16:10 screen ratio makes the display feel roomier than its 14-inch size. There’s more room from top to bottom than a widescreen 16:9 display so you can fit more on the screen and are required to scroll less through long documents and web pages. The taller ratio makes a difference on larger 16-inch models, but even more so on a 14-inch laptop that can feel cramped. The resolution is almost overkill for this size of panel. The image is stellar, but a 2.8K (2880 x 1800) resolution would also look razor-sharp on a 14-inch 16:10 display and might let the laptop run longer. Powering the display is the single biggest draw on battery resources, and the more pixels a display has, the more power is required. IDG / Matthew Elliott A 1080p webcam isn’t just required on premium laptops but also on mainstream laptops at this point in time. With the amount of video conferencing done today with remote and hybrid work schedules, a 1080 camera allows you to appear much clearer on video calls than the 720p cams of yore. The Slim 9i features a 1080p webcam in a notch in the screen bezel above the display. To be clear, the notch doesn’t interfere with the display — it’s just a little bump-out on the screen bezel. The cam produces a crisp, well-balanced picture with accurate colors and skin tones. It’s also an IR camera, which means it can use your face for secure logins. There’s also a webcam kill switch on the laptop’s right edge to protect your privacy when you aren’t using the camera. I’m never prepared to be wowed by a laptop’s audio output since nearly every laptop produces tinny, underwhelming sound. So, what a surprise it was when I fired up the Slim 9i and watched Goose’s performance with Trey Anatasio at Radio City Music Hall on YouTube. The sound from the Slim 9i’s speakers was shockingly dynamic. The Slim 9i features not two but four speakers — a pair of 2-watt speakers and a pair of 3-watt speakers tuned by Bowers and Wilkins. Two of the speakers fire upward from speaker grills that flank the keyboard, while the other two fire downward from each edge of the bottom panel. I heard separation between the high- and mid-tones, from Peter’s keys and Rick’s and Trey’s sublime guitar work. Percussion from Ben and Jeff sounded snappy, and Trevor’s bass was distinct on the low-end even if it was more heard than felt. A solid bass response is lacking, but even having some semblance of a bass response in a compact, 14-inch laptop is appreciated. The sound begins to lose its clarity when you get above 75% on the volume slider, but even at that level there’s enough output to fill a small room. IDG / Matthew Elliott IDG / Matthew Elliott The port selection is minimal. You get a total of three USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support and a headphone jack. The trio of Thunderbolt 4 ports should cover most of your needs, and Lenovo includes an adapter in the box that adds USB-A, HDMI, and (for some reason) VGA connectivity. Performance Our Slim 9i test system features an Intel Core i7-1280 processor, 32GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, and a 1TB SSD. The Core i7-1280P is a member of Intel’s Alder Lake P series of 28-watt mobile chips. The Core i7-1280P features Intel’s new hybrid architecture with performance and efficiency cores; it has six performance cores, eight efficiency cores, and a total of 20 processing threads. The P series is the 28-watt middle child between Intel’s high-powered, 45-watt H series and the more efficient 15-watt U series. We compared the Slim 9i’s performance to that of a pair of laptops — the Acer Swift 5 and Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 — that feature the Core i7-1260P chip, which is clocked slightly lower with two fewer performance cores and four fewer processing threads than the Slim 9i’s Core i7-1280P chip. We also included the Core i7-12700H-based HP Pavilion Plus 14 and a pair of systems with 11th-gen Core i7 processors in the Acer Swift 3X and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9. Rounding out the charts are two laptops with AMD Ryzen 7 5000 series chips, the Dell Inspiron 14 7000 and Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon. Our first benchmark is PCMark 10, which measures performance on everyday computing work including office productivity tasks, web browsing, and video chats. The Slim 9i performed admirably, finishing second to one of the AMD-based machines and slightly ahead of both laptops with the similar Core i7-1260P chip. It’s notable that the two 11th-gen Core i7-based laptops were a step behind the 12th-gen Intel-based systems, which shows the gains you get with Intel’s latest silicon. IDG / Matthew Elliott Our HandBrake benchmark tests how a laptop is able to handle crushing CPU loads over a lengthy period—in this case, transcoding a 30GB MKV file to a format suitable for Android tablets using HandBrake, the free video encoding utility. The Slim 9i completed the test in short order, taking longer than only the HP Pavilion Plus 14, which features a higher-powered but less efficient Core i7 H-series processor. IDG / Matthew Elliott Next up is Cinebench, another CPU-intensive test but one that renders a complex 2D scene over a short period of time. Again, we see the Slim 9i turning in a strong result, finishing behind only the HP Pavilion Plus 14. IDG / Matthew Elliott This group of laptops with integrated GPUs will not raise the eyebrow of any gamer, but we ran 3DMark’s Time Spy test to get a sense of the capabilities of Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics and AMD’s integrated Radeon graphics. The Slim 9i was the only laptop of the bunch to top the 2,000 mark but still lacks the 3D muscle needed to drive AAA titles. IDG / Matthew Elliott To test a laptop’s battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 11’s Movies & TV app, with the laptop set to Airplane mode and earbuds plugged in. We set the screen brightness at a relatively bright 250 nits to 260 nits, which is a good brightness for watching a movie in an office with the lights on. The Slim 9i lasted nearly 12 hours on our battery drain test, which is more than enough runtime to get you through most workdays and an impressive figure considering the 4K display that drains battery resources faster than a lower-resolution display would. That said, its runtime is still an hour or two shorter than competing models. IDG / Matthew Elliott Conclusion If you have $2,000 or so to throw at an ultraportable, the Slim 9i most certainly deserves a spot on your shortlist. It provides everything on a luxury buyer’s list: a beautiful and thin yet rugged design highlighted by a 3D glass lid that protects a high-resolution OLED display that’s powered by the latest Intel silicon and an ample 32GB of RAM. Its average battery life is still long enough to last through even the longest workdays and is offset by additional attractions including a roomy and comfortable keyboard and touchpad, a 1080p webcam, and jarringly robust audio output from the laptop’s four speakers. The Lenovo Slim 9i is one of our favorite ultraportables of 2022 and easily earns an Editors’ Choice award for its luxurious design, gorgeous OLED display, and strong performance. Laptops
EPOS H3PRO Hybrid review: A premium gaming headset that ticks all the boxes
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 10:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsProduces clear and distortion-free soundThe 7.1 surround sound works well and elevates your gaming experienceIt feels comfortable even on hot daysConsThe earcups are all plastic unlike some rival gaming headsetsThe bass can seem subtle at timesOur VerdictThe EPOS H3PRO Hybrid is the perfect companion headset for serious gamers, demonstrating excellent audio performance with the benefit of active noise cancellation and 7.1 surround sound. Additionally, with multiple connectivity options at your disposal, you can hook it up to just about all your devices. Price When Reviewed279 Best Prices Today: EPOS H3PRO Hybrid Retailer Price $279.00 View Deal EPOS $279 View Deal $279.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide The EPOS H3PRO Hybrid proves its premium status from the moment you unbox it. Beyond its stylish exterior and exceptional audio performance, it comes with a smorgasbord of extras like active noise cancellation, excellent 7.1 surround sound, and highly convenient multi-device connectivity—features that all work very well. Although it may not have metal earcups like some headsets in the premium category, the H3PRO is lightweight and extremely comfortable, and its suede-like ear coverings keep you comfortable on hot days when your game is just too engrossing to want to take it off. Note: This review is part of our ongoing roundup of best wireless gaming headsets. Go there to learn more about competing products, what to look for in a wireless gaming headset, and product recommendations. H3PRO Hybrid: Design and build The EPOS H3PRO comes in white, black, and green colors. The black and white feature one color throughout, but the green option really stands out in the bunch, sporting dark green cups embellished with gold around the microphone and headband. It looks quite stunning, and after trying out both white and green units, green remained my favorite. Color options aside, the H3PRO’s overall design is very familiar—if you’ve used any of EPOS’s other gaming headsets, such as the H3 and H3 Hybrid, you will instantly recognize features like its oval shaped earcups and large, round volume wheel that’s set into the right earcup. mentioned in this article SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Read our review MSRP: $349.99 Best Prices Today: $348.89 at Amazon | $379.99 at SteelSeries Overall, it looks modern and just as compact as those predecessors. However, considering the H3PRO is a premium headset in the company’s line-up, and having recently reviewed headsets with more metal in their designs, it was hard not to think EPOS could have upped the ante on the materials. The plastic cups are the main offender, pricing the look down slightly in comparison to rivals like the Arctis Nova Pro, whose gun-metal earcup covers give it a far more polished look. The EPOS H3PRO Hybrid comes in black, white, and a very stylish green with gold detail.  Dominic Bayley / IDG Still, the lightweight plastic keeps the H3PRO’s weight in check—the whole set weighing just 308 grams (10.69 ounces). The outer sides of the earcups also feel very strong and sturdy and the gold detail in my green review unit compensated somewhat for the lack of any shiny metal alloy. Also, EPOS isn’t alone in opting for fully plastic earcups for its premium headset this year; Razer’s Barracuda Pro is plastic throughout and is only slightly cheaper than the $279 H3PRO Hybrid at $250 USD. mentioned in this article Razer Barracuda Pro Read our review MSRP: 249.99 Best Prices Today: $249.99 at Amazon | $249.99 at Razer The cups connect up to a steel headband, which is also extremely strong and flexible—in fact, my review unit had no problem bending completely horizontally when I stretched it out, so you’re unlikely to break it easily in your bag or satchel. The extendable headband gets extra credit for featuring 10 numbered grooves which makes finding your ideal fit much easier. Taking note of your desired groove allows you to quickly readjust back to where the headband was before you packed it away, so recalibrating the H3PRO to fit your head size again and again is a cinch. The grooves on on the EPOS H3PRO headband.  EPOS This isn’t the only comfort-inducing feature in the H3PRO, however, which is overall a delight to wear. Gamers looking for more snugness will be well served by the soft memory foam ear padding, movable junction points that prevent horizonal and vertical pressure, and the large, puffy headband that provides a generous amount of cushioning for the top of the head. For the all-important earcup coverings, EPOS went with three separate materials: Inside is a mesh over the headset’s internal components, while a leatherette material surrounds the cups’ outer edges. Additionally, the parts of the cups that press against your ears are composed of a suede-like material that doesn’t feel as plush as what’s used in the Barracuda Pro or the Arctis Nova Pro, but it’s much more absorbent and will keep your ears a little dryer on hot days. H3PRO Hybrid: Compatibility and connectivity The ‘Hybrid’ in the H3PRO Hybrid’s name references the headset’s dual connectivity capability—it sports both wired and wireless options, which means you’re never short of a way to connect even to the most finicky devices. In addition to your PC, this headset connects wirelessly to your PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch consoles as well as your smartphone, so you can skip having to buy multiple headsets and save a bundle of money in the process. Its wired connectivity is just as extensive—you can plug in to the consoles named above, as well as to an Xbox One or Xbox X/S or Apple Mac. For a wired connection, the H3PRO comes supplied with a 3.5mm cable as well as a 2-meter USB-C to USB-A cable and a 1.25-meter USB-A extension cable. Or, if you prefer to go untethered, you have the option of a low-latency connection via the headset’s USB-A dongle, or to pair up via Bluetooth 5.2. The headset can be charged by simply plugging in the USB-C to USB-A cable, and it takes approximately two hours to reach full capacity. EPOS claims a full charge gives you approximately 30 hours of gaming on the USB dongle or 19 hours with ANC. The Bluetooth estimate is a little longer—up to 38 hours, or 22 hours with ANC switched on. Testing out the signal range of the low-latency USB dongle showed it can reach to about 20 meters before the signal cuts out, which is a fairly decent distance, and in most houses enough for you to be able to wander into your kitchen and make a snack, or visit the bathroom without losing any audio. One of the H3PRO’s strongest suits is its simultaneous multi-device connectivity. This lets you connect to more than one device at the same time using the Bluetooth and either the USB dongle or wired connection. The usefulness of this feature can’t be overstated, since it meant I could keep gaming without any distractions, whilst I chatted to friends or received notifications from my phone without having to take my headset off. I mainly used it to take calls, but since you get separate volume control over each of your audio streams, I’d occasionally use it to play music while simultaneously listening to my game audio—something I can’t do with most of my gaming headsets. H3PRO Hybrid: Audio performance Testing out the H3PRO headset revealed a clear and refined sound. It came through without the coarseness I sometimes hear in some sets, which suggests the H3PRO’s transducer is of a very high quality. Apart from just sounding very smooth, there was a distinct absence of any uncomfortable popping noises or variations in amplitude, which can be very nerve-wracking when action heats up in games. To test out the headset’s performance, I gave it a run in the first-person shooter Metro Exodus, listening carefully for any audio distortion. I didn’t hear any—rather, the H3PRO rewarded me with clear and natural sounds. In fact, sounds like the clang of my character’s boots on a metal stairway, the strained voices of the NPCs shouting warnings, and the rattle of gunfire sounded so crisp and defined that I quickly became immersed in the game and almost forget about the testing task at hand. My music test showed up similarly impressive audio, proving the versatility of the headset as a high-end headphone as well as a gaming headset. For this test, I played Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September,” a song that drops varying tones, and includes a nice assortment of instruments. In this track, the H3PRO hit respectable highs and mid tones, bringing to life the vocals and brass instruments with clarity. Although similarly clear in tone, the bass seemed a little softer than in some headsets. That’s not to say it didn’t sound impressive—in fact, the bass guitar was warm and balanced, which ultimately meant I could listen for longer without that uncomfortable bass fatigue (itchy inner ear) feeling I can sometimes get. Background noise in the H3PRO is effectively reduced with the aid of both active noise cancellation (ANC) and passive noise cancellation, the latter of which is provided by the H3PRO’s closed acoustic design. EPOS says these two technologies work together to block sound at low frequencies as well as high frequencies, and this seemed fairly accurate. The active part of this pairing can be turned on and off simply by switching a conveniently placed slider located on the right earcup, rather than having to go through the EPOS Gaming Suite companion app. I kept it in the “on” position at first and was pleasantly surprised by how well it blocked out low-amplitude sounds like the constantly blowing air conditioner behind me, and the rumblings of a conversation going on to my righthand side. Switching off the ANC, the passive noise cancellation still kept a wide range of sounds at bay—including laughter, and the high-pitched jingle of my smartphone’s ringtone. I was impressed by how it did this without compromising my comfort levels—in other words, without the intense clamp force that some headsets apply to achieve the same results. Like most premium gaming headsets, the H3PRO Hybrid supports both Stereo 2.0 sound and spatial audio, and you can toggle between these two modes in the EPOS Gaming Suite. The spatial audio is delivered courtesy of 7.1 surround sound, which was automatically toggled for my Metro Exodus playtest, and this feature worked really well, without me needing to adjust anything in the app. Playing through the Moscow Chapter of Metro Exodus with the surround sound on proved a treat that really upped my overall experience. For example, the two NPCs that were leading my character through this part of the game had strong voice directionality, so that it seemed they were right there on either side of me—which really added a sense of realism. H3PRO Hybrid: Microphone performance The H3PRO’s boom microphone falls down over the mouth in a more traditional headset style. It’s modern looking, and sports striated grooves at its end to allow for maximum sound penetration. It also conveniently folds up into the headset when you’re not using it. Although, it doesn’t entirely disappear from view once it’s up, so if you plan on using the H3PRO like a pair of headphones, you’ll need to detach it altogether from its magnetic clasp. I tested it out in Teams chats and it relayed my voice clearly and without distortion. The mic amplified sound exceptionally well, picking up my voice even when I was whispering, so if you’re tired and don’t feel like shouting, you won’t need to. Plus, it’s easily muted by lifting up the boom, which saves a lot of fiddling around mid-game. If you need to go boom less, you won’t lose your microphone audio, since there’s another mic located in the earcup. Admittedly, it doesn’t transmit the same kind of quality in your voice chats, but it still does a respectable job filtering out background noise. The EPOS Gaming Suite app also provides a good amount of software support for these dual microphones, giving you options to change settings and enhance your experience. You can tweak the Noise Gate, Side Tone, and Gain, and also choose from Warm or Clear voice enhancers, or alternatively, choose an enhancer preset that you’ve created yourself. All in all, gamers have plenty of scope to personalize the sound of their voice. The H3PRO’s microphone settings in the EPOS Gaming Suite companion app.  Dominic Bayley / IDG H3PRO Hybrid: Software I’ve already mentioned some useful options in the EPOS Gaming Suite, but there’s plenty more to keep tinkerers busy. For example, you can adjust EQ levels for both the Stereo and Surround Sound modes and also enhance the audio of specific types of media by choosing the tailor-made Music, Esports, or Movie presets. I found that the presets provided a noticeable boost to the quality of their respective media types. The Esports preset, for example, really emphasized the treble end of the EQ chart, which added a bit more clarity, definition, and airiness to my gaming audio, thereby allowing me to better pinpoint the movement and direction of other players in multiplayer matches. You can change EQ levels in EPOS Gaming Suite. Dominic Bayley / IDG Additionally, the EPOS Gaming Suite app also let me change settings that were less than ideal for my gaming setup. For me, a pet hate is when my headset activates Auto Sleep while I’m waiting for matches to start, but in the H3PRO’s companion app I could easily switch off this function. Besides that, the EPOS Gaming Suite is also where you get firmware upgrades when they become available, so it pays to have it loaded to get the best from your device. Conclusion The EPOS H3PRO Hybrid is one of the most refined gaming headsets available, delivering clear, distortion-free gaming audio, impressive 7.1 surround sound, and the convenience of multi-device connectivity, all in an attractive and compact package. Although it features all-plastic earcups, it remains tough and flexible enough to withstand the rigors of everyday gaming life. Gaming Accessories, Headsets
USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 17:45:02 +0000
Source: PCWorld
For years, USB technologies have been an alphabet soup of terminology—when, really, all consumers care about is how fast the USB connection is. But now, finally, a new USB logo scheme solves this problem. The USB Implementors Forum unveiled new logos on Friday for laptop ports, chargers, and cables that actually try to communicate what each one does. It’s a far cry from the nightmare naming scheme that the USB-IF implemented in 2009. It’s worth noting that the names of each specification apparently haven’t changed, but the logos have, and that’s all that matters. USB-IF executives said the new logos were established alongside the new 240W USB-C power specification, which can now charge USB-C powered laptops at the levels required by even some gaming laptops. Now, the various USB specifications are defined by their speed. Charging specifications are defined by their wattage, with logos that actually indicate this. “With the new higher power capabilities enabled by the USB PD 3.1 Specification, which unlocks up to 240W over a USB Type-C cable and connector, USB-IF saw an opportunity to further strengthen and simplify its Certified Logo Program for the end user,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF President and chief operating officer, in a statement. “With our updated logos, consumers can easily identify the USB4 performance and USB Power Delivery capabilities of Certified USB-C cables, which support an ever-expanding ecosystem of consumer electronics from laptops and smartphones to displays and chargers.” Check out the new logos, which will be used on packaging, ports, and device power ports: The new USB logos clearly communicate not just the speed of the port, but its capabilities.USB-IF About the only drawback? There’s no obligation for device makers to actually inscribe the logo on their laptops, which could mean a continuation of the confusion around ports. The new USB cable logos also feature clear communication of their speed as well as their charging capabilities. The big question is whether these cables will support Thunderbolt, or DisplayPort, or USB4 —any of the protocols, that is. The new logos for USB-C cables.USB-IF Finally, there are the charging logos, which again state what the device is capable of. The USB-IF’s new charger logos.USB-IF If nothing else, this is a huge step forward for clarity, communicating to the consumer what they’re buying. The only real regret is why this wasn’t implemented years ago. Laptops, USB
Best Chromebook deals: Top picks before Prime Early Access Sale
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 17:11:15 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Amazon is readying its second Prime Day sale for Oct. 11 and Oct 12, known as Prime Early Access Sale, aka Prime Day 2. We’ve begun curating the best Chromebook deals leading up to Prime Day 2, both from Amazon and other online retailers. You’ll need to sign up for Amazon Prime (for free) to take advantage of Amazon’s best Prime Day/Early Access Sale discounts. Other retailers have announced similar sales: Target will hold its Deal Days on Oct. 6-8, and Newegg plans its FantasTech Sale II between Oct. 10 to 13. We’d expect discounts throughout this entire period. Best Prime Early Access Sale Chromebook deals You’ll probably find a good Chromebook deal somewhere, though it’s often difficult to tell which Chromebook is a good value. Manufacturers seem to be unloading older Chromebooks at steep discounts, taking advantage of consumer ignorance about processor generations and support lifecycles. We’ve factored in the Chromebook support window to our recommendations below, which tends to extend for between two to five years on discounted Chromebooks. The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 at the bottom of the list is a decent deal, but the display, processor and memory is skimpy. The Acer 317 at the top, however, seems like a very good value. Acer 317, Celeron N4500/4GB RAM/64GB SSD, 17.3-inch 1080p display, $169.00 (54% off)Acer Chromebook 512, Celeron N4020/4GB RAM/32GB SSD, 12-inch 912p display, $166.00 (17% off)Lenovo 14e Chromebook, AMD A-Series/4GB RAM/32GB SSD, 14-inch 1080p display, $177.48 (41% off)Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5, Snapdragon SC7180/4GB RAM/64GB SSD, 13.3-inch 1080p display, $361.95 (16% off)Lenovo Flex 5i, Core i3-1115G4/8GB RAM/64GB storage, 13.3-inch 1080p display, $374.00 (32% off)Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, Intel Core i5-10210U/8GB RAM/256GB SSD, 13.3-inch 4K display, $829.00 (17% off)Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3, MediaTek MT8173/4GB RAM/64GB SSD, 11-inch 768p display, $168.00 (47% off)Walmart is offering a Samsung Chromebook 4 with a 768p 11.6-inch screen for a terrific price of $109.99, or 63% off. But the specs (Celeron N4020/4GB RAM/32GB SSD) call out an N4020 Celeron processor in the title and a far older N3450 in the specifications. Make sure it has what you’re hoping for before you buy. What to think about when buying a Chromebook Generally, Chromebooks tend to fall into three categories: ultracheap models at about $100, which can offer solid discounts but can hide gotchas like a subpar screen; midrange $200-$350 Chromebooks, the typical price point; and premium Chromebooks at $500 and above. These expensive ones are essentially PC laptops with Google’s Chrome OS on top, and may be too expensive. Our story on laptops versus Chromebooks may help you decide, as might our 2022 recommendations for the best Chromebook. Normally, we’d suggest you buy a Chromebook with 1080p resolution or above, but 768p displays can work fine, especially on smaller screens. Consider a USB-C dongle to connect to an external display. An Intel Core chip is pretty much a guarantee of solid performance, but can be more expensive, too. Celerons are much more common, and Snapdragon or Arm (MediaTek) chips are too. Updated at 10:10 AM on Oct. 3 with additional deals. Chromebooks
Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 16:05:30 +0000
Source: PCWorld
OLED monitors, with their vibrant colors and perfect black levels, are some of the very best screens you can connect to your PC. Unfortunately, they’re also crazy expensive: with only a few models on the market, the cheapest is still more than a thousand bucks. That might be changing soon, if a report on OLED mega-manufacturer LG Display is accurate. OLED-info.com quotes unconfirmed news out of China’s manufacturing sector, saying that LG is ready to start manufacturing smaller OLED panels for smaller TVs and computer monitors. Specifically, it’s preparing to ramp up smaller displays using the cheaper WOLED panel technology, which can be produced much more economically than the older types of OLED panels seen in high-end televisions. Despite being ubiquitous on smaller gadgets like phones and smartwatches, and extremely popular in high-end televisions, OLEDs have been slow to come to the PC market. We’re just starting to see them become a popular option on more and more laptops, but you can count the number of commercially available desktop OLED monitors on one hand. And, of those, LG’s own offerings have been focused on the ultra-high-end professional media market — it’s only this year that the company has begun supplying panels for gaming monitors to companies like Alienware and Corsair. While we can’t verify the news without a more conventional source, it makes sense. The high-end television market is currently saturated (no pun intended) with OLED screens since there’s been relatively little innovation in the last few years and huge numbers of consumers upgraded their home theaters during the pandemic. OLED manufacturing technology is poised to go bigger (or rather, poised to hit the midrange between small and big) after spending a decade maturing in the mobile electronics market. If all goes well, we might begin to see more affordable OLED monitors announced at trade shows like CES, E3, and Computex in 2023, with models hitting the market in the summer or fall. Keep your fingers crossed for some display bargains. Monitors
The best laptops for graphic design: Top picks and buying advice
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Whether you’re creating a sleek new logo for your company or a magazine cover that’s popping with bright colors and interesting shapes, graphic designers need the right kind of laptop to get the job done. The most important thing is powerful hardware. For tasks like 3D modeling, you’re going to need a powerful CPU and a good amount of RAM. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may need a processor with multiple cores. Another essential piece of hardware is the graphics card. This is important if you’re working with massive textures. If you’re not sure where to begin your search, don’t worry. We’ve assembled a list of top picks. Not only are these machines graphically powerful, but they’ve also got awesome screens for those times when detail and color accuracy are paramount. We’ve also included options at different price points. So, whatever your budget may be, we’ve got something for every type of graphic designer. If you’re looking for something different, be sure to check out our comprehensive roundup of the best laptops for all purposes. Updated 09/26/2022 Check out our latest review of the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1. Besides its ability to easily transition from a laptop to a tablet, it also stands apart with its long battery life and attractive design. Also, be sure to take a look at our review of the Acer Predator Helios 300. You may give up some portability with this gaming laptop, but you more than make up for it with solid performance where it beats out some of the more expensive competitors. Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED – Best overall Pros Beautiful 4K OLED display Long battery life Useful DialPad tool Cons Design lacks flair Lackluster webcam MSRP: $1,599.99 Best Prices Today: Not Available at Adorama | Not Available at Amazon Graphic designers need a high-quality display for their projects, which is why you should consider picking up the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED. The 4K OLED display is absolutely stunning, as it produces vibrant colors and deep blacks. It’s also a good option for those who suffer from eye strain and tension headaches. If you’re to spend hours peering into a display, it might as well be a top-quality one. The VivoBook also packs a decent punch in the processing department. The CPU is the Ryzen 9 5900HX, which should be plenty zippy for basic graphic design needs and general use. It also has 32GB of RAM and a whopping 1TB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage. That’s sufficient enough for multitasking or firing up a couple of applications simultaneously. There are a couple of trade-offs you should be aware of like the lackluster webcam and the temperamental fingerprint reader. Those shortcomings are fairly small, though. Overall, the VivoBook Pro is a great machine that any graphic designer would love. Read our full Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLEDreview MSI GF76 Katana – Best value Pros Decent CPU performance Interesting design with plenty of flair Comfortable keyboard and trackpad Cons Lackluster GPU performance The display lacks brightness Audio produces less-than-stellar bass MSRP: $1,250 Best Prices Today: $1049 at Walmart | $1,236.39 at Amazon | $1250 at Microcenter If you’re working with an inflexible budget, the MSI GF76 Katana is the best bang for your buck. It comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCle 4 SSD storage. In other words, this machine should be able to handle most design tasks with relative ease as well as everyday workloads. The GPU is a little underwhelming when running newer games, but MSI offers up to seven different configurations, so you can always chose a more powerful option. The display is also dimmer than we like, but it’s 17.3-inches and that’s a lot of screen real estate to work on. So, if you’re a beginner graphic designer looking to save some money, you should definitely consider the GF76 Katana. Read our full MSI Katana GF76review Razer Blade 17 (2022) – Best for video game designers Pros Huge 17-inch screen in a relatively compact laptop Intel’s newest 11th-gen CPU and Nvidia RTX graphics Cons No USB-A port and no Gigabit Ethernet Hybrid charging likely sacrifices a little performance MSRP: $3,999 Best Prices Today: $3999 at Micro Center | $3999 at Razer | $3,999.99 at Amazon The Razer Blade 17 (2022 version) is our top pick for video game designers. It’s got what it takes for graphically intensive projects thanks to its Intel Core i7-12800H CPU, 32GB of DDR5 RAM, 1TB of PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD storage, and beastly GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU that renders 3D scenes ultra-fast. The 17.3-inch QHD display is beautiful, too. Not only does it have an impressive 240Hz refresh rate, but the 2650×1440 resolution makes for a crisp and colorful picture. The Blade has a lot to offer, that’s for sure, but it’s incredibly expensive. If you’re in a position to spend the money, then it’s an awesome buy. If you’re looking for more options for both work and play, be sure to check out our roundup of the best gaming laptops. Read our full Razer Blade 17 (2022)review ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Most portable Pros Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design AniMe Matrix screams unique It has a webcam Cons Half-permanent RAM Keyboard backlighting is subpar MSRP: $1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM) Best Prices Today: $1649.99 at Best Buy | $1,749.00 at Amazon The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is something of a rarity because of its compact form factor and powerful internals. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling companion. It’ll also deliver reasonably fast performance thanks to the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, the AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, the 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and the 1TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage. These components are a phenomenal combination for heavy-duty design work. The keyboard isn’t the best, though, as it feels a bit soft and the backlighting is subpar. That said, when it comes to a combination of portability and fast performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a fantastic pick. Read our full ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)review Asus ROG Flow Z13 – Best folio-style laptop Pros Big performance in a small package Bright, crisp display Compatible with XG Mobile for GPU boost Cons Versatility doesn’t come cheap Detachable keyboard poor fit for gamers MSRP: From $1,799.99 Best Prices Today: $1799.99 at Newegg The Asus ROG Flow Z13 is one of the more unusual entries on this roundup. Simply put, it’s a folio-style gaming machine. You can pop open the kickstand on the back and voila! You’ve got a clamshell laptop. You can also remove the keyboard and use it as a touch-enabled tablet. The versatility here makes it a cool pick for creative work. As for the components, it’s rocking an Intel Core i9-12900H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage. It’s powerful, that’s for sure. The 1200p IPS touch display also produces sharp, vibrant images. This kind of versatility costs a premium though, so it’s not the most budget-friendly option. That said, if you’re looking for something truly unique, the Flow Z13 is well worth it. How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on. Essentially, it’s how we simulate everyday use.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time. A CPU with multiple cores better divides the workload.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. We check for things like lag, screen tearing, and so on.Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. If you travel a bunch, you’ll want something that’ll last more than a full work day. FAQ 1. How much processing power will I need? If you’re just beginning a career in graphic design, go for an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. If you work in video editing or motion design, we’d recommend an Intel Core i9. However, the number of cores is important for design work. That’s because the processor has to divide the workload when running a 3D-rendering program. A processor with four cores is the minimum requirement (in our book at least), but the more cores the better. As for AMD processors, the Ryzen 5 series is powerful enough for basic graphic design work. For more oomph, shoot for a Ryzen 9. 2. Do I really need a GPU? For graphically intensive projects like 3D design, you’re going to want a dedicated graphics card. Fortunately, most gaming laptops have dedicated graphics and should be able chew right through those projects. If you’re looking to save some money, go for an Nvidia RTX 3060 or 3050 Ti. For a serious boost in graphics performance, we’d suggest springing for an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti or an AMD Radeon RX6800S. 3. What about memory? Graphic designers are constantly juggling a bunch of files, so you’re going to want at least 8GB of RAM to keep things relatively speedy. That’s the bare minimum, though. For bigger projects, 16GB of RAM should be plenty. 4. Should I spring for a hard disk drive or an SSD? For those massive video editing projects, you’re definitely going to need a high-capacity SSD. 256GB is the minimum amount we’d recommend, but 512GB is obviously better. If you work with large files, you may want to even go for a 1TB+ SSD. Again, the right amount of storage really depends on the size and complexity of your project. 5. How big should my display be? Ah, the display. It may be one of the most important aspects of a laptop, especially for design work. The size and resolution really depends on the complexity of your project, though. First, let’s talk about the size. Do you regularly commute into the office? If so, you’ll want a 13- or 14-inch display, as it’s smaller and more portable. If you’re working on high-resolution files or something that requires a lot of screen real estate, you’re going to want a 17-inch. However, the bigger the screen, the heavier the laptop will be. As for the resolution, don’t settle for anything less than 1080p. That’s the baseline you want to go for. If you can stretch your budget, a 4K display is lovely and the ideal option for creative work. 6. How long should my laptop last on a single charge? If you plan on carrying around your laptop, you’ll want something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day. However, battery size directly impacts the portability of the machine. The bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop. 7. How diverse should my port selection be? A wide array of ports is always a good thing, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. You should get a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is useful for hooking up to an external monitor, especially if the laptop’s display is dim or not as clear. Laptops
Best Amazon TV deals: Top picks before the Prime Early Access Sale
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 15:40:42 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Amazon is readying its second Prime Day sale for Oct. 11 and Oct 12. It’s called the Amazon Prime Early Access Sale, aka Prime Day 2, and we’re already seeing some early Prime Day 2 TV deals drop. We’ve begun curating the best TV deals from both Amazon and other retailers as we await next week. You’ll need to sign up for Amazon Prime (for free) to take advantage of Amazon’s best Prime Day/Early Access Sale discounts. Other retailers have announced similar sales: Target will hold its Deal Days on Oct. 6-8, and Newegg plans its FantasTech Sale II between Oct. 10 to 13. We’d expect discounts throughout this entire period. Prime Day Early Access TV deals No surprise: We expect Amazon’s own Fire TV products to be on sale, along with third-party Fire TV hardware. We’re betting that Amazon will also begin promoting all the new products that connect to the Fire TV service: the $249.99 Echo Show 15 with a Fire TV interface, the $139.99 Fire TV Cube, and the $799.99 4K QLED Fire TV Omni. Look for deals on all of these on the Amazon Prime Early Access site. Retailers know that amid rampant inflation, consumers are feeling the pinch, so expect older hardware to once again go on sale. If you don’t need the latest HDR capabilities or voice integrations, you may find older premium TVs that are excellent deals. But in some cases, you won’t see big discounts, but that’s because price have already been marked down. For reference, you can consult our home technology site, TechHive, and TechHive’s best TVs for 2022 and how to shop for them. Several of the Prime Day 2 deals we’ve listed here are within 5 percent of the discounts we saw during the July Prime Day event, and the TCL deal at the top is definitely worth a look. Are Echo Shows TVs? Maybe not, but they’re on steep discount right now. TCL 65-inch 4K HDR Smart Roku TV, $429.99 (46% off)Echo Show 5 (2021 release): $34.99 (58% off)Echo Show 8 (2021 release): $69.99 (46% off)Vizio V-series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV: $299.99 (21% off)Amazon Fire TV 50-inch 4-series 4K Smart TV: $349.99 (26% off) TCL 32-inch 3-series 720p Roku Smart TV (32S335), $139.99 (39% off)Amazon Fire TV 50-inch Omni Series 4K Smart TV, $399.99 (22% off) Hisense U6 Series 50-inch 4K Quantum Dot QLED Smart Fire TV with Dolby Vision, $354.00 (34% off)Hisense 65-inch ULED Android 4K 120Hz TV w/Alexa, $748.00 (32% off)Samsung 55-inch QLED 4K Smart TV (QN55Q80), $887.95 (26% off)LG OLED65B1PUA 65-inch Alexa B1 Series (2021), $1,596.99 (35% off)Sony OLED 65-in. Bravia XRa80K 4K TV: $1,298.00 ($701.99 or 35% off) 4k TVs
Asrock sabotages its own motherboards with RAM slot sticker
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 15:24:41 +0000
Source: PCWorld
You’d think that a company selling motherboards directly to desktop PC builders would have a little bit of faith that those users can assemble a PC. Apparently, that’s not the case for Asrock, at least on some variants of its high-end motherboards for the new AMD AM5 socket. Several Reddit users opened their X670E motherboards to find a huge sticker covering the RAM DIMM slots, which in at least some cases has caused damage to the slots when the user removed it. According to the Reddit posts spotted by TechSpot, the sticker is ostensibly meant as a guide for installing the RAM. It shows where to place single or double DIMMs if you’re not using all four slots simultaneously and how long to expect the (very lengthy) first boot to take based on how much memory is installed. All helpful information and perhaps it’s understandable that Asrock would want to highlight it — maybe a lot of people were returning motherboards after putting one DIMM in the wrong slot and watching their computer fail to boot. But there had to have been a better solution than sticking a piece of paper directly on top of hundreds of sensitive electrical contacts, complete with adhesive. Several users reported that the sticker tore when they removed it, leaving behind a sticky residue and an incredibly delicate cleanup job. Buyers ready to assemble brand new, screaming-fast Ryzen 7000 desktops with these very pricey motherboards were not amused. Some had luck removing the stickers by applying heat beforehand, but others were left with a sticky mess that made their RAM slots inoperative. The story has a happy ending, or at least a satisfactory one. An official statement from Asrock says the company will accept exchanges on motherboards that have sticker residue on the RAM slots. It also says that an updated version of the BIOS solves the long initial boot problem, and thus new motherboards won’t come with the sticker. Even so, it’s an embarrassing illustration of what can happen when you don’t trust your customers. Desktop PCs
Best cloud gaming services: GeForce Now vs. Xbox Cloud Gaming and more
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 14:59:03 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Being able to play modern, high-quality video games on just about any kind of PC is the big pitch of the handful of cloud gaming services out there. Using a subscription model, these services allow people with a strong internet connection to tap remote servers in order to play video games of all kinds on even modest computer setups that wouldn’t be able to run them directly. We took the time to try out the biggest players in the cloud gaming space to figure out what works, what to expect, and why you may want to choose one service over another. From the game libraries to the user experience to the visual quality, read on to see what these cloud gaming services bring to the table. Updated 09/30/2022 To remove Google Stadia as one of our best picks, because in a not-so-surprising move Google has decided to discontinue the service, as we explain in our news article. You can also learn how Google plans to make good with its Stadia customers. 1. GeForce Now – Best cloud gaming service overall Pros Very smooth and responsive experience The Free plan Cons Games are not included Limited time on gaming sessions Inconsistency in compatibility of games and platforms MSRP: Free tier I Priority tier ($9.99/mo or $49.99/6 mo) I RTX 3080 tier ($19.99/mo or $99.99/6 mo) When it comes to the best all-around experience, GeForce Now is our strongest recommendation. While you do have to purchase many of the games that you can play on this service, the fact is that GeForce Now brings some of the best visual quality, a massive game compatibility list, and a free membership plan option. With those aspects in mind, there’s almost no reason not to jump in and at least try out some free games like Destiny 2 or Fortnite to see if it works for you. Additionally, if you do end up wanting to purchase some games to play with GeForce Now, you are not tied to the service long term. The games you’re playing in GeForce Now are accessed through your own Steam, Epic Games Store, or other distribution service that you’ll be able to load up locally on your own computer if/when you get your own gaming PC. So if you’re just getting started in PC gaming, or simply want to check out cloud gaming in general, we’d recommend starting here at the very low cost of free. Read our full GeForce Nowreview 2. Xbox Cloud Gaming – Best value Pros Impressive game library all included with subscription “Out of the box” functionality Cons Video compression makes a big impact on visual quality Not all games are staying in the game library MSRP: 14.99 Best Prices Today: $14.99 at Microsoft There may be contention over which major gaming brands make the best hardware—but for most folks, it really just comes down to the games themselves to determine where you’re going to play them. Xbox Cloud Gaming, a component of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, grants access to the entire Xbox Game Pass game library, and that library is both impressive and ever-changing. For $14.99/month, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers access to over 350 games, from Skyrim to Deep Rock Galactic to Boyfriend Dungeon to Battlefield V and plenty more. While the cloud gaming experience can have some notable amounts of compression artifacts from time to time, it still means playing some of the best games available without too much of an investment. Read our full Xbox Cloud Gamingreview 3. Amazon Luna – Best casual experience Pros Very intuitive interface Some games playable with friends that aren’t subscribed to Luna Incredible deal to access very specific games Cons Game library is a few years behind Multiple channels with different costs can add up quickly MSRP: Various subcriptions from $4.99/mo to $17.99/mo Best Prices Today: 9.99 at Amazon Amazon Luna is an extension of Amazon’s efforts in the gaming industry and it brings a fantastic and smooth user experience with a niche selection of games at a reasonable price. Amazon Luna splits its available games up into various channels, which can be paid for separately, making it both one of the cheapest and one of the most expensive subscription models in this list, depending on what you’re going for. Notably, Amazon Luna offers a strong roster of retro and family-friendly games, if you’re looking to either dive into some nostalgia or enjoy some gaming with your family without having to buy and connect old and new game systems. Additionally, with a free rotation of games for Prime members and an incredible deal on playing Jackbox Games, it can make for a great party pick for you and your friends both locally and online. Read our full Amazon Lunareview 4. Playstation Plus – Up and comer Pros Visual quality can be spectacular Some really great games in the included library Cons The user experience and app interface needs a complete overhaul Questionable connection stability and a lack of troubleshooting tools to address it MSRP: 17.99 Best Prices Today: $17.99 at Sony PlayStation Plus on PC is Sony’s follow-up to its now shuttered PlayStation Now service, and while their heart seems to be there, it still has some catching up to do. Largely, you can access quite a few games, including many PlayStation exclusives from the original PlayStation through PlayStation 4, but we did run into a few issues. Similar to Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Plus on PC is a component of a larger service, PlayStation Plus Premium, but unlike Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Plus on PC needs a lot of help when it comes to what makes a solid PC service and application, from the user interface to connection stability. If you are a PlayStation Plus Premium member already, though, then do check the PC app out. Read our full Playstation Plusreview What to look for in a cloud gaming service There are three major aspects to consider when it comes to a cloud gaming service: technical requirements, game library, and your own plans for the future. Technical requirements When it comes to technical requirements, it’s mostly about having a fast and stable internet connection. The bare minimum seems to be about 10Mbps for some of these services, but 20Mbps or higher should be good to get started on any of them. They all recommend using wired internet connections, or they may have specific recommendations for what your Wi-Fi network at home needs. Additionally, if your internet service has data consumption caps, then be aware that these kinds of services will use a ton of that data, similar to streaming high-quality video. Other technical requirements, such as processing power, RAM, and monitor quality are all going to vary by your needs. But generally speaking, if your device can handle a high-quality Netflix or Hulu stream, it should be able to handle cloud gaming streams. If you’re looking to get into the 4K experiences with GeForce Now or Google Stadia, then you will need a monitor to support that, too. Additionally, both Xbox Cloud Gaming and PlayStation Plus on PC do require a game controller to play games on their services—though that does not necessarily have to be their branded controllers, so long as it has enough buttons. Game library When it comes down to it, the games are what you’re here for. Every service has its own included or compatible game library, and you can look those up ahead of time. If you’re looking for specific games, then definitely look to see which services, if any, offer them. Otherwise, if you’re looking to keep up with the latest releases, then do note which services are getting those new releases activated ASAP. None of them seem to fully keep pace with modern release schedules, but both Xbox and Google seem to be trying their hardest to get there, with GeForce Now following close behind. Cloud gaming goals Lastly, think about what you want out of your cloud gaming experience. Are you just looking to have some games to play when you’re traveling or staying with family for an extended period? Are you just getting into gaming and want a more affordable option to see if you’d stick with it before buying into expensive hardware? Maybe you’re just looking to be able to play some specific games with a group of friends? Each of the major cloud gaming services seems to have a different approach to their offerings, making it possible to shop around for the right fit. How we test cloud gaming services We dove deep into all of these services to get the best feel for what they’re offering, including getting technical specifications when possible, testing each service in identical locations for comparisons, and trying to get the more subjective perspective of whether it feels good to play. Our main test location was in Texas, U.S. on a home Spectrum internet connection with a minimum 400Mbps down and 25Mbps up, and a maximum of about +10 percent for both speeds. Latencies were tested against major server locations for each gaming session to ensure there weren’t any unexpected problems getting in the way there. GeForce Now was the only service that included its own speed testing and troubleshooting tools, so we confirmed that conditions were good there, and then recorded the other speed and latency stats to recreate that connectivity as best we could with the other cloud gaming services for as much consistency as possible. All of our testing was done on a custom gaming PC with a Ryzen 7 1700X CPU, 32GB of Corsair DDR4-3600 RAM, an EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB XC3 Ultra GPU, and both a 1080p and a 4K monitor. For controls, we used the same Razer Basilisk v2 mouse and Corsair K70 RGB Pro keyboard when relevant, as well as both an Xbox One and a PlayStation 4 controller connected to the PC with USB cables. All tests were done on the Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS. Some, but not all, services offer both a web browser interface and a standalone Windows application to browse and launch games. All of our tests were done with both when relevant, and our full reviews reference which seemed to provide the better experience in both browsing and playing. For the web browser access, we tested with both Firefox and Google Chrome with little difference between the two except for Stadia, which calls for Chrome. When it came to game performance, we were not able to capture accurate frames-per-second or benchmarking data for every service, so data for those comparisons were not directly measured. This largely has to do with the obfuscation of information, and that most of the cloud gaming services are running console versions of the games on their platform, meaning much of the PC testing options simply aren’t available for in-game testing. Even if we could, our performance stats wouldn’t necessarily match anyone else’s since those results would be tied more closely to internet speeds and latency issues, which can depend simply on how far your PC is from a service’s data center. The feeling of gameplay came down to a handful of tests. Some games are available on multiple services, so we would be sure to play the same game across multiple services to see if things like responsiveness felt the same between them. Additionally, we would specifically pick out games that required what people consider “tight” or quick response controls to play successfully, including various platformers, fighting games, and action RPGs. Additionally, we would compare the cloud gaming experience to just playing the same game locally on the test rig to see if anything did feel notably off. The results are subjective and are likely to be more noticeable for more experienced players, especially in the competitive gaming space. FAQ 1. How does cloud gaming work? Think of it as something between playing an online game and watching Netflix. You are connecting to a server somewhere on the internet, and that server has the hardware that your account and game is running on. The video feed of that game is then being streamed back to your device, where you send controls back through your connected controller or mouse & keyboard. In this setup, it’s important to have both a stable, high-speed internet connection and low latency to the cloud gaming service. GeForce Now explicitly references the importance of latency in its service, and we agree. Poor latency will mean longer delays between what you do on your controller and what you see on screen, and in many games, that’s just a bad time. 2. Can cloud games be played offline? No. While some video streaming services allow you to temporarily download videos to watch offline later, cloud gaming requires an active internet connection to the cloud servers. The big point is that those cloud servers are doing the heavy lifting for the game’s performance, and gaming is a constant back-and-forth of interaction between you and the gaming system, so if you’re not connected to the hardware, you’re not able to play your games. If you’re looking to play games offline, you’ll need the local hardware to support it. 3. Does cloud gaming use a lot of data? It sure does! At the lowest, cloud gaming is on-par with constantly streaming very high-quality videos, using seemingly a few GB of data per hour. When the cloud gaming services say they need a 15Mbps internet connection, they mean it, so you can extrapolate from there. While all of these services are figuring out the optimal quality and compression options, it’s fair to look at some of the long-time players in media streaming as the ideal for what cloud gaming data usage could be, but know it will be more. If you’re looking to take advantage of the 4K options where available, expect the data usage to go up to match. Gaming
Ubisoft promises free PC codes for Stadia players
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 14:53:30 +0000
Source: PCWorld
As a publisher, Ubisoft is all-in on cloud gaming, even if some of its partners aren’t. You can play its biggest titles on Xbox Game Pass streaming, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Stadia — in fact, Ubisoft was Google’s very first game streaming partner, offering Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for the service’s unnamed beta way back in 2018. Google Stadia is not long for this world, but Ubisoft wants to make sure its players aren’t left in a lurch: it’s offering Stadia players free codes on the PC platform Ubisoft Connect. Ubisoft took to Twitter (spotted by KitGuru) to announce that it’s planning on offering Stadia players who purchased Ubisoft games replacements for the PC. Details are scarce — we don’t know if games claimed for free as part of the Stadia Pro monthly promotions will count, or if the company is considering offering codes for consoles as well. (After all, part of the appeal of Stadia and other streaming platforms is that you don’t need a powerful gaming PC to play.) While Stadia will shut down on January 18, 2023, we're happy to share that we're working to bring the games you own on Stadia to PC through Ubisoft Connect. We'll have more to share regarding specific details as well as the impact for Ubisoft+ subscribers at a later date.— Ubisoft Support (@UbisoftSupport) September 30, 2022Ubisoft says that it will have more to announce later. Presumably the codes will be offered in addition to the full refunds for both Stadia hardware and software, already promised by Google. The announcement of the Stadia closure has caused a lot of headaches for developers. Hitman maker IO interactive says that it’s “looking into ways for you to continue your Hitman experience on other platforms,” and Muse Games is offering Embr owners Steam codes for those who bought the game on Stadia. Developers of the very few Stadia-exclusive games are in a bit of a lurch. Both Q-Games and Tequila Works, developers of PixelJunk Raiders and Gylt respectively, say they’re looking at options for porting their games to other platforms. Players aren’t thrilled, either. While Stadia’s userbase wasn’t huge, those that used the service regularly were passionate and aren’t left with an alternative that offers a one-to-one feature replacement. One Red Dead Online player reports that they’ve spent 6,000 hours in the multiplayer game with no clear way to continue their save file once Stadia shuts down in January. Gaming
Save $200 on this ultra-luxurious Samsung convertible laptop
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 13:18:11 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re on the hunt for a swanky convertible laptop, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 is worth considering, as it exhibits strong processing performance and long battery life. Luckily for you, it’s currently on sale. Best Buy’s selling the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 for $1,449.99. That’s a savings of $200. When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 back in May, we were so impressed that we gave it four stars and an Editor’s Choice badge. In addition to the awesome CPU performance, it also lasted 14 hours during our battery stress test, which is nothing to sneeze at. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. It should have no problem chewing through tasks like word processing, web browsing, video conferencing, and so on. The roomy 15.6-inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. This is an epic deal and a solid choice for students or business professionals. You better jump on it before it’s too late. Get the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 for $1,449.99 at Best Buy Laptops
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review: A great CPU muted by AM5’s high costs
Mon, 03 Oct 2022 10:45:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Announcements of CPU processors tend to focus on bigger, better, faster—which usually means concentrated attention on the flagship chip. But back in August, when AMD finally spilled details about Ryzen 7000, the most startling info wasn’t about the top-of-the-line, beefy Ryzen 9 7950X. Instead, Team Red shocked everyone by saying that the humble Ryzen 5 7600X could beat Intel’s flagship Core i9-12900K. Ryzen 5 7600X MSRP: $299 Best Prices Today: $299 at AMD | $299 at Newegg | $299.99 at Best Buy Now that the 7600X is here, it’s clear that AMD wasn’t exaggerating. This 6-core, 12-thread chip is beastly in gaming, able to go to toe-to-toe with rivals far above its weight class. And it can do so in multiple titles. We’d call it a clear win for AMD—except the chip is dragged down by the very advances that help its siblings shine. Ryzen 7000, recapped You can read our initial write-up about Ryzen 7000 for the full technical details of AMD’s first Zen 4 chips. (Alternatively, you can zip through the condensed summary if you’re short on time.) But in a nutshell, the launch chips sport substantial improvements in clock speed and performance over Ryzen 5000, their predecessor. The launch line up for Ryzen 7000 is made up of four chips.AMD These advancements are the result of several firsts for AMD. Ryzen 7000 chips are the first on 5nm, first to use Zen 4 architecture, and the first compatible with the company’s new AM5 socket. AM5 offers a couple of major advancements over the long-lived, much-beloved socket AM4 platform—namely, support for lightning-fast PCIe 5 components and DDR5 memory, plus a shift to an LGA design that supports higher power use (and ends the era of bent CPU pins, as LGA moves pins to the motherboard socket instead). Ryzen 7000 chips use an LGA design, which moves the pins from the CPU to the motherboard socket.Adam Patrick Murray / IDG And Ryzen 7000 definitely stretches into that higher energy draw. For the 7600X, you’re looking at an expected wattage of 105 watts drawn under load. If the chip draws more power while boosting, its cap as provided by its AM5 socket is 230W. The 5600X was rated at 65W, with a limit of 142W through its AM4 socket. Ryzen 7000’s other major new feature is integrated graphics, which will make it easier to troubleshoot problems with your PC—you won’t have to have a dedicated graphics card plugged in to get a video signal. And when budget chips eventually launch, you can save cash by skipping the added expense of a discrete card for basic-use PCs. Performance As a 6-core, 12-thread chip, the Ryzen 5 7600X is ostensibly branded as a more affordable mid-tier option—a processor meant for focused use in gaming and productivity (Microsoft Office, web browsing, photo editing, etc.) But this CPU can often flex its muscles as hard as bigger, badder processors in those areas, if not harder. Let’s dive into the numbers. A note about our data: The benchmark scores in this review were generously provided to us by our colleague Sebastian Schenzinger from our sister site, PC Welt. (You can read his Ryzen 7600X review in German.) For detailed info on the test machines used in his benchmarks, jump to end of this article. Gaming We’ll start with the unexpected battle between the Ryzen 5 7600X and Intel Core i9-12900K. It’s a riveting showdown—at 1080p (the most popular resolution for gaming), AMD’s 7600X edges out Team Blue’s flagship part in 5 of the 12 games in PC Welt’s benchmark suite. To view our benchmark charts at full size, right-click (PC) or long press (mobile) on the image and then open it in a new tab or window. The size of the wins are uneven, however, with the Ryzen 5 7600X taking a clear lead in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and the 12900K punching harder in Cyberpunk 2077. In other games, the difference is much smaller—just bare percentage points. Regardless, you can still see that AMD’s claims weren’t just carefully curated marketing. Its 6-core, 12-thread processor can hold its own against Intel’s $589 20-core, 24-thread flagship CPU. Sure, the story would be more incredible if the 7600X won in every single benchmark, but this outcome is still a feat. Also interesting is the 7600X’s performance compared to Ryzen 5000’s gaming demon, the incredible Ryzen 7 5800X3D. The latter (and its fancy 3D V-Cache tech) stole the gaming crown from Intel upon launch back in April, but despite being superseded by Ryzen 7000, it still has plenty of pep in its step. On the whole, the 5800X3D outperforms the 7600X across the board—an interesting fact to keep in mind, given sale prices for the 5800X3D have dropped it into the mid-$300s as of late. To view our benchmark charts at full size, right-click (PC) or long press (mobile) on the image and then open it in a new tab or window. Not convinced of the Ryzen 5 7600X’s accomplishments? We can drop down to 720p. It’s no longer a common gaming resolution, but reducing the number of pixels provides a less diluted measurement of CPU performance. Because the GPU has the easier job at lower resolutions, it’s on the CPU to keep up. Like at 1080p, you’ll see similar trends in chip performance between the 7600X and the 12900K (including the same uneven variance between individual games), though the percentage differences widen. The same holds true for the 7600X and 5800X3D. Production Outside of gaming, you’ll most commonly use a processor like the Ryzen 5 7600X for light photo editing and infrequent encoding of game captures or a crunched-down home video. Impressively, the Ryzen 5 7600X sings in Adobe Photoshop—it even bests the Core i9-12900K by a tiny amount. Sebastian Schenzinger / PC Welt Move into tasks like video editing, encoding, and rendering, and the Core i9-12900K surges ahead, as you’d expect—those multithreaded tasks take full advantage of the 12900K’s greater number of cores and threads, which make it suited for heavy workloads. Sebastian Schenzinger / PC Welt Sebastian Schenzinger / PC Welt The more fair head-to-head is against the Intel Core i5-12600K, the 7600X’s comparable rival. You can expect similar performance in programs like Davinci Resolve, Premiere Pro, and Handbrake, though the chips trade the top spot depending on the program. Incidentally, in Premiere Pro, the 12600K may be more of the true winner, even though the 7600X wins on raw performance. Because Adobe makes use of Intel’s QuickSync technology, which taps the chips’ integrated graphics to speed things up, it can give Team Blue a sizable advantage in performance. If you look at our Ryzen 9 7950X review, the 7950X gets beaten by the 12900K in Premiere by almost 20 percent. If for some reason you end up working in Premiere Pro, the time saved with an Intel chip can materially affect how much you can get done in one day—especially when you’re working on a side project or labor of love. Sebastian Schenzinger / PC Welt Sebastian Schenzinger / PC Welt In these kinds of tasks, the 7600X also often comes very close performance to the Ryzen 7 5800X and 5800X3D. It’s particularly impressive, given that those chips launched at much higher list prices ($150 more) than the 7600X. Final thoughts AMD’s Ryzen 5 7600X is clearly an outstanding processor. But it has one major problem, and that’s cost. Everything is more expensive these days, including CPUs. Two generations ago, the 3600X was $250, while the 8-core, 16-thread 3700X came in at $329. With the 7600X, you’re still paying more for fewer cores.  Some folks, like my colleague Gordon Mah Ung, would argue that’s the entry fee to badass new tech—especially since AMD offers such top-notch performance. (Just as it did for Ryzen 5000.) That’s a fair point, but other core components are still pricier, too. DDR5 memory is still about twice as expensive as DDR4 memory, and an AM5 motherboard with full PCIe 5 support for graphics cards and storage carry a premium. Those features help the 7950X and 7900X scream in benchmarks, and help future-proof the AM5 motherboard platform, but they also add to the necessary budget for a mid-range gaming build. AMD’s B650 and B650E motherboards will cost less than X670 and X670E variants, but they won’t necessarily be cheap. This MSI Pro Wi-Fi model is listed on B&H for $220.MSI Of course, you don’t need to go to an extreme with future-proofing on a mid-tier system. And since it’s unlikely you won’t—there’s not much stopping you from considering reasonable alternatives. Take the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. As we saw earlier, it outperforms the 7600X in games. You can find plenty of affordable options for DDR4 memory and AM4 motherboards, too. With the 5800X3D going on sale semi-regularly as of late, it comes out to roughly the same outlay as with a 7600X. (At the time of this writing, you could get a 5800X3D for $365 on sale at Newegg.) Depending on your preferences and upgrade plans, getting higher framerates could justify sticking with the now-stagnant AM4 platform, and its lack of PCIe 5 and DDR5 support. Intel’s 13th-gen Raptor Lake parts are just around the corner.Intel There’s also Intel’s 13th-gen Raptor Lake to consider, which is coming October 20th. Team Blue says its upcoming chips will be up to 24 percent faster than 12th-gen Alder Lake in games. A $319 Core i5-13600K could end up supplanting the 7600X as the best mid-tier gaming CPU. For added appeal, the company also renewed its support for both DDR4 or DDR5 memory, making it still possible to buy a DDR4 motherboard for lower-cost RAM. And for people with a longer horizon, more Ryzen 7000 processors should eventually arrive. Though AMD has not announced their future plans for Ryzen 7000, a less costly Ryzen 5 7600 or similarly priced Ryzen 7 7700 will likely join the lineup down the road. DDR5 memory will continue to drop in price too. The short of it is, the Ryzen 5 7600X screams, but isn’t quite a must-buy chip for mid-range gaming builds just yet. Budgets and value matter—even more so than incredible performance. Ryzen 5 7600X MSRP: $299 Best Prices Today: $299 at AMD | $299 at Newegg | $299.99 at Best Buy Ryzen 5 7600X test machine info PCWorld PCWorld CPUs and Processors
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