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Optimize your everyday workflow with Control D, now just $35 for 5 years
Sun, 21 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Spending all day on a computer for work can be overwhelming and exhausting. You’re regularly bombarded by content you don’t care about and led down internet rabbit holes that take away precious productive time. But with Control D, you can take back control of your digital life. This intuitive solution has earned a perfect 5-star rating on Product Hunt. With Control D, you can browse faster with enhanced security and performance, build and enforce a productivity schedule to keep you on task when you need to work, block ads, and much more. It includes parental controls to keep your kids safe and offers added security and efficiency for up to 10 devices on a single account. You can specify custom rules for each of those devices, don’t worry. Maximize your digital workflows. Now through 11:59 pm PT on 4/21, you can get a 5-year subscription to Control D for just $34.97 (reg. $120).   Control D Some Control Plan: 5-Yr Subscription – $34.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
Flash Sale: Microsoft Visio is just $20 now!
Sat, 20 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Crunching large numerical data sets is hard, but things get extra tricky when you’re working with different information. Excel can’t help you organize thoughts or individuals. That’s where Microsoft Visio 2021 Professional for Windows comes in. Microsoft’s leading visual diagramming software is now just $19.97 during a special Flash Sale. Visio comes loaded with dozens of pre-made templates and starter diagrams to help you visualize all kinds of information. Flowcharts, org charts, floor plans, brainstorms — whatever you need to visualize, Visio gives you more than 250,000 shapes, stencils, and tools to bring data sets to life. The intuitive tool is trusted at organizations all over the world and integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products like Exchange, Excel, and Entra ID. Take your presentations up a notch. From 4/19 through 11:59 pm PT on 4/22, you can get Microsoft Visio 2021 Professional for Windows for just $19.97 (reg. $249).   Microsoft Visio 2021 Professional for Windows – $19.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
For $25, you can get a simple, professional backup for your PC
Sat, 20 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Losing data to thievery or crashes is an all-too-common occurrence in today’s digital age. Protecting your PC is as simple as using AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition. For a limited time, it’s on sale for half off of its typical price. AOMEI Backupper creates a seamless backup of everything on your PC, including the system, disks, individual files, and partitions. You can easily schedule backups, merge disk images, or clone your hard drive without reinstalling Windows or other applications. It’s loaded with utilities to protect your data and give you greater control over your operating system. And, should you accidentally lose your system, it’s incredibly easy to restore the original system with universal or selective file restoration. Give your system an extra layer of protection. Now through 11:59 pm PT on 4/21, you can get a lifetime subscription to AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition for just $24.97 (reg. $49).   AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition: Lifetime Subscription – $24.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
Microsoft tests a handy Windows account summary – and another ad
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 20:01:32 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Microsoft said Friday that it will begin to roll out a handy summary of your account settings within the Windows 11 Start menu — but that also it will be pushing an ad for the Xbox Game Pass on the Start page. Microsoft released Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22635.3500 (KB5036985) to the Beta Channel on Friday. That’s a signal that these features will probably arrive on your PC before long. Even if you are signed up to use the Beta Channel, though, you’ll need to toggle on the “Get the latest features as soon as they’re available” to see them right away. Windows 11 Pro Price When Reviewed: 199.99 Best Prices Today: $59 at PCWorld Store – Win 11 Pro Upgrade Only | $79.99 at PCWorld Software Store Both of the new highlighted changes are being rolled out to those who toggle those features on. And the first appears quite handy: If you hover over your name in the Start menu, you’ll see a nice little synopsis of your subscriptions, if any, and how much storage you have left in the cloud. You can find this info elsewhere in the Settings menu, or even in your Microsoft account synopsis on the web. Still, it’s a convenient little summary. Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft is also making sure that you’ve added a recovery email address in the same box, asking you for one if you haven’t added it. Again, a useful addition. I’m less enthused about a new Game Pass recommendation card that will show up inside the “Home” tab of the Windows 11 Settings menu. The “Discover your next favorite game” card does what you suspect: It’s just a way to get you to sign up for an Xbox Game Pass subscription, complete with a button to do so. It looks like Microsoft is reorganizing Bluetooth settings and the general “Cloud storage” card to do so. Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft All of the little ways that Microsoft uses Windows to entice you to sign up for further subscriptions are honestly starting to blur together. If it’s not one effort to get you to use Edge, it’s a different push to get you to use it as a preferred browser. Use a local account? Bad user. Any gamer worth their salt has already decided whether they can afford Xbox Game Pass now that Microsoft Rewards is being gutted. (Microsoft also basically eliminated the Rewards app on the Xbox last week.) Microsoft is also adding a previously announced feature to allow you to toggle between various Widgets dashboards. If you own a Google account and wish to share something to it, that’s being added as well. Windows
Best gaming laptops 2024: What to look for and highest-rated models
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 19:41:42 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Calling all gamers! Whether you consider yourself a competitive pro or someone who’s more casual, we’ve got quite the diverse list below. The best part is that every gaming laptop has been tested by a member of PCWorld and we’ve checked out everything from graphics performance and typing experience to connectivity options and image quality. These rigs can basically do anything a desktop PC can do, and we’ve tested dozens after dozens of them to bring you this roundup of the best gaming laptops around. Why you should trust us: It’s in our name! PCWorld prides itself on laptop experience and expertise. We’ve been covering PCs since 1983, and we now review more than 70 laptops every year. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts, who’ve applied not only performance benchmarks but rigorous usability standards. We’re also committed to reviewing gaming laptops at every price point to help you find a machine that matches your budget. See our roundup of the best laptops for even more recommendations—premium laptops, ultraportables, Chromebooks, and more. Update April 19, 2024: We added the Alienware m18 R2 as an alternative option in the Best Overall Gaming Laptop blurb and the Acer Chromebook 516 GE as the Best Gaming Chromebook. The Alienware m18 R2 offers good performance as well as a fantastic mechanical keyboard with Cherry switches and the Acer Chromebook 516 GE delivers fast everyday performance as well as smooth gameplay performance. We also updated our list of recent laptop reviews. Alienware m16 R2 – Best overall gaming laptop Pros Great gaming performance Durable Long battery life Cons Dim display Price When Reviewed: $1,849.99 Best Prices Today: $1849.99 at Dell Why we like the Alienware m16 R2 The Alienware m16 R2 is a well-rounded gaming laptop, especially for the price and performance. Not only are you getting great graphics performance, but you’re also getting long battery life, an unusual combination for a gaming laptop. The Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU are a powerful duo, as shown in our testing. It averaged 144 frames-per-second when running the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, which is nothing to sneeze at. According to our review, it’s just “four frames-per-second slower than the Razer Blade 16,” which is rocking a more powerful RTX 4090 GPU and a $3,000+ price tag. It also lasted 11 hours and fifteen minutes on a single charge, which is more than a full work day. Who should buy the Alienware m16 R2 Anyone looking for a fantastic gaming laptop. You can play most games on the High or Ultra graphics preset and the 90 watt-hour battery will keep you going long into the night. The 1600p IPS display is also quite spacious at 16-inches and the 240Hz refresh rate should result in smooth gameplay. The picture quality is quite good, but it’s not an OLED panel, where the colors would be more saturated. While it’s not the brightest or most color rich display we’ve ever tested, it’s still fine for gaming. Besides, if you’re really desperate, you can always plug into an external monitor. Alternative option: If you’re looking for the same great Alienware package with a bigger screen, the Alienware m18 R2 is worth considering. It offers strong gaming performance, an 18-inch display, and a fantastic mechanical keyboard with Cherry switches. That said, it’s very expensive and the laptop itself weighs a colossal nine pounds (!!!). Talk about a back-breaker! Read our full Alienware m16 R2 review MSI Titan 18 HX – Best high-end gaming laptop Pros Tons of connectivity options Rugged build quality Fantastic mechanical keyboard Phenomenal CPU and GPU performance Cons Very expensive Mediocre touchpad Price When Reviewed: $5,399.99 Best Prices Today: $5399 at Amazon$5399 at B&H$5399 at MSI Why we like the MSI Titan 18 HX The MSI Titan 18 HX is one hell of a powerhouse, so performance is no issue here, as it’ll run pretty much anything you throw at it. Inside the beast’s shell, you’ll find an Intel Core i9-14900HX CPU, an Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU, 128GB of RAM, and 4GB of SSD storage. Holy cow. When we ran the Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition benchmark, it churned out an outstanding 87 frames-per-second at 1080p resolution with the Extreme detail setting switched on. Did we mention it also has a phenomenal 4K Mini-LED display? Who should buy the MSI Titan 18 HX If you’re after the ultimate gaming experience, the MSI Titan 18 HX will certainly deliver. In addition to the massive amount of power this thing generates, it also has loads of connectivity options for those times when you want to hook up to an external mouse or monitor. That said, it’s an incredibly expensive machine. If money is no object, then the MSI Titan 18 HX is the right pick for you. For those on a stricter budget, check out our best budget pick below. Alternative option: We strongly considered putting the recently reviewed MSI Raider GE78 HX 14VIG on this list. It’s similar to the MSI Titan 18 HX as far as sheer power goes, but it didn’t make the cut because of the finicky rear power port and loud fan noise. That said, these nitpicks are relatively minor. I will say, the MSI Raider GE78 HX 14VIG is less expensive than the MSI Titan 18 HX at $3,799.99. Read our full MSI Titan 18 HX review Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition – Best gaming laptop under $1,000 Pros All-day battery life Robust chassis Gorgeous 16:10 display Cons 720p HD camera leaves little to be desired Keys feel a little soft Price When Reviewed: $1,099.99 Best Prices Today: $949.99 at Best Buy Why we like the Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is something of a unicorn and I mean that in the best way possible. It exhibits strong graphics performance as well as long battery life. Long battery life? A gaming laptop? How preposterous! Well, not anymore! The Asus TUF managed an incredible 11 and a half hours on a single charge. Also, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU inside, it achieved an impressive 123 frames-per-second in the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially for a sub-$1,000 gaming machine. Who should buy the Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is a good option for those on a tight budget. For under a grand, you’re getting reliable graphics performance, a spacious keyboard, and long battery life. It also works as a good general purpose machine, which is perfect for college students that want to work and play. With a Cinebench R20 score of 589, it should have “no trouble running lightweight apps and programs,” according to our review. Alternative option: The recently reviewed Lenovo LOQ 15 is another good budget option. It’s affordable and it comes with a better GPU (RTX 4060). Despite getting a high rating, it didn’t earn the nod here because of poor battery life and limited connectivity options. If you plan on mostly staying plugged in and don’t need a long battery life, the Lenovo LOQ may be a better option due to its more capable graphics. Read our full Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review HP Omen Transcend 14 – Most portable gaming laptop Pros Compact and lightweight Gorgeous OLED screen Good performance for the price Cons Keyboard is a bit mushy Annoying bloatware Price When Reviewed: $1,699 Best Prices Today: $1699 at Best Buy Why we like the HP Omen Transcend 14 The HP Omen Transcend 14 is a great machine because of its lightweight design (3.6 pounds!), stunning OLED display, and reliable performance for the price. Most gaming laptops tip the scales at around five pounds or more, so the fact that this machine is a little heavier than your standard ultraportable is downright impressive. In addition to its lightweight design, it also has an all-metal chassis, which means it’s rugged enough to handle the daily abuses of life. The hinge that connects the display to the keyboard deck also feels pretty solid. As for performance, it’s no slouch! Thanks to the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, it achieved a respectable 93 frames-per-second during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Who should buy the HP Omen Transcend 14 Anyone that likes to game on-the-go! It’s both lightweight and powerful, which is a rare combination when it comes to gaming laptops. Battery life is quite good, too. The HP Omen Transcend 14’s large 71 watt-hour battery lasted eight and a half hours on a single charge, which is impressive, as most gaming laptops tend to die at the four or five hour mark. The 14-inch 1800p OLED display is lovely as well. It has a maximum brightness level of 500 nits and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. According to our reviewer, who normally uses IPS displays on a day-to-day basis, “OLED displays like this one look incredibly beautiful” to him. Alternative option: If you’re interested in an alternative option, check out the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. It weighs a scant 3.31 pounds, which is a little less than our current pick. Although it has a nice OLED screen, an exquisite and portable design, and packs a decent punch in the performance department, its ho-hum webcam lands it behind the HP Omen Transcend 14 here. Read our full HP Omen Transcend 14 review Razer Blade 16 – Best 4K gaming laptop Pros Dual-mode display is easy to use and beautiful to look at Attractive design Powerful Cons High price tag Case is a fingerprint magnet Price When Reviewed: $4,299.99 Best Prices Today: $4299.99 at B&H$4299.99 at Microcenter4299.99 at Razer Why we like the Razer Blade 16 Woo boy. I’m not sure where to begin with this one. The Razer Blade 16 is a unique gaming laptop because it’s like having two displays in one. You get to choose between two modes, the native 3840×2400 panel with a 120Hz refresh rate or the 1920×1200 panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. You can switch between the two with Razer’s Synapse app. So, what does it all mean then? It means you can enjoy intensive shooters at 1080p 240Hz or you can take things slow and soak in all the details in your favorite strategy game. The laptop comes loaded with an Intel Core i9-13950HX CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, so you’re getting gobs upon gobs of power over here. Who should buy the Razer Blade 16 Anyone who desires gaming in 4K! If it weren’t for the $4,000+ price tag (ouch), I’d be tempted to buy this machine myself, as I’m a fan of city management games and would love to get up close and personal with every detail. The price of this laptop is a hard pill to swallow, even with these awesome specs, but the 4K dual-mode display really makes it stand out from the rest of the competition. Read our full Razer Blade 16 review Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 – Best connectivity features Pros Reasonably priced Fantastic connectivity options, includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports CPU and GPU performance is strong for the price Cons Off-center touchpad is awkward to use Audio is too quiet Display experienced some stuttering Price When Reviewed: 1199.99 Best Prices Today: $1579.99 at Best Buy$1899 at B&H$1899.99 at Acer Online Store Why we like the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 comes packed with loads of ports and surprising gaming performance. Thanks to the Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU inside, you’ll get reliable performance for productivity tasks or gaming. Where the laptop really shines is its diverse selection of ports. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, three USB-A ports, an HDMI port, Ethernet, a Micro SD card slow, and a 3.5 combo jack for audio. The Thunderbolt 4 ports make “downloading files at up to 40Gbps while streaming to an external display as easy as pie,” according to our review. Who should buy the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 Anyone who needs a lot of connectivity options. Maybe you’re just the type of person that likes to hook up to an external keyboard, mouse, or monitor. If you look inside of yourself and find that to be true, then the Acer Helios Neo 16 is the one for you. It’s a bit unwieldy when on the go, but as far as connectivity and price-to-performance goes, you can’t get much better than the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16. Read our full Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 review Acer Chromebook 516 GE – Best gaming Chromebook Pros Attractive design Excellent CPU performance Plenty of wired and wireless connectivity High resolution 1600p display Cons Mediocre keyboard and touchpad Disappointing speakers and microphone Display falls behind in contrast and color vibrancy Price When Reviewed: $649.99 Best Prices Today: $649 at Best Buy Why we like the Acer Chromebook 516 GE The Acer Chromebook 516 GE offers reliable day-to-day performance as well as smooth cloud gaming gameplay, thanks in part to its fast, high-resolution display. Just so we’re clear–Chromebooks aren’t designed to run games locally, so you’ll need to be a member of a cloud gaming service like GeForce Now or Amazon Luna. Fortunately, this Chromebook has an Ethernet port, which scores major brownie ports as far as stable Internet connections go. Plus, compared to other budget Windows laptops, the $650 MSRP isn’t bad. Connectivity options are good, too. You’re getting two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, one HDMI, one Ethernet, and one 3.5mm combo audio. Additional goodies include a 1080p webcam, a 65 watt-hour battery, and a high refresh rate display (120Hz to be exact). Who should buy the Acer Chromebook 516 GE Anyone that wants to give cloud gaming a whirl on a reasonably priced Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 516 GE features strong day-to-day performance and, according to our review, “gameplay felt perfectly smooth” while playing on GeForce Now. That said, if you want to install and run games locally, or have a poor internet connection, one of the Windows-based budget gaming laptops above would be a better option. Read our full Acer Chromebook 516 GE review Recent laptop reviews Lenovo Yoga Book 9i: The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is a masterfully executed dual-screen laptop that excels at providing a multiple-monitor experience on the go.  Acer Chromebook 516 GE: Fast, handsome, and affordably priced, the Chromebook 516 GE is a great do-it-all laptop that’s also ideal for cloud gaming. Alienware m18 R2: The Alienware m18 R2 is a gamer’s dream with top-of-the-line specs and a huge 18-inch display. However, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of hauling around the best gaming hardware in a very heavy laptop form factor. Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra: Samsung’s premium laptop still delivers an all-around great experience, now with even better battery life and an AI-powered processor. Razer Blade 14: The Razer Blade 14 is an excellent choice for those who want high framerates and stunning visuals in a gaming laptop they can take anywhere.  How we test gaming laptops 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. 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. Gaming tests: We benchmark each gaming laptop using several titles. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. For a much more detailed explanation, check out how PCWorld tests laptops. Buying Guide: How to pick the perfect gaming laptop While there’s no such thing as a perfect gaming laptop, you can always find one that fits your budget and lifestyle. Need an affordable, entry-level gaming laptop? First of all, the GPU is the most important aspect to consider. If you think of a game like a vehicle, then the GPU is its driver. You’ll also need a good amount of SSD storage for your games library as well as a high refresh rate display, which keeps visuals looking nice and smooth. For additional reading, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide on the gaming laptop features that matter most. If you’re on a strict budget, then you should dive into this piece about what a $1,000 gaming laptop really gets you. Otherwise, our FAQ below dives deep into several component considerations for gaming laptops FAQ 1. What’s the ‘best’ screen for a gaming laptop? When you buy a gaming laptop, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make regards the screen. After all, what you get on day one is what you’re stuck with until you junk the device. You could run an external monitor but then, what’s the point of a laptop? Look for an IPS or OLED display, though gaming laptops under $1,000 sometimes include a TN panel. You can get buy with a 60Hz display if you mostly play single-player games, but thankfully, most gaming laptops these days opt for faster 120Hz+ panels instead. 2. What’s the ‘best’ screen size for a gaming laptop? The size of the screen dictates the size of the laptop itself, and thus weight. You can’t, for example, get a 17-inch gaming laptop that’s four pounds (although MSI’s excellent GS75 gets awfully damned close at five), so think long and hard about whether you’re willing to take the weight penalty in exchange for the screen real estate. If the laptop is going to be your only gaming machine, having a 17-inch screen might be ideal. We should also add that a 17.3-inch screen is easier on weaker eyes than a 15.5-inch screen. This is very much a matter of personal preference. 3. What’s the ‘best’ screen resolution for a gaming laptop? The buzzword today is “4K.” That high resolution delivers sharper photo viewing and more space for video editing, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Anything not using the panel’s native resolution of 3840×2180, such as games running at lower-than-4K resolution, won’t look quite as sharp unless you exponentially increase the graphics power of the laptop. If you’re running at 1920×1080 resolution because your GPU can’t hit 60 fps at 4K, that feature is moot. For many gamers, 1920×1080 (1080p) or 2560×1440 (1440p) is more optimal. 4. IPS vs. TN vs. OLED: What’s the difference? The panel technology is also a key feature. IPS (in-plane switching) generally produces much greater color accuracy and superior off-axis viewing, but tends to lag in response times, which can lead to blurring. TN (twisted nematic) panels can offer far higher refresh rates and usually better response times than IPS, but can look washed out or just blah. A middle-ground technology that’s appearing more often is VA (vertical alignment). VA is sometimes alternately referred to as “wide viewing angle” technology. (Many assume this to spec to be IPS, but it’s not). In our experience, we’ve found VA panels to run the gamut from being worthy competitors to IPS to being worse than the better TN panels. Generally, if color accuracy is important, go IPS (a trademark of Sharp), and if you want the fastest response times go for a gaming-oriented TN panel. With the variability of VA, we recommend you check feedback from reviewers and users of a particular model. The wildcard in all this is OLED. OLED-based panels have been used in phones for years but have recently migrated to larger screens in laptops. IPS, TN, and VA all use LEDs behind the screen or along the edges. “Black” is produced by a shutter-like mechanism that blocks light from coming through. As you can imagine, there’s usually some light leakage, which means the black tends to be gray. OLED panels don’t rely on edge- or backlighting. Instead, each pixel generates its own light. To produce black, it just switches off the light. This amounts to truly stunning contrast ratios and vibrant colors. OLEDs also boast fantastic response times. The negatives include smaller screen sizes (we haven’t seen anything larger than 15.6 inches yet), higher cost, and lack of support for variable refresh rate. OLED panels can also use more power than conventional methods if the image is on a white background. 5. Should a gaming laptop have G-Sync or FreeSync support? Okay, we called this section G-Sync and FreeSync, but the reality is, when it comes to beefy gaming laptops, it’s a GeForce GPU world. And that means it’s a G-Sync world. In a nutshell, Nvidia and AMD’s respective variable-refresh-rate technologies help synchronize the monitor and the GPU to greatly reduce screen tearing. Variable refresh rates can make gaming at 40 fps far smoother to your eyes than a screen without it. The first variable-refresh-rate panels for laptops maxed out at 75Hz, only marginally better than the standard 60Hz. More recently, we’ve begun to see laptop panels that can push 120Hz, 144Hz and even 240Hz. This generally means smoother and sharper gaming to your eyes. It even helps smooth out everyday tasks such as scrolling a browser page or Word document. The downside of high-refresh rate panels is the technology it’s available on: TN. As we said earlier, TN generally looks less vibrant and less accurate than IPS. The off-axis view is generally inferior, too. You’ll also need a far more powerful GPU to feed that high-refresh rate monitor at its native resolution. One last very important note: G-Sync screens have to be connected directly to the laptop’s discrete GPU, which means a large hit in battery life. In most laptops without G-Sync, the Intel integrated graphics is connected directly to the screen, so the GPU can be turned off when not being used. So while G-Sync is beautiful to behold, the cost in battery life is huge. Which is right for you? If it’s primarily a gaming laptop—go for a high refresh rate and G-Sync (or FreeSync, if you can find a laptop that supports it with a Radeon GPU). If you tend to also push pixels in Photoshop or do any color-critical work, skip variable refresh for an IPS panel. 6. What should you look for in a gaming laptop keyboard and trackpad? A new trend in gaming laptops is the offset trackpad, which is more conducive to gaming than a dead-center trackpad. The concept is sound, but anyone who actually cares about PC gaming will just plug in a mouse. The worst thing about that offset trackpad is when you try to use it for non-gaming purposes. As far as keyboards go, the most important gaming feature is n-key rollover. This means the keyboard physically scans each key separately. If you wanted to, you could press 20 keys simultaneously and they’d all register, as each is independently wired. That probably sounds excessive, but keyboards that lack this feature can suffer missed keystrokes, which both ruins gameplay and hurts in everyday tasks. Anyone who’s used an Adobe product that might require a left-Alt, left-Shift, left-Ctrl plus two more keys to do something may have run into the limitations of non-n-key keyboards. Other keyboard considerations include LED backlighting (which adds ambiance but does nothing for gameplay) and mechanical keys vs. membrane. Mechanical keys are excellent—but are available on only a handful of laptops that usually weigh a ton. We have seen a few designs with low-profile mechanical keyboards, but even we admit they can be an acquired taste. 7. What kind of storage is best for a gaming laptop? Having your games load from an SSD instead of a hard drive significantly cuts down on load times. But beyond that, we haven’t found it to matter that much whether it’s a super-fast NVMe PCIe drive or a slower SATA SSD. What does matter more today is the size of the SSD rather than the interface it uses. With games now topping 50GB and some touching 100GBs, a once-spacious 256GB SSD will feel too small with just four games installed. So when spec’ing out that gaming laptop, be mindful of just how much total storage you have. If you go for laptop with a small SSD and large hard drive combo, expect to install your games to the hard drive. If the laptop will have an SSD only, choose an absolute minimum of 512GB, with 1TB preferred. 8. How much RAM do you need in a gaming laptop? When laptop makers spec out gaming laptops, one of the levers they use to try to convince you to buy their product is upping the amount of RAM. It’s not hard to find gaming laptops with “upgraded” configurations that go from 16GB of RAM to 32GB. While having an adequate amount of RAM is important for gaming, today’s games typically top out at 16GB of RAM, and sometimes can run fine with just 8GB of RAM. Most people should invest in a gaming laptop with 16GB of memory if possible, and it makes sense to opt for 32GB if you plan on holding onto your gaming laptop for a long time. Modern games are only getting more memory-ungry. 9. Should a gaming laptop have dual-channel or single-channel RAM? Besides the amount of memory, a couple of other important, but not critical, questions to ask is what clock speed and what mode. Modern CPUs let you run RAM in sets to increase the memory bandwidth.  More memory bandwidth immediately helps laptops that are running integrated graphics, but the conventional wisdom has long been that discrete GPUs in laptops don’t benefit as much because they have their own dedicated, much faster GDDR5 RAM to use. That’s typically the case, but the performance of today’s GPUs and CPUs can make this conventional wisdom wrong.  Gaming performance is often about a balance between the CPU and the GPU, and how graphically intensive a game is. With games that are graphically intensive, the GPU is the primary bottleneck on performance. Play a game that isn’t graphically intense, though, and the CPU can rapidly become the bottleneck on performance. With the power of today’s GPUs, a lot of games, especially at a sedate resolution of 1920×1080, have shifted more performance to the CPU. The reason we’re talking about this now is if you rob the CPU of memory bandwidth, even a decently fast one, you can take a sizable hit in gaming performance. The basic lesson is you should opt for dual-channel memory bandwidth configurations when possible. On a laptop spec sheet, you typically would see this expressed as “dual-channel” or “2 x 8” to indicate that two 8GB memory modules were used in a laptop. Some laptop makers will express memory in clock speed, so you’ll see “DDR4/2,133 or DDR4/2,400.” While a higher memory clock does increase memory bandwidth, the impact isn’t quite as great as going from dual-channel to single-channel mode. 10. How many CPU cores do you really need in a gaming laptop? How many cores do you need in a gaming laptop? For most people on a budget, a 4-core CPU with Hyper-Threading will function just fine in most games, especially when combined with a lower-cost and lower performance GPU. Still, if you have the extra cash, a 6-core CPU with Hyper-Threading is likely the sweet spot for today and tomorrow. If you plan to stream your gaming live or edit it, investing in a 6-core is recommended. Intel and AMD’s top-end 8-plus-core CPUs will deliver the greatest benefit to those who might do other graphics-intensive tasks, such as 3D animation or video editing. If you also plan to record and stream video, the 8-core will offer a performance benefit there, too. If you’re thinking, great, let me buy a 4-core Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU with a luxury laptop to save money, you usually can’t, because PC makers typically only offer budget CPUs with other budget parts. Why? Well, most budget shoppers can’t afford any luxury items, and most PC makers like to add in the extras to increase the profit. 11. What GPU is best for a gaming laptop? The single most important piece of hardware in a gaming laptop is undoubtedly the GPU. For AMD fans, the situation is as sad as it is in CPUs: It’s an Nvidia GeForce world. As with CPUs though, the good news is that the dominating products are top-notch. The hardest part will be deciding just how much GPU you need. Our general guidance is to buy as fast a GPU as you can afford and are willing to heft. Generally, the faster the GPU (or GPUs), the larger and heavier the laptop. If you’re talking about playing on a higher-resolution panel of 2560×1440 at high-refresh rates, then keep increasing the amount of money spent on the GPU. 12. What kind of battery life should a gaming laptop have? The last topic we’ll cover is battery life. The best way to understand battery life on a gaming laptop is to accept that it’ll be horrible for all things gaming. The minute you crank up a GPU on a gaming laptop to play a game, you’re basically limiting yourself to an hour or an hour and a half of battery runtime. Period. And in some cases, far less than that. The only reason to consider battery life on a gaming laptop is if you want to use your laptop unplugged for non-gaming purposes. In that respect, you’ll find a lot of variance, with some offering decent battery life, albeit with a trade-off in gaming performance. Gaming, Gaming Laptops, Laptops
How we test gaming headsets at PCWorld
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 17:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Gamers tend to place a lot of emphasis on their PC’s hardware to get an edge in games, but the right gaming peripherals can be just as critical to performance outcomes. That’s why at PCWorld we review any gaming headsets we can get our hands on. You can see the fruits of our labor in our articles on the best gaming headsets and best wireless gaming headsets, which we update regularly. In these articles we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, sorting the wheat from the chaff so to speak, so that you can simply have a read and select the gaming headset that’s right for you. But you might still want to know how our expert reviewers arrived at their decisions. Here, we’ve summarized our extensive reviewing process below. How we evaluate gaming headsets based on sound quality A headset’s sound quality is critical to how you will experience your game’s audio. When evaluating sound quality, nothing beats listening to them while gaming. We listen for two main things — any defects in the sound, and to see how good the headset’s audio fidelity is. Some signs of defects include any rising or falling in the amplitude, static or popping noises, and/or tinniness in the audio profile. Most gaming headsets have already been vetted by the manufacturers for these defects and it’s rare to find one that exhibits these issues. Even so, we do occasionally find one and it’s our duty to let you know. On the other hand, we frequently find big differences in the audio fidelity and clarity of headsets. When analyzing audio fidelity, a scale from 1 to 5 is a useful tool. The worst sounding headsets sit at 1. They tend to lack detail across their tonal range and often sound muffled and unclear. The HyperX Cloud III gaming headset.  The HyperX Cloud III gaming headset.  HyperX The HyperX Cloud III gaming headset.  HyperX HyperX At 5 are headsets with richer and clearer sound. They convey more detail across the audio spectrum, producing deep, commanding bass notes; warm, exuberant mid tones; and bright, cheerful treble tones. That said, ambient noise entering the audio stream can ruin even a very fine-sounding headset’s sound, so we also consider whether a headset effectively blocks unwanted environmental noise. We also listen for it in the headset’s microphone. As a general rule, it’s often headsets with high-res 96KHz / 24-bit audio, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), noise suppression technology, and 3D spatial audio that have the best sound quality, but not always. The Audeze Maxwell Wireless headset is a good example of a headset that gets a lot right when it comes to sound quality. How we evaluate gaming headsets based on design A headset’s design is critical to the comfort levels you’re going to experience. Ideally, you’ll want a headset you can play with for many hours without needing to take it off. To that end, we analyze factors like how thick the cushioning is and how the material used in the earcups feels on our ears. Medium to thick cushioning prevents soreness, while soft materials like leather or leatherette feel more luxurious on your ears than mesh materials, but the latter are cooler. Some headsets like the Asus ROG Delta S Wireless come with interchangeable earcups — a plush leather set and cooler mesh set, so this headset gets full marks for earcup comfort. Clamp pressure refers to how tightly the headset presses on your head. Ideally, your headset shouldn’t press too tightly so that it hurts or so lightly that it allows a whole lot of ambient noise in. We also analyze whether the varying components can swivel or tilt to prevent tension in the head and neck. Adjustability in the headband allows gamers to find an ideal fit — so that’s also something we look for. We also consider how the mic fits into the headset, whether it’s detachable or not, and whether you can simply flip it to mute your voice. How we evaluate a headset based on build quality and style No one wants a headset that breaks after a few wears — they want a strong headset that will last. Then again, if the headset is not expensive, a slightly less-than-perfect build quality is to be expected since the materials are going to be cheaper. Regardless, our reviewers put our headsets through their paces to find out whether a headset has the former or the latter.We also evaluate the headset’s style. Admittedly style is a subjective thing, but our reviewers deal with enough headsets to know whether one looks sophisticated or cheap, trendy or boring, interesting or plain. How we evaluate gaming headsets based on functionality The best gaming headsets go beyond being merely headphone clones. Here, we’re looking for special features that make them easy to use, but also effective gaming devices. Gaming headsets that go above and beyond in regard to their controls, compatibility, and connectivity tend to be the best of the bunch. A headset that is compatible across a range of devices and has more connectivity options can save you having to buy multiple devices. More controls allow for ease of use and more functionality in games. Arsenii Palivoda: Dreamstime Arsenii Palivoda: Dreamstime Arsenii Palivoda: Dreamstime Connectivity can be wired, wireless, or a combination of the two. Headsets that offer both wired and wireless connectivity, like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro, tend to be the most versatile. In wireless headsets, Bluetooth functionality can be a big boon for gamers, allowing them the freedom to connect to their PC or another device without needing a dongle. This is especially the case if Bluetooth allows for simultaneous audio that lets you stream a second audio source while you’re gaming. Since wireless gaming headsets aren’t tethered, our reviewers look closely at how long the headset can last without needing to be recharged and also the distance with which you can still use the headset away from your device without losing your audio signal. How we evaluate gaming headsets based on their software Here our reviewers want to see how much extra functionality you can get from your headset via its companion software app. They’re generally impressed by features like customizable EQ charts, readymade presets that change the audio profile for different game genres or for different types of media, directional settings for spatial audio, and settings options for the microphone — all of which allow you to optimize your headset’s sound in games. There’s a lot to try out, so we do lots of tweaking and leave no stone unturned. Gaming headset value and final scoring It’s rare to find a gaming headset that aces every category, but the more they get right the higher we score them out of five stars. A big part of our evaluation process is considering the price being asked for the kind of features and functionality on offer. In other words what the value-for-money proposition is like. To help with that, we also compare each headset to similarly priced competitors on the market. That way you can rest assured you’re getting the best bang for the buck when you buy our recommendations. Headphones
Roccat brand gets buried by parent company Turtle Beach
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 16:19:12 +0000
Source: PCWorld
German-born Roccat might not be among the biggest names when it comes to PC accessories, but the company is notable enough to get dedicated display space on shelves in stores like Best Buy and Walmart. Well, it was: this week its corporate parent decided that it needed to cull the brood. Roccat as a brand is no more, and its existing product lines are being incorporated into Turtle Beach. Turtle Beach is an American company that bought Roccat back in 2019. Generally the parent company has been known for gaming headsets for the last decade or so, especially those focused on the console market. Going forward all Roccat gear will be branded under the Turtle Beach name, with existing lines like the Vulcan keyboards keeping their names. “No real change other than a name,” a PR representative told PCWorld when showing off the company’s latest designs in headsets, keyboards, and mice. “The same core team of innovative engineers and product managers are still developing PC peripheral greatness.” I’m no marketer, but I can’t help but feel like this is a net loss, even with the advantages of consolidating a brand. Roccat’s name and imagery were distinctive with its pro sports-style cat logo, and “Turtle Beach” just doesn’t have the same bite to it. Computer Accessories
If you get a phone call from LastPass, it’s a scam
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 16:15:57 +0000
Source: PCWorld
By now you’re probably on high alert every time you get an actual phone call from someone you don’t know. If it isn’t the usual “we’ve been trying to contact you about your car’s extended warranty” recording, then it’s probably someone from “Windows” trying to get you to install a remote access program. If they mix it up a bit and tell you they’re from LastPass, yeah, it’s the same old BS. Ars Technica reports that phishing scammers have expanded their operations to impersonate the password saving service LastPass. Calls alert users that their account has been accessed from a new location, and they need to press one or two to stop this presumably nefarious hacker. According to an alert from LastPass itself, follow-up calls from real, live humans will then instruct the user to give them their email address, where a phishing message will attempt to steal their real login info. Once the phishers have the master LastPass password, they instantly lock the real user out and have access to whatever information is saved within. It’s a motherlode of identity theft data, especially since the legitimate user is generally then unable to access the randomly generated passwords they’ve created for dozens or hundreds of sites, including banking and medical info. LastPass appears to have enough users at this point that it’s become a frequent target for phishing scams, to say nothing of the tempting nature of its all-in-one personal data setup. The company has been frequently hit with high-profile hacks, most recently in 2022. The latest batch is targeting users themselves thanks to the prevalence of ready-made phishing kits such as CryptoChameleon. LastPass representatives say they’ve been able to shut down the site for the latest phishing attempt as of April 16th, but it seems almost inevitable that the malefactors will simply try again with another URL. Heads up. Security Software and Services
Best Chromebooks 2024: Best overall, best battery life, and more
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Chromebooks have undergone the most dramatic transformation over the years. No longer are they used to just running Google apps or accessing the internet. Nowadays, in addition to running everyday tasks like browsing the web and checking e-mail, you can also play the latest triple-A titles with cloud gaming. Because there’s such a wide variety now, we’ve curated a list of our top picks to help narrow things down. Whatever your needs may be, PCWorld has you covered with the best options on the market today. If you still prefer Windows laptops, you’ll definitely want to check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops available today. Why you should trust us: PCWorld has been going strong since 1983, back in the days when print magazines were more common. Now that we’ve made the leap to digital, we’ve been reviewing more than 70 laptops every year. Every laptop that passes through our doors goes through an arduous testing process, in which we evaluate everything from processor performance to display quality. We’re committed to reviewing laptops in every price range too. Update April 1, 2024: We replaced the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming with the Acer Chromebook 516 GE and updated our list of recent laptop reviews. The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a better performer than our former pick. Lenovo Flex 5i – Best overall Chromebook Pros Good build quality Fantastic typing experience Vibrant touchscreen display Cons Average battery life for a Chromebook Stylus not included Price When Reviewed: $499 Best Prices Today: $329 at Best Buy Why we like the Lenovo Flex 5i The Lenovo Flex 5i is the best overall choice because of its 2-in-1 design, the peppy performance, exquisite typing experience, and so much more. The understated aluminum finished exterior helps make it feel like something three or four times as expensive. As for the convertible design, the 360-degree hinge feels incredibly sturdy, which is essential in a 2-in-1 laptop. Plus, the keyboard is a real joy to type on and the 1200p touch display produces crisp and vibrant visuals. The best part is that you’re getting all of these wonderful features for well under $500. Who should buy the Lenovo Flex 5i We feel as though the Lenovo Flex 5i is a good Chromebook for most people. The touchscreen and 2-in-1 design really gives it the edge, as you usually see these features in machines that cost much more. While the nine hour battery life is considered just average for a Chromebook, it’s still a great all-day result. It’s just not the whopping 19 hours we got out of the Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip. That said, the Lenovo Flex 5i’s list of compromises is quite small. Read our full Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus review Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook – Best budget Chromebook Pros Lightweight design Great battery life Attractive color scheme 1080p display Cons Only 4GB of RAM 720p webcam is disappointing Price When Reviewed: $319 Best Prices Today: $239.99 at Adorama Why we like the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook For under $300, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook offers decent performance, fantastic battery life, and a lightweight form factor. Inside, you’ll find an MediaTek Kompanio 520 CPU, an ARM Mali-G52 2EE MC2 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. On paper, those specs may not look all that impressive. However, when it comes to real-world use, day-to-day performance is perfectly reliable. The 47 watt-hour battery also lasted 16 hours on a single charge and it weighs just under three pounds, making it a solid travel companion. Not bad for under $300, huh? Who should buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook Anyone looking for a cheap, serviceable Chromebook. It’s not the most innovative Chromebook we’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t have to be. It has plenty of power for light use and the battery will keep you going long after your workday or school day ends. The inclusion of a 1080p touch display is a nice touch as well, especially given the low price of the machine. The 720p webcam is disappointing and you’re only getting 4GB of RAM, but if you’re willing to taper your expectations a bit, then this is a machine that’s well worth considering. Alternative option: If you’re willing to spend a little extra on a Chromebook with better performance, we’d recommend checking out the $399 Acer Chromebook Plus 515. Bootup times are lightning fast and browser-based tasks feel appropriately snappy. The typing experience is also lovely and the battery can last up to 13 hours on a single charge. The only trade-offs are the boring aesthetics and the thick bezels on the display. Acer Chromebook 516 GE – Best Chromebook for gaming Pros Attractive design Excellent CPU performance Loads of wired and wireless connectivity High resolution 1600p display Cons Mediocre keyboard and touchpad Disappointing speakers and microphone Display falls behind in contrast, color vibrancy Price When Reviewed: $649.99 Best Prices Today: $649 at Best Buy Why we like the Acer Chromebook 516 GE The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a good machine for gaming and day-to-day tasks. The Intel Core i5-1240P CPU is powerful enough for office work and everyday activities, and the display’s 120Hz refresh rate will produce smooth visuals. You can’t run games locally on this laptop, but you can use a cloud gaming service like Nvidia GeForce Now or Amazon Luna. According to our review, “gameplay felt perfectly smooth” and “Nvidia’s GeForce Now diagnostics panel flagged no problems.” Just make sure you’ve got a stable Internet connection! Fortunately, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE has an Ethernet port, which is about as stable as you can get. Who should buy the Acer Chromebook 516 GE Anyone that wants to game on a dependable Chromebook! The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a joy to game on and it’s zippy enough for productivity and day-to-day. Additional features include a 1080p webcam, a 65 watt-hour battery, and an attractive design. With an MSRP of $650, it’s a little expensive for a Chromebook, but it punches above the usual Chrome OS machine and is tailor made to deliver a high-quality cloud gaming experience. Alternative option: If you’re looking for a Windows alternative that can run local games, you should check out the Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition laptop. It’s currently our best budget gaming pick and for good reason! Our reviewer blitzed through the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark at 123 frames-per-second thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX RTX 4050 GPU. This laptop also managed an impressive 11 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is unheard of in gaming laptops. Read our full Acer Chromebook 516 GE review Framework Laptop Chromebook – Best Chromebook for tinkerers Pros Upgradeable Hot-swappable ports 1080p webcam Reliable performance Cons Expensive No touchscreen display Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $999 at Framework Why we like the Framework Laptop Chromebook The Framework Laptop Chromebook is one of the more unusual entries on this roundup because it’s a modular laptop, which means you can replace or upgrade any part of it. Our reviewer, who wasn’t confident in her disassembling abilities, was able to crack open the laptop in a few simple steps. The hardware inside is marked with QR codes, which you can scan with your phone and be directed to the right spot on Framework’s website. The 1080p display is also a big draw and the hot-swappable ports allows you to mix and match where the ports slot in the laptop. Who should buy the Framework Laptop Chromebook Anyone who likes to get in there and tinker or extend the life of their laptop. The Framework Laptop Chromebook is designed with the ultimate customization and upgradability in mind. I will say, it’s definitely targeted to a specific niche of people, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Performance is strong due to the Intel Core i5 processor. In fact, our benchmarks show that it handles everyday tasks like surfing the web and watching streams like a real pro. The only caveat is that it’s expensive for a Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook Vero 514, for example, is just as fast as the Framework Laptop Chromebook and is hundreds of dollars cheaper. Read our full Framework Laptop Chromebook review Recent laptop reviews Acer Chromebook 516 GE: Fast, handsome, and affordably priced, the Chromebook 516 GE is a great do-it-all laptop that’s also ideal for cloud gaming. Dell Inspiron 14 Plus: The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus laptop is a remarkably well rounded system, especially where battery life and price-to-performance ratio are concerned. HP Laptop 14: The HP Laptop 14 certainly impresses with its stylish design, low price point, comfortable keyboard, and so on. That said, the weak multitasking performance and annoying fan noise knock it down a few pegs. HP Pavilion Plus Laptop 14: The mainstream HP Pavilion Plus Laptop 14 gets the job done with its zippy 13th generation Intel CPU, gorgeous and generously framed 2.8K OLED display and a battery life that can run all day. It also won’t break the bank. How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every 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. Due to the cloud-based nature of Chromebooks, they 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 we use on laptops because they exclusively run a completely different operating system. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. 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 that measures browser speed. 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. For a more thorough explanation of our testing procedures, check out how PCWorld tests laptops. What should I look for in a Chromebook? If you’re looking for a Windows or MacBook alternative, you may want to consider a Chromebook. Equipped with low-power processors, they typically have good battery life and are usually silent in operation. They make great productivity machines, as they’re specifically designed for lightweight tasks like browsing the web, watching Netflix, and so on. Plus, they’re largely virus free. That said, most Chromebooks have minimal RAM and storage. If you’re a hardcore gamer or a video editor, you’re going to want something with a lot more power than a Chromebook is capable of providing. Our guide to Chromebooks vs. Windows laptops can help you determine which operating system is best for your needs. For more options, you’ll want to check out our best laptops roundup. Operating system: Although every operating system has its pros and cons, I’d argue that Chrome OS is one of the most user-friendly ones out there. That said, with Chromebooks, you don’t have the option of picking another operating system, as they exclusively run Chrome OS. You’re stuck with it, bud. Processor: Shoot for a mid-range Chromebook if you can. They cost anywhere in the $400 to $600 range and many of them come equipped with Intel Pentium processors. These Chromebooks have better browser performance and are capable of running more intense gaming apps. It’s the best bang for your buck. Upper-end Chromebooks sometimes use Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processors, which pack more of a punch. RAM: Many Chromebooks have 4GB of RAM, which isn’t a lot. Chromebooks are web-based machines, so you need a fair amount of RAM to keep those tabs open and running smoothly. If you can spend a couple of hundred extra, you’ll be able to find a mid-range Chromebook with 8GB of RAM. Storage: I recommend at least 64GB of storage. Since you’ll mostly be storing things in the cloud, you don’t a ton of local storage. Durability: Chromebooks are popular in the education market because they’re pretty darn robust. I’m not saying you should smack one around with a baseball bat or anything, but they’re durable enough to handle the daily abuses of life. FAQ 1. What is the difference between a regular laptop and a Chromebook? When people talk about regular laptops they usually mean a PC or Mac. A Chromebook is still a laptop, but it differentiates itself from either of those two by using a unique operating system called Chrome OS, which was created by Google. Think of it like this: All Chromebooks are laptops, but not all laptops are Chromebooks. Unlike other operating systems such as Windows or macOS, Chrome OS is optimized to run Google apps such as Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube, and other Google services. Because most Google apps are online, Chromebooks generally require an internet connection to use most of their important features. Finally, Chromebooks have historically been designed with portability, ease of use, and affordability in mind rather than top performance. They typically forego the faster, high-end hardware that PCs or Macs can use for a more minimalist, lightweight approach to computing. 2. Can I use integrated graphics for gaming? No, you can’t game a Chromebook because they can’t run local EXEs aside from Android apps. That said, you can play modern games on a Chromebook that supports cloud gaming, like the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming. You have to have an Ultimate membership with Nvidia’s GeForce Now to the play the games, though. The Ultimate tier costs $19.99 a month or $99.99 for six months. It’s a pretty seamless experience, and Nvidia also offers an unlimited free tier so you can stream games with restrictions on session times. 3. What is the difference between a budget laptop and a tablet? More and more, the line between what is a laptop and what is a tablet blurs as companies integrate the features of both into their latest devices. But there are still a few key distinctions between the two. Laptops generally are larger, come with more storage, and have better performance and productivity features. Tablets on the other hand are smaller and more portable, have longer battery life, and are usually a bit more affordable. When choosing between a budget laptop and a tablet you should first ask yourself what the primary use of the device will be. Do you need something for productivity with lots of storage? Then a laptop—even a budget model—will probably be the way to go. Or do you need something that is small, travels well, and has a long battery life? Then you might consider a tablet. 4. What are the disadvantages of a Chromebook? Chromebooks are designed for day-to-day tasks, which is fine if all you’re doing is browsing the web and checking e-mail. They can’t handle resource-heavy design work, video editing, and so on. You’ll also need a strong Internet connection because if you’re not online, there are only so many things you can do with a Chromebook. Chromebooks cannot install local programs like Windows PCs can. You also can’t install Microsoft Office and that might be a huge deal-breaker for some folks, especially those who rely on those programs for work. 5. What is a Chromebook good for? Chromebooks are good laptops for those who require the basics. If all you need is a reliable Internet connection to get your work done and nothing else (like no resource-hungry programs), then you’re golden. Personally, I use my own Chromebook for writing and editing as well as checking out social media and watching YouTube. You can even game on them with a cloud gaming service like GeForce Now, if that’s how you like to spend your evenings (no judgements here). Laptops
Roku’s massive hack is why you shouldn’t reuse passwords
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 15:10:02 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Life online can differ wildly from the real world—especially when security is involved. It’s not likely someone will break into your home if you lose your house keys. But leaked login info? That puts a target on your back. Case in point: Last week, Roku disclosed a whopping 576,000 users were victims of a credential stuffing attack, far exceeding the original 15,000 accounts first reported in mid-March. Credential stuffing involves plugging in usernames and passwords taken from data leaks and breaches into various websites. Hackers can do so quickly and efficiently through automation, as illustrated by the half-million accounts affected by this campaign. The attackers behind this Roku breach ultimately bought streaming service subscriptions and Roku hardware products through several hundred accounts with payment info on file.  In response, Roku has reversed those unauthorized charges—and also enabled its method of two-factor authentication on all accounts. Users must now click an emailed verification link to complete login. These steps are all the right ones, except for one part—the fact that people reuse passwords, making this kind of hack possible and the subsequent remediations necessary. If more people had stored payment information in their Roku profiles, the damage could have been far more extensive, even if the 576,000 users caught up in this hack were just a fraction of Roku’s 80 million active accounts. Fact of the matter is, reusing passwords in today’s environment is about as useful as a doorknob lock. They’ll keep out casual lurkers, but not anyone with determination to get in. Weak passwords are just as bad, since computers can crack or guess simple passwords with stunning ease. As this picture from 2021 illustrates, hundreds of graphics cards can be combined to crack passwords. The longer the password is, the stronger it is, even when accounting for the big leaps in speed of newer graphics cards. As this picture from 2021 illustrates, hundreds of graphics cards can be combined to crack passwords. The longer the password is, the stronger it is, even when accounting for the big leaps in speed of newer graphics cards. Terahash / X As this picture from 2021 illustrates, hundreds of graphics cards can be combined to crack passwords. The longer the password is, the stronger it is, even when accounting for the big leaps in speed of newer graphics cards. Terahash / X Terahash / X The most dangerous scenario is if a reused, weak, or easily guessed password works on one of your financial accounts—a hacker could make off with your life savings with little effort. At best, you’ll get your money back after appealing to your bank, but at worst, you could be left on the hook for the loss. Not far behind are shopping sites, where it’s more common to keep stored payment information on file. Someone could quickly rack up hundreds (if not thousands) of fraudulent charges in your name, leaving you to unravel the mess. But even on sites that “only” hold more of your personal information, like your birthdate, physical address, phone number, or age, there’s risk. Bad actors can use those details for building a fuller profile of you and successfully pulling off social engineering attacks on your more sensitive or essential accounts. If you do reuse passwords, it’s an easily fixed problem—and Roku’s security team perfectly modeled what you should do. First, change your passwords so that you end up with unique and strong passwords (the longer the better) for each site. A password manager will handle that work for you so it feels painless. Whether you choose a paid service or a free one, it will autogenerate passwords (and even user names), then save them. Next, add two-factor authentication to your accounts as much as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to use a separate app from your password manager for the most security, but even if you store it in a compatible password manager, you’ve at least got it in place. At minimum, enable two-factor on any account that has personal information (or information that could give away your identity), and/or payment details. Between these two moves, you’ll up your online security considerably. Just be sure to follow one big piece of advice: Always keep your passwords for your password manager and your primary email address memorized. Life can become a major hassle if you don’t. Password Managers, Security Software and Services
This LG 34-inch ultrawide monitor is just $250, half off MSRP
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 14:46:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re looking for a big, spacious monitor on the cheap, and you don’t particularly demand lightning-fast performance for gaming, then this LG closeout is right up your alley. The company is offering a 34-inch ultrawide with a color-accurate IPS panel for just $249.99, which is half off its original $500 price. The LG 34WQ60C-B ultrawide offers 3440×1440 resolution, a pretty huge array of pixels that’s basically a 27-inch QHD panel stretched out to the ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio. The gently-curved IPS panel is exactly the kind that I look for to ensure color accuracy when I’m editing in Photoshop. And with a built-in VESA mount, it’s great for popping onto a monitor arm for a multi-screen setup. The downside is that this is a rather basic design, with no extra ports beyond HDMI, DisplayPort, and a headphone jack. At 60Hz and 5ms of response time, it’s also not ideal for fast-paced games (though of course you can still play whatever you want on it). But for a huge productivity boost on the cheap, this monitor hits the spot. Shipping is free to the US, direct from LG’s online shop. Get a 34-inch LG ultrawide IPS monitor for just $249.99 Monitors
Save $650 on this powerful, portable Lenovo ThinkPad
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 14:39:22 +0000
Source: PCWorld
ThinkPad laptops are beloved for their strong performance and comfortable keyboards. There’s a reason businesspeople who spend all day typing and doing real work swear by them. We’ve spotted the Lenovo ThinkPad T14 selling for just $1,229 at Adorama–a huge savings of $650. Yes, it sports the traditional ThinkPad keyboard with the signature red TrackPoint in the middle, but it also weighs under three pounds and comes with enough ports that you can leave your heavy adapter at home, making this laptop a killer all-around travel companion. Crack this baby open and you’ll find a powerful Intel Core i7-1365U CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, a 512GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM, so it’s capable of zipping through day-to-day tasks as well as heavier loads. The 14-inch touch display has a resolution of 1920×1200 and a maximum brightness of 300 nits, meaning it’s well-suited to office tasks and everyday use. Connectivity options include one Ethernet, one HDMI 2.1, one headphone/microphone combo jack, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On), and two Thunderbolt 4. That’s a good selection for serious business. Nabbing a lightweight ThinkPad at this big of a discount is a steal, plain and simple. Don’t miss out on your chance to get a really good laptop. Get the Lenovo ThinkPad T14 for $1,229 at Adorama Laptops
Watch PCWorld build an invisible-cable desktop with Asus BTF parts
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 14:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Hell yeah. Hell yeah. It’s time for something I’ve been waiting on for over a year, ever since we first saw desktop PC part manufacturers put connection ports on the back of motherboards instead of the front. It’s time to build a PC with not a single visible cable. And you can follow along step by step, as Adam and Will build it live on stream. This extra-long video shows off the guys building a full gaming PC, featuring parts from Asus’ new “Back To Future” (BTF) system. Not only are the case (a TUF GT302 ARGB) and motherboard (Z790 BTF WiFi) designed to route power and data cables through the back chamber, the graphics card (ROG Ryujin III 360 ARGB) can route its power right through the motherboard thanks to a semi-proprietary connector. That means with careful placement, and to be fair, a lot of covering on the power supply, every single cable in the PC will be hidden from the glass viewing area. The only thing even remotely resembling a cable will be the coolant lines for the all-in-one cooler going from the radiator to the water block. The War on Cables is over, and the cables lost. This start-to-finish build video is a hair over two hours long, so sit back and relax. Maybe take a peek at the chat replay on YouTube — PCWorld veteran Gordon stops by to chat with Adam and Will and the hundreds of live viewers. Enjoy, and for more live PC builds, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube. Gaming Desktop PCs
Today’s best laptop deals: Save big on work, school, home use, and gaming
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 13:19:52 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re looking to score a fast laptop at a killer price, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re on the hunt for a blazing fast gaming rig, a lightweight 2-in-1, or an everyday Chromebook, we’ve assembled a list of the best laptop deals available right now, using our finely honed editorial judgement to only recommend truly compelling deals on worthwhile notebooks. For more notebook options, check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops available right now. We’ve got can’t-miss picks for every use case and budget, putting our thousands of hours of hands-on testing to work for you. Best laptop deals (at a glance) Lenovo IdeaPad 1, $249.99 ($170 off at Microcenter) Asus Vivobook 14, $249.99 ($180 off at Best Buy) Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3, $299 ($230 off at B&H) HP Envy x360, $569.99 ($379.01 off at Adorama) Lenovo LOQ 15IRH8, $749 ($560 off at B&H) Asus Zenbook 14 OLED, $799.99 ($250 off at Best Buy) HP Dragonfly Pro, $799 ($600 off at B&H) Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, $849.99 ($800 off at Best Buy) Dell Inspiron 16, $859.99 ($500 off at Dell) Lenovo Legion Slim 5, $899.99 ($450 off at Best Buy) XPG Xenia, $999 ($700.99 off at Walmart) Lenovo Flex 7, $1,039.99 ($220 off at Adorama) Lenovo Legion Pro 5i, $1,179 ($620 off at B&H) Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 4, $1,229 ($650 off at Adorama) Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon $1,391.42 ($1,007.58 off at Lenovo) Best laptops deals under $500 Lenovo IdeaPad 1: $249.99 ($170 off at Microcenter) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo IdeaPad 1 has an AMD Ryzen 5 5599Y processor inside of it, which is capable of handling day-to-day tasks like browsing the web and checking e-mail. The 14-inch 1080p display is perfect for everyday use and the connectivity options include one USB 2.0 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 Type-A, one HDMI, and one audio. The port selection is surprisingly diverse for such an inexpensive machine, so you don’t have to carry around an adapter. The 720p webcam isn’t great, but you can always plug into an external webcam if you want to look better on Zoom calls. View Deal Asus Vivobook 14: $249.99 ($180 off at Best Buy) Asus Asus Asus The Asus Vivobook is an inexpensive Windows laptop with a 1080p display. The laptop’s Intel i3-1215U CPU is a few generations behind at this point, but it’s still powerful enough to handle everyday tasks like checking e-mail and watching Netflix. It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. The 14-inch 1080p display has a brightness level of 250 nits, which isn’t super bright, but it’s perfectly fine for web surfing and office work. In fact, with dimmer displays, you’ll likely get better battery life out of the machine, as the display can be a major power suck. This is a great machine for anyone that’s on a tight budget. View Deal Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3: $299 ($230 off at B&H) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 is another good option for everyday work, school, or home use because of its Intel Core i3-1315U processor and robust connectivity options. You should be able to zip right through office tasks or binge your favorite show on Netflix, and the spacious 15.6-inch 1080p matte display is sharp enough for those types of tasks. The port selection includes one USB-C 3.0, two USB-A 3.0, one HDMI, and one audio–effectively eliminating the need for an adapter. Similar to other laptops in this price range, it has a 720p webcam, which isn’t the best, but it’s a reasonable sacrifice in the budget laptop realm. View Deal Best laptops deals under $1,000 HP Envy x360: $569.99 ($379.01 off at Adorama) HP HP HP The HP Envy x360 is powerful, lightweight, and versatile. The 2-in-1 form factor means you can fold the screen back and use the laptop like a tablet, and it comes equipped with a good amount of RAM (16GB) and storage (512GB SSD). The 1080p display is quite large at 15.6-inches and it’s a touchscreen, which is perfect for habitual notetakers and doodlers. The keyboard is also full-sized and has backlighting–useful for when you’re using the laptop in low light environments. View Deal Lenovo LOQ 15IRH8: $749 ($560 off at B&H) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo LOQ 15IRH8 is another good option for budget-minded gamers. It has an Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, so you should be able to play most modern titles with the graphics dialed up to medium or high. The 15.6-inch 1080p display (tuned for 144Hz) is perfect for a gaming laptop with these entry-level components. The LOQ 15IRH8 also has a wide range of connectivity options that include one USB-C 3.1, two USB-A 3.1, one USB-A 3.0, one HDMI 2.1, one Ethernet, and one headphone/microphone input/output. View Deal Asus Zenbook 14 OLED: $799.99 ($250 off at Best Buy) Asus Asus Asus The Asus Zenbook 14 is a zippy laptop with a beautiful OLED display and 1TB of SSD storage. Not only can the 14-inch 1200p screen reach 500 nits of brightness (according to Asus), but it’s also touch-enabled, so you can expect a vibrant picture. Office work and everyday tasks shouldn’t be a problem thanks to the laptop’s Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU and 16GB of RAM. Finally, this laptop comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, which really ups the versatility factor. View Deal HP Dragonfly Pro: $799 ($600 off at B&H) HP HP HP The HP Dragonfly Pro is a lightweight laptop with a lovely 1200p touchscreen display. It weighs just 3.1 pounds, which is hardly a back breaker–great news if you’re a frequent traveler. It’s also powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 7736U CPU and AMD Radeon 680M graphics, so you shouldn’t have any problem flying through office work or daily tasks. The 14-inch 1200p touchscreen display has an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a maximum brightness of 400 nits. The taller aspect ratio is nice because it makes scrolling through documents and webpages a lot easier. Connectivity options also include two USB-C and one USB-C 3.1. Overall, this is a solid laptop, especially for $600 off. View Deal Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360: $849.99 ($800 off at Best Buy) Samsung Samsung Samsung The Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 is an affordable 2-in-1 laptop with a vibrant AMOLED touchscreen display. It should be able to handle intense workloads thanks to the Intel Core i7-1260P CPU and the 1TB of SSD storage. The 15.6-inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. That’s not the highest resolution we’ve ever seen, but 1080p is well-suited to office work as well as everyday tasks. Plus, AMOLED panels are known for producing saturated colors, so the picture should be lively-looking. It also comes with the S Pen, which is perfect for notetakers and artists. For $800 off, you can’t get more feature-packed than this. View Deal Dell Inspiron 16: $859.99 ($500 off at Dell) Dell Dell Dell The Dell Inspiron 16 is a great laptop for day-to-day use as well as some light gaming. In addition to the powerful Intel Core i7-1360P CPU and 1TB of SSD storage, this machine also has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2050 GPU, which should be powerful enough to run most games at 1080p resolution. The 1600p display is a spacious 16-inches with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a maximum brightness of 300 nits. Have we seen brighter screens? Sure. That said, it’s bright enough for daily use as well as some casual gaming. Other cool features include a 1080p webcam, up to 13 hours of battery life (according to Dell), and a fingerprint reader. View Deal Lenovo Legion Slim 5: $899.99 ($450 off at Best Buy) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo Legion Slim is a powerful, affordable gaming laptop with RTX 4060 graphics. It’s capable of blitzing through most triple-A titles on the higher graphics preset and the 1200p 144Hz display measures a roomy 16-inches. It also features a wide array of connectivity options such as one HDMI 2.1, two DisplayPort 1.4, two USB-A 3.2, two USB-C 3.2, and one Ethernet. That means you can easily hook up to an external mouse or keyboard. Other cool bits include an aluminum/plastic build, a backlit keyboard, a 1080p webcam, and a microSD card slot. View Deal XPS Xenia 15G: $999 ($700.99 off at Walmart) XPG XPG XPG If you’re looking for a slightly more powerful gaming laptop, the XPG Xenia will certainly fit the bill. You don’t see many gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU go on sale for under $1,000 often, so this is a true deal. Between the Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, you should be able to play triple-A titles on the High or Ultra graphics detail. This machine even comes with 1TB of SSD storage, which is good news if you’ve got a massive backlog of games. The 15.6-inch 1080p display should also provide smooth gameplay thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate. If you can afford it, this would be a better long-term gaming option than the $800 models listed above thanks to the RTX 4060’s much faster performance. View Deal Best laptops deals under $1,500 Lenovo Flex 7: $1,039.99 ($220 off at Adorama) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo Flex 7 is a great laptop for those who want an affordable 2-in-1. You’re getting a lightweight design as well as a decent amount of power for just over $1,000. It has an Intel Core i7-1355U CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. Zipping through spreadsheet work, everyday tasks, and so on should be no problem for this machine. In addition to the 2-in-1 form factor, in which the screen swings back 360 degrees, it also weighs just 3.53 pounds. That means you can easily slip it in a backpack or messenger back and take it with you anywhere. View Deal Lenovo Legion Pro 5i: $1,179 ($620 off at B&H) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i is a good option for those who play more intensive titles. We say this because of the display’s ridiculously high 240Hz refresh rate. Gameplay should be as smooth as your mother’s freshly churned butter. There’s a lot of power behind that display, too. You’re getting an Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, 32GB of RAM (that’s a lot!), and 1TB of SSD storage. Other goodies include an Ethernet port, an RGB backlit keyboard, and a 1080p webcam. View Deal Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 4: $1,229 ($650 off at Adorama) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 4 is a powerful machine with a 1200p display, an array of versatile ports, and 512GB of SSD storage. It’s also lightweight at just under three pounds, making it the perfect travel companion. Driven by an Intel Core i7-1365U CPU, it should be able to handle both day-to-day tasks as well as heavier loads. Connectivity options include one Ethernet, one HDMI 2.1, one headphone/microphone combo jack, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On), and two Thunderbolt 4. That means you don’t have to worry about carrying an adapter around with you. View Deal Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: $1,391.42 ($1,007.58 off at Lenovo) Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a competent business laptop with a lot of great features. First, let’s talk hardware. This machine weighs well under three pounds and yet it manages to squeeze in an Intel Core i5-1335U, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It has a decent amount of power, especially for such a lightweight laptop. You should be able to fly through office work, everyday activities, and more. The 14-inch 1200p display has a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a refresh rate of 60Hz, which should be clear enough for productivity tasks. Plus, you’re getting a 1080p webcam, a backlight keyboard, a fingerprint reader, and ThinkPad’s famously comfortable keyboard with the red nub in the middle. View Deal FAQ 1. How much RAM will I need in my laptop? You’ll want at least 8GB, though 16GB is preferable, especially if you play games. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook or a budget Windows machine, this configuration is acceptable. Check out our article on how much RAM does a laptop need for more in-depth info. 2. What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop? The one big difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop is the operating system. Chromebooks run ChromeOS and Windows run, well, Microsoft Windows. Chromebooks make good everyday machines because they’re designed for browsing the web, checking e-mail, and so on. They use less resources and are generally more affordable than the Windows variety. They also don’t need antivirus protection. A Windows laptop is a lot more versatile in what it can do, and not just in terms of running local programs. You can really pump a Windows laptop up with a ton of RAM, storage, and so on. 3. When should I look for a laptop deal? You’ll likely find the best laptop deals during Prime Day (mid-July), Black Friday (November 29th), and back-to-school season (June-August). Sure, you’ll find good laptop deals throughout the year, but if you really want to save big, we’d recommend scoping out your favorite online retailers during those times. 4. Which retailers offer the best deals? You can find all kinds of deals across a wide range of online retailers such as Newegg, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and so on. However, we’d recommend checking out deals from laptop manufacturers like Lenovo, HP, and Dell. You’ll usually find many different configurations on sale and the discounts can be pretty darn steep. For more options, check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops available right now. Laptops
Why I never buy the best gaming hardware for my PC
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 13:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Consider this hypothetical scenario: You’re upgrading your gaming rig and you’re second-guessing the hardware you’ve chosen. In fact, you’re so fed up with the performance of your old hardware you feel an overwhelming urge to just splurge on the most expensive hardware you can possibly find to totally max out your specs — 4K curved gaming monitor, Intel Core i9-14900KS with a whopping 6.2GHz max boost — whatever it takes. There’s just one problem: The new price makes your stomach squirm — A LOT. Sound familiar? It’s a scenario that every gamer faces from time to time, myself included. It’s just that, the performance of my gaming hardware is probably the single most important factor in determining whether I shine on the leaderboards or just crash and burn on the dregs list. But take it from me, you need to resist the temptation to always buy the best of the best hardware with all your mental fortitude — apply self-calming mantras, use meditation, heck, even ask your friends to intervene if you must, but just don’t do it. Why? It’s not worth it when all is said and done. Let me explain… A balancing act My reasons are twofold. The first point is that I’m not necessarily going to get better performance with the highest-spec gear than I would if I opted for the lower-spec gear. More times than not, I’ll just end up spending more money — so it’s about the value-for-money proposition. By the same logic, I don’t want to be so cheap that I lose too much performance. So, making smart choices is the name of the game. Take the Intel Core i9-14900K CPU, as an example. It may have Intel’s Raptor Lake refresh “14” designation but it shares the same architecture as the previous generation Intel Core i9-13900K and boasts just minor upticks to its base and boost clocks. Benchmark comparisons show just a 2 percent increase in speed over its forebear. What’s more, some reviewers have found that the Core i9-14900K runs a little hot, is power hungry, and, the kicker: It costs $60 more than the Core i9-13900K (at Newegg). Admittedly, that’s not a huge amount of money, but when you factor in the same being true for each hardware component you upgrade, you could be staring down the barrel of somewhere between a $250 to $500 price difference for your hardware, for very little performance benefit. mentioned in this article HyperX Pulsefire Haste 2 Wireless Read our review Price When Reviewed: $89.99 Best Prices Today: $89.99 at Amazon | $89.99 at HyperX Instead, with a little savvy research, you could find yourself a Core i9-13900K at a marked-down price from it’s original sale price. But that’s just for starters…. There are countless products that punch above their price tags for value and performance. The HyperX Pulsefire Haste 2 Wireless gaming mouse and the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X gaming headset are two that come to mind in the gaming peripherals category. Another great example is the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX desktop graphics card. Benchmark comparisons show Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 has about a 3 to 10 percent performance edge over this card in 4K gaming benchmarks. But then again, I’d only really get that benefit if I were gaming in 4K, which I very rarely do; the AMD RX 7900 XTX does actually outperform the RTX 4090 at some benchmarks run at lower resolutions. Plus, it’s a whole $700 cheaper. mentioned in this article Radeon RX 7900 XTX Read our review Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $919 at Newegg | $932.22 at Amazon | $971 at B&H Photo Timing the market I’m not dissing the RTX 4090. It’s a fantastic card that I would thank my lucky stars to have. But there is perhaps another reason to not go all out on an RTX 4090 or another equally expensive piece of hardware, which brings me to my second point. That is, as good as they are now, they’re not going to be top dogs for very long. To be sure, it takes less than a year for almost all the products in a gaming brand’s line to be dethroned by better products, so you’ve really got to keep that in mind. Sure, an RTX 4090 might future-proof my performance for years to come, but if we see an Nvidia GeForce RTX 5070 GPU next year, it will probably show very similar performance. In fact, I find I can get big leaps in my PC’s performance by upgrading to midrange hardware with a year or so pause between releases. Indeed, to use the humble GPU as an example, by resisting the urge to buy an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 when it was released at the MSRP of $1,599 and instead waiting and purchasing an RTX 4070 a while later, I saved myself $900, which I then used to upgrade my monitor and some other hardware components, to make my PC an all-round better performer. Now, rather than just having a GPU that can shred, I now have a monitor that can keep up with the fast frame rates my GPU can throw at it. Justifying that decision is also the fact that the RTX 3090 shows just 11 percent better performance than the RTX 4070 in some benchmarks, which I can live with. So, there’s some food for thought. Your budget will determine whether you’re even in the ballpark for high-end hardware, but even if you are, you can still shop around for hardware that will give you great performance for what you want to pay. Gaming, Gaming Desktop PCs
These CES-honored language translating earbuds are $60 off now
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 11:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re planning on traveling abroad this summer, it’s a good idea to learn some of the language of your destination. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to become fluent anytime soon. That’s why the Mymanu CLIK S: Award-Winning Translation Earbuds are a great backup to learning the language. These CES-honored earbuds can instantly translate 37 languages, allowing you to converse with more than one billion people around the world. The CLIK S are comfortable, stylish earbuds designed for all-day wear. You can enjoy your music or take calls on the go with a 10-hour battery life (plus another 30 with the included charging case) and seamlessly switch between music and conversation mode with just a click. They’re the perfect companion for world travelers this summer and, for a limited time, they’re on sale. Travel smarter this summer. Now through 11:59 pm PT on 4/21, you can get the Mymanu CLIK S: Award-Winning Translation Earbuds for more than $60 off at just $89.97.   Mymanu CLIK S: Award-Winning Translation Earbuds – $89.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
BenQ PD3225U review: The most alluring IPS Black monitor yet
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 10:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsTop-notch color accuracyIPS Black improves contrast ratioThunderbolt 3 connectivitySleek, minimalist design with great standConsOnly 60Hz, no Adaptive SyncConnectivity is outclassed by competitorsExpensive for the feature setOur VerdictThe PD3225U offers excellent brightness, a wide color gamut, and top-tier color accuracy alongside the improved contrast of an IPS Black panel. It also benefits from extensive image quality customization options and an attractive, minimalist design.  Monitors meant for professional content creation can benefit from newfangled OLED and Mini-LED monitors, but many stick with the tried-and-true reliability and accuracy of an IPS panel—which, often, makes them less alluring in other situations. BenQ’s PD3225U makes an effort to bridge that gap with an IPS Black panel that improves the monitor’s depth and immersion, yet it retains the class-leading color performance that the most demanding creators require. Further reading: See our roundup of the best monitors to learn about competing products. BenQ PD3225U specs and features The BenQ PD3225U’s most notable feature is the display panel. The monitor boasts a 4K resolution IPS Black panel, a new variant of IPS technology that offers improved contrast compared to earlier IPS displays. This technology previously appeared in monitors from Dell, LG, and Philips, but this is the first BenQ monitor to offer it. Display size: 32-inch widescreen Native resolution: 3840×2160 Panel type: IPS Black Refresh rate: 60Hz Adaptive sync: No HDR: Yes, VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3 with 85 watts Power Delivery, DisplayPort Alternate Mode, 1x Thunderbolt 3-out with 15 watts Power Delivery, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-B upstream, 1x USB-C downstream, 3x USB-A downstream VESA mount: Yes, 100x100mm Speakers: Yes, 2x 2.5 watt speaker Price: $1099.99 MSRP The BenQ PD3225U also features extensive connectivity options through Thunderbolt 3, which supports Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode. Other notable features include a Thunderbolt 3 output that can be used to daisy chain a connection to a second monitor, and built-in 2.5W speakers. Pricing is an obstacle. The PD3225U’s lofty $1099.99 MSRP is hundreds more than most IPS Black competitors. BenQ provides reasons to shell out the extra cash, but the alternatives from Dell and Philips are a better value. BenQ PD3225U design The BenQ PD3225U is a monitor designed for professionals. That focus is evident in its design, which leans on a simple, inoffensive, yet modern look. The monitor has slim bezels on all four sides, minimizing distractions from what’s on-screen, while the neck and base have a stealthy charcoal finish. Flipping the monitor around reveals an expanse of matte black plastic adorned with a small, glossy BenQ logo that only stands out when it catches the light. The monitor comes with a robust stand that offers significant ergonomic adjustment. It can be adjusted for height up to nearly 6 inches (150mm), tilt up to 25 degrees, swivel up to 60 degrees, and pivot up to 90 degrees. It’s an excellent range of adjustments for a stand that ships with a monitor and excels in the amount of swivel and height adjustment available. The backside of the BenQ PD3225U. The backside of the BenQ PD3225U.Matthew Smith / Foundry The backside of the BenQ PD3225U.Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry A 100x100mm VESA mount is also provided for attaching the monitor to a third-party stand or arm. The monitor weighs about 15 pounds without the stand connected, which is heavier than most 32-inch monitors, so a sturdy monitor arm is required to support it. You may not need to replace the stand, though, because the included stand is designed to be unobtrusive. The base of the stand is large, which keeps it stable, but also thin and flat, so the space it occupies on your desk remains as usable as it would be without any monitor at all. That’s especially useful with a monitor meant for a home or corporate office. BenQ PD3225U connectivity and menus The BenQ PD3225U comes with one Thunderbolt 3 input that supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode and delivers up to 85 watts of power. It’s great for connecting a laptop and BenQ highlights compatibility with MacBooks in its marketing. However, competitors like the Dell U2724DE offer Thunderbolt 4, along with greater Power Delivery and Ethernet, so BenQ is a bit behind the curve. The monitor also includes two HDMI 2.0 ports and one DisplayPort 1.4, totaling four video inputs. Additionally, there’s a Thunderbolt 3 output port, which lets you daisy-chain a video connection to a second monitor. It’s useful if you have a laptop with limited video outputs and want to connect multiple monitors without a hub or dock. USB connectivity includes a USB-C downstream port and three USB-A downstream ports. These can be driven through the Thunderbolt 3 port or a USB-B upstream port. A 3.5mm audio jack rounds things out. The USB-C port, as well as one USB-A and the 3.5mm audio jack, are placed on the monitor’s left flank for easy access. This, again, is a decent range of connectivity, but behind connectivity leaders like Dell. BenQ includes a unique puck controller with the PD3225U. It uses a wired connection to a port on the back of the monitor and provides a quicker, easier way to navigate the on-screen menus. A joystick on the rear right flank can also be used to open the menus and change options. It’s a good thing BenQ includes the puck, because there’s no shortage of options to browse. The PD322U offers multiple preset modes targeting specific color gamuts, extensive color customization, and numerous presets for color temperature and gamma that target specific values. The monitor also has more specific features for professional content creators, such as Pantone Connect Premium app compatibility, a uniformity mode that reduces subtle variations in brightness, and a “DualView” mode that lets you view two different color settings side-by-side. A pair of 2.5W speakers round out the monitor’s features. They’re typical for a professional monitor, offering sound quality that’s adequate for podcasts or notification alerts but falls short with music, movies, or games. They’re better than nothing, but external speakers or headphones are preferable. BenQ includes a unique puck controller with the PD3225U, which provides a quicker, easier way to navigate the on-screen menus. BenQ PD3225U SDR image quality Image quality is important for any monitor, but it’s particularly crucial for a monitor like the BenQ PD3225U, which is specifically designed for content creators and professionals requiring an accurate image. Fortunately, the PD3225U excels in this area, offering both excellent color performance and the improved contrast ratio of an IPS Black panel. Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry First up is brightness, where the BenQ PD3225U boasts a strong maximum brightness of 396 nits. This is the second best among the monitors used for comparison, and an excellent result for a monitor targeting office and professional use. The high level of brightness, combined with the display’s matte finish, means the monitor is comfortable to view even in a brightly lit room. Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry Contrast ratio is crucial, and here the BenQ PD3225U scores a significant victory. It achieves a maximum contrast ratio of 2700:1, which is superior to competing monitors, including those that also feature an IPS Black display panel like the Dell U2724DE and the Philips Creator Series 27E2F7901. Credit the monitor’s brightness. Dark areas of the screen are not any darker than on other IPS Black monitors we’ve tested, but the monitor’s respectable brightness enhances the overall contrast ratio. Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry The color gamut performance of the PD3225U is also strong, though not as outstanding as some other features of the monitor. It achieved 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut, 98 percent of DCI-P3, and 88 percent of Adobe RGB, as shown in the graph. These results are in line with other IPS Black monitors, such as those from Philips and Dell. In typical real-world use, the color gamut is certainly high enough to provide a vibrant and clear image, which should suffice for most content creators. However, those who work primarily in the Adobe RGB space might prefer an OLED panel or a monitor with Quantum Dot technology, or even one that combines both, as such monitors tend to achieve a wider color gamut. Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry Matthew Smith / Foundry BenQ scores another win with the color accuracy of the PD3225U, achieving an average Delta E of just 0.43. This is the second lowest color error among the over 900 monitors and computer displays I’ve tested in the past 15 years. Images and videos viewed on the PD3225U look very true to their creators’ intentions, making the monitor excellent for professionals who need assurance that what they see on their screen is accurate. The monitor’s top-tier accuracy extends to color temperature and gamma. It ships with a default color temperature of 6500K, hitting the target we prefer, as the image doesn’t appear too cool or too warm by default. It also achieves a gamma curve of 2.2, which is exactly what we expect for a computer monitor. As mentioned earlier, the PD3225U provides additional color temperature and gamma modes, targeting their own specific values, allowing you to easily customize the display to your preferences and needs. Sharpness is also great thanks to the monitor’s 3840×2160 resolution. A 32-inch monitor with a 3840×2160 resolution has a pixel density of approximately 137 pixels per inch, which is a significant improvement over 1440p or 1080p. Fine text is crisp and 4K videos and images look sharp. To put it simply: The PD3225U’s SDR image quality is outstanding. It looks excellent across a wide variety of content and continues to hold up when placed under scrutiny. The monitor also scores a win over similar monitors from Dell, Philips, and LG, as it achieves a slightly better contrast ratio and superior color accuracy. BenQ PD3225U HDR image quality The BenQ PD3225U is HDR compatible and VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. However, like many similar monitors, its HDR performance fails to impress. I recorded a maximum HDR brightness of 417 nits, which is slightly better than its SDR performance and meets the requirements of its DisplayHDR 400 certification. Yet this level of brightness isn’t enough to handle the enhanced luminance detail that HDR can provide, and HDR films and games often don’t look much better than they would in SDR — just a bit different. Contrast remains an issue, too. While IPS Black does improve the contrast ratio over a standard IPS panel, it’s still not sufficient for handling HDR content. The main problem is that bright areas of the screen will also increase the brightness of darker areas, limiting the contrast and causing dark scenes to look overly bright. To be fair, however, the same problems apply to competitive office and productivity monitors, including the Dell U2724DE and Philips Creator Series 27E2F7901. People who care about HDR in games and movies will be better served by a Mini-LED monitor like the Innocn 27M2V. BenQ PD3225U motion performance The BenQ PD3225U has a 60Hz refresh rate and does not offer adaptive sync for improved fluidity in modern games. As a result, games can appear a bit blurred in motion, and you’ll need to engage V-Sync to eliminate screen tearing or frame pacing issues in 3D games. None of this is a surprise given the PD3225U’s focus. However, Dell’s recent Ultrasharp monitors, which also use an IPS Black panel, do offer a 120Hz refresh rate and adaptive sync. Dell’s Ultrasharp alternatives are a better option if you’re looking for a display that can balance content creation and gaming. Should you buy the BenQ PD3225U? BenQ’s first IPS Black monitor is a top contender. The PD3225U offers excellent brightness, a wide color gamut, and top-tier color accuracy alongside the improved contrast of an IPS Black panel. It also benefits from extensive image quality customization options and an attractive, minimalist design. BenQ remains behind Dell in areas such as motion clarity and connectivity, where Ultrasharp monitors are superior, and the PD3225U is expensive compared to its peers. Yet, if you need superior image quality, as well as the ability to calibrate the monitor to your specific needs, the PD3225U undoubtedly delivers. Monitors
My journey to NYC’s mechanical keyboard mecca
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 10:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
For a few hours on Saturday, a beer hall in Queens was the nerdiest place in New York City. And considering that you can buy Gundam sets in Times Square and see a musical version of Back to the Future on Broadway, that’s saying something.  I spent about three hours on various buses and subways to get from my home in Pennsylvania to the 2024 NYC Mechanical Keyboard Meetup. More than 150 people squeezed into a creaky old meeting place next to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, most bringing at least one keyboard with them, eager to show off and share their mutual love of the bustling hobby.  Michael Crider/IDG Michael Crider/IDG Michael Crider/IDG This isn’t my first keyboard meetup — I’d been to several in Texas before moving, and this event had a lot of commonalities. Long rows of folding tables showed off everyone’s collections and a few wares from small indie creators there to drum up some business. Every keyboard was accompanied by an information card, letting the curious know what parts and techniques were used in its construction.  Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry These events are the best way to see the widest varieties of keyboards possible, from relatively tame builds with standard layouts to vintage decades-old keyboards (the IBM Model M is a perennial favorite) to absolutely wild 100 percent custom hand-built designs. My own entry, a 60 percent Star Trek-themed board with an engraved bamboo case, barely stood out among such variety. Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry There were themed keyboards like mine, going for cute or artsy looks. There were keyboards that were simply as heavy and as elaborate as possible to give the “thocky” typing feel so coveted by fans. There were “Alice” and split layouts to cater to ergonomic tastes, some based on pre-existing designs, some completely customized with 3D-printed cases. And there were novelty boards of every description — impossibly small ones that would take weeks to even learn how to use, and boards designed just to show off the elaborate “artisan” keycap collections.  One of my favorite boards was a relatively innocuous design from a Discord user who goes by The CaptainTim. It uses an ortholiniar Planck layout (meaning that all the columns and rows are straight, instead of staggered like a QWERTY layout). But he’d designed and printed a custom sloping case for his board that included a wrist rest, completely made out of spongy thermoplastic polyurethane, the same light, spongy material that goes into many phone cases. This gave the wrist rest a squishy quality that was super comfy.  This keyboard has a custom 3D-printed case made out of TPU, with a delightfully squishy wrist rest built into the body. This keyboard has a custom 3D-printed case made out of TPU, with a delightfully squishy wrist rest built into the body. Michael Crider/Foundry This keyboard has a custom 3D-printed case made out of TPU, with a delightfully squishy wrist rest built into the body. Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Among many of the vintage examples was something I hadn’t ever seen in person: a keyboard for the SEGA Dreamcast game console. There’s nothing particularly notable about the design or build…except for the proprietary Dreamcast controller connector on the end of it.  The Dreamcast was the first widely available game console with built-in internet connectivity via a dial-up modem, hence the availability of a keyboard and mouse made by SEGA. In addition to browsing the late-’90s web with its own browser (which you had to load on a dedicated CD), the keyboard could be used to play several Dreamcast games in WASD PC fashion, most notably the typing instruction spin-off Typing of the Dead. The owner of the keyboard even brought along a working console if anyone wanted to play.  Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry While there was many a spirited discussion on keyboard design, the intricacies of various switches, and the shared experiences of group buys, what most intrigued me were the indie shops and small businesses that decided to attend the meetup for promotion and direct sales.  I struck up a conversation with a woman who turned her acrylic laser cutter into a side gig. Normally she makes earrings and other accessories, but at the meetup she was showing off adorable Bongo Cat-themed trays for artisan keycaps, and I couldn’t resist getting one for myself. You can see more of her work at her Instagram account, @handmade_by_chen.  Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Michael Crider/Foundry Those artisan keycaps are getting more and more elaborate. Another vendor, AsianJoyCo, was showing off a collection of sushi-themed keycaps with tiny removable plastic foodstuffs. The food parts attach to the tray (which actually sits on the switch) with magnets, allowing you to mix and match for a miniature dining experience.  NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery The most impressive independent vendor at the meetup was Cyboard, makers of “bespoke ergonomic keyboards.” With 3D-printed cases custom-designed via CAD software and tons of options available on their website, these truly unique split boards range from around $200 to $700 for the most elaborate, labor-intensive designs.  Cyboard Cyboard Cyboard For five minutes at a time, the hall came to a stop to allow the organizer to engage in the most exciting part of the meetup: giveaways. Sponsors for the event gave away door prizes at random, including collections of rare switches, stylish desk mats, and even a few entire keyboards.  Most of these would easily surpass the value of the $20 event price, something that I haven’t seen at other meetups, but which is understandable given the space and attendance limitations for the NYC venue. I tried to attend last year’s meetup, but a bit of hesitation meant that all the tickets were gone before I could buy one.  NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery NYC Keyboard Meetup Gallery All in all it was a wonderful time, and I’d highly recommend checking out your local meetup if you’re as obsessed with this hobby as I am. (And if you fall into that category, I might also humbly suggest you keep an eye on our reviews and our constantly updated mechanical keyboard roundup.) There’s a list of upcoming events and links to sign up for them at If you can’t find one there, Google for nearby cities or universities — there’s bound to be something not too far away. Further reading: The best mechanical keyboards we’ve tested the best mechanical keyboard overall Keychron Q3 Max keyboard Read our review Price When Reviewed: $214 Best Prices Today: $214 at Keychron US Keyboards
Save more than $200 on Microsoft Project with this Flash Sale
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Getting projects done on time and under budget is crucially important to businesses. That’s why they hire project managers. But project managers can’t do it alone. Tools like Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for Windows can help any business leader manage their time and staff more effectively. For the next few days, you can get it for just $19.97. Microsoft Project has earned a 4.4/5-star rating from both Capterra and GetApp. The software comes loaded with pre-built templates to help you start and manage all kinds of projects. From managing staff with timesheets and scheduling tools to running what-if scenarios to play out hypotheticals and make the best decisions for your project, Microsoft Project gives you all kinds of tools to improve productivity and stay on task. Simplify complex projects. From 4/18 through 11:59 pm PT on 4/22, you can get Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for Windows for just $19.97 (reg. $249).   Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for Windows – $19.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
This AI-powered text-to-speech toolkit is now more than $150 off
Fri, 19 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
In the fast-paced modern working world, we’re all looking for ways to save time and increase productivity. With the Jott Pro AI Text & Speech Toolkit, you can simplify workflows by processing text and recordings much faster. Now through 4/21, you can get it for more than $150 off. Jott Pro is a text and audio processor that allows you to transform spoken words into written text with extreme accuracy by leveraging its neural AI technology.  Likewise, you can also convert text to lifelike speech, or translate text into almost any language you want. Whether you need to transcribe meetings, adapt materials for an international audience, or glean information from infographics and other image-based assets, Jott can help. Save time and scale your productivity. Now through 11:59 pm PT on 4/21, you can get a lifetime license to the Jott Pro AI Text & Speech Toolkit for just $34.97 (reg. $199).   Jott Pro AI Text & Speech Toolkit: Lifetime License – $34.97 See Deal accStackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
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