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SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless review: A premium, function-packed gaming mouse
Mon, 16 May 2022 16:00:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
At a glanceExpert’s Rating Pros18 easily programmable buttonsWeighs only 89 gramsQuick and responsiveDual Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wirelessConsSome buttons on the side grid are hard to reachOur VerdictThe SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is lightweight and quick, and includes plenty of customizable options for serious MMO/MOBA gamers. It’s one of the best mice we’ve tested. Price When Reviewed$149.99 Best Prices Today: SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless Retailer Price Delivery $112.99 Free View Dell Home $149.99 Free View Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is a rare find among gaming mice in that it has 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89 grams. These two factors alone should delight gamers—especially MOBA and MMO players looking for more buttons to deploy commands and macros. Even better, the Aerox 9 Wireless backs this up with a quick 18,000 CPI sensor and dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The secret sauce to its lightweight design is a honeycomb-mesh covering that runs almost the entire length of the mouse. Apart from keeping its weight in check, this design also gives the Aerox 9 Wireless a futuristic look, and provides a brilliant birds-eye view of the flashy RGB lighting inside. The Aerox 9 Wireless is also extremely comfortable—as long as you use a palm or fingertip grip. If you’re more of a claw-grip player, this mouse probably isn’t for you, since its punctuated top can be a little awkward against your fingertips. SteelSeries Aerox 9 design and build Opening the box, my first impression was that the mouse is fairly large, but has a minimalist profile. There are no fancy curves, flaps or flares like you might see in other gaming mice. The 18 buttons seem very well placed for one’s fingers. Apart from the two main ones on the top, there’s a button that’s easily reachable by your middle finger at the top-center behind the mouse wheel. This button lets you cycle through five different CPI profiles that adjust the mouse’s sensitivity levels. The mouse wheel itself has three buttons in one, including both left and right tilt buttons, but the main body of buttons is a grid of 12 located on the left-hand side. This grid is accessible via your thumb and is colored gray, which contrasts nicely with the mouse’s black matte aesthetic.   The Aerox 9’s top mesh design will be familiar to gamers who’ve used the similarly designed SteelSeries Aerox 5. If you haven’t, you’d be forgiven for thinking it compromises functionality. This is simply not the case. Despite its plenitude of holes, the mouse is remarkably sturdy. The top mesh didn’t move an iota when I tested it, holding its form during intense gameplay. The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless boasts a honeycomb top that helps the mouse achieve its 89 gram lightweight design. Dominic Bayley/IDG The RBG lighting is also a winner. It’s internalized in the mouse body, but it’s no less impressive than in mice that have external RGB lighting. It’s split into three pyramidal zones, which produce some dazzling effects as the light ripples around the mouse’s inner circuitry.   Being able to peer inside and see all that circuitry unnerved me a little at first, since I often keep a cup of coffee just inches away from my mouse pad and was a little concerned about spillage. But according to SteelSeries, the internals are protected by an IP54-rated Aquabarrier, which helped put my mind at ease. One surprising benefit of the unique “open top” design was that my hand got less sweaty on hot days. Without a solid lump of plastic beneath it, the extra aeration proved very comfortable in extended gaming sessions. SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless Performance SteelSeries has armed the Aerox 9 Wireless with its highly capable proprietary 18,000 CPI TrueMove Air sensor, which includes 400 IPS tracking and 40G acceleration. Admittedly, it isn’t as quick as the Razer Naga Pro’s 20,000 DPI optical sensor. Still, it’s proven itself worthy in other competitive SteelSeries gaming mice and it performed well in my tests. Trying out the Aerox 9 Wireless in Call of Duty: Black Ops, it felt light and easy to move. The sensor had no problems keeping up with my rapid hand movements, be they long or short. The mouse’s tracking also seemed highly accurate, and pinpointing targets was a breeze. Plus, the solid, high-shaped top provided plenty of stability in my palm grip when I needed to make repetitive movements. Helping the Aerox 9 glide smoothly across my desk are PTFE glide skates on the underside. There’s one in the front and back, as well as one around the mouse’s sensor. These worked like a dream, even when I wasn’t using a mouse mat. The honeycomb design gives the Aerox 9 extra aeration, making it very comfortable in extended gaming sessions. Dominic Bayley/IDG The main buttons felt comfortable, too. They have a contoured center that cradled my fingers perfectly in a natural grip. However, they aren’t the widest of buttons, and gamers with large fingers may prefer a little more room here. While most premium gaming mice feature comparably fast switches, there can be subtle variations in how they respond and in their durability. SteelSeries has given the Aerox 9’s Golden Micro IP54 mechanical switches an 80 million click durability rating, which is 10 million clicks more than the Razer Naga Pro. To me, they felt soft and clicky. They also had minimal travel, which was ideal for games in which I needed to click fast.   To test the side grid of buttons (which are without mechanical switches), I mapped commands in an old favorite MMORPG, Gloria Victis. On the whole, the grid was a pleasure to use and greatly simplified my gameplay. The majority of buttons were easy to find and responsive. However, I did find myself having to stretch my thumb out to reach for buttons 3 and 6—this despite SteelSeries having neatly arranged the buttons in three clearly defined lines. Still, this was never a major problem that affected my gameplay. On the upside, the grid buttons are quite firm, so you’re unlikely to trigger them by mistake when you don’t want to. Aerox 9’s dual connectivity includes both Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wireless options. As a laptop reviewer, I found this functionality incredibly useful for jumping between laptops. I could keep the dongle inserted for gaming in one rig and use Bluetooth while writing a review on another. You will need to make sure your laptop has a USB-C port to plug in the Wi-Fi dongle, though.      The SteelSeries Aerox 9 is rated for 150 hours of battery life, which is a decent amount of time that won’t see you rushing to plug it in every time you play. The caveat is that that battery life is the maximum when RGB lighting is switched off, so expect it to drain down a lot faster when lighting is activated. SteelSeries GG Software If you typically find yourself spending time customizing a gaming mouse, make it this one. With so many buttons to map, the Aerox 9 Wireless can be a game changer in MMO/MOBA games where you seldom have enough. Conveniently, the 18 buttons can be assigned commands or macros at the level of the SteelSeries GG app, rather than having to fiddle around within each game’s controls menu. This will save you a heap of time. For Gloria Victis I mapped out commands for Interact, Kick, Display Map, Sheathe/Unsheathe Weapon and Bandage Ally, and I still had many more buttons left over that I could have programmed in. This took just two minutes but made a world of difference to my gameplay. Here we see all the programming options for mapping buttons to Gloria Victis. Dominic Bayley/IDG RGB lighting zones, mouse sensitivity and responsiveness can also be quickly changed in SteelSeries GG. For mouse responsiveness, you can fine tune and adjust the polling rate and the mouse’s acceleration or deceleration to find a desired setting. Once you’ve set things exactly the way you want, you can then just simply save the profiles in the “configuration” column on the left-hand side of the app. Switching mouse profiles before games is as simple as clicking on the right profile—it really couldn’t be more straightforward. SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless: Should you buy it? The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is an ingeniously designed wireless gaming mouse that features 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89g. The mouse’s extensive button options, quick sensor and dual connectivity should make it a highly attractive mouse for both competitive and casual gamers, especially MMO and MOBA gamers who can map commands and macros all day long. We can’t recommend it highly enough. Mice
Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme
Mon, 16 May 2022 15:00:28 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Whether you’re buying a new laptop for school or trying to find a high-end gaming laptop, it’s possible to find good laptop deals no matter the season. We’re scouring the web daily to find the laptop deals you don’t want to miss. Mind you, not all advertised laptop deals are actually deals, so we’ve only included the ones we consider actual bargains—and we’ve explained why. We’ll add new laptop deals as we see them daily and remove any expired sales. Right now, we’re seeing strong discounts on gaming laptops, Microsoft Surface devices, and more. If you’re looking for Chromebooks we’ve got those deals in here too! We’ve provided a handy list of laptop-specific shopping tips at the end of this post, and immediately below are the deals themselves. The best laptop deals in 2022 Acer Chromebook Spin 514 Acer From: Best Buy Was: $499 Now: $289 ($210 off) Android apps on Chromebooks are helpful, but there’s no question that using a mobile app with a trackpad can be a little odd. With this deal, you won’t have to worry about that. The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 features a 14-inch 1080p touchscreen. Powering it is AMD’s Ryzen 3 3250C, which has two cores, four threads, and a boost to 3.5GHz. It also has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. This is a very useful device at a great price, and Google’s auto updates are guaranteed for this device until June 2029. See the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 at Best Buy MSI Katana GF66 MSI From: Microsoft (via eBay) Was: $1,099.99 Now: $657.99 ($442 off) This laptop is quite a bargain, but we’re not sure how long it’ll last. This version of the MSI Katana features a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. It has a Core i5-11400H with six cores, twelve threads, and a boost to 4.5GHz. The GPU is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. That means you can play 1080p games at high and sometimes down to medium with the occasional game at ultra. For RAM, you have 8GB, which is the bare minimum you need for gaming. Onboard storage is a 512GB SSD. It’s running Windows 10, but it should be just fine for Windows 11 when the time comes. See the MSI Katana GF66 at eBay MSI Sword MSI From: Best Buy Was: $1,199.99 Now: $899.99 ($300 off) Most of the other laptops with a 3050 Ti in this round-up are $750 to $800. However, the MSI Sword has the added advantage of a higher-end processor. Namely, the Intel Core i7-11800H, which has eight cores, sixteen threads, and a boost to 4.6GHz. The display is 15.6-inch at 1080p resolution with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. This allows for smoother visual experiences, which leads us to the GPU. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti is good for 1080p gaming, but it’s not perfect. There will be times when you’ll need to bring the graphics down to high or medium to exceed 60 frames-per-second. However, it’ll be worth it for the added visuals. For RAM, the MSI Sword is packing 8GB. That’s a little low, so you may want to check on whether the RAM is upgradeable. 8GB is just fine, but 16GB hits the sweet spot between usability and overkill. For storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD. That’s enough for a few games and you can always look into external storage if necessary. Last but not least, this PC is running Windows 10 but it’s Windows 11 ready. See the MSI Sword at Best Buy Asus TUF Asus From: Best Buy Was: $999 Now: $699.99 ($249.01 off) Are you in the market for a budget gaming laptop? If so, the Asus TUF laptop is an awesome choice. The CPU is a Core i5-11260H, which has six cores, twelve threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. The RAM is 8GB, which is a little low. However, you may be able to upgrade the RAM yourself if don’t mind a little DIY. For onboard storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD. This will help keep your laptop relatively zippy. As for the GPU, the TUF is armed with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. This is a good GPU for 1080p gaming, but you’ll have to dial down the graphics depending on the game. The good news is that it’ll be worth the sacrifice, as the GPU can push out more frames and the 17.3-inch display has a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. This should result in a smoother visual experience. See the Asus TUF gaming laptop at Best Buy Lenovo Chromebook S330 Lenovo From: Amazon Was: $200.41 Now: $188 ($12.41 off) The Lenovo Chromebook S330 is nice sub-$200 deal. However, it might underperform compared to Intel-powered Chromebooks. This one is powered by a MediaTek MT8173C processor, a budget ARM-based quad-core SoC. These Chromebooks aren’t as snappy as their Intel-based counterparts, but they’re still very usable, especially if you stick to Chrome OS. This laptop will run the Android App Store and Linux desktop apps. The S330 has a 14-inch display with 1080p resolution, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. It also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 720p webcam. Security and feature support for this Chromebook runs out in June 2025. See the Lenovo Chromebook S330 at Amazon Gateway GWTN141 Gateway From: Walmart Was: $499 Now: $399 ($100 off) The Gateway GWTN141 would make an excellent productivity machine. It’s a 14.1-inch laptop with 1080p resolution and the processor is the Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2Ghz. The CPU is also loaded with Iris Xe Graphics. The laptop has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. It also has a fingerprint scanner, and it’s running Windows 10 Home (it’s Windows 11-ready). See the Gateway GWTN141 at Walmart Acer Swift 3 Acer From: Walmart Was: $799.99 Now: $499 ($300.99 off) The Acer Swift 3 would be an excellent laptop for work or study. It’s part of the Evo platform, so it’s light enough for travel. The display’s resolution is 2256-by-1504 and the processor is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7, which has four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe onboard storage. There’s a fingerprint reader for biometric login, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 access, and the keyboard has backlighting. See the Acer Swift 3 at Walmart HP Chromebook x2 HP From: Best Buy Was: $599 Now: $299 ($300 off) The HP Chromebook x2 11 features a lightweight form factor and all-day battery life. It also has a fingerprint reader, a detachable keyboard and kickstand, and a rechargeable pen. As for performance, this Chrome OS tablet is capable of handling general use tasks such as web surfing and writing papers. The 11-inch touch-enabled display has a resolution is 2160-by-1440. You can expect a rather vibrant picture. This Chromebook uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor. It’s running ChromeOS, but you can still download apps from the Play Store. However, Linux is running the ARM version. This may restrict which apps you can use, but finding the major applications or a usable alternative shouldn’t be a problem. Last but not least, it’s packing 8GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. See the HP Chromebook x2 at Best Buy Dell G15 Dell From: Dell.com Was: $1,284.98 Now: $799.99 ($484.99 off) The gaming laptop deals just keep on rolling in. The Dell G15 has a Ryzen 7 5800H and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. The Zen 3 CPU has eight cores, sixteen threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. The 3050 Ti, on the other hand, is a solid option for 1080p gaming. The display is 15.6 inches with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. To hit that height, however, you’ll likely need to tone down the graphics from ultra in some games. This laptop is also packing 8GB of RAM. To get the price quoted above, make sure you select the 512GB of storage option. See the Dell G15 at Dell.com Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Lenovo From: Office Depot Was: $629.99 Now: $299.99 ($330 off) If you’re in the market for an affordable Windows laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a good option. The CPU is a Core i3-1115G4, which has two cores, four threads and a boost to 4.1GHz. It’s packing 8GB and storage is a 1TB hard drive. Yes we said hard drive, not NVMe storage. That’s one of the trade-offs with this laptop. You get a lot of storage, sure, but it’s the old school kind. This laptop is zippy enough for lighter tasks like web browsing and email, but it’s not a powerhouse. So, if you need a productivity machine, then this laptop is well worth considering. See the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i at Office Depot Acer Aspire 5 Acer From: Walmart Was: $499.99 Now: $399 ($100.99 off) If you’re looking for a solid travel laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 would be a good fit. It has a 14-inch 1080p display and the processor is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. This laptop is packing 8GB of RAM to keep things snappy and 256GB of NVMe storage. That’s not a ton, but for travel it’s fine. The CPU is very good for office applications or regular web browsing and video streaming. The laptop also has Wi-Fi 6 and Windows 11 Home. The deal only applies to the Safari Gold version. See the Acer Aspire 5 at Walmart Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook Gateway From: Walmart Was: $499 Now: $399 ($100 off) The Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook features a 15.6-inch 1080p display and an AMD Ryzen 7 3700U with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This is a nice well-rounded laptop with a good amount of storage that’ll easily help you get some work down whether you need something for travel or school. See the Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook at Walmart Gateway Creator Notebook Gateway From: Walmart Was: $1,169 Now: $699 ($470 off) The Gateway Creator Notebook is a serviceable 15.6-inch 1080p gaming clamshell. It features an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-11400H, which has six cores, twelve threads and a 4.5GHz boost clock. The GPU is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. It also has 16GB of onboard RAM and a 512GB SSD. There’s a few extras you get with this rig like a Windows Hello-ready IR camera, THX Spatial Audio, and a free month of Xbox Game Pass for PC. It’s a pretty good deal all around, so don’t miss out. See the Gateway Creator Notebook at Walmart Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400 Asus From: Walmart Was: $749 Now: $599 ($150 off) If you’re into creative work, the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 is a fantastic option. This laptop has a 14-inch 2880-by-1800 OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. OLED screens are great, so you can expect a sharper image. The Vivobook is also packing a Core i5-1330H, a Tiger Lake CPU with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. There’s even 8GB of RAM, which is a good amount for some video editing. Onboard storage is a 256GB NVMe SSD, and you’re getting Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. This is a nice laptop with a very good display, but for storage you’ll likely have to rely mostly on the cloud. Speaking of which, you also get a free, three month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud as part of the package. See the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400 at Walmart Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Lenovo From: Micro Center Was: $949.99 Now: $499.99 ($450 off) The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 has a 14-inch 1080p IPS display with an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 driving it. The CPU has four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive. This is a solid laptop for getting some work done. It doesn’t have a special GPU, but you might be able to get some casual gaming out of this with the onboard Iris Xe graphics. It’s a great laptop for general use and you can’t really beat the price, either. See the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 at Micro Center Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Lenovo From: Micro Center Was: $999.99 Now: $749.99 ($250 off) Micro Center is famous for its awesome deals that are pick-up only, but this particular laptop is actually shipping. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming laptop has a Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, which is a Zen 3 processor with eight cores, sixteen threads, and a maximum boost to 4.4GHz. It has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. The GPU is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, which is a dependable enough 1080p card. You should be able to play most games on high graphics, perhaps dipping down to medium on particularly demanding games. The display is 15.6 inches with 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. It also has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. See the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming at Micro Center HP 17-cn0273st  HP From: Staples Was: $599.99 Now: $429.99 ($170 off) Getting a solid workhorse computer with a good amount of storage for under $500 isn’t easy these days, but the HP 17 laptop is one of those rare finds. It includes a quad-core, eight-thread Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i3-1125G4 CPU with a maximum boost to 3.7GHz. It’s also packing 8GB of RAM, which is a good amount for productivity tasks. As for storage, this HP has 512GB, which is rare for a sub-$500 computer. It’s also rocking a 17.3-inch display at 1080p. The laptop is running Windows 11 Home, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading this one. See the HP 17-cn0273st at Staples HP Victus 16 HP From: Walmart Was: Unknown Now: $699 The HP Victus 16 is a nice little AMD-based 1080p gaming machine. The CPU is a Ryzen 5 5600H. That’s a Zen 3 processor with six cores, twelve threads, and a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz. The processor will do nicely for gaming and productivity. The laptop is also packing 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The 16.1-inch IPS display has a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 60Hz. The graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon RX 5500M. It’s all about bringing AMD’s RDNA architecture to budget gaming in a capable package. You should expect good 1080p gaming, though you might not be able to run every game with the graphics maxed out. It’s not a high-end machine, but it’ll get the job done for under $700. See the HP Victus 16 at Walmart Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Gateway From: Walmart Was: $449.99 Now: $249 ($200.99 off) Bargain basement laptops are a beautiful thing, especially if you need a laptop that performs well while and can survive getting banged around a bit during your travels. This affordable Gateway at Walmart features a Ryzen 3 3250U processor, which has two cores, four threads and a max boost to 3.5GHz. It’s also rocking 128GB of onboard storage, 4GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch 1080p display. This laptop ships with Windows 10 S, which can only run apps found in the digital Microsoft store, but you can go to full Windows 10 via a one-way free upgrade. See the Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim at Walmart Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Lenovo From: Walmart.com Was: $699 Now: $419 ($280 off) The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is well priced. It features a 14-inch 1080p display and a quad-core, eight-thread Intel “Comet Lake” Core i5-10210U with a boost to 4.2GHz. It’s packing just 8GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage. This laptop is also running Windows 11 Home, so there’s no need to worry about upgrades. If you want a larger screen, Walmart has an alternative version of this model with a 15.6-inch 1080p display for $433.89. That said, you get only 4GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. The CPU is newer but has fewer cores with the dual-core, four-thread Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i3-1115G4 that boosts to 4.1Ghz. See the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i at Walmart Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ Mark Hachman/IDG From: Walmart Was: $929.99 Now: $599 ($330.99 off) If you’re looking for a well designed Windows tablet, there’s no beating Microsoft’s Surface line and this Walmart’s sale offers an excellent bargain. This version of the Surface Pro 7+ comes with a Core i3 processor, 128GB of onboard storage, 8GB of RAM, and a black Type Cover. We reviewed the Surface Pro 7+ nearly a year ago, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars and an Editors’ Choice Award. We called it “the most potent upgrade Microsoft’s Surface Pro line has offered in years.” See the Surface Pro 7+ at Walmart HP 17-by4061nr HP From: Walmart Was: $679 Now: $499 ($180 off) This HP laptop has a lot going for it. The CPU is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads and a boost to 4.2GHz. The processor is packing Iris Xe graphics, which will provide surprising performance for an integrated GPU. It also has 8GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 1080p display. If need a new laptop to kick off 2022, then this is a nice choice. See the HP 17-by4061nr at Walmart Asus L510 Asus From: Walmart Was: $279 Now: $219 ($60 off) This deal puts us in an odd position. We’re not huge fans of laptops with just 128GB of onboard storage (especially this one’s onboard eMMC storage) and generally don’t recommend Windows PCs running Celeron processors. For a price around $200, however, we’re willing to overlook these shortcomings but with some big caveats. First, you’ll get exactly what you pay for with this clamshell, but that just might be a good thing given the price. It’s running Windows 10 Home in S Mode and we would not recommend upgrading this laptop to regular Windows 10. Instead, use this laptop like a Chromebook, so focus on using it for web apps like Google Docs or Office Online. Then, if you absolutely need a desktop program download, run whatever you need from the selection in the Windows Store. We wouldn’t try editing a photo on this since it has just 4GB of RAM and deathly slow flash storage. Still, the Intel Celeron N4020 will get the job done for basic uses and a 15.6-inch 1080p display offers a bigger display than what you’d get from a Chromebook around the same price. See the Asus L510 at Walmart Laptop deal buying tips If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available. A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 10-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-10510U, or the Core i7-11800H (for even more details see our Intel 10th-gen mobile CPU buying guide); or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart. Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook. Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary. Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible. Updated on May 16 with additional deals, and to remove expired deals. Laptops
Add some pizzaz to your photos with 30% off Adobe Photoshop Elements
Mon, 16 May 2022 14:41:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Today is a great day to bump up your photo editing game for a lot less. Right now, Amazon is selling Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 for $70. That’s $30 off the usual price. It’s not clear how long this deal will last, but it likely won’t be for long. This isn’t the best price we’ve seen, but it’s still an excellent deal at $30 off. We haven’t reviewed this version of Elements, but we’ve always liked the editing suite. If you’re not familiar with it, Elements is a stripped down, more user friendly version of Photoshop. It’s a popular suite because it’s designed to make personal photos look much better or add some novelties to them. There are a few Elements 2022 features that are really fun to use. You can, for example, “warp” a photo to fit into any shape. Adobe uses an example fitting a reflected image into a pair of sunglasses. The suite has an extended background guided edit that lets you stretch out the background of a photo to make it a good size for your needs. There are also guided edits for improving pet photos and a moving overlays feature that puts animations on top of your images such as falling snow or leaves. A number of Elements’ features use Adobe’s Sense AI technology, which adds some smart automation to advanced editing tasks. [Today’s deal: Adobe Photoshop Elements for $70 at Amazon.] Gear, Photoshop
Oops! Intel beta driver shows up to 7 Arc desktop GPUs in the works
Mon, 16 May 2022 14:38:55 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
We might have to wait a while before gamers can get their hands on Intel’s initial offering of Arc discrete graphics cards for desktop PCs. But when they arrive, they might be a lot more plentiful and varied than we thought. The latest all-in-one Intel graphics driver lists a whopping seven different models of Arc desktop GPU, most of which haven’t been officially documented before. The list of supported hardware in the 30.0.101.1732 beta driver was spotted by WCCFTech after oft-reliable leaker Momomo_US broke it down on Twitter. Alongside existing Xe, UHD, and mobile graphics, we can see eight distinct desktop GPU models listed: Arc Pro A50Arc Pro A40Arc A770Arc A750Arc A580Arc A380Arc A310We already knew Intel was planning split releases in 3/5/7 series, a la the naming scheme for the Core series of CPUs. The “Arc Pro” series is a bit of a surprise, perhaps intended for workstation desktops, a la Nvidia’s Quadro cards. We know that low-end desktop cards (the A310 and A380, presumably) will launch first in prebuilt PCs in China this summer, with more expensive cards coming to wider markets later this year. The list includes five mobile Arc GPUs, the A350M, A370M, A550M, A730M, and A770M, which have already been documented. The A370M has already been released in a few laptops, competing at approximately the same graphical power as Nvidia’s RTX 3050 laptop cards. It’s worth pointing out that just because a GPU is listed in driver software, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be manufactured and sold. But given the confirmation we’ve already seen for the three tiers of consumer graphics cards Intel is preparing, this seems like a fairly safe rough guide for releases this year. (Or possibly early 2023, if supply chain issues are especially nasty.) More complete rumored specifications are floating out there, indicating additional models like an Arc A780. Leaks point towards Intel aiming to compete with the GeForce RTX 3070 on the top of its high-end offerings, all the way down to budget cards like the Radeon RX 6400 on the low end. Of course, availability, price, and technical capability will determine how competitive Intel’s first generation of Arc cards really are. GPUs
Is your Windows key reusable? Here’s how to find out
Mon, 16 May 2022 14:30:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
You might know your version of Windows (i.e., Windows Home or Windows Pro), but do you know if it’s a retail, OEM, or volume license? That distinction affects your ability to move the key to a different computer. Retail keys are the most flexible type of license. You’re allowed to reuse such a key on different computers. (However, you can’t use a single license on multiple computers simultaneously.) So if you build a whole new PC, you can move the license over to it with no hassle. OEM keys are used by manufacturers to activate a new PC. They’re intended for just one computer only, so they’re tied to the hardware of the system (usually the motherboard) that the key is used on. Volume keys are licenses purchased by entities like governments, schools, and corporations. An IT administrator determines which machines have an active license. This PC has a retail license for Windows 10.PCWorld The quickest way to find out your license type is by opening the Command Prompt in Windows 10 or 11, then entering slmgr.vbs /dlv. To bring up the Command Prompt, just click the Start button, type “command prompt,” and hit enter. After a moment, a screen will appear that says which channel your license belongs to. By the way—despite OEM license restrictions, you can actually reactivate an OEM key on changed hardware. This option is primarily meant for people whose hardware has unexpectedly bit the dust, and a replacement has been swapped in. People who’ve tied the key to a Microsoft account will have the smoothest experience doing this, but you can also use the product key as well. Windows, Windows 10, Windows 11
Grab a Vizio soundbar for just $100, today only
Mon, 16 May 2022 13:58:43 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
It’s a great day to improve your home entertainment set-up. Woot via Amazon is selling the refurbished Vizio V-Series 2.1 channel soundbar for $100, today only. That’s $29 off the most recent price. The deal ends just before midnight Pacific time on Monday. It’s normal to be a little squeamish about refurbished products, but Amazon offers a few guarantees. First, it has a 90-day guarantee for replacement or refund. Amazon also guarantees there are no visible defects when you hold the product at arm’s length. We haven’t reviewed this particular soundbar, but it’s generally well liked. On Amazon, this soundbar has 4.5 out of 5 stars from close to 400 ratings. This device supports DTX Virtual:X sound, and there are three “full-range” speakers inside. The package also has a 5-inch wireless subwoofer to add a little boom to the room. This soundbar can be integrated with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for voice control. It also has Bluetooth if you’d like to play some music through the soundbar. Overall, this is a great way to improve the sound on your TV for $100. [Today’s deal: Vizio V-Series 2.1 Channel Soundbar for $100 at Amazon.] Gear, Home Audio
Best laptops under $500: Best overall, best OLED laptop, and more
Mon, 16 May 2022 10:45:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
So, you’ve come here looking for a laptop under $500. Luckily for you, the PCWorld team has been ramping up its coverage of budget, sub-$500 laptops over the last couple of months. Laptops at this price point often come with compromises, so it’s important to shop smart. In this category, you’ll typically find Windows machines with Intel Core i3 or i5 processors or low-powered Chromebooks. While every pick in our list below has its pros and cons, one Windows laptop really stood out from the rest: The Acer Aspire 5. Not only is the Aspire 5 Windows PC reasonably priced, it also offers a good variety of ports and a comfortable keyboard. The Core i5 processor keeps things relatively snappy and the 1080p display is bright. If you’re looking for something different, we’ve got a couple of Chromebook options, including a tablet with a detachable keyboard and a convertible with a fancy OLED display. These specific machines run on low-powered processors, so you can expect good battery life. And being Chromebooks, they’re less vulnerable to malware. Read on to get the best bang for your buck in a budget laptop. If you’re able to stretch your budget a bit more, check out our best laptops roundup, as it has more Windows PC options. Acer Aspire 5 – Best sub-$500 laptop overall Pros Affordable price Rugged build Great keyboard Good selection of ports Cons Subpar webcam Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed Touchpad is a little hard to use MSRP: $369 (base model) $499 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $449.99 at Amazon | $499 at Walmart With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent sub-$500 option. The Intel Core i5 processor keeps things relatively zippy, and performance is fast enough for general-use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web. The 14-inch LCD 1080p display is reasonably sharp and vibrant, which is great for working on documents or streaming video. This machine also comes with 8GB of RAM, which is plenty for quickly firing up applications. The keyboard is rather nice, too. In our review, the tester was pleasantly surprised by the keyboard’s “durable feel.” It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Although the keyboard lacks backlighting (not surprising given the price) and the touchpad is a bit difficult to use, we feel the pros far outweigh the cons here. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look. Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 – Best sub-$500 Chromebook Pros Attractive design Affordable Punchy audio Excellent keyboard Cons Mediocre performance Subpar battery life MSRP: $389 Best Prices Today: $382.00 at Amazon | $409.99 at Lenovo | $419.00 at Best Buy Between its reasonable price and superb keyboard, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is nice all-arounder. Thanks to the Intel Pentium Gold 7505 processor, this Chromebook is equipped to handle web browsing, editing documents, and other simple tasks. However, according to our review, it can “feel taxed by demanding tasks.” For example when the tester opened up multiple tabs, he noticed some lag in performance. The port selection is a nice combination of old and new: It has two USB-C ports, a single USB-A port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen is a big perk at this price point, too. Regarding the keyboard, our tester liked the “crisp and taut” feel of the keys. It’s fairly comfortable, making it suitable for marathon typing sessions. Although this laptop is a 2-in-1—meaning the screen can fold back to make it function more like a tablet—it weighs just about 3 pounds, which is on the heavier side for a convertible. It may not be the most portable laptop in the world, but that flexibility can still be nice for applications that favor a tablet form factor. Overall, the Flex 5 has a lot going for it. Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook Pros Gorgeous 2K touchscreen Solid performance Excellent battery life Robust design Cons Trackpad is too sensitive at times Light on ports MSRP: $599 Best Prices Today: $379.00 at Best Buy | $479.99 at HP Yes, another Chromebook—but the HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 machines you can buy, considering its cheap price. While some may find the detachable-keyboard design a pain to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet for hands-free use, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook: zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on. The x2 11 is powered by a Snapdragon 7c processor, which is better than the MediaTek chips you’ll find in most Chromebooks. That said, the Intel Core i3 in Windows machines is simply more powerful by default. This HP also packs 8GB of RAM, which helps with web browser performance, among other tasks. The 11-inch 1440p touchscreen is on the smaller side, but that just means it’s lighter and more portable than bigger display options. Plus, the 1440p resolution is truly beautiful. According to the tester, colors were rich and shadows were quite dark. Read our full HP Chromebook x2 11 review Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5 – Best sub-$500 Chromebook for OLED fans Pros Gorgeous screen  Amazing battery life  Good price Cons Awkward aspect ratio No fingerprint or face scanning MSRP: $500 Best Prices Today: $389.99 at Lenovo | $399.00 at Best Buy The Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5, a Chrome OS tablet that doubles as a laptop, has a solid keyboard and drop-dead gorgeous 1080p OLED display that produces colorful images. Although the screen’s 16:9 aspect ratio might feel awkward for some, it would be perfect for watching movies. Lenovo’s keys have a decent travel distance of 1.3mm and the detachable keyboard as a whole doesn’t feel too cramped. There’s also a kickstand that can be adjusted up to 135 degrees. The one tradeoff is that the USI-compatible pen costs extra. Let’s take a peek under the hood. For starters, this Chromebook is armed with a Snapdragon SC7180 processor. Again, it’s more powerful than the MediaTek chips. When it comes to opening up applications and web pages, the 8GB of memory offers a nice boost in speed. There’s 128GB of storage, but that’s not majorly important, as you’ll store most things in the cloud. But the star of the show here is the 1080p OLED panel, which makes every little pixel really pop. If you’re after a gorgeous OLED screen with amazing contrast and color, the Duet 5 will hit the spot. Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5 review How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads.What kind of laptop should you get? Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your lifestyle and your expectations of a sub-$500 machine. At this price point, you’re not going to find a powerful workhorse. However, there are plenty of affordable laptops out there for those who need the basics. Chromebooks, for example, are a great low-cost option and offer phenomenal battery life. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop that weighs less than three pounds. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick buying tips below. Laptop type: There are many different laptop types that fall in the sub-$500 category: clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks come in various shapes and sizes, and exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS. With a Chromebook, all you need is a Gmail account and, boom, you’re in. CPU: When it comes to the sub-$500 Windows laptops, you can expect to find Intel Core i3 or i5 processors. An i5 processor obviously provides a little more oomph. That said, basic office and web work does just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. For Chromebooks, Snapdragon and Pentium processors are more powerful than MediaTek chips. Graphics: At this price range, you probably won’t find a laptop with a powerful discrete graphics card. Instead, you’ll encounter laptops with integrated graphics, which are integrated with the CPU and use less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive—like 3D gaming.RAM: Always go for 8GB of RAM. That’s plenty enough for firing up applications and loading web pages. Most Chromebooks are equipped with 4GB of RAM, which is the bare minimum. You need a decent amount of memory on these machines, as they’re primarily web-based. If there’s an 8GB RAM option, I’d recommend springing for that. Display size: If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches (but these machines usually cost far more than $500). The sweet spot for budget laptops is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.Resolution: I wouldn’t go for anything less than 1080p, as there’s nothing more annoying than a slightly fuzzy image. 1080p produces a picture that’s sharp enough for watching Netflix or working in Excel. At this price range, you won’t really find many (if any) laptops with 1440p resolution or higher.Battery life: If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop.Price: The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are a good choice for students or young professionals. If you shop smart, you can even find 2-in-1’s in the $500 range. Ports: A wide array of ports is always a plus, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for hooking up to an external monitor. Laptops
You should be using FancyZones, Microsoft’s killer multitasking app
Mon, 16 May 2022 10:30:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Every so often, a tool comes along that changes how you work, and makes you wish that you’d started using it sooner. For me, that tool is FancyZones, which is technically a feature of Microsoft’s broader PowerToys app for Windows enthusiasts. FancyZones lets you drag and drop windows into customizable split-screen views so you can multitask more effectively. Just hold Shift while dragging a window, and you can instantly snap it to a pre-defined portion of the screen. While FancyZones has been around since 2019, when Microsoft first revived the PowerToys concept, I initially dismissed it as being too burdensome to set up. Only in recent weeks have I realized how powerful FancyZones can be once you get to know it. Here’s a screenshot of my go-to FancyZones layout, which I refer to as “widget mode”: Jared Newman / Foundry In this layout, most of my screen is occupied by the main app I’m using—usually Typora for writing, Notion for detailed notes, or Vivaldi for web browsing—but I reserve a narrow column for a pair of miniature apps. On top is Hourglass, my favorite simple timer app, and at the bottom is an excellent ambient noise app called Ambie. This setup has been a boon for productivity. While I write, I can launch a focus timer that stays in view, and I and can quickly switch between background sounds or turn them off as needed. Even the improved Snap function in Windows 11 would require a lot of fiddling to achieve this layout. FancyZones, however, lets me arrange all three windows in about three seconds. Jared Newman / Foundry If this sounds intriguing, read on for how you can make FanzyZones work for you. How to set up FancyZones If you haven’t already, install PowerToys from the Microsoft Store (or alternatively from GitHub). It’s available for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Next, launch the PowerToys Settings menu—you’ll find it by double-clicking the app’s icon in the system tray section of your taskbar—and head to the FancyZones tab. Make sure “Enable FancyZones” is toggled on. Jared Newman / Foundry To snap an app into one of the pre-defined zones, hold Shift while dragging a window. A few translucent panels should appear on the screen while you drag, and you can snap the window by dropping it over any panel. You can also hold Ctrl+Shift while dragging to stretch the window across multiple zones. While you’re in this settings menu, I suggest tweaking a few settings: Check the box for “Restore the original size of windows when unsnapping.” That way you don’t have to waste time resizing apps after moving them out of snap view. (Leave this unchecked if you end up using Canvas layouts, which I’ll explain shortly)Turn on “Override Windows Snap” and set “Move windows based on” to “Relative position.” This lets you use Win+Arrow keys to move windows between zones.If you’re using a mouse, definitely check off “Use a non-primary mouse button to toggle zone activation,” which lets you snap windows by holding the right mouse button instead of Shift.Customizing FancyZones Now comes the fun part. Instead of sticking with FancyZones’ default narrow-wide-narrow layout, you can choose from additional presets or create your own. From the FancyZones settings menu, click on “Launch Layout Editor,” and you’ll see a variety of templates. You can only have one active layout at a time, so click on the one you want to assign to the Shift key. Jared Newman / Foundry To create a new template, click the “+Create new layout” button in the bottom-right corner. Give your layout a name, then choose between Grid (which arranges windows in a tile view) or Canvas (which lets you snap free-floating windows into custom sizes). Jared Newman / Foundry The Grid layout screen is a bit confusing to navigate, so here’s what you need to know: Click on any panel to split it into two smaller panels.Hold Shift while clicking to switch between vertical or horizontal splits.Drag the bar between any two panels to resize them.To recombine split panels, drag your cursor between them as if you were drawing a line, then select “Merge Zones.”The instruction box can’t be dismissed during this process, but you can move it around. Hit “Save & Apply” when you’re finished.Jared Newman / Foundry Once you’ve set up your grid, click the pencil icon to modify it further. I suggest reducing the amount of space between zones, or better yet, disabling the “space between zones” toggle entirely to avoid wasting precious real estate. You can also click the blue pencil icon in this menu to modify the layout you’ve created. Thankfully, the Canvas setup is simpler: Drag the middle of a window to move it.Drag the corners to resize it.Hit the + button to create a new window.Jared Newman / Foundry This can be useful if you want to quickly resize a free-floating window to a preset size. You can even have multiple window size presets as part of the same layout. Extra layouts and multiple monitors Although FancyZones only lets you have one active layout at a time, you can use keyboard shortcuts to juggle multiple layouts. To set this up, head back to the FancyZones settings menu and click on “Launch Layout Editor.” Hit the pencil icon above your favorite layout, then click the “Layout shortcut” drop-down menu. I suggest “1.” Jared Newman / Foundry Next, click the pencil icon for your secondary layout, and in the “Layout shortcut” menu, choose a different number, such as “2.” Repeat this process for however many layouts you want to use, assigning a different number to each. Now, when you hold Shift to activate FancyZones, you can press “1” to switch to your favorite layout, press “2” to switch to your secondary layout, and so on. You don’t have to hold the number key the entire time; just pressing it will cause the active layout to switch. One last thing: If you have multiple monitors, each one can have its own layout. Just click your monitor at the top of the Layout Editor, then choose the layout you want to assign. Use your imagination FancyZones only clicked for me when I started using it to leave miniature apps up on the screen. In addition to Hourglass and Ambie, I’ll also occasionally use the space for Notepad, Calculator, or Plexamp. But you can also use FancyZones in all kinds of other ways. You might, for instance, give yourself a dashboard for multiple messaging apps, or use it as a quick resize tool for floating windows. With a little experimentation, FancyZones could change the way you work as well. Sign up for Jared’s Advisorator newsletter to get practical tech advice in your inbox every week. Productivity Software
Prepare for four different Microsoft Azure certifications for just $49
Sun, 15 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
The job market is hot right now, especially in the IT and tech sectors. Want to take advantage of this opportunity and propel your career to new heights as quickly as possible? Then the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration, and Security Certification Bundle — discounted to $49 — could be a great way to go about it. This web-based training package features four courses, each valued at $295, that prepare students to earn four coveted Microsoft Azure certifications. In addition, they’ll get acquainted with the fundamentals of Microsoft Azure, learn the ins and outs of Azure Administration, discover how to run apps in virtual environments, and, finally, how to implement security controls.  These courses are delivered by iCollege, a highly rated source for web-based training. And since there are no physical class sessions to attend, students are free to learn on their own schedules. As a result, you can finish the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration and Security Certification Bundle at your own pace and work towards your tech career before the job market cools.  The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration & Security Certification Bundle – $49 See Deal Prices subject to change. Microsoft, Microsoft Azure
Get over 120 hours of Microsoft certification training for $59
Sat, 14 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
If you want to make the most of your career, you’ll need certifications that prove your expertise. That might mean putting your life on hold and going back to school. Or you could try something different and train from home with The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, and Teams Certification Training Bundle, on sale this week for an affordable $59. This Microsoft certification training package is a good option for students who thrive on self-directed learning. With it, you could prepare to earn your Windows 10 certification, several different Microsoft 365 designations, a Teams credential, and more. And since all of the training is delivered online, you can learn when it’s convenient, which is excellent if you have other commitments to work around. The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, and Teams Certification Training Bundle is provided by iCollege, a long-time supplier of web-based training. Their instructors are respected and have received high marks from students all over the globe. Most of these courses have scored ratings of at least 4.3 out of 5, so they’re a viable option for most other forms of training. And right now, the entire collection is just $59 or less than $20 per course.  The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, & Teams Certification Training Bundle – $59 See Deal Prices subject to change. Microsoft
The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more
Fri, 13 May 2022 21:01:28 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Are you in the market for a brand spanking new laptop? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We curated a list of the best laptops available today. From traditional clamshells to swanky 2-in1’s, we’ve got something for everyone. If you’re working with an inflexible budget, don’t sweat it, we’ve included Chromebooks and a few other affordable options. Every single one of these laptops has been tested and personally vetted by the crew at PCWorld as well. Read on for our picks for the best laptops around. Now that Intel’s new 12th-gen Core laptops are here and kicking butt, and AMD’s fresh Ryzen 6000 laptop CPUs are delivering game-changing performance for tiny notebooks, expect to see refreshes of the most popular models coming fast and furious over the next few months! If you’re looking to save some cash on your purchase, we’ve also got a roundup of the best laptop deals, updated every weekday. The top-tier stunners you’ll find below don’t grace it very often, but we relentlessly focus on good laptops that are actually good deals too. Without further ado, these are the best laptops we’ve tested. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best productivity laptop Pros Roomy 16:10 display Thin and light yet rugged Stellar keyboard Quiet operation Booming audio Two Thunderbolt 4 ports Cons Webcam limited to 720p Display color is a bit cool MSRP: $1,799.60 Best Prices Today: $1308 at Lenovo | $2,139.00 at Amazon | $2197.01 at B & H Photo ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 review Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 – Best gaming laptop Pros Excellent CPU and GPU performance Robust and innovative design Comfortable and customizable keyboard Cons Trackpad requires some pressure Very high price MSRP: $2,200 (base unit) up to $3,700 (review unit) Best Prices Today: $3699.99 at Asus | $3699.99 at Costco | $5,199.00 at Amazon The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is a gamer’s ultimate dream. This laptop features strong GPU and CPU performance plus a stunning 17.3-inch 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The rugged all-metal chassis, the six speaker sound system, and the customizable keyboard really adds to the premium experience. That said, you’re going to pay out the nose for it. If you’ve got a flexible budget and you’re looking for the best of the best, the Zephyrus S17 is truly the bee’s knees. Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 review ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop – Best budget gaming laptop Pros Good productivity performance Superb display Rugged design Great battery life Cons Boring aesthetics Unimpressive 720p webcam Unreliable fingerprint scanner Poor port selection Best Prices Today: $1099.99 at Best Buy | $1,399.99 at Amazon | Not Available at Adorama Looking for a reliable budget gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for “gaming, streaming, and day-to-day productivity.” Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on high graphics during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely beautiful and battery life is surprisingly good. There are a few minor shortcomings, however. The overall design is a little plain and the port selection is limited, and you’ll need to drop down to Medium or High graphics in strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050. Nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for reliable performance on a gorgeous OLED screen, the VivoBook Pro 15 is where the party’s at. If you don’t mind giving up those luscious OLED visuals for a bit more graphics firepower, you should take a look at the Acer Swift X, which is our next entry. Read our full ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop review Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) – Best affordable ultraportable Pros Stellar ultraportable performance. Sneaky gaming laptop with RTX 3050 Ti graphics. Impressive battery life considering high-end parts. Cons Display feels cramped for creative work. Fan gets loud during heavy workloads. Poorly placed Pg-Up and -Down buttons. Best Prices Today: $1,054.02 at Amazon Don’t judge a laptop by its chassis. The Swift X may not look all that threatening at first glance, but under the hood you’ll find some seriously powerful components. This ultraportable is packing an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. In our review, the Swift managed “48 frames per second at the Highest preset” when running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p. There are a few downsides, though. The fans get loud under heavy loads and the keyboard runs a little warm. But if you can live with those shortcomings and you’re looking for strong CPU and GPU performance, the Swift X will definitely deliver. Read our full Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) review Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget laptop Pros Affordable price Rugged build Great keyboard Good selection of ports Cons Subpar webcam Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed Touchpad is a little hard to use MSRP: $369 (base model) $499 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $449.99 at Amazon | $499 at Walmart With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget option for most people. While the color scheme is a little boring to look at, the build is surprisingly rugged. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” The keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look. Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook Pros Strong performance Good build quality Nice selection of ports Beautiful display Solid battery life Cons No privacy shutter on the webcam Boring design Fan noise is a bit loud MSRP: From $629.99 Best Prices Today: $629.99 at Acer | $690.69 at Amazon If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 will surely fit the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and diverse selection of ports. The design is a little utilitarian, but this is the kind of machine that favors function over aesthetics. The build is robust and there was hardly any flex in the keyboard tray. There are a couple of downsides like the loud fan noise and the lack of a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but these issues are relatively minor. Overall, the Spin 713 is a solid convertible laptop that performs well. Dell XPS 17 9710 – Best content creation laptop Pros Huge 17-inch screen in a relatively compact laptop Intel’s newest 11th gen CPU and Nvidia RTX graphics Cons No USB-A port and no Gigabit Ethernet Hybrid charging likely sacrifices a little performance MSRP: $2299.99 Best Prices Today: $2299.99 at Dell | $2,425.99 at Amazon Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 11th-gen Intel CPU, and GeForce RTGX 3060 GPU. By packing as much screen real estate into such a compact laptop, the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop is. Read our full Dell XPS 17 9710 review Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED – Best content creation laptop (runner up) Pros Beautiful 4K OLED display Long battery life Useful DialPad tool Cons Design lacks flair Lackluster webcam MSRP: $1,599.99 Best Prices Today: $1,649.99 at Amazon | $1649.99 at B & H Photo | Not Available at Adorama The Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is another great option for content creators. It has a use DialPad feature, a 4K OLED display, and a micro SD card slot—all coveted specifications for image and video editing. Compared to the Dell XPS 17 9710 (our top pick for content creators), this laptop has a weaker 3050 Ti GPU. That said, the Ryzen 5900HX CPU has more cores. Therefore, the Asus may be a better option for those with CPU-intensive workloads. It’s also lightweight and compact, and it’s packing a whopping 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. Overall, this is a great choice for creators. Read our full Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED review Acer Swift 3 – Best for students Pros Solid chassis and build quality Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad USB-C with charging and DisplayPort Cons Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives  Disappointing battery life Lots of bloatware MSRP: $999 Best Prices Today: $789.99 at Amazon If you’re looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows. Read our full Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 review Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best tablet Pros Superior screen: larger, higher-res, higher refresh rate Inking is a pleasure Good audio, with louder speakers New optional Type Cover integrates pen well Cons Webcam might need some tweaking Pen and keyboard still cost extra Still pricey MSRP: $1,599.99 Best Prices Today: $939.99 at Amazon | $947.00 at Best Buy | $1099.00 at B & H Photo Microsoft’s Surface tablets were already atop our list of best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft reworked the Surface Pro 8 in numerous ways by adding a larger, higher-resolution, faster screen, a pair of Thunderbolt ports that replace the legacy Surface Connector, and a new inking experience, among other features. While this generation of the Surface Pro tablet forgoes an always-connected LTE option as well as the choice of a cheap Core i3, performance still soared to the top of the heap. Benefits like how the increased display refresh rate improves inking are subtle improvements that matter, too. It’s the most dramatic revamp of a Surface in years and it’s all for the better. Read our full Surface Pro 8 review Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Best mid-range gaming laptop Pros Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design AniMe Matrix screams unique It has a webcam Cons Half permanent RAM Keyboard backlighting is subpar MSRP: $1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM) Best Prices Today: $1649.99 at Best Buy | $1,859.00 at Amazon The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful—a very rare combination. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard. It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick. Read our full ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) review Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G – Best coffee shop laptop Pros Fantastic 16-hour battery life Ultra thin, light and svelte Excellent 1080p OLED display and Dolby audio Solid value, though a premium price Cons Shallow keyboard A ton of preloaded apps, many from Samsung No 4K display option MSRP: $1,399.99 Best Prices Today: $1249.99 at Samsung | Not Available at Samsung The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G offers a gorgeous OLED screen, superb battery life, and an excellent inking experience. It also has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can fold it up like a tent or swing the display around and use it like a tablet. It’s very versatile, which may appeal to students or business professionals. In our review, our tester described it as “an excellent coffee shop PC.” The only drawback is the slow SSD. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G review HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook Pros Gorgeous 2K touchscreen Solid performance Excellent battery life Robust design Cons Trackpad is too sensitive at times Light on ports MSRP: $599 Best Prices Today: $379.00 at Best Buy | $479.99 at HP Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find them cumbersome to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on. Read our full HP Chromebook x2 11 review Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) – Best convertible Pros Sturdy and sleek all-metal chassis Long battery life Impressive audio output Comfortable keyboard Cons 16:9 screen feels cramped  Included stylus is too skinny Undersized touchpad Limited ports all on left side MSRP: $1,230 (entry level) | $1,449 (as reviewed) Best Prices Today: $1230 at Lenovo | $1249.99 at Best Buy The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a fantastic convertible. It has an attractive design, a dazzling OLED display, and great sound quality. Plus, the 12th-gen Intel processor really boosts performance. According to our tester, the processor “packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.” That’s quite a bit of power. The 74 watt-hour battery is quite large for a compact 2-in-1 as well. When we put the laptop through our battery test, it died in about 12 hours. You can expect this laptop to last through the work day. There’s a couple of minor nitpicks to be aware of, though. The 19:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel a bit squished and the touchpad is smaller than we like. If you can live with those small drawbacks, the Yoga 9i is well worth considering. Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) review How we tested The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads.What kind of laptop should you get? Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below. Laptop type: The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable.CPU: If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9. Graphics: You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive.RAM: 8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.Display size: If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.Battery life: If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop.Price: The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it. Ports: A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor. Laptops
TeamViewer’s popular licenses – now up to 70% less
Fri, 13 May 2022 19:07:04 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
TeamViewer provides a premium, secure remote connectivity support solution to help increase productivity across any device. Right now, you can get a TeamViewer Business license for $24.90, or roughly 50% lower than its previous price of $50.90. Plus, the TeamViewer Remote Access license has been reduced by a whopping 70%, putting it at just $6.95. Click here to review the products and their new pricing on TeamViewer’s site. Remote Access, Remote Work
What’s the point of AMD’s Radeon RX 6400?
Fri, 13 May 2022 16:00:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Who needs an entry-level graphics card? Not a lot of people these days. With some incredible advancements in both standard GPUs and integrated GPUs, there’s not much room in the market for inexpensive, entry-level discrete cards. Which begs the question, why did AMD make one, and at the worst possible time? PCWorld contributor Keith May breaks down the market position, and reaction to, the AMD Radeon RX 6400 in our latest YouTube video. This low-profile, low-power, low-cost card doesn’t make a lot of sense for most gamers. Unless you’re rocking a relatively ancient gaming desktop PC and you want a GPU upgrade, or you’re making a low-power build that demands the tiny dimensions of this card, you’ll be better served by something like the GTX 1650. And with prices for both cards hovering around the $150 to $160 range, the GTX 1650 is going to be the clear choice for most buyers. If you want this kind of insight and analysis on a regular basis, don’t forget to subscribe to PCWorld’s YouTube channel. GPUs
Upgrade to a screaming fast, pixel-packed 1440p monitor for just $230
Fri, 13 May 2022 14:40:21 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
If you’re looking to upgrade your monitor, today is your lucky day. Newegg is selling a 27-inch Acer 1440p high refresh rate gaming monitor for $230. That’s $140 off the MSRP and a good sale price for this display. The Acer XG270HU has a 144Hz refresh rate to blow past those 60 frames-per-second allowing for smoother visuals. It’s also rocking FreeSync to keep performance consistent between the graphics card and monitor. This means greatly reduced moments of screen tearing and stutter. Acer’s designed this monitor with an “edge-to-edge frameless design,” making it a nice choice for a multi-monitor gaming set-up. It also has built-in speakers and, for connections, you have HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI-D. To use FreeSync, you’ll have to choose between DisplayPort and HDMI–both support up to the maximum frame rate. If you have an Nvidia graphics card, this monitor is G-Sync compatible, so no one is left out of the variable refresh rate party. Overall, this is a nice looking monitor at a good price. You’ve just really got to like red accents. [Today’s deal: Acer 27-inch 1440p gaming monitor for $230 at Newegg.] Gaming, Gear, Monitors
Best wireless mice: Cut the cord with these top performers
Fri, 13 May 2022 14:30:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
If you still think of wireless mice as laggy, battery-sucking substitutes for a real mouse, we’ve got good news for you. Mouse manufacturers have largely solved the latency, connectivity, and power-efficiency problems that once blighted these devices. The best of today’s wireless mice rival their wired counterparts in performance, battery life, features, and design. There are two rather obvious benefits of a wireless mouse. It eliminates the tether to your computer, giving you greater range—essential if you are constrained by your work area or playing PC games on your TV—and removes a source of friction that often interferes with speed and accuracy. It also makes an essential device more travel friendly. No one objects to one less cord in their gear bag. You’ll probably pay a bit more for a wireless mouse than a wired one, but if you value this kind of convenience it’s worth it. Want to pair your wireless mouse with a wireless keyboard? We’ve got you covered—see PCWorld’s roundup of the best wireless keyboards. Our picks for best wireless mice include innovative designs, ergonomic features, and multiple connectivity options. They also cover both productivity and gaming uses, so you should be able to find at least one that suits your needs. You’ll find our tips on what to look for in a wireless mouse below our recommendations. Microsoft Arc Mouse – Most portable wireless mouse Pros Travel-friendly size Comfortable design Good productivity performance Cons Limited customization options Needs two AAA batteries Might be small for bigger hands MSRP: $79.99 Best Prices Today: $52.99 at Amazon | $56.99 at Microsoft | 79.99 at Microsoft If we had a “most unusual mouse design” category, the Arc Mouse would win that as well. It lays flat until you bend it into an arc that conforms to the shape of your mouse-ing hand. It uses a single click pad for left and right buttons and scrolling, and the default settings can be changed in Windows device settings. At just 5.17 x 2.17 x 0.56 inches, the Arc Mouse is easily the most portable mouse we tested. We also like that there is no USB receiver to worry about misplacing—the Arc Mouse connects via Bluetooth 4.0. Folks with extra-large hands might find it a little small, but for most people it will be a welcome addition to their gear bag. Logitech MX Ergo – Best wireless mouse with a trackball Pros Comfortable ergonomic tilt Solid build Highly customizable Cons Right-handed only Expensive MSRP: $99.99 Best Prices Today: $87.68 at Amazon | 99.99 at Logitech Trackball mice are an acquired taste, but the MX Ergo’s innovative design may have wider appeal. Its width and shape can accommodate most hand sizes and its responsive thumb-side trackball is easy to use and control. A removable metal plate on the bottom serves a dual purpose. Its weight keeps the mouse perfectly still on your desk as you rotate the scroll wheel. And it can also be adjusted to tilt the mouse 20 degrees, an angle that puts your arm in a more natural, rested position. The mouse has eight buttons—including a dedicated precision button that slows the cursor speed so you can make more accurate movements with the trackball—all of which can be customized using Logitech Options software. The mouse connects via an accompanying USB dongle or Bluetooth, and Logitech claims its battery can go four months on a single full charge. The only downer is it’s not ambidextrous, so southpaws will have to look elsewhere. Logitech MX Vertical – Most ergonomic wireless mouse Pros Comfortable ergonomic design Can cross-control multiple devices Customizable button mapping Cons Has a bit of a learning curve Expensive MSRP: $99.99 Best Prices Today: $97.98 at Amazon | $99.99 at Logitech If you have a history of mouse-related hand and arm discomfort, the MX vertical is a great option. Its upright position and contoured body puts your arm at about a 57-degree vertical angle, reducing the pressure on your wrist and creating a comfortable thumb rest. Despite the unconventional design, the mouse still offers familiar controls with split mouse buttons, a scroll wheel aligned to your first two fingers, and a pair of thumb buttons on the adjascent side. The mouse supports Logitech’s Unified Receiver and Bluetooth connections. You can also wire it to your computer using the USB-C charging cable. You can use it with Logitech Options to customize button settings and with Logitech Flow to seamlessly control multiple computers with a single mouse. The MX Veritcal is a high-performing productivity tool once you get acclimated to the vertical design, and one that may prevent pain and strain as well as ease them. Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse – Best budget wireless mouse Pros Compact, ambidextrous design Clickable scroll wheel Inexpensive Cons No programmable buttons No ergonomic features MSRP: $19.99 Best Prices Today: $13.99 at Amazon | $19.99 at Microsoft | $19.99 at Microsoft For a no-nonsense, go-anywhere mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse is hard to beat. As its name makes clear, it connects over Bluetooth so there’s no USB dongle to keep track of. Split buttons and a clickable scroll wheel let you precisely navigate web pages and large documents, and it tracks easily over most surfaces. The Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse runs on a single AA battery but since it uses Bluetooth Low Energy, you can expect up to 12 months of battery life. It’s available in five colors. SteelSeries Rival 650 – Best wireless mouse for gaming Pros Fast charging Comfortable and attractive design Removable weight system provides plenty of options Cons Heavier than some might like Expensive Third thumb button is small and awkwardly placed MSRP: $114 Best Prices Today: $71.99 at Amazon | $79.99 at SteelSeries Wireless gaming mice offer a critical advantage—no cord resistance to slow down your movements or mess with the precision of your aim. Our top pick is the the SteelSeries Rival 650. It features an eye-catching design, smart button placement, and a wealth of customization options. It also uses a unique dual-sensor system, pairing SteelSeries’ exclusive TrueMove3 with a dedicated depth sensor that keeps your aim steady when you lift up and adjust the mouse. The SteelSeries Rival 650 uses quick-charging tech similar to what you find in phones, giving you about 10 hours of charge from a mere 15 minutes plugged in. Best of all, you get all this for about half the price of its competitors. To learn more read our full review of the SteelSeries Rival 650. Logitech G603 – Best budget wireless mouse for gaming Pros Adopts Logitech’s comfortable G703 scooped shape 500 hours of high-performance gaming off two AA batteries Flashy one-piece battery cover and button design Cons Heavy, thanks to the dual batteries Hard to say how durable the buttons will be over time Best Prices Today: $49.99 at Amazon | $49.99 at B & H Photo | $49.99 at Logitech G You can use your main mouse for gaming on the road. But Logitech’s G603 is a better choice. This dedicated wireless gaming mouse features six programmable buttons, including the scroll wheel and a comfortable scoop shape that conforms to right-handers’ thumbs. Two AA batteries power up to 500 hours of gaming thanks to Logitech’s proprietary HERO sensor, which provides accurate performance with no smoothing, no acceleration, and no interference up to 12,000 DPI.  To learn more, read our full review of the Logitech G603. What to look for in a wireless mouse Connectivity In lieu of a cord, wireless mice connect in one of two ways: via Bluetooth or radio frequencies. Most modern computers ship with Bluetooth support, so if you purchase a Bluetooth-compatible mouse, you’ll just need to pair the two devices to get up and running. Wireless mice that connect using radio frequencies come with a USB-RF receiver that plugs into a USB port on your computer. This is a plug-and-play process and the mouse should talk to the receiver—often called a “dongle”—as soon as you plug it in. If you don’t or can’t keep the dongle plugged into your computer at all times—you only have so many USB ports, after all—you’ll have to vigilantly keep track of it. If you lose it, your mouse won’t be good for anything but a paper weight. For this reason, some mice come with a small compartment in which you can store the receiver when it’s not in use. The main concern with wireless connectivity is latency. If your input doesn’t register onscreen nearly instantly, you productivity will quickly take a hit. A mouse’s responsiveness is even more critical when gaming, where quick reflexes can be the difference between virtual life and death. Unfortunately, there’s little agreement around which connectivity method is faster. Gaming companies like Razer and SteelSeries claim RF connections have the advantage, and that is likely true for gaming. But the latency difference between Bluetooth and RF, which is measured in tenths of a millisecond, is probably negligible for productivity. In our tests, we saw little difference between the two types of connectivity during basic work tasks. Ergonomics Mouse use has been implicated in repetitive stress injuries for years, and manufacturers have responded with all kinds of quirky designs they claim will prevent or relieve wrist and arm pain. They have tweaked the mouse’s sculpt, button position, and shape seemingly every which way to facilitate a more natural angle for your arm when it’s moving and at rest. But just because the box says a mouse is ergonomic doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to reduce your discomfort. The only way to tell for sure is to use it for a period of time, and unfortunately retailers don’t typically allow test drives. Still, for designers, PC gamers, and others who who spend continuous hours using a mouse, prioritizing an ergonomic model is probably worth it. Just remember, the type of mouse you use is only one factor in minimizing RSIs, and your habits may be an even more important factor. Programmable buttons While the functions of left and right buttons and the scroll wheel are clear, many mice include additional buttons on the side and/or top of the mouse that you can configure for custom tasks. Mapping these buttons to things like the back button of your browser, “cut” and “paste” commands, or other repetitive tasks can save you a lot of time in the long run. Typically, if a mouse comes with a half-dozen buttons, it will also include the manufacturer’s software for programming them. Computers, Computers and Peripherals
Gamers unite! AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT has finally fallen below MSRP
Fri, 13 May 2022 14:05:42 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Hold up! Remember that graphics card from a few weeks ago that was “on sale” at the original MSRP? Well, today that same card is actually below the original MSRP. Amazon is selling an MSI Mech 2x Radeon RX 6600 XT for $355 . That’s $25 off of the MSRP. However, to get that price, you need to fill out a $20 mail-in rebate form. Sure, that’s a pain, but it’s worth it to get this deal. You can expect a very good 1080p gaming experience out of this card. That means 60 frames-per-second or more on most games at ultra graphics settings. We reviewed this card last August and gave it three stars out of five. That’s an admittedly low rating, but the two major problems that held it back were the price and the 1440p performance. If you’re looking for a 1440p card, this one is decent, but you may need to reduce the graphics settings in some particularly resource-intensive games. As for the pricing issue, well, we were still holding on the dream of a $250-ish 1080p graphics card at the time. Add another year onto this graphics card nightmare and an excellent 1080p card for $355 looks just fine, especially when you consider the price tag was over $500 just a few months ago. [Today’s deal: MSI Mech 2x Radeon RX 6600 XT for $355 at Amazon.] Gear, Graphics Cards
Google’s new Pixel Watch is also your next Fitbit
Fri, 13 May 2022 13:33:47 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Android fans have been waiting an entire year to see more options for the new and improved Wear OS 3 watches, since the only one that came out last year was Samsung’s exclusive Galaxy Watch4. At Google I/O 2022, the company announced the much-anticipated (and much-leaked) Pixel Watch, technically Google’s first smartwatch developed entirely in-house. And thanks to the company’s acquisition of Fitbit last year, it’s also going to be the first major update of Fitbit hardware since the original Fitbit Versa. Details on the Pixel Watch are still scarce, as it’s planned to launch in the fall next to a new generation of Pixel phones. But we know it uses a big, circular, all-glass face, proprietary wrist bands, and “deep integration” with Fitbit’s fitness tracking systems. That’s a huge draw for Fitbit users, many of whom have been tracking their workouts, sleep patterns, and other essential health info for years and years. With the latest revisions of Fitbit hardware being iterative rather than transformative, the Pixel Watch will essentially become the new flagship Fitbit device. It also looks to be the most advanced (and almost certainly most expensive) way to access the Fitbit ecosystem. Exactly how the Pixel Watch will improve on the current high-end Fitbit devices like the Versa 3 and Sense remains to be seen. Even as a Google subsidiary, Fitbit has been adding high-end tracking capability, like irregular heart rhythm notifications enabled just a few days ago. Google has said that the Pixel Watch will use Fitbit’s industry-leading fitness info system, highlighting continuous heart rate and sleep tracking, Fitbit’s Active Zone minutes scheme, and data syncing to the existing Fitbit tracking system. Previous leaks indicate that the Pixel Watch has a sensor setup very similar to the most recent Fitbit devices like the Charge 5. Google As it’s based on Wear OS instead of Fitbit’s home-built software, the Pixel Watch will lean on more Google services. It’ll replace Fitbit’s proprietary NFC payment system with Google Wallet, and the Google Assistant integration will also be able to directly tie into Google Home hardware. But notably, Google made no mention of the existing Google Fit app, its own home-developed fitness tracker that’s been an integral part of Wear OS for years. It looks like Fitbit will essentially completely supplant Google Fit (at least by default) on the Pixel Watch. Whether that will extend to other watches that will finally get access to Wear OS 3 has yet to be seen. We also don’t know how much the Pixel Watch will cost when it launches in the fall. As a direct competitor to the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch—as opposed to more focused and limited fitness tracker-style devices Fitbit users are more familiar with—it might come with a high degree of sticker shock. Fitness Devices
Sony’s next-gen WH-1000XM5 headphones get a facelift and new drivers
Fri, 13 May 2022 13:16:31 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Sony has been at the top of the game for premium active noise cancellation headphones for a little less than four years, when the WH-1000XM3 blew the competition from Bose and Beats out of the water. The XM4 revision tightened things up without reinventing the wheel and now the XM5 gives the much-loved design a visual facelift. The highly anticipated revision is available for pre-order now for $400, a $50 retail price bump over its predecessors. The XM5 design pairs slightly larger and more comfy ear cups with a skinnier, sleeker band. This creates a more simple visual profile that’s nonetheless distinct. Despite the larger size, in both its regular and folded-up modes, Sony’s replaced the 40mm driver in the previous two generations with a new 30mm design. It says that even with a smaller size, new features like a TPU edge and carbon fiber materials make the new driver design even better at noise cancellation and audio fidelity. The former is enabled by eight, count ’em, eight microphones (four for ANC, four for capturing your voice) and a new QN1 noise-canceling processor. In terms of physical layout and controls, not too much has changed, so those who don’t like touch-sensitive taps and swipes for music controls will still be put off. The XM5 plays nice with both Google Assistant and Alexa on your phone or PC and it can connect to both thanks to multi-point Bluetooth. Playback time is unchanged at a reported 30 hours, and the included carrying case is thinner but more voluminous since it holds the headphones in an unfolded position. As with previous generations, the WH-1000XM5 comes in black or “silver” (which looks more like an eggshell white to me). It’s up for pre-order now, releasing next Friday, May 20th. The XM3 and XM4 cans frequently saw deep discounts of $100 or more, so if you’re experiencing sticker shock at the $400 price tag, you might want to wait for a sale. Headphones
If Microsoft is serious about accessibility, fix Windows 11
Fri, 13 May 2022 10:45:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
Microsoft’s Ability Summit this week highlighted how the company is incorporating accessibility into the design of Windows 11, Microsoft Edge, and especially its incredible peripherals, but the question has to be asked, yet again: Could Microsoft do more to make Windows 11’s Start menu and taskbar more accessible to aging users? I’m lucky enough to be perfectly mobile, with the ability to use a mouse, keyboard, and Xbox controller without any additional assistance. But I’m also one of probably millions of users whose vision is slowly getting worse over time. That, of course, is nothing new, and we have glasses and corrective lenses to compensate. But my vision disintegrated during the pandemic, as I was cooped up indoors and didn’t have as many opportunities to drive, take trips, and otherwise engage my distance vision. My youngest son, who endured two years of remote learning, experienced the same thing. And however you view what happened over the past few years, it’s obvious that those users who began computing when Windows 1.0 released in 1985 are getting older. This matters. The ability to use a computer is largely predicated upon the ability to see. Studies have linked poor visual function to depression and social isolation simply because of an inability to interact with the world around them. And while Windows provides assistive technologies for those who have severe vision impairment — Narrator, Windows’ built-in screen reader — there certainly is a middle ground for those who can see well enough to use a computer but have trouble navigating through various menus. Could Windows 11 accommodate this, with larger icons and a resizable Start menu and taskbar? And could Microsoft do a better job with its upcoming Start folders in this regard? I think Microsoft could, and its reluctance to engage on the issue is a little puzzling. In a moment, we’ll talk about what you can do to compensate for Microsoft’s decision, and help make these elements of Windows 11 more accessible. But I’m not sure if Microsoft simply intends for you to rely on these methods or if they plan further improvements for Windows 11. I’ve addressed questions to Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft — once on social media, once at Microsoft’s accessibility press event — and received no response. The Windows 11 Taskbar leaves a great deal of extra space unused, the icons aren’t resizable, and there’s no indication about which app is which unless you know how to hover your cursor over it.Mark Hachman / IDG Windows 11’s Taskbar: Difficult to parse Windows 11’s taskbar throws up three obstacles in the way of accessibility: The taskbar itself is not moveable or resizeable, the icons are not able to be independently enlarged, and taskbar buttons are always combined. Windows 10 allows you to adjust the first and third elements. Not combining taskbar buttons allows someone to create a large taskbar landing area whose function is clearly explained, as it is in Windows 10. In Windows 10, those who need it can quickly determine how to navigate to a particular open application, and which one it is.Mark Hachman / IDG Weirdly, Windows 10’s Settings menu (right-click the taskbar to access it) allows you to make the icons smaller, not larger, which would also seem to be an issue for older users. But Windows 11 simply doesn’t offer the flexibility of Windows 10 in terms of configuring the Start menu. The Start menu: Windows 11 needs work By now, you’re probably familiar with the limitations of Windows 11’s Start menu: the entire window can’t be resized, its icons size can’t be adjusted, and the lack of Live Tiles also restricts the size of the icons. In Windows 10, you can enlarge the Start menu icons to relatively enormous size, not only making them easy to read and navigate to, but also allowing you to visually remind yourself which applications are the most important, what they’re called, and where they live. (Though this might seem silly to you, think of the difficulties some older family members can have with navigating a computer.) I’m simply not a fan of Windows 11’s proposed Start menu folders (seen here as part of a Windows Insider Build) as the icons within the folders can be too small to see unless clicked upon. Doing so pops out the contents of the folder in a larger view.Microsoft One helpful organizational tool that Microsoft included in Windows 10 were Start folders, which grouped related applications together. Those were left out of Windows 11, but we’ve already been able to take a look at them and test them out as part of the Windows 11 Insider program. In both Windows 10 and Windows 11, Start folders actually shrink the size of the icons they contain, making them less visible. I’ve never understood this decision. At least both operating systems create popout menus housing larger versions of the same icons when you click upon them. When I click on the Windows 10 Start menu folder marked “Office stuff,” the contents pop out with larger, explanatory icons. But I also have the option of simply designating a “large” tile for an individual application, like I’ve done for the Office app to the right.Mark Hachman / IDG If Microsoft isn’t going to return to Live Tiles, that’s fine. But why can’t Microsoft offer a resizeable Windows 11 Start menu that can be enlarged if needed? The option for larger, individually resizeable icons? Start menu folders that can also be resized and rearranged? A taskbar that can be adjusted to expand and fill the available space with tiled icons? This shouldn’t be the domain of a third-party mod like Start11 or even Microsoft’s excellent PowerToys. I would argue that these are not aesthetic choices, but functional ones. Accessible ones. Limiting accessibility at the literal Start-ing point of the Windows 11 experience should be a little embarrassing for all concerned. Workarounds: What you can do in the meantime Whether Microsoft chooses to take action or not, you do have a few options for making Windows more visually accessible using its built-in tools. Resize desktop icons First, you can resize the icons floating on your desktop. (No, this does not affect the icons on your taskbar or the Start menu. Why not?) Enlarging your desktop icons is one way of making them easier to see.Mark Hachman / IDG Simply right-click your desktop and navigate to View on the drop-down menu. You’ll then have a choice to select between Large, Medium, and Small icons, and you can pick what works for you. DPI Scaling The next option is what’s known as DPI Scaling, or just Scale. The option can be found within the Windows 11 Settings menu. (System > Display > Scale) Here, you’ll find a drop-down menu with a variety of percentages to choose from, as well as a “recommended” setting. You can increase the scale of your Windows environment, which will help make it easier to view and navigate. Note that you can increase the scale to up to 350% or so depending on the size and resolution of the display.Mark Hachman / IDG Scale is a “universal” control that will resize everything: text, UI elements, browser windows, Start, the Taskbar — the works. It’s an easy way to enlarge all of the visual elements on your screen — and, to be fair, may represent what Microsoft thinks to be the most universally accessible way of increasing the visibility of the Windows UI. It still doesn’t address the ability to resize or adjust Start, but it will make those Windows elements more visible. The only trick that Scale hides is that it’s controllable on a per-display basis. So if you type on a laptop screen but also use a secondary monitor as your primary display, make sure to adjust both the way you’d like them. It may very well be that you’ll have two independent settings for both displays. Use Magnifier The third option is Magnifier, which can be used as a literal electronic magnifying glass. Magnifier can be controlled via the Windows 11 Settings menu (Accessibility > Magnifier) and can be toggled on by typing WIN + + (aka tapping the “Windows” and the “plus” key simultaneously) and turned off by WIN + ESC. Note that the Settings menu controls how “strong” the Magnifier is, so you may want to “turn it up” by increasing the percentage. Magnifier can also be used in a full-screen mode or as a “lens,” which to me seemed rather useful. When in Magnifier mode, your cursor interacts with the screen as usual, so you can left- and right-click on various visual elements. You can use Magnifier to create a “panel” of magnification, similar to the page magnifiers you can buy on shopping sites.Mark Hachman / IDG Of course, you can also use Windows’ own ability to read and navigate by voice, either within Word or via Windows Narrator. I wouldn’t recommend using Narrator if you can already visually navigate around Windows, as it tends to get in the way. If you have difficulty seeing, however, it can be invaluable. Again, you may have no trouble reading your display, and navigating Windows. It’s fair to say, however, that a sizeable percentage of users who grew up on Windows may be having trouble with Windows 11. The built-in accessibility tools within Windows may be a good first step, but Microsoft’s Ability Summit should also be an occasion to re-examine what’s wrong with Windows 11. Windows, Windows 10, Windows 11
Gigabyte M27Q X review: Lush color in a 240Hz monitor
Fri, 13 May 2022 10:30:00 +0000
Source: Pcworld.com
At a glanceExpert’s Rating ProsMassive color gamut and great color accuracy Excellent motion clarity at 240Hz Value pricing for a 1440p 240Hz monitor ConsUnimpressive build quality Stand only adjusts for height and tilt KVM feature is not impressive Our VerdictGigabyte’s M27Q X doesn’t look like much out of the box, but this 1440p/240Hz IPS panel delivers a superb gaming experience where it counts, with excellent motion clarity and stunning image quality. Best Prices Today: Gigabyte M27Q X Retailer Price Delivery B&H 499.99 View $664.99 View Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide There’s plenty of 27-inch gaming monitors to choose from, but one category remains slim: 27-inch displays with 1440p resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. While roughly a dozen are now available, most are costly. The Gigabyte M27Q X tries to bring 1440p and 240Hz to a more palatable price.  Gigabyte M27Q X: The specs  Resolution and refresh rate are the headline features here, but a few others stand out. The monitor uses AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for adaptive sync and is not officially G-Sync compatible (though it did work with G-Sync in my testing). The monitor also supports HDR and is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified.   Display size: 27-inch Native resolution: 2560×1440 Panel type: IPS edge-lit LED backlight Refresh rate: 240Hz Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync Premium Pro Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery up to 18 watts, 2x USB-A, 1x headphone Stand adjustment: Height, tilt VESA mount: Yes Speakers: 2-watt stereo speakers HDR: VESA DisplayHDR 400 Price: $499.99 Carrying an MSRP of $499.99, and generally priced at or near its that price online, the Gigabyte M27Q X is not exactly affordable, but a good value for its feature set. Acer’s Nitro ED271U and Optix MAG274QRX are in the same price range, but premium alternatives like the Alienware AW2721D and Asus ROG Swift PG279QM are several hundred dollars more expensive.   Gigabyte M27Q X: Design The M27Q X’s build quality falls firmly in budget territory. It has a simple, matte black plastic shell that seems thinner and more flexible than alternatives from Dell and BenQ, though it’s about on par with LG Ultragear monitors.   It’s not much to look at, either. The M27Q X doesn’t go for a bold gamer look, yet also doesn’t pass as a ho-hum home office monitor. Display bezels are of modest size on the top and sides, while the bottom has a small plastic chin. Around back the monitor is plain, with just a hint of plastic etching to set it apart.   The lack of swivel could more disappointing than the inability to rotate the screen 90 degrees, depending on your work habits.Matt Smith / Foundry The stand adjusts for height and tilt but doesn’t swivel and can’t pivot 90 degrees for use in portrait orientation. This is unusual for a 27-inch monitor that retails around $500, as most in that price range (and even lower) offer these features. A 100x100mm VESA mount is available for attaching a third-party monitor arm or stand with greater flexibility.   Gigabyte M27Q X: Features and menu A buffet of image-quality options are packed in the Gigabyte M27Q X’s menus. These include precise gamma presets, several color temperature modes, and a dedicated sRGB mode, plus multiple gaming-centric options such as a black equalizer. The monitor’s numerous image-quality options will be useful to content creators who want to calibrate the display.  Accessing the options is a chore because of Gigabyte’s deep and confusing menu structure. Options are often several layers deeper than they need to be and some features have names that aren’t obvious. For example, I know Smart OD means “Smart Overdrive” and references pixel response times, but I’m guessing most users will be puzzled as to what this setting does and why it’s on by default.   Gigabyte’s marketing for this monitor emphasizes its “KVM” button. It’s a button that flips between input over USB-C or an upstream USB 3.0 port. It’s handy, though held back by the USB-C port’s meager 18 watts of Power Delivery and the slim number of available USB ports overall. This is no substitute for a more feature-rich USB-C hub monitor.  A pair of 2-watt speakers are included in the Gigabyte M27Q X and provide acceptable sound quality. External speakers remain a big improvement, but you can rely on the built-in speakers in a pinch.   Navigating the M27Q X’s menus can be confusing.Matt Smith / Foundry Gigabyte M27Q X: SDR performance The Gigabyte M27Q X is not an attractive or feature-rich monitor for the price, but what it lacks in design it makes up for in image quality. This is a rich and vivid monitor.  SDR brightness comes in at 461 nits, which is certainly towards the high end of what can be expected from a monitor in SDR mode. The extremely high brightness, combined with the matte display coating, means you’ll have no trouble using the M27Q X even opposite a sunlit window. In most rooms you’ll need to turn down brightness significantly—unless you enjoy roasting your retinas.  Matt Smith / Foundry The contrast ratio came in at 1140:1. This is not an ideal result when compared to an OLED or Mini-LED display but, as evident on the graph, it’s good compared to most IPS panel gaming monitors. However, the M27Q X leans heavily on brightness to hit this ratio, and does not achieve black levels notably deeper than other standard IPS monitors.   Matt Smith / Foundry Color gamut is exceptional. There’s full sRGB coverage here, plus 96 percent of DCI-P3 and 98 percent of AdobeRGB. The Gigabyte M27Q X beats all 27-inch displays I’ve tested that are in the gaming monitor category, including the older Alienware AW2721D, which I already thought impressive. This is an area where the M27Q X punches way above its price.   Matt Smith / Foundry There’s more good news with color accuracy, which is wonderfully strong straight out of the box. The Gigabyte M27Q X isn’t just superb for a gaming monitor, it’s great for any monitor in any category, period.   Great color accuracy, combined with the extremely broad color gamut, gives the M27Q X a vivid, lush, oversaturated vibe.   Matt Smith / Foundry This is not applicable in most games, as most rely on the more limited sRGB color gamut, but players may prefer how the M27Q X looks. It’s an eye-catching display and especially stands out in colorful, punchy titles such as Valorant or Final Fantasy XIV.   This is also a good monitor for content creators. The Gigabyte M27Q X has a wider color gamut and better out-of-box color accuracy than Asus’ ProArt PA249CV, a comparable professional display.   mentioned in this article ProArt PA279CV Read our review MSRP: $499 Best Prices Today: $489.99 at Amazon | $499 at Best Buy | $499 at Microcenter However, the Asus ProArt PA249CV is a 4K display, while the M27Q X is only a 1440p monitor. This is a problem for those working with 4K video or other high-resolution content. It lacks the resolution and sharpness some will desire. It’s less of a problem in games, where the monitor’s pixel density is high enough to make games with halfway decent anti-aliasing look sharp.   Gigabyte M27Q X: HDR performance The Gigabyte M27Q X is already a bright display in SDR, but turning on HDR kicks up brightness to a brilliant 518 nits. This is an extremely high brightness for a gaming monitor and it does add some drama to HDR games.   That’s where the good news ends. The M27Q X lacks the contrast needed to make HDR games stand out and doesn’t have dynamic backlight. Dark scenes with bright objects can appear hazy because the monitor must ramp up the entire display’s brightness to illuminate even small objects.   Bottom line: Don’t buy the M27Q X for the HDR experience. It’s better than not having HDR at all—but only a bit.   Gigabyte M27Q X: Motion clarity I thought my Gigabyte M27Q X sample might be defective when I fired up my first game. Quick camera movement caused obvious, bright halos around any high-contrast objects, and busy textures looked like they were passed through a sharpening filtering.   The problem? Gigabyte ships the M27Q X with the Smart OD (Overdrive) feature turned on. This amps up pixel response times, which can reduce blur, but causes a problem called overshoot. Overshoot happens when pixel response is too aggressive and flies past the intended color.   Luckily, the problem is easy to fix. Just turn off Smart OD. Once off, you can enjoy the full benefits of a fast IPS panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. Motion clarity is strong, with good detail in fast-moving objects, and the 240Hz refresh rate is butter-smooth if your video card is quick enough to handle games at 240 frames per second (or something close to it).  The Gigabyte M27Q X officially supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. It’s not G-Sync certified, but it did work with G-Sync via my Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, with no noticeable issues.   Gigabyte M27Q X: Final thoughts Gigabyte’s M27Q X is a great 1440p gaming monitor. Although expensive for a 27-inch monitor, it’s among the least expensive 1440p/240Hz options available right now. The fact that it delivers bright, vivid image quality only sweetens the deal.   The M27Q X is held back by an unimpressive design, a sub-par stand, and confusing menus. But most gamers buy gaming monitors to, well, game—and that’s where this monitor excels.   Monitors
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