|You can’t trust Google results for software downloads right now|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 21:32:29 +0000|
Not even a month ago, sharp-eyed Redditors noticed that searching for AMD graphics card drivers on Google served up a shady text ad as the first result. Our advice then (as now) was to be careful when looking for Radeon software, plus maintaining good search habits in general. Life’s far easier when you sidestep malware.
At the time, this incident seemed more of a one-off reason for heightened awareness. Even with the more recent report about Bitwarden suffering from a similar issue, using Google seemed mostly business as usual. Turns out though our threat alert should be set much higher—other major downloads like Adobe Reader, Microsoft Teams, OBS, Slack, and Gimp are being targeted, too.
As thoughtfully detailed by Ars Technica, the sharp rise in malvertising is a new phenomenon, stemming from Microsoft’s improved blocking of dangerous Word macros. When one field dried up, bad actors simply moved to another to farm. The trend is bad enough that security researchers have sounded the alarm—but so far, Google hasn’t squashed the issue yet, though the company commented to Ars that “addressing [the increase in malicious text ads] is a critical priority.” Until a proper fix goes live, that leaves everyone who uses Google search to fend for themselves in the meanwhile.
One of these links is not like the others.
So what can you do? The pat answer is “Don’t click on results labeled as ads,” of course. You can also always check the link address to verify its authenticity, plus scroll down the page to see if you spot a duplicate result. Currently, if you see a second link for the same site, that one is usually more trustworthy, since ads get placed right at the top of results. And as a final safety net, you can install an ad-blocker on your browser, like uBlock Origin. Sites you trust and want to support can get manually added to the extension’s approved list (which allows ads to show), while all others (including Google) will get screened.
None of these precautions are bulletproof on their lonesome, but added all together, you should be able to steer clear of most bad links. And when you do click on a search result? Don’t download and install anything until you’ve had a good look at the page. Make sure you scan any downloads with antivirus software
|Overwatch 2 started off rough. Season 2 made it so much worse|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 19:00:00 +0000|
Ten seconds is a long time when you’re in Overwatch 2 and the other team lets loose hard on you. Well. Not even the other team. One lone character. One lone character with an ultimate ability that extends indefinitely so long as it’s dealing damage, letting them wipe your team completely.
“Lol,” came the match chat message from the Ramattra in question. “His ult is so overpowered right now”
In an often toxic game that yet increased in toxicity after going free to play, those words drove home just how terrible Overwatch 2 has been. The source of my team’s pain was apologetic. That person knew exactly what the rest of us did—OW2’s character balance is still never quite right. And even after Blizzard’s recent promises to address Season 2’s issues, this interaction remains the closest I’ve ever gotten to hearing someone say sorry for the all problems.
Everyone who played Season 2 deserves a dang apology, too. At the end of Season 1, things were looking up—server issues solved and gameplay feeling more balanced. I even came to enjoy ranked play more than unranked, because I got sorted with all the other noobs and we did fun, dumb noob stuff together. I loved it. My Diamond- and Master-ranked friends would watch my game replays and hurt inside; I simply looked forward to the next round of us clumsy puppies tripping over ourselves.
This is Ramattra. Ramattra is a problem if you are like me and still can’t aim Ana’s sleep dart properly. (I’m 100% not lying about being a noob.)Activision Blizzard
Then came Season 2. My friends warned me the matchmaker would be broken for the first week or two, but I never anticipated the slaughter awaiting me. I queued for game after game in ranked, only to eventually realize I wasn’t getting paired with similar skill level players. The matchmaker was filling in with veterans on both sides. Occasionally, my team’s strongest players carried us newbs and weaklings, but mostly we all suffered through complete carnage. After dozens of matches in the first two weeks where I tried and failed to help my team, I gave up. So did most of my friends, which then killed the appeal of unranked mode—it’s easier to suffer through unbalanced teams when you can sigh about it with people you know.
Blizzard seems to finally be addressing player concerns about ranked mode, Ramattra’s ridiculous ultimate, and even the lack of earnable in-game currency in the upcoming Season 3, but it feels a little late. Especially since the developer seems to hold the player base responsible for their own discontent—in its blog post about Season 2, the developer said that “The new ranked mode suffered from poor comprehension” and “There was confusion around players’ real rank and how that translated to their skill level.”
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to take blame for not understanding a system when the people in charge can’t (won’t) clearly explain the system they created. Blizzard is the only entity in Overwatch 2 determining someone’s real rank and classifying the skill levels, much less how the designations change over time. However, instead of explaining it to the audience, we’re apparently the problem. If a developer doesn’t care enough about its players to properly explain things to them, what’s even the point of playing?
Battle passes, meh.Michael Crider/IDG
The good news is my investment in the franchise is relatively low. I started just six months before the end of the first game, and only for social reasons. I’ve cycled through Sea of Thieves, Halo Infinite, and now Overwatch 2 as a way to stay current with my buddies, and there’s no shortage of other games to continue in.
Blizzard probably doesn’t care if I quit, nor if my friends do. We’re not buying the battle passes each season. I’m not supporting a game in this state with my money—nor am I eager to with my time after the emotional dumpster fire of Season 2. But you know what? I paid for Overwatch. I would have paid for Overwatch 2 in a similar fashion if the tuning were better. Hell, I spent $30 last year on a cat game. All I ask from video games are enjoyable mechanics that I can learn and eventually master the basics. Overwatch 2 ain’t it right now, and I fully understand my colleague Michael Crider’s switch from loving the original to having zero interest in this successor.
|How to use personal photos for your Windows 11 background|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 17:00:00 +0000|
Nothing makes your computer space quite your own like having a personalized background. It’s time to retire those boring photo backgrounds and replace them with something unique and inspiring. If you’re looking to spice things up, you’re in luck. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to add personalized photos to your desktop.
Changing your Windows 11 background image from file finder
Before you begin, make sure the image you want to use is saved to your computer. Once you’ve saved it, click on the file finder icon. A window of your files will open.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Select the file where you’ve saved the image. Once you’ve located it, you have a few options on how to set it as your background. The first is to right click the image icon to pull up a menu.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Choose the “Set as desktop background” option toward the top of the menu.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Another way to set your desktop background from this location is to left click the image in the file and select the “Set as background” option at the top of the file finder window.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Changing your Windows 11 background image from the desktop
Another way to change the image and play with a few other settings is to open the settings from the desktop. Right click on your desktop without any icons underneath and select “See more options” at the bottom of the menu.
IDG / Alex Huebner
A new menu will pop up. Select “Personalize” at the bottom.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Next, open the Background Settings window.
IDG / Alex Huebner
In the first section, there’s an option called “Choose a photo.” Select “Browse photos.”
IDG / Alex Huebner
This will pull up your photos folder automatically, but you can also browse other folders once the file finder is open and locate the folder you need, selecting the image and clicking “Choose picture” at the bottom. Once the photo is there, if you’d like to change the way it fits in your display, click the arrow to dropdown the menu of options and select through until it looks how you’d like.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Changing your Windows 11 background image from settings
Finally, you can also access these settings by selecting the windows icon on the task bar and clicking the gear icon to open “Settings” from the menu.
IDG / Alex Huebner
This opens all of your system settings options. On the left side of the menu, select “Personalization.”
IDG / Alex Huebner
Select “Background” to open this settings menu.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Click “Browse photos” and choose the photo you’d like as your new background.
IDG / Alex Huebner
Adding a new background is just one of many ways to make your Windows 11 space more fun and personal to you. It’s easy to do and makes a huge difference in making your digital space feel a little more like home.
|Epic Games is giving away Dishonored: Death of the Outsider for free|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 16:15:53 +0000|
If you love stealth games, listen up. The utterly fantastic Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is available for free on the Epic Games store. Under normal circumstances, this game costs around $30.
If you’ve never played any of the Dishonored games before, be prepared for a good time. These games freaking rock my socks off. Although my personal play style is far from stealthy (I tend to rush in with fists swinging), I absolutely adore how immersive and unique these games are. They pose a real challenge for someone like me.
Death of the Outsider, developed by Arkane Studios, puts you in the role of an assassin with supernatural powers. You can teleport around the levels, assume the identities of your targets, and much more. This game is chock-full of interesting mechanics, non-lethal takedowns (if you so chose), and compelling characters. It’s a standalone game, which is perfect for those who are new to the franchise. If you like this freebie, I can’t recommend Dishonored and Dishonored 2 enough.
To get the game, just head on over to the Epic Games Store or find it in the Epic launcher, add it to your cart, and checkout. This deal ends on February 9th, so you better grab it now before it’s gone forever. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
|Skip Hogwarts Legacy and watch some Harry Potter-style D&D instead|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 15:30:00 +0000|
Hogwarts Legacy comes out next week. It is, bar none, the biggest video game to ever use the ever-popular Harry Potter license. A Dragon Age-style open-world RPG, made by Warner Bros. Games and Avalanche Software (recently of the scuttled Disney Infinity), it’s kind of a huge deal. The game been sitting at the top of the Steam sales charts even as a pre-order.
Even so, the game has become controversial. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has been a lightning rod of controversy for several years, and while it doesn’t appear that she has any direct involvement in the game, it’s hard to deny that buying it means supporting her financially. Plenty of Harry Potter fans aren’t willing to do that, for reasons that are both well-known and beyond the scope of PCWorld’s coverage.
But neither Warner Bros. nor Rowling have an exclusive on the idea of teenage wizards and witches. So if you need to scratch that Harry Potter itch and you don’t want to buy the game (or go see increasingly terrible spin-off movies), I’ve got a humble suggestion: watch a bunch of nerds play Dungeons and Dragons instead.
Misfits and Magic, a Kids on Brooms actual play
Okay, some qualifications. The bunch of nerds in question are professional actors, comedians, and other masters of improvising in front of a camera. And the game they’re playing isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, though the actual play format is certainly inspired by it. No, in the Misfits and Magic mini-season of long-running D&D show Dimension 20, game master Aabria Iyengar chose to use the Kids on Brooms system to tell her story. It’s a tale that mixes the familiar and the deliberately subversive: four diverse American kids are invited to become the first exchange students at a prestigious British school of witchcraft and wizardry.
The cast is filled with veterans of the emerging, and booming, actual play genre. Lou Wilson (a regular Dimension 20 player and as of 2022 the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel Live) plays Whitney Jammer, a Chicago high school athlete who’s all about the team, whatever team he might be on. Erika Ishii (whom gamers will recognize from Apex Legends, Deathloop, and Desitny 2) plays Karen Tanaka, AKA “:xxBrokenDreamxx”, AKA Dream, a terminally online kid from Seattle who knows the local Hot Topic layout by heart. Danielle Radford (a regular writer from YouTube’s Honest Trailers) plays Sam Black, a girl from Portland who’s already well into a successful influencer career. And Dimension 20‘s usual GM, Brennan Lee Mulligan, shifts into the player character chair to embody Evan Kelmp, a gawky but sweet homeless kid who may or may not be this world’s version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Iyengar sets the stage with familiar scenes: all four of the Misfits are going about their regular lives in America when they’re delivered letters by owl, inviting them to Gawpenny Academy, a prestigious school that will be familiar to anyone who knows the skyline of a certain Scottish castle by heart. They’re dropped into a wizarding world that has little knowledge or care for the non-magical one they came from, instantly out of place as both Americans and fledgling wizards.
This seems familiar…
What follows are role-playing sessions that exhibit both deep love for, and skeptical takedowns of, the Harry Potter world. The player characters (and pretty much only the player characters) are very much aware of Rowling’s franchise, and the parts of it that are either problematic or ridiculous. During Gawpenny’s equivalent of the Sorting Hat ceremony, for example, the kids call out the practice as a medieval form of educational tracking, and wonder at the expectation of a school house that seems to be explicitly reserved for “evil” kids. Evan, very much aware of his status as a possible Damien-style world-ender, doesn’t appreciate it.
The players, like the characters they embody, are also very aware of Harry Potter and some of the issues that have been raised with the series in the last four years. Iyengar’s setting, while generally conforming to the expectations of Hogwarts, welcomes the realities of modern kids (and particularly modern American kids of widely different backgrounds). The kids, unlike the adults, are more than willing to take on topics of race, classism, sexism, and the expectations that all of them can place on young people. Though it should be pointed out that there’s a bit of an incongruence in adults playing the role of teenagers: this show would get a TV-MA rating for language alone if it was broadcast on TV. It’s very much made for adult fans of Harry Potter, not those who are still within its recommended age group.
The show serves as a great introduction to both the actual play format, already made popular by shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20, and the Kids on Brooms system from Renegade Game Studios. The latter is a much simpler, easier-to-pick up role-playing game than D&D, using far fewer stats, dice, and general gunk than you might expect. The addition of adversity tokens, points earned by failing that can be shared between players and applied to future rolls, means that even a disastrous roll isn’t without its upside.
The shorter, punchier series of just four episodes (less than ten hours total) does without the impressive set dressing that Dimension 20 is known for. You won’t get elaborate miniature battle sets or fancy editing. It’s just five people playing in the theater of the mind, with the occasional illustration thrown on screen to help the viewer’s imagination. But the earnestness and depth with which Iyengar and company play their roles make it compelling from start to finish.
Mulligan in particular shines playing just one character rather than his usual dozens: Evan’s tales of desperately finding food or a place to sleep, in addition to possibly being an incipient dark lord, are alternately shocking and hilarious. Ishii’s Dream, coming to terms with the disappointment of both the world of magic and her own self-expectations, goes through a similar and deliberately mirrored arc.
Poking fun with pointy wands
Misfits and Magic takes Harry Potter to task even while reveling in its tropes. But it does so without the biting cynicism you might expect. While the characters do call BS on a lot of the actions of both the “real” Hogwarts and its in-universe equivalent, many of those points are just as salient hurled at real-world educational systems and the assumptions therein. Even so, the overall attitude is one of compassion and acceptance, at first between the player characters, and eventually the other students played by Iyengar.
And since pretty much everyone involved has at least some degree of comedy chops, the results are frequently hilarious. Four American kids trying to order a McRib from a magical British kitchen (this time without the weird inclusion of slavery) is a sight to behold, even if you’ll have to imagine almost all of the scene in your head. The “common fucking sense die,” which allows players to get tangible gameplay boosts for subverting the magical narrative with real-world smarts, is an especially brilliant addition. But as the series wraps up, the feeling is more of wholesomeness than comedy: watching these kids find a home and a second family tugs all the heartstrings that the Harry Potter books do, and then some.
The first episode of Misfits and Magic is available to watch for free on YouTube. The other three episodes, as well as the holiday special, are available on Dropout.TV for $5 a month. (You can watch all of it, and quite a lot more Dimension 20 besides, with just a month’s sub.) The Kids on Brooms tabletop game is $25 for the rulebook, and it can be played with standard sets of RPG dice. And incidentally, you can get all of them for less than half of the price of Hogwarts Legacy.
|14 popular Google Doodle games you can still play|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 15:26:37 +0000|
Most Google Doodles revolve around art that transforms the iconic search engine’s logo to celebrate anniversaries and special events, or to raise awareness of ongoing issues, like Route 66 and Teacher Appreciation Day. But a few times each year, the Google Doodle team goes one step further and cranks out some high-quality games that take the drawings to another level—most recently in the form of a Studio Ghibli-esque celebration of bubble tea.
Usually these games are meant to last anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes, though some last even an hour or more. (One or two may even make you refuse to give up until you beat them properly….) In no particular order, here are some of the best Google Doodle games you can still play.
Pac-Man is a timeless classic, so it only makes sense to kick off our list with this world-famous 1980s’ arcade game. On May 21, 2010, Google released this fun Doodle to celebrate Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary. Experience the nostalgia by chomping down on some dots, assorted fruits, and maybe even a ghost or two.
The objective of the game is to clear the stage of all the dots while avoiding the ghosts. If a ghost touches you, it’s game over. You can control Pac-Man using the arrow keys on your keyboard. If you have a friend that wants to play with you, click “Insert Coin” twice and Ms. Pac-Man appears! Ms. Pac-Man is controlled using the A,S,D, and W keys.
The Baseball Google Doodle was released on the Fourth of July, 2019, and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than playing some good ol’ fashioned baseball! To make things even more ‘merican, you play as various foods that you may find at a baseball game, such as hotdogs or nachos and cheese, while the opposing team are peanuts.
When you start the game, a random food item walks up to the plate. Press the Spacebar to swing your bat when the pitcher throws the ball. The speed and style of the pitch will vary as you score more points. The game ends when you strike out. See how many points you can score!
Continuing with the sports theme, Basketball lets you shoot hoops in this single-player time-passer. This was actually part of a four-day Google Doodle run, where you could also test your skills in soccer, slalom canoe, and soccer. According to Google Doodle lead Ryan Germick, these four games were played over one billion times in the span of four days.
The mechanics of the game is simple—just press and hold the spacebar to build up strength, and then release it to shoot. If you build up too much strength (or don’t build up enough), you’ll miss. See how many balls you can net within 30 seconds!
Coding for Carrots
In celebration of 50 years of Kids Coding, the Google Doodle team released Coding for Carrots. This simple drag-and-drop game for kids introduces the concept of coding by using building blocks to send the rabbit in the correct direction to gather carrots.
Each block has an arrow pointing in a specific direction. To complete each level, players must add the correct sequence of blocks to direct the rabbit across the platform, collecting all of the carrots the level has to offer. The higher the level, the more difficult the sequence becomes.
Made up of six colors, six sides, and 54 squares, the Rubik’s Cube has been around since 1974. In 2014, Google released the Rubik’s Cube Doodle in celebration of 40 years of frustrating people around the world.
The objective of this game is to get each side of the Rubik’s Cube the same color by twisting and turning the blocks. To play the Google Doodle version, click and drag your cursor to spin the blocks or rotate the Rubik’s Cube. Good luck!
The Pony Express was a mail delivery service back in the 19th century. The first successful delivery was on April 14, 1860. As a nod to that history, Pony Express, the Google Doodle team made a neat Pony Express game where you collect mail on horseback, dodging obstacles all the while.
To play, users must use the up and down arrow keys to move the rider up and down, respectively. Collect as much mail as possible while avoiding cacti, fences, rocks, holes, and many other obstacles. There are three levels in total—try to collect all of the mail in each level!
Sonic-like Pangolin Game
Pangolins are the most trafficked animal in the world and face extinction thanks to poachers hunting them down for meat, medicine, and fashion. In order to raise awareness of this problem, Google made a love-based Doodle on Valentine’s Day back in 2017 in honor of the endangered pangolin.
The pangolin Google Doodle is a Sonic-like side scroller. Move the pangolin using your left- and right-arrow keys, and make it jump with the spacebar. Collect as many items as you can and make it to the finish line before time runs out.
Meow-loween is a spooky Google Doodle that was created to celebrate Halloween back in 2016. In Meow-loween, the player controls a cat named Momo who must save the School of Magic from the onslaught of ghosts.
In this game, each ghost has a symbol that appears over their heads. In order to send the ghost back to the realm of the unknown, the player must click and drag their mouse across the screen to draw the symbol. Be quick, because the longer you play, the more ghosts that appear!
Doodle Champion Island Games
The Doodle Champion Island Games is one of the longest Google Doodle games to date, taking around two hours to complete. This was originally scheduled to be released during the 2020 Olympics, but due to the pandemic delaying the event for an additional year, the Google Doodle team had more time to work on it, bringing even more fun to the table than originally planned.
To play, move your character around the world map and approach each challenge that awaits you. The controls are different for each game, so be sure to read the instructions carefully. Compete in all of the competitions and see if you can make it to the top of the leaderboard.
The Garden Gnomes
Ever get the urge to sling garden gnomes several meters across a garden using a catapult? Now’s your chance! To give a bit of background on the history of garden gnomes, including their origin and how they’re made, Google Doodle brings you The Garden Gnomes.
The objective of the game is to sling the gnomes from your catapult as far as you possibly can across the garden. The further you sling them, the more flowers they plant. To play, press the spacebar to prepare the catapult, and then press the spacebar again to release the gnome. The better your timing of release, the further you’ll sling the gnome.
Loteria, often referred to as Mexican Bingo, is a traditional Mexican card game. The announcer shows a card, and you have to quickly see if you have a match on yours. Unlike bingo, the pattern you must make on your card changes each game. This is also the second Google Doodle that allows multiple players to join!
To play, listen to the announcer call out the card, take a look at it, and then check your card to see if you have a match. If you do, quickly drag and drop a bean on the card. If you don’t, then just wait until the announcer shows the next card. Match the pattern required for a win to complete the game. This is a game of chance, so good luck!
We’ve all made the mistake of popping an entire spicy pepper in our mouth. Filled with instant regret, we try to remedy the burning sensation as quickly as possible. Thanks to Wilbur Scoville, we know that running to the fridge and grabbing a jug of milk is the perfect solution to easing the pain. Also thanks to Scoville, we know how to measure the level of heat each pepper gives off. In honor of Scoville’s 151st birthday, the Scoville Doodle gives you the opportunity to show that spicy pepper who’s boss by chunking a scoop of ice cream at it.
At the bottom of the battlefield, you’ll see a bar with a circle quickly moving back and forth. To hit the pepper with a scoop of ice cream, try to stop the circle as close to the middle of the bar as possible. You can stop the circle by clicking your mouse. The more you progress, the spicier the peppers get. See if you can defeat them all!
This Doodle pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the humble crossword puzzle and its inventor, Arthur Wynn. Google’s digital version operates just as its paper counterpart does—you fill answers, erase them, and re-enter them as you slowly piece the correct responses together.
No hints or easy outs here; if you need to ask for help, open a separate tab and use the Google search engine to ask for assistance. (Also known as “what exactly to fill in.”) If it’s been awhile since you’ve last done a crossword puzzle, this hint may make your life easier: Not all answers are a single word.
Created in honor of swing dancing and the Savoy Ballroom, the legendary dance venue in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, this Google Doodle puts your rhythm game skills to the test. No need to be light on your feet or to dress in your best vintage outfits—instead, you’ll be sitting at home and tapping your keyboard for this one.
The challenges start simply enough as you match key presses to on-screen prompts, driven by music from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. But as the tempo rises with each level, so does the difficulty. If you’re naturally dexterous, take on the two-player mode solo to make the game far spicier.
This article originally was published on May 3, 2022. It was updated in August 2022 with additional games.
Gaming, Google Home, Internet
|This featherlight HyperX gaming mouse is just $50|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 15:09:59 +0000|
We’ve struck gold today, friends. If you’re looking to pick up a lightweight gaming mouse, you’re in luck, as we’ve unearthed an awesome deal. Amazon’s selling the HyperX Pulsefire Haste wireless gaming mouse for $49.99, which is a savings of $30. The incredibly lightweight mouse weighs a total of 61 grams and the honeycomb shell design is just super cool to look at, too.
The Pulsefire Haste mouse has a maximum DPI of 16,000, six programmable buttons, and customizable RGB lighting. HyperX even claims it has up to 100 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is nothing to sneeze at. Inside the honeycomb structure, you’ll find TTC Gold switches, which are a good option for first person shooter games, as the actuation point is rather high. The mouse is also water resistant and it comes with grip tape.
This is a killer deal. I love the design so much that I’m tempted to buy one myself!
Get the HyperX Pulsefire Haste wireless gaming mouse for $49.99 at Amazon
|Razer’s ultralight wireless mouse costs $280, speed holes included|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 14:43:21 +0000|
For the last few years mouse makers have been punching a bunch of holes in their designs to make them lighter, like that one car salesman on The Simpsons selling a car with “speed holes.” But it’s become a definite niche for ultra-twitchy gamers, and Razer isn’t one to shirk a trend. The Viper Mini Signature Edition combines a new magnesium alloy chassis (the same kind used in high-end laptops) with a holey hexagonal “exoskeleton” to make a 49-gram little monster.
The mouse has plenty of bells and whistles. We’re talking a 30,000 DPI sensor, third-gen optical primary switches rated for up to 90 million clicks, and Razer’s proprietary HyperSpeed wireless (sans Bluetooth, because l33t gamers can’t stand the latency). In wireless mode it’s good for up to 60 hours, and you can plug it in to a USB Type C cord when that runs short.
But that being said, there are a few omissions as well. There’s no dock charger, no tilt on the scroll wheel, and it uses the standard five-button shooter configuration. There’s only room for one saved profile in the mouse’s local memory, and perhaps most shockingly, Razer’s RGB lighting is nowhere to be seen. All that must have been necessary to cut in order to make the mouse so light. 49 grams isn’t the lightest on the market, even among wireless models. But it beats Razer’s previous best, the Viper V2 Pro, by almost 10 grams.
The Viper Mini Signature Edition comes with a surprising amount of add-ons. including a set of grip tape stickers, a set of feet in both PTFE (the same stuff that goes inside non-stick pans) and Gorilla Glass, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. You’ll need it: Razer recommends cleaning the mouse at least once a month, since its guts are on display and you’re constantly fondling it with your gross human sausage fingers. Good thing it comes with a three year warranty, a new best for Razer.
How much will you need to pay for this ultralight luxury? Two hundred and eighty American greenbacks. It’s 319.99 euro, if you’re wondering. You can buy it from Razer’s website starting on February 11th.
|Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 14:28:38 +0000|
Picking the right laptop for your lifestyle is hard work. Do you spring for a traditional clamshell or a versatile convertible? What about battery life and ports? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t sweat it. To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best laptop deals available today. From ridiculously fast gaming machines to lightweight 2-in-1’s, we’ve got a plethora of options to pick from below. We’ve also included a shopping advice section at the end of the article.
For more laptop options, check out our roundup of the best laptops.
The best laptop deals in 2023
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1
From: Best Buy
Now: $549.99 ($250 off)
The Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 is versatile, peppy, and relatively lightweight. Inside, you’ll find an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, AMD Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That means it ‘s more than capable of handling everyday tasks like watching YouTube, browsing social media, and so on. The 14-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1200 and is touch-enabled, which really ups the value factor. The Pebble Green color scheme is also rather unique and a welcome departure from the usual silver finish you’d see on most modern laptops. This is a great deal, so don’t miss out.
See the Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 at Best Buy
Samsung Chromebook 4
Now: $135 ($94.99 off)
If you’re looking for a barebones machine, the Samsung Chromebook 4 is a good option. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics 600, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. That’s not a ton of power, but it’s enough for everyday tasks like checking e-mail and browsing the web. The display is on the smaller side at 11.6-inches and has a resolution of 1366×768. It’s not the sharpest picture we’ve ever seen on a Chromebook, but it’s fine for scrolling through social media and such. For a little over $100, it’s a good deal.
See the Samsung Chromebook 4 at Amazon
Acer Aspire Vero
Now: $578.49 ($121.50 off)
The Acer Aspire Vero is a fantastic option for eco-conscious buyers, as it’s made of recycled materials. It’s no slouch in the performance department either given the specs. This laptop has an Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage—a killer package for under $500. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like watching Hulu, writing papers, browsing social media, and so on. The 15.6-inch display should provide clean visuals thanks to the 1920×1080 resolution. This is an awesome deal for an everyday laptop.
See the Acer Aspire Vero at Amazon
Samsung Chromebook Plus
Now: $249.99 ($249.01 off)
The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a good option for someone who needs a lightweight convertible. It has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage. It’s a little light on storage and memory, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you store most of your stuff in the cloud. The 11-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 1900×1200, and the Chromebook has two USB-C ports. It’s powerful enough for everyday browser tasks like checking e-mail, writing papers, listening to music, and so on. The 2-in-1 also weighs a little under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. Plus, it comes with a stylus for doodling or note taking.
See the Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
From: Best Buy
Now: $899.99 ($300 off)
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a nice laptop for productivity or everyday use. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 2496×1664 and is touch-enabled. According to Microsoft, this machine can last up to 17 hours on a single charge. That’s positively bananas. However, with the brightness turned up, that number might be different in real world use. This is a great deal and a good pick for a student or young professional. Happy shopping.
See the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 at Best Buy
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED
Now: $999.99 ($400 off)
The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED is sleek, zippy, and $400 off. It’s a fantastic deal, especially for a laptop with an OLED display. This machine is rocking an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. This laptop is designed for creative folks, so it’s not that unusual to see one with a discrete graphics card to go along with the other potent internals. Still, it’s a welcome boost of power. he 15.6-inch OLED display is rather roomy with a resolution of 1920×1080. Asus even claims the display has a maximum brightness level of 400 nits, which is nothing to sneeze at. This is a fabulous deal and a solid pick for students or young creative professionals.
See the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 OLED at Newegg
LG Gram (2022)
Now: $1,149 ($350.99 off)
The LG Gram (2022) is the perfect laptop for frequent travelers, as it weighs just 2.54 lbs. Don’t let the lightweight form factor fool you, though. It’s packing a good amount of power in its thin frame. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This laptop should be capable of whizzing through most tasks like checking e-mail, streaming video, spreadsheet work, and so on. The 15-inch display features super narrow bezels and a resolution of 1920×1080. Overall, this laptop is a steal, especially at $500 off. Get it now.
See the LG Gram (2022) at Amazon
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Now: $1,199.50 ($1,199.50 off)
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is the perfect laptop for productivity. It’s packing an Intel Core i5-1240P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. That means it’s capable of handling tasks like spreadsheet work, Word processing, videoconferencing, and so on. The 14-inch 1200p display has narrow bezels and, according to Lenovo, a maximum brightness level of 400 nits. The display’s taller 16:10 aspect ratio makes scrolling through documents a heck of a lot easier, too. There’s also a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint reader.
If you’re looking for a proper business laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is well worth considering.
See the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon at Lenovo
Asus ROG Strix Scar 15
Now: $2,057.99 ($173 off)
The Asus ROG Strix Scar gaming laptop is an absolute powerhouse. It comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. This laptop will chew through most games on max settings. The 15.6-inch display has resolution of 1920×1080, a blistering 300Hz refresh rate, and a 3ms response time, so competitive gamers will find a lot to like here. Regarding connectivity options, you’re getting one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one HDMI, and one 3.5mm combo audio jack. The keyboard is also an optical mech keyboard, which uses infrared light to detect key presses.
See the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 at Newegg
Acer Aspire 5 A515
Now: $299.99 ($100 off)
If you’re looking for a solid everyday laptop, you’ve come to the right place. The Acer Aspire 5 has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard SSD storage. The processor is a Ryzen 3 3350U, which has four cores, four threads, and a maximum boost to 3.5GHz. It’s packed with modern features like Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader for biometric logins. Acer starts this laptop off with Windows 11 in S mode, but there’s no reason not to do a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11. This is being sold by a third-party retailer, but Amazon is handling shipping, which means it falls under the company’s return policy.
See the Acer Aspire 5 A515 at Amazon
Acer Nitro 5
Now: $799 ($130.99 off)
The Acer Nitro 5 is a fantastic budget gaming laptop. It features an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This laptop is powerful enough to run most games on medium to high graphics settings depending on the game but will struggle if you try to play with strenuous ray tracing effects turned on. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080, an aspect ratio of 16:9, and a refresh rate of 144Hz. That’s perfect for 1080p gaming. If you’re looking to save some serious cash, then the Acer Nitro 5 is definitely worth considering.
See the Acer Nitro 5 at Amazon
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Now: $1,399 ($570 off)
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a blisteringly fast gaming laptop. It has a AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That means you should be able to run most competitive games on high or ultra graphics. The 2560×1600 display measures 16-inches and has a refresh rate of 165Hz. In other words, you can expect a sharp and vibrant picture. For connectivity options, it has one HDMI, three USB 3.2 Gen 1, three USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a headphone/microphone combo. This is a super hot deal and it’s selling out fast (20 sold in the last 24 hours as of this writing), so you better grab it now before it’s too late.
See the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro at eBay
Gigabyte G5 KE
Now: $937.02 ($261.98 off)
The Gigabyte G5 KE gaming laptop is fast, sleek, and $260 off. It comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-12500H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This machine should be more than capable of running most games on medium to high settings. The 15.6-inch 1080p display is rather spacious with a refresh rate of 144Hz. For connectivity options, this thing is rocking one HDMI, one USB 2.0, one USB 3.2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Type-C, one Thunderbolt 4, one mini DisplayPort 1.4, one audio in/out, one RJ-45, and one MicroSD card reader. That’s a lot of connectivity right there, which is perfect for those times when you want to hook up to an external monitor or mouse.
See the Gigabyte G5 KE at Amazon
Asus ROG Flow X13 2-in-1
Now: $1,148.99 ($211 off)
Rarely do we see 2-in-1 gaming machines, but that’s exactly what the Asus ROG Flow X13 is. This unique machine has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can rotate the screen all the way around. The device weighs a little under three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling companion. Despite the smaller size, it still manages to pack a punch. It has an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. That’s plenty peppy for playing most games on low to medium graphics, but Asus also sells an external RTX 3080 GPU that can connect to the laptop if you need even more firepower when your stationary. The display measures 13.4-inches and has a resolution of 1920×1080. It’s not the biggest or most vibrant screen, but it’s perfectly fine for most games. This is a fantastic deal, especially if you’re looking for a gaming laptop you can travel with.
See the Asus ROG Flow X13 at Amazon
Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming
Now: $1,349 ($680 off)
If you’re on the prowl for serious graphics power, the Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming is definitely worth considering. It has an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage. That’s powerful enough to run most games on high or ultra graphics. The 15.6-inch display is roomy and has a resolution of 1920×1080 as well as a refresh rate of 165Hz. It’s also G-Sync compatible, which helps with any screen tearing or stuttering issues. This is an awesome deal. Availability is limited, though, so you’ll need to act fast.
See the Lenogo Legion 5i Gaming at B&H
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 11-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-11510U, or the Core i7-12800H; 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 February 3 with new pricing and to remove expired deals.
|5 reasons gamers shouldn’t shun cheap mechanical keyboards|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 11:45:00 +0000|
Enthusiasts may balk at my opinion and deem it heresy, which is fine—but I’m going to say it anyway: There’s nothing wrong with buying an inexpensive mechanical keyboard for regular use. Most gamers don’t even need all the bells and whistles of a luxury keyboard like a bazillion programmable keys and RBG lighting that syncs with your music. Often all you need is a simple set of clicky keys and an ergonomic design. A quick to trip to Amazon, for example, reveals a 60% mechanical board with hot-swappable Red switches and a lightweight design for only $30. Still not convinced? Don’t worry, I aim to persuade!
Looking for more options? Check out our roundup of the best wireless gaming keyboards.
1. You can get a full-sized mechanical keyboard at an affordable price
Full-sized mechanical keyboards typically have 104 keys, including a number pad on the right side of the layout. But you don’t have to pay out the nose for this option. If you’ve got the desk space to accommodate it, then the AK50 full-sized keyboard is worth considering. It has blue switches, white backlighting, and an aluminum frame. The best part about this keyboard is that it currently costs $50. Make sure you apply the 5 percent coupon at checkout.
2. Some mechanical switches aren’t all that expensive
When it comes to mechanical switches, Cherry MX typically reigns supreme. Cherry switches are durable and have high actuation points, which helps prevent inaccurate key presses. That said, they can be expensive. Luckily for you, there are more affordable options out there in the universe, so I encourage you to explore. Outemu switches, for example, are a fantastic option for budget mechanical keyboards. Essentially, they’re Cherry clones made in China.
3. Most people don’t need the extra bits
Premium mechanical keyboards like the Razer Deathstalker V2 Pro often feature per-key RGB lighting, a scroll wheel, dedicated device buttons, and so on. Most folks don’t need all the extras. My recommendation is to spring for an affordable keyboard with the most important functions, namely the sound and feel. This is determined by the type of mechanical switch you use. Red switches (aka linear switches) require less effort to press down and don’t provide much tactile feedback. They’re also quieter than blue switches, which produce those pleasant click-clack sounds. For additional information on mechanical switches, check out this guide.
4. You need not sacrifice ergonomics
Just because a mechanical keyboard is inexpensive doesn’t mean it can’t also be ergonomic, with many options including a wrist rest can meet that need. That’s a good thing, since long gaming stretches require comfort. Nothing kills the mood faster than hand cramps. The AULA F2088, for example, comes with a magnetic wrist rest. This helps prevent hand fatigue during those marathon gaming sessions. Plus, the matte finish should provide a relatively smooth surface for your hands. As of this writing, the typewriter-style keyboard is currently on sale for just $45.99. Make sure you add the 5% coupon at checkout, too.
5. It’s a low-cost way to test drive a mechanical board
If you’ve never owned or used a mechanical keyboard before, they’re quite different from their membrane counterparts. The difference is really in the feel. Mechanical keyboards have keys that spring back when you press down on them. If you’re just dipping your toes in the mechanical keyboard world, then I’d suggest test driving a more inexpensive one first and work your way up. If you end up disliking how a mechanical keyboard feels, then at least you haven’t put a ton of money into it. Premium mechanical keyboards are a more costly, albeit feature-rich, way to try one out.
|Ultrawide vs. dual monitors: Which should you choose?|
|Fri, 03 Feb 2023 11:30:00 +0000|
Want to maximize your desktop’s real estate? You have two options: an ultrawide monitor, or a dual-monitor setup. Either choice will massively expand the screen space at your command. But ultrawide and dual-monitor setups are not the same. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s how to decide whether an ultrawide monitor or dual monitors is right for you. For more concrete buying info, be sure to checkout our roundups of the best PC monitors and the best ultrawide monitors.
How wide is it?
Everyone looking to buy an ultrawide monitor or dual monitors wants more usable display space. But how much do you gain with each scenario?
A 34-inch ultrawide monitor, the most common size, is not as large you might think. This size of ultrawide is nearly identical to a 27-inch widescreen monitor in height and about 8 inches wider.
Purchasing a second 27-inch monitor will, of course, net you a second monitor just as large as the first. A second 27-inch monitor adds 23.5 inches to the width of your setup. That’s about 15.5 inches wider than a 34-inch ultrawide monitor.
Besides offering a wider expanse than a single ultrawide monitor, a dual display is more flexible in terms of screen angles and orientation.
To reach the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors in a single display, you must go all-out with a 49-inch super-ultrawide with a 32:9 aspect ratio, such as Samsung’s Odyssey G9. That’s almost exactly as tall and wide as two 27-inch monitors side-by-side, but considerably more expensive.
Going dual has another advantage, one no ultrawide can ever match: flexibility.
You can use one of your two monitors in a portrait orientation, adding vertical instead of horizontal space. This is perfect if you need to display documents on a second screen or want to have multiple social media and chat apps open while working on your primary monitor. You can even mix-and-match monitors of different sizes to perfectly fit your desk.
The flexibility of a dual-monitor setup has advantages for multitasking, as you can change the shape of your setup to fit your needs. This isn’t the only way dual monitors beat ultrawide in productivity, however.
The best budget 1080p monitor
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$94.99 at Amazon |
$132.99 at Adorama |
$149.99 at Acer
Windows Snap, a feature built into Windows that can quickly resize and move windows for better multitasking, works best on dual monitors (and the supercharged FancyZones PowerToy tool is even better). Using Snap on an ultrawide leaves you with wide, short windows that are awkward to use. A dual-monitor setup also provides more locations to place windows.
The aspect ratio of an ultrawide monitor is a problem even when you’re not using Windows Snap. Most apps are programmed for use with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and have a user interface designed for that aspect ratio. Resizing an app to a 21:9 aspect ratio often leaves large, empty areas or forces portions of the interface to one side.
Ultrawide owners end up manually resizing windows to an approximately 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s like playing a game of Tetris with pieces that don’t fit. You’ll struggle to find an arrangement of windows that doesn’t waste space.
Mentioned in this article
Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$309.00 at Amazon
Dual monitors are on a winning streak, thanks to another reason two is better than one: resolution.
4K monitors aren’t hard to find. You can pick up the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q, our go-to recommendation among affordable 4K gaming monitors, for only $309—or you can buy two for twice the price. That’s an effective resolution of 7680×2160, putting over 16 million pixels at your disposal.
Ultrawide doesn’t come close. LG’s 40WP95C-WRemove non-product link, one of the most pixel-dense ultrawide monitors, has a resolution of 5120×2160. That’s impressive but works out to barely more than 11 million pixels, and costs about twice as much more than a pair of Dell’s 4K screens.
LG’s 34WK95U-W offers an impressive 11 million pixels with its 5120×2160 resolution, but that can still be bested by a pair of 4K monitors.
Not everyone needs 16 million pixels, of course, but it has utility. Dual 4K monitors are great for editing ultra-HD video. You can view a full-screen preview on a second monitor while editing in the first. Photographers and creative artists might also find similar use for this setup.
Gamers, though, should stay away. Dual 4K might seem appealing at a glance but, like a bug zapper, the allure can only end in pain.
Ultrawide monitors have taken their thumps so far, but gamers can disregard the lashing I’ve dished out. Ultrawide is the king of PC gaming.
A dual-monitor setup has an obvious issue: the bezel running down the middle of the display. Even the thinnest, most miniscule monitor bezels are blatantly obvious when using two monitors side-by-side. Playing a game on two monitors at once is technically possible, but it’s a bad idea.
Ultrawide monitors offer not just more usable space for gaming but a more immersive aspect ratio. A wider aspect ratio means that, in most games, you can see more at once. Scenery and objects that remain outside your field of view on a 16:9 widescreen become visible on a 21:9 ultrawide.
the best overall ultrawide monitor is an OLED beast
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$1099.99 at Dell
A wider aspect ratio is especially useful in certain games. Landing a plane in Microsoft Flight Simulator is easier on a 21:9 monitor thanks to the improved sense of perspective a wide field-of-view offers. Gamers deep into Civilization IV or Humankind can see more map for a complete view of their empire. MMO fans can use the space to customize the user interface or load add-ons (in games where that’s allowed, of course).
Most gamers with dual monitors play on one monitor and use the second for Discord, a game walkthrough, or catch up on some reality TV while waiting in que to play Final Fantasy XIV. This is better than having a single monitor, to be sure, but can’t beat the seamless feel of an ultrawide.
This point may seem obvious to veteran gamers, but it’s worth repeating for those new to using a game console with a computer monitor.
Game consoles don’t support ultrawide monitors.
Best HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor with console support
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$769.99 at Dell |
$799.99 at Dell Home |
$799.99 at Dell Small Business
You’ll see an image if you connect a game console to an ultrawide monitor, but it will have a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio with letterboxing on each side. Resolution is also an issue. The most common ultrawide resolution is 3440×1440, which translates to 2560×1440 when connected to a 16:9 source. The PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch don’t support this resolution and instead fall back to 1080p.
Don’t buy an ultrawide monitor if you plan to use a monitor with a game console.
Ultrawide can claim another important advantage over dual monitors. It’s just one monitor.
One monitor means one display connection and one power cord. There’s no need to worry about how monitors are arranged in Windows’ display settings. You don’t have to fret over differences in image quality between monitors or calibrate monitors to fix it. A third-party monitor stand or arm won’t be necessary.
With a single ultrawide monitor, you don’t need to mess around with arranging your monitors in Windows’ display settings.
Simplicity has value. More monitors mean more space and pixels but can also mean more headaches. A dual monitor setup is hardly uncommon and supported by modern operating systems, but you may still encounter edge cases where a particular laptop, desktop video card, or application doesn’t work as it should. Uncommon problems become likely as your setup becomes more complex.
A single ultrawide monitor is a plug-and-play experience that requires zero configuration. This is useful if you don’t want to spend time messing with settings or frequently switch computers.
Dual monitors for the win
The verdict is clear. In general, dual monitors take the win over ultrawide. Going dual snags you a more flexible setup that’s better for multitasking and, if you buy high-end 4K monitors, packs more pixels than any ultrawide in existence.
The best budget 4K monitor would work great as a pair
Asus ProArt PA279CV
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$449.99 at Best Buy |
$492.50 at Adorama |
$499 at Best Buy
This doesn’t mean a dual-monitor setup is better for everyone. I, personally, prefer an ultrawide monitor. Simulation, strategy, and MMO games are my favorite genres, so an ultrawide’s immersion really hits the spot. I also lack the surface space to use a pair of 27-inch monitors, while a 34-inch ultrawide is the right fit for my desk.
Your choice should fit your needs, of course. Ultrawide is my preference because it works best for my niche needs. Still, it’s clear dual monitors win in most situations. Readers on the fence should stop worrying and buy that second monitor. Our roundup of the best monitors and our display buying guide can help you find the perfect fit.
Consumer Electronics, Laptops, Monitors
|A eulogy for Titanfall, a shooter that deserved better|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 17:54:22 +0000|
It’s been just under nine years since Titanfall landed on the PC and Xbox, and just under nine years since publisher Electronic Arts has been underutilizing one of its most interesting and promising franchises. With the rumor that EA has canned a third Titanfall game after years of development, I think it’s time we look back on what this game was, what it could have been, and lamentably, what it never will be. What is Titanfall right now? A damn shame.
Part of the first wave of Xbox One titles and one of the console’s very few exclusives, the original Titanfall was the first game developed by Respawn Entertainment, which was founded by former executives of Call of Duty creator Infinity Ward. It made a splash from its introduction at E3 2013, wowing gamers with a mix of fresh, parkour-infused multiplayer shooting and the titular Titan mechs as a fresh addition to the genre. When it came out for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC in the spring of 2014 it sold like hotcakes, perhaps helped by a somewhat tepid market at the time.
Unique modes and motion
Titanfall is, at its core, a fast-paced multiplayer shooter, as you might expect from the creators of Call of Duty. But with the sci-fi setting comes the opportunity to innovate, and Respawn did just that. It starts with the new, core mode of the standard multiplayer campaign mode: Attrition. Both teams are supported by dozens of AI-controlled “grunts,” which have minimal weapons and armor, and none of the whiz-bang movement or special abilities of the player characters.
Players can zoom around the map focusing on taking out enemy grunts to rack up more points in a slower progression. This gives you plenty of targets on large, multi-level maps, where players on two teams of six might not intersect often outside of the control points. It also lets players who aren’t as familiar with the intense, super-twitchy gameplay of shooters like Modern Warfare and Battlefield reach for more attainable ways to contribute to their team’s victory.
Thoughtful use of the environment can annihilate groups of grunts and give you the advantage on players.
Another key innovation in Titanfall’s standard shooter setup was its movement. Player characters (“Pilots” in the game’s lexicon) can dash and bounce around the map almost as if it’s a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater level, utilizing wall-running, double-jumping, and other parkour-inspired tricks. The expanded, free-flowing movement is an integral part of the combat. Quick, thoughtful use of the environment can annihilate groups of grunts and give you the advantage on head-to-head confrontations with other players, even if they’ve unlocked more powerful weapons and tools.
Titans bring the sci-fi spice
Then there’s the signature feature, the Titans. Each match begins with a countdown timer until your customized Titan, being built in an orbital factory, is ready to drop into the arena like a 10-ton trump card. You can take chunks of time off by killing enemy players or grunts or by achieving map objectives. Once it’s arrived on the battlefield, you can either hop into the cockpit and take personal control against the other team, or continue on foot and let your Titan’s AI do the shooting.
The chunky Titans might seem like they’re right out of MechWarrior, big, cumbersome metal beasts that are a sledgehammer to the footsoldier’s scalpel. But that’s not how it works in gameplay. While Titans are indeed bigger and slower than Pilots to make up for their more powerful weapons, they’re surprisingly fast and graceful, and can be made more so with tweaks applied between matches. In action they’re more like Gundams than tanks, and they make a wonderful counterpart to the whoosh-crikey movements of the pilots.
Combining gameplay with Pilots and Titans is where things get really spicy. While players on foot are of course more vulnerable, dying from one or two hits of the Titans’ giant weapons (or a viscerally squishy stomp or punch), the Pilot’s movement powers combined with the well-designed, multifaceted stages mean that you’ve still got a fighting chance even out of your personal giant robot. Specialized Titan-killing weapons, and the generally larger target that the Titans provide, mean that matches constantly weave and flow between Pilot and Titan combat as the steel behemoths are called in and destroyed. Pilots can even hop on the back of Titans, to rip open the enemy and shoot out its vital components or piggy-back on a friendly bot and shoot from its shoulder, like Rocket Raccon riding Groot.
Even the end of the multiplayer matches showcases innovation. Once one team or the other reaches the requisite amount of points, the losers will be directed to an extraction point. Getting to the dropship (or alternately, killing the fleeing players or destroying the ship) makes for an entertaining mini-game that utilizes all of the skill and strategy of the primary mode, eventually allowing the losers to snap a bit of validation for a 10-minute match. Or, of course, get an extra heap of humiliation on top of it.
The sequel adds a story
The first Titanfall reviewed well, but it seemed to lose steam after a couple of months. Part of this may have been its multiplayer-focused setup. The game’s short development time and relatively small development team meant that the story campaign, a rather placid tale of evil corporations and space rebels, was sandwiched into the multiplayer mode. Since the outcome of each story mission had to work in the narrative whether the rebels or the corpos won, there was very little tension or stakes.
Titanfall 2 launched with the focus squarely on the now fully-realized singleplayer campaign. It worked.
It basically boiled down to the same maps and modes you’d get in standard multiplayer, with some talking heads occasionally shouting at you from the corner of your screen. Reviewers noted the lack of variety and dinged the game accordingly. It didn’t help that EA wanted full price for this multiplayer-only title. With Titanfall 2, which released just two years later, Respawn would remedy this deficiency in a big way.
Titanfall 2’s story mode focused on the relationship between the player and BT, your Titan robo-buddy.
Titanfall 2 launched with the focus squarely on the now fully-realized singleplayer campaign. It worked. Both gamers and critics praised the mode, which gently introduced players into the combination bounce-house shooting/robot punching gameplay. You play as…honestly I can’t remember who the player character is, because he’s a blank slate for the personality of the Titan he inherits to play off. BT the giant robot might not be the most original AI character ever, but he has just enough charm and comedy in his writing to add a little enjoyment to the excellent levels and boss fights.
One level in particular caught the eye of the gaming public: Effect and Cause, which utilized a time travel doohicky reminiscent of the core mechanic in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. With a combination of parkour shooting, mech piloting, and carefully triggering events in the past timeline to affect the present, it’s still considered one of the best singular levels in any modern game.
With incredibly unique multiplayer (now enhanced by grappling hooks and more Titan variety) and a single-player campaign head and shoulders above most of the competition, Titanfall 2 was poised to make a huge impact, like a giant robot dropping from orbit.
Unfortunately, Titanfall as a franchise couldn’t catch a break. Titanfall 2 released at almost the same time as two other gigantic shooters in October 2016. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare directly lifted several of the movement mechanics from the original Titanfall, and included AI robot characters as a deep part of its single-player campaign. And if that wasn’t enough, EA released its own competition just a week before, the critically-acclaimed Battlefield 1.
Titanfall 2 was released at almost the same time as blockbuster shooters from Activision and EA itself. EA/Activision
With the two biggest shooter franchises duking it out on store shelves, Titanfall 2 was left in the dust. Perhaps owing to a lack of a breakout hit years after the studio was founded, and likely more to the general consolidation of the game industry via mergers and acquisitions, Respawn was fully acquired by EA in 2017.
Titanfall 2 managed to be a sleeper success nonetheless, getting big influxes of players every time it went on sale. Coming to the PS4 — excluded from the first game’s release for licensing reasons — probably helped. But with a profile far lower than the original game, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Respawn moves on
Respawn’s next release was the free-to-play Apex Legends, which is nominally set in the same universe as Titanfall and has some of the same parkour movement. But Apex lacks the signature Titan giant robots and comes with a much more sarcastic, Borderlands-esque feel. It’s also a battle royale in the mode of PUBG or Fortnite — not exactly what Titanfall players were hoping for.
Respawn’s two post-Titanfall games, Apex Legends and Jedi Fallen Order, were both hits.
After Apex, which remains a popular freemium game to this day, Respawn released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. A single-player only game, translating the structure and difficulty of Dark Souls to the Star Wars universe, Fallen Order was a major departure for both Respawn and EA. The publisher gave the game a full court press of media support, taking advantage of the release of The Rise of Skywalker in theaters shortly thereafter. It worked: the game was critically acclaimed and a major seller. The sequel is coming out later this year.
Titanfall seems to be a victim of Respawn’s more recent successes.
With Apex Legends and the Jedi series both going strong, and the developer remaining a relatively small company even as a full EA subsidiary, Titanfall seems to be a victim of Respawn’s more recent successes. A small group of dedicated fans can’t keep EA from seeing dollar signs with lucrative free-to-play models and mega media licenses. Titanfall 2 remains a must-play for its single-player campaign alone, but multiplayer servers for the original game are abandoned, and even the sequel is a ghost town with apparently unchecked cheating issues.
Goodbye, robot friends
I never got into Apex, but I was a big fan of Fallen Order. Frankly, it’s the Dark Souls for people who don’t like Dark Souls, a sort of store brand take on the hard-as-nails formula with a story that doesn’t make you work for every last scrap of narrative. But I’d trade it for another Titanfall game in a heartbeat. The shooter’s mix of fast-paced ground movement and meaty robot fighting was utterly unique, and gaming is poorer as a medium now that its multiplayer is more or less gone.
EA and/or Respawn scuppering the third Titanfall game doesn’t necessarily mean that the franchise is dead. But with Respawn’s hands full with two successful franchises, and EA apparently trimming its corporate fat, the odds of seeing it reemerge anytime soon are slim to none. It’s enough to make even an AI-powered giant robot cry.
|Microsoft turns the Elgato Stream Deck into a nifty work tool|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 17:33:18 +0000|
Microsoft recently launched a Teams plugin for the Elgato Stream Deck, the ultra-popular tool used by Twitch streamers, YouTubers, and anyone else who wants quick commands available at the press of a button.
If you’re not sure what the heck this thing does, let me explain. Whether you’re creating a clip from your gameplay or setting your chat to subscriber-only mode, this device makes it simple. Instead of clicking around in multiple Windows, all you have to do is push one of the 15 physical buttons and voila! It runs your preprogrammed action. Microsoft is taking it step further by turning this play tool into a nifty work tool.
Rolling out this month – the official Microsoft Teams plugin for Stream Deck 👏🎉 pic.twitter.com/GFL7jRwFnW— Julian (@JFest) February 1, 2023
The Teams plugin is now available to download. This extension allows you to easily record your Teams meeting, blur out your background, raise or lower your hand, toggle your camera on or off, and much more, all at the press of a button. It’s a useful plugin, that’s for sure, but you need an Elgato Stream Deck in order to use it, which costs $150 on Amazon. However, if you’re in back-to-back Teams meetings and happen to own a Stream Deck, then we’d strongly encourage you to go ahead and download it. It’ll make your professional life a heck of a lot easier.
If you want to set up your Stream Deck with this plugin, make sure you check out Microsoft’s Tech Community post. The company went ahead and provided helpful step-by-step visuals.
|Intel Arc 3 month performance check-in: Impressive Call of Duty gains|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 17:00:00 +0000|
Another month, another dutiful report on the state of Intel’s fledgling GPU drivers for its Arc series of graphics cards from PCWorld contributor Keith May. February sees the introduction of a new game to the roundup, the eye-catching but temperamental Forspoken, and some surprising framerate gains for a staple title. Plus, some exciting news that occurred mere hours after Keith’s video published: Intel is slashing the Arc A750’s price to $249!
Compared to last month’s driver release, the Arc A770 driver didn’t change much for most of our testing titles. In GTA V, Counter-Strike GO, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Total War: Troy, Borderlands 3, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Watch Dogs Legion, and Cyberpunk 2077, the results for the three-month test were in line with (or slightly behind) the two-month test. That’s a particular bummer for Cyberpunk, which just got a DLSS boost on the latest Nvidia cards.
There was one standout: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Whatever special sauce Intel put into the new driver, it’s showing about a 5-10 percent improvement across the board, while 1 percent lows saw a noticeable bump up to 51 frames per second at 1080p and 36 frames per second at 1440 — that’s some solid performance for such a new, graphically-intense game. The gains over the Arc launch are even more impressive.
Forspoken is Square Enix’s new magical melee combat title. It looks gorgeous… if you have the power to run its detailed graphics and whiz-bang effects. Forspoken has already earned a reputation as a resource hog even on high-end gaming PCs, and the Arc A770 isn’t a high-end card. But to Intel’s credit, the day one driver release did manage to boost 1 percent lows by a solid ten percent, even if it didn’t do much for the average FPS. At 1080p, the game runs above 60 fps on high settings — not bad!
For more testing of the latest graphics cards and other hardware, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube.
Arc A770 Limited Edition
Read our review
$329 (8GB) | $349 (16GB, reviewed)
Best Prices Today:
$349.99 at Newegg
|Pick up these sweat resistant Sony wireless earbuds for just $68|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 15:40:46 +0000|
If you’re on the hunt for a pair of wireless earbuds, you’re in luck, as we’ve got an awesome deal for you today. Amazon’s currently selling the Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds for $68, which is 32 percent off of the original price. These earbuds are water resistant and have up to 20 hours of battery life with the charging case. They’re a great option for runners, commuters, or anyone looking to block out everyday sounds. Let’s get into the details then.
These earbuds offer hands-free calling and DSEE technology (aka Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), which restores high frequency sounds lost to compression. The design fits most ear cavities and you can customize your sound using the Sony Headphones Connect app. The earbuds also come with a pill-shaped case that’s small and easy to carry.
This is a fantastic deal, so you better swoop in now before it’s gone forever.
Get the Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds for $68 at Amazon
|Best laptops for video editing 2023: Best overall, best screen, and more|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 15:30:00 +0000|
Video editing can put a heavy burden on any computer. So, when shopping for a laptop for video editing, you’ll want to make sure you’re loading up with some heavy hardware firepower. While you might not need the absolute top of the line gear, simply buying a gaming laptop and calling it a day is probably not going to cut it. Serious video editors need to take into account a few things, including processor and graphics performance, the quality of the display, port selection, and other factors.
We’ve tested countless notebooks in our never-ending quest to find the best laptops. And through this we’ve developed a comprehensive view of the laptop landscape. This has allowed us to identify laptops that fit specific needs, such as video editing. We’ve taken note of the best laptops for video editing and curated a list to help you. Take a look at our top picks below, followed by buying advice and information on how we test our laptops for video editing purposes.
If you’re on a budget or just looking to save some money, you may also want to check out our daily roundup of the best laptop deals to scope out any discounts on content creation notebooks.
1. Dell XPS 17 (2022) – Best laptop for video editing
Solid performance for the price
Massive, bright, colorful display
Offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports
Long battery life
Heavy and thick
Lacks USB-A, HDMI, or Ethernet
RTX 3060 is the quickest available GPU
Best Prices Today:
$2999 at Micro Center
We consider the Dell XPS 17 the ultimate content creation laptop, so it’s no surprise to see this atop our list of the best laptops for video editing. The Intel 12th-gen Core i7-12700H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 inside deliver plenty of punch for intense edits, while a 1TB SSD delivers top-notch storage performance for moving big projects around.
The XPS 17 also includes crucial extras coveted by video editors, such as an SD card reader, Thunderbolt 4 ports aplenty, and a luscious 17-inch touchscreen panel with 3840×2400 resolution, and a more productive 16:10 aspect ratio. Dell even managed to cram all these niceties into a relatively portable-for-its-class 5.34-pound design that can run for 11 hours before needing a charge—improving upon the previous XPS 17 version by over one hour.
Read our full
Review Dell XPS 17 (2022)
2. Dell XPS 15 9520 – Best screen for video editing
Stellar OLED display
Chassis is rugged and gorgeous
Roomy keyboard and touchpad
15.6 < 16 inches
Underwhelming battery life
Webcam is behind the times
Best Prices Today:
$2049.99 at Best Buy$2299 at Dell
The Dell XPS 15 9520 has a stunning OLED display and with its latest Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics, it has become one of our favorites for content creators and video editors. To add to an already impressive system, the rugged and beautiful all-metal enclosure is just the cherry on the top of a premium-quality cake.
Despite it being a 15-inch laptop, it is a bit heavy to carry on an everyday commute, and it lacks some of the ports that come with the XPS 17 model. But the gorgeous OLED display is the star of the show, and it doesn’t let you down with a 3456X2160 resolution, 16:10 aspect ratio, and ultra vivid and accurate colors.
Read our full
Review Dell XPS 15 9520
3. Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED – Best dual-monitor option
Stunning primary display and easy to see secondary display
Excellent I/O options and wireless connectivity
CPU / GPU power meets the needs of content creators
The battery life is lacking for a productivity laptop
The trackpad is small and awkwardly placed
Rear orientated ports can be hard to reach
Best Prices Today:
$1849 at B&H Photo$1,849.00 at Amazon$1999.99 at Best Buy
Now for something a bit different. The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 packs decent firepower, including a Core i7 processor, GeForce RTX 3050 graphics, 16GB of DDR5 memory, and a fast 1TB NVMe SSD. It also has a 14.5-inch 4K touch OLED panel that dazzles at an ultra-bright 547 nits while covering 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut—a screen built for serious content creators. But the truly interesting part is the secondary 12.7-inch 2880×864 screen located just above the keyboard. Windows counts it as a second monitor and you can use bundled Asus software to put it to all kinds of helpful tasks, such as using it as a trackpad or displaying a panel of touch controls for certain Adobe apps.
The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is basically a portable midrange workstation, though the mediocre battery life may mean you’ll need to carry around a charging cable if you need to do some serious work. Despite this, the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is a well-tuned machine for content creators, excelling at tasks such as 3D rendering and encoding and this latest version of Asus’ dual screen is the best yet.
Read our full
Review Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED
4. Razer Blade 14 (2021) – Best ultra-portable laptop for video editing
It performs capably in AAA games
The QHD panel looks great
It’s exceptionally quiet
AC adapter is heavy at 1.7 pounds
Razer products are pricey
No Thunderbolt 4 support
Best Prices Today:
$2,399.99 at Amazon
If pure portability is essential, consider the Razer Blade 14. This ultra-thin laptop measures just 0.66-inch thick and tips the scales at a mere 3.9 pounds, making it significantly smaller than most laptops with video editing chops. But Razer didn’t skimp on the firepower, loading the Blade 14 with AMD’s 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX flagship CPU, Nvidia’s 8GB GeForce RTX 3080, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and 16GB of memory.
You’ll give up some perks in exchange for the Blade’s portability though: The 14-inch IPS-grade screen comes factory calibrated, but tops out at 2560×1440 resolution. 4K video editing is off the table, though the laptop supports the full DCI-P3 color gamut. Razer’s notebook also lacks an SD card slot. But if you need a fierce rig that can chew through edits and renders then slip easily into your bag, the Blade 14 is worth considering.
Read our full
Review Razer Blade 14 (2021)
5. Dell Inspiron 16 – Best laptop for battery life
Roomy 16-inch 16:10 display
Long battery life
Competitive application performance
Comfortable keyboard and huge touchpad
Quad speakers pump up the jams
Lone GPU upgrade is lackluster
Can’t go bigger than 512GB SSD
Large screen can feel awkward in tablet mode
Best Prices Today:
$1249.99 at Best Buy$1249.99 at Dell$1379.00 at Amazon
If it’s battery life that you’re concerned about, the Dell Inspiron 16 should cover you just fine. When we ran our battery benchmark, which cycles through a series of tasks and videos until the laptop dies, the Inspiron 16 lasted a marathon 16.5 hours on a single charge. That should allow you to edit to your heart’s content while out on the road. Due to the battery, it isn’t the most portable, however, weighing in at a substantial 4.7 pounds.
It’s rather inexpensive, but for the price you will have to make sacrifices. It sports a Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. While that should get the job done with most video-editing projects, it does lack storage capacity, so you will need an external drive if your saving video files. What really makes this laptop shine though, is the outstanding battery life which is an often overlooked aspect of mobile video editors. And as a bonus perk, it also comes with a surprisingly robust quad speaker system. For ports, you’re getting two USB Type-C, one USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, one HDMI, one SD card reader, and one 3.5mm audio jack.
Read our full
Review Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1
6. MSI GE76 Raider – Best gaming laptop for video editing
12th-gen Core i9-12900HK simply sings
New “AI” performance mode greatly moderates fan noise.
1080p webcam and good mic and audio makes for decent video conferencing PC
Third iteration in the same body
MSI Center is confusing and cluttered UI
$4,200 (Core i9, RTX 3080 Ti)
Best Prices Today:
$4200 at Adorama$4200 at MSI
If you’re looking for the most raw firepower possible, on the other hand, nothing burns through video edits faster than a big, heavy gaming laptop. The MSI GE76 Raider chewed through the Adobe Premiere test in UL’s Procyon benchmark faster than any other notebook thanks to its burly 14-core Intel Core i9-12900HK chip, an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti tuned for a blistering 175 watts, and ample interior cooling. It even has an SD Express card reader hooked into the PCIe bus for high-speed card transfers. One downside to using last year’s model was its gamer-focused 360Hz 1080p display, but the higher-end version of this year’s 12UHS added a 4K, 120Hz panel that, while not tuned for content creation, should satisfy video editors much more, especially with its spacious 17.3-inch screen size. You sure pay for all that firepower, though.
Read our full
Review GE76 Raider 12UHS
7. HP Envy 14 14t-eb000 (2021) – Best budget laptop for video editing
Good value for the money
Fantastic battery life
Quiet fan, with no detectable performance throttling
Thunderbolt 4 support
Slightly quirky keyboard layout
Webcam’s signature feature is ineffective
Best Prices Today:
$950.99 at HP.com
You’ll need to spend up for heftier hardware if you want the fastest possible video edits and renders, but not everyone can afford to. If you want a solid, basic content creation laptop that won’t break the bank, check out the HP Envy 14. The entry-level GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU and Core i5-1135G7 processor aren’t barnburners, but they’ll get the job done, and at roughly $1,000 the price is certainly right. The 14-inch 1900×1200 display features a 16:10 aspect ratio for improved productivity, along with factory color calibration and 100-percent sRGB support (though not DCI-P3). Better yet, the HP Envy 14 includes crucial SD card and Thunderbolt ports, and it runs surprisingly quiet too.
Read our full
Review HP Envy 14 14t-eb000 (2021)
8. Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 – Another gaming laptop that's great for content creation
Excellent CPU and GPU performance
Robust and innovative design
Comfortable and customizable keyboard
Trackpad requires some pressure
Very high price
$2,200 (base unit) up to $3,700 (review unit)
Best Prices Today:
$2,442.00 at Amazon$3699.99 at Asus$3699.99 at Costco
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is a video editor’s ultimate dream. This laptop features lightning-fast GPU and CPU performance plus a stunning 17.3-inch 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The rugged all-metal chassis, six speaker sound system, and customizable keyboard really adds to the premium experience as well. Better yet for video editors, it also includes an SD card slot and Thunderbolt ports galore. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it. If you’ve got a flexible budget and you won’t settle for anything other than the best of the best, the Zephyrus S17 is truly the bees knees.
Read our full
Review Asus ROG Zephyrus S17
9. XPG Xenia 15 KC – Powerful portability, with minor caveats
(relatively) very fast
Just barely adequate audio
SD card reader barely adequate
When it comes to powerful laptops, many, if not most, of them are pretty bulky and heavy, often tipping the scales at five or six pounds. Well, that’s not the case with the XPG Xenia 15 KC. It weighs a little over four pounds, which is fairly lightweight for a laptop that’s capable of delivering zippy performance across the board. Plus, it runs very quiet. According to our review, it “rarely makes noise under normal use.” That’s impressive, as most gaming laptops tend to sound like a rocket blasting off. If you’re looking for something that’s both quiet and portable, the Xenia 15 KC is an excellent choice, though its 1440p display and relatively slow SD card reader performance may make some content creators balk.
Read our full
Review XPG Xenia 15 KC
What to look for in a laptop for video editing
The most important thing to look for in a laptop for video editing is its CPU and GPU. The faster your hardware, the faster your edits, essentially. In addition to subjecting all of the laptops above to our usual battery of benchmarks, we also ran the UL Procyon Video Editing Test on several high-powered laptops to see which hardware performs best for this sort of work. The benchmark tasks Adobe Premiere with importing two different video projects, applying visual effects such as color grading and transitions, and then exporting it using H.264, H.265 at both 1080p and 4K.
Right-click and select “open in new tab” to see in full resolution.Gordon Mah Ung / IDG
The best performance came from big, heavy laptops running Intel’s 11th-generation processors, though notebooks with AMD’s beefy Ryzen 9 processors came in just behind, with 10th-gen Intel chips still putting up a respectable score. They’re not in the chart above, but newer Intel 12th-gen laptops run even faster still. The best-performing laptops all paired modern Intel CPUs with Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs, which isn’t surprising as both companies have invested a lot of time and resources into optimizing their Adobe performance.
The GPU matters more than CPU in Premiere Pro, though things reach a point of diminishing returns very quickly. Notebooks wielding top-tier RTX 3080 graphics are indeed faster at video editing than laptops with more modest RTX 3060 graphics, but not by that much. If you look at the scores from the Dell XPS 17 9710, its GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU is maybe 14 percent slower than the fastest RTX 3080 in the MSI GE76 Raider. That’s not a lot, especially when you consider how big and thick the GE76 Raider is compared to the Dell laptop.
In general, having any sort of discrete graphics is preferred, with at least an RTX 3060 recommended for serious video editing.
Video editing is very workflow dependent however. Your particular task and tool might be more CPU intensive, or lean more on the GPU than Premiere. If so, adjust your priorities accordingly. The selections above should all be great well-rounded options, however. Intel and Nvidia have spent years building up tools like Quick Sync and CUDA, respectively, and many video editing apps can see significant speed boosts because of it. AMD hardware does fine for video editing, but we recommend sticking to Intel and Nvidia unless you have a strong reason otherwise, especially if your workflow relies on their vendor-specific software optimizations.
If you’re transferring video from a camera, an SD card port (like this one on the Dell XPS 17) is essential, unless you’re comfortable plugging an SD card adapter into a high-speed USB or Thunderbolt port.
Gordon Mah Ung/IDG
It’s not all about the internals though. PCWorld video director Adam Patrick Murray stresses that an ideal laptop for video editing includes an SD card reader for grabbing video off a camera. He also recommends opting for a notebook with a 4K, 60Hz panel over the ultra-fast 1080p panels often found on gaming laptops that would otherwise be ideal for video editing. You need a 4K panel to edit 4K videos well, and blazing-fast refresh rates don’t mean anything for video editing like they do for gaming. If color accuracy matters to you—it might not if you’re only creating casual videos for your personal YouTube channel, for example—then support for the full DCI-P3 color gamut is also a must, along with Delta E < 2 color accuracy.
You won’t often find those sorts of specs listed for (or supported by) gaming laptops, but dedicated content creation laptops should include that information. That said, if you want the fastest possible laptop for video editing that can also satisfy your gaming proclivities, you can always pair that burly gaming laptop with a color-accurate external monitor for creation tasks.
If you’re looking for a more general purpose notebook, be sure to check out our guide to the best laptops for picks for every budget. You may also find solid laptops for video editing for cheap in our roundup of the best laptop deals, which we update daily with the latest sales.
|Microsoft rolls out Teams Premium with OpenAI superpowers|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 15:28:38 +0000|
You’d think that collaborative chatting programs like Slack or Teams wouldn’t need too many bells and whistles in order to be effective tools. Microsoft would beg to differ. The new Teams Premium tier not only includes the usual unlimited messages and better organizational tools, it’s adding exclusive powers enabled by OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 language model. The new tier will be $10 per month per user starting on June 30th, but you can get a cheaper preview for $7 until then.
What does the fancy AI do? It’s mostly one headline feature, “intelligent recap.” This tool can “watch” meetings with Teams’ video feature and automatically generate meeting notes and recommended tasks, as well as a full transcription of what’s spoken in the meeting and by whom. It’ll also generate automatic chapter divides for recorded meetings, though at launch it only works if you use PowerPoint Live — which seems like something you could do without resorting to prodigious AI number-crunching.
Premium users will also be able to apply watermarks to Teams video and select which participants can record and which cannot, combining with sensitivity labels to create a larger focus on privacy and security. Less notable additions include expanded webinar tools and more robust alerts for meetings.
As noted by The Verge, the new Premium tier is also stealing some features away from the previous paid tier ($4 per user per month). Live translations for captions in 40 languages will remain on the bottom tier for the next 60 days, but will then be exclusive to Premium. Company-wide custom backgrounds and virtual appointments are also on the chopping block for less lucrative users.
GPT-powered additions to Teams are only the latest in the company’s wave of AI-infused tools. Microsoft’s Designer program uses extensive AI-generated art for publishing, and the company has been experimenting with ChatGPT in its Bing browser, among other pushes. Seeing all of these AI-powered additions to Microsoft software is a reminder of some of its less people-friendly actions as of late, like hosting an exclusive Sting concert for executives just a few hours before announcing 10,000 job cuts.
|Windows 11’s big yearly update comes to your PC: 5 new features to try first|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 15:05:26 +0000|
You may have found that your Windows PC recently updated itself, whether or not you wanted it to, as Microsoft began automatically upgrading Windows 11 PCs with its big annual update at the end of January. It’s been an optional upgrade since its September release. But that’s okay: there are plenty of new things to check out in the huge Windows 11 2022 Update, codenamed 22H2. The system has been given a bit of spit and polish pretty much everywhere — you probably noticed some of the more obvious interface changes, like new icons for changing volume.
Here are five of the more substantial changes you should check out first in the Windows 11 2022 Update. If you want to go even deeper down the Windows 11 rabbit hole, check out our guide to 10 Windows 11 tips and tricks we use to customize our PCs.
Clipchamp: A new, free video editor
Windows now has a new default video editor: Clipchamp. As a sort of spiritual successor to the likes of Windows Movie Maker, it’s simpler and more accessible than professional video editors — the kind of thing you can use for a quick cut or fade-in if you’re sharing a YouTube video with friends. The tool includes the usual basic timeline and editing capabilities, and it can upload directly to YouTube, TikTok, and various web storage services.
Mark Hachman / Foundry
As of Windows 11 version 22H2, Clipchamp should be included in your operating system — just search for it in the Start Menu. If it’s not there, you can download it for free from the Microsoft Store. Here’s a full guide on the basics for this new tool.
Tabs in File Explorer
Power users have been waiting for this one for a long time. Tabs are a feature that more advanced alternative file browsers have been using for decades, and Microsoft finally—finally—delivered a tabbed File Explorer in the Windows 11 2022 Update. Here’s a full guide on how to use them.
Mark Hachman / IDG
To open a new tab in any Explorer window, just click the “+” button in the top most menu bar. Tabs work just like you’re used to in any modern web browser, though you can’t click and drag them into a new Explorer window (yet). While you’re here, check out the new, streamlined left-hand menu, with faster access to system folders and your most used locations.
Folders in the Start Menu
If you like to have a lot of apps within easy reach in the Start Menu, you’ll love the new folders feature. It works more or less just like folders do on the homescreen for Android or iOS (or perhaps more pertinently, Chrome OS). Any two or more shortcuts can be combined into a folder, and any folder can have a custom name.
To get started, just click and drag one Start Menu icon onto another. When you see both of them shrink, release the mouse button and a folder will be created automatically. Click the new folder, then click the title to rename it. Any additional programs can be dragged in or out of the folder, and you can have as many folders as you like.
New ways to use the Snap Bar
The Snap Bar is one of the most useful multitasking tools in newer versions of Windows. You might have seen it if you frequently drag windows around by their title bar: it’s that thing that lets you move them to halves, thirds, or quadrants of your screen easily. But there are new ways to access it.
Hover your mouse cursor (don’t click!) on the maximize window button, in between the close (X) and minimize (_) buttons in the upper-right corner. You’ll see the six most common layout options. Click on any of the sub-grids in this pop-up to send the window to that location. You can also activate this view by typing Win + Z, then a number, then a number again to “drill down” into the options.
NotePad is one of the oldest, simplest tools in all of Windows, but this basic text editor is a little more capable than you might remember. In the most basic version, it now follows the dark or light color scheme in your personalization settings.
Microsoft might have even more in store for the humble NotePad. As you read this, testing versions of Windows 11 are being updated with tabs in NotePad in a similar addition to Windows Explorer. Whether or not this will come to the full release remains to be seen.
Want to discover even more cool computer tricks? Check out our roundup of 10 little-known Windows features that will blow your mind.
|Best monitor deals: Gaming monitors, 4K workstations, and more|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 14:48:27 +0000|
Picking the right monitor for your home office can be a time consuming task. That’s why we stepped in and curated a list of the best monitor deals available right now. From ridiculously high refresh rate gaming monitors to 4K workstations, we’ve got a wide variety to chose from. We also made sure to hit various price points as well as screen sizes, resolutions, response times, and other features. If you have any questions, we’ve even included a helpful FAQ section at the end of this article.
Everyday monitor deals
Sometimes all you need is a simple monitor for everyday tasks like web surfing, writing email’s, and so on. The picks below are great options for both work or personal use. They’re also good sizes for a home office.
Acer KA272, 27-inch 1080p display/75Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync, $119.99 (36%/$70 off at Best Buy)Lenovo L27q-35, 27-inch 1440p display/75Hz refresh rate/FreeSync, $199.99 (13%/$30 off at Amazon)Sceptre E248W-19203R Series, 24-inch 1080p display/75Hz refresh rate/Adaptive Sync, $99.44 (20%/$25.53 off at Amazon)Acer R240HY, 23.8-inch 1080p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio, $99.99 (33%/$50 off at Amazon)
The Acer KA272 is a solid everyday monitor for the price, as the 1ms response time really gives it the edge.
Fore more options, check out PCWorld’s best home office monitor roundup.
Gaming monitor deals
There’s nothing more annoying than playing a competitive game on a monitor that lags. When every second matters, you need something that can keep up with the flow. That’s where gaming monitors come in. Their high refresh rates are designed to make your game look as smooth as possible.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G7, 32-inch curved 2160p display/165Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync, $1,161.99 (11%/$138 off at Amazon)Samsung Odyssey G55A, 32-inch 1440p curved display/165Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync, $328.88 (6%/$21.11 off at Amazon)
If you’re looking for the ultimate gaming experience, the Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 monitor is worth considering. The 32-inch curved 4K display is both sharp and beautiful.
For more options, check out PCWorld’s best gaming monitors roundup.
4K workstation monitor deals
Are you a content creator? If so, you should consider picking up a 4K monitor. These monitors are perfect for video editing thanks to their high resolution displays. They’re also a good pick for movie buffs. There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite flick on a 4K display, where the details are ultra-sharp.
ThinkVision P32p-20, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/4ms response time, $499 (51%/$535 off at Lenovo)Samsung LU28R55OUQNXZA, 28-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/4ms response time, $299.99 (14%/$50 off at Best Buy)
When it comes to 4K displays, the bigger the better. You definitely want to see those details. The ThinkVision P32p-20 has a spacious 31.5-inch display, which is the ideal size for photo or video editors.
For more options, check out PCWorld’s best 4K monitors roundup.
Which retailers offer good monitor deals?
Online retailers like Best Buy and Walmart have good discounts, that’s for sure. However, we’d recommend widening your net and buying directly from the manufacturers. Lenovo, for example, is currently having a Cyber Week sale. You can pick up a monitor or laptop for up to 78% off, which is nothing to sneeze at. Dell’s offering a similar sale in which you can save up to 60% and get free shipping.
What should I look for in a good gaming monitor?
When it comes to gaming monitors, refresh rate is important. The refresh rate is how fast a monitor can pull up an image on screen. The faster the fresh rate, the smoother your game will look. For competitive first-person shooters, where every second counts, we’d recommend 144Hz as the minimum rate. Anything higher is good enough for the eSports realm.
Resolution is another important feature to consider. Much like the refresh rate, the higher the number, the better. The resolution has a direct impact on image and video quality. 1080p is the best resolution for 24 inch monitors. For 27 inch monitors, 1440p is ideal.
Response time is a big one, too. Response time is how long it takes for a pixel to change color. A monitor with a 1ms (millisecond) response time, for example, is going to be faster than a monitor with a 5ms response time. This directly impacts how a monitor handles motion.
What about the size? Well, it depends on the distance from the screen. 24 inches is a good option if you’re about three feet from the screen, as it’s small enough to see everything without having to move your head around. 27 inches is better if you’re further than three feet away from the screen.
What should I look for in a good workstation monitor?
4K monitors produce ultra-sharp sharp images and video, so bigger is better in this case. In order to see all those tiny details, we’d suggest springing for a 31 inch monitor (at the very least). You need room for all those delicious pixels. That’s why 4K monitors are perfect for photo or video editors. Watching movies on these monitors is a delightful experience as well.
What size monitor should I buy?
In terms of monitor size, 27-inches is the most common. That’s a good size for a home office. For gaming monitors, 24 or 27 inches is best. You don’t want to be swinging your head around too much in the middle of a fast-paced match. Plus, a larger screen may cause eye strain if you’re sitting too close so it’s better to go smaller. For 4K monitors, go with a 31 inch. 4K resolution brings next-level visuals, so you definitely want to go bigger.
|AMD is ‘undershipping’ chips to balance CPU, GPU supply|
|Thu, 02 Feb 2023 14:37:48 +0000|
As the PC industry flounders, Intel suffered from such disastrous sales last quarter that it instituted pay cuts and other extreme measures going forward. AMD’s client PC sales also dropped dramatically—a whopping 51 percent year-over-year—but the company managed to eke out a small profit despite the sky falling. So why aren’t CPU and GPU prices falling too? In a call with investors Tuesday night, CEO Lisa Su confirmed that AMD has been “undershipping” chips for a while now to balance supply and demand.
“We have been undershipping the sell-through or consumption for the last two quarters,” Su said, as spotted by PC Gamer. “We undershipped in Q3, we undershipped in Q4. We will undership, to a lesser extent, in Q1.”
With the pandemic winding down and inflation ramping up, far fewer people are buying CPUs, GPUs, and PCs. It’s a hard, sudden reverse from just months ago, when companies like Nvidia and AMD were churning out graphic cards as quickly as possible to keep up with booming demand from cryptocurrency miners and PC gamers alike. Now that GPU mining is dead, shelves are brimming with unsold chips.
Update: Drew Prairie, AMD’s VP of communications, reached out with the following clarification: “We are shipping below consumption because there is too much inventory in the channel and that partners want to carry lower levels of inventory based on the demand they are seeing and their expectations for their business…the idea we are doing this to keep prices “elevated” isn’t accurate. Our client ASP was flat year over year, and that is due to mix of CPUs shipped.”This article originally published with the headline “AMD is ‘undershipping’ chips to keep CPU, GPU prices elevated” but it has been updated to reflect AMD’s clarification.
Despite the painfully high price tags of new next-gen GPUs, last-gen GeForce RTX 30-series and Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards are still selling for very high prices considering their two-year-old status. Strategic under-shipping helps companies maintain higher prices for their wares.
The Flagship Radon RX 7900 XTX is on of the few 'worthy' next-gen GPUs
Radeon RX 7900 XTX
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$999 at B&H Photo |
$999 at Newegg |
Not Available at Best Buy
AMD isn’t the only one doing it, either.
“We’re continuing to watch each and every day in terms of the sell-through that we’re seeing,” Nvidia CFO Colette Kress said to investors in November. “So we have been undershipping. We have been undershipping gaming at this time so that we can correct that inventory that is out in the channel.”
Since then, Nvidia has released the $1,200 GeForce RTX 4080 and $800 RTX 4070 Ti, two wildly overpriced graphics cards, and tried positioning them as enthusiast-grade upsells over the RTX 30-series, rather than treating them like the usual cyclical upgrades. AMD’s $900 Radeon RX 7900 XT offers similarly disappointing value and the company recently released a blog post also positioning its new GPUs as enthusiast-grade upsells.
Overall gross margin is a key metric for chip companies, which burn through a ton of cash investing in R&D and cutting-edge technological processes. AMD’s market tricks helped it achieve a 51 percent non-GAAP gross margin last quarter, while Intel forecasted a terrifyingly low 34.1 percent gross margin for the upcoming quarter (hence its belt-tightening moves).
Intel Arc A750 Limited Edition
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
$249 at B&H Photo |
$249 at Micro Center |
$249 at Newegg
This all helps explain why street prices for standalone GPUs haven’t plummeted, even as deals on desktops and laptops have started ramping up. We expect—hope?—that as stocks dwindle down and competition ramps up, sanity will return to graphics card prices, mirroring AMD and Intel’s recent CPU price adjustments. Just this morning, Intel announced that its Arc A750 graphics card was getting a price cut to $250, instantly making it an all-too-rare tempting target for PC gamers on a budget.
CPUs and Processors, Graphics Cards