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HP Omen Transcend 14 review: a stylish, reasonably-priced OLED gaming laptop
3:38 am | July 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers Gaming Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

HP Omen Transcend 14: Two-minute review

The HP Omen Transcend 14 (2024) is almost everything I want out of the best gaming laptops lineup: sleek, stylish, portable, comfortable to type on, and offering more than enough gaming performance for modern games at 1080p, all for a pretty reasonable price tag.

Its 120Hz OLED display in particular is a jaw-dropper and made me realize what I’m missing out on with my usual IPS monitor. The Transcend 14’s classy, portable design made me feel at ease taking it out to work. And it offered enough gaming performance to keep me gaming from the comfort of my bed rather than in my office on my gaming PC.

There are a couple of pain points with the Transcend 14, though. First, its battery life is seriously bad. Second—and admittedly this might only be a problem for those like myself who like to pretend they’re “competitive” gamers—it has a 16:10 aspect ratio display, which means you see less on the horizontal axis while playing first-person shooters. I could find no easy fix for this, as enabling 16:9 resolutions with black-border GPU scaling proved difficult.

Despite this, for casual or non-FPS gaming, this laptop is stylish, comfortable, and performs well enough that it would certainly be in the running for becoming my own personal gaming laptop. Its GPU is a little underpowered (even with a 15W boost in the Omen software) compared to similar laptops, but not enough to detract from the value offered by the Transcend 14’s stellar design, cooling, and display.

So, if you’re fine with these battery life, resolution, and GPU caveats, I can happily recommend the HP Omen Transcend 14, though I’d personally struggle to pick between it and the 2024 version of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (or maybe a bigger laptop altogether, given 14-inch displays are quite small). 

HP Omen Transcend 14: Price and availability

A design element of the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,689 / £1,449 (about AU$2,450)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK (Australia release unknown)

The Transcend 14 sits smack-bang where I hope many more laptops will sit as time goes on: in the mid-range OLED segment—“mid-range,” of course, always sounds a little tongue-in-cheek when we move past $1,500.

Three things make this laptop stellar value for the money: its mainstream gaming performance, sleek and portable design, and gorgeous OLED display. For $1,819 for the 1TB RTX 4060 version, you’re getting a pretty great deal.

Its main competitor is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024), which also looks great, is portable, has a lovely 120Hz OLED screen, has similar specs, and costs roughly the same at MSRP. The main difference between the two right now seems to be that the Transcend 14 is frequently selling for much cheaper than its MSRP.

The Razer Blade 14 (2024) is an alternative, too, but costs a fair amount more for a version with similar specs. For that mark-up, you get an even better chassis (which is saying a lot) and better performance thanks to higher GPU power limits. But you don’t get that beautiful OLED screen, which is no little thing. 

  • Value: 4 / 5

HP Omen Transcend 14: Specs

The spec stickers on the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The Omen Transcend 14 (2024) comes in three main configurations, although you can customize it a little beyond these configs. The main choice to make is between a model with a Core Ultra 7 155H with RTX 4050, a Core Ultra 7 155H with RTX 4060, or a Core Ultra 9 185H with RTX 4070

Beyond this, you can configure a few things. In the US, you can save $90 by opting for a 512GB SSD instead of a 1TB one, taking the base config down to $1,599, or pay an extra $140 for a 2TB SSD. You can also pay an extra $40 for a Wi-Fi 7 card, and you can pay extra for single-zone RGB or a white chassis. 

You can also choose to pay an extra $150 to have a HyperX Cloud III Wireless headset included (which automatically pairs with the laptop). Apart from this, there’s the usual slew of Operating System, warranty, and software customizations to choose from. 

HP Omen Transcend 14: Design

The lid of the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Gorgeous 120Hz OLED display with vibrant colors and deep blacks
  • Classy, understated, portable MacBook-esque design
  • “Pudding-inspired” keycaps on a springy keyboard that feels great

The Omen Transcend 14 looks and feels more like a modern portable work laptop than a gaming laptop, and that’s a good thing, in my book. HP is clearly going for more of a MacBook-style design than a decked-out gaming aesthetic, and for the price, it sure as hell delivers.

This 14-inch machine is light, weighing 3.59lb, and slim, too, at just 0.7 inches thick. Crucially, it manages to walk the line between portable and sturdy, being super easy to sling in a backpack and take to the café without feeling like you might break it while doing so. There’s a slight flex to the display, but nothing concerning.

What’s more, it offers all this in a crisp, understated design—understated for a gaming laptop, that is. And while the “shadow black” style of Transcend 14 I received looks gorgeous, the “ceramic white” one looks even better. You can get the latter version for just $15 extra, which is worth it in my opinion.

Image 1 of 5

The keyboard of the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
Image 2 of 5

The ports on the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
Image 3 of 5

The HyperX logo on the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
Image 4 of 5

The webcam on the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
Image 5 of 5

A quarter next to the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Apart from this, the Transcend 14’s OLED display is probably its main selling point. If you’ve never gamed on an OLED monitor before, it’s hard for me to explain just how stunning the dark blacks and vibrant colors look. Combine this with its 120Hz refresh rate and you have a phenomenal gaming display. It’s just a shame it doesn’t come with full-fledged GSync or FreeSync.

It takes a lot to impress me in the keyboard department, given I’m very used to my own custom mechanical keyboard, but the Transcend 14’s semi-chonky keyboard did impress. I used this laptop as a daily driver for a few days and found it an absolute joy to type on. Its “pudding-inspired” HyperX keycaps look great, and the keys feel nice and springy. The trackpad’s nice and tactile, too, and is centered (thank God), just like it should be.

I’m no fan of RGB, but if that kind of thing’s your jam, you’ll be pleased to hear it comes with four-zone RGB. Or, if you’re happy paying an eye-watering $80 extra, you can get per-key RGB. Colors, effects, and the like can all be customized in the HP Omen software.

One thing that slightly disappointed me about the Transcend 14 is its selection of ports, especially given the rear USB-C port essentially acts as a dedicated charging port. For multiple USB devices, you’ll want to pick up a USB hub. Still, there should be just enough ports here for most use cases, including for connecting an external mouse and keyboard.

  • Design: 5 / 5

HP Omen Transcend 14: Performance

The HP Omen Transcend 14 on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Reasonable 1080p gaming performance
  • GPU is power-limited, even after enabling 15W boost
  • Great performance for such a slim, cool, quiet, and reasonably-priced laptop
Benchmarks

Here is how the HP Omen Transcend 14 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Fire Strike: 17,848; Time Spy: 8,010;
GeekBench 6: 2,362 (single-core); 13,248 (multi-core)
25GB File Copy:
15.52 seconds
Handbrake 1.6 4K to 1080p encode: 5:04 minutes CrossMark Overall: 1,506; Productivity: 1,404; Creativity: 1,810; Responsiveness: 1,069;
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra):
60.8 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 21.24 fps
Dirt 5 (1920x1200, Ultra): 50 fps
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 4 hours 9 minutes
PCMark 10 Gaming Battery Life: 58 minutes 

The Omen Transcend 14 keeps up with modern titles at 1080p, but starts to struggle at higher resolutions. However, gaming at 1080p on medium settings looks fantastic on its OLED display, and frankly, you don’t need a higher resolution on a 14-inch monitor anyway. During my time gaming on this laptop, I found that whether I was playing Metro Exodus, Overwatch 2, Doom Eternal, V Rising, Satisfactory, or Vampire Survivors (you know, to really put the laptop through its paces), it was more than up to the task. 

During the starting area of Metro Exodus, the Transcend 14’s RTX 4060 pulled over 100fps on Extreme settings at 1080p with DLSS enabled, and not much less than that with it disabled. Risk of Rain 2 had me at a smooth 80fps even at higher resolutions, and Overwatch 2 averaged well over 120fps.

However, my real bugbear is that while the Transcend 14 display’s native 16:10 aspect ratio makes it more useable for casual gaming and general use, it’s not great for competitive gaming because you lose out on some horizontal real estate in games. 

Using 16:9 compressed everything, making the game look stretched vertically. So, I tried to get it working with black borders. However, because the laptop runs a hybrid GPU setup (switching from its Intel Arc GPU to its RTX 4060 when needed), there was no GPU scaling option in the Nvidia Control Panel. I couldn’t get it working via the Intel Graphics Command Center, either. 

The only way I could run a game at 16:9 with black borders was to change the resolution in Windows Settings and then play it in borderless windowed mode, which feels like more of a hacky workaround than anything else and, at any rate, introduced more input latency than when playing fullscreen (And trying to get 16:9 working in Counter Strike 2 just straight-up crashed the entire system.)

If you’re not picky about 16:9 FPS gaming like me, the Transcend 14 performs well enough for casual gaming today. You can expect about 60fps in most good-looking games at 1080p, and if you enable DLSS, FSR, or XeSS you can really make the most of the OLED display’s 120Hz refresh rate.

There’s also an option to boost max GPU power by 15W (from 65W to 80W) in the Omen Gaming Hub software. I found that enabling this boosted the GPU clock from 1965MHz to 2190MHz, and from 113fps to 131fps, at 1080p during the opening portion of Metro Exodus.

Unfortunately, though, even this 15W boost doesn’t quite put the Transcend 14’s performance in line with some similar-specced 14-inch laptops. Instead, it sacrifices a little gaming performance for a portable design, cooler thermals, quieter fans, and a lower price.

If we’re talking general work use, the laptop performs great—with one caveat. I found, for whatever reason, things got laggy when downloading files while on battery power. Even typing in Notepad was slow. As soon as I plugged in the mains or stopped downloading, it was fine. Just a peculiar heads up.

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

HP Omen Transcend 14: Battery life

  • Atrocious battery life
  • Even with power-saving settings, expect fewer than 6 hours for light tasks

The Transcend 14 has a 71Wh battery, and in practice I found it to offer worse battery life than many other gaming laptops. In our PCMark 10 Battery Life test, we found it to give less than an hour of game-time on battery power, and this seemed to bear out in my day-to-day testing. For gaming, then, you’ll really want to have this thing plugged in via the rear USB-C port (which offers faster charging than the side port).

I got 5 hours and 45 minutes of seven-tab Chrome office work out of the Transcend 14, so don’t expect to get a full 8 hours of work done without charging it. To be clear, this was with the Omen Hub’s Eco Mode enabled, Windows power efficiency mode turned on, brightness turned low (but still clearly visible), and RGB lighting turned off.

In all, its battery life is disappointing, but it’s enough to crank out a few hours of work on-the-go, or half an hour of unplugged gaming here and there. And thankfully, it charges quickly using the rear port.

  • Battery Life: 2 / 5

Should you buy the HP Omen Transcend 14?

The lid of the HP Omen Transcend 14

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Buy the HP Omen Transcend 14 if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the HP Omen Transcend 14

  • I tested the HP Omen Transcend 14 (2024) for several weeks
  • I tested it using benchmark tests, video game benchmarks, and doing day-to-day gaming and office work
  • I used Nvidia FrameView to capture in-game framerates

For the first week, I got used to the laptop. I treated it as if I’d just bought it for myself, unboxing it, downloading my favorite games, and making use of it day-to-day. I made notes of any positives and negatives that came to mind. Then, I got to testing. 

I ran benchmarks for tons of different use cases, noting the results. Finally, I tested some specific things I was curious about. Namely, the 16:10 vs 16:9 issue, and office work battery life tests. I also took the laptop out with me to work, to test its portability.

The HP Omen Transcend 14 (2024) is a gaming laptop, and is ideal for gaming even in more demanding titles (provided it’s plugged in and not running on battery power), but it can also be used as a work laptop. I used it for my own work and found its portability and design to both look and play the part, and its keyboard was a delight to use. Unfortunately, its battery life wasn’t amazing.

I’ve spent the past few years testing and reviewing all kinds of PC components, peripherals, and devices, including gaming laptops. I know how to test them properly, be objective and make accurate inferences from test results, and, probably more importantly, I know how to treat my devices like an end-user would, cutting the wheat from the chaff and getting to what’s most important to average PC gamers.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed July 2024
Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 review: fantastic performance for the (current) price
2:45 am | July 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Computing Components Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Two-minute review

The Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 RAM kit is now going to be my default RAM kit on the test bench, it's really that good.

It's not so much about the style, which is in itself pretty fantastic with its oragami-inspired design and attractive white heatspreader. 

It's also not really about the price, especially since the current retail price for a 32GB (2x16GB) of $104.99 in the US (about £90/AU$150) is technically a discount from its list price of $164.99 (about £135/AU$240), which would make this kit a lot less appealing when compared to something like the TeamGroup T-Force Delta RGB DDR5 I reviewed in March if the Crucial Pro Overclocking ever went back up to its MSRP.

While those factors—design and price—are definitely relevant, it wouldn't mean anything if its performance wasn't up to par with the competition, and fortunately, the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 can more than hold its own against its rivals.

As you can see above, there are areas where the Crucial Pro OC kit doesn't quite get to the levels of some other competing DDR5 kits like the TeamGroup T-Force Delta RGB or PNY XLR8 Gaming Mako, both of which also clock in at 6,000MT/s when running in overclocking mode, but unlike those kits, the Crucial Pro can do both XMP and EXPO, so its compatibility is fantastic.

This is especially true if you work on a lot of different systems and sometimes find yourself toggling between AMD and Intel frequently enough that you have a hard time keeping track of which RAM you're using (though that might just be a me-problem).

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Currently, you can only get the Crucial Pro Overclocking in a 32GB kit (16GBx2) at 6,000MT/s, but honestly, you really don't need much more than that. Besides, the stock 5,600MT/s that you get out of the package is better than most competing kits, so if you want better stability you have the option of just plugging your RAM in and turning on your PC for great performance.

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

There are things that some might be missing, like the RGB aesthetic or even more control over overclocking voltages and speeds than the presets you get with the Crucial Pro Overclocking kit, but for the amount of money you're paying for what you're getting, this is currently the RAM kit to beat in this range.

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $104.99 (about £90 / AU$150)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

You can get the 32GB (16GBx2) Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 kit for $104.99 (about £90 / AU$150), though its does show a list price of $164.99 on Crucial's storefront where it has marked the price on this kit down considerably.

As it stands, this RAM kit is very competitive price-wise. If that ever changes, however, that will be a much bigger issue, as its performance to price ratio at its list price is genuinely terrible. You shouldn't spend more than $110/£90/AU$155 on this kit, as you can get a much better value elsewhere once you're in the $150/£120/AU$210 range.

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Specs

Should you buy the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5?

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Buy the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 kit if...

You want easy DDR5 overclocking
The best part about the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 is that you plug it in and it just works.

You want great-looking RAM for your build
Between the stylish silhouette, this is some great-looking RAM.

Don't buy it if...

You want some RGB
This is strictly non-RGB, so if you want that sort of thing, there are other options out there.

It's priced above $110/£90/AU$155
This RAM has been selling for much less than its list price, but if that ever changes, there are likely to be better options out there.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed July 2024

TP-Link Deco BE63: impressive Wi-Fi 7 mesh router system at a competitive price
7:27 pm | July 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Computing Components Gadgets Servers & Network Devices | Tags: | Comments: Off

TP-Link Deco BE63: One-Minute Review

The Deco range of mesh Wi-Fi systems from TP-Link is a popular option for many people who want good Wi-Fi performance at a competitive price, and the company recently introduced a new version of the Deco with support for the latest Wi-Fi 7 standard.

Somewhat oddly, there are some differences between the Deco models that are on sale in different countries, as in the US TP-Link has named this product the Deco BE63, while in other regions it’s the BE65 instead.

There are a few other differences as well, but all models share the same basic design and features, and the three-router system that we’ve reviewed here is about the same price as some of the two-router systems we’ve seen recently – so the Deco is certainly good value for money for anyone looking for a high-performance Wi-Fi upgrade.

TP-Link Deco BE63: Price And Availability

  • How much does it cost? $799.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,185
  • When is it available? It's out now
  • Where can you get it? US and UK (Australia coming soon)

Customers in the US have the best range of options, as they can buy a single Deco BE63 unit that will be suitable for smaller homes for $299.99. There’s also a two-pack available for homes with around four bedrooms, costing $549.99, while larger homes can opt for the three-pack that we’ve reviewed here, priced at $799.99.

In the UK, the model number is changed to Deco BE65, and the system is currently only available as a three-pack priced at £699.99. It isn’t yet on sale in Australia at the time of writing, but the price for the Deco BE65 should be approximately AU$1,185.

Wi-Fi 7 routers and mesh systems are still quite expensive as the technology is so new, but that three-pack option is actually quite competitive. We’ve seen Wi-Fi 7 products from rival manufacturers such as Netgear and Linksys that charge similar prices – or higher – for mesh systems that only have two routers, so TP-Link is certainly providing good value for money in relative terms.

  • Value: 5 / 5

TP-Link Deco BE63: Design

TP-Link Deco BE63 close up

(Image credit: Future)
  • Smart and compact cylindrical design
  • 4x Ethernet ports (2.5Gbps)
  • 1x USB 3.0 port

This new version of the Deco sticks with the familiar white, cylindrical design that TP-Link has used in recent years. Each router stands 176mm high and 107.5mm in diameter, so they don’t take up too much space when you’re setting them up. They’re sturdily built too, and TP-Link adds a little flourish with what initially looks like a simple brush-stroke pattern, but actually becomes recognizable as a large ‘7’ as you move further away.

There are four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports on the back of each router, and each port can be used to connect to the internet (WAN), or to provide a wired connection (LAN) for devices such as a laptop or games console. And, unlike some of its rivals, the Deco also includes a USB 3.0 port that allows you to connect a hard drive or other storage device to your home or office network.

TP-Link Deco BE63/BE65: Specifications

Wi-Fi: Tri-band Wi-Fi 7 (2.4GHz/5.0GHz/6.0GHz)
Wi-Fi Speed: 10Gbps (US) ; 9.2Gbps (UK)
Ports (per router): 4 x 2.5Gb Ethernet (WAN/LAN), 1x USB-A (3.0)
Processor: Unspecified
Memory: Unspecified
Storage: Unspecified
Dimensions: 176 x 107.5 × 107.5mm, 1.1kg

But, as we’ve mentioned, there are some differences beneath the surface of the Deco, depending on which region you live in. The model sold in the US is called the Deco BE63, and provides tri-band Wi-Fi 7 using the 2.4GHz, 5.0GHz and 6.0GHz frequency bands, with a top speed of 10Gbps. However, customers in other regions are offered the Deco BE65, which has a slightly lower top speed of 9.2Gbps.

We were told by TP-Link that these differences are due to varying national regulations in each region, which affect the top speed that can be used on each frequency band (although this isn’t something we’ve encountered with other mesh systems that we’ve reviewed in the past).

The Deco hasn’t yet gone on sale in Australia, but TP-Link is actually planning to release three separate models in that region, with the standard Deco BE65 being joined by the BE65-5G with support for 5G mobile broadband, and the BE65 Pro, which will provide faster 5Gbps Ethernet ports for wired connections.

  • Design: 5 / 5

TP-Link Deco BE63: Features

TP-Link Deco BE63 ports

(Image credit: Future)
  • Free parental controls
  • MLO network
  • Quick setup, well-designed app

Getting started was straightforward enough, as the Deco app prompted us to connect one of the Deco routers to our existing broadband router, and was then able to automatically connect to the new Deco mesh network. We were then prompted to create a new name and password for the Deco network, and the three Deco routers automatically connected to each other. So, all that really needs to be done is to simply plug them in.

On the downside on the ease-of-use front, the app does throw some jargon at you, asking you to select settings such as ‘VLAN’ and ‘Dynamic IP.’ Most people will be able to ignore these and just accept the default settings shown in the app, but TP-Link could explain these settings more clearly for newbie users who aren’t Wi-Fi wizards.

The Deco app is well-designed overall, though, and its main screen quickly shows you all the key information about your network. There’s a network map that displays the status of the three routers and all the devices connected to each router. It also shows the current download and upload speeds, and has a built-in speed test to check your broadband connection (using the same Ookla Speedtest that we use for our performance testing).

TP-Link Deco BE63 app

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Some mesh systems simply merge all three frequency bands – 2.4GHz, 5.0GHz and 6.0GHz – into a single network, while others create a separate network for each. The Deco sits somewhere in-between, as it creates one network that combines the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, but splits off the 6.0Hz band to create a separate high-speed network for newer computers and mobile devices that have Wi-Fi 7 or Wi-Fi 6E (which both support 6.0GHz).

We were also interested to learn that – unlike most of its Wi-Fi 7 rivals – the Deco also provides an option to activate or deactivate ‘multi-link operation’ (MLO) and create a separate MLO network as well. This is a key feature of Wi-Fi 7 that allows devices to use the 5.0GHz and 6.0GHz bands at the same time in order to improve Wi-Fi performance.

However, MLO only works with computers and mobile devices that also support Wi-Fi 7, so having the ability to create a separate MLO network allows you to prioritize performance for newer devices that cater for Wi-Fi 7. Alternatively, for older PCs, laptops and mobile devices, the Deco app also provides a QoS option (Quality of Service) that allows you to give priority to specific devices, such as a console or gaming PC, so that they get the best performance.

TP-Link Deco BE63 - 3 devices showing ports

(Image credit: Future)

We were also pleased to find that the Deco app includes some useful parental controls free of charge. You can create profiles for each child in your family, specifying their name and age, and any particular devices that they may use. The app allows you to specify a ‘bedtime’ schedule that blocks internet access for your children at night-time, and also provides content filters that can block adult content and other types of unsuitable material.

There are additional subscription services available, including an Advanced Parental Controls service, which includes extra features such as the ability to block age-restricted videos on YouTube. This costs £17.99 / $17.99 / AU$29.99 per year or £2.99 / $2.99 / AU$4.99 per month, but the basic parental controls provided for free are still better than those offered by some of TP-Link’s rivals, so parents are getting good value for money here.

  • Features: 4 / 5

TP-Link Deco BE63: Performance

TP-Link Deco BE63 Lifestyle 2

(Image credit: TP-Link)
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi 7
  • Separate 6.0GHz network
  • 2.5Gbps for wired connections

Whatever region you live in, the Deco BE63/BE65 provides impressive Wi-Fi 7 performance. Our aging office router can deliver fairly good performance levels for computers and mobile devices that are nearby, but its Wi-Fi signal struggles to reach a room located at the back of the building, where we have to use a set of Powerline adapters to provide a more reliable wired connection.

TP-Link Deco BE63 benchmarks

Ookla Speed Test – 2.4GHz/5.0GHz merged network (download/upload)

Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150Mbps / 150Mbps

Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps / 150Mbps

20GB Steam Download - 2.4GHz/5.0GHz merged network (download)

Within 5ft, no obstructions:  150Mbps

Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps

Ookla Speed Test – 6.0GHz (download/upload)

Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150Mbps / 150Mbps

Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps / 150Mbps

20GB Steam Download - 6.0GHz (download)

Within 5ft, no obstructions:  150Mbps

Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps

We therefore connected the first Deco router to our existing office router, with another Deco unit in the back office, and the last one in a hallway that was roughly halfway between the other two.

When running the Ookla Speedtest, devices in the same room as our old office router generally get a Wi-Fi speed of 120Mbps, which is fine for most uses but still less than the full 150Mbps provided by our office broadband service. Downloads from the Steam games store tend to struggle a bit more in that room too, rarely getting above 100Mbps.

However, the Deco immediately put that to rights, stepping up to 150Mbps on both the 6.0GHz band and the combined 2.4/5.0GHz band, and it was also able to maintain those consistent download speeds for both Ookla and Steam.

Furthermore, the Deco mesh system didn’t bat an eyelid as we walked with our laptop down the hall to that back office, effortlessly maintaining that 150Mbps download speed for Ookla and Steam on all frequency bands.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Should You Buy The TP-Link Deco BE63?

TP-Link Deco BE63 Lifestyle 1

(Image credit: TP-Link)

You have lots of bedrooms
In most regions outside the US, the Deco BE65 is currently only available as a three-pack mesh system, which will be suitable for larger homes with more than half a dozen bedrooms. That may change in the future, though, with any luck.

You have a laptop or PC with Wi-Fi 7
Although Wi-Fi 7 is backwards-compatible with older Wi-Fi standards, it does include some important new features, such as MLO – multi-link operation – that can only be used if your computers or mobile devices also support Wi-Fi 7.

Don’t buy it if...

You’re on a budget
Prices for routers and mesh systems that support Wi-Fi 7 are coming down at last, but this is still very much state-of-the-art Wi-Fi technology. Most home users, and most smaller businesses, can still get by with less expensive Wi-Fi 6 or 6E.

You just want to watch Netflix
Wi-Fi 7 provides blazing fast wireless performance, with the new Deco models hitting 9-10Gbps. However, most domestic broadband services are still lagging behind with average speeds of around 100-200Mbps, so few of us really need Wi-Fi 7 right now – and you won’t need these speeds for basic streaming duties, either.

TP-Link Deco BE63: Scorecard

TP-Link Deco BE63: Also Consider

  • First reviewed: July 2024
GMKtec NucBox M6 mini PC review
5:32 pm | July 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

GMKtec NucBox M6: 30-second review

The era of lacklustre mini PCs is over, and the GMKtec NucBox M6 is a testament to this evolution. The compact M6 features an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H CPU and AMD Radeon 660M GPU, and while this might be entry-level in the Ryzen range, it still impresses with a very decent performance, especially at its price point. 

Like all the best mini PC units we've tested, the M6 handles all office tasks without issue and even supports light multimedia production, such as image and HD video editing. What really appeals about the M6 is that it has plenty of upgradability options, including expandable RAM and SSD storage, which will enable you to adapt this mini PC to your needs.

Everyday tasks like Microsoft Office applications, internet browsing, and light multimedia work are all well within this machine's abilities, and even some light gaming is handled well by the CPU and GPU combination. The machine's storage and processing power are impressive, but it's the small machine's versatility that really shines through. While the machine can sit in an office plugged into the mains, the dual power option also enables you to connect to PD power; this makes it possible to use in a variety of settings, from office desks to advanced display systems or even as a powerful, lightweight solution for van life. Overall, the GMKtec NucBox M6 offers exceptional value for its compact size, powerful specs, and versatile functionality.

GMKtec NucBox M6: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  From $340 / £265
  • When is it out? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Directly from GMKtec or Amazon.com

The GMKtec M6 is widely available with three variants: A barebones model with no memory or storage, a 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD model, and a 32GB / 1TB SSD variant. 

Prices start at $340 / £265, but at the time of this review, all versions were heavily discounted on both the GMKtec website here and Amazon here.

  • Value: 4 / 5

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

GMKtec NucBox M6: Specs

GMKtec NucBox M6: Design

The GMKtec M6 follows the usual design rules for a typical mini PC in terms of size and weight, and there's really nothing remarkable about it from that angle. The PC is housed in an all-plastic matte black casing that, while not premium, still exudes a quality feel and, to be honest, looks great. Its layout is straightforward, featuring a good selection of front ports for occasional accessories and headphones and a more extensive array at the back, including dual network ports for enhanced gaming, dual display options, and various USB Type-A ports. This design consolidates GMKtec's experience in mini PCs, offering everything generally needed in this category of machine.

While the base configuration of the machine is pretty good, accessing the inner components is straightforward, with the top cover clipped in place. Removing the top lid reveals the fan cover, which is secured with four screws. Once removed, the SSD and RAM slots are easily accessible. The design includes dual SSD options, with the primary SSD featuring a heatsink, allowing for an additional SSD if needed. Each slot supports up to 2TB, enabling a total of 4TB of internal storage. The dual-channel RAM can be upgraded from 32GB to 64GB, providing more headroom for creative tasks.

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Overall, the M6's design is compact and perfectly suited for desktop use or mounting via the included VESA mount. Despite its small size, the M6 features substantial cooling with a large heatsink on the main SSD, side venting, and an additional fan cover, ensuring decent air circulation that helps keep the machine cool under load when handling large files, demanding tasks, or gaming.

  • Design: 4 / 5

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

GMKtec NucBox M6: Features

The GMKtec M6 is a powerful mini PC, considering its relatively cheap price. It has a balanced array of ports and features, ideal for office work and light multimedia editing. Its AMD Ryzen 5 6600H CPU and Radeon 660M GPU offer more power than typical mini PCs at this price point, making it suitable for tasks like Photoshop and Davinci Resolve, provided the workload is moderate.

A notable advantage of the M6 is its dual power options—AC mains adapter and PD power—which add flexibility compared to other mini PCs. The M6 supports 5GHz/2.4GHz dual-frequency WiFi 6E and multi-user 2x2 MIMO, ensuring decent wireless connectivity. The dual 2.5G RJ45 ports further boost the networking options, although this is more of an office feature than at home unless you're gaming or using a creative network.

The AMD Ryzen 5 6600H, with its Zen 3+ architecture and 4.5GHz burst frequency, paired with the Radeon 660M GPU in use, does deliver impressive performance. The 32GB DDR5 RAM and 1TB PCIe SSD provide what you need for most standard apps, and if you are venturing into creative applications, then the ability to upgrade on both accounts is definitely welcome. 

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Features: 4 / 5

GMKtec NucBox M6: Performance

Considering its price, the GMKtec NucBox M6's performance is superb, highlighting the rapid advancements in mini PC capabilities. While its build and design might not match its premium counterparts, its performance and upgradability are impressive. Standard office applications load quickly, and large documents are handled with ease. Image editing in Photoshop is well-managed, though there is a slowdown as layers and effects accumulate. The M6 is more than adequate for Lightroom, with internal storage expandable to 4TB, which is handy if this is your sole machine or you wanted a compact alternative  to any of the best laptops for photo editing.

For video editing, the M6 can handle standard HD footage and some 4K editing, provided expectations are realistic - this is hardly the best video editing PC for serious work. Gaming performance is surprisingly good, with titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Tekken 8 running smoothly with adjusted settings. Overall, the M6 is an ideal, affordable, and powerful solution for office, workshop, van, and display use.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

GMKtec NucBox M6: Final verdict

GMKtec NucBox M6

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The GMKtec NucBox M6 impresses with its compact size, price, and ability to handle office tasks and multimedia easily. While it does slow for more demanding applications, it can be used for photo and image editing within reason, making it a versatile and powerful mini PC for everyday use. If you need a budget-friendly business computer for basic computing tasks, the M6 is a great choice. However, if your requirements include heavy multitasking or intensive software such as 3D or advanced video editing and production, you might need to consider more robust options. This mini PC shines in its intended niche, delivering reliable performance in a remarkably small package.

Should I buy a GMKtec NucBox M6?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ review: beautiful laptop, half-baked AI
5:54 pm | July 4, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Two-minute review

The new Copilot+ PC edition of the Asus Vivobook S 15 is an absolutely exceptional piece of kit. The overall aesthetic and design style is extraordinary. It’s clean and crisp, with a beautiful metal finish complete with exceptionally subtle Asus branding. This is a professional device at its core, and it really does show. 

Open up the Vivobook and you’re greeted with an outstanding OLED display, with sharp vibrant colors, and a snappy 2880x1620 resolution, all hurtling along at 120 Hz. That’d be good enough, but Asus has color-calibrated this thing as well, so the contrast and vibrancy are stunning. Combine that with sound developed in conjunction with Harman/Kardon (which is honestly some of the best audio I’ve heard coming out of a laptop ever), and the Vivobook S 15 is lining itself up to be an absolute winner.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

For hardware, the most interesting element is the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor. It’s an Arm-based system-on-a-chip (SoC) similar to Apple’s M3 line of chips found in the MacBook Air, and features an incredibly low 45W power draw. That’s been paired with 16GB of 8,440 MHz DDR5 memory (a phenomenally high speed even given current desktop PC standards), and a solid 1TB of PCIe 4.0 storage. Combine all of that with a bevy of connectivity options, plus a relatively affordable price tag, and all of a sudden you’re looking at one of the best laptops out there for general day-to-day work.

It’s not flawless however, it still struggles in games with no dedicated GPU (although AI upscaling does help a ton here), and the general AI features are (right now at least) somewhat limited, with only Microsoft Copilot and Co-creator being the most fleshed out features of the lot. 

Still, AI aside, the Vivobook S 15 is just an utterly almost flawless thing. As traditional laptops go, it’s outstanding, easily competing with the likes of Dell’s XPS line, and far above and beyond the likes of Huawei’s MateBook D16. For the price you’re paying, there’s little not to love.

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Price and availability

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)
  • How much does it cost? $1,299.99 / £1,299.99 / AU$2,699
  • When is it out? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available now in the US and the UK

When it comes to the price, the Asus Vivobook S 15 is impressively affordable for what you’re getting. Rolling in at $1,299.99 (£1,299.99 / AU$2,699), it packs in some serious hardware for that cash. There's also a variant with the slightly less powerful Snapdragon X Plus chip for $1,099.99 in the US, although the availability of that model in other regions is unclear at the time of writing.

Not only do you get a decent processor for day-to-day work and streaming, plus 16GB of ridiculously high spec memory, and a TB of PCIe 4.0 storage, but it also features one hell of an OLED display, with a 3K resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, and enough color accuracy (and vibrancy) to keep even the most eagle-eyed of graphic designer happy.

This is one of the first Snapdragon X laptops out there, and as such it is a little unproven mind you. It does lag behind in more traditional PC benchmarks, such as GeekBench and CineBench, but for general office work, web browsing, and daily activities it’s far more than capable. Just don’t expect a super seamless experience all the time.

There are very few laptops out there, that pack in so much hardware for such little outlay. There’s AI capacity here too, of course, being one of the main selling points of the S 15 (more on that in a bit), but even without it, the S 15 is absolutely outstanding.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Specs

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ comes in one main configuration with the 12-core Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip, although a model featuring the 10-core Snapdragon X Plus SoC is also available for a slightly lower price in some regions.

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Design and Features

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Outstanding Screen
  • Material choice is stunning
  • Broad range of ports

As you’ve likely guessed by this point, the Asus Vivobook S 15 is an absolutely beautiful professional laptop or workbook. The satin metallic gray chassis is crisp and sharp, with nice smooth rounded edges. The Asus branding, what little there is, is a simple sans serif typeface, either just below the screen or engraved gracefully into the rear lid. The bezel on the screen is slim and almost nonexistent. Similarly, the keyboard, which is chiclet by design, provides a sublime typing experience, and the trackpad likewise does its job admirably too.

The I/O certainly isn’t lacking either. For your money, you get two USB 4 Type-C ports, two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a Micro-SD card reader, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an HDMI out as well. It also comes with a fairly admirably built-in microphone, along with a decent built-in FHD webcam as well.

In general, it’s actually just a very well-built laptop. There’s no gimmicky folding display, or 2-in-1 design here for you to get used to, no touch-screen capability, or pens, just a simple, clean design. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, seems to be the motto.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

Under the hood, you of course get that Arm-based Snapdragon processor. This is the X Elite X1E 78 100 chip (catchy), running at 3.4 GHz, and it features 12 cores, no hyperthreading, and a 42 MB cache as standard. Asus touts that this thing has a total AI processing power of around 75 TOPs to help with the on-board AI capabilities the Vivobook S 15 has, that’s paired with a dedicated “Neural Processor” as well (Qualcomm’s Hexagon NPU) which adds an additional 45 TOPs to the equation.

That’s been paired with 16GB of LPDDR5X memory rated at a whopping 8,440 MT/s. That’s ridiculously quick, even by some of the best desktop PC standards, and quite a curious addition, that suggests that both AI tasks and these Snapdragon chips really do benefit from high-frequency memory, perhaps even more so than the likes of AMD and its Ryzen processors (which generally benefit from higher frequency kits thanks to their Infinity Fabric interconnect being tied to the memory speed). The only minor downside here is that the Vivobook S 15 has soldered LPDDR5X, and there are no alternative models either, so 16GB is your lot sadly.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

Because at its heart, the Snapdragon is an Arm-based chip, running off a different architecture compared to traditional processors found from AMD and Intel (which typically operate on an x64 architecture design), support is a bit mixed when it comes to general application use. That generally means you are going to find a lot of programs listing the CPU as “emulated”, Windows is effectively forcing the Arm processor to emulate and behave as a traditional x64 chip in certain programs, to ensure they operate correctly. That will have a minor detrimental effect on overall performance, but it shouldn’t be that noticeable if I’m honest. Arm and Asus clearly learned from the troubles Apple encountered with its first M1 processors, and compatibility is far greater now than it was back then for Arm-based processors because of it.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

As for the less volatile storage, Asus has popped in a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, and it does a pretty good job when it comes to sequential transfers, although more on that in a bit.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Performance

  • For day-to-day usage, this is flawless
  • Priced just right for what you’re getting
  • Gaming is still nowhere near a dedicated GPU

The Vivobook S 15 might have a bit of an oddity when it comes to its processor, but it still holds its own with some of the best out there to date. In general day-to-day use, the S 15 was cool and quiet, zipping along nicely. A particularly enjoyable experience with that screen. Cooling was handled well, and noise was minimal, one of the big benefits of the super-efficient Arm chips. 

In benchmarks however, it is admittedly a bit of a different story, compared to something like Huawei’s MateBook D 16 (admittedly not available US side) with its Intel Core i9-13900H, the Vivobook did struggle in certain benchmarks, although perhaps not by as much as you’d think. GeekBench 6.2.1 provided the most intriguing results of the bunch, with the Snapdragon X landing a score of 2,444 in single core, and 9,008 in the multi-core test. Compare that to the i9-13900H, which scored 2,605 in single-core and 12,568 and you start to get a picture of just how close Arm is getting in terms of performance, particularly given it's often running an emulated version of the program on top of that.

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ benchmarks

Here's how the Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 6:
Single - 2,444
Multi - 9,088
3DMark:
WildLife Extreme: 6,091
Solar Bay: 9,933
CrossMark:
Overall - 1,181
Productivity - 1,050
Creativity - 1,377
Responsiveness - 1,062
1080p movie playback battery life: 14 hours 18 minutes
CrystalDiskMark 8:
Read: 5,024MB/s
Write: 3,623MB/s

That multi-core difference does give Intel the edge there of course, by a healthy 28%, but you’ve got to bear in mind that it’s scoring that with 20 total threads, compared to the Snapdragon’s 12. All while consuming more power, operating at 5.4 GHz, and running at hotter temps as a result. The gap is starting to close between Arm and x64 and that’s incredibly exciting.

Graphically however Intel still has the edge, with its Iris Xe graphics performing considerably better in our benchmark results. 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme for example scored just 6,091 with the Snapdragon and its Qualcomm Adreno chip, versus a staggering 13,731 with Intel. Similarly, in games at their native resolutions, Total War Warhammer 3 on Low scored 33.9 fps on Intel’s chip, versus just 13.7 on the Adreno.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

But there’s a catch here, and that’s the AI upscaling tech that’s built natively into the Vivobook S 15. You can actually drop the resolution scaling to 50% in Total War Warhammer 3, let the notebook do its thing (it’s automatically applied to all titles), set the graphical profile to Ultra, and watch the game run at 20fps instead. Sure, that’s not playable for this kind of title, but that’s a significant improvement particularly given you’re now running the game on Ultra and not the lowest profile. Although admittedly it still doesn’t look the best, and needs significant antialiasing improvements, it’s a start.

Traditional performance aside, this is after all one of the first Copilot+ AI laptops out there, and there’s a lot to report here too. Copilot generally is very similar to any other LLM you may have used, such as Google Bard or Chat GPT. There’s a button on the keyboard to open it up, or you can click next to the Start Menu, and open up a window to chat. It’s limited to a number of queries per 24 hours, unless you sign in, and behaves like pretty much every other LLM. It doesn’t have access to your system directly, so can only suggest what you can do.

Live captioning is also heavily touted on the product page. It’s meant to be able to give you captions on any content (regardless of web browser or media format), and live translate from one language to another. I found it was generally very laggy and slow to use, even in English-to-English. Live translation was also much worse, with Japanese or Norwegian, often missing out entire sentences, or translated sentences appearing five to ten seconds after the content had occurred. It also struggled with accents and regional dialects, particularly with variants of British English. Recall (where Windows can find a file based on a description) is also not currently implemented and is “coming soon” in a Windows side update.

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)

Moving away from the software side, when it came to the Display, and particularly the audio, the experience was outstanding. That screen is absolutely gorgeous, with a 15.6-inch OLED panel at 2880 x 1620, you get a 211.82 PPI density, and the colors are just phenomenal. Combine that with a buttery smooth 120 Hz refresh rate, along with adaptive sync as well as a color-calibrated profile from Asus and it’s just dreamy.

Likewise, the audio experience is exceptional too. Asus has worked with Dolby Atmos and Harman/Kardon on the built-in speakers, and they’re some of the best I’ve heard on a laptop at this price. Trebles are crystal clear, there’s plenty of mid, and a relatively well-rounded bass as well. You’re still going to get better results from some of the best headphones out there of course, or a decent speaker system, mixed with a decent subwoofer - but for a laptop? Nah, this is shockingly good.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Battery life

The Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+ in silver pictured on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Can last for multiple days of work and holds charge well
  • Bundled fast-charger

Asus rates the Vivobook S 15 at 70WHrs for its battery capacity, and it comes with a fast-charging 90W AC USB Type C adapter as well. It reckons you should be able to get around 18 hours of total battery life in general day-to-day use. In my testing, it landed around the 17-hour mark or so, more than enough for several days of office work and presentations without charge.

That figure did dip a bit when I was watching content on YouTube and in video calls, but otherwise, the Vivobook S 15 fell exactly where I expected it to in that regard. There was never a moment where I was particularly concerned r.e. the battery life on this thing that’s for certain.

  • Battery life: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+: Also Consider

How I tested the Asus Vivobook S 15 Copilot+

As usual with laptop reviews, I replaced my daily driver with the Asus Vivobook S 15 for a week, testing out all my usual work duties including web browsing, word processing, and answering emails. I also used it for a bit of leisure time too - watching Netflix and YouTube, and trying my best to play some games (though it struggled a little in that area).

I've been reviewing computers of all sorts for years, and I've used a wide variety of laptops for my own work throughout that time. To see Qualcomm push ahead with its own Arm-based chips in such a successful way is the real game-changer here - no matter what Microsoft might tell you about AI. Arm is here to stay, folks.

  • First reviewed July 2024
Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 review: a solid if unspectacular 1080p gaming laptop
6:13 pm | July 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers Gaming Laptops | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Two-minute review

If you're looking to get into the portable PC gaming scene without breaking the bank then the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 is a viable option to consider in 2024. It's not going to give the best gaming laptops a run for their money in terms of leading performance, battery life, display, and design, but it does enough to stand out from a price-to-performance perspective. 

While the manufacturer has made waves in the mid-range and premium end of the gaming laptop market, its budget offering favors function over form. My review unit features a 13th Gen i7 CPU, Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB NVMe Gen 4.0 SSD - all of which is more than enough to play today's games in 1080p. You won't always be maxing everything out in the graphical settings, due to the GPU's limited 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, but Nvidia DLSS 3's Frame Generation or AMD FSR can help ease the stress. 

There's also the LOQ 15 (AMD) to consider if you would rather go for a Team Red rig instead of a Team Blue offering. Regardless of CPU choice, the GPU is decidedly mainstream, so there's no great power differential. It means that the same problems largely apply, meaning a so-so display, lacking battery life, and a port placement that may be cumbersome. 

That battery life really does leave a lot to be desired. Web browsing and media playback achieved just under two hours with battery saving modes and the screen brightness halved. It's not great, and this extends to battery gaming which can't even manage an hour. You'll want to keep this gaming laptop plugged in to enjoy a lengthy gaming session, or when used as a desktop replacement when hooked up to one of the best gaming monitors

So yes, while the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 is unlikely to wow you, it is entirely serviceable at providing a solid 1080p gaming experience.  It's ultimately going to come down to the pricing of the unit; if you can find an RTX 4060 variant around the $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,300 mark then it's worthwhile, but I can't really recommend splashing out upwards of $1,300 / £1,300 / AU$2,000 when RTX 4070 rigs offer more power for the money. 

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Price and availability

1080p 144Hz refresh rate display on the LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)
  • How much does it cost? Starting from $999 / £1,049 / AU$1,297
  • When is it available? The Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 is available now 
  • Where can you get it? US, the UK, and Australia 

The Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 is available with a starting price of $999 / £1,049 / AU$1,297 for a variant running an RTX 4050 GPU. Alternatively, there's a more powerful version running the more capable RTX 4060 discrete graphics for around $100 / £100 / AU$300 more depending on the retailer's availability - and I'd recommend springing for that slightly more powerful GPU.

In terms of price, the Lenovo LOQ 15 is one of the more affordable gaming laptops on the market at the budget end of the spectrum. Whether you're considering an RTX 4050 or RTX 4060 version, these aren't powerhouse machines, but they are priced as such. It's less aggressive when considering you can pick up some RTX 4070 laptops such as the MSI Katana 15 and Asus TUF A15 from $1,199 to $1,349 nowadays. 

  • Price: 4 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Specs

The Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 is available in a variety of configurations from Lenovo itself or found from retailers in the US, the UK, and Australia. As touched upon above, you can find the budget rig with either an RTX 4050 or RTX 4060 GPU. A major difference is the choice of GPU, depending on price, you can get a Ryzen 7000 or Intel Raptor Lake variant. 

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Design

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 keyboard

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)
  • Durable build quality 
  • Thick bezels around the 1080p display 
  • Lovely full-size RGB keyboard

Display-wise, the Lenovo LOQ Gen 9 is primarily plastic with a rugged build quality. It's a far cry from the single-sheet aluminum of premium gaming laptops but feels considerably better than some budget models available. The cracks begin to show, however, when looking further into the screen. With a peak brightness of 350 nits and a 1080p IPS screen, things are serviceable but dull. The 144Hz refresh rate is smooth enough but the bare minimum for machines in 2024. 

The exposed hinges and thick bezels aren't the most pleasing to look at, as Lenovo has opted for function over form here. Simply put, it's not sleek or stylish, but it gets the job done. This utilitarian approach can also be seen in the protruding rear I/O as the hinged screen is around an inch ahead. It's done to maximize airflow, sure, but it's quite an outdated idea that was common on rigs from around 10 years ago.

The design of the Lenovo LOQ Gen 9 gets a lot of things right with its excellent array of connectivity options on the left, right, and rear of the device. You're fully equipped with a full-size HDMI 2.1 port, USB-C, and USB 3.2 ports so there are no complaints here. This extends to the keyboard which features four-zone RGB backlighting with its full deck size. It's lovely to type and game on. Unfortunately, this doesn't extend to the trackpad which is small and feels cheap, but that's not a huge concern as you really should be be utilizing one of the best gaming mice instead. 

  • Design: 3 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Performance

Image 1 of 3

Side of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)
Image 2 of 3

Rear I/O of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)
Image 3 of 3

Rear fans of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)
  • Solid gaming performance in 1080p 
  • The fans are very loud under stress 
  • The 13th Gen i7 CPU is still powerful
Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 benchmarks

Here's how the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 got on in our suite of industry-standard benchmarks and game testing. 

PCMark10 - 7,328
3DMark:
Night Raid - 57,918
Port Royal - 5,532
Time Spy - 10,117
Fire Strike - 22,507
Geekbench 6:
Single - 2,358
Multi - 13,144
Cinebench R23:
Single - 1,652
Multi - 15,698
CrossMark - 1,572
Productivity - 1,500
Creativity - 1,699
Responsiveness - 1,439
Cyberpunk 2077
RT Ultra - 88fps
Ultra - 84fps
Low - 114fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Ultra - 80fps
Low - 246fps
Red Dead Redemption II
Ultra - 67fps
Low - 159fps
TechRadar Battery Test: 59 mins

For the most part, the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 delivers on its promise of providing playable framerates at 1080p. The 144Hz Full HD display is fast enough seeing as you'll be getting around 60 to 90fps when maxing out games such as Red Dead Redemption II, Cyberpunk 2077, and Total War: Three Kingdoms. For the best possible experience, you're going to want to enable DLSS 3 Frame Generation and Ray Reconstruction to take the strain off of the native hardware. 

While there are versions of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 with 14th Gen processors, our review unit with the Intel Core i7-13650HX still impresses. This can be evidenced by the CPU-bound title Total War: Three Kingdoms, reaching a staggering 246fps with the settings dialed down to low. The single-core and multi-core performance through Geekbench 6 and Cinebench R23 is also solid, even though these figures have recently been eclipsed by Meteor Lake and Ryzen 7000 models. 

As mentioned further up the page, the display here is what sets the side down to an extent. Yes, it's fast enough with a 144Hz refresh rate being smooth with no screen tearing or artifacting. With that said, the colors are washed out, there's no HDR support, and the peak brightness leaves a lot to be desired. It's not an issue that's unique to the LOQ 15 Gen 9, but it also doesn't break from convention here either. 

What you will notice is just how loud the fans are on this gaming laptop. It's particularly noticeable at start-up, or when under any level of moderate stress. The LOQ 15 is easily among the loudest machines I've ever tested, distractingly so at times, even drowning out gameplay and media playback from the otherwise fine 2x 2W stereo speakers. 

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Battery life

  • Poor battery life whether gaming or media playback
  • Battery can be quick-charged to full in just over an hour

Battery life can make or break a laptop and, unfortunately, the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 falls into the latter category. In our battery test, the machine was able to achieve just under two hours of media playback when prioritizing the battery life and reduced screen brightness. Simply put, you're going to want to keep the 135W power adapter close at hand to get through a lengthy film or take your gaming experience on the go. Granted, that's the case for many gaming laptops, but I'd expect a bit better from a lower-powered unit like this - there's not an RTX 4090 guzzling down power here.

The Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 features a 60Whr battery that supports quick charging, but it drains almost as quickly so it's a double-edged sword. The manufacturer claims a full charge from completely flat about 80 minutes, and my testing can verify this. It can reach 50% in about around half an hour, which is solid enough, even if the battery retention is far from impressive.

  • Battery life: 3 / 5 

Should you buy the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9?

closed lid of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)

Buy it if...

You can find it discounted 
There are regular deals on the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 available from both the manufacturer and major retailers in the US, UK, and Australia. For the right price, it offers a ton of value. 

You play a range of less-demanding PC games 
The RTX 4060 and 1080p display are a good pair for entry-level PC gaming. 8GB GDDR6 VRAM should be enough to play most titles at 60fps for the next few years, even if you won't be maxing out all settings settings. 

Don't buy it if...

You can find an RTX 4070 machine for around the same price 
Some variants of the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 may be nearly as expensive as some other budget RTX 4070 models. This graphics card is considerably more powerful in 1080p and can be found inside 1440p machines, too. 

You want a more powerful gaming laptop 
Regardless of which variant you consider, the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 isn't a very powerful machine. It's available with an RTX 4050 or RTX 4060 which are far from leading offerings. 

Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9: Also consider

MSI Katana 15
The MSI Katana 15 is the most comparable alternative to the Lenovo LOQ 15 Gen 9 with its 144Hz refresh rate and Full HD  resolution. It's available with either the RTX 4050, RTX 4060, or RTX 4070 so the pricing may be more of what you're looking for. 

Read our full MSI Katana 15 review

Asus TUF Gaming A15
The Asus TUF Gaming A15 combines excellent 1080p gaming performance with a stellar battery life and a solid design. It also has a wonderful RGB keyboard and a fast refresh rate, while being available in several different configurations. 

Read our full Asus TUF Gaming A15 review

  • First reviewed July 2024
Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024) review: a great, if not mind-blowing, refresh
12:08 am | June 29, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE: Five-minute review

In early 2023 I reviewed Google's first dedicated gaming Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, and it changed my mind about Chromebooks and gaming. So I was excited to get my hands on the long-awaited refresh, the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024).

The Chromebook has been upgraded in every meaningful way, from the display to the specs, and even has new AI features included for those looking to double it as a productivity machine. Unfortunately, there are a few aspects that have been left in the dust in the meantime, which could impact whether this is a truly robust refresh worth reinvesting in if you already have the original model.

The screen is a 16-inch IPS display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and 350 nits of brightness. The refresh rate is a lovely 120Hz, making it perfect for most video games, while the sRGB 100% color gamut pairs well with the Chromebook's AI tools for creative and editing projects. 

It's good to see that so much was invested in upgrading the display since it's the most important aspect of the gaming experience for the Chromebook Plus 516 GE.

black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

The outer design is rather brand, identical to the original Chromebook 516 GE, though that tends to be a trait among budget gaming laptops in the first place. Despite that, it has a sturdy yet decently light chassis, especially for the screen size, which makes transportation that much easier.

Its keyboard and trackpad have been mostly left the same as well, which is a good thing as they were already quite solid on their own and needed little tampering. The webcam is very good, with 1080p at 60fps video, which is more than what many of even the best laptops offer. And while I do appreciate the physical switch on the side that turns the webcam off and on, the camera itself should have a physical shutter for added security.

The port selection is varied and includes two USB Type-C ports, a USB Type-A port, an HDMI 2.1 port, an ethernet port, and a combo jack. For its size, however, more USB ports as well as an SD card reader could have been added.

There's still a massive downside to its design, and that's the still abysmal sound quality. Google boasts that the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE features "cinematic sounds with DTS audio" and I can confirm that it's not the case. There's a tinny, almost muddiness to the sound, which shows through even with YouTube videos, and sounds even worse when playing games. You'll want to invest in the best PC gaming headsets if you get this Chromebook.

black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

Like its competition, the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024) has plenty of AI features built into the Chrome OS. But one of the more unique traits is that they use a combination of local and cloud storage. 

The webcam, for instance, has a feature that automatically adjusts both picture quality and lighting when using the webcam. It's pretty handy for minor enhancements but don't expect any major improvements either.

There are plenty of other AI tools, which are mostly powered by Google Gemini. Help Me Write generates text based on prompts and lets you edit text based on tone and more, while Help Me Read summarizes PDFs and websites by simply right-clicking the text. 

Focus is a tool that turns on a Do Not Disturb mode once you select a window of time, a Google Task you want to finish, and a YouTube Music playlist. There's Magic Editor which uses AI to enhance and correct images on Google Photos, or you can use generative AI to create unique wallpapers and video call backgrounds.

My favorite tool is Project Gameface, an AI-powered hands-free control with face and gesture tracking. This is a major accessibility feature, as you can custom-map out ways to control the entire OS through non-hand controls. While it's still in beta, what I was able to experience is quite impressive and I truly look forward to the finished product once it launches.

black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

Game dashboard is the new tool that pairs the best with the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024). You have access to features like window resizing, screen capture, game capture, and control mapping, a great option for those who can't or don't want to invest in a game recording setup.

The game recording is fine, though naturally not as high as a premium capture card, but it does a surprisingly great job thanks to the screen quality. It's also easy, allowing you to avoid setting up a whole mess of wires. Control mapping is a standard feature but always appreciated, especially for games that don't come with it like mobile titles that rely on touchscreen controls.

Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

TechRadar Battery Life Test: 6 hours and 57 minutes
Chromium Github Octane Benchmark: 93,523
Browserbench Jetstream Benchmark: 302
Kraken Benchmark: 415ms
WebGL Aquarium (30,000 fish): 85 fps

The upgraded specs of the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024) shine through in its benchmark scores, as these are some of the highest test results I've seen in any Chromebook and are solid improvements over the already excellent scores from the original Chromebook 516 GE model.

I was particularly impressed by the WebGL Aquarium, as it was able to maintain a high 85fps with the maximum amount of fish enabled.

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black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
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black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

The Intel Core CPU is certainly working overtime, which is great to hear from those interested in playing the best PC games through Steam or any Android titles. While you'll mainly want to game through a streaming service like Nvidia's GeForce Now or Amazon Luna, having the option to play locally is always a boon. 

Just know that the Steam Borealis is still in beta, meaning you'll have to enable it through developer mode at your own risk. But in my experience, it runs quite well with little in the way of slowdown or bugs.

The best way to use this Chromebook, however, is through GeForce Now. If you're using the most premium subscription option and you have a solid internet connection, the experience is incredibly smooth and stutter-free. I played AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Baldur's Gate 3 with no issues at all. And thanks to the great display, the games look even better than in the original model and beat out most other Chromebooks.

battery closeup

(Image credit: Future)

The battery life isn't too shabby, lasting about seven hours when under heavy video use and a bit more under normal work conditions. While it's not the best for a Chromebook, it still outstrips most Windows laptops using an Intel Core CPU. The good thing is that you can play for quite a bit before running low on battery, making it way more portable-minded than other gaming laptops.

It lasts a little longer when it comes to productivity work, ensuring that you'll have a full work or school day worth of charge. And it charges pretty fact too, so you won't be stuck at an outlet for too long in case you need to juice up.

Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? starting price is $649.99 (around £515 / AU$980)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US

The price for the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024) is $649.99 (around £515 / AU$980), which is the same price that the original Acer Chromebook 516 GE sold for at launch. While it's a steep price point for a Chromebook, for a gaming laptop it's a steal, especially for more casual gamers who don't require much firepower for the games they play, or those who only want to stream games instead of playing locally.

Currently, it's only available in the US through Best Buy, with no units available to purchase in the UK and Australia at the time of this writing.

Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE: Specs

The Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE I reviewed came with an Intel Core 5 120U CPU with Intel Arc Graphics, up to 16GB of LPDDR4X SDRAM, and 256 GB PCIe storage. There aren't any options to upgrade your specs, and Chromebooks are notorious for poor self-repairability and no self-upgrade options.

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE?

black chromebook on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

Buy the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE if...

You want solid game streaming performance
This is a laptop made for game streaming and it does it well. The vibrant display also helps, as titles look clean and clear through near stutter-free gameplay.

You’re on a budget
This laptop is quite affordable compared to other gaming laptops with similar or worse performance and specs. If you're on a budget, this is an excellent choice.

Don't buy it if...

Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE: Also consider

If my Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE (2024) review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE

  • I tested the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE for several weeks
  • I tested its gaming capabilities
  • I stress-tested the battery using the TechRadar movie test

First, I tested the general weight and portability of the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE by carrying it around in a laptop bag. After I set it up, I ran several benchmarks to thoroughly test out its upgraded specs and compare them to the original model. Finally, I used a variety of programs and applications to test out both battery life and general performance during work-like conditions.

The Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE is a gaming laptop that can also do productivity work, meaning I needed to test out both of those capabilities. I also tested out battery life to see how long it could last off AC power.

I've tested plenty of Chromebooks, making me more than qualified to understand benchmark test results and how to properly stress test machines to see how well they perform as a work machine.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2024

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: makes me believe in the Surface series again
10:27 pm | June 26, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Windows Laptops | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Two-minute review

It's no secret that I'm not fond of the Microsoft Surface Laptop series, so even with the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip and all the new Copilot+ AI bells and whistles attached to the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7, I wasn't expecting much of an upgrade. But to my surprise, it's quickly turning into one of the best Windows laptops and best laptops of the year thanks to a sleek design, solid battery life, and excellent performance.

One of the most consistent aspects of the Surface Laptop series is its design. The chassis is always sleek and lightweight yet sturdy, there's a nice variety of colors to choose from, and the keyboard feels snappy and responsive while typing. Thankfully, the Laptop 7 doesn't change on that front but instead embraces its positives while focusing its efforts on enacting improvements it actually needs.

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 boasts a 13.8-inch (2304x1536) HDR-supported display with a high refresh rate of 120Hz - especially high for a non-gaming laptop. It weighs less than three pounds, ensuring its super portability - an absolute gem for any office worker or student who needs to transport it around between home and work offices or to and from school. I wish it also featured an OLED screen option but omitting it keeps the cost down, so it makes sense.

Its keyboard is also just as snappy and responsive as you'd expect, though the touchpad has minimal response issues that need to be rectified by adjusting the sensitivity settings. The webcam is the standard 1080p fare, nothing too shabby, but it lacks a physical shutter which for its price point is an oversight worth mentioning.

Port selection isn't the worst, as it comes with two USB Type-C ports, a USB Type-A port, and a combo port. But it's certainly not well-balanced either, with it missing several important ports like ethernet, SD card reader, and an HDMI. Even worse, Microsoft still insists on that abysmal Surface Laptop connect charging port, which only serves to take up space that could have been given to literally anything else.

It has a solid sound quality as well, with instruments sounding clear and distinct from each other. Bass isn't too shabby as well, which is always surprising when it comes to a non-Ultrabook or gaming laptop.

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

Another defining feature of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is its AI Copilot+ integration, including the Copilot key that Windows AI laptop keyboards are now outfitted with. As of now, however, the Copilot key simply doesn't work and there's no way to reprogram the key to make it work either.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Benchmarks

Here's how the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Steel Nomad Light: 2,018; Fire Strike: 5,792; Time Spy: 1,893; Wild Life Unlimited: 25,590
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 8,275 points
GeekBench 6.3: 2,809 (single-core); 14,426 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 5,495 points
25GB File Copy: 24.05
HandBrake: 5:02
CrossMark: Overall: 1,406; Productivity: 1,323; Creativity: 1,534; Responsiveness: 1,297
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 15:44:32
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test)
: 10 hours, 10 minutes
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (1080p, Ultra): 21 fps; (1080p, Low): 21 fps

The Copilot feature does work and quite well I might add. I tested out the Copilot chatbot on all three levels - creative, balanced, and precise - and it performed quite well on all three. The answers, ranging from basic math to a mock interview to an outline for a novel, were well thought out and well sourced. You can also enable various plug-ins for more types of conversations or to help with shopping for a variety of products.

I also tried out two other features included in Microsoft Paint called Cocreator and Image Creator, both powered by AI model DALL-E. The former transforms your own drawing into an AI-generated picture, and you can choose between several styles as well as the level of 'creativity' (aka how much of the finished product is from you versus the AI). Unfortunately, Image Creator uses a credit system, in which you're awarded 50 credits when you sign up for the service and each image generation costs one credit, so you'd need to pay for additional images after you run out of credits.

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

There was one feature that I couldn't test out, the infamous Windows 11 AI Recall. Set to launch alongside Windows AI PCs, it was kicked back to the Windows Insider Program when its numerous security issues came to light. 

Basically, Recall takes screenshots every few seconds, building up a library of images you can search via AI. But the issue is that the Recall database, which contains all the data from those screenshots and the history of your PC usage, is stored in plain text (in an SQLite database).

This makes it light work for hackers to obtain highly sensitive information like finances, passwords, work data, and more. So as of right now, Recall is not available for me to test out, and until Microsoft works out the safety issues it shouldn't be.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7's benchmark results are quite impressive, especially compared to its competition. Even without a GPU, the CPU does an incredible job of maintaining a high level of performance no matter which and how many tasks you're currently balancing. These benchmarks prove that the Laptop 7 can handle productivity work, conference calls, streaming, and more.

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black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)
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black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 I tested featured a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite CPU and boy does it make all the difference. A common denominator between the past Surface Laptops is their poor performance, as they juggle a massive amount of tasks behind the scenes that result in major slow down, freezes, and even the aptly named 'Blue Screen of Death.'

But the Laptop 7's Qualcomm chip rounds out and fills in the numerous issues. It starts up and runs quickly, it's responsive when it comes to loading video websites as well as AI tools, and programs run as smoothly as they can. The latter is especially important as one of the biggest drawbacks was constant crashing when certain large programs booted up, including benchmarks like PCMark 10. But since I've been using it, there have been no performance hiccups in the slightest - in fact, I genuinely enjoyed my time with this laptop and would jump at the chance to make it my official work machine.

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

The battery life has also been rejuvenated, with an absolutely incredible 15 hours of off-AC power when it comes to regular use and just over ten hours with the TechRadar movie test. It's rare to find a laptop with that kind of lasting power outside of MacBooks these days, and coming from a Windows laptop it's even more unbelievable.

Another improvement is the ventilation system, as I never experienced any overheating even when the Laptop 7 had been running for several hours without break. Better vents also lead to better performance and less risk of crashes, going hand in hand with its superior battery life.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? starting price is $999.99 / £1,049.99 / AU$1,899
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The starting price for the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 13.8-inch model is $999.99 / £1,049.99 / AU$1,899, netting you a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus processor with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. The 15-inch model starts at $1,299.99 and comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD.

It's cheaper than the entry-level M3 MacBook Air 13-inch and matches the starting price of the M3 MacBook Air 15-inch, while the highest configuration roughly matches the price of the highest configuration of the MacBook Air.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Specs

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 13.8-inch model starts with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus processor with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. The 15-inch model starts out with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD.

Should you buy the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7?

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

Buy the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 if...

You want solid productivity performance
This laptop can handle plenty of productivity work including video calls, documents, web surfing, and more while never sacrificing performance on any level.

You’re on a budget
This laptop is quite affordable, beating out other laptops with similar or worse performance and specs. If you're on a budget, this is an excellent choice.

Don't buy it if...

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Also consider

If my Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7?

  • I tested the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 for a week
  • I tested it using productivity and creative applications
  • I stress-tested the battery using the TechRadar movie test

First, I tested the general weight and portability of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 by carrying it around in a laptop bag. After I set it up, I ran several benchmarks to thoroughly test out the new Qualcomm processor. Finally, I used a variety of programs and applications to test out both battery life and general performance during work-like conditions.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is meant to be a portable laptop with a thin and light chassis. I had to spend a good amount of testing not only on performance issues but also looking for any ventilation issues. I also tested out battery life to see how long it could last off AC power.

I've tested plenty of gaming PCs and laptops, making me more than qualified to understand benchmark test results and how to properly stress test machines to see how well they perform as a work machine.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2024

Microsoft Surface Pro 11 review: the best Surface ever — and it’ll only get better
6:59 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Three-minute review

OK, so it's time for me to eat some crow.

Last year around this time, I scoffed at the idea of Microsoft making its own Arm chip to power its Surface lineup, and I was, frankly, pretty savage in my opinion of Windows-on-Arm based on the limited number of examples that'd actually made it to market (all of which were pretty much garbage).

If I had less integrity, I could say that 'what I was really talking about was Microsoft designing its own chips and having them fabbed by TSMC the way Apple does with its M-series chips, not partnering with Qualcomm for the new Microsoft Surface Pro 11!'

But that wouldn't be honest. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite SoC in the Surface Pro 11 was co-developed by Microsoft specifically to run a new generation of Copilot+ AI PCs, with its Surface Pro and Surface Laptop leading the way. Functionally, yes, it's different than what Apple is doing, but substantively, it's not, and what Microsoft is doing is better than what Apple is doing, and the Surface Pro 11 is as good an example of that as any of this new generation of laptops now hitting the scene.

Before I go into why I think this might be the best laptop released this year, I will front-load my criticisms of the device, since I don't want them to get lost amid the praise, of which there will be a lot in this review.

First, this isn't a tablet. It's a full-featured Windows 11 OS, so making a keyboard an optional, extra purchase starting at $139.99 / £129.99 / AU$239.95 is ludicrous, and making the Surface Pro Flex Keyboard with Slim Pen (included in this review) an additional $449.98 / £439 / AU$499.95 purchase absolutely takes away from the appeal of this device. This is somewhat mitigated by a starting price of $999.99 /£1,049.99 / AU$1,899.99, so even with the additional keyboard expense, it's going to be cheaper than many of the best 2-in-1 laptops out there, but having to pay extra for a keyboard for a laptop PC will never sit right with me.

Second, Microsoft PRISM does an admirable job as an emulation layer, letting you run a lot of Windows x86 apps on the Snapdragon X Elite without any real (or at least noticeable) performance degradation, but there are still some apps that won't run at all, at least not yet. It also goes without saying that any app running through emulation is going to run slower than an app programmed specifically for Arm architecture like that in the Snapdragon X Elite.

Finally, the much-touted AI features of Copilot+ laptops are still very limited. Recall has been held back for a few months (which is fine, honestly), and Studio Effects and Cocreator work well but can feel gimmicky at times. If you buy this laptop hoping to see the future of AI PCs right now, you're going to be disappointed. Real AI-powered apps are coming soon, but they aren't here yet.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

With that out of the way, and with all that still top of mind, the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is my favorite laptop of the year, and I don't see any on the horizon that will dislodge it. I've reviewed dozens of laptops over my last four-plus years writing for TechRadar, and the Surface Pro 11 is the device I'll want to take with me when I have to travel for work, or when I want to work somewhere outside the home or office.

From its incredible design, gorgeous display, and all-day-plus battery life, the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is more than a match for the iPad Pro, and thanks to its full Windows 11 OS, it can do more than an iPad Pro could ever dream of doing in terms of features and functionality.

Its performance might lag behind the latest iPad Pro with Apple M4 overall, but it is still very competitive nonetheless. That said, the Surface Pro 11 was able to actually run all of my standard benchmark tests, something a MacBook can't do (an iPad even less so), and there weren't any standout weaknesses when it comes to most users.

And even though the Surface Pro 11's gaming performance is pretty laughable overall, it's not like the MacBook Air is a gaming laptop either (no matter how much Apple wants you to believe it is), and the Surface Pro 11's gaming chops are about the same as the best ultrabooks out there.

Where the Surface Pro 11 really shines, however, is its design and battery life. Easily the best-looking detachable laptop on the market, it also sports up to a 2.8K OLED display with far better color accuracy than an iPad Pro according to our tests, a 1440p webcam along the edge of the display for better framing when in landscape mode, and a lightweight but solid build that feels like the investment it is.

In terms of battery life, I'll get into more detail in a bit, but this device lives up to Microsoft's 14-four battery life claim, even edging closer to 15 hours in my local video playback tests. This is a hell of an accomplishment for an OLED laptop and underscores just how good Arm architecture is for power efficiency.

All in all, then, the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 does exactly what it has to do, does it well, and even pushes past what most users are going to expect from even the best Windows laptop of the past few years. It's not perfect, but as more developers release Arm versions of their apps and more AI apps and features roll out, this is a phenomenal laptop that will only get better over the next year and beyond.

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Price and availability

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • How much does it cost? Starting at $999.99 /£1,049.99 / AU$1,899.99
  • When is it available? The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is available now
  • Where can you get it? You can get it in the US, UK, and Australia

The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is available now in the US, UK, and Australia, starting at $999.99 /£1,049.99 / AU$1,899.99.

For this price, you get a 10-core Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus chip, a 2.8K LCD display, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD. You can upgrade to an OLED display with a 12-core Snapdragon X Elite chip, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD starting at $1,499.99 / £1,549 / AU$2,699. With the LCD model, you only have the option to increase storage capacity, as all configurations come with 16GB RAM. 

The top-level configuration, with a Snapdragon X Elite, OLED display, 32GB RAM, and 1TB SSD, will cost you $2,099.99 / £2,149.99 / AU$3,599. As mentioned before, all of this is before spending additional money for one of several compatible keyboards. Only Wi-Fi models are available at this time, but 5G-enabled models are due out later this year.

Compared to the iPad Pro 13-inch, the Surface Pro 11 generally comes in, though the iPad Pro is going to have a better display to start. On the flip side, it starts with much less memory and you do get a fully functional Windows 11 operating system, not a beefed-up mobile OS like you get with the iPad.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Specs

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Design

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Gorgeous display
  • Surface Pro Flex keyboard is fantastic
  • Get it in Sapphire Blue, trust me

The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is not all that different from the Surface Pro devices that came before it, but this one hits different thanks to the gorgeous Sapphire Blue colorway and lovely OLED panel in my review unit.

Featuring a 2880x1920p resolution, a dynamic refresh rate of 120Hz, and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, the display is as good or better than just about any other you'll find on the market at this price. The Surface Pro 11's display also features far better color gamut coverage in our testing than the iPad Pro released earlier this year, with the Surface Pro 11's OLED panel capturing 162.7% of the sRGB and 115.2% of the DCI-P3 color gamuts, making this a fantastic 2-in-1 for creatives.

The HDR brightness on the Surface Pro 11's OLED panel is also much brighter than the iPad Pro's, with the Surface Pro 11 peaking at 878 nits while the iPad Pro was only able to get to 498 nits brightness. Meanwhile, the SDR brightness of the Surface Pro 11's OLED panel averaged about 564 nits to the iPad Pro's 476 nits.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Flipping the Surface Pro 11 over, you'll find the characteristic kickstand that Surface Pro devices are known for, and it opens easily enough but stays firm however you set it. It also has a fairly wide range, with its widest open position letting you pretty comfortably take written notes or do design work on a slightly angled surface.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The review unit I received came with a Surface Pro Flex keyboard and Slim Pen, both of which performed very well during my time with the Surface Pro 11. The keyboard is among the most comfortable I've ever typed on, and the Slim Pen, while nothing special as far as a 4,096-point stylus goes (and certainly not up to the level of a professional artist's digital tablet and pen), works pretty well with the Surface for note taking, photo editing, and illustrating work.

The keyboard easily attaches to the pins along the edge of the Surface Pro 11 and they don't detach easily, letting you carry it around without worrying that you're going to drop the keyboard.

The Flex keyboard also lets you detach it and roll the connector flap underneath the top edge of the keyboard, giving you a better typing angle. Also along the top of the keyboard is the magnetized slot for the Slim Pen. If there's a knock I have on the design, it might be that this magnet is too strong, forcing you to sometimes have to really dig in to get the pen. Considering how well Microsoft incorporates accessibility into its products, this was a surprising slip on its part, but it's not deal-breaking by any means.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

You only get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, but for a tablet-like device, that's not bad at all. Being Thunderbolt 4, the ports feature charging, data transfer, and DisplayPort 1.4a video output.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The webcam is positioned along the landscape edge of the Surface Pro 11, rather than at the 'top' of the tablet like with the iPad Pro. This makes video calls much less awkward, and the 1440p webcam sends out a crisp, clear image at 30 fps. The webcam also integrates into Windows Hello for better security on the device.

A Screenshot from the Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The speakers are fine for a tablet-like device, but they won't wow you. If you want proper sound, you'll need to look into getting a headset to pair with the Surface Pro 11, as there is no headphone/microphone jack.

I won't speak about the other colorways, because I honestly don't want to. The only color you should consider for the Surface Pro 11 is Sapphire, which is an eye-catching powder/sky blue. It's simply much nicer aesthetically than Dune, Platinum, or Black. If you do, you'll have easily one of the prettiest laptops going, and you might even get some jealous looks from Apple diehards.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Performance

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Great overall performance
  • Prism Emulation is pretty decent
  • Lags Intel, AMD, and Apple laptops

Windows-on-Arm has come a long way in the four or so years since Microsoft began rebuilding its x86-defining OS for a whole new architecture.

I won't bore you with the finer details of chip-level instruction sets and all that, but it's important to know a few things before you buy a Microsoft Surface Pro 11. 

Once you've built an operating system on the foundation of a certain defined table of machine-language operations that make it all work, switching out that table of operations for a different, albeit similar, set of operations is a lot like immersive language learning. 

Think about it like this: if all you've ever known your whole life is English or Spanish, landing in Beijing and trying to learn Chinese from scratch isn't an impossible task, but it is going to be much, much harder than if you'd grown up speaking it.

Microsoft has struggled for years with even some of the basics of speaking Arm, having spent four-plus decades speaking x86, and Windows-on-Arm historically struggled in that intermediate range where the OS would work, but nothing else installed on the OS would (assuming it would even install). Microsoft still isn't fully fluent in Arm, so to speak, so Windows 11 on the Surface Pro 11 still suffers the occasional app incompatibility here or there, but it is lightyears ahead of where it was in 2020, and that's largely thanks to Prism emulation.

Built into Windows 11 on the Surface Pro 11 is a software layer that acts as a translator for apps that can't work on Arm hardware, taking an app's code and converting its x86 instructions into Arm instructions. Apple's Rosetta works the same way, but just like relying on a translator in a foreign country is going to slow down the pace of conversations, translating an x86 app into Arm takes time that does impact the app's performance.

And this is where the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 really surprised me. I was genuinely surprised at how well apps ran, even in emulation. They were nowhere near as fast as native apps, but they were more than fast enough that 95% of users wouldn't even notice a difference.

Still, there are differences, and they show up pretty clearly in benchmarks.

On the plus side, the Snapdragon X Elite's multicore performance in Geekbench 6.3 was toe-to-toe with the Apple M4 in the iPad Pro, so there is a lot of room for Windows-on-Arm to grow, rather than be held back by slower Arm-based chips as it had been in the past.

But in benchmarks like CrossMark Productivity, the Surface Pro 11 lagged behind the iPad Pro considerably, scoring only 1,327 to the iPad Pro's 1,771.

In terms of creative performance, in my PugetBench for Creators Photoshop benchmark tests, the Surface Pro 11 scored 5,600 compared to the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch with M3's 8,583 in the same test. Pretty much across the board, it was the same wherever the Surface Pro 11 has to rely on Prism Emulation to run a benchmark, which puts the Surface Pro 11 at a disadvantage right out the gate.

These differences are very real, and if you need high performance for your work, then there are going to be few cases right now where the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is going to outperform an Intel, AMD, or Apple silicon-powered laptop. You'll almost certainly be better off with one of those laptops than the new Surface Pro 11.

But performance isn't strictly a numbers game. More often than not, it's more vibes than anything, and most people need good to great performance and responsiveness and the ability to use the apps they want without any or as little fuss as possible. I spend my days testing the best computer hardware for the consumer market on the planet, and for non-gaming, non-intensive creative work, I found the Surface Pro 11's real-world performance to be a match for any of the dozens of ultrabooks I've tested in the past two years.

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: AI features

While not an official scoring category here at TechRadar (at least not yet), it's worth breaking out the Surface Pro 11's AI features into its own discussion apart from general performance.

AI PCs are very much in their infancy, with the first consumer laptops with NPUs only shipping in early 2024. Most developers don't even have developer kits with NPUs in them yet, so the number of AI features you're going to find in an AI laptop right now is pretty small.

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A Screenshot from the Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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Screenshots from a Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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Screenshots from a Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The Surface Pro 11 does have some nifty features though, which show the potential of NPUs for consumers. If you've used Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, you've probably done a video call where you could blur your background or even swap it out for something kitschy or fun.

Studio Effects does something similar on-device, even allowing you to bring these changes into online calls so your video data isn't being processed in the cloud (at least not the blurring stuff. The video encode/decode is still being processed online). The list of available features in Studio Effects will likely expand as it moves from its current 'preview' state to a more mature production feature, so this is probably just a glimpse at what will be possible with Studio Effects over the next year or two.

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A Screenshot from the Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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A Screenshot from the Microsoft Surface Pro 11

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Another interesting feature is Cocreator, which lets you sketch an idea out in Microsoft Paint and Cocreator will generate a more detailed/refined image based on a text prompt and some other parameters. You can even click on the generated image and move it to the canvas, where you can refine your idea further. 

Of the three AI 'launch' features for the Surface Pro 11 (the other being Recall, which isn't available as of yet), Cocreator is the most interesting. The images aren't necessarily great, and don't get me started on generative AI, copyright, and its theft from countless artists both alive and dead, but Cocreator is something I can actually see people using, if only for themselves.

The quality of the images being produced isn't nearly good enough to pass as actual art (the 45 TOPS NPU doesn't have nearly the processing power to do proper generative AI as we see from Midjourney and other gen AI tools that work in the cloud), and they're even too rudimentary for clip art or slideshow backgrounds.

Still, as an inspirational tool for the actual creative process (not just visual, but for writers and others as well), this could be something people might find helpful. It's not the kind of feature that's worth upgrading your laptop over just to get it, but it does point to where the future of the AI PC is likely to go in the next 2-3 years.

For now, that's really the only AI the Surface Pro 11 is offering as discrete features, but it's early yet. With the release of Microsoft Copilot+ Runtime, developers have a whole host of new tools to leverage the NPU to carry out AI workloads, so it's only a matter of time before AI apps hit the scene in force, and when they do, the Surface Pro 11 will be ready to run them.

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Battery life

  • Nearly 15 hours of local video playback
  • Takes about an hour to charge to full

The keystone feature of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 11 isn't its performance, AI tools, or even its appealing design. What really sets the Surface Pro 11 apart from many Windows laptops is its battery life, which is robust enough to challenge even the best MacBooks for longevity.

In our web surfing test, the Surface Pro 11 managed a very impressive 12 hours and 10 minutes of battery life. Even more impressive was our local video playback test. With the display set to full brightness, energy saving turned off, and volume at 50%, the Surface Pro 11 squeezed out 14 hours and 33 minutes of battery life.

Considering that this is an OLED laptop, getting more than half a day's worth of use is something we really haven't seen. The iPad Pro with M4, for instance, got 14 hours and 50 minutes of battery life in our testing, and the MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 managed 15 hours and 13 minutes in our web surfing test. With some settings tweaks, there's no question that the Surface Pro 11 can go well beyond the 12-15 hours it got in our tests and stretch well into the 18-20 hour range, if not even longer.

The 47WHr battery charges fairly quickly with the included charger, but fast charging is available with a 65W or higher power cable, either through the Surface charging port or through USB.

  • Battery Life: 5 / 5

Should you buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 11?

A Microsoft Surface Pro 11 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3)
The thin and light laptop that started a revolution in computing is still going strong, and the Apple M3 chip is about as powerful as any you'll find in this form factor.

Read the full Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review

How I tested the Microsoft Surface Pro 11

  • I spent about a week with the Surface Pro 11
  • I used it for everyday productivity and content creation work
  • I ran our standard suite of Windows laptop benchmarks

I spent about a week with the Microsoft Surface Pro 11, using it mostly for everyday work, futzing about online, streaming movies, and the like.

I also ran TechRadar's standard suite of Windows laptop benchmarks on the device after installing the tools as normal and with no special flags or settings used besides the tool defaults.

I've been reviewing laptops and computer hardware for TechRadar for more than four years, and have personally reviewed many dozens of laptops in just two years alone. I know what to expect from a laptop in this class and how a laptop's performance ought to match up to its price based on its competition.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed June 2024
Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra review: Samsung’s impressive answer to Apple’s MacBook Pro
5:43 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Two-minute review

Everything from the design to the pricing through to the market positioning of the new Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra begs comparison with Apple's MacBook Pro laptops. Even the way it integrates with Samsung's Galaxy smartphones has a whiff of Apple about it.

But we're not going to mention the iconic Apple alternative – well, not very much, anyway. As it happens, the wedge-shaped profile of the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra actually mimics the original MacBook Air more than any MacBook Pro model, though Apple never made an Air this big.

This is a 16-inch model fitted out with a glorious Samsung AMOLED display with touchscreen capability, plus one of Intel's latest top-spec mobile CPUs, a surprisingly powerful Nvidia GPU, 32GB of RAM and a beefy 2TB SSD. So, yeah, this is very much a top-tier premium laptop.

However, it's not one of those desktop replacement monsters that you'd barely ever want to take out and about. At 16.5mm thick and 1.86kg, it's relatively thin and light for a 16-inch laptop. So, think of it as a larger form-factor but still genuinely portable laptop from the luxury end of the spectrum, packing plenty of performance. Yup, a bit like the 16-inch notebook from you-know-who.

With that in mind, it's not a huge surprise that the Galaxy Book 4 Ultra is priced up at the very top-end of the market, too, so along with Apple laptops, it must take on premium Windows systems from among the very best laptops including the Razer Blade and Dell XPS.

So, it needs to be very, very good, to justify its price and deliver on those unavoidable comparisons – and fortunately the new Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra manages this. It offers excellent performance levels, a top-notch OLED touchscreen, seriously impressive battery life for a 16-inch portable, and a premium build – even if there are weaknesses here that include the built-in speakers.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra front angle

(Image credit: Future)
  • How much does it cost? Starts from $2,999 / £3,149
  • When is it out? It's available now
  • Where can you get it? In the US and UK

For the base model, you're essentially looking at about $3,000 or £3,000 in the US and UK (Samsung doesn't officially sell its Galaxy Books in Australia). So, the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra is an extremely expensive laptop by any sensible measure. Of course, a similarly specified Dell XPS system comes in at a similar cost. In fact, if you match this Samsung by specifying an OLED panel and RTX 4070 graphics, the XPS is actually around 13% more expensive.

It's harder to compare directly with Apple's laptops, but a roughly equivalent MacBook Pro 16 with an M3 Pro chip and 2TB of storage is around 15% pricier. So, you can actually make an argument for the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra being a relatively good value proposition, expensive as it undoubtedly is.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra underneath

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra comes in two configurations, a base model and upgraded version – though with both configurations, the 1TB SSD can also be upgraded to 2TB. (Note that, at least for now, the 2TB SSD upgrade is not available in the US).

Here are the specs for the two models of Samsung's Galaxy Book 4 Ultra at a glance.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Design and Features

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra rear lid

(Image credit: Future)
  • Premium all-alloy build
  • Slick wedge-shaped chassis
  • Reasonable connectivity

It's hard to imagine that this generation of Samsung Galaxy Books would look the way they do if Apple's MacBook Air had never existed. There are just too many similarities in the wedge-shaped design and the mid-grey anodized finish.

The 16-inch Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra, which sits right on top of the Galaxy Book range, is no exception. It looks just like the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Pro, just on a slightly larger scale.

Does Samsung do a premium laptop as well as Apple? Not quite – but by any other standard, this is an extremely well put together notebook. For the most part, it feels extremely robust and rigid, too, the only exception being the keyboard bed, which exhibits just a touch of flex.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra trackpad

(Image credit: Future)

The trackpad is huge, which is a good thing, and finished with a slick glass surface. However, it's a moving 'diving board' design and can't ultimately compete with Apple's Force Touch trackpads, which trade moving parts for haptic feedback. You might think a haptic-powered trackpad sounds like a gimmick, but once you've used one, you won't want to go back to a conventional diving board design – they just feel clunky by comparison.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra front left

(Image credit: Future)

Anyway, the large 16-inch OLED panel has fairly (but not quite) ultra-slim bezels on three sides, and the display itself has some corner pixels disabled to give the impression of curved corners, which looks pretty neat. However, there's also a fairly large bottom bezel which slightly undermines the overall aesthetic and detracts from the fashionable screen-to-body ratio.

For sure, the Galaxy Book 4 Ultra doesn't even come close to Dell's XPS laptops when it comes to minimal bezel sizes and that ultra-modern look. Still, the top bezel does at least provide enough space for a full 1080p webcam. If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you can also wirelessly connect that and use it as a high-performance webcam.

This is just one of several tightly-woven features that once again mimics the way Apple's MacBook, iPhone and iPad ecosystem is optimized for cross-device operation. For instance, you can sync files across Samsung devices wirelessly just like Apple's AirDrop feature, or use a Samsung Galaxy Tab as a secondary display. It's all pretty handy, though overall it doesn't feel quite as seamless and effortless as the Apple alternatives – and Samsung's update software is particularly clunky.

As for audio, Samsung has fitted the Galaxy Book 4 Ultra's quad-speaker system as a bottom-firing setup. Ultimately, it's a disappointing sound experience. The volume levels are adequate, but the dynamic range is pretty limited and really only on par with mainstream Windows 11 laptops. Once again, the comparison with the MacBook Pro line is unflattering – Apple's laptops produce far, far better audio.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra ports

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of connectivity, you get two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, a Type-A USB 3.2 port, HDMI 2.1 and a MicroSD memory card reader. Oh, and a regular 3.5mm audio jack. That little collection should cover most bases and it's nice to have some full-sized and legacy ports. Just bear in mind that charging takes place via one of the USB-C ports, so day-to-day, you'll typically only have one spare.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra angle

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of charging, the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra's power supply is a fairly hefty unit – but with that comes pretty speedy charging. You can add 55% charge in just 30 minutes. The power brick is also not entirely out of keeping with what is a fairly large laptop with a 16-inch display. For sure, this is definitely a thin-and-light representative of the 16-inch breed at 16.5mm thick and 1.86kg – but equally, it's no ultraportable.

  • Design: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Performance

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
  • Benefits from Intel's latest mobile CPU
  • Decent Nvidia GPU
  • Stunning OLED display

Intel's new Core Ultra chips (Meteor Lake) are arguably a little disappointing. That said, the Core i9 Ultra 185H in this Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra is still all the CPU 99% of users are going to need, and then some. It's even good enough to make for a powerful portable content creation machine with tasks like video encoding.

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra benchmarks

Here's how the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 6:
Single - 2,448
Multi - 12,465
3DMark:
Night Raid - 35,809
Fire Strike - 17,797
Time Spy - 8,025
CrossMark:
Overall - 1,865
Productivity - 1,664
Creativity - 2,232
Responsiveness - 1,582
PCMark 10 Productivity battery life: 9 hours 29 minutes
1080p movie playback battery life: 19 hours
Cyberpunk 2077:
1080p - 66fps Low ; 55fps Ultra
Total War: Three Kingdoms:
1080p - 163fps Low ; 65fps Ultra
CrystalDiskMark 8:
Read: 6.7GB/s
Write: 4.9GB/s
4K Read: 80MB/s
4K Write: 165MB/s

Then there's the Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics card. Okay, Nvidia does offer more powerful mobile GPUs, but the 4070 will still blow away any integrated graphics. Indeed, while you might expect Samsung to have clocked the RTX 4070 right down thanks to the Galaxy Book 4 Ultra's thin chassis, it's actually configured in an 80W spec, which is well above the 35W minimum that Nvidia dictates. Likewise, the 1,605MHz boost clock far exceeds the 1,230MHz minimum, even if it's also a fair way off the top 2,175MHz spec some mobile 4070s are capable of.

At any rate, there's decent 1080p performance on offer, though running the latest games at the screen's 2,880 x 1,800 native resolution is generally going to be a tall order, even with the help of DLSS upscaling. But there's some genuine gaming ability here, along with some GPU grunt when it comes to playing with the likes of filters and effects in video and image editing. Combined with that Intel CPU, it's a very effective partnership.

It's a similar story for the memory and storage. The 32GB of RAM will be more than enough for almost any workflow, while the 1TB SSD is an OEM version of Samsung's popular 980 Pro PCIe 4.0 drive, capable of over 6.5GB/s of peak transfer speeds (albeit at this price point we'd quite like to have seen a 2TB drive fitted).

Then there's the screen. Ah yes, that screen: it's a Samsung AMOLED 2X with the aforementioned 2,880 x 1,800 resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate (it also supports dynamic switching between 60Hz and 120Hz to improve battery life).

The pixel density isn't all that – both the Dell XPS 16 and Apple MacBook Pro 16 have sharper, higher resolution panels on offer. But once you've tried OLED, you won't want to go back to any LCD-based tech. With perfect lighting and contrast, no light bleed, fab viewing angles and much better response times, it's simply better. Oh, and it's a touchscreen, too, which no Apple laptop currently offers.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra top

(Image credit: Future)
  • Genuine all-day battery life
  • Delivers on Samsung's claims for movie playback

Samsung reckons the Galaxy Book 4 Ultra is good for 21 hours of video playback. That sounds like a tall order for a 16-inch laptop with powerful components. But you know what? It's actually doable, albeit in our testing it fell slightly short of 21 hours.

Okay, so you won't get that many hours with the screen set to full brightness – and we noticed some choppiness in video playback when using the dynamic refresh feature. So, the refresh rate is best set to 60Hz for viewing content on the move, but generally, color us impressed – this laptop has legs.

That impression is only bolstered by the 9 hours and 29 minutes it managed in the PCMark 10 Productivity battery life test. That's a pretty demanding workout in power consumption terms and anything near 10 hours is a good result.

  • Battery life: 5 / 5

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra: Also Consider

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra

I used the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra as my daily driver for a week. That meant everything from work duties including web browsing, document editing and a little content creation, to watching movies in bed and playing games in the evening.

In other words, pretty much every use case. Along with our formal benchmark results, I also took the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra out on the road to get a feel for real-world performance and battery life, what it's like to lug around, and how well built it is.

I've not just been reviewing laptops for over 10 years, I've also used them as my primary computing devices for even longer. So, it's intriguing to see how the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra fits into that context. The answer, generally, is very well indeed.

  • First reviewed June 2024
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