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Asus ROG G22CH review: the Intel NUC Extreme lives on, at least in spirit
7:00 pm | March 1, 2024

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

Asus ROG G22CH: One-minute review

As chipsets get smaller and more efficient, the past handful of years have seen a rise in smaller-form gaming PCs like the Asus ROG G22CH. 

Not only are they non-intrusive compared to the biggest and best gaming PCs, but they have a nice amount of portability as well. Most importantly, clever cooling and component management allow them to pack a nice performance punch at the cost of real upgradability. 

In the case of the ROG G22CH, the rig looks like a horizontally wider version of the Xbox Series X. There’s a sleek all-black look that’s accented by some nice angles with customizable RGB lighting. With that said, the performance specs are also miles ahead of a similar console. 

The ROG G22CH has an Intel i9-13900K CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, 32GB DDR5 RAM, and a 1TB SSD. That’s more than enough for some solid native 1440p gaming with the ability for 4K through DLSS upscaling. 

Starting at 1,399.99 in the US (about £1,120/AU$1,960), it can get expensive pretty quickly as you increase the specs, with UK and Australian buyers more restricted in the kinds of configurations they can buy. 

This is a bit of an issue since upgradability down the line is likely going to be a problem due to the extremely tight chassis. When packing so much performance within such a small rig, efficient cooling is a must. There are two different options including fans and liquid but both are loud during intensive tasks.  

That said, potential buyers looking for a small-form gaming desktop should definitely keep the Asus ROG G22CH in mind, since it's one of the few available on the market now that Intel has retired its NUC Extreme line. Beyond its pretty aggressive styling, its performance prowess is where it matters the most, and it excels in this regard. The gaming desktop can run all of the most popular esports games at high frame rates such as Fortnite and Valorant while handling more visually demanding games like Alan Wake 2 without much fuss. If cost and upgradability are a problem, it might be best to go with a gaming rig that has a bigger case

An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Asus ROG G22CH: Price & availability

  •  How much does it cost? Cost range between $1,399 and $2,499  
  •  When is it available? It is available now in U.S., UK and AU  
  •  Where can you get it? From various stories depending on territory  

The Asus ROG G22CH is relatively expensive regardless of what configuration one has. For gamers looking for some solid 1080p gaming, the $1,399 option comes with an Intel Core i5-13400F, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 16GB DDR5 RAM, and a 512GB SSD. 

That’s definitely a solid choice for anyone looking to play some of the bigger esports games like Fortnite, Rocket League, Call of Duty, or Valorant. Our review configuration came to about $2,299 and for $200 more users can pump up to the Intel Core i9-14900KF, though this isn't necessarily a huge jump in CPU power. 

When it comes to the UK, there’s only one option available which includes an Intel Core i7, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, 16GB RAM, and 2TB SSD for £2,099. Australian buyers have two configurations they can buy. Both have an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, 32GB DDR5, and a1TB SSD, but for AU$4,699 you can get an Intel Core i7-14700F configuration, or for $4,999 you can get an Intel Core i9-14900KF system. 

For good measure, there’s even an included mouse and keyboard that comes packed in with all configurations. Serious gamers will probably want to check out the best gaming keyboard and best gaming mouse options though, as the stock peripherals aren't spectacular.

Small-form PC Gaming rigs are usually expensive and naturally face issues when it comes to upgrading. However, the Acer Predator Orion 3000 is the most approachable price-wise and the lowest configuration is a bit more powerful than the ROG G22CH. Meanwhile, if performance is a main concern regardless of money the Origin Chronos V3 with a little bit of upgradable wiggly room and the Corsair One i300 has the best form-factor.

An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Asus ROG G22CH: Specs

 The Asus ROG G22CH currently comes in a variety of customizable configurations.  

An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Asus ROG G22CH: Design

  • The case is 4.53" x 12.72" x 11.30" inches and weights 18.52Lbs 
  • An all-black design is accented with two strips of RGB lighting    
  • There's not much room for GPU upgrading

Balancing form and functionality are the most important attributes of a small-sized gaming PC, and the Asus ROG G22CH does a solid job with both. When it comes to design, there’s much to appreciate in terms of the all-black chassis. Having two vertical strips of customizable RGB lighting on the front panel does lend the rig some personality. 

There’s one small stripe on the upper left side and a longer one on the lower right side. Between them is an angular cut alongside the ROG logo. When it comes to ventilation, there’s some form of it on all sides of the ROG G22CH.  Just looking from the front panel, the overall design is really sleek and could give the Xbox Series X a run for its money.

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An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

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An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

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There are plenty of ports available as well. The top IO panel features two USB-A ports alongside a singular USB-C, a 3.5mm combo jack, and a power button. Unfortunately, that USB-C port is the only one available on this PC. On the back are four USB-A split between 2.0 and 3.2, three audio jacks, and a gigabit Ethernet port. That should be more than enough for most PC gamers and creatives though.

Though upgradability will be tough, the ROG G22CH does somewhat make the process easier. Featuring a tool-free design, there’s a sliding latch that allows both sides and upper portions to be lifted to access to its inside. Having that ability without using screws does help a lot, outside of possibly RAM and SSD, getting a large GPU or attempting to swap out motherboards in the future is going to be difficult, if not impossible. 

An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Asus ROG G22CH: Performance

  • 1440p performance is spectacular  
  • DLSS can do 4K when needed  
  • Fans will run at full volume   
Benchmarks

Here's how the Asus ROG G22CH performed in our series of benchmarks:

3DMark Speed Way: 4,404; Fire Strike: 34,340; Time Spy: 17,500
GeekBench 6 (single-core): 2,866; (multi-core): 17,650
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 137 fps; (1080p, Low): 343 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 123 fps; (1080p, Low): 162 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 173 fps; (1080p, Low): 283 fps

Outside of gaming, the Asus ROG G22CH is a phenomenal workhorse for various general and creative tasks. Using Google Chrome in addition to listening to high-fidelity music through Tidal are fine working experiences. 

Using Adobe Suite worked totally fine on the G22CH as well. Photoshop was able to handle multiple-layer projects with incredibly high-resolution photos without issue. Editing videos through Premiere Pro allowed easy editing of 4K videos with speedy export times. 

That said, this is a gaming desktop, and it's its gaming performance where the G22CH really shines.

When it comes to handling the top tier of high-fidelity visuals in gaming, the G22CH can handle Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption II, Alan Wake II, and the like at native 1440p at high frame rates without breaking a sweat. Our Cyberpunk 2077 tests produced an average 123 fps on Ultra settings at 1080p. Bumping to 1440p with path tracing placed frame rates in the high 90s. Having everything turned to the max in settings allowed Alan Wake II to run in the high 60s. 

If wanting to go up to 4K, users are definitely going to have to rely on Nvidia’s DLSS technology, but it's possible with the right settings tweaks.

When it comes to high esports-level performance, users right now can enjoy a serious edge over the competition. Games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Valorant, Country Strike 2, and Fortnite were able to pump out frame rates well over 100 fps on high settings which is more than enough for the best gaming monitors. For more competitive settings, it’s easy enough to reach past 200 fps. 

Just understand that users will know when the G22CH is being pushed to the limit. When playing rounds of Helldivers 2 and Alan Wake II, the noise from the PC's fans reached around the low 80-decibel mark. This means that headsets are going to be necessary when gaming. 

An Asus ROG G22CH on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Should you buy the Asus ROG G22CH?

Buy the Asus ROG G22CH if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Asus ROG G22CH

I tested the Asus ROG G22CH over two weeks. During the day, many general computing tasks were done including Google Chrome and Tidal. Having multiple Google Chrome tabs allowed me to use Asana, Google Docs, and Hootsuite. For creating graphics alongside short-form social media video content, I used Adobe Premiere and Photoshop. 

Testing out high frame rate possibilities, games played included Call of Duty: Warzone, Valorant, and Fortnite. To see how hard we could push visual fidelity, we tried games including Cyberpunk 2077, Alan Wake 2 and Forza Motorsport (2023).

I’ve spent the past several years covering monitors alongside other PC components for Techradar. Outside of gaming, I’ve been proficient in Adobe Suite for over a decade as well. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: AMD’s China-only card goes global—and upends the midrange market
7:42 pm | February 28, 2024

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

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Two-minute review

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE was originally launched in China back in July 2023, and from what everyone was told, that card was going to be exclusive to that region. 

Well, following the launch of the RTX Super series of GPUs last month, AMD's decided to surprise everyone and launch the RX 7900 GRE globally, starting this week, and it looks primed to upend the midrange GPU market in a pretty huge way.

That's because the RX 7900 GRE (Golden Rabbit Edition) is going on sale starting at $549, which puts it directly in competition with the Nvidia RTX 4070 on price, and undercuts the Nvidia RTX 4070 Super by offering competitive performance for just over 90% of the cost.

To be clear, the card that is being released globally is the same card that has already been available for Chinese consumers, and so it has been extensively benchmarked for months, with much of that data freely available online for everyone to see. 

This has no doubt driven much of the global interest in the RX 7900 GRE since it originally launched back in July, and I fully expect this card to fly off the shelves since it is without question one of the best graphics cards for the midrange you're going to find.

In terms of raw synthetic performance, the RX 7900 GRE follows the familiar AMD-Nvidia pattern where the Radeon card is better at pure rasterization while the GeForce card is the better ray-tracer, but the difference between the RX 7900 GRE and the RTX 4070 Super in ray-tracing performance isn't as wide as it might have been last generation.

What's more, when it comes to gaming, Nvidia's advantage in native ray tracing is overcome by the RX 7900 GRE as soon as you bring upscaling into the mix, which you invariably have to do whenever ray tracing above 1080p is involved.

The RX 7900 GRE is even a much more capable creative card than I was expecting, so long as you're not working with CUDA, but for graphic designers, photographers, and video editors, this is a surprisingly powerful GPU for a lot less money than it's rivals.

Overall, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE isn't so powerful that it completely knocks out Nvidia's RTX 4070 Super, but it's hitting Nvidia's newest GPU a lot harder than I think Nvidia was expecting so soon after launch. Unfortunately, this does put the only-slightly-cheaper-but-not-as-good AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT in a bit of an awkward position, but for gamers looking to get the best performance for their money, more options are better in this case.

An AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE from PowerColor on a desk with its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $549 (about £440/AU$770)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE is available starting February 27, 2024, with a US MSRP of $549 (about £440/AU$770). This is the same price as the Nvidia RTX 4070, $50 less than the RTX 4070 Super, and $50 more than the RX 7800 XT.

This launch doesn't include an AMD reference card, so you will need to buy the RX 7900 GRE from third-party partners like ASRock, Gigabyte, Sapphire, and others. The sample I was sent for review is the PowerColor Hellhound RX 7900 GRE, a model line that typically sells for AMD's MSRP or below (when on sale).

An AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE from PowerColor on a desk with its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Features & specs

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE is a modified Navi 31 GPU with four fewer compute units than the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT, as well as slower clock speeds. It's power requirements are also officially lower at a starting TGP of 260W, but this will vary by which card you go for.

The Radeon RX 7900 GRE also has 16GB GDDR6 VRAM to the RX 7900 XT's 20GB, and while the RX 7900 XT has a 320-bit memory bus, the RX 7900 GRE has a slimmer — but still sizeable — 256-bit bus. With a memory clock of 2,250 MHz (compared to the RX 7900 XT's 2,500 MHz), the RX 7900 GRE comes in with an effective memory speed of 18 Gbps and a memory bandwidth of 576 GB/s, which is a notable decline from the RX 7900 XT's 800 Gbps and 800 GB/s, respectively.

Also notable are the two 8-pin power connectors, which won't require you to fuss around with a 16-pin connector like Nvidia's latest graphics cards require you to do, whether that's through an adapter or an ATX 3.0 power supply.

An AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE from PowerColor on a desk with its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Design

While there is an AMD reference card for the RX 7900 GRE, AMD has said that global availability will only come through AIB partners, so the design you get with your card will vary by manufacturer.

The card I tested, the PowerColor Hellhound RX 7900 GRE, sports a triple-fan cooler with RGB lighting in the fan. It's a long card to be sure, and even though it's technically a dual-slot card, the shroud makes for a tight fit.

The backplate of the Hellhound RX 7900 GRE has some notable features, like the Hellhound logo, the exposed GPU bracket, and a hole in the backplate opposite the third fan to leave an open path for air to pass over the GPU cooler's heatsink fins to improve cooling efficiency.

An AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE from PowerColor in a test bench

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Performance

Now we come to the heart of the matter. I can't tell if AMD was inspired by the release of the Nvidia RTX 4070 Super or not, but whatever convinced Team Red to bring the RX 7900 GRE out of China to the rest of the world, midrange gamers everywhere should be grateful because this is easily the best midrange graphics card on the market right now.

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

(Image credit: Future / Infogram)
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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE synthetic benchmark results

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Starting with synthetic benchmarks, the typical rasterization-ray tracing divide between AMD and Nvidia remains, but like we've seen with other cards this generation, the gap is narrowing. The Nvidia 4070 and RTX 4070 Super definitely pull ahead in terms of raw compute performance, but overall, the RX 7900 GRE is the champ of the under-$600s.

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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

(Image credit: Future / Infogram)
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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE creative benchmark results

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For creative use, the RX 7900 GRE is the strongest rasterizer, but lags Nvidia with video editing, and serious stumbles when it comes to 3D rendering as seen in Blender Benchmark 4.0.0. 

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

(Image credit: Future / Infogram)
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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1080p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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RX 7900 GRE 1440p gaming benchmarks

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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Rx 7900 GRE 4K gaming benchmark results

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When it comes to gaming, though, the RX 7900 GRE is the clear winner among midrange cards, with spectacular 1080p and 1440p gaming performance, with only slightly worse ray tracing performance than the RTX 4070 Super. 

As a 4K graphics card, however, the RX 7900 GRE isn't that far behind the RTX 4070 Ti, with the former getting an average 55 fps (30 fps minimum) and the latter getting an average of 63 fps (minimum 42 fps). The RTX 4070 Super, meanwhile, only averages 41 fps at 4K, with a minimum of 28 fps. 

Ultimately, the RTX 4070 Super can't really be considered among the best 4K graphics cards, but the RX 7900 GRE definitely can, thanks to its wider memory pool and larger memory bus.

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Power and Temperature benchmarks for the RX 7900 GRE

(Image credit: Future / Infogram)
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Power and Temperature benchmarks for the RX 7900 GRE

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Of course, this performance comes at the cost of power draw. You can throw the official 260W TGP right out the window here, with the RX 7900 GRE pulling down 302W, but the strong cooling performance on the PowerColor Hellhound card did manage to keep the RX 7900 GRE below 53 degrees Celsius.

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Creative benchmarks for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Final benchmark results for the RX 7900 GRE

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Overall, then, there's just no getting around the fact that the RX 7900 GRE effectively outperforms any other card in the midrange. And despite the RX 7900 GRE falling well short of the RTX 4070-series GPUs overall, it's worth keeping in mind that with Photoshop and similar rasterization-dependent programs, the RX 7900 GRE performs the best, and it doesn't fall too far behind the RTX cards when it comes to video editing. 

The weakness of the RX 7900 GRE is that most, if not all, 3D modeling software relies so heavily on Nvidia's CUDA that it heavily skews the creative performance averages, that it can be somewhat deceptive—unless you NEED this graphics card for 3D modeling. If that's the case, nothing else matters, and you need to go with an RTX 4070-class graphics card despite the RX 7900 GRE's superior performance everywhere else.

How many people will that stipulation apply to ultimately? Not enough to hold the RX 7900 GRE from claiming the crown as the best graphics card in the midrange, and since its final value score is just shy of the RX 7800 XT's, there really isn't any reason to opt for any other card right now. The RX 7900 GRE is honestly just that good.

An AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE from PowerColor on a desk with its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Should you buy the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE?

Buy the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE if...

You want the best midrange graphics card
The AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE is the best overall graphics card for under $600 you can get.

You want to game at 4K
Thanks to the RX 7900 GRE's 16GB VRAM and wide memory bus, you can absolutely game effectively at 4K with this card.

Don't buy it if...

You want the best ray-tracing graphics card
The AMD RX 7900 GRE is a good ray-tracing graphics card, but it's not as good as the RTX 4070 Super.

You do a lot of 3D modeling
If you're a 3D modeling professional (or even a passionate amateur), you need an RTX card, full stop.

AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE: Also consider

If my AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE review has you looking for other options, here are two more graphics cards to consider...

How I tested the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE

  • I spent about a week with the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE
  • I tested its synthetic, creative, and gaming performance
  • I used our standard suite of benchmarks
Test system specs

This is the system I used to test the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE

CPU: Intel Core i9-14900K
CPU Cooler: MSI MAG Coreliquid E360 AIO Cooler
RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5-6000
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z790 Tomahawk WiFi
SSD: Samsung 990 Pro 4TB NVMe M.2 SSD
Power Supply: Thermaltake PF3 1050W ATX 3.0
Case: Praxis Wetbench

I spent about a week testing the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE, including extensive benchmarking as well as general use of the card in my primary work PC.

I also made sure to benchmark other competing graphics cards in the same class with updated drivers to ensure correct comparable data, where necessary.

I've been reviewing computer hardware for years, and I have tested and retested all of the best graphics cards of the past two generations, so I know very well how a graphics card in a given class ought to perform.

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 February 2024

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC review: a flashy makeover for those who want that RGB
5:00 pm | February 25, 2024

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

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: Two-minute review

Following years of anticipation, Intel jumped into the GPU market dominated by AMD and NVIDIA with some respectable results last year. 

Both the Intel Arc A750 to the Intel Arc A770 showed real promise and managed to undercut the best graphics cards both chipmakers had to offer despite, at least on price if not necessarily matching performance benchmarks. 

Regardless, the A770's price just kept it from being one of the best cheap graphics cards for those looking for a GPU that could provide good ray-tracing alongside hardware-accelerated AI upscaling. Though it couldn’t match the sheer raw 1440p power of an AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT or Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti, general performance was more than respectable for the $349 launch price. 

With third-party variants of the A770 available, the Acer BiFrost Arc A770 OC might be a more attractive buy, especially now that the Intel Limited Edition cards are no longer being manufactured. There are a few things that lean in its favor including customizable RGB lighting through the Predator BiFrost Utility and overclocking capabilities. 

Sure, the lighting that comes with the BiFrost Arc A770 OC looks more attractive than the original A770, but that’s pretty much the biggest plus when it comes to this GPU over the Intel reference card. Performance power doesn’t increase much even with overclocking, which means that the dual-8-pin connection pulls even more power for no real reason, but you can make adjustments to its power draw if that's an issue. Be sure to make sure Resizable BAR is activated through your motherboard's BIOS settings as well because performance will absolutely tank if you don't. 

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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

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As mentioned previously, the Acer BiFrost Arc A770 OC comes feature-packed with ray-tracing and AI upscaling capabilities. When it comes to ray-tracing, it’s not going to deliver performance that matches AMD let alone Nvidia, but that doesn’t mean that ray-tracing performance wasn’t good. 

When tested with the Dead Space Remake and Cyberpunk 2077, framerates stayed within the 30 fps ball-park. On the other hand, Intel’s XeSS AI upscaling technology is as good as DLSS and AMD FidelityFX in games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023), Forza Horizon 5, and Hi-Fi Rush. Though 1440p performance is generally great, for more fps, brining it down to 1080p delivers better overall results.

There are around 70 games that support XeSS so far with more popular games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Counter Strike 2 missing from the list. During playtesting some games performed horribly including Crysis Remastered and Forza Motorsport (2023) even when dropped down to borderline potato settings. 

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

As in TechRadar's original A770 review, older games may have performance issues due to driver compatibility, since games developed with DirectX 9 and Direct X 10 were not made with the Arc GPUs in mind, meanwhile, AMD and Nvidia drivers have over a decade of legacy support for these games built-in since earlier versions of the drivers were developed back when those games were first released. That said, DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 performance is much better, and Intel's drivers are being actively improved to support these games.

One thing that surprised me is that the A770 provides pretty decent performance when using Adobe Suite software like Premiere Pro and Photoshop if your project scope is kept reasonable. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see Adobe provide official support for the graphics card in the future.

Acer does have a Predator BiFrost Utility that allows users to change RGB lighting within its card, but outside of that, it’s not as useful as Intel’s own Arc Graphics utility driver. Both allow users to have various system overlays alongside overclock power limit, temperature limit, and fan speed. One thing's for sure, even when running at full power, the Acer BiFrost Arc A770 OC wasn’t incredibly loud compared to other power-hungry GPUs available.

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: PRICE & AVAILABILITY

  • How much does it cost? US MSRP $399 (about £320 / AU$560)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC is currently available now in the US, UK, and Australia. Right now, there are ways to get around the $399 MSRP with some stores like Newegg selling the GPU for around $279. With the original A770 going for as high as $429, the BiFrost Arc A770 OC could be considered a better buy. 

For gamers on a more restricted budget looking for the best 1440p graphics card capable of playing many of the best PC games of the past couple of years, the BiFrost Arc A770 is definitely more accessible than comparable Nvidia and AMD graphic cards. Individuals who are working with a higher budget should definitely consider getting the AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT, which is just $50 more at $449 and provides much better 1440p performance. 

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: Specs

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Should you buy the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC?

Buy the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC if...

You need for budget level price with nearly mid-tier performance
With solid ray tracing and AI upscaling capabilities, the 1440p performance on the BiFrost A770 OC is commendable.

You require a GPU to match your RGB ready desktop’s flyness
The dual fan design and RGB lighting does look cool compared to the original A770.

Don't buy it if...

You want the best midrange GPU
Due to developer support at the moment, the A770 lags behind AMD and NVIDIA, which means performance won’t be the best for many of the top-tier games.

You want a GPU that uses less power
The Acer BiForst Arc A770 uses a lot of power but the performance doesn’t really reflect that.

Also consider

If my Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC review has you looking for other options, here are two more graphics cards to consider...

How I tested the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC

  • I spent around two weeks with the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC
  • I used the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC for gaming and creative test

Testing with the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC happened over a two-week period on a second home computer where I split between gaming and creative tasks. On the gaming side, titles played during testing included Crysis Remastered, Call of Duty Modern Warfare III, Forza Horizon 5, Forza Motorsport (2023), and Dead Space (2023)

Creative usage was split between Premier Pro and Photoshop.  I’ve been testing gaming desktops alongside components for around three years for TechRadar and fully understand how GPUs are supposed to perform compared to similar tech. 

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 February 2024

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S review: Netgear’s first Wi-Fi 7 router provides blistering performance
1:30 am | February 24, 2024

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

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: One-minute review

Netgear originally announced the Nighthawk RS700S as its first Wi-Fi 7 router back in March 2023, although it didn’t go on sale in the US until the end of the year. What's more, the Wi-Fi Alliance that oversees the development of Wi-Fi technology didn’t officially launch the new standard until CES 2024 – under the somewhat odd label ‘Wi-Fi Certified 7’ (also known as IEEE 802.11be, for the more technically inclined). 

So, what we have with the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S is some bleeding-edge tech that makes it a shoe-in for a spot on our best WiFi router page, though not without caveats.

Unsurprisingly, the state-of-the-art RS700S is seriously expensive, with a single unit costing $699.99 in the US, and a whopping £799.99 in the UK (not to mention the additional subscriptions that Netgear tries to sell you as well). 

To be fair, Wi-Fi 7 does blow away previous generations of Wi-Fi, with the tri-band RS700S boasting a top speed of 19Gbs using the 2.4GHz, 5.0GHz, and 6.0GHz bands. Netgear also claims that it has the ability to reliably connect to 200 devices all at once, though I don't have nearly that many devices to attempt to test such a claim. 

Of course, all of this is probably overkill for most of us – especially since there aren’t many computers or mobile devices that even support Wi-Fi 7 yet - but the RS700S certainly gives us a fascinating glimpse into a future where 8K video and VR headsets and gaming are the norm. 

And, of course, Wi-Fi 7 is still backwards-compatible with older computers and mobile devices, so it will still work with your existing devices as well, but if you don't have the kind of hardware that can take advantage of the new tech, you're better off waiting until you do.

A Netgear Nighthawk RS700S on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $699.99/£799.99/AU$1499.00
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where is it available? Available in the US, UK and Australia

There are very few Wi-Fi 7 routers currently available, so the RS700S doesn’t have many comparable rivals at any price. However, top-of-the-range Wi-Fi 6E routers such as the Asus Rapture GT-AXE11000, which runs at a still impressive 11Gbps, come in at around $400/£450/$700, so you’re paying quite a premium for the extra performance of Wi-Fi 7. It’s early days, though, so hopefully prices will begin to fall as rival manufacturers start to release their own Wi-Fi 7 routers and mesh systems throughout 2024.

A Netgear Nighthawk RS700S on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: Specs

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: Design

The tall, upright design and blinking lights of the RS700S are certainly eye-catching, and a departure from the winged ‘Cylon battle-cruiser’ designs of previous Nighthawk routers. 

Standing a lofty 282mm high, the slimline black pillar looks more like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a series of LEDs on the front panel that provide information about both wired and wireless connections. 

Netgear also claims that this upright design helps the RS700S and its eight internal antennae to more effectively transmit a Wi-Fi signal through a full 360 degrees, giving it a reach of 3,500 sq. ft (quoted as 3,000 sq. ft in some countries due to differences in national regulations).

You also get some idea of the power of the RS700S when you spot the large cooling vents on both the top and bottom panels, and a glimpse at the spec sheet reveals that the router is driven by a powerful quad-core processor running at 2.6GHz, backed up by 2GB of memory and 512MB of internal storage. 

The size of the router also leaves plenty of room for additional connectivity features, including no less than six Ethernet ports on the back panel and a USB-A port for connecting a network hard drive.

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The mobile app interface for the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S

(Image credit: Future)
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The mobile app interface for the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 4

The mobile app interface for the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 4

The web interface for the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S

(Image credit: Future)

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: Features

The ample ports give you an indication of the performance offered by the RS700S, as they include one 10 Gigabit Ethernet port for your Internet connection (via your existing broadband router or modem), along with a second 10 Gigabit port to provide a high-speed wired connection for a laptop, gaming console or other device that requires the fastest possible connection. 

There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connections as well, with the ability to combine two ports (known as ‘link aggregation’) to provide a 2 Gigabit wired connection. 

Just as important, though, are the features provided by the Nighthawk app. It gets the basics right, walking you through the initial set-up process quickly and easily. 

To keep things simple for first-time users, the app has a Smart Connect feature that automatically connects your computers and mobile devices to the frequency band that provides the best performance in that particular room or location. 

However, you can turn this off and create separate networks for each frequency if you prefer, and also set different passwords for each network. And, for more experienced users, there’s also a web browser interface that provides more in-depth control over your network settings.

It's worth mentioning that the RS700S also includes a 12-month subscription to Netgear’s Armor security service, which can protect your network and devices from online threats such as malware and phishing websites. But, after 12 months, you’ll need to pay $99.99 per year to continue with the service. 

The RS700S also seems to be something of a work in progress, as there’s one important new feature in Wi-Fi 7, called ‘multi-link operation’ that allows devices that support Wi-Fi 7 to connect to all three frequency bands at once (rather than a single band, as is the case with previous versions of Wi-Fi). 

Netgear says that this feature will require a software update that is due in Q1 of 2024, so if you’re keen to see the full potential of Wi-Fi 7 it might be worth watching the Netgear website for updates.

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S: Performance

Benchmark results

Ookla Speed Test - 2.4GHz (download/upload)
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 123Mbps/80Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 78Mbps/45Mbps
Ookla Speed Test - 5.0GHz (download/upload)
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150Mbps/150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps/150Mbps
Ookla Speed Test - 6.0GHz (download/upload)
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150Mbps/150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps/150Mbps
20GB Steam Download - 2.4GHz
Within 5ft, no obstructions:  150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 70Mbps
20GB Steam Download - 5.0GHz
Within 5ft, no obstructions:  150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbps
20GB Steam Download - 6.0GHz
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150Mbp

Even so, the RS700S still provides more than enough speed for most home and office networks. 

Even on the slower 2.4GHz band it outperforms the sluggish 85Mbps of our office router, hitting 123Mbps on the Ookla speed test for devices that are in the same room as the router. 

And, as I switch to the 5.0GHz and 6.0GHz bands, I feel as though the router is giving me the side-eye as both bands breeze along to the full 150Mbps provided by our office broadband. 

Longer, sustained downloads on Steam give the router more time to ramp up to speed and all three bands hit 150Mbps with no effort at all. Moving further away, to a back office separated by some partition walls, the Ookla test slows a little to 78Mbps when using the 2.4GHz band, while Steam downloads dip to 70Mbps. 

Even so, that’s still almost twice as fast as the 40Mbps that our normal router provides for both tests. And, needless to say, the 5.0GHz and 6.0GHz bands don’t have any trouble as I wander along the corridor to that back office, with both the Ookla and Steam tests maintaining a smooth and steady 150Mbps throughout. 

A Netgear Nighthawk RS700S on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Should You Buy The Netgear Nighthawk RS700S?

 Buy the Netgear Nighthawk RS700S if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

  • First reviewed February 2024
Keychron C3 Pro review: punching way above its weight
2:59 am | February 23, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Keyboards Peripherals & Accessories | Comments: Off

Keychron C3 Pro: Two-minute review

The Keychron C3 Pro keyboard thrives in a league of its own with a price point that’s below $40 while offering features usually reserved for the heavier hitters with money to spend.

To get a good keyboard for less than $50 usually means sacrificing a lot to give the illusion of more premium-priced products. When it comes to performance, the most obvious cut-back in the design are the key switches, lack of programmable keys and the like. Regardless of how one uses the C3 Pro, the mechanical keyboard is backed by a sophisticated gasket mount design and sound-absorbing foam that keeps keystrokes relatively quiet. 

Having a black and red design aesthetic, the ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) chassis feels durable. Adding comfortability are three adjustable typing angles and curved keycaps. If there’s anything exactly wrong with the C3 Pro’s design its the location of the USB-C port that sits near the back-panel center.

The awkward placement can be a nuisance but it also allows better cable management as there are both vertical and horizontal nooks. This can be a problem for those who want to travel with the keyboard, but the average desktop user won’t think much about it after installation. 

The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The C3 Pro is a mechanical switch keyboard with a 1000Hz polling rate and ARM architecture with 256KB flash storage. With N-Key Rollover into the mix, you have an incredibly solid gaming keyboard that goes a bit beyond casual usage.

Serious gamers who need quick keys or maybe more pronounced media keys may find trouble with the C3 Pro, but considering its price, anyone with those complaints should probably spend the extra money on the best mechanical keyboard they can afford and save themselves the trouble.

For most users though, it won’t matter if you use this keyboard for gaming or general tasks, the keystrokes will always feel good. They are tactile and springy enough for quick multiplayer rounds of Call of Duty or writing editorials through Google Docs.

The C3 Pro’s versatility is also one of its biggest assets, featuring the ability to switch between Windows and macOS keysets. All users have to do is hold the function key and tap the CAPS Lock.

Add QMK/VIA software support and there’s some crafty customization that can take place when using the C3 Pro. The open-source nature even contributes to some intricate backlight effects due to the per-key lighting that only comes in red. Interestingly enough, there are over 14 types of red back lights to choose from though many may have an issue with the singular color type. 

Overall though, the Keychron C3 Pro is a masterpiece of customization, performance, and price, and is absolutely one of the best keyboard offerings we've seen so far this year, and it will be hard to beat.

The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Keychron C3 Pro: Price & Availability

Priced at just $36.99 in the US, the Keychron C3 Pro is currently available in the US and the UK through both Keychron’s website and Amazon. Australian residents are out of luck, however. At least for now.

Considering the budget nature of the C3 Pro, it stands tall against various rivals in both gaming and creative sectors. When it comes to rivals within its price point, the Logitech G213 Prodigy and Roccat Pyro RGB lean more into gaming. The Logitech G213 Prodigy provides more gaming specific features, tenkey number pad, and dedicated media keys in exchange for Mech Dome switches at the same price.

Meanwhile, the Roccat Pyro RGB has mechanical switches alongside dedicated media keys but is a bit more expensive at around $80. Considering those are more serious gaming keyboards, they lack the versatility provided by the C3 Pro. For someone looking for a keyboard on a budget, this is definitely something to consider.

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The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
Image 2 of 3

The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

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

The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Keychron C3 Pro: Design

As mentioned above, the Keychron C3 Pro’s black and red design adds a bit of flair to the ABS chassis. Despite the plastic material, it successfully rides the fine line between being lightweight but flimsy and sturdy but heavy, giving it the right amount of strength without adding too much weight.

This means that the C3 Pro can also survive a rough time in a backpack alongside some reasonable drops to the floor. Part of that may come from the internal keyboard plate material being made out of steel. The backlight design comes in over a dozen modes that affect the keys alongside light bars that run along the side. And while the all-red LED looks fine and also helps save on cost instead of per-key RGB lighting, some other solid color options would have been nice.

To make sure that users are on the correct operating system layout, there’s a small LED light that sits next to the CAPS Lock notification, which is a nice touch. The C3 Pro is also made to be configured with different keycaps so you can personalize its look somewhat. By itself, the key placement is laid out well enough while allowing users to easily switch between layouts for Windows and macOS. Considering there aren’t any additional media buttons or anything, the function button works well with the function keys. 

Comfort really takes centerstage in this the design, starting with three separate typing angles, and the key quality if outstanding, making it great to type on. If anything, the biggest design issue I have is the location of the USB-C port on the back panel near the center. The trade-off is that there is both a horizontal and vertical nook for better cable management, but it can still be a pain sometimes. 

The Keychron C3 Pro on a purple deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Keychron C3 Pro: Performance

The Keychron C3 Pro was billed as a keyboard that’s ideal for “gaming and work.” When it comes to casual gaming experiences, it does more than a good job. Having a 1000Hz polling rate and N-Key Rollover makes the experience of playing fast paced shooters like Doom Eternal, El Paso, Elsewhere and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III a blast.

Keystrokes were springy, tactile, and responsive, and the additional foam padding underneath the switches also ensures that this keyboard won’t disturb anyone in the office with a whole lot of clickity clack.

As mentioned previously, switching between Windows and macOS is as easy as hitting the function button neat the CAPS Lock, and when using a Macbook, users can easily set spaces, change brightness, and more. In an interesting touch, there’s an AI assistant button for Apple users who need Siri to make an appearance. 

Users looking to customize their button layout can use either QMK or VIA for support as the keyboard also has a 256KB flash storage. Serious gamers who want more dedicated macro buttons in addition to other functions are going to have to pay a bit more or leave the mechanical switches aside for something less. 

Though less complex shooters like the ones mentioned above will work more than fine with the C3 Pro, gamers into macro-heavy games like League of Legends and high-level Fortnite play might want to look elsewhere. Again, within the bounds of its $36.99 price point, the C3 Pro can hang in there with rivals double its price even if some features are missing.

Should You Buy the Keychron C3 Pro?

Buy the Keychron C3 Pro if...

You want a cheap yet quality keyboard
At $36.99, there isn’t a better budget mechanical keyboard for gamers who have to get general task work done as well. 

You are ambidextrous for Windows and macOS
Users who love both Windows and macOS are going to appreciate the C3 Pro a lot.

Don't buy it if...

You need a more gamer-centered keyboard
Serious gamers or individuals with e-sports aspirations may want to spend the money for something that offers a bit more in terms of feature set.

You want a colorway and backlight that’s more than red
While the black and red colorway looks great, it would be nice to have other color options available.

Keychron C3 Pro: Also consider

If my Keychron C3 Pro review has you looking for other options, here are two more keyboards to consider...

How I tested the Keychron C3 Pro

I tested the Keychron C3 Pro over a week’s time. When using Windows, some of the games played included Palworld, Alan Wake 2, Robocop Rouge City, El Paso, Elsewhere and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. When not working, Google office suite and Adobe Photoshop were used as well. For macOS, Google Office suite and Adobe Photoshop were used as well. 

Since 2020, I’ve been covering various gaming laptops, monitors, keyboards and more for TechRadar. As a PC Gaming enthusiast, I can definitely help anyone who is looking for a quality keyboard for various price tiers. 

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 February 2024

Patriot Viper VP4300 review: a long-lasting SSD workhorse for PC and PS5
1:08 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Computing Components Gadgets Storage & Backup | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Patriot Viper VP4300: Two-minute review

With Sony’s PlayStation 5 offering support for a handful of SSD drive types, PC and console gamers alike have more choices when it comes to expandable storage and the Patriot Viper VP4300 comes with a lot to recommend it. 

The Viper VP4300 SSD utilizes PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe technology and includes a DDR4 DRAM cache. It offers two heat shield design options: an aluminum heat shield & graphene heatshield, both available on the 1TB and 2TB variants. Patriot promises sequential read speeds up to 7,400MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 6,800MB/s, and this is born out in my testing. 

The 2TB SKU we got in for review has a US MSRP of $189.99 (about £155/AU$270), which isn't cheap, but few, if any, of the best SSD models that offer this kind of performance will be any cheaper right now. The 1TB SKU comes in much cheaper at $119.99 (about £100/AU$168), so if you're on something of a budget, you do have some options here.

Plus, there’s so much to appreciate with the Viper VP4300 SSD that it's easily the best M.2 SSD for gamers who might want to use it in their PC or PS5, making it a worthwhile investment. 

Whatever gaming machine you're buying it for, it'll work, and the graphene heatshield will help keep things cool inside your PS5 while the aluminum heatshield will do the same in your PC.

When it comes to PC Gaming, the SSD drive’s performance is respectable though there were some weak spots, like its lower PassMark Disk benchmark score. Its CrystalDiskMark 8 scores were excellent and in line with the promised speed and expectations for a drive such as this. 

This means that it’s speedy when it comes to tasks like installations or copying, saving, and transferring files, and my lived experience with it indicates that some anomalous scores we got during benchmarking were indeed outliers (but not all).  

A Patriot Viper VP4300 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

However, PC gamers should know that there are definitely faster SSD choices out there, especially if you have a PCIe 5.0-capable system. 

VR games, for example, are notorious for long load times on PC and so the observed lower read speed on the Viper VP4300 could impact wait times with these kinds of cases. Even playing more visually low-impactful games like SuperHot VR and Cooking Simulator VR took nearly a full minute to get from SteamVR launching to the main menu screen. 

More traditional non-VR games were affected by lower reading times as well. Alan Wake 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 took a bit longer than usual to load from start up to main menu but weren’t annoyingly slow. Even the initial load from the main menu to the most recent checkpoint took a little bit more time. 

On the other hand, the Viper VP4300 may be great for gamers who are also creatives since export times to the drive in Adobe Premiere Pro were very zippy.

A Patriot Viper VP4300 in a motherboard

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

One huge positive in the Viper VP4300's column is its 2000TBW endurance rating, in addition to its standard five-year warranty. This means that theoretically, PC gamers who blow through their 2TB SSD drive storage can get a bigger storage replacement and use the Viper VP4300 on their PS5. Adding to those longer-lasting capabilities are the two heatsink options. 

Benchmarks

Here's how the Patriot Viper VP4300 performed in our benchmark tests:
CrystalDiskMark Sequential: 7,389 read / 6,799 write
CrystalDiskMark Random Q32: 4,459 read / 3,805 write
Second 25GB file copy: 16 seconds
25GB file transferrate : 1,677 MB/s
PCMark10 SSD Overall: 2,660
PCMark10 SSD Memory Bandwidth: 323.93 MB/s

Our review unit came with the aluminum and graphene heat shields, though these definitely aren't hot-swappable. During testing, the Viper VP4300 got as hot as 57 degrees C when gaming but poked out a bit.

The other graphene headshield does look a bit better and leaves a smaller profile, especially useful for devices like laptops or the PS5. More so than gaming performance, it’s clear that the Patriot Viper VP4300's real niche is in its endurance.

While its read speeds don't top the charts, the Viper VP4300’s respectable performance, especially in write-intensive tasks, and compatibility with PS5 make it a versatile option that any gamer should consider. Additionally, its robust 2000TBW endurance and five-year warranty underscore its longevity, making the Viper VP4300 a valuable investment for gamers and creatives seeking reliable, high-performance storage.

A Patriot Viper VP4300 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Should you buy the Patriot Viper VP4300?

Buy the Patriot Viper VP4300  if...

You want an SSD compatible with Sony’s PS5
PC gamers and PlayStation 5 owners  in need of additional storage may have a viable option 

You require an SSD that’ll last a while
Having a 2000TBW endurance and five-year warranty means this SSD is going to last a long time. 

Don't buy it if...

You want the absolute best in gaming performance
Again, having lower reading benchmarks means gaming performance for loading may not be up to snuff compared to rival SSDs available around the same price.  

You need an SSD that’s affordable
The 2TB version of the Patriot Viper VP4300 is around $150 which many may find expensive compared to others that offer similar or better performance.  

Patriot Viper VP4300: Also consider

If my Patriot Viper VP4300 review has you looking for other options, here are two more SSDs to consider...

First reviewed January 2024

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

Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition review: a lightweight mouse that’s perfect for esports
9:18 pm | February 21, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computer Gaming Accessories Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers | Comments: Off

Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition: Two-minute review

The Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition doesn’t come cheap, but it absolutely nails all the important features for a premium wireless gaming mouse. Its ambidextrous symmetrical form factor is streamlined and comfortable, making it ideal for longer play sessions or competitive settings. The responsive micro switches deliver clean, satisfying clicks that easily keep pace with even the fastest moments of first-person shooter titles like Counter-Strike 2 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.

It’s a very versatile mouse too, with support for USB-C wired play in addition to wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and the proprietary 2.4 GHz Asus ROG Omni Receiver. Although the report rate of up to 1,000 Hz isn’t the highest on the market, it's more than enough for competitive use and I didn’t experience any noticeable latency using any of the three connection types during my testing.

Even so, the inclusion of a dongle extender in the package is a great added bonus, as it allows you to clip the ROG Omni Receiver directly to your mousepad to further reduce the chance of latency affecting your aim. This is especially important given the clear focus on esports, where many pros tend to veer towards wired gaming mice for their reliability. 

What's in the box of the Asus Rog Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition mouse.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

There are two color options to choose from: black and white. In addition to a ROG logo on the palm rest, both sport two baby blue side buttons that inject a little color to help give an otherwise utilitarian design some element of personality. The RGB scroll wheel, while nothing ground-breaking, adds a further element of customizability thanks to the option to illuminate it in a variety of basic colors and modes. It even alerts you when the battery is running low, which should help prevent you from ever being caught out by a depleted mouse in the middle of a match.

There’s some optional grip tape for the mouse buttons and sides too, though you’re unlikely to really need it given the grippy, premium-feeling plastic used across the mouse. The side also sports grooves (alongside a very subtle Aim Lab logo decal) which prevents the mouse from ever feeling slippery in the hands.

The Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition certainly looks premium, but it also packs some seriously high-end specs under the hood. The first area where this mouse really raises the bar is its sensitivity, which is a staggeringly high 36,000 DPI. It goes without saying, but this will be more than enough to satisfy even the twitchiest competitive gamer and should comfortably make this model worth considering if sensitivity is your number one priority.

That’s not all it has to offer, though, as the ultra-light 1.90oz (54g) weight is very impressive too. This is lighter than even the Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2 Lightspeed, which comes in at 2.12oz (60g), and makes for a mouse that is not only very easy to transport but can glide smoothly across most surfaces with little friction or fatigue. There are still lighter mice around, like the wired 1.66oz (46g) Asus TUF M4 Air, but it's quite remarkable to see a wireless option this light.

There is also the matter of the Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition’s namesake: its compatibility with Aimlabs. For those not in the know, Aimlabs is a freemium aim trainer program that is a popular choice for training among competitive FPS players. Aimlabs sees you undergo a series of short exercises, namely clicking on various targets in blank environments, in order to evaluate your overall performance. The Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition is able to automatically find your ideal mouse settings based on these tests, even saving them to a special profile for easy access.

Aimlabs software

(Image credit: Aim Lab)

Although most esports competitors will likely already know their own preferred settings, this is still a brilliant addition that could prove genuinely game-changing for those not quite at that professional level. It is a shame, though, that the features offered by the compatible ROG Armory Crate software aren’t so strong. All the basics like the option to change your DPI, map buttons, or calibrate your mouse are at least here but the lack of premium additions like the ability to download profiles from the internet leave it lagging behind the offerings from leading esports brands like Zowie.

The only other real issue is the placement of the DPI button which is, unfortunately, on the bottom of the mouse. While this might not be an issue for some, I am someone who enjoys creating specific profiles for different games and alternating between them quite frequently so having more limited access to the switch is a little annoying.

Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition: Price & Availability

Asus Rog Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition in my hands.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)
  •  How much does it cost? $139.99 / £139.99 / AU$189
  •  When is it available? Available now 
  •  Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia 

Coming in at $139.99 / £139.99 / AU$189, the ASUS ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition is very much a high-end product. Even so, it is less expensive than current esports favorites like the Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2 Lightspeed, which costs $159 / £149 / AU$299, and features better specs in most important areas including DPI and weight.

The real question here is whether it’s worth actually getting a wireless gaming mouse for esports in the first place. The wired Razer DeathAdder V3 features a higher report rate of 8000 Hz, a 2.08oz (59g) weight, and a very sensitive 30,000 DPI all for just $69.99 / £69.99 / around AU$99. Considering how many esports pros use wired mice, it might be worth weighing up just how much of a premium you’re willing to pay to cut out the cord. If you are shopping exclusively for wireless options, however, this is a very reasonable price for what you are getting.

Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition: Specs

Asus Rog Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition mouse

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

Should you buy the Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition?

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if…

Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition: Also consider

How I tested the Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition

  • Tested for over a month
  • Used for both gaming and productivity
  • Tested with leading esports titles

I spent over a month using the Asus ROG Harpe Ace Aim Lab Edition every day. This included standard productivity tasks, plenty of internet browsing, and of course playing lots of different games. I was careful to test the mouse with fast-paced esports FPS titles, including Counter-Strike 2, Valorant, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

That said, I also used the mouse for plenty of other games including Anno 1800, The Sims 4, and The Caligula Effect 2, where I found that it performed well in a range of genres. I predominantly used the mouse with its wireless receiver, but was sure to test the other connectivity modes too. I experimented with both the ROG Armory Crate software and Aimlabs to try out all of the available features.

As a hardware writer over at TechRadar's sister site TRGaming, I have plenty of experience going hands-on with all kinds of gaming peripherals every day. I’m also a pretty avid FPS player and have played lots of games using a variety of different mice over the years.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Dell XPS 17 (9730) review: large and beautiful
8:30 pm | February 20, 2024

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

Dell XPS 17 9730: Two-minute review

The Dell XPS line has been the gold standard among laptops for some time now. Though some models stumble a bit, at least in relation to the heights of the best versions of the XPS, these laptops typically ooze quality and elegance.

The Dell XPS 17 9730 reviewed here, certainly does that. Of course, you miss out on the portability that makes the smaller versions such perennial members of our best Ultrabooks guide. This is on the heavier, bulkier side.

However, if you don’t need something that you can easily throw in a backpack for on-the-go work, the Dell XPS 17 is among the best laptops for its performance – including the fact that it can handle editing work and gaming – and elegant design. It also comes with a gorgeous screen, especially if you upgrade to the UHD+ resolution that our review unit sports.

If you’re looking for a larger laptop with more screen real estate with plenty of power, you can’t go wrong with the XPS 17 9730. Just be prepared to pay for it.

Dell XPS 17 9730: Price & availability

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,599 / £2,698.99 / AU$4,398.90 
  • Where is it available? RTX 4050 model is only available in US, more expensive models worldwide

Though the Dell XPS 17 isn’t technically an Ultrabook, it comes from Ultrabook stock. After all, the Dell XPS 13 is the standard bearer for the category. It’s no wonder then that the Dell XPS 17 comes with the kind of premium price tag that these types of laptops come with.

Of course, part of that is the fact that even the base configuration, which goes for $1,599, comes with some powerful specs including an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050. Still, the price of entry is nowhere near budget. Also, it seems that the model with an RTX 4050 is only available in the US - for UK and Australian readers, the base model starts with the more powerful - yet also more expensive - RTX 4060 GPU.

In Australia, the base model comes with a 13th gen i7 processor, RTX 4060 GPU, 16GB of DDR5 RAM and 512GB SSD storage for AU$4,298.80.

In the UK, the base model is more expensive, and while it comes with mainly the same specs as the Australian Dell XPS 17's base model, it only offers a minimum of 32GB of DDR5 RAM and 1TB SSD storage for £2,698.99.

You’ll have to spend even more if you want the review unit with its 32GB of RAM, slightly more powerful RTX 4060, and UHD+ screen. Specifically, you’ll have to spend $1,949 / £3,099 (about AU$2,990).

Now, the best 17-inch laptops usually aren't cheap. You can save a little money on an LG Gram if you don’t need all that power and want something a little more lightweight and portable. But, you’re still spending around $1,400 on one.

If you’re okay with a more gaming aesthetic and want some power to go along with that large screen, there are some other budget-ish options, such as the Acer Nitro 17. Its starting price of $1,249.99 (around £980 / AU$1,860) offers a bit of a saving, though you won’t end up with quite as elegant of a computer. 

  • Price score:  4 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Specs

The base configuration of the Dell XPS 17 is already pretty powerful with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (in the US, at least). But, there’s plenty of customization to add even more power and/or storage. You can also choose a more powerful i9 CPU, up to an RTX 4080 GPU, and up to 64 of RAM. You can even upgrade to an 8TB SSD (technically two 4TB SSDs). 

Beyond the internal specs, you also can choose between two different panels. There’s the more basic non-touch 1920x1200p screen or the one reviewed here that’s 3840x2400p with touch capabilities. 

  • Specs score: 5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Design

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • It’s very large
  • Powerful components inside
  • Limited amount of ports, but they’re versatile

As you would expect with a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 is large. And, unlike some models such as the LG Gram, it owns it instead of trying to balance that with portability. It weighs over five pounds to start, which while technically portable, is not the kind of weight you want to carry around all day if you’re hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop.

The Dell XPS 17 is not for that person. Instead, it offers the kind of components that typically can’t fit in those smaller models. So, it comes with a dedicated GPU (you can choose between the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 406, 4070, and 4080) and you can also max out specs that you'd otherwise couldn’t with a smaller (and thinner) laptop, as you can upgrade to up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage.

Since this is a Dell XPS laptop, it’s also a gorgeous computer with a platinum silver exterior machined aluminum shell with a black carbon fiber covering around the keyboard. It’s like a BMW version of a laptop.

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

Since it’s on the bigger side, that means it comes with a large 17-inch screen. While I’ll go into further detail on the display below, I’ll just mention for now that it has 'Infinity edge' bezels, so they’re tiny, and the upgraded UHD+ version reviewed here also has touch capabilities. On that note, the panel feels very high quality when using the touch functionality.

Port-wise, the Dell XPS 17 skews a bit more Ultrabook-ish with just four Thunderbolt ports and an SD card reader. However, all the Thunderbolt ports have power delivery and DisplayPort capabilities, so you can use an adapter to plug into an external display if that monitor doesn’t have USB-C inputs.

Since I’m used to using smaller laptops, the large keyboard and trackpad are a bit of an adjustment. However, they’re also of high quality and don’t create any issues other than being different from what I’m used to. Probably the biggest adjustment is that the keyboard is set further back than I would like. But, again, that’s just personal preference.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Performance

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • Powerful performance
  • Great color accuracy and coverage
  • Webcam just 720p
Dell XPS 17 9730: Benchmarks

Here's how the Dell XPS 17 9730 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Fire Strike: 21,588; Time Spy: 9,467
GeekBench 6: 2,504 (single-core); 13,214 (multi-core)
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm:
122fps @1080p
25GB File Copy: 12.9
Handbrake 1.6: 5:10
CrossMark: Overall: 1,895 Productivity: 1,776 Creativity: 2,115 Responsiveness: 1,657
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 9:05:31 

As someone who gets their hands on a lot of gaming computers, I’m always surprised when I get something that can hang that’s not really intended for that purpose. So, when booting up the Dell XPS 17, I can honestly say that I was surprised.

Whether you’re a bit shy about your extracurriculars or need a laptop that has the horsepower to handle editing work (within reason), the Dell XPS 17 is more than capable. The review unit tested here is quite powerful with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060. Of course, you can scale down a little bit to 16GB of RAM and a 4050 GPU. But, you can also go up to 64GB of RAM and a 4080, not to mention an Intel Core i9 CPU.

Frankly, it might be more power than you might need, depending on what you’re considering this for. But, more power is better than not enough, especially when you have a high resolution screen to power. The UHD+ (4K in 16:10 ratio) panel here is sharp, bright, and vibrant and has a Delta-E of 0.24. Color coverage is 188.8% sRGB and 133.7% DCI-P3 as well so you don’t have to worry about accuracy or color gamuts if you want to do some photo or video editing. At the very least, watching the latest streaming series is a pleasure.

The sound quality is pretty good for a laptop, though don’t believe Dell’s claims that you can mix on this (for any budding musician that’s considering this – get some good speakers).

Interestingly, the only issue I have performance-wise is the fact that Dell only included a 720p webcam.

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Battery life

  • Battery life is average
  • Charges quickly

Considering the fact that the Dell XPS 17 is quite a powerhouse, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t quite perform as well in the battery department as the newest MacBooks or Ultrabooks. In our battery informant benchmark, for instance, it last just over nine hours. That’s not bad at all, all things considering. Just be aware that there’s a bit of a trade-off for powering the high-res display and GPU.

A little more disconcerting is the fact that it does seem to lose some charge over time when the lid is closed. While I won’t hold that against the XPS 17, it something to keep in mind. Since it receives power via Thunderbolt however, it doesn’t take long to charge back up.

  • Battery life score: 4 / 5 

Should you buy the Dell XPS 17 9730?

Buy it if...

You want power
This laptop has some serious power behind it. Whether you want a work laptop that can do some gaming when you’re done or you have to also do some editing work, the Dell XPS 17 is more than capable.

You want a premium looking and feeling laptop
True to the Dell XPS name, this laptop exudes elegance. Everything about it looks and feels like a lot of thought went into its design. 

Don't buy it if...

You’re trying to save money
While its price tag makes sense for its size and power, this is not a cheap computer. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of other options out there. 

You need portability
As good as the Dell XPS 17 is, it’s not a portable computer. It’s heavy and a bit bulky, so you should look elsewhere if you need something to constantly take on the go.

Dell XPS 17 9730: Also consider

If our Dell XPS 17 9730 review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...

How I tested the Dell XPS 17 9730

  • Tested for a couple weeks
  • Used for regular work as well as gaming
  • Used regularly unplugged

I used the Dell XPS 17 9730 for a couple weeks for work as well as for play. In particular, I wrote this review on it. I was able to play some demanding games like Battlefield 2042 on it, though with some adjustment to the settings, and spent some time streaming on it as well.

After spending time with the Dell XPS 17 9730, I was impressed by the fact that its power is more on par with a gaming computer than with its Ultrabook competition.

I’ve spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for gaming and otherwise, where I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Google Gemini hands-on: the new Assistant has plenty of ideas
5:00 pm | February 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Artificial Intelligence Computers Computing Gadgets Software | Comments: Off

Google has replaced its Google Assistant with a new AI-based tool, Gemini, at least for those of us in the US daring enough to download the new app. I tried Gemini on my Pixel 8 Pro, testing it side-by-side against the older Google Assistant on my OnePlus 12. The experience is changing very quickly, and features that didn’t work yesterday may suddenly work tomorrow. Overall, Gemini is trying to be something very different than Assistant, without removing the features I’ve grown to rely upon. 

Google Gemini hands-on: Design

Google Gemini screens on Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

It was obvious from the first time I opened Gemini that it’s trying a different approach. While Google Assistant asks “Hi, how can I help?,” Gemini posits “What would you like to do today?” Assistant waits for me to start speaking. Gemini listens, and also has a prompt below the question telling me to type, talk, or share a photo. 

When I started using Gemini a week ago, there were many things it couldn’t do that Assistant could handle. Gemini couldn’t control my smart home equipment. It wouldn’t set a reminder. Gemini needed me to press a button after I gave it a command. There were many bugs at first, but in only a week the software has greatly improved. It can control my lights and thermostat, for instance, and its response is now automatic. 

If you want more than just a basic Assistant, you can open up the full Gemini app. Up top, Gemini offers suggestions for things to try, with interesting options that change frequently. 

Beneath sits a list of your three most recent queries. Gemini keeps track of everything you ask, and since it’s an AI it will also summarize the session and give it a title. You can look at your entire query history and delete an entry, or give it a more appropriate heading. You can also pin your best chat sessions. 

Gemini’s hidden strength is its ability to talk to other Google apps. It can replace Google Assistant because it uses Assistant as one of its many tools, along with Maps, Search, and even others. You can save a chat session directly to Google Docs, or export it directly to a Gmail message.

If you don’t want to use Gemini as your Assistant replacement whenever you press the Power button or yell “Hey Google,” you can choose Assistant instead in Settings.

Google Gemini hands-on: The Gemini differences

Google Gemini screens on Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

While Google Assistant is just that, an assistant to do things on your phone, Google Gemini is trying to be smarter, more like a human helper with ideas than a cold machine.

For instance, among the suggested activities, Gemini suggests I “Brainstorm team bonding activities for a work retreat,” and offers “Ideas to surprise a friend on their birthday.” When I tap on the birthday ideas option, it adds “concert-loving” friend, which is clever because I can easily replace that with “table-top game loving” or whatever my friends are actually into. 

For image generation, the suggestions from Google show the granularity of detail that Gemini can handle. To create a space hedgehog, Google started with a 36-word prompt with verbs, descriptions, and things to avoid in the final image. 

Gemini is smart enough to continue a conversation after a prompt. I asked for suggestions for plans in a specific town nearby and it offered four suggestions. I said I liked the fourth option and asked it to expand and it complied, offering more options that were similar. I had no problem referring to previous prompts in a single chat, even if I’d veered off-topic a bit.

Google Gemini screens on Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

So, is Google Gemini the new Google Assistant, or is it an app that runs Assistant on my behalf? Assistant doesn’t have a full screen app, it’s always a pop-up window. Google Gemini starts as a pop-up, and you can open the app to dive into more detail.

Assistant can’t interact with photos like Gemini, though this is still a buggy feature. It would often refuse to help with a photo task, telling me it couldn’t work with images, or it wasn’t yet ready to handle photos of people. Sometimes these photos didn’t include humans, so I’m not sure what caused the error.

On some occasions, Gemini would tell me that it could not interpret an image, and then it would offer me detailed information. I asked about a bird in a photo I’d taken and it told me it couldn’t review the image, then offered me links for info about the Great Cormorant. I expect these bugs will be ironed out soon, but I’m still unclear what Gemini will be able to do with images I upload.

Google Gemini hands-on: Performance

Google Gemini screens on Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Google Gemini is slow. When I tried the same tasks side-by-side with Google Assistant on my OnePlus 12, Assistant always finished first. That could be the faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor in the OnePlus 12, but I suspect there are bottlenecks slowing down Gemini. After all, Gemini isn’t replacing Assistant, it’s using Assistant, so that creates an extra step. 

That said, there aren’t many tasks for which I need Gemini to respond with great haste. If I’m asking for weekend plans, I can wait an extra ten seconds for a good answer. If I’m turning off all the lights in my house, the longer pause is annoying. 

The Gemini results can be impressive, and Gemini can expand or adapt its answers. In fact, it always suggests ways it could expand to be more helpful. If I ask for a destination, it might offer a few ideas that are bad and one that’s great, and when I identify the choice I like, it can find similar options. Of course, that’s what a machine does best, match patterns. 

I tried using Gemini to plan a fiction novel about a robbery and it was surprisingly fun. Its suggestions were cliche, but it did a great job offering pathways to expand. After I gave it an initial plot synopsis, it offered to flesh out storylines, create plot twists, and even devise motivation for different character actions. 

I’ll keep using and testing Gemini, and it has a lot of room for performance improvement, but the experience is still fun and satisfying, and the results are often worth the wait. The suggestions are not uniformly good, but they are occasionally great. 

Google Gemini hands-on: First impressions

Google Gemini screens on Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

What is Gemini for? Approaching a new AI tool, it’s hard to know how to use it. It isn’t really a replacement for Assistant so much as a gatekeeper of all of Google’s apps that provide answers, especially Maps and Search.

Following Google’s suggestions in the app helps open doors. Google suggests using Gemini to help make plans, and that’s what I did most often. I made date night plans, weekend plans, and I’ll be using Gemini to help with a road trip soon. Gemini offered ideas that pointed me in the right direction, even if I didn’t use the options listed. 

Google also has created a great tool for brainstorming. Gemini offered its most interesting results at the end when it suggested ways that I could ask it to expand. There were no one-step conversations. Every query ended with a call to action to go further. I liked that, it was very helpful. 

What did I not like? I asked Gemini for a recipe for moist and fluffy muffins and it gave me a recipe but no attribution. An author can’t copyright a recipe, but Gemini didn’t invent muffins, or techniques to make them fluffy. It felt like something was being stolen.

I also didn’t like the faux humanity injected into every response. No matter what I suggested, I got a compliment from Gemini. Sometimes these were subtle words of encouragement, other times it was fawning and embarrassing. 

Look, Gemini, I know that you’re a fake computer personality. It doesn’t make me feel good when you tell me I’m very creative and interesting. It’s less believable than when my Mom told me I was the most handsome … you get the idea. 

I use Google Assistant often for the basic – timers, weather, and smart home control. Gemini can do all of that, so I won’t stop using Gemini. I’ll also try Gemini for help expanding on ideas and plans. I’m very curious to see how it grows its capabilities with all of the other Google Apps it can control.

You might also like:

Apple Vision Pro review: The spatial computing revolution is here, and I love it
7:17 pm | February 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Software Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Apple Vision Pro: Two-minute review

Apple has spent almost a decade developing the Vision Pro, and it shows. Everything about it is spectacular, from the exquisite design to brilliant visuals that blend the real with the fantastical, to the versatility that puts other mixed-reality headsets to shame.

The fact that, even after all that work, there are still limitations is frustrating. Sure, I want a sub-1lb/500g headset that somehow integrates the battery; and, of course, I want it to cost $500. The state of the art, even Apple’s bleeding-edge form of it, isn’t there yet. None of that, however, makes me think less of the Vision Pro. It's a stunning achievement in industrial design and technology that translates the inscrutable worlds of AR, VR, and mixed reality into an experience that pretty much anyone can understand and enjoy.

Using your gaze and gestures (finger taps, long pinch, pull) to control a computer is the intuitive technology control you didn’t know you were missing – the millimeter precision is more like what you’d expect from a seasoned OS, not the brand new Vision Pro platform, visionOS, Apple introduced nine months ago. Apple got this right on the first try, and it could become as second-nature as tapping, pinching, and swiping on an iPhone or iPad is today.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

As a new computing platform, the Vision Pro is rich with features and possibilities. The fact that it does so many things so well, and that they work and make sense, is a testament to Apple’s efforts. I’ve been marveling at the attention to detail, and at how a bleeding-edge, V1 product can feel so finished and complete. Apple has created a headset that I’m itching to wear almost every day, and if I did nothing but work in it the Vision Pro would transform my life. I’ve long dreamed of having a 150-inch or larger workspace, but I couldn’t imagine how it would be practical or, more importantly, viewable. With the Vision Pro, I get an almost unlimited desktop that makes me want to never return to the confined space of my laptop.

Image 1 of 2

Apple Vision Pro Review

Encounter dinosaurs remains one of the most eye-popping Vision Pro experiences… (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

Apple Vision Pro Review

…especially when this virtual butterfly lands on your finger (Image credit: Future)

I’ve rarely tested a technology that has moved me in the way the Vision Pro does. Spatial videos are so achingly real that they instantly trigger an emotion that a flat image might not. Being up close with otherworldly or prehistoric creatures that seem to almost see me is at once jarring and thrilling. To pull this off, you need more than great apps, software, developers, and artists; you need a cohesive system that brings it all to life. The Vision Pro does it time and again, with 23 million pixels of imagery, spatial audio that travels the distance from band-bound speakers directly to your ears, and eye-tracking that knows your gaze better than you do.

There are frustrations and missteps, too.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Apple Vision Pro with the Solo Knit Band (Image credit: Future)

I struggled to find the best fit, and while I can now wear the Vision Pro for hours, my face reminds me afterwards that it’s not built for this. I've struggled on occasion to find a fit that doesn’t cause me some niggling discomfort (although the more immersed I get, the less I feel anything).

I don’t mind the external battery, but it feels not quite up to the task when you want to watch a 3D movie and power seems to drain at double speed. Thank goodness the battery can be plugged in for continued use.

Apple Vision Pro Review

You won't go anywhere without that battery pack (Image credit: Future)

While I think the outside-in pass-through technology that marries the real and computer-generated worlds is among the best I’ve seen, Apple’s attempts to keep you connected to people in front of you and through, say, FaceTime calls, need work. Personas are just this side of creepy, and EyeSight, which shows a video of your eyes to those around you on the exterior screen, looks a bit scary. Then there's the price, which is overwhelming, and will be an instant turnoff for many. I wonder, though, if they might feel differently after their first experience – I’d argue that they will decide they want a Vision Pro, and the only question will be how they can afford it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Vision Pro: Price and availability

  • Expensive
  • Price does not include lens inserts
  • No yet available outside the US

Apple announced its Vision Pro headset on June 5, 2023, at WWDC 2023. It's available now in the US, and costs $3,499 for the 256GB model. Preorders opened on January 19, and the headset began shipping on February 2. Availability and pricing for other markets is yet to be confirmed, but Apple says that will follow in 2025.

Value score: 4

Apple Vision Pro: What's in the box

Everything that's inside the Apple Vision Pro box

Here's what you'll find when you unbox your Vision Pro (Image credit: Future)

So what do you get for your $3,499 (Apple sent me the 1TB version, which starts at $3,899 – you can opt for a $3,699 512GB headset)? Essentially, in the box is everything you need to put on and start using the Vision Pro. In order of importance:

  • There’s the Vision Pro system
  • A battery with attached cable
  • USB-C charge cable and 30W adapter
  • The Solo Knit Band
  • A Dual Loop Band
  • Two Light Seals Cushions
  • A fabric cover
  • A polishing cloth

The only thing that's not included, and which you might need, as I did, are the Zeiss prescription lens inserts. These will run you $99 for reading-glass lenses, and $149 for full prescription lenses, which is what I need. The Vision Pro might be unusable for those with particular sight issues – Apple can let you know upfront if that's likely to be the case.

It all arrives in a large white box that has all the hallmarks of containing a high-end Apple product.

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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

The optional case costs $199 but I thick its worth it (Image credit: Future)
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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

(Image credit: Future)

You can buy an optional carrying case for $199, and, considering that you just dropped almost $3,500, I think it’s money well spent, although some might argue that Apple should include the case with the expensive headset. Apple sent me the case; it's compact, and has storage space for everything I mentioned above, and I think the hard-shell, soft-surface body will do wonders to protect your expensive new toy.

Apple Vision Pro: Specs

The headgear is, in some ways typical goggle size: it's roughly six inches wide by almost four inches deep from the edge of the Light Seal to the front of the glass, and almost four inches tall. 

Perhaps the most important spec of all, though, is the weight. Depending on which bands you use, the Vision Pro clocks in at 1.3 to 1.4lbs, or 600 to 650g. The external battery, which I kept either in my pocket, on the table, or on the couch next to me (later I got a nice $49.95 Belkin Case, so I could attach it to my belt), weighs just over three-quarters of a pound, or around 350g. Thank goodness Apple opted to not integrate the battery in its first mixed-reality headset.

Apple Vision Pro: Performance

  • Powerful, proven M2 chip
  • R1 appears to take the visual load
  • Never a lag
  • Could do with more base storage

Apple’s Vision Pro works as well as it does not only because of the design and remarkably intuitive interface. As always, it’s what’s inside that really counts.

At its heart is the  M2 chip, a second-generation piece of Apple silicon, featuring an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU that powers, for instance, the most recent MacBook Air (MacBook Pros now have M3 chips). In my experience, this is a powerful chip that’s well qualified to handle the demands of virtual and augmented reality.

However, the M2 has the support of a new piece of Apple silicon, the R1 chip, which appears to be primarily in charge of managing those 4K screens, and maintaining a 12-millisecond image update so that what you see is clear and butter-smooth.

The Vision Pro’s dual 4K micro-OLED displays with 23 million pixels are also industry-leading. My experience with the headset is that I get crystal-clear imagery wherever I look, and at whatever size I make the screens.

Apple Vision Pro Review

The Vision Pro's audio comes through a pair of audio pods which are hidden under that white rubber (Image credit: Future)

Apple has placed the stereo audio pod headphones on the stiff white rubber stems that feed into the Vision Pro frame, but they provide excellent spatial audio that’s arguably as good as anything you might get with in-ear buds. If you place an app on your virtual left, the audio will come from that space. At one point, I took a screen that was playing video and slowly dragged it from one side of my space to the other, and the audio tracked perfectly from my left side to the middle and then to the right. There’s also a six-microphone array that does a good job of picking up “Siri” commands. I love summoning Siri because, in the Vision Pro, the digital assistant is embodied as a small floating glass orb.

Apple Vision Pro bottom edge cameras

The Vision Pro's bottom-edge cameras (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There are numerous cameras arrayed on the outside and inside of the Vision Pro. The two on the front handle the stereoscopic imagery that you can see and capture in photos and videos that you’ll play back later, and sometimes cry over.

The Vision Pro supports Wi-Fi 6 (though oddly not Wi-Fi 7, which in a few years will be ubiquitous) and Bluetooth 5.3, the latter of which allowed me to easily connect the Vision Pro to an Xbox controller, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad. 

Apple Vision Pro virtual keyboard

The Vision Pro is best for a quick message or short sentences; typing anything of length on it is virtually impossible (Image credit: Future)

The Vision Pro also displays a virtual keyboard that you can poke at in space. This can be resized and positioned to your liking, but the lack of physical and tactile feedback makes it difficult, at best, to use. What’s worse is that because you may not be looking at the keyboard when you type, the gaze control system can’t really help you with accuracy. To be fair, I’m a terrible typist and do often look at the keyboard when touch-typing. Ultimately, if I want to type within visionOS while wearing the headset, I find that using the Magic Keyboard Apple sent me is best (they also sent a Magic Mouse that can work across both visionOS and my connected MacBook Pro’s virtual display).

Apple provided me with a 1TB Vision Pro test unit, which retails for $3,899. The base model, which costs $3,499, starts with just 256GB of storage. Apple pitches the Vision Pro as the first “spatial computer,” which makes me wonder why it didn’t start with at least a half-terabyte of storage as standard.

Performance score: 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Design

  • Exquisite materials and build
  • Good looks hide impressive specs
  • Not that light
  • External battery

I know people joke about the Vision Pro looking like a pair of hyped-up snow goggles. Maybe so, but I’d argue there’s not one false note in this design. Apple, as it often does, chose the best material, with a particular focus on weight. So, it’s a mix of an aluminum body, magnesium, carbon fiber, and woven fabric. It’s virtually all curved, with a gleaming glass front that protects the screen marrying almost seamlessly with the body.

There’s a lot of technology packed into the Vision Pro, but Apple has made some effort to hide it. There are cameras behind the glass, and a set of them along the bottom edge that watch your face and hands. The AudioPod speakers that deliver near-perfect spatial audio are hidden behind stiff, white rubber.

Along one side of the top edge is a familiar piece of technology: the Digital Crown. When I first saw this, I wondered why Apple would pull an idea from Apple Watch and slap it on its newest device. But Apple considers the Vision Pro to be a wearable, so there’s some logical continuity here. Plus, the Digital Crown turns out to be one incredibly useful and important piece of Vision Pro technology.

The 'Top Button' on the top left side, which is mostly used for Spatial Photos and Video, gets far less use.

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There are some large vents on the top of the frame, and a grille on the bottom, and these seem to work together to draw air in and flow it up and away from your face. The Vision Pro does get warm, but never so much so that it’s uncomfortable.

The Vision Pro and the Light Shield both curve to meet your face, but the crucial bit that makes this design work is the foamy Light Seal cushion. This rests on and follows the contours of your face, and it’s about as comfortable as such a thing should be, though on occasion during my testing time I've wondered if it should be either thicker or denser.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Once I settled on the Dual Loop Band, I found my Vision Pro comfort zone. (Image credit: Future)

Attaching this spatial computer to your head requires a band, or a pair of bands. The default Solo Knit Band is wide, and can be adjusted via a dial to make it tighter or looser. It’s never offered enough support for me, though.

It’s worth pausing here to remind you that the Vision Pro weighs 1.3lbs. That’s not particularly heavy in itself, but a typical set of eyeglasses might weigh 0.08lbs, and now imagine attaching a pound of ground beef to your head. This experience is far more enjoyable, but it needs support. In contrast to the Solo Knit Band, the Dual Loop Band supports the headset on the back of your head and across the top of it, and I bet most people will prefer it over the more attractive Solo Knit version.

Design score 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Setup

I would not call any part of the Vision Pro setup process complicated or off-putting. There are several steps to go through, but mostly these are to customize the experience. As for assembling it, there’s the matter of which band you choose for comfort, and fitting the right Light Seal (the thinner one is standard, the thicker one is for glasses-wearers who have those Zeiss inserts). You also need to attach the battery cable, which snaps into the right side (if the headset’s glass is facing you) and locks on with a twist – there’s no chance of it popping off. The cable is long enough for you to drop the somewhat hefty battery into your pocket.

The bands snap on and off metal lugs using small orange pull tabs; I usually put the lens cover on, so that I can tip the Vision Pro on its face while I swap bands. Aside from the colorful screen behind the glass, which is just black when the device is off, that orange is the only bit of color pop on the headset.

If you ordered Zeiss prescription lenses, as I did, you’ll have to put them in before using the headset. They, like most other pieces on the Vision Pro (for instance the Light Seal and its cushion) attach magnetically. They’re also labeled, so you won’t get confused about which lens goes on which side. The box comes with a QR code that you’ll use to register the lenses with the headset.

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There’s also a QR code moment when you want to sync your Vision Pro with your phone and iCloud account. None of this takes long, or is even remotely confusing.

The rest of the setup occurs mostly with the headset on. Apple fans will appreciate the startup, which includes a floating Apple logo and then the iconic 'Hello' spelled out in 3D scripted letters floating in your real-world space. It’s just a hint of what’s to come.

One of the keys to the Vision Pro’s technical excellence is its ability to track your gaze (along with the dual 4K micro-OLED screens inside the headset are cameras pointed directly at your eyes). So, the setup begins with pressing the crown to get the pupillary distance – that is, the distance between your pupils – right. The screens mechanically shift position to match your pupils.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Looking at and selecting these dots is an important step in the setup process (Image credit: Future)

Next, to ensure that the Vision Pro fully understands where you’re looking, you go through a series of vision calibration tests, during which a circle of dots appears and you look at each one, and pinch your index finger and thumb together. You do this three times in three different environmental light settings. I’d already tried this five times over the last seven months of demos, so I'd gotten quite good at it.

The system also needs to calibrate for your hands. This process consists of holding them up in front of the Vision Pro. You’ll see a faint glow around the outside edges of your digits, and then you flip your hands over and do it again.

While the system may occasionally ask you to reset the pupillary distance by holding down the Digital Crown, you won’t have to perform any other part of the setup again. For Guest Mode, if you want to let someone else to try the headset, they’ll go through the vision and hand calibration, but the results will not be used by the Vision Pro when their session ends.

As I've said, I found this setup simple, and quite effective in that from that point on the system has seemed to know me every time I've donned the Vision Pro, and it worked as well as the time before. The only step I need to follow now to get started is logging in with a PIN. You can also log on with an iris scan (OpticID) but, while I successfully registered my iris, I could never unlock the Vision Pro with my eyes. I've asked Apple about this issue and will update this review with its reply.

Apple Vision Pro: Software and Interface

  • Excellent intuitive OS
  • A true 'think-do' interface
  • Spatial computing turns the world into an unlimited digital space

You start on the home screen, or Home View, which can be summoned with one press of the Digital Crown. This screen will look somewhat familiar to most Apple fans: there's a grid of preinstalled app icons, many of which match what you’ll find on your iPad or iPhone (Notes, Safari, Photos, Podcasts, Calendar, Mail, Files, etc), horizontally arrayed and floating in your real-world environment. You can use the pinch-and-wave gesture to move through multiple screens of apps. This is where the apps you install will live – you can download many more from the App Store, which now has more than 600 visionOS apps. There’s also access to 'Compatible Apps' folder, which collected all the iOS and iPadOS apps I installed on Vision Pro. Apple claims that roughly a million iOS and iPadOS apps already work with Vision Pro, even if they were not designed for visionOS and the Vision Pro. It's not hard, though, to find ones, like most Google apps, that don't.

Compatibility is a mixed bag. Sometimes it works perfectly, other times less so. NBA2K got stuck on setup screens and wouldn’t let me access the game. In the case of Paramount Plus, which is not officially designed to work on the headset, it played, but I couldn't expand the live video to a full window. Apps that have not been custom-built for visionOS were the ones most likely to crash.

The Vision Pro defaults to a full pass-through mode, although that’s a misnomer; you’re never looking directly at your surroundings. Instead, the cameras on the front deliver a clear video feed of your surroundings to your eyes. It’s the best way to marry virtual information with reality, and it's very effective.

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The Home View (Image credit: Future)
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Environments (Image credit: Future)
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Home View on 50 percent immersed envrionment (Image credit: Future)
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App Store (Image credit: Future)
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Arcade (Image credit: Future)
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Immersion and audio controls. both accessed by spinning the Digital Crown. (Image credit: Future)

The Vision Pro is constantly keeping track of your gaze, and your hands and fingers, so as long as your hands are in view of the cameras you can control anything you see simply by looking and pinching. The headset will not register gestures made behind your head, or if you drop your hands down to your side; I usually have my hands in my lap, or raise them in front of my chest to pinch, drag, and zoom. To telegraph my intentions, I simply look at something and then pinch to, for instance, open an app.

Once an app is open, you can move it about the room by grabbing a thin white bar at the bottom of the app’s screen. This isn’t hard to do; you just look at it, pinch to grab, and move it. You can also use this gesture to pull the app window closer or move it further away. On the bottom right corner is a curved bar that you can use to resize from, say, a big-screen TV size to a wall-size app. Inside an app you can look at, for instance, a photo in the Photo app, and use both hands with a pinch gesture to zoom in and out.

Apple Vision Pro Review

My work, entertainment, information, and creativity space is all around me (Image credit: Future)

While working and playing in apps, you can have them superimposed onto your real world, or select one of Apple’s Environments to change your surroundings. There’s Yosemite, Mount Hood, Joshua Tree, Haleakalā, Hawaii, and even the Moon, and each one is a 360-degree, 'live,' immersive experience, complete with spatial sounds. Once you've chosen an Environment, you can twist the Digital Crown to turn the immersion up or down (this is also how you raise and lower the volume – you just look at the Volume icon instead of the Environments one). Up means the real world increasingly fades, and you’re surrounded 360 degrees by, for instance, the dusty surface of the Moon. Your hands don’t disappear, but they’re not resting on your knees, and instead appear to be floating above the moon’s surface.

Apple Vision Pro Review

You can see my EyeSight here. That's not a pass-through; you're looking at screens displaying a video feed of my eyes from inside the headset (Image credit: Future)

While the Vision Pro can drop you into virtual reality, it’s smart enough to keep you connected to the outside world. When my wife started to speak to me during one immersive session, I could see her gradually appearing in front of me as we talked. On her side, she sees a video feed of my eyes on the front of the headset. Apple called this EyeSight, and it’s a hit-or-miss affair.

EyeSight shows a video recreation of your eyes based on what the camera sees inside the headset. The color is blue and purplish, and it can look, well, weird. My wife never liked it, but I noticed that she got used to talking to me while I was wearing the headset.

Software and interface score: 5

Apple Vision Pro: The Experience

  • There's nothing quite like using a Vision Pro
  • It can be hard to convey the experience to people on the outside
  • Your work life will change, too

If you can get your fit right (this can take some trial and error) there's nothing quite like the experience of using the Vision Pro. Even when I wasn’t wearing the headset, I found myself thinking about wearing and using it.

It's an able virtual-reality and mixed-reality machine, and I have much more to share there, but its ability to integrate my real-world work environment has been transformative for me.

I’ve spent many hours now working in the Vision Pro. To do so, you use the Control Center, which you access by glancing up until you see a green arrow and pinching to open, to launch the Mac Virtual display. In my case this showed me my MacBook Pro as an option, so I selected this and my desktop appeared before me as a huge 55-inch display. I could expand that to, say, 150 inches (or more), and then pull it close to me – this is the endless desktop I’ve always dreamed of, and none of this would work if every window, app, and bit of text weren’t crystal clear.

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That little arrow at the top is to access the Control Center (Image credit: Future)
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The Control Center has many of the typical Apple controls you'd expect (Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, etc). It also adds Mac Virtual Display and Screen Mirroring. (Image credit: Future)
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Choose your system (Image credit: Future)
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One click and the big screen will appear (Image credit: Future)

Just because I had my work desktop in front of me didn’t mean I lost out on the rest of the Vision Pro experience. On my right, I had Messages open (when a new message arrives, a green message icon floats in front of my face), and, on my left, I had my Photos. Sometimes, I would AirDrop an image (often a Vision Pro screen-grab that I'd captured by saying “Siri, grab a screenshot”) from the Vision Pro to my desktop, and then edit it in Photoshop on my giant virtual display.

You can place apps anywhere you want around you, and not just in one space. Vision Pro understands your space, even different rooms in your home.

One day I wanted to try JigSpace, an app that lets you manipulate and pull apart giant 3D objects like a race car. I wanted ample space to work, so I walked over to my den. The Vision Pro’s pass-through capabilities are good enough that I was never worried about navigating around my home, though I did need to sometimes look down to see what was near my feet. I would not recommend wearing your Vision Pro while walking in the street, where you need to pay attention to curbs and other obstacles.

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JigSpace let me put a jet engine in my den… (Image credit: Future)
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…and take it apart by looking and parts and grabbing them with my hands (Image credit: Future)

Once in the den, I opened JigSpace and started pulling apart a jet engine – whatever part I looked at, I could grab and drop somewhere around the room. Then I went back to work.

Hours later I was writing about JigSpace, but wanted to double-check something in the interface. I couldn’t find the app, so on a hunch, I got up and walked back into the den – and there was the app, where I’d left it hours before. What we have here with spatial computing and the Vision Pro is, maybe for the first time, the concept of space-aware computing. I could, perhaps, leave apps all over my house and the Vision Pro would remember where they were. To bring all open apps back into my local view, I just needed to hold down on the Digital Crown.

Experience score: 5

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Apple Vision Pro: Entertainment

  • An immersive entertainment experience
  • Spatial audio support is strong with or without AirPod Pros
  • Games designed for Vision Pro are often inspired
  • Compatible games don't always work as expected

I've tried watching movies on other virtual reality headsets, and it just never clicked. The Meta Quest Pro is an excellent device, but I still find it too uncomfortable to wear for more than 20 minutes at a time. There is, however, something special about watching a movie in the Apple Vision Pro, especially if you add in the AirPods Pro 2 (which include support for spatial audio and, thanks to their new H2 chip – also inside the Vision Pro – add support for lossless audio with ultra-low latency).

What makes it work so well isn’t only the near-perfect 3D fidelity (Disney Plus has a particularly excellent library of 3D films, including the trippy Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), but also the way in which you can immerse yourself in the theater experience with various Environments. The Disney Plus app provides some of my favorites: there’s an Avengers space, a Monsters Inc. Factory, and the Disney Theater, which is probably my top pick overall.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Inside the virtual Disney Theater (Image credit: Future)

When the lights come down, and you’re staring at a giant 70mm or even IMAX-class virtual screen inside a darkened theater, you can almost smell the popcorn. There’s virtually no light leakage to break the illusion, and I had no trouble losing myself in the experience of watching a two-hour movie. One thing I did notice, though, is that 3D movies can chew through battery life. If you plan on watching, say, the three-hour and 26-minute Killers of the Flower Moon (an Apple production, by the way) you’ll want to plug in the battery using the included cable and charge adapter. They’ll provide all the pass-through power you need.

As I write this, YouTube and, more problematically, Netflix, are playing a wait-and-see game with the new platform. That’s a shame. I’d love to binge the next Squid Game inside the Vision Pro.

Marketing for the Vision Pro often shows people sitting down while using it, but, while I've spent most of my time seated, I have played games while standing. Synthriders is a Vision Pro-ready game that has elements of Beat Saber in it; your hands are orbs, and there are music-beat-based orbs flying at you that you must bounce back or ride the waves of with your hands. I played this while standing, and between waving my arms and ducking glass trapezoids flying at my head, it was quite a workout.

Apple Vision Pro playing Synthrider

Apple Vision Pro playing Synthrider (Image credit: Future)

Entertainment score: 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Spatial Photography

Apple Vision Pro Review

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  • Vision Pro is a strong spatial photography machine
  • An excellent spatial imagery partner for your iPhone 15 Pro
  • The spatial photography and videography playback effect is often moving

I love how Apple always manages to cook up new terms for existing technology that somehow manage to capture the imagination of regular people. 

Stereophotography is well over a century old, and many boomers and GenXers first experienced it in the 1970s with View-Master toys. The effect was okay, though not remotely immersive. With the Vision Pro, Apple has introduced the concept of spatial photography, a 21st-century upgrade of 3D photography and videography that puts 3D image capture in the hands of, or rather on the head of, everyone. It even extended the concept by building spatial video capture into the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

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Flat 2D screens cannot do spatial imagery justice. (Image credit: Future)

In some of my earlier Vision Pro demos, I played back spatial video that I'd captured on my iPhone 15 Pro Max on the Vision Pro. This was no View-Master experience: I could view the videos in a floating window, which put them at a certain remove, or use a pinch-and-expand gesture with both my hands to almost enter the video. The edges fade away, so the spatial video looks like it’s floating in a cloud.

The Vision Pro can capture both still and video spatial imagery. To capture, you use the dedicated button on the top-left side of the visor. A single press brings up the option to shoot photos or videos, and after you select one you press the button again to capture a single photo or start recording spatial video (you press it again to end the video capture). I did this with photos of my hand, and then a photoshoot with my son. Every time I view spatial imagery I have an immediate and automatic emotional reaction; when I replayed the spatial content it was like my son was standing before me, complete with his pained expression.

I must hand it to Apple, it doesn’t just invent new terms, it reinvents the experience.

Spatial photography score: 5

Apple Vision Pro: Communication and Personas

  • Personas can look strange, but they're more useful than you think
  • Communicating through iMessage and FaceTime is trouble-free

During setup, the Vision Pro will guide you to create a Persona, a 3D rendering of your head that you can use in FaceTime and other video calls. To build mine, I followed the instructions, removed the headset, and then pointed the display at my face. It captured me looking up, down, left, and right, as well as making a few facial expressions. All of this information enabled the spatial cameras to create a 3D map of my face.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

When I put the Vision Pro back on, I could see my new Persona, which automatically started mimicking my facial expressions (the cameras inside and the ones pointed down at my face and hands capture my live expression). I added semi-translucent glasses to my Persona, and I was done and ready for a FaceTime call with my wife. She hated it. Even though I think my Persona is one of the better ones out there, I can’t deny the uncanny valley look of it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Chatting with my colleague Ray Wong's Persona via FaceTime (Image credit: Future)

Later, I conducted a call with a colleague who was also testing the Vision Pro. We both remarked on the limitations of our Personas, but throughout our 20-minute conversation those concerns faded away, and I forgot that we weren’t looking at either our real faces or our real hands. I’m still convinced that Apple can do better here, but then that’s why Personas are still in beta. By the time you finally decide to buy a Vision Pro (or some version of it), I expect Personas to be much more realistic and palatable.

Communication and Personas score: 4

Apple Vision Pro: Final thoughts

The Apple Vision Pro is expensive, but I’m not sure I can argue that it’s too expensive for what it does. Someone asked me if I would buy it. I now know that if I could afford it, the answer would be an enthusiastic yes.

There has never been a wearable quite like the Vision Pro, let alone a mixed-reality headset like it. It’s a true 'think-do' platform. It’s powerful, but also inviting. It’s fun to use, but also completely ready for work. It might make you look like a bug, but there’s also beauty in its design.

Apple Vision Pro Review

I know, it's looks weird on the outside, but it's incredible on the inside (Image credit: Future)

I wish it were lighter, but still, I can forget I’m wearing it and give myself over to the experience of work, play, or entertainment in a dark, virtual theater.

I love working in the Vision Pro, but I'm aware that if you spend hours working in it, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to keep the headset on at the end of the day. Over time, Vision Pro enthusiasts will likely achieve a balance between work and play, though I’m convinced that the tug of this one-of-a-kind technology will remain strong.

The Apple Vision Pro instantly goes to the top of our list of the best virtual reality headsets. It may not be a best-seller yet, but those who have one will talk about it endlessly, and they may even let you try it. I suggest you take that opportunity if offered, or at least get yourself to an Apple Store for a demo.

There has never been anything quite like the Vision Pro. It's my favorite mixed-reality headset ever, and I’m certain that it has reinvigorated the AR/VR market while also creating something completely new. Spatial computing is a thing. Better get used to it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Apple Vision Pro (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Apple Vision Pro?

Buy it if... 

Don’t buy it if… 

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How we test

For my Apple Vision Pro review, I spent almost a week, and as many hours each day as I could, wearing and using the mixed-reality headset. 

I watched movies, played games, communicated with friends and co-workers, streamed live TV, moved apps around my home, and did a lot of work on my giant MacBook Pro virtual display.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed February 2024
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