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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

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

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

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

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

Acer Helios 18
9:00 pm | January 15, 2024

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

Hardcore gamers should be on the lookout for the Acer Helios 18, a gaming laptop that's loaded with some great specs, an excellent display, and much more. The design is a bit simpler than the Acer Helios Neo 16 or 18, but still has a nice sleek metallic look to it.

Pricing isn't bad either, starting under $2,000, somewhat reasonable for a gaming laptop of this size and class. The keyboard allows for some customization as well, another notch on the positive features belt. If the performance matches its specs once we do a more throrough review, this could be one of the best Acer laptops of the year, and a solid candidate for our best gaming laptop list.

Acer Helios 18: Price and availability

The Acer Helios 18 will be launching in the US in March 2024, with its price starting at $1,999.99 (around £1,570 / AU$2,990), while the Helios 16 is slated for a release later in January. The pricing isn't bad, a tad expensive but still cheaper than pretty much any other desktop replacement gaming laptop options with the same specs.

We don't have official information on when the Helios 18 will launch in the UK and Australia, but it'll most likely show up in other regions later down the line.

Acer Helios 18: Specs

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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Helios 18: Design

The Acer Helios 18 is a simple black gaming laptop that uses RGB lighting to make it more visually appealing, including the logo on the lid. Unlike the Helios Neo 16 or 18, it doesn't have a coded lid or a clear plate over silver metal on the back piece. 

The back piece, however, does feature a pattern fanning out from the Neo letters in the center, all lit up in rainbow lighting, which looks gorgeous. And the lit-up Acer logo on the lid is also a nice touch that gives it a bit of aesthetic appeal.

The keyboard is similarly lit with RGB back-lighting and feels pleasant to type on. There's also a rather unique feature, with the WASD keys featuring MagKey 3.0, compared to the regular membrane switches in the rest of the keyboard. This adds in two features called MagClick and MagSpeed, with the former letting users install mechanical switches (and I felt the difference immediately when I tried it out) while the latter has a speedometer-inspired design and a more distinctive LED lighting.

Its 18-inch Mini-LED WQXGA (2560 x 1600) display is lovely and crisp with a massive 250Hz refresh rate. It also has a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, making this the perfect laptop for not just gaming but for editing and especially creative projects.

The port selection is incredible with Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, USB Type-A ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI 2.1, a combo jack, a microSD reader, and way more. There's not anything lacking in the selection, with more than enough USB ports to go around.

Acer Helios 18: Performance

black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

The specs for the Acer Helios 18 are all current-gen CPUs and GPUs, including up to the Intel Core 9 14900HX and up to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, respectively. It also has up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM and up to 4TB PCIe 4 SSD in RAID 0 storage, far more than enough for any gamers' needs.

We don't have any benchmark test results to determine its actual performance but judging from performance from adjacent models like the Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) and the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16, the Helios 18 should perform extremely well. Hopefully, the ventilation system, including a fan system, liquid metal thermal paste, and vector heat pipes can keep up and keep internal temperatures down.

Acer Helios 18: Early verdict

black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

The Acer Helios 18 is a well-rounded gaming laptop with tons of upgrades that make it more than worth investing in if you're looking for a solid desktop replacement. It has an excellent display, a robust port selection, current-gen specs that promise top-of-the-line performance, and a partially customizable keyboard.

Not to mention its unique design that takes advantage of RGB lighting uniquely and beautifully, a compliment very few gaming laptops receive. If the Helios 18 checks out once reviewers get it in their hands, this could end up as a sleeper hit of a gaming laptop.

Alienware x16 R2: unchanged on the outside, overhauled on the inside
9:00 pm | January 14, 2024

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

One of Dell's other gaming laptop refreshes for 2024 is the Alienware x16 R2, which is meant to have superior performance over the Alienware m16 R2 since the former is more of a dedicated gaming desktop replacement. As such, both CPU and GPU options are maxed out with the best laptop specs you can get.

There's not much difference in terms of aesthetics, with the x16 R2 similar to the 2022 Alienware x15 R2 but that's not a bad thing considering how distinctive and downright cool its design is.

It also received an upgrade to its display, webcam, and updates to its ventilation system, which should help catapult it to one of the best gaming laptops on the market.

Alienware x16 R2: Price and availability

The Alienware x16 R2 will be launching in the US, according to information released during CES 2024. There hasn't been an official announcement yet revealing the release window or availability for the UK and Australia but knowing Dell, it'll be available in those regions pretty soon after the US launch.

As for pricing, it's starting at around $2,099.99 / £1,649 / AU$3,136 and will end up as high as about $2,899.99. This is a huge price difference compared to the 2022 Alienware x15 R2 at $2,910 (£2,800 / AU$5,203). It's good to see that gaming laptop prices aren't skyrocketing as I originally feared.

Alienware x16 R2: Specs

back of white gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

Alienware x16 R2: Design

The Alienware x16 R2's design is pretty much identical to the Alienware x15 R2 from previous years, including that bright white color with blue highlights as well as the iconic back that juts out. It looks super unique, a gaming laptop that's worth showing off.

Its 16-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) display is all tricked out with a 240Hz refresh rate,  3ms response time, as well as having a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. Soon after launch, Dell revealed a version with an FHD+ 480Hz panel would also be released, which is incredible. As for the current version not only does it offer incredibly smooth, stutter-free gameplay that would make any hardcore gamer happy, but it can be used for creative and editing projects with ease.

It's quite a bit on the heavy side, weighing six pounds. You won't be transporting this baby around often, but it's in line with a desktop replacement. It's a little heavier than the 2022 x16 model, so hopefully with the overhauled Alienware Cryo-tech Cooling technology it ventilates better and isn't prone to overheating.

The keyboard uses Alienware's in-house switches similar to the Alienware Pro Wireless keyboard and it has satisfying typing feedback. Not to mention the very distinctive rainbow-colored touchpad that complements the RGB-lit keyboard. The built-in camera has been upgraded, adding HDR capability on the FHD IR webcam, a plus for a gaming laptop.

The port selection, like before, is located wholly on the back and includes both HDMI and Display Port, which is a great touch. But it's bizarrely missing an ethernet port, which is an issue for a desktop replacement, as hardcore gamers would want a more stable connection.

Alienware x16 R2: Performance

gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

The Alienware x16 R2 comes with options for the current-gen Intel Core Ultra series CPUs, with choices between the 7 and 9. Paired with the RTX 4000-series GPUs up to an RTX 4090, and you have a truly tricked-out laptop made to perform at its best.

You can either upgrade the storage to 4TB using the standard single storage, or you can upgrade to a whopping 8TB using Raid 0 configurations. However, you can only configure up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM, which is very good but not as high as the Alienware m16 R2, a strange choice.

Unfortunately, we won't have benchmark results until we can properly sit down with and test out this gaming machine. But with the specs it has, this should be an absolute beast in terms of output.

Alienware x16 R2: Early verdict

white gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

As a huge fan of the 2022 Alienware x15 R2 gaming laptop, I have high hopes for the Alienware x16 R2 refresh I was shown. And so far it seems like a solid upgrade from the previous gen, with better specs, an updated display, improved ventilation, an upgraded webcam and more. All wrapped up in the same sexy package this series is known for, with a few upgrades like that gorgeous rainbow-lit touchpad. Even the pricing is somewhat reasonable and much better than so many other gaming laptops in the market.

My only real concern is the lack of an ethernet port, but that's not a deal breaker. I also hope that this ventilation system can hold up better when running an extensive gaming session. Other than that, I look forward to really putting this laptop through the ringer in testing.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD review: performance on a budget
6:30 pm |

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD Two-minute review

Writing reviews on gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 like the Acer Nitro 16 AMD is an exercise in splitting hairs. Some are a little more expensive, some are a little cheaper. Some quality of life factors like changes in refresh rate or webcam resolution differ from laptop to laptop. The guts, however, are very similar.

The Acer Nitro 16 AMD, then, is a lot like many of the best budget gaming laptops with its surprisingly solid performance while sitting at the lower end of the gaming laptop spectrum. In its case, it does have that faster refresh rate and a good keyboard with bright RGB backlighting. However, its aesthetics are a bit more aggressively gamer-centric than many of the best gaming laptops, which have in recent times taken lessons from MacBooks and Ultrabooks.

That said, it has a lot to offer, especially for competitive gamers on a budget. You can surely go cheaper with models sporting older GPUs, but those will start to show their limitations much earlier. Because of that, the Acer Nitro 16 AMD is not a hard laptop to recommend for the right budget-conscious gamer.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,249.99 (about £988 / AU$1888)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US. Only older models currently available in UK, and Australia

Acer is no stranger to budget laptops and that’s certainly the case with the Acer Nitro 16 AMD. Whether you go for the most basic model with its $999.99 (about £788 / AU$1,471) price tag and its AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS CPU, 8GB RAM, RTX 4050 GPU, and 512 GB SSD or the max version that clocks in at $1,799.99 (about £1,418 / AU$2,647) and has an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, 16GB RAM, RTX 4070 GPU, and 1 TB SSD, you’ll be dropping less than a lot of other gaming laptops.

Part of that is the fact that Acer generally runs cheaper than other brands and part of that is that AMD-equipped laptops are often cheaper than similarly specced Intel models. For comparison sake, the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) I reviewed back in October starts at $1,189.99 / £1,080 / AU$2,199 for a model that is very similar with a slightly different CPU, the AMD Ryzen 5 7640S, and a slightly smaller 15.6 inch screen with a 144Hz refresh rate. Of course, it does come in a slightly more attractive package.

The one thing I will complain about here is the fairly different versions of this laptop across different territories. Those in the US have the widest selection while those in the UK have one AMD-equipped model available that’s essentially the review unit with a slightly weaker Ryzen 5 processor. Those in Australia have two – one just like the review configuration and one that’s almost identical but with a Ryzen 7 7840HS CPU.

  • Price score: 4.5 / 5

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Specs

The Acer Nitro 16 AMD, being a budget-oriented gaming laptop, comes with a fairly limited array of options despite there being up to 11 options depending on your territory. 

The processors range from the AMD Ryzen 5 7535HS 3.30GHz chip to the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS 4.0GHz one. RAM ranges from 8GB to 32GB. And, the GPU goes from the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 to the 4070. 

Strangely, the weakest CPU is not in the cheapest model as that one has less RAM. And, the most expensive model with that AMD Ryzen 9 CPU doesn’t have the highest amount of RAM. 

Beyond the internal components, there aren't any other variables to worry about such as colorways or displays. 

Regardless of which model you get, you end up with a 16-inch 1900 x 1200p screen with a 165Hz refresh rate. 

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Design

  • Chunkier, gamer-centric in design
  • Some ports on the back
  • 16:10 1920 x 1200 screen with 165Hz refresh rate

As far as aesthetics go, the Acer Nitro 16 AMD does not pull its punches when it comes to its gamer looks. From the angled blue and reddish lines adorning the laptop lid as well as the aggressive looking N (for “Nitro”) on the lid as well as under the screen, this laptop is not going to pass as a non-gaming laptop the way a Razer laptop can.

Of course, it doesn’t help that it is pretty bulky, not only in size but in weight, especially considering that it weighs 5.95 lbs (2.70 kg). And, it certainly looks chunky. It is over an inch thick – the same as two MacBook Airs stacked on top of each other.

Since this is a budget gaming laptop, that form factor is somewhat to be expected. At least Acer made sure to put plenty of venting underneath and on the sides. Because of the side venting though, not all the ports fit on the sides as some of them, namely the power, HDMI and USB-C ones are on the back. Some people like having ports on the back for a cleaner look. I don’t as I find them to be harder to access.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD side view showing ports

(Image credit: Future)

On the bright side, Acer included a 16:10 1920 x 1200 display with a speedy 165Hz refresh rate (and 3ms response time), which is perfect for competitive gamers. Of course, it’s basically a slightly larger 1080p screen so you’re not going to step up in resolution. However, that’s never the case with budget gaming laptops. Still, it’s a good screen. Plus, it has a 125% sRGB color gamut and at least the review unit came with a Delta-E of 0.22 so you can do some photo editing here. Its DCI-P3 coverage is 89%, so it’s not as ideal for professional video editing.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD side view showing ports

(Image credit: Future)

As far as the keyboard and trackpad go, they’re more than competent for regular use. The keyboard is easy to type on with a nice textured feel. I didn’t find that I experienced any missed presses when gaming.

More interesting is the fact that it has full-color backlighting, though only in four zones so you won’t be able to adjust key by key.

  • Design score: 4 / 5 

Acer Nitro 16 AMD keyboard lights

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Performance

  • Very good 1080p (well, 1200p) performance
  • Sound quality is decent
  • Webcam is disappointing
Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Nitro 16 AMD performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: 4,682; Fire Strike: 19,390; Time Spy: 8,472
GeekBench 6.1: 2,593.7 (single-core); 10,798.3 (multi-core)
25GB File Copy:
14.1s
Handbrake 1.6: 5:25
CrossMark: Overall: 1,799 Productivity: 1,781 Creativity: 1,859 Responsiveness: 1,681
Far Cry 6 1080p (Ultra) 76 fps
Cyberpunk 2077: 1080p (Ultra) 23.44 fps
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 9:15:40
PCMark 10 Battery Life (Gaming): 2:26 

I’ve continually been impressed by all the laptops I’ve tested with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU. And, that continues to be true with the Acer Nitro 16 AMD. Obviously, there’s a ceiling to that performance.

For instance, this laptop can achieve a 64.7 fps on Cyberpunk 2077 on Ultra settings, but as soon as ray tracing is on, the fps drops like an anchor. Just look at the benchmark for Far Cry 6 – it also gets 76 fps on Ultra.

In more real world testing, I’ve been able to run Starfield and Hogwarts Legacy at higher than expected settings. Of course, that’s with ray tracing off and a tick or two off Ultra settings. Still, the results were very playable with just a tiny bit of screen tearing. Turning on Vsync takes care of that.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD running an app

(Image credit: Future)

It’s important to note also that the Acer Nitro 16 AMD is also running that display at a 165Hz refresh rate so getting the results is even more impressive. That means this is perfect for competitive gamers on a budget. To test, I ran Battlefield 2042 and had stable results without any issues at high settings.

As far as the sound goes, it’s not going to win any awards but it’s serviceable, just lacking some low end. The webcam is a little less impressive with its peak 720p resolution. It also gets a bit grainy.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Battery life

  • Decent battery life for regular use
  • Not very good when gaming

The battery life of the Acer Nitro 16 AMD is about as interesting as an episode of the Great American Baking Show (yes, it does exist). Yes, we must discuss. You’re not going to be wowed with its longevity. But, it’s ok in certain instances.

When using it in a non-gaming capacity, you can get a little over nine hours of use. For a gaming laptop, that’s pretty good. Of course, you’ll want to be plugged in to actually game as it can only get just under two and a half hours when playing titles. Other than some configurations of the Asus Rog Zephyrus, most gaming laptops have not cracked the battery code.

  • Battery life score: 3 / 5 

Should you buy the Acer Nitro 16 AMD?

Buy it if...

You’re a competitive gamer
With an RTX 4050 GPU and a screen with a 165Hz refresh rate, you’ll be able to keep up in the fastest competitive games, skill notwithstanding.

You’re on a budget
You don’t have to spend all that much relatively to get quality gaming performance. The only way to go cheaper is to go console or with an older GPU that might not keep up.

Don't buy it if...

You want a more portable gaming machine
It’s bulky and on the heavy side so the Acer Nitro 16 AMD is not an ideal grab-and-go gaming machine, not to mention that the battery life isn’t all that great either.

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Also consider

If our Acer Nitro 16 AMD review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider... 

How I tested the HP Victus 16

  1. Tested for a couple weeks
  2. Pushed it as hard as possible gaming-wise
  3. Played with various settings

I used the Acer Nitro 16 AMD for a couple weeks, playing a number of demanding games like Starfield, Hogwarts Legacy, Battlefield 2042 and Cyberpunk 2077. While doing so, I ran the games at various settings, particularly at the highest ones with ray tracing on wherever possible, and took note of the results. I also tested each aspect of the laptop from the keyboard and trackpad to the webcam and speakers.

After spending time with the Acer Nitro 16 AMD, it’s clear that this is meant to be a budget-conscious model for those that care about competitive gaming or for those that want something affordable while still equipped with a current generation GPU.

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 January 2024

HP Victus 16: a strong 1080p gaming machine
1:30 pm |

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

HP Victus 16: Two-minute review

The newest trend in some of the best gaming laptops are ones equipped with Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 such as the HP Victus 16 reviewed here. These laptops are about as cheap as you can go while still getting one of Nvidia’s 4000 series GPUs. They still manage to offer some relatively powerful performance, especially when compared to the budget options from yesteryear equipped with 3000 series graphics cards.

In the case of the HP Victus 16, its pricing somewhat precludes it from the best budget gaming laptops, but it’s close. It’s more mid-range pricing and solid performance, as long as you don’t need max settings and Ray Tracing on in titles like Cyberpunk 2077, does make a good option for those looking at the best gaming laptops that want a nice balance between price and specs.

Now, there’s nothing that makes this particularly unique. But, that’s going to be the case for most of the competition as well. Whether you get this or a different 4050-equipped model like the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) is going to come down to if you want to save a couple hundred bucks or want some slightly more powerful components. Or, maybe you prefer a certain brand or aesthetic.

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop on a desk playing a game

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,249.99 (about £988 / AU$1888)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US. Only older models currently available in UK, and Australia

Let’s get the hard part out of the way first. Residents of the UK and Australia may see language on the HP site about the all new Victus 16, but they’re unfortunately stuck with the last generation equipped with Nvidia RTX 3000 series GPUs. Hopefully that will change soon, though that’s not the case at the time of writing.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to the US store, there are two customizable configurations – one for AMD and one for Intel with the AMD being slightly cheaper, starting at $1,249.99 (about £1,000 / AU$1,900). 

Maxing these configurations gives you a fairly robust laptop that’s not too expensive compared to other maxed out gaming laptops as the kitted out Intel configuration with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, and 1TB SSD, not to mention a 1440p screen with a 240Hz refresh rate will set you back $2,169.99 (about £1,715 / AU$3,280).

The configuration reviewed here, which is a standard non-customizable one under the model designation 16-r0097nr goes for $1449.99 (about £1,150 / AU$2,190). Not bad for a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and 1TB SSD.

Price-wise, you can find cheaper budget gaming laptops with similar specs. The MSI Katana 15 (2023) goes for $999 (about £785 / AU$1,550) without any upgrades and includes 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and 1TB SSD. However, it sports a slightly weaker Intel Core i7 chip and slower speed RAM. The battery life on the MSI is much worse as is the webcam, though it is a bit lighter.

  • Price score: 4 / 5

HP Victus 16: Specs

The HP Victus comes in a few different configurations. There are a few standard configurations including the review unit, which comes with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and 1TB SSD as well as a similar AMD version that comes with a Ryzen 7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060. 

However, there are customizable versions for both Intel and AMD configurations. It’s not a wide range as you’re looking at either an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPU, Intel Core i5 or i7, 16 or 32GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 4060, or 4070 GPU, and 512GB or 1TB SSD.

Beyond the internal components, you can upgrade the screen with the customizable configurations to not only a 1440p resolution, but a faster refresh rate going up to 240Hz from the standard 60Hz (there’s also an option for 144Hz). 

You can also upgrade from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E as well as the battery and color. Just be aware that the standard configurations like this model, specifically referred to as 16-r0097nr, are not customizable.

HP Victus 16: Design

  • Slightly gaming-centric look
  • Plenty of venting
  • Good keyboard and trackpad

The HP Victus 16 has followed the recent trend of having an only slightly gaming-centric aesthetic. You’re not going to see it in all its matte-black glory and confuse it for an Ultrabook. But, it doesn’t have the aggressive lines and streaks of red that older gaming laptops had.

At a little over five pounds, it’s a little chunky but it’s portable enough if you need it to be. Of course, it does house a 16.1-inch 1080p screen with relatively thin bezels outlining, though unfortunately it only has a 60Hz refresh rate (unless you go the customization route). At least, it has 300 nits of brightness – no HDR on hand with this one. 

There’s quite a bit of venting around the Victus. Not only is it on the back and sides but a large section of the plastic shell underneath is vented. Because of this, I never experienced any throttling or overheating, though some intensive gaming sessions with Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield did make the laptop warm to the touch right above the keyboard and around the back.

Underneath of the HP Victus 16 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

As far as ports go, adequate is probably the best description. It comes with three USB-A ports, one USB-C, one HDMI 2.1, an ethernet port, and headphone jack. It would be nice to get a second USB-C as everything is transitioning to that standard, but that’s a very minor quibble. The port selection is about what one would expect on a current gaming laptop.

The keyboard and trackpad are solid enough. They’re not going to replace a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse (let’s be real, you’re going to need an external mouse for any gaming anyways). But, they were comfortable enough to use while typing up this review, for example, and navigating the world wide web.

Lastly, the HP Victus comes with a 1080p webcam, which in and of itself is of a higher quality than what I usually see on budget / mid-tier gaming laptops. More impressively is the fact that HP decided to include a physical shutter for privacy.

  • Design score: 4 / 5 

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop close up of ports

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Performance

  • Very good 1080p gaming performance
  • Refresh rate could be limitation for some gamers
  • Good-for-laptop audio
HP Victus 16: Benchmarks

Here's how the HP Victus 16 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: N/A; Fire Strike: 20,526; Time Spy: 8,737
GeekBench 6.1: 2,671 (single-core); 14,161 (multi-core)
25GB File Copy:
14.9s
Handbrake 1.6: 5:34
CrossMark: Overall: 1,730 Productivity: 1,647 Creativity: 1,945 Responsiveness: 1,407
Far Cry 6 1080p (Ultra) 77 fps
Cyberpunk 2077: 1080p (Ultra) 23.65 fps
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 7:03:33
PCMark 10 Battery Life (Gaming): 1:40 

The performance on the HP Victus 16 is like many of the gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050. It’s an exercise in compromising on settings to get good gameplay. Since this laptop comes with 16GB RAM at its lowest configuration and only has to power a 1080p screen at a 60Hz refresh rate, that 4050 GPU is more than enough, meaning you don’t have to compromise too much.

You’ll want to skip the Ray Tracing for instance. If you take a look at our benchmarks, for example, Cyberpunk 2077 managed just 24 fps. When I run the game at Ultra but with high textures and no Ray Tracing, the fps count instantly jumps to 78. This is after the most recent updates, so that’s pretty impressive.

On a similar note, I was able to run Starfield at high settings with minimal screen tearing or lag, which went away as soon as I turned on Vsync without any perceivable loss in quality. In essence, unless you need a super fast refresh rate for competitive gaming or need the ultimate gaming experience, you’re not going to feel like you’re compromising when using this computer.

While I prefer using the Kanto Ora speakers I have set up with them, the sound quality of the speakers were decent. Whether or not Bang & Olufsen were able to sprinkle magic dust on them or not, I didn’t find there to be anything too lacking with them. Of course, there’s not much in the way of low-end as is the case with most laptops. But, it doesn’t sound hollow like a lot of laptops I’ve used.

When it comes to the webcam, it offers a decently crisp image with minimal noise and can automatically focus on my face when moving around. It is capped at 30 fps, however, so it’s not going to be the smoothest looking video if that’s important to you.

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop close up of ports

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Battery life

  • Decent battery life if not gaming
  • Mileage may vary with some configurations

While gaming laptops not named Asus Rog Zephyrus are generally terrible when it comes to battery life. For instance, the MSI Katana 15 mentioned before lasted just 40 minutes in the PCMark 10 battery life for gaming benchmark. The HP Victus 16 lasted a more respectable hour and 40 minutes. That’s still not all that great, but gaming is a pretty demanding task and requires a lot of resources.

On the bright side, if you decide to get the HP Victus 16, you can use it for a decent amount of time unplugged if you don’t run any games on it. Specifically, in our Web Surfing Battery Informant benchmark, this laptop lasted a good seven hours. That’s not too bad if you need to use it on the road. Just be aware that some upgrades such as a screen with a higher refresh rate may negatively impact the battery life.

  • Battery life score: 4 / 5 

Should you buy the HP Victus 16?

Buy it if...

You want good 1080p performance
With only a few compromises like skipping Ray Tracing, you can get some really good 1080p gaming on this machine. 

You’re trying to get the best performance without splurging
It might be among the pricier 4050-equipped gaming laptops out there, but it’s a bit more powerful than the competition, making it ideal for those wanting as much performance as possible under $1,500.

Don't buy it if...

You want excellent performance no matter the game
While you can get great performance in some games, there are already some games, as mentioned above, that you can’t play with the settings maxed out. If you want to see a game like Starfield at its full potential, you’ll need something more powerful.

HP Victus 16: Also consider

If our HP Victus 16 review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider... 

How I tested the HP Victus 16

  1. Tested for a couple weeks
  2. Pushed it as hard as possible gaming-wise
  3. Played with various settings

I used the HP Victus 16 for a couple of weeks, playing several demanding games like Starfield, Hogwards Legacy, Control, and Cyberpunk 2077. While doing so, I ran the games at various settings, particularly at the highest ones with ray tracing on wherever possible, and took note of the results. I also tested each aspect of the laptop from the keyboard and trackpad to the webcam and speakers.

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 January 2024

Acer Nitro 17 review: a true budget gaming laptop option with solid specs
6:30 pm | January 13, 2024

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

If the Helios Neo 16 is the more affordable desktop replacement gaming laptop, then the Acer Nitro 17 is the definitive budget option from Acer. The Nitro brand has always balanced great specs with a reasonable price point and 2024's Nitro 17 refresh is no different, putting it squarely on track to be one of the best cheap gaming laptops, if not one of the best gaming laptops of this year, to boot.

It's great to see plenty of affordable gaming laptops, which are sorely needed in this space as some can cost well into the thousands. Hopefully, any benchmarks in the near future will showcase how much this refresh has improved on performance.

Acer Nitro 17: Price and availability

The Acer Nitro 17 will be launching in the US in January 2024, with its price starting at $1,249.99 (around £980 / AU$1,860). Out of all of Acer's gaming laptop offerings, this is easily the most budget option, even beating out the Helios Neo 16.

There's no official word yet on launches outside the US - especially the UK and Australia - but we'll most likely see releases in other regions later in 2024.

Acer Nitro 17: Specs

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Acer Nitro 17: Design

Unlike the Helios Neo 16 and Helios 18, the Acer Nitro 17 has a much simpler design, a plain black laptop with only the logo on the lid. A bit boring but considering the cheaper list price, a design choice that's entirely necessary.

The keyboard keys have that clear-ish border around them, which lets the RGB lighting shine through, a nice aesthetic touch that doesn't skyrocket the price. It also features a dedicated Microsoft Copilot key on the keyboard, one of Acer's first laptops to have such, allowing users to access Windows' AI features.

The port selection is fantastic and features plenty of USB Type-C and A ports, an Ethernet port, microSD, a combo jack, and more. Considering the price, it's quite the boon considering that more expensive gaming laptops will routinely miss at least one of these ports.

One of the only drawbacks is the weight and size of the laptop, which puts it squarely into desktop replacement territory. A bit strange since the specs don't allow for configurations for the Intel Core i9 or Nvidia RTX 4090, and yet this bad boy is a little over seven pounds. But considering that you get such a large screen in return, it's a trade-off that plenty of budget-minded gamers would be willing to accept.

Acer Nitro 17: Performance

black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

The Acer Nitro 17 refresh means that its specs have gotten some spiffy upgrades, including a 14th-Gen Intel Core CPU and an Nvidia RTX 4000-series GPU, up to an Intel Core 7 14700HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, respectively. Though we don't have any benchmark test results to determine just how well these updated specs will translate into solid gaming performance.

Judging by the performance results of the previous Acer Nitro 17 (2023) and the Acer Nitro 5 (2022) with weaker components, the Nitro 17 (2024) with its current-gen parts should be able to handle just about any of the best PC games at max settings with little issue.

Acer Nitro 17: Early verdict

black gaming laptop with rgb lit keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Though the jury's still out on performance due to a lack of benchmark test results, the Acer Nitro 17 should be able to handle any AAA game at high and maxed-out settings thanks to the upgraded specs. Combined with its budget pricing and you have a gaming laptop that's almost guaranteed to appeal to those looking for a more affordable desktop replacement.

Acer continues the trend of the Nitro being one of the best values in the gaming laptop market, and I hope to see reviews reflect that once it launches later on in January 2024.

Acer Helios Neo 16: a gaming laptop with style and substance at an affordable price
12:12 am | January 12, 2024

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

The Acer Helios Neo 16 is one of several gaming laptop offerings from Acer in 2024, and it's really worth paying attention to, from what I've experienced in my limited time. Though the chassis is mostly unchanged from last year's version, the specs and display have been upgraded in a way that makes a big difference.

From what I've seen of it so far, it's an impressive machine that features excellent components and port selection as well as a distinct design that instantly sets it apart from other affordable products in the gaming laptop market. It could easily be one of the best cheap gaming laptops or even the best gaming laptops in general.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Price and availability

The Acer Helios Neo 16 will be launching in the US in March 2024, with its price starting at $1,499.99 (around £1,180 / AU$2,250). While not completely a budget gaming laptop, it's a much more affordable option compared to most of its competition, as many gaming rigs tend to be priced in the thousands at least.

There hasn't been confirmation of availability in the UK or Australia as of yet, though it will almost be certainly released in other regions at some point. As we get closer to the release date, that information will be made available.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Design

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The Acer Helios Neo 16's design is similar to the 2023 Acer Predator Helios Neo 16, down to the text and decoration engraved on the back and the top of the chassis. The back of the laptop looks particularly striking with this clear plating over the metal engraved with Neo and other decorations around it.

There is one difference between the US version of the Helios Neo 16 and the models that will launch in other regions: the former won't have the cool lid design with engraved 'code'. However, the Helios Neo 18 model will have that in all regions it launches in. A bit disappointing, since it's such a unique feature, but the rest of the laptop is more than cool enough to compensate.

Though the Helios Neo 16 is a bit on the thicker and heavier side, thanks to its distinctive design it maintains an air of style and sleekness that few other cheaper options hit.

It has a great port selection that covers nearly any need and use you could have for this laptop. There's the USB Type-C and Type-A ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI, microSD, a combo jack, and more. The best part is that there are two USB ports for each type, a small but helpful feature that many other budget laptops lack.

The 16-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) display boasts an incredible 240Hz refresh rate and DCI-P3 100% color gamut, giving users options to expand the use of this gaming laptop to creative and editing work as well. OLED would have been a great addition, but it makes sense to omit it to keep costs down.

As a nice bonus, its RGB-lit keyboard is full-size, which is a boon for those like myself who prefer one with a number pad. The touchpad is solid and responsive, which is all I ask from it.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Performance

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Despite its affordable pricing, the Acer Helios Neo 16 sports some impressive specs. It features 14th-Gen CPUs and Nvidia RTX 4000-series GPUs, up to an Intel Core 9 14900HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070. There's also the choice to configure this laptop with up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM and 2TB PCIe 4 SSD in RAID 0 storage.

While we haven't had the chance to benchmark this machine yet to find out the true scale of its gaming performance, its specs should translate into some serious power. Meanwhile, the ventilation system sounds impressive on paper, with a cooling fan system, liquid metal thermal grease, and vector heat pipes. But we have to see it in action to determine how effective it is in keeping the Helios Neo 16 properly cool.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Early verdict

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The Acer Helios Neo 16 is one of my favorite gaming laptops to come out of CES 2024, because it sports excellent specs, a robust port selection, fantastic display, all packaged in one of the most eye-catching chassis designs around. The fact that it's a refresh of an existing product instead of a brand-new gaming laptop makes it even more surprising.

The price is easily the sweetest part of the Helios Neo 16, as affordably priced products in the gaming laptop market are unfortunately rare to come across, especially ones with current-gen specs.

Hopefully, its gaming and general performance will speak for itself once it comes time for more in-depth reviews.

Alienware m16 R2: a powerful gaming laptop in a smaller package
6:16 pm | January 10, 2024

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

Dell continues to overhaul its products' designs, and the Alienware m16 R2 refresh is no exception. The new design has a noticeably smaller chassis, making it more portable, and the gaming laptop has been upgraded with new specs and a reworked ventilation system. 

When I first saw the new Alienware m16 R2 against last year's model, I was shocked at how drastic the difference in size was. And beyond that, there were several other design points added to the latest version, as well as the spec upgrades.

From what I saw, this gaming laptop looks quite impressive and will definitely be a more managable beast that will still deliver on power and performance. It could even be one of the best gaming laptops around.

Alienware m16 R2: price and availability

Revealed at CES 2024, the Alienware m16 R2 is set to launch January 11 in the US and in Canada, with an entry-level model starting at $1,499, though more powerful models will be around the $1,649 mark, with more options to come in the first quarter of 2024. 

At the time of writing, we don't have any UK or Australian pricing, but going by the US numbers we expect the new m16 R2 to have similar pricing to its predecessor. 

Overall, such prices seem rational for the specs (see below) the m16 R2 offers. And, as I was told by a Dell rep, the decision to only go up to a GeForce RTX 4070 was made to keep the pricing a bit more reasonable for potential buyers, with other laptops like the Alienware x16 R2 having the GeForce RTX 4080 and GeForce RTX 4090 options instead. But Alienware will likely face strong competition from other big gaming laptop makers like Asus, MSI and Acer, when it comes to making powerful yet compact machines. 

Alienware m16 R2: specs

Here are the specs for the Alienware m16 R2 at a glance. 

Alienware m16 R2: design

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The first and most obvious change to the Alienware m16 R2 is its size, which has been reduced by 15%, mainly due to the removal of an overly large and bulky ventilation system that stuck out of the back of its predecessor. As a result, the ventilation system had be completely overhauled with a new Alienware Cryo-tech thermal system being implemented in its place. While it's not as effective as the larger older system, Dell says it still works well in keeping the machine cool.

There's also an interesting feature that the screen can flatten down to 180 degrees. It can't rotate the full 360 degrees like a 2-in-1 laptop to become a tablet, but this feature could help to prevent hinge strain by allowing you to push back the screen that bit further. 

The keyboard is broadly the same as before, but by removing the chunky rear cooling, Alienware was able to push the display further back and thus serve up more room on the keyboard desk, resulting in a larger trackpad flanked by Alienware FX lighting. 

There's also has a new 'Stealth Mode' that can quickly switch from loud RGB colors to a subtle white; this'll likely be handy for people who want to use the M16 R2 for work as well as play. However, instead of using the Cherry MX switches that previous models like the Alienware m18 featured, it instead uses Alienware's own switches, similar to the Alienware Pro Wireless keyboard.

The display has a 16-inch QHD+ panel, so keeps the screen space of its predecessor despite the slimmer size. It also boasts a 240Hz refresh rate, which guarantees smooth and stutter-free gameplay for the more hardcore gamers; just bear in mind you'll need to tweak the settings of very demanding games to get the frame rates needed to take advantage of the highest refresh rates.

The Alienware m16 R2's port selection is quite generous, as despite the slimmer overall footprint, the laptop still has room for an Ethernet port that's handy for people aiming to use it as potentially a desktop replacement machine, where being able to plug in a Ethernet cable is vital for ensuring a stronger internet connection.

Alienware m16 R2: performance

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(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)

Once the benchmarks come out, and we put the laptop to the test ourselves, we'll have a complete understanding of the kind of performance that the Alienware m16 R2 is capable of. But judging by the use of the Intel Core Ultra CPUs and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000-series GPUs in general, this laptop is going to be an absolute beast. Powering all of this is a 240W GaN charger.

The move to the latest RTX graphics cards also mean the m16 R2 can tap into Nvidia's newest DLSS 3.5 upscaling tech, which can cleverly render games at lower resolutions and then use upmixing to deliver visuals that look very close to the native high resolution of the laptop's display without taking the performance hit. 

With up to 64GB of RAM and 4TB of SSD storage, the m16 R2 could be a great machine for so-called content creators, with the specs and performance window likely to easily power through video rendering. For pure gaming, such a high amount of RAM might be overkill. As an aside, the RAM and SSD are user upgradable, should you get a lesser-specced model and then want to upgrade at a later date. 

The aforementioned Stealth Mode, which is activated by the 'Fn' + 'F2' combo, also sets the performance mode to Quiet. It's a very handy shortcut that allows you to use your gaming laptop outside without the fans ramping up to do a passable impression of a jet engine.

Dell has also beefed up its webcam, with FHD resolution. It's nice to see a gaming laptop take its built in webcam serious, as its usually a weakness of most gaming machines. Hopefully it works well even in poor or normal lighting.

Alienware m16 R2: early verdict

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(Image credit: Future)

The Alienware m16 R2 is a promising refresh of last year's model, with a major decrease in its chassis size that still preserves its 16-inch display. The display is excellent with a very high refresh rate, there's a solid port selection, the keyboard has great feedback on its switches, and Alienware has added other quality of life features. 

For those looking for a great desktop replacement or just a powerful yet reasonably compact gaming laptop, the Alienware m16 R2 is shaping up to be a top choice, especially as it manages to shave off unnecessary mass and weight to make it easier to transport without the need to compromise on high-end specs. 

In short, the Alienware m16 R2 is an example of a well done refresh meets redesign that enhances without detracting from what makes the product well liked in the first place. We'll need to fully test the m16 R2 to see if these tweaks have proved to be effective, so stay tuned for our review. 

MSI Claw preview: a bold step for MSI and Intel in an increasingly crowded field
12:55 am |

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MSI Claw: One-minute review

The MSI Claw is the latest PC gaming handheld to hit the scene since the release of the Steam Deck a couple of years ago, but it's core distinction — being the first Intel-powered device in this category — makes it both exciting as well as somewhat perilous for both MSI and Intel. 

Given the strong showing that AMD has had with its AMD Z1 and Z1 Extreme chips powering the Asus ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, and likely many others to come, Intel can't afford to miss out on this fast growing market. 

Meanwhile, MSI is taking a chance on the new Intel Core Ultra processor line that is powering many of the best laptops announced at CES 2024, and as yet, these chips are just getting into the hands of reviewers so it's too soon to tell if the integrated Arc graphics in the MSI Claw will have the same level of performance as the RDNA 3 graphics in the AMD Z1, especially since the MSI Claw and more recent AMD-powered handhelds feature full 1080p displays with high refresh rates.

If there was one thing I've consistently heard here at CES from both MSI and other laptop manufacturers betting their laptop lines on the new chips is that the Intel Arc graphics in the Core Ultra processors is absolutely up to the task and in my limited amount of time messing around with the MSI Claw, I can see why they'd be so confident.

The number of titles I was able to test out on the Claw was limited, but they played brilliantly all the same, and with several major advantages for Intel's iGPU over AMD's competing Z1 series, the MSI Claw might not just be an important beachhead for Intel in a very critical PC gaming market, it can also serve as powerful showcase for what its chips are capable of doing.

MSI Claw: Price & availability

An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

There's no firm pricing or release date yet for the MSI Claw, but I've been told by MSI that it should launch between the middle of February and the middle of March, and it will be available in a few configurations, which will dictate its sale price. 

The base configuration, with an Intel Core Ultra 5 135H processor and 512GB SSD, is expected to sell for $699 (about £560, AU$980), while the Core Ultra 7 165H processor with 1TB SSD storage configuration is expected to top out at $799, with the Core Ultra 5, 1TB SSD option costing somewhere in between.

Currently, there will only be a 16GB LPDDR5 memory option regardless of configuration, but I expect that depending on the success of the initial production run of the device, the spec configuration range might grow to include more memory as well, but MSI has no official plans for a 32GB memory option at this time.

MSI Claw: Specs

An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

MSI Claw: Design

An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

On the design side of things, the MSI Claw will be very familiar to anyone who has used one of the new PC gaming handhelds, but there are some design choices that are pretty solidly MSI.

With a very strong gaming laptop pedigree, MSI's Claw is very much in line with many of its best gaming laptops in terms of aesthetic and agressive gamer styling, but there are some functional differences between the Claw and its competitors as well that aren't purely for looks.

The cooling system on the MSI Claw is larger than on the ROG Ally, making for a somewhat thicker device, and the more open venting on the back of the Claw ensures that enough air is being pulled through to keep the Core Ultra processor cool.

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An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

There are also two buttons on the back of the device that are for programming your own macros into the device as well, something missing on its competitors, and the choice of FHD resolution and 120Hz refresh makes for a slightly less crisp looking picture than the QHD display on the Legion Go, but with such a small-sized screen, 1080p is way more than you probably even need and looks fantastic in practice.

Weight-and-size-wise, the MSI Claw is heavier than the Steam Deck, but it's not inordinantly bulky or unwieldy, at least not any more than its competitors. The buttons along the front could be explained a bit better, since the buttons around the screen that control things like opening the MSI Center M interface or opening the settings screen are important, but it doesn't help of you if you can't remember of immediately tell which button does what.

I will say that the MSI Claw did run somewhat hot under load, but it is hardly alone on that front, and it does an admirable job of helping bleed heat from the device at least.

MSI Claw: Performance

An MSI Claw at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Given the limited amount of time I had with the MSI Claw, the last thing I'd have been able to do is put the device through any kind of formal battery of benchmarks, and the number of games I had access to were limited to a select few like Sonic Superstars and Assassin's Creed: Mirage, both of which played fantastic with little to no issues.

I spent most of my time playing Sonic as it terns out since I wanted to focus on a game where the speed of the onscreen elements would really show off the 120Hz refresh rate, and it was definitely the right choice. While not necessarily the most taxing title, the Sonic and friends (and enemies, and frenemies) all looked so crisp I kept thinking that the display was a higher resolutions than it was (it was 1080p), or that the display was OLED (it's not). Meanwhile, flying through a level with rings, structures, characters, and much more flew past Tails as I sped towards the end of the course and I couldn't produce any screen blur, ghosting, or screen tearing.

The Intel Arc integrated GPU features 8 Xe cores, which is the same as the Intel Arc A380, though the power draw of the iGPU in the Core Ultra 7 165H is naturally a much lower wattage (I was told it drew about 30-35W). This still manages to deliver some solid graphics performance, however, and the improvements that Intel has made for its Arc graphics driver over the past year has considerably improved my confidence in Arc GPUs. Older games will still likely run into problems though, especially anything from the DX9 era or earlier, so if you're hoping to do a lot of retro gaming on the go with this handheld, well, that is the risk with relying on an Arc GPU going forward. Anything DirectX11 or higher will play much better, however, and this likely includes most of the games that everybody is playing anyway.

The audio was also fairly robust for a handheld, so if you're planning on playing without a headset, you'll be absolutely fine. I only had about 20 minutes of total playing time with an MSI Claw, so I am very happy to report that the 53WHr battery did not noticeably diminish much in that time. How long it will actually last will need to wait until I do a formal review in a few weeks time, but MSI and Intel say that the battery should get you about a two hours of play time with full performance.

MSI Claw: Early verdict

An MSI Claw on display at CES 2024

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

While a full evaluation of the MSI Claw will have to wait for more rigorous benchmarking and extended play time, everything I saw was very promising, especially for a chip that's relatively new to the scene. Intel Arc has very strong hardware fundamentals, especially the hardware AI cores that power XeSS super sampling to boost frame rates and visual quality. It should be much easier hitting much higher frame rates on the MSI Claw than on the Asus ROG Ally (for those games that support it) as a result.

The price is a tad too high for my liking, but it's definitely in line with the market, and the MSI Claw is unmistakably an MSI device in terms of aesthetics. The MSI Center M also seems to have learned from the foibles of the ROG Ally and Legion Go's UI and kept things much simpler.

With nothing but my eyes and my gut to go on, I dare say that MSI and Intel have pulled off a hell of a device that is really going to distinguish itself from an increasingly crowded field of devices. Ultimately, February or March will tell the tale of whether Intel's new Core Ultra processors are up to the task of powering the next generation of PC gaming handhelds, or whether AMD can keep its current leadership position in the market.

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