Dell's OptiPlex 7400 All-in-one is an all-around powerhouse that shoehorns the power of a tower into a monitor's form factor. Many people think that All-in-ones can only handle lighter workloads, but thanks to the 12th Gen Intel core processors, the OptiPlex 7400 is a true workhorse capable enough for power users.
Unboxing the All-in-One was incredibly simple. We merely opened the box, pulled the OptiPlex 7400 AIO out, attached the base, plugged the disc drive base into the back of the unit, and then plugged in the power supply.
Dell's OptiPlex 7400 All-in-One is a handy all-in-one computer with great ports and impressive power.
Screen: 23.8-inch FHD 1920 x 1080, 60Hz
CPU: 12th Generation i3 - 12th Generation i9
Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 730 with 12th Generation Intel® CoreTM i3-12100, i3-12300, and i5-12400 processors
- USB Type-C® port with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 capability
- USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with PowerShare
- Universal audio port
- RJ-45 Ethernet port
- (2) USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
- (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports with Smart Power On
- Line-out audio port
- DisplayPort++ 1.4a/HDCP 2.3 port
- HDMI-IN - HDMI 1.4a port
- HDMI-OUT - HDMI 2.0 port
Dimensions: 13.54 x 21.26 x 2.07 in / 344.00 x 540.20 x 52.60 mm
Weight: 13.62 lbs. / 6.18 Kg (minimum) - without stand 15.06 lbs. / 6.83 Kg (maximum) - without stand
While all-in-ones have their place, the most obvious benefit is not needing separate units for the monitor and the computer itself. Better yet, this computer has a camera built into the top of the display that retracts when not in use and, when needed, can be popped out (albeit manually). All in all, this all-in-one is ready to go out of the box. Thanks to its touch screen, we only needed to plug in a keyboard and mouse if we wanted to. Eventually, we added a keyboard for ease of typing and a mouse for a more traditional feel, but being able to operate the OptiPlex 7400 without peripherals was quite an interesting experience.
Another noteworthy feature of this computer is the disc drive built into the base. This does not come with all Dell OptiPlex 7400 AIO models, but ours did. For those needing a DVD+/-RW drive, having one integrated within the base of your all-in-one is incredibly handy.
Lastly, even with the stand that has the built-in disc drive, we immediately noticed how adjustable the monitor stand was. Looking at what else is available from Dell, other stand options feature a wider range of motion, yet we could still get the monitor to a comfortable position that allowed for touch, mouse, and keyboard input.
Design and Build Quality
All around, the OptiPlex 7400 is quite sturdy and sleek, thanks to its aluminum chassis. It has built-in speakers that have decent sound quality for a computer. On the back, the all-in-one has a large range of I/O ports, including DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-A, USB-C, and Thunderbolt.
We appreciated the location of them too on this all-in-one. The ports in the back were high enough on the computer that when we had it tilted down, we weren't worried about needing to adjust for the cables sticking out of the back.
Using this AIO for the last few weeks, we quickly realized just how well it caters to its target market. It is a wonderful option for business computers where space is at a premium in your workplace. The OptiPlex 7400 takes up the same space as an average monitor but being all-inclusive, there’s no need for extra space to store a separate tower unit. Furthermore, the stand can be removed entirely, presenting a VESA mounting bracket so it can be attached to a vast array of stands, arms, and brackets, thus occupying even less space.
The 10-point touchscreen is responsive and easy to use, making a keyboard and mouse redundant for some workflows. The touchscreen has a 23.8-inch anti-glare and anti-smudge coating and up to a 4K resolution. If the screen is rotated to portrait orientation, the computer recognizes that it has been turned and automatically matches the display to the proper direction.
Turning to the audio, the built-in speakers are better than your average monitor speakers.
However, they are nothing mind-blowing. They will be more than satisfactory if used in an office setting for quick videos, quiet music, video calls, or notification dings, but nothing more.
This all-in-one has a wide range of ports on the back and left side. There are multiple video outputs, several USB ports - including USB-C - and an ethernet port. Since this is an all-in-one, this computer also has an HDMI-IN, allowing the computer to become a display for a separate client.
Throughout our time using this all-in-one, we noticed it ran relatively quietly and stayed cool, even during benchmark testing. Though that is not to say it is designed to take on the most intensive tasks. It fared well in our tests; however, if you are looking for an incredibly powerful workstation, this is not your computer. But it is an excellent option if you need something for an office, meeting space or the like.
Lenovo’s Legion line of gaming laptops has been putting out bangers for years. Back in 2021, we reviewed the previous model of this laptop - the RTX 2060-equipped Lenovo Legion 5i - and were generally impressed by the solid performance and fair pricing. More recently, we awarded the Legion 5 Pro a rare 5-star review, again citing its excellent gaming capabilities and sensible price tag.
We’re pleased to report that having spent some time with the most recent 2022 model of the Lenovo Legion 5i, it remains able to trade blows with the best gaming laptops and packs a punch despite its humble appearance.
The model we tested came with an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, which puts it pretty squarely in the mid-range space as far as gaming laptops go. There’s a variety of other models with different processors and GPUs, all of which look to offer a comparable price-to-performance ratio to our review unit.
Although this model of the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) comes with a 1440p display, the RTX 3060 inside it is arguably more of a 1080p card. You can squeeze some extra frames out of it at 1440p using Nvidia’s nifty DLSS tech, however, so the pairing isn’t entirely foolish. There are models of the Legion 5i (and the AMD Ryzen-powered Legion 5) that use a 1080p display instead, but we think opting for the higher resolution is worth it here since the display on our review model is actually excellent for the asking price.
On top of generally solid performance and specs, the Lenovo Legion 5i is also just a very nice piece of hardware. It might sound like a silly thing to fixate on, but all of the best laptops have an appealing physical design, and the Legion 5i is no exception; a sleek metallic grey finish with a backlit keyboard and a robust hinge.
Lenovo hasn’t skimped on the features here either, with a solid selection of physical ports and the latest Wi-Fi 6E capabilities. The DDR5 memory is a great added bonus (especially since a lot of more affordable gaming laptops are still rocking DDR4, and it’s not a mandatory upgrade for the 12th-gen Intel CPU), and we were surprised to see not just regular USB-C ports but also a Thunderbolt 4 port.
It’s a bit on the heavy side, and the battery life is unsurprisingly garbage, two pitfalls that almost every gaming laptop trips into. Ultimately though, this isn’t a laptop for on-the-go gaming; it’s a desktop replacement system, and it does that just fantastically.
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Price and availability
Starts at $1,099.99 / £1,293.49 / AU$2,349
UK version tested costs £1,800
Massive variety of configurations
The Lenovo Legion 5i starts at $1,099.99 in the US, which gets you essentially the same system as the one we’ve reviewed here, but with a 1080p display and an RTX 3050 Ti instead of an RTX 3060. For our money, the 1080p RTX 3060 model available in the US is a massively better value since it’s only marginally more expensive at $1,229.99.
The highest-spec model - which packs double the RAM and an RTX 3070 Ti GPU - costs $2,499.99 - not quite as much bang for your buck, in our opinion. There are also the Legion 5i Pro models and Legion 5 models of both (which use AMD Ryzen CPUs; note the lack of ‘i’ denoting ‘Intel’). The cheapest Legion 5 available costs $1,049.99, but we wouldn’t recommend getting the bottom-dollar model.
Our review model is a UK unit that costs £1,500 (AU$3,169), which doesn’t quite hold up to the US pricing but is still decent considering the 1440p screen and i7 processor (the cheaper models in the US use a Core i5-12500H). It looks like this exact model isn’t available in the US; if you want a higher resolution, it means opting for a slightly bigger screen. We ran our tests in 1080p, though, so the performance stats found below will be useful for both British and American readers.
Overall, it’s not going to touch the best cheap laptops out there if you’re looking for a super-budget device, but it does offer a strong level of performance and a wide feature set for the asking price. It’s also worth noting that Lenovo has regular flash sales on its own online store, and many of its gaming laptops come with a free 3-month trial of PC Game Pass, further adding to the value.
Price score: 4.5/5
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Specs
The Lenovo Legion 5i comes in a wide range of configurations, with the CPU and GPU being the primary varying factor. It can come with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a variety of Nvidia RTX 3000 GPUs, from the 3050 up to the 3070 Ti. RAM and SSD capacity also vary between models; you can see the version we received below, along with the highest-spec and lowest-spec configurations.
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Design
Robust, well-designed chassis
Relatively thin, but heavy
Ports are mostly on the rear edge
Lenovo hasn’t made any huge changes to the physical design of the Legion laptop line for a little while, but that’s fine by us. This Legion 5i is a good-looking laptop with a relatively minimalist style, a far cry from the gaudy RGB-laden products that typically populate the gaming laptop section of your local tech hardware store.
The exterior is mostly brushed metal, which gives the chassis a solid, durable feel that should hold up to bumps and drops. It’s also thinner than many gaming laptops in its power and price class, making it a bit more portable, but this is somewhat counteracted by the metal construction resulting in increased overall weight. It’s not the heaviest gaming laptop we’ve reviewed, but at two and a half kilos for a 15-inch model, it’s certainly not lightweight.
While there are some USB ports and a headphone jack on the sides of the laptop, most of the physical ports are situated along the back edge. This will be a matter of personal taste; we’re divided here on the TechRadar team as to whether these rear ports are actually more convenient. Some gaming laptops position literally all the ports on the rear edge, which can make plugging in a USB mouse or flash drive inconvenient, so it’s good to see that at least some of the ports are more accessible here.
The keyboard isn’t doing anything particularly revolutionary here, but it’s comfortable to use and the slightly curved shape of the keycaps means that your fingers easily find each key when you’re typing. Lenovo has done a good job of packing in a full-scale keyboard with a numpad here. Nothing feels cramped, and the arrow keys jut out slightly from the keyboard’s outline to avoid compacting the up and down buttons (as many laptops do).
The touchpad is perfectly fine but isn’t likely to see much use since this is a gaming laptop, and anyone using it for extended periods is almost certainly going to connect a gaming mouse. The same goes for the twin stereo speakers, which are functional but decidedly unimpressive. Know that you’re going to want a proper gaming headset - though again, this is a criticism we could level at the majority of gaming laptops.
Design score: 4/5
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Features
Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt 4 support
Legion software suite is just okay
The Lenovo Legion 5i’s display is a pretty straightforward 1440p panel, which offers a snappy 165Hz refresh rate for esports gaming and generally pretty excellent color reproduction. We do wish the blacks were a little deeper, but considering the price point here, we couldn’t reasonably expect visual perfection. Some cheaper versions are available with a 1080p display instead (specific model availability varies a lot between regions, though).
Above the display is a 720p webcam and mic array, which feel like a bit of an afterthought but are a welcome inclusion nonetheless for anyone who might want to use this laptop for video calls. We were pleased to see a physical kill switch for the camera on the side of the laptop, so you can disable it when you’re not using it. Don’t expect to use it for streaming, though, since we’d say 1080p is really the minimum for that.
All models of the Legion 5i (including the entry-level configurations) use Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1. The former has been around for a while in more premium gaming laptops, so it’s good to see that it’s now becoming the norm - replacing the slower Wi-Fi 6 standard - in more budget-friendly devices too.
There’s also Thunderbolt 4 support, specifically for one of the USB-C ports on the laptop's right-hand side. It can’t be used for input power delivery so you won’t be able to charge the laptop with this port, but the speed of Thunderbolt 4 will no doubt be a boon for users who intend to take advantage of the USB-C ports.
Lastly, we need to discuss the preinstalled software that comes with the Legion 5i. Lenovo Vantage is a relatively straightforward utility software for monitoring and tweaking your system performance; it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it does the job well enough. There’s also the Legion AI Engine, which uses deep learning to intelligently redirect power between the CPU and GPU to optimize performance.
Legion Arena, on the other hand, is pointless. It’s a ‘shared launcher’ tool that allows you to launch games from different apps (like Steam, Epic, or GoG) all in one convenient place. Every gaming laptop seems to have a version of this now, and it’s broadly useless. What’s wrong with desktop shortcuts?
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Performance
1080p is ideal; 1440p is an option for most games
12th-gen Intel i7 CPU works hard
Gets a little warm when gaming
Here's how the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Night Raid: 52,681; Fire Strike: 20,792; Time Spy: 9,753 Cinebench R20 multi-core: 7,313 GeekBench 5: 1,768 (single-core); 12,904 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office): 8,062 PCMark 10 (Battery life test): 3 hours and 32 minutes TechRadar Battery Life Test: 3 hours and 59 minutes Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 66 fps; (1080p, Low): 175 fps Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 70 fps; (1080p, Low): 113 fps Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 75 fps; (1080p, Low): 159 fps
Considering the price point, the overall performance of the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) is incredible. Sure, that RTX 3060 isn’t going to blow you away with 4K gaming delights, but it provides excellent framerates at 1080p in all the best PC games. You can comfortably play Cyberpunk 2077 at maxed-out settings in FHD without your fps dropping below 60.
It’s definitely competent enough to make full use of the 1440p display in our review model, too - provided you dial back the graphical settings a bit. You can also use DLSS to boost the framerate at higher resolutions. We don’t feature these in our benchmarking tests since they’re not running natively, but you should be aware that it’s an option!
The Intel Core i7-12700H at the heart of this Legion laptop is fantastic; the upgraded performance/efficiency split core architecture of Intel’s 12th-generation processors produces amazing multicore performance, meaning that the Legion 5i sings in CPU-intensive games such as real-time strategy titles. DDR5 memory support is also a nice bonus here; Lenovo could’ve easily stuck with cheaper DDR4 instead.
CPU performance outside of games is great too, with decent results in the Cinebench R20 and GeekBench 5 multicore tests. The midrange GPU means that this isn’t going to be the perfect machine for high-end workloads like video editing or 3D animation, but it should be able to handle some casual creative work - something that is in increasing demand among younger users.
The twin fans that comprise the Legion 5i’s cooling solution aren’t too noisy - a rare sight among gaming laptops these days, which frequently sound like they’re about to blast off Team Rocket-style - but the laptop’s metal casing does get a bit warm on the underside during extended use.
It’s nothing too egregious (we’ve reviewed laptops that could double as space heaters) but it’s too hot to actually put it on your lap while you’re gaming. If you’re planning on using this laptop for long gaming sessions, you might want to invest in one of the best laptop cooling pads - or just get a hardback book to prop up the back edge and give the fans underneath some breathing room.
Performance score: 4.5/5
Lenovo Legion 5i review: Battery life
Maxes out at four hours
Significantly less for actual gaming use
Supports fast charging
We could fill this entire section in basically every gaming laptop review with a single sentence reading ‘look, it’s a gaming laptop; the battery life is bad’. But we won’t, because we’re professional journalists (and our editorial overlords would shout at us).
This wasn’t a shock. With any modern gaming laptop you’re going to spend most of your time near a wall outlet, and the overall battery life isn’t terrible, so we can’t count it too much against the Legion 5i. On the bright side, it charges very fast indeed, topping the battery up by as much as 80% in just half an hour.
Battery life: 3.5/5
Should you buy the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022)?
Buy it if...
You want bang for your buck
While there are certainly cheaper laptops out there, the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) offers a perfectly sound price-to-performance proposition with affordable entry-level configurations.
You need lots of ports
The Legion 5i has basically every physical connection you could want from a gaming laptop, including Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, and an Ethernet port to ensure your internet connection remains speedy and stable.
You like esports games
The 165Hz screen is great for twitchy esports shooters like CS:GO and Valorant, where high refresh rates are king, and the RTX 3060 GPU should be able to easily handle running those games at buttery-smooth framerates.
Don't buy it if...
You’re a streamer Anyone hunting for a gaming laptop to stream on Twitch with should probably be looking at some slightly higher-end hardware; the 720p camera and RTX 3060 on offer here aren’t quite going to cut it.
You don’t want to wear a headset While most gamers will be perfectly happy with donning a pair of cans to play, some prefer speaker audio - and in this area, the Legion 5i underdelivers. If you want to be playing music, movies, or game audio out loud, you may be better served elsewhere.
You want ultra portability The Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) is actually fairly thin and compact for a gaming laptop, but its all-metal construction makes it quite heavy overall, and it’s still a 15-inch laptop so it won’t fit in smaller bags.
Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review: Also consider
If our Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...
How I tested the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022)
I used the laptop for everyday work for two weeks
I played games on it for just under eight hours in total
I dropped it on my kitchen floor
Anyone who knows me won't be shocked to hear that I've reviewed dozens upon dozens of gaming laptops, and at this point, my testing process is quite refined. I spent close to eight hours just playing games such as Destiny 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 on the Lenovo Legion 5i (2022) - outside of work hours, to be clear - as well as using it for general tasks during the day.
I specifically used it to write the majority of this review (along with some other articles) in order to get a good feel of the keyboard quality, and specifically used it without a mouse for the majority of my non-gaming time with it - something I would never normally do, but it's useful for gauging the performance of the trackpad.
I also, upon first unboxing the Legion 5i, managed to drop it directly onto the wooden floor of my kitchen. This was not an intentional piece of durability testing, but the laptop was mercifully undamaged, allowing me to remark on its robust chassis. While years of testing laptops may have attuned me to their strengths and flaws, it has not made me any less of a klutz.
The MSI GT77 Titan (2023) is the first laptop I've gotten my hands on that features Nvidia's latest mobile RTX 4000-series GPUs and Intel's latest 13th-gen Core i9 HX processor, and I can confirm that the hype around this hardware is very, very justified. If anything, the media buzz can't even prepare you for how powerful this laptop actually is in practice, especially the RTX 4090 mobile GPU.
To start, the GT77 Titan can be configured with either an Nvidia RTX 4080 or Nvidia RTX 4090 mobile with the Intel Core i9-13980HX. There are no options for a Core i7 or lower, because that's for peasants, probably. There will be no scrimping with this laptop.
Obviously, the specs are the reason you are buying this gaming laptop. There is nothing all that compelling about its design, which is the same standard black stealth-bomber-car-transformer looking thing with twinkly RGB lighting that gaming laptops have been sporting for a very long time now.
Yes, it's a stale design, but if you're worried that someone might see it and roll their eyes, this thing is never leaving your desk because it weighs close to 7.5 lbs / 3.5kg. This is strictly a desktop replacement.
In terms of ports and other features, this is a very solid laptop, with just about every port you could ask for with a gorgeous 4K display running at 144Hz and seemingly as bright as a headlight on a car when turned all the way up. There's even a privacy shutter over the webcam, which is something you just don't see on too many gaming laptops out there.
Finally, when it comes to performance, there are some slips in terms of CPU performance (which is still generally outstanding) and the RTX 4090 GPU offers best-in-class gaming performance, but the premium you're paying for that performance might be too much for some to stomach.
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): Price & availability
Starts obscenely expensive and goes up from there
More or less in line with competitors running the same hardware
Ok, so you will need to understand that the MSI GT77 Titan (2023) is more like a Ferrari than it is a Ford Focus or Dodge Neon. This is a top-tier kit, but you will be paying a very high price for entry, or about as much or more as the best gaming PC with comparable performance, and in terms of value, I don't very much that this laptop will compare well to the latest crop of gaming laptops set to start coming out in the first half of 2023.
The GT77 Titan is available in the US for $4,299.99 (about £3,570 / AU$6,240) as its starting price. This will get you an RTX 4080 GPU, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and a 2TB NVMe SSD. For $4,699.99 (about £3,905 / AU$6,820), you can get it with an RTX 4090 GPU, while a $5,299.99 (about £4,400 / AU$7,690) configuration can get you an RTX 4090, 128GB DDR5, and 4TB of storage. All three models come with the Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU.
I can (and I will) argue that this is possibly the best gaming laptop I have ever come across, performance-wise. But it is also something that most of us will only ever look at online and go "That's wild, man!" before going for something far more affordable, like the model in our Lenovo Legion Pro 7i review.
If you're in the position of hitting the "Buy it now" button, then this is probably one of a small handful of laptops you should consider. But if that isn't you, the Legion Pro 7i is about half the price and is still going to give you outstanding performance.
As always with tech this premium, availability outside the US is also a bit of an issue, and we've reached out to MSI about when the GT77 Titan will be available in the UK and Australia and at what price. We'll update this review if and when we hear back from the manufacturer.
Price score: 2 / 5
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): Specs
Latest Nvidia RTX 4000-series GPUs
Intel Core i9-13980HX processor
Bright, 144Hz refresh 4K mini-LED display
The MSI GT77 Titan features the latest and greatest both Intel and Nvidia have to offer, with every model of GT77 Titan for purchase coming with the latest Intel Core-i9 13980HX CPU, which is as good as it gets for mobile processors this generation.
Pair that with the new Nvidia RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 mobile GPUs, and you've got about as powerful a machine as you're going to find. You also start out with 64GB DDR5 RAM and can get as much as 128GB DDR5, with either 2TB or 4TB of storage space.
The display is one of the biggest draws here beyond the incredible hardware under the hood. The mini LED IPS panel is 144Hz at 4K resolution, so this is not only as crisp and fast a laptop display as you're going to get, but also makes it possible to get HDR 1000 as well as one of the brightest laptop displays I've seen outside of a MacBook or OLED panel.
Finally, it's packing a 99.9WHr battery, managing a decent amount of battery life for what it's packing. Though that also means it's absolutely huge and weighs a metaphorical ton at 7.28 lbs (3.30 kg). This is purely a desktop replacement-level kit.
Specs score: 5 / 5
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): Design
Plenty of ports
Physical webcam privacy shutter
Here is the MSI GT77 Titan (2023) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core i9-13950HX Processor Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 RAM: 64GB DDR5 (32GB x 2) Screen: 17.3-inch IPS, mini LED, 4K, 144hz Storage: 2TB SSD Ports: 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x Thunderbolt 4 w/ DP, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x 3.5mm combo jack, 1 x SD card slot, 1 x RJ45 Camera: IR 720p HD w/shutter Weight: 7.28 lbs | 3.30 kg Size: 15.63 x 12.99 x 0.91 inches | 397 x 329.95 x 23.11 mm
Since this laptop is largely going to sit on your desk and nowhere else, we'll start with its rather massive footprint. At nearly 16 inches wide and over a foot deep, even the best backpack around isn't going to fit this laptop unless it's one of those massive hiking ones you see at Machu Pichu or something.
And God help you if you try to carry this thing up the block, much less up a mountain. At 7.28 lbs (3.30kg), not including its brick of a power supply, only the strongest backs can support carrying this thing around anywhere.
Still, for something that's going to sit on your desk, it's the standard MSI sports car hood aesthetic. To its credit, it's about the pinnacle of the form, even if that form is getting a bit old.
Open the lid, and you're looking at a per-key RGB backlit mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches for a very satisfying experience. Is it overkill for a gaming keyboard? Absolutely, but this entire laptop is overkill, and to its credit, the GT77 Titan leaves everything on the field.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
There are plenty of ports, which we would expect from something this huge, and there really isn't a need for a dock. With three USB 3.2 Gen 2, two Thunderbolt 4 (w/ display output), one HDMI 2.1, and one Mini DisplayPort 1.4 port — as well as a 3.5mm combo jack — you're not going to be left wanting. There's even an SD card slot and an ethernet port to round everything out.
Finally, I want to shout out the physical privacy switch on the webcam, which slides over to close the lens. It has been just over three years since the first Covid-19 lockdowns and everyone has been using the webcam on their laptops for just about everything, but not enough laptop makers have been including this essential privacy function. It's not hard, but it's not ubiquitous, so good on MSI for making sure this laptop is up to speed with the times.
Design score: 4 / 5
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): Performance
Best-in-class gaming performance
Sounds like a jet engine under load
Solid sound out of a laptop
It's still the early days of the new Intel and Nvidia mobile kit, so we don't have a whole lot to fairly compare the latest MSI GT77 Titan to. But it absolutely blows last year's Titan out of the water in our benchmark tests, and the model we tested is less powerful than the i9-13980HX that you would actually buy (though not that much less powerful).
In terms of gaming performance, both processors are fairly close in our Cyberpunk 2077 test on the low end of the resolution spectrum, with the GT Titan (2023) pulling out a solid gain of 9.09% over the previous year's model. Push that up to ultra settings at 1080p, however, and you get a 74.62% jump for 2023's GT77 Titan over the 2022 model.
Similarly, in Total War: Warhammer III, we get a much larger gain with the GT77 Titan (2023) over the 2022 model at low resolution (about a 75% improvement), while it doubles the frame rates at ultra resolution and 1080p.
Things get somewhat more complicated when looking at the GT77 Titan (2023) against the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (2023). These two gaming laptops aren't even in the same class really, with the Legion Pro 7i sporting a Core i9-13900HX and an RTX 4080. But the Legion Pro 7i still outperforms the GT77 Titan in processor performance by a decent amount.
The i9-13900HX is only slightly slower (5.4GHz boost compared to the i9-13950HX's 5.5GHz), but it can score anywhere from 12% to 15% better on processor benchmarks than the GT77 Titan's i9-13950HX. These advantages extend to gaming performance on low settings where processor speeds are more determinative, but all these differences fall away when the GPU comes into play, such as when playing on ultra settings or using features like ray tracing and DLSS.
Now there are a lot of reasons for why this might be the case. If I had to pick, I'd argue that Lenovo is a much better system integrator than MSI, and so Lenovo is better able to squeeze some extra performance out of the same specs. But it could also be a matter of the settings used, the cooling, etc. Still, the difference is there, even though you're likely not going to see the same kind of performance I did since the only chips that will be going into the GT77 Titans to hit the shelves will be the faster i9-13980HX.
Another thing to note about gaming performance here is that we don't benchmark using DLSS or ray tracing generally, since not all hardware is capable of those features - though I will say that DLSS 3 is the 2023 GT77 Titan's secret weapon here.
DLSS has been far more of a revolutionary graphics technology than even ray tracing, and DLSS 3 is absolutely next-level incredible in terms of the performance gains you can get.
Turn on DLSS 3 with Frame Generation, and you can get an average fps of 167 in Cyberpunk 2077 with ultra settings at 1080p, which is better than a lot of desktop PCs, and 30 fps better than the Legion Pro 7i with DLSS 3 turned on.
Turn things up to max settings with full ray tracing and DLSS 3 set to ultra performance with Frame Generation, and the GT77 Titan can get an average of 131fps, with a minimum of 100fps. Boost the resolution to 1440p, and you can get an average fps of 126 (59fps minimum), and at 4K, you can get an average of 110fps, with a minimum of 35fps.
To say these numbers are phenomenal is an understatement. These are high-performance desktop numbers, and the RTX 4090 mobile pushes out performance akin to an RTX 4070 Ti desktop card, which is the best graphics card most people can get right now. All of this is to say that the MSI GT77 Titan (2023) is a top-tier desktop-replacement gaming laptop, and few laptops are going to effectively compete at this level of graphics performance.
Something like the Legion Pro 7i might be configurable with an RTX 4090 at some point as well, and so it could theoretically get this kind of performance. Sadly, right now, you can't buy one with an RTX 4090 mobile in the US so the point is a bit moot.
Performance score: 5 / 5
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): battery life
Pretty decent given the hardware
Charges reasonably fast
The MSI GT77 Titan isn't a laptop in name only, thanks to its 99.9WHr, as-large-as-legally-allowable-in-the-US battery. While you might think that the Nvidia RTX 4090 mobile chip would be the energy hog here, it's actually pretty decent. It's the Intel CPU that's really going to cut into that battery life if you're using this laptop for any length of time.
Still, it's good enough to get four hours and 30 minutes of video playback, though its PCMark 10 battery life test result is actually a smidge worse than its predecessor, coming in at three hours and one minute.
It charged from empty to full in about two hours, which is impressive given the enormous size of the battery that needs to be recharged. But considering the 330W power adapter you plug into this thing, it damn well better charge that fast.
Battery Score:3 / 5
Should you buy the MSI GT77 Titan (2023)?
Buy it if...
You want the best gaming performance around With an Intel Core i9-13980HX and an Nvidia RTX 4090 mobile GPU and DLSS 3, no game will put up much of a fight here, even at 4K.
You want an absolutely gorgeous display This is the best-looking gaming laptop display I've seen that wasn't a high-end OLED panel.
You want lots of customization options
With per-key, lid-logo, and accent RGB, you can really get that gamer twinkly light look exactly to your liking.
Don't buy it if...
You want something affordable The price of this laptop puts it out of reach of just about everyone reading this review.
You want something portable Lulz. Better get a donkey if you want to cart this one around.
MSI GT77 Titan (2023): Also consider
If my MSI GT77 Titan review has you considering other options, here's another laptop to consider...
How I tested the MSI GT77 Titan (2023)
I spent about a month testing the GT77 Titan
I used it as my main PC gaming machine for several weeks as well as creative work
I used in-game benchmarks from titles like Cyberpunk 2077 in addition to 3D Mark, CineBench R23 and others.
To review the MSI GT77 Titan (2023) I set the Titan up at home as my main PC gaming and content creation workstation (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc). I used it extensively for over a month to get a true sense of how well it performed.
This is ultimately a gaming laptop, so I focused most of my efforts in that direction, but with 100% DCI-P3 coverage, I also tested out its creative chops by editing photos and videos.
I've reviewed dozens of laptops in this class over the years, including high-end desktop replacements and professional creative workstations, so I'm very keen on the subtleties of HDR 100 vs HDR 400 and what it means to have proper color coverage. As a lifelong gamer, I am also very sensitive to performance issues that can trip up PC games.
Is AMD Advantage - the red team’s moniker for machines using its Ryzen/Radeon combo rather than mixing and matching with Intel and Nvidia - truly the advantage its name suggests? That’s the unavoidable premise of this Alienware M17 review, but we won’t drag out the answer: it’s yes.
The fact is that, AMD focus or not, this is one heck of a gaming laptop. It is as smooth as butter covered in grease on a plate made of Teflon. That feeling could easily be attributed to its ludicrous 120Hz 4K screen, were its numbers are not so strong. As it stands, the all-AMD m17 can muscle through your games as well as any.
As well it should, given the investment you’ll need to make to get it going. At $2,350 (around £1,950 / AU$3,410), you’re talking the same spend as a fully-kitted-out gaming desktop PC, one which comes with a clearer upgrade path. You can switch out the RAM and SSDs here - an extra chunk of storage would not be a bad idea - and we doubt the processing package is going to feel dated any time soon, but that restriction is always a consideration when shelling out on a premium laptop.
And this laptop really is premium. The chassis is an utter beauty, constructed not only with tough-enough materials and just the right amount of RGB lighting but with some very clever design touches. The sticky-out rear end gets rid of exhaust gasses, makes room for ports, and shoves the screen forward into your face; those ports which do make it onto the m17’s flanks are the ones you need for peripherals, placed exactly where you’ll want those peripherals attached.
The keyboard - not, on our review machine, the upgraded mechanical version but Dell’s membrane board - is decent, holding its own in gaming and eschewing a not-really-needed number pad in favour of giving itself room to breathe and your fingers room to move. The trackpad, slightly off-centre, works just fine. Even the battery lasts longer than you’d expect.
And none of that matters, because this is a big expensive gaming machine, and this Alienware m17 AMD Advantage review is proof that AMD has gained back any ground it might have once lost against Nvidia in the graphics department. It does get noisy when you’re pushing it, but the results speak for themselves.
Alienware m17 R5: Price and availability
AMD Advantage is a USA-only spin for now
Drop the specs if you’re looking for savings
Alienware m17 R5 AMD Advantage: Spec Sheet
Here is the Alienware m17 R5 AMD Advantage configuration sent to TechRadar for review: CPU: Octa-core AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX 3.3GHz (4.9GHz boost), 16 threads Graphics: 12GB AMD Radeon RX 6850M XT (discrete), AMD Radeon 680M (integrated) RAM: 32GB DDR5 @ 4800MHz Screen: 17.3” 3840 x 2160, 120Hz, 3ms refresh Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Optical drive: None Ports: 3x Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 (one with PowerShare), 1x USB4 Type-C Port, audio combo jack, HDMI 2.1, RJ45 ethernet Connectivity: MediaTek Wi-Fi 6 MT7921 2x2 and Bluetooth 5.2 Camera: 720p, 30fps RGB-IR webcam Weight: 7.3 pounds (3.3 kg) Size: 15.6 x 11.8 x 1.06 inches (39.7 x 29.9 x 2.7cm; W x D x H)
If you’re not in the US, you’re out of luck at the time of writing: Dell isn’t offering the Alienware m17 R5 AMD Advantage spin in any other region. Specced as our review model is, it’ll cost you a not insignificant $2,350 (around £1,950/AU$3,410) - though if you’d prefer to step down from a Ryzen 9 to a Ryzen 7 6800H (and take the forced downgrade to an RX6700M GPU) you can cut $300 from that amount.
Further switching out for a 1080p screen (in delightful 360Hz form) and putting up with an entirely reasonable 16GB RAM and 512GB storage can bring the price down to an achievable $1,700. Ditching the AMD Advantage gimmick altogether and speccing down further to an RTX 3050 Ti and 165Hz FHD screen brings us to $1,250 - close to half of the price of our full-throttle example.
If you’re in other regions, you can still get the Alienware m17 R5 in a whole host of specs. Dell’s website is the place to go to find out exactly what each will cost - but AMD graphics aren’t yet available.
Price score: 4 / 5
Alienware m17 R5: Design
Gorgeous, well-laid-out chassis
Clever cooling paths and port placement
Heavy - but worth it
Alienware’s big-boy laptop shell - also seen, in slightly slimmer form, on the x17 line - remains possibly the sexiest laptop design on the market. That’s a subjective assessment, one which assumes that you prefer curves, subtle hexagons and a noticeably rotund rear end over the harsh gamer angles of certain competitors. But we’re sticking by our assessment: it’s lovely.
Practical, too. The junk in the m17’s trunk is far from just an aesthetic touch. It pulls the screen forward around 3cm (1 3/16”), putting the action closer to your face, allowing the exhaust to leave peacefully, and leaving room for power, HDMI 2.1, and one each of Type-A and DisplayPort-compatible 10GBit/sec Type-C out of the way on the rear. The hexagonal intake grille offers the internals a huge amount of air without compromising the looks or rigidity of the base and gives the onboard Atmos audio every opportunity to shine.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
The Dell design genius doesn’t stop there. The company’s beloved central screen hinge is here and it’s both plenty rigid and the perfect way to disguise what might otherwise be a fairly chunky chin. A scalloped-in base works to trick the eye into ignoring the understandably fat internal dimensions. Side ports are limited to a pair of Type-A sockets on the right - leaving lefties to trail a mouse cable around the back - and 2.5G Ethernet and audio on the left. It’s not a setup that feels cumbersome or cluttered if you’re gaming on a desk.
You may indeed be tempted to leave this firmly on a flat surface, given that it’s on the weightier end of the laptop spectrum at 7.3lbs/3.3kg, though it’s not necessarily as heavy as its bulk might suggest - nor as bulky as its hardcore internals could have led Alienware to make it.
It’s upgradeable, to an extent. Beneath the bottom panel are a pair of PCI-E SSD slots, and the DDR5 is supplied by a pair of SODIMMs rather than some soldered-on package. You could also switch out the wireless card if you want the extra bandwidth of Wi-fi 6E since this features the 2x2 MediaTek MT7921, which tops out at Wi-fi 6.
A note here on the lighting. Our review model of the Alienware m17 came with the middle-spec keyboard fitted, which offers per-key RGB - the lower spec offers a single zone, while the highest sports per-key lighting beneath Cherry MX switches for an extra fee. Aside from that - and the cute little Alienware logo - you’re not bombarded with a focus-breaking light show at the front; the rear does illuminate, and we think that’s enough.
Besides, the screen itself is plenty bold enough to scorch your retinas by itself. Dolby Vision support and a very generous 120Hz speed ensure that this 17.3” panel is as impressive as it is large.
Design score: 5 / 5
Alienware m17 R5: Performance
Slick gaming performance
Great feeling keyboard
Automatic APU/GPU switching is cool
Alienware m17 R5: Benchmarks
Here's how the Alienware m17 R5 AMD Advantage performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 57530; Fire Strike: 28132; Time Spy: 11788 Cinebench R20 Multi-core: 5056 points GeekBench 5: 935 (single-core); 5811 (multi-core) PCMark 10: 7013 points Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6 hours and 27 minutes Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 86.5 fps; (1080p, Low): 202.7 fps Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 42.4 fps; (1080p, Low): 43.1 fps Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 109.7 fps; (1080p, Low): 185.2 fps
For the money, you’d expect the Alienware m17 to offer barn-burning performance, and it doesn’t disappoint. Our review model - mashing together AMD’s outrageous octa-core Ryzen 9 6900HX and the company’s up-and-coming 12GB Radeon RX 6850M XT GPU - slices merrily through almost everything, and its screen looks magnificent while doing it.
There’s an ‘almost’ there, but we’re not sure it’s something we should critique this m17 for. Playing Cyberpunk 2077 felt smooth enough - its recent addition of FSR 2.1 support probably doesn’t hurt - but its benchmark numbers didn’t reach the kind of lofty heights we’d expect, hovering around 40-ish FPS no matter what settings we applied. We’re going to paint that as an anomaly; Dirt 5 felt like it had unlimited frame overhead, and was smooth even when pushed to the extremes of the m7’s resolution; Total War: Warhammer III proved a doddle.
Even without the luxury of the mechanical switch upgrade, the m17’s keyboard is tight and deep enough to provide the kind of positive feedback that makes gaming good; the layout is entirely satisfactory and comfortable, to the point where we never even thought of reaching for an external keyboard. This fulfils the brief, and it’s hard to pick any holes in it; if we must be critical, extreme situations can lead to an understandable and perhaps slightly excessive amount of fan noise, but the m17 is happy to calm itself down when doing desktop duties.
Admittedly shuffling windows around seems like too trivial a task for a machine of this price and game-friendly specification, but you’re going to be doing it so it’s not entirely irrelevant. The trackpad is large and responsive with a good click, the screen, running at full 4K res, is a delight, and smart no-reset switching between APU and GPU is a neat touch which goes some way to saving battery, too. Sure, you can work on the Alienware m17, if you can bring yourself to.
Let’s at least try to offer up the tiniest of nitpicks. Could the otherwise wasted space at the edges of the keyboard have accommodated a numerical pad? Yes, almost certainly - but given the m17’s primary purpose we’re glad the main keyboard layout wasn’t compressed. Could the trackpad have been central? We’re sure there’s some reason that it’s shifted slightly to the side, but it’s close enough to the middle that it didn’t bother us. Could the m17 have incorporated a better webcam? Again, yes: grainy 720p just doesn’t cut it, although our review machine also incorporated an IR sensor for Windows Hello support.
Performance score: 5 / 5
Alienware m17 R5: Battery life
…but probably slightly better than you’d expect
Battery life assessment feels relatively irrelevant for a big hefty desktop replacement. We’d often come to this point in the review and make some kind of half-hearted apology for the machine in question, accepting that you’re going to get three hours and like it.
This bucks the trend: six and a half hours in our movie-looping test was a big surprise, and while (clearly) you’ll not get anywhere near that when stressing the GPU, this lasts long enough that it’s not disappointing. Three hours of gaming isn’t out of the question.
Battery life score: 3 / 5
Should you buy the Alienware m17 R5?
Buy it if...
You’re a hardcore gamer
You’ll have to be hardcore to reach as deep into your pocket as you’ll need to, but this has both the looks and the performance to suit those who need the full experience on the move.
You’ll appreciate a big, high-res screen
The higher-spec tiers of the Alienware m17 probably offer more pixels than your games truly need - but whatever the resolution, this is a bold, beautiful panel that refreshes fast.
You have a small desk
The ports of the Alienware m17 are brilliantly laid out - compact gaming is far easier without cables getting in the way. And who needs a bulky desktop and monitor combo when you have this?
Don't buy it if...
You value portability
You could sling this in a bag. You could. But we’d paint that as an occasional indulgence at best because although the m17 isn’t over-heavy it’s most at home in the home.
You’re wary of AMD
To be clear, you shouldn’t be. This package shows just what the red team can do. If you’re dead set on an Nvidia card, though, a different spec of the m17 would suit you better.
You’re concerned about your budget
This is no-compromises gaming, with a price tag to match. If you’re willing to sacrifice just a little, you can spec this lower - or buy a completely different gaming-friendly laptop.
Alienware m17 R5: Also consider
If our Alienware m17 R5 AMD Advantage review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...
How we tested
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.
In recent months we’ve covered the Ulefone Armour 16 Pro, 17 Pro and here now, the 18T.
It would be easy to conclude that the numerical progression was a ladder of performance specifications, but that would be an oversimplification.
There aren’t many similarities between this and the 16 Pro and the 17 Pro, although the 18T does borrow some features from its predecessor.
For those curious, there is a cut-down Power Armor 18 and also a new Power Armor 19 design, but the 18T is still the flagship of this series, in our opinion.
Where the 16 Pro was a relatively inexpensive design with an underpowered SoC, the 18T is a high-powered solution with a premium phone price tag.
With a retail cost of $570, phone buyers expect plenty for their money, and the 18T has the best specification we’ve seen from Ulefone so far.
Where the 19 uses the less expensive MediaTek G99 SoC, the 18 and 18T use the 5G capable MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC, delivering more processing power and double the GPU performance of the G99.
The choice to go with the Dimensity 900 is probably more about 5G coms than anything else, but having this power is also helpful for the FLIR thermal imaging sensor.
We’ve seen thermal imaging before on the Cat S63 Pro, and this is the same FLIR 3.5 that is on that phone. Very often, rugged phone makers use the cheaper FLIR 2.5 sensor, which was on the CAT S60, Ulefone Armor 11T 5G and Blackview BV9800 Pro, to mention just a few.
On this phone, the newer FLIR 3.5 sensor offers a better resolution, achieving greater detail and clarity in the images it captures.
The other notable feature of this design is that it has the same accessory port as the 17 Pro, and through that, there are various specialist accessories available, including an endoscope.
When you combine the ability to detect temperature distribution and having an endoscope to look at difficult-to-reach areas, the 18T starts to look like it might be ideal for those in automotive repair or similar businesses.
The downside to having such a powerful SoC and feature set is that this is the most expensive rugged design that Ulefone makes. The 18T is priced as a premium phone, and the customer mostly gets premium parts for their investment.
As this is most likely to be a second phone for most customers, is that just too much to be a practical consideration?.
Where can you get it? You can get it in most regions direct from AliExpress or on Amazon.co.uk
In addition to the phone, Ulefone has a selection of accessories that can be bundled. A case increases the cost by another $25, a Wireless charging base by $25, an Endoscope by $50, and a 1000x Digital Microscope is another $50. The cheapest upgrade is a tempered glass screen protector that costs just $10 when bought with the phone.
Considering that the Power Armor 16 Pro costs just $160, the official $699.99 that Ulefone is asking for the Power Armor 18T does seem a bit shocking.
However, if you don’t get it directly from Ulefone and are willing to wait for delivery from AliExpress, it can be had for around $570.
Not available on Amazon.com currently, but we found it on Amazon.co.uk for UK customers for £619. However, that’s a good £120 more than AliExpress charges for the same phone.
Value score: 4/5
Ulefone Armor 18T design
As rugged phone designs go, the 18T is rather stylish, avoiding some of the travel case aesthetics emblazoned on other products.
By bevelling the edge all around, the 18T is easy to pick up, and the angled slots on the underside make it easy to hold even when wet.
To achieve waterproofing sufficient for submersion, two rubber plugs protect the USB-C port on the bottom edge and a 3.5mm audio jack on the top.
You can avoid disturbing the USB-C one if you use wireless charging, and the audio jack one can also be avoided if you have Bluetooth headphones.
The button selection and positions are what we’ve come to expect on rugged Chinese designs, with a combined thumbprint reader/power button and volume rocker on the right and a user-customisable button together with the SIM tray on the left.
The SIM tray can take either two NANO SIMs or a single SIM and a MicroSD card, which isn’t ideal.
The one special external feature that it shares with the 17 Pro is an accessory pogo-pin style connector, designated as the uSmart connector, on the bottom left. Previously we criticised this aspect because attaching an accessory requires the removal of a screw that can be easily misplaced.
This mechanism is implemented exactly the same on the 18T, and it makes the likelihood that once an accessory is attached, like the endoscope or microscope, it will be left connected permanently. This needs a redesign so accessories can be snapped on and off easily and without needing a screwdriver.
Our only other comment about the design is related to the camera cluster, as it is positioned to the very left on the back. For those used to not having the camera in the middle, this is probably fine, but we did have some issues with fingers straying into the shots.
Overall, the accessory port aside, the design of the 18T is good, and it sells the go-anywhere ethos of this device admirably.
At just over 400g, it’s also one of the lighter designs, especially when compared to some of the big battery designs we’ve seen recently.
Design score: 4/5
Ulefone Armor 18T hardware
High spec platform
Decent battery size
The UleFone Power Armor 18T that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 900 GPU: Arm Mali-G68 MC4 RAM: 12GB LPDDR4X Storage: 256GB Screen: 6.58-inch IPS LCD Resolution: 1080 x 2408 FHD+ SIM: Dual Nano SIM, or single SIM and microSDXC Weight: 409g Dimensions: 175.2 x 83.4 x 18.8 mm Rugged Spec: IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD-810H Rear cameras: 108MP Samsung HM2, 5 MP Samsung S5K5E9 Macro sensor, FLIR Lepton 3.5 Thermal camera, 5MP Auxiliary Imaging Camera Front camera: 32MP Samsung S5KGD1 Sensor (wide) Networking: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 Comms: 2G, 3G, LTE, 4G, 5G OS: Android 12 Battery: 9600 mAh
There is a schism developing in rugged phone designs, where the lower budget phones are using the Helio G series SoCs, and then devices like the 18T are moving to the next level with the Dimensity chips, all made by MediaTek.
The 18T uses the Dimensity 900, an SoC with a great combination of performance and efficiency cores blended with a capable GPU and 5G comms.
While this is great compared to the Helio G99, for example, it doesn’t quite meet the performance levels of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G, but it is substantially better than the 765G.
In short, for most users, the 18T has more than enough power for the majority of applications and provides a smooth user experience. To make moving between apps, the 18T comes with a very healthy 12GB of RAM, and this can be expanded by another 5GB borrowed from storage by enabling ‘memory expansion’ mode in the settings.
The screen is a good quality 6.58-inch IPS panel with a natural resolution of 1080 x 2408, a size that Ulefone decided to market as FHD+, despite that being 2220 x 1080 pixels.
We’ve seen many odd screen resolutions recently aimed at providing extra vertical pixels to accommodate the inclusion of the forward camera or Android interface elements.
It’s enough to show 1080p videos without borders. If the software has been configured to offer that in ‘full screen’ mode, it can also operate at 120Hz.
With rugged phones, battery life is usually of interest to the customers, and here Ulefone gave the 18T a decent 9600 mAh of capacity. Some phones around have more than twice this amount of battery, but they’re much heavier and less convenient to carry.
Compared with other Ulefone designs, this is more than the 17 Pro offers (5380 mAh) and identical to that in the 16 Pro.
The quoted standby is 524 hours, 39 hours of calling, 22 hours of video and 15 hours of gaming. Those numbers are fractionally down on those of the 16 Pro, but the processing power in the 18T is substantially greater.
This capacity is enough battery for at least four days of use, and with curation, a week is a plausible objective.
But what elevates this design is that Ulefone gave this phone 66W charging, allowing it to recover 52% of its battery capacity in 30 minutes. Wireless charging is four times slower.
Using the OTG technology in the USB-C port, the 18T can supply up to 5W charging to other devices, which is useful for earbuds and other chargeable accessories.
We should also mention that the WiFi 6 support is much better than WiFi 5 if you have a router that supports the newer technology. The dual Band GPS is also very accurate, but the real stand-out technology in the 18T is the cameras that we’ll cover next.
The HM2 is a very popular choice for rugged designs now, as it’s a massive 108MP 1/1,52” sensor that includes Samsung’s ISOCELL Plus and Smart-ISO technology.
It is possible to take massive 108MP images if you are prepared to forego any special modes. But where this sensor really shines is when you drop to 12MP mode. In this reduced resolution, the sensor uses 9-in-1 pixel binning technology to effectively enhance the sensor pixels from 0.7μm to 2.1 μm, providing remarkably clear and colour-accurate results.
In this phone, it can also take 4K video, although all video is restricted to 30fps, sadly.
Alongside that sensor is a 5MP microlens camera that has a 60x super magnification mode. Our only reservation about this feature is that it is rather difficult to use if the item you wish to look at in detail isn’t flat, as it can’t autofocus. Our examples include a couple of macro shots, one of a coin and the other of a banknote, and the coin was much more difficult to achieve.
However, the flagship camera feature on this phone is the FLIR Lepton 3.5 sensor, and it has a separate application to grab thermal imaging data as photos or videos.
It can also take thermal time-lapses if you need to see how the temperature of something changes over time. There is even a feature that allows the FLIR sensor to stream a live video over YouTube, which might be useful for remotely monitoring an experiment.
While not the most important part, the front 32MP camera is decent quality and can capture 1080p video
Overall, the camera side of the 18T has some remarkably strong aspects, and the results are usually excellent.
Image 1 of 17
Image 2 of 17
Image 3 of 17
Image 4 of 17
Image 5 of 17
Image 6 of 17
Image 7 of 17
Image 8 of 17
Image 9 of 17
Image 10 of 17
Image 11 of 17
Image 12 of 17
Image 13 of 17
Image 14 of 17
Image 15 of 17
Image 16 of 17
Image 17 of 17
Camera score: 4/5
Ulefone Armor 18T performance
Game capable SoC
Lacks Widevine L1 encryption
Power and efficiency
This is how the Ulefone Armor 18T performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
We’ve seen these numbers on the Doogee V30 that uses the same SoC, and they looked very good then.
It eclipses the Helio G99-powered phones and is remarkably close to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chips used in the Nokia X30 and Huawei Honor X9a.
Octo-core SoCs are usually strong at multi-thread tests but less impressive at single-task challenges. But in the Dimensity 900, the dual 2.5GHz Cortex-A78 performance cores deliver excellent single-thread performance. And, for power efficiency, it has
six lower-clocked Cortex-A55 cores built to achieve excellent results in multi-threaded scenarios.
Compared to the MediaTek Helio G99 phones like its Power Amor 17 Pro brother, the 18T is around 30% faster at single-thread tests and up to 25-30% better at multi-threaded.
Probably the biggest difference is created by the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU, as it is at least 40% faster than the Mali-G57 MC2 used in the G99 designs and up to 80% in the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark.
This makes the Dimensity 900 in the 18T much more suitable for gaming and smooth video playback of even 4K files. However, this phone doesn’t support Widevine L1 encryption, and the best resolution you will get from Netflix and Disney+ will be 480p, unfortunately.
Performance score: 4/5
Ulefone Armor 18T battery
Decent 9600 mAh capacity
66W Fast charging
15W Wireless charging
People expect a rugged phone to have a decent battery capacity since the great outdoors doesn’t usually have power sockets on each tree.
The built-in lithium-ion polymer cell offering 9600mAh is enough for a weeklong trek with some restraint and last at least four days of normal use.
That is the same capacity as the 16 Pro, but given this device's performance and 5G capability, it doesn’t quite go as far when used in the 18T. The 524 hours of standby is just four hours less than the 16 Pro manages, but the talk time drops more dramatically from 52 hours to 39 hours, confusingly.
But conversely, the 16 Pro only had 18W charging (10W on the pogo pin base), whereas the 18T has 66W over USB-C and 15W wireless charging.
That makes it much easier to get the 18T fully charged, and overnight it can happily use wireless charging, something the 16 Pro didn’t offer.
For those wanting a massive battery, like the 22000 mAh on the Doogee V Max or Unihertz Tank, the 9600 mAh in the 18T might seem relatively modest. But it's more than enough for most jobs, and including it didn’t make this phone excessively heavy.
Battery score: 4/5
There is plenty to like in the Ulefone Power Armor 18T, as this is easily the most impressive rugged phone from this brand we’ve seen so far.
It’s well made, able to take the knocks and environment, has enough battery for days away from civilisation and has some remarkably high-quality sensors.
Our only concern is that in adding all the wonderful features that Ulefone included that they’ve elevated the price to a point where it’s beyond the budget of many 2nd phone buyers.
If you can budget this much for a phone specifically for wilderness trips, working on a construction site, or vehicle repair, then the Ulefone Power Armor 18T is worth some proper consideration.
Yesterday a report from South Korea claimed Samsung is restarting its own high-end CPU core development unit and will have custom processor cores by 2027. However, now company representatives reached out to us to refute that report.
Here is the full quote:
A recent media report that Samsung has established an internal team dedicated to CPU core development is not true. Contrary to the news, we have long had multiple internal teams responsible for CPU development and optimization while constantly recruiting global talents from relevant fields.
The statement also indicated that Samsung...
The Lenovo ThinkPad P16 is certainly not your average laptop. This massive mobile workstation is not designed for quick runs to the coffee shop or virtual meetings (although it is more than capable of doing this) but for much more. The ThinkPad P16 was created as a high-end workstation that can fit in a lap or on a table, but also be semi-portable while ripping through whatever tests you throw at it.
Unboxing this laptop was fairly similar compared to other laptops outside of one main factor - weight. The ThinkPad P16 weighs 6.5 lbs / 2.95 kg and is 1.2 inches thick, making it almost 2.5x the weight of a MacBook Air M1, our primary workhorse for hardware reviews at TechRadar Pro. Other than the laptop, the box included a relatively large charging brick for the computer, and some essential documentation.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
Once we booted up the ThinkPad P16, we were astonished at how snappy it was. Everything started quickly, even navigating through settings to connect to WiFi, download updates, and install benchmark software. As mentioned, this laptop's sheer weight and size is obvious, but we understand that this laptop is not designed to be one that you take for a quick run to the coffee shop or to surf from the couch.
Design and Build Quality
Along with its large size, the Lenovo ThinkPad P16 is also a powerhouse under the hood. The casing is sturdy and feels durable, though a lighter shade than the standard matte black we have seen in other ThinkPad models.
There is a full-size keyboard with a full numeric keypad on the right. Further, we noticed a TrackPoint mini joystick, a trackpad, and three physical mouse buttons above the trackpad. There are ports on the laptop's right, left, and backside, facing away from the user. The left side has a USB-A Port, a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a nano-sim card slot. The right side houses an SD Card reader, an optional smart card reader, and a USB-A port. The back of the laptop has two Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port, and a power port.
The keyboard is incredibly comfortable to type on for long writing sessions, and the multiple pointing tool options make interacting with this computer a breeze. Having used it for a week to test, we could comfortably use this laptop for an entire day of work without feeling like we wanted to reach for something else.
Every time we booted up the ThinkPad P16, we were astonished at its power. Obviously, for spreadsheets, emails, and basic uses, the P16 is absolute overkill. However, this portable workstation can show its true strength for more complex creative or design projects and workflows.
During our PCMark testing, the P16 scored 7651 on the extended test, meaning that compared to other portable workstations, it stacks up well - not the absolute fastest, but it is close. While pushing the laptop during benchmark testing, the internal fans kept the laptop relatively cool. And, while we won't frequently have this on our lap, it is good to know that if we want to, we can without cooking our legs.
The focus of this laptop is the raw power under the hood. However, another massive asset to the ThinkPad P16p is the amount of security built into every aspect of the computer. We can sign in with Windows Hello using the integrated fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, or smart card reader.
Looking at this laptop's physical aspects, we were struck by the beautiful matte finish. Upon opening and booting up the computer, we were impressed with the display's brightness, and even during the middle of the day, we could easily see every area on our screen. The keyboard made typing easy and comfortable, even for extended periods, and we also loved how easy the trackpad was to use. We're not used to having three trackpad buttons, though it can benefit specific applications and use cases. The Lenovo ThinkPad P16 also has a TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard for more input options.
For those looking for even more power, the compartment adding and swapping RAM is easy to access on the laptop's underside. Additionally, Lenovo has integrated several performance modes to fine-tune how the computer will direct its power. These performance mode ranges can extend the battery life at the cost of some power or boost the power by using extra power and more.
This impressive portable workstation can power through nearly any task thrown at it. The P16 was on or near the top in every test we ran, and while it may not be the laptop you grab for a quick meeting at a coffee shop, it can be the one you grab to knock out intense creative tasks, 3D modeling, and the like.
The parallels between the Unihertz Tank and the Doogee V Max that we reviewed recently are stark. Both are large and heavy devices, offering a 22000 mAh battery and a high degree of protection from the environment.
But where Doogee went for the higher ground with the Dimensity 1080 SoC and 5G comms, the Unihertz Tank went for a more price-sensitive Helio G99 and got 4G functionality.
For those that don’t play games or have access to 5G services, the difference between them is much less, and the Tank is $90 less for a long operating life away from a power socket.
The Tank comes with a 66W charger that can fill that enormous battery with power in relatively short order.
As feature sets go, the Tank has an excellent one. Along with the Helio G99 SoC, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, this phone also sports a 108MP primary phone sensor, a 20MP night vision camera, 32MP selfie front camera and an incredibly bright Camping Lamp.
That last feature is a unique extra that can output 1200 lumens of light to illuminate a whole room or forest clearing, depending on what you are trying to achieve. We could see this being remarkably useful in the event of a vehicle accident at night, where other traffic needs to be aware of a stopped vehicle that might have lost power.
The Camping Lamp is just one of the unique features available in the Unihertz Toolbox app. These include a compass, basic flashlight, magnifier, bubble level, plumb bob, protractor, pressure gauge, height measure, speedometer, heart rate monitor, alarm and pedometer, amongst others.
This app talks very much to the customer Unihertz is looking to buy this device, who might be a building contractor or outdoor adventurer, or anyone who doesn’t wish to endanger their premium phone with water, dust or being dropped.
While the features in this phone are generally good, the two issues here are that this is a very large and heavy device that isn’t easy to pocket. And, the asking price is at the high end of what is essentially a 2nd phone that might be reasonably expected to cost.
If you have a particular project in the jungle or desert and do not want to take your Samsung or Apple phone to that party, then the Unihertz Tank is a credible, if slightly pricey, choice.
Where can you get it? Directly from Unihertz and through online retailers
According to Unihertz, the Tank was priced at $399, but it is now $30 cheaper at $369.99 direct from the makers. Those prices do not include local sales tax, it should be noted.
It appears that there are four different models, one each for the US, EU, Canada and Others (Asia, Oceania and UK), but the cost is the same for all.
It only comes in black, so there is no choice of colour scheme.
We found the same phone on Aliexpress and other online retailers, but the price was broadly similar.
For US customers, the Tank is unlocked for all carriers, but for some, like Verizon, the phone isn’t officially certified.
Value score: 4/5
Unihertz Tank design
Two custom buttons
Rugged phones can all look rather similar since there is only a limited direction that designers can go when presented with a large screen, cameras and battery to package.
Like the Doogee V Max, the Tank has slopes on the sides underneath to make it easier to pick up, but that won’t actually help if your wrist doesn’t like supporting 560g of dead weight.
For viewing videos, a stand would be a helpful accessory to own.
The button layout on the Tank is a little odd, as it has two programmable buttons on the left side. One, picked out in red, is in the middle, and the other is reset, making it almost invisible, on the top left.
That second position is the standard location for the SIM tray, and to accommodate this difference, the tray has been moved to the top. It takes a Nano SIM on each side, but this phone has no MicroSD card option at all.
But back to the buttons. As much as having custom buttons on the phone can be useful, the lack of thinking that went into these is depressing. A good example is that it is possible to set the flashlight to come on with one of the buttons, either with a quick press, long press or double action. But there is no accompanying action to turn it off, inconveniently.
This function only turns the ‘flash’ LED on, not the much bigger Camping Light, which is annoyingly inaccessible using the custom buttons.
When you eventually discover how to turn it on, the Camping Light is impressive since it reputedly outputs 1200 lumens of light. That’s enough to provide illumination of a relatively large area, much greater than a typical phone flashlight mode might achieve. It might be perfect for camping, but this light is so bright that if you look into it, even briefly, you’re effectively blind for the next few minutes.
It’s also only accessible through the Toolkit application and not accessible through the Android OS.
The light is an exciting feature and not one we’ve seen on a rugged phone before, but the implementation is less than ideal.
What impressed us more was that access to the USB-C charging port is good, as it uses a large rubber plug to keep water and dust out, and this location also has a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones.
Overall, the Tank offers very solid construction, unsurprisingly, though how features like the Camping Light and custom buttons were approached could have been better.
Design score: 3/5
Unihertz Tank hardware
Big battery size
The Unihertz Tank that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
CPU: MediaTek Helio G99 / Octa Core / 2.0-2.2 GHz / 6nm / 4G GPU: ARM Mali-G57 MC2 RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X Storage: 256GB UFS 2.2 Screen: 6.81-inch IPS LCD Resolution: 1080 x 2340 SIM: Dual Nano SIM Weight: 560g Dimensions: 175.6 × 85.30 × 23.9 mm Rugged Spec: IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD-810H Rear cameras: 108MP Main Camera + 20MP Night Vision Camera Front camera: SONY 32MP Front Camera Networking: WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.3 OS: Android 12 Battery: 22000 mAh
We will talk more about the Helio G99 used in this phone in the performance section, but as SoC packages go, it is one of the better and more capable options available.
When combined with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.2 storage, it makes for a highly responsive experience, even if you load lots of apps onto Android 12.
The considerable 6.81-inch IPS LCD screen is bright and crisp, even if it’s a slightly odd 1080 x 2340 resolution. The only issue we noticed with this was that when using YouTube and playing 1080p content, the frame is scaled when there is sufficient resolution to present it fully.
This phone, like most Chinese phones, doesn’t support Widevine L1, so the maximum supported resolution on most of the big streaming services is limited to 480p, sadly.
Leaving the 108MP main camera sensor to later, the two headline features of this phone are the massive 22000 mAh battery and the unique Camping Lamp on the rear.
We saw a battery this big previously in the Doogee V Max, and in that phone, it is the dominant feature of that design. It makes the Tank ideal for long camping adventures where mains power is unlikely to be available, as the phone can operate for more than a week without conserving power.
The downside of this battery is the weight that it adds, bringing the Tank to a stout 560g, another 17g more than the V Max.
With this much battery and reverse changing functionality, it is possible to use the Tank as a power bank for other devices.
Where massive batteries are available elsewhere, the camping lamp is something we’ve not previously seen. This LED panel on the underside of the phone can output up to 1200 lumens of illumination in a space that is approximately 15 square centimetres.
That much light coming from a 55-inch TV is bright. But compressed into a small trapezium-shaped panel, it is way too much for the human retina to handle comfortably close up.
When you are not blinding yourself, the light will illuminate to a decent range in complete darkness, and when combined with the battery, the light can remain on for a long time.
One feature missing from this phone that is typically included is a MicroSD card position in the SIM tray. Therefore, the 256GB of storage that comes with this phone is as much as it will ever have, as no MicroSD expansion is possible.
The Tank is the third phone we’ve seen sporting the 108MP Samsung S5KHM2 main sensor in the past month. And given some of the results we’ve seen, it is understandable why phone makers are flocking to this option.
Taking up to 12000 x 8992 resolution pictures is impressive, although this resolution must be traded down to 12MP if you want PRO controls or special modes.
Of the phones with this sensor, some offer 4K video, and others do not, and unfortunately, this one limits video capture to 1440p.
It also gets stuck with the same limitations of frame rate we’ve seen elsewhere. Irrespective of video capture resolution, the frame rate is locked at 30fps.
Overall, image quality is good from the full 108MP mode, 12MP feature and video.
The only exception to this is the low-light capability, as alongside the main sensor, Unihertz included a 20MP Sony night vision sensor that uses infrared illumination to create artificial daylight in complete darkness.
Alternatively, the Camping Lamp can be turned on, which works like a portable ‘Sun Gun’ device used by broadcast news cameramen.
That does assume that you are using these features to take photos and not just wander around a forest at night without injury, where you might find the Camping Lamp more useful.
The story of the Unihertz Tank and its cameras is a familiar one, where some excellent sensors were used but then not fully exploited by the software compiled for the phone.
Not to say that it can’t take excellent photographs, but with some attention to detail, it could have taken even better ones with fewer limitations on modes and frame rates.
Image 1 of 9
Image 2 of 9
Image 3 of 9
Image 4 of 9
Image 5 of 9
Image 6 of 9
Image 7 of 9
Image 8 of 9
Image 9 of 9
Camera score: 4/5
Unihertz Tank performance
An effective SoC
GPU overtook by Dimensity
This is how the Unihertz Tank performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
If this phone had appeared earlier, perhaps we’d be celebrating its performance more than we are now. The Helio G99 is a great SoC that combines some high performance with excellent power efficiency, and it crushes all the other chips in the MediaTek G series.
However, MediaTek also makes the Dimensity series, and the 900 and now 1080 derivatives run rings around the G series devices.
Other than some subtle clock speed changes, mostly on the two Cortex-A76 cores, the big difference between the G99 and the Dimensity 900 is the GPU, where the Ulefone Armor 18T can call on the Mali-G68 MC4, whereas the G99 only has the ARM Mali-G57 MP2.
Using 3DMark benchmarks to gauge the differences, the Wild Life test scores 1350 on the G99-powered Unihertz Tank and 2198 on the Dimensity 900 imbued Doogee Armor 18T.
The performance divergence on single thread problems is less, but the G99 is an inferior design to the Dimensity 900 and 1080.
But, compared with the other G and P series SoCs from MediaTek, the performance is very good, and this phone is markedly cheaper than the Dimensity using designs like the Doogee V30, Ulefone Armor 18T and Doogee V Max.
Unless you play intensive 3D titles, you are unlikely to notice the difference because this phone has enough power, memory and storage to deliver a good user experience.
Performance score: 4/5
Doogee V Max battery
66W Fast charging
No Qi charging
One mistake that we noticed on the Doogee V Max is thankfully not repeated here, as this phone can take 66W charging, allowing the 22000 mAh battery to get a full charge rapidly.
That’s twice the inflow of the V Max, and this design can go from empty to full in around 2.5 hours and 90% in less than two.
With the battery full, the phone should easily last a week's regular use, and for those that don’t check their phones every few minutes, potentially double that timescale.
If you intend to power splurge, the battery can keep the 1200-lumen Camping Lamp lit for 6 hours, and you can make a call that lasts for six days.
As the USB-C is bidirectional, the Tank can be used to recharge other phones and even laptops.
The only disappointing aspect of the battery on this phone is that Unihertz didn’t bother to provide it with wireless charging.
There is some logic to the lack of wireless charging since the best Qi charging tops out at about 20W, meaning it would take a very long time to charge this battery using wireless transfer.
Battery score: 4/5
The whole premise of this design is ‘2nd phone’, since there is little about this design that would make anyone carry it on a daily basis. For worksite appearances and jungle adventures, it’s a credible proposition, but $370 for a secondary device isn’t an impulse buy.
The battery life and camera on this phone are both good, but are they wonderful enough to holster such a cumbersome piece of gear? We have our doubts.
I was excited to get my Acer Chromebook 515 review unit - one which skews the Chromebook formula by stirring in the adjective ‘big’. After all, Acer and Chromebooks go hand in hand. The company has probably the widest catalogue of ChromeOS devices and isn’t afraid to apply slightly more adventurous designs, like that of the Chromebook Spin line, to a product category that’s usually pretty dull.
We’re even more excited (and a little surprised, too) to find out it’s actually decent. Part of that quality comes from its internals. Yes, a package of 11th-gen Core i3, 128GB SSD, and 8GB RAM might seem a little lacking in a regular £449 (around $550 / AU$790) laptop, but put it to work powered by the ChromeOS, and it’s enough to make it really fly. This is a machine that rarely feels like it’s trying too hard, and there’s a Core i5 version (which may even be available for a very similar price) if you feel you’re going to need to push it harder.
Then there’s the 15.3” screen that, while probably at the bottom of the pile as far as IPS displays go, is plenty visible, can be dialled up to a decent brightness, and is one of the largest you’ll find on a Chromebook - at least until Acer decides the bananas 17” Chromebook 715 is due a refresh.
The full-sized keyboard is a luxury even if it’s squashed enough to make acclimatisation a little tricky. The battery is huge and will easily see you through an entire day’s work. It’s solidly built, feels sturdy on the lap or on the desk, its speakers are absolutely fine, and the hinge is basically wobble-free. The Acer Chromebook 515 is just a good laptop that happens to run ChromeOS, which somehow makes it better.
I won’t claim that it comes without annoyances. It’s great having a pair of USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one on either side of the chassis, but the omission of an Ethernet socket on a machine that’s very much aimed towards business deployment seems pretty bone-headed. The Chromebook 515’s webcam is absolutely terrible, a similarly confusing choice on a machine that’ll presumably be used for video conferences. Its screen struggles with colour reproduction and can feel a little fuzzy on the eyes. And it’s big (which is kind of the point) but heavy with it, meaning it’ll make an impact on your bag.
Still, as Chromebooks go - and it’s a bar that’s rising ever higher - this is a very solid option.
Acer Chromebook 515: Price and availability
Cheap enough in the UK - but the Core i5 version might be just as cheap
Pricier in the US
Tricky to find in Australia
Acer Chromebook 515: SPECS
Here is the Acer Chromebook 515 configuration sent to TechRadar for review: CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 Processor (Dual core, 3.0 GHz) Graphics: Intel Iris Xe RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X Screen: 15.6" IPS Full HD (1920x1080) non-touch Storage: 128GB SSD Optical drive: None Ports: 2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, audio combo jack, microSD reader, fingerprint sensor Connectivity: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0 Camera: 720p webcam Weight: 3.02 pounds (1.37 kg) Size: 8.7 x 12.7 x 0.7 inches (22 x 32.3 x 1.9 cm; W x D x H)
In the UK, the Core i3 version of the Acer Chromebook 515 appears to be exclusive to Currys’ business vertical, priced at £449. Its upgraded Core i5 cousin is also a Currys exclusive, with an MSRP of £549, though you’ll likely find it cheaper - as I write it’s discounted to £457.50, and given the processor upgrade and doubled storage, we’d probably lean in that direction if the price is still right.
US readers won’t find these precise specs in local stores; Amazon and the like stock an otherwise identical Core i5 spin, which starts at a probably-too-expensive $729. In Australia, you may be able to find a Core i3 version for AU$727, though it’s not clear whether Acer officially stocks it on southern shores.
Larger Chromebooks like this are a rarity, so it’s hard to compare the Acer Chromebook 515 against a direct competitor. If you can cope with a little less screen real estate, Acer’s own Chromebook Spin 713 offers significantly more luxury and flexibility for $699 / £599 / around AU$980; in the US, it’s absolutely a better option. There’s also the slightly smaller Acer Chromebook 514, which cuts screen size and excises the numerical pad, but otherwise offers a similar level of specs.
Value: 4 / 5
Acer Chromebook 515: Design
Large screen leaves room for a big keyboard
Ports aren’t perfect
The Acer Chromebook 515 is an unashamedly business-focused machine and has the design to match. There’s a full-sized keyboard (with an asterisk) featuring a number pad perfect for long days spent battling Google Sheets; that asterisk, at least on the UK version reviewed here, refers to its tiny Return key and slightly narrowed numpad. Neither are deal breakers, and one’s fingers get used to them quickly. But the transition from a proper keyboard can be slightly jarring.
Thankfully, the typing action is consistent and, if not deep, at least very definite. The off-centre positioning of the Gorilla Glass-covered trackpad means there’s plenty of space to rest one’s palms. As Chromebooks go (and they usually go far smaller), this may be the most comfortable keyboard experience going.
Obviously, the size of a laptop base tends to be proportional to the size of its screen, and the Acer Chromebook 515 doesn’t skimp on panel inches nor on the size of its chin bezel - it’s a chunky one, and reasonably heavy with it.
Whether you’ll love its 15.3” 1080p display, though, is dependent on how accurately you need to be able to interpret colours. I’s an IPS panel, though one with a relatively limited golden viewing angle and a slightly fizzy, washed-out look to it. I found it, again, comfortable - at least in the intended context of work - but disappointing when watching video.
Looks-wise, as befits a business machine, this is almost entirely unexciting, though Acer has tucked in a couple of pretty concessions. The chassis is a dark muted grey, but hold it at the right angle, and you’ll spot just a hint of glittery sparkle. A white backlight picks out the keyboard beautifully as well. Plus, there’s a fingerprint reader and a physical slide-over cover to block the webcam - though it should be noted that it doesn’t actually disable the camera itself.
Image 1 of 2
Image 2 of 2
Port distribution is clever with a USB 3.2 Type-C port on either side, even though you’re restricted to a single Type-A port, and you’ll need to rely on a dongle for Ethernet as there’s no built-in network port.
Design: 3.5 / 5
Acer Chromebook 515: Performance
Smooth performance that barely stutters
Android apps are functional but not fantastic
Here's how the Acer Chromebook 515 performed in our suite of benchmark tests: Mozilla Kraken: 647.7ms Speedometer: 280 runs/minute JetStream 2: 162.031
Running ChromeOS isn’t the biggest challenge for a laptop, but Google’s web-first OS is often paired with some less-than-capable budget hardware - a combination which somehow makes it look a lot more difficult than it is and leaves a bad taste in many mouths.
No such bitterness here: at no point did the 11th-gen Core i3 inside my review unit feel lacking in desktop use. An SSD as opposed to eMMC is a treat - file manipulation here is far swifter than on some lesser Chromebooks. Its generous-enough 8GB RAM keeps up even with a large number of tabs open, and Wi-Fi 6 ensures connectivity stays speedy and the Chromebook 515’s wireless reach is very decent.
The benchmark results back this up – while they’re not the very highest we’ve seen, they’re more than acceptable. This is a machine, which crosses the line between power and price, that somehow scores on both fronts. It’s a pleasure to use. Even the speakers keep up - they’re not mind-blowing, and the fact that they’re downfirers means they won’t work well on every surface, but they’re perfectly competent.
That said, it’s maybe not quite meaty enough to convincingly deal with Android translation. The games I tried were mostly slick, though suffered from occasional hitches and slowdown - ironically, you’ll want to go for the kind of ARM hardware that makes ChromeOS feel terrible (or use something like BlueStacks on a Windows machine) if you’re really looking for a laptop which can run Android.
Given its supposed business credentials, it’s hard to forgive the Chromebook 515’s 720p webcam. It’s awful. At least its fuzzy, dark image smooths out your rough edges, I suppose.
Now, there’s not really a way to get through a Chromebook review without a critique of ChromeOS itself, and so I must (by law) include one here. Being confined to what is essentially a limited walled garden of software may not suit every use case. This isn’t a machine for gaming; it’s not one that can run full-fat Windows apps or (at least without a little tinkering) Linux software. It’s a web browser in a box.
But heck, if your business runs Google apps by default, this might be one of the most easy-to-manage laptop platforms there is. If you just want a machine to help you thumb through Twitter, Reddit and TechRadar while you’re sat on the couch, the massive screen of the Acer Chromebook 515 makes it a comfortable option. ChromeOS isn’t the barrier it once was.
Performance: 4.5 / 5
Acer Chromebook 515: Battery life
Lasts a decent amount of time…
…though ChromeOS seems to have no idea how long that’ll be
To say the Chromebook 515 has shockingly good battery life would be a little disingenuous. I was surprised it lasted as long as it did, but it’s not the kind of twelve-hour performer you might find elsewhere in the Chromebook world.
While it’s obviously going vary depending on the kind of work you’re doing - and tasks like video playback do tend to drain it a little quicker - there’s almost no way that this won’t see you through a full day, particularly if you can convince yourself to dial down the brightness a little. Acer claims it should reach up to ten hours on a charge; expect eight and a half.
Do bear in mind that ChromeOS’ battery life estimations are wildly inaccurate, seeming to vary by the minute and may in fact be entirely fictitious. But even if you never quite have a clue how long you have remaining, the battery here is entirely acceptable. USB Type-C charging just seals the deal.
Battery life: 4 / 5
Should I buy the Acer Chromebook 515?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
If our Acer Chromebook 515 review has you considering other options, here are two more to consider...
Acer Chromebook 515: Report card
First reviewed February 2023
How I tested the Acer Chromebook 515
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.
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is finally here, and it is worth the wait.
First introduced back in early 2022 with the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D, AMD's 3D V-Cache technology has proven itself to be an incredible value-add for Team Red that makes AMD's chips seriously competitive against even the best Intel processors.
Even with the non-3D V-Cache variant of AMD's flagship processor, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, you were getting a seriously powerful chip that made a worthy rival for the i9-13900K, but the extra gaming performance that 3D V-Cache brings to the table is something to see in action, and it really is AMD's not-so-secret weapon here — especially if you're playing esports titles at 1080p where the speed of the processor is far more important than having the best graphics card.
Even more surprising was the improved creative performance that 3D V-Cache brings to the 7950X3D. I had to retest the 7950X3D's video encoding performance three times to confirm my results because they were so unexpectedly excellent, making it the best processor for video editing work not called Threadripper.
To top it all off, AMD pulls a rabbit out of the hat with the 7950X3D and manages to squeeze significantly better performance at a lower TDP than either the 7950X or the 13900K.
Still, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D is an expensive chip, clocking in at $699 (about £650/AU$1,150). That's the same price as the base Ryzen 9 7950X when it launched back in September 2022, so on the plus side, you're not pay more for the added features in the 7950X3D. Like the 7950X, though, you're still going to have to upgrade to a new AM5 motherboard and DDR5 RAM if you haven't already, which can make this a prohibitively expensive upgrade for some.
Still, when you look at everything on balance, this is arguably the best processor available right now, especially if you're a PC gamer, and it's one that I simply can't see Intel rivaling this generation — 3D V-Cache is just that good.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D: Price & availability
Same price as the Ryzen 9 7950X
Intel Core i9-13900K is still cheaper
Upgrade to AM5 might be very expensive
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is available globally as of February 28, 2023, and will cost you $699 in the US. We don't have UK and Australia pricing yet, but it will likely run about the same as the MSRP for the Ryzen 9 7950X, which is £649 / AU$1,139. This also makes it more expensive than the Intel Core i9-13900K, which has an MSRP of $589 / £699 / AU$929.
When you factor in the cost of upgrading to the new AM5 platform, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D only makes sense if you are upgrading from an AMD Zen 3 or 11th-gen Intel processor or earlier, since you'll need to buy a whole new setup to get a newer processor from either brand. If you've got a 12th-gen Intel chip, though, making the jump to the AM5 platform for this processor alone is going to be a pricey upgrade.
Price score: 3.5 / 5
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D: Chipset & features
3D V-Cache comes to Zen 4
Better power efficiency
As far as the chip itself, there isn't a whole lot of difference between this processor and its non-3D sibling in terms of architecture, so if you want more of a deep dive into AMD Zen 4, definitely check out my AMD Ryzen 9 7950X review for further info.
For brevity's sake, I'll keep things to the three major differences between the two chips. For starters, there is obviously 3D V-Cache on the 7950X3D, which slaps a extra slab of cache memory across one of the compute dies in the chip package, adding 64MB L3 Cache to the already substantial 80MB that the 7950X had.
Cache is simply a very direct form of working memory that the processor keeps close by for instructions and data that it is using at that very moment. The more cache a processor has, the fewer trips to RAM it needs to make for data or instructions, which greatly improves performance for many common tasks. Generally, more cache is better, and the 7950X3D has more cache than any consumer processor available today.
The other difference in terms of those dies is that not every core has access to this additional V-Cache. The 16 cores are split between two dies: one eight-core die with access to 3D V-Cache at a lower clock frequency, and another eight-core die without the extra cache but with a fully enabled clock speed.
AMD's chip drivers automatically detect if a program or game will benefit from having a faster clock frequency or access to more cache and assigns the process to the cores best suited for the task. In practice, this seems to work very well behind the scenes without any adjustments from the user beyond installing the upgraded drivers when you install the chip, but there still might be some optimizations that need to be worked out, especially when it comes to benchmark tests, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Finally, the last major difference is the lower TDP on the 7950X3D compared to the 7950X (120W to 125W). This is mostly from the lower frequency on the 3D V-Cache cores (as well as some other optimizations), meaning that the 7950X3D can use less power overall to get the same or better performance.
Chipset & features score: 5 / 5
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D: Performance
Best-in-class gaming performance
Runs behind 7950X and 13900K on synthetic tests, but trounces everywhere else
Speaking of performance — boy howdy, this is a hell of a processor. It doesn't always hit the highest score on a given test, and it can often lag 5% to 10% behind the 7950X or i9-13900K on a few synthetic CPU benchmarks like CineBench R23 or Geekbench 5, but that could be chalked up to the pre-release BIOS and chipset drivers I used for testing. Even if that isn't the case, nobody buys a processor to run artificial test suites on it.
When it comes to the real-world performance of the 7950X3D, it will either hold its own against the other two flagship chips in tests like PCMark 10 or it will absolutely wallop its rivals thanks to its considerably bigger cache when gaming or encoding video.
When it comes to the synthetic benchmarks, there's very little difference between the 7950X3D and the 7950X. Both chips are phenomenal multitaskers, and though the 7950X has consistently stronger single core scores than the 7950X3D, the 7950X3D performs better with multi core performance than its non-3D V-Cache counterpart.
When it comes to the Intel Core i9-13900K, it too outperforms the 7950X3D in single core performance, with the 7950X3D running about 12% slower than the 13900K on average. The difference between the two tightens on multicore performance, with the 7950X3D running about 5% slower in multicore on average.
It's a bit of a wash on the more "general" performance tests like PCMark 10, and 3DMark's Time Spy CPU test and PassMark's CPU tests have pretty divergent scores in opposite directions, so are more likely to be outliers than anything.
Going off these numbers alone, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the 7950X3D is on the ropes, but the entire picture changes when moving off the straight synthetic tests into creative and gaming performance.
The Ryzen 9 7950X3D pretty much matches the 7950X in Blender and Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere tests, though it lags a bit in VRay 5 (though not by that much). Where it really shines though is with HandBrake 1.6. This is one of the creative tests we use where we get to measure it's true real-world performance on a creative workload, especially one that is highly CPU dependent.
Here, the 7950X3D encodes a 4K source video file into 1080p@30 at 124 frames per second, which is the fastest I have ever seen any chip other than an AMD Threadripper accomplish. It is nearly 35% faster than the Intel Core i9-13900K, widely considered the best consumer processor for creatives out there, and 36% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X. This latter comparison is the most fascinating since it shows very clearly how much that extra cache memory alone can impact performance.
This difference is even more telling when it comes to gaming performance. Compared to the 7950X, the 7950X3D performs like it is fully one to two generations ahead of its non-3D V-Cache counterpart with roughly 20% to 25% better gaming performance at 1080p. Likewise, when it comes to the Intel Core i9-13900K, the 7950X3D lands about 16% to 19% faster on average, but some games will perform substantially better, and the 7950X3D is never that far behind the 13900K when it does occasionally lose out.
Obviously, the CPU is only one component in the equation of PC gaming performance, and these test results are based on games running at the lowest graphics quality at 1080p with an extremely overpowered graphics card (an RTX 4090) to reduce any fps bottleneck you'll get from the GPU.
Increase the graphics quality to max settings and the resolution to 4K and even the RTX 4090 won't be able to keep up with any of these processors, and the advantage of 3D V-Cache shrinks considerably and eventually you'll find yourself GPU-locked regardless of what CPU you're using.
So, it's important to understand that it is not the only element that matters for your gaming performance, and for a lot of gamers, it might not even be the most important one. But, it's there nonetheless, and its impact can be substantial. Esports players especially will love the 7950X3D, as this chip performs best under the exact conditions most commonly used in competitive esports titles.
What's also so notable about the 7950X3D is that while Intel's latest processors have been outstanding, that performance is far more a function of just throwing power at the problem, literally, than it is some kind of technological magic behind the scenes.
In terms of power draw, the minimum I recorded for the 13900K is a meager 2.882W, and it could hover around this for hours if you're not using your computer thanks to its energy efficient big.LITTLE design. Meanwhile, the 7950X3D is still slurping up just over eight times as much power as a baseline.
On the other hand, when a game like Total War: Warhammer III is running, energy efficiency on the 13900K goes right out the window and you start getting power draw above 330W just for the processor. This allows the 13900K to eek out up to 68 more fps than the 7950X3D (or 532 minimum fps for the 13900K to the 7950X3D's 464 minimum fps), but it literally needs almost 2.5 times as much power to accomplish this.
And that's for the best gaming performance the 13900K scored against the 7950X3D among the games we tested. In a game like Returnal, which is a sophisticated bullet-hell rouge-like with lots of projectile physics needing to be calculated every frame, the 7950X3D can outperform the 13900K by as much as 61% and do so with substantially less power.
When trying to come to an overall assessment of these chips' relative performance, it's better to look at the measurable performance gains between chips across different tests. This makes for a much more sensible average when all is said and done than averaging absolute scores where one CPU test with one very large result can badly skew a final average.
By this measure, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D outperforms the 7950X by about 10% and the 13900K by about 6% when I average out all of the degrees of difference between the three chips, across every test. But even then, the demonstrably better performance of the 7950X3D can be somewhat obscured, since Intel especially benefits from much higher synthetic benchmark scores that don't really translate cleanly into actual real-world performance where the 7950X3D is simply the better processor overall.
You also really can't discount the performance-per-watt that you're getting with the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which is at least twice what you'd get with the Intel Core i9-13900K and about 55% better than the 7950X.
Quite simply, AMD does so much more with far less power than either of the competing flagship processors, and you don't have to accept lower performance as a tradeoff. Much more often than not, you're getting a substantially faster processor in practice — especially for gaming — making it very hard to deny the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D its due.
It's simply the best gaming CPU by performance you can buy on the consumer market and that's not likely to change for the rest of this processor generation, at the very least.
Performance: 5 / 5
Should you buy the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
If my AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D review has you considering other options, here are two processors to consider...
How I tested the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
I spent nearly two weeks testing the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
I ran comparable benchmarks between this chip and rival flagship processors
I gamed with this chip extensively
Testing a processor is arguably one of the most involved processes of any component I review because there are so many things to measure and quantify.
Thanks to my extensive computer science background, I have a very clear sense of what is happening inside of a processor and how it is supposed to respond and perform, as well as which tools are best suited to measure these kinds of metrics since this is what I have been doing for nearly a decade now in one form or another.
I use the following tests to measure specific facets of a processor's performance, as described.
Synthetic single and multi-core benchmarks test the performance of specific instruction sets and processor operations like floating-point calculations using benchmark tools like GeekBench, Cinebench, and PassMark.
Creative performance is a measure of how well the processor performs in several popular creative workloads like Handbrake, Blender, and Adobe Photoshop. Where possible, I explicitly disable GPU accelerated operations or test rendering using the CPU by itself.
Gaming performance measures how well the processor calculates gaming operations like in-game physics by running several games' integrated benchmark tools like Returnal, Total War: Warhammer III, and F1 2022. In all cases, I run the benchmarks on the lowest graphics settings available at 1080p and using the most powerful graphics card I have available (in this case, an Nvidia RTX 4090) and with 32GB DDR5 RAM to isolate the actual CPU operations I am testing without having to worry about inteference from excessive memory or graphics management.
Stress testing tools like Cinebench R23 push the processor to its engineered limits in terms of power use and operating temperature, and I use these to make sure that every chip is pushed to full 100% CPU utilization under load to determine the minimum and maximum amount of power the processor uses (measured in watts) and the minimum and maximum temperature recorded (measured in Celsius).
All of these tests are conducted using the same hardware test bench with the same components as much as possible, including the same RAM modules, graphics card, CPU cooler, and M.2 SSD, to ensure that test results are reflective of differences in a processor architecture and performance, rather than reflecting a bottleneck in a different graphics card or SSD, making scores for different processors comparable.
Finally, I make sure that for every processor, I retest competing processors I have already tested and reviewed and I use the latest motherboard BIOS, Windows updates, and driver updates available. This ensures that there havn't been any optimizations, fixes, or security patches that might significantly change a given test's result and I always use the most up-to-date test results when making comparisons.