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MSI Titan 18 HX review: a gaming colossus
8:52 pm | May 2, 2024

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

MSI Titan 18 HX: Two minute review

The MSI Titan 18 HX returns in 2024, reclaiming its title as the best gaming laptop for those looking to splurge on the most over-the-top desktop replacement money can buy.

The Titan 18 HX, like its 2023 predecessor, the MSI GT77 Titan HX, is a $5,000 desktop PC masquerading as a gaming laptop. Clocking in at just under 8 lbs/4kg, you're going to feel this one if you ever have to actually carry it anywhere, and most backpacks out there won't even fit it. This laptop, then, will be relegated to your desk with the occasional trip to another room at most.

While it sacrifices portability, it does come with some absolutely bonkers hardware, including a 175W RTX 4090 mobile GPU, a 95W Intel Core i9-14900HX processor, up to 128GB DDR5 RAM, and up to 4TB SSD storage, with one of its three M.2 SSDs slots being a PCIe 5.0 interface for the best SSD speeds possible (though it doesn't come with a PCIe 5.0 drive, you'll have to provide that yourself). Throw in the world's first 18-inch 120Hz 4K+ mini LED display with 120Hz refresh and HDR1000 certification, and you have the most decadently specced gaming laptops I've ever tested.

And before you say it, mini LED isn't an OLED, I know, but I honestly prefer mini LED displays on gaming laptops, and this one can get you 112% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, so video editors and other creative pros might want to take note of this one as well.

Design-wise, this laptop is an improvement over its predecessor in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it does introduce some grey into the chassis to help break up the super-aggressive gamer black styling of the GT77 Titan HX (and even adds some light blue accent touches to the rear), as well as introducing a seamless trackpad and more refined curves into the keydeck.

The Titan 18 HX's mechanical keyboard, meanwhile, features Cherry MX ultra low-profile switches that are a dream to type on, and the seamless trackpad is adequate for basic use; but as with any gaming laptop, you'll probably want to use the best gaming mouse you have handy while actually gaming.

Given the laptop's size, MSI was able to pack in some powerful speakers that provide a much more immersive audio experience than you'll find on a lot of other laptops. Of course, you'll have to turn the volume up to drown out the whine of the laptop's cooling system, which can get noticeably loud under strain. You can adjust this in the MSI Center, though it will come at the cost of performance.

Speaking of performance, gaming on this laptop is an absolute joy. The very best PC games run buttery smooth at max settings, and while enabling ray tracing at the laptop's native 3840x2400p resolution on some titles will require you to use DLSS upscaling to get a playable framerate at 4K, that's the case with even the best graphics card in a desktop PC.

Still, for the amount of money this laptop will cost you, you could also be forgiven for asking if it's really worth the price. If you're the type to ask such a question, don't worry, it's an easy question to answer: this laptop isn't for you. If you want the absolute best gaming performance in a theoretically portable form factor and money isn't an object for you? Well, you are exactly the person this laptop is designed to cater to, and you won't find many, if any, better gaming laptops on the market than the MSI Titan 18 HX.

MSI Titan 18 HX: Price and availability

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • How much is it? Starting at $4,999.99 / £4,379.98 / AU$6,999
  • When is it available? It is available now.
  • Where can you get it? You can get it in the US, UK, and Australia

The MSI Titan 18 HX is available now in the US, UK, and Australia, starting at $4,999.99 / £4,379.98 / AU$6,999. All configurations come with an Intel Core i9-14900HX processor and 4K+ mini LED display, and the US has two configurations on sale right now. They both feature an Nvidia RTX 4090 mobile GPU and 4TB storage, with the only difference being a choice between 64GB or 128GB RAM.

In the UK, the Titan 18 HX starts with an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and 2TB PCIe 4.0 storage, and goes up as high as an RTX 4090 with 128GB RAM and 4TB storage. In Australia, the Titan 18 HX starts with an RTX 4080 GPU, 32GB RAM, and 2TB storage, and goes up to an RTX 4090, 128GB RAM, and 4TB storage.

In no universe is this a cheap gaming laptop, and it's challenging to think of another 18-inch laptop that goes quite this hard on the specs. Even the Alienware m18 R2 pulls back from a full 4K display, much less 4K+, and tops out at 64GB RAM. Even upping the m18 R2's storage to 8TB with everything else maxed out doesn't even bring you up to the MSI Titan 18 HX's starting price.

Again, I can't stress this enough, only those with the deepest pockets need consider this one.

  • Value: 2.5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Specs

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

This is easily the most obscenely configured gaming laptop I've ever laid hands on, and I wouldn't be surprised if you could still play the latest AAA games at max settings at 4K for the rest of the decade. The hardware will likely physically fail on you before this thing is rendered obsolete when it comes to gaming or high-end performance.

  • Specs: 5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Design

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Gorgeous mini LED display
  • Improved chassis aesthetics
  • Ports galore
  • Low-profile mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches

The MSI Titan 18 HX introduces several improvements over last year's Titan, while generally keeping the fairly Decepticon-like aesthetic that the Titan is known for.

Starting with the sheer size of the thing, it's slightly bigger than its predecessor, a feat I didn't think possible. It also adds about 0.5 lbs to its weight, making it by far the heaviest laptop I've used in at least a decade or more.

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An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Opening it up, you'll find a low-profile mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches for some seriously smooth typing. The trackpad has gone seamless, as well, offering a glassy but responsive surface for your palms and fingertips to glide over. The trackpad itself is responsive, with good feedback, though a gaming mouse or controller is recommended for higher-level precision.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The Titan 18 HX comes loaded with 4x2W up-firing speakers on either side of the keyboard, as well as 2x2W subwoofers for extra bass, all of which work together to create some very rich sound, at least as far as laptop speakers go.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The IR webcam also gets an upgrade over last year's model, now at full HD as opposed to 720p, and features a physical privacy shutter, which you always love to see on a laptop.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The display though is the big feature here with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate on a 3840x2400p mini LED panel that is bright and vibrant. It also has VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification for a fantastic color contrast with deep blacks, and covers 112% of the DCI-P3 color gamut according to our tests.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

In terms of ports, having a chassis this big means you can cram in a lot of ports, and the Titan 18 HX does not disappoint. You get three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports with DP output (with one featuring PD3.1 certification for fast charging devices), one HDMI 2.1 port that can push 120Hz video at 4K, an SDCard slot, an RJ45 ethernet port, and a 3.5mm combo jack. You even get a Kensington lock slot for good measure.

Overall, this is one of the best-looking MSI gaming laptops I've seen this year, and its wealth of features, ports, and more make it a standout device before we even get to its performance.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Performance

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Best-in-class performance
  • Able to hit 60 FPS at 2400p on most games without upscaling
  • Upscaling can get you 60 FPS or better in games with ray tracing turned on

This gaming laptop absolutely puts some of the best gaming PCs to shame with its performance. Its 2400p resolution understandably taxes the hardware when playing high-end games at its native resolution at max settings, but in titles like Assassin's Creed Mirage, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Far Cry 6, the Titan 18 HX is easily able to clear 60 FPS at 4K on its highest settings, and that's not even factoring in any graphics upscaling.

Turn upscaling on, where available, and you can push the limits of the display's refresh rate on most games. If you factor in ray tracing, though, you can get in the neighborhood of 60 FPS or higher with appropriate upscaling, and on games like Cyberpunk 2077, it's an absolute necessity if you want to max everything out and get a better-than-just-playable frame rate. 

Looking at its competitors, though, among the other 18-inch gaming laptops we've tested in our labs so far this year, none can match what the MSI Titan 18 HX brings to the table in terms of performance. The fact its competitors are all limited to 1600p QHD+ displays means that if you want the absolute bleeding edge of what laptop gaming can deliver in terms of 4K visual spectacle, the Titan 18 HX is really your only option.

  • Performance: 5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Battery life

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Terrible battery life, but it'll rarely be on battery power anyway
  • Charging to full will take you a couple of hours

Understandably, battery life is not this laptop's greatest strength, but to call it a weakness is a bit unfair. This is not the kind of laptop you'll use unplugged for any length of time, as you would one of the best ultrabooks or a MacBook Pro.

This is a desktop replacement, so even though its two hours and 40 minutes of battery life while surfing the web is a pretty funny data point for a $5,000 laptop, you'll never actually use the Titan 18 HX this way outside of extremely rare instances. Its bulk will make it difficult to bring it anywhere period, much less somewhere that doesn't have an available wall outlet.

Still, compared to other 18-inch gaming laptops, the Titan 18 HX's battery performance still falls about 20% below the class average of three hours and 27 minutes. That means it doesn't get a total pass from me on battery life, but it is hardly a factor anyone should realistically consider for a laptop like this.

  • Battery Life: 2.5 / 5

Should you buy the MSI Titan 18 HX?

Buy the MSI Titan 18 HX if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If my MSI Titan 18 HX review has you considering other options, here are three other laptops to consider:

How I tested the MSI Titan 18 HX

  • I spent about a month testing the Titan 18 HX
  • I used our standard suite of benchmark tests
  • I primarily played games on the Titan 18 HX, though I also used it for general computing and content creation

I spent about a month with the MSI Titan 18 HX, using it as an everyday work machine at home while gaming at night once work was done. I also used it for content creation work with Adobe Photoshop.

This is a gaming laptop, first and foremost, so I tested it with our standard battery of gaming benchmarks and other benchmarks that check for CPU, GPU, and overall system performance.

I've been reviewing laptops for TechRadar for nearly half a decade now, and as a lifelong PC gamer, I know how games should run on given hardware, and how much that hardware should cost you to maximize the value to the consumer. I also have a Master's Degree in Computer Science, so I'm able to really dig in and analyze the nitty-gritty of the hardware in a way many other reviews can't.

  • First reviewed May 2024
GameSir X2s Type-C mobile controller review: retro design, modern performance
6:07 pm | April 5, 2024

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

One-minute review

The GameSir X2s Type-C is a mobile controller that costs less than half the price of the Backbone One or the Razer Kishi V2. Despite this, it still manages to offer a comfortable gaming experience and plug-and-play compatibility with all major game streaming platforms and a wide selection of native mobile titles including Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile.

Its retro Nintendo 2DS-inspired aesthetic is charming and, while the plastic used across its construction feels cheap and hollow, the satisfying clicky buttons and Hall effect thumbsticks and triggers are excellent - and features that you'd normally expect to find on some of the best PC controllers. These controls not only feel great but also perform well no matter what kind of game you’re playing. The adjustable Type-C connector is itself a brilliant innovation, greatly reducing the frustration of trying to cram a phone into a retractable mobile controller. It simultaneously ensures compatibility with most phone cases, removing one of my biggest gripes with the Backbone One.

The lack of a headphone jack might be a deal-breaker if you intend to play with a wired pair of any of the best gaming earbuds, for example, but the GameSir X2s Type-C is otherwise an extremely compelling mobile controller that undercuts the competition with a great value price.

GameSir X2s Type-C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  • $45.99 / £49 / AU$69
  • Cheaper than the competition
  • Widely available

The GameSir X2s Type-C is readily available via Amazon in the US, UK, and Australia for $45.99 / £49 / AU$69. It can also be purchased directly from the GameSir website, in addition to an official store on AliExpress. Although frequent discounts are available at AliExpress, you will have to contend with longer shipping times if you go with that option.

Even at full price, however, the GameSir X2s Type-C comes in considerably cheaper than its competition - namely, the Backbone One, which costs $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179.99, and the Razer Kishi V2, which is $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$169.95. This positions it firmly as a budget alternative to these two controllers and, while it is lesser when it comes to overall build quality, it nevertheless offers excellent value for money.

Specs

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Design and features

According to GameSir, the design of the X2s Type-C mobile controller was inspired by the appearance of the Nintendo 2DS. This is evident in the purple hue of its buttons, which are strikingly similar to buttons found on the White and Lavender Nintendo 2DS XL. Despite these surface-level similarities, however, the GameSir X2s Type-C actually shares a lot in common with most other mobile controllers. 

Firstly, it features a spring-loaded back, which can be extended to accommodate a phone up to 6.6 in / 168 mm tall. While the extension mechanism operates considerably less smoothly than the one found on the Backbone One, producing quite a rough sound, the controller still fits snugly around most phones and feels very secure once everything is in place. As the name would suggest, the controller connects to your phone through a USB Type-C connector, so is only compatible with the iPhone 15 series or Android devices that feature the port. 

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

On top of the ability to extend the controller, the GameSir X2s Type-C can accommodate an impressive range of phones thanks to the unique moveable nature of its Type-C connector. Unlike the fiddly, static connector of the Backbone One, the connector here can swivel both towards and away from the rest of the controller. This is a fantastic innovation and something that I believe should now become standard across all mobile controllers given just how much it improves the experience.

The added flexibility makes it far easier to attach or remove your phone safely, completely eliminating the risk of damaging your USB-C port or the controller itself if you pull your device away at an angle. It also means that the controller can be used in conjunction with a thin phone case, which is a welcome change. I find that having to remove my case to attach the Backbone One is inconvenient, leaving my phone exposed to potential damage.

Like the Backbone One, the rest of the GameSir X2s Type-C is effectively just two sides of a traditional controller that flanks your phone. There are asymmetrical thumbsticks, a d-pad, a set of face buttons labeled in the Xbox Wireless Controller layout, a screenshot button, a home button, two triggers, and two shoulder buttons. Rather than the conventional ‘Start’ or ‘Select’ though, each side of the controller has either a ‘G’ or ‘S’ button which performs those same functions.

A set of four thumbstick covers is also included in the box. These can be slipped onto the tips of the thumbsticks to give them a slightly larger surface area and a more tactile ribbed finish. Although I didn’t find the need to use them, it still makes for a neat little pack-in bonus.

You can then further customize the feel of the thumbsticks via the GameSir app, which allows you to tweak a range of settings. This includes thumbstick dead zones, trigger actuation depth, or even a toggle to switch to a Joy-Con controller button layout. In addition to a catalog of other GameSir products, there’s a tab containing a handy list of fully compatible mobile titles, with links to the relevant App Store, which could be a great way to source recommendations if you’re wondering what to play.

A Type-C charging port is located on the bottom of the left-hand side of the controller, allowing you to charge your phone while it’s in use. Two small LED lights are present on the right-hand side too, with one illuminating to show when it is connected to a phone and the other indicating whether your phone is charging. Despite ample space, there’s disappointingly no headphone jack to be seen anywhere.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Performance

When I took the GameSir X2s Type-C out of the box, my first impressions were mixed. There’s no avoiding the fact that the plastic used on this controller simply feels cheap in the hands, especially compared to the likes of the Backbone One or Razer Kishi V2. Sure, these are much more expensive controllers, but the hollow-feeling grips of the GameSir X2s Type-C undeniably detract from the experience. Even the rubberized pads that cover the rear of each grip feel cheap, being far too hard to offer any real cushioning. My model also sported quite a few prominent manufacturing seams that tarnish the otherwise clean purple and gray aesthetic.

Still, once you have a phone slotted into place it’s hard to fault the GameSir X2s Type-C in any other areas. Although the thumbsticks are smaller than a standard gamepad, they offer a generous level of motion and feel substantially more precise than the awkward, stubbier set found on the Backbone One. Likewise, the triggers are a very comfortable size and operate responsively. Better still, both the thumbsticks and the triggers make use of Hall effect technology, which should enable them to last considerably longer without developing dead zones or drift. 

The micro switch buttons are well-spaced and pleasantly tactile, with engraved lettering like the buttons of the Nintendo 2DS. Similar micro switches are then used in the d-pad, which is a comfortable concave shape. The shoulder buttons are then large, responsive, and produce a very satisfying mechanical click. It’s an excellent set of controls, only further elevated by the fact that every single game I tested worked flawlessly with no tweaking. The native mobile version of Vampire Survivors felt just like I was playing on Nintendo Switch, while my K/D ratio in online Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile matches benefited hugely from the pinpoint accurate thumbsticks and triggers.

This strong performance carried over into game streaming. Jumping into some Far Cry 5 and a fair few matches of Fortnite on Amazon Luna, the controller was instantly recognized by the web app, and the correct controller prompts were automatically displayed. Likewise, Xbox Cloud Gaming via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate was a treat with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 5, and a handful of other titles playing wonderfully. If you’re searching for a budget-friendly mobile controller that’s perfect for cloud gaming, few perform better than this.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Should I buy the GameSir X2s Type-C?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you’ve got a bit more to spend on a mobile controller, here’s how the GameSir X2s Type-C stacks up against two more premium alternatives.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

How I tested the GameSir X2s Type-C

  • Tested for over 15 hours
  • Tested with both native mobile titles and game streaming
  • Compared to other mobile controllers

I used the GameSir X2s Type-C for over 15 hours with a Samsung Galaxy S23+. During that time, I tried a selection of popular native mobile titles including Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, Vampire Survivors, Diablo Immortal, Minecraft, and Genshin Impact. I then used the controller with multiple game streaming services, including Xbox Cloud Streaming and Amazon Luna which I used to explore a wide variety of available games.

As an avid mobile gamer, I also directly compared my experience with the GameSir X2s Type-C with the Backbone One and Razer Kishi V2 in addition to other mobile controllers.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

Acer Nitro 16 AMD review: performance on a budget
6:30 pm | January 14, 2024

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD Two-minute review

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

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

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Price & availability

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

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

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

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

  • Price score: 4.5 / 5

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Specs

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

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

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

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

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Design

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

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

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

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD side view showing ports

(Image credit: Future)

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD side view showing ports

(Image credit: Future)

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

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

  • Design score: 4 / 5 

Acer Nitro 16 AMD keyboard lights

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD running an app

(Image credit: Future)

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

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

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Battery life

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

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

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

  • Battery life score: 3 / 5 

Should you buy the Acer Nitro 16 AMD?

Buy it if...

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

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

Don't buy it if...

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

Acer Nitro 16 AMD: Also consider

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

How I tested the HP Victus 16

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

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

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

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January 2024

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

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

HP Victus 16: Two-minute review

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

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

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

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop on a desk playing a game

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Price & availability

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Price score: 4 / 5

HP Victus 16: Specs

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

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

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

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

HP Victus 16: Design

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

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

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

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

Underneath of the HP Victus 16 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

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

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

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

  • Design score: 4 / 5 

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop close up of ports

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

HP Victus 16 gaming laptop close up of ports

(Image credit: Future)

HP Victus 16: Battery life

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

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

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

  • Battery life score: 4 / 5 

Should you buy the HP Victus 16?

Buy it if...

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

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

Don't buy it if...

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

HP Victus 16: Also consider

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

How I tested the HP Victus 16

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

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

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January 2024

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora review – pretty, average
7:41 pm | December 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on:
PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
Release date:
7 December, 2023

If there’s one thing that Ubisoft can do better than anyone else, it’s open-world collect-’em-ups. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is, ostensibly, an open-world collect-’em-up. However, somehow, despite Ubisoft being the reigning world champion of games where you mosey around a map polishing off side-quests and hoovering up loot, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora fails to make the moseying, polishing, or hoovering particularly compelling, making the game hard to recommend. 

On the surface, Frontiers of Pandora presents itself like a Far Cry game. In reality, poor combat and some slight jank make it worse than most of the titles in that franchise. This is unfortunate because with the Na’Vi protagonist being so invested in stealth, the superhuman abilities they possess, and the giant jungle for you to stalk your prey in, this actually feels more like Far Cry than many of the games that followed it in its own franchise.

As it stands, the main reason to play Frontiers of Pandora is to visit the world of the game’s title, with the moon of Pandora offering up vibrant plant life and one of the best jungles in video game history. 

Sadly, the artistic brilliance of the world of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora feels somewhat unfocused. It’s beautiful, but the weapons and gear you find feel much less interesting, and the UI looks average. But, from the second you first step into the trees after the game’s tutorial, you’ll fall in love, and that sense of amazement doesn’t go away.  

Hard to Na'vigate

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora review

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Avatar enthusiasm isn’t enough to support the entire game. The narrative is a little too earnest for my liking, but that’s a criticism that I also level at the Avatar movies, so it does feel authentic enough, and the story does feel somewhat distinct from the many other “gather strength and wage a guerilla war” games that have come out over the last decade. You spend a lot of time with an assortment of forgettable faces early on, and I struggled to care about many of them. Mostly because the glacial pace meant that I was often being sent out into the world to find new character after new character even while I petulantly kicked my heels, desperate to be allowed to get out and kill the bad guys. I get that this is a problem with me, but it still takes Frontiers of Pandora a really long time to get started, and it makes it a tough game to get invested in. 

When you do get stuck in, there’s something that feels distinctly off about the combat. In my first real engagement, an enemy mechanized suit seemed unable to notice me, looking blankly into the horizon as I plinked arrow after arrow into his suit until it exploded. Human sentries, half my size and largely ineffectual, blended into the shrubs until I found them by the pulsing red icons showing me where damage was coming from.

Best bit

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora review

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Exploring Pandora, the fictional moon where Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora takes place, is divine. Your character is fast and agile and the world is perfectly designed to have you leap between giant trees and slide around at lightning speed.  

At first, you fight with Navi weapons, a bow, and a sling that can fire proximity mines. These are fine for the early fights and I whooped the first time a critical hit on a mech suit with the bow saw my arrow plow through the hardened glass and kill the human operator inside. However, as the enemies start to get more durable, few of the weapons in Frontiers of Pandora feel like they have a real impact.

Nowhere is this felt more than with the bog standard assault rifle, which plinks rounds into enemies with an unsatisfying whump, closer to Nerf gun than a lethal weapon, and in comparison, I’d rather just be smacking people with my giant alien knees.

Over time you’ll level up, explore a skill tree filled with uninspiring skills and craft, loot, or hunt down a variety of different gear and resources. The jungle, beautiful as it is, doesn’t have a whole lot to do in it, but you’ll have to plow on with it anyway because progression is gated behind certain abilities or levels.

It’s okay because the best way to amuse yourself on the way is to massacre Pandora’s local wildlife.

Far cry me to the moon

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora review

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Avatar has an incredibly strong environmental message: the Resources Development Administration (RDA) that you fight all of the time is destroying Pandora’s natural environment with their very existence: wilting the local wildlife, spewing pillars of smoke into the air and just being very naughty boys for the environment. 

But honestly, I’m not sure my Na’vi is any better. The most tonally dissonant part of Avatar is how much pulling up roots, hunting animals, and running through the jungle mashing the F key to gather items goes against the ecological message at the heart of both the game and the Avatar movie series as a whole. Yes, no one doubts that hunting for food or crafting new leather gear is what the Na’vi in the universe of the film get up to, but it feels like murdering scores of native wildlife to get yourself a new pair of gloves every 30 minutes isn’t really in the spirit of things, you know? If I’m taking out an entire herd of animals so I can flog their parts for profit, am I really that different from the RDA? 

Accessibility

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora review

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

A user interface menu has a highly customisable color blind mode that allows you to customise the colours while looking at a tester screen to see how it's working for you. The gameplay menu lets you make the gathering or several other areas instant instead of the usual minigame, which could suit for many people. 

Frontiers of Pandora isn’t interested in these questions, only in a byzantine crafting system that triggers my fight or flight response every time I have to interact with it. The Breath of the Wild-inspired cooking system gets a pass just because it makes me laugh to make an eggy salad or mushroom-stuffed fish, though. 

Unfortunately, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora ultimately feels like the movies that inspired it: a beautiful world and fascinating setting are let down by the shallow world around it. If you’re a true Avatar head, this is your dream, but if not it’s hard not to think of the many better examples of the genre I’d rather be playing instead. 

We've pulled together all the best single-player games if you're searching for another adventure to sink hours into. However, for a more communal experience, you might want to check out all the best multiplayer PC games, too.

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) review: upgradable impressive power
2:49 pm | October 7, 2023

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

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Two-minute review

Acer, always a competitor where price is concerned, is better known for cost-effective laptops than high-end gaming PCs, but they’ve been producing some of the best gaming PCs since 2008. 

The newest of its Predator line, the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023), is a monolith of a PC, which is to say it looks like a proper sexy space monolith, except it's nowhere near as quiet. Rather, it’s so loud that if you wanted to go on holiday but couldn’t, you could get part-way there by closing your eyes and make-believing you’re on a plane. That’s how loud the fans get on “gaming mode”. 

On the normal power setting, the fans don’t spin up all that often even while gaming – but they definitely will at some point during a gaming session. If you value immersion while playing, you will find it broken by the Orion 7000.

But the PC excels in all other ways, making it one of the best computers we’ve seen in a while. It’s gorgeously designed; particularly its ARGB lighting is lovely. It’s got more ports than a leopard has spots. Its very large chassis is very well laid out, affording you ample opportunity to customize and upgrade the PC in the future. 

Performance-wise it delivers everything you could ask for. It performed well in all the benchmarks we ran, and when we very enthusiastically played the brand-new AAA game Starfield at max settings, it was utterly smooth, with nary a frame-drop.

The fans will be a real problem for some. You wouldn’t be able to record live audio on it. Even voice chat is affected. The 2022 version of the Predator Orion 7000 (2023) had the same problem and was criticized for it, so it’s not like Acer didn’t know.

It’s clear what Acer’s priorities were, though: The Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) is not all that expensive – for a high-end gaming PC, you understand – and Acer has thrown in a decent mouse and keyboard combo. For this decent price, you may well be happy to slap on a good noise canceling headset with directional mic and enjoy the power you’ve bought.

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Price & availability

  • How much does it cost?  Starting at $3,000 / £3,300 (about AU$4,655) 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

Starting at $3,000 / £3,300 (about AU$4,655), the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) is expensive, but considering its specs, the price is actually pretty OK. Acer is known for producing more budget-friendly laptops and PCs, and, for a high-end gaming PC, the Predator Orion 7000 (2023) is not egregiously budget-un-friendly. Anyone looking for a PC armed with an i9 and RTX 4090 is already girded to pay at least this much. 

Still, it’s a lot, and you don’t need to spend this much just to play the latest games. If you're looking for anything under $4,000 / £4,00 for the specs of our review unit, then you might want to look at older models like the superb Predator Orion 3000, which we’ve pronounced the best value gaming PC out right now. 

  • Price score: 4 / 5

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Specs

The Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) comes in four configurations in the US, three elsewhere. The cheapest of the US’s configurations has an i7-13700KF, a RTX 3080, and 10 GB dedicated memory; the other three can be succinctly summed up with GPU numbers: 3090, 4080, and 4090. Of Australia’s three configurations, two have an i9-13900K, and either an RTX 4090, or 4080. UK customers also have three configurations, the cheapest of which comes with an i7 hexadeca-core 3.40GHz and an RTX 4070Ti. The other two configurations come with an i9 and an RTX 4080 or 4090. 

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Design

  • Humongous chassis
  • Gorgeous RGB lighting effects
  • Easy to upgrade

The Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) is a no-nonsense PC. Its exterior alone proclaims “hard as nails”, meaning it’s serious business, serious gaming business. It scores almost full marks on aesthetics, and no, not simply because of its delicious ARGB – we’re not so shallow we’re completely swept away by a few million colors. 

Well, regardless of whether we are or not, the whole package is gorgeous. Its massive ATX chassis is black all over with rounded edges, and the interior is spacious and very neatly arranged. The interior is visible through a crepuscular glass side panel paired with the gorgeous 16.7m ARGB LEDs. To finish is a matte black metal door with a shiny Acer logo printed in black, and topped with mesh.

The front of the chassis has two Predator FrostBlade fans in a raised glass casing with a shiny plastic frame; most of the glass is the same shadowy glass as the side panels, and part of the upper part of the glass is opaque with an Acer logo that lights up blue.

Image 1 of 2

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)
Image 2 of 2

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)

While it’s gorgeously designed, the Predator Orion 7000 (2023) really is huge. At 485mm x 219mm x 504.8mm and starting at 14Kg in weight, it’s not easy to carry and takes up a lot of space, so you’ll want to recall your manual handling training when you lift it and position it where you can access the back and not have to move it ever.

And it’s designed to keep you from having to. It’s designed to be easily-upgradable. It’s “toolless” – that is, you don’t need tools to access its internals. And its spacious interior means you don’t need to sweat and curse and get cramps while replacing parts.

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)

As for ports… there’s a really impressive selection both at the back and the top of the chassis: 1x HDMI, 4x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.1, and 2x USB-C. As for storage, there’s a 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, and 3TB HDD SATA 3 (and you can have up to 2 of each), and on the top, a 2.5-inch bay for hot-swapping USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C drives (one of our favorite features).

Also, there’s some cool free wallpapers on the Acer Predator site to finish off the look of your PC if you’re interested. 

  • Design score: 4 / 5
Image 1 of 2

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)
Image 2 of 2

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) on the author's desk

(Image credit: Future / Rosario Blue)

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Performance

  • The 4090 is superb
  • Not a single game exists today that cannot be played on it
  • Very upgradeable
Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Benchmarks

Here’s how the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: 25679 Speed Way: 10026; Fire Strike: 46869; Fire Strike Ultra: 24059 Time Spy: 31781; Time Spy Extreme: 17409
GeekBench 5.5: 1908 (single-core); 21380 (multi-core)
GeekBench 6.1:
2896 (single-core); 17399 (multi-core)
GeekBench 6.0.3:
2764 (single-core); 16780 (multi-core)
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra):
251.7 fps;(1080p, Low): 559.5 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p): 117.1 fps; (4K): 41.1 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p): 256.5 fps; (4K): 187.3fps
Assassin’s creed Valhalla: (1080p): 204 fps; (4K) 117 fps
Borderlands 3: (1080p): 258.95 fps; (4K): 129.11 fps
Grand Theft Auto V: (1080p): 186.032240 fps; (4K): 84.786770 fps
Far Cry 6 (1080p): 129 fps; (4K): 109 fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition (High 1080p): 153.91fps (4K):127.50 fps; (Ultra 1080p): 144.91 fps (4K): 105.92 fps; (Extreme 1080p): 134.95 fps (4K): 72.65 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 (Medium 1080p): 186.1147 fps  (4K): 79.3755 fps;  (Ultra 1080p): 109.0437 fps (4K): 36.7910 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: (1080p): 244 fps; (4K): 129 fps
25GB File Copy: 1233.809283
Handbrake 1.6: 2:26
CrossMark: Overall: 2,305 Productivity: 2,151 Creativity: 2,631 Responsiveness: 1,904 

The Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) performs, well, fantastically. It'd be surprising if it didn't. The review unit we received comes with an unlocked AIO liquid-cooled i9-13900KF processor with 24 cores, 32 threads, a stock frequency of 3000MHz and a clocking speed of 5.4GHz, and the scrumptious beast that is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090.

That partnership alone needs no explanation, it is the creme de la creme of gaming parts. Most games we benchmarked it with stayed above 100 FPS even at 4K. A couple managed to tax it at 4K, like Red Dead Redemption 2.

For everyday tasks – browsing, watching Netflix, emailing, programming – well, of course there were no problems. Even playing games while doing most of those things at the same time didn’t disturb the Pool of Performance at all.

The cost is fan noise. When Predator Orion 7000 (2023) gets into full gaming mode they hum in an endless high-speed harmony – as Acer says, hilariously. What they mean is they can’t deny the fans are loud. While voice-chatting, we had to use a headset with noise canceling, and a directional mic, which definitely improved things, but it’s such a shame it’s necessary.

The noise means you won’t always get to appreciate Acer’s DTS:X Ultra audio, which, Acer says, allows you to experience “real-world spatial sound” by transforming your speakers and headset into a 360 degree high-end surround sound system. We can confirm that the sound is full, clear and feels immersive.

Where internet connectivity is concerned Acer has installed its 2.5G “Killer Ethernet” and 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E, so fast and efficient internet access will run whether you want to use Wi-Fi or ethernet to get online. 

The Orion 7000 comes preinstalled with Acer’s PredatorSense software. Despite the name it doesn’t alert you to predators or prey but to problems in your system: it’s the obligatory system-specific hardware monitor/configurer, one of the nicest we’ve seen, though; it shows temps and speeds very clearly, and lets you control the fans, power settings, lighting, and the clock speeds without having to go into the BIOS.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Should you buy the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023)?

Buy it if...

You want a behemoth PC that can take on anything
Performance is at the heart of the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023). It can take on any task from general day-to-day use to intensive gaming sessions. It’s perfect for old, new and future games, so you won’t need a replacement any time soon.

You want an easy-to-upgrade PC
The opportunities to upgrade the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) are almost endless. With its toolless, spacious chassis, you won’t be fiddling and stressing when you’re ready to tweak it.

Don't buy it if...

You’re looking for a more cost-effective gaming PC
The Predator Orion 7000 (2023) is expensive, and understandably so, but if you don’t have enough in your budget to fork out for its cheapest configuration, then there are more-than-decent cheaper alternatives to purchase instead.

Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023): Also consider

If the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023) has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Acer Predator Orion 7000 (2023)

  • I used this beaut as my main gaming PC for almost three weeks
  • Gaming-wise, I played various games, old and new

I used this beaut as my main gaming PC for almost three weeks. Gaming-wise, I played various games, old and new, mostly very new (Starfield, at max settings, which was glorious, loud at times, but glorious). Benchmark tests were carried out using games like CyberPunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and GTA V. I browsed the internet, joined video calls. And I, of course, wrote on it. 

There’s very little the Predator Orion 7000 (2023) can’t do. Play your favorite games. The newest titles are nothing to it. Surf the web, watch shows, compile the Linux kernel, hell, do all of those things at once; it’ll look at you serenely like a lion challenged to a fight by a cat.

I have over 25 years of gaming experience and several years of testing gaming peripherals, PCs and laptops under my belt. I don’t just review these things in an “I have a job to do” type of way: I’m their manufacturer’s target audience; I thoroughly, honestly and fairly review and test all units. I pretty much live and breathe games, computers, and all the extras and have opinions about what is good and important, and can identify deficiencies and suggest improvements.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed October 2023

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) review: great performance at a reasonable price
12:00 am | October 5, 2023

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

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): One-minute review

The Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) is just one of the several Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050-equipped laptops vying for budget-level PC gamers while still offering current-gen level performance. Like those models, the quality of gaming on offer is much better than a lot of other cheap offerings sporting older generations of GPUs such as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050.

While the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) is not necessarily going to top the best gaming laptops, it can certainly compete with the best budget gaming laptops. The question then is how it compares to those more affordable alternatives.

As we’ll see, the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) is a solid consideration for cash-strapped gamers since it can handle most gaming tasks without too much sacrifice. There are some drawbacks, but they’re mostly intrinsic to lower-priced gaming laptops. That said, none of those are enough to discount this gaming laptop, especially considering the price.

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,189.99 / £1,080 / AU$2,199
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD), also designated as model 15APH8, is priced very reasonably. You get an AMD Ryzen 5 7640S, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 8GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD for $1,189.99 / £1,080 / AU$2,199. If you want a little more power, you can upgrade to AMD Ryzen 7 7840S, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, 16GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD, which will set you back a total of $1,379.99 / £1,300 (Aussies won’t be able to upgrade to the RTX 4060). 

The test unit reviewed here is much like the base model but with the more powerful AMD Ryzen 7 7840S, which has 8 cores and 16 threads to the AMD Ryzen 5 7640S’ 6 cores and 12 threads. This upgrade adds $40 / £40 for a price of entry of $1299.99 / £1,120.

Compared to other gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, you can spend a little less if you want. The MSI Katana 15 (2023), for instance, is a bit cheaper at $999 (about £785 / AU$1,543). However, its battery life is a bit worse during everyday non-gaming use, its trackpad is worse, and it has a somewhat cheaper look to it.

  • Price score: 4 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Specs

Lenovo has a very limited range of options for the LOQ 15 (AMD) model. You can only choose between two AMD CPUs, the AMD Ryzen 5 7640S and the AMD Ryzen 7 7840S, and you can only choose between two GPUs as well, namely the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060. Likewise, RAM options are either 8GB or 16GB, while you can only choose between 512GB or 1TB for the SSD. 

Outside of internal component considerations, there are only two other places where you have options, namely the webcam and the display. And, strangely this is only in the UK. You can upgrade the 720p webcam to 1080p for £10 and you can upgrade from a 1080p @ 144Hz display to a 1440p one with a 165Hz refresh rate. That will cost you £50. Oh, and if you care about RGB lighting, an extra £20 will upgrade the keyboard’s backlighting from white to 4-zone RGB.

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Design

  • A bit heavy
  • Decent display with fast 144Hz refresh rate
  • Awkward port placement

One of the things that I appreciate about Lenovo gaming laptops is that they have a distinctive look. Just like Razer or Alienware, when you see a gaming laptop from Lenovo, you’ll recognize it as such.

To start, they all seem to come in what Lenovo calls Storm Gray, which is an imposing, brooding color that sounds boring on paper but works much better than a plain matte-black would.

Interestingly, like Alienware laptops, the lid opens up from about an inch into the laptop, meaning there’s a section that juts out. Just like Alienware, this is where some important heat piping is located to keep things cool. And, when under duress, the Lenovo LOQ 15 manages to do a pretty good job of that.

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Lenovo)

As this is Lenovo’s budget line, it is on the heavier side, weighing in at 5.3lbs. Compare that with the slightly bigger, slightly better, and slightly more expensive Lenovo Legion Slim 5 and its 5.07lb weight and you’ll see that keeping the weight down is not going to be as much of a factor when the price is lower.

Moving on to the display, it’s not going to wow with color accuracy or HDR, but it’s a solid 1080p IPS panel with 350 nits of brightness. Its best feature is probably its 144Hz refresh rate.

There’s a 1080p webcam that’s adequate if a bit choppy. At least, Lenovo included a manual toggle located on the side of the computer to open or close a privacy shutter.

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Lenovo)

The keyboard might not have backlighting, and its travel is not on par with an external keyboard. However, it’s easy and comfortable to type on. The trackpad is similarly capable. Since this is a gaming laptop, you’ll still need a mouse.

Lastly, the port placement is going to be a blessing or a curse depending on your preference. While there’s a USB-C port and 3.5 mm audio jack on the left side and USB-A port to go along with that privacy shutter toggle on the right, most of the ports are on the back. Along with power, an HDMI, ethernet, and two USB ports are centered along the back. This might be great for anyone who likes a clean desk and doesn’t plan on moving their laptop regularly. But, I like to have easy access to all the ports and I found having to reach behind to plug or unplug something to be a chore.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Performance

  • Good 1080p gaming performance
  • Great for competitive games
  • Decent speakers
Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Benchmarks

Here's how the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: 4,773; Fire Strike: 19,991; Time Spy: 8,858
GeekBench 6: 2,367 (single-core); 8,157 (multi-core)
25GB File Copy:
27.5
Handbrake 1.6: 6:24
CrossMark: Overall: 1,571 Productivity: 1,588 Creativity: 1,636 Responsiveness: 1,345
Far Cry 6 1080p (Ultra) 68 fps
Cyberpunk 2077: 1080p (Ultra) 21.66 fps
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 6:29:49
PCMark 10 Battery Life (Gaming): 0:46

One of the impressive things about this recent slate of Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050-equipped laptops is the fact that they all are capable of good 1080p performance and that’s certainly the case with the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD). Obviously, there are plenty of limitations – just look at its performance during our Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark where it got just 22 fps on Ultra. For comparison’s sake, the MSI Katana 15 gets almost 39 fps in the same game, which might be due to the fact that it comes with 16GB to the Lenovo LOQ 15’s 8GB.

In more real-world testing, I was able to get playable though not completely smooth results in Cyberpunk 2077, Hogwarts Legacy, and Starfield on medium settings. I did experience a little bit of stuttering but it was a minor amount. But, playing those taxing games on low settings was rock solid.

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Outside of these top-tier and well-known resource-heavy games, not to mention two of them are brand new and the other just got a 2.0 update, everything I played including Battlefield 2042 was rock solid. While you probably won’t be hitting that 144 fps that the display is capable of on more taxing games, the hardware is there for competitive games that are a bit more lightweight. For example, Rocket League was smooth as silk.

In essence, this is great for those playing competitive games while good enough to experience heftier AAA titles though with some limitations.

The sound quality of the built-in speakers is very serviceable. It won’t make you give up on your favorite gaming headset, but it still offers a somewhat decent soundstage and frequency response. It will sound a bit boxy and don’t expect rumble, but it’s more than adequate. Plus, there are some controls through the Nahimic app for EQ and spatial audio that are nice if a bit subtle.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Battery life

  • Quickly drains when gaming
  • Decent battery life with basic use

When it comes to battery life, the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) isn’t setting any gaming laptop precedents. Under a heavy load such as the PCMark 10 Battery Life gaming benchmark, it lasts a paltry 46 minutes. I even experienced its weak battery life inadvertently when I left it unplugged but asleep for a few hours only to find the battery completely empty.

However, for basic use as shown in our Battery Informant benchmark, it can last a decently long six and a half hours. That’s pretty good compared to other gaming laptops not named Rog Zephyrus. Of course, that’s not anything special compared to most other portables.

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD)?

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Buy it if...

You want good 1080p performance
This laptop is more than capable with most games available right now. And, all but the most demanding can run on fairly high settings.

You want to play competitively
There’s more than enough power to run any competitive game on max settings. And, the 144Hz refresh rate is perfect for providing a smooth, speedy gaming experience with those titles.

Don't buy it if...

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

Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD): Also consider

If our Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider... 

How I tested the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD)

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

I used the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD) for a couple of weeks, playing several demanding games like Starfield, Hogwards Legacy, Control, and Cyberpunk 2077. While doing so, I ran the games at various settings, particularly at the highest ones with ray tracing on wherever possible, and took note of the results. I also tested each aspect of the laptop from the keyboard and trackpad to the webcam and speakers.

After spending time with the Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD), it’s clear that the company managed to balance solid performance with an accessible price point for those wanting great gaming on a budget.

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed October 2023

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% review: Razer’s first hot-swappable keyboard makes a big splash
6:00 pm | August 17, 2023

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

Razer BlackWidow V4 75%: Two-minute review

The Razer BlackWidow V4 75% does what a lot of the best gaming keyboards do not by providing a little something for everyone. Anyone interested in getting into keyboard modding will have a blast messing with it, while gamers will love the tactile feel, versatility, and performance. Even if you’ll spend most of your time just typing up pages and pages of text, it offers a typing experience that’s up there with any of the best mechanical keyboards.

In short, the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% is a little beast of a keyboard that might be a bit pricey, but for a good reason. Every element is well-thought to the point that the company even built in what is usually one of the first mods keyboard enthusiasts install (more on that later). Along with all that versatility and performance, the feel of every element from the keycaps to the magnetic wrist rest is on point. 

As you’ll see, there’s a lot to love and not a lot to hate with this keyboard. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the included switches, you can just replace them.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Before digging in deeper on how customizable this keyboard truly is, it’s worth taking a look at how well-designed this 75% keyboard is. The aluminum case, doubleshot ABS keycaps, and magnetic leatherette wrist rest all have a luxurious feel that you don’t find on more budget keyboards. 

Razer spent just as much time making sure the internals are as thought out. Instead of the usual aluminum top plate, Razer used a FR4 plastic one that’s gasket-mounted, along with the lubricated stabilizers, to improve the keyboard’s acoustics. Along the same line, the bottom PCB is covered in flame-retardant tape, a very thoughtful addition as most people’s first mods include taping up a keyboard’s PCB to absorb higher-frequency sounds. And, if that wasn’t enough, this all sits on two layers of sound-dampening foam.

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Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
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Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
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Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
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Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Considering that all these design decisions are made with modders in mind, it’s crucial that users have the ability to heavily personalize the keyboard. Thankfully, Razer has seen to that. Using the included 2-in-1 puller, removing keycaps and switches is a cinch, though the switches do require a little careful elbow grease. And, since the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% is capable of accepting both three- and five-pin switches, you can put in whatever you like. Lastly, on the modding front, you can access and replace internals after just removing six screws situated underneath.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

However, let’s not forget this is a gaming keyboard as well and, as all things Razer, still looks it. And, that’s not a bad thing at all. RGB lighting shines bright here as the light emanates not only through the translucent characters on the keycaps, but from underneath as they float slightly above the case. RGB zones also line the size and back of the keyboard for a truly illuminating offering.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Criticizing the performance of the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% can be a bit tough insofar that if you’re not a fan of the switches, you can just change them. With a polling rate of 8,000Hz through a USB connection, it can go as fast as you. 

That said, it does come fitted with Razer’s third generation orange tactile switches, which are not my favorite. While their actuation force of 50g is not bad at all (the other Razer switches are 45g), its actuation point of 2.0mm is not that impressive compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere in the gaming keyboard world including other offerings from Razer. Of course, Razer’s yellow switches offer a more (competitive) gamer-friendly 1.2mm actuation point. However, that’s really a point of preference that’s easily switched out. After all, I usually prefer the feel of linear switches to tactile ones.

Still, typing on here is a dream even though these aren’t my preferred switches. The keycaps have a nice, textured feel with a concave shape that allows for comfortable and accurate pressing. And, all those internal accommodations really make a difference as keypresses are smooth and quiet while still providing the satisfying click of a mechanical keyboard.

Even though the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% didn’t come with my favorite type of switches, I had no problem gaming with them, easily making my way through games like Control, Far Cry 6, and Rocket League without so much as a missed press. In Rocket League specifically, I had to remap a few keys for mouse presses (my mouse had died mid-review) and was able to get quick results using just the keyboard in the game.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% on a table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Speaking of, the Razer Synapse and Chroma Studio apps are pretty comprehensive and user-friendly. All the keys are fully-programmable (except the media keys) with a whole host of functions available from macros to launching programs and more. Razer’s Hypershift is available as well so you can create secondary functions for just about every key. And, of course, with Chroma, you can individualize all the keycap and RGB zones to your liking as well as set the RGB to more interactive settings such as ambient awareness and audio meter.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75%: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? Starting at $189.99 / £189.99 / AU$349.95 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

There’s no way around it: this premium entry from Razer has a price tag to match. The cost of entry for the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% is $189.99 / £189.99 / AU$349.95, and that’s if you get it in black. It will also be available in white later this fall for a little more, specifically $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$369.95.

Getting a hot-swappable keyboard is not cheap, but there are alternatives that won’t set you back quite as much. Plenty of smaller, boutique brands offer attractive options such as the KiiBOOM Phantom 81 with its price of $159 / £128 / AU$233.18 are excellent to type on and allow for hot-swapping, though that particular model doesn’t come with a wrist rest or quite the same speedy gaming performance.

A more interesting comparison is the Cooler Master CK720. This keyboard, also from an established gaming brand, goes for a much cheaper $115.99 / £93.07 / AU$172.67 and is quite the little keeb in both looks and performance. However, it can be tricky to replace the top plate.

That said, this new entry into Razer’s BlackWidow product line justified its price with a lot of the little things added in such as the preemptive tape mod and gasket stabilizers. Plus, with its absurdly high polling rate, you can easily turn this into a keyboard for competitive gaming when using the right switches. Plus, you can use both 3-pin and 5-pin switches allowing you to install a wide range of options. If you want one of the other gen-3 proprietary switches from Razer to replace the orange ones it comes stock with, you’ll have to pay just $24.99 (about £20 / AU$39).

  • Price: 4 / 5 

Razer BlackWidow V4 75%: Specs

Should you buy the Razer BlackWidow V4 75%?

Buy it if...

You want to get into modding
The Razer BlackWidow V4 75% might be an expensive entry-point into modding but it’s a safe one as Razer has made sure that everything works as it’s supposed to and replacing things is easy and straightforward.

You want an excellent typing experience
Typing on this keyboard is a dream, even if it doesn’t have your favorite type of switches. All the finetuning and pre-installed mods also make for a good-sounding keyboard.

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a budget
As good of a keyboard as this is, it’s not cheap in any sense of the word. If you want to mod, you can find cheaper options. And If you just want to game, you can spend much less.

You don’t care about modding
As great as everything on this keyboard is, you’re paying a premium for being able to swap out various parts of it. If that aspect doesn’t appeal to you, then there’s no reason to pay for a feature you won’t use.

Razer BlackWidow V4 75%: Also consider

How I tested the Razer BlackWidow V4 75%

  • Used regularly for three days
  • Tested with all sorts of games
  • Tested all included features

I used the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% Gaming Keyboard Gaming Headset regularly for three days. I used it with a number of games including Gotham Knights, Control, Far Cry 6, and Rocket League as well as did quite a bit of writing on it.

I looked at other aspects beyond performance, of course. I played with its programmable features, whether it’s remapping or adjusting RGB, and also looked at how easy it was to remove and replace parts of the keyboard.

I’ve tested a lot of tech gear over the years from laptops to keyboards and mice, and so have been able to use my expertise towards giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical eye, to any product I test.

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

Razer Blade 16 (2023) review: perfect for the people who can afford one
4:32 pm | August 16, 2023

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

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Two-minute review

The Razer Blade 16 is not for the faint of heart (or more accurately, wallet). You don’t get the hard plastic chassis or aggressive “gamer” design of budget or mid-tier gaming laptops. Instead, you end up with something elegant, while still retaining its gamer roots, and powerful.

It’s pretty limited on any flaws even in its base configuration, which is what we’ve tested here. The only thing that might hinder it from being considered among the best gaming laptops out right now is its exorbitant price tag. That’s just for the base configuration too, as any upgrades are pretty pricey including one of the more interesting features – a dual-mode display that can switch between a 3840 x 2400p resolution @ 120Hz refresh rate and a 1920 x 1200p resolution at 240Hz refresh rate so you can optimize on whether you want to do video editing or gaming with an eye towards quality or esports-level performance.

So, if you can afford it, I think it is indeed among the best laptops for gaming. But, if you’re like most of us, that might require selling an organ or two. 

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Price & availability

  • How much does it cost?  Starting at $2,699.99 (about £2,120 / AU$4,100) 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it?  Only available in the US at the time of writing 

Considering that the base configuration of the Razer Blade 16 starts at $2,699.99 (about £2119 / AU$4111), you better have been saving your pennies for a long time. The most unattractive thing about this laptop is its price. As we’ll discuss it’s fairly compact for a laptop with a 16-inch display and sports some powerful specs including an Intel Core i9-13950HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD, not to mention that a QHD+ (2560 x 1600p) resolution at 240 Hz for that screen. Again, that’s the base configuration.

Just about any upgrade is going to cost you quite a bit. Just going from 16GB of RAM to 32GB adds $600 (about £471/ AU$914). And, going from the QHD+ display mentioned before to the dual-mode display that lets you switch between two different resolutions and refresh rates will also add $600 (about £471/ AU$914). Upgrading from just the black colorway to Mercury is $1,100 (about £863 / AU$1675). And so on.

For a fully upgraded model, you’ll have to spend a whopping $4,299.99 (about £3,373/ AU$6,545). The crazy thing with all this is it seems that other premium gaming laptops sporting Nvidia 4000 series GPUs also get pretty pricey. The MSI GT77 Titan (2023) starts at $4,299.99 (about £3,570 / AU$6,240), which gets you an Intel Core i9-13980HX, Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and a 2TB NVMe SSD. 

If you want a great gaming laptop that’s a bit more affordable, then consider something like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15. You’ll have to compromise a tiny bit as it comes with AMD Ryzen CPUs and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 series GPUs. But, the price for one starts at a much cheaper $1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,599.

Lastly, beyond its champagne price tag, the Razer Blade 16 is only currently available in the US.

  • Price score: 3 / 5

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Specs

The Razer Blade 16 comes in several configurations, with our review model also being the base one. 

Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Design

  • Elegant gamer look that collects fingerprints like clues
  • Compact for such a robust laptop
  • All the ports a gamer-on-the-go could need

When it comes to aesthetics, there’s a certain subsection of gaming PCs and laptops that I would consider to have an elegant gamer look and the Razer Blade 16 fits the description. It’s not going to pass as an Ultrabook with its matte black aluminum chassis adorned with hints of green. But, it doesn’t have that in-your-face-gaming aesthetic either. So, while clearly a gaming laptop, it’s still attractive. It’s only really fault here is that the finish does tend to pick up fingerprints relatively easy.

Its form factor is a bit more interesting as Razer has managed to fit a fantastic looking 16-inch display in a chassis that’s closer to the size of a 15-inch laptop. Yet, there’s still plenty of screen real estate thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio. Plus, even with just its base configuration, it comes with a sharp 2560 x 1600p resolution running at a 240 Hz refresh rate. There’s no way around it, this is a good looking screen.

Internally, it is just as impressive with its 13th-gen Intel Core i9, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, and 1TB SSD. Considering what’s all inside component-wise, this is a pretty thin laptop measuring at just 0.87-inches thick when closed though its 5.4 lb weight is certainly not that light.

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Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
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Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

As far as ports go, there’s just about everything you could want from a laptop. There’s a Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C 3.2 port, both of which support power delivery. There’s a HDMI 2.1 output and three USB ports, not to mention a headphone jack. Creatives will be happy to know that there’s also a UHS-II SD card reader if you have any intention of also using this laptop for photo or video editing.

  • Design score: 5 / 5

Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Performance

  • Performance is just about perfect
  • Keyboard and trackpad are a pleasure to use
  • Sound quality is surprisingly decent
Razer Blade 16: Laptop benchmarks

Here's how the Razer Blade 16 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 58,900; Fire Strike: 20,425; Time Spy: 10,547
GeekBench 6: 2492 (single-core); 12125 (multi-core)
25GB File Copy:
13.8
Handbrake 1.6: 4:37
CrossMark: Overall: 1835 Productivity: 1815 Creativity: 1861 Responsiveness: 1816
Total War: Warhammer III: 1080p (Low) 212.4 fps, 1080p (Ultra) 81.5 fps
Cyberpunk 2077: 1080p (Low) 121.45 fps, 1080p (Ultra) 76.84 fps\Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 3:13:12
PCMark 10 Battery Life (Gaming): 1:38 

The performance on the Razer Blade 16 is impressive, almost awe-inspiring. Everything works as intended, with smooth performance from just about every game that I played. I could do max settings with ray tracing on a number of games including Control, Far Cry 6 (though that has no ray tracing), and Gotham Knights. The only performance issues I noticed at all were when running Hogwarts Legacy. With settings turned up all the way but ray tracing, performance was rock solid. Once I started using ray tracing, the POV was a little less smooth with very slight stuttering becoming apparent with ray tracing on medium. With ray tracing on the highest setting, it worked well enough but had enough stuttering that it broke the immersion, even if it didn’t affect gameplay.

Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

The keyboard and trackpad were a pleasure to use for just about every task, though I would still suggest using a mouse when gaming. The trackpad is especially big, but it’s still not a substitute when playing most titles.

If you plan on streaming while gaming, the webcam offers a crisp 1080p at 30fps. It’s not the smoothest looking as you’re limited to 30 fps no matter the resolution, but it’s a detailed image.

When it comes to sound quality, I’m actually impressed with what Razer has managed to do. It’s not going to match external speakers or a pair of good headphones. But, it doesn’t sound hollow the way that most laptops do. Instead, you have decent sound quality that’s slightly boxy as the low and high ends are slightly cut off. However, it’s more than adequate. More importantly, the soundstage and sound imaging are good enough to know where everything is in a game. You could play a competitive game using the internal speakers and be ok.

Lastly, controlling the internal settings here is straightforward. Instead of multiple apps, Razer has consolidated everything into its Synapse app with the laptop appearing the same way a peripheral would. You just click on it and have easy access to a few crucial settings like turning off certain keys during gameplay automatically.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Battery life

  • A little over 5 hours of use per charge
  • Multiple ways to charge

The Razer Blade 16’s 5 hours of use is not going to blow any minds, but, for a powerful gaming laptop such as this, it’s not bad. Sure, you can get over 10 hours with most Ultrabooks and Chromebooks these days. However, they don’t have to supply power to an Nvidia GeForce 4000 series GPU.

The slightly more impressive bit is that you can actually use either the Thunderbolt or USB-C port to charge along with the actual power supply the Razer Blade 16 comes with. As fantastic as this laptop is, Razer hasn’t yet cracked the divide in battery life between gaming laptops and everything else.

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Razer Blade 16 (2023)?

Razer Blade 16 (2023) on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Buy it if...

You want excellent gaming performance no matter the cost
If you can afford it, the Razer Blade 16 will give you excellent performance no matter how hard you push it.

You want a fast display
If you’re a competitive gamer, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll get a 240Hz refresh rate no matter what configuration you get, making those fast-paced games look buttery smooth.

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a budget
There’s no way around it. This thing is expensive. You can get 80% of the way there with gaming laptops that are half the price.

Razer Blade 16 (2023): Also consider

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

If the Razer Blade 16 (2023) has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Razer Blade 16 (2023)

  • Tested for a week
  • Pushed it as hard as possible gaming-wise
  • Played with various settings

I used the Razer Blade 16 for about a week, playing a number of demanding games like Hogwards Legacy, Control, Gotham Knights and Far Cry 6. While doing so, I ran the games at various settings, particularly at the highest ones with ray tracing on where possible, and took note of the results.

Having used this laptop for a week was enough to determine not only how good of a gaming laptop it is, but the fact that it could meet the needs of just about every type of gamer that can afford it.

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

Acer Chromebook Spin 714 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

On top of that, the 14-inch touch display is a pleasure to use. Not only does it look good with its 1920 x 1200p resolution with 100% sRGB color coverage, not to mention slightly extra screen real estate thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio, but interacting with it is a treat. The touchscreen is accurate and responsive no matter if you’re using it in laptop or tablet mode. And, since it’s Corning Gorilla Glass, it has a soft yet solid feel.

The webcam is equally crisp with its 1440p resolution, making this a good laptop for use with video conferencing. Its refresh rate is capped at 30Hz, but the results were still relatively smooth when moving quickly in frame.

If there’s one area for complaint, it’s the speakers. It seems that very few laptop manufacturers have been able to get good audio out of their portables and that’s the case here. Not only is the volume on the quiet side, but the audio is a bit hollow sounding. There’s not a lot of low-end as well, but that’s to be expected with a laptop. I would recommend using headphones or speakers when possible.

Acer Chromebook Spin 714 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

On top of that, the 14-inch touch display is a pleasure to use. Not only does it look good with its 1920 x 1200p resolution with 100% sRGB color coverage, not to mention slightly extra screen real estate thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio, but interacting with it is a treat. The touchscreen is accurate and responsive no matter if you’re using it in laptop or tablet mode. And, since it’s Corning Gorilla Glass, it has a soft yet solid feel.

The webcam is equally crisp with its 1440p resolution, making this a good laptop for use with video conferencing. Its refresh rate is capped at 30Hz, but the results were still relatively smooth when moving quickly in frame.

If there’s one area for complaint, it’s the speakers. It seems that very few laptop manufacturers have been able to get good audio out of their portables and that’s the case here. Not only is the volume on the quiet side, but the audio is a bit hollow sounding. There’s not a lot of low-end as well, but that’s to be expected with a laptop. I would recommend using headphones or speakers when possible.

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless review: saved by the bells and whistles
4:00 pm | August 10, 2023

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

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless: Two-minute review

The Corsair HS80 Max is a gaming headset that leads not with its audio quality but with its feature set. On sound quality alone, it’s capable but not necessarily the most appealing option out there in its price range. 

That isn’t to say it isn’t a good sounding entry. And of course, the comfort and battery life are very good as well, with it outlasting many of the best wireless gaming headsets with its RGB lighting still on.

But it’s the extras that really sell it: there’s a customizable button for on-the-fly controls, a relatively powerful EQ, and a way to create a completely customized sound profile. There are a couple omissions, most notably multipoint connectivity, but the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to its feature set is more than enough to recommend it. And if it were to be considered among the best gaming headsets available right now, it would probably be because of those extras. 

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

In terms of its design, it doesn’t stray from Corsair’s previous HS80 gaming headset, with that version’s almost boxy ear cups, suspended headband, flip-to-mute mic copied and pasted into this updated version. It comes in either black or white / gray colorways for a slightly muted look. The RGB zones on either ear cup and the LED ring on the end of the mic provide the only shock of color.

While the majority of the Corsair HS80 Max seems to be made of hard and admittedly durable plastic, the headband is reinforced with lightweight aluminum. The yolks attached to the ear cups are also made of aluminum, ensuring that one of the most fragile elements of a headset will endure whatever wear and tear you’re putting it through.

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Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
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Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

The comfort is spot on as well. The headband does have a bit  more clamping force than I would like, but that’s easily remedied. By using a suspended headband design, Corsair made it easy to adjust the tightness of the fit. Just unfasten the end of the fabric band held in place by velcro, adjust to taste, and refasten. That means you can unfasten the fabric to loosen it almost like shoe laces.

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Cushy ear pads covered in a soft fabric round out  that comfortable fit, allowing hours of wear without issue. At 352 grams, it’s not the lightest headsetI’ve experienced, but it’s light enough. The only real issue that could possibly get in the way of comfort is the fact that hard headband can’t actually be extended. So, if you have a particularly big head, this might not be the headset for you.

Physical controls are pretty minimal. There’s just a power button and volume wheel behind the left ear cup while a Bluetooth button sits behind the right. The only control for the mic is its ability to mute when flipped up.

That volume wheel contains a secret function, though. When pressed, it opens the iCue app (more on that later) that gives you access to a host of commands from changing EQ profiles – or alternately, performs non-headset commands like launching a program or simulating a button press on a mouse or key press on a keyboard.

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Before I get too into the sound quality, I do want to add a quick caveat that I can be a harsh critic in this department. After all, it’s the core function of every headset and pair of headphones, and I tend to prefer more neutral sounding sound signatures. And, if there’s one thing the Corsair HS80 Max is not, it’s neutral.

That’s not to say this is a bad sounding headset. In fact, it sounds good. But, it’s got a boost in the low-mids with the highs slightly rolled for a sound that is best described as warm. The downside to that is it’s not the most detailed sounding headset out there, even in its price range. However, it is pleasant to listen to and actually performs better with games than with music (video streaming sits somewhere in between) as that low-mid boost helps approximate some rumble and gives body to any sound details, whether it’s the sound of running footsteps or explosions in Far Cry 6 or the thud of hitting against a shield in Gotham Knights.

Just as important as the actual sound quality is the soundstage and imaging. While the Corsair HS80 Max is not incredibly wide, it offers a good amount of space and delivers precise placement of sound elements. For this specifically, I spent some time running in Hogwarts Legacy, in which I could easily place voices and sound events as they approached or passed by.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the spatial audio. The Corsair HS80 Max supports Dolby Atmos, accessible through the Dolby Access app, for that three dimensional sound. It verges on subtle but does give a little more space to game audio without washing it out the way some spatial audio can. It’s a nice feature that I personally wouldn’t rely on too much, but it can give a little more depth to those who need it.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the features that I think are what make this headset special. The aforementioned ability to map the Scroll Press to a whole set of functions is one of them. It also has both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect it to a ton of different platforms, though sadly it doesn’t have multipoint connectivity. The rest  of its features, which are worth exploring, are found on the iCue app.

There’s a ten-band EQ, which is much more powerful than what I see available in a lot of companion apps, along with some EQ presets. Taking it a step further there’s also a way to create a personalized EQ or sound profile via the Sonarworks SoundID personalization. Instead of manually setting different EQ sliders, you essentially go through a five-minute test that analyzes what you can actually hear and adjusts accordingly. While I’ve generally found this kind of personalization feature to apply drastic changes to the EQ settings (which I didn’t like), I appreciated that the feature implemented here created a very usable and more subtle personalized sound signature.

iCue also lets you play with the RGB and create different profiles to adjust mic settings. You can also install Nvidia Broadcast (if you have a compatible GPU)  for any deep adjustments to the mic, but it’s not necessary. I typically don’t care about EQing or throwing effects on my voice. And, since the mic here sounds pretty clear with limited background noise retention, the volume and sidetone adjustments available in iCue are more than enough for me. 

The last thing I want to mention is the battery life. The only reason I’m not singing its praises as much as the feature set is the fact that most current gaming headsets have pretty good battery life, and if you regularly charge when not in use, you probably won’t notice the difference as much. If you use the 2.4GHz wireless connection with RGB on, the Corsair HS80 Max will give 24 hours of use. However, turn the RGB off, and you can get up to 65, and that’s where it starts to get impressive. Through Bluetooth, you might be able to get up to 130 hours.

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $179.99 / £169.99 / AU$299
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

At $179.99 / £169.99 / AU$299, the Corsair HS80 Max is the epitome of mid-range. It’s not going to make your eyes water like the Audeze Maxwell just by looking at the price tag, but it won’t quite feel like a deal like the Corsair HS65 Surround. After having spent some time with the HS80 Max, I’d say that price tag is well-earned as it offers an appropriate amount of performance, comfort, and features for what Corsair is asking.

Of course, competition is stiff at this price point. The Alienware AW720H offers crisp, Hi-Res audio and that could-have-been-designed-at-Pixar look that sets it apart, though the mic and battery life here is better.

If that almost $180 / £170 price point is too steep, Corsair does offer some good alternatives. The Corsair HS65 Surround, mentioned above, goes for just $79 / £79 / AU$119 and offers good surround sound and a comfortable fit, though you will have to forgo that wireless connectivity. 

  •  Price: 4 / 5

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless: Specs

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Should you buy the Corsair HS80 Max Wireless?

Buy it if...

You want all the features
With one notable exception, the Corsair HS80 Max has all the features you could want, from a remappable button and multiple forms of wireless connectivity to a personalized sound signature and spatial audio.

You want something for long gaming sessions
Comfort and battery life are two crucial elements to any headset, and they’re well-implemented here, meaning you can get in a good, long gaming session and be none the worse for wear.

Don't buy it if...

You care most about sound quality
While the Corsair HS80 Max sounds good, it’s a filtered sound with a low-mid boost and high-end rolloff that won’t quite knock your socks off.

You have a big head
If you have a big head (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), the fact that the headband can’t extend means it might not be the right fit – literally.

Corsair HS80 Max Wireless: Also consider

How I tested the Corsair HS80 Max Wireless

  • Used regularly for three days
  • Tested with all sorts of games as well as music and streaming video
  • Tested all included features

I used the Corsair HS80 Max Wireless Gaming Headset regularly for three days. While wearing it for hours at a time, I used it with a number of games including Gotham Knights, Control, Far Cry 6, and Hogwarts Legacy. I also listened to all sorts of genres of music and did a little video streaming as well.

While using the headset, I tested all the settings in the iCue software, toggling the various EQ settings as well as Dolby Atmos audio and other features such as the SoundID Personalization, comparing the results to get a better understanding of the headset.

Since I’ve reviewed audio equipment from speakers to headsets and headphones for the last few years, I’ve been able to build and use my expertise towards giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical ear, to any audio product I test.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

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