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HyperX Cloud III Wireless Review – fantastic battery life and booming audio
5:00 pm | May 5, 2024

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

One-minute review

The HyperX Cloud III Wireless cuts the cord on one of HyperX’s longstanding models and brings it into the twenty-first century, where wireless headsets seem to rule the roost. The big draw here is with its rated 120 hours of runtime, which is among the very best wireless headsets out there, and means you won’t be having to charge the Cloud III Wireless regularly.

Its bass-heavy audio and solid imaging make it an excellent choice for games, although it isn’t the best I’ve tested for music. There is spatial audio present, although that can be quite hit-and-miss. The same also goes for the NGenuity software which, while lightweight, offers only basic functionality compared to the competition.

The Cloud III Wireless is well-made, offering plush memory foam earcups and fantastic comfort for extended periods, so long as you adjust the headset correctly. Its mic is clear for communication over Discord or conferencing apps, and while it lacks the overall richness of features compared to other options from SteelSeries and Razer, this remains a competent choice.

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $149.99 / £169.99 / AU$279
  • Available in the US and UK
  • Much better value in the US

Much like with the JBL Quantum 910X, the Cloud III Wireless is cheaper across the pond in the US than it is in the UK, being $149.99 and £169.99 in terms of retail pricing. That puts it in a similar ballpark to other class leaders such as the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, with its $179.99 / £174.99 price tag, and while it’s slightly more expensive, you do get wider compatibility and connectivity options with Bluetooth, although HyperX’s competitor has a much longer battery life. 

It’s also comparable in price to one of our favorite wireless gaming headsets, the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro, with its £179 / $179 price tag, and while the Cloud III Wireless is cheaper in the USA, it’s roughly equivalent in the UK, meaning this has got a lot to live up to. The Cloud III Wireless is also available in Australia at a price of AU$279.

Specs

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

The Cloud III Wireless is a signature headset from HyperX in terms of its design, carrying the same recognizable shapes as the brand’s previous entries. In fact, squint, and you might think you’re looking at the Cloud Alpha Wireless instead.

The most noticeable differences here compared to the Alpha Wireless are the lack of red stitching on the headband, and slightly angular earcups compared to the perfect ovals found on other headsets in the HyperX range. The Cloud III Wireless also comes with bright red aluminum forks, as well as speckled black and red wiring from the headband to the earcups, which looks excellent.

This is a well-made headset, with no creaks or odd noises from the plastic. Its headband and earcups are noticeably plusher than the Cloud Alpha Wireless, while the cups are deep, aiding comfort and also helping the Cloud III Wireless to provide some class-leading passive noise isolation. At 11.6oz / 330g, this sits in the middle of over-ear gaming headsets weight-wise and feels reasonably comfortable to wear for extended periods, although the slightly lighter clamping force can mean the Cloud III Wireless moves around on your head if not adjusted properly.

Luckily, this is a comfortable headset to wear for extended periods, once configured for your head properly. I had little trouble setting it up for hours of use and found the Cloud III Wireless to be one of the more comfortable headsets I’ve used, especially with those deeper earcups. There isn’t much room for adjustment around those earcups, however, as the Cloud III Wireless doesn’t fold flat, or offer much rotation there.

As with other HyperX headsets, the Cloud III Wireless features physical controls which are well-distributed across both earcups. The left-hand option features a power button and mic mute, as well as a USB-C port for charging and a place for slotting the detachable boom mic into. The right-hand side is home to a tactile and textured volume roller. Luckily, the buttons are different sizes, so it’s easy to find the one you want with ease.

While this headset solely connects via the bundled 2.4GHz receiver, it is at least quite a small option compared to other receivers which can be quite bulky and protrude out from a USB port on your PC, PS5, or Switch. The Cloud III Wireless’ receiver also boasts a detachable USB-A adapter alongside its initial USB-C connector, therefore improving compatibility.

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

The Cloud III Wireless sounds superb in games with overall solid positioning in the likes of Counter-Strike 2 and other high-paced first-person shooter titles where finding the overall position of an enemy in time to pepper them with bullets is of top priority. In addition, engine notes in the likes of Forza Horizon 5 and F1 22 were clear, while explosions and gunfire in CS:2 had fantastic power thanks to the prominent low-end.

A word of advice - don’t enable the DTS Headphone:X spatial audio when listening to music, as it muddies the entire experience and can make some tracks sound as if they are being played from the next room, or down a loudspeaker. It is better with games, although only works in fully supported titles such as Forza Horizon 5. With games that don’t have full DTS Headphone:X support, the Cloud Wireless III has mixed results, occasionally spitting out a crunched-up mess as it attempts to process the signal. You’re better off leaving it off completely for the best performance.

As is typical for gaming headsets, the Cloud III Wireless has a lot of bass and this is particularly noticeable when listening to music. Rush’s Sweet Miracle offered plenty of low-end grunt, while Daryl Hall and John Oates’ Maneater presented more low-end than competing headsets, especially against Hall’s leading vocal on the verse lines.

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

(Image credit: Future)

Mids and highs are clearer than the low end, with the Cloud III Wireless representing vocals especially well such as on James Taylor’s Caroline I See You, while the top-end hi-hats on Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley were bright and crisp. The Cloud III Wireless doesn’t offer the widest soundstage, as busier recordings such as Rush’s Sweet Miracle can feel hemmed in with this particular set, while the prominent bongos on Earth, Wind and Fire’s September feel closer to my right ear than on other similarly-priced headsets and audio-focused headphones.

The Cloud III Wireless’ boom microphone is clear, offering a good amount of body from its pickup in my testing, while its rejection of noise other than voices is also pretty good. Compared to other options though, it lacks some low-end so recordings can sound a little open-ended at the bottom, although the mid-range where your voice lives is more than adequate.

Connectivity over the 2.4GHz receiver is convenient, and I had no trouble pairing the Cloud III Wireless to my PC. It’s a simple case of plugging the receiver into a spare USB-C or USB-A port and turning the headset on. The Cloud III Wireless flashes a green LED, bleeps, and then connects. The same also went for use with my Nintendo Switch.

The main reason for purchasing the Cloud III Wireless over its rivals is its especially long battery life of up to 120 hours. It means that you won’t be charging this head for a good couple of weeks for more intensive use, and for longer if you’re using it less frequently. In my fortnight of testing the Cloud III Wireless, I only had to charge it once, and it otherwise chugged along nicely. For reference, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X will only last for 38 hours between charges, while the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro only offers up to 24 hours, meaning this Cloud III Wireless has them both beat in terms of endurance.

Unfortunately, the Cloud III Wireless falls down with its software control. HyperX’s NGenuity software has never been the best option for peripheral controls, and that continues with the Cloud III Wireless. For a headset priced so optimistically against the competition, NGenuity feels cheap, only offering basic customization for picking an EQ preset or creating your own from a ten-band EQ. Otherwise, it provides toggle switches for mic monitoring and spatial audio, as well as volume control for the headset and microphone.

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the HyperX Cloud III Wireless?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

If the HyperX Cloud III Wireless isn’t your jam,  then you should consider these two multi-platform marvels instead:

How I tested the HyperX Cloud III Wireless

I tested the HyperX Cloud III Wireless for two weeks, using it as my main headset during that time. I used it for playing a wide range of games on both PC and Nintendo Switch, as well as for conferencing duties on PC during working hours. As for games, I tested the Cloud III Wireless with a range of titles where directional audio was of major importance, including the likes of Counter-Strike 2, Forza Horizon 5, and F1 22. I also streamed music through Spotify and with high-quality MP3 files for understanding how the headset handles music. With the microphone, I tested it with online gaming sessions and recorded tested files in Audacity.

Read more about how we test

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

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

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: Two-minute review

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

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

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

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

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

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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

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

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

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

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

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

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

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

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: PRICE & AVAILABILITY

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

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

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

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC: Specs

An Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC on a gray deskmat

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Should you buy the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC?

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

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

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

Don't buy it if...

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

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

Also consider

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

How I tested the Acer Predator BiFrost Arc A770 OC

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

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

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

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

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller review – small improvements to a brilliant pad
1:09 pm | February 22, 2024

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

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller comes to replace the original eSwap X Pro gamepad and offers the same level of excellence - but only with subtle upgrades. These enhancements and improvements are more akin to quality-of-life changes rather than an overhaul.

Almost all of these are welcome, affecting the type of wired connectivity, button improvements, and enhanced performance. However, they are simultaneously very safe moves. Part of me wishes that Thrustmaster had been a little more adventurous with this update, but there’s also value in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach that can be applied here too as I thought the eSwap X Pro that came before this was excellent (when I review it for our sister publication GamesRadar) and it has also found a home in the competitive and pro player audiences.

All things considered, though, the X2 is a superb Xbox controller and, by default having replaced its predecessor, now becomes one of the best modular Xbox and PC controllers on the market - but does it warrant its $169.99 / £169.99 (about AU$325) price tag? Let’s find out.

Thrustmaster eSwap X2 review - Design & features

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The overall design of the X2 is almost identical to the original Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro. It retains the same form factor of a chunky gamepad that feels solid and weighty in the hands.

Coming in at 10.5oz / 300g, it’s a bit lighter than the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 (12.2oz / 345g). The shapes are slightly different of course, but the X2’s overall dimensions also mean it comes in slightly smaller than the Elite Series 2 - it measures 6.3in / 160mm x 4.7in / 120mm x 2.4in / 60mm (WxDxH). Despite this, it does feel very chunky and will take more getting used to for those with smaller hands. However, this should not put those folks off - I have small hands and use this controller very happily and easily, it just requires a slight change to how you navigate a controller with your digits, and the required alteration to muscle memory.

The benefit of this weight, however, is that it’s a design that inspires confidence. It’s sturdy, and can easily survive a drop, with every part feeling secure and fixed well in place.

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The modular system is the star of the design show, however, and remains an excellent feature for both versatility and accessibility. The ability to easily swap out modules to change the pad from asymmetrical to symmetrical in a flash is easy and means that it caters to different game types, playstyles, and preferences.

In terms of buttons, the standard Xbox layout is present, but with the same augmentations as seen on the original eSwap X Pro. Both triggers’ travel distance can be changed with the flick of a switch on the rear, there are six front-facing buttons (three for audio controls, three for button profiles), and there are view, menu, share, and Xbox buttons on the front. The face buttons (A, B, X, Y), both shoulder buttons (LB, RB), and the D-pad are all incredibly satisfying to press, with super-short actuation distances that prompt speedy response and input times.

Like its predecessor, the X2 is a wired controller, albeit this time with a more up-to-date USB-C connection. The lack of wireless connectivity does sting in the year 2024, though, despite the reduction in latency that an upgraded USB-C tethered connection offers. At least the cable is friendly for most setups being 9.8ft / 3m long.

Thrustmaster eSwap X2 review - Performance

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The X2 retains all the performance prowess that was offered by the eSwap X Pro, and tweaks it slightly to push things a little further. However, being only slight tweaks, some small gripes remain present. 

Using the controller as a daily driver for any game is a joy. The mechanical button presses are still exquisite. From the D-pad to the face buttons and shoulder buttons, everything has a fantastic feel with actuation distances of just 0.01” / 0.3mm on offer. The D-pad is particularly fantastic in this regard, while the overall improvement to actuation is a subtle but noticeable step up from the predecessor. 

The S5 NXG mini thumbsticks are superb to use too, allowing for both smooth and slick movement changes or steering, as well as precise movements when lining up jumps and swift changes of direction in Ori and the Will of the Wisps or aiming down the sights in Halo 2: Anniversary or Gears of War 2.

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The original controller had some strangely intense vibrations by default which I didn’t like at all. It was particularly off-putting in racing games and made it feel like the controller was trying to run away from your hands with a million tiny feet. This, at least straight out of the box, has been addressed, and a more traditional yet deeply satisfying rumble is present. 

The ThrustmapperX app remains an excellent companion too, enabling you to customize and choose your button mappings and profiles to optimize your experience with the controller, both on PC and Xbox.

But there are some drawbacks. The programmable back buttons remain less intuitive than competing pads with their more user-friendly paddles like on the Victrix Pro BFG and the Razer Wolverine series. My smaller hands can barely reach the back buttons at all, and their positioning is too central to be natural. The controller grips and removable panels are also still sub-par - a grippy, textured effect would have been a great addition.

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

Also, while maintaining a wired connection is a contributing factor for the pad’s positioning as something for competition and fighting games, overall it still feels like a drawback in the year 2024. Having a long cable drape over your living room is a pain, and there’s always a fear of it being a trip hazard or putting strain on the pad or the console.

Gripes aside, this is still a superb controller - the modular design is incredible, the buttons are a genuine joy to use, and the level of customization and flexibility on offer with the pad is wonderful. I can’t imagine playing on Xbox or PC any other way.

Should I buy the Thrustmaster eSwap X2?

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The eSwap X2 is a tremendous Xbox and PC controller. While the changes in this second iteration are very much just quality-of-life, rather than a big overhaul, it’s a quality bit of kit. Thrustmaster has not been shy about this, representing small upgrades that retain the features that its audience most values while improving bits and pieces slightly, and meeting EU standards. 

Despite this, part of me still wishes Thrustmaster had been a bit bolder in the revisions and went further. Perhaps better positioning and ergonomics of back buttons, a tighter design form, and wireless capacity, would all be welcome, for example. 

It’s worth noting that while the original eSwap X Pro pad remains available the value proposition of the X2 is slightly compromised - the eSwap X Pro is still an excellent premium pad in its own right. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a top Xbox or PC controller, or looking for a controller that can adapt to your accessibility needs a little, and you don’t mind being tethered then this is absolutely worth your interest and your money.

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Thrustmaster eSwap X2 review - How we tested

I spent two weeks with the Thrustmaster eSwap X2 and tested it on both PC and Xbox Series X. I used the controller with a bunch of Steam Next Fest demos and tested the pad with a chunk of Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 2, and Halo 2 (I'm revisiting classics I missed the first time around, don’t judge me), while also going deep into Ori and Will of Wisps. I thoroughly explored all the available settings in the ThrustmapperX app to tinker with the pad, while also altering the modular layout - mainly to be used as a symmetrical controller but also trying the Thrustmaster eSwap X racing module.

If you’re looking for more accessories then check out our guides to the best monitors for Xbox Series X and the best Xbox Series X headsets. 

Lenovo Legion Go review: this is the true Steam Deck contender
5:00 pm | November 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Lenovo Legion Go: Two-minute review

The Lenovo Legion Go is the latest in the PC handheld market trend, following Valve’s Steam Deck and the Asus ROG Ally. Though my expectations were suitably tempered, getting to fully test out the portable gaming machine has convinced me of its superiority compared to ROG Ally and even compared to the gold-standard Steam Deck.

At first glance, it’s almost laughably large and weighs far more than its competition. Normally this would mean that its portability is shot, but Lenovo was ingenious in this regard and included a built-in kickstand right in the back. It’s a simple feature but absolutely game-changing, as it allows for long sessions without suffering fatigue from having to hold it. 

It also means that if you want to use it either for gaming or a PC replacement, there’s no need to purchase a separate docking station. It won’t be replacing the best gaming laptops or best gaming PCs anytime soon but it still adds more flexibility to this device. The portable runs on Windows 11 and, unlike the ROG Ally, this version of the OS is fully optimized for the Legion Go making for an incredibly smooth and perfectly intuitive UI.

The side controllers can also be detached a lá the Nintendo Switch joy-con style and wielded in each hand or attached to a piece and made into its own controller. You can also take one of the controllers and activate FPS Mode with the click of a switch, allowing for precision control with shooters and other genres that benefit from the best gaming mouse.

There are plenty of buttons scattered throughout the system as well, which are all fully customizable, and even a touchpad. It can get overwhelming, as it feels like everywhere your fingers go, there’s a button to press, but nothing activates without you setting it.

Performance-wise, the Legion Go can handle a wide variety of titles, from less demanding ones like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge or AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Baldur’s Gate 3. What’s impressive is how the portable can juggle multiple games at once without a hint of slowdown, and how easy it is to switch between said games, even if they’re from different PC storefronts. There is some slowdown and slight freezing in between gameplay, especially loading, but the gameplay itself remains smooth as butter for the most part.

Of course, the Lenovo Legion Go’s Achilles heel is its terrible battery life. You’ll only be getting a few hours of gameplay at most unless you turn down the settings significantly. But there’s hardly any point when the sole purpose of a PC handheld is to play the best PC games the way they’re meant to be played, so best keep the charger handy for this one.

Lenovo Legion Go: Price and availability

Spec sheet

Here is the Lenovo Legion Go configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
Graphics: AMD RDNA Graphics
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5X (7500Mhz)
Screen: 8.8-inch QHD+, 144Hz, 500 nits, 97% DCI-P3 color gamut
Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 2242 SSD
Ports: 2x USB Type-C ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD slot
Connectivity: 802.11ax 2x2 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5.1
Weight: 1.88 lbs (854 g)
Size: 11.76 x 5.16 x 1.60 inches (298.83 x 131 x 40.7 mm; W x D x H)

The Lenovo Legion Go starts at $699.99 / £700 (inc. VAT) / AU$1,299 with availability in the US, UK, and Australia. In the US market, there are two models, with the base version being an already steep $699.99 and including 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage. The more expensive $749.99 ups the storage to 1TB. Lenovo has stated that it plans on releasing cheaper models using the AMD Ryzen Z1 CPU in the future.

The UK only has the 512GB model for the same price as the US version, meaning that UK buyers are actually paying more. In Australia, there are two modes with the cheaper version coming with 256GB of storage and the pricier version equipped with 512GB of storage space.

Lenovo Legion Go: Design

Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Your first thought while looking at the Lenovo Legion Go is how large and weighty it is compared to its competitors, which is more than enough for it to be off-putting. However, there are several benefits to this. The first being that it ventilates much better than smaller handhelds like the ROG Ally, which meant I was able to game for long periods without dealing with any overheating issues, even when pushing through with more graphically and performance-intense titles.

Lenovo knew that it had to offset the weight issue of the portable, which is where the kickstand comes in. It’s built into the handheld and of very good quality, both the stand itself and the hinges. This lets you rest the Legion Go on reasonably-flat surface without the need for a separate docking station, while you use the portable as a gaming device or desktop replacement.

The bulky side controllers aren’t just window dressing either, as they’re detachable controllers similar to the Nintendo Switch’s joy cons. And like the joy cons, you can use them with each in one hand while you have the main display supported by the kickstand, though there are no motion sensors in them. There’s also a handy LED light ring around each joystick that indicates the controller’s current power and connection state.

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Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
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The Lenovo Legion Go gaming handheld.

(Image credit: Future)
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The Lenovo Legion Go gaming handheld.

(Image credit: Future)

If that isn’t enough, one of the controllers can be mounted on a base, and then activated with the click of a switch into FPS Mode. This mode allows for precise gameplay akin to a PC mouse, perfect for first and third-person shooters, as well as other genres that work best with a mouse.

The display is an absolutely gorgeous 8.8-inch QHD+ and comes with a great refresh rate of 144Hz, perfect for most gamers’ needs. It also has a surprisingly high 97% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which shows how eye-catching and vivid the colors are. It sports an excellent touchscreen too, which pairs perfectly with the well-optimized OS.

And though Windows 11 is far more functional here than with the ROG Ally, its limitations show that when it comes to an optimized OS made solely for its PC handheld, Steam Deck is still king in that regard. For instance, when booting up
the Steam Deck for the first time, setup is so refreshingly simple and takes a mere minute. But the Legion Go's Windows 11 forces you to suffer through the same setup as any other Windows PC or laptop.

There's also the issue of Legion Space, which is pretty useless. Unlike ROG Ally's Armoury Crate CE which lets you at least log in directly to your storefronts of choice, Space gives you that illusion at first and then opens up a webpage. You have to install your storefronts first, then access them either through that or Legion Space. But at that point, the latter is useless.

Lenovo Legion Go: Performance

Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Thanks to its impressive specs, especially the miracle of the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme with AMD RDNA Graphics, the Lenovo Legion Go is an incredibly powerful handheld that’s capable of handling anything from 16-bit indie games to the most demanding of AAA titles. 

While there are longer load times for more demanding games, and even rare instances of brief freezing, during actual gameplay the experience is a smooth one that’s coupled with some truly impressive graphics. You have to be patient with the handheld but it returns the favor when you finally get to your title.

For instance, I tested out the Legion Go with Forza Horizon 5 on both Low and Medium settings. Though the game recommended Low and the framerate was indeed averaging around 59fps, I found that it ran quite well on Medium with ray tracing turned on, averaging out at a still solid 51fps. 

I was blown away by how beautiful the car, physics, and environments were while racing – it felt like I was gaming on a laptop for a moment. This was all done on the maximum resolution by the way, and I never felt the need to turn it down, though the option is there in the menu along with decreasing the refresh rate and more.

Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

The audio quality is excellent as well, surprisingly so. Testing out the speakers with Forza Horizon 5, as music and sound design are vital to a racing sim, you could hear the roar of the car’s engine just over the commentating and fast-paced music with such clarity that I once again forgot that I was playing on a handheld.

The controls themselves are incredible, with the analog sticks moving the car with remarkable precision. They also feel good to use for long durations thanks to the high-quality padding on each one. They're hall effect joysticks which, according to Lenovo, ensures no joystick drift and minimal dead zones. As a bonus, they have an LED light ring, which alerts you to your controllers’ remaining battery power and connection. It’s particularly handy as an easy and immediate way to discern that information without having to check through the menu.

There are several of what Lenovo calls Thermal Modes, which control how powerful the performance is compared to the fan volume, similar to a gaming laptop. The highest performance mode is meant for a plugged-in experience, though you can still use it with battery-only power, and there’s also a balanced mode that’s meant for switching between tasks and a quiet mode that works like a battery-saving mode. You can of course customize your own mode too.

There’s also a separate menu option to maximize fan speeds, and it works wonders in keeping the whole system cool. The ventilation in general is impressive, with a smart design that keeps the majority of the heat away from where your fingers rest. It's most likely due to what Lenovo calls its Coldfront thermal technology, which features a liquid crystal polymer 79-blade fan.

Lenovo Legion Go: Battery Life

Lenovo Legion Go on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Just as with every other PC handheld, the Lenovo Legion Go’s Achilles' heel is its abysmal battery life. You’ll only be getting a few hours of gameplay at most before it shuts off unless you turn down the settings significantly. But what’s the point in that, when you’re buying a portable like this to play AAA titles at gloriously high settings?

And like the Nintendo Switch, the controllers are separate entities to be charged as well. Though everything can be charged at once, the two additional accessories increase the charging time.

Should you buy the Lenovo Legion Go?

Buy the Lenovo Legion Go if...

Don't buy it if...

First reviewed November 2023

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) review: a purposefully improved update
4:30 pm | October 14, 2023

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

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Two-minute review

The Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) was praised for its outstanding performance power within a chassis that was only a bit above five pounds in our review last year. There were a few compromises made in making this one of the best gaming laptops available. For the latest iteration of the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i, there are some adequate updates in both power and performance with some caveats including the uncomfortably huge packed-in power brick. Meanwhile, the gaming laptop manages to even weigh a bit lighter than its predecessor as well at a little under five pounds. 

Though the Legion Slim 7i may struggle with native 4K resolutions, it shines exceptionally in the 1440p range. This means graphically intensive games ranging from Cyberpunk 2077, Starfield and the likes run wonderfully. Be mindful that those types of power pushing tasks will have the cooling system fans run noticeably louder than they already do at menial tasks like web browsing. Battery life is slightly above average and won’t last more than 7 hours which is good for a coastal trip. It also means that the gaming laptop won’t survive playing games with higher visual fidelity without the power supply.

Packed into this year’s Legion Slim 7i is a 14 core 13th gen Intel i9, 16GB DDR5 RAM, Nvidia RTX 4070 and 1TB SSD storage. There’s also an impressive audio/visual package thanks to the beautiful 16-inch 2560 X 1600 display offering a 240Hz refresh rate and great Harman speakers as well. Other carryovers from the previous version include an individually per-key lit RGB keyboard alongside generous port selection. Packed in apps like Lenovo Vantage are totally fine for customizing one’s experience but other apps like Legion Arena and WebAdviser feel like unnecessary bloatware.

Not much has improved significantly with the latest Legion Slim 7i and that’s totally fine. What has changed is that it’s incrementally more powerful and lighter which means more than anything. Simply put, this is one of the best thin and light gaming laptops released this year.  

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Price & availability

  • How much does it cost?  Starting at $1,499.99 / £1,820 / AU$2,719 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

Depending on the territory one is in, there are going to be various pricing options for the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023). In the United States, there are three configurations available alongside the ability to customizable a build. The review spec version I receive will run potential buyers around $1,749. 

There are more affordable options around $1,499 that includes a 13th gen Intel i7, Nvidia RTX 4060, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB SSD storage with ability to bump that down to 512GB SSD for around $50 less. At the highest $2,211 tier, the customizable build includes everything in the review build alongside the ability to push the RAM up to 32GB and a better 3200 x 2000 display with 165Hz refresh rate. 

In the UK, there’s a £1,980 pre-build that features a 13th Gen Intel i9, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 4070, 1TB SSD storage and the 3200 x 2000 display. The other customizable configurations are split between £1,820.00 - £2,300.00 with the two similar Intel CPU, RAM, storage, GPU and display options similar to the U.S. Regardless of which of the $2,719 singular pre-built or two customizable builds between $3,089 and $3,799, they all come with the 3200 x 2000 display at 165Hz refresh rate. The pre-build comes with Intel i7, 32GB, Nvidia RTX 4060 and 1TB SSD. 

The Legion Slim 7i is definitely less expensive than Razer Blade 14 or MSI Stealth GS66 while offering similar power. Within the realm of slim form gaming laptops, it’s safe to call it one of the most approachable when it comes to price.  

  • Price score: 4.5 / 5

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Specs

My review configuration of the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) sits in the middle price wise at $1749 and features a Intel i9 CPU, NVIDIA RTX 4070 GPU, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB SSD storage and 16-inch WQXGA display with a 240Hz refresh rate. 

The cheapest configuration Intel i7 CPU, NVIDIA RTX 4060 GPU, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 512GB SSD storage and same 16-inch display that comes in the review configuration. Potential buyers with a bit more expendable cash can look toward a customizable version that’ll cost around $2,211. This comes with everything in the review configuration in addition to 32GB DDR RAM and 16-inch 3.2K display at a 165Hz refresh rate. 

Outside of different choices in CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD storage, one of the most notable difference is the ability to choose between two different 16-inch displays. One being the standard WQXGA (2560 x 1600 resolution) pumping out 240Hz refresh rates and 3.2K (3200 x 2000 resolution) at a refresh rate of 165Hz. Legion has a configuration tool to create the best set-up for buyers as well. 

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Design

  • More lightweight than ever notwithstanding power increase
  • Adequate port selection
  • Awesome RGB keyboard that’s beautifully lit

Like its predecessor, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) balances both form and function when it comes to overall design. When closed, it’s really easy to appreciate the all-metal chassis made from sandblasted aluminum and magnesium. The Legion Slim 7i provides a quality finish that doesn’t smudge yet feels like it’s noticeably tough when it comes to chassis build. 

Port placement has changed slightly but feels overall familiar compared to last year’s model. In the lower rear is an HDMI port and three USB-A ports. There’s also a power port that connects to a large power brick that’s still a bit unwieldy and feels heavier than the laptop itself. For added measure, the rear ports feature light-up icons on the top of the laptop’s bottom as the display itself is offset about an inch from them. Some of the smaller changes to the port layout take place on the side, the audio jack is on the left side near the dual USB-C ports. On the left side is the SD slot for content creators and camera shutter for privacy. When closed it’s about less than an inch as well.

When opened, the Legion Slim 7i still features the power button/fingerprint scanner sitting in the middle of the Harmen speakers. The audio quality of the speakers sounds good when listening to music, gaming or watching video content. However, playing graphically intensive games will ensure the cooling fans are running at full blast. This means it’ll probably be best to have a pair of headphones handy. 

The display itself is a joy to look at with beautifully bold colors, deep blacks and respectable brightness. On top of the display is a 1080p webcam that also features dual microphones as well which is solid for video conferencing and probably streaming with the right backlighting. Below that is the wonderfully lit per-key RGB keyboard that feels comfortable to use when typing documents or gaming. The trackpad below feels smooth to the touch when moving the cursor around and offers a nice tactile click when pressed in. 

All of this comes in a slim package that fits well in even a backpack or briefcase. If anything, the power brick really hurts portability. Laying down or on the lap, the Legion Slim 7i doesn’t feel uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. 

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Performance

  • Can run most AAA games at native 1440p range with max settings well
  • Runs well with creative based software
  • Don’t expect to make total use of the 240Hz on visually intensive games
  • Cooling fans are incredibly loud
Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Laptop benchmarks

Here's how the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i: Benchmarks performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 61244 ; Fire Strike: 25797; Time Spy: 12202
GeekBench 6: 2653 (single-core); 2653 (multi-core)
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition
 (1080p, Extreme): 49.11 fps; (1080p, High): 93.73 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 88.23fps; (1080p, Low): 125.12fps
Dirt 5 (1920x1200, Ultra): 103.90fps; (1920x1200, Low): 213.00fps
25GB File Copy: 2006.553812
Handbrake 1.6: 4:28
CrossMark: Overall: 1948 Productivity: 1908 Creativity: 2044 Responsiveness: 1794
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 7 hours 01 minute
PCMark 10 Gaming Battery Life: 59 hours

As mentioned previously, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) manages to pack more performance power in an even smaller case compared to the previous version. When it comes to general computing tasks, this gaming laptop can handle dozens of Google Chrome tabs without any slow down or stuttering and can open apps from Tidal to the Xbox app instantly. Watching 4K video and listening to hi-fi quality audio wasn’t a problem either. Considering the component specs of the Legion Slim 7i, it’s interesting how loud the cooling fans can get even while running applications that take significantly less processing power than performance pushing games. 

When it comes to games, the lightweight gaming laptop can pretty much play all of the best AAA games at native 1440p with admirable frame rates. Cyberpunk 2077 managed to get 88 frames-per-second on average during benchmark tests. Adding ray-tracing into the mix bumped that down around ten which still put it above 60fps. Though Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition could only get 49fps, it’s still above 30fps which makes it still playable. Providing the highest frame rate was Dirt 5 which pushed out 103 fps at Ultra settings.

The good thing about these frame rates is that they can be improved through the use of Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling which is compatible with the games mentioned. Despite the serviceable performance, don’t expect to utilize the 240Hz refresh rate either. The only game that got in that ballpark was Dirt 5 at low settings.

Adobe Creative Suite software users will have much to celebrate with the Legion Slim 7i between gaming sessions. Photoshop didn’t run slow when playing around with 4K resolution photos and added layers. On the other side, exports on Premier Pro were pretty instant with a minute video taking somewhere in the ballpark of less than one minute. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Battery

  • General battery life is around 7 hours
  • Charging to full battery takes a bit over an hour

Expectations for battery life on these types of gaming focused laptops aren’t necessarily high as most games usually top out after around an hour and similar results come with Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023). 

During the PCMark 10 Gaming Battery Life test, the gaming laptop only lasted around 59 minutes. However, general battery life is fairly average for better or worse. The web surfing had the Legion Slim 7i top out at 7 hours which is good enough for a bi-coastal trip. Though it’s not ideal, it’s still better than competing lightweight gaming laptops. 

Charging takes a little over an hour to get to full battery life and there are two ways to juice up the gaming laptop. The most obvious is through the port in the back that connects to the big power brick. It can also use the USB-C to recharge up to 140W which means users could use a Macbook charger but that may affect performance. 

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023)?

Buy it if...

You want a gaming laptop that doesn’t weigh a lot
Large power brick aside, the Legion Slim 7i design weighs under five pounds and less than the size of a quarter when closed. 

You require significant performance power
Size be damned as the gaming laptop has a powerful combo of a Intel i9, 16GB DDR5 RAM and Nvidia RTX 4070 that allows great performance across the many visually impressive AAA games. 

Don't buy it if...

You want a laptop that is quieter
Even when using web browsers or music streaming apps, the cooling fans can get extremely loud. 

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023): Also consider

If the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023) has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (2023)

  • I tested this over three weeks
  • It was used for general and creative tasks alongside gaming
  • Games played include Cyberpunk 2077, Starfield, Hi-Fi Rush and Forza Horizon 5

During my three weeks with the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i, most of the time was split between using Google Chrome for various tasks, gaming and using creative software. I used the laptop at both home and in office spaces. Most of the time, the Legion Slim 7i was plugged in outside of a few occasions. 

To witness how far the gaming laptop could go performance wise, I tested some of the biggest demanding games on it including Forza Horizon 5, Cyberpunk 2077, Starfield and Hi-Fi Rush. I used both Adobe Photoshop and Premier to try out how well it would work for creatives. 

I have spent the past several years writing dozens of features on PC Gaming for TechRadar. Pieces ranging from reviews on various components and hardware alongside editorials exploring PC Gaming culture at large.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

Thrustmaster TH8S shifter review – a fun addition to your racing wheel setup
4:00 pm | September 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off

If you enjoy using manual transmission and the benefits it brings to your favorite racers, then the Thrustmaster TH8S is worth considering for your racing wheel setup. Its sturdy build quality and ease of setup are two notable highlights, and if you’re on a fairly strict budget, you’ll be glad to know that it won’t cost the earth, either.

The Thrustmaster TH8S’s seven forward gears - and one for reverse - make it a versatile shifter, and it’s also compatible with many of the best racing games out there. If you’re into PC sims like Assetto Corsa Competizione or iRacing, the tactility offered by the TH8S goes a long way to immerse you in the simulation aspect even more. Sim-lite titles like Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Horizon 5 are also supported on console, though you may find it isn’t best suited to F1 23, as the shifter is a gear short of the open-wheelers’ eight.

While overall a very fun add-on to use, we can’t quite recommend the shifter for beginners just starting out with the best racing wheels. Shifting can feel a little cumbersome as the stick is fairly weighty and without a dedicated stand to mount it on, it can cause your setup and monitors to shake if you’re on PC. Overall, though, racing wheel aficionados will get much out of the extra immersion it provides.

Price and availability

The Thrustmaster TH8S shifter add-on can be bought right now for $69.99 / £59.99. You can buy it from Thrustmaster’s official store page, or at notable big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and Argos.

Comparatively, the TH8S is slightly pricier than the Logitech G Driving Force shifter ($59.99 / £49.99). However, the trade-off here is that the TH8S features seven forward gears as opposed to Logitech’s six, making Thrustmaster’s shifter a bit more versatile.

Design and features

Thrustmaster TH8S

(Image credit: Future)

The Thrustmaster TH8S’s chassis is largely built from sturdy plastic. And while it does lack a premium feel, it certainly isn’t poorly built. There’s a nice amount of weight that helps lock the shifter firmly in place when clamped to your desk or setup, too. The shifting stick itself features a metal shaft, which is ideal for resisting wear and tear that’ll come from shifting it between gears repeatedly. With high durability, then, the TH8S is perfect for long-term use.

The shifting stick defaults to neutral position, just to the left of center. It can then be moved upwards through seven forward gears (one through seven), and there’s a dedicated reverse gear, useful for games that require careful, calculated driving like Euro Truck Simulator 2 and MudRunner.

One of the best aspects of the Thrustmaster TH8S is its overall ease of setup and use. The clamp can reach as far as 1.6 inches (4cm) and is easily secured into place by rotating clockwise. No need for extra tools like a screwdriver to get the job done. For connectivity, the TH8S can be plugged into your PC or console of choice via USB-C or DIN, and cables are included for both options.

Performance

Thrustmaster TH8S

(Image credit: Future)

The Thrustmaster TH8S works perfectly as intended, with a high degree of responsiveness meaning in-game gear shifts are registered instantaneously. However, there are a few things to keep in mind here that may hinder the overall experience for you.

For one, the act of shifting with the TH8S takes a lot of getting used to. As you are physically shunting the stick between gear changes frequently, keeping a mental map of where each gear is located is vital. During testing, it was all too easy to shift into a suboptimal gear, especially when needing to slow down to take on particularly tight corners. There may be a learning curve involved for you, especially if you’re currently used to swapping gears via paddles on a racing wheel.

Another aspect that took some getting used to was just how weighty the shifter feels. And this is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the fact that stick shifts require a bit of heft lends a very satisfying feeling to changing gears. On the other it often felt like a struggle to perform what is otherwise a fairly simple task on controllers and racing wheels. It certainly meant that I, personally, couldn’t use the shifter for more than a few races without feeling slightly worn out.

Additionally, the stick generates a fair degree of noise when shifting, which isn’t a deal breaker in and of itself. But it may be something you wish to take into consideration if you have roommates or particularly skittish pets.

The overall sim driving experience is enhanced with a TH8S added to your setup, though I found it to be most efficient with slower-paced titles like Euro Truck Simulator 2. That’s because the relatively lower top speeds made gear management much easier, and helped with the overall enjoyment factor, as well as being able to take corners more accurately. In comparison, I fared less well in titles like Dirt Rally 2.0; its constant changes to terrain, grip and speeds made managing gears a high-octane effort that quickly wore me down. Still extremely fun, mind, just a good deal more taxing. 

Should I buy the Thrustmaster TH8S shifter?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the Thrustmaster TH8S

I tested the Thrustmaster TH8S on PC in a setup that also made use of the Thrustmaster T128 racing wheel and pedals. A wide range of games were tried out using manual transmission, including Dirt Rally 2.0, Euro Truck Simulator 2, MudRunner, and Assetto Corsa Competizione, to ensure the shifter was tested across titles of varying paces.

Prefer to race on console? Be sure to have a look at our guide to the best PS5 racing wheels for top setups tailor-made for Sony’s current-gen system. 

The Crew Motorfest review – occasionally spectacular
7:39 pm | September 13, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on:
PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Release date:
September 14, 2023

The Crew Motorfest, the third entry in Ubisoft’s open-world racer series, differs quite drastically from prior installments. Instead of racing across a pared-down approximation of the entire United States, Motorfest dials in a more focused approach, offering up the state of Hawaii as your new playground. It’s a quality-over-quantity approach that helps Motorfest’s map feel both vibrant and richly detailed.

Throw in a truly remarkable variety of events, encompassing everything from Japanese street racing cars to wilderness treks on motorbikes, and Motorfest is genuinely quite full of surprises. In a lot of ways, The Crew Motorfest comes close to being a Forza Horizon 5 contender. Unfortunately, there are so many little frustrations here which all add up to ultimately offer a pretty unpolished experience. 

For one, the game’s handling model has some rather frustrating quirks. When this is paired with AI that often can’t decide how fast or slow it wants to be, the resulting racing is unsatisfying. I also ran into numerous crashes and game-breaking bugs during play and, to top it all off, The Crew Motorfest requires an online connection at all times. Yes, even when you’re playing solo. 

Rolling hills

The Crew 2

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

But let’s start with the good; the stuff The Crew Motorfest gets exceptionally right. Ubisoft’s racer closely mirrors that of Playground Games’ Forza Horizon series. However, there are some things Motorfest does that outclasses the Xbox Series X|S exclusive racer.

There’s a great emphasis on event variety in The Crew Motorfest, to the point that you’ll be experiencing something different in almost every race. Races are divided into categories here, named Playlists, which offer a selection of trails for you to race on with a preset selection of vehicles based on the Playlist’s theme. 

Made in Japan, for example, will put you behind the wheel of the country’s street racing icons like the Honda NSX and Nissan Skyline GT-R for a series of nighttime circuits. My favorite, by far, was the Hawaii Scenic Tours Playlist, which features a series of more laid-back races, including one that puts you in a VW Camper for a leisurely sunset stroll around the island. This Playlist in particular did an excellent job of highlighting The Crew Motorfest’s drop-dead gorgeous visuals, which really came to life via the game’s HDR support.

If it wasn’t clear already, each race also sees you driving a different vehicle. This is an approach I enjoyed greatly, as in Forza Horizon 5, I often found myself sticking to a select few cars I’d upgraded, despite that game rewarding you with cars like there’s no tomorrow. In Motorfest, you’ll get to drive a massive chunk of its 600+ vehicle roster, which also includes bikes, open-wheelers, boats, and planes. 

Best bit

The Crew Motorfest

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Crew Motorfest's sheer event variety is its crowning achievement. You'll go from racing modified street legends to bikes, open-wheel racers, and planes all in under an hour.

Most races are pretty lengthy, too, really playing into the strengths of The Crew Motorfest’s gargantuan map size. Races are mostly in the ‘get from A to B’ format and typically last anywhere between five to ten minutes. It’s actually far less of a slog than it may sound, as the game’s gorgeous environs provide a compelling background to race across. Especially so as Playlists all feature unique elements and objects to make them visually distinct.

Completing three Playlists unlocks the Main Stage, which features three avenues of progression for additional rewards. These will have you revisit races you’ve completed, participate in dynamic events, or explore the island for hidden secrets like treasure boxes or photo opps. And this is where you can take your collection of cars and apply upgrades to them for a significantly different style of racing. Yes, you’re retreading content a lot with Main Stage, but being able to change up your vehicle for these events injects some extra life into them.

One last aspect of The Crew Motorfest that both impressed and surprised me was its incredibly responsive UI. Compared to many other racing games, Motorfest can see you hopping into the menu and between vehicles in a matter of seconds, with little to no load time in between. Additionally, the game’s load times overall are brisk, especially on current-gen systems. 

Crash course

The Crew Motorfest

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Unfortunately, for everything that The Crew Motorfest gets right, it gets another aspect equally wrong. For starters, it has one of the strangest handling models I’ve ever experienced in a contemporary open-world racer. One especially irksome quirk is that cars have a habit of overcorrecting themselves after a turn like they unnaturally ‘snap’ to a lane once the turn has finished. This often leads to you needing to readjust your racing line and means you can never quite take corners or straight optimally. And yes, this even occurs with driving assists disabled.

But that’s not the end of the handling model’s woes. Unlike Forza Horizon, there’s very little difference between how different surfaces affect your car. You’ll glide across tarmac, gravel, sand, and mud like you were just traveling down a freeway. That would be fine were The Crew Motorfest strictly an arcade racer, but it’s not, as you do have access to tweaks like torque strength and brake bias.

There’s also barely a damage model to speak of in The Crew Motorfest. Your cars will get a little dinged up, certainly, but it’s all purely cosmetic (there's no option for simulated damage, either) and amounts to some light dents and paint scraping. Similarly, driving through dirtier surfaces barely muddies the car beyond a few light speckles. Granted, this isn’t exactly a dealbreaker, as more sim-like racers like Gran Turismo 7 also opt for light damage and wear. But it does take some immersion away from Motorfest’s sublime Hawaii map. 

The Crew Motorfest

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Another quarrelsome aspect is AI racers’ ability to aggressively rubber-band. That is, to artificially speed up or slow down to create an illusion of difficulty. Even playing largely on the second-highest difficulty level, AI drivers could rarely win races on their own merits. More often than not, I would catch them slingshotting into first place, gaining two to three-second leads in record time. The opposite is true, too, as I often witnessed the AI noticeably slowing down as the checkered flag approached.

All this, though, frankly pales in comparison to my biggest gripe with The Crew Motorfest. The game requires an online connection at all times, even when you’re just racing by yourself. Much like the Forza Horizon series, Motorfest employs a semi-online model that populates your session with other drivers, in case you want to race or party up with them. But even Forza lets you disconnect and race purely offline if that’s your preference. 

There’s none of that in The Crew Motorfest, so if the servers go down for whatever reason, you’re bang out of luck. And yes, that also means the game doesn’t play nice with console features like Xbox Series X|S’s Quick Resume, as you’ll be thrown out of your session when you take the game out of standby.

There is a lot to love about The Crew Motorfest. It features one of the most beautiful open-world racing maps I’ve ever seen, and I love the amount of variety on offer when it comes to the racing. But the issues I’ve highlighted, as well as its tendency to either crash or disconnect from the server, means I often can’t enjoy it as much as I want to. Future patches and updates will likely help smooth over the cracks, but as it stands, The Crew Motorfest’s frustrations tend to outweigh what it gets right.

Accessibility features

As is the case with other Ubisoft titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, The Crew Motorfest features a decent amount of accessibility options. Subtitle size and background opacity are here, as well as support for seven different text languages. There are also three different colorblind settings, as well as options for a high-contrast HUD. Players can also minutely adjust the strength of the controller’s vibration and, if playing on PS5, the strength of the DualSense wireless controller’s adaptive trigger feedback, too. 

How we reviewed The Crew Motorfest

I played approximately 20 hours of The Crew Motorfest on PS5. Being an open-world racing game, it was paramount to focus on the variety of races and challenges available in the game, as well as the quality of the overall handling model compared to some of the best racing games around.

If The Crew Motorfest isn’t quite what you’re after for your next gaming spell, consider checking out our best PS5 games and best Xbox Series X games lists for top recommendations, as well as our guide to all the upcoming games we know about.

PDP Afterglow Wave review – an RGB novelty that misses several marks
6:38 pm | August 18, 2023

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

The PDP Afterglow Wave sets a mighty fine first impression, at least out of the box. Boot up your console with the gamepad plugged in via USB-C and you’ll be treated to a lovely RGB lighting effect that cascades down the grips, and lights up the surroundings of each analog stick. It’s certainly an eye-catching pad, and one that would suit RGB heavy gaming setups.

Unfortunately, all other aspects of the Afterglow Wave can’t match its lovely lighting. Overall, the controller has a cheap, almost tacky feel to it. This is especially apparent in the analog sticks, bumpers, face buttons, and triggers which all feel frustratingly stiff and below the level of quality you should expect. The two programmable back buttons do salvage things somewhat, however, feeling nicely tactile. Additionally, the circular D-pad design is a welcome touch.

Still, there is an argument to be made in favor of the Afterglow Wave in that of its welcomely affordable sticker price. But, the same can be said for some of the best Xbox controllers, including the 8BitDo Pro 2 and HyperX Clutch Gladiate, which sit around the same price point and perform much better overall which leaves this one with precious little to say for itself.

PDP Afterglow Wave - price and availability

The PDP Afterglow Wave is available to buy right now, for $44.99 / £34.99 / AU$69. The gamepad is purchasable from PDP’s official website, as well as big box retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Gamestop. If you’re not keen on the default black colorway, then white and gray options are also available should you prefer. 

PDP Afterglow Wave - design and features

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

The most eye-catching design element of the PDP Afterglow Wave is certainly its RGB lighting, which is some of the best I’ve seen for an Xbox Series X|S controller. I love the cascading light trail that slides down the sides of the controller’s grips, and the ring of RGB around both analog sticks is an equally nice touch. Even better, you can fully customize your lighting profile, including colors, patterns and speed, via the PDP Control Hub app if you’re playing on PC.

It’s a crying shame, then, that the rest of the controller’s features don’t match up in terms of quality. The Afterglow Wave’s build feels fairly cheap, which may be expected for a budget pad. However, the 8BitDo Pro 2 proves that you can have high build quality and affordability both. The Afterglow Wave’s RGB lighting is doing some extra heavy lifting here, but overall I would have preferred even slightly better build quality.

As for ancillary features, the Afterglow Wave does feel complete with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a dedicated mic mute button and two additional back paddle buttons, which can be assigned to an input of your choosing via the PDP Control Hub app, wherein you’re able to set multiple button profiles, too.

PDP Afterglow Wave - performance

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

Being a wired only controller, you can expect minimal input lag when using the PDP Afterglow Wave, which is always nice. Wireless functionality would of course have been welcome, but that is a rarity at this price point. The included USB-C cable is at least of a decent length (10ft), so you should have no trouble sitting comfortably during play.

The controller’s modules are underwhelming overall. Almost every module on the controller, including sticks, bumpers and triggers, all feel unnaturally stiff. They offer slightly more resistance than what I’m used to, especially compared to the pack-in Xbox Wireless Controller and the manufacturer’s own Victrix Gambit. This proved to be an issue in racers like Forza Horizon 5, and shooters including Halo Infinite, where trigger management is especially important.

The one saving grace here is those competent back paddle buttons, both of which feel nicely tactile and satisfying to press. I found myself assigning frequent inputs to these buttons, such as accessing secondary hotbars in Final Fantasy 14 Online, and felt like this was something the Afterglow Wave handled very well. It’s just a shame the rest of the controller’s modules don’t share that level of quality. 

Should I buy the PDP Afterglow Wave?

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the PDP Afterglow Wave

We tested the PDP Afterglow Wave over the course of about a week, making sure to play a variety of titles across Xbox Series X and PC. While we rate the aesthetics of the controller, what was most important was testing its overall performance, which was overall quite underwhelming no matter the title we tested it with. 

Interested in more Xbox hardware? Have a read of our best Xbox Series X accessories and best Xbox Game Pass streaming accessories guides to upgrade your experience on Microsoft's current-gen systems.

WD Black C50 expansion card review – a top storage contender for Xbox Series X
2:23 pm | August 15, 2023

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

The WD Black C50 is a very welcome addition to the Xbox expansion card space. Previously dominated by Seagate, who used to be the only manufacturer in town when it came to Xbox Series X|S-ready SSDs, Western Digital’s bespoke solution for the Series consoles impresses in many ways.

The WD Black C50 combines affordability and reliability into one neat package. Expect blazing-fast transfer speeds for your money, with the card being particularly impressive when transferring files between the Xbox Series X’s or Xbox Series S’s internal storage and itself. If you need to move the best Xbox Series X games over to take over to a friend’s house, for example, the C50 excels here by transferring large files impressively quickly.

The biggest lamentation I have with the C50, though, is its relatively small capacity. There are only two configurations available, maxing out at just 1TB. While future revisions may explore higher capacities, what we have right now with the C50 is merely serviceable, at least in comparison to the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card which offers a larger 2TB model.

WD Black C50 - price and availability

The WD Black C50’s two configurations are available right now with the 512GB unit coming in at an attractive $79.99 / £89.99. I’d recommend going for the 1TB model, however, which retails for $149.99 / £149.99, purchasable from Western Digital’s official website or online retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. 

WD Black C50 - design and features

WD Black C50

(Image credit: Future)

You’d be able to spot the WD Black C50 a mile off if you’re familiar with Western Digital’s all-black, industrial aesthetic. The card itself is impressively small – about the size of a Nintendo DS cartridge – and only as thick as a pack of gum. Build quality is reassuringly sturdy, too, featuring a rugged casing that should easily withstand years of wear and tear.

Much like Seagate’s option, the WD Black C50 slots neatly into your Xbox Series X|S console via the dedicated expansion card port. It’s a no-fuss setup, too; slot in the card for the first time to undergo a brief formatting phase, and from then onwards, the card’s good to go.

My only major gripe with the C50 is its capacity configurations. The two models listed above are, at present, the only ones available for purchase. There’s, unfortunately, no 2TB or above configuration available to buy, which is a shame given it’s arriving three years into the generation and new-gen libraries are bigger than ever.

WD Black C50 - performance

WD Black C50

(Image credit: Future)

The WD Black C50 has impressive transfer speeds when moving files over from the Xbox Series X’s internal storage to the expansion card. Fortnite (45GB) for example, transferred to the C50 in just 1 minute and 18 seconds. Meanwhile, larger titles like Wild Hearts (80GB) moved over in 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Expect transfers from the card back to internal storage to take, on average, about a minute longer. In Fortnite’s case, the move back to internal storage took 2 minutes and 17 seconds, whereas Wild Hearts took exactly 3 minutes.

One thing to note is that in my testing, I found the C50 to have slightly slower boot times for games than ones installed on internal storage. Forza Horizon 5 went from boot-up to in-game in 59 seconds. The C50 managed the same in 1 minute and 9 seconds, so roughly ten seconds off the pace. It’s something you probably won’t notice unless you’re timing it yourself, but certainly worth noting if you’re planning to move your favorite games over to the card.

You’ll be dealing with a bit of a trade-off with the C50, then. While transfer speeds to the card are fantastic, the marginally slower boot times may become irksome if you regularly play larger games like Forza Horizon 5, Sea of Thieves, or Halo Infinite. Still, it’s not much of a dealbreaker, and the C50 also supports X|S enhanced titles as well as Xbox’s Quick Resume feature, meaning you won’t need to reboot your favorite titles much, at all, outside of scheduled updates. 

Should I buy the WD Black C50?

WD Black C50

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the WD Black C50

In testing the WD Black C50, we made sure to transfer games of various sizes to get a good feel of how long the process takes. We also compared boot times between it and the console’s internal storage to check for any differences in how long each takes to  load your favorite games. 

Overall, we found the card to be comparable in performance to the internal storage of the Xbox Series X|S consoles, with impressively quick transfer speeds when compared to competing models. 

Interested in other storage options for Xbox Series X|S? Have a look at our best Xbox Series X hard drive and SSDs guide to learn all about storage capacity upgrades for your console.

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