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ZODIAC

Found 58 results

  1. Gaming as an industry is one of the fastest growing markets and it seems like big tech giants like Apple are also part of the phenomenon. Gaming companies like Sony and Microsoft have generally been known as the two giants in gaming, thanks to their consoles and exclusive games. However, Apple is also now amongst the top five publicly traded gaming entities. © Epic Games According to a report by Newzoo, Apple is amongst the top five companies that contribute to the gaming industry. Apple may not cater to hardcore gamers like Sony and Microsoft, however, the company has amassed a firm position thanks to casual gamers on iPhones. Apple is just behind Tencent, Sony, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. The report adds that the top 35 public gaming companies have generated almost $114 billion in 2018 as the top five have generated 43% of the collective revenue. © YouTube Apple has managed to rake in $2.09 billion just from gaming in the first quarter of 2018 and the number is expected to rise this year thanks to its upcoming Apple Arcade service. Newzoo estimates Apple earned $9.453 billion from games during 2018. Previously, Apple has relied on microtransactions from games to generate a high income; however the company is now moving forward with a subscription service that will offer exclusive games in order to depend less on the microtransactions business model. © Pexels The report also said that mobile gaming is the largest segment in the mobile industry and expects more PC gamers to switch in 2019. Source: Newzoo
  2. I know the first thing that pops into your head is “I can make a decent gaming PC build for cheaper, why would I buy this?" Well, to be honest, that is a very valid and warranted question considering you can build your own PC for cheaper. Having said that, the Aurora R8 is not only a powerhouse but also comes with benefits that you may not get while building your own PC. The version we tested comes with an RTX 2080, 32GB RAM, NVMe SK Hynix 256 GB SSD and an Intel Core i9-9900K processor. However, the Aurora R8 also comes for a cheaper configuration that comes with Intel Core i5 9600K processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 (6GB graphics), 8GB RAM and a 2TB hard drive which costs Rs 1,40,880 in India. Our review units cost Rs Rs 2,80,120 which is not far from what we managed to build last year. The only difference being here is that we built it from scratch with a different processor and an RTX 2080 ti. Design The new Aurora R8 doesn't look any different from its previous models as it has the same UFO-inspired chassis. It has the same aggressive angles and minimal RGB lighting. The Alienware logo on the front lights up and can be in sync with the other RGB lighting on the cabinet. These lighting colours can be controlled from the Alienware Command Center application. In terms of ventilation, both the front and left side of the cabinet has holes. The cabinet also has ventilation holes at the top, which is quite a staple in any PC cabinet today. Having said that, for something that costs almost Rs 3 Lakhs, we would have preferred to see a premium finish on the cabinet. It feels very plasticky, which is never a good feeling, even though it has been reinforced with metal. It would have been awesome to see a more premium finish rather than having it mostly made out of plastic. © BCCL The case remains the same with the supplied keyboard and mouse that comes with the Aurora R8. We would recommend you use your own keyboard and mouse, as neither were fit for long periods of gaming. The mouse was not ergonomic enough for a firm grip while the keyboard felt very flimsy. © Dell When it comes to ports and connectivity options, the Aurora R8 has three USB ports, a headphone jack, one USB Type-C port just at the front of the cabinet. At the back, there are 8 USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, an Ethernet port, an SPIDF port if you want to connect a home theatre, and a display port. The number of ports available on the Aurora R8 is enough for any PC gamer but is also handy if you want to stream or become a content creator. With so many additional ports, you can plug-in many types of accessories such as a USB Microphone, a Webcam and other peripherals such as an Elgato Stream Deck. © Dell One of the most essential features of a desktop gaming PC is to have the ability to upgrade your components. The Aurora R8 is fairly easy to get into, however, you will need a Phillips head screwdriver to get going. Cable management looks neat and in order to get access to the rest of your components, you need to unlock two additional switches. You can then access your GPU, PSU, RAM, CPU and cooling components. What's cool is that you can upgrade any of the components without having a fear of voiding the warranty. Performance Our review unit came with an RTX 2080 which we reviewed last year when it launched in India. It is a powerful GPU that can deliver impressive FPS at 1080p and 2K resolution. We tested the Aurora R8 with Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus. With ray tracing on the game ran between 45 - 50 FPS at 4K with ultra settings, however, the FPS would average about 112 - 125 FPS on 1080p (FHD) resolution with the same settings. On Metro Exodus, the Aurora R8 was able to achieve 87 FPS in FHD and around 53 FPS in 4K resolution. Please note both games were running with high ray tracing settings and on the latest Nvidia drivers. © MensXP According to our Afterburner data, the CPU reached an average clock speed of 4.2 GHz and had an average temperature of 52 degree Celsius. The RTX 2080 would hit around 75 degree Celsius which is similar to what we experience with the FE RTX 2080 earlier in the year. If you are looking to use the Aurora R8 as a content creator, you will be happy to hear that this machine can render videos with impressive performance. In our handbrake tests, we could transcode a 4K video to 1080p in less than 8 minutes. The read and write speeds are also one of the fastest we've experienced as the machine was capable of copying 5GB of data in precisely 7.8 seconds. The Final Say While it is cheaper to build your own desktop with similar specifications, you do, however, lose out on Dell's customer service and guaranteed warranty. The Aurora R8 may cost a bomb for most users, this gaming desktop PC is for people who do not want to build their own PC and want added benefits such as good customer service. Personally, the fun lies in building your own PC, but the Aurora R8 is for someone who does not want to take the extra headache and want something personalised out of the box.
  3. We've already seen a couple of gaming phones from the likes of ASUS, Black Shark, etc. in India. And now, the Chinese smartphone maker Nubia has also launched the new Red Magic 3 gaming phone in the country. The Nubia Red Magic 3 has a lot going for it like an internal cooling, flagship specifications like Snapdragon 855 SoC, and more. Well, here's everything that you need to know about this phone. © Nubia The Nubia Red Magic 3, just like the OnePlus 7 Pro, sports a 90Hz 6.65-inch FHD+ panel with support for HDR. As mentioned earlier, the phone is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC and it comes with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. The Red Magic 3 also has an Adreno 640GPU to take care of the graphics side of things. The Nubia Red Magic 3 is also the world's first smartphone to sport an internal cooling fan. Yes, this particular phone, regardless of the variant you buy, comes with a cooling fan to keep things nice and cool while you're gaming. In addition to a cooling fan, the phone also takes advantage of the liquid cooling system. © YouTube Yes, it sounds like overkill, but there's no such thing as 'too much' power when it comes to anything related to gaming, and we're glad that Nubia has decided to pack this phone with all these features. The internals of the Red Magic 3 will be kept powered by a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 27W quick charging, just like the Black Shark 2. In terms of the optics, the Red Magic 3 sports a 48MP Sony IMX 586 at the back, and there's a 16MP selfie shooter on the front. The phone is also said to be capable of recording 8K videos and we're sure the cooling fan will come handy in such cases. Other noteworthy specs of the phone include shoulder buttons for gaming and front-facing stereo speakers for an immersive media consumption experience. Pricing & Availability The Nubia Red Magic 3 will be available exclusively through Flipkart. The Red Magic 3 starts at Rs 35,999 for the base variant and it goes all the way up to Rs 46,999 for the high-end variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.
  4. The mobile gaming experience has mostly been viewed as a 'second-tier' experience when compared to PC and console gaming. In fact, I can even say that a lot of people still don't consider mobile gaming even a thing. Well, that's exactly what games like PUBG Mobile and Call Of Duty Mobile, and phones like the Black Shark 2 are here to prove otherwise. Yes, gaming phones, in case you haven't heard of them, are a thing now and we have started seeing a lot of these on the market lately. Razer has what it calls the 'Razer Phone' and ASUS has its own 'ROG Phone'. Even Nubia has launched a bunch of gaming phones and it's expected to launch another one very soon here in India. And then, of course, we have the Black Shark 2. Well, I myself wasn't really sold on the whole idea of buying a gaming phone, until I used the Black Shark 2. Yes, I've been using the Black Shark 2 for a few weeks now and I have a few things to say about the phone and just gaming phones in general. So, let's get on with it. Design & Build Quality We live in a world where even gaming laptops are now cutting down on the flashy looks to make it look like an ordinary piece of hardware. But the companies making these gaming phones are not shying away from showing off the striking hardware. Just like most other gaming phones on the market, the Black Shark 2 also looks very flashy, if I may. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla You don't necessarily have to hold the device in your hands to tell how it's different from other smartphones out there. The looks will give it away. Black Shark, in particular, is going with green accents. So, the Black Shark 2 has a bright green chamfered edge that runs all the way around the phone. And the back of the gaming is also equally striking, if not more. Heck, the Black Shark 2 even has an illuminated logo on the back that lights up. Even the case which you can buy for the phone as an accessory has green accents that glow in the dark. So, as for the looks, I'd say Black Shark is going with something that would attract gamers. Coming to the build quality, well, it's built like a tank. The moment you take it out of the box and hold it in your hands, that's when it'll truly hit you that you bought yourself a true gaming phone. The chamfered edges and the back texture make for a really good in-hand feel. I am sure it's not the kind of design that would resonate with everything, but you've bought the phone, then you're probably the target audience here. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Overall, I'd say the Black Shark 2 has a kickass design and an amazing build quality. As a gamer, I go crazy on flashy lights and edgy designs on my gaming gear and using the Black Shark 2 truly makes me feel I am using something that's meant to be used by, you know, gamers. It'll constantly remind you and others around you that you're that person in the room with a gaming phone. Display The display is probably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to gaming. That's where you see the game and interact with it, so it's best if you have the best possible display. The same goes for gaming phones too. So, does the Black Shark 2 has a good display? © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Yes, it does. For starters, it's a 6.39-inch FullHD+ AMOLED panel. It's an OLED panel with good resolution, so you'll be seeing deep blacks with sharp imagery. Even the colours look nice and punchy, which is, again, good for gaming. But that's not all. Black Shark has decided to throw in some extras to wow all the gamers. First things first, the display of the Black Shark 2 hides the fingerprint scanner underneath it. Yes, it has an in-display fingerprint, and it works just as you'd expect any in-display fingerprint scanner to work. I am not a huge fan of these scanners, but I think it works just fine. That main attraction, however, is the MasterTouch feature. Simply put, Black Shark 2's MasterTouch is similar to Apple's 3D Touch. However, unlike the 3D Touch on the iPhones and the iPads, the MagicTouch feature is more useful and can be used to play games. So, the way MasterTouch feature works is, it lets you configure two pressure-sensitive zones on the display and map it to any custom function in games like PUBG Mobile. © MensXP In the screenshot attached above, for instance, I've mapped the left zone to 'scope' and the right zone to 'fire'. Now when I apply more pressure anywhere inside these zones regardless of the on-screen buttons, the display will register it as 'scope' or 'fire' command for me. Get it? Yes, it takes a little time to get used to it once you've mapped it. However, it'll be hard to go back to a phone without this feature since you'll be so used to it. Not going to lie, it makes up for intuitive gameplay experience and therefore, I am inclined to believe that it's not just a gimmick. It actually works. Apart from that, the Black Shark 2 is also said to have the world's lowest latency touch display. The display has a report rate (not to be confused with refresh rate) up to 240Hz and response time of just 43.5ms. Yes, it doesn't have a faster refresh rate panels like the ones found on the ROG Phone or the new OnePlus 7 Pro, but Black Shark thinks gamers will care more about the response time. I personally didn't find any noticeable difference in the gameplay experience, but I'll talk a bit more about this in the performance section. Overall, I'd say the Black Shark 2 has a really good display that's also very functional when it comes to gaming. The MasterTouch feature did sound like a gimmick to me during the launch event, but now that I've used it, I think it's going to be hard for me to play PUBG Mobile on a phone that doesn't support it. Now, that's one way of retaining customers. Good job, Black Shark! Performance Oh yes, the performance! Well, let me get the specifications out of the way first. The Black Shark 2 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC, which is the most powerful processor you can get on an Android phone in today's date. The phone also packs up to 12GB RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage, so there's plenty of memory and storage to play games. Now, these are some of the specs that you can also get on some other phones on the market like the OnePlus 7 Pro, for instance. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla If you head over to Black Shark's website, you'll see that it's full of fancy words like 'Multilayer Liquid Cooling', 'Gaming AI', 'Ludicrous Mode', and whatnot. These are the things that actually make Black Shark 2 a truly capable phone, at least according to the company. But none of that would make any sense if the performance isn't good, right? Well, Black Shark 2 is one of the fastest Android smartphones you can buy today. It's not just for gaming, by the way. Even when you're using the phones to do day-to-day stuff like browsing the web, taking pictures, etc., you'll notice how smooth everything really is. The animations are buttery smooth and I am yet to notice a single lag or a frame drop while using it. The experience has truly been amazing. If you're someone who likes to go by the numbers, then here are some benchmark figures for you - © MensXP Coming to gaming, I am happy to report that things are just as smooth and solid. Trust me, I played a lot of games before I said that, so you can take my word for it. Playing games like PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Call Of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9, etc., was truly amazing. As I said, I have not had a single frame drop on me ever since I switched this phone on for the first time a few days ago. And if you ever feel like you want more power for some reason, then you can also turn on what Black Shark likes to call the 'Ludicrous Mode', which essentially overclock both the CPU and GPU to give you a performance boost. Yes, you can do all geeky stuff on this phone with just a tap of a button. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Black Shark 2 also has 'Direct Touch Liquid Cooling 3.0' which basically takes advantage of an oversized cooling plate, covering all major components to reduce the core temperature of the phone by up to 14-degrees. Despite all the fancy cooling system, I have to admit that the phone did run a little hot while playing games. It wasn't too hot to handle, but the phone did feel a little warm to touch, which wasn't exactly what I was expecting after hearing all the fancy components. Nonetheless, it's not really a deal-breaker, so let's move past that. The Black Shark 2 runs on Android 9 Pie out of the box and I was actually quite surprised to see the phone running a stock version of Android. It doesn't have any fancy skin on top of Android except for a couple of additions like the 'Shark Space'. You can trigger the 'Shark Space' by flipping the slider on the right side of the phone. It's very similar to the alert slider found on the OnePlus phones. The 'Shark Space' will essentially dump everything from the memory to allow for a smooth gaming experience, and it can even stop buzzing the phone with notifications and calls, if you want nothing to interrupt your gaming experience. The 'Shark Space' will also let you display things like 'FPS counter' while playing games, in addition to letting you monitor things like CPU load, WLAN signal strength, etc. You can access all these features by swiping down from the top right corner of the display. It's just a software, but it's things like that, which truly makes it feel like you're using a gaming phone. I mean, I can't expect to do all that on, say, my Pixel 3a or the iPhone XR. Of course, that's not the only reason to buy the phone, but you'll want to use it time and again once you have it. Battery Life The Black Shark 2 has a 4,000 mAh battery and it supports 27W/4.8A quick charging. That means you'll have enough battery for all the games you want and also have the ability to charge the phone quickly when it runs out of juice. As for the battery performance, I wasn't expecting too much since the phone has a lot of powerful internals to push, but it surprised me with its two-day battery life. Of course, you'll find yourself charging the phone more often if you play a lot of games, but with day-to-day usage, you can easily get through two days without an issue. But again, it's a gaming phone, so I am guessing you'll be playing a lot of games as I did, so I suggest you keep the charger with you at all times. By the way, there's no support for wireless charging, but that's not really surprising and the phone charges rapidly with the included the charger. Camera © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Cameras on gaming phones have always been an afterthought, to be honest. None of the gaming phones that I've experienced in the past have had a good camera, so I wasn't expecting the Black Shark 2 to have good optics. I am sure Black Shark thinks the same because there's absolutely no mention of the cameras on Black Shark 2's official website. Anyway, the Black Shark 2 has two cameras at the back. There's a 48MP primary sensor with f/1.75 aperture and a 12MP 2x telephoto sensor with f/2.2 aperture. On the front, there's a 20MP selfie shooter with an f/2.0 aperture. The camera software is very similar to what you'd get with a stock version of Android. Very basic, yet very functional. As for the performance, I'd say it's better than what I had expected. It's not exceptional or anything, but the images, I'd say are better than average. All images turned out nice and sharp with plenty of details. I did notice some issues with dynamic range and some shots even turned out over-exposed, but this is a good shooter for being a gaming-centric device. I mean, I don't expect photographers to carry this phone around, so I am not going to go hard on it for not having exceptional cameras like the Pixel phones. Long story short, you won't be disappointed with the cameras on the Black Shark 2. They're better than what you normally get with gaming phones. Here are some samples so you can judge them yourself - Other Features This is the part where I'd usually end my review by giving my final thoughts, but there's still a lot to talk about the Black Shark 2. I have to mention that the phone offers a really good audio experience. It has stereo speakers, which is awesome and it gets really loud. It's great for listening to music or watching movies, etc., with a group of people. For gaming, of course, you'll be using a pair of headphones, but sadly the phone doesn't have a 3.5mm jack. Yes, it's really disappointing to see it being removed from a gaming phone, but you do get a dongle inside the box if you want to continue using your old pair of cans instead of switching to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. And there are things like the ability to add gaming pads to the phone to enhance your gaming experience. These gaming pads don't come with the phone, so you do have to buy them separately as an accessory. However, they will certainly enhance your gaming experience and I can confirm that with the time I spent using them at the launch event. You can also hook the Black Shark 2 to a TV or a monitor and use the gamepads to play games, which is also a nice touch. The Final Say © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla The Black Shark 2 is now available in India for a starting price of Rs 39,999. For the high-end variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, you'll be shelling out as much as Rs 49,999. And of course, you'll have to pay more for the accessories. So, it's not really the most affordable smartphone out there, but it truly offers a lot for the money. All things considered, the Black Shark 2 is actually a kickass smartphone for the price. Look, I wasn't really sold on the idea of buying a dedicated gaming phone, but Black Shark 2 has made me think otherwise. Yes, you can get other phones with similar specs on the market, but what you're paying for the Black Shark 2 is not just for the power, it's for the true gaming experience. Everything from the way it feels in your hands to all the additional gaming-centric features like the ability to immerse yourself in the game without having to worry about notifications, etc., is definitely, something that's worth checking out. Heck, you can even overlock the phone with a tap of a button to get more performance, which is just insane. Overall, I'd say that Black Shark 2 is not the phone you need. But I can say that you'll keep coming back once you've experienced everything that it has to offer. It's targetted towards hardcore gamers who want nothing but the absolute best gaming experience. As I mentioned before, it's one of those phones, that'll constantly remind you and others around you that you're THAT person in the room with a gaming phone. Now, it's up to decide if you want to be that person or not.
  5. The mobile gaming experience has mostly been viewed as a 'second-tier' experience when compared to PC and console gaming. In fact, I can even say that a lot of people still don't consider mobile gaming even a thing. Well, that's exactly what games like PUBG Mobile and Call Of Duty Mobile, and phones like the Black Shark 2 are here to prove otherwise. Yes, gaming phones, in case you haven't heard of them, are a thing now and we have started seeing a lot of these on the market lately. Razer has what it calls the 'Razer Phone' and ASUS has its own 'ROG Phone'. Even Nubia has launched a bunch of gaming phones and it's expected to launch another one very soon here in India. And then, of course, we have the Black Shark 2. Well, I myself wasn't really sold on the whole idea of buying a gaming phone, until I used the Black Shark 2. Yes, I've been using the Black Shark 2 for a few weeks now and I have a few things to say about the phone and just gaming phones in general. So, let's get on with it. Design & Build Quality We live in a world where even gaming laptops are now cutting down on the flashy looks to make it look like an ordinary piece of hardware. But the companies making these gaming phones are not shying away from showing off the striking hardware. Just like most other gaming phones on the market, the Black Shark 2 also looks very flashy, if I may. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla You don't necessarily have to hold the device in your hands to tell how it's different from other smartphones out there. The looks will give it away. Black Shark, in particular, is going with green accents. So, the Black Shark 2 has a bright green chamfered edge that runs all the way around the phone. And the back of the gaming is also equally striking, if not more. Heck, the Black Shark 2 even has an illuminated logo on the back that lights up. Even the case which you can buy for the phone as an accessory has green accents that glow in the dark. So, as for the looks, I'd say Black Shark is going with something that would attract gamers. Coming to the build quality, well, it's built like a tank. The moment you take it out of the box and hold it in your hands, that's when it'll truly hit you that you bought yourself a true gaming phone. The chamfered edges and the back texture make for a really good in-hand feel. I am sure it's not the kind of design that would resonate with everything, but you've bought the phone, then you're probably the target audience here. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Overall, I'd say the Black Shark 2 has a kickass design and an amazing build quality. As a gamer, I go crazy on flashy lights and edgy designs on my gaming gear and using the Black Shark 2 truly makes me feel I am using something that's meant to be used by, you know, gamers. It'll constantly remind you and others around you that you're that person in the room with a gaming phone. Display The display is probably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to gaming. That's where you see the game and interact with it, so it's best if you have the best possible display. The same goes for gaming phones too. So, does the Black Shark 2 has a good display? © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Yes, it does. For starters, it's a 6.39-inch FullHD+ AMOLED panel. It's an OLED panel with good resolution, so you'll be seeing deep blacks with sharp imagery. Even the colours look nice and punchy, which is, again, good for gaming. But that's not all. Black Shark has decided to throw in some extras to wow all the gamers. First things first, the display of the Black Shark 2 hides the fingerprint scanner underneath it. Yes, it has an in-display fingerprint, and it works just as you'd expect any in-display fingerprint scanner to work. I am not a huge fan of these scanners, but I think it works just fine. That main attraction, however, is the MasterTouch feature. Simply put, Black Shark 2's MasterTouch is similar to Apple's 3D Touch. However, unlike the 3D Touch on the iPhones and the iPads, the MagicTouch feature is more useful and can be used to play games. So, the way MasterTouch feature works is, it lets you configure two pressure-sensitive zones on the display and map it to any custom function in games like PUBG Mobile. © MensXP In the screenshot attached above, for instance, I've mapped the left zone to 'scope' and the right zone to 'fire'. Now when I apply more pressure anywhere inside these zones regardless of the on-screen buttons, the display will register it as 'scope' or 'fire' command for me. Get it? Yes, it takes a little time to get used to it once you've mapped it. However, it'll be hard to go back to a phone without this feature since you'll be so used to it. Not going to lie, it makes up for intuitive gameplay experience and therefore, I am inclined to believe that it's not just a gimmick. It actually works. Apart from that, the Black Shark 2 is also said to have the world's lowest latency touch display. The display has a report rate (not to be confused with refresh rate) up to 240Hz and response time of just 43.5ms. Yes, it doesn't have a faster refresh rate panels like the ones found on the ROG Phone or the new OnePlus 7 Pro, but Black Shark thinks gamers will care more about the response time. I personally didn't find any noticeable difference in the gameplay experience, but I'll talk a bit more about this in the performance section. Overall, I'd say the Black Shark 2 has a really good display that's also very functional when it comes to gaming. The MasterTouch feature did sound like a gimmick to me during the launch event, but now that I've used it, I think it's going to be hard for me to play PUBG Mobile on a phone that doesn't support it. Now, that's one way of retaining customers. Good job, Black Shark! Performance Oh yes, the performance! Well, let me get the specifications out of the way first. The Black Shark 2 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC, which is the most powerful processor you can get on an Android phone in today's date. The phone also packs up to 12GB RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage, so there's plenty of memory and storage to play games. Now, these are some of the specs that you can also get on some other phones on the market like the OnePlus 7 Pro, for instance. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla If you head over to Black Shark's website, you'll see that it's full of fancy words like 'Multilayer Liquid Cooling', 'Gaming AI', 'Ludicrous Mode', and whatnot. These are the things that actually make Black Shark 2 a truly capable phone, at least according to the company. But none of that would make any sense if the performance isn't good, right? Well, Black Shark 2 is one of the fastest Android smartphones you can buy today. It's not just for gaming, by the way. Even when you're using the phones to do day-to-day stuff like browsing the web, taking pictures, etc., you'll notice how smooth everything really is. The animations are buttery smooth and I am yet to notice a single lag or a frame drop while using it. The experience has truly been amazing. If you're someone who likes to go by the numbers, then here are some benchmark figures for you - © MensXP Coming to gaming, I am happy to report that things are just as smooth and solid. Trust me, I played a lot of games before I said that, so you can take my word for it. Playing games like PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Call Of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9, etc., was truly amazing. As I said, I have not had a single frame drop on me ever since I switched this phone on for the first time a few days ago. And if you ever feel like you want more power for some reason, then you can also turn on what Black Shark likes to call the 'Ludicrous Mode', which essentially overclock both the CPU and GPU to give you a performance boost. Yes, you can do all geeky stuff on this phone with just a tap of a button. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Black Shark 2 also has 'Direct Touch Liquid Cooling 3.0' which basically takes advantage of an oversized cooling plate, covering all major components to reduce the core temperature of the phone by up to 14-degrees. Despite all the fancy cooling system, I have to admit that the phone did run a little hot while playing games. It wasn't too hot to handle, but the phone did feel a little warm to touch, which wasn't exactly what I was expecting after hearing all the fancy components. Nonetheless, it's not really a deal-breaker, so let's move past that. The Black Shark 2 runs on Android 9 Pie out of the box and I was actually quite surprised to see the phone running a stock version of Android. It doesn't have any fancy skin on top of Android except for a couple of additions like the 'Shark Space'. You can trigger the 'Shark Space' by flipping the slider on the right side of the phone. It's very similar to the alert slider found on the OnePlus phones. The 'Shark Space' will essentially dump everything from the memory to allow for a smooth gaming experience, and it can even stop buzzing the phone with notifications and calls, if you want nothing to interrupt your gaming experience. The 'Shark Space' will also let you display things like 'FPS counter' while playing games, in addition to letting you monitor things like CPU load, WLAN signal strength, etc. You can access all these features by swiping down from the top right corner of the display. It's just a software, but it's things like that, which truly makes it feel like you're using a gaming phone. I mean, I can't expect to do all that on, say, my Pixel 3a or the iPhone XR. Of course, that's not the only reason to buy the phone, but you'll want to use it time and again once you have it. Battery Life The Black Shark 2 has a 4,000 mAh battery and it supports 27W/4.8A quick charging. That means you'll have enough battery for all the games you want and also have the ability to charge the phone quickly when it runs out of juice. As for the battery performance, I wasn't expecting too much since the phone has a lot of powerful internals to push, but it surprised me with its two-day battery life. Of course, you'll find yourself charging the phone more often if you play a lot of games, but with day-to-day usage, you can easily get through two days without an issue. But again, it's a gaming phone, so I am guessing you'll be playing a lot of games as I did, so I suggest you keep the charger with you at all times. By the way, there's no support for wireless charging, but that's not really surprising and the phone charges rapidly with the included the charger. Camera © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Cameras on gaming phones have always been an afterthought, to be honest. None of the gaming phones that I've experienced in the past have had a good camera, so I wasn't expecting the Black Shark 2 to have good optics. I am sure Black Shark thinks the same because there's absolutely no mention of the cameras on Black Shark 2's official website. Anyway, the Black Shark 2 has two cameras at the back. There's a 48MP primary sensor with f/1.75 aperture and a 12MP 2x telephoto sensor with f/2.2 aperture. On the front, there's a 20MP selfie shooter with an f/2.0 aperture. The camera software is very similar to what you'd get with a stock version of Android. Very basic, yet very functional. As for the performance, I'd say it's better than what I had expected. It's not exceptional or anything, but the images, I'd say are better than average. All images turned out nice and sharp with plenty of details. I did notice some issues with dynamic range and some shots even turned out over-exposed, but this is a good shooter for being a gaming-centric device. I mean, I don't expect photographers to carry this phone around, so I am not going to go hard on it for not having exceptional cameras like the Pixel phones. Long story short, you won't be disappointed with the cameras on the Black Shark 2. They're better than what you normally get with gaming phones. Here are some samples so you can judge them yourself - Other Features This is the part where I'd usually end my review by giving my final thoughts, but there's still a lot to talk about the Black Shark 2. I have to mention that the phone offers a really good audio experience. It has stereo speakers, which is awesome and it gets really loud. It's great for listening to music or watching movies, etc., with a group of people. For gaming, of course, you'll be using a pair of headphones, but sadly the phone doesn't have a 3.5mm jack. Yes, it's really disappointing to see it being removed from a gaming phone, but you do get a dongle inside the box if you want to continue using your old pair of cans instead of switching to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. And there are things like the ability to add gaming pads to the phone to enhance your gaming experience. These gaming pads don't come with the phone, so you do have to buy them separately as an accessory. However, they will certainly enhance your gaming experience and I can confirm that with the time I spent using them at the launch event. You can also hook the Black Shark 2 to a TV or a monitor and use the gamepads to play games, which is also a nice touch. The Final Say © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla The Black Shark 2 is now available in India for a starting price of Rs 39,999. For the high-end variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, you'll be shelling out as much as Rs 49,999. And of course, you'll have to pay more for the accessories. So, it's not really the most affordable smartphone out there, but it truly offers a lot for the money. All things considered, the Black Shark 2 is actually a kickass smartphone for the price. Look, I wasn't really sold on the idea of buying a dedicated gaming phone, but Black Shark 2 has made me think otherwise. Yes, you can get other phones with similar specs on the market, but what you're paying for the Black Shark 2 is not just for the power, it's for the true gaming experience. Everything from the way it feels in your hands to all the additional gaming-centric features like the ability to immerse yourself in the game without having to worry about notifications, etc., is definitely, something that's worth checking out. Heck, you can even overlock the phone with a tap of a button to get more performance, which is just insane. Overall, I'd say that Black Shark 2 is not the phone you need. But I can say that you'll keep coming back once you've experienced everything that it has to offer. It's targetted towards hardcore gamers who want nothing but the absolute best gaming experience. As I mentioned before, it's one of those phones, that'll constantly remind you and others around you that you're THAT person in the room with a gaming phone. Now, it's up to decide if you want to be that person or not.
  6. E3 is just a day away and we have already seen some major announcements from Google, and blockbuster games like 'Watch Dogs 3: Legion' have been confirmed. However, there's more to the biggest gaming event in the world, as we can expect new hardware, new games and everything else related to gaming to be announced. So, here are some of our predictions for E3 2019: 1. Next-Gen Xbox Console © Microsoft Microsoft is the only console manufacturers to be attending E3 this year and we can expect the company to capitalise on this opportunity. Microsoft has already shared some information about the next console dubbed “Project Scarlett” and we can expect some big news. Although it is quite possible that Microsoft will not show us the console but the company may detail specifications and some of its features. Microsoft will also announce a new Xbox game pass for PC gamers and we expect to hear from Microsoft about the subscription service's pricing and game collection details. 2. Halo Infinite, Gears 5 & A New Forza Title © 343 Industries Microsoft is looking to showcase some of its first-party games and we can expect to see a demo of 'Halo Infinite', 'Gears of War 5' and a new 'Forza' title. We can also expect these game to come as a package as a part of the Xbox game pass for PC. Microsoft acquired several new game studios last year including 'The Initiative', 'Undead Labs', 'Playground Games', 'Ninja Theory' and 'Compulsion Games'. We can expect some sort of revelation of games these studios have been working on in the past year. 3. Marvel's Avengers Game & Final Fantasy Remake VII Remake © Sqaure Enix Square Enix is attending E3 this year and thanks to a tweet posted by the company, we know that Marvel's 'Avengers' will be shown off at the conference this year. We can also expect to see more of 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' as it was showcased in Sony's latest State of Play Event. The game is being developed by Crystal Dynamic 4. Watch Dogs 3: Legion & Beyond Good And Evil 2 © Ubisoft Ubisoft has been cracking-out some great games in the past year and we can expect to see some never before seen games. The company already announced a new Ghost Recon game via a teaser trailer, however, there are other games that will be showcased. Ubisoft has now confirmed that it will be showing 'Watch Dogs 3: Legion' that takes place in London, United Kingdom. We can also expect to see some gameplay for 'Beyond Good' and 'Evil 2' as the company has been teasing that game for a while. As of now, there is no word whether Ubisoft will show a new Splinter Cell game as it looks highly unlikely. Beyond the two new games, Ubisoft is rumoured to showcase three to four AAA titles but we can't be entirely sure about that for now. 5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Dragon Age 4 And FIFA 20 © Respawn Entertainment EA kicks off the E3 conference with their EA Play tomorrow at 9:45 PM IST and we can expect to see some gameplay footage for the new Star Wars game. The game was revealed at 'Star Wars Celebration' earlier this year and we are bound to see more than just a trailer. EA will also announce FIFA 20 and what all it brings to the table in terms of new features and gameplay. We can also expect to see more about Madden, NHL and NBA Live franchises. EA also debuted a teaser trailer for 'Dragon Age 4' at last years The Game Awards and even though it seems unlikely, we can expect some more information about the game that is currently in development.
  7. 2019 has been an amazing year for gaming. Lots of games have already come out, and there are a lot more launches lined up throughout the year. So if you don't have a gaming PC or if you've been planning to build one, then now is the time to do that. We already have a guide to help you build a budget gaming PC build under Rs. 50,000. But if you have some more room to stretch your budget, then here's a quick guide to help you pick the right parts for a gaming PC build under Rs 90,000. 1) Processor: Intel i5-8600K - Rs. 21,000 © Intel For this particular build, we went with the Intel 8th Gen i5 8600K Coffee Lake processor. It's a hexacore processor with a base frequency of 2.8Ghz and can top out at 4.3Ghz boost on all cores. Six cores are all you need for gaming, so it can't get better than this. You can also go with the Intel Core i5-8400, however, you'll be dealing with a slightly slower clock speed with that CPU. 2) Motherboard: MSI Z370 Krait - Rs. 11,400 © MSI MSI is a popular brand when it comes to motherboards. They have an impressive lineup and we'll be going with the MSI Z370 Krait for this particular list. This particular board supports dual graphics card configuration with reinforced PCIe slots. You can also fit an M.2 SSD if your budget allows for it. BTW, this motherboard also comes with RGB lighting. 3) RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB 2,400Mhz - Rs. 6,400 © Corsair Considering the fact that you should at least have 8GB of RAM in your system, it's safe to avoid the bottleneck and go with 16GB of RAM. For this build, we'll be going with the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 2400Mhz memory kit. With this, you'll get two 8GB sticks, and they'll be working in dual channel on our motherboard, so you'll get superior performance. 4) SSD: HP 240GB - Rs. 2,800 © HP You'll definitely be needing an SSD to make sure your PC boot up time and other software loading times are less. Depending on your budget, you can go with either 240GB or 512GB SSD. We'll just be using a 240GB SSD to make sure our components are well within our budget. 5) HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB - Rs. 4,795 © Seagate Obviously, 240GB storage is not going to be enough for a gaming PC. So, you'll have to spend a bit on an HDD. Seagate's HDD's have been our preferred choice for a long time, so we suggest you grab this Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD for your PC as well. 6) GPU: Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 - Rs. 32,000 © Zotac Alright, so the GPU. Nvidia's new RTX series of GPUs have been flying off the shelves, and that's what we're going with for this build. You can pick up an RTX 2060 GPU for this build, and you can get some solid performance. Games run very smooth on the RTX 2060 card, and you'll easily get frames above 60FPS on most AAA titles. 7) PSU - Corsair VS550 550-Watt - Rs. 3,500 © Corsair Corsair's VS550 is the best PSU you can pick up for under Rs. 4,000. It packs enough power to run all your components and leave enough headroom for future upgrades too. It's vastly compatible and a very reliable PSU. 8) Cabinet - Cooler Master MasterBox MB520 Case - Rs. 7,000 © Cooler Master Since we're dealing with a fairly powerful PC build here, you might want to pick up a cabinet that can show off all the components. Use this case, add some RGB lighting, and you've got yourself a cabinet which you'll love to show off online. If you are up for that, then we suggest you pick up the Cooler Master MasterBox MB520 cabinet. Well, that wraps up the list of components you can pick up for your gaming PC build. We hope you manage to find all these parts in stock online. If not, you might want to check with your local retailer offline. You might even end up grabbing some of them at a relatively cheaper price.
  8. It's Computex week and there have been some crazy concept machines that were unveiled during the show and we came across a very unique device. HP unveiled a VR gaming backpack that basically runs RTX 2080 and comes with a VR headset. The entire setup where all the computing and processing takes place is strapped on your back while you can enjoy VR games anywhere. © HP The concept basically comes from VR gamers who complain that they are often confined in their room or a specific area. HP has come with a solution who want to enjoy VR games and not be confined to an area by putting everything that powers a gaming machine in a backpack-like-device. HP has launched something similar for their Omen gaming computers however this version comes with all the bells and whistles of a desktop gaming PC. © HP The VR backpack comes with 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU and can also be used via a display port for high-res VR gameplay. Compared to the previous model, HP says that the new VR backpack has 30 percent better performance and 25 percent faster graphics. In the case of wanting it to use as a traditional desktop, it can be plugged into a dock. It would look something like this: © HP Other specifications include 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The backpack can only last for 1-hour on battery life which is more than enough for VR gaming. Naturally, the HP VR backpack doesn't come cheap as it will sell for $3,300 (approx Rs 2,30,000). With the backpack, you get a battery charger, desktop dock, two batteries and a harness. The VR backpack is expected to be available sometime this summer.
  9. Black Shark 2, the gaming phone that we've been waiting to get our hands on for a long time, is finally here in India. It packs pretty much everything that you'd expect from a gaming phone in 2019 like a powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, up to 12GB of RAM and more. Let's check it out. To start with, the Black Shark 2 packs a 6.39-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 2340×1080 pixels resolution. It's doesn't have a 90Hz display like the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the display takes advantage of features like “Fast Finger” and “Magic Touchh”, and has a 43.5ms response time. The “Magic Press” tech, in case you're wondering, works like Apple's 3D display, meaning you'll be able to press down harder on the display to actuate different functions. © Black Shark Internally, the Black Shark 2 is powered by Qualcomm's 7nm Snapdragon 855 chipset, coupled with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. It also features Liquid Cooling 3.0 for even improved heat dissipation. There are 2 vapour chambers and a copper plate inside the phone to keep things cool while gaming. As for the optics, the Black Shark 2 sports dual rear cameras with a 48MP (f/1.75) primary sensor and 12MP (f/2.2) secondary sensor. On the front, there's a 20MP (f/2.0) selfie shooter. The phone also comes equipped with a huge 4,000 mAh battery for which Black Shark is also including a USB Type-C 27W fast-charger. © YouTube All these beefy internals are packed inside a body that looks kickass from the outside. The company says the phone's ergonomic design resembles that of a sports car. Seriously, the Black Shark 2 looks like a true gaming phone with its curvaceous build and metal+glass design. Oh BTW, the phone also comes with LED strips on the edges and a glowing Black Shark logo at the back. Black Shark 2 Accessories In addition to the phone itself, the company also showcased a bunch of accessories to go along with it. There's a fancy cooling fan attachment and switch-style dual controllers. Lastly, you can also get an HDMI to USB Type-C cable and use the “console mode” to hook it up to, say, a TV. Pricing and Availability The Black Shark 2 gaming phone has been launched at Rs. 39,999 in India for the base variant with 6GB RAM & 128GB storage. You can also get your hands on the 8GB+128GB variant for Rs. 49,999. The phone will exclusively be available for sale on Flipkart from 4th June.
  10. Gaming laptops have gotten a lot better over time. Some of the laptops like the Alienware Area 51m are so powerful, that you can even replace your desktop with them and get stellar performance. But you don't always have to spend a fortune to get a decent gaming laptop. There are a ton of options out there and here are some good ones that are worth checking out: 1) MSI GL63 8RC © YouTube MSI has been making gaming laptops for a long time and they have a lot of options ranging from budget notebooks to really expensive devices. The MSI GL63 8RC, which we have here in this list, falls under the budget category. It's priced at Rs. 55,990, and it's a really good option for those who're looking to dip their toes in gaming. This particular variant of the MSI GL63 8RC is powered by Intel's Core i5 8th-gen CPU and it's coupled with 8GB of RAM. It sports a 15.6-inch FHD TN panel on the front, which is one of the best panels out there. This base variant of the laptop boasts a GTX 1050 Ti, which should be good enough to play even some of the modern AAA titles at medium to high settings. Price: Rs. 55,990 2) Acer Nitro 5 © YouTube Acer's Nitro series is very popular among budget PC gamers, as it offers a decent rig at a reasonable price. Much like the MSI GL series laptop, the Acer Nitro 5 is also powered by an 8th gen Intel Core i5 coupled with 8GB of RAM. It also boasts a GTX 1050Ti GPU, which is a great entry-level GPU. The Acer Nitro 5 also sports a 15.6-inch IPS anti-glare display, which is just about what you can expect from an entry-level laptop. If you can stretch your budget a little, then you can also check out the Acer Predator Helios 300. It's a little more expensive, but it's said to have better thermal management. Price: Rs. 55,990 3) ASUS TUF Ryzen 5 © YouTube ASUS, much like MSI, is known for making some really good gaming laptops. Their new TUF series of gaming laptops are just perfect for gamers who are on a budget. This particular variant which we have here is powered by an AMD Ryzen CPU. The ASUS TUF Ryzen 5, as the name suggests, is powered by a quad-core Ryzen 5-3550H CPU clocked at 3.7Ghz. It has 8GB of RAM and features a Radeon RX 560X GPU to power through your games. This is also the only laptop in the list that sports a 17.3-inch 60Hz IPS panel. So if you are looking for a bigger laptop, then the ASUS TUF powered by the Ryzen is worth checking out. It costs just a little over our set budget of Rs. 60,000. Price: Rs. 60,890 4) HP Pavilion 15 © HP This one, in particular, doesn't have a gaming DNA, at least when it comes to the looks, but it still packs enough power to run modern games at decent graphics settings. It sports a 15.6-inch FHD anti-glare display and it boasts a GTX 1050 GPU. It's an entry-level GPU with 4GB VRAM, but it can still handle most modern AAA titles at decent settings. It is powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and it packs 8GB of RAM and 1TB HDD. The fact the HP Pavilion 15 Core doesn't have flashy RGB and an obnoxious design makes it a very compelling option for most people. Price: Rs. 59, 990
  11. 2019 has been an amazing year for gaming laptops. Seriously, the world of gaming laptops has never been better than this year's batch. From thinner gaming notebooks to beastly desktop-replacements, we've got everything. And as someone who has seen and even tested some of these gaming laptops personally, I've noticed that a lot of OEMs have decided to step away from “gaming aesthetics” and make laptops that have a more work-acceptable design. I was really pumped to see that. But that's when the ASUS Strix Scar II (GL504GV) showed up at my desk for review. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Oh boy! This laptop, let me tell you, screams “gaming” from every possible angle. It's got RGB lighting, a flashy ROG logo, and there are camo patches on the body. It's something a gamer, and only a gamer, would carry around. But you know what? The ASUS Strix Scar II has grown on me over course of my testing period. Not just the design, but its performance, display, etc. That's exactly what I am going to discuss in this review. Design & Build Quality The ASUS Strix Scar II weighs 2.4 kgs and measures 2.61 cms in height. So, it's certainly not a thin and light gaming laptop like the company's Zephyrus GX531, which I reviewed recently. But I am not really complaining because it packs a full mobile RTX 2060 GPU inside. Yes, it's not a Max-Q design laptop. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer But coming from a thin and gaming laptop and that too after a using some beautiful notebooks like Zephyrus GX531 and the Alienware m15, I'd say I found the boxy chassis of the Scar II a bit of a yawn. I am glad that it's got a subtle camouflage pattern and flashy RGB lighting to back an otherwise boring design. Some would say the lights are a little too much on your face and I won't argue with that. There's a light bar right in front of the touchpad, the keyboard has four-zone customizable RGB lighting and then there's a glowing ROG logo on the lid. It's definitely not a laptop which you can carry to your workplace without attracting some eyeballs. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Overall, I'd say the Scar II has a striking design and it's built like a tank. Seriously, it's a full-bore heavyweight champion with absolutely no chassis flex whatsoever. Not a lot of gaming laptops have the superior and sturdy build quality, so I'll have to say that ASUS has done a great job with this one. Display The display of the Scar II is simply stunning. It's a 15.6-inch non-glare Full HD IPS panel that takes full advantage of its 1920×1080 resolution display and 144Hz refresh rate. Regardless of whether you're watching a video or playing some games, this screen makes everything look top notch. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer It's capable of delivering a bright, vivid and smooth visual experience and it has tiny bezels. Tiny bezels on laptops are still very underrated in my opinion. Trust me, it makes a huge difference in how immersive media consumption can feel on this laptop. Just like on the Alienware m15, which also has a 144Hz panel, the Scar II's RTX 2060 is powerful enough to make use of all the extra FPS headroom while playing competitive games. Again, if you've never experienced a 144Hz display yet, then you've got to check it out. Keyboard & Touchpad As I mentioned earlier, Scar II's keyboard has RGB backlit keys with plenty of customisation options. Not just that, it's great to type on. In fact, I'd say this is one of the best laptop keyboards I've used in a while and it literally took me just a couple of keystrokes to realise that. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer The keys on this full-sized keyboard offer great travel and sharp key presses. The keyboard deck also has dedicated volume control, mute, and “Gaming Center” keys on top above the function key row. I am happy that ASUS decided to go with a traditional keyboard deck layout, instead of going with the one found on the Zephyrus GX531. It wasn't my favorite keyboard to use, to be honest. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer As for the touchpad, well, there's not much to complain about it either. It's a decent-sized touchpad that uses Windows precision drivers, so it's just about what you'd expect from a premium gaming laptop in 2019. It also has individual left and right click buttons, which is always good to see. As a gamer, you'll mostly be using an external mouse of a controller to play games, but it's still a very touchpad that works as intended when you need it. Ports © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Most of the ports on this laptop are located on the left-hand side, but you do get a good mix of all the essential ports. You get an HDMI 2.0 output, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, a USB Type C port, an SD card reader, two USB 3.1 Gen port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Performance & Thermals The ASUS Strix Scar II packs an Intel i7-8750H clocked at 2.2 GHz coupled with 16GB of 2666MHz RAM and Nvidia's new RTX 2060 GPU. Nvidia's new RTX series of GPUs, as we all know, are very much capable of delivering solid performance. And in Scar II's case too, it's exactly what you'd expect. You'll easily get over 60 FPS in most of the modern AAA titles even while running on max graphics settings. However, you'll have to make do with the fans that kick in as soon as you boot up a game. The fans, mind you, get very loud, so much so that it gets annoying to listen to in-game audio via the built-in speakers. I highly recommend you grab a pair of headphones. But the fans do keep the laptop cool, so there's hardly anything to complain about. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Both while playing games or running benchmarks, the temperature remained well under 80-degrees. Having used some thin and light gaming laptops before reviewing this, it was quite refreshing to play games on a laptop without having to worry about temperature spikes. BTW, I was on 'Balanced' mode throughout the testing period, because that's what most people will be using the most. Overall, I'd say ASUS has done a great job of taking care of thermals on the Scar II. As for the performance, I'd say I was very much satisfied with the FPS I was able to get. The first title that I happen to install on this laptop was Bethesda's new Rage 2. It's a fun game with lots of guns and shooting, which means it was a perfect testing ground for me. I set my graphics settings to 'Ultra' and saw frame rates between 59-72 FPS. I am pretty sure if you whack down the settings a bit, you'll easily be looking at frames above 100. That's quite impressive for a new title like Rage 2. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer Another new game that I played on this laptop was 'A Plague Tale: Innocence', which to my surprise was a visual treat. Again, I set everything to 'Max' settings and I was able to get as high as 75FPS in an open forest scene where there are a lot of entities to render. Similarly, other demanding titles like Battlefield V and Far Cry: New Dawn produced a lovely smooth range of 55-75 FPS on Highest settings. Also, did I tell you how awesome it was online multiplayer titles like Apex Legends and Fortnite on a 144Hz panel? Pure bliss! Oh yes, I also ran a couple of standard benchmark tools like 3DMark and PCMark 10, and you can check out those results along with a detailed FPS graph below - Battery Life The Scar II is putting itself as a 'gaming-first' laptop, so I am guessing ASUS is expecting you carry the charger around all the time. You'll obviously be plugged in while playing games for the best results. Pull the charger out, and you'll be good for around four hours before the laptop puts itself to sleep and wait for the charger to be connected. That, I'd say is not bad considering the fact that it's running a full-sized mobile GPU instead of the Max-Q variant. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer The Final Say So, the ASUS Strix Scar II - Is it worth the asking price of Rs. 1,64,990? Hell yes! It's hands down one of the best gaming laptops you can get in this price range. Flashy RGB lights aside, it's built like a tank and it can run even the modern AAA titles with solid frame rates, thanks to the powerful RTX 2060 GPU. © MensXP/Karthik Iyer This, however, isn't really thin and gaming notebook. So, if you're on looking that then I'd say you check out ASUS' own Zephyrus S notebook which has a Max-Q design. But if all you want is a machine that's capable of playing games at respectably high frame rates then the Strix Scar II is the way to go. Trust me, you won't regret it!
  12. Last month, a few details about Sony's next PlayStation were revealed in a Wired article where Sony dropped some specs as well. So far, the specifications look quite impressive and there's a lot of excitement about the upcoming consoles from gamers and developers alike. We got to know that the next console will have far faster load times and even have support for ray-tracing. How effective that would be on next-gen games, remains to be seen though. While speaking to Gaming Bolt, founders of Okomitive Don Schmocker and Goran Saric revealed that they are quite impressed with PS5's specifications. They were impressed in particular with the Zen Z processor. “It will definitely bring console performances closer to PC / desktop settings, which means less optimizations for ports," said Schmocker and Saric. This means that future games would require fewer optimisations for its PC versions and there will be more ports of the games made. It also means that some PC exclusive games can also release on future consoles if the performance is at par or close enough. For gamers, they will see more cross-releases than ever before which is always healthy for the gaming industry. Sony PS5 is not expected to launch any sooner than 2020, however, the Japanese company has provided an early look at what the next console is capable of. During a meeting in Japan today, Sony showed off load times of a scene on both the PS4 Pro and next-gen hardware. The results look quite impressive as you can see for yourself from the video below: Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLq — Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 21, 2019 Sony's PS5 is expected to have a very powerful GPU and CPU that will be based on AMD's eight-core Ryzen chips. The new cores will be built on AMD's 7nm Zen 2 architecture and a custom Navi board. The custom board will have support extremely high-end graphics and features like ray tracing. Other improvements include 3D audio that will be most noticeable when playing on headsets. The other major hardware upgrade would be the inclusion of SSDs. The consoles will be shipped with in-built SSDs that will reduce load times considerably. The SSD on the PS5 is said to be different from what's available in the market right now and is said to be even faster. Source: Gaming Bolt
  13. Yes, it's finally happening! Sony and Microsoft have joined hands announcing an unusual partnership, under which the rivals will work together on cloud-based gaming services. “The two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services”, Microsoft said in an official statement. But wait, before you start speculating about the end of console wars, or prepare yourself for a joint Microsoft/ Sony streaming service that'll let you play, say, Halo and Uncharted on a single platform, let me burst your bubble and tell you that it's not happening. © Microsoft As a part of the agreement, Sony will use Microsoft's Azure servers and data centers for its own game and content-streaming services. That, in case you don't know, includes Sony's PlayStation Now and PlayStation Vue. Additionally, the companies also agreed to “explore collaboration in the areas of semiconductors and AI”. It's not entirely clear what that means just yet, but that sounds more Microsoft's mixed reality and AR stuff to me. Let's leave that for some other day. The Console War Is Still On Considering the arrival of Google's Stadia service and reports about Amazon's cloud gaming service, it's easy to expect the two to join hands. I mean, who wouldn't want to see the rivals join hands to make a powerful next-gen console or come up with some sort of streaming standard? © Google Stadia That, however, isn't happening because both Sony and Microsoft are making their own powerful next-gen consoles and they've made some big promises like impeccable CPU and GPU, faster SSDs, and what not. If they want to make money, then these new consoles, I am sure, are going to need exclusive titles to convince gamers like me. Now, for instance, the only reason I'd recommend the PS4 over the Xbox One is the exclusives. God of War, Last of Us, etc. It's a long list of awesome games, but you get the point, right? Sony and Microsoft teaming up for a streaming standard to put the rivals out of business looks good on paper, but not so much in reality. I doubt Sony, or even Microsoft, will give up the software exclusivity. © Naughty Dog Why bother building a new console when you're simply going to make your next big exclusive fully accessible to people buying a competing console or subscription-based service? Why Microsoft? Now that's out of the way, you might be wondering why Microsoft, and not Amazon's AWS or Google? Well, if you have a service that caters to gamers across the globe, then it only makes sense to opt for a cloud-computing service like Azure. Its wider distribution of data centers across the globe will make sure Sony's streaming services are not facing any latency-issues. It's as simple as that. Competitors like Amazon and Google missed out on hosting Sony. Final Thoughts Though the idea of having a standard subscription platform to play all games in one place sound drool-worthy, let me tell you that we're not going to see that happening anytime soon. If that's what you made out of the picture of Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shaking hands before reading, then I am here to tell you that you're living in a delusional world. I doubt if that's even something which Microsoft or Sony have thought about at this point in time. © Microsoft Today's announcement of Sony and Microsoft's partnership is purely strategic and it has nothing to do with the console wars. Yes, the partnership could be great for the future of gaming with implications such as crossplay, especially for multiplayer titles like FIFA. Yes, an interesting possibility, but for now, both companies are readying their flagship consoles. The console war is here to stay!
  14. A couple of weeks back, I attended one of India's biggest eSports event called ESL One. It was an amazing experience and I wrote all about it here. The ESL One event was backed by Intel, and I got to chat with a few Intel executives who were present at the event. At the event, I met Frank Soqui, VP & GM of Intel gaming, Lee Machen, GM of gaming sales at Intel, and Prakash Mallya, VP & MD, sales and marketing group Intel India. We had a great time discussing gaming, hardware, OEMs and more. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer One of the questions that popped up during our conversation was about the rise of cloud gaming services like Google Stadia in the market. Well, for those of you who don't know, cloud gaming services are just like your streaming services, but for games. These cloud game streaming services will essentially let you play any game on any compatible device, as long as you have a strong internet connection. Yes, it's a phenomenal idea, but the rise of these cloud game streaming services will only lead to the downfall of hardware makers like Intel. I mean, think about it. Who'd be interested in buying expensive chipsets and build a gaming rig, when one can simply stream the games over the internet without worrying about system requirements? © Reuters Well, to my surprise, Frank Soqui seemed pretty optimistic about the arrival of cloud gaming. According to him, cloud gaming is going to introduce a lot of people to gaming, which means more potential customers for Intel. “After getting a taste of cloud gaming, more people are going to want to upgrade their rig and step up their gaming experience at some point in the future”, said Frank. Further adding to this topic, Frank also noted that computers are not meant for just gaming, and there are a ton of other things you could on a PC like content creation, for instance. “It's still a multiple purpose device. It doesn't just play games. It's just that it can also play games really well among other things”, said Frank. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer And then, there's the whole argument about enthusiast gamers not wanting to compromise on the gaming experience. I am pretty sure there are a lot of gamers who would be interested in getting the best experience, and they might not compromise by relying on cloud gaming solutions. So, is cloud gaming going to affect hardware makers like Intel or is it going to be a smooth sail like Frank says it will be? Well, I think it's too early gauge the success and adoption of cloud gaming. I am sure we'll have a lot more to discuss once these services reach at least the major markets.
  15. From the ASUS ROG Phone to Xiaomi's BlackShark gaming phone, there are a ton of gaming phones in the market. However, the Chinese smartphone maker Nubia's new Red Magic 3 stands out from the rest. The Nubia Red Magic 3 manages to distinguish itself by offering an internal cooling fan. Yes, it's the world's first smartphone to come with a cooling fan inside, which, if you think about it, is pretty nuts. © Nubia It's not just the cooling fan that's keeping the internals cool. The phone also takes advantage of the liquid cooling system. But does it really needs all of that? Well, take a look at the specs, and we'll let you be the judge. The Nubia Red Magic 3 is powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor that's coupled with Adreno 640 GPU. The phone also comes in a bunch of RAM and storage configurations, and the maxed out variant comes with a whopping 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. Oh, the display is a 90Hz 6.65-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel that supports HDR. The internals will be kept powered by a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 27W quick charging. In terms of the optics, the Red Magic 3 features a 48MP Sony IMX 586 at the back, and there's a 16MP selfie shooter on the front. Apparently, the phone can record 8K videos too. Also, just like some other gaming phones in the market, this one also features two shoulder buttons and front-facing stereo speakers. © Nubia Pricing & Availability The Red Magic 3, much like many other Chinese phones, will first launch in China on May 3. However, the manufacturer has confirmed that the phone will also debut in the US, UK, Canada, and EU. As for the pricing, the Red Magic 3 starts at 2,899 Yuan for the base variant, and it goes all the way up to 4,200 Yuan for the top-end variant with 12 gigs of RAM.
  16. It's 2019, and gaming on a budget is actually not that hard in today's day and age. Pick your parts wisely, know exactly where to cut corners, and you'll end up with a budget gaming PC build that will do justice to many of the latest games. If you still think it's easier said than done, then continue reading to find out how you can build a great gaming PC under Rs 50,000: 1. Processor: Ryzen 5 2600 - Rs. 12,999 © YouTube For this particular build, we'll be using the Ryzen 2600 to give us the necessary computing power. There's no specific reason behind choosing AMD's Ryzen over Intel's Core processor. It's just that the Ryzen 2600 CPU is a very capable CPU, and it's also a really good option for people who are willing to overclock. The Ryzen 2600 is an ideal mid-range gaming CPU that offers six-cores that can operate at a peak clock speed of 3.9GHz. You can learn more about the CPU here, but in short, it's a great option for gamers and creators alike. BTW, it also comes with a CPU cooler, so you don't have to shell out more money on it. 2. GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 - Rs. 12,499 © Nvidia If it wasn't for Nvidia's great timing, then we'd have probably suggested fitting a GTX 1050Ti in this build. But luckily, the company just launched the new GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, and it's simply great for gamers on a budget. The GPU is capable of running almost all modern titles like 'Apex Legends', 'Fortnite', 'PUBG', etc. at 100 fps, which is really not that bad for a budget build. 3. Motherboard: ASRock B450 PRO4 - Rs. 8,450 © ASRock Picking the right motherboard is very crucial for the build. You need to make sure that the board is compatible and can handle the components that you're planning using. We went with the Asrock B450 PRO4 mainly because we're using a CPU for our build. The board has an AMD A4 socket, which is exactly what we need. The board also has 2 PCIe 3.0 x16, 4 PCIe 2.0 x1, and an of SATA3, M.2, and USB ports. It's a very capable board and perfect for our build. In case you're interested, you can learn more about it here. 4. RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4 3000Mhz - Rs. 3,750 © Corsair The ASRock board, which we are using for this particular build, has 4 x DDR4 DIMM Slots. The maximum capacity of system memory supported by this board 64GB, and that's plenty for a build like this. 5. HDD: Western Digital WD10EZEX 1TB Internal Hard Drive - Rs. 2,975 © WD It's really hard to push an SSD for this build under the budget we're working with, so we just went with a WD Blue 1TB HDD. It's the go-to drive of choice that should get you started. You can always add an SSD in the future when you see fit. 6. Cabinet - Corsair Carbide Series 100R CC-9011075 - Rs. 3,099 © Corsair For case, the Corsair Carbide series 100R CC ATX should do the trick. As you can see, it looks simple and elegant, and it comes with all the bells and whistles that you'd need to keep your components up and running. It comes with five fan mounts to keep your PC cool, plus a 120mm fan is included inside the case itself. The case is fitted with Thumbscrew side panels, so you won't need any tools to handle it too. Also, the case has a flush-mounted side panel window, through which you can showcase all your PC components. Yes, we're not using any RGB lighting, but the case will certainly look pretty should you decide to upgrade the lighting later. 7. Power Supply: Corsair CX450 - Rs. 3,440 © Corsair Last, but not the least, we recommend the CX450 450W 80 Plus Power Supply. It can handle up to 450 watts, which is plenty of power for our configuration. Don't worry, we've also made sure that all our components are compatible with each other, so you won't end up blowing up something. Well, if you're keeping tabs on the cost, this PC with the aforementioned components will cost you just above Rs. 47,000. Of course, we haven't included other peripherals for the PC, but you can use that money to splurge on, say, a mouse or a nice pair of earphones. Lastly, we'd like to point out that the prices of these components keep fluctuating. So it's best to keep tabs on Amazon India or your local offline retailers to get the best prices.
  17. It's only been a few weeks since Nvidia launched its GTX 1660 GPU based on the Turing architecture. And now, the company has just launched a new GPU called the GTX 1650, which carries a price tag of Rs 12,999 in India. The new GTX 1650, in case you don't know, is the third 16-series desktop GPU from the company. With a Rs 12,999 price tag, the GTX 1650 is a perfect entry-level GPU for casual or gamers on a budget. © Nvidia As for the specs, the GeForce GTX 1650 comes with 4GB DDR5 VRAM. It features 896 CUDA cores, a boost clock of 1665MHz, and a total memory bandwidth of 128Gbps. The TDP rating on this particular card is just 75Watts, and it won't need a connector from the PSU as it draws the requisite power straight from the PCI slot. Now, let's talk performance. According to Nvidia, the GTX 1650 will offer twice as much performance compared to something like, say, the GTX 950. So, if you are someone who's using an older GPU from two or three years ago, then this would be a good GPU to look into. Apparently, you can also switch from a GTX 1050 and expect a performance boost. © EVGA As mentioned earlier, the GTX 1650 GPU will go on sale immediately from a bunch of online and offline retailers for Rs. 12,999. However, you may have to shell out a bit more cash depending on what OEMs decide to make. In addition to the GTX 1650 desktop GPU, Nvidia also announced the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1650 for laptops. You can expect to start seeing the laptops powered by these GPUs in the coming months with a starting price of $800. © Nvidia As for the performance of the 1060 Ti powered laptops, Nvidia says you'll be able to play all modern titles like 'Overwatch', 'PUBG', 'Apex Legends' and 'Fortnite' with frames upwards of 100fps. If you don't mind playing the aforementioned titles at 60fps, then you can also pick up the laptops powered by the GTX 1650. OEMs including Dell, Acer, ASUS Alienware, HP, MSI, etc. will start putting out laptops powered by these GPUs soon. Acer Nitro 5, ASUS ROG Zephyrus G, Dell G5, Gigabyte AERO 15, Lenovo Legion Y7000, etc. are a few of the laptops which you can start seeing in the coming months, according to Nvidia.
  18. Intel already has a powerful array of chipsets under its belt, and the company has just announced the new 9th Gen Intel Core H-series processors for laptops. Intel is specifically targeting the enthusiast PC gamers and creators looking to push their experience to the next level. According to the company, the new 9th Gen Intel Core mobile processors deliver desktop-calibre performance in a mobile form factor, and you can get crazy good speeds of up to 5GHz. © Reuters The new top of the line 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK processor is the company's first core i9 mobile processor with up to 5GHz with Intel's Thermal Velocity Boost. It has 8 cores, 16 threads and supports 16MB of Smart Cache. If you are someone who's looking to upgrade your, say, 3-year-old rig, then the new 9th gen processors will give you a performance leap of 33-per cent. And if you are a gamer who's upgrading from a 3-year-old PC, then you can expect to play immersive AAA gameplay with up to 56-percent FPS improvement on select games, and experience 38-per cent faster loading times in CPU-intensive titles like Civilization 6. This is just the new CPUs alone. Pair it with the right GPU, RAM, etc., then you can expect a significant upgrade in your gaming experience. A full range of 9th Gen mobile processors including Intel Core i5, i7, and i9 will be available with the OEMs, so you can expect compelling gaming laptops from the likes of Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and MSI very soon. In addition to the mobile chips, the 9th Gen Intel Core desktop processor family was also introduced. The 9th Gen Intel Core desktop processor lineup now includes more than 25 total products with options ranging from Intel Core i3 up to Intel Core i9.
  19. A gaming mouse is easily one of the most recognizable gadgets in the world. From an exaggerated design with sharp corners to flashy RGB lighting, they're distinctly visible. Buying a gaming mouse, however, isn't an easy task. There are tons of factors to consider. Well, don't worry. We've gathered together some of the best gaming mice that are out there. No matter what kind of games you're into, we're sure you'll find the best gaming mouse for your needs here on our list. Logitech G502 Hero © YouTube The Logitech G502 Hero, as you can see, clearly screams gaming from any angle you look at. It's got RGB lighting, a ton of customizable buttons, 1ms latency, a jaw-dropping 16,000 DPI sensor, etc. However, this is one of those gaming mice, which you can comfortably use even when you are not gaming. Yes, it comes with adjustable weights, which you can swap out anytime when you're, say, doing a more casual task like browsing the web. Just like the Logitech G402, this one's also not for users with big hands though. But other than that, the Logitech G502 Hero is extremely popular and it's easily one of the best gaming mice out there. Price: Rs. 4,295 HyperX Pulsefire Surge © YouTube This particular gaming mouse from HyperX, a brand that's known for its headsets and other gaming accessories, is definitely worth considering if you're on the lookout for a new gaming mouse. It's a well-designed mouse that's packed with a ton of awesome features like the 16,000 DPI sensor. As we said in our review, it's very comfortable to use, both while playing games or otherwise. It natively supports Windows shortcuts and comes with cool RGB lighting. Above all, the HyperX Pulsefire Surge is easy on the pocket compared to the ones that cost upwards of Rs. 10,000. Price: Rs. 4,799 Razer Deathadder Elite © YouTube The Razer Deathadder Eite is an all-rounder when it comes to gaming mice. It comes in a simple and fantastic shape that's perfect for all sorts of grips and hand sizes. Be it for playing games, editing photos, or simply browsing the internet, the Razer Deathadder Elite won't let you down. Like, seriously. It uses a 16,000 CPI optical sensor which has 99.4% resolution accuracy and a 450 IPS rating. All the technical terms aside, it just means that this mouse will provide flawless tracking at all times. It also comes with two perfectly placed, generously sized thumb buttons. They prove to be good for all types of grips, be it palm, claw, or tip. Price: Rs. 3,899 Steelseries Sensei 310 © Steelseries The Steelseries Sensei 310 is an ambidextrous mouse, which means it's good for both left and right-handed users. It's also grippier than most other mice, which is always good for playing games. Just like its predecessor, the Sensei 310 comes with really good sensors, so you don't have to worry about any tracking issues. Since the Sensei 310 is ambidextrous, you'll get a pair of identical thumb buttons on the left and the right. Don't worry though, the shape and size of this particular mouse has been tweaked since the last one to avoid any accidental clicks. Overall, the Steelseries Sensei 310 is a really good small, light and ambidextrous mouse, which you can rely on. Price: 4,599 CORSAIR M65 Pro © YouTube The Corsair M65 Pro is a fantastic mouse for competitive FPS gaming. The highlight of this particular mouse has to be the 'Sniper' button, which essentially lowers the DPI while holding it down. Lower the DPI, the more easily you'll be able to maintain your aim at the target. It's really great for users with a claw grip, but even palm grip users will find it very compelling. The Corsair M65 Pro, just like some other mice in our list, comes with tunable weights, which can be accessed by removing the screws on the bottom. You can dislodge between one and three 6-gram weights, giving the mouse an overall mass that's between 97 grams and 115 grams. Price: 3,599
  20. Invision Community is used by some of the world's biggest game brands, proudly enabling gamers to connect with the creators of their favourite titles. These sites attract millions of visitors between them and thousands of posts are added daily because of their high profile. But what if you're just starting out, how do you convert casual visitors to members, and what's the best way to set up your community? I got talking to new customer Darrell, interestingly named Mr. Fierce God on our community. While you may expect that this portrays a fire and brimstone hothead, you'd be wrong as Darrell is one of the nicest people you'll meet. Darrell runs the Fierce Gaming Network and I was impressed by the way he's set up his site and wanted to share my thoughts on what he's done well. The first thing I noticed is that the forum index is not the home page for the site. For a gaming community that wants to focus on more than just user conversations, this is a good move. Let's break it down. A. The home page has multiple points of entry, and the sidebar menu unobtrusively offers short-cuts to various parts of the community. B. We have a large call to action to either login or register. This box also explains the benefits of registration clearly and enforces that registration is a very quick process. One optimisation that may be worth looking at here is to add the "Sign in with Facebook / Microsoft" buttons on the box to persuade even more to register right away. C. Fierce Gaming Network also makes great use of Clubs to segment their audience to specific software titles. Re-using instantly recognisable artwork as the club cover image will entice fans of those games to visit. Scrolling down a little shows the "Member of the month". As humans, we are drawn to faces instantly, and this humanises the site and "unmasks" some of the popular members, making the site less intimidating. Moving down a little more we see the "Our Picks" section which highlights the best content from the community. Our Picks is a great way to get visitors to engage with your content. Good use of cover images draws attention and makes it clear the kind of content you're going to read. Darrell makes great use of several lnvision Community apps to build the site, and has set it up well. New users get to the site see handpicked content, fellow members and the benefits of joining all in one place. It's a great start and I look forward to seeing Darrell's site succeed. Are you using Invision Community to build custom homepages for your community? Share them in the comments below.
  21. Acer just showed off its new gaming laptop that has a keyboard that comes out from the main body. According to the company, this design helps keep the laptop cool and the laptop is called the Predator Helios 700. The laptop comes with Nvidia's latest RTX 2080/2070 GPU and Intel's i9 mobile processors. © BCCL The extendable keyboard basically allows more airflow to the processor and GPU in order to prevent throttling and overheating. This design lets the Predator Helios 700 make more room for fans which are revealed when the keyboard is extended. More airflow means that laptop will have more scope for overclocking, in theory. However, we will only know that once we get to test it ourselves. Along with the keyboard, the touchpad also slides out along with the keyboard at an angle so that it is comfortable to use. © BCCL Even the WASD keys on this laptop are raised and are pressure sensitive just like modern controllers. This will enable gamers to put the right amount of force to carry out activities in-game. For example, if you press the “W” key halfway, your character in your game will walk at a slower pace. Once pressed harder, your character will walk faster or run. “Continuing to deliver best-in-class performance, gamers can look to Acer's Predator Helios line for powerful and affordable gaming notebooks,” said James Lin, General Manager, Notebooks, IT Product Business, Acer Inc. “They are innovative, future-proof and reliable thanks to advanced thermal technologies that keep them cool during intense gaming sessions.” © BCCL In terms of display, the Helios 799 has a 1920X1080 resolution display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. The display has NVIDIA G-Sync support for better performance however we would have liked to see a 4K display. The laptop's price would increase considerably, however, a 4K variant would be a welcomed addition to the portfolio. The Predator Helios 700 gaming notebooks will be available in North America in April starting at USD 2,699.99; in EMEA in July starting at EUR 2,699.00; and in China in June, starting at RMB 19,999.
  22. When you think of an 'Alienware' gaming laptop, your brain starts showing you pictures of thick, beefy, loud and colourful machines with sharp corners and glowing alien cranium. Oh god, the mere thought of lugging that thing around makes your back hurt, doesn't it? Well, what if I told you that the company tried making an entirely new breed of gaming laptop, and the m15 is what they came up with. The m15 is Alienware's thinnest and lightest gaming laptop ever, and as someone who has used their laptops in the past, I can confirm that it stands out from the rest of their chunkier machines. It's also the cheapest Alienware gaming laptop on sale on Dell's website in India starting at Rs 1,51,190. But is it just as good as the other Alienware machines or did joining the thin-and-light league come with lots of compromises? Well, I've been using the Alienware m15's top of the line variant for the past few weeks now, and I think Alienware has successfully managed to cram a beast into a svelte body. Anyway, here's my full review of the Alienware m15 RTX gaming laptop. Design & Build Quality An extraterrestrial chic! Yes, as cliché as it sounds, those are the words that come to my mind when I look at this laptop. Yes, technically it's still too big to qualify as a true 'thin-and-light' gaming laptop, but I must say that it's surprisingly portable. It's just 0.83-inch thick and weighs just 2.16 kgs, so I can safely say that it's the thinnest and the lightest Alienware laptop. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla That being said, the m15 will still look familiar to anyone who has seen an Alienware machine before, especially this 'Nebula Red' variant which we have for review. It's just that Alienware got rid of all the extra chunk and retained just enough to house the cooling elements to keep the guts from overheating. BTW, it's still built like a tank. The lid is made from anodized aluminum, and our red variant here has soft-touch paint, which feels incredibly soft to touch. The lid can be opened with one hand and opening it will reveal a keyboard deck that's coated with a lush, black soft-touch finish. The top of the deck, however, is made up glossy plastic with an alien head right in the middle. You can also see some vents directly below the power button, and it has this funky honeycomb pattern. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Honestly, the Alienware m15's design has grown on me during the course of my testing. Of course, it's still very much an 'Alienware' design, but I am glad that the m15 doesn't belong to that obnoxious-looking pack with flashy RGB lighting all over it's body. The m15 is still something that I'd be very confident walking into a corporate meeting room with. Display It's not 4k, but boy is the Alienware m15's 15.6-inch 144-Hz display good! It's an awesome display for content consumption, be it watching movies, TV Shows or playing video games, which I happen to play a lot. While watching videos, the colours just seem to pop with excellent viewing angles, and the 144-Hz refresh rate kept the gaming action particularly smooth. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla One of the games which I really enjoyed playing on this laptop is 'Far Cry: New Dawn'. Seriously, that game has a lot of colourful and vivid visuals, and it was such an awesome experience. In fact, the game looked so good on this display, that I kept exploring different parts of the map instead of playing through the main missions. Look, the point that I am trying to make here is that Alienware has some of the best displays in the business, and the m15 is no exception. From brightness to smooth frame rates, everything was on point. Yes the laptop has huge bezels, which I found annoying at first, but it didn't really bother me that much mainly due to the fact that the display itself is enjoyable. Keyboard & Touchpad I really enjoyed the Alienware m15's keyboard and trackpad. Typing on this keyboard felt absolutely great, thanks to a solid amount of key travel and good response from the keys. I effortlessly hit my 70 words-per-minute average on the 10fastfingers typing test, so it's all good. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla As you can see, it's a full size keyboard with numpad and 4 macro keys at the top. The keyboard, of course, lights up in pretty colors, and the backlighting is nice and bright. Also, the backlight is powered by AlienFX, which means you can play around with four different zones of lighting and sync with other Alienware peripherals or even games. It's a lot of fun tinkering with these lights. As for the trackpad, I was kinda surprised to see that Alienware had ditched the discrete buttons in favor of a unified pad. Not a deal beaker at all, but still something to point out. The trackpad is excellent. The Windows 10 gestures were fast and accurate, and even the buttons are nice and clicky. Ports Though the m15 has a slimmer profile, Alienware hasn't made any compromises when it comes to ports. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla The laptop has a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the right with another pair on the left, which is accompanied by a Gigabyte Ethernet jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a noble lock slot. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla But that's not all. There are more ports at the back side. There's an HDMI port, a mini Display port, a Thunderbolt 3, a power jack and a proprietary port if you happen to have deep pockets to afford an Alienware Graphics Amplifier. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Audio Before I discuss the performance, let me talk about something which I feel took a hit in this laptop: The speakers. Like I said, I've used quite a few Alienware laptops in the past, but I was a little surprised by how low the speakers on this laptop sound. Don't get me wrong; it's not a bad speaker by any means. In fact, whatever I am able to hear is very crisp and clear. It's just that it's not the kind of Alienware speakers that I am used to. I also hate the fact that the speakers are bottom firing, which means they're not going to sound exceptional even if they did their best. From listening to music to watching movies, I'd say everything was a little underwhelming. Again, the speakers aren't bad, but they're just a little too small for my liking. I like laptop speakers that can fill my entire room at least at max volume, and the m15 speakers are clearly not the kind that I like. I did try playing some games with just the laptop's speakers as my audio output, and it was fine. I mean, I could hear the noise of crumbling leaves and whipping winds, but I still recommend you put on your headphones while playing games because there are lot of other things like fan noise, etc. Performance The Alienware m15 is available in several configurations in India. Every single one of them, however, have the same Intel Core i7-8750H processor with speeds up to 4.1GHz w/ Turbo Boost. The amount of RAM and storage between models. The variant which I tested had 16GB RAM and 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD, which is just absolutely insane. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla As for the GPU, I had the privilege of testing the m15's top-of-the-line variant with RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 GPU with Max-Q Design. If you are tight on budget, then you can also choose to go for the base variant that offers RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 GPU. The base variant of the laptop starts at Rs. 1,51,190. Now let's talk performance. As soon as I got my hands on the laptop, I started installing all the games that I had in my library. From popular online multiplayer titles like Apex Legends to some of the most demanding titles like Metro: Exodus, I gave the m15 a tough time. But I must say that I was very impressed by the performance. With an 8th-gen Intel Core processor and 16GB RAM, I already knew what to expect from this laptop when it comes to benchmarks. In m15 recorded a single-core score of 4,851 on Geekbench 4, whereas the multi-core score came in at a huge 19,713. It's among the highest that I've seen for a gaming laptop. While playing some CPU-intensive titles like Monster Hunter: World, I got frame rates over 80 FPS with significantly slashed loading times. Just like CPU, the GPU benchmark results were impressive, too. The 3DMark: Time Spy benchmark test gave out a result of 6,171. You can check out the benchmark results below for more info. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Moving on to gaming, the Alienware achieved an average frame rate of over 55FPS when playing Metro: Exodus in Full HD at its highest graphics setting including Ray tracing. I also tried using custom graphics settings just to see how smooth the game can run Not just Metro, I pushed this machine to play other ray-tracing enabled games like Far Cry New Dawn at highest settings, and got some impressive results. Check out the benchmark scores below to get a better understanding. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Thermals The Alienware m15 has a bunch of fans that kick in quite often if used in “balanced” mode. You can change the fan speed, etc. from the Alienware Command Center, and I always found myself sticking to the balanced mode, as it does a great job of keeping things cool for me whenever it's needed. Do make a note that the fans are noisy. Like, seriously. That's part of the reason why I said you should be using headphones while playing games. As for the thermal performance, I'd say the Alienware m15 does a decent job of keeping things cool even when it faces a lot of load. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Not going to lie, the laptop gets a little toasty at times, but that's given considering the fact that the processors and the RTX GPU runs hot inside the small chassis. That being said, at no point did I face thermal throttling. I even tried playing Metro: Exodus for over 5 hours straight with graphics settings set to extreme, and the m15 managed to maintain stable frames throughout the gameplay, which is very commendable. Worst comes to worst, you can always get yourself a cooling pad and rest the laptop on it while gaming. Battery Life The Alienware m15 comes with 60WHr battery, which is just so-so when it comes to performance. With moderate usage like web browsing, drafting a couple of articles, etc. I was able to push the m15 for about 4-4.5 hours on a single charge, before reaching out for my charger. That's not really a surprise since this is a gaming laptop, and there's a lot going on both, inside as well as the outside. © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla The laptop has to push powerful internals, and then there's fancy keyboard lighting with rainbow effects and what not. Don't worry though, you won't find yourself hugging a socket all the time, but you'll really be away from it only for a few hours, sadly. The Final Say Alienware took its time to come up with a 'thin and light' gaming laptop, but I'd say that it has hit the sweet spot. The m15 is equal parts flashy and powerful. Despite being different from the other Alienware laptops, the m15 has managed to retain it's attention-grabbing factor that makes it so desirable. It's also the first Alienware laptop which I could realistically use as a work laptop and then turn to it for some intense gaming session when I am back home. Seriously, that's what most laptops with a Max-Q design are supposed to do, and the m15 takes good care of that. The only downsides, in my opinion, are the battery life and the somewhat limiting thermals. But if you don't mind spending some time near a socket and use it on a desk with, say, a cooling pad while gaming, then the m15 is a supremely powerful and a surprisingly portable gaming laptop. The Alienware m15 starts at Rs. 1,51,190, and at that price, I think it's a great choice.
  23. Apple announced a bunch of services for its customers this past week and in our opinion, the two services that stole the show was Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade. Primarily because both these services will be making its way to India sometime later this year. Apple Arcade will be the company's new service that will work similar to the Xbox Game Pass and give users access to console-level games for a fraction of every game's total worth. It will revolutionise gaming as we know it as every game includes access to the full experience, including all game features, content and future updates, no additional purchases will be required. Apple will be offering over 100+ games with more coming to its service that will be bundled with the service and give access to users who would normally have to purchase games individually. Currently, the App Store is the biggest gaming platform in the world that attracts casual and hardcore mobile gamers. The App Store has more than 1 billion gaming customers and Apple Arcade will offer high-quality games that previously would have to compete with free-to-play games. The concept was a no-brainer for Apple and here are all the details and features we love about the new gaming subscription service It Will Be Available On All Apple Devices © Apple The new gaming service will be available on every Apple device that you probably already own. The service will come to Mac, iPhones, iPads and Apple TV which enables users to play games on their preferred platform. What's cool is that the service has been integrated for users to play games seamlessly when you switch devices. For example, if you are playing a game on your iPhone and want to continue your progress on a different device, the game will play right from where you left off seamlessly. Over 100+ Games © Apple Similar to the Xbox Game Pass, Apple will be offering over 100+ games at launch from developers such as Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, LEGO, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games and dozens more. Some of the more popular titles include 'Oceanhorn 2: Knights Of The Lost Realm', an RPG game that plays almost identical to the new 'Zelda' series. Other games like 'Yaga', is an upcoming title currently available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A sci-fi first-person shooter called 'Enter The Construct' is also under development for the platform. Apple Is Helping Developers © Apple Apart from handpicking games for the service, the Cupertino giant is also contributing towards the development of some games that will be exclusive to the platform. Apple may not be making first-party games in the traditional sense, but these games will be fine-tuned for Apple devices and take advantage of Apple's hardware just like you would expect from traditional gaming consoles. Many of these games will have compelling narratives and have unique features such as privacy, no in-game advertisements and no additional in-game purchases. Every Game Is Playable Offline © Apple The most crucial feature of the Apple Arcade service is that every game will be playable offline. In fact, it's one of its core features. Every game on the service does not require an internet connection to play games which means you can play Arcade games in flights or low-network areas. Even multiplayer games are expected to have some sort of local-multiplayer attribute that will let you play games when your device is not connected to the internet. Apple Devices Are More Powerful Than a Nintendo Switch © YouTube Gaming-on-the-go has been primarily been dominated by Nintendo that offers console-level games. Having said that, devices like the iPad Pro are more powerful than Nintendo's offering because of the new A12x Bionic chip under the hood. The new iPad Pro is capable of rendering 4K video and run graphics-intensive games like NBA 2K with better performance than the Nintendo Switch. In fact, Apple claims that the performance is similar to the Xbox One S which makes it leagues ahead of Nintendo's offering. The iPad Pro and future models make us excited about the future of gaming on the platform, especially since Apple Arcade is expected to offer a range of console level games for cheaper. Controller Support © Youtube/Apple Insider Apple currently supports third-party controllers like Steelseries Nimbus and Stratus that can let users play games just like you would with a PlayStation and Xbox. These controllers are compatible with the iPad Pro, iPhones, and Apple TV. There are a few other controllers that Apple supports for its devices however we can expect Apple to add support for more controllers in the near future. Apple did not comment on whether we can expect the company to support new and existing controllers soon, however it seems like a logical step towards this direction to make Apple Arcade even more attractive for gamers. Apple Arcade will launch in fall 2019 in more than 150 countries from a new tab on the App Store across iOS, macOS and tvOS. Will you be subscribing to Apple's gaming service? Let us know in the comments what you think about Apple Arcade.
  24. Apple started it's the journey to revolutionise television almost a decade ago when Steve Jobs tried to seek new revenue growth from content. It all came to fruition today when Apple announced its own streaming service that bundles content from providers like HBO, Showtime and others. It's called Apple TV Channels and will work via the updated Apple TV App. The application also uses advanced machine learning to curate lists according to your tastes. (c) Apple The new Apple TV App also uses apps like ESPN to show live footage within the app itself. The new update will be available via OTA this coming May. In addition, the new Apple TV app will also be available on smart TVs by Samsung, Sony and LG. It will also be available on Amazon's Fire Stick TV. For India, Apple has partnered with local content providers such as Eros Now to provide content with its subscription service. The new Apple TV app personalises what viewers love to watch across their existing apps and services while developing a secure and comprehensive understanding of users' viewing interests. The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime, as well as pay-TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Users will also get access to original content from Apple, the company has apparently already spent $1 billion producing its own content. Apple's original content will be available via Apple TV Plus that will host tv shows like 'The Morning Show' starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. Other shows like 'See' that stars Jason Mamoa which has a science-fiction themed plot. 'Little America' is another original Apple TV+ show based on the lives of immigrants and stars Kumail Nanjiani. Steven Spielberg is also directing an original show called 'Amazing Stories' that is based on a WW2 pilot getting lost in space. Apple has also joined forces with Oprah to host two docuseries that would cover topics such as mental health and other se sensitive topics. “We're honoured that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world — both in front of and behind the camera — are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We're thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.” The entire Apple TV+ service catalogue will be available to watch directly from the Apple TV Apps on iOS devices, Macbook and Smart TVs. The service will be available to use from this fall. More original content will be released as the service goes live over a period of time. (c) Apple Apple announced numerous hardware products last week such as new iPads and AirPods that compliments today's announcements. Along with the video service, Apple also announced a premium games subscription for its App Store where the service fee would be divided amongst the games in the service based on how much time is spent in each game. The service will focus more on premium paid pages like Overland, OceanHorn, amongst others. Free-to-play games like Fortnite and other games with micro-transactions will not be included in the subscription service. There are over 1 Billion games downloads from the App Store and over 3 lakh games on the App Store with either a one time fee or have 'in-app purchases' The service is called Apple Arcade and will bring console-level games to devices like the iPad Pro, iPhones, desktop and Apple TV. The subscription will also give users access to over 100+ new games. New games will be added to service over a period of time. The service will be available in over 150 regions including India. Every game will be playable offline, and because subscribers can play Apple Arcade games across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV, they can pick up where they left off in a game, even if they switch devices. (c) Apple In addition, Apple announced Apple News+ that basically compiles magazines and can be accessed via a subscription fee. The single fee will give users access to a number of magazines such as The New Yorker, Fortune, National Geographic amongst others. Over 300 magazines will be available to users ranging from technology, travel, gear, lifestyle, politics and finance magazines. Magazines will be designed and fine-tuned for Apple devices. Apple News+ will also include newspapers like Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and other premium digital subscriptions such as TechCrunch. The premium service also does not allow advertisers to track a user's activity or browsing history. Apple News+ costs $9.99 and is also sharable via Family Sharing at no extra cost. Apple News+ is currently only available in USA and Canada.
  25. MSI is a brand that's been making gaming laptops for well, over a decade now. From thin-and-light notebooks to beefy workstations, MSI has an arsenal of machines under its belt, so I am sure they have something for anyone who wants to game, be it for an entry-level gamer or an aspiring Esport competitor. Recently, MSI debuted a bunch of gaming notebooks in India which follow the pleasant trend of gaming laptops becoming slimmer, yet powerful at the same time. The MSI GF75 Thin (8RC) is one of them that signifies the change better. It's thin-and-light from the outside but packs some powerful hardware. The MSI GF75 Thin is currently retailing for INR 93,990 in India, and at this price point, you're looking hardware specifications like 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H, 8GB RAM, GTX 1050 GPU, and more. Plus, it sports a massive 17.3-inch FHD display too. Yes, the hardware specs and the thin-and-light architecture sounds like an impressive, but just how good is this laptop? Well, I've been using this machine for quite some time now, so let's jump into my review - Design The MSI GF75 Thin has an admirably simple and sharp design. The laptop is all black and has just a touch of red to give it that “gaming laptop” look. The top, for instance, has a red MSI logo along with the brushed aluminium aesthetics. I personally think the laptop looks great, and I find it better than those tacky and bulky gaming laptops which have glowing lights all over the body. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla The GF75 weighs just 2.2kgs and is just 0.90 inches thick, which makes it both thinner and lighter than a lot of other gaming laptops in the market. Since it has a massive 17.3-inch display and a full-size keyboard, I won't exactly say it's got a small footprint. However, I am coming from using a big and bulky Predator Helios 300 as a daily driver, so I enjoyed carrying this around and using it. Also, MSI says this laptop is 8 per cent smaller, 15 per cent lighter and 16 per cent thinner other 17-inch gaming laptops on the market, so take it as you will. To the touch, the GF75 feels more like plastic than metallic, which MSI says the laptop's top and keyboard deck is made out of. So, I won't necessarily say that his laptop has exceptional build quality, but it's pretty darn good. Also, the keyboard and touchpad have noticeable flex even with moderate pressure. It's not annoyingly flimsy, but definitely, something to make a note of. As for the I/O ports, the GF75 has a three USB Type-A, a single USB Type-C port, an HDMI and an ethernet port. All these are evenly distributed on both sides of the laptop, so you won't have any issues using all of them at the same time. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla Overall, I'd say the GF75 has a good. Yes, it's not as good as MSI's other premium laptops like, say, the MSI PS42, but it isn't exactly cheap either. The build quality didn't detract my experience, I could even use it for my work without attracting too much attention from my colleagues. Keyboard & Touchpad The GF75, as I mentioned earlier, has a full-size keyboard, which is always a good thing to have. It took me a little while getting used to it, but my overall experience has been fairly positive so far. It's been fantastic for typing. The switches, despite being a little shallow, provide good feedback and aren't noisy, unlike my work laptop. Also, the keyboard lighting is not obnoxiously flashy, which is something that I'll always appreciate. As you can see, it lights up in red, although I wish MSI had given an option to adjust its brightness. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla The touchpad uses Windows Precision drivers, and it's pretty accurate and smooth. It is, however, a bit too small for my liking, so I had some trouble using Windows 10's multi-finger navigation gestures. Performance & Battery Life The GF75 variant which I've been using for the past couple of weeks is powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor which is coupled with 16GB RAM and 1TB HDD. The graphics are handled by the Nvidia's GTX 1050 GPU. If you can stretch your budget, then you can also get your hands on the GF75 Thin 8RD variant of the laptop, which has the GTX 1050 Ti and 128GB SSD. It's available for INR 1,04,990 on Flipkart. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla Now coming to the performance, I'll say the MSI managed to hold it's head high. That's not really a surprise when you consider the fact that this laptop is powered by a six-core processor. It powered through both benchmarks and games alike, with the temperatures remaining well under acceptable limits. I've been indulged in a lot of multiplayer games lately, so I was curious to see how GF75 handled some of the newer demanding titles like EA's Apex Legends among other games. Here's a quick look at a chart to give you an idea about the frames that I was able to push in different titles - © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla As you can see, I was comfortable playing some of the newer titles like the Apex Legends, Far Cry New Dawn, etc. at 60fps or above. Yes, you might have to go a little easy on the graphics settings, but that's given how demanding some of these titles are. During my testing, I played all these titles with graphics settings set to low-mid. It's all about tweaking the settings, so I highly recommend playing around with the graphics settings before playing any games. I also ran a couple of benchmarks after playing games as part of my customary testing to see how it performed. I ran 3DMark's Time Spy test and PCMark 10 benchmark. The GF75 managed to score a decent 5,341 & 3,592 in PCMark 10 and 3DMark Time Spy test respectively. Under a heavy load like, say gaming or while running benchmarks, you can hear the fans kick in and push hot air from the sides and the back. I noticed that the palm rest also gets a little warm to touch, but it's not uncomfortably hot. The top portion of the keyboard deck, however, gets pretty hot. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla One thing which I really like about this laptop is the fact that fans don't kick in at random, unlike many other laptops which I've used in the past. This is even when I've kept the fan speed at “Auto” inside MSI's Dragon Centre software, which is essentially a utility which allows you to customize the laptop's performance and keep a tab on the resource utilization in real time. Moving on to battery life, the GF75 lasted me about 4-5 hours while doing productivity tasks (read: not gaming). It's not even close to MSI's claims of 7-hour battery life, but I think it's acceptable for a gaming laptop pushing a six-core CPU and powering a massive 17.3-inch screen. Display & Speakers Speaking of displays, the GF75's 17.3-inch FHD panel is a joy to look at. It has thin bezels, vibrant colours, and excellent viewing angles. I played a lot of games and watched a ton of movies & TV shows while using this laptop, and I had no complaints whatsoever. The hinge is a little too stiff, but you can lift the lid comfortably with just one hand. Also, despite the tiny bezels, the webcam is in the right spot, and I hope other manufacturers take a note from MSI and stop shoving the camera sensor below the screen. There's no Windows Hello support though, so yeah, that's there. © MensXP / Akshay Bhalla The speakers, I have to say, aren't as impressive as the rest of the hardware. Even after cranking the volume all the way up and making necessary adjustments with the Nahimic 3 software, the audio output isn't as loud as I like it to be. Don't get me wrong, the GF75's speakers can easily fill a small-sized room, and produce a lot of details, but it lacks bass. So, I found myself reaching out for my headphones at all times while playing games or even while watching movies. The Final Say The MSI GF75 isn't the only gaming laptop that's powered by the 8th Gen Core Intel CPU, but it manages to differentiate itself with its thin-and-light form factor. Of course, it's not as powerful as some other laptops like the MSI GT75, but at this price point, the GF75 Thin is a solid performer. It strikes a perfect balance between your work and gaming life, so I am sure it'll please the casual and budget-conscious gamer in you.
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