Nubia Red Magic 3 Gaming Smartphone Review

Enough with PC gaming and hardware. Everyone is only talking about smartphones these days. And you know what? That’s exactly what we’re going to do too. I mean we already unboxed the Red Magic 3 last week, so might as well find out how good the phone actually is. So, without further ado, here’s our review of the Nubia Red Magic 3 gaming smartphone.

The Red Magic 3 is probably the most affordable gaming phones that you’ll find in India. Starting at a price point of INR 36,000, it packs in a Snapdragon 855, the latest flagship processor from Qualcomm, a minimum of 6GB RAM, 128 gigs of storage and a whopping 5000mAh battery. And all this is brought to life by a 6.65-inch 90Hz AMOLED display. But that’s not all. To make sure the phone doesn’t heat up, it uses an actual cooling fan. Like the ones you see in laptops.

The phone is a looker too. At least our review unit, which is doused in bright red. The build is really solid too, and the phone is on the heavier side of the spectrum, weighing about 215g. It has an aggressive design inspired by sports cars, with the back of the phone house angular elements for that gaming feel. Along with that, the back side also has the camera, the intake vent for the cooling fan, the primary 48 MP camera with Sony IMX586 sensor, the backlit Red Magic 3 logo, the fingerprint sensor and an esports inspired, customizable RGB Strip. The volumer rocker, power button and exhaust vents are located on the right side along with the shoulder triggers, while the left side has the SIM tray, pin connector for the dock and the Game Mode button, but we’ll talk more about that later. The bottom side has the USB Type-C charging port while the top has a 3.5mm audio jack. Here’s a funny thing. One reason that companies use for not having an audio jack is a bigger battery, but the Red Magic 3 has both, so is that just an excuse for following a trend? I guess we’ll never find out.

Anyway, back to our Nubia phone. One thing that I do not like about the phone is that it’s big, like way too big. And you know what they say about people with big phones, don’t you? That they can’t use their phones comfortably with one hand. Yes, that’s exactly what I meant to say. But the phone still has a forehead and a chin. This certainly seems like a bold move in a world where other phones are moving towards an all screen front side, but there’s not gonna be any commendation for innovative design on that end. Personally, however, I’d take this over a weird looking notch any day. 

The display itself is pretty frickin amazing. The AMOLED panel has vibrant colours that pop, and the 90Hz refresh rate makes it a delight to use. It feels smooth, fluid, responsive, and the internal specs are more than strong enough to ensure you don’t experience any sort of hitches. It’s everything you could ask for in a phone made specifically for gamers. Which means that now would be a great time to talk about the actual gaming performance and benchmarks.

When it comes to tests like 3DMark and Geekbench, the Red Magic 3 just blows the competition out of water. That trend continues in actual games as well, and the phone can handle even the most intensive games, be it PUBG or Asphalt or whatever it is you can throw at it, without a sweat. And your gaming experience is only enhanced by the added game mode and shoulder triggers. Launching the game mode leads you to a screen that shows all your installed games, and you can adjust all the settings from right here. Swipe in from the right and you’ll see a whole range of options, including metrics like phone temps, network speed and clock speeds for the CPU and GPU. Here you can also find handy buttons to enable the fan and the dock, as well as to disable any disturbances like texts and calls. After all, who wants to be disturbed while they’re occupied in an intense gunfight? Additional fan settings can be found on the top right, where you can select between intelligent mode for temp based cooling or rapid cooling to put it on maximum speed. And you can actually hear the fan at work, it is loud. But not loud enough that your gaming experience will be ruined, thanks to the booming sound from the front facing dual speakers. And the battery life is just the cherry on top. Not only does it last almost an entire day filled with hours of gaming, but can extend up to two days pretty easily on average use and light gaming. But if you think it ends here, think again. The Red Magic 3 also has a couple of really cool accessories, including a dock and a controller. The dock has three ports, a USB Type-C, a 3.5mm jack and, get this, an ethernet LAN port. You can activate it easily by the press of a button in the game launcher and just forget about lag. Additionally, there’s a bluetooth controller to help you, but it requires a specific cover, and can be placed on either the left or the right side depending on what you feel is more comfortable. Truly, this phone passes every check box you want covered as a gamer.

Now that we’ve checked what makes this phone a beast, let’s take a look at the camera. The Red Magic 3 has a single 48MP primary camera with f/1.7 aperture, with Sony’s IMX586 sensor, the same one used in Oneplus 7 Pro, but the 7 Pro has a triple camera setup. The front camera is 16MP with a f/2.0 aperture. The rear camera takes pretty decent looking pictures in daylight, the color reproduction is good and the pictures seem to have enough detail. Even in low light, the camera is able to capture details well even though some noise is there. But the camera app itself is pretty basic, and even lacks the Portrait mode that seems to be a standard in most phones by now. But one feature that it does have, and this is the only phone that has it, it that it can record video at 8K 30 FPS. Unfortunately, we can’t really show it because our system couldn’t really handle playing it properly. You can also do videos at 1080p and 4K 60 FPS, but sadly there’s no stabilization. Apart from that the Red Magic 3 can also record slow motion videos at 1920 FPS. 

Now, there’s a lot of things to love about this phone, but there are also a few minor things that just seem a bit inconvenient. One obvious being the size of the phone which can be little hard to fit in pockets that for some reason seem to be getting smaller and smaller every day. Moreover, it’s pretty easy to accidentally unlock the phone using the fingerprint scanner while putting it in the pocket. But this is could totally be just me, because overall, the Red Magic 3 is simply a delight. It looks good, performs better and has features that can make every gamer drool out of every orifice in their body. Camera performance could be better, but apart from that, this is pretty much the best gaming smartphone you can get that hits that sweet spot between price and performance. 

MSI GS65 Stealth Gaming Laptop Review

A couple of years ago, you really had to choose between power and portability when it came to laptops. But that’s a thing of the past, thanks to cooling solutions better and NVIDIA’s MaxQ graphics which allow powerful GPUs to be used in slim form factors. But how good are they really? Today we’re gonna answer that question as we check out the MSI GS65 Stealth gaming laptop. 

The MSI GS 65 comes with an 8th gen Intel i7-8750H which has 6 cores and 12 threads. Coupled with that is NVIDIA’s RTX 2070 MaxQ, 16 gigs of DDR4 memory and a 500GB SSD. And there’s a Full HD, 144Hz IPS display, all packed in a chassis as slim as 17.7mm.

In terms of looks and design, the GS65 believes in elegance in simplicity. The device yells premium with its black metal finish with golden streaks and highlights. Even the MSI Dragon logo on the lid gets the golden treatment. And it weighs only 1.8kg, there’s no problem in carrying it just about anywhere. 

The left side of the laptop has the Ethernet port, two USB 3 ports, two 3.5mm audio jacks along with vents, while the right side has the charging port, the HDMI port, a miniDisplayPort, a USB Type-C port and one more USB 3 type-a port. Exhaust vents can be found on the back.

Opening the laptop greets you with the same premium finish, with the display having minimal bezels on the top and sides, and a steelseries keyboard sits between the speaker grills and the golden lined trackpad, which for some reason is extra stretched. The keys feel nice to press and are decently sized with adequate space, and feature per key customizable RGB backlighting. My only complaint is the lack of a number pad, which used to be there in the older Stealth series laptops. The trackpad is pretty smooth and responsive too, but the large size means it’s easy to accidentally brush your wrist and move the cursor while typing.

When it comes to performance, the MSI GS65 is definitely a powerhouse. You can use it pretty convenient for gaming as well as heavy tasks like editing, designing and rendering. Of course, the 2070 MaxQ is not as powerful as the full 2070, but that doesn’t mean the laptop has any problems running intense applications. 

Even on the temperature side, the laptop does an acceptable job of keeping the hardware cool. The max GPU temperature we observed was 82 C while the max CPU temps touched 95 C. The keyboard gets a little hot so using it for long sessions can be a little uncomfortable, so you might need to buy a decent cooling dock. The fans do get a little loud under full load too, but considering that most people use headsets while gaming, they’re not loud enough to cause discomfort. 

The display on this laptop is pretty impressive too, with bright and vivid colours, and ultra fast 144 Hz refresh rate. Gaming is smooth and fluid, with landing headshots feels simply amazing. The environments look great and the sound from the speakers is crisp and clear, whether you’re watching your favourite movies or busy in an intense gaming session.

Battery life, as expected with gaming laptops is average, with the device lasting just under 4 hours of average use including media playback and browsing. But gaming on a laptop always happens with a charger, so you probably won’t have to worry on that end.

At a price point of about 2.1 lakhs, the MSI GS 65 will definitely feel expensive, but premium products come at a premium price. And this is for people who want high portability without sacrificing on performance. That is exactly what this laptop offers, so if that’s what you’re looking for as well, you should definitely check it out.

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Alienware Area 51m Review: The Upgradable Laptop!

Desktop PCs have always had one major advantage over laptops – upgradability. You have a good CPU but your graphics card is getting old? Just take it out and put in a new one, and you’re good to go. But laptops are more of a package deal, right? You can’t just take your old CPU and upgrade it for a better one. Or can you?

Design and Tech Specs

CPU Intel i9-9900K
GPU NVIDIA RTX 2080
RAM 32 GB DDR4
Storage 500GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Ports
USB 3.1, USB Type-C Thunderbolt, HDMI, MiniDP, LAN, 3.5mm jacks, Alienware Graphics Amplifier
Price ~INR 3,50,000

Today we’re playing with Area 51m, the first fully upgradable laptop, coming from Alienware. Not that it needs any upgrading though as our review unit packs in an 8 core, 16 thread, desktop level i9-9900K.  And if you think that’s overkill, get this. The GPU is none other than the RTX 2080. There’s also 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM, dual storage comprising of a 500 GB SSD along with a 1TB hard drive AND a 144Hz, full IPS 1080p display and Tobii Eye Tracking.

And that’s not all. The Area 51m is one of the best looking laptops I’ve seen. Alienware has decided to redo their entire design ideology, going forward with what they’re calling the Legend design. The Area 51m opts for a much more curved look than what we’ve seen in the older Alienware models and while a lot of brands still sticking to the black and red gaming color scheme, the Area 51m is just covered in dazzling white. But. While that results in a much more elegant and classy look, it also highlights any dirt or marks you might leave on it, meaning you may have to clean it a lot more often than you might like. The build quality, on the other hand, is rock solid. It’s a sturdy device for sure, and at 3.8kg, quite chunky to say the least. 

For such a huge and powerful laptop, one thing that it lacks, surprisingly, is ports. On the left side you have one USB 3 port along with a Type-C Thunderbolt port, exhaust vents and 3.5mm audio jacks, while the right side houses more vents and two additional USB 3 ports. I would’ve definitely liked to see at least one more full size USB port as three might be a little less for people using an external keyboard and mouse, especially if they have a USB headset. On the back side, surrounded by the shiny RGB strip, you can find the LAN port, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, an HDMI, a mini DisplayPort and two ports for charging. That’s right, the Area 51m requires not one, but two power bricks to reach its full potential.

The front side of the laptop has grills for speakers and by far is the most disappointing thing about its looks, where the glossy black plastic finish just doesn’t seem to fit in with the laptop’s otherwise ultra premium looks. 

Opening up the laptop, you will be greeted with an RGB backlit keyboard, which while not being mechanical, is one of the most comfortable keyboards I have seen in a laptop. The keys feel nice to press, have a decent travel distance and the overall experience is just great, whether you’re typing or playing. And thanks to the Alienware Command Center, you can customize it to your heart’s extent. From individual key backlighting to custom macros, you can do just about anything.  Even the trackpad has customizable RGB backlighting. However, one thing that does bug me about the keyboard layout is the awkward placement of the Page Up and Page Down keys, which have been crammed between the Shift and the Arrow keys. But enough about the look and feel, let’s talk performance. I mean, that’s what really matters, right?

Performance and Benchmarks

 

The 9900K and RTX 2080 in the Area 51m do really seem to be at par with their desktop counterparts. Whether it’s pure gaming, streaming, editing or rendering, there’s no workload that the laptop can’t handle without breaking a sweat. And the joy of combining that power with the blazing 144 Hz IPS panel is just. . . it makes me feel things. Not only are the colours crisp and vibrant, the entire experience is smooth and responsive. The speakers are quite loud too, and really add to the whole vibe.  Doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to lose yourself in the amazing world of Witcher 3 or trying to get that clutch win in PUBG, the Area 51m does a great job of bringing your games to life.

Now, you can’t have a 9900K in your laptop and not overclock it. Thankfully, Alienware has made it incredibly easy to do that. Using Alienware Fusion, you can either use one of the two preset overclock profiles, or set a manual overclock for both the CPU and GPU.

When it comes to packing such powerful hardware into a portable form factor, one major cause for concern is thermals. And things on this front are kind of good news, bad news. In our testing, the GPU temperature stabilized at a max 75 C temp, but the CPU reached 100 C under full load. That’s boiling water temperature. Luckily, the fans do a great job of venting it out and the keyboard doesn’t heat up, so you can still continue to use it, should you wish. And you can hear the fans at work, they’re quite loud under load.

The Verdict

Now that we’ve covered all the basic stuff, let’s talk about upgradability. It’s quite interesting how the Area 51m manages to do that. For the CPU, Alienware has just plugged the desktop sized LGA1151 socket, which means that changing your CPU is just the same as you would do on a desktop motherboard. However, the GPU comes on a custom made removable module, which means that you will only be able to get it through Alienware. Freedom does come at a cost, after all. Nevertheless, it’s an incredibly fascinating concept that seems to work, and I for one am completely blown away with it.

But. But. That’s not all. Let’s face it, life isn’t that simple. While the custom GPU module means that you should theoretically be able to upgrade to the next gen graphics cards, because the design for the is on Alienware, the CPU upgradability will depend solely on socket support. As long as Intel continues to support the LGA 1151 socket, upgrading to a new CPU won’t be a problem. But the day they decide to switch to a different one, which they probably will, sooner or later, you might be stuck with the last one supported. 

But let’s not be pessimistic. After all, the Area 51m is an impressive piece of hardware that’s enough to make any and every gamer drool. It’s a total knockout, in terms of both looks and performance, and the level of customizability is simply amazing. With its size and uber powerful specs, it’s more of a portable desktop than a laptop. However, at a price point of about INR 3,50,000, it’s also enough to make your wallet weep. But hey, if you have the money and want a no-compromise gaming experience while still remaining relatively portable, why not treat yourself?

RTX 2070 Super Review: The Perfect Card For 1440p Gaming

You know, I can’t help but feel bad for AMD. Every time they go to announce a new GPU, the green team is ready, waiting to pounce. It’s like that friend everyone has, who likes to make everything about themselves. You know the type. When the red team announced the Vega GPUs, NVIDIA was quick to reveal the GTX 1070Ti. And this year seems to be no different. Just a week before the Navi launch, the green team was ready with its RTX Super line up. And today we’re playing around with the RTX 2070 Super. 

Tech Specs

Specs RTX 2070 Super RTX 2070 FE RTX 2080 FE
CUDA Cores 2560 2304 2944
RT Cores 40 36 46
Base Clock 1770 1710(OC) 1515
Boost Clock 1605 1410 1800(OC)
Memory Speed 14 Gbps 14 Gbps 14 Gbps
Memory Config 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
Ports DP, HDMI, USB Typ-C DP, HDMI, DVI, USB Type-C DP, HDMI, USB Type-C
Power Connector 8-pin + 6 pin Single 8-pin 8-pin + 6 pin
Recommended Power Supply 650W 550W 650W

The RTX 2070 Super is an upgraded version of the 2070, with a bump in core counts, clock speeds and much more. In a way you can also consider it as a shaved down version of the original 2080, as it uses the same TU104 die as the RTX 2080. CUDA core count is up to 2560 from the 2070’s 2304. The base clock speed in the 2070 Super is 1605 MHz, which is pretty close to the 2070’s boost clock speed. Tensor cores are up too, from 288 in the 2070 to 320 in the 2070 Super. Understandably, these boosts also result in a TDP increase of 40W, from the 2070’s 175W to 215W in the 2070 Super. This also means that the 2070 Super now requires an additional 6-pin power connector, like the 2080.

Visually, the RTX 2070 Super looks quite similar to the original RTX series, with the same dual fan design and form factor. The difference here is in the middle, where it now sports the “super branding” on a reflective, glossy surface. Personally, I prefer the matte black finish on the original RTX cards, but hey, to each their own. 

On the display front, the 2070 Super display ditches the DVI port found on the 2070 in the favour of another DisplayPort, bringing the count to 3 DisplayPorts, one HDMI port and one USB Type-C. But the real deal, and the frankly, the one thing that care about the most is performance, and how well the card holds up against the 2070 and the 2080. So, take a look at the scores.

Performance and Benchmarks

Right off the bat, it’s hard not to be impressed by the 2070 Super’s performance. The card gives really solid numbers at 1440p throughout the benchmarks, and in some cases is pretty viable for 4K too, if you don’t mind turning down the graphics settings. Overall, the performance gap between the 2070 Super and the 2080 was less than 10%. The cheapest RTX 2080 we could find was worth 59,000 INR, so at the launch price of 43,600 INR, that makes it amazing value for money. Compared to the 2070 is where the price gap is a little close, as the cheapest RTX 2070 we found costs 38,000. The 2070 Super outperforms the 2070 by a little over 10% on the average at 1440p, so even here it doesn’t sound like a bad option. 

Now, the big question is, what prompted the release of the Super cards? NVIDIA claims that it was the tech improvements and tweaking that’s allowed them to obtain better yields, which certainly sounds plausible. But the timing of this launch, just a few days before the release of AMD’s Navi GPUs can lead one to believe otherwise. I mean, we did see the RX 5700 cards competing closely with the 2070 in the leaked benchmarks. So it wouldn’t be completely off base for one to think that NVIDIA, with their Super cards are trying to get ahead of the competition before the Navi cards are even out. In that case, you know who to thank for the Super’s sensible pricing. I mean, it has been a long time coming. This is what RTX pricing should have been from the beginning, especially considering the serious lack of ray tracing support in games when it launched. But as they say, better late than never.

All said and done, with its competitive pricing, the RTX 2070 Super is an amazing card for 1440p gaming. At 43,600 INR, you get considerable gains for a small increase in price, and a good ray tracing experience too. People who have already bought the 2070 will feel bad, but for those who were still waiting to get their hands on an RTX GPU, this is it. 

Review: BenQ Zowie Celeritas II Gaming Keyboard

Zowie has made quite a name for itself in the recent years, especially in the esports arena. The brand is regularly coming up with peripherals catering to the esports players, from keyboards and headsets to high refresh rate displays. The Celeritas II is the latest gaming keyboard in the Zowie lineup, priced at INR 10,900. But is it worth the price? Let’s find out.

The philosophy behind the Celeritas II seems to be straightforward: elegance in simplicity. The keyboard has a pretty standard design; in fact, from a distance, it doesn’t look much different from a normal office keyboard. But don’t let that fool you, because on the inside the Celeritas screams gaming. It uses custom optical switches instead of the Cherry MX Brown like its predecessor. Optical switches are a new form of mechanical switches, which use light for actuation instead of a mechanical connection. As such, they have an advantage over conventional mechanical switches as optical switches can be faster and more durable.

It follows the popular ‘red and black’ colour scheme that we’ve seen with almost every brand by now. The keyboard has a matte black finish, keeping it simple without any frill.  At 1.89kg, the Celeritas II is a bit on the heavier side of the spectrum. It measures about 44.2 x 17 cm, which means it doesn’t take up too much space on your table. There are four rubber grips on the base which prevent the keyboard from sliding on the surface.

While the gaming community is moving towards a more colorful RGB lit world, the Celeritas II keeps things rather uncomplicated with a simple Red LED backlight. You can adjust the brightness and toggle it on/off using the Fn keys, which also double up as media control buttons. The choice to go for flashy RGB is rather subjective; on one hand, you can argue that the red backlight results in a less distracting experience. But on the other hand, not having the option to customize the backlight colour, especially at the INR 10000 price point seems a bit lacking.

One of the more interesting features the Celeritas II offers is PS/2 compatibility, and the keyboard comes with a USB to PS/2 adapter in the box. Even though most of the people have switched to USB by now, it’s nice to have that option to use PS/2 should you feel like using it. And Zowie has also brought the Real Time Response (RTR) function to the keyboard, which is useful in games where the player needs to activate multiple commands simultaneously. RTR can only be used via PS/2.

Talking about performance, here’s when the Celeritas II begins to set itself apart. Unlike a lot of its gaming counterparts, the Celeritas is completely plug and play, and doesn’t require you to use any software to set it up. It supports N-key rollover, meaning each keypress is detected individually, regardless of how many keys are being pressed at the same time. The wrist support can be a little small for some users, but it’s not hard to get used to. Furthermore, the optical switch driven keys are responsive and swift, making games like PUBG and Apex Legends a joy to play. You can quickly move between different keys without much resistance and take action, meaning esports players can really use it to their advantage. Single player games are equally fun, whether you’re trying to survive in Metro: Exodus or wrecking the city in GTA V.  Typing, on the other hand, doesn’t feel as good, as I prefer a bit of more tactile feedback than the Celeritas II offers.

Overall, the Celeritas II is a great keyboard, with a clear emphasis on functionality over aesthetics. It’s well built, sturdy, and gets the job done without any nonsense. The optical switches are ideal for both casual and professional gamers, and it doesn’t require you to jump through any hoops to set up.  The only downside, is that at a price of INR 10,900, it feels a little costly, especially when you consider other options that offer much more in terms of customization options.

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Review: Kingston Nucleum 7-in-1 USB-C Hub

If you recently bought a Macbook or a Macbook Pro, chances are you will be struggling with the lack of ports. For instance, the new Macbook only has two USB Type-C ports on it. I mean, what’s up with that? What’s a guy to do with just two Type-C ports? Fortunately, Kingston may have a solution for that, the Kingston Nucleum 7-in-1 USB hub. And today, we’re going to find out how good it is.

The Nucleum seems like a device made with exactly this problem in mind, thanks to its plethora of ports. It’s small and light enough that you can easily carry it in your bag, maybe even your pocket (if you have big enough pockets, that is). It comes with a simplistic, classy aluminium finish with a minimal Nucleum logo. It connects to your laptop via a convenient USB Type-C cable and from there, you can pretty much plug in whatever device you feel like.

The port options more on the generous side, with a total of 7 ports to take care of all your needs. There are two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports, one MicroSD slot, one SD slot and one full size HDMI port. One of the Type-C ports is a power delivery port, so you can plug in your charger to make sure your Macbook doesn’t run out of juice. It can deliver up to 60W of power, which makes it more than sufficient to charge the Macbook or the 13-inch Macbook Pro. The USB ports support passthrough charging, so you can easily plug your phones in the hub to charge them. The full HDMI port supports upto 4K video passthrough. However, it’s not HDMI 2 so you won’t be able to do 4K at 60 Hz, but 1080p is not a problem at all.

The Nucleum is bound to make your life much easier as a one stop solution to all your port needs. You can use all 7 ports at the same time without any issues, and it doesn’t require any external power source to run. With Apple and other Ultrabook manufacturers leaning towards less and less ports in their devices, the Nucleum becomes an essential accessory to have.

Moreover, the compact size and lightness makes it an ideal companion for photographers and creators who travel a lot and need to have highly portable devices. It can easily fit in a small bag, and you can use it at your desk without cluttering up your table. However, one thing that could’ve made it more appealing is more USB Type-A ports for when you need to use more than two devices at once. While two ports shouldn’t cause a problem, four, or at least three would be extremely handy for when you need to plug in something like a cooling dock. Another thing I would’ve liked to see is Thunderbolt 3 support, but one step at a time.

If you’ve been apprehensive about buying that shiny new Macbook or an Ultrabook because you think you’re going to need more ports, the Nucleum’s got you covered. It’s an easy product to recommended thanks to its compact design, good looks and available port options. In a world without conventional ports, the utility of USB Hub devices like the Nucleum cannot be overstated.

Looking for more news? Click here to catch up with the latest in the world of videogames and eSports and while you’re at it, why not become a member of the GamingMonk community to partake in discussions, tournaments and so much more.

Review: Alienware Aurora R8 Gaming PC

As one of the pioneer brands in the world of gaming, Alienware has created quite a name for itself in the past two decades. I mean, try finding a gamer who hasn’t heard of the name Alienware. Known for making high-end premium products, the company has an impressive line-up of gaming laptops and desktops. Now, I’m not the kind of person who gets excited at the notion of pre-built PCs, but it’s hard to deny that there is a demand for those. And that is why we’re taking a look today at the Alienware Aurora R8.

Design and Tech Specs

The Aurora R8 is slick looking PC with a compact, angular cabinet covered by grey side panels. Both the panels have three slim RGB strips with customizable lighting, providing a subtle, classy glow. Instead of a transparent window that we get to see more and more in gaming desktops these days, the Aurora has vents on the left panel for air intake. And, there’s a handle on the top which makes it quite handy (get it?) to carry the PC around. The front of the cabinet is completely black, with intake vents towards the bottom and an RGB backlit Alienware logo-shaped power button.

And it’s not all about the looks, either. Under the hood, the Aurora R8 packs some of the best gaming hardware money can buy. There are different configurations, but our review unit comes with an Intel Core i9-9900K, an RTX 2080 and 32GB of DDR4 RAM. The storage is taken care of by a 250GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, which seems just enough, but the system is easily upgradeable, meaning you can play around with the components as much as you want. Alienware has made it really simple for users to access the internal hardware in the Aurora, which gives it a huge edge over its competitors. It also comes with a keyboard and mouse included in the box, which aren’t exactly gaming grade or anything special, but still a nice addition to have.

Talking about ports, saying it has more than enough is a gross understatement. I mean, just on the backside, this thing has nine USB ports, four of which are USB 3.1. The front I/O options are just as generous, with three USB 3 ports, one Type-C port and two 3.5mm audio jacks. For display and VR options, the RTX 2080 has three DisplayPorts, one HDMI port and one USB Type-C port.

Performance and Benchmarks

With a Core i9-9900K and an RTX 2080, it’s kind of expected that the Aurora R8 will breeze through any test you throw at it. And that it exactly what we saw in our benchmarks, both synthetic and in-game. We used our usual benchmark suite, including Cinebench, 3DMark’s TimeSpy and Firestrike, Unigine Superposition and PCMark 10. We also tested a bunch of games at 1080p, 1440p and 4K to gauge the system’s gaming performance, and needless to say, the numbers speak for themselves. All the games were tested at Ultra settings.

Cinebench R20

As expected, the i9-9900K powered Aurora R8 blazed through the latest Cinebench R20 tests, obtaining a single-core score of 470 and multi-core score of 4319 at stock speeds.

PCMark 10

PCMark 10 is a comprehensive benchmark tool that tests your PC’s overall general performance. Here we see a similar pattern like the previous test, with the Aurora R8 obtaining an overall score of 6687 points, with the highest component being Digital Content Creation at 10153 points.

3DMark Time Spy

Moving on to 3DMark Time Spy basic test, the Aurora R8 passed with flying colours here as well, achieving an overall score of 10054 points. The individual graphics and CPU scores, as you can see in the charts were 9939 and 10760 respectively.

3DMark FireStrike

Just for the heck of it, we also decided to run the basic 3DMark FireStrike benchmark, which tests 1080p performance. The RTX 2080 powered system shredded through the tests, obtaining an overall score of 21176 points. The graphics score, as the graph shows was 23398 points.

We also ran the Unigine Superposition benchmark at the 1080p extreme preset (which stresses the system more than the 4K optimized preset) and the Aurora R8 had no trouble in this test either, sitting comfortably at a score of 6259 points.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

We started our in-game benchmarks with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, needless to say, the Aurora R8 just blows through it like a hot knife through butter. On the Ultra preset, the system gave an average 102 FPS at 1080p, 73 FPS at 1440p and 43 FPS at 4K. With some adjustment in the settings, you should be easily able to achieve 4K 60 FPS gameplay in this title.

Metro Exodus

The Metro Exodus devs have been very upfront about how they love to blow up graphics cards, and well, the benchmark tool does just that. Running at the Ultra preset, we were able to achieve an average 62 FPS at 1080p, 50 FPS at 1440p and 35 FPS at 4K. Keep in mind though, the benchmark tool in Exodus is much, much heavier than the actual game itself and kind of represents the worst case scenario. The framerates you get in the game would be a lot higher than what you see in the benchmark tool.

While the performance of the Aurora R8 is impressive, it does get a little hot under load. The max GPU temperature we observed during testing was 85 C. The system also gets a little loud as the fans pick up speed, but not nearly enough to cause any discomfort, and barely noticeable if you’re playing with headphones on.

The Verdict

At a price point close to INR 3,00,000, the Aurora R8 is quite a pricey desktop. It’s possible to build a PC with similar specs at a lower cost, but premium products come at a premium price. If you’re apprehensive about your PC building skills and want to go with a hassle-free desktop experience that you can just jump right into, a pre-built desktop is just what you might want. And the Aurora R8’s offerings make it a great option for both high FPS and high resolution gaming, depending on what you prefer. Like we mentioned eariler, Alienware has made it incredibly easy to customize and upgrade their desktops, giving users complete control over their devices. So, if you have the money to spend and are looking to treat yourself to a super gaming PC, the Aurora R8 is the perfect choice for you. But if you’re on the budget and want to make sure you squeeze every drop of performance you can out of your money, you may want to build your own desktop. Or, you know, get one of your PC-savvy friends to do it for you.

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The Battle for Middle-Range: ZOTAC GTX 1660Ti and 1660 Review

The green team has been going strong in the high-end gaming segment for a while now. With AMD’s Vega line-up having a tough start and the RTX GPUs being launched, it’s hard to understate NVIDIA’s market share. But it’s the mid-range market where things get interesting. The red team’s Polaris GPUs have given NVIDIA a run for their money ever since the launch of the RX 480, and still continue to do so, with the RX 500 series. However, stepping up to the plate, the green team has brought two more contenders to the mid-range arena: The GTX 1660Ti and 1660. Today, we have with us ZOTAC’s versions of the MSRP cards. Let’s find out how they fare in the tests, shall we?

Tech Specs and Features

Before we get to the performance, let take a look at the cards. The GTX 1660Ti and the 1660 both have the latest Turing architecture we’ve seen in the RTX cards, minus the RT and Tensor cores. They both also have 6GB VRAM, with one major difference: The GTX 1660Ti has GDDR6 memory running at 12Gbps while the 1660 has the older GDDR5 8Gbps memory. Apart from that, there are differences in CUDA core count, clock speeds and bandwidth, as expected with the 1660’s lower price.

The GTX 1660Ti comes with 1536 CUDA cores, a base clock speed of 1500 MHz and a boost clock speed of 1770 Mhz. On the other hand, the GTX 1660 has 1408 CUDA cores, and boosts up to 1785 MHz with a base clock speed of 1530 MHz. Take a look at the full specs below for comparison:

Unlike the RTX series, NVIDIA didn’t grace the GTX 16 series (who would’ve thought, right?) with the Founder’s Edition treatment, leaving it up to the board partners to work their magic. And the MSRP cards, understandably, don’t come with all the frills that you would expect from the more expensive SKUs. The base Zotac Gaming cards have a standard two-slot design with a black shroud, and two fans to cool the card instead of one that you will see in some other MSRP models. It’s definitely not as premium looking as its higher end Zotac counterparts, but hey, that premium look comes at a premium price.

Both the GPUs offer similar options in terms of display support, featuring three DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0b ports. Power requirements have been defined similarly as well, with both cards featuring a single 8-pin power connector and recommending a 450W PSU.

Test Bench and Methodology

For our testing, we ran our standard suite of synthetic and in-game benchmark tools including 3DMark Time Spy and FireStrike, Unigine Superposition, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Metro Exodus and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. The synthetic benchmarks were run at the standard settings while the in-game benchmarks were taken with the game running at the highest preset available (including anti-aliasing). All the benchmarks were run multiple times in order to eliminate any outliers/anomalies and to achieve a consistent result. Our test bench specs are as follows:

CPU: Intel i7-8700
MB: Gigabyte Z370 HD3P
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance @ 3000 MHz
Storage: 240GB SSD + 1TB 7200RPM HDD

Performance and Benchmarks

On paper, both the cards look promising at their price points. Considering these are aimed at the mid-range segment, gamers who are looking at these as an option want the best bang for their buck, while maintaining the bucks spent as low as possible. That’s exactly what we aim to find out with the benchmarks. But enough chatter, let’s look at the numbers:

Starting with 3DMark TimeSpy, the GTX 1660Ti proved to be the best of the lot in the sub INR 30,000 category, easily leaving its closest AMD counterpart. the RX 590 behind by over 1200 points. Even the 1660 had an edge over both the RX 580 and the RX 590, achieving a graphics score of 5407. When compared to the GTX 1060, both the 1660 Ti and 1660 basically just leave it in the dust.

Unigine’s Superposition tool shows a similar trend where the GTX 1660Ti easily outperforms the competition with a score of 3341. The GTX 1660, on the other hand, trades blows with the RX 590, falling behind by a difference of mere 20 points. But considering that it’s priced closer to the RX 580, which it beats by almost 200 points, the 1660 seems like a solid card. Talking about thermals, the maximum temperature we observed during testing was 77 C on the GTX 1660 Ti and 72 C on the GTX 1660.

Moving to the actual in-game benchmarks, we start our tests with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Here’s when we get to see an interesting pattern. While the RX 580 falls behind, and the RTX 2060 is too far ahead, all the other cards are more or less evenly matched. The GTX 1660 Ti still remains ahead, but only by an average framerate of 3 FPS when compared to the RX 1660. That translates to a difference of about 7.1 percent. The GTX 1660 falls behind the RX 590 in Odyssey but still manages to stay ahead of its direct competition, the RX 580 by roughly 7.7%.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the sequel to 2016’s critically acclaimed looter-shooter of the same name and a gorgeous one at that. Running the benchmark tests at the DX12 Ultra preset, we saw impressive performance by both the cards. The GTX 1660Ti gave a consistent average framerate of 70 FPS, coming ahead of the competition, even though the RX 590 is pretty close. But considering that the title has been developed in partnership with AMD, it’s not surprising to see the red team gain an edge in this title. Even then, the GTX 1660 falls behind the RX 580 by only 1 FPS, which bodes well for Zotac’s GTX 16-series GPUs.


Metro Exodus is probably the best implementation of realtime ray tracing we’ve seen in games yet. And with the announcement that RTX support is coming to GTX cards as well, it’s hard to not be excited. But even without ray tracing, the game is a beast. 4A games said they love to blow up video cards, and they mean it. Running the benchmark tool on the Ultra preset, the GTX 1660 goes toe to toe with the RX 580, with both cards managing an average of 39 FPS. The GTX 1660Ti, on the other hand, breezes ahead of the competition, even though it’s not able to achieve 60 FPS. But bear in mind, the Metro Exodus benchmark tool is notoriously heavy, and you can easily achieve higher framerate in the actual game. Either way, you will need to fine-tune some of the graphical settings in order to get consistent 60 FPS performance.

The Verdict

Going by the numbers, both the GTX 1660Ti (INR 25995 on Amazon) and the GTX 1660 (INR 21365 on Amazon) seem like solid contenders in the mid-range market at their respective price points. For high 1080p performance, it almost becomes a no-brainer to go with one of these options, even when compared to their direct AMD competitors. And here’s the cherry on top: Zotac is offering a 5-year warranty on both these cards. For budget conscious gamers who are looking to build a new PC from scratch, both the GTX 1660 Ti and the 1660 provide great value.

However, note the price difference between these GTX cards, which comes to about 5K. And the price difference between the Zotac MSRP GTX 1660Ti and the RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition is another 5K. The interesting thing is, even within this INR 5000 difference range, manufacturers have multiple SKUs for the same card. For instance, Zotac has the 1660 Ti AMP Edition priced at INR 27950 (Amazon) and the 1660 AMP Edition, priced at INR 22960 (Amazon). Usually, higher-priced models like these offer additional features like RGB lighting, better cooling and factory overclocked speeds. But they also bring down the difference between that card and the next, higher tier card. That’s where things get interesting (and confusing).

Well, I for one am a fan of performance. And the MSRP cards, like the two we reviewed here are great. Obviously, they may not come with the factory overclocks or bigger coolers, but then, instead of spending that INR 28000 on a higher end 1660 Ti, it’s just better to add a little bit more and just go for the 2060, because the performance bump you get is worth it. But that is a personal opinion (well, duh) and the final choice is of course the consumer’s. Nevertheless, it’s easy to agree that the GTX 1660 and the GTX 1660 Ti are amazing options for 1080p 60 FPS gaming. For those looking to push for higher framerates or 1440p, sorry fellas, you still need to dig a little deeper into your wallets and go with at least a 2060.


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HyperX Pulsefire FPS Pro Mouse Review

The HyperX Pulsefire FPS Pro is a sleek, simple gaming mouse coming in at Rs Rs4,500. So is this mouse for you? Let’s find out.

Tech Specs and Features

Mouse
Ergonomic:Ergonomic
Sensor:Pixart PMW3389
Resolution:Up to 16,000 DPI
DPI presets:800 / 1600 / 3200 DPI
Speed:450ips
Acceleration:50g
Buttons:6
Left / Right buttons switches:Omron
Left / Right button durability:20 million clicks
Backlight:RGB (16,777,216 colors)
Light effects:1 RGB lighting zone and 4 brightness levels1
On board memory:3 profiles
Connection type:USB 2.0
Polling rate:1000Hz
USB data format:16 bits/axis
Dynamic coefficient of friction:0.13µ2
Static coefficient of friction:0.20µ2
Cable type:Braided
Weight (without cable):95g
Weight (with cable):130g
Dimensions:Length: 127.60mm

Height: 41.90mm

Width: 71.10mm

Cable length: 1.8m

The mouse uses a really good 3389 sensor that is accurate. It’s not the lightest mouse out there with a lot of weight being brought in by the cable. It has Omron switches for the main Left Click and Right Click which are going to last you a long time and has a total of 6 buttons which is always great. It also comes with RGB for you RGB enthusiasts out there.

Design and Comfort

This mouse is fundamentally an upgraded version of the HyperX Pulsfire FPS with an upgraded sensor among other things. It has decent rubber grips at the side which I’ll get into a bit later, a good braided cable that comes in with a weight penalty.

As compared to my Razer DeathAdder Elite the HyperX Pulsefire FPS PRO has a slight latency of about 6-7ms. I mostly play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive so I tested the mouse’s performance on that game. The buttons were placed decently and never felt uncomfortable since I use the side buttons a lot as they’re bound to various grenades.

However, the problem I had was with the grip. While the grips as stated before are decent, I feel the shape didn’t help much with the grip. I felt it kept slipping out of my hand and had to use way more force than usual to just hold the mouse properly which led to a bit of finger fatigue after a couple of competitive matches.

This mouse isn’t suited or people with small hands because of the raised bump in the middle and the shape at the side as there’s no upper counter curve to help with grip.

There’s RGB lighting on the sides of the scroll wheel and the HyperX logo on the back of the mouse. It looks good with the simple black finish with the RGB that isn’t too gaudy or too simple.

Verdict

The mouse is pretty good for its price point and offers a lot of good stuff. If you have small hands or grip the mouse with a loose palm or fingertip grip then you might have issues. The shape is something that is based on preference and if it looks similar to a mouse that you’re already comfortable with, you shouldn’t have a problem at all.

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HyperX Alloy FPS RGB Keyboard Review

HyperX Alloy FPS RGB is a keyboard that is perfect for someone who loves aesthetics and who also enjoys having a great gaming experience. Let’s take a look at what makes this keyboard a great keyboard.

Tech Specs and Design

Keyboard
KeyswitchKailh
TypeMechanical
BacklightRGB (16,777,216 colors)
Light effectsPer key RGB lighting2 and 5 brightness levels.
On board memory3 profiles
Connection typeUSB 2.0 (2 USB connectors)
USB 2.0 Pass-throughYes (mobile phone charging only)
Polling rate1000Hz
Anti-ghosting100% anti-ghosting
Key RolloverN-key mode
Media controlYes
Game ModeYes
OS compatibilityWindows® 10, 8.1, 8, 7
Key Switches
Switch:Kailh Silver Speed
Operation Style:Linear
Operating Force:40g
Actuation Point:1.1mm
Total Travel Distance:3.5mm
Life Span (Keystrokes):Up to 70 million
Cable
TypeDetachable, braided
Length1.8m
Dimensions
Width442.26mm
Depth129.81mm
Height35.59mm
Weight (Keyboard and cable)1100g

The keyboard is pretty weighty thanks to its solid build that uses a steel frame as the base for the board. It’s a full-size keyboard which means that while you won’t have any missing keys like the numpad, you will be sacrificing it for space. So if space is your concern, keep the dimensions given above in my mind.

The keyboard comes with a detachable cable which is great if you’re someone who is on the move and needs to take their keyboard with them and not worry about cable clutter. The cable that comes with it is braided too which is always good to have as it helps keep your wires from getting scratched and loopy. Again, just keep in mind the size of this keyboard if you’re going to be carrying it around a lot.

The switches used are Kailh Silver Speed Switches which are very similar to the Cherry MX Silver and Red switches. Unlike Cherry MX Red switches, these Kailh Silver Speed switches have an actuation force of just 40g and an actuation point of 1.1mm which means that you’ll need less force to properly activate the switch. For comparison, the Cherry MX Reds have an actuation force of 45g and an actuation point of 2mm while the Cherry Silver Speeds have an actuation force of 45g and an actuation point of 1.2mm so if you’re someone who needs something that feels even more responsive, these might be what you’re looking for.

Switch preference depends from person to person so try to actually feel how the switches feel in person to figure out whether or not these light linear switches are for you.

Features and Comfort

Speaking of lights and as the name suggests, this bad boy comes with RGB lighting that can be customized on a per-key basis. And, the usage of Kailh Silver Speed switches means that the switch is smaller and the LED is more exposed which produces an even brighter light. Want to push it further? Get the PBT keycaps and bask in the glory of your RGB keyboard.

Double Shot PBT keycaps

There’s also a USB 2.0 pass through which means that you can use your keyboard to charge your mobile phone or controller. The future is truly great. There’s also media keys functionality so you can easily skip tracks and adjust the volume level which is standard on most keyboards.

This keyboard is aimed towards gamers and those who play competitive titles like CSGO and DOTA 2 and as someone who has used Cherry Reds and Blues in the past, this keyboard felt so much more smoother. Playing CSGO on this felt natural and while it didn’t make me any better at the game, the fact that I was using less force to press down the keys to simply peek corners was nice.

However, I like the feedback of the Cherry Blues and as a writer, I felt a little unsatisfied on that end. Not because it was bad but because it lacked that tactile feedback which it doesn’t have since it is a linear switch. This is mainly because of my personal preference and yours might differ when it comes to this. If you don’t mind not having a somewhat strong feedback or if its your first mechanical keyboard then this won’t really be an issue for you.

It doesn’t come with a wristpad, but that’s not a deal breaker as I didn’t feel like I needed one because the height felt alright to me. There was no wrist fatigue after long time usage.

Verdict

The HyperX Alloy FPS RGB does a lot of things right which includes making a gaming keyboard simple yet stylish. The keys feel great, the lighting looks gorgeous and the overall usage was a pleasant experience. The keyboard is normally available for around Rs 12,000 which is a bit towards the costly side. And while you might think that for such an expensive keyboard the lack of premium Cherry switches is not a good decision, it really isn’t and is a matter of personal preference as the Silver Speed’s used here are really good.

If you’re looking for a full-size keyboard that is responsive, has RGB backlighting and looks great then this might be worth getting as the only thing close to this in terms of price and quality is the Corsair K70 Rapidfire RGB which tends to cost around Rs 18,000 but is on sale for Rs 13,399 right now.

The HyperX Alloy is available on Amazon and at the time of writing this article is on sale for Rs 9,283 which is quite a good deal.

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