When you think of gaming PCs, large immobile machines come to mind. ASUS has other plans with its ROG-branded GR8 II, which is smaller than Sony’s PS4 Pro but with the might to take on the latest AAA titles.
And it’s not an ugly sight either; in fact, I’d say it’s the most attractive gaming PC in the market right now.
See for yourself:
This is as compact as a gaming PC can get
And is slim enough to fit into cramped spaces
You get basic ports in front
And all the rest at the back
Most of the heat comes out from the top vent
You need a single Philips screwdriver to open it up
Once set up, it looks especially nice with matching ROG equipment
How well does it perform?
What’s a good-looking gaming PC without fitting specs to back it up? The GR8 II isn’t going to impress you with Zephyrus-like numbers, but it’s definitely good enough for gaming on high settings at 1080p.
We have an Intel Core i7-7700 processor, a single stick of 8GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB HDD, and NVIDIA’s midrange GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. These all connect to a custom H110 motherboard.
Playing DOOM on Ultra graphics settings consistently gave us over 90fps on our 1080p monitor; and as expected, Overwatch was an absolute cinch, providing us with over 150fps on optimized graphics settings to maximize the same monitor’s G-Sync-enabled 180Hz refresh rate.
The only game that pushed the GR8 II during our tests was Rise of the Tomb Raider. Although it got 68fps according to the built-in benchmark on the highest settings, actual gameplay wasn’t as smooth. It was only when we lowered some of the more intensive settings like hair effects and texture rendering that the game became playable on high settings.
What else is there to know?
A common concern with cramming so much power into a tiny frame is noise and heat build-up. We were expecting the GR8 II to get loud and warm under heavy load because of its lack of ventilation and relatively small fans, but the results were still pleasant.
Thanks to some strategic chopping up of the motherboard, vents and fans are placed where they need to be. It was only while playing games in an absolutely quiet room when we’d hear the roaring of the fans. Definitely nothing that would wake up a sleeping baby, so you can game with peace of mind.
Speaking of the custom motherboard design, it sadly holds back the upgradability of the GR8 II. You can only swap the RAM and HDD, and add an SSD to the lone M.2 slot. The CPU, GPU, and motherboard would need assistance from an ASUS service center for replacements.
The other drawback is the separate 230W power adapter that acts as the unit’s power supply. This is ASUS’ trick to lowering the weight and size of the GR8 II, but this just means more things to carry with you when you transfer battle stations for LAN parties.
Why choose this over a gaming laptop?
This is the question that went through our minds as we used the GR8 II: Doesn’t an equally priced gaming notebook offer a more complete experience with added mobility?
It’s definitely something to ponder over. A gaming laptop owns the same expandability (user-replaceable storage and memory components), wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and an external power supply, but comes with a built-in monitor, keyboard, and battery for short trips. However, what the GR8 II does better is port selection and saving space on a tight desk.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
It all boils down to your gaming needs. While there’s no doubt the GR8 II is more than enough for 1080p gaming at high frame rates, the previous question establishes the compact PC’s position in the market.
The GR8 II feels like a gaming laptop in the body of desktop PC, with the limited upgradeability of the former and immobility of the latter. At the same time, it also doesn’t have the mobility of a notebook nor the sheer possibilities of a true PC tower.
Considering all those factors, it’s clear the GR8 II is somewhere in between the two segments. You’re buying into the idea of a sleek gaming machine that’s designed to look good and deliver respectable performance beyond the minimal physical space it consumes.
Price relies heavily on what configuration you choose; the setup we reviewed costs PhP 69,990 (US$ 1,375) in the Philippines, but you can find a cheaper setup with a Core i5 processor and less storage for around US$ 1,000.
Microsoft is planning to revamp Windows 10’s design
Update beta might launch by February
It’s been a while since Microsoft drastically changed how Windows looks. Before Windows 10, Windows users often anticipated how Microsoft will revolutionize its user interface with every new version. However, with Windows 10, interface updates became more sporadic. The developer just outed minor updates every now and then. Things might change, though. According to a new job posting, Microsoft is planning to completely revamp Windows 10’s design.
According to Windows-centric outlet Windows Latest, Microsoft recently posted a job opening for a senior software engineer who will “work with [their] key platform, Surface, and OEM partners to orchestrate and deliver a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences.”
“Windows is BACK,” the job posting concludes.
Further, the outlet confirms that an upcoming update — titled the Windows 10 21H2 “Sun Valley” update — will revamp the design for a smoother consumer experience. Previous updates have focused on business users more.
It is entirely possible that Microsoft doesn’t want to reveal too many details yet. Soon after the job posting leaked, Microsoft updated the details to remove all references to a design revamp.
Microsoft might release the first Sun Valley beta by the end of February. At that point, software developers and testers will get a first look at the new look.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5i review: Building a case
But it’s not a pretty strong one, though
Just last June, I managed to build my own PC through countless research and price haggling. I figured that I should invest in a gaming setup that will last for about two good years while playing games at high frame rates. With building a PC, I ensure some level of upgradability and flexibility down to every last detail.
Before I decided on this endeavor, I was dead-set on wanting to just stick to a pre-built system. Imagine getting an entire package with all the parts you’re looking for, without the hassle of building it yourself. Plus, it’s already optimized to some extent so you don’t have to worry about tinkering as much.
In essence, a prebuilt like the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i offers such promise. But, as someone who has already built a gaming system, is it really a good idea to get this pre-built system?
On its own, it’s a great system for intensive workloads
I will go out and say that on its own, the Legion Tower 5i is a well-built system. It comes with an Intel Core i5-10400 processor and an NVIDIA GTX 1660 SUPER inside. Right off the bat, I thought that the hardware was great for gaming, and it showed when I ran some games on it.
More than anything, it’s a solid device for a variety of workloads. With 16GB of RAM and a 512GB M.2 SSD inside, Windows managed to boot up pretty fast — which is great. This means that I could get into my work immediately, especially when I’m in a rush to get some done.
Intensive applications like Google Chrome, Adobe After Effects, and even Blender ran with relative ease. As a content-creating machine, I felt that it has potential to accommodate whatever project you throw at it. However, don’t expect the world from it since the hardware isn’t the most powerful available.
Gaming performance is great
I touched on this in the previous section, but it’s true: Lenovo managed to create a great gaming system here. Some graphics-intensive games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite ran pretty well under this system, provided you adjust a few settings. Throughout my hours of gameplay, I didn’t experience lag caused by the hardware.
Most games I tested on this system ran at consistent frame rates, which is what you should expect out of gaming systems. Games like VALORANT and Counter Strike: Global Offensive ran at above 200 FPS, considering you really don’t need much to run them. Those two games I mentioned earlier, however, ran at close to 50-60 FPS.
By all means, this isn’t a perfect gaming system to both record and stream content out of. But, if you wanted to start somewhere — again, on its own — this system provides great gaming value.
Putting up a great (Cold) front
Like gaming laptops, I feel that gaming PC builds are only effective when proper cooling is present. While the Legion Tower 5i doesn’t come with fancy liquid cooling, it does come with Lenovo’s Coldfront 2.0. Essentially, it’s an optimization feature for the overall airflow between all the components.
From my experience, I actually think Coldfront did its due diligence. Throughout long hours of gameplay, I didn’t hear the fans whirring loudly. Plus, I felt that the air coming out of both the front vent and rear fans wasn’t as warm. Inside, components do feel a little warm but it isn’t scalding hot.
I even cranked up the system to run on Performance Mode, with overclocking enabled and I don’t hear any fans whirring too much. Again, even without all the liquid cooling tubing you see in custom builds, the Legion Tower 5i delivers while staying relatively cool.
Going against a custom build? Well…
I know I’m practically raving about the Legion Tower 5i, but the big question is whether it’s a better investment over a custom build. My short answer: not really, unless you’re committed to not build a PC from scratch. See, my custom build actually comes pretty close to the Legion Tower 5i across most of the hardware.
CPU Performance (Intel vs. AMD)
My custom build comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, which comes with the same core and thread count as the i5-10400. On paper, performance should be right about the same but the big difference is in my AMD’s base clock speed of 3.9Ghz. This means that my AMD performs at a much faster rate.
I tried running two Google Chrome tabs simultaneously between the two systems, and both showed stable clock speeds. However, when I tried switching tabs, I noticed a slight delay on the Legion Tower 5i. At face value, it doesn’t really mean much but that split second of a delay could come back to haunt you.
In case you were wondering, the two Chrome tabs I ran were a Google Doc and a YouTube music video at 1440p.
GPU Performance (NVIDIA GTX 1660 SUPER)
Here’s the thing: both these systems run a 6GB VRAM, NVIDIA GTX 1660 SUPER. Both systems can run the games I just listed with relative ease, which was what I expected. At first, I thought I couldn’t discuss anything more beyond these points. However, when I started to play for longer hours, I noticed something.
Because they’re both running the same type of GPU, what set them apart would be its CPU performance. However, based on avg. frame rates, the Legion Tower 5i outperforms my build by just a few frames per second. It comes at a slower clock speed during gaming, though so it resulted in some levels of bottleneck.
Price (The most important aspect)
At the end of the day, you’ll be spending your hard-earned money on either one of these systems. At this point, I’d like to stress out once more that both systems perform well — although not as identical. Both systems are suitable for long hours of gaming and productive work, and cooled roughly the same way. Except, my build doesn’t have Coldfront 2.0.
Yet, this is where I draw the line between a custom build and a pre-built system. See, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i comes in at Php 72,995 and the package you get already comes with Windows pre-installed, and all the optimizations in place. My build, when sourcing the parts individually, comes in at close to Php 42,000.
I don’t think a 30,000-peso difference sounds like a great financial investment. Personally, I believe that a working version of Windows 10, PC optimization software, and a Legion-branded tower is not worth that much. Also, this doesn’t even factor in the amount you will spend for all the other peripherals.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
All in all, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i is a great gaming system to consider. If you’re looking for a great PC to start off your streaming career or to just play games, this build is a great pickup. With powerful hardware and a fast SSD inside, you will get straight into the action once you boot it up.
On its own, it’s a product of great value. But, when you have the option to just build your PC and get the parts individually, it doesn’t look too good. You can even look for the parts that the Legion Tower 5i has, and get them for way less than this finished product.
If you have some extra cash to spare and you’re too afraid to build a PC, the Legion Tower 5i is a great fit. Otherwise, you’re better off building your own PC and grabbing more powerful yet compatible parts.
Lenovo Q27q-10 review: Casually great
Work and play, definitely the name of the game
Nowadays, monitors provide a great alternative to television sets in your room. If you’re short on cash to buy good 4K TVs for your console or PC, a decent monitor already suffices. With color accurate and high refresh rate displays, you can’t go wrong with using it for any purpose you want.
Lenovo launched a lineup of monitors earlier this year that they dubbed as “work and play” monitors. One of those monitors was the Lenovo Q27q-10, a decent monitor with a clear display and high refresh rate. In essence, it serves a dual purpose for anyone who wishes to use it.
But, is this worth getting for your own workstation? For starters, here’s what you’re getting with the Lenovo Q27q-10:
It has a 27-inch QHD, near bezel-less display with a 75Hz refresh rate
It comes with a single metal stand with a cable management hook
Easy to set up, much easier to use
In essence, the Lenovo Q27q-10 is one easy monitor to use and set up initially. The moment I took it out of the box, I didn’t really have to look at the manual for help on setting things up. To be honest, it’s great that they made setting the monitor up easy enough so you don’t waste time.
Once you do set it on your table and connect it to your PC or console, it’s already good to go. I say this because with some monitors, you still need to do some level of display calibration the moment you turn it on. Sometimes, you even need to calibrate the color settings to remove unnecessary yellows in the display.
Except for adjusting the monitor’s refresh rate, this monitor is quite easy to get around the moment you connect it. Speaking of that refresh rate…
Best for work and casual play, as advertised
The Lenovo Q27q-10 comes with a 27-inch QHD display, which is a large enough display on its own. I managed to write this article down while watching high-quality YouTube videos on the side. Also, since it doesn’t require that much calibration, I was already expecting great color accuracy when watching videos or editing photos.
Now, it’s not an anti-glare display so I wouldn’t recommend using this near your windows. It’s relatively bright even at 70 percent brightness, so you don’t really have to crank it up and risk getting blinded. However, the one time I used this monitor near my window, I could barely see what I was working on at 70%.
One other feature this monitor comes with is the 75Hz refresh rate, with a 4ms response rate. By competitive gaming standards, this really isn’t much even if it comes with AMD FreeSync compatibility. However, for casual players, you will find great value in it.
Good port selection and cable management, not suited for next-gen
At the back of the display, the Lenovo Q27q-10 comes with an HDMI 1.4 port and a DisplayPort 1.2. Both these ports are equally great, and I honestly believe this is a standard for most work displays moving forward. Also, it comes with internal speakers for audio output when connected to the HDMI port.
As I pointed out earlier, the monitor also comes with a cable management hook at the bottom of the stand. It’s a bit sharp for my liking, but it has enough space to run a lot of wires through it. Throughout my entire use of it, I manage to run power wires, keyboard and mouse wires through it — with so much room to spare.
However, I’m telling you now that this monitor isn’t necessarily suitable for your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Apart from the low refresh rate, the HDMI 1.4 port simply won’t cut it for that 120 FPS everyone craves for on the next-gen consoles. Another minor detail here is that currently, the PS5 still doesn’t support 1440p displays so expect a resolution drop.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
For PhP 14,995, the Lenovo Q27q-10 provides great value as a work and casual play monitor. It checks out as a wide, bright, and color accurate display fit for anything you throw at it. With a decent refresh rate, you can play casually without worrying too much about image tearing.
With a good set of ports and nifty features, it serves its dual purpose quite well. Although, if you plan to do some competitive or next-gen gaming, this doesn’t offer you enough features for them.
Overall, this is a great pickup for your WFH or casual gaming setup. At a decent price, it isn’t taxing on your wallet and it’s easy to set up, as well.
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