Computers

ASUS ROG GR8 II Review

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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

Dimensions: 88 x 299 x 281.3mm; weight: 4kg

And is slim enough to fit into cramped spaces

Standing it up is the only practical position, though

You get basic ports in front

Two USB 3.0 ports and audio outputs, plus gorgeous RGB lighting

And all the rest at the back

1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Ethernet, Optical S/PDIF out

Most of the heat comes out from the top vent

Be sure not to place anything like headphones on top

You need a single Philips screwdriver to open it up

Only four screws need to be removed to remove the side panel for upgrades

Once set up, it looks especially nice with matching ROG equipment

The 24-inch Full HD ROG Swift PG248Q with its 180Hz refresh rate is perfect for high-speed games

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.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM Review: Portable gaming powerhouse

Computers

ASUSPRO D340MC is designed with budget-conscious workers in mind

Prioritizes security and endurance

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ASUSPRO is known for producing reliable laptops, but did you business-grade desktop computers are part of its portfolio, too?

The D340MC is an example of this, and it delivers on several fronts. It may seem like a standard boxy PC at first, but most of the features are on the inside.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; this is how it looks:

It definitely has a strong presence on any desk

Check out that port selection and DVD drive

The keyboard and mouse are part of the package

There’s lots of ventilation for cooling

Here’s a closer look at its ports

It’s easy to upgrade as needed

This is certainly a no-frills, get-the-job-done type of PC. Fortunately, it comes with good specs to show off: an Intel Core i7-8700 processor, up to 32GB of memory, 1TB of HDD storage, and a simple GeForce GT 720 graphics card to get you going.

But should really interest you are the reliability and endurance. The company claims the unit goes through rigorous quality tests in diverse environments, uses solid capacitors to lengthen lifespan, and produces little noise thanks to the thermal design.

The ASUSPRO D340MC starts at around US$ 600, but with its upgradability, it’s easy to give it more power when needed.

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Computers

Microsoft says you need a real computer, not an iPad

‘Don’t run out and buy an iPad’

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You’re probably familiar with Samsung teasing Apple and its iPhones through humorous commercials. But did you know Microsoft does the same against iPads?

Like Sammy, Microsoft loves to promote its products while humiliating those of close competitors. The latest attempt comes with this short holiday ad for the Surface Go.

Check it out:

The very first line — “Grandma, don’t run out and buy an iPad” — is already a clear dig at Apple. The little girl’s lyrics continue with, “It was fine when I was six, but now I’m 10. My dreams are big so I need a real computer to do all the amazing things I know I can.”

Yes, a real computer. If you’ve been following Apple’s promotions for the recently launched iPad Pro, you’d know that they tout it as a laptop replacement in a sense. Consumers and techies have since been debating whether the claims are true or not.

Well, Microsoft doesn’t think so, and instead believes that you need a Surface Go to cater to all computing needs. It runs desktop-class Windows 10 and is quite flexible productivity-wise when used together with the stylus and keyboard.

It seems like Microsoft’s goal here is to take away some of Apple’s strong younger market for iPads. Kids traditionally choose an iPad because of its portability, ease of use, and strong library of apps.

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Computers

Samsung 860 QVO SSD offers up to 4TB storage for your laptop

Available beginning January 2019

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Solid-state drives (SSD) have always been the faster storage option compared to hard disk drives (HDD), but it was only recently when SSDs caught up in terms of storage capacity. Samsung in particular is pushing for more digital space in its latest model, the 860 QVO.

Using a high-density 4-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash architecture, this SSD is able to go up to 4TB in capacity, which is great for a mainstream product.

Samsung claims 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write speeds for the 860 QVO, thanks in part to the integrated Intelligent TurboWrite technology and MJX controller.

Because of its 2.5-inch form, it’ll fit perfectly inside any laptop or desktop setup.

The Samsung 860 QVO will go on sale beginning January 2019 with a starting price of SG$ 299 for the 1TB variant. You may also spend SG$ 659 for the 2TB model or SG$ 999 for the top-end 4TB model.

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