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

Predator Orion 5000 First Look

Smaller but powerful

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If the name sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking about the gigantic Orion 9000 from IFA last year. The Orion 5000 is a smaller model, but don’t think for a second that it’s any less powerful.

It has Intel’s latest Core i7 processor as well as Optane memory, which can make load times even faster. You can configure it with up to two GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards that run at the same time, and IceTunnel 2.0 technology makes cooling smarter.

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Computers

The new Snapdragon 710 promises flagship specs for midrange phones

Prepare for midrange animojis!

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While everyone is hunting for the latest Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s midrange line is slowly catching up from behind. The newly announced Snapdragon 710 promises flagship features for the midrange phones that will eventually carry the chip.

Built on a 10nm chip, the Snapdragon 710 features timely upgrades for midrange AI, cameras, and display tech. According to Qualcomm VP for Product Management Kedar Kondap, the new processor offers “technologies and features previously only available in [their] premium-tier mobile platforms.”

In terms of AI, the chip ups the ante with a multi-core AI engine. Compared to previous models in the series, the Snapdragon 710 promises twice the performance for AI features. The upgrades will inevitably help with voice commands, gesture controls, and contextual photography.

Speaking of photography, the Snapdragon 710 includes the Qualcomm Spectra 250 image signal processor, which enhances camera tech. This hopes to improve the camera’s stabilization, low light capabilities, and noise reduction. This includes the popular AR emojis rapidly growing across the industry.

Also, for the first time, the Snapdragon midrange series will support 4K HDR viewing. The feature brings the best out of the midrange sector’s limited screen capabilities. Hopefully, this also brings substantial upgrades to the types of screens available for the sector.

Additionally, the new Snapdragon model can maximize both connectivity and battery life. With a new Snapdragon X15 LTE modem, the chip can support up to 800Mbps of 4G download speed. Similarly, the chip’s optimized architecture can reduce power consumption by up to 20 percent. If that’s not enough, it also supports the new Quick Charge 4+, which drastically reduces charging time.

Starting now, Qualcomm has opened the Snapdragon 710 for phone makers worldwide. We can expect compatible phones by the second half of the year.

SEE ALSO: Explainer: Differences between Snapdragon processors

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Computers

Acer’s Predator Orion 5000 gaming PC can house GTX 1080 Ti in SLI

While the Predator Orion 3000 is your midrange option

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Building a gaming PC is fairly straightforward, but it isn’t for everyone. For mainstream folks, pre-built gaming desktops are the way to go. Although that usually means settling for hardware that’s mainstream as well, that isn’t always the case. Just ask Acer.

Its Predator sub-brand has a new 5000 series of Orion gaming desktops, and it’s quite the beast. If you recall, the Orion 9000 blew us away last year with its massive size and all-powerful specifications. While the Orion 5000 doesn’t have as big a number, it may actually be more appealing.

The Orion 5000 can be decked out with Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7-8700K processor on a high-end Z370 chipset. To make load times even faster, up to 32GB of Intel Optane memory may be installed on top of the usual RAM and storage configurations. Finally, and this is the best part, two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards can fit at the same time for two-way SLI, meaning they’ll work together to push intense rendering during gaming and video editing.

Of course, it needs a worthy case to house all this hardware. Acer is equipping it with a transparent side panel to monitor (and show off) all the internals. That’s just for aesthetics, however; for cooling, IceTunnel 2.0 tech is on board for smart airflow management for every section of the case. It’s easy to open up too, in case you want to upgrade the components.

The Predator Orion 5000 will become available in North America in July with a starting price of US$ 1,499, while EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) will get it in June for EUR 1,699 and China in June as well for CNY 15,999.

If that pricing is too much for you, you can also go for the more affordable Orion 3000 series.

Predator Orion 3000

The Predator Orion 3000 isn’t as aggressive as its higher-end sibling, but offers a lot of the same power. You also get 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processors and up to 32GB of Optane memory to complement up to 64GB of RAM. The only real downgrade is the limit of a single GTX 1080 card, but that’s still enough for 4K gaming.

This one starts at US$ 999 in North America beginning October, EUR 1,299 in EMEA starting July, and CNY 6,999 in China in July as well.

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