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

Intel 9th-Gen Core processors feature ‘world’s best gaming processor’

Headlined by the Core i9-9900K

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Intel’s latest lineup of desktop processors, dubbed the 9th generation, were unveiled earlier today in an event in New York. They’re headlined by the Core i9-9900K, which Intel calls the “world’s best gaming processor.”

It’s definitely a powerful chip, owning eight cores and 16 threads with a single-core turbo frequency of 5GHz and base speed of 3.6GHz. It offers all sorts of speed boosts compared to the previous generation, but you’ll need a Z390-based motherboard to reach its full potential.

Included in the lineup are the Core i7-9700K and i5-9600K, which are equipped with eight and six cores, respectively — no extra threads here. All three chips, unfortunately, are still based on the 14nm process introduced years ago, with Intel releasing an updated 10nm process only in 2019.

Pricing is as follows: US$ 488 for the Core i9-9900K, US$ 374 for the Core i7-9700K, and US$ 262 for the Core i5-9600K. Pre-orders begin today with a rollout happening later in October.

In addition, Intel announced seven new Intel Core X-series processors, which include the Core i9-9980XE (US$ 1,979), i9-9960X (US$ 1,684), i9-9940X (US$ 1,387), i9-9920X (US$ 1,189), i9-9900X (US$ 989), i9-9820X (US$ 898), and i7-9800X (US$ 589). All will become available by November.

Built on Intel’s Mesh Architecture, the top-of-the-line model holds 18 cores with 36 threads to handle the most demanding tasks needed by professionals. Even wilder is the upcoming Intel Xeon W-3175X and its 28 core and 56 thread count, but it has no price yet —  only a release date of December 2018.

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Computers

NAIA caught using a pirated copy of Windows

No Windows seats available

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As the famous idiom goes, death and taxes are the only constants in our lives. Given the abject nature of death, you’d think that taxes would, at least, work for everyone’s benefit. However, as every taxpayer knows, taxes don’t always end up for the common good.

Ever since taxes were invented, we wondered if our hard-earned money ended up contributing to government projects. At the very least, we hoped that it improved our government’s facilities.

Unfortunately, here’s one thing that our taxes are definitely not funding: government computers. As spotted on Reddit, NAIA’s computer screens are running illegitimate copies of Windows 7.

Around the Philippine airport, massive monitors update travelers on current flight times and statuses. Pictured by the eagle-eyed u/LyraStark, one monitor snuck out of full-screen mode and erroneously unveiled the taskbar. More than blocking out the flights, the taskbar also revealed the oddity with NAIA’s computers.

As most are probably familiar with, Windows notifies users when the system detects anomalies with the installation. If Windows figures out that your copy is pirated, you’ll get more than your fair share of reprimands. As you might expect, Microsoft isn’t keen on piracy.

Strangely, neither is the Philippine government. Despite having one of the world’s largest markets for it, the government has notoriously frowned upon pirated media and software. As such, NAIA’s blunder comes as an ironic shock.

Through comments, users have started wondering whether the illegitimate install took a slot in the airport’s budget. Some speculate that most government institutions run pirated software as well. Meanwhile, a few people think that genuine copies can mistakenly show the same notification.

Regardless, at the very least, the issue is something we can laugh about. Like the everyday user, the government doesn’t see the point in paying huge fees for Windows products.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft recalls Windows October update due to deleting issues

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Computers

Microsoft recalls Windows October update due to deleting issues

Don’t update your PC yet!

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For most Windows users, installing the latest update represents a paramount concern for different reasons. To some, new updates add much-needed security patches to their beloved operating system. To the rest, Windows’ incessant reminders are just a chore.

Regardless of where their users place, Windows updates are an important part of Microsoft’s ecosystem. As such, a single hitch can collapse an unprecedented chunk of Microsoft’s users.

Now, that eventuality is upon us. This October, the latest Windows update is reportedly deleting a user’s files out of the blue. According to Windows support forums, some users’ Documents folders have completely vanished, replaced by a fresh one.

In response, Microsoft has pulled the update from its downloads section. Unfortunately, the update promised its fair share of new features. This included a new dark mode, optimized screen functionality, and better mobile-to-PC connectivity. With the recall, these new features will have to wait.

According to Microsoft, the company will investigate these “isolated reports” before launching a new update rollout.

Strangely, this issue has popped up even before the rollout. Some user reports date as early as three months ago. This time frame corresponds to users who signed up for the early-access Windows Insider Program. At the time, only a few users reported the issue. On launch, the few ballooned into a concerning number. Essentially, Microsoft failed to fix the issue before it cascaded into a bigger problem.

At the very least, the company has acknowledged the issue’s gravity. Instead of carrying on business as usual, Microsoft is undergoing steps to fix a crucial mistake. Hopefully, this results to a cleaner update launches in the future.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft refreshes product lineup with Surface Pro 6, Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2

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