Computers

ASUS ROG Huracan (G21) makes other gaming desktops look bad

Flippin’ good gaming

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While building your own desktop PC is both easy and cost-saving, going for a pre-built machine can provide you with some premium additions.

That’s the case with the ROG Huracan (G21), which is a standard gaming rig on the inside, but with one of the most unique and functional enclosures we’ve seen in a while.


I’m already familiar with ASUS’ slim gaming desktops — having played around with the ROG GR8 in the past — but this one takes the form factor to another level.

It may look like an unassuming gaming PC at first…

… but raise the flap on the side…

… and it activates Turbo Gear!

Yes, that means better cooling and faster performance

If that’s not enough, you may easily swap components for better ones

Add more RAM

Replace the HDD

Boost the SSD storage

Install a newer graphics card

Update to a more modern CPU and cooler if you’re brave enough

Its port selection is complete, too

USB-C, USB-A, and audio ports in front

Ethernet, S/PDIF, and loads more USB-A ports at the back

DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI through the GTX 1080 graphics card

And even an optical disk drive!

But is it all just for show?

It’s easy to dismiss the ROG Huracan as an overpriced, extravagant piece of gaming machinery, but there are some legit components inside that justify the high price tag.

For one, it has Intel’s eighth-generation Core i7-8700 processor which provides six cores with a total of 12 threads; that’s more than enough to handle the latest AAA games, plus it’s one of the best mainstream chips you can get for video editing and other heavy tasks.

Coming along for the ride are 16GB of memory, a 1TB HDD, and 512GB SSD, all of which can easily be replaced or expanded as mentioned earlier. Even the graphics card it comes with — a more than capable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 — may be swapped for one of those yummy RTX cards launched recently.

It’s also important to mention that the ROG Huracan is equipped with 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, so bringing this machine from one spot to another won’t mean dealing with cumbersome cables during each setup.

In addition, you can add a 2.5-inch SATA SSD from the top (without the need to open up the entire side panel) if the built-in storage isn’t enough for you. Considering how resource-hungry the newest games have been getting, this is certainly a welcome sight.

Do the numbers speak for themselves?

This wouldn’t be a proper review without benchmark scores to show off. Since Turbo Gear is a thing on the ROG Huracan, it’s vital to include numbers with and without the flap on.

In ASUS’ own words, opening the magnetic side cover improves airflow and, in effect, enables a boost in both CPU and GPU performance. The whole process is pretty much a fancy way to overclock the gaming rig, and it shows whenever the RGB lighting begins dancing once the flap is raised.

While that seems like a straightforward way to kick things into overdrive, the output was quite mixed depending on where it’s applied. See the data for yourself:


Unigine Superposition

Turbo Gear on, 1080p Extreme, DirectX: 4002, 29.93fps

Turbo Gear off, 1080p Extreme, DirectX: 3961, 29.63fps

Cinebench R15

Turbo Gear on: 1391 (CPU), 128.33fps (OpenGL)

Turbo Gear off: 1374 (CPU), 131.76fps (OpenGL)

Final Fantasy XV benchmark

Turbo Gear on, High Quality, 1080p: 8011

Turbo Gear off, High Quality, 1080p: 7628

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided benchmark

Turbo Gear on, Ultra settings, 1080p: 66.4fps

Turbo Gear off, Ultra settings, 1080p: 66fps

GPU temperature under full load

Turbo Gear on: 73 degrees Celsius

Turbo Gear off: 83 degrees Celsius


For pure benchmarking apps, the difference in scores are either so minuscule or backwards that we can’t give a proper analysis. The boost in actual gaming performance is equally minor, though more significant in comparison.

Where the Huracan’s Turbo Gear feature does excel at is in keeping the system cool. By allowing more air to enter the side, you get a dip in temperature by as much as 10 degrees Celsius for the GPU. That’s seriously good for something that feels like a gimmick at first.

In short, it’s safe to say that leaving the side flap open at all times would theoretically lengthen the PC’s lifespan, at the expense of letting lots more dust come in. The performance boost isn’t anything to write home about, so it’s up to you if you prefer a cool system or a clean one.

Any drawbacks?

Of course, grand performance comes at a grand cost. Not only do you have to spend a pretty penny to own one, but you also have to plug in two power adapters — one 180W and one 230W — to give this beast its juice. That means your electric bill will experience its own shock every month.

On top of that, taking the slim rig around isn’t as seamless as it may seem at first. Carrying the 8.3kg system is already a challenge; bringing two heavy power bricks along only adds to the overall weight. I haven’t even mentioned the monitor, keyboard, and mouse, which aren’t integrated like what a gaming laptop offers.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For the price, it’s tempting to simply go for a high-powered gaming notebook that can do as much with less effort to carry around. ASUS has a fine line of Zephyrus laptops that can match the performance of the ROG Huracan — pricier, yes, but then you wouldn’t have to spend for a monitor anymore.

The value of the ROG Huracan depends solely on how long its novelty would last. How badly do you want to go into overdrive with the flip of a magnetic flap and lots of RGB lighting? Truth be told, any other gaming PC can do the same, if not better, with a few clicks of the mouse through software.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s certainly a cool-looking desktop and is built to be future-proof. This is the gaming rig you want if design, upgradeability, and raw starting power matter to you. Yes, building a custom PC would be far cheaper, but it likely wouldn’t look as sharp as this.

The ROG Huracan retails for at least US$ 2,000, depending on which configuration you choose. For the same price, you could afford a high-end gaming laptop like the aforementioned Zephyrus line. Which style you prefer ultimately hinges on how mobile you are as a hardcore gamer — and how deep your pockets go for added accessories.

Computers

Acer’s new Predator Orion 5000 goes up to 9th-gen Core i9, RTX graphics

Even more serious power

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Acer’s well-received Predator Orion 5000 has gotten an upgrade, and it includes some of the best hardware you can find on any gamer-centric desktop PC to date.

The new Orion 5000 (model name PO5-605S) can now accommodate up to a 9th-generation Intel Core i9-9900K processor with a Z390 chipset and GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card. That’s a seriously powerful combo, especially since the CPU can be overclocked thanks to Cooler Master’s liquid cooling system.


You also get up to 64GB of RAM and an assortment of SSD and HDD options on easy-to-swap expansion bays. 2.5Gbps Ethernet is available, as well as tunable RGB lighting visible through the mid-tower’s see-through panels.

“With the latest gaming technologies like a GeForce RTX GPU and overclockable 9th-gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor, the new Orion 5000 packs enough power to satisfy even the most demanding gamers,” said Jeff Lee, General Manager for Stationary Computing, IT Product Business, Acer Inc.

Acer also announced a new 43-inch Predator LFGD (large format gaming display) which features a 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. Its VA panel offers Adaptive Sync and a wide color gamut of 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color space.

No exact pricing or availability dates have been mentioned, but these two products will definitely hit Asian markets in the coming months.

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Computers

ASUS PA34V is a curved monitor for professionals

Also works for gaming

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While bigger computer monitors are obviously for a more immersive experience while watching or playing games, professionals who spend hours working on their desktops will also benefit from this.

For one, a bigger display literally translates to a larger screen real estate and more space to work in. Plus, if it has special features specifically tailored to certain needs, then it makes your workflow all the more efficient.


Enter the ASUS PA34V — a 34-inch, curved display designed with professionals in mind.

The PA34V has a 1900R curve for better immersion and less eye strain over time

Its 21:9 aspect ratio works well for multitasking between websites and other productivity apps

With a screen resolution of 3440 x 1440, this IPS display shows detailed images

The rear has physical buttons for tweaking the monitor’s settings

It comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two HDMI 2.0, and one DisplayPort 1.2

The company’s signature concentric circle design also makes its appearance here

Tried hooking it up to my 55-inch TV; it was over the top but looked pretty nice

Having a curved design with a pixel-packed IPS display is great, but those alone don’t make this a professional’s tool; it’s the fact that ASUS calibrates each PA34VC before it ships out. This way, customers are guaranteed that the monitor they get reproduces color accurately and consistently out of the box.

Speaking of calibration, if you still require a certain look, you may choose to adjust the color profiles yourself. ASUS has ProArt Calibration technology that gives you an easy-to-use look-up table (LUT) for color correction and the ability to switch between saved profiles.

Apart from using this display for CAD projects or video editing, it also has features that work well for gaming. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?

The PA34V has refresh rates that can go up to 100Hz. It’s not the highest out there but that’s almost twice the standard and makes gameplay more fluid as compared to conventional monitors. Adding to that, it boasts this feature called Adaptive V-Sync that avoids screen tearing or those unsightly breaking of images while playing or watching.

Another feature I enjoyed while gaming is the capability for HDR. This allows for realistic images especially when playing titles like Far Cry: New Dawn. Lastly, it supports Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture to show multiple images from different sources if, for example, you need to compare colors between two inputs while you edit.

If you do a lot of 3D drafts, video editing, or even gaming, the PA34V will complement your workflow and make things enjoyable for you. It’s a bit of an investment at PhP 75,220 (US$ 1,440), but for a pre-calibrated monitor that’s versatile enough for both work and play, I’d say it’s not that bad of an asking price. It’ll be available by June in the Philippines.

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Computers

Explaining OLED screens and Dark Mode

Why that screen fits in the dark

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Most of the applications you’re currently using must have rolled out their own version of dark mode by now. The smooth transition from a light to dark interface can be done through a push of a button, or by sending the moon emoji on Messenger. A lot of people also find dark mode quite sexy, and that’s probably because of the screen they’re looking at.

A lot of newly released smartphones now have OLED screens, and dark mode seems to work best on such displays! But why is that? How do OLED panels allow dark mode to flourish?


Better, blacker, affordable screens

Organic LED (light-emitting diode) or OLED is essentially a kind of display technology. In a nutshell, OLED panels allow for better and clearer images and colors.

Thin layers of carbon fiber make up OLED screens. Because of these lightweight fibers, screens show brighter and more vibrant colors. Apart from that, OLED screens show deeper blacks and reduce instances of motion blur when navigating. The best part is that OLED screens are becoming gradually cheaper to manufacture. That explains why more and more of today’s smartphones use this panel.

More colorful than the rest

In comparison to regular LED screens of the past, OLED promises more accurate colors by producing light from individual pixels, instead of relying on backlighting. Back then, LCD screens relied heavily on the backlight of the display to make colors pop. Although, such displays also make the colors seem washed, especially when compared to OLED.

Image credit: Denise Chan

However, OLED’s colors don’t always turn out better than on LED and LCD screens. One such case is when you turn your screen’s brightness to its maximum, especially under strong daylight conditions. LED and LCD screens are designed to perform relatively better in color accuracy when your screen’s brightness is set to max. OLED screens were not designed for maximum brightness, so colors at that point would be saturated.

Which OLED is best?

There are two types of OLED technologies that currently exist: AMOLED and PMOLED. A lot of people hear AMOLED tossed around a lot because lots of smartphones use it. Essentially, AMOLED uses a storage capacitor that controls how much light each individual pixel will give off. It’s the one responsible for projecting all sorts of vibrant colors on most OLED smartphone screens. Apart from that, AMOLED screens do support wider resolutions at a more affordable and efficient rate.

PMOLED, on the other hand, does not have a storage capacitor and instead relies on user control. Essentially, the user will control lighting settings, and the individual pixels will adjust accordingly. You can find PMOLED screens on smaller devices like older iPods and pocket Wi-Fi devices. Take note that these screens use more power to implement such color changes.

Joining the dark side

Ever since dark mode rolled out for different apps and interfaces, people have been contemplating on switching to it — and for good reason. On normal LED or LCD screens, the new feature does not bode well with the technology. The depth of the black their dark mode possesses is not reflected well, to the point that the blacks look more gray than actual black. This is much more obvious when the screen’s brightness is turned all the way up.

Image credit: Mike Enerio

Aesthetically, dark mode looks better on OLED screens because of the technology’s emphasis on deeper blacks. Most OLED screens have capacitors that control light passing through each pixel, which also works for blacks and whites. As such, dark mode shows up deeper and blacker, which is the intended look compared to regular modes. But, there’s actually more to just aesthetics for this mode.

It’s also been proven that dark mode on OLED helps save your battery life. Google confirmed this at its Android Dev Summit, citing that on max brightness, blacks consume less power than all other colors. Individual pixels need less electricity to show blacks on screen, which results in lower power consumption through time. Note that Google got these findings through tests on their original Pixel smartphones and their own apps like YouTube.

What’s left for OLED and dark mode

Apps and operating systems are now starting to embrace or consider incorporating dark mode into their software. While apps like Twitter and YouTube introduced such an option early on, others are beginning to take notice. Of course, you’re gonna need the right screen to fully immerse yourself.

Image credit: Simone Dalmeri

It has been proven: OLED and dark mode are indeed a perfect match. But, it is entirely up to you whether you want to stay in the light or switch to the dark side.

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