Computers

ASUS Vivo AiO (V272) review: All-in-one goodness?

A complete desktop PC that simply works

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As a person who builds his own desktop computers and thrives on portable laptops for his on-the-go lifestyle, I admit there are times I just want a PC that can do it all — minus all the hassle of plugging accessories in and finding wall sockets for charging.

That’s exactly what an all-in-one computer aims to do, and the ASUS Vivo AiO is the latest example.

Much like the Zen AiO Pro I reviewed last year, this model only needs a single power cable to get things running. Everything else is already built in or simply wireless. Now, that’s convenience!

Here’s what it can do

Make no mistake about it: This AiO PC is quite big. With a 27-inch LCD on its adjustable base, it takes some effort to take this 8.5kg computer out of its box and setting it on a table. From there, however, the rest of the setup becomes pleasantly easy.

All you have to do is plug in the power cable, insert the wireless keyboard and mouse’s dongle into an open USB port, and you’re all set! Powering the unit on happens by pressing a somewhat hidden button at the back of the display.

You’ll then be greeted by a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, which isn’t that dense for a 27-inch panel, but it does allow the system to run more smoothly since fewer pixels have to be pushed at a given time. ASUS claims it has a 100 percent sRGB color gamut, which is great for editing photos and videos more accurately.

Some variants of the Vivo AiO come with a touchscreen. This is kinda unusual to have on a desktop computer, but if it’s already there, then why not, right? Still, I would stick to using the keyboard and mouse, and leave the touch gestures to your laptop or smartphone.

I’m saying this because the bundled wireless mouse and keyboard are actually quite good. While not mechanical or gaming-optimized in any sense, they’re ergonomic and work well on all sorts of surfaces with no noticeable input lag.

Despite having everything in one solid piece, there are enough ports to go around.

Underneath the display, you get a single USB port, which I found to be a perfect spot to plug in the keyboard-mouse receiver, as well as a 3.5mm audio port for your headphones or external speakers.

At the back is a decent selection of ports, from USB 3.1 to HDMI and Ethernet. The only head-scratching omission is USB-C, which is becoming increasingly common on smartphones and thin notebooks. Even ASUS’ own phones and laptops are committed to the port, so it’s strange to see it missing here.

Design-wise, my main complaint is the location of the webcam. It’s situated on the bottom bezel, allowing it to look up your nose during video calls. ASUS brags about the display’s 81 percent screen-to-body ratio, but I would’ve been fine with some bezel up top to house the front camera instead.

Even though you can tilt the unit by a few degrees to find your sweet spot, you sadly can’t adjust the height to remedy the poorly placed webcam.

What exactly can it run?

One look at the specifications sheet, and you can tell what this machine is meant for.

My review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8550U, 8GB of memory, and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chip. This setup means the Vivo AiO can handle light workloads such as Microsoft Office, Chrome, and Photoshop with ease, but anything visually heavy will make it struggle a bit.

Like most AiO computers, upgrading components is a pain, so you’ll have to settle for whatever configuration you pay for from the start, so choose wisely.

During my time with this unit, I didn’t experience any lag while browsing websites, writing articles, and editing photos — all at the same time. That’s largely thanks to the quad-core Core i7 processor with Hyper-threading, giving you eight logical cores in total.

It’s only when I fired up a couple of graphically demanding games when the system couldn’t keep up.

For kicks, I played some Final Fantasy XV on this thing. As expected, I was forced to endure the lowest graphics settings on 1080p. However, to my surprise, the game managed to run at a consistent 30 frames per second, which made it totally playable. Any title less power-hungry than Final Fantasy XV such as Fortnite or PUBG — will definitely run more smoothly.

Video editing on Premiere Pro is enjoyable on the large monitor and its powerful stereo speakers, but don’t expect rendering to be seamless. Still, I highly recommend getting a configuration with both an SSD and HDD to speed up the processing and provide you with enough storage, respectively. My setup has a standard 128GB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD.

All in with the all-in-one?

In a nutshell, this is pretty much the Windows equivalent of an iMac. And like an Apple product, the Vivo AiO simply works. There’s no cumbersome setup process or annoying cables and dongles to deal with; plug it in and you’re set.

Who is this for other than iMac users wanting to jump ship? I’d say Windows users who want more screen real estate than what a laptop offers, yet need to save as much desk space as possible. An AiO like this is by far easier to transfer from one point to another compared to a traditional desktop PC with its separate monitor and multitude of cables.

Of course, this costs more than a custom-built PC spec-for-spec. You may buy a Vivo AiO with a starting price of US$ 1,000, but you could assemble a more powerful rig for less.

It ultimately comes down to convenience versus power. Which one will it be for you this time? Take a long look at your work space and decide from there.

Computers

AMD launches Ryzen 5000 desktop processors with major generational improvements

Available on November 5

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AMD recently took the wraps off its Ryzen 5000 desktop processors. The new processors tout improvements across the board, from improved performance-per-watt to increased instructions-per-clock.

The processors are still using the same 7nm node used in the Ryzen 3000 CPUs. However, as compared to the previous CPUs, Ryzen 5000 boasts a new design that further reduces latency and gives cores more access to the L3 cache. Improvements in design also translate to 24% more performance-per-watt for the new Ryzen processors compared to its predecessor.

Gamers will really benefit from these improvements with AMD touting a 19% generational increase in instructions-per-clock on Ryzen 5000 processors. The company says that it is their largest increase yet since the introduction of Zen processors.

Now, there are no Ryzen 4000 desktop processors since AMD wants to streamline its processor offerings. Ryzen 4000 mobile processors — the one used on laptops — use Zen 2 architecture while Ryzen 5000 desktop processors use Zen 3. As such, the naming also signifies generational improvements across architecture and performance.

Headlining the Ryzen 5000 processors is the top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 5950X. It comes with 16 cores and 32 threads, having a base frequency of 3.4GHz, and a boost frequency of 4.9GHz. Meanwhile, its total cache is 72MB while its TDP is rated at 105W.

Then, there’s the rest of the lineup. AMD Ryzen 9 5900X has 12 cores, 24 threads, and a base frequency of 3.7GHz with a boost frequency of up to 4.8GHz. Its total cache is at 70MB, and its TDP maxes out at 105W. For this processor, the company touts 7% faster 1080P gaming than its closest competitor, Intel Core i9-10900K.

There’s also the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X which is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU with a base frequency of 3.8GHz and goes up to 4.7GHz. The TDP is the same with other higher-end processors, clocking in at 105W. Meanwhile, its total cache maxes out at 36MB.

Finally, there’s the Ryzen 5 5600X. It is a 6-core, 12-thread CPU with a base frequency of 3.7GHz and maxes out at 4.6GHz. The total cache is 35MB. Its TDP is significantly lower than the three,  coming in at 65W.

Pricing and availability

All Ryzen 5000 processors are will be available to order on November 5. The top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 5900X starts at US$ 799. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 9 5900X will retail at US$ 549. The Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 5 5600X will come at a much affordable price of US$ 449 and US$ 249, respectively.

It’s worth noting that AMD will also launch the AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPUs sometime before the Ryzen 5000 processors hit the shelves. These GPUs are expected to use RDNA 2 GPU architecture, which is the one used for Xbox Series X and Sony Playstation 5. An October 28 announcement is already set in stone for the Radeon GPUs.

Source: Niche Gamer and Neowin

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Computers

Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monitor review: All you could ever want

A great gaming display thanks to high refresh rate and curved built.

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Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monito

A lot of people find something nice about a curved display. I personally think that this kind of display gives you an illusion of depth to anything you put on it. Whether it’s playing a game or watching a video in full-screen mode, it gives you that sense of immersion. Of course, part of it also comes with bright and accurate coloring.

This is what I feel the Samsung 27-inch WQHD Curved Gaming Monitor offers, on paper. It’s a widescreen, curved display mostly suited for competitive gamers thanks to its high refresh rate. With multiple features suited for the competitive player, it’s the ideal monitor for people looking to build their first gaming setup.

But if you’re just looking for a great monitor for your home/office space, or if you’re just a casual gamer, should you even consider this? 

For starters, there’s the high refresh rate and it’s curved

The Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, a staple for most. Obviously with such a high refresh rate, you get some kind of increase in gaming performance. With this monitor, my experience was just along what you’d expect.

Every time I played a game on it, the whole experience just felt smooth. I’m not the most competitive gamer in the whole world, as long as I get to run the game. However, to me it still hits differently when you see the game run smoothly as you trudge along the battles.

Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monito

As the name suggests, it’s also a curved display — and I felt this is the ideal way to construct a gaming monitor. Now, for most games I’ve played, having a curved display has its perks. With such a large amount of screen space that just curves along, I roughly get to see the whole game’s environment. In essence, you feel some semblance of immersion every time you play Fortnite or Call of Duty Warzone.

Port selection is pretty great for the most part

Along with the high refresh rate, the Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monitor also has a nice selection of ports. It comes with two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort 1.2, all of which you can switch to on the fly. I feel like this is more of a standard across most gaming monitors, but Samsung does things differently with their ports.

From L to R: HDMI 1, HDMI 2, DisplayPort 1,2m Audio, Power

Apparently, only one HDMI port actually grants you the 144Hz refresh rate. Out of the two HDMI ports that come with the device, only the HDMI 2 port gives you the high refresh rate. I’m not entirely sure why Samsung decided to do this. I’ve heard that some of their other products also place the high refresh rate option on a specific port.

Furthermore, I would have loved for them to include a DisplayPort cable along with the HDMI cable. Given that most GPUs come with a DisplayPort anyway, I think this would have been a nice move. Also, the DisplayPort supports the 144Hz refresh rate so I felt this was a missed opportunity on their part.

Speaking of missed opportunities

Another missed opportunity for this monitor was giving it FreeSync or G-Sync support. I know that other similar models of the Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monitor come with FreeSync support. However, the model I have didn’t — the DisplayPort doesn’t support it, and it honestly would have made the display perform better.

With FreeSync, you’re able to play your games at a stunning rate without losing much detail. In essence, it allows you to react faster — especially for most FPS games like Valorant and CS:GO. Obviously, FreeSync also raises some risks especially when you’re playing for longer hours. However, it would have provided this monitor with better performance if it supported it.

As a casual gamer, I honestly didn’t mind that FreeSync wasn’t supported mostly because I was still happily playing at 144Hz anyway. However, there were instances when I felt the game lag behind a bit. It would have been nice if the amount of lag I experienced was reduced, and FreeSync would’ve been a great thing to have.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 27,199 (US$ 562), the Samsung 27-inch Curved Gaming Monitor is a pretty decent curved gaming display. It’s biggest selling point is in its high 144Hz refresh rate, which fits both competitive and casual gamers alike. Also, it being a curved display allows for greater immersion during gameplay.

Of course, this does have some missing technologies that would have made it better. I felt that this monitor had some missed opportunities that would have improved its performance in the long run. But, as a casual gamer, it honestly doesn’t matter to me as much as it would to others.

Overall, this gaming monitor serves its ideal purpose for those who need it. If you’re more casual than competitive, this is honestly all you could ever want.

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Computers

Lenovo expands ThinkBook, ThinkVision lineup

Lenovo expands ThinkBook, ThinkVision lineup

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Lenovo has been rather busy recently updating their entire product portfolio. So this ThinkBook and ThinkVision refresh was absolutely inevitable and most definitely welcome.

We’re going to go through all the ThinkBooks and ThinkVisions real quick. Ready? Take a breath. Let’s go!

ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i

This was co-engineered with Intel and meets the requirements of the Intel Evo platform. That’s true across hardware specifications and key experience targets for device responsiveness, instant wake, battery life and fast charge.

It has a high resolution 13.3-inch display with a new 16:10 aspect ratio that offers 90% screen-to-body ratio with ultra-narrow bezels and is available with optional touch.

You’re also getting Thunderbolt 4 port and optional PCIe Gen 4 storage.

We’ll be going on virtual meetings for the foreseeable future. Taking that into account, the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i features microphones that has three audio modes: private, shared, and environmental.

  • ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $829
  • ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $729.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga i

Need something flexible? Well, here you go. The popular Yoga form factor means this thing can bend and a different number of ways.

For performance, it’s powered by 11th Gen Intel Core processors. It also comes with the Lenovo Smart Pen to really help you let your creativity run wild.

It’s available in Mineral Grey with an Abyss Blue version added to the mix.

  • ThinkBook 14s Yoga is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $879.

ThinkBook 14/15 Gen 2 i

If working smart is your think then it doesn’t get any smarter than this. It’s powered by 11th Gen Intel Core Processors (will also come in AMD variants) with flexible storage options: HDD + SSD or dual SSD.

Working remotely and need support? The service hot key helps users reach Lenovo support at the press of a button, automatically including device details such as serial number for a fast track support experience.

But here’s the kicker. It comes with ThinkBook wireless earbuds that can be stored within the laptop. The earbuds charge automatically when stored and connect to the laptop audio instantly when taken out. Double tapping toggles the mute function, and it has dual mics and environmental noise cancellation.

  • ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $569.
  • ThinkBook 15p i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $939.
  • ThinkBook 14 Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $569.
  • ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $699.
  • ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $699.
  • ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $549.
  • ThinkBook 14 Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $549.

ThinkVision T27hv-20

This single cable USB-C Hub monitor is designed to to meet the collaboration requirements of a hybrid working model. The 27-inch display features a 1080p IR/RGB webcam, noise cancelling microphones and integrated speakers that help users conference with confidence

It has Smart Guard that blurs the screen the moment you look or move away or detects someone peeking over your shoulder. Meanwhile, Smart Energy will turn off the screen when it senses that you have moved away from your desk, saving power and protecting data.

  • ThinkVision T27hv-20 is expected to be available from December 2020, starting at $549.
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