Computers

ASUS Zen AiO Pro review

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ASUS has this all-in-one desktop computer that may seem kinda expensive at first (it’s $2,000!), but it’s as easy to use and set up as a regular laptop, plus it’s much more powerful. Check it out!

This is the Zen AiO Pro, which goes by the model name Z240IC. Like its name implies, it has everything you need in the package: a full-fledged Windows 10-powered computer within a large 23.8-inch 4K monitor, and both a wireless keyboard and mouse bundled inside.


Sounds a lot like an Apple iMac or Microsoft’s new Surface Studio, right? Well, ASUS does some things better and is targeting different needs, which we’ll get into now.

Look at how big and spacious the display is!

Being made of solid aluminum and weighing 7.3kg doesn’t make this travel-friendly, though

There’s more than enough room on the screen for multiple windows 

A 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) on a bright 23.8-inch display is no joke!

The back is sleek too, and has all the ports you need

Let’s see: SD card reader, microphone and headphone ports, Ethernet, two HDMI ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and a single USB-C port — whew!

Here’s a closer look at some of the ports

The old-school USB 2.0 port (the black one) seems out of place, but it’s perfect for the receiver of the wireless keyboard and mouse

The keyboard and mouse are as basic as they come, but get the job done

The keyboard is squishy and the mouse is bland, but you can always replace them with something better

So, what exactly is powering this thing?

Our unit came with a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M to run everything. Not a bad setup, but the components are nearly two years old, and the newer chipsets from Intel and NVIDIA smoke their predecessors. Still, this configuration is enough to edit videos and photos, and even play visually intensive games on medium settings.

I was curious, so I ran The Witcher 3 and the new Doom game to see just how well they run on ASUS’ AiO PC. The Witcher 3 with its strong demand for processing power worked smoothly enough on medium settings with the more advanced options like shadows and hair effects toned down. Doom was a little more forgiving on medium settings, and would let me turn up some graphics options to pull off prettier visuals at around 40 frames per second. Not something a hardcore gamer would like to hear, but definitely satisfactory for casual gamers who enjoy the newer 3D games.

Do note that these games were played on a downscaled Full HD 1080p resolution to handle the intense graphics. A GTX 960M is in no way good enough to take on 4K gaming, which is better left for real desktop graphics cards like the GTX 1080. On the bright side, the downward-firing speakers have a strong punch to them, and are generous in the bass department — perfect for Netflix and YouTube watching, as well.

But the most impressive pair of components in the Zen AiO Pro are the 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD. If you read our explainer on the two storage mediums, you’d know this is the most optimized setup you can get. By having the operating system run on the faster SSD, boot-ups and navigating through the system are consistently fast, and you still have 1TB of space on the HDD for all your personal files and large apps.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

This is one of those instances when you have to think long and hard before making a purchase. On one hand, the Zen AiO Pro is built for nearly every sort of task and is complete out the box; on the other hand, it’s far more expensive than conventional desktop computers and you could easily build one for a fraction of the price with even better components.

You’re paying for the convenience here; being able to plug in this computer with a single cable and nothing more is such a relief in a small office space or tight apartment. It’s so well made too, and the fact you don’t have to go out and buy a separate keyboard-mouse combo makes the deal even sweeter.

Then again, you could buy a premium laptop like the ZenBook 3 for less than this, and it would also save space and run through apps nearly as well — you’d just have to give up the desktop-level display and gaming performance.

The model we reviewed is available in the Philippines for PhP 99,995, which matches the average international price of $2,000. There are more affordable configurations out there with slower processors and weaker graphics cards, but it totally depends on where you reside.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenBook 3 review

[irp posts=”10098" name=”ASUS ZenBook 3 review”]

Computers

Raspberry Pi 4 offers more power for the same price

Now with support for 4K

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Image credit: Raspberry

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the fourth version of its popular and very useful miniature budget computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 keeps the same form-factor and starting price of its predecessor, but it has more power to offer. This would mean wider applications and nifty inventions for those who like to tinker with a Raspberry Pi.

The most notable upgrade of the Raspberry Pi 4 is its CPU. The new chipset features faster and more efficient four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. This will deliver three times better performance. Memory has also seen an upgrade from the LPDDR2 standard to LPDDR4. It now comes with up to 4GB of memory, which is four times that of any previous Pi.


Complementing the new CPU is a better GPU. The new VideoCore VI GPU can handle 4K/60fps HEVC video playback. It can support dual-monitor setups at up to 4K resolution as well using the micro HDMI ports. Moreover, the board now has two USB 3.0  and two USB 2.0 ports, and now charges via USB-C.

Image credit: Raspberry

As for wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi. Additionally, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet for an even faster internet connection.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is available starting today through Approved Resellers worldwide and directly at the Raspberry Store. It comes with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM for US$ 35, US$ 45, and US$ 55, respectively.

SEE ALSO: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

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Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.

Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.


In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:

Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products

Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills. The same program allows you to recycle or send back used ink cartridges responsibly as well.

If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.

Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, straws

Photo from Dell

To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).

For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.

More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they use also grows near their manufacturing facilities.

In 2011, Dell started developing cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics like straws back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.

The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.

Ink made of smog

Photo from Chakr Innovations

Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.

A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.

Backpack made of recycled windshields

Photo from Dell

Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.

Jewelry made of used computers

Photo from Dell

In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.

Photo from Dell

Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.

Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.

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Computers

AMD launches Ryzen 9 3950X and Radeon RX 5700 series

With competitive pricing

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Image credit: AMD

Between all the video game announcements made during E3 2019, AMD took the stage to introduce new CPUs and GPUs to power all these new PC titles.

The most prominent is the Ryzen 9 3950X, AMD’s newest 16-core, 32-thread 7nm desktop CPU. It has a base clock of 3.5GHz and boost clock of 4.7GHz. A generous 72MB cache complements the high-speed processing.


More interesting, however, is its 105W TDP, which is well below the industry standard for this many cores. Normally, we’d see a TDP of over 150W in same-class CPUs, even in AMD’s own Threadripper lineup.

Its US$ 749 retail price might seem a little steep at first, but compared to Intel’s equivalent offerings, it’s a fairly good deal. It’ll arrive in September this year.

If you can’t wait that long, AMD already has a bunch of Ryzen 3000-series CPUs available from Computex 2019. Here’s a refresher of their prices:

On the graphics side, AMD announced two new cards: the Radeon RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700. They’ll feature the new RDNA architecture. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’ll be part of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles.

Like the Ryzen 9 mentioned earlier, these two graphics cards own an efficient yet powerful 7nm process. The XT model retails for US$ 449 while the non-XT variant goes for US$ 379.

Key specs include 40 compute units for the XT and 36 for the non-XT, up to 9.75 TFLOPs for the XT and 7.95 TFLOPs for the non-XT, plus 8GB for both models. Unfortunately, neither support ray tracing.

While these GPUs aren’t mind-blowing by any measure, they do give NVIDIA a run for their money in the upper-midrange market. Both cards will ship beginning July 7.

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