Gaming

Lenovo Legion 7i review: Flagship with trade-offs

Everything is great, until some things get in your way

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After writing the hands-on for the Lenovo Legion 7i, I came to the conclusion that this device has upside. It wasn’t the most powerful configuration you could get for the device, but initially the whole thing just fits well. It was even a welcome surprise to me that the build quality is great, and has RGB!

But much like NBA prospects, one must see them in action to truly assess their worth. While my initial impressions of the device were positive, I wanted to see if this device truly stacks against the best of them. 

To recap, here’s what the Lenovo Legion 7i offers:

It comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and an NVIDIA RTX 2070 SUPER Max-Q

It has a 240Hz FHD anti-glare display with 100% Adobe sRGB

It features a full-size keyboard with RGB lighting even at the back

It comes in an all-metal finish, with the metal Legion logo

Great performance for the most part

The unit I received came with the 6-core, Intel Core i7-10750H processor and the NVIDIA RTX 2070 SUPER Max-Q. It’s not the most powerful configuration you can get for this device, but it brings a lot to the table. Performance across the board was great the more applications I threw at it.

Whether it was for work or simply gaming my heart out, the Legion 7i kept me going through and through. I still haven’t won a game of Fall Guys while testing this machine out. But in terms of its raw power, this device definitely competes with the best of them.

My only issues with the device’s performance actually isn’t with the hardware. See, Lenovo always ships its devices with Vantage installed. Obviously, this should aid in the main operations of the device and should tick the important settings during certain activities. I don’t know why Vantage doesn’t automatically switch some of these, but it gets in the way.

Gaming on it feels like a breeze… for the most part

I’ve touched on how well this thing can game, and it still met my initial impression of it. Trying out a variety of titles for this laptop felt relatively easy, as I managed to play most games properly. Even heavy titles like Call of Duty: Warzone clocked in close to 60-70 FPS at near max settings during my tests.

Also, because the unit I came with has a 240Hz refresh rate display, I almost experienced no image tearing. Gameplay felt almost buttery smooth, especially in shooter games such as VALORANT. I kept up with everything that was happening around me with such ease, it almost felt natural.

Yet again, my issues with this wasn’t with the RTX 2070 SUPER Max-Q. Rather, there were two things that I somehow couldn’t understand how they got in there. First, for some reason Vantage doesn’t automatically turn on Performance Mode. Second, even while the laptop was on Performance Mode and plugged in to the charger, I experienced some level of FPS drops.

Even though these might not be the case for you, I’d still watch out for these down the road.

Battery’s what you expect, but the thermals were off

Upon initial use, I got about 5-6 hours just doing the normal routine. Compared to most gaming laptops, this is just what you would expect even from a 80Wh battery. Strictly gaming on the device only registered 2-3 hours, which is disappointing but expected. I guess that’s your payoff for siding with Intel, instead of going for the new AMD chips.

Charging the device didn’t take too long, especially with Rapid Charge turned on. Without it, it took me about 2-3 hours for a full charge. Honestly, I feel like you will need to bring the charger at all times for prolonged play. At least, it brings you back to the action and your work.

However, the bottleneck truly lies in the device’s Vapor Chamber cooling system. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the fact that there are four exhaust vents for all that hot air. Ideally, it’s supposed to keep things relatively less warm than usual. But alas, the device still felt too warm to touch and the fans were super loud.

The laptop’s saving graces?

Although, the device had some other good features that I felt made the experience a little better. First was the variety of ports available on this device, and where they’re all placed. Specifically, I found it a nice touch that high-usage ports for charging and all your peripherals were at the back. It makes cable management easier, and nothing gets in the way.

I also loved the way the keyboard felt as I was typing and playing. Lenovo’s TrueStrike keys have a certain smooth feeling every time I press them. Honestly, I didn’t feel any lag input especially while gaming. Also, the privacy webcam shutter was always a nice touch.

But alas, there are some things that just didn’t sit well with me. One was the webcam itself, which only stood at 720p. The images turn out a little grainy, and you can’t really use it at night unless under well-lit conditions. Next were the bottom-facing speakers, which I honestly felt would have been better with an elevated hinge.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At Php 134,995, the Lenovo Legion 7i fits the mold of the usual gaming laptop. You get the power and performance from all the internal hardware. Also, you get a high refresh rate display to complement and elevate your gaming experience. Along with some great additional features, it’s a solid piece of hardware.

Of course, you really can’t get past the things that are bad about it. The obvious ones include the subpar battery life and the thermals that don’t cool down effectively. For the rest, it’s all up to your personal preference and what you intend to use this laptop for.

For what it’s worth, you actually get a great gaming machine that competes with the flagships. Just be wary of what you’re trading off to get all that power.

Explainers

The industry’s next big thing: Cloud gaming explained

It’s gaming on the go, but for internet that’s not slow

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Everybody’s getting into gaming these days, and you can’t blame them. With the pandemic continuing its ravaging ways in the world, people turn to their consoles or PCs for some action. However, not everyone can afford all the expensive PCs and the next-gen consoles when they come out.

Instead, a new player comes into the fray with a pretty great idea. What would happen if you can just play your favorite games from any device? Also, what if we told you that this won’t take up space on your device at all? This is basically what cloud gaming offers to you: a way to play games from any device at any time!

So, how does that actually work? What do you need to ensure quality gameplay, and should you even consider it?

The basics of playing on a cloud

On paper, it’s pretty easy to understand how cloud gaming works. Basically, you have access to a library of games from a cloud storage service. When you subscribe to the service, you can virtually play your library from any device regardless of the specs. Also, you don’t have to worry about storage problems since these games are stored on a server.

It’s no joke when these companies tell you that you can play your games on any device. With their dedicated data servers, they make sure that the games run smoothly once you access them from the cloud. On your end, you will need a strong and consistent internet connection to play the games smoothly.

Several companies already have cloud gaming software available for people to subscribe to. Some examples include NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud, and Google Stadia — all of which store PC games on a server. These companies even take the time to update their server hardware every so often to bring the best possible quality.

System requirements for cloud gaming

Much like your ordinary PC or gaming console, companies that run cloud gaming servers need certain equipment to run smoothly. First, these companies must set up active data centers and server farms that run the games. These data centers ensure that games are up and running, while reducing latency. In other words, these serve as the powerhouse of cloud gaming.

Next on the list is the network infrastructure necessary to send these to the users. To ensure that people don’t experience lags when they play their games, companies also invest in acquiring proper data connections. However, in most cases, this isn’t something these companies have control over; it’s mostly coming from their available internet service providers.

On the front-end, companies also provide dedicated hardware and software to house the cloud. For example, NVIDIA integrated GeForce Now into their own cloud streaming device, the NVIDIA Shield back in 2013. Meanwhile, Google Stadia relies heavily on using pre-existing Google software like Google Chrome and the Stadia App.

Something great to offer, for the most part

Cloud gaming services offer something unique in the industry. Essentially, it eliminates the user from investing so much into buying expensive PCs as it allows people to play from virtually any device. Whether it’s on a smartphone, laptop, or even a smart TV, people get access to games at high frame rates without an RTX 3080.

Furthermore, the game and save files are stored on the cloud, and don’t take up any storage on your devices. This is greatly beneficial for people who are already running on limited storage space, especially if they play Call of Duty: Warzone. With everything stored on the cloud, you don’t need most of the 512GB of SSD storage.

However, one of the biggest issues with cloud gaming revolves around the thing it’s based on: the internet. Specifically, it’s on the user’s internet connection as these services require the fastest internet to run smoothly on any device. Basically, you will need either an Ethernet or a 5G wireless connection to ensure the lowest latency possible.

That infrastructure isn’t readily available in most markets, which is a prominent issue among several third-world countries. Furthermore, even if there are companies that have 5G in their pipeline, these same providers also put data caps on it. Even if the user can play at an optimal frame rate, they’re doing so with a restriction in place.

Does this new player have any place?

With the world continuously opening its arms to the gaming industry, innovation becomes the forefront of success. Companies come up with a variety of gaming technologies that seek to cater to a wide variety of people. From individual hardware to pre-built systems, gaming often revolved around these things.

With cloud gaming, it gives people not just another option within the mix. Rather, it seeks to challenge the notion of availability and accessibility, and give it a viable solution. Essentially, it takes away the physical hardware limitations on the user’s end, and makes it available for everyone.

But like most gaming technologies, everything is still limited somehow. These systems still experience bottlenecks both on the manufacturer and the user’s end. In the end, it will depend on how much you’re willing to shell out for them, and how willing you are to accept the risks.

Illustrations by Raniedel Fajardo

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Gaming

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege next gen versions now available

For both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S

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Rainbow Six Siege

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S are now available.

These versions will allow gameplay in 4K and up to 120 fps, depending on the mode chosen by the players (performance or resolution), among many other improvements. Players will be able to upgrade their version on the same family of devices at no extra cost.

Current players on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will also be able to keep their progression. Cross-generation play is also available within the same family of devices, allowing PlayStation 5 players to face PlayStation 4 players, and Xbox One players to face Xbox Series X|S players.

Cross-play between different families of consoles or between PC and consoles is not currently supported.

Players on next-gen consoles will be able to experience Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege with the highest graphical enhancements the game has yet to offer. These enhancements will offer multiple options for prioritizing either performance or resolution, granted players are equipped with a compatible device:

  • 4K resolution (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X) / 1080p (Xbox Series S)
  • 120 fps (PlayStation® 5, Xbox Series X)
  • DualSense wireless controller capabilities for even deeper immersion (PlayStation 5)
  • Activities support for the most popular playlists so players can dive into the game faster (PlayStation 5)

The following features are also being implemented for an enhanced next-gen experience on all platforms:

  • Better accessibility (readability options, text to speech and speech to text)
  • Quick start (optimized login flow, streamlined intro sequence)
  • Ubisoft Connect overlay

This next generation of hardware provides the latest tech and features available, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege will keep improving to leverage all the new opportunities afforded by these new platforms.

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A somber look at the PlayStation 5 crisis

Can’t buy a PlayStation 5? You’re not alone

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PlayStation 5

In 30 minutes from the moment I’m typing this sentence, Walmart, one of the few American retailers selling the PlayStation 5 online, will restock its console shelves with an undetermined number of units. If the restocking goes exactly as it has in the past few weeks, the retailer’s website will crash within the first few minutes. When it goes back up again, everything will have disappeared from the shelves.

If you’re one of the millions of gamers looking to bag a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X for the holidays, such an experience is familiar to you. Both Sony and Microsoft have fumbled their respective launches, leaving most of the hopeful without a console.

After weeks of the same, attempting to buy the new consoles and leaving empty-handed has turned into a shared global experience. Many are wondering when (or if) they are getting the device. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as they once were.

Day zero: zero stock

On November 10, the Xbox Series X and S dropped online for the first time. Though Microsoft’s console didn’t share in the same hype as its Sony counterpart, the new Xbox sold out within minutes. Faced with an even larger demand for the PlayStation 5, everyone portended much of the same for Sony’s console. Unsurprisingly, it was.

Days later, on November 12, the PlayStation finally launched. As expected, in the brief moment that “Buy Now” buttons opened, every retailing site either crashed or stalled. Most stores held a one-time drop. Meanwhile, Walmart did drops throughout the day. And, expectedly, every drop, one-time or gradual, sold out.

Only a handful received consoles on launch day: lucky pre-order purchases, even luckier same-day buyers, or, more likely, bots.

Rise of the machines

Most of the outcry revolves around despised bots refreshing every site and buying every stock before real people can do so. The bot’s owners, all of them scalpers, resell their supply at dramatic premiums. Hours after the initial launch, eBay had auctions going up to US$ 2,000. At the time of this writing, most entries hover around US$ 1,700. (For reference, the PlayStation 5 retails for only US$ 499.)

Neither Sony nor any authorized retailer explicitly commented on the bot takeover. Some (eventually) installed captcha measures to hopefully weed out bots from humans. It did little to stave to onslaught. Scalpers (or worse, scalper networks) thrived under the online-only purchasing system.

Should we, then, blame bots for the year’s most botched launch?

Bots, logistics, or supply?

Currently in our sights, bots and scalpers are easy targets. The systematic supply grab owes a lot of its shortages on the automated schemes of bots. Some scalper networks have even defended their actions. Supposedly, creating a scalping ecosystem creates jobs for scalpers who may have lost their jobs from recent furloughs.

However, a launch is hardly only a matter of consumers. There’s supply and demand, too. Didn’t Sony and Microsoft foresee the demand months ago?

Drumming up intense hype throughout the past few months, both companies naturally predicted a surge. It still wasn’t enough.

Sony, through the PlayStation’s official Twitter account, confirmed “unprecedented” demand for the PlayStation 5 series. It was still a surprise. Echoing the same, Sony Interactive Entertainment President Jim Ryan told a Russian outlet that “absolutely everything is sold.” Unfortunately for gamers, current predictions still estimate shortages lasting until spring next year.

Sony and Microsoft are hard-pressed to make more devices as soon as possible. However, with current COVID-19 restrictions, manufacturing facilities can’t work at full capacity. And it’s not just on the manufacturing side.

Recently, a logistics source confirmed that a lot of resources are still devoted to shipping COVID-19 aid, including PPEs and masks. With a potential vaccine on the horizon, supply transportation will certainly feel the crunch, leaving little room for less essential products like gaming consoles.

So, who’s to blame?

More than bots, scalpers, manufacturers, or logistics companies, the ongoing PlayStation 5 crisis pulls the curtain from an inherently broken system from a pre-COVID-19 era. The current global economy was, and is, ill-prepared for a global emergency.

Companies, manufacturers, and logistics did not anticipate an overwhelming demand for emergency products. Even now, the world is still aching for aid: from simple masks to scarce ventilators. We’re seeing the flaws only now because the new consoles are home appliances. Other launches this year weren’t as in-demand as the PlayStation 5. For example, with everyone staying indoors, not a lot of people are exactly lining up for a new iPhone 12. (Sorry, Apple.)

Fitbit’s Ventilator

On the other hand, a lot of people truly are jobless from a crumbling economy. Albeit a lackluster excuse, scalper networks do have a point that some people are reduced to less-than-stellar ways of making money amid the pandemic. (Not to defend scalping, though. It’s still a shady business.)

Throughout this entire shortage, one thing is clear: The world, as we know it, cannot adequately save itself from a global emergency. The fault inevitably rests on both individuals and systems who persistently refuse to accept the realities of the pandemic: from anti-maskers who put more people at risk to companies who haven’t prepared for the surge to governments who can’t provide aid for its citizenry.

Should you still get a PlayStation 5?

PlayStation 5

If you’re still inclined, Sony promises more stock before the end of the year. Anyone can still try their luck for a fresh device from the factory. More realistically, you can wait a few months without the new console; by then, Sony should have ironed out a lot of kinks and bugs.

No one is judging you if you do. No one is judging you if you don’t. But if you’re worried about the fear of missing out, just remember that not a lot of people have the PlayStation 5 yet, as much as we all would want one.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, remember the new stock I mentioned 30 minutes ago? Sold out in less than ten seconds. Go figure.

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5 Unboxing

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