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HP Omen 15 Review- A Competitive AMD Ryzen Gaming Laptop Under $1500

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HP Omen 15 Review

If you were to shop for a gaming laptop back then, you would have to choose one that is equipped with an Intel processor because they are clocked higher and they have a good reputation in the gaming department.

Fast forward to today and we now have new laptops that are packed with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and the HP Omen 15 certainly has one of the best out there.

Today, I am going to be reviewing this thing. Find out why I think this is a really competitive AMD Ryzen gaming laptop under $1500.

Design

In terms of aesthetics, the HP Omen 15 is not as ‘loud’ as the other gaming laptops on the market. It has a predominantly black chassis, though you will find that it is actually space gray when given ample lighting.

The lid has the Omen branding in the middle and the colorful diamond situated above the said word actually looks really nice. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other bling.

For the ports, you will find a USB Type-A Gen 3.2 port, an HDMI 2.01a port, an ethernet jack, a full-sized SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack on the left.

On the right-hand side, you have two additional USB Type-A ports, a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port.

While most other gaming laptops in 2020 weigh less than 5 pounds, the Omen 15 weighs a bit more at 5.4 pounds. It is still lightweight but I think that this is worth mentioning, especially if you’ve tried the other laptops that were released this year.

It is still somewhat thin, though, at just 14.1 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches, so in terms of portability, you can still put this inside your backpack without any issues.

Display

HP Omen 15 Review 2020

IPS panels have come a long way when it comes to performance and the HP Omen 15 comes equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It is a 1080p screen which should be enough for most users.

The screen is vibrant and that is to be expected given the choice of the panel used. Keep in mind that, by default, the screen is set to 60Hz, so if you want to tap this thing’s full potential, you would have to manually set the refresh rate to its maximum.

The color accuracy of the display is pretty good at 90% sRGB and 71.8% DCI-P3 color gamut. In most games, you will definitely see the crisp images and because it is a relatively color accurate screen, you can do some light photo and video editing tasks on here as well.

There is a 720p webcam at the top-middle part of the display and I think that this is the right placement for such a thing. The camera quality is respectable, though the microphone volume could have been improved.

Keyboard and Touchpad

HP Omen 15 Keyboard

The Omen 15’s keyboard has a standard layout without the full Numpad. I think that this is a better implementation considering that having the Numpad would cram the keys so much that it makes it hard to use.

My review unit only has the white LED backlighting and it is pretty bright. However, you can opt for the full RGB version, though you would have to decide if spending an additional $50 for RGB lighting would be the right thing to do or not.

The keys themselves are a bit mushy for my taste but I am glad that I can still type relatively fast on them. My only gripe with the layout is that the power button is situated directly above the backspace and if you have large fingers like me, you could potentially press the power button while you are typing which can be a pain.

For its touchpad, this laptop has a 2.9 x 4.5-inch matte touchpad. While I love its responsiveness, it would have been nice if it had a glass finish (but this is pretty much my personal preference).

It has plenty of surface area to work with and I am happy to report that you can make precise mouse movements just by simply using the touchpad. It doesn’t have physical buttons, but I think that this is a standard affair at this point.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6 (Intel AX 200), Bluetooth 5
  • Battery: 71 WHr
  • Weight: 5.4 Pounds

The configuration that I have comes with AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor. In terms of productivity tasks and some light rendering, this definitely beats any Intel equivalent chip out there.

For its gaming performance, you could set the game’s graphical settings to high or ultra in some titles, though for more demanding games such as Control, for example, you would have to set it to medium to get considerable frame rates.

I am okay with the 1080p resolution display simply because the GPU cannot produce more than 120Hz if the native resolution is higher.

Playing battle royale games shouldn’t be an issue since they are not too taxing on the laptop and you should be able to reach 144 frames per second comfortably.

I really love the fact that the 8-core/16-thread CPU on this thing can handle whatever workload you throw at it. This is not only a competitive gaming machine but it can certainly go above any Intel counterpart out there.

I do have to point out that if you are taxing the GPU and CPU too much, this machine is quite audible at 56 dBA. That is really loud, but considering that the fans are working as intended, the chassis didn’t go beyond 40C so it is quite okay to the touch.

In terms of thermals, the laptop didn’t go beyond 80C while gaming, and in rendering, it didn’t go above 85C which is indeed impressive. However, always remember that this thing can be really loud, so do bear that in mind.

Lastly, if you haven’t used an AMD Ryzen-powered PC or laptop before, the nature of the CPU ramps the fans up a little bit since the chip boosts quite frequently. This is normal behavior so if you are using this thing and you’ve noticed that the fans frequently go up and down in terms of fan speeds, now you know why.

Battery

HP Omen 15

While I like the performance of the HP Omen 15, it does suffer a little bit in the battery department. In my testing, you could get 6 hours easily doing light to moderate tasks. However, once you put this thing to its limits, you could only go as far as 3-4 hours of use.

The good thing is that you can bring the charger with you and it gives it enough juice in such a short amount of time.

I just wished that HP had beefed up the battery a little bit as the 71 WHr battery on this thing is a bit too low, in my opinion.

Verdict

I am really happy and impressed with the HP Omen 15. Finally, we have a pretty competitive gaming laptop that is priced under $1,500. With the configuration that I have, it only costs you $1,299 which is pretty insane.

Do keep in mind that you can also get the highest spec version of this laptop which comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, but that thing costs $1,800 (which is still pretty good).

However, if you are okay with the mid-range performance, the HP Omen 15 with the Ryzen 7 4800H chip is a pretty good gaming laptop.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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HP Omen 15 Review- A Competitive AMD Ryzen Gaming Laptop Under $1500

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HP Omen 15 Review

If you were to shop for a gaming laptop back then, you would have to choose one that is equipped with an Intel processor because they are clocked higher and they have a good reputation in the gaming department.

Fast forward to today and we now have new laptops that are packed with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and the HP Omen 15 certainly has one of the best out there.

Today, I am going to be reviewing this thing. Find out why I think this is a really competitive AMD Ryzen gaming laptop under $1500.

Design

In terms of aesthetics, the HP Omen 15 is not as ‘loud’ as the other gaming laptops on the market. It has a predominantly black chassis, though you will find that it is actually space gray when given ample lighting.

The lid has the Omen branding in the middle and the colorful diamond situated above the said word actually looks really nice. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other bling.

For the ports, you will find a USB Type-A Gen 3.2 port, an HDMI 2.01a port, an ethernet jack, a full-sized SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack on the left.

On the right-hand side, you have two additional USB Type-A ports, a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port.

While most other gaming laptops in 2020 weigh less than 5 pounds, the Omen 15 weighs a bit more at 5.4 pounds. It is still lightweight but I think that this is worth mentioning, especially if you’ve tried the other laptops that were released this year.

It is still somewhat thin, though, at just 14.1 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches, so in terms of portability, you can still put this inside your backpack without any issues.

Display

HP Omen 15 Review 2020

IPS panels have come a long way when it comes to performance and the HP Omen 15 comes equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It is a 1080p screen which should be enough for most users.

The screen is vibrant and that is to be expected given the choice of the panel used. Keep in mind that, by default, the screen is set to 60Hz, so if you want to tap this thing’s full potential, you would have to manually set the refresh rate to its maximum.

The color accuracy of the display is pretty good at 90% sRGB and 71.8% DCI-P3 color gamut. In most games, you will definitely see the crisp images and because it is a relatively color accurate screen, you can do some light photo and video editing tasks on here as well.

There is a 720p webcam at the top-middle part of the display and I think that this is the right placement for such a thing. The camera quality is respectable, though the microphone volume could have been improved.

Keyboard and Touchpad

HP Omen 15 Keyboard

The Omen 15’s keyboard has a standard layout without the full Numpad. I think that this is a better implementation considering that having the Numpad would cram the keys so much that it makes it hard to use.

My review unit only has the white LED backlighting and it is pretty bright. However, you can opt for the full RGB version, though you would have to decide if spending an additional $50 for RGB lighting would be the right thing to do or not.

The keys themselves are a bit mushy for my taste but I am glad that I can still type relatively fast on them. My only gripe with the layout is that the power button is situated directly above the backspace and if you have large fingers like me, you could potentially press the power button while you are typing which can be a pain.

For its touchpad, this laptop has a 2.9 x 4.5-inch matte touchpad. While I love its responsiveness, it would have been nice if it had a glass finish (but this is pretty much my personal preference).

It has plenty of surface area to work with and I am happy to report that you can make precise mouse movements just by simply using the touchpad. It doesn’t have physical buttons, but I think that this is a standard affair at this point.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6 (Intel AX 200), Bluetooth 5
  • Battery: 71 WHr
  • Weight: 5.4 Pounds

The configuration that I have comes with AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor. In terms of productivity tasks and some light rendering, this definitely beats any Intel equivalent chip out there.

For its gaming performance, you could set the game’s graphical settings to high or ultra in some titles, though for more demanding games such as Control, for example, you would have to set it to medium to get considerable frame rates.

I am okay with the 1080p resolution display simply because the GPU cannot produce more than 120Hz if the native resolution is higher.

Playing battle royale games shouldn’t be an issue since they are not too taxing on the laptop and you should be able to reach 144 frames per second comfortably.

I really love the fact that the 8-core/16-thread CPU on this thing can handle whatever workload you throw at it. This is not only a competitive gaming machine but it can certainly go above any Intel counterpart out there.

I do have to point out that if you are taxing the GPU and CPU too much, this machine is quite audible at 56 dBA. That is really loud, but considering that the fans are working as intended, the chassis didn’t go beyond 40C so it is quite okay to the touch.

In terms of thermals, the laptop didn’t go beyond 80C while gaming, and in rendering, it didn’t go above 85C which is indeed impressive. However, always remember that this thing can be really loud, so do bear that in mind.

Lastly, if you haven’t used an AMD Ryzen-powered PC or laptop before, the nature of the CPU ramps the fans up a little bit since the chip boosts quite frequently. This is normal behavior so if you are using this thing and you’ve noticed that the fans frequently go up and down in terms of fan speeds, now you know why.

Battery

HP Omen 15

While I like the performance of the HP Omen 15, it does suffer a little bit in the battery department. In my testing, you could get 6 hours easily doing light to moderate tasks. However, once you put this thing to its limits, you could only go as far as 3-4 hours of use.

The good thing is that you can bring the charger with you and it gives it enough juice in such a short amount of time.

I just wished that HP had beefed up the battery a little bit as the 71 WHr battery on this thing is a bit too low, in my opinion.

Verdict

I am really happy and impressed with the HP Omen 15. Finally, we have a pretty competitive gaming laptop that is priced under $1,500. With the configuration that I have, it only costs you $1,299 which is pretty insane.

Do keep in mind that you can also get the highest spec version of this laptop which comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, but that thing costs $1,800 (which is still pretty good).

However, if you are okay with the mid-range performance, the HP Omen 15 with the Ryzen 7 4800H chip is a pretty good gaming laptop.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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