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7 Best AMD B450 Motherboards That Are Perfect for Budget Gaming Builds

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Asus ROG Strix B450-I

The motherboard is one of the most important components in any PC. While there are those that come with all of the bells and whistles, they are too pricey and a lot of people do not want to buy them because they are better off saving some money to allot to a better graphics card or CPU.

If you want to build a budget AMD PC soon, do read further to find out the best AMD B450 motherboards that you can buy that are perfect for budget gaming PCs.

Best B450 Motherboards

1.MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

Price: $125-$150

MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

The best B450 motherboard that you can buy on the market today is the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max. It has the best VRM thermal performance compared to others and it is priced just right.

Now, why do you need a motherboard with good VRM thermals? Well, that is so that it can run any AMD PC you can throw at it without any issues. This is especially true if you are going to place a 3900X or a 3950X for that matter.

Aside from its impressive VRMs, it also has a pretty good black and gray aesthetic that is perfect for almost all people.

People that have plenty of USB peripherals would love the fact that the Tomahawk Max has a couple of ports at its back IO but you can also connect up to three USB 3.0 front panel ports as well.

Another feature that is pretty interesting is the BIOS flash. This basically means that you are allowed to flash a new BIOS even if there is no CPU installed currently on the motherboard. This is great if you are intending to use this particular product when the Ryzen 4000 processors are released sometime in the future.

Now, you might notice that there is a non-Max version of this thing, I would still urge you to get this version instead.

If you are wondering what the difference is, you do not have to flash a new BIOS since it can already support Ryzen 3000 processors right out of the box.

2.AsRock B450M Pro 4

Price: $108

AsRock B450M Pro 4

People that want a relatively compact motherboard should look at the AsRock B450M Pro 4. This is an m-ATX motherboard that is perfect for m-ATX PC Cases.

Despite its smaller form factor, the B450 Pro 4 still has plenty to offer. For starters, it has a 9-power phase design that can support even the most power-hungry processors like the 3900X, for example.

It has the right number of PCI Express slots and there are also a wealth of SATA ports and an M.2 slot if you want to plug in your favorite SSD.

Just like the Tomahawk Max, this motherboard does don the same black and gray aesthetic which should fit most builds.

While it does run hotter than the previous recommendation, this is one of the better m-ATX motherboards that can support a Ryzen 3000 processor.

Speaking of which, if you do intend to buy any Ryzen 3000 CPUs, it is important that you have the latest BIOS so that it can support it immediately.

If you are uneasy about flashing the BIOS yourself, you can have the option of having the retailer do it for you.

3.Asus ROG Strix B450-F

Price: $130

Asus ROG Strix B450-F

Asus is a trusted brand when it comes to PC components and peripherals and the ROG Strix B450-F is definitely one that I will recommend for people who love that RGB bling.

This motherboard is just so sexy to look at and there are a couple of RGB lighting zones that you can adjust using the Asus Aura Sync software.

At the back, you will be surprised by the number of USB ports this thing has. You not only have a couple of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports but the board also has a Type-C port, as well as a PS/2 port if you have an old mechanical keyboard lying around.

This board comes with a lot of fan headers so that even if you plug in as many fans in your PC case as possible, it can support it nonetheless.

Since this is an Asus motherboard, you will have the option of using its 5-way optimization feature that will instantly set a couple of different settings to eke more performance out of your processor. This is a hit-or-miss feature, though, so your mileage may vary.

I do love the fact that this board has one of the better audio implementations out there. Thanks to the company’s inclusion of the FX 1220A drivers with Japanese capacitors, you get unparalleled sound without any distortions whatsoever.

My only gripe with this board is that it is one of the most expensive B450 boards on the market, but if you have the money to spend on this sexy thing, I do suggest buying this one over the others.

4.Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wifi

Price: $130

Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wifi

Another great B450 motherboard is the Gigabyte Aorus Pro WiFi. As the name implies, this board comes with a built-in WiFI AC module, as well as a Bluetooth 5 receiver so that you can plug in your favorite Bluetooth headphones.

This motherboard looks sexy, though you might be turned off by some of the company’s orange accents put here and there.

There is so much to love about this thing. Aside from the onboard WiFi and Bluetooth modules, you also get a lot of RGB zones on the board itself which you can control using the RGB Fusion software.

Aside from that, it is equipped with the Realtek ALC1220 audio solution that delivers amazing sound whether you are using some PC speakers or your preferred headphones.

It also supports two M.2 drives and you get a bevy of SATA 3 ports for your hard drives or SSDs.

It is also worth noting that this is one of the only boards that support dual BIOS. This means that you have full confidence that you will not brick your motherboard because you can easily switch to the other BIOS if there are any problems with the current one.

While the board has plenty to offer, I am just bummed by the fact that it only has a few USB ports at the back. You do have USB Type-C but if you are the type of person that connects a lot of USB peripherals, you may have to invest in a hub if that is the case.

Other than that, the Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro WiFi is another solid B450 board.

5.MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Price: $150

MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

When you go over different forums online, you will find that MSI is always one of the brands that pop up when someone asks for the ‘best’ motherboards that can support the Ryzen 3000 series of processors.

Well, there are a couple of reasons why that is. First, the company uses a pretty good VRM solution. Second, they incorporate a lot of features that their customers will surely love. And third, the company’s B450 lineup has the best memory overclocking performance of the bunch.

The MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is certainly one of the best in terms of RAM overclocking. The BIOS is easy to use and the board itself has all of the makings of a great overclocker.

For those of you who do not know, the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC can support RAM frequencies of up to 4133 MHz. That means that you can overclock your RAM so high that you need not spend a lot of money on expensive kits. I do have to warn you that your mileage may vary (or you could say it is up to the silicon lottery).

Aside from its impressive overclocking capabilities, this particular motherboard comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth modules so you can easily connect to your network wirelessly, as well as use your other wireless peripherals.

You also get some RGB lighting in different zones on the board itself and they can be controlled using the company’s Mystic Light program.

Just like the motherboard above, the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC only has a few USB ports which means that if you intend on plugging in a lot of things on its back IO, you will need an external hub to remedy the issue.

You might also have noticed that this is the most expensive B450 motherboard at the time of writing so if you do not like the price, you can choose other great motherboards as well.

6.AsRock B450 Steel Legend

Price: $110

AsRock B450 Steel Legend

If you are looking for a cheap B450 motherboard without compromises, then turn your attention toward the AsRock B450 Steel Legend.

This thing supports Ryzen 3000 processors right out of the box which means that you no longer have to worry about flashing a new BIOS yourself.

The board has a combination of white, black, and gray aesthetics which all blend together in perfect harmony.

You also have some RGB lighting zones in the VRM area, as well as the area where the B450 chipset resides.

You get two m.2 slots for faster storage and you also get PCI-e shielding so that your graphics card will not sag.

It is interesting to find a PS/2 port at the back of a motherboard in this day and age but you do have the option to stick a peripheral with that connector on this board if you want.

Now, the only negative that I can point out here is that while it supports fast memory sticks, the board can only support a maximum of 3533MHz frequency which means that you are not going to be taking full advantage of fast DDR4 RAM kits. If you are running a budget build, this should not bother you though.

7.Asus ROG Strix B450-I

Price: $140

Asus ROG Strix B450-I

People that want to buy an ITX B450 motherboard will not be left out. The last board on this list is none other than the Asus ROG Strix B450-I. It is considered the best one out there for this particular chipset.

Anyway, despite its more compact form factor, this motherboard actually offers a lot. Aside from its amazing FX Audio Supreme modules, you also have two M.2 drives, Intel Gigabit Lan, and a Bluetooth and WiFi receiver that can be attached at the back IO.

Since this is an Asus ROG product, you can also inspect some RGB headers and lighting zones as well if you want to go for that full rainbow look.

Although this is priced higher than your standard ATX board, the Asus ROG Strix B450-I does provide more than any other B450 ITX motherboard you can find on the market today.

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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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7 Best AMD B450 Motherboards That Are Perfect for Budget Gaming Builds

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Asus ROG Strix B450-I

The motherboard is one of the most important components in any PC. While there are those that come with all of the bells and whistles, they are too pricey and a lot of people do not want to buy them because they are better off saving some money to allot to a better graphics card or CPU.

If you want to build a budget AMD PC soon, do read further to find out the best AMD B450 motherboards that you can buy that are perfect for budget gaming PCs.

Best B450 Motherboards

1.MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

Price: $125-$150

MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

The best B450 motherboard that you can buy on the market today is the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max. It has the best VRM thermal performance compared to others and it is priced just right.

Now, why do you need a motherboard with good VRM thermals? Well, that is so that it can run any AMD PC you can throw at it without any issues. This is especially true if you are going to place a 3900X or a 3950X for that matter.

Aside from its impressive VRMs, it also has a pretty good black and gray aesthetic that is perfect for almost all people.

People that have plenty of USB peripherals would love the fact that the Tomahawk Max has a couple of ports at its back IO but you can also connect up to three USB 3.0 front panel ports as well.

Another feature that is pretty interesting is the BIOS flash. This basically means that you are allowed to flash a new BIOS even if there is no CPU installed currently on the motherboard. This is great if you are intending to use this particular product when the Ryzen 4000 processors are released sometime in the future.

Now, you might notice that there is a non-Max version of this thing, I would still urge you to get this version instead.

If you are wondering what the difference is, you do not have to flash a new BIOS since it can already support Ryzen 3000 processors right out of the box.

2.AsRock B450M Pro 4

Price: $108

AsRock B450M Pro 4

People that want a relatively compact motherboard should look at the AsRock B450M Pro 4. This is an m-ATX motherboard that is perfect for m-ATX PC Cases.

Despite its smaller form factor, the B450 Pro 4 still has plenty to offer. For starters, it has a 9-power phase design that can support even the most power-hungry processors like the 3900X, for example.

It has the right number of PCI Express slots and there are also a wealth of SATA ports and an M.2 slot if you want to plug in your favorite SSD.

Just like the Tomahawk Max, this motherboard does don the same black and gray aesthetic which should fit most builds.

While it does run hotter than the previous recommendation, this is one of the better m-ATX motherboards that can support a Ryzen 3000 processor.

Speaking of which, if you do intend to buy any Ryzen 3000 CPUs, it is important that you have the latest BIOS so that it can support it immediately.

If you are uneasy about flashing the BIOS yourself, you can have the option of having the retailer do it for you.

3.Asus ROG Strix B450-F

Price: $130

Asus ROG Strix B450-F

Asus is a trusted brand when it comes to PC components and peripherals and the ROG Strix B450-F is definitely one that I will recommend for people who love that RGB bling.

This motherboard is just so sexy to look at and there are a couple of RGB lighting zones that you can adjust using the Asus Aura Sync software.

At the back, you will be surprised by the number of USB ports this thing has. You not only have a couple of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports but the board also has a Type-C port, as well as a PS/2 port if you have an old mechanical keyboard lying around.

This board comes with a lot of fan headers so that even if you plug in as many fans in your PC case as possible, it can support it nonetheless.

Since this is an Asus motherboard, you will have the option of using its 5-way optimization feature that will instantly set a couple of different settings to eke more performance out of your processor. This is a hit-or-miss feature, though, so your mileage may vary.

I do love the fact that this board has one of the better audio implementations out there. Thanks to the company’s inclusion of the FX 1220A drivers with Japanese capacitors, you get unparalleled sound without any distortions whatsoever.

My only gripe with this board is that it is one of the most expensive B450 boards on the market, but if you have the money to spend on this sexy thing, I do suggest buying this one over the others.

4.Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wifi

Price: $130

Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wifi

Another great B450 motherboard is the Gigabyte Aorus Pro WiFi. As the name implies, this board comes with a built-in WiFI AC module, as well as a Bluetooth 5 receiver so that you can plug in your favorite Bluetooth headphones.

This motherboard looks sexy, though you might be turned off by some of the company’s orange accents put here and there.

There is so much to love about this thing. Aside from the onboard WiFi and Bluetooth modules, you also get a lot of RGB zones on the board itself which you can control using the RGB Fusion software.

Aside from that, it is equipped with the Realtek ALC1220 audio solution that delivers amazing sound whether you are using some PC speakers or your preferred headphones.

It also supports two M.2 drives and you get a bevy of SATA 3 ports for your hard drives or SSDs.

It is also worth noting that this is one of the only boards that support dual BIOS. This means that you have full confidence that you will not brick your motherboard because you can easily switch to the other BIOS if there are any problems with the current one.

While the board has plenty to offer, I am just bummed by the fact that it only has a few USB ports at the back. You do have USB Type-C but if you are the type of person that connects a lot of USB peripherals, you may have to invest in a hub if that is the case.

Other than that, the Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro WiFi is another solid B450 board.

5.MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Price: $150

MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

When you go over different forums online, you will find that MSI is always one of the brands that pop up when someone asks for the ‘best’ motherboards that can support the Ryzen 3000 series of processors.

Well, there are a couple of reasons why that is. First, the company uses a pretty good VRM solution. Second, they incorporate a lot of features that their customers will surely love. And third, the company’s B450 lineup has the best memory overclocking performance of the bunch.

The MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is certainly one of the best in terms of RAM overclocking. The BIOS is easy to use and the board itself has all of the makings of a great overclocker.

For those of you who do not know, the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC can support RAM frequencies of up to 4133 MHz. That means that you can overclock your RAM so high that you need not spend a lot of money on expensive kits. I do have to warn you that your mileage may vary (or you could say it is up to the silicon lottery).

Aside from its impressive overclocking capabilities, this particular motherboard comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth modules so you can easily connect to your network wirelessly, as well as use your other wireless peripherals.

You also get some RGB lighting in different zones on the board itself and they can be controlled using the company’s Mystic Light program.

Just like the motherboard above, the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC only has a few USB ports which means that if you intend on plugging in a lot of things on its back IO, you will need an external hub to remedy the issue.

You might also have noticed that this is the most expensive B450 motherboard at the time of writing so if you do not like the price, you can choose other great motherboards as well.

6.AsRock B450 Steel Legend

Price: $110

AsRock B450 Steel Legend

If you are looking for a cheap B450 motherboard without compromises, then turn your attention toward the AsRock B450 Steel Legend.

This thing supports Ryzen 3000 processors right out of the box which means that you no longer have to worry about flashing a new BIOS yourself.

The board has a combination of white, black, and gray aesthetics which all blend together in perfect harmony.

You also have some RGB lighting zones in the VRM area, as well as the area where the B450 chipset resides.

You get two m.2 slots for faster storage and you also get PCI-e shielding so that your graphics card will not sag.

It is interesting to find a PS/2 port at the back of a motherboard in this day and age but you do have the option to stick a peripheral with that connector on this board if you want.

Now, the only negative that I can point out here is that while it supports fast memory sticks, the board can only support a maximum of 3533MHz frequency which means that you are not going to be taking full advantage of fast DDR4 RAM kits. If you are running a budget build, this should not bother you though.

7.Asus ROG Strix B450-I

Price: $140

Asus ROG Strix B450-I

People that want to buy an ITX B450 motherboard will not be left out. The last board on this list is none other than the Asus ROG Strix B450-I. It is considered the best one out there for this particular chipset.

Anyway, despite its more compact form factor, this motherboard actually offers a lot. Aside from its amazing FX Audio Supreme modules, you also have two M.2 drives, Intel Gigabit Lan, and a Bluetooth and WiFi receiver that can be attached at the back IO.

Since this is an Asus ROG product, you can also inspect some RGB headers and lighting zones as well if you want to go for that full rainbow look.

Although this is priced higher than your standard ATX board, the Asus ROG Strix B450-I does provide more than any other B450 ITX motherboard you can find on the market today.

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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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