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How to Update Your Motherboard’s BIOS Safely- Simple and Easy Steps

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How to Update BIOS

Your motherboard’s basic input/output system (or more commonly known as BIOS) provides the most basic instructions for your computer to operate. You can overclock your processor, select which drive should be given boot priority, among many others.

If you are thinking about updating your PC’s BIOS, you must know that it can be dangerous, though there are some steps that can be taken to prevent any harm or damage to the system.

Today, I am going to teach you how to update your motherboard’s BIOS safely.

Why You Should Update Your BIOS

To be honest, you probably shouldn’t update the BIOS on your motherboard. That is because if the process is halted at any point during the flashing process, it would result in a ‘bricked’ motherboard which would essentially render it useless.

However, there are some times that you should update your BIOS, such as:

  1. If there is support for new hardware
  2. If it improves system compatibility
  3. If it adds memory compatibility
  4. If it has important security patches
  5. If it has feature updates that you want

What You Need to Have Before Updating

MSI M-Flash

If you are going to proceed with the update, it is important that you get the following things first:

1.BIOS Update

This can be acquired from your motherboard’s official website support page. It should be under the ‘downloads’ section and you make sure that you get the latest version.

I cannot stress this enough but you have to make sure that you search for a bios update for your exact motherboard’s make and model. This is to ensure that you are not going to flash an incorrect file that could render your computer inoperable.

2.USB Flash Drive

A BIOS file is usually just a few kilobytes, but you’d still want to format your USB flash drive nonetheless. For maximum compatibility, format your USB drive to Fat32.

Once you’ve downloaded the BIOS file, it is usually in a compressed format so you’d want to use a program that can decompress the file so that you can extract its contents.

It usually comes with a README file that provides you with basic instructions, but I will still give you a rundown of how it is done.

Copy the update to your newly-formatted drive.

3.Stable Power

Now, when you are updating your motherboard’s BIOS, it is crucial that the process is not halted at any point during the entire thing. That is because if it is interrupted by any means, you could end up having a ‘bricked’ motherboard which means that it will essentially not work anymore.

However, there are some products such as some AMD motherboards that have a BIOS flashback feature that allows you to update the BIOS even without a CPU installed in the system. You can use this to update if ever your motherboard was bricked due to an interrupted BIOS flash.

Investing in an uninterruptible power supply or UPS is also a good thing, though it is not necessary if you live in a country where power blackouts aren’t a thing.

Updating the BIOS

Gigabyte Q-Flash

Now, different motherboard makers have different names for their BIOS flash utilities, but the process should remain relatively the same.

Once you’ve downloaded the correct BIOS file and have transferred it to a newly-formatted USB drive, follow these steps to complete the process:

  1. Reboot your system and while it is still powering up, press the DEL or F2 key to go into the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, but people still call it BIOS anyway).
  2. Once inside, you will find your motherboards flashing utility in the interface. As an example, Gigabyte’s implementation is called Q-Flash, so you go there to get things started. If you cannot see the Q-Flash (or whatever it is called in your particular motherboard), go into advanced mode. It should then be apparent to you.
  3. Then, you will be asked where the BIOS file is located, so navigate to your thumb drive and execute the correct file. Doing this step will immediately initiate the update process, so make sure that you do not turn off your computer while it is still updating or you will brick your device!
  4. Once it is finished, it should reboot on its own and you should be good to go!

Tips

Asus EZ Flash

  • If you cannot access your motherboard’s UEFI when rebooting and spamming the DEL key, you can hold shift while restarting your computer. It will provide you with different reboot options and once you are here, go to Troubleshoot->Advanced Options->UEFI Firmware Settings->then Restart.
  • While you can technically use a used up thumb drive, formatting it to FAT32 (if it hasn’t already) will yield better results as it is more compatible with most UEFIs
  • Never use any programs that tout to update the BIOS from within the Windows operating system. They do not work and in most instances, they could potentially brick your motherboard
  • If you’ve been having problems enabling XMP (Extreme Memory Profile), updating the BIOS to the latest version might iron out any issues
  • Read up on your manufacturer’s forums to find user inputs and reviews about a particular BIOS version. Usually, they would warn you not to update to a specific BIOS version as it might give you more harm than good
  • It is worth noting that if you are not experiencing any problems at all, you should not update your motherboard’s BIOS unless you intend to buy a better processor that the new update provides support for.

Conclusion

You will most likely not have to update your motherboard’s BIOS if everything is working fine. However, if there is any feature or support that a new update provides, you may want to start the process by then.

Always ensure that you get clean and consistent power to your system so as to not halt the update process. Following the steps outlined above should make sure that the process is safe and seamless.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review- A Great Business Laptop Under $1,000

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Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops are made specifically for office use and because of the Covid-19 situation we are in, getting a laptop in this day and age is considered a must.

Having said that, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is made for business professionals that want a fairly light laptop that they can bring with them anywhere they need it.

Today, I am going to review the said laptop. Find out why I think it is a great business laptop under $2,000 by reading further.

Design

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a 13-inch laptop that has all of the bells and whistles that business professionals would love in a portable machine.

You have the ability to tilt the screen 180-degrees and its minimalistic design fits right in. It has a pure matte black aesthetic which I think is a great idea because it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially if you are in an office setting.

Most people want to feel secure and the good thing is that this laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner which is situated slightly to the right of the trackpad. It is fairly accurate and it can readily scan your fingerprint in a matter of seconds.

Although this is a 13-inch laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a bit heftier than its counterparts. It is still incredibly lightweight at only 2.8 lbs though, so I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss about it.

While most laptops have their ports scattered on both sides (and some even on the back), the ThinkPad X13 has all of its ports situated on the left side of the unit.

Here, you will find a single USB Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports is great because you can also use it to power up another display if you want to.

Display

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review 2020

This particular machine comes with a 13.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In most cases, the screen is fairly accurate, though the colors do not pop out too much, at least, when compared to other 13-inch laptops that you can find on the market.

I am also surprised that the viewing angles aren’t that great compared to most IPS display panels out there. But, this is not to say that the ThinkPad X13’s screen is bad; it is just that it could have been better.

I am also not impressed with the color accuracy of this thing, as well as its peak brightness. Using a colorimeter, this thing only scored 72.3% on the DCI-P3 color spectrum and it only averaged 278 nits of brightness.

Now, the colors are fairly accurate, but it just doesn’t pop out. This means that this laptop is not meant for creative workloads, but it is more than enough for productivity tasks and typical office workloads.

There is also a 720p webcam on the top-middle portion of the display that provides a clear output, which is nice considering that most people work from home nowadays.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Keyboard

While most laptops out there use fairly flat chiclet-style keycaps, the keyboard on the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 actually has more concave keycaps. To my surprise, I was able to type better with this style compared to what you can find on other laptops in the market.

Because of how the keys are shaped, you can easily discern if you’ve changed to an entirely different key. This helps typists to type really fast without having to constantly look at the keyboard.

I also like the fact that it has a fairly good key travel and tactile feel. It is not a mechanical keyboard, but I still love how it feels every time I type.

For the touchpad, you are getting a 3.9 x 2.5-inch precision glass trackpad that has a relatively good feel and performance as well. It is smooth enough for better scrolling and it can register multiple taps at once which can be really helpful in some tasks.

While most laptops have ditched the two physical buttons that are supposed to be for the left and right mouse buttons, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 still has them, albeit they are positioned at the top of the trackpad and not at the bottom.

The placement is not intuitive in my opinion, but for people that still want to use mouse buttons when they are using the touchpad, then I guess this is still a welcome addition.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
  • GPU: Integrated Radeon Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200
  • Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 Resolution
  • Connectivity: 802.11AX Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
  • Battery: 48 WHr
  • Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs

I am glad that a lot of laptops that you can find in 2020 are already equipped with AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors. The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is packed with the AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and an integrated Radeon graphics solution.

While you cannot play games on this thing (technically you can, albeit with very low frame rates), the ThinkPad X13 is actually a pretty good productivity machine.

The processor is more than capable enough of doing some rendering tasks, as well as the usual office workloads that you normally would do on a business laptop.

As configured, the storage could have been improved. Fortunately, you can spend a bit more to get higher storage capacities. Furthermore, if you know how to pry open a laptop safely, you can actually upgrade with another SSD as well if the current storage option is not enough for you.

I am pretty impressed with the performance package of this thing. Even though it is considered a modest machine, it still performed admirably in most business workloads, though I wouldn’t use this machine for creative workloads like photo or video editing mainly because of the underpowered specs, as well as a less than stellar display.

Battery

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Side

Normally, laptops for professionals should last the entire day because you will never know when you’re going to need it.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes in my battery of tests, which includes some web browsing, watching movies, and doing some usual office tasks.

Its battery life is respectable, though the MacBook Pro and other 13-inch laptops fared better in this regard.

Verdict

Affordable laptops are highly sought after nowadays because most of us work from home. But, despite the fact that this event will pass, you will still need a relatively good laptop that can handle your office and productivity tasks.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a competitive portable machine that is priced under $1,000 and I can highly recommend this for people that want a laptop that they can rely on in these trying times.

This thing costs $975 but you can have some components upgraded at an increased cost.

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HP Envy 15 (2020) Review- A Great Laptop for Creatives

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HP Envy 15 (2020) Review

Are you a professional photographer, video renderer, photo editor, or any profession that involves creative work? If so, you’re probably looking for a portable laptop that you can bring with you for a quick edit and I can highly recommend the HP Envy 15.

Read further to find out why the HP Envy 15 is a great laptop for creative professionals.

Design

You are probably thinking about a flashy portable machine since I am talking about a laptop for creative professionals, right? But, even though this thing can handle any creative workload, it is best that the chassis itself remains subtle and that is what HP delivers.

The HP Envy 15 has an all-aluminum chassis that looks tame but professional. Here, you get a silver build that looks and feels premium- so much so that this laptop weighs 4.7 pounds. It is a bit heftier than other laptops of this type on the market, but this should just tell you that this thing is robust in terms of build quality and reliability.

On the lid, you will find the company’s logo which is presented with lines that have off-angles which I think is done for aesthetic appeal.

On the sides, you will find some air vents alongside some USB-A and USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The USB-C ports have Thunderbolt 3 support which is pretty nice.

Display

HP Envy 15 (2020) Review 2020

Unlike most of the laptops that you find on the market, the HP Envy 15 is actually equipped with an AMOLED display that is quite similar to some flagship phones that you can find on the market.

Because of the said panel, you get vivid and punchy colors with amazing contrast and brightness. Creating content on this thing is a dream thanks to the display’s color prowess.

After using my colorimeter, I got a 100% sRGB rating, 97% Adobe RGB, and an impressive 142% DCI-P3 color gamut rating which is truly superior to others. Now you know why HP is marketing this as a great laptop for creative professionals.

It is worth mentioning that the HP Envy 15 also supports true HDR which means that you can watch any HDR content online and enjoy it on its 15.6-inch AMOLED display.

You can also use the company’s dedicated touch pen on the screen itself and it is pretty accurate as well. Just remember that the said accessory is not included in the box, so you will have to spend a bit more money just to get one.

There is also a 720p webcam at the top which produces good quality images, albeit on its color is a bit on the cooler side. It does have a privacy shutter that you can use to hide the camera when you are not using any application that warrants its usage.

Keyboard and Touchpad

HP Envy 15 (2020) Keyboard

I am more of a typist than a creative type but I have to say that this laptop has an amazing keyboard. It has a good feeling on every keypress and its tactile feedback is on point. It doesn’t have any backlighting whatsoever, but I think that is a fair compromise.

I find the keyboard’s layout a bit odd considering that there is a lot of real estate that can be used here. I think that has something to do with the speaker grilles that are found on both sides of the keyboard, but I would’ve wanted the company to go the usual route and have a layout that is used by many laptop manufacturers out there.

I just do not like that some keys are in line with each other. For instance, the page up and page down keys are in line with the delete key, which you will find pretty annoying when you are used to the regular layout. This also means that the power button is not on its usual placement on the side, which can be a turn off for some people (no pun intended).

The touchpad has a glass surface. It measures 4.5 x 2.7 inches and I consider it to be respectable enough for most users. Because of the said surface, it is pretty easy to glide your fingers to make gestures, make accurate drawings, etc. It also supports Windows precision drivers as well, so you will know that the company has got you covered if you decide to go all creative on this laptop.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Max-Q
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD +32GB Intel Optane
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 AMOLED
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Intel WiFi 6 AX 201
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0a, 2x USB-C (w/ Thunderbolt 3.0 support), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
  • Battery: 86 WHr
  • Weight: 4.7 lbs

The HP Envy 15 has some pretty respectable specs. It comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and is coupled with Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU.

Its performance is pretty good, especially if you are doing some photo editing or even some video rendering workloads. Although it is not as fast as some AMD Ryzen-powered laptops on this front, you still get a fast laptop nonetheless.

Although this thing is marketed as a laptop for creative professionals, its RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU can handle PC games really well. In my testing with the 4K model, it is best that you set the graphical settings to just medium to get anywhere between 45-60 fps depending on the game that you want to play.

I can imagine that you get even more performance on the 1080p model, but 45-60 fps is already quite playable.

You can use the HP Command Center to set the different operating modes depending on your usage. Setting it to Performance mode ekes out every last bit of performance which is great if you really need a powerful system for games and creative workloads. Its balanced profile should be used in most cases.

Battery Life

HP Envy 15 (2020) Keyboard Lid

If there is one downside to this otherwise great laptop, it would be its battery life. The HP Envy 15 is equipped with an 86 WHr battery which, on paper, should be adequate for this kind of machine, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, the 4K AMOLED screen sucks out more battery than an IPS display of the same resolution. Yes, you get better visual fidelity with an AMOLED panel but that is at the cost of battery life.

In my testing, you could get only 2 hours and 36 minutes of effective runtime before you need to reach for the charger. That means that any taxing workload- may it be professional use-cases or playing games- can truly drain the battery really quickly.

You will have to bring the charger with you anywhere you go if you want to continually use this laptop when you are outside, but its hefty power brick can be a bummer to bring for people that want maximum portability.

Verdict

The HP Envy 15 is definitely a pretty good laptop for creative individuals. Its 4K AMOLED display produces vibrant colors with amazing contrast and its pretty impressive dynamic range sets it apart from most of the laptops on the market.

Even though this is not a true gaming laptop, you can still play any games that you want on this thing, albeit you may have to tone down some graphical settings here and there to get good enough frame rates.

The downside to this otherwise amazing portable machine is its battery life. That has something to do with the display panel used as AMOLED screens are generally power-hungrier than their IPS counterparts.

But, if you are okay with the fact that you need to bring the laptop’s charger with you at all times, then the HP Envy 15 is a pretty impressive choice for creative professionals.

The HP Envy 15, as reviewed, costs $1,600.

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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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How to Update Your Motherboard’s BIOS Safely- Simple and Easy Steps

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How to Update BIOS

Your motherboard’s basic input/output system (or more commonly known as BIOS) provides the most basic instructions for your computer to operate. You can overclock your processor, select which drive should be given boot priority, among many others.

If you are thinking about updating your PC’s BIOS, you must know that it can be dangerous, though there are some steps that can be taken to prevent any harm or damage to the system.

Today, I am going to teach you how to update your motherboard’s BIOS safely.

Why You Should Update Your BIOS

To be honest, you probably shouldn’t update the BIOS on your motherboard. That is because if the process is halted at any point during the flashing process, it would result in a ‘bricked’ motherboard which would essentially render it useless.

However, there are some times that you should update your BIOS, such as:

  1. If there is support for new hardware
  2. If it improves system compatibility
  3. If it adds memory compatibility
  4. If it has important security patches
  5. If it has feature updates that you want

What You Need to Have Before Updating

MSI M-Flash

If you are going to proceed with the update, it is important that you get the following things first:

1.BIOS Update

This can be acquired from your motherboard’s official website support page. It should be under the ‘downloads’ section and you make sure that you get the latest version.

I cannot stress this enough but you have to make sure that you search for a bios update for your exact motherboard’s make and model. This is to ensure that you are not going to flash an incorrect file that could render your computer inoperable.

2.USB Flash Drive

A BIOS file is usually just a few kilobytes, but you’d still want to format your USB flash drive nonetheless. For maximum compatibility, format your USB drive to Fat32.

Once you’ve downloaded the BIOS file, it is usually in a compressed format so you’d want to use a program that can decompress the file so that you can extract its contents.

It usually comes with a README file that provides you with basic instructions, but I will still give you a rundown of how it is done.

Copy the update to your newly-formatted drive.

3.Stable Power

Now, when you are updating your motherboard’s BIOS, it is crucial that the process is not halted at any point during the entire thing. That is because if it is interrupted by any means, you could end up having a ‘bricked’ motherboard which means that it will essentially not work anymore.

However, there are some products such as some AMD motherboards that have a BIOS flashback feature that allows you to update the BIOS even without a CPU installed in the system. You can use this to update if ever your motherboard was bricked due to an interrupted BIOS flash.

Investing in an uninterruptible power supply or UPS is also a good thing, though it is not necessary if you live in a country where power blackouts aren’t a thing.

Updating the BIOS

Gigabyte Q-Flash

Now, different motherboard makers have different names for their BIOS flash utilities, but the process should remain relatively the same.

Once you’ve downloaded the correct BIOS file and have transferred it to a newly-formatted USB drive, follow these steps to complete the process:

  1. Reboot your system and while it is still powering up, press the DEL or F2 key to go into the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, but people still call it BIOS anyway).
  2. Once inside, you will find your motherboards flashing utility in the interface. As an example, Gigabyte’s implementation is called Q-Flash, so you go there to get things started. If you cannot see the Q-Flash (or whatever it is called in your particular motherboard), go into advanced mode. It should then be apparent to you.
  3. Then, you will be asked where the BIOS file is located, so navigate to your thumb drive and execute the correct file. Doing this step will immediately initiate the update process, so make sure that you do not turn off your computer while it is still updating or you will brick your device!
  4. Once it is finished, it should reboot on its own and you should be good to go!

Tips

Asus EZ Flash

  • If you cannot access your motherboard’s UEFI when rebooting and spamming the DEL key, you can hold shift while restarting your computer. It will provide you with different reboot options and once you are here, go to Troubleshoot->Advanced Options->UEFI Firmware Settings->then Restart.
  • While you can technically use a used up thumb drive, formatting it to FAT32 (if it hasn’t already) will yield better results as it is more compatible with most UEFIs
  • Never use any programs that tout to update the BIOS from within the Windows operating system. They do not work and in most instances, they could potentially brick your motherboard
  • If you’ve been having problems enabling XMP (Extreme Memory Profile), updating the BIOS to the latest version might iron out any issues
  • Read up on your manufacturer’s forums to find user inputs and reviews about a particular BIOS version. Usually, they would warn you not to update to a specific BIOS version as it might give you more harm than good
  • It is worth noting that if you are not experiencing any problems at all, you should not update your motherboard’s BIOS unless you intend to buy a better processor that the new update provides support for.

Conclusion

You will most likely not have to update your motherboard’s BIOS if everything is working fine. However, if there is any feature or support that a new update provides, you may want to start the process by then.

Always ensure that you get clean and consistent power to your system so as to not halt the update process. Following the steps outlined above should make sure that the process is safe and seamless.

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Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review- A Great Business Laptop Under $1,000

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Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops are made specifically for office use and because of the Covid-19 situation we are in, getting a laptop in this day and age is considered a must.

Having said that, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is made for business professionals that want a fairly light laptop that they can bring with them anywhere they need it.

Today, I am going to review the said laptop. Find out why I think it is a great business laptop under $2,000 by reading further.

Design

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a 13-inch laptop that has all of the bells and whistles that business professionals would love in a portable machine.

You have the ability to tilt the screen 180-degrees and its minimalistic design fits right in. It has a pure matte black aesthetic which I think is a great idea because it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially if you are in an office setting.

Most people want to feel secure and the good thing is that this laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner which is situated slightly to the right of the trackpad. It is fairly accurate and it can readily scan your fingerprint in a matter of seconds.

Although this is a 13-inch laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a bit heftier than its counterparts. It is still incredibly lightweight at only 2.8 lbs though, so I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss about it.

While most laptops have their ports scattered on both sides (and some even on the back), the ThinkPad X13 has all of its ports situated on the left side of the unit.

Here, you will find a single USB Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports is great because you can also use it to power up another display if you want to.

Display

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review 2020

This particular machine comes with a 13.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In most cases, the screen is fairly accurate, though the colors do not pop out too much, at least, when compared to other 13-inch laptops that you can find on the market.

I am also surprised that the viewing angles aren’t that great compared to most IPS display panels out there. But, this is not to say that the ThinkPad X13’s screen is bad; it is just that it could have been better.

I am also not impressed with the color accuracy of this thing, as well as its peak brightness. Using a colorimeter, this thing only scored 72.3% on the DCI-P3 color spectrum and it only averaged 278 nits of brightness.

Now, the colors are fairly accurate, but it just doesn’t pop out. This means that this laptop is not meant for creative workloads, but it is more than enough for productivity tasks and typical office workloads.

There is also a 720p webcam on the top-middle portion of the display that provides a clear output, which is nice considering that most people work from home nowadays.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Keyboard

While most laptops out there use fairly flat chiclet-style keycaps, the keyboard on the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 actually has more concave keycaps. To my surprise, I was able to type better with this style compared to what you can find on other laptops in the market.

Because of how the keys are shaped, you can easily discern if you’ve changed to an entirely different key. This helps typists to type really fast without having to constantly look at the keyboard.

I also like the fact that it has a fairly good key travel and tactile feel. It is not a mechanical keyboard, but I still love how it feels every time I type.

For the touchpad, you are getting a 3.9 x 2.5-inch precision glass trackpad that has a relatively good feel and performance as well. It is smooth enough for better scrolling and it can register multiple taps at once which can be really helpful in some tasks.

While most laptops have ditched the two physical buttons that are supposed to be for the left and right mouse buttons, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 still has them, albeit they are positioned at the top of the trackpad and not at the bottom.

The placement is not intuitive in my opinion, but for people that still want to use mouse buttons when they are using the touchpad, then I guess this is still a welcome addition.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
  • GPU: Integrated Radeon Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200
  • Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 Resolution
  • Connectivity: 802.11AX Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
  • Battery: 48 WHr
  • Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs

I am glad that a lot of laptops that you can find in 2020 are already equipped with AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors. The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is packed with the AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and an integrated Radeon graphics solution.

While you cannot play games on this thing (technically you can, albeit with very low frame rates), the ThinkPad X13 is actually a pretty good productivity machine.

The processor is more than capable enough of doing some rendering tasks, as well as the usual office workloads that you normally would do on a business laptop.

As configured, the storage could have been improved. Fortunately, you can spend a bit more to get higher storage capacities. Furthermore, if you know how to pry open a laptop safely, you can actually upgrade with another SSD as well if the current storage option is not enough for you.

I am pretty impressed with the performance package of this thing. Even though it is considered a modest machine, it still performed admirably in most business workloads, though I wouldn’t use this machine for creative workloads like photo or video editing mainly because of the underpowered specs, as well as a less than stellar display.

Battery

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Side

Normally, laptops for professionals should last the entire day because you will never know when you’re going to need it.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes in my battery of tests, which includes some web browsing, watching movies, and doing some usual office tasks.

Its battery life is respectable, though the MacBook Pro and other 13-inch laptops fared better in this regard.

Verdict

Affordable laptops are highly sought after nowadays because most of us work from home. But, despite the fact that this event will pass, you will still need a relatively good laptop that can handle your office and productivity tasks.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a competitive portable machine that is priced under $1,000 and I can highly recommend this for people that want a laptop that they can rely on in these trying times.

This thing costs $975 but you can have some components upgraded at an increased cost.

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HP Envy 15 (2020) Review- A Great Laptop for Creatives

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HP Envy 15 (2020) Review

Are you a professional photographer, video renderer, photo editor, or any profession that involves creative work? If so, you’re probably looking for a portable laptop that you can bring with you for a quick edit and I can highly recommend the HP Envy 15.

Read further to find out why the HP Envy 15 is a great laptop for creative professionals.

Design

You are probably thinking about a flashy portable machine since I am talking about a laptop for creative professionals, right? But, even though this thing can handle any creative workload, it is best that the chassis itself remains subtle and that is what HP delivers.

The HP Envy 15 has an all-aluminum chassis that looks tame but professional. Here, you get a silver build that looks and feels premium- so much so that this laptop weighs 4.7 pounds. It is a bit heftier than other laptops of this type on the market, but this should just tell you that this thing is robust in terms of build quality and reliability.

On the lid, you will find the company’s logo which is presented with lines that have off-angles which I think is done for aesthetic appeal.

On the sides, you will find some air vents alongside some USB-A and USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The USB-C ports have Thunderbolt 3 support which is pretty nice.

Display

HP Envy 15 (2020) Review 2020

Unlike most of the laptops that you find on the market, the HP Envy 15 is actually equipped with an AMOLED display that is quite similar to some flagship phones that you can find on the market.

Because of the said panel, you get vivid and punchy colors with amazing contrast and brightness. Creating content on this thing is a dream thanks to the display’s color prowess.

After using my colorimeter, I got a 100% sRGB rating, 97% Adobe RGB, and an impressive 142% DCI-P3 color gamut rating which is truly superior to others. Now you know why HP is marketing this as a great laptop for creative professionals.

It is worth mentioning that the HP Envy 15 also supports true HDR which means that you can watch any HDR content online and enjoy it on its 15.6-inch AMOLED display.

You can also use the company’s dedicated touch pen on the screen itself and it is pretty accurate as well. Just remember that the said accessory is not included in the box, so you will have to spend a bit more money just to get one.

There is also a 720p webcam at the top which produces good quality images, albeit on its color is a bit on the cooler side. It does have a privacy shutter that you can use to hide the camera when you are not using any application that warrants its usage.

Keyboard and Touchpad

HP Envy 15 (2020) Keyboard

I am more of a typist than a creative type but I have to say that this laptop has an amazing keyboard. It has a good feeling on every keypress and its tactile feedback is on point. It doesn’t have any backlighting whatsoever, but I think that is a fair compromise.

I find the keyboard’s layout a bit odd considering that there is a lot of real estate that can be used here. I think that has something to do with the speaker grilles that are found on both sides of the keyboard, but I would’ve wanted the company to go the usual route and have a layout that is used by many laptop manufacturers out there.

I just do not like that some keys are in line with each other. For instance, the page up and page down keys are in line with the delete key, which you will find pretty annoying when you are used to the regular layout. This also means that the power button is not on its usual placement on the side, which can be a turn off for some people (no pun intended).

The touchpad has a glass surface. It measures 4.5 x 2.7 inches and I consider it to be respectable enough for most users. Because of the said surface, it is pretty easy to glide your fingers to make gestures, make accurate drawings, etc. It also supports Windows precision drivers as well, so you will know that the company has got you covered if you decide to go all creative on this laptop.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Max-Q
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD +32GB Intel Optane
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 AMOLED
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Intel WiFi 6 AX 201
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0a, 2x USB-C (w/ Thunderbolt 3.0 support), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
  • Battery: 86 WHr
  • Weight: 4.7 lbs

The HP Envy 15 has some pretty respectable specs. It comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and is coupled with Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU.

Its performance is pretty good, especially if you are doing some photo editing or even some video rendering workloads. Although it is not as fast as some AMD Ryzen-powered laptops on this front, you still get a fast laptop nonetheless.

Although this thing is marketed as a laptop for creative professionals, its RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU can handle PC games really well. In my testing with the 4K model, it is best that you set the graphical settings to just medium to get anywhere between 45-60 fps depending on the game that you want to play.

I can imagine that you get even more performance on the 1080p model, but 45-60 fps is already quite playable.

You can use the HP Command Center to set the different operating modes depending on your usage. Setting it to Performance mode ekes out every last bit of performance which is great if you really need a powerful system for games and creative workloads. Its balanced profile should be used in most cases.

Battery Life

HP Envy 15 (2020) Keyboard Lid

If there is one downside to this otherwise great laptop, it would be its battery life. The HP Envy 15 is equipped with an 86 WHr battery which, on paper, should be adequate for this kind of machine, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, the 4K AMOLED screen sucks out more battery than an IPS display of the same resolution. Yes, you get better visual fidelity with an AMOLED panel but that is at the cost of battery life.

In my testing, you could get only 2 hours and 36 minutes of effective runtime before you need to reach for the charger. That means that any taxing workload- may it be professional use-cases or playing games- can truly drain the battery really quickly.

You will have to bring the charger with you anywhere you go if you want to continually use this laptop when you are outside, but its hefty power brick can be a bummer to bring for people that want maximum portability.

Verdict

The HP Envy 15 is definitely a pretty good laptop for creative individuals. Its 4K AMOLED display produces vibrant colors with amazing contrast and its pretty impressive dynamic range sets it apart from most of the laptops on the market.

Even though this is not a true gaming laptop, you can still play any games that you want on this thing, albeit you may have to tone down some graphical settings here and there to get good enough frame rates.

The downside to this otherwise amazing portable machine is its battery life. That has something to do with the display panel used as AMOLED screens are generally power-hungrier than their IPS counterparts.

But, if you are okay with the fact that you need to bring the laptop’s charger with you at all times, then the HP Envy 15 is a pretty impressive choice for creative professionals.

The HP Envy 15, as reviewed, costs $1,600.

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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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