Intel is one of the CPU companies that provide amazing desktop processors to the masses. Whether you are looking to game and stream or use the CPU for tasks other than the ones mentioned, the company has the right product stack for you.
Now, a lot of people are still confused about the company’s mainstream processors, so in this article, I will talk about what you need to know about Intel’s mainstream CPUs so that you can decide for yourself which is the right one for you.
When you are shopping for a gaming processor, for example, you will find that Intel actually offers a lot of different products. Unsurprisingly, this can make the task of choosing the right one for you harder for the layman because it can be outright confusing.
Well, I will help you demystify the different processors. But before that, I will talk about the naming schemes first.
There are four different families of CPUs in Intel’s mainstream processors. They are the i3, i5, i7, and the i9 which was released not too long ago.
When looking at the product, you will find that its name always starts with what kind of processor it is. So for instance, it will start with i3, followed by a dash. The number after the dash signifies the generation of the CPU. So, for 10th generation Intel chips, it should start with something like i5-10400 and so on.
You might also notice that after the numbers, you will find a letter. Depending on the letter, it can mean something different.
For example, if you find the letter ‘K’, that means that that particular CPU can be overclocked with a compatible motherboard. If you find the letter ‘F’, that means that that particular chip doesn’t come with integrated graphics. That is done as a means of saving some money.
The most entry-level processor that Intel offers is its i3 CPUs. They generally have the lowest core counts and while the previous generation i3s come with hyper-threading, the 10th generation SKU does not.
For those of you who do not know, hyper-threading is just a feature that effectively doubles the threads of the CPU- making the system think that you actually have more usable cores than actual ones.
Hyper-threading is an Intel-only naming scheme and can be enabled or disabled in the motherboard’s BIOS interface.
It is a sad thing that the Intel Core i3-10100 doesn’t come with the aforementioned feature, but it is still a good processor for budget PC builds.
The Intel Core i5
The next CPU in Intel’s product stack is its Core i5 series. There are actually a couple of processors that don the i5 moniker, such as the Intel Core i5-10400, i5-10500, and i5-10600K.
Back then, Intel’s i5 chips only had 4 physical cores without hyper-threading, but with the i5-10600K, you not only have its core count bumped to 6 physical cores but you can also enable hyper-threading so that it effectively has 12 threads as well.
This move by Intel (adding Hyper-threading to i5 CPUs) is actually a new one since all i5 processors back then do not have HT at all. I think this is a move to somehow go against what AMD has to offer.
Now, I would also like to point out that any processor from the company that comes with a letter ‘K’ at the end of the product number signifies that it is an overclockable CPU.
For instance, if you are using the i5-9600K, you will need a Z390 motherboard to take full advantage of what the CPU has to offer.
The same goes for any new generation of CPUs. So long as it has the letter K in the end and so long as you have a compatible motherboard, you can eke out more performance if you have the knowledge to do so.
For most gamers, getting any Intel Core i5 chip should be adequate, especially the i5-10600K thanks to its included hyper-threading feature.
The Intel Core i7
The next in Intel’s product stack is the i7 processors. These processors naturally have hyper-threading and possibly even higher core counts than the i5.
The 10th generation Intel Core i7-10700K, for instance, has 8 physical cores and 16 usable threads thanks to the aforementioned feature.
That particular chip can boost as high as 5.1GHz, provided that you keep the CPU relatively cool. To do that, you may have to spend some money on getting a competitive aftermarket cooler.
What’s interesting with the 10th generation lineup is that it is a better overclocking chip and that is because the company has unlocked some parameters for better performance.
For instance, you now have the ability to do per-core overclocking, though I would recommend that you only boost your two best scores for maximum benefit.
So, why would you get an i7 processor? Assuming that we are talking about the latest generation i7, this new chip has more cores and more threads which means that it should be great for purposes other than gaming.
While its performance doesn’t rival that of AMD’s equivalent CPUs, it still performs better in multi-threaded workloads compared to the i5 processors mentioned above.
The Intel Core i9
The Intel Core i9 processors are relatively new as it was just introduced nearly 3 years ago. This is the highest mainstream processor that Intel has to offer, so it should come as no surprise that it’s got all of the best features.
Let’s talk about the Intel Core i9-10900K. It is a 10-core, 20-thread processor with cores that can go as high as 5.3GHz thanks to the company’s Turbo Boost 3.0.
It also supports a variety of different features, including (but not limited to) Intel Optane memory support, Intel Boot Guard, Intel vPro technology, Intel VT-d virtualization, and Intel Thermal Velocity Boost, among others.
Because this is the company’s top of the line chip, you can expect it to be the most expensive as well. True enough, you can get the aforementioned 10900K processor for $500-$550 at the time of writing, depending on where you will get this from.
All Intel processors that end with the letter ‘K’ are overclockable, but the entry-level i3 processor doesn’t have any overclocking capabilities whatsoever. That means that if you want to buy an overclockable CPU, the cheapest one you can find will be an i5 processor.
Now, to overclock the CPU, you will also need to get two things: A compatible Z-series motherboard and a beefy aftermarket cooler.
Intel has made it apparent that you can only overclock its processors when you are using a Z-series motherboard. So, since we are talking about 10th generation Intel CPUs, you should be getting a Z490 motherboard of your choosing to even begin tapping the Intel CPU’s full potential.
It is also worth noting that you need a good aftermarket cooler to tame the beast within. Now, you might be asking why you need to get one, so I will explain.
You might have noticed that when looking at any ‘K’ processors from Intel that it doesn’t come with any cooler inside the box. That is because Intel presupposes that you are going to overclock the CPU.
You see, the premise of overclocking is this: You raise the core frequency of the CPU and you add voltage to make it stable.
The more voltage you add, the higher the thermal output. If you do not have a competitive cooling solution, the performance of the chip will go down as a means of saving itself.
That is why if you do overclock, you need a good cooler that can keep the entire CPU relatively cool, especially under heavy loads.
If you are going to overclock the 10900K, for example, a lot of expert overclockers steer you towards the direction of an all-in-one liquid cooling solution at the very least. That is because the said CPU is just too hot to handle for any aftermarket air cooler.
Intel’s new Turbo Boost 3.0 feature is already a sort of overclocking mechanism wherein the CPU goes to a higher boost clock if you can keep its temperatures in check.
So, which Intel Core processor should you get? Well, if you are planning to buy an inexpensive CPU, the i3 line of processors makes sense.
If you want a relatively good CPU for gaming, you will need at least an i5 processor so that you will not bottleneck your graphics card.
The Intel Core i7 and i9 processors are reserved for people who have the money to spend and for those that want to get the best of the best from the company.
Keep in mind that even though Intel has added more physical cores in its new processors, it still doesn’t rival Ryzen CPUs in terms of multi-threaded workloads.
However, since gaming only uses up to 6 cores (in most titles) at the time of writing, getting an Intel CPU that has a higher clock frequency makes sense.
So there you have it. I hope that this guide has helped you decide on which Intel processor to get for your next build.
Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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