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9 Best Affordable Smartphones This August 2020 That Are Surely Great for Their Price

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OnePlus Nord

Back in the day, when people hear the word ‘budget’, they usually think about a product that has poor build quality and bad features, but that is actually not the case in this day and age.

You could be getting a budget smartphone and still have the right feature set that will help it last for more than two years.

If you are on the market for the best affordable smartphones this August, then you are in the right article. I will go over some of them that are surely great for their price.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Best Affordable Smartphones This August

1.Samsung A51

Price: $399

Samsung A51

As mentioned earlier, budget smartphones have come a long way. Back then, you get cheap plastic slabs that will surely break once it is dropped but nowadays, you get a premium build with the right specs and features.

The first budget phone on this list is none other than the Samsung Galaxy A51. It has big shoes to fill because the previous A50 is highly praised by the community. Does the A51 live up to the hype? Definitely!

Instead of a notch, the A51 now has a hole-punch selfie camera at the top-middle portion of the device to provide you with more screen real estate.

What’s more, the specs are no slouch at all. You get the Exynos 9611 octa-core chipset, the Mali-G72 MP3 GPU, and 6GB of RAM. This performance package can definitely run even the most graphically demanding games, albeit at medium to high settings only.

Samsung did not pull any punches with this budget smartphone as it has equipped it with four camera sensors at the back. You get a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and a 5-megapixel macro lens as well.

Overall, the images are crisp and vibrant, though bear in mind that low-light photography is not its strongest suit.

You also get to choose from a variety of different colors to suit your style.

All in all, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the best affordable smartphones that you can buy this August.

2.TCL 10L

Price: $250

TCL 10L

TCL may be a relatively new contender in the smartphone market, but the company has certainly made a name for itself by providing quality budget options to consumers.

The previously reviewed TCL 10 Pro is lauded to be one of the best budget smartphones under $500 and the TCL 10L is definitely a worthy contender.

It has basically the same design language, albeit its build quality is not up to par with the Pro version. Instead of metal parts, this phone is equipped with polycarbonate material, which still gives it a durable look and feel.

I am glad that this smartphone comes with a USB Type-C connector so that you can easily use a quick charger to top this device up. Not to mention that data transfer speeds will be much faster than your traditional micro-USB connection.

I am also happy to say that the TCL 10L also has a headphone jack, so audiophiles that want to use their own audio solution can do so without any problems.

Although you are not getting an OLED display at this price, you still get a modest 6.53-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 which is quite considerable from a media consumption standpoint.

In terms of specs, this is no slouch either. You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset with the Adreno 610 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. It is capped off with a 4,000 mAh battery so this phone should last an entire day on a single charge.

I am quite pleased with what you are getting here. Sure, the screen leaves much to be desired, but everything else is quite good that I am surprised that this phone is offered at only $250.

3.Moto G8+

Price: $300

Moto G8+

Motorola has been consistent with its budget offerings that are considered to be bangs-for-the-buck and the Moto G8+ is certainly a part of that.

This budget smartphone ticks all of the right boxes. It has a durable plastic build, a vibrant 6.3-inch IPS display (1080p resolution, 19:9 aspect ratio), fingerprint sensor, microSD card slot (hybrid), and it has a considerable performance package.

Speaking of performance, the Moto G8+ is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset, Adreno 610 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It is a good mid-range performer and you can play any Android games that you want, although you will have to tinker with the settings to get the most out of this device.

Even though it does have a triple camera array at the back, the pictures that it can produce leaves much to be desired. It is passable, though it is not something as punchy as the Samsung phone above.

Still, the phone does have a 4,000 mAh battery which should be enough for use in an entire day without needing to reach for the charger.

4.Realme 6 Pro

Price: $350

Realme 6 ProDo you want an affordable smartphone that has a screen that can be clocked to 90Hz refresh rate? If so, then the Realme 6 Pro is tough to beat.

Priced at just $350, you get a 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection. But, the main feature here is its ability to be set at 90Hz screen refresh rate.

It is pretty hard to discern on video simply because Youtube tends to clock things at a maximum of just 60Hz, but once you use it in real life, it is hard to go back to the default refresh rate.

The 90Hz display just makes this phone a great mid-range gaming phone. It does have a considerable performance package because you will be getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, along with the Adreno 618 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage.

You can play PUBG and Fortnite with this thing at high to ultra settings with more than ample frame rates and the others can be played at a smooth 90Hz (if they are not graphically intensive).

It is worth noting, though, that at the time of writing, there are still some games that cannot support the higher refresh rate, although I am sure that they will be updated to suit the new standard in the near future.

Even if this phone is made of plastic, it does have a premium finish to it so you can still flaunt this device regardless of the build quality.

5.Google Pixel 3A

Price: $350

Google Pixel 3A

With the advent of the Google Pixel 4a soon, the price of the 3a has dropped to just $350 which I think is a steal.

If you want a mid-range smartphone that is great for photography, then look no further than this phone right here: The Google Pixel 3A.

It is packed with the Snapdragon 670 chipset with just a modest 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It only has a 5.6-inch display, though it is quite vibrant which makes this a good media consumption device.

But, its best feature is the camera- not only the hardware but also the software as well. Both work in tandem to provide the best quality images in an affordable smartphone package.

Seriously, if you intend to use your phone as a portable camera, then there is no doubt that the Google Pixel 3a is a worthy purchase.

6.Sony Xperia 10 II

Price: 399

Sony Xperia 10 II

Before I begin, this is a different smartphone and should not be confused with the Sony Xperia 1 II, which is a flagship device.

Anyway, the Sony Xperia 10 II is your ticket to a wide-screen media consumption device at a relatively affordable price.

For just $399, you get a phone with a 6-inch OLED display with an aspect ratio of 21:9. This is pretty much a rarity at this price point and I am happy that Sony is able to go head-to-head with other smartphones in the budget category.

Because of the display panel used and also with the amazingly stretched aspect ratio, using this purely as a media consumption device is a good decision. The picture quality is superb and you get a lot of screen real estate for the price.

The image quality that is produced by its triple camera setup is okay. It is quite balanced and does provide you with amazing images, albeit only in well-lit conditions. Low-light photography is out of the question since the pictures that are produced are quite grainy and not suitable for use.

You also get modest performance across the board as well. It comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage (which is expandable via microSD card up to 512GB).

Its battery life is also quite decent. It is packed with a 3,600 mAh battery which is okay but you do get an 18-watt fast charger in the box as well.

I am happy that Sony has created both a flagship product and an affordable smartphone in 2020 and both of them are worthy options to consider when you are going to buy a phone this August.

7.Huawei Nova 5T

Price: $339

Huawei Nova 5T

Some people are reluctant to get Huawei phones due to the US blacklist of the company, but do not worry as this next phone was produced just before the blacklist kicked into high gear.

The Huawei Nova 5T is one of the last smartphones from Huawei that still uses Google mobile services. So, getting this even when you are in the United States is okay, especially if you use Google’s services religiously.

Anyway, what’s so special about this phone? Well, it is packed with the company’s high-end chipset in the form of the Kirin 980, has 6GB of RAM, and it is punctuated by a hefty 128GB of internal storage.

But, what makes Huawei phones interesting is not in the performance department but its phones’ camera quality and it definitely shows with this one.

Whether you intend to whip out your phone for vlogging or perhaps use the device to take images of birds and interesting landmarks, the Huawei Nova 5T can certainly deliver on that front.

It produces stunning photos and videos and it doesn’t lag at all when changing to different camera modes.

The 48-megapixel shooter, although uses pixel binning technology to achieve that, still produces crisp images nonetheless.

I am also pleasantly surprised by its low-light photography performance which makes this device one of the best camera phones in the budget category.

8.Motorola One Hyper

Price: $340

Motorola One Hyper

Another Motorola phone on this list but certainly deserves its spot is the Motorola One Hyper. It has an amazing screen, long battery life, a minimalist software, and overall good camera quality.

Its performance package might not appeal to you, but it does have considerable specs regardless. It is packed with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.

The 6.5-inch LCD display has a resolution of 2340 x 1080. I am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the screen despite it being just an IPS panel, it does provide you with a great viewing experience.

Its cameras are also quite good for the price. It has a 64-megapixel main shooter at the back that is accentuated with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor. It has a 32-megapixel motorized pop-up camera that allows for a bigger screen real estate.

Overall picture and video quality are great for the price. The images that you can get are stunning and vibrant and although it is not great in dimly-lit environments, it is considerable for the price.

The battery life is also great as well. I don’t know what Motorola has done here but its optimizations just take advantage of the device’s 4,000 mAh battery to its fullest extent. If you need a quick top-up, you get a fast 45-watt charger in the box as well.

I would highly recommend this phone if you are tight on the money and is certainly a worthy consideration when you are buying one in August.

9.OnePlus Nord

Price: $350

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus was once a company that was hailed for producing flagship killers or devices that are priced just right with top-of-the-line specs.

With the advent of the OnePlus 8 phones, the company has turned into one that is producing actual flagship devices. But, its upcoming phone is a reminder of its roots. I am talking about the OnePlus Nord.

This phone will be released in July so it should be available in all markets come August 2020.

There is a lot to love about this thing. The first notable feature is its 6 different cameras; 4 of which you can find at the back and two at the front.

Although I haven’t tested the device yet, the leaks of the image quality of this thing are quite amazing. Pictures are punchy and it can even beat some of the flagship phones on the market in terms of overall camera performance.

This device also comes with a 6.44-inch AMOLED display that can be clocked to a 90Hz screen refresh rate. Not only does it provide a smooth performance but it is also amazing from a media consumption standpoint as well.

The specs of this thing are no slouch at all. It is packed with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset that is meant for gaming, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Spending $20 more will get you 256GB of internal storage and 12GB of RAM, but the previous configuration should be adequate for most users.

Capping things off is its 4,115 mAh battery and the company’s infamous Warp Charger 2.0 which is a 30-watt charging block is included in the box as well.

OnePlus Nord is showing to be quite an appealing option for people that want to buy a smartphone very soon.

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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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9 Best Affordable Smartphones This August 2020 That Are Surely Great for Their Price

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OnePlus Nord

Back in the day, when people hear the word ‘budget’, they usually think about a product that has poor build quality and bad features, but that is actually not the case in this day and age.

You could be getting a budget smartphone and still have the right feature set that will help it last for more than two years.

If you are on the market for the best affordable smartphones this August, then you are in the right article. I will go over some of them that are surely great for their price.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Best Affordable Smartphones This August

1.Samsung A51

Price: $399

Samsung A51

As mentioned earlier, budget smartphones have come a long way. Back then, you get cheap plastic slabs that will surely break once it is dropped but nowadays, you get a premium build with the right specs and features.

The first budget phone on this list is none other than the Samsung Galaxy A51. It has big shoes to fill because the previous A50 is highly praised by the community. Does the A51 live up to the hype? Definitely!

Instead of a notch, the A51 now has a hole-punch selfie camera at the top-middle portion of the device to provide you with more screen real estate.

What’s more, the specs are no slouch at all. You get the Exynos 9611 octa-core chipset, the Mali-G72 MP3 GPU, and 6GB of RAM. This performance package can definitely run even the most graphically demanding games, albeit at medium to high settings only.

Samsung did not pull any punches with this budget smartphone as it has equipped it with four camera sensors at the back. You get a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and a 5-megapixel macro lens as well.

Overall, the images are crisp and vibrant, though bear in mind that low-light photography is not its strongest suit.

You also get to choose from a variety of different colors to suit your style.

All in all, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the best affordable smartphones that you can buy this August.

2.TCL 10L

Price: $250

TCL 10L

TCL may be a relatively new contender in the smartphone market, but the company has certainly made a name for itself by providing quality budget options to consumers.

The previously reviewed TCL 10 Pro is lauded to be one of the best budget smartphones under $500 and the TCL 10L is definitely a worthy contender.

It has basically the same design language, albeit its build quality is not up to par with the Pro version. Instead of metal parts, this phone is equipped with polycarbonate material, which still gives it a durable look and feel.

I am glad that this smartphone comes with a USB Type-C connector so that you can easily use a quick charger to top this device up. Not to mention that data transfer speeds will be much faster than your traditional micro-USB connection.

I am also happy to say that the TCL 10L also has a headphone jack, so audiophiles that want to use their own audio solution can do so without any problems.

Although you are not getting an OLED display at this price, you still get a modest 6.53-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 which is quite considerable from a media consumption standpoint.

In terms of specs, this is no slouch either. You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset with the Adreno 610 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. It is capped off with a 4,000 mAh battery so this phone should last an entire day on a single charge.

I am quite pleased with what you are getting here. Sure, the screen leaves much to be desired, but everything else is quite good that I am surprised that this phone is offered at only $250.

3.Moto G8+

Price: $300

Moto G8+

Motorola has been consistent with its budget offerings that are considered to be bangs-for-the-buck and the Moto G8+ is certainly a part of that.

This budget smartphone ticks all of the right boxes. It has a durable plastic build, a vibrant 6.3-inch IPS display (1080p resolution, 19:9 aspect ratio), fingerprint sensor, microSD card slot (hybrid), and it has a considerable performance package.

Speaking of performance, the Moto G8+ is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset, Adreno 610 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It is a good mid-range performer and you can play any Android games that you want, although you will have to tinker with the settings to get the most out of this device.

Even though it does have a triple camera array at the back, the pictures that it can produce leaves much to be desired. It is passable, though it is not something as punchy as the Samsung phone above.

Still, the phone does have a 4,000 mAh battery which should be enough for use in an entire day without needing to reach for the charger.

4.Realme 6 Pro

Price: $350

Realme 6 ProDo you want an affordable smartphone that has a screen that can be clocked to 90Hz refresh rate? If so, then the Realme 6 Pro is tough to beat.

Priced at just $350, you get a 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection. But, the main feature here is its ability to be set at 90Hz screen refresh rate.

It is pretty hard to discern on video simply because Youtube tends to clock things at a maximum of just 60Hz, but once you use it in real life, it is hard to go back to the default refresh rate.

The 90Hz display just makes this phone a great mid-range gaming phone. It does have a considerable performance package because you will be getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, along with the Adreno 618 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage.

You can play PUBG and Fortnite with this thing at high to ultra settings with more than ample frame rates and the others can be played at a smooth 90Hz (if they are not graphically intensive).

It is worth noting, though, that at the time of writing, there are still some games that cannot support the higher refresh rate, although I am sure that they will be updated to suit the new standard in the near future.

Even if this phone is made of plastic, it does have a premium finish to it so you can still flaunt this device regardless of the build quality.

5.Google Pixel 3A

Price: $350

Google Pixel 3A

With the advent of the Google Pixel 4a soon, the price of the 3a has dropped to just $350 which I think is a steal.

If you want a mid-range smartphone that is great for photography, then look no further than this phone right here: The Google Pixel 3A.

It is packed with the Snapdragon 670 chipset with just a modest 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It only has a 5.6-inch display, though it is quite vibrant which makes this a good media consumption device.

But, its best feature is the camera- not only the hardware but also the software as well. Both work in tandem to provide the best quality images in an affordable smartphone package.

Seriously, if you intend to use your phone as a portable camera, then there is no doubt that the Google Pixel 3a is a worthy purchase.

6.Sony Xperia 10 II

Price: 399

Sony Xperia 10 II

Before I begin, this is a different smartphone and should not be confused with the Sony Xperia 1 II, which is a flagship device.

Anyway, the Sony Xperia 10 II is your ticket to a wide-screen media consumption device at a relatively affordable price.

For just $399, you get a phone with a 6-inch OLED display with an aspect ratio of 21:9. This is pretty much a rarity at this price point and I am happy that Sony is able to go head-to-head with other smartphones in the budget category.

Because of the display panel used and also with the amazingly stretched aspect ratio, using this purely as a media consumption device is a good decision. The picture quality is superb and you get a lot of screen real estate for the price.

The image quality that is produced by its triple camera setup is okay. It is quite balanced and does provide you with amazing images, albeit only in well-lit conditions. Low-light photography is out of the question since the pictures that are produced are quite grainy and not suitable for use.

You also get modest performance across the board as well. It comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage (which is expandable via microSD card up to 512GB).

Its battery life is also quite decent. It is packed with a 3,600 mAh battery which is okay but you do get an 18-watt fast charger in the box as well.

I am happy that Sony has created both a flagship product and an affordable smartphone in 2020 and both of them are worthy options to consider when you are going to buy a phone this August.

7.Huawei Nova 5T

Price: $339

Huawei Nova 5T

Some people are reluctant to get Huawei phones due to the US blacklist of the company, but do not worry as this next phone was produced just before the blacklist kicked into high gear.

The Huawei Nova 5T is one of the last smartphones from Huawei that still uses Google mobile services. So, getting this even when you are in the United States is okay, especially if you use Google’s services religiously.

Anyway, what’s so special about this phone? Well, it is packed with the company’s high-end chipset in the form of the Kirin 980, has 6GB of RAM, and it is punctuated by a hefty 128GB of internal storage.

But, what makes Huawei phones interesting is not in the performance department but its phones’ camera quality and it definitely shows with this one.

Whether you intend to whip out your phone for vlogging or perhaps use the device to take images of birds and interesting landmarks, the Huawei Nova 5T can certainly deliver on that front.

It produces stunning photos and videos and it doesn’t lag at all when changing to different camera modes.

The 48-megapixel shooter, although uses pixel binning technology to achieve that, still produces crisp images nonetheless.

I am also pleasantly surprised by its low-light photography performance which makes this device one of the best camera phones in the budget category.

8.Motorola One Hyper

Price: $340

Motorola One Hyper

Another Motorola phone on this list but certainly deserves its spot is the Motorola One Hyper. It has an amazing screen, long battery life, a minimalist software, and overall good camera quality.

Its performance package might not appeal to you, but it does have considerable specs regardless. It is packed with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.

The 6.5-inch LCD display has a resolution of 2340 x 1080. I am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the screen despite it being just an IPS panel, it does provide you with a great viewing experience.

Its cameras are also quite good for the price. It has a 64-megapixel main shooter at the back that is accentuated with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor. It has a 32-megapixel motorized pop-up camera that allows for a bigger screen real estate.

Overall picture and video quality are great for the price. The images that you can get are stunning and vibrant and although it is not great in dimly-lit environments, it is considerable for the price.

The battery life is also great as well. I don’t know what Motorola has done here but its optimizations just take advantage of the device’s 4,000 mAh battery to its fullest extent. If you need a quick top-up, you get a fast 45-watt charger in the box as well.

I would highly recommend this phone if you are tight on the money and is certainly a worthy consideration when you are buying one in August.

9.OnePlus Nord

Price: $350

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus was once a company that was hailed for producing flagship killers or devices that are priced just right with top-of-the-line specs.

With the advent of the OnePlus 8 phones, the company has turned into one that is producing actual flagship devices. But, its upcoming phone is a reminder of its roots. I am talking about the OnePlus Nord.

This phone will be released in July so it should be available in all markets come August 2020.

There is a lot to love about this thing. The first notable feature is its 6 different cameras; 4 of which you can find at the back and two at the front.

Although I haven’t tested the device yet, the leaks of the image quality of this thing are quite amazing. Pictures are punchy and it can even beat some of the flagship phones on the market in terms of overall camera performance.

This device also comes with a 6.44-inch AMOLED display that can be clocked to a 90Hz screen refresh rate. Not only does it provide a smooth performance but it is also amazing from a media consumption standpoint as well.

The specs of this thing are no slouch at all. It is packed with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset that is meant for gaming, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Spending $20 more will get you 256GB of internal storage and 12GB of RAM, but the previous configuration should be adequate for most users.

Capping things off is its 4,115 mAh battery and the company’s infamous Warp Charger 2.0 which is a 30-watt charging block is included in the box as well.

OnePlus Nord is showing to be quite an appealing option for people that want to buy a smartphone very soon.

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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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