Battlefront II disables microtransactions, Total War goes to Britain

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a news wrap-up, thanks to a knee-deep pile of review games I’m still slowly churning through. But my Total War sensors went off this week, so it’s time to return.

That’s right, there’s news on an honest-to-goodness historical Total War—the first since Rome 2 spin-off Attila . Also up this week: Pillars of Eternity 2 hits beta, Thermaltake’s new gaming chair cools your butt off, the end of Marvel Heroes, the start for Verdun sequel Tannenberg, and of course all the internet (and real-world) drama surrounding loot boxes.

This is gaming news for November 13 to 17.

Freebies

But first up, our recap of this weekend’s free games. We’ve got two free-to-try titles this weekend, with both available for steep discounts if you wind up enjoying the games. For strategy fans it’s Endless Space 2, launched earlier this year and updated with new diplomatic options this week. It’s free through November 20. PCWorld’s Endless Space 2 review liked the game a lot.

Those looking for something a bit louder can play Rainbow Six Siege, coming up on its second anniversary and still one of the best shooters this generation. Caveat: It requires Uplay, as usual, though you can still snag the game through Steam.

There’s also one actually free game to grab, if you’d like. Killer is Dead: Nightmare Edition is free through the Humble Store for another 24 hours or so. Not even close to one of my favorite games, but hey, free’s free.

Rule Britannia

Okay, onto the Total War news. Creative Assembly finally unveiled the first of the more-concentrated Total War Saga games this week, subtitled Thrones of Britannia. In case you need catching up, the Saga games are meant to resemble Total War but on a smaller scale, focusing on a few years of history and a constrained region. (Think Fall of the Samurai.)

In this case it’s the British Isles around 878 AD, focusing on the immediate aftermath of the Viking invasion, particularly the resistance led by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex.

Louder on the Eastern Front

Before Battlefield 1 there was Verdun, the World War I shooter that won my heart with its unique trench warfare-simulating Frontlines mode and realistic squad setups. That same team is now back with Tannenberg, which focuses on the Eastern Front. It’s in Early Access at the moment, but hopefully can find an audience like the original—multiplayer’s a tough market.

Eternity Squared

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire reached a new milestone this week, officially entering closed beta to those who backed high enough during the Kickstarter campaign. If that’s you, have fun. If not, well, you can watch the video below to get a look at combat, ships, and…well, mostly combat. Let’s go ahead and throw this on our “Most Anticipated” list for 2018.

The nameless one

Speaking of isometric CRPGs, a rumor started this week that Beamdog was working on a Planescape sequel of sorts. If you can’t guess what happened next: Those rumors were summarily shut down. Maybe one day, though. Sounds like the idea’s at least been floated.

Roller coaster ride

The Surge is one for my 2017 shame pile—I’ve heard decent (if not great) things about it, and sci-fi Dark Souls is an interesting prospect. If you’ve powered through the base game already, know that there’s more to come in the form of the upcoming “A Walk in the Park” DLC.

We can be heroes

Marvel Heroes, the action-RPG MMO that contained basically every Marvel hero ever, got end-of-lifed this week. That comes less than a year after a massive game-overhauling update, so I guess those improvements didn’t stick or at least didn’t bring the audience back. It sounds like the game will be active through the end of the year, so you’ve got a bit more time to revisit it before the plug’s pulled.

A damn shame though—it was basically the best pseudo-successor we’ve had to the excellent X-Men Legends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games.

Government oversight

It’d be hard to miss all the loot box drama this week, but just in case: Star Wars Battlefront II came under fire when people realized that on top of the loot boxes and busted progression system, both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker came locked in multiplayer behind approximately 40 hours of grind per hero. This led to EA receiving the ignominious honor of “Most Downvoted Reddit Comment in History.”

Everything’s spiraled since then, with EA cutting the price of heroes by 75 percent, doing a disastrous Q&A session on Reddit, then disabling Battlefront II’s real-money currency temporarily—and this is all before the game is even officially released.

The kicker: The blast of anger now has both Belgium and the Netherlands investigating whether loot boxes qualify as gambling. Eurogamer has a pretty good summary of the situation, courtesy of reports from NU.nl and VTM.

Spoiler: Star Wars: Battlefront II isn’t very good.

Hot seat

This is less “Gaming” and more “Games Adjacent,” but Thermaltake unveiled its new desk chair this week, the X Comfort Air. The gimmick: It has four fans embedded in the seat which are supposed to cool off your butt. Wonder what happens when you fart into it.

Thermaltake X Comfort Air Thermaltake

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.

Metal Gear Solid’s Zombie Survival Spin-Off, Metal Gear Survive

Konami has finally revealed the launch date for Metal Gear Survive, the upcoming zombie survival spin-off of Metal Gear Solid. The game will come out on February 20th in North America and February 22nd in Europe on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Fans who preorder the game will gain accessed to a “Day 1 Survival Pack Bonus,” which simply grants the player some free in-game apparel.

Metal Gear Survive was originally scheduled to launch in late 2017, but it was delayed for unknown reasons earlier this year. The game takes place in an alternate reality populated by crystalline zombies known as “creatures.” Directly following the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, its protagonists are transported into this dimension by a mysterious wormhole in the sky, and the plot follows them as they attempt to return to their own world.

What do you guys think? Are you at all excited for this title, and do you see yourself placing a preorder to take advantage of the Day 1 bonuses? Let us know in the comments below!

Acer Predator Triton 700 Details & Review

These days, there is no shortage of thin and light gaming laptops, and just as many behemoths with screaming-fast graphics cards. But only a handful of systems can claim both. One member of this rarified group is the Acer Predator Triton 700 (starts at $1,999.99; $2,999.99 as tested), which has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card capable of desktop-class graphics performance in a 15-inch chassis that weighs just 5.4 pounds and is less than an inch thick. It accomplishes this feat thanks to Nvidia’s Max-Q protocol, which throttles the GPU so that it doesn’t produce too much heat for such a small package. As impressive as that is, the Triton 700 is both bulkier and more expensive than the Editors’ Choice Asus ROG Zephyrus, which is also a Max-Q laptop with a GTX 1080.

Form Over Function?

The Predator Triton 700 is the third laptop we’ve tested with graphics that are powered by the new Max-Q techonology, a name that Nvidia borrowed from the aerospace industry term for the maximum amount of aerodynamic stress an aircraft can sustain. The technology comprises hardware and software modifications to the company’s higher-end graphics cards, which include a number of trade-offs. Most importantly, Max-Q caps the cards’ performance, limiting the power ceiling and output potential. The benefit is reduced cooling requirements, allowing them to fit into smaller laptops while maintaining as much of their native power as possible. In the case of the Predator Triton 700 and the ROG Zephyrus, the card is a GTX 1080, but that’s not the only GPU compatible with Max-Q; the MSI GS63VR 7RG Stealth Pro, for instance, has a less-powerful GTX 1070.

While Max-Q reduces the GPU’s cooling requirements, these laptops still have to manage a lot of heat, and it’s up to the laptop manufacturer to design a chassis that can provide adequate ventilation. MSI decided not to significantly change its previous designs, so the Stealth Pro shares a body with past GSVR laptops, except for the addition of a layer of felt on the bottom to shield your lap from the very hot metal. For the ROG Zephyrus, Asus came up with a unique bottom panel that lifts away from the frame about a quarter of an inch as you open the laptop’s lid. Air is sucked in through this bottom gap and perforations above the keyboard, cooling the components before being pushed out through the side vents.

 

Acer Predator Triton 700 1

 

The Predator Triton 700, meanwhile, has none of these unique design tweaks, but it does have two fans, five heat pipes, and a ton of vents to keep the CPU and GPU comfortable. In fact, there are four vents solely dedicated to pulling air into the laptop, including a very large one just above the keyboard. The exhaust air then leaves the Predator through four additional vents that run along the back and sides of the notebook.

Unfortunately, as with the MSI machine, this isn’t enough to keep the laptop cool. The underside of the Predator became extremely hot while gaming and running benchmark tests during our testing, even with the fans running at their maximum speed, leaving us longing for the felt protection of the Stealth Pro. This will make it impossible to play games with the PC on your lap, an admittedly unlikely scenario. You can program a custom speed for both the GPU and CPU fans, but you’ll need to set them to Max or Auto to get the most power from the GPU. In theory, Max-Q cards are also meant to have fans tweaked to the sweet spot of effectiveness and noise, but the Triton’s are quite loud at maximum.

All of this is taking place in a sleek, but a rather conventional-looking case that measures 0.74 by 15.47 by 10.47 inches (HWD). That’s a bit larger than both the ROG Zephyrus (0.66 by 14.9 by 10.3) and the Stealth Pro (0.69 by 14.9 by 9.8 inches), but certainly much more manageable than non-Max-Q GTX 1080 laptops like the Alienware 17 R4 (2017), a 17-inch behemoth that measures 1.18 by 16.7 by 13.1 and weighs 9.77 pounds, so Acer succeeded in terms of slimness.

 

Acer Predator Triton 700 Keyboard

 

The 15.6-inch display is full HD (1,920 by 1,080), and it comes with a matte finish, rather than a glossy one, which makes for less vivid colors but also less distracting glare from bright lights. The display uses in-plane switching for wider viewing angles, and it also supports Nvidia’s G-sync, which means that although its refresh rate can range as high as 120Hz, it’s synchronized to the GPU’s render rate to help reduce lag and tearing during gameplay. A 4K display would be a nice option to take advantage of the GTX 1080’s impressive graphics horsepower, but it’s understandable that Acer doesn’t offer one since it could push the Max-Q cooling system beyond acceptable limits. The ROG Zephyrus is also full HD-only, while MSI offers a 4K version of its Stealth Pro.

Where’s the Touchpad?

In addition to the oodles of vents, the Predator’s other defining external design feature is the odd placement of its keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard, with its accompanying number pad, is positioned at the very front of the laptop, which makes it easier to reach. That’s unconventional but by no means unprecedented, since the ROG Zephyrus features a similar design. The Predator’s board is mechanical and features pleasing tactile feedback and customizable per-key LED backlighting, but offers very short key travel that makes it uncomfortable for typing.

Unlike the Zephyrus, there’s no touchpad located to the right of the keyboard; in fact, the first time you open the Predator, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Acer simply skipped the touchpad entirely. They didn’t, of course: The narrow Gorilla Glass window at the top of the laptop, near the large vent, lets you see into the case to admire the fans and doubles as a touchpad. You can’t click it (taps only, please), and it attracts fingerprints like crazy, but you’ll probably be using an external mouse for gaming anyway, so it will likely see little use. You can also feel the high heat levels through the glass and some parts of the keyboard, but it’s just below feeling too uncomfortable.

Speakers vs. Fans

Next to the keyboard are two upward-facing speakers that deliver crisp, rich audio even though they aren’t loud enough to fill a room. You’ll want to connect a headset for serious gaming, though, since the fans running at maximum speed are loud enough to overpower the speakers.

 

Acer Predator Triton 700 2

 

The Predator’s connectivity options are adequate, if relatively sparse for a 15-inch gaming laptop, likely limited by the numerous air intakes and outlets. Along the right edge is a USB 3.0 port, a USB-C jack that supports Thunderbolt 3, and an Ethernet connector. You attach the gigantic power brick to a port on the back of the laptop, next to the DisplayPort and HDMI connectors. Finally, the left edge offers separate audio input and output jacks, two more USB 3.0 ports, and a nifty recessed USB 2.0 port that’s designed to conceal the receiver for a wireless keyboard and mouse. While you’ll likely want to connect via Ethernet for demanding gaming needs like streaming to Twitch or downloading new titles from Steam, the laptop also features 802.11ac Wi-Fi with 2×2 MU-MIMO support and Bluetooth 4.1.

Our review unit comes with a respectable 32GB of memory (the system’s maximum), but a slightly disappointing 512GB of storage spread across two 256GB SSDs. You’ll want more storage if you have a large library of games that you play frequently. Fortunately, both the memory and hard drives are user-accessible, although you’ll have to remove 13 screws on the back panel to replace them. Acer offers a two-year warranty for the Predator Triton 700.

Solid Speed, Short Battery Life

For all of the promise that the Max-Q design offers, the Predator Triton is not the fastest GTX 1080-powered laptop we’ve tested recently, at least when it comes to gaming performance. That honor belongs to the Alienware 17 R4, which achieved a score of 9,328 on the Fire Strike Extreme test, a benchmark that truly taxes the graphics subsystem. The Predator Triton 700 scored 7,581 on that test, which is respectable, but about in the middle of the pack of comparable systems. Still, all of these scores are high enough that you’ll experience flawlessly smooth gameplay. On the Heaven and Valley gaming benchmarks, the Predator displayed an average of more than 100 frames per second (fps), even with the quality settings maxed out. The only comparable system to dip below an average of 100fps was the Stealth Pro, which hovered around 90fps on these Ultra-quality Heaven and Valley tests.

 

Acer Predator Triton 700 Graphics Performance Chart

 

We perform these tests at full HD, which is the maximum resolution that the Predator’s screen supports. It’s worth noting that if you connect it to an external monitor with a higher resolution, such as 4K, you’ll likely experience a lower frame rate. You can mitigate this somewhat by activating the Predator’s unique and easy-to-use GPU overclocking feature, a novelty on a Max-Q laptop. To do so, you open the Predator software utility and switch the GPU overclocking mode to Turbo, which increases the clock speed to 1.44GHz. Your two other choices are Normal (1.29GHz) and Faster (1.37GHz). We re-ran the tests in Turbo mode, which resulted in nominally faster frame rates on the Ultra quality Heaven (114fps) and Valley (107fps) tests. You won’t be able to tell the difference on the Predator’s screen, but you might on a 4K external monitor.

If you’re spending $3,000 on a laptop, you should expect it to perform well on everyday tasks like web browsing and video streaming in addition to gaming. The Predator does not disappoint, thanks to its Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor running at 2.8GHz. It posted a class-leading score of 3,608 on the PCMark 8 benchmark, which measures such everyday tasks. It performed slightly worse on our specialized multimedia editing tests than other comparable gaming laptops, especially the Alienware 17 R4 and the New Razer Blade Pro. The Predator took a relatively pokey 3 minutes and 26 seconds to complete our array of image-editing tasks in Photoshop, coming in dead last, but its time to encode a video in Handbrake (1:01) is within a few seconds of all of its competitors.

 

Acer Predator Triton 700 Performance Chart

 

Related Story See How We Test Laptops

At 2 hours and 34 minutes, battery life is woefully short, even by gaming laptop standards. The Stealth Pro, for instance, lasted almost twice as long (4 hours and 29 minutes).

Cool, but Not the Coolest Max-Q Laptop

As a thin and light gaming laptop, the Acer Predator Triton 700 is exceptional because of its GTX 1080 GPU, a graphics card that can fit inside only because of the Max-Q design and associated cooling hardware. But it’s not the least expensive Max-Q GTX 1080 laptop, nor is it the most powerful GTX 1080 laptop you can buy. As a result, it’s hard to work out exactly who will want to buy this laptop. For the legions of gamers who believe that 1080p is the sweet spot for PC gaming and aren’t interested in 4K, nearly any GTX 1080 laptop will produce more than enough graphics horsepower, so the determining factor is likely to be price, which isn’t the Predator’s strong suit. Meanwhile, if you care about achieving maximum performance regardless of price and heft, you’ll want to steer clear of the Max-Q thermal limits and buy a larger laptop like Alienware 17 R4.

Turn Your World Upside Down With the Stranger Things Skin Pack in Minecraft

It’s the end of October, and that means two things: Halloween is just around the corner and Stranger Things 2 has finally arrived! For those excited about the newly released season of the Netflix original series, the excitement doesn’t have to stop after the last episode because you can now download all new skins of your favorite Stranger Things characters to Minecraft! You can check them out in the video above!

What do you think of these skins? Are you enjoying Stranger Things 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

9 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday

Never pay full price. Here are some products you don’t want to buy before Black Friday.

PCMag reviews products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. Terms of use.
9 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday

Year after year, the holidays arrive a little earlier, and 2017 is no exception. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was traditionally the day retailers met their costs, with each sale propelling them further into “the black,” or profits. Today, Black Friday simply means great deals. “Doorbuster” offers are designed to entice shoppers into stores, where they can batter their fellow shoppers to seize the newest must-have gadget.

How do shoppers learn about these great deals? In years past, holiday advertising circulars were published in newspapers. Then enterprising young bloggers began putting them online. Now, retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy publish news of their own sales, weeks before Black Friday ever takes place.

But perhaps you don’t buy into the hype. “How much can I really save?” you wonder. Truth is, you’ll need to keep tabs on opening times and lightning rounds, but deals can be had. As a result, there are a number of gadgets you shouldn’t buy before Black Friday. Check them out below.

 

Acer Chromebook 14 review: You can brag a little about this laptop's luxury details

Chromebooks can be a crap shoot. It’s easy to get sucked in by a low price, only to find yourself with a disappointingly low-quality device on your hands. But you don’t have to step up into the higher-priced territory of the Dell Chromebook 13 or HP Chromebook 13 to find satisfaction. For a midrange price ($286 on Amazon), the Acer Chromebook 14 gives you an all-aluminum chassis and a very nice display, even if its performance and other attributes are less remarkable. 

The Chromebook 14’s best features

acer chromebook 14 lid Melissa Riofrio

The Chromebook 14 is Acer’s first all-aluminum model, with a brushed finish. 

Acer touts the all-aluminum chassis on the Chromebook 14, and for good reason. Amid a pile of plastic competitors, the brushed-metal shell looks refined and feels great. Of course, the material is also durable and light, making the Chromebook 14 a comfortable 3.42 pounds by Acer’s specification. The AC adapter (the typical black brick) and cables weigh an additional 0.55 pounds. The laptop’s dimensions are a trim 13.3 x 9.31 x 0.67 inches. 

Encased within the lid’s slender bezel is an impressive 14-inch, 1920×1080 LED-backlit IPS display. Chromebooks have a reputation for mediocre screens, with limited brightness and viewing angles. Most have a resolution of just 1366×768, which suffices on an 11-inch display but starts to look ridiculous when stretched over a 14-inch display. The Acer Chromebook 14’s screen looks crisp and has a good maximum brightness (236 nits by our measurement). The 170-degree viewing angle means it’s readable from all sides, and the anti-glare coating is another big plus.

acer chromebook 14 top Melissa Riofrio

The Chromebook 14 has a 1920×1080 IPS display with 170-degree viewing angles. 

A higher-resolution display does use more battery. We logged 8.82 hours of life from the Chromebook 14’s 3-cell, 3950mAh pack, using Cr-XPRT 2015’s benchmark. That’s a good amount of time, though not as long as Acer’s promise of up to 12 hours.

I never expect to like a laptop’s speakers, which is why the Acer Chromebook 14’s deserve mention for being surprisingly good. The dual set, nestled underneath the left and right sides, provide good bass and stereo effects. You might still plug in external headphones, but at least your laptop won’t sound like a cyber-chipmunk if you have to use its speakers for a presentation.

acer chromebook 14 bottom foot speaker Melissa Riofrio

The Acer Chromebook 14 has dual speakers on either side of the bottom panel, with surprisingly good sound. 

You also can’t argue with the Chromebook 14’s connectivity. It has Bluetooth 4.2 for the latest in close-range performance and privacy. Wi-Fi covers every available flavor with dual-band 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac/a/b/g/n.

The more typical features

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful for the Chromebook 14’s good things, but Acer appears to have bet everything on those features, meaning the rest of the Chromebook is less remarkable. Anyone whose expectations were raised by the high-end look may be at least a little disappointed. 

acer chromebook 14 keyboard clickpad Melissa Riofrio

The chiclet-style keyboard on the Acer Chromebook 14 has hard plastic and a harsh travel. There’s also a large clickpad. 

I was particularly unhappy with the keyboard, which has the hard-plastic keys and harsh, abrupt travel typical of entry-level Chromebooks—not what the Chromebook 14 is supposed to be. The large clickpad worked well.

Production of the Kinect Has Finally Come to an End

The Kinect has been a staple for Xbox systems since its launch in 2010, bringing Microsoft into the world of motion controls. The device had its ups and downs throughout the years, but it was widely dismissed by a majority of gamers for being dysfunctional and gimmicky. Now, we can officially say goodbye to this piece of gaming history, as Microsoft has officially ended production. Microsoft issued a statement on this decision:

“Manufacturing for Kinect for Xbox One has ended but it is not the end of the journey for the technology. Kinect continues to delight tens of millions of Xbox owners and Kinect innovations live on in Xbox One, Windows 10, Cortana, Windows Mixed Reality and future technologies.” —
Microsoft

While Kinect may be dead for now, it seems Microsoft wants to expand on its technology in the future. What would you like to see come from this? Are you glad Kinect is done for? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Source: Fast Company

Overwatch is Getting a New Map and a New Hero, an Irish Support Healer Named “Moira”

 

Blizzard just revealed a new Overwatch hero at Blizzcon 2017. Her name is Moira, and she is an Irish research scientist and support healer who harnesses the power of shadows in battle. We don’t have a release date for her so far, but Blizzard has given us a backstory trailer for her, detailing her past as a scientist.

On top of that, the company announced a new map for Overwatch: “Blizzard World,” a theme park full of references to past Blizzard games, like Diablo and World of Warcraft. Blizzard World is described as a “part Payload, part Assault” map, and it will become available early next year.

You can watch the origin story trailer for Moira above!

What do you guys think? Are you excited to play as Moira? Who do you think looks best of the new heroes? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: IGN

Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1060)

The Blade Pro is the most premium laptop in Razer’s lineup, complete with a big 4K display and Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics, but its $3,999 price tag keeps it out of the grasp of many gamers. Because of that, Razer is offering a middle ground solution that keeps the high-end chassis, but makes some sacrifices to dial back the price. The result is the new Blade Pro with a GTX 1060 and a 17-inch 1080p screen. At $2,299.99, it’s much less expensive than the original, though not exactly cheap. You can get a laptop with a slightly beefier GTX 1070 graphics card at this price, but the Blade Pro delivers solid HD gaming performance in a slim form factor with a premium design. It all comes down to this question: Do you have an unlimited budget and want to squeeze higher frame rates out of your pricey gaming laptop? Or do value a top-notch, slim build and other features more? If you lean toward the latter, especially with a limited budget, the GTX 1060 Blade Pro is worth considering.

Same Look, Smart Changes

The idea behind the less expensive Blade Pro is delivering the same premium chassis at a lower price, so it’s identical to the higher-end version. Built with quality all-black aluminum and a green Razer logo on the lid, this model measures 0.9 by 16.7 by 11 inches (HWD), same as before. Due to the internal changes, however, it weighs about a pound less at 6.78 pounds, which is light for a 17-inch laptop. The GTX 1080-bearing Origin EON17-X (2017) and the Alienware 17 R4 weigh 8.6 and 9.8 pounds, respectively, so the Blade Pro acquits itself well. It’s still fairly large for frequent travel and would take up more bag space than you’d probably want on a commute, but it is on the slimmer and lighter side for a desktop-replacement.

Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1060)

One casualty of the reduced price is the excellent low-profile mechanical keyboard you get with the $4,000 model. Typing still feels comfortable, though, and the keys deliver a good amount of travel. Each key is still individually backlit, as well, so you’re not giving up the fun customizable lighting and effects Razer is known for, all manageable through the included Synapse software. The touchpad, placed off the right of the keyboard rather than below it, also feels sturdy. The volume scroll bar, an inclusion seen on some fancier desktop keyboards, is something I now miss when it’s not around, so it’s great to have on a laptop in a convenient place. The speakers, while not booming or bassy, provide loud and clear audio that doesn’t distort at higher volumes.

The gorgeous 4K touch display becomes a non-touch 1080p screen on this version of the Blade Pro. The glossy finish is replaced with a matte one, which cuts down on reflections, but yields a duller picture. The screen is still vibrant when gaming, and 1080p is a sweet spot for smooth game performance, especially with a GTX 1060 card. The display does offer a 120Hz refresh rate, which is another appealing feature for gamers looking for the smoothest gameplay.

Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1060)

It’s worth noting that, in many ways, the fully featured Blade Pro is aimed not just at gamers, but artists and designers. The 4K version’s screen is superior for these tasks, with THX certification and high color accuracy, which you don’t get in this version of the laptop. As such, the GTX 1060 Blade Pro loses some of its other utility and more firmly establishes itself as a high-quality midrange gaming laptop. It still has discrete graphics and a fast processor for completing media tasks, so it’s not suddenly incapable, but it is less of a artist’s system.

There’s just one storage option for the less expensive model. The laptop comes with a 256GB M.2 SSD and a 2TB 5,400rpm hard drive, which should be plenty of space for most users. The lowest storage option for the premium version is a 512GB SSD (it can go up to 2TB), so you’re getting a lot more space here by default, even if less of it is speedy SSD storage. As for ports, the offerings are the same on both laptops: There are three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, an Ethernet jack, and an SD card reader. That’s plenty of connectivity for peripherals, external storage, and virtual reality headsets. The Blade Pro integrates dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.1. Razer supports the Blade Pro with a one-year warranty.

HD Gaming…at a Premium

Even if it’s not the full-powered version, this Blade Pro’s 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, GTX 1060, and 16GB of memory mean it’s no slouch. Its PCMark 8 Work Conventional score, which simulates general productivity speed, was on the higher end for laptops. Demanding 4K screens lower the scores for this test, so this is one area that this Blade Pro beats the more expensive model and its slightly faster processor. Normalcy is restored on the multimedia tests, where the 4K version is a bit faster all around, but this unit can still whip through your average tasks and do some content creation on the side without much holdup.

Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1060) BM New

While the GTX 1060 is a capable, well-priced card, it doesn’t fare as well in head-to-head comparisons in this price range. The Blade Pro’s slim premium build and other features bump up its price before you even get to the graphics—most laptops at this price point are getting you a GTX 1070. As such, the performance is going to be less impressive than other laptops you may spend between $2,000 and $2,500 on, so it may be hard to justify dropping that much on a GTX 1060, which often comes in laptops priced less than $2,000. Razer’s own 14-inch laptop, the 2017 Blade, includes a 1060 for $1,899, and that’s with paying extra for the form factor. Another good example is the Acer Aspire V17 Nitro, a 17-inch GTX 1060 laptop that’s only $1,699.

Related Story See How We Test Laptops

That said, this Blade Pro posted solid 1080p numbers on the Heaven and Valley tests set to ultra-quality settings, averaging 65 frames per second (fps) and 72fps respectively. Newer, more demanding titles may require you to turn down a few settings to not dip below 60fps or look choppy, but for the most part you can play games at or near maximum in HD. The HP Omen 17, priced similarly to this Blade Pro, scored 90fps and 83fps on these tests, demonstrating the increased headroom a GTX 1070 gives you for more bells and whistles or more demanding games.

Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1060) BM New

Like the PCMark score, battery life is also improved by the drop to 1080p. A 4K screen drains a lot of power. This unit lasted for 7 hours and 1 minute on our rundown test, as opposed to the 4K model’s short 3:46 time. 7:01 is a great showing for anylarge-screen gaming laptop, most of which typically run out of juice much faster. On the same test, the Alienware 17 R4 ran for 3:30, the Omen 17 for 3:14, and the EON17-X for 2:17, so the Blade Pro is well ahead of the group here. The V17 Nitro is an exception here, with similar results at 7:28. The battery life helps sell the portability aspect of the slimmer design, since you’ll actually be able to use it off the charger for a while if you do bring it with you.

Cost Compromises

This less expensive Blade Pro delivers on its promise of the attractive build of the orginal model for less money, though I have some reservations about the price considering the graphics card choice. A GTX 1060 card at $2,300 is a bit hard to swallow, but at the same time, it’s boosted by thoughtful features, and this laptop is perfectly suited to 1080p gaming. This lower-price Blade Pro is an appealing option, but if you value the extra frames you’ll get with a GTX 1070 over the design, roomy storage, and 120Hz display, you can do better. Alternatives like a conservatively configured Alienware 17 R4 or Origin EON17-X (or perhaps a smaller 15-inch laptop, like the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming) will get you more performance for your dollar.

EA is Getting a Ton of Backlash for Features in Star Wars Battlefront II

 

Many Star Wars fans are rejoicing because the deluxe version of Star Wars Battlefront II will be available to play tonight. While many fans are excited to get their hands on the newest entry in the series, there has been a lot of negative outcry toward the game over microtransactions. EA is no stranger to controversy when it comes to potential greed, but this situation has people riled up unlike any before it.

In Battlefront II, players will earn credits every time they play a multiplayer match. These credits can be used to unlock vehicles, weapons, and characters to play as. This sounds pretty standard at first, but one Reddit user by the name of TheHotterPotato discovered a horrible truth under it all.

Major characters in the Star Wars universe such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader cost 60,000 credits. In TheHotterPotato’s experience, around 275 credits were earned after each match. When calculating everything, it was discovered around 40 hours of gameplay were needed just to unlock one of these characters. This also means that you would have to save for this one character in mind, not buying anything else along the way. Alternatively, players can buy loot boxes in the hopes of getting crafting materials to get the characters they want sooner.

This information caused a wave of anger in the Battlefront community. Shortly after, EA gave an official response to the controversy:

The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.

As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.

We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.

Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can. — EA Community Team

This response was not what the fans were looking for. In just a few hours, this statement became the most downvoted post on Reddit, currently sitting at a score of -333,000 points. This far surpasses the previous post to hold the record, paling in comparison at -24,000 points.

As the controversy raged on, many swore to boycott the game. But just a few hours ago, EA dropped the in-game prices of the characters by 75%. The substantial discount reduces the amount of time spent tremendously. Unfortunately for many, the damage is already done.

Will you be picking up Star Wars Battlefront II? Do you think EA is pushing microtransactions too hard? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Sources: Reddit (1,2) PC Gamer