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how to build a server and host a website…easy

Let’s imagine a world where hosting a website yourself is as simple and reliable as browsing the web. You could host your company’s site, your personal portfolio, your email server, and even messaging apps, all from the comfort of your couch. The web would certainly be a more democratic place, from both an information-serving and information-browsing perspective.

Though the original vision for the World Wide Web included pieces of this idealism (e.g., directly showing filesystem content using hyperlinks), the reality turned out somewhat differently. Unfortunately, hosting your own website still has some serious obstacles, including dynamic IP addresses, bandwidth constraints, and electricity costs.

In this article, we look at how to host your own website on Microsoft Windows and on Linux, and also some of the drawbacks to doing this. For both platforms, we will install and use the AMP (Apache, Mysql, PHP) web stack. This AMP stack is commonly called WAMP on Windows and LAMP on Linux for obvious reasons.

Windows: How to Host a Website Using Your PC as a WAMP Server

First, let’s try hosting a website using your personal computer with the Windows operating system.

Step 1: Install the WAMP Software

To make this super easy, we’ll use a WAMP installation program (of which there are several) called WampServer. You could also opt to install each package manually, but this process requires much more work and is error-prone.

The WampServer package is delivered with the latest releases of Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

The WampServer package is delivered with the latest releases of Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

WampServer screenshot

WampServer is one of several environments available to create Apache, MySQL, and PHP applications on Windows.

First, download the 32-bit or 64-bit WAMP-binary here, and begin the installation. Just follow the on-screen instructions, and when it’s done, launch WampServer.

Note: There may be a port 80 conflict with your Skype software, but there’s a fix for that.

Step 2: Using WampServer

Upon installation, a www directory will be created automatically. You’ll likely find it here: c:\wamp\www

From that directory, you can create subdirectories (called “projects” in WampServer), and put any HTML or PHP files inside those subdirectories.

Main screen of WampServer

The main screen of your localhost in WampServer should look something like this.

If you click on the localhost link in the WampSever menu or open your internet browser with the URL http://localhost, you should be shown the main screen of WampServer.

Step 3: Creating an HTML Page

To test our WampServer, we can put an example file called “info.php” into our www-directory.

Go directly to this directory by clicking “www directory” in the WampServer menu.

From there, create a new file with the contents below, and save it.

1     <title>PHP Test</title>

Now you can browse to http://localhost/info.php to see the details of your PHP installation. You can create any HTML and PHP file structure to suit your needs.

Step 4: Configure MySQL

If you click on the phpMyAdmin menu option, you can start configuring your MySQL databases (which may be needed for a CMS like WordPress).

The phpMyAdmin login screen will open in a new browser window. By default, the admin username will be root, and you can leave the password field blank.

From there, you can create new MySQL databases and alter existing ones. Most software, like WordPress, will automatically set up a new database for you, though.

Step 5: Make the Site Public

By default, the Apache configuration file is set to deny any incoming HTTP connections, except in the case of someone coming from the localhost.

To make your site publicly accessible, you need to change the Apache configuration file (httpd.conf). You can find and edit this file by going to the WampServer menu, clicking “Apache,” and selecting “httpd.conf.”

1 2 Order Deny,Allow Deny from all

Replace the two lines above with the ones below:

1 2 Order Allow,Deny Allow from all

Restart all WampServer services by clicking “Restart all Services” in the menu.

The site should now be accessible from beyond your localhost. Confirm there isn’t a PC firewall blocking web requests. You may need to set up port-forwarding on your internet router as well.

Step 6: Using a Domain Name

To use a domain name, such as example.com, with your WAMP installation, we’ll need to configure some files first. Let’s assume our example.com domain has an A record in your DNS with the IP address 100.100.100.100.

First, we need to add the following line to the C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file:

1 100.100.100.100 example.com

Now, we need to edit httpd.conf again (accessible via the WampServer menu) to add a virtual host. Once that file is open, look for “Virtual hosts,” and uncomment the line after it, like this:

1 2 # Virtual hosts Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Now we need to add a file manually in “C:\wamp\bin\apache\Apache-VERSION\conf\extra\” (VERSION is your Apache version).

Then create a file in Notepad with the following content, and save it in that Apache directory.

1 2 3 4 5     ServerAdmin mail@example.com     DocumentRoot “c:\wamp\www”     ServerName mysite.local     ErrorLog “logs/example.com.log”     CustomLog “logs/example.com-access.log” common

Click “Restart All Services” in the WampServer menu to activate these changes.

Now your site should also be accessible via its domain name.

Linux: How to Host A Website on a Linux Machine

Let’s now cover how to set up Apache, MySQL, and PHP on a Linux system.

Step 1: Install Software

To start our LAMP software install, type the following in the terminal:

1 sudo apt install apache2 mysql-server php libapache2-mod-php7.0

During the installation process, you will be asked to enter (and re-enter) a password for the MySQL root user.

MySQL password memo

Have your MySQL root password handy during the LAMP installation process.

Technically, it’s not necessary (as it should have been done upon installation), but just to be sure, we will restart the Apache web server.

Any time you change the global configuration of Apache, you need to execute the command below, unless you do the configuration using local .htaccess files.

1 sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Step 2: Check PHP

To confirm your PHP server works and see what PHP modules are currently available, you can place a test PHP file in the web server root directory (/var/www/html/):

1 sudo echo “” > /var/www/html/info.php

We can now visit that PHP page by browsing to http://localhost/info.php.

You should see the currently running PHP version, current configuration, and currently installed modules. Note that you can later install other PHP modules using the Ubuntu package manager, as some PHP applications might require that.

To determine which extra modules are available, search within the graphical package manager, or simply use the command line:

1 apt search php | grep module

Step 3: Check MySQL

As most CMS systems (e.g., WordPress) use MySQL, we will also look at that part.

To see if your MySQL installation is working, type “service mysql status.”

1 2 3 4 5 $ service mysql status   ● mysql.service – MySQL Community Server […] mrt 15 13:24:09 host1 systemd[1]: Started MySQL Community Server.

We see that MySQL is up and running. If you don’t see this, you can type “sudo service mysql restart” to restart the MySQL server.

From here, we can use the MySQL command line client to manage databases.

For this, we need to use the admin credentials we typed earlier when MySQL was installed.

1 2 3 $ mysql -u root -p   [now you will be asked for our admin password and enter the mysql prompt]

From here, we can do anything we want with MySQL, e.g., create a new database:

1 2 CREATE DATABASE test; USE test;

Often times, the CMS will automatically create the database for you, but sometimes you need to do something to the database manually (e.g., create a backup or optimize tables).

PHPMyAdmin is a friendly database management tool most web experts will recommend.

You can install PHPmyadmin by typing the following into the terminal:

1 sudo apt install phpmyadmin

Finally, configure the /etc/phpmyadmin/config.inc.php file using the steps described here.

Step 4: Configure DNS

To use your own domain (e.g., example.com) for your local web server, you’ll need to configure Apache to accept web requests for your domain.

First, make sure your domain’s DNS has an A record (which points to a specific IP address) for your domain name, e.g., www.example.com. Your DNS hosting provider will have online tools to correctly set up these DNS records.

Once that is done, you should be able to see something like this using the dig tool. To request the A record for www.example.com, type:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 $ dig www.example.com A   ;; ANSWER SECTION: www.example.com.  86400 IN  A 100.100.100.100   ;; AUTHORITY SECTION: example.com.    86398 IN  NS  a.iana-servers.net. example.com.    86398 IN  NS  b.iana-servers.net.

Here, a web link for http://www.example.com would be directed to the server with IP address 100.100.100.100.

Step 5: Configure Apache

Now we need to tell Apache to accept web requests for our name www.example.com and from what directory to serve content when we get those requests.

First, we set up a directory for our example.com domain, then we create an example index.html file, and finally, we set some filesystem permissions:

1 2 3 4 5 sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/example.com   sudo sh -c ‘echo “<title>example.com</title><h1>This is my self-hosted site example.com</h1>” > /var/www/html/example.com/index.html   sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/example.com

To see this page, the last step is to set up a Virtual Host file for Apache for our domain.

1 sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/example.com.conf
1 sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/example.com.conf

Now edit the file to look like this (the optional comments are not shown here):

1 2 3 4 5 6     ServerAdmin admin@example.com     ServerName example.com     ServerAlias www.example.com     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/example.com     ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log     CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Now reconfigure and reload Apache for the changes to take effect:

1 2 sudo a2ensite example.com.conf sudo service apache2 reload

Edit your local /etc/hosts file by adding a line with your IP address and domain name. Be sure to change the “100.100.100.100” to match the IP address of your domain:

1 100.100.100.100 example.com

We should now be able to visit our self-hosted site by going to http://www.example.com.

Step 5: Install Your CMS System of Choice

You can install a CMS platform of your choice — popular options being WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal — either manually or by using the package management of Ubuntu.

Why We Say Hosting a Website Yourself is a Bad Idea (1 Pro, 4 Cons)

So we’ve covered that it’s doable — but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The Up Side (1)

The upshot: Setting up your own website and its hosting is not just a highly educational experience but it’s rather fun to execute. It’s a geeky project, sure, but if you’re reading this, you probably fall into the category of folks who would call that fun. So there.

Once you’ve done it, you will have the power to make any system changes you desire. A lot of folks have gone from learning to host a site locally to learning more about programming, web design, and online commerce. The experience is the biggest draw.

The Downsides (4)

Unfortunately, there are still quite significant downsides to self-hosting your website:

  1. You’ll experience slow connections compared to professional hosts. Your ISP upload speed is likely much slower than your download speed, so serving content to your website visitors will be very slow, too.
  2. You have to deal with an ever-changing (dynamic) IP address. Though there are DNS configuration tools to help with this somewhat, this can potentially cause problems at any time.
  3. It costs a lot of electricity and you’ll run into power outages often.
  4. You’re responsible for hardware and software maintenance.

So you can see why we highly encourage investing in a quality web host for your site or application. And we have you covered there, too. Take a look at the types of hosting available to see what hosting options are out there and within your budget.

Alternatives to Hosting a Website From Home

Instead of trying to host a website locally, you can go through a hosting provider and manage the servers yourself. Dedicated or VPS options are a much more cost-effective means of taking physical ownership of your web presence.

Best Dedicated Servers

The perks to dedicated hosting include as much RAM and processing power as you want, complete isolation so a neighboring website’s demise won’t bring down your own, and the best uptime and performance stats money can buy — and we’re not talking a boatload of money. While dedicated servers are the priciest of the server types, they’re a dream when compared to the costs of hosting a website yourself. Below are a few top-recommended dedicated server plans

Best VPS Hosting

You could also host with a VPS instead. The primary advantage here is scalability — and the fact that you can scale up resources only as you need them, making it cost-efficient, too. You get maximum flexibility, whether you choose a managed service or opt to handle server configurations and maintenance yourself.

HostingAdvice runs on virtual servers, and we manage them all in house, which gives us utmost control over server resources and performance. Check out reviews of the VPS providers we recommend if this alternative sounds up your alley:

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Samsung 1TB 860 QVO SSD Review: QLC Comes To SATA

Samsung leads the SSD industry, largely due to the huge lead the company opened up in the race to 3D flash. Along the way, Samsung established a reputation as an SSD powerhouse and has consistently set the standard for performance, quality, and support. But it isn’t the first to bring a QLC SSD to market. Companies like Intel and Micron/Crucial already have QLC SSDs, but we knew it was only a matter of time until the SSD giant joined in. 

The 860 QVO features Samsung’s newest V4 QLC V-NAND paired with the SATA interface and its well-established MJX controller. Together, these components deliver over 550/520MB/s of sequential read/write throughput and up to 97,000/89,000 random read/write IOPS. However, performance is only one part of the equation: the 860 QVO uses lower-quality QLC flash that is supposed to bring lower prices and higher capacity to the masses, but the company’s pricing isn’t as competitive with other options as we expected

SAMSUNG 860 QVO (1TB)

PROS

  • Decent endurance for a QLC SSD
  • Build quality
  • AES 256-bit encryption with Windows BitLocker support

CONS

  • High introductory MSRP
  • Write performance after SLC cache exhausts
  • Three-year warranty

VERDICT

If you are in the market for a new SATA based SSD, the Samsung 860 QVO delivers acceptable performance, high capacity, and enough endurance to satisfy most users. It even includes AES 256-bit encryption with Windows BitLocker support. The only thing that’s missing is the lower price point we expect from QLC SSDs, which makes the 860 QVO hard to recommend over the proliferation of faster and cheaper SSDs on the market.3.5/5$149.99MSRP

Update: Due to an error, we adjusted the ranking to 3.5 after publication.

2018 marked the introduction of QLC SSDs, but they will truly thrive in 2019. Enthusiasts aren’t very enthusiastic, though. QLC flash has inherently lower native write speeds and lower endurance than the TLC or MLC flash found in most modern SSDs. But, like the move to other types of flash before it, QLC should pave the way for larger storage devices and lower prices, which is always good for us. The Intel 660p is a prime example. At launch, it set the new low bar for value NVMe storage. Crucial’s P1 followed soon after.

We finally learned about the 860 QVO when Samsung announced it earlier this year, and we were finally given a name at Samsung’s Tech Day event last month. During the announcement, Samsung briefly listed the 860 QVO on a slide alongside a 980 QVO but didn’t provide more detail about the mystery 980 model. As with SSDs based on other types of flash, we expect models with higher performance and endurance to come to market alongside cheaper and slower models, so it’s logical to conclude the 980 QVO will be a higher-performance model. Samsung hasn’t announced a launch date.


For now, we have the 860 QVO in our hands. Other NVMe QLC SSDs preceded it to the consumer market, but the QVO is the first SATA QLC model.

Samsung had to dig into its firmware and tweak it a bit more to maintain a high level of performance with the more-complex V4 64-layer QLC V-NAND. The Samsung 860 QVO includes Intelligent TurboWrite technology, just like the 860 and 970 EVO models. This feature assigns a portion of the flash to run in SLC mode, thus creating a fast cache that absorbs incoming data to speed operations.

All QVO SSDs come with a static 6GB write cache that doesn’t change regardless of conditions, but they also have a larger intelligent write cache of 36-72GB (depending on drive capacity). This intelligent cache dynamically expands and contracts based on the amount of data stored on the drive. This provides impressive performance for inbound writes, but if the drive doesn’t have enough free space the intelligent cache will not be available, leaving you with just 6GB of static cache. On the 1TB model, the intelligent cache evaporates after there is less than 168GB of free space. We have reached out to Samsung for specifics about the other capacities and will update as necessary.

Specifications

Product860 QVO 1TB860 QVO 2TB860 QVO 4TB
Pricing$149.99$299.99$599.99
Capacity (User / Raw)1000GB / 1024GB2000GB / 2048GB4000GB / 4096GB
Form Factor2.5″ 7mm2.5″ 7mm2.5″ 7mm
Interface / ProtocolSATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCISATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCISATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCI
ControllerSamsung MJXSamsung MJXSamsung MJX
DRAM1GB LPDDR42GB LPDDR44GB LPDDR4
NAND FlashSamsung QLC V-NANDSamsung QLC V-NANDSamsung QLC V-NAND
Sequential Read550 MB/s550 MB/s550 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s520 MB/s520 MB/s
Random Read96,00097,00097,000
Random Write89,00089,00089,000
EncryptionAES 256-bit, TCG/Opal V2.0, IEEE1667AES 256-bit, TCG/Opal V2.0, IEEE1667AES 256-bit, TCG/Opal V2.0, IEEE1667
Endurance360 TBW720 TBW1,440 TBW
Part NumberMZ-76Q1T0 MZ-76Q2T0 MZ-76Q4T0 
Warranty3-Years3-Years3-Years

The Samsung 860 QVO launches on December 16. The 1TB model will retail for $149.99, the 2TB model for $299.99, and the 4TB model for $599.99. All capacities are rated for up to 550/520 MB/s of sequential read/write throughput and up to 97,000/89,000 random read/write IOPS.

The QVO offers much higher endurance figures than the QLC-powered Intel 660p and Crucial P1. The QVO spans from 360TBW for the 1TB model up to 1,440TBW for the 4TB drive. What it doesn’t have, however, is a five-year warranty. Instead, Samsung covers the SSD for just three years. But that’s expected considering the drive is in a lower tier than the 860 EVO and competes against the cheapest SSDs in the market, all of which also feature two- to three-year warranties. 

Unlike most SSDs, Samsung’s 860 QVO features an AES 256-bit hardware encryption engine. It is TCG and Opal 2.0 compliant and also supports the IEEE1667 spec, meaning you can use it with Windows BitLocker, too. BitLocker is a big advantage if you want top-notch data security and don’t want to lose out on performance.

Software & Accessories

The 860 QVO works with Samsung’s latest Magician SSD toolbox. Magician allows you to update the firmware, enable encryption options, monitor the health of your Samsung SSD, and more. Samsung also provides its Data Migration software, which allows you to clone over your data from an existing drive to your new SSD. You can download both from Samsung’s website.

A Closer Look

Samsung’s 860 QVO comes in a standard 2.5” 7mm form factor and connects to the host via a SATA 6GB/s connection. It has a sleek-looking full metal casing.

Inside the case, the 1TB model has one of the smallest PCBs we’ve seen, similar to the 860 EVO. The PCB hosts a single SSD controller, DRAM package, and NAND package. The 2.5” form factor seems like overkill given the size of the components, but the large case is needed to ensure compatibility with existing standards.

We see the same MJX controller as the one found in Samsung’s EVO and PRO models, so compatibility and stability should not be an issue in most environments. The controller also supports LPDDR4 DRAM to improve power efficiency. Each QVO capacity point features a 1MB:1GB DRAM to flash ratio, meaning the 1TB model has a 1GB LPDDR4 DRAM package while the 4TB model has 4GB of LPDDR4. Memory products still command a premium during the ongoing shortage, so the DRAM allocation is an interesting choice considering most companies are using less DRAM to reduce costs. The Intel 660p, for example, only needs 256MB of DRAM for the 1TB model. 

The flash has a die density of 1Tb, and there are a total of 8 dies stacked into a single package. The 1TB SSD provides 931.5GB of usable capacity after formatting. It is striking that Samsung can cram in 1TB of its V4 QLC flash into a single package and still deliver solid performance. Typically, SSDs need several flash packages working in concert, thus exploiting the benefits of parallelism, to reach similar levels of performance.

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Best PC Builds: From $500-$5000

Now is the best time of the year to buy PC components, making the task of finding the correct balance of components all the more important. For over two decades Tom’s Hardware has brought you news and reviews of the latest in PC hardware, while the famous forum has grown to more than 2 million members. Because of their expertise and the constant requests for help and tips for PC builds, our members have developed a talent for finding the best prices and putting together the best system builds. We received numerous submissions and enjoyed examining all of your PC builds, but we could ultimately only select one system per price range – thanks to the readers and forum members who participated! As always, feel free to quibble in the comments, and submit your own ideas next time around.

Best Custom PC Builds For Gaming

  • The Little Engine that Could Be Upgraded$500 Build$498.81Build Total
    • CaseRosewill FBM-X1 MicroATX Mini Tower Case
    • Cooling✗
    • CPUAMD Ryzen 5 1400
    • GraphicsEVGA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
  • No Compromises$1,000 Build$992.42Build Total
    • CaseNZXT H500 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case
    • Cooling✗
    • CPUAMD Ryzen 5 2600
    • GraphicsSapphire Radeon RX 580 8GB
  • A Little More Than A Thousand Dollahs$1,500 Build$1,491.27Build Total
    • CaseFractal Design Meshify C Mini Dark TG
    • Cooling✗
    • CPUAMD Ryzen 7 2700X
    • GraphicsGigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
  • Quiet & Reliable Work Machine$2,000 Build$1,986.13Build Total
    • CaseCooler Master Silencio 652S
    • CoolingNoctua NH-U12S 55.0 CFM
    • CPUIntel Core i7-8700K
    • GraphicsZotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
  • Two is Better Than One$5,000 Build$4,967.01Build Total
    • CasePhanteks Mini XL
    • Cooling✗
    • CPU2x AMD Ryzen

It’s been another tumultuous year for the PC market. We’re (hopefully) past the worst of the price hikes caused by crypto miners, and SSD prices are continuing to fall. The second generation Ryzen processors gave Intel even stronger competition, leading Team Blue to respond with its own impressive 9th Generation Core chips, despite continuing issues with 10nm production.

AMD has been mostly silent on the graphics front, while Nvidia’s new Turing cards have stoked controversy over their high prices and new features (like ray tracing and machine learning-assisted super sampling, or DLSS) with no game support in the weeks and months after launch. Memory prices also remain high, but there are signs it may fall significantly in 2019.

In this update, all categories are only limited by budget. It should be noted, that these builds were assembled around the launch of Intel’s 9th Generation Core CPUs, so they will not be present in this article. Further, availability of those chips, particularly at or near their MSRPs, has been pretty tight. We’ll create some new builds once that situation settles down and we’ve reviewed more 9th Generation Core SKUs.

The text accompanying each build below is provided by the forum member who designed it, giving you more insight into their system building process.

Best $500 PC Build

“The Little Engine that Could Be Upgraded” – Built By: Barty1884

MORE: How To Build A $500 Gaming PC

MORE: AMD vs. Intel: Which PC Build is Better for Under $500?

At $500, my goal was to create a solid foundation for a build that would support a GPU upgrade in the future. While the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 or AMD Ryzen 3 2200G was an obvious choice, with games starting to utilize 4 or more computing tthreads, the AMD Ryzen 5 1400 seemed a more appropriate long-term solution, especially true when paired with a B350 motherboard to allow for overclocking and sufficiently fast memory. For storage, I considered a single 500GB SSD, but in the end decided on the best balance of speed and capacity available. A solid, while unexceptional, SuperFlower-made PSU finalized the foundation. With the remaining budget, my GPU options were limited between a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or a cut down AMD RX 560. In this case there was a clear winner: the GTX 1050. The result is a solid 1080p gaming system, with upgrade potential for years to come.

MORE: Best CPUs

MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

Best $1,000 Main Stream Gaming PC Build

No Compromises” – Built By: TechyInAZ

MORE: How To Build A $1,000 Gaming PC

My strategy for this build was to provide the highest-quality components that were most appropriate for $1,000. Instead of skimping on some components for a beefier GPU, I wanted this build to be great across lots of categories, like excellent overclocking capability, excellent upgrade path for the future and very reliable system components (that will allow you to upgrade the CPU, RAM and GPU without worry).

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

Best $1,500 Streaming and Gaming PC Build

A Little More Than A Thousand Dollahs” – Built By: LutfiJ

MORE: How To Build A $1,500 Gaming PC

I decided to go with a Ryzen 7 2700X, since it’s known to be a good all-rounder without breaking the bank. The board followed suit with a capable power delivery, a blank canvas to introduce color to the build and possible upgradeability down the road. Although rated to run at DDR4-3000MHz out of the box, as with most G.Skill RAM kits, the 16GB kit can be pushed to higher specs, which I hope can go to DDR4-3200MHz~3466MHz with tight timings and marginal voltage increments. A sleek medium form factor case with a tempered side panel was on my short list since a streamer, at some point in time, needs to show off their system and it’s innards. The Meshify C met that requirement while also allowing great airflow and watercooling support. Lastly, I didn’t want anything less than an 80+ Gold rated PSU in order to maintain good power efficiency while churning out all that 4K-ish goodness from the GTX 1080 Ti and 650 watts of power will provide some headroom for overclocking and future upgrades.

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

Best $2,000 High End Content Creation and Gaming Rig

Quiet & Reliable Work Machine” – Built By:Arthur.Prieto

MORE: How To Build A $2,000 Gaming PC

For me, the most important thing is to have a reliable machine, to avoid any issues with my personal work. A noiseless system is also something important, to to help me concentrate.

CPU: The Intel Core i7-8700K 3.7GHz 6-core processor was the best and more reliable processor from this year. Intel has a history of being the best choice in terms of temperature and also reliability.

  • CPU Cooler: The Noctua’s NH-U12S is the perfect match to the LGA 1151 CPU socket, since air coolers are simpler than liquid coolers. In a liquid system, there’s a chance to have leakage, and pump and fan failure. Noctua has an impeccable tradition or reliability with long warranties and less chance for something to go wrong. And of course, their fans tend to be quiet.
  • Motherboard: The ASRock Fatal1ty is, in my opinion, the best balance of cost and benefit, while being stable.
  • Memory: G.Skill Trident Z 32GB. G.Skill also delivers a great balance of cost and features, with a lifetime guarantee and low incidence of failure.
  • Primary Storage: Samsung’s 860 EVO 250GB 2.5-inch SSD will house the OS and important programs. It’s fast and reliable.
  • Secondary Storage: After much searching, I’ve found Toshiba’s X300 4TB 3.5-inch 7,200 RPM hard drive has a lower incidence of failure. I have a Toshiba hard drive which was used 24/7 for the past 6 years and is still working. For all my files and documents, all my work, I need a drive something that I can trust to avoid loses.
  • Graphics: Zotac’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is one of the bests 1080 Ti cards on the market. Zotac in the past years has been shown to be one of the best video card brands.
  • Case: Cooler’s Master Silencio 652S ATX Mid Tower Case is simple, quiet and well-cooled. It’s also priced well for a big name-brand case, while not taking up to take up too much space.
  • Power Supply: SeaSonic’s PRIME Ultra Platinum 750W is reliable, with a long long warranty and lower noise.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How To Choose A Monitor

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Best Tech Deals for Christmas 2018: SSDs, Storage, CPUs, GPUs and More

The final crunch is here. Retailers are offering expedited shipping to ensure your holiday purchases arrive on time for Christmas Eve. Prime members have until Sunday for 1-day shipping or Monday for same-day shipping (in select cities).  

As far as deals are concerned, we’re seeing solid buys on all sorts of internal components (SSDsCPUsGPUs), laptopsdesktops and peripherals. We’re listing some of our favorite below.  

Favorite Deals

Gaming Deals

PC Monitor Deals 

What kind of deals do you want to see ?

  • Tap to choose

STREAMING DEALS

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 2018 Fire TV Stick 4Koffers the perfect balance of functionality, price, and performance. It’s back on sale at the same price it was on Black Friday.  

Was: $49.99Is Now: $34.99$

Save $15SEE DETAILS on Amazon

Amazon Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube has built-in Alexa and can dim lights and control all your A/V gear. It supports 4K at 60fps as well as HDR content. It’s now at its second-best price ever.

Was: $119.99Is Now: $69.99$

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Amazon Fire TV Recast

The Fire TV Recast connects to an HDTV antenna, and then streams content via Wi-Fi or Ethernet to any connected Fire TV-enabled device. Both the500GB and 1TB model are on sale.

Was: $229.99Is Now: $189.99$

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Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Fire TV Stick focuses on Amazon apps, which makes it a good choice for existing Amazon customers. It’s now at the same price it was on Black Friday. 

Was: $39.99Is Now: $24.99$

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Roku Express

The Roku Express can turn any HDMI-based TV into a smart TV. It supports 1080p resolution, but unlike the Roku Stick, the Express only supports 802.11b/g/n networks.

Was: $29.99Is Now: $24.99$

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SMART-HOME DEALS

Google Home Mini

Walmart has the Google Home Mini on sale for $29. That’s the best price we’ve seen for Google’s smart home device. It normally sells for $49. Need two? Get this 2-Pack for $50.  

Was: $49Is Now: $29$

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Google Home Hub w/ Home Mini 2-Pack

Google Home can do it all — from answering your questions about the world to running your smart home and all its connected devices. Currently, B&H is bundling 2 Home Minis w/ your Hub purchase.

Was: $149Is Now: $129$

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Amazon Echo Dot (2018)

Amazon’s least-expensive Alexa speaker just got more affordable. The 2018 Echo Dotis now only $29.99, a $20 discount on an Editor’s Choice device.  

Was: $49.99Is Now: $29.99$

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Sonos One w/ Alexa

The Editors’ Choice Sonos Onefeatures full voice control, room-filling sound, instant pairing with other Sonos One speakers, and built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Buy 2and save $50.

Was: $199Is Now: $179$

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Amazon Echo 2nd Generation

Amazon’s second-gen Echo is more attractive and affordable than the original, and it sounds just as good, too. The Editors’ Choice speaker is currently $69.99.

Was: $99.99Is Now: $69.99$

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TOYS DEALS

Hasbro Gaming Rubik’s Cube

The 3 x 3 Rubik’s Cube features many combinations. Twist, turn, and rotate to match all of the colors and solve the puzzle. For a limited time, it’s $9 off.

Was: $13.77Is Now: $4.36$

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Star Wars Walk ‘n Roar Chewbacca

The Star Wars Walk ‘n Roar Chewbacca makes a great addition to any Star Wars collection and features a squeezable 12-inch squeezable plush body that emits authentic sounds. Grab it now for $13 off. 

Was: $24.99Is Now: $11.99$

Save $13SEE DETAILS on Best Buy

Star Wars Darth Vader Voice Changing Boombox

The Star Wars Darth Vader Voice Changing Boombox lets you sound just like the movie character. It’s audio player compatible so you can listen to your own music. For a limited time, it’s just under $9.

Was: $39.99Is Now: $8.99$

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SMARTWATCHES DEALS

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa is the perfect smartwatch for most people. It can monitor your heart rate and track your workouts, runs, and more. The Bluetooth-enabled watch uses your phone’s GPS to map your runs.

Was: $199.95Is Now: $148.96$

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CONSOLES DEALS

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is a must for any Switch owner. It’s one of the most joyous games we’ve played. Walmart has it for just $45. 

Was: $59.99Is Now: $45$

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SPEAKERS DEALS

OontZ Angle 3 Solo Speaker

This travel-friendly, weather-resistant speaker produces bright, clear vocals and crisp treble. Today only, it’s down to its lowest price ever. 

Was: $24.99Is Now: $15.99$

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DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT DEALS

Amazon 99-Cent Rentals

Need some holiday entertainment? Amazon is offering various digital movie rentals for just 99 cents each. 

A Quiet Place

Kung Fu Hustle

Airplane!

Gravity

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Deliverance

Was: $5.99Is Now: $0.99$

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HEADPHONES DEALS

Bose SoundSport in-Ear Apple Headphones

Great for working out, the Bose SoundSport in-Ear Apple Headphones are sweat resistant. They also stay in place no matter how much you move around. For a limited time they’re $55 off. 

Was: $99.95Is Now: $44.95$

Save $55SEE DETAILS on Bose

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Headphones

The Editors’ Choice Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphonesdeliver rich audio and superior active noise-cancelling technology in a sleek, comfortable frame. They’re now at their lowest price of the year. 

Was: $349Is Now: $299$

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Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds

 If you’re on the hunt for a pair of wireless Bluetooth buds for working out, the Elite Active 65tare the best earbuds you can buy.

Was: $189Is Now: $139.99$

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Bose SoundLink Wireless Headphones

Bose SoundLink Wireless Headphones deliver deep immersive sound and feature a built-in mic for clear HD calls. For a limited time, it’s $80 off its normal selling price. 

Was: $279Is Now: $199$

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MONITORS DEALS

Acer 32-inch 4K FreeSync Monitor

The 32-inch Acer ET322QK features 4K resolution, 4ms response time, and FreeSync support. Use coupon “EMCEREX45” to drop its price to an all-time low of $299.99. Deal is valid through 12/24.

Was: $499.99Is Now: $299.99$

Save $200SEE DETAILS on Newegg

Dell 32-inch 1080p IPS Monitor

The Dell D3218HN is a 32-inch 1080p IPS monitor with a thin bezel and wide viewing angles. For a limited time, it’s $150 off. 

Was: $299Is Now: $149$

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CONSOLE GAMING DEALS

Nintendo Switch w/ $25 GC

The Switch can morph between a traditional console, multiplayer tabletop device, or handheld. Amazon is bundling it with a free $25 gift card.TargetGameStop, and Best Buy have similar deals. 

Was: $324.99Is Now: $299$

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Marvel’s Spider-Man

The best Spider-Man gameever made is $20 off at Amazon, which is $4 cheaper than it was on Black Friday and the best deal we’ve seen on this game. 

Was: $59.99Is Now: $39.99$

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Xbox One S Forza Horizon 3 Bundle

B&H Photo currently has the best Xbox One S deal of the year. It includes the 500GB console, Forza Horizon 3 download, and Forza 3 Hot Wheels DLC for $179.99 via a clickable on-page coupon. 

Was: $279.99Is Now: $179.99$

Save $100SEE DETAILS on B&H Photo

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The Switch Pro Controller is the ideal way to play Nintendo games offering built-in Amiibo support, motion controls, and HD rumble. 

Was: $69.99Is Now: $55.99$

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GADGET DEALS

APC SurgeArrest Surge Protector

Keep your devices charged and protected with the APC 6-Outlet Surge Protector. It features six surge protected outlets. Click the on-page coupon to drop its price to just $5.99.

Was: $9.99Is Now: $5.99$

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TV DEALS

Vizio 55-inch Smart Display w/ HDR

Vizio’s 55-inch M55-E0 4K Smart XLED Display offers full-array local dimming technology, support for HDR content, and Vizio’s SmartCast smart TV platform. 

Was: $698Is Now: $398$

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STREAMING-DEVICE DEALS

Roku Ultra

The Editor’s Choice Roku Ultrais the streaming media player for binge-watchers who need access to the widest variety of content in full 4K HDR. 

Was: $89.99Is Now: $69.99$

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Google Chromecast Ultra

The Google Chromecast Ultrais a budget streamer that can deliver 4K HDR content. It’s currently $10 off.  

Was: $69Is Now: $59$

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TABLETS DEALS

Amazon Fire HD 8 2018

Amazon’s 2018 Fire HD 8packs an improved 2MP front-facing camera and features a new hands-free Alexa mode. It’s now $30 off.

Was: $79.99Is Now: $49.99$

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GAMING DEALS

Corsair Void PRO RGB Gaming Headset

With the Corsair Void PRO RGB Gaming Headset, you get all day comfort and exceptional sound. Enhance your gaming experience with genuine Dolby 7.1 surround sound. Own them now for $40 off list. 

Was: $99.99Is Now: $59.99$

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HARDWARE DEALS

Best Choice 9-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set

The Best Choice 9-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set is a must have for every tinkerer and hobbyist. Made of durable steel, they offer long lasting reliability. For a limited time this set is $4 off. 

Was: $13.99Is Now: $9.99$

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MODEM DEALS

Netgear CM500 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Stop renting your cable modem. The Netgear CM500 works with Xfinity, Cablevision, Spectrum, Cox, and other ISPs. Click the coupon underneath its price to save $10 and pay just $44.99.

Was: $59.99Is Now: $44.99$

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SSD DEALS

Crucial MX500 1TB SSD

Amazon has the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD for $118.99. That beats the best Black Friday price we saw for this SSD. If you don’t require that much storage, you can also get the500GB model for $61.74.

Was: $134.99Is Now: $118.99$

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PRINTERS DEALS

Samsung Xpress Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer

Enjoy mobile printing at home or at the office with the Samsung Xpress Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer. It prints up to 21 ppm for fast and efficient productivity. For a limited time, it’s $65 off. 

Was: $99.99Is Now: $34.99$

Save $65SEE DETAILS on Office Depot

LAPTOPS DEALS

Overpowered Laptop 17+ w/ 256GB, GTX 1060

Walmart’s Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is on sale. It packs a Core i7-8750H CPU, 32GB RAM, 256GB SSD w/ 2TB HDD, and GTX 1060. Build could be better, but you won’t find better specs at this price.

Was: $1,699Is Now: $999$

Save $700SEE DETAILS on Wal-Mart

MSI GV62 Laptop w/ 256GB SSD, GTX 1060

MSI engineered this laptop with a Core i5-8300 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and a GTX 1060 GPU. It includes a Fortnite bundle with 2,000 V-bucks and a Street Ops pack.

Was: $999Is Now: $799$

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STORAGE DEALS

Samsung EVO 128GB microSD Card

The Samsung EVO 128GB microSD Card delivers read and write speeds up to 100MB/s. Get it now for $22 off. 

Was: $41.99Is Now: $19.99$

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LAPTOP DEALS

Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY Notebook

Dell designed this notebook with a 4K touchscreen display, an Intel Core i7-5700HQ processor, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU. It’s well suited for gaming and work tasks.

Was: $1,099.99Is Now: $959.95$

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WIRELESS-ROUTER DEALS

Asus RT-AC56R Dual-Band Wireless Router

Asus designed its RT-AC56R router to transmit simultaneously using 802.11ac and 802.11n network protocols, giving it a maximum data rate of 1,167Mbps. Coupon code “EMCRCBR33” lowers it to $49.99.

Was: $99.99Is Now: $95.99$

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Walmart’s Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3 Review: Budget for a Reason

Gaming is an expensive hobby, thanks not only to regular purchases of new titles but also because of the price of powerful hardware. But Walmart, known for its bargain-bin pricing, and Esports Arena have teamed up to produce the Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3 ($1,699, no availability in the UK), a slightly underpriced gaming desktop that had to cut some corners to save some money. Sure, you can save a few bucks and get a solidly specked GTX 1080 desktop, but we’d rather spend a little more money for a product from an established brand with quality components inside.

OVERPOWERED GAMING DESKTOP DTW3

PROS

  • Solid gaming performance
  • Cheap

CONS

  • Gaudy and ugly
  • Occasional slowdowns
  • Not enough dust filters
  • So-so cable management
  • Some questionable parts

VERDICT

Walmart’s Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3 is cheap and offers solid gaming performance, but those savings come from questionable parts, which are housed in a questionable design.3/5$1,699Wal-MartAdvertisement

Design

The Overpowered DTW3 is a big, gaudy tempered glass box. And not only is it ugly, but it’s not great for airflow.

Well, I think that it’s ugly. The box has three fans in the front, all of which have very visible LED lights around the rims to provide an RGB-style experience (a fourth fan, in the back, is the same way). The box is a very dark tempered glass, which emphasizes the effect. This could potentially be cool if there were more RGB parts inside the case, but it just makes it hard to see any parts that aren’t the fans.

The Overpowered branding is impossible to miss. There’s a badge with the full name on the front above the fans and a massive “OP” decal on the left side. The “O” features the Esports Arena logo (that’s an organization with a few Esports training facilities, mostly in the western United States), which looks a lot like two people preparing for a romantic embrace.

The right side panel, however, is solid metal that covers the cable management.

Outside of controlling the LEDs with software, there is an LED button on the top of the case to cycle through effects. Additionally, the desktop comes with a remote control for different colors, speeds and patterns.

And while I think that the design is over-the-top, many in my office who were attracted to our testing lab by the flashing lights thought it looked cool. Most of them are people who shop at big-box stores and would never build a gaming desktop, so it’s possible that while I’m snobbish about it, Walmart is doing something right with its aesthetics. If you want your attention grabbed, this light show will do it.

My big issue with the design from a functional perspective is that there’s not much room for airflow in the front. The glass leaves almost no space for air to come in through the intake fans, and there’s also no dust filter to keep the whole thing clean (there are two dust filters on the bottom of the machine). In the long run, that can lead to some high temperatures.

At 18 x 16.2 x 7 inches (457.2 x 411.5 x 177.8 mm), it takes up quite a bit of room on top of  a desk, but it’s not much bigger than competing mid-towers like the Asus ROG Strix GL12 (18 x 15.7 x 7 inches).

Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core i7-8700
MotherboardGigabyte H370M DS3H ATX
Memory32GB DDR4 2400MHz (2x 16GB)
GraphicsGigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming OC 11G
StorageToshiba DT01ACA200 2TB 7,200 RPM, 3.5-inch
ADATA ISSS316 512GB SATA SSD
Optical Drive
NetworkingEthernet port
PortsFront: (2) USB 3.0, (1) USB 2.0, headphone, microphone, LED button, power button
Rear: PS/2, (2) USB 2.0, DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB Type-C, (3) USB 3.1, Ethernet, audio ports
Video OutputHDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA
Power SupplyGreat Wall GW-ATX650BL 650W
CaseTempered-glass
Cooling4x Case fans
1x CPU fan
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
ExtrasRGB remote, LED controller
Dimensions 18 x 16.2 x 7 inches (457.2 x 411.5 x 177.8 mm)
Price As Configured$1,699

Ports and Upgradeability

The port situation on the DTW3 is pretty standard. On the top, there’s the LED button alongside the microphone and headphone jacks, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a single USB 2.0 port.

The back includes three USB 3.1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB Type-C 3.1 and a variety of audio jacks. The GPU has its own HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI port.

Most of the DTW3’s innards are accessible by removing the glass panel on the left side. That comes off with four thumb screws. If you want to take out the GPU, you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the support bracket.

To get to the power supply and storage, you’ll need to remove the right metal panel, which is held into the back by two more thumb screws. Our configuration had a SATA SSD and a hard drive in the drive bay, and the mess of cables from the PSU were all hidden beneath a PSU shroud.

In general, the cable management isn’t horrendous. It’s handled decently in the back, though there are definitely a handful of cables connecting to the motherboard that should have been re-routed for a cleaner look. At least all of the parts are standardized, so you can replace them.

We know other reviewers have seen glue on certain Overpowered Gaming Desktop models. But we detached all of the cables on our DTW3 and found no adhesive at all. We only tested this model, though, so we can’t speak for its presence on the DTW1 or DTW2.

Gaming, Graphics and VR

With a GTX 1080 Ti packing 11GB of VRAM,  it should be no surprise that the Overpowered DTW3 was able to run our gaming benchmarks with aplomb. When I played Seraph’s skirmish mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at 4K and the highest settings, it ran between 59 and 64 frames per second (fps). When I dropped it down to 1920×1080, it reached a smoother range of 166 to 197 fps.

On Hitman (FHD, ultra settings), it ran the game at 142 fps, easily surpassing the 93-fps average (which includes systems with lesser graphics cards). When I ratcheted the benchmark up to 4K, it dropped to a still-playable 68 fps.

On Rise of the Tomb Raider (FHD, very high) it ran at 93 fps, again surpassing the average of 71 fps. But it dropped to a flat 30 fps at 4K, making it just playable.

The DTW3 played Grand Theft Auto V (FHD, very high) at 114 fps but dropped to 38 fps at 4K. The FHD average is 78 fps.

It earned a perfect score of 11 of the SteamVR performance test, surpassing the average of 9.6.

I also ran a stress test on the DTW3, which involved running our Metro: Last Light benchmark 10 times in a row on very high settings at 1920×1080, simulating roughly half an hour of gaming. The Walmart PC played the game at an average of 95.5 fps, running between 94 and 97 fps in each run. The CPU ran at an average of 3.6 GHz and an average temperature of 54.6 degrees Celsius (130.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

Performance

The Overpowered DTW3’s Intel Core i7-8700 CPU, 32GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, 2TB, 7,200-rpm HDD and 256GB SATA SSD should be enough for most users to get through their workflows without issues. I did experience a surprising amount of slowdown on occasion while just using the file manager and opening and closing programs. But when it was running smoothly, I could get my usual 25 or so tabs in Google Chrome, as well as an FHD Twitch stream without any problems.

On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the DTW3 earned a score of 23,722, surpassing the gaming desktop average of 20,153.

The DTW3 took 29 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, which equates to a sluggish 175.5MBps. The average is 359.2MBps.

It took the DTW3 33 seconds to pair 65,000 names and addresses in our Excel macro test, and the average is 0:34.

And on Handbrake, it took the DTW3 8 minutes and 15 seconds to transcode our 4K video to 1080p, which is behind the average of 6:59.

Software and Warranty

Besides the usual junk included in Windows 10, like Netflix, Candy Crush Friends Saga, Fitbit Coach and Drawboard PDF, the DTW3 doesn’t have any extra bloatware on it. None.

Walmart sells the Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3 with a two-year warranty.

Odd Part Choices

Besides the Gigabyte-branded motherboard and GPU and Intel’s CPU, there are a lot of cheap parts in this rig. The SSD is a SATA drive from Adata, which isn’t bad, and the hard drive is from Toshiba (oddly, it was partitioned into four equal parts).

But it gets scarier when you get to the CPU cooler, with a fan from Coonong, and the power supply from Great Wall. If you haven’t heard of these companies, well, I don’t blame you. They certainly don’t have any well-known reputation to go by (and I doubt that PSU has any sort of 80 Plus efficiency rating), so you’re definitely getting at least a few less-than-stellar parts even though you’re paying $1,699.

Configurations

The DTW3 is the most expensive Overpowered desktop at $1,699 for an Intel Core i7-8700, Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming OC 11G, 512GB SSD, 2TB HDD and 32GB of RAM.

The cheaper DTW1 ($999) has the same CPU but bumps the GPU down to a GTX 1070 and has a smaller 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM.

For those who want something in-between, the $1,499 DTW2 has a GTX 1080 but is otherwise identical specs to the DTW3.

Is This a Deal?

Walmart is known for its bargain prices, but the Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3 isn’t exactly cutting any prices.

If you’re looking to get a pre-built machine, there are other sellers with better reputations who may give you better parts for a similar price.

For instance, on Alienware’s website, I put together an Alienware Aurora with the same CPU, a GTX 1080 Ti, 16GB of RAM (rather than the 32GB on the DTW3), a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (instead of a slower, larger 512GB SATA SSD) and a 2TB HDD for just $110 more. Additionally, the Aurora is a better looking system.

Building an HP Omen Obelisk, I went just over $1,800 for a system with a GTX 1080, but at least I know I’m getting HyperX memory and a 500-watt power supply with an 80 Plus bronze efficiency rating.

Granted, every other pre-built PC at other builders, like Falcon Northwest, is expensive (its Talon and Tiki start at $2,200). 

But here’s the thing: I couldn’t get it cheaper. Those no-name components do cut costs. And some people really just want the cheapest thing, not the best thing, though I wouldn’t recommend that.

Bottom Line

Immediately upon launch, the internet decided to love to hate the Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3. Esports Arena could maybe do a gaming PC, but Walmart? Well, there’s a lot going wrong here, but the hate is somewhat misplaced. For someone who is truly looking for a bargain above all else and has no interest in building their own, it’s hard to beat the price, and the GTX 1080 Ti still offers solid performance.

No, the cooling situation isn’t great. No, there’s not great RGB control. No, the cable management is far from perfect. What I suggest is that, if you can afford it, you go to either a local computer store or a vendor with a solid reputation and spend $100 to $200 more for a machine with better air flow and higher-quality parts.

Yes, it’s cheap, but if you’re going to buy a PC, you want it to last years and run well. I appreciate Walmart’s freshman attempt, but there are too many little mistakes and curious part choices to wholeheartedly recommend it. If price is everything, consider this. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops

MORE: How To Build A PC

MORE: All PC Builds Content

Overpowered Gaming Desktop DTW3$1,699Wal-Mart

Photo Credit: Tom’s Hardware

Posted on 294 Comments

Walmart’s Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ Review: Sam’s Choice, Not Ours

Walmart surprised enthusiasts this year when it decided to enter the gaming PC market with its own line of laptops and desktops under the “Overpowered” moniker. The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is the discount store’s most high-end notebook, so it comes with some gaudy specs: a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM and a comfy mechanical keyboard. When we started this review, the laptop was priced at $1,700, but Walmart recently rolled back the price to $1,299 (not available in the UK). Still, this rig is the opposite of its name, with a charger that keeps popping out and some aesthetic design flaws that make it hard to recommend.

OVERPOWERED GAMING LAPTOP 17+

PROS

  • Above-average productivity performance
  • Clacky RGB keyboard with fun design
  • Deck has RGB light bar

CONS

  • Ill-fitting charger
  • Garish Overpowered branding
  • Build quality is lacking
  • Speakers could be louder and less muffled

VERDICT

The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is carried by strong performance and a responsive keyboard but marred by excessive logos and a very problematic charger.2.5/5$999Wal-MartAdvertisement

Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ Specs

Display17.3 inches, Full HD (1920×1080), 144Hz 
CPUIntel Core i7-8750H
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), Intel UHD Graphics 630
Memory32GB DDR4-2666
SSD256GB SATA, supports NVMe (SK Hynix)
HDD2TB, 5,400 RPM
Optical
ConnectivityM.2 2230 with CNVI Interface (Intel 9)
IEEE802.11 b/g/n/ac
1x Ethernet jack
Ports1x USB 2.0 
2x USB 3.0
1x USB-C
1x 2-in-1 SD card reader
1x HDMI
2x Mini DisplayPort
Audio2x Realtek Audio speakers (2W)
1x headphone jack
1x microphone jack
Camera720p, Windows Hello
Battery40.7Wh
Power Adapter180W
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Dimensions (WxDxH)15.6 x 10.3 x 1 inches (396.2 x 261.6 x 25.4mm)
Weight5.68 pounds (2.6kg)
ExtraKensington lock slot
Price (as configured)$1,299 (not available in UK) 

Design

I sure got a lot of attention rocking the Walmart laptop. The most “overpowered” part of the machine is its branding. What everyone first notices is a toned-down version of the logo fromEsports Arena, an esports company with venues across the U.S., standing in as the letter “O” next to an angular “P” to represent the Overpowered brand.

That logo is there because Esports Arena partnered with Walmart to launch the Overpowered brand. But to me, the logo looks like two hairless people about to kiss, or one of those optical illusions where you can either see two heads or one vase. There’s no getting past it; everyone will know you have a Walmart laptop (and if your experience is like mine, they’ll have something to say about it). Besides that, the lid is plain, smooth black and will accrue plenty of smudges almost instantly.

Opening the laptop reveals even more Overpowered logos. There’s a small OP logo (kissing faces included) on the spacebar, as well a full “OVERPOWERED” logo (again, with those lovey-dovey faces) in silver on the deck’s upper-left corner.

The keyboard’s RGB buttons are angled into an octagon-like shape. Couple that with the bold, all-caps font, and you get a retro look. You’ll either love it or hate it. I, personally, appreciate it.

The soft-touch deck’s upper-right corner has a parallelogram-shaped power button with the on symbol shaped like a hexagon (are you seeing theme here?). To the left of that is a button for toggling between Office Mode, which sets the battery to low voltage, and Gaming Mode, which uses more battery power and sets the CPU and GPU to their maximum capacity. On the left, there’s a light bar with individual indicators for caps lock, battery status and power.

The deck also has an RGB light bar on the edge, which you can program with the included OP Control Center software (more on that later). There are separate options for plugged-in and on-battery, which both have individual R, G and B sliders, for making the light one static color. Alternatively, you can check off the “Colorful” box for constant color cycling. There’s also the not-so-helpful “Enter breathing mode when the computer sleep and plug in charger” (no, I did not make a typo there), as well as a toggle to turn the light bar off.

Slim bezels frame the display’s sides. A medium top bezel holds the webcam, while a thicker bezel sits on the bottom. Given the healthy 17.3-inch size of the display, the border isn’t overwhelming.

The left side houses a Kensington lock, an Ethernet jack, one USB 2.0 port, a microphone  jack and a headphone jack. The right side has a 2-in-1 SD card reader and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. On the back are two Mini DisplayPorts, one HDMI output, one USB Type-C and the port for the charger.

Vents run along the upper-third of the deck’s left and right sides, with two more vents on the hinge.

Overall, the laptop’s build quality has room for improvement. The plastic and hollow feel throughout the machine and among the keyboard and fake silver accents all make the laptop look cheap. 

The Overpowered 17+ weighs 5.7 pounds (2.6kg) and measures 15.6 x 10.3 x 1 inches (396.2 x 261.6 x 25.4mm). That’s lighter than other gaming laptops, like the Dell G7 15 (6.3 pounds, 15.3 x 10.8 x 0.9 inches) and Asus ROG Strix Scar II (6.3 pounds, 15.7 x 10.7 x 1 inches) but heavier than theAcer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition (5.5 pounds, 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches).

Gaming, Graphics and VR

With an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) graphics card and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, games were playable on the 17+ at 1080p and comparable (or better) than direct competitors. It also surpassed the category average in each of our tests.

When I played Middle Earth: Shadow of War (ultra settings), it ran between 47 and 75 frames per second (fps) but usually stayed in the 55 / 56 fps range. There was no stuttering, even when Mogg the Painted and Krakhorn cornered me like cowards.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (very high settings) ran at 37 fps, above average and better than the G7 with its GTX 1060 with Max Q (6GB). That score is also just shy of matching the Strix Scar II (GTX 1060) and Helios 300 Special Edition (GTX 1060 / Intel UHD Graphics 630).

On the Hitman benchmark (ultra settings with DirectX 12), it ran the game at 71 fps. This is better than the G7, although a hair worse than both the Scar II and Helios 300 Special Edition.

Grand Theft Auto V (very high settings) ran at 50 fps on the 17+, above average but a touch shy of matching the Scar II or Helios 300 Special Edition’s scores. It did, however, beat the G7 here.

The 17+ ran Metro: Last Light (high settings) at 46 fps, which surpasses the G7, while again just missing the marks of the Scar II and Helios 300 Special Edition.

The Walmart gaming laptop earned a 7 out of 11 on the SteamVR Performance Test, so it’s able to run your favorite VR titles with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Performance

With a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, the Overpowered 17+ handled average workloads well. With 20 Chrome tabs, including one streaming an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, I could hear Tobias yelling out double entendres without pause, even when switching through tabs. The laptop also surpassed or matched the average mainstream gaming PC score in all of our performance benchmarks.

On Geekbench 4.1, an overall performance test, the Overpowered 17+ earned an above-average score of 22,633. That score is also better than each of the comparison laptops, which all have the same CPU as the Walmart machine.

The Overpowered 17+ needed 25 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, a rate of 203MBps. That’s equal to the category average but pretty dismal compared to the Strix Scar II.

It took the Overpowered 17+ 35 seconds to pair 65,000 names and addresses in our Excel spreadsheet test. That’s faster than average and better than our competitors here.

The Overpowered 17+ also impressed during the Handbrake video editing test, where it transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 8 minutes and 59 seconds. Again, that’s quicker than the average laptop in this category and the comparison field.

Display

The 17.3-inch FHD display on the 17+ is bright and colorful. When I dove into an HD trailer for the upcoming Aquaman movie, I binged on a bounty of colors. Aquaman’s yellow-green eyes, multi-colored reefs and Mera’s bright red hair popped. But more impressive were water reflections throughout an aquarium and the strength of hues in darker scenes, such as Mera’s green costume in the night or gray sharks.

When watching the trailer from a perpendicular angle, the image was still viewable but with a small glare across the screen’s lower-third. This was more prominent in black parts of the image, where I could see my desk and RGB keyboard on the screen. While playing Middle Earth, I could see vivid details, like the intricacies of Tailon’s cape design, spots of red, orange and green in the earth and the red blotches and generally uneven skin tone of Ogg Cave Rat.

The 17+ is more colorful than the average gaming PC and offers more color than all of our comparison laptops. Its brightness is below average; however, it’s still brighter than the G7.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is one of the most distinct parts of the Overpowered 17+. Its keys’ octagonal design and bold font give it an old-school feel, while RGB provides modern flair.

While The keyboard’s springy switches appear to be mechanical and are very clacky and louder than your average membrane keyboard. They have an excellent 1.8mm of travel (we prefer a minimum of 1.5mm) and require 71 grams of force to press. That all leads to a very pleasant typing experience. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit 105 words per minute with a 0.6 percent error rate, which is very good for me.

You can control per-key lighting via the included OP Control Center software (more on that in the software section below). It includes the ability to make keys light up one at a time when pressed or a different color each time it’s pressed repeatedly. There are also 13 different effects options, and you can save up to five profiles. Other features include brightness, speed and direction control and the ability to turn off the RGB completely.

The 17+ features a wide, 5.2 x 2.8-inch (132.1 x 71.1mm) touchpad. I could hear my finger as it glided across the Mylar (a form of polyester resin) and glass touchpad and click is strong and audible. Windows gestures, like three- and four-finger taps and swipes, worked well thanks to Windows Precision drivers.

Audio

The 17+ has a pair of two-watt Realtek Audio speakers on the deck’s angular sides and one woofer next to the right speaker. Unfortunately, they aren’t particularly loud or booming. When I listened to The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” I found myself wanting to bump the volume louder even after reaching the max. Although all the instruments were audible, Brandon Flowers’ voice was muffled, making it even sadder that I couldn’t blast the song louder.

Upgradability

The 17+ is upgradable, but you have to remove a dozen Philips head screws to get inside. On our review unit, one of those screws had a sticker covering it that read “OVERPOWERED Warranty Seal.” That might make you think that breaking the sticker nulls the warranty, but that’s illegal. However, we don’t know if Walmart will give you trouble down the line with the warranty if you break the sticker.

The hard drive is replaceable after unscrewing seven Philips screws. The SSD is also secured with a single Philips screw. Our review unit had room forone more M.2 SSD. The RAM pops right out, and our machine had room for one more stick. We could also upgrade the M.2 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module by removing a single Phillips screw.

Battery Life

The 17+ lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes on our battery test, which browses the web over Wi-Fi, running a script and streaming video and webGL animations. This is below average for a premium gaming laptop and way below the G7’s battery life.

However, the bigger battery-related problem is the included power adapter. Mine fit very loosely into the laptop and would pop out if I moved the laptop even slightly. Since the charging port is in the back and the connector is L-shaped, it’s very easy for the connector to bump into your desk or lap and then get jostled out of the device. An ill-fitting adapter is one of the most common ways for laptops to break, so it’s very disappointing to see this in one that costs $1,299.

Heat

After 15 minutes of playing Middle Earth, I checked the 17+’s temperatures. The spot between the G and H keys was 42.9 degrees Celsius (109.2 degrees Fahrenheit), while the touchpad hit 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The bottom of the laptop reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). This laptop gets pretty toasty.

Webcam

The 720p, Windows Hello webcam on the 17+ produces true-to-life color. My skin tone was accurate (a rarity for me with webcams), as was my beige sweater and highlighted hair. I could even see minuscule details, like loose hairs. The white lights in our office just partially washed out nearby images.

Unfortunately, there was visual noise throughout the entire image, especially among darker blues and darker browns. My eyebrows were particularly blurry, and everything was a touch fuzzy.

Software and Warranty

Walmart’s Overpowered line comes with its own software, the OP Control Center, for controlling the RGB keyboard and LED light bar, as well as numerous gaming-related settings. It’s a simple application but includes the ability to switch between Gaming Mode, its fan-blasting Turbo Mode and Office Mode. In Office Mode, you can tweak fan speed or pick from min to max speed for temperatures measured from blue to red (cold to hot). System Monitor lets you pick between Game Mode, High Performance, Equilibrium Mode or Power Saving Mode and also shares information like temperatures and CPU usage.

Other OP Control Center features include toggles for locking the keyboard’s Windows button, keeping the USB ports open for charging when the laptop’s off or hibernating and making the discrete GPU the primary graphics option.

Our unit also came with Nvidia Control Panel and Dolby Access for tweaking sound. But it also brought along some bloatware: Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Friends Saga, Fitbit Coach, Microsoft News, Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Netflix.

Walmart sells the Overpowered 17+ with a limited one-year warranty.

Configurations

Our review configuration of the Overpowered 17+ is the only one available. It has a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32GB of RAM (which is probably overkill), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) GPU and handles storage with a 1TB hard drive and 256GB SSD (from SK Hynix, in our case). This is the most premium laptop in Walmart’s gaming laptop line and costs $1,299 (UK pricing not available).

If you’re on a budget, Walmart also has the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 15, with a 15.6-inch screen. It has a four-core Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a lesser GPU in the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB) and the same 1TB HDD but just 128GB of SSD storage. That will cost you $599.

The middle option is the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 15+ (15.6-inch screen). It comes with the same CPU, GPU and SSD as our review config. However, it has 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. Walmart sells it for $999.

Bottom Line

Walmart’s first attempt at a premium gaming laptop delivers solid productivity performance relative to its competitors. But we hoped for more value, including a better-looking design and a charger that fits properly. The latter is especially concerning because I fear the laptop losing its ability to charge altogether, which is a pricey fix. For $1,200 we’d like a more premium build. 

While gaming on the machine met expectations, you can get better frame rates at this price point and from a more reputable gaming laptop brand. The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition with the same CPU and GPU but 16GB of RAM and and 256GB SSD storage did better in our gaming benchmarks and is $50 cheaper. You get less storage and RAM, but storage is cheap and 32GB of RAM is probably more than you need in a gaming laptop of this caliber.

While it’s an RGB delight with a refreshingly bouncy keyboard, reliable performance and strong 17.3-inch display, there are better options at this price point than the Overpowered 17+.

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Dell G5 15 Gaming Laptop Review: A Good Starter Rig

While a heavy-set gaming laptop, the Dell G5 15 isn’t afraid to get a little sexy with it’s red and black styling inside and out. It’s a good fit for those seeking an entry-level gaming device that can handle moderate workloads. If that’s you, this machine ($899 / £669.00 to start, $949 / £762.81 as tested) may be a keeper, especially with its easy upgradeability and good battery life. However, competitors that cost just $100 more offer better performance and display quality. 

DELL G5 15

PROS

  • Superb battery life
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Powerful speakers
  • Red and black design

CONS

  • Fans are consistently audible when gaming
  • Mediocre performance
  • Display could be brighter and more colorful

VERDICT

The Dell G5 15 is a good entry-level gaming companion that can grow with you since it’s easy to upgrade. But don’t expect it to handle gaming at the highest settings or heavier workloads very well.3/5$881.99DellAdvertisement

Specifications

Display15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080), IPS with anti-glare
CPUIntel Core i7-8750H
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Memory8GB DDR4 2,666MHz
SSD128GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe
HDD1TB, 5,400-rpm
Optical
Connectivity802.11ac + Bluetooth 5.0, 1x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack
Ports3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ( 1x with PowerShare), 1x Thunderbolt 3, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x headphone/mic, 1x 2-in-1 SD card reader, 1x Noble lock slot 
AudioWaves MaxxAudio Pro speakers
Camera720p
Battery56 Whr
Power Adapter130w
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Dimensions (WxDxH)15.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches (38.9 x 27.5 x 2.5 cm)
Weight6.1 pounds (2.8 kg)
Price (as configured)$949.00 (£773.99)

Design

The G5 seduces with its attractive rear vents and its red and black color scheme. If you go with matte black, like our review sample, you get a smooth black lid with a bold, red Dell logo in the center framed on top by the gray hinge. You’ll have to excuse the smudges, which are inevitable on this magnesium alloy chassis. The machine is also available in Beijing red with black accents for most configurations (more on that in the Configurations section below).

The left side of the machine houses the Noble security lock slot, a jack for the power adapter, an RJ-45 ethernet port (10/100), a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port and an SD card reader. On the right side are HDMI 2.0, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB 3.1 Type-A and a headphone/mic jack.

The laptop’s hinge features thick, radiator-like lines running horizontally across. The front-facing edges of the machine’s lid and deck are also covered in rigid lines, although they’re thinner than the ones on the back of the machine. Overall, these lines contribute to the laptop’s high-tech look.

Opening the G5 reveals a whole lot of black and a touch of red. The deck features the island-style keyboard and a simple, white-LED power button on the upper right-hand corner. Red backlighting coupled with with red font makes the keyboard pop—even the Caps Lock button sports a red light when activated. Just for gamers, the W, A, S and D keys are outlined in a thin red border. Both the left and right side of the deck have a vertical line running down an out for a subtle angular look. 

Less subtle is how sharp the corners of the deck and lid are. These stabbed my palms occasionally. The deck has ample space,, although I’d prefer less real estate so my wrists can more easily reach my desk or wrist rest.

Keeping with its full-bodied looks, the G5’s display is framed by thick bezels. The bottom bezel is the thickest and sports a Dell logo.

The G5 is a heavyweight, even compared to othergaming laptops. It’s 6.1 pounds (2.8 kg) and measures 15.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches (389.1 x 274.8 x 24.9 mm). That’s more machine than the Lenovo Legion Y730, for example, (5.1 pounds, 14.4 x 10.2 x 0.95 inches) or the MSI GV62 8RE (5 pounds, 15.1 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches).

Gaming and Graphics

With an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB graphics card, our configuration of the G5 was acceptable but not particularly impressive while gaming at1080p.

When I played Middle Earth: Shadow of War on high settings, the game ran between 44 and 60 frames per second (fps) but usually stayed in the 45-55 fps range. I experienced no stuttering, whether I was battling a slave master or getting murcked by Ur-dag the Gluttonous. The G5’s fans were distracting at times, as they hummed audibly while I played — even when I wasn’t engaging in heavy action.

On Rise of the Tomb Raider (very high settings), the game ran at 25 fps, below the 30 fps playable threshold and the GV62 8RE, which has a higher grade Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GPU. This is a better score, though, than that of the Legion Y730, which has the same GPU as the G5.

The G5 played Hitman (ultra settings) at 57 fps, which is better than our two comparison laptops here but still below the mainstream gaming laptop’s average score.

In Grand Theft Auto V (very high), the G5 just managed to reach a playable frame rate but was still behind the Lenovo laptop and couldn’t compare to the MSI. It also failed to reach the category average here.

Again, we see the G5 just making the playable frame rate cut, with 31 fps when running Metro: Last Light (high). For what it’s worth, this is better than the Legion Y730 fared.

Performance

With a quad-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 8 GB of DDR4 RAM,the G5 chugged along okay when it came to light productivity but stumbled with more aggressive workloads.

With 25 Chrome tabs open, including ad-heavy sites and Netflix streaming an episode of Parks and Recreation, there was an occasional, but not consistent, pause between switching tabs. However, I could hear Leslie Knope’s optimistic voice playing continuously without stuttering.

On the Geekbench 4 test, the G5 fell behind the gaming laptop average. It also did worse than the Legion Y730, which has the same CPU but twice the RAM. In contrast, the G5 pulled one over on the GV62 8RE and its lesser Core i5-8300H CPU.

In our File Transfer test, the G5  copied 4.97 GB of files in 50 seconds, a rate of 102 MBps. That’s quite a drop from what the average gaming laptop in this price range can do, 295.3 MBps so it’s not surprising the G5’s score is also a snooze compared to those of our comparison laptops.

In our Excel Macro test the G5 was more impressive, pairing 65,000 names and addresses in just 43 seconds. Finally, the G5 managed (just barely) to come out on top, besting both its competitors and the category average.

When it came to transcoding a 4K video into 1080p via the Handbrake benchmark, the G5 needed 12 minutes and 14 seconds, longer than average. But to be fair, it was still fared batter than the MSI.

Display

The Dell G5 comes standard with a 15.6-inch IPSdisplay with anti-glare and Full HD (1920×1080) resolution.

When I watched an HD trailer for the upcoming live-action Pokémon movie (never thought I’d write those words) Detective Pikachu, I was a little disappointed (and not just because Ryan Reynolds has decided to voice Pikachu). Dark images, like black clothing and buildings were a strain to see. I wouldn’t have been able to tell that a Charmander walking across the foreground was orange if I didn’t already know that Charmanders are orange. 

A mostly black poster in the shadowy part of the protagonist’s bedroom about Dragonite and Hypno was almost impossible read without bending around to different angles. But the brightest colors, like Pikachu’s yellow coat and orange plumes from an explosion were luminous. From a perpendicular viewing angle, the content was still watchable but with a distracting glare going across the lower half.

Getting a good look at darker details in Middle Earthwas also challenging. Dark brown patches sticking out of the ground were bland and indistinct, and fine line details, like in the darker parts of Talion’s outfit or the shadows of stone walls were also more subtle.

It covers a mere 58 percent of sRGB color gamut, which is pretty mute compared to the Legion Y730 and below the average gaming laptop in this price range too. And the display’s 219-nit average brightness is a dim drop in the bucket compared to the Legion.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Despite the G5’s island-style keyboard having just 1.2 mm of travel (shy of our preferred 1.5 mm), its keys have some snap to them. With 74 grams of pressure required, the keys produce a decent clicking noise with each push; however, a little more travel would definitely improve the typing experience. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit 101 words per minute with a 3.3 percent error rate–a smidge higher than my typical 2 percent.

The 4.1 x 3.1-inch touchpad, with its brushed finish and red outline, is smooth and responsive but not slippery. You get a lot of bounce back when pressing it, which you can hear. Although the touchpad doesn’t have separate buttons, they work strongly with loud clicks. Windows gestures, like three-finger taps and swiping, worked without issue.

Audio

The G5 is almost as boisterous as it is thick. The volume was powerful and satisfying during a jam session of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.” Sound filled the room of our lab so well that I feared I was disturbing people outside. But sound wasn’t just loud; it was detailed. I could distinguish different instruments, and for the first time, I noticed distinct female voices singing alongside Brandon Flowers in the final iterations of the chorus.

When I play Middle Earth, sound effects also cut through, be it the menacing footsteps of Mogg the Painted running up on me or the throaty grumbliness of the Ur-dag’s voice before his club thudded on me with a traumatizing-ly accurate squirting noise.

Upgradability

The G5 is upgrade-friendly, with just one Phillips head screw separating you from its internal components. The M.2 SSD is removable after you unscrew one Phillips head screw, while the hard drive can also be swapped after removing four Phillips head screws. There was space for one more RAM stick in our review unit, which you may want if your config, like ours, has only 8 GB installed. While an open DIMM slot leaves room for another stick of DDR4 RAM, if the unit has to ship with 8 GB of RAM, we’d rather have two 4 GB (2x 4 GB) sticks than one 8 GB stick, since using a single channel halves memory throughput. However, Dell scores bonus points for letting users upgrade the M.2 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module–just remove another Phillips head screw.

Battery Life

It won’t last all day, but the Dell G5 has awfully good battery life for a mobile gaming rig. The 56 Whr battery lasted 6 hours and 17 minutes on our battery test, which browses the web over Wi-Fi. That is almost two hours longer than the average gaming laptop in this price range and embarrasses the Legion Y730 and GV62 8RE.

Heat

After running Metro: Last Light at medium settings for about 15 minutes, the spot between the G5’s G and H keys hit 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The touchpad reached 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit), and the bottom of the machine was 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit). We’d prefer a max temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Webcam

The 720p webcam on the G5 really wanted me to be darker and more orange than I am in real life. I was impressed that the white lights coming from our office’s overhead lights and the sun-filled window behind me didn’t wash things out (save for a bit of the window itself), but my skin was further skewed by the amount of visual noise permanently affixed to it.

Software and Warranty

The G5 comes pre-packed with Dell Mobile Connect for connecting your smartphone, Dell Power Manager and SupportAssist for monitoring hardware and software issues, Smartbyte network optimizer and Waves MaxxAudio Pro for tweaking audio.

Bloat is light  but includes a Dropbox promotion, LinkedIn and Microsoft Solitaire Collection, and McAfee Security and WebAdvisor.

Dell backs the G5 with a one-year limited hardware warranty.

Configurations

Our G5 review configuration came with a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 8 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4 GB GPU and both a 128GBSSD and 1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive. This configuration isn’t currently available from Dell directly, but you can find it at Newegg for $949(£762.81). Unfortunately, this version of the Dell G5 doesn’t seem to come in that juicy red color in the U.S.

If you’re on a budget, you can downgrade to a quad-core Intel Core i5-8300H CPU and drop the HDD in favor of a 256GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD only. This config comes with the same GPU and RAM as above and costs $899.99 in the U.S..

Those seeking the most beastly G5 can get an Intel Core i7-8750H, 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 1060 with Max Q and 6GB VRAM, meaning it’s VR-ready. It also sports a 256GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. This all costs $1,099.99.

UK shoppers have many configurations to choose from, ranging from £669.00 for an Intel Core i5-8300H, 8 GB RAM, a GTX 1050, 1 TB hard drive and, surprisingly, Ubuntu Linux 16.04, to £1,399.00 for an Intel Core i7-8750H, 16 GB RAM, GTX 1060 with Max Q, 512 GB SSD and 1 TB hard drive and Windows 10 Home.

Bottom Line

The Dell G5 15 is a sufficient machine for people gaming at moderate settings and who don’t run very intensive workloads. Plus, its red and black design is a treat for the eyes.

However, the machine was lackluster in our performance benchmarks, falling behind the category average multiple times. Its excessive heat and loud fans were mildly distracting when gaming, and its display is dimmer and less colorful than competitors’. If you have $100 more to spend, you can get more power and a more impressive display in the Lenovo Legion Y730. That machine did better in three out of four performance benchmarks, and its display blows the G5’s screen out of the bright-blue waters.

But the Dell G5 15 can handle moderate workloads and gaming, and its impressive battery life means the fun can continue longer than with many other gaming laptops. Further, you can improve performance on your own by upgrading its components, which Dell makes pleasantly easy. This is a solid starter gaming laptop, but one that’s not without its flaws.

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Intel ‘Ghost Canyon X’ NUCs Rumored to Come With Core i9 CPUs

A forum user at Chinese website PCEVA has leaked a roadmap for Intel’s upcoming NUC (next unit of computing) product line through 2020. This is an unverified leak, so you should take the information with a grain of salt. The new NUCs, purportedly codenamed “Ghost Canyon X,” will be available with processor options up to Intel Core i9 octa-core parts.

Credit: PCEVACredit: PCEVA
If the leaked roadmap turns out to be accurate, the Ghost Canyon X NUCs employ Intel’s 9th-generation Coffee Lake-H Refresh (CFL-HR) processors. The high-end models make use of the Core i9-9xxxH octa-core and Core i7-9xxxH hexa-core processors with Hyper-threading. These chips feature a 45W TDP (thermal design power) and will undoubtedly find their way into high-end mobile workstations and gaming laptops.

Credit: PCEVACredit: PCEVA
For those consumers that don’t need the power of an octa-core or hexa-core chip, the Ghost Canyon X NUCs are available with Core i5-9xxxH processors as well. The Core i5-9xxxH is a quad-core, eight-thread part that also has a 45W TDP.

Intel’s upcoming Ghost Canyon X NUCs reportedly rely on the chipmaker’s integrated UHD Graphics unit. However, there’s a PCIe x16 slot for consumers that want to upgrade the unit with a discrete graphics card. In terms of memory slots, the NUCs are equipped with two DDR4 slots and can house up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and modules with speeds up to 2,666MHz.

Storage connectivity comes courtesy of two M.2 slots that can accommodate SATA III and PCIe drives with lengths up to 110mm. Intel Ghost Canyon X NUCs are compatible with Intel Optane SSDs as well for consumers that want to take advantage of the new technology. Unfortunately, there is no mention of spacing for a regular 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD.

Video outputs on the rumored Ghost Canyon X NUCs come in form of three HDMI 2.0a ports powered by the Intel UHD Graphics. There are several options for connectivity. For a start, two Thunderbolt 3 ports are available and can provide up to 40Gbps of throughput. On the other hand, the list of conventional USB ports includes two in the front and six in the back although the leaked roadmap didn’t specify the nature of the USB ports.

Pricing for the Ghost Canyon X NUCs are unknown, but they are expected to be released in 2020.

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DRAM Prices Could Fall 10 Percent in 1Q19

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The DRAM market is continuing to correct itself. According to DRAMeXchange, manufacturers paid between 1.6 and 3.2% less for 4GB or 8GB PC DRAM modules in November than they did in October, and the research group predicts even sharper declines in the first quarter of 2019.

DRAM prices soared to new heights in early 2018 as demand far outpaced supply. This immediately resulted in high prices, and when the memory companies failed to increase their production adequately, regulators started to investigatepotential price-fixing. Once companies started to increase their production, the prices immediately started to fall. (Which is one reason why Samsung reportedly limited production in response.)

DRAMeXchange said in September that prices could drop by as much as 5% in 2018. Now the research group has said that prices could fall by as much as 10% in the first quarter of 2019 for PC DRAM, server DRAM, and specialty DRAM. Mobile DRAM isn’t expected to be as drastically impacted because prices didn’t rise as much the others. For everyone who doesn’t make a phone, though, that’s welcome.

Here’s the research group’s breakdown:

Item 4Q18 1Q19
PC DRAM Around -10% > – 10%
Server DRAM Around -10% > -10%
Mobile DRAM Discrete – 2~5%

eMCP -2~10%

> -5%
Consumer DRAM DDR3 ~-7%

DDR4 ~-10%

> -10%
DRAM ASP -7~10% > -10%

These price drops largely result from corresponding production increases, but tensions between the U.S. and China might also be helping matters. The countries have been using the DRAM market as one front in their latest trade war, withboth alleging that companies from either side of the Pacific have been unfairly competing in this segment. DRAMeXchange explained that this could result in a less predictable market:

“For the PC DRAM segment, DRAMeXchange expects the prices to decline by over 10% QoQ in 1Q19, because PC DRAM products are highly sensitive to the change in demand and supply situations. The continued supply increase, headwinds in the low season, and excess inventories would make the price drop steeper compared with this quarter. Similarly, server DRAM products would experience an even larger price drop. In addition to current high inventories held by server DRAM consumers and the seasonal headwinds, U.S-China trade disputes may also bring more uncertainties to the market.”

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Make Your Own Fortnite Fortnite Creative

Source: Epic GamesThere’s no denying how popular Fortnite has become. It’s the world’s most popular battle royale title, and because it also serves as a constantly operating meme factory, it’s also become a pop culture icon. Epic Games wants to build on that success by letting people make their own Fortnitegame modes via Fortnite Creative, a new program that kicks off on December 6 for Battle Pass owners and December 13 for everybody else.

Epic Games described Fortnite Creative as a “brand new way to experience the world of Fortnite” where you can “design games, race around the island, battle your friends in new ways, and build your dream Fortnite.” Everything will be saved on a private version of the battle royale mode’s island, which should allow players to experiment with pretty much anything they want to without affecting the game’s existing play modes.

Fortnite – Creative Announcement

This seems like an expanded version of the Playground mode that debuted in Fortnite: Battle Royale earlier this year. That mode allows players to wander around the island on their lonesome to experiment with new guns, building techniques, and other mechanics without having to worry about someone else sniping them from across the map. (Unless they’re practicing their sniping, in which case those long-range headshots are welcome.)

Fortnite Creative also hearkens back to Minecraft. People have used Mojang’s building game to make functioning calculators, recreate other games, and do other things nobody would’ve expected from a game about harvesting materials to create basic structures. The same could happen for Fortnite–the game’s system offers similar flexibility alongside more complex mechanics like advanced movement and third-person shooting.

Epic Games said it plans to support Fortnite Creative with “many new features and improvements over the next few updates” because it’s ” committed to making this bigger and better over time.” It will also be interesting to see if the company borrows from the community’s ideas–or perhaps even copies them outright–in more officialFortnite modes. Epic Games essentially just expanded Fortnite‘s dev team by millions of people.

Fortnite Creative will be free, too, even if it’s initially restricted to Battle Pass owners. The Battle Pass typically costs around $10 worth of the in-game V-Bucks per season, but it’s possible to amass that many V-Bucks without spending a dime. (Possible, but not exactly convenient.) That should help keep people invested in Fortnite even after the battle royale craze all-but-inevitably dies down as people latch on to the next trend.