Black Friday Goss deal, you should see how to make your choice

Black Friday is approaching, and one of the largest retailers in the UK is taking part of the high street favorite of Argos.

In Christmases gone by, children would sit cross-legged with the retailer’s famous catalogue, drooling over the latest toys and gadgets and ticking off their favourites ready for Father Christmas’ inspection.

Christmas shopping at Argos has changed a great deal since and begins for many on the day of the Black Friday sale, which falls on November 24 this year. A recent ‘digital trial’ at Argos stores in Inverness saw the retail giant remove the catalogues in store, to gauge customers’ reaction to the change.

Whether or not the catalogue remains, there’s no doubt that Argos has embraced the digital age for Black Friday. The shop’s web channels received around 12 million visits on the day itself last year, making the sales event a distinctly online phenomenon.

But Black Friday is not just for early Christmas shoppers. Many savvy shoppers chose to kit out their home at a time when products had their prices slashed. Everything from homeware to tech, like Samsung TVs and VR headsets, was on sale last year, with the most popular categories being TVs, mobiles, computers, video games and floorcare.

If you do want to take advantages of the sales, the amount on offer can be overwhelming. Here are our top tips for making the most of the discount day this year, from what time to shop to how to choose the right products.

How to avoid the queues

The sale does not take place entirely online but Argos stores can get busy during the sale. If you wish to avoid the queues it’s best to avoid the most popular time of day in the stores; last year this mid-late afternoon.

The most common way to avoid the queues is to shop online; if you’d rather avoid having to arrange delivery then Argos offer a Fast Track collection service. The free service allows shoppers to order online and collect from the Fast Track counter in-store, in as little as one minute. It effectively allows you to skip the queue, but if you don’t have time to pick up your purchase immediately the store will hold the item for seven days.

The service is increasingly popular as shoppers catch on to Argos’ hybrid of online and in-store shopping. Fast Track Collection has more than doubled year-on-year, and Argos delivered 263,000 products to 146,000 customers through the service across the four days of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend last year.

When is the most popular time to shop?

If you want to beat your fellow shoppers to make sure deals don’t run out, it’s worth knowing when they’re likely to be buying online.

Last year many people weren’t afraid to stay up late, presumably with a mug of cocoa, and check in on the sale as soon as it started. Within the first hour of deals going live at midnight, the Argos site received half a million visits – that’s a huge 8,000 visits per minute.

If you’re more of a morning shopper, you’re in good company. The biggest hour last year was 9-10am (versus 8-9 am the previous year, suggesting Argos customers have grown rather fond of a lie-in.) There were 720,000 visits to the Argos website during the hour, equating to 12,000 visits a minute and 18 orders per second.

There’s no need to stay home or fiddle around with public wifi to make the most of the sale on your laptop. More shoppers are making the most of the deals on their mobile devices, with 75pc of online customers shopping on mobile during last year’s sale.

Which products will be discounted and by how much?

It’s too early to tell exactly which products will be discounted because retailers like to keep their cards close to their chest until the last possible moment. But we can get an idea of what will be discounted by looking at where the deals fell last year.

The Black Friday sale was the retailer’s biggest ever day on wearable tech – up 60pc year-on-year.

Some of the most popular deals we found last time around included massive price cuts on Beats by Dre PowerBeats 2 Wireless Sports Headphones, which had price cuts from £149 down to just £99.

You could also pick up a major Xbox bundle with Forza Horizon 3 and Fifa 2017 for just £229 and an HP 15-inch laptop with £80 off for £349.99, while LG TVs were on sale for as little as £229.

How to make shop the sales

The Black Friday flurry can be confusing so we’ve compiled our top tips for avoiding any purchases you might regret. From floorcare to tech, here’s what to look out for.

How to choose a vacuum cleaner

When buying a vacuum cleaner it’s important to consider the demands of your home.

If you suffer from allergies then vacuums with HEPA filtration systems and other allergy relief products can help trap the vast majority of the smallest dust particles.

If you find the loud roar of a vacuum cleaner in full flow unbearable (or just don’t want to scare the cat), check the amount of decibels. The lower the amount, the quieter the vacuum cleaner.

Cord length is important if you are likely to be cleaning a large house with an upright or other vacuum with a cord.

If you are likely to be doing quick, regular clean ups or cleaning small areas, you may wish to pair your main upright or cylinder vacuum cleaner with a smaller, cordless cleaner. These lightweight cleaners come in various forms and some have additional attachments. Some switch between stick and handheld mode so they can be used on the car, stairs and other areas where a more traditional cleaner might prove cumbersome.

How to choose a TV

Argos stock TVs with screen sizes ranging from from 20 to 75 inches; most people opt for one from 40 inches wide or more for their main television in the living room.

How to choose a coffee machine

There are four main types of coffee machine designed for usage in the home: filter coffee machines, pod & capsule coffee machines, bean to cup coffee machines and espresso coffee machines.

Filter coffee machines are best for making large amounts of freshly brewed coffee. Water is filtered through ground coffee, absorbing the aroma and flavour of the coffee as it goes. It is served from a pot or a carafe that is often kept on a hot plate, so it can be used for refills.

Pod and capsule coffee machines bypass the need for filters (which you might need to clean) by packing all the coffee into a pod or capsule that releases its full flavour when water is pushed through it. There are different types to look out for: some use recyclable pods, while some use fresh milk and have a high pressure to create high quality espresso.

Bean to cup coffee machines do what they say on the tin. At the touch of a button, the coffee beans are ground and water is pushed through. The used coffee grounds are ejected and the machines pours it into a cup for you. Some come with a steam arm for you to froth your own milk, barista-style.

Espresso coffee machines have a water tank and a heating system which heats water to the correct temperature for an espresso crema. The water is then pushed through the coffee filter to produce a smooth espresso. Some have a steam arm for frothing milk and some can be used with pods or capsules.

How to choose a mobile phone

There are a number of things to consider when buying a new smartphone. The most important decision is the operating system: Android or iOS.

iOS is the operating system used by Apple iPhones. These phones have apps available on the Apple Store and are regularly updated and have a stylish, easy-to-use interface.

Android is used by a number of smartphone brands, including Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG. They have made something of a comeback this year, with aesthetically pleasing and powerful devices from the likes of Google, Samsung and OnePlus

Rather than the Apple Store, these phones use the Google Play store (which has around 2 million apps). There are a broad range of prices, specs, features and customisation.

If you wish to get into the nitty-gritty before buying your phone, consider the screen type. There are three main types:  LCD, AMOLED and Retina display.

LCD is the most common and provides bright colours and clear viewing angles, especially on higher-end devices that use the display. Retina Display is an Apple branded type of display, used on their devices where pixels are not visible to the naked eye. AMOLED are easy on Hp pavilion dv6700 battery life, and can be used on thinner phones.

Want your phone be adventure-proof? You should check out the dust and water resistant factor. The IP 67 and IP68 factors are both resistant to water and dust (IP67 is water resistant for 30 minutes up to 1m in depth, IP68 for 30 minutes up to 1.5m in depth) but they are designed for protection from, not use, under water. Bear in mind, trying to take photos or use apps under water is not recommended.

Review:Dell XPS 13 (2017)

DELL’s XPS 13 has been our favorite laptop overall in the last few years, thanks to its light weight, long battery life, beautiful infinityedge screens and high quality designs. In order to keep up with the times, DELL has upgraded its 13 inch new flagship Intel eighth generation core (also known as Kirby Lake R), quad core processor platform. Although the new, $1299 is not what mode of the seventh generation power XPS 13, DELL continues to sell, it provides a more powerful performance and longer battery life, while keeping all the functions, which is the best consumer notebook computer, you can buy.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-8550U
Operating System Windows 10
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to 16GB
Hard Drive Size 256GB SSD
Hard Drive Type SSD
Display Size 13.3
Highest Available Resolution 3200 x 1800
Native Resolution 1920×1080
Optical Drive None
Optical Drive Speed n/a
Graphics Card Intel UHD Graphics 620
Video Memory Shared
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi Model Killer 1535 Wireless AC 2×2
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1
Touchpad Size 4.1 x 2.3 inches
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) USB Type-C
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Warranty/Support one-year
Size 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches
Weight 2.78 pounds
Company Website http://www.dell.com

Design

Dell hasn’t changed the design on the XPS 13 in a few years, but there’s a lot to like about the aesthetic. The lid and bottom surface of the laptop are made from CNC machined aluminum that’s either silver or rose gold, depending on which color you choose.

The sides, back hinge and deck are made from a luxurious, soft-touch carbon fiber. I particularly like the deck, which has a subtle crosshatch pattern and a palm rest that’s one of the softest and most comfortable I have ever used.

The screen uses Dell’s famous InfinityEdge display, which has almost no bezel at all on the sides and top but places the webcam below the screen. The hinge that moves the lid is one of the strongest and tightest I’ve ever seen, which gives the laptop a high-quality feel but also requires two hands to open.

At 2.78 pounds and 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches, the XPS 13 is remarkably light and compact. Competitors such as Apple’s 12-inch MacBook (2.03 pounds, 0.52 inches thick) and Asus‘ ZenBook 3 Deluxe (2 pounds, 0.47 inches thick) are even svelter, but both have smaller screens and fewer ports. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.49 pounds, 0.6 inches thick) has a larger footprint to accommodate its 14-inch screen, but it, too, weighs less than the XPS 13.

Ports

Unlike competitors that prioritize thinness over functionality, Dell outfits its lightweight laptop with a full array of useful ports. On the right side, you’ll find a USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader and a Noble lock slot. A Thunderbolt 3 port, a second USB 3.0 port, a proprietary charging connector and a 3.5mm audio jack live on the left side. Next to the audio jack, there’s a battery meter button and five lights that can show you how much juice you have, even when the system is off.

The Thunderbolt 3 port is particularly helpful, because it allows you to charge the laptop, output to multiple monitors and connect to high-speed USB-C and Thunderbolt peripherals over a single wire.

The XPS 13’s 1080p, nontouch screen offers rich, detailed images and extremely wide viewing angles.

Unfortunately, the XPS 13’s Thunderbolt port supports only two PCI Express lanes rather than the four you get on other laptops, so Dell’s system doesn’t support eGPUs. (You can use some of them after bypassing a warning, but they run at lower speeds.)

Display

The XPS 13’s base-level 1080p, nontouch screen offers richly colored, detailed images and extremely wide viewing angles. When I watched a trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, shades like the purple in a statue and the mint green in Thor’s armor really stood out. The matte surface of the panel made fine details, such as Bruce Banner’s stubble,really sharp. Having almost no bezel on the sides and top of the screen also helps improve the experience.

Because the panel doesn’t reflect a lot of ambient light and the screen is so bright, viewing angles were some of the strongest I’ve seen. Colors didn’t fade at all from 90 degrees to the left or right, and they even stayed true when I moved the lid forward a bit. So, if you’re using the XPS 13 on an airplane tray and the person in front of you leans back, forcing you to lower your screen, you can still watch a movie.

This laptop lasted an epic 16 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi.

According to our colorimeter, the XPS 13 can reproduce a vibrant 112 percentof the sRGB color gamut, which is more than the category average (101 percent), as well as what we saw from the Lenovo X1 Carbon (104 percent) and the 7th Gen XPS 13 we tested last year (94 percent). The MacBook (117 percent) was a little more vibrant, and the Asus ZenBook 3 (111 percent) was about on a par.

The XPS 13 measured a strong 368 nits of brightness on our light meter. That’s far more luminous than the category average (289 nits), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (275 nits), the 2016 XPS 13 (302 nits), the ZenBook 3 (309 nits) and the MacBook (340 nits).

Audio

The XPS 13 outputs rich audio that was loud enough to fill my living room. When I played AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” the guitars and percussion were accurate and layered, without any of the distortion we experience when playing hard rock songs on many other laptops.

The included Waves Maxxudio software gives you fine control over the equalizer and comes with presets for over a dozen types of music.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Despite its keys’ shallow, 1.22 millimeters of travel (1.5 to 2 mm is typical for a regular laptop), the XPS 13 offers a good typing experience, thanks in part to one of the most comfortable palm rests I’ve ever tested.

The woven carbon-fiber deck felt like a pillowed soft-touch mattress, cradling my wrists as I clacked my way to a very strong 106 words per minute and 1.3 percent error rate on the 10FastFingers.com typing test. The snappy tactile feedback and 71 grams of required actuation force (60 to 70 grams is typical) also helped me achieve that score, which is at the high end of my usual range.

The 4.1 x 2.3-inch buttonless touchpad has a pleasant, slate-black surface that’s extremely smooth but has just enough friction to keep your finger from sliding all over the place. As I navigated around the desktop and interacted with apps, the pad was extremely accurate and responded immediately to gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe.

Performance

The XPS 13 is one of the first laptops with Intel’s new 8th Gen Core processor platform (aka “Kaby Lake Refresh”). And, wow, what a difference these new chips make! In jumping from 7th to 8th Gen, Intel has doubled the number of processor cores on its mainstream U series processors from two to four, increased their turbo clock speeds, added some optimizations and actually made them more power-efficient.

Its Core i7-8550U CPU made our XPS 13 review unit significantly faster than an XPS 13 with the same specs other than a Core i7-7500U while adding over 2 hours to the battery life. It also doesn’t hurt that Dell has added its own Dynamic Power Mode, which boosts performance even further by balancing system temperature with clock speeds.

With its new CPU, a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive and 8GB of RAM, our XPS 13 configuration was extremely speedy in everyday use. Even with over a dozen tabs open and a 4K video playing, there was no delay when I switched between windows and websites.

When I converted a 4K video to 1080p using the HandBrake video transcoder, the old XPS 13 took 31 minutes and 36 seconds to complete the task, while the new one finished in just 19 minutes and 35 seconds. That’s a 62-percent performance gain it likely owes a lot to the additional cores, as the task utilized all eight CPU threads (two threads per core).

Single-threaded tasks, such as the spreadsheet macro test, were still faster, but not by as much. The 8th Gen-powered XPS 13 took just 3 minutes and 9 seconds to complete the spreadsheet macro test, which matches 20,000 names with their addresses using OpenOffice Calc. That’s much quicker than the category average (5:49) and about 10 percent quicker than the 7th Gen Core-powered XPS 13 (3:29). The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Core i7-7600U, 3:22) and the Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe (Core i7-7500U, 3:34) were also slower.

The new XPS 13 scored an impressive mark of 14,158 on Geekbench 4, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That’s more than double the category average (6,801) and over 60 percent better than the 7th-Gen-powered XPS 13 (8,735), X1 Carbon (8,571), ZenBook 3 (7,449) and MacBook (6,853). The Yoga 920, which has the same 8th Gen Core i7-8550U CPU but lacks Dell’s Dynamic Power Mode, got a score of 13,306 (6 percent lower).

Having a fast processor is great, but combining that CPU with a blazing PCIe SSD is even better. The XPS 13’s 256GB drive took just 10 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, for a rate of 508 MBps. That’s more than double the category average (219 MBps) and the rate from the X1 Carbon (242 MBps). The ZenBook 3 (508 MBps) offered the same speed.

Graphics

The integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU on the new XPS 13 isn’t powerful enough to play high-end games, but it can run more casual titles and play video with aplomb. The laptop ran the Dirt 3 racing game at a strong 56 frames per second, which is well above the category average (40 fps), as well as the scores from the Asus ZenBook 3 (47 fps), the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (28 fps), the Apple MacBook (24 fps) and last year’s XPS 13 (28 fps). The Lenovo Yoga 920 returned a rate of 35 fps.

On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic graphics test, the 8th Gen-powered XPS 13 scored 81,837, which trounces the category average (56,954), as well as the marks from the X1 Carbon (68,082), ZenBook 3 (70,628) and 7th Gen-powered XPS (72,507).

Battery Life

The XPS 13 with 8th Gen Core will last through an entire flight from New York to Taiwan without needing to be recharged. The laptop endured an epic 16 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi. That time is over 2 hours longer than the 7th Gen-powered XPS 13 (13:49) with 1080p screen lasted, so the 8th Gen CPU is not only more powerful but also more power-efficient.

Both XPS 13 models blow away the ultraportable-laptop category average (8:29), as well as the runtimes of the Asus Zenbook 3 Deluxe (7:05) and the Apple MacBook (9:29). The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (12:21) and the Lenovo Yoga 920 (12:22) offer strong times in their own right but are still hours behind.

Though we haven’t tested the 8th Gen-powered XPS 13 with the optional 3200 x 1800 touch screen, we expect its Dell xps m1530 laptop battery life to be far worse. A 7th Gen-powered XPS 13 with that screen endured only 9 hours and 11 minutes, which is 4.5 hours behind the configuration with a 1080p, nontouch screen.

Webcam

Don’t make video calls with the XPS 13 if you have a double chin or any feature that’s unflattering when viewed from below.

In fact, you might want to opt for a good external webcam instead.

The awkwardly placed lens sits below the lower-left corner of the screen and stares up at you. Even worse, the images I captured with it in my house during the day were both dark and filled with visual noise. That’s the trade-off you make to get a nearly invisible top bezel.

Wi-Fi Performance

The Dell XPS 13 comes equipped with a Killer 1535 AC Wi-Fi card, which promises better connections than the Intel or Broadcom radios that most laptops come with. The Killer card prioritizes certain forms of internet traffic over others so that, for example, your streaming video or Skype call gets more bandwidth than the Windows update running in the background.

In my house, I didn’t notice a difference in connectivity between the 8th Gen-powered XPS 13 and an old ThinkPad T440s I used at the same times and locations. Both laptops did their fair share of buffering when I tried streaming a 4K video while running the Speedtest.net benchmark in another window. However, Editor-in-Chief Mark Spoonauer got significantly better connectivity on last year’s XPS 13, which has the same Wi-Fi card, than on an Apple MacBook.

Software and Warranty

The XPS 13 comes with a few pieces of Dell-included bloatware, a couple of helpful first-party utilities and the standard set of Windows 10 preloads.

Dell includes its Help and Support app, along with the Waves MaxxAudio control panel for sound, but it also adds trial versions of McAfee SecurityCenter, Microsoft Office and Dropbox. Microsoft drops on its regular pack of unwanted apps, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Asphalt 8 and freemium versions of AutoDesk SketchBook and Keeper password manager.

Dell backs the XPS 13 with a standard, one-year mail-in warranty. See how Dell fared on our Best and Worst Brand ratings and Tech Support Showdown.

Configurations

The Dell XPS 13 with 8th Gen Core CPU starts at $1,299, though at publication time (October 2017), it was on sale for $1,149, and XPS laptops are often discounted. For that price, you get our review configuration, which includes a 1080p nontouch screen, a Core i7-8550U CPU, a 256GB PCIe SSD and 8GB of RAM. You can also get a model with a 3200 x 1800 touch screen and 16GB of RAM for $1,749 ($1,549 on sale).

If you want a less-expensive XPS 13 with a Core i5 or Core i3 processor, you can get one; Dell continues to sell those configurations with 7th Gen CPUs (see our review of the 7th Gen version here). For $799, you can get an XPS 13 with a Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and for $999 ($899 on sale), you can buy a model with a Core i5-7200U CPU and 8GB of RAM.

At some point, Dell will start selling versions of the XPS 13 with 8th Gen Core i5 chips, but those were not available at press time. The company will also eventually have units with SSDs up to 1TB and Intel’s business-friendly vPro feature.

Bottom Line

Dell’s XPS 13 remains our favorite laptop overall, thanks to its epic battery life; blazing-fast performance; attractive, lightweight design; and gorgeous screen. While the company has kept the same design on the outside of this laptop, if you get a model with an 8th Gen Core processor, that’s a huge improvement on the inside.

If you’re bored of the XPS 13’s metallic aesthetic but otherwise like the laptop, you may want to wait until next year, when Dell will unveil a new white model that promises to be slimmer but does away with standard USB ports. And, if you want a business and productivity laptop with a superior typing experience, consider Lenovo‘s ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, if you want the best consumer clamshell laptop you can buy right now, look no further than the XPS 13.

Top Cold Weather Tips for Notebooks

Regular laptops are designed to work in a safe temperature range, usually between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (10-35 degrees Celsius). This range refers to the optimum use temperature of the external environment, as well as the temperature that the laptop should be preheated before use. It’s important to protect your laptop from cold weather. You should know how to protect your laptop from cold weather. Protect yourself and laptop from cold weather.

01 Ruggedized Laptops

If your budget allows, purchase or lease a ruggedized laptop if you will be outside in cold temperatures for extended periods of time. Ruggedized laptops have been designed to work under extreme weather conditions. When you rely on your laptop and can’t count on the weather to cooperate – a ruggedized laptop is worth considering. Most ruggedized laptops have been tested according to MIL-STD-810F standards.

02 Careful Storage

Never leave a laptop, even in a well-padded and insulated laptop case in the trunk of vehicle in cold weather. The laptop could freeze and you lose all data contained in it.

03 Let It Warm Up

Once you bring a laptop in from the cold – allow it to warm up to room temperature before booting. The same is true when you go outdoors – allow the laptop to acclimatize to the outside temperature before booting up.

04 Incorrect Warming Methods

Do not use devices such as mug warmers or pocket warmers to heat or keep a laptop warm. They are not designed for this purpose and can create problems as they will not heat or keep a laptop warm in the right way. They could heat the wrong parts of a laptop or cause it to generate too much heat and melt internal components.

05 Laptop Warmers

There are laptop warmers designed specifically for the purpose of keeping a laptop warm and these are what you should use. Laptop warmers have been tested to ensure they will safely protect your laptop and are a wise investment.

06 Excessive Heat Build-Up

Do not use your laptop with Toshiba PA3817U-1BRS battery while it is still inside a laptop bag. There is no room for air to circulate and you will get heat build-up. You can create your own “box” for your laptop which will allow air to circulate and provide an enclosed area for you to use your laptop. Having the laptop on a raised platform for your laptop within the box will aid in airflow. This laptop box will help keep the laptop warmer as cold air is blocked and the heat generated from the laptop is kept in the box.

07 Protecting Your Display

Don’t use heating pads or other external sources of heat to warm up or thaw a laptop display. Allow the display to warm on its own and do not boot up a laptop if you suspect the display is frozen.

08 Stay Out of the Cold

Whenever possible stay out of direct exposure to cold weather conditions by staying in a vehicle, inside a building or other type of shelter. Protecting your laptop from excessive dampness or wet from snow will keep your keyboard from freezing and other problems from developing.

09 Change Power Settings

By changing the power settings from power save mode will help keep the laptop warm as it continues to run. Instead of having the hard drive shut down, keep it spinning. The longer the laptop can be kept left running, the warmer it will stay as it generates its own heat.

10 Don’t Get Creative

Last but by no means least – do not create your own devices to keep your laptop warm! This is especially important if you are using a company owned or leased laptop. You will be responsible for any damage caused and will have to have it repaired or replaced at your own expense.

Review:Asus Zenbook UX550VE

A few weeks ago, I published articles about ASUS Zenbook ux550vd, much anticipated in addition to premium 15 inches laptop segment and alternative to DELL XPS 15 and Lenovo yoga 720 15.

However, the UX550VE variant is that one that actually makes this Zenbook different than the competition, as it comes with an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, while the UX550VD and the options from Dell and Lenovo only get GTX 1050 graphics.

We finally got to spend time with the VE variant as well and gathered the impressions below. We’re not going to reiterate on all the other aspects already covered in the UX550VD review, because the graphics chip is the only important difference between the VE and VD configurations. That’s why we’ll mostly cover below the performance of the VE model, which came with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM and the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti 4 GB graphics, in comparison to the lower end VD model we already posted about, with the Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8 GB of RAM and Nvidia GTX 1050 4 GB graphics.

We’ll still add a few words about the looks and the screen though, as we got the Royal Blue variant this time with a FHD IPS touchscreen, while the VD came in Matte Black with the FHD IPS matte screen.

Anyway, here’s what to expect from the top-end Zenbook UX550VE and how it compares to the base-level Zenbook UX550VD.

Specs as reviewed

Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE
Screen 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, glossy, touch
Processor Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ CPU
Video Intel HD 620 + Nividia GTX 1050 Ti 4 GB GDDR5
Memory 16 GB DDR4 (soldered)
Storage 256 M.2 NVMe SSD (80 mm)
Connectivity Wireless AC (tri-band Intel AC 8265), Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2x USB 3.0 Type-A, 2x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, mic/headphone, microSD card reader
Battery 73 Wh, 120 Wh charger
OS Windows 10
Size 365 mm or 14.37” (w) x 251 mm or 9.88” (d) x 18.9 mm or 0.74” (h)
Weight 4.05 lbs (1.84 kg) + 1.19 lbs (.54 kg) for the charger
Extras backlit keyboard, VGA camera, quad-speakers, available in Royal Blue and Matte Black

Design and looks

To get this out of the way, you’ll find all my impressions about the laptop’s build quality and finishing over here. In very few words, it’s a compact, light and great looking computer, but the build could be sturdier, as there’s more flex than I’d want in the main chassis and lid cover.

The UX550VE we got here comes in Royal Blue, which looks really nice and is also unique, as no other manufacturer offers a similar laptop with this kind of color scheme. It doesn’t get the gold accents that Asus puts on their other Royal Blue Zenbooks (UX390, UX490 or UX370 Flip), which is actually a good thing for someone who hates bling, like I do. Still, the practical person in me would probably still pick the dark gray version we’ve illustrated on the UX550VD model, as smudges and fingerprints are somehow more obvious on this Blue variant. Probably, it’s a tough call, but at least both color schemes are nice, so there’s no wrong choice here.

I should also add a few more things about the Thunderbolt 3 implementation. While I don’t have an external eGPU to test this out, HWInfo shows that the Thunderbolt 3 port is hooked up to the motherboard through 4x PCIe lanes. However, there are two TB3 ports, and from what I understand there’s a single connection for the two, which means you can either use just one of the ports at 4x, or the lanes split between them when using both ports at the same time. I wish I’d have the right tools to properly test this, but unfortunately I don’t for now, so I’ll leave it at this. If Thunderbolt 3 is a decisive factor for you, and it might be given both the XPS 15 9560 and the Yoga 720 only get 2x PCIe TB3, I’d suggest to further look into the matter.

Screen

Asus offers the Zenbook UX550 series with a bunch of different touch and non-touch panel options.

We tested the better IPS panel in a matte version on the UX550VD and we got the same panel, but with touch on top, on this VE. The matte finishing gets a slight amount of graininess, while the touch one does not. But the glass layer on top also adds glare in bright environments and actually takes a pretty big toll on the perceived brightness.

Despite the fact that the VD and VE got the same panel, our Spyder 4 Sensor measured lower maximum brightness for the touch variant, as you can see below.

 

The calibrated color profile is available here, if you want to use it.

Our sample also shows a fair amount of light bleeding in the lower half, with a significant brightness reduction as well, as you can see in the pictures above. This is a manufacturing issue, as the glass presses on the panel in the lower corners, but hopefully it’s isolated to this sample. Asus usually knows how to make proper touchscreens and hopefully the retail versions you’ll find in stores won’t suffer from this issue. Still, make sure to properly check this out on your laptop if you decide to go for this touch variant.

Hardware and performance

We’re not going to talk about the keyboard or trackpad, they’re covered in depth here, so we’ll jump right to the main topic: hardware and performance.

This is the highest end configuration you can get on a Zenbook UX550 right now, with the Core i7-7700HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB NVMe SSD.

The CPU, GPU and RAM are all soldered on the motherboard, so the only thing that’s upgradeable inside is the M.2 80 mm SSD, in case you decide to opt for a smaller one and replace it yourself. Asus puts fairly good options on their units though and the i7s usually come paired with large capacity SSDs, so there’s a fair chance you’ll have (or opt) to buy the configuration you want out of the box. I did notice a performance drop on the included SSD with larger files, but I can’t tell for sure why. Could be due to overheating though.

As far as performance goes, everything runs perfectly smooth with everyday use and multitasking, with no glitches and no performance losses, as shown in the pictures below.

Still, people are going to want to put that quad-core processor and especially the Nvidia graphics to good work, and here’s where things get a little shady. From the beginning you should know that our test unit came from Asus and it’s still not a final retail version, so you should take all our findings with a grain of salt. Knowing that though, I’m not surprised it performs the way it does.

There’s very little to complain about as long as the dGPU is not in use. The i7 CPU is not able to maintain the maximum quad-core Turbo frequency of 3.4 GHz in continuous 100% loads and it clocks down a little bit once it reaches high temperatures of above 92 Celsius. That happens quite fast, after a few seconds of running Cinebench.

A 100% CPU load can be realistic in certain applications, but the good news is the behavior can be improved with undervolting (and probably even more with repasting as well). This guide explains how to undervolt, it’s simple and safe (yet we can’t be hold liable for any of your actions, so make sure you understand what it is and what it implies). I was able to undervolt my sample to -110mV, as it got unstable and crashed at -120mV, and here’s how the Cinebench run looks in this case: the CPU runs a little cooler and maintains the 3.4 GHz Turbo Speed for the entirety of the first two runs, but at the third run the speeds still drop a little, yet not as aggressively as with the standard voltage. Details below.

As a result, multi-core CPU benchmarks improve after undervolting, but only in those tests that put a constant high stress on the CPU and normally push it to reach its thermal limitations. I’ve also added the i5-7300HQ in the table, just to show that the i7 offers a significant improvement in multi-core performance.

CPU Benchmarks i7-7700HQ Default Undervolted -110 mV i5-7300HQ on UX550VD
3DMark – FireStrike Physics 9232 9461 6665
Cinebench R15 CPU 686 cb 737 cb 510 cb
Geekbench 4.0 – Multi Core 13816 14063 11587
x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 – Pass 2 42.70 fps 42.89 fps 34.31 fps

A longer list of benchmark results (of the default configuration) is available below:

All in all, despite its thinness and poor cooling design (that we’ll talk about in the next section), this laptop performs very well in CPU loads and should be a solid pick for programming, engineering and even graphics software, albeit in this latter case the GPU kicks in as well and here’s where thing go South.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the Zenbook UX550VE gets an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti dGPU, but the thermal design doesn’t allow it to squeeze what the chip is actually capable of from it. Below I’ve added some GPU benchmarks, and I’ll also explain the findings afterwards.

CPU Benchmarks GTX 1050 Ti – UX550VE GTX 1050 Ti – Average GTX 1050 – UX550VD GTX 1050 – Average
3DMark – FireStrike Graphics 6773 7806 5484 6022
3DMark –  TimeSpy Graphics 2008 2330 1538 1583
3DMark 11 –  Graphics 8609 9768 7451 7697

What the numbers above tell us is that the GTX 1050 Ti on this Zenbook UX550VE ran at roughly 80-85% of its standard potential. For the sake of comparison, the GTX 1050 on the Zenbook UX550VD ran at 90-95% of the chip’s average.

The reason is pretty simple: the GPU cannot maintain its designed clock speeds due to reaching thermal limitations.

Of course, as far as the VE vs VD results go, the former clearly wins in benchmarks, but unfortunately these gains do not translate in real-life performance as well. Here’s what we got in a few different games on our sample:

UX550VE – FHD High UX550VE – FHD Ultra UX550VD – FHD High UX550VD – FHD Ultra
Bioshock Infinite 94 fps 60 fps 86 fps 56 fps
FarCry 4 52 fps 36 fps 48 fps 35 fps
Grid: Autosport 103 fps 60 fps 117 fps 62 fps
Shadow of Mordor 55 fps 44 fps 56 fps 43 fps
Tomb Raider 89 fps 47 fps 89 fps 49 fps
Total War – Atilla 25 fps 17 fps

The GTX 1050 Ti is designed to run at 1493 MHz, with Turbo up to 1620 MHz, yet our sample only averaged about 1200-1250 MHz in games, with the latest drivers available as of Mid September 2017. By analyzing the HWInfo logs below you’ll notice that the GPU quickly jumps to 80 degrees Celsius in games and once that happens, the frequency starts dropping.

The following scenario better illustrates this: I ran the standard graphics Benchmark in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor for 10 times in a row and it returned the following results: 61, 57, 51, 48, 45, 44 fps and finally stabilizes around 44 fps. In other words, the performance decreases as the GPU’s frequency drops. The same results can be reiterated in other benchmarks, so while initially the UX550VE might get you quite good fps results, 15 minutes later things change, and as a result the fps numbers included in the table above are recorded after at least 15 minutes of running each game and is an average of 5-10 runs of each test.

MUST READ: You should take these findings with a grain of salt, as our sample is not a retail version. Doug has a very similar configuration of a final unit and told me that it scores about 6600 points in 3DMark and the GPU speeds only drop to around 1400 MHz in demanding games. However, his is unit is tweaked with CLU on the CPU and IC Diamond on the GPU, which is pretty much a best case scenario you could get repasting the components on a normal unit. In fact, it’s actually more than you could get, as CLU-ing a CPU is not something the average user can do, so I’m inclined to consider the results we got on our sample closer to what you should expect from the final versions. Regardless, don’t jump to any conclusions yet and make sure to read other opinions and reviews of this laptop. There’s no in-depth review of the UX550VE that I can link to right now, but I’d reckon Doug will have his on Notebookcheck at some point, and I’d also keep an eye on Reddit and the forums over on Notebookreview.com .

BTW, I didn’t run any stress tests on this laptop. I really don’t see the point of those with real-life use and I’ll probably stop running them from now on, unless someone can explain why they matter and why I should keep doing them.

Noise and Heat

I’ve explained in the Zenbook UX550VD review why I think the cooling solution on this laptop is poorly designed, but I’m going to reiterate it here. In very few words, the intake and output grills are very limited and the internal design is weird, with two heatpipes that cover both the CPU and GPU, as well as two radiators/fans. However, only one of the heatpipes actually hooks to both radiators, while the other only hooks into one and I can’t understand why. Perhaps there’s a reason and I’m missing it?

In fact I actually find it mind bugling that Asus’s engineers  weren’t able to design a better cooling for this laptop. The Dell XPS 15 has been around for nearly two years now and its heat-caused performance issues are well known and documented. Knowing that, many months later Asus actually decided to put a higher TDP graphics chip in a similarly thin chassis, but with a poorer heatpipe/radiator design and with pretty much no space for the air to get in and out. It sounds like a joke, but unfortunately it’s the harsh reality of this Zenbook UX550 line…

Even if the final retail versions end up peforming better than our test unit here, I still consider the cooling to be one of the laptop’s most important culprits.

Anyway, here’s what to expect in terms of temperatures from the i7 / GTX 1050 Ti model:

*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Far Cry 4 for 30 minutes

It runs a few degrees hotter under load than the i5 / GTX 1050 model.

The fans are active all the time, even when watching a movie or editing a document. They’re not loud though and you’ll probably not even hear them in a normal environment, as they’re barely audible in a quiet room. This time around I didn’t notice the same coil whining and electrical noise that I encountered on the UX550VD , but that’s no guarantee you won’t run into it on your unit. In fact, undervolting the CPU actually caused some very annoying and loud electrical noise in demanding loads, as a side effect.

Speaking of demanding loads, the fans get averagely loud with games, topping at about 45 dB at head-level (measured both with iPhone app and dB meter), which is not bad for this kind of hardware and construction. Doug says his unit runs quieter and this review also mentions lower noise levels of only 40 dB (for the UX550VD variant), so you’d better further look into this matter as again the final retail units might do a little different than my sample.

As far as the speakers, connectivity and webcam go, you can read all about them in the UX550VD article.

Battery life

Before we wrap this up I’ll also mention a few words about battery life on this higher-tier configuration. The laptop gets a fairly hefty 73 Wh Asus a32-m50 laptop battery and with the screen set at about 120 nits (40% brightness), here’s what you should expect:

The results are fairly similar to those of the i5 / GXT 1050 configuration, but browsing takes a slightly higher toll on the Core i7 CPU and of course gaming is more demanding too, given the higher TDP hardware.

The UX500VE comes with a fairly chunky and heavy 120 Wh power brick, that weighs .54 kg with the included cables (European version). The charger is able to quickly charge 60% of the battery in 50 minutes, and as a result a full charge takes about 1 h and 45 minutes.

Price and availability

The Zenbook UX550VE is still not widely available as of Mid September 2017, but should be from early October.

Around $1700 will get you in the US a configuration that comes very close to the one we tested here, with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB NVMe SSD and the FHD IPS touchscreen. The same configuration, but with the matte screen, sells for around 1800 EUR in Europe.

Final thoughts

I talked about the Dell XPS 15 9560 and the Lenovo Yoga 720 15-inch as the two main alternatives for the Zenbook UX550VD in here, but let’s have another go.

If you’re living in the US, $1700 will get you the Dell XPS 15 with the i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD and a FHD matte screen. It’s better built than the Zenbook, gets a brighter IPS panel and a larger 97 Wh battery, but on the other hand Dell only offers it with GTX 1050 graphics, and it’s not like you’re going to get flawless performance from it either, at least not without some tweaks that are explained in here or in here. The Zenbook has the interesting color schemes on its side, the Thunderbolt 4x connectivity and the speakers, and I’d expect it will also drop in price by the end of the year and sell for at least $100 less than a similarly specked XPS. The Zenbook is also already significantly cheaper than the XPS outside the US.

The main selling point remains the GTX 1050 Ti chip inside, but we’ll have to wait and see exactly how those final retail versions perform. Our sample didn’t do well, and although I expect final models to perform somewhat better, I’m pretty sure they won’t match the performance of a full-size 1050 Ti laptop with a proper cooling implementation. I’d blame that on physics, but the truth is I mostly blame it on the engineers who designed the cooling for the UX550 series.

As far as the Yoga 720 goes, it’s an option if you want the convertible form-factor and don’t care much about the graphics performance, as it’s only bundled with a GTX 1050 with 2 GB of memory. It’s $200 cheaper than the Zenbook UX550VE and the Dell XPS 15 though, with a configuration similar to the ones mentioned above selling for around $1500 at this point.

All in all this article this article might sound a little too harsh, and that’s because I was actually hoping Asus would make a product that could outmatch the XPS 15 across the board if they took such a long time to finally update the Zenbook Pro line. That’s not the case though, the Zenbook UX550 has its fair share of culprits and its fair share of merely average traits, but it can still be a solid pick in its niche IF the final retail versions do better in games.

That’s why I’d say potential buyers should ask what do they want from the laptop? If it’s not primarily gaming and if the XPS 15 is not a lot more expensive in your region, go for the XPS, it’s a nicer and better balanced product with fewer flaws. If it’s still not primarily gaming, but the XPS 15 sells for a lot more where you live (pretty much everywhere except the US), then go for the Zenbook, but preferably for an i7 + GTX 1050 configuration if available, that way you’re not going to pay extra for something that you won’t use. If it’s gaming though, then the Zenbook could be for you, as the only 15-inch premium thin-and-light with a 1050 Ti inside, but you’ll have to accept its performance limitations. In fact, if you truly are into gaming, I’d advise you to consider sacrificing a bit on size, construction and weight and go with something like the Gigabyte Aero 15 or some of the other thin and lights with GTX 1060 graphics inside.

Anyway, that’s how we’ll wrap this review of the Asus Zenbook UX550VE up, but the comments section is open for your feedback, opinions and questions, and we’re around to help out if we can.

Fix:Notebook Battery Not Charging to 100% on Windows 10

My laptop runs into an issue of ‘battery not charging to 100%’The battery gets stuck at 75% all the time even when the AC power is connected.”
“When I booted up my Lenovo laptop, it reads: “20% available (plugged in, not charging).”
“My Asus laptop battery is set up to charge to 65%. How do I change it to charge a 100%?”
“My Acer laptop won’t charge fully to 100%. When the machine is on and plugged in, the battery keeps staying at 98% even when left to charge overnight.”

Have you ever had a similar laptop battery problem? After Windows 10 upgrade or update, such as Windows 10 creator update, some PC cards in the notebook battery is not charged to 100%. In this case, it seems that your laptop is in the battery mode, but in fact, you have the machine connected to the AC power adapter. When the mouse moves to the lower right corner to notify the battery icon, it will notice “98% insert, no charge””. It could be 56%, 85%, 91% and so on. No matter how long the laptop was plugged in, it wouldn’t change to 100%.

Don’t be worried. In this Windows 10 guide, we’re going to show you the tried-and-true solutions to fix the Windows 10 “laptop battery not charging to 100%” problem.

Top 3 Ways to Fix Battery Not Charging to 100% Issue on Windows 10 Laptop

Before the fixing, it is better to check your Asus A42-G73 laptop battery hardware and perform some troubleshooting. Here is a small snip to get you started.

1. Shut down the laptop and boot it into Windows 10 again.
2. Unplug and replug in the laptop battery.
3. Use the original laptop AC power charger.
4. Make sure your laptop battery is working in an environment with proper temperature.
5. Open the Command Prompt (Admin) and type into powercfg /batteryreport. Then go to the C:\Windows\System32\battery-report.html to check recent laptop power usage.

After the check, if the battery draining problem still persists, let’s get your laptop battery back on track with the top 3 solutions below. Please take your time following the steps to fix the battery issue.

Way 1. Perform Troubleshooting on Windows 10 to Fix the Laptop Battery Not Charging Issue

Windows troubleshooter is a built-in tool you can use to find and fix hardware device issue on Windows 10. If you’ve updated the operating system to the latest Windows 10 version (v1703), then you can go to the Settings to perform troubleshooting to the laptop battery issue.

1. Use Windows shortcut keys Win + I to launch the Settings.
2. Go to the Update & security menu.
3. On the left pane, select Troubleshoot.
4. On the right side, scroll down for Power.
5. Click the Run the troubleshooter button.

Way 2. Configure the Power Options to Calibrate the Laptop Battery

Sometimes, the laptop battery not charging problem may be caused by faulty power configuration. You can go to the Power Options to calibrate the battery usage of the laptop.

1. Right-click the battery icon on the taskbar.
2. Select the Power Options.
3. Click the Change plan settings beside the current power plan.
4. Click the Change advanced power settings.
5. Scroll down and expand the Battery.
6. Expand the Reserve battery level.
7. Set the value of the Plugged in as a proper percentage you like.

Note: You can also go to the Energy Management tool if you’re using some brands of laptops like Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc. The utility allows you to change the battery mode and select how to show the battery usage percentage.

Way 3. Update Battery Drivers and BIOS to Fix the Laptop Battery Not Charging to 100% on Windows 10

You can try this solution if the previous one didn’t solve the laptop battery problem. After the Windows 10 upgrade, update or reinstall, you need to install the compatible drivers for the OS in case problems like 100% disk usage, Windows 10 black screen, WiFi not available, Windows 10 laptop overheating, etc. occur and annoy you all day long.

Outdated, missing or incorrectly configured Asus A32-F80 battery driver and BIOS firmware can result in the battery not charging to 100% on Windows 10 laptop. So it is important to repair the driver problem to fix the battery issue.

You can remove the battery and connected the laptop to the AC power. Then go to the Device Manager to uninstall the ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery. After a reboot, check the battery icon to see if the battery can charge as before. Also, download and install the compatible BIOS.

If you don’t know how to operate this due to little Windows inner working knowledge, it’s recommended to use Driver Talent, review as the safest and fastest way to update drivers. It can download and install the official and WHQL drivers and BIOS for your Windows 10 laptop and help to fix the battery not charging problem instantly.

Click the button below to get the driver and BIOS directly.

Here’s how to make it:

1. Click Scan to detect faulty ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery driver, AC Adapter driver and BIOS on your laptop.
2. Click Update or Repair when Driver Talent offers the solutions. You can easily download drivers for Asus laptop battery, Acer laptop battery, Dell laptop battery, etc.
3. Restart the computer to make the driver changes take effect.

Note: Don’t forget to back up drivers and create a system restore point before the changes so that you can restore the system and the drivers once Windows 10 runs into other problems.

Also, you can check for updates in Settings to see if Microsoft has released some hotfixes to fix the laptop battery not charging problem.

That’s it. Hope this Windows 10 post can help to solve the battery plugged in but not charging issue. You can drop a line below or check the LEFT MENU buttons for more solutions if you still have questions on how to fix the laptop battery not charging to 100% on Windows 10. Check Windows 10 Issues and Fix for more about laptop battery problems.

Things You Should Know About Acer Notebook Batteries

Laptops will be preloaded with various versions of Windows, some of which will offer full free upgrades. These laptops are designed for the public, not for power users. In any case, their laptops are the latest feature in the electronic world. Games, laptops and machines use intensive applications, such as video editing requiring i7 processors.

Not all laptop batteries are made equal. It is normal for laptop batteries to begin to lose their charge after some years of routine use. Lithium-ion batteries should not frequently be permitted to fall below 10-20% of their entire charge, so as to preserve the batteries life. Acer batteries are produced from high grade cells and each one of the batteries have gone through strict excellent control procedures. Our Acer batteries deliver complete assurance and meet the complete criterion for several of the safety standards. When you purchase an Acer laptop charger for your Acer laptop online at the best deals from reputed manufacturers like laptop charger factory, you should look at the label sticker on your laptop battery to make sure that if you place your purchase, you’re purchasing the laptop charger that’s correctly suited to your laptop battery.

Laptops are famous for building up dust. Even having chosen the kind of laptop you need and the operating system you will use there’s still a bewildering selection of machines to pick from. Also, if you’re employing a laptop, think about purchasing a cooling mat or pad. Convertible laptops are tablets that could be transformed into a normal laptop with the accession of a keyboard. The ideal laptop is the one which satisfies your computing requirements. Many laptops are going to have webcam. It’s just perfect for everyone who would like a highly effective laptop to support their gaming hobby.

The laptop needs to be able to manage a full work day when pressed. Keeping your laptop plugged in all of the time is bad for your Acer as07b41 laptop battery. Laptops vary greatly in performance and cost, so the very first matter to take into account is precisely what you are going to be using the device for. To change out your old laptop and purchase a new one, all you have to do is browse the wide variety of Acer laptops that Snapdeal offers. In rare circumstances, a sluggish Acer laptop can be credited to quality troubles. Most Acer laptops have on-board integrated graphics card so that you can’t expect it to carry out excellently for high effect gaming. At Snapdeal, you are going to be in a position to choose gaming laptops like the Acer Aspire E series notebooks.

Your laptop could freeze or it may take forever to lead, particularly if you have too many applications running at exactly the same moment. Desktop replacement laptops typically have a large 18 screen. It’s typical for a computer to heat up and the majority of the time that you don’t need to be concerned about it.

Acer has been a profitable company in late decades, mostly as a result of their popular cheap array of laptops. It is a Taiwanese manufacturer that offers a wide range of laptops of different prices and performance, but they are mostly known for their low cost range. It offers a manufacturers warranty too, so you need not worry about after-sales support. It almost goes without saying that Acer continues to give fantastic, low-cost laptops in a selection of sizes.

Acer has truly stepped up their game in regards to developing their goods. It is one of the leading computer brands in the world. Nowadays, it is one of the most trusted brands in the world of technology. It is one of the leading manufacturers of consumer laptops. It is one of the most famous laptop manufacturers around the world and they have produced numerous series of laptop that will support the daily activity of many different people.

Type of Acer Laptop Batteries

There’s more information concerning the Acer Laptop driver disks here. The list of the greatest Acer laptop is probably what you need when you’re now considering to purchase a new Acer laptop. Simply type the model number into your normal search engine and you ought to get a list of businesses selling after market batteries.

The Truth About Acer Laptop Batteries

Talk about the most recent features and superior assurance Acer laptops surely have everything. Even whenever you are clear about why your need a laptop computer and precisely what you will use it for, you’re still faced with what can be considered a bewildering array of choices. It is a fact that you may encounter Acer laptop problems from time to time.

Get The Inspiron 13 Touch With Intel 039 S 8th Gen Cpu For $686

The 2017 DELL Inspiron 13 7000 touch is an affordable, which proves that you can get good performance, design, quality, and your money.

Now, Dell has taken that machine, fitted it with Intel’s new 8th generation processor, and dropped its price by $144. That makes the new $685.99 Inspiron 13 the second most affordable laptop we’ve seen with Intel’s new kit. In fact, it’s just a few bucks over a now-expired deal we saw on the Acer Swift 3 with 8th-generation processor for $665.

The refreshed Inspiron features a 13.3-inch 1080p LCD,Dell inspiron 1300 long life battery,1.6GHz Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

Although we haven’t tested this specific system, we’ve tested the Core i5-8250U processor that this machine is based on. In our lab tests, which included a similarly configured laptop, the new chip was up to 76 percent faster than its predecessor, the Core i5-7200U CPU. That’s due to the fact that the new CPUs double the number of physical cores from two to four.

This deal expires October 12 at 8am ET, so if you want a 2-in-1 that provides more punch than your typical convertible, the new Inspiron 13 appears to be a great place to start.

Does Anybody Really Need a Notebook Cooling Pad?

Spend enough time perusing computers and games, websites or stores, and you’ll see something stupid. High tech accessories can turn the spectrum from very useful to completely silly, but there are some sitting in the middle, enticing you with their assumptions, useful and alluring light-emitting diodes and corners designed for you. One such product: laptop cooling pad.

These elevated platforms have built-in fans and promise to improve your laptop performance through superior cooling. Some have adjustable fan speeds, whisper-quiet operation and even built-in USB hubs.

But are they useful? Can they improve your laptop of Hp pavilion dv4 battery‘s performance? Are they worth the money? To help find answers to these nagging questions, we gathered a dozen of the best-selling laptop coolers on the market, then put them through rigorous testing to see if any of them are really worth the hype.

How We Tested

Laptop coolers are marketed to all sorts of users, so we tested our dozen coolers on three types of laptops: a small budget 2-in-1, a more mainstream general-use laptop and a gaming notebook.

For our budget system, we used the 11-inch HP Pavilion x360, a compact convertible 2-in-1 that boasts an Intel Pentium processor, integrated Intel HD Graphics and no built-in cooling fans. It doesn’t have the greatest performance, and it can get warm, so it’s tempting to think that a cooling pad might help it do a little more than it normally could.

For a more mainstream, general-use laptop, we used the HP Envy 17, a 17-inch system that boasts a dual-core Intel Core i7-7500U processor and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card – a GPU well-suited to tasks like light photo editing, but not gaming. It’s exactly the sort of system that you might want to game on, if only you could coax a slightly better frame rate out of it.

Finally, for the gamers out there, we used a 15-inch MSI GS63VR 6RF Stealth Pro gaming laptop similar to the one we reviewed in July. It’s VR-ready, thanks to an Nvidia GTX 1060 card, but the slim laptop runs hot, making it the ideal candidate for a cooling pad.

Our testing was designed to look at three primary areas: cooling, performance and noise. Since cooling is the laptop cooler’s raison d’etre – cooler is right there in the name – we focused first and foremost on temperature control. To measure this we put it through a number of tests, including the same heat test we put all of our laptops through during reviews. Along the way we measured both the surface temperatures, using an IR temperature gun, and internal temperatures using CPUID’s HWMonitor, a free tool for monitoring system sensor data.

We measured external and internal temperatures while running at room temperature on all three of our test laptops, and then we ran the same batch of tests while on an active cooling pad. While some pads have adjustable fan speeds, we defaulted to the maximum everytime. We wanted to get every bit of cooling capability out of every laptop cooler we tested.

We also tested performance, looking at both general processing and gaming. For this we used three tests. Geekbench 4 is a processor-intensive benchmark test that produces a simple score where higher is better. Dirt 3 provides a low-level graphics test that runs through a short segment of simulated gameplay, producing an average frame rate report at the end. For a more ambitious gaming test we used Rise of the Tomb Raider, a current-ish AAA title, and grabbed its average frame rate.

Each step of the way, we monitored the internal temperatures of the laptops, specifically noting the processor-package temperature. The processor is the sweltering heart of the laptop, simultaneously the biggest heat producer and the component most impaired by overheating. If you’ve ever had a PC shut down on you due to overheating, you know exactly how important it is to manage the temperature of your CPU.

We also tested for noise levels. A blowing fan may have some benefits, but noise can be a real drawback. For this test we used a MasTech MS6700 Digital Sound Level Meter, and measured the decibel level of the cooling fan while it ran during our testing. Since we tested each cooling pad at the maximum fan speeds available, our noise testing also addresses the loudest noise level it can make in normal operation.

Evaluating Laptop Coolers

All the tests we ran produce a good amount of data, but determining whether or not those test results tell us anything — and what — was another issue. Each of our three laptops has its own unique factors that impact how effective external cooling can be. Each of the tests we ran can vary based on what sort of hardware it’s running on, and while cooling has an impact, we weren’t entirely sure how well that would come across in test results.

In the end, we boiled it down to five numbers: the change in external temperatures, the change in internal temperatures, the change in processor performance, and two sets of numbers for gaming performance. Now you might think that these numbers would provide a clear picture of what benefits are offered by cooling pads, and which product offers the best mix of benefits, but that’s not quite the case.

Two things are clear. First, laptop cooling pads do offer varying degrees of effective cooling. Both internal and external temperatures were effectively lowered, with internal heat levels dropping by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit when added up across multiple tests and averaged across our three laptops. The overall average was a 13 degree drop, but some laptop coolers were closer to a 1 or 2 degree change.

Second, you are likely to see a very slight performance improvement as a result of this cooling. All of the pads we reviewed resulted in better performance on average in all of our benchmark tests. The problem is that the performance gains are extremely small. Processing performance, for example, improved by less than 2 percent. That’s the sort of improvement that you simply won’t notice in your day-to-day use.

Gaming performance also saw improvements, but let’s be clear – there is no magical cooling pad that will make your laptop capable of playing games that it can’t play now. In Dirt 3, which can be run using integrated graphics, we saw improvements most of the time, but the inexpensive HP Pavilion x360 actually saw frame rates drop ever so slightly (a reduction of less than 1 frame per second) on every cooling pad we tested. Both the HP Envy 17 and the MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro saw improvements (gaining up to 20 frames per second) but were already producing frame rates that were smoothly playable, so the difference in experience will be minimal.

GPU-intensive performance in games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, on the other hand, saw improvements on most of the cooling pads, but those improvements never amounted to a full additional frame per second, let alone the sort of substantial changes one might hope to see with gaming performance. Cooling a gaming laptop will help keep temperatures in check, and will technically improve performance, but the reality is that you can’t improve your gaming experience by putting a couple of fans under your laptop. Sorry, gamers.

We also saw fairly similar noise levels across all 12 of the cooling pads, with noise levels ranging from 48 to 55 decibels. In our lab, which has an ambient noise level of 40 to 43 decibels, that was loud enough to be heard when near the operating cooling pads, but never so loud that it was a distraction. A regular desktop PC will usually produce around 40 decibels, while 50 decibels is closer to the noise produced by a refrigerator. In both cases, it’s enough that you can hear it, but it’s unlikely it will be loud enough to be noticeable in most circumstances. If noise level is a concern, models with adjustable speeds may be able to run quietly with slower fan speeds.

So Who Does Need a Cooling Pad?

All of this is not to say that nobody should ever buy a laptop cooler. There are circumstances where a cooling pad is just the thing you need, and in those instances they are an affordable solution to a few irritating problems.

If you’re using an older laptop that is prone to overheating – meaning it gets so hot that it shuts down or reboots, or is too hot to touch – then a cooling pad may make enough of a difference to squeeze some more usability out of the machine. That said, it’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem. If your laptop runs so hot that you could make a grilled cheese sandwich on it, then your laptop is in need of either repair or cleaning, if not both. The likely culprit is dust, which can clog the fan vents and choke the internal cooling hardware. You may be able to clean it out with a can of compressed air, or you may need to open up the chassis to shoo out the dust bunnies.

You may also need a cooler when you’ve pushed an underpowered system to its limits. Just because your Pentium-powered laptop can run the latest version of the Sims doesn’t mean it’s well-suited to it, and in those instances, you may find that a cooling pad helps keep the laptop from overheating. That said, our testing data makes it pretty clear that cooling is all it will do; there’s simply no way for an external fan blowing air to magically make your laptop render more frames, but it will keep things just a little cooler.

Also, if you actually use your laptop on your lap, or in bed, or set on pillows or blankets, then a cooling pad can help keep you a little more comfortable. Most laptop coolers are designed for use on a desk or table, but some, like the Targus Lap Chill Mat AWE55US, are built for on-lap usage. In these cases, the majority of the benefit comes from a cooling pad providing space for regular ventilation, which prevents pillows or blankets from covering the fan vents built into the underside of the laptop. This is especially important since a hot laptop can have a real impact on your health, with issues like the evocatively named “Toasted Skin Syndrome” and a negative effect on male fertility.

Comfort at your desk is another consideration. If you have a laptop that belches hot air at you like a steady stream of steam from a subway grate, you may want to blow that hot air elsewhere. A laptop cooler can definitely help on that front. There are also some ergonomic benefits to be gained from raising up your laptop display, and cooling pads with adjustable height and angle can actually improve posture and reduce neck pain by getting your laptop screen up off the desk and closer to eye level.

If You’re Going to Buy a Cooling Pad

After looking over this article and reading about what you can and can’t expect from a cooling pad, if you still want to buy a cooling pad, here is some friendly advice to help you get the most for your money.

First, there’s no reason to pay a lot. At no point in our testing did we see a correlation between overall cooling or performance improvements with either price or brand name. A $20 cooler from a brand you’ve never heard of will likely chill your laptop as well or better than the $70 option from a well-known gaming brand.

The technology of a cooling pad is simple – it’s a laptop stand with a few fans mounted on it. There is no secret sauce that will make this basic design significantly more effective, simply because it’s not very effective in the best of circumstances. In our research and testing, there’s no need to pay more than $30 for any laptop cooler unless you’re paying for extra features.

Second, look at how you’ll be using it. If you need something you can use away from a desk, look at something like the Targus Lap Chill Mat AWE55US, which has neoprene padding for comfort and no riser feet that will jab you in the legs. If you want something you can take with you on the go, look for a cooler that’s small and light enough to fit in your laptop bag. Match the design to your use and you’ll have a better experience overall.

Third, features make a difference, even when cooling doesn’t. If you want to get the most value for your money, consider a cooling pad with a USB hub built in. It doesn’t make the cooling any better or worse, but at least you’ll get some more usable ports out of the deal.

How to Increase the Dell XPS 13‘s battery life

DELL XPS 13 non touch version of the continuation of the notebook computer battery strong testing for 11 hours 54 minutes, including continuous surfing Wi-Fi in 100 nits brightness. However, when you use a laptop, its endurance varies depending on the screen brightness, workload, and configuration (the 4K screen has much lower battery life). Here are some tips to increase the battery life of your XPS 13.

Make sure you have the latest BIOS

In December 2015, Dell released a BIOS update the improved the XPS 13’s Dell xps m1530 battery life by almost 25 percent. Our review unit went from 9 hours and 37 minutes to 11 hours and 54 minutes.

Dim the Screen

The display on the XPS 13 can get quite bright, registering 318 nits on our light meter. The display is one of the largest power drains on any computer, and keeping it at 100 percent brightness is a sure way to burn through your battery.

While the computer lasted an impressive 11:54 at 100 nits, you might want to dim it further if you’re in a pinch. We tried dimming it to 10 percent (20 nits), which was dark but still legible, and the laptop ran for ran 38 minutes longer, a total of 12:32.

Some users might max out their brightness, but that won’t help your battery usage. When we ran our tests at 100 percent brightness, the laptop ran for 9 hours flat, losing almost three potential hours of use.

Lower Your Performance

The XPS 13’s battery settings offer an option to lower your TDP, which stands for Thermal Design Power. This is the highest amount of heat that your CPU will produce when running, and the CPU tends to produce more heat at high performance level. If you lower your TDP, your CPU won’t perform as strongly, but it may save some battery life.

When we ran the Laptop Mag Battery Test at 100 nits of brightness (our standard for the test) but with Low TDP settings, the XPS 13 lasted 12:38, 44 minutes longer than our original test. We ran Geekbench 3 on low TDP settings to see if performance would take a hit, but didn’t see any noticeable difference. If you’re running intensive programs, you may see some stuttering when utilizing this function.

Here’s how to enable Low TDP:

1. Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options

2. Click Change plan settings next to your current plan.

3. Click “Change advanced power settings.”

4. Click the + next to”Intel(R) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Settings”

5. Click the + next to Config TDP Level

6. Choose Low TDP from the menu next to “on battery.”

7. Click Apply, then click OK.

Change Wi-Fi Networks

We run our battery test on a 802.11ac Wi-Fi network, which is the latest version of the wireless standard. Typically, 802.11ac connections require less power than older networks, such as 802.11n. If you have an 802.11ac network, try to keep your XPS 13 (or any laptop that supports it) connected to it for a potential battery bump.

Review:Asus VivoBook Pro N580VD

The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 is a slim and lightweight high-performance laptop that is powered by the latest 7th Generation Intel® Core™ processor. It features a 1080p FHD display with 100% sRGB color gamut, GTX 1050 graphics card, audio co-developed by harman/kardon, and the latest cooling and fast-charge technologies.

Design

The VivoBook Pro’s lid has a brushed-metal finish and is made of a metal that Asus claims is scratch resistant. And although the company says the VivoBook Pro comes in “icicle gold,” it looks far more like silver to us. This design is supposed to give the laptop a prestigious look, but the color is so muted that the grain gets lost in the reflections of bouncing light.

Weighing 5.1 pounds and measuring 0.8 inches thick, the VivoBook Pro is heavier than the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 (4.6 pounds, 0.8 inches), the Dell XPS 15 (4.6 pounds, 0.7 inches) and the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (4 pounds, 0.6 inches).

The VivoBook Pro tries to make up for its weight with a strong variety of ports. You’ll find an Ethernet jack, a USB 3.0 port, HDMI-out and a USB 3.1 Type-C port on its left side, and dual USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack and an SD memory reader on its right.

Display

The 15.6-inch screen on the VivoBook Pro offers good color output, though we wish the panel were a bit brighter.. When watching a Rick and Morty episode on the VivoBook Pro, I noted accurate tones of a green alien, Rick’s ice-blue shirt and magenta Szechuan McNuggets sauce.

However, the VivoBook Pro’s 1920 x 1080-pixel panel isn’t as crisp as the higher-resolution displays in the more expensive Yoga 720 (3840 x 2160, $1,649), XPS 15 (3840 x 2160, $2,049) and 15-inch MacBook Pro (2880 x 1800, $2,799) that we tested.

According to our colorimeter, the VivoBook Pro produces 115 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which is higher than the 103 percent mainstream notebook average, and similar to the 114 percent from the Yoga 720 and the 126 percent from the MacBook Pro. The XPS 15 is even more colorful, rating 188 percent.

The relatively bright panel on the VivoBook Pro emits up to 277 nits, which is brighter than the 260-nit category average and similar to the ratings from Yoga 720 (272 nits) and the XPS 15 (282 nits). We saw a much brighter panel in the 460-nit MacBook Pro. The viewing angles could be better, ass colors darkened at 45 degrees to the left and right.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The VivoBook Pro’s keyboard is acceptable, but not great.. Asus attempts to make up for the shallow 1.2 millimeters of travel in its keys (at least 1.5 mm is preferred) with the keys’ required actuation weight of 79 grams (we look for at least 60 grams). But it still felt like my fingers were hitting the bottom of the keyboard too quickly, which can prove uncomfortable during extended sessions.

Testing out the keyboard on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit a rate of 74 words per minute, which isn’t too far from my 80-wpm average. I’ve been using the 15-inch MacBook Pro recently and have found a similar, serviceable experience in its keyboard.

The other issue I experienced came from the VivoBook Pro’s irregularly shaped directional arrows. While keys of slightly different sizes may not sound like a huge deal, I kept clicking the left arrow when I intended to hit down.

This laptop’s 4.1 x 2.9-inch touchpad offers accurate input tracking and accepts all the standard three-finger Windows navigation gestures. It also features a fingerprint reader in its upper-right corner, which I find inconvenient but others do not mind.

Audio

The VivoBook Pro produces decent sound that’s loud enough to fill a large conference room. While listening to the Run The Jewels song “Legend Has It” on the notebook, I noted that it produced accurate synths and sturdy bass, though the vocals sounded a hair warm and fuzzy.

The included Audio Wizard Pro sound presets utility packs settings for Music, Movies, Gaming and Voice, as well as an option to disable all adjustments. Keep it set to music, as the Off setting takes all the pow out of the speakers.

Performance

As its name suggests, the VivoBook Pro packs speed for demanding professionals who multitask all the time. Its Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU and 16GB of RAM enabled me to see zero lag or stutter when I split my screen between a dozen Chrome tabs (including Slack, TweetDeck and Giphy) and a 1080p YouTube video.

The VivoBook Pro earned a solid 12,068 on the Geekbench 4 general performance test, beating the 10,785 category average and the 11,951 from the Yoga 720 (Core i7-7700HQ, 8GB of RAM). We saw higher scores of 13,911 from the XPS 15 (Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB of RAM) and 15,170 from the MacBook Pro (Core i7 with 16GB of RAM).

The VivoBook Pro’s 512GB SSD is its weak spot; it duplicated 5GB of media files in 28 seconds, for a relatively slow speed of 181.76 MBps. That’s below the 237-MBps category average, as well as the 268 MBps from the Yoga 720 (256GB SSD), 339 MBps from the XPS 15 (512GB PCIe SSD) and 654 MBps from the MacBook Pro (512GB PCIe SSD).

The VivoBook Pro did better on our productivity performance test, matching 20,000 names to addresses in OpenOffice in 3 minutes and 23 seconds. That’s shorter than the 4:24 category average and the 3:42 from the Yoga 720, and tied with the 3:23 from the XPS 15.

Graphics

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU in the VivoBook Pro includes 4GB of memory and will enable speedy gaming in modestly demanding titles. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, this system notched 138,199, beating the 99,402 category average and the 119,006 from the Yoga 720 (2GB GTX 1050). We recorded a similar 134,459 from the XPS 15 (4GB GTX 1050 GPU).

The VivoBook Pro ran the Dirt 3 racing game (graphics set to medium, 1080p) at a smooth 114 frames per second, which outpaces the 97-fps category average and the 76 fps from the MacBook Pro (4GB AMD Radeon Pro 560). The Yoga 720 posted a similar frame rate of 110 fps.

We also saw an acceptable frame rate when the VivoBook Pro ran the budget gaming test for Rise of the Tomb Raider at 45 fps. That rises above our 30-fps playability threshold and beats the 41-fps category average, the 39 fps from the Yoga 720 and the 41 fps from the XPS 15.

Battery Life

With the Asus a32-m50 laptop battery life you get with the VivoBook Pro, you’ll never forget to bring your power adapter with you. The notebook lasted a mere 4 hours and 33 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which is much less than the 6:12 category average for this size system. The Yoga 720 (8:59), XPS 15 (8:23) and MacBook Pro (10:59) offer even more longevity.

Webcam

Sure, it’s called the VivoBook Pro, but its 0.9-megapixel webcam is pedestrian at best.

A selfie I shot in our well-lit office made it look like my dark-blue shirt was black, and you can barely see its brown leather patch.

Heat

The VivoBook Pro stays cool during use. After we streamed HD video on it for 15 minutes, our heat gun captured temperatures from its touchpad (78.5 degrees Fahrenheit), G and H keys (86.5 degrees) and underside (90 degrees) that fall below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

Software: So … much … crud

Asus’ motto is “In Search Of Incredible,” but when I looked in this machine’s Start menu, I went in search of the utility to uninstall apps. For instance, it’s unnecessary to preload the WPS Office suite, as this version of the also-ran competitor to Microsoft Office is already free online. Also, check out Google Docs if you’re looking for a text editor.

The VivoBook Pro also came stocked with the Asus Giftbox, which provides discounts for services such as the film editor Adobe Premiere Pro CC (20 percent off) and Dropbox (25GB for free, instead of the regular 2GB). It’s also filled with other utilities you can already download for free, such as Avast Free Antivirus, Groupon, Spotify, Evernote and the prestigious WinZip.

Speaking of stuff you can also get for free elsewhere, the VivoBook Pro also carries the free version of the Keeper password manager. You can skip this second-rate option without worry;Tom’s Guide, our sister site, rated it a 7 out of 10 (LastPass got 9/10).

Certain apps, though, such as the MyAsus Service Center for tech support, and Asus’ ZenLink cross-platform file transfer app, should prove useful.

Configuration Options

We tested the sole VivoBook Pro configuration currently for sale: a $1,259 model with a Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 512GB of SSD storage, a 15.6-inch 1920×1080-pixel display, 16GB of RAM and a 4GB Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU.

Bottom Line

The VivoBook Pro’s speedy CPU, powerful GPU and colorful screen deliver a solid experience to users for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, it’s up to a pound heavier than competing machines, has a lower-res screen and can’t make it 5 hours on a single charge.

If you can pay a little more, consider the Yoga 720 ($1,499 when similarly configured), which provides comparable performance, almost twice the Lenovo thinkpad w700 battery life and a higher-res display. But while it may not be as Pro-level as others, this VivoBook Pro brings the zippy performance that demanding users desire at a price that more people can afford.

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