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Computing

Why You Should Think Twice About a Gaming Laptop for School

Tracking down the best laptop for college is no easy task. You want something that can handle papers and note-taking week after week, a battery that can last you all day without a charge, and a price that won’t empty your wallet before you’ve had a chance to buy any books.

Gaming laptops don’t really fit that mold. Unless you’re willing to spend up for a premium gaming machine, you’ll often sacrifice what makes the best laptops the best in favor of a beefy graphics card and processor.

In 2021, you can still game while having a good laptop for school. Here’s why you shouldn’t pick up a gaming laptop and what you should buy instead.

Keyboards are often an afterthought

Gaming laptop keyboards have improved over the past few years, but they’re still not very good. Take the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, for example, which has one of the better gaming keyboards on the market and still manages to feel mushy. The inexpensive Dell G5 SE has a decent keyboard, but it still carries the asterisk: For a gaming laptop.

After struggling through notes in class or making one too many typos in a paper, you’ll probably wish you had a better laptop keyboard. Many non-gaming machines don’t make you compromise. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, for example, is around the same price as the Zephyrus G14 and has the same satisfying typing experience as the rest of the ThinkPad range.

There are exceptions like the Razer Blade 15, but unless you can get hands-on with a unit, you’re rolling the dice when it comes to a gaming laptop keyboard.

Gaming laptops require a lot of power, and they’re hot

Alienware M15 sitting on a desk.

Even if you’re not running a game, gaming laptops can suck up a lot of power. They’re designed with gaming in mind first, with high-powered processors and graphics cards at their core. Although most recent processors can reduce their power draw outside of games, they often suck up more juice than their low-powered counterparts.

The Acer Predator Triton 300 SE has better battery life than most gaming laptops thanks to its lower-wattage CPU, but it’s still not great. In our web-browsing test, the laptop lasted seven-and-a-half hours, which is on the high end for gaming laptops. Cheaper gaming laptops even end up lasting a few hours less. Compare that with the HP Elite Dragonfly, which lasted over 10 hours in the same test.

Of course, the byproduct of power is heat, and gaming laptops don’t always handle it well. Even the Razer Blade 15 can get toasty while idle, and the MSI GS66 Stealth can reach temperatures of 97 degrees Celsius when pushed. Outside of uncomfortable wrists, noisy fans can get in the way of a video call or just annoy your classmates in-person.

Gaming laptops are expensive

Fortnite running a Razer Blade 15.

You can find a gaming laptop for under $1,000, but you’ll need to trade build quality, components, and display quality to meet that price. To get a laptop that’s great for gaming and school, you’ll need to pay up. The Razer Blade 14 is a laptop that can do gaming and work well, but even the cheapest model will run you about $2,200.

Non-gaming laptops can get expensive, too, but you have a lot more high-quality options around the $1,000 mark. The Asus ZenBook 13, for example, clocks in at around $800 and comes with an excellent keyboard, a beautiful OLED display, and a battery life of nearly 16 hours. You won’t find any of that on a gaming laptop for the same price.

The mid- to high-end for laptop prices is where most gaming machines start — assuming you want something remotely capable of running the latest games. Again, there are exceptions like the Dell G5 SE that manage impressive gaming performance for under $1,000, but it still doesn’t stack up to non-gaming laptops at a similar price.

What you should buy instead

Fortnite running on a Macbook M1.

You don’t need a gaming laptop to get the best of both worlds. Cloud gaming is constantly improving, offering you access to the latest AAA video games without the computing overhead, and many mobile chips come with decent integrated graphics, allowing you to run basic games at lower resolutions and settings.

The MacBook Air M1 is a prime example, which is among the best laptops for college. It’s cooled entirely through the body, so you don’t have to deal with a noisy fan, and it has one of the best laptop keyboards on the market.

It can run some games, too. In our testing of the M1 MacBook Air, we reached 33 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite and 51 fps in Civilization VI. It’s not show-stopping gaming performance, but the M1 MacBook Air still handles gaming better than many of its Intel counterparts.

If you’re more into Windows, there are plenty of options. Our go-to recommendation is the Dell XPS 13 thanks to its snappy and precise keyboard, excellent CPU power, and beautiful, ultra-thin bezels. The Tiger Lake chip powering recent models includes decent integrated graphics, though you’ll probably need to bump down the resolution.

For more demanding titles, you can turn to cloud gaming. It isn’t ideal, but services like Xbox Game Pass and GeForce Now make a solid argument for the technology, and they don’t lock you into a specific platform the way Google Stadia does.

Popular live service games like Destiny 2 and Apex Legends are available across multiple platforms, and single-player blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077 are available, too. In the case of GeForce Now, you can actually build your Steam library since it uses games that you already own.

There are a few situations where a gaming laptop might be a better choice, though. If you have access to creative apps like Blender and Adobe Premiere Pro, a gaming laptop can help speed up those apps. Still, it’s best to pick up a solid non-gaming laptop and use cloud gaming in most cases.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

GTA Remastered Trilogy tipped to breathe new life into PS2-era classics

For quite some time, multiple rumors have claimed that Rockstar is looking to remaster classic Grand Theft Auto titles and re-release them on modern platforms. Thus far, those rumors haven’t materialized into any confirmation from Rockstar, but according to a new report today, that confirmation may not be very far off. If you were a fan of GTA games like Grand Theft Auto 3, GTA: Vice City, or GTA: San Andreas back in the day, then it might not be long before you’re able to play them with a fresh coat of paint.

This rumor comes from Kotaku, which spoke to sources familiar with Rockstar’s plans who claim that the company is approaching the finish line with these long-rumored remasters. In all, Kotaku said that it spoke with three different sources, all with corroborating details on the development of these games, noting that all of them have “reliable track records” when it comes to leaks related to GTA and Red Dead Redemption.

Those sources say that Rockstar is currently working on remasters of all the PS2-era games we listed above and that they’ll come with refreshed graphics and updated UIs. The goal, it seems, is to update these games for modern platforms while at the same time keeping the overall classic feel of them intact.

Kotaku’s sources also note that Rockstar Dundee is working on these remasters while at the same time helping Rockstar bring GTA V to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Originally, it seems Rockstar planned to offer these as a bonus for those who buy that upgraded version of GTA V, but now the plan seems to be to offer the GTA Remastered Trilogy as a standalone product this fall – we’re told to expect them to launch around the end of October or the beginning of November.

One interesting thing revealed by this report is that Rockstar plans to release the GTA Remastered Collection on pretty much every platform under the sun: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, PC, Stadia, and even mobile devices. However, it’s important to point out that Nintendo consoles have historically missed out on the GTA franchise’s biggest games. While the first two GTA games were ported to the Game Boy Color and there were a pair of spin-offs developed for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, Nintendo’s home consoles have never received a proper GTA release.

So, if Kotaku’s report is correct, this would be a big release for the Switch. These sources also claim that Rockstar could remaster the original Red Dead Redemption as well, but that isn’t necessarily in the cards just yet as the company works to finish the GTA remasters first. All in all, it’s a very fascinating report, and if everything pans out, it may not be long before we have official confirmation of the GTA Remastered Trilogy.

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Computing

Surface Book 4: Rumors, News, Price, Release Date, and More

Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 unleashed powerful graphics in the convenient 2-in-1 form factor, but it is starting to become a dated piece of hardware for the price. The Surface Book lineup is overdue for a refresh, and many believe one could finally be coming soon by way of a new “Surface Laptop Pro” or “Surface Laptop Studio.”

Such a new Surface could launch alongside the Surface Pro 8 and maybe even the Surface Duo 2. Microsoft hasn’t said much to support an impending launch, but we have gathered up all the rumors in one place, speculating on what could end up happening later this year.

Price and release date

There are still doubts if Microsoft is planning to release a Surface Book 4. According to a report from Windows Central, it is looking more as though Microsoft might end up replacing the expected device with a new flagship Surface Laptop or Surface Laptop Studio.

We’re uncertain if the product will actually come to life under the Surface Book 4 name. However, since this is just a rumor, we’ll keep referring to the product as “Surface Book 4” throughout this piece for that reason.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t guess a price and release date based on the company’s last flagship, the Surface Book 3. Like other technology giants, Microsoft usually refreshes Surface devices in the fall, around October. The Surface Book 3, however, was quietly announced on May 6, 2020. Judging from that, there’s the small chance Surface Book 4 could come in the late summer. But don’t take that too seriously.

The main Surface lineup is refreshed toward the end of the year. You should look for a potential release around October or November. The later time frame is looking like a better option, especially since Microsoft could want to time the launch of a flagship device with its Windows 11 operating system, which is scheduled for release this holiday season. Chip shortages, though, could change that.

As far as pricing goes, there are two things to think about: Size and graphics. The Surface Book 3 comes in a base 13-inch model, as well as a larger 15-inch model. The 13-inch model is the more affordable option and has Intel’s integrated graphics or the GTX 1650 on other SKUs. The 15-inch Surface Book 3 models, meanwhile, are higher-end. The larger models step things up to the GTX 1660 Ti and even Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics.

Judging from that, you can expect the Surface Book 4 to be a bit of the same. A base 13-inch model could come in at around $1,600. Then, adding in additional graphics for the 15-inch model could step things up closer to $2,300 and even $3,000 if Microsoft opts for higher-end studio graphics once again.

A new design going the way of the iPad?

Surface Book 3 detached from the base.

While the detachable screen on the Surface Book was a revolutionary idea when initially announced, it has now become quite a rinse-and-repeat design over the past few generations. Microsoft hasn’t changed the display bezels or the overall design of the Surface Book lineup much. But that might now change for Surface Book 4.

According to Windows Central, Microsoft is looking into using a non-detachable display on the Surface Book 4. A Microsoft patent for Computing Devices Hinges suggested this back in July. So, a future Surface Book 4, Surface Laptop Pro, or Surface Laptop Studio might look and feel a bit different.

Indeed, it could go the way of the iPad Pro and even the HP Elite Folio. After years of the same design, Microsoft is playing with the idea of cramming the CPU, GPU, and other components into the lower half of a Surface computer, with a screen floating in the air and supported by a hinge.

This would let the display pull forward and rest at different angles via a stabilizing hinge. More importantly, it also could keep the more powerful GPU and other components away from the screen. You can see this in the patent diagram below.

A Microsoft patent showing a screen floating over a computer.
Microsoft

This idea is something that Apple has adopted. If you look at the iPad Magic Keyboard, the keyboard magnetically attaches to the iPad’s screen, with the tablet “floating” in the air. The HP Elite Folio also has this design, letting you move the screen down toward the keyboard. Even the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel has a similar design.

It’s likely that Microsoft has some of the same thoughts in mind for the Surface Book 4, even if the patent doesn’t mention it by name. As always, though, patents don’t make it to the final product, but they could shape the future.

We do want to mention some more practical design rumors, though. A marketing image made many believe that that a new black model of the Surface Book could be released with the addition of some new ports. There’s no indication that this is real, however, and many have dismissed the image as fake.

Intel 11th-generation CPU and RTX 30-series graphics?

Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 shipped with Intel’s 10th-generation processors and Nvidia’s GTX  or Nvidia Quadro RTX graphics. Since then, Intel’s latest has gone up to 11th-generation Tiger Lake processors. Nvidia, meanwhile, has the RTX 30-series mobile GPUs. Look out for these more powerful chips and graphics cards in Surface Book 4.

The Nvidia GTX 1600-series chips in the Surface Book 3 performed very well in our tests, but when we reviewed the device, we didn’t like the Intel processor performance due to the 15-watt limit. Intel’s 11th-generation chips flip that with boosts for light gaming and photo editing with Iris Plus integrated graphics, so there’s the chance this might improve.

As far as the GPU support, cramming an RTX 30-series processor into a mobile form factor like the Surface Book 4 could be quite problematic for Microsoft. There’s only so much room in the chassis. But granted the rumors of a design change, this could be more likely for the Surface Book 4. The 2-in-1 could turn into more of a studio-quality machine than the older base RTX graphics could allow.

We also hope the RTX 30-series could help stabilize the price. The older Nvidia Quadro RTX graphics model was quite expensive and well into the $3,000 price range.

Given the global chip shortage, it won’t be too surprising if we end up seeing these chips in the Surface Book 4 instead of the next-generation Alder Lake processors that Intel is currently working on. Microsoft is also known to play it safe and go with processors that are a generation old. We can hope that Microsoft managed to jump to the more exciting 12th-gen chips in time, but only time will tell.

And don’t count out AMD, either. Microsoft already refreshed the Surface Laptop lineup with new AMD Ryzen processors, and some benchmarks hint that a new Surface Book could also have Ryzen 5 4500U inside.

Wishlist

For all these rumors, there’s still a lot that we’re wishing for in a Surface Book 4. Microsoft has been hesitant to adopt Thunderbolt in its products for security reasons, but a powerful device like the Surface Book 4 could benefit from support. You could easily buy a budget model and then add your own GPU externally later on.

Seeing as though the Surface Pro X and even the Surface Go 2 have slim bezels, it’d be nice to see slimmer bezels on the Book 3, too. Other items on our wishlist include improved speakers, USB-C for charging, a larger touchpad, and a more affordable price range.

Editors’ Choice






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Game

Dell is Practically Giving Away Curved Monitors Today

After taking advantage of desktop computer deals or gaming PC deals, your next move should be purchasing from desktop monitor deals or gaming monitor deals, for a screen that will give justice to your machine’s upgraded processing power. It doesn’t make sense to stick with an aging monitor, especially since you don’t need to spend a lot when buying a new one.

Dell, which makes some of Digital Trends’ best monitors for 2021, is currently offering discounts for a pair of curved monitors, so you can still upgrade your display even if you’ve spent too much on a new CPU. The Dell S3222DGM has its price slashed by $200, down to $350 from its original price of $550, while the Dell S3221QS is $240 off, lowering its price to $360 from its original price of $600.

Dell S3222DGM – $350, was $550

Dell S3221QS – $360, was $600

Dell S3222DGM – $350, was $550

The Dell S3222DGM is a 32-inch curved gaming monitor with QHD resolution that offers 77% more screen content compared with a Full HD monitor. The curved display with narrow bezels enhances your field of vision while reducing distortion, glare, and reflection, for an immersive gaming experience. The monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync Premium technology, which eliminates stuttering and ensures responsive gameplay.

Your desktop space will increase with the Dell S3222DGM, as the stand’s angled base provides sturdy support but with a smaller footprint. There won’t be a problem if you spend hours looking at the monitor, as you can easily adjust its height and tilt for your most comfortable viewing angle, while the ComfortView feature reduces the blue light emissions that cause eye fatigue.

If the primary purpose of your new PC is gaming, then you can’t go wrong with the Dell S3222DGM. You can purchase the 32-inch curved monitor for only $350, which is $200 lower than its original price of $550. Stock is ready to ship, but it’s unclear when the discount will end, so if you’re already looking forward to playing your favorite games on the Dell S3222DGM, you probably should click that Buy Now button immediately.

Dell S3221QS – $360, was $600

The 32-inch Dell S3221QS curved 4K monitor with a forest scene on the screen.

For just $10 more than the Dell S3222DGM, you’ll get the Dell S3221QS, which is also a 32-inch curved monitor but with 4K resolution for clearer details and richer colors. The monitor also supports AMD’s FreeSync technology, and is equipped with built-in dual 5W speakers that are tuned by Dell’s Waves MaxxAudio. HDR content playback is also supported, making it the ultimate entertainment companion.

The Dell S3221QS retains the easily adjustable height and tilt, and the ComfortView feature found in the Dell S3222DGM, so using this curved monitor is still a comfortable experience. If you’re planning to hook up the monitor to different devices, such as a desktop computer and a gaming console, switching between them is seamless with its dual HDMI ports.

For a more premium experience compared with the Dell S3222DGM, you should go for the Dell S3221QS. The 32-inch curved 4K monitor is available for just $360, after a $240 discount to its original price of $600. There’s no telling when the deal disappears, and once it does, it might be gone for good. If you don’t want to miss out on this special offer for the Dell S3221QS, don’t think twice — click that Buy Now button as soon as you can.

More desktop monitor deals

There are lots of other offers for desktop monitors from other retailers, so if these discounts for the Dell S3222DGM and Dell S3221QS curved monitors aren’t for you, feel free to look around. So that you won’t have to spend too much time with your search, we’ve rounded up some of the best desktop monitor deals that you can shop right now.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

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Game

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl info teased for Pokemon Presents event

We’ve got a few big Pokemon games on the horizon, including a couple of remakes and a new spin-off called Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and it won’t be long before we find out more about them. The Pokemon Company announced today that it will be hosting a new Pokemon Presents presentation next week. On tap for this new Pokemon Presents is new information about Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

Those of us here in the US will want to get up bright and early for this one, as it’s happening on Wednesday, August 18th, at 6 AM PDT/9 AM EDT. The Pokemon Company says that the presentation will be live streaming on The Official Pokemon YouTube Channel, but at the time of this writing, at least, there’s no YouTube link for us to share yet.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are, as the name suggests, the long-awaited remakes of the two primary generation 4 games. Those are due out on November 19th, 2021, and they’ll be followed closely by Pokemon Legends: Arceus on January 28th, 2022. Unlike most other Pokemon games, Pokemon Legends: Arceus will be an action roleplaying game, and it’s set in the distant past of the Sinnoh region.

We haven’t seen a whole lot from any of those games yet, but with all three confirmed for this Pokemon Presents live stream, that will probably change next week. Of course, we could also see more from other games in the Pokemon franchise, specifically Pokemon Unite, which recently launched on Nintendo Switch and is coming to mobile devices in September.

We may even get a surprise announcement too, but considering that The Pokemon Company is currently working on these Diamond and Pearl remakes along with Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a surprise announcement probably isn’t likely. However, regardless of what’s in store, we’ll let you know about all the major announcements, so check back here with us on Wednesday for coverage of the Pokemon Presents event.

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Computing

AMD Might Be Backtracking on GPUs for Cryptocurrency Miners

Amid the GPU shortage, AMD’s response to if it would take any action against cryptocurrency miners was a resounding “no.” Now, it seems Team Red might be taking some notes from Nvidia. A new, unbranded card has leaked that features two Radeon RX 570 cores, and it could be AMD’s response to crypto miners.

Twitter user @9550pro, who has previously leaked information about Intel’s upcoming DG2 graphics card, shared photos of the card that were posted to the Saraba1st forum. The card reportedly combines two of AMD’s 14nm RX 570 cores to double the mining performance, creating the tentatively named Radeon RX 570 Duo.

Sapphire ETH mining RX 570 Duo????

125W 60MH/s

Source: https://t.co/HA5v3EyeFn pic.twitter.com/tprNBw3987

— HXL (@9550pro) August 13, 2021

Based on the GPU-Z screenshot the original poster provided (below), the pictured card comes from Sapphire and PC Partner. Sapphire is a long-standing add-in board partner (AIB) for AMD graphics cards, and PC Partner is a graphics card maker based out of Hong Kong. It’s not clear if the RX 570 Duo is a new card AMD is working on or a mad experiment dreamt up by two GPU makers.

It seems unlikely that AMD is working on an entirely new card. The 14nm Polaris architecture is five years old, and the RX 570 itself is over four years old. Even with two cores smashed together, the RX 570 Duo performs about as well as an Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti or AMD RX 6800 for mining Ethereum.

However, it’s possible that AMD is revitalizing the older architecture. In May, AMD signed an exclusivity agreement with U.S.-based chipmaker GlobalFoundries through 2024, who was behind the manufacturing of Polaris. AMD has already turned to Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC for its recent graphics cards and processors that are built on a smaller node, so AMD could be riding out its commitment with older architecture.

A possible RX 570 Duo could draw miners away from AMD’s newer cards that are targeting gamers. Measured in millions of hashes per second (MH/s), the RX 570 8GB is capable of about 30.9 MH/s when mining Ethereum. The original poster shared an image showing similar mining performance across both of the RX 570 Duo’s cores, combing for a hash rate of around 60 MH/s.

The recently released RX 6600 XT is reportedly capable of half of that — around 28 MH/s.

In response to the growing demand from cryptocurrency miners, Nvidia introduced its Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) cards. These cards are built specifically for mining, and Nvidia pointed miners toward them to take the strain off of its consumer cards. AMD hasn’t fired back yet, but that could be what the RX 570 Duo is.

This likely isn’t the final design, though. The shared images show a rather cheap-looking cooler haphazardly stuck on a board and a single HDMI output. Nvidia’s CMP cards don’t feature any video outputs.

If AMD is working on a mining card, we hope it comes soon — especially as the prices of RX 6000 cards continues to rise.

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Game

Best PS5 Game Deals for August 2021

The PlayStation 5 is finally here, offering lightning-fast loading speeds and significant visual enhancements, and if you’re among the lucky ones who already own the next-generation console, you should always keep an eye out for PS5 game deals. The PlayStation 5 is among the hottest items that you can find in retailers’ gaming deals, followed by PS5 game sales, as you don’t want to keep such a powerful machine idle. They don’t appear as often as discounts for PlayStation 4 games, so if you see PS5 game deals for titles that you like, don’t hesitate to take advantage of them.

Most of the PlayStation deals that you see will involve the PlayStation 4, as well as its games and accessories. PlayStation 5 owners should be patient in looking for PS5 game deals — they’re few, but they’re certainly out there somewhere. The PlayStation 4 dominated the gaming industry with its long list of top-quality exclusives, and Sony will be working to make sure that this trend continues with the PlayStation 5. Whenever there are PS5 game sales, take the opportunity to start building what may be history’s best gaming library in the making.

Today’s best PS5 game deals

The PlayStation 5 library isn’t as expansive as that of the PlayStation 4 because the console has just been launched. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get to enjoy the PlayStation 5, especially since you can enjoy savings by buying from PS5 game deals. Digital Trends has rolled out a list of the best PS5 games, and if you see these titles under PS5 game sales, you should purchase them right away. It’s fine to end up with a backlog of games if you bought them all below full price, as there’s no telling when they’ll be offered with discounts again.

What are the best PS5 games?

The PlayStation 5 is still relatively young compared to previous-generation consoles, but you’ll be surprised with the diversity of genres when you take a look at PS5 game deals. Additionally, console owners who subscribe to the PlayStation Plus service will gain access to the PS Plus Collection, which includes some of the best PS4 games. You didn’t buy the PlayStation 5 to play games made for the previous generation, though, so if you see PS5 game sales for the following titles, it’s highly recommended that you snap them up as fast as you can.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

The latest entry in the long-running franchise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, is Ubisoft’s most ambitious attempt yet, set in a 9th-century open world that’s daunting at first because of the sheer number of things that you can do. Control Eivor, who helms a group of Vikings in expanding their new home of Ravensthorpe in Anglo-Saxon England from a small village to a thriving community. The combat system is a further improvement from recent Assassin’s Creed games, completely capturing the ruthlessness of Eivor’s clan of warriors. Lead raids, devastate your enemies, and improve your settlement in a game that will see you log 60 hours to complete the campaign and more than 100 hours if you want to explore everything that the game has to offer.

Demon’s Souls

The protagonist of Demon's Souls fighting against the Vanguard demon.

PlayStation 4 classics such as Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice trace their roots back to 2009’s Demon’s Souls, which is now in the hands of a new generation of gamers with a remake for the PlayStation 5. The challenging/frustrating level of difficulty that has made “Souls-like” games so popular is retained in the new Demon’s Souls, but with additional items, weapons, and armor to switch things up from the original. The enemies are vicious, the levels are unforgiving, and the boss fights are exhausting, so you’ll likely see the iconic You Died screen an unpleasant number of times. Finally breaking through is a glorious feeling, though, and that’s going to keep you hooked to Demon’s Souls.

Returnal

Selene, the protagonist of Returnal, shooting at purple alien parasites.

In Returnal, players take control of Selene, an astronaut who crash lands on the planet Atropos. The third-person sci-fi shooter plunges you into a loop that brings you back to your ship whenever Selene dies, with most gear removed. There are some skills that you permanently gain, though, as well as paths to succeeding areas after you clear boss fights. The influence of Demon’s Souls is also seen in Returnal‘s difficulty, but the fast-paced game beautifully takes advantage of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller with haptic feedback that simulates different situations, different firing modes controlled by how far you press the adaptive triggers, and helpful clues from the built-in speakers. All of these work together within a haunting story that will keep you fighting to get Selene to the end.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Miles Morales in Spider-Man outfit fending off crime.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4, brings the superhero’s webs to the PlayStation 5. The action-adventure title retains the fast-paced core gameplay of its predecessor, but you’ll get to enjoy the new abilities of Miles Morales’ version of the wall-crawler. It’s a much shorter game, but it if you missed swinging around the skyscrapers of New York City, you’ll get to do more of that in addition to continuing the story with a fresh set of eyes. If you haven’t played the first game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition includes the remastered version of Spider-Man, so you can enjoy both games on the PlayStation 5.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet tethers through a portal in Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart.

While Returnal and Spider-Man: Miles Morales took advantage of the DualSense controller, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the first game to showcase the true potential of the PlayStation 5, using the console’s solid-state drive for virtually no loading times in a visual spectacle. The 3D platformer brings back the titular characters, while introducing Rivet, a mirror version of Ratchet who you’ll control in just about every other level. They share an explosive and creative arsenal of weapons, including the Topiary Sprinkler, which transforms enemies into shrubs, and the the new and improved RYNO-8, which summons items from other Sony games. Playing Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart feels like taking part in a blockbuster movie, with all the action that you can handle combined with the classic humor that has made the series into a beloved one among PlayStation fans.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

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AI

Science, applied: 3 ways AI and ML are advancing the insurance industry

The Transform Technology Summits start October 13th with Low-Code/No Code: Enabling Enterprise Agility. Register now!


This article was written by Kea Goins, a Marketing Coordinator at Valkyrie.

From maximizing advertisement relevance to customizing user experience, the benefits of applied sciences and advanced data analytics have become more apparent as industries adopt data-driven approaches to create new competitive advantages. In this article, we focus on companies in the insurance industry that are implementing applications of data science to deliver efficient, risk-adjusted solutions by detecting fraudulent activity and providing a personalized customer experience. The best place to start is by looking at some of the technological trends being used by insurance companies today.

Growing Trends in the Insurance Industry

Customer Experience & Coverage Personalization

With access to a customer’s behavioral, geographic, social, and account data, AI-enabled chatbots can provide seamless, automated, and personalized buying experiences. These bots are quickly becoming the industry standard. According to a 2020 MIT Technology Review survey of 1,004 business leaders, customer service (via chatbots) is the leading application of AI being deployed today. The study shows that 73% of respondents indicated that by 2022, it will still be the leading use of AI in companies.

Behavioral-Based Policy Pricing

In the auto insurance industry, we are seeing ubiquitous IoT sensors provide personalized data to pricing platforms, allowing safer drivers to be rewarded by paying less for auto insurance (known as usage-based insurance). These techniques have expanded beyond auto insurance, and we are now seeing health & dental insurance companies also use IoT sensors that provide people who maintain a healthier lifestyle with a lower rate for insurance. A recent article highlighted dental insurance company Beam Digital for their use of IoT technologies. This company provides a smart toothbrush to every customer and monitors their oral health, while using this information to support a dental insurance plan. Beam sends the customer notices and encouragement if their brushing habits are falling short of the required standard. The company hopes this will result in improved dental hygiene and reduced premiums.

Faster, Customized Claims Settlement

Online interfaces and computer-vision enabled virtual claims adjusters now make it streamlined and more efficient to settle and pay claims following an accident, while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood of fraud. Customers are now also able to select their preferred provider’s premiums that will be used to pay their claims (known as peer-to-peer/P2P insurance). Data science applications have enabled the required higher-fidelity predictions based on events, in real-time, using large datasets rather than samples to make the best guess.

Industry Leaders That Are Adopting AI/ML

With advancements in AI/ML applications, more insurance companies are now actively leveraging preexisting data to increase the depth of understanding they have of their customers. Companies like State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Allstate, and Progressive are among a few of the industry leaders that are adopting AI and ML applications into their business model.

Allstate Insurance

Greg Firestone, Vice President of Data Science at Allstate Insurance, explained in a recent interview why his company began leveraging anti-fraud technologies to mitigate fraudulent claims. “It’s very hard to measure sometimes, but it’s happening,” Firestone said. “The best prevention is really being aggressive: using AI and data to find fraud. Data is your friend in this regard. Fraud is a problem that impacts all insurance companies, and we need to focus on it and make sure the fraudsters realize that we’re not easy marks.”

The company leverages an AI-based solution to monitor and flag suspicious claims, however, they understand that keeping an eye on future fraud trends will still require a human touch. Large insurance companies process thousands of claims daily, making it impossible for a team of human analysts to thoroughly review each instance for fraudulent activity. Thus, many insurance companies are leveraging advanced AI systems to automate this process, which allows them to reserve their teams for claims the AI-based solution has flagged as suspicious.

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Last year, in an official press release, Liberty Mutual announced a strategic relationship with Groundspeed Analytics, Inc. to cut the time to extract submission data by 50% through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). “Properly evaluating customer submission documents is one of the most critical aspects of the underwriting process, and current methods don’t take advantage of the value locked in these documents.” By leveraging the available data in submission documents in a “data first” approach, Groundspeed is helping Liberty Mutual to make better risk selections, improve time-to-quote, and deliver better customer service.

Progressive Insurance

In recent news, Progressive Insurance is reportedly leveraging Machine Learning algorithms for predictive analytics based on data collected from customer drivers. Progressive claims that “its telematics (integration of telecommunications and IT to operate remote devices over a network) mobile app, Snapshot, has collected 14 billion miles of driving data.” By feeding the labeled data which connects accidents with the accordant driving data, the insurer could identify a pattern and predict a new customer’s likelihood of causing accidents by simply gathering hours of their driving data. This data collection process could encourage the drivers to monitor and optimize their driving habits, and possibly decrease their number of accidents. As for the insurance company, increasing further data science capabilities allows them to gather a better outlook on the possible return and risk.

Customer Acquisition Through Predictive Analytics

Traditionally, insurance agents have relied on relationship-selling supported by lead generation tools. Today, new tools exist to help insurance carriers start to predict customer needs for insurance products. These tools use predictive analytics to look for “active signals” of customer intent and then tie in relevant insurance products. For example, knowing that a construction company has just won a large contract is a good signal that they might want additional umbrella insurance. Also, knowing that a business has just secured its first institutional round of funding is a good signal that the firm needs Directors & Officers insurance. Broadly speaking, algorithms use these predictive signals to look for specific events, or business life cycle activities (e.g. starting a business), to offer new and relevant insurance products that fit each customer’s needs. Moreover, algorithms can be used to identify other related businesses that have similar characteristics (e.g. revenue size, industry type, location) to an insurance company’s existing customer base.

Leveraging AI and ML capabilities for gathering and analyzing social, historical, and behavioral data allows companies to gain a more accurate understanding of their customers and provide better products and services. The three industry leaders mentioned in this article are just a few of many companies harnessing the power of applied science capabilities to better understand their customers and their data. Through more precise risk prediction, personalized customer policies, and automated settlements, both insurance providers and customers can benefit from the impact of science applied to technologies in the insurance industry.

Kea Goins is a Marketing Coordinator at Valkyrie.

This story originally appeared on Www.valkyrie.ai. Copyright 2021

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Categories
Computing

AMD Achieves the Highest CPU Market Share In Over a Decade

According to a new report, AMD has managed to achieve its highest CPU market share since the Athlon 64 days, which was over 14 years ago.

The processor market is still undoubtedly a two-horse race, and Intel is always in the lead. However, AMD has managed to climb out of the nearly-forgotten territory that it was in just a few years ago. The manufacturer has continued to improve its standing ever since the release of its successful Zen line of processors four years ago. AMD managed to draw in a brand-new userbase thanks to the modern core architecture used in Zen, Zen 2, and now Zen 3 processors.

Mercury Research has performed an analysis of the x86 CPU market, composing of consumer desktop and laptop processors, custom silicon CPUs found in PlayStation 5 and Xbox X/S, as well as server chips. According to the figures presented by Mercury Research for the second quarter of 2021, AMD has climbed up to a 22.5% market share on the x86 processor front. Compared to Intel’s 77.5%, this may still not seem like a lot — but it shows a steady improvement for the company. As the market is dominated by Intel and AMD, a gain for AMD means a loss for Intel. Figures from the second quarter of last year (2020) show that Intel’s current 77.5% standing is a drop of over 4%.

AMD is not seeing improvements all across the board, however. When it comes to the x86 desktop processor space, the company is experiencing a downward trend. In the first quarter of this year, AMD’s market share in this sector was at 19.3%. Now, AMD is at 17.1% compared to Intel’s 82.9%. On the other hand, AMD’s standing has gone up both in the mobile CPU and the server CPU sectors, where its Epyc CPUs are rivaling against Intel Xeon.

The drop in the x86 desktop CPU market share likely stems from the ongoing chip shortage. The entire tech industry is affected by it, from cars to graphics cards, processors, and gaming consoles. Low silicon availability has forced most manufacturers to choose where to direct the majority of their chips.

It’s possible that AMD has chosen to focus on its console and mobile CPUs, allowing Intel to fill the gap in the desktop sector.

“In the current capacity-constrained market, the suppliers have to choose which segments to build products for, and in Q2 it appears that AMD traded off desktop production for more mobile and console CPUs, while Intel traded low-end mobile CPUs for more desktop processors,” said Dean McCarron, the president of Mercury Research.

Render of an AMD Ryzen chip.

The decision may seem peculiar, but it’s not without merit. AMD has certainly secured a loyal client base, and the good quality of its Ryzen processors drives PC builders towards the brand. Even though Intel continues to hold a higher market share, it is AMD processors that are selling out quickly and holding the top spots on several lists of the best desktop processors. Mindfactory, a popular German retailer, has also noted increasingly high sales for AMD, accounting for 76% of desktop CPUs sold last month. This means that only 24% of Mindfactory’s sales were Intel Core processors.

Although AMD is nowhere near beating Intel or even meeting it in the middle, these past few years have been the most successful the company has seen since 2007. Its greatest success still remains in the Athlon 64 days, when in the fourth quarter of 2006, AMD held a 25.3% x86 CPU market share.

Is AMD going to beat its personal record from nearly 15 years ago? It’s too early to tell, but Intel is not laying down its sword. In fact, Intel is beating AMD to the punch when it comes to releasing the next generation of processors. Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs are expected to arrive later this year, bringing forth DDR5 memory, PCI Express 5.0, and a new socket.

AMD is set to retaliate next year with the release of Zen 4, which will also require a new socket and thus, a new motherboard. One thing is for sure — there are exciting times ahead when it comes to the CPU market, and the race between AMD and Intel is only going to get more serious.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Amazon walks back controversial game rules

Last month, we caught wind of a rather troubling set of rules Amazon imposed on developers working for its studios. Those rules primarily concerned personal projects of developers under contract with Amazon, and they were about as bad as they could be. However, after those rules were made public and developers and prospective players alike pushed back, Amazon has apparently decided to reverse them.

That’s according to Bloomberg‘s Jason Schreier, who reports that Amazon Game Studios lead Mike Frazzini announced the rule reversal in an email to staff this week. “These policies were originally put in place over a decade ago when we had a lot less information and experience than we do today, and as a result, the policies were written quite broadly,” the email reads.

“Quite broadly” might even be an understatement in this case. The long list of rules Amazon imposed on game developers included provisions that required their personal games to use Amazon’s publicly available products and services “whenever possible,” meaning that if a game had some cloud functionality, it was required to use AWS. Amazon also required game developers to make their personal games available through Amazon’s storefronts.

Arguably the worst rule required game developers to give Amazon a “royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid-up, perpetual, transferrable license” to “any and all” IP rights associated with the games they created. These rules also stated that game developers could only make their personal games on their own time. They couldn’t use Amazon resources to develop those games either, so Amazon was definitely trying to have its cake and eat it too with these rules.

Now, however, they seem to be a thing of the past. While we don’t know what kind of rules Amazon is replacing the old list with – if it’s replacing them with any – it’s hard to imagine a new set of rules being worse than the old policies.

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