Hitman 3’s Best Feature is Only Available on Google Stadia

One of my favorite aspects of Hitman 3 is how it has become a singular location for the entire “World of Assassination” trilogy if you own all three games on one platform, you can access any of their missions from within Hitman 3. It makes World of Assassination an actual mechanic rather than just a subtitle for IO Interactive’s games.

Google’s streaming video game service Stadia takes things to the next level with its “save state” feature. When playing the game on Stadia, a player simply has to take a screenshot or video capture of their game, and the service ties all of their current settings to that image. It will then generate a link they can send to a fellow Stadia player, and when they open it, they are given the option to play that save state.

What does that mean for Hitman? The game is designed for multiple replays missions can be tackled repeatedly, as players choose a different loadout and difficulty setting every time to slightly alter the experience. When another player opens a save state link, it immediately kicks them to the start of the level featured in the captured screenshot, along with whatever outfit, location, and starting gear has been chosen.

For example, I started out the opening Dubai mission from Hitman 3 in the briefing room of the skyscraper featured in the level, with Agent 47 dressed as one of the building’s staff. I had also smuggled some grenades into the kitchen trash if things ever got heated. Using the Stadia controller, I took a screenshot much like I would on any other modern console controller.

When I sent the link to the screenshot to my co-worker and they opened it up, it gave them the option to play my save state. Once they chose it, the game immediately opened up at the beginning of that scenario. This works for every level in the entire Hitman trilogy, with the first two games bundled into the Stadia Pro subscription, making this an incredibly fun extra feature for those who subscribe to service. If you have Hitman 3 on Stadia, and would like to try out this exact scenario for yourself, you can click right here.

Hitman 3 Stadia

Stadia has stumbled since its launch, and the forward-thinking exclusive features it touted at its debut have slowly trickled out. Unfortunately, its precedent of shortcomings has eclipsed some genuinely interesting developments, but I hope this save state feature breaks that pattern. Watching it work in real time is kind of magical, and it doesn’t feel like a gimmick it’s a genuine reason to not only play Hitman 3 on Stadia, but to check out the Pro subscription and fill out the rest of the trilogy. The more people that play Hitman on Stadia, the more useful that save state feature becomes.

Editors’ Choice

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Epic wants Fortnite players to send their best Stealthy Stronghold images

Epic is back with another #Fortography theme, this time seeking players’ best images of the ‘Stealthy Stronghold’ location from which the Predator emerges. This isn’t the first time the company has sought interesting images from players with the company explaining back in early December that it wants ‘more than just a gameplay photo.’

As Epic explained last month, it seeks ‘an instance of cinematic action’ when it puts out calls for Fortography images. This means moments that are more than just a game screenshot, but rather ones that look like they could have been pulled from a movie, ones that seem to tell some variety of story when viewed.

On January 22, the company put out the latest theme for its Fortography effort, asking for images featuring Stealthy Stronghold — the new POI that is surrounded by a giant wall and themed after a set in the first Predator movie. The company says the images can include the Predator if you’d like.

Epic recently added the Predator to Fortnite, something quickly followed by the addition of Terminator and Sarah Connor skins. Regardless of whether you share an image featuring the Predator, you should make sure it doesn’t have any display names in it.

How do you get these images? Head into the game’s Replay mode and tap the ‘Replays’ button within the Career tab. You can scan through your games, move the camera, and take screenshots of scenes that you think look appropriate. Tweet the images using the #Fortography hashtag to bring them to Epic’s attention.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Resident Evil Village: Release Date, Trailer, News, and More

After myriad rumors and leaks, Capcom finally revealed Resident Evil Village during Sony’s PS5 showcase in June 2020. The reveal featured a nearly three-minute video, showing off the game’s tone, visuals, and a bit of its enemies and characters, too. It included surprisingly more info than many had expected, and when combined with various interviews with Capcom, along with a Special Developer Message video, there’s quite a bit we do know about Village.

Following that, Capcom held a Resident Evil Showcase, in which it revealed the release date for Village, as well as info about a demo, pre-orders, and even a new stand-alone multiplayer expansion called RE: Verse.

In this post, we’ll go through everything we know about the upcoming Resident Evil Village.

Recommended reading:


Before getting to the nitty-gritty with what to expect from Resident Evil Village, it’s a good idea to watch a trailer for it to get a sense of its tone and atmosphere. Above is the second trailer for the game, which was shown during the Tokyo Game Show in September 2020. In it, you get a clear look at some of the game’s enemies, along with a tremendous amount of world-building that feels close to Resident Evil 4.

In addition, we finally got to see gameplay for Resident Evil Village, which was revealed during the Resident Evil Showcase. Check it out below!

What’s up with that title?

It’s not called Resident Evil 8, despite being a follow-up to Resident Evil 7. For all intents and purposes, it is Resident Evil 8, and Capcom has cleverly designed the game’s title to still include “8” in Roman numeral form, which you can check out above. You’ll remember that Resident Evil 7 did the same with its logo, as well.

The other thing to consider is that Capcom has decided to name it Village instead of 8 for a reason. As part of an interview with Famitsu (relayed by Kotaku), Capcom explained the Village would be a character, in and of itself, and that its producers would be “happy” if players “remembered Village.” Players will venture through this village, which will serve as the game’s setting.

It’s coming to PS4 and Xbox One

Capcom has ambitious goals for Village but despite this, it will still launch for previous-gen systems — the PS4 and Xbox One. This news was confirmed by Capcom during the Resident Evil Showcase, after months of unclear messaging about Village’s platforms.

Obviously, graphical fidelity is a huge factor with upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X games, and Capcom plans for Village to look stunning. “With the combined power of next gen and RE Engine, we can take our developers’ visions to new heights,” said the game’s producer Tsuyoshi Kanda. Immersive audio, impressive visuals, and a lot more is planned for this release. Don’t expect the game to have loading screens, either — another aspect that will be bolstered by next-gen machines. It’s unclear how the game’s performance will change with the previous-gen iterations, but we’re hoping they run well enough to justify development for those machines.

The game will also apparently focus much more on exploration when compared to RE7 — which again, will require more powerful hardware to maximize the game’s full potential. Resident Evil Village is now a cross-generational title, but how it will perform across all platforms remains to be seen.

It’s a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7

Capcom explains that Village is “the sequel to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and serves as the conclusion to its story.” Village takes place “a few” years after Resident Evil 7, and in it, you will continue to play as Ethan Winters from a first-person perspective, as he and his wife Mia try to enjoy life after the horrors on the previous game. As shown in the reveal trailer, Chris Redfield from previous games in the series comes into Winters’ life and “disrupts” his tranquility. After encountering Redfield, Winters is led through the village to find answers. Little else is known about the characters and their motivations.

It’s unclear why Redfield is involved or if other characters from the series will make an appearance. Some fans have speculated about some characters shown in the trailer, pointing to the long-haired man with sunglasses possibly being Luis Sera from Resident Evil 4. This has not been confirmed, but that — of course — isn’t stopping the speculation.

Either way, Winters and Redfield are involved in some way, sparking the events of the game’s story. Redfield looks to be older and “brooding,” with almost an ominous presence. He very well could be an antagonist in some way.

The reveal trailer briefly shows a puzzle with the Umbrella logo, possibly alluding that the organization will make some sort of an appearance. Much of the gameplay and overall “feel” seems to be similar to RE7, but will be much more open, at least from what we’ve seen so far. Much of RE7 took place in small- to medium-sized linear areas, which made for a claustrophobic feeling.

Village will focus more on action

Action and horror have been a staple of the Resident Evil series since its inception, though many long-time fans tend to prefer the entries that emphasize survival aspects — which offer you limited ammo and resources. In Village, Capcom will be “upping the ante on action,” but it’s unclear to what degree. Resident Evil 7 had an effective blend of action and survival-horror elements, and given Capcom’s recent track record for quality, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to see Village double down on action. What many don’t want to see is the degree of action presented in Resident Evil 6, which essentially serves as a third-person shooter, dropping nearly all survival mechanics.

Based on the enemies you’ll be facing off against (which we’ll get into in more detail below), it stands to reason the game will be more action oriented. In the trailer, we got to see short snippets of action against human and non-human enemies. It’s unclear to what degree action will play a part in Village, but it seems to be very much in the vein of RE7.

Along with its action gameplay, it’s also highly likely we’ll see the return of puzzles, if the game’s reveal trailer is any indication. In it, we got to see lots of puzzle-like imagery, with many items that resemble those introduced in RE7. One such item features a fetus-like creature in the center, surrounded by twigs and black feathers, which some fans are speculating is supposed to resemble the Umbrella logo. Maybe this is an item involved in one of the game’s puzzles.

As shown in the recent Resident Evil Showcase, Village will also feature an inventory system similar to that of Resident Evil 4’s — wherein players must apply items at varying sizes across a grid, while ensuring there’s enough room for everything.

Enemies aren’t exclusive to zombies

Speaking of enemies, the short reveal trailer showed some beautifully designed Werewolf creatures, but it’s unknown if they’re infected by a virus or if their origins lie elsewhere. Nonetheless, these seem to be one of the game’s more formidable enemies, joining the various human characters you’ll face off against. Based on how quick the enemies seem to be, it gives even more credence to upping the ante on action.

Interestingly, the trailer doesn’t seem to show any zombies at all. We’ve seen that Resident Evil doesn’t need to have zombies to be great, but it is a question many have brought up. It’s possible zombies don’t make an appearance at all, which is fine by us. Though some rumors have hinted to the game including both zombies and other enemies, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Depending on why Chris Redfield is visiting you, it’s possible you’ll have to face off against him, which would be an interesting twist, given his lineage as a protagonist throughout the series.

And of course, the internet has been going crazy for the tall vampire woman known as Lady Dimitrescu — who is expected to be one of the main villains in the upcoming game. It’s currently unclear what her role will be in the final product, but one thing’s for sure: Lady Dimitrescu is scary and the community seems to love her.

When can we play it?

Resident Evil Village finally got a release date slated for May 7, 2021 across PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. It’s currently available to preorder, but we’ll cover more on that below. Players who purchase on previous-gen systems will gain access to the current-gen versions at no additional cost, as long as it’s within the same ecosystem (PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S).

Resident Evil Village launches May 7th – and that’s not all. It will be available on PlayStation 5, PS4 (with upgrade to digital PS5 version), Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (with Smart Delivery) and Steam!

The #REShowcase is LIVE NOW:

— Resident Evil (@RE_Games) January 21, 2021

There’s a PS5 demo available now — with a separate demo to come to other platforms later

Better yet is that PS5 owners can access a free demo for Resident Evil Village right now. It’s being referred to as “Maiden” and features a different playable character than the game’s protagonist, Ethan Winters. The demo is short, but it gives us a taste of what to expect from the full release later this May.

Though, if you’re on other platforms, you’ll be happy to know that a separate demo will be made available to all sometime in the spring.

Resident Evil Village will come with a multiplayer game called RE: Verse

The Resident Evil series is no stranger to multiplayer modes. Take the cooperative features of Resident Evil 5 and 6, or the Mercenaries game on Nintendo 3DS, for example. Most recently, the remake of Resident Evil 3 featured Resident Evil Resistance, an asymmetrical online multiplayer game in which players must work together to defeat the Mastermind.

With all of that in mind, yes, Resident Evil Village will come with a separate multiplayer game called RE: Verse, which is a stand-alone game that will feature many of the series’ most beloved characters. It will be available for free to all who purchase Village. You can register for the beta here.

Below is a trailer for RE: Verse.

As you can see from the trailer, the character models have a comic book style that resembles their realistic counterparts, but with a cartoon-like visual style. According to Capcom, “players can choose from a fan-favorite roster, each with their own unique skillsets to master. When players are defeated in combat, their character respawns by mutating into a bioweapon to enact revenge on their foes.”


As for DLC, Village will feature what is referred to as the Trauma Pack, which is included in the Deluxe Edition of the game. This comes with lots of in-game goodies to enhance the experience. Outside of that, all who preorder Village will gain access to additional items as well. More on that below.

Pre-order and special editions

As announced during the Resident Evil Showcase, Resident Evil Village is available to pre-order now. Moreover, it will come in a few different versions, like a Standard Edition, Deluxe Edition, and Collector’s Edition. Here’s how to pre-order and what comes with each.

Pre-order bonus

All who pre-order Resident Evil Village will gain access to the following in-game items:

  • Mr. Raccoon Weapon Charm
  • Survival Resource Pack

Standard PS5:

Standard Xbox Series X|S:

Deluxe Edition

Here’s what you get with the Deluxe Edition:

  • Safe Room Music
  • Mr. Everywhere Bobblehead
  • Max Difficulty
  • Save Device
  • Albert01 Chris Handgun
  • Found Footage Re7 Filter
  • The Tragedy of Ethan Winters

Deluxe Edition PS5:

Deluxe Edition Xbox Series X|S:

Collector’s Edition — GameStop Exclusive

The Collector’s Edition comes with everything in the Deluxe Edition plus the following:

  • Poster
  • Trauma Pack Product Code
  • Steelbook
  • Chris Redfield Statue
  • Collector’s Box
  • Artbook

Collector’s Edition PS5 [Currently sold out]:

Collector’s Edition Xbox Series X|S:

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Xbox Live Gold price increase reversed and new perk added

Following heavy criticism of the change, the Xbox team has announced that it will not be increasing the price for its Xbox Live Gold subscription service. ‘We messed up today and you were right to let us know,’ the company said in its update on the matter. Instead, the company says you’ll no longer need Xbox Live Gold to play free-to-play games on Xbox consoles.

Xbox Live Gold is the subscription that gives Xbox owners access to the platform’s multiplayer network — meaning if you want to play with others online, you’ll need to sign up. On Friday, Xbox announced that prices for the subscription would be increasing to $10.99/month, $29.99/quarter, and $59.99/half-year.

As you’d expect, console owners weren’t happy about the change and many journalists pointed out that this wouldn’t be a good deal compared to other platforms on the market, making the Xbox far less appealing than Sony’s PlayStation consoles. Meanwhile, PlayStation owners were quick to demand that Sony avoid making the same price increase for its PlayStation Plus subscription.

Only hours later, the decision to increase Xbox Live Gold was reversed, with Microsoft stating, “Connecting and playing with friends is a vital part of gaming and we failed to meet the expectations of players who count on it every day.”

Instead of the price increase, Xbox owners will be getting a new perk similar to the one already offered by Nintendo and Sony: you won’t need the subscription to play free-to-play games like Fortnite. “We are working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months,” Microsoft said.

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Intel Core i3 vs. Core i5

As impressive as Intel’s high-end Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs are, the value of performance per dollar is much better on the lower end of things. Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs offer powerful cores for gaming and work at a much more modest price than their higher-end counterparts. But which is best for your next system?

To help you decide, we put together a deep-dive look at the newest and best CPUs from Intel in both the Core i3 and Core i5 range. Whether you want to game all night on a prebuilt system or build a new PC for work-related productivity, this guide will help you find the right CPU for you.

If you’d prefer just look at the best CPUs on the market, here are Intel and AMD’s top chips.

What’s out there?

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Before we dig into the minutia of the individual processors and what they can do, let’s take a broad look at the latest range of CPUs from Intel on desktop and mobile for both Core i3 and Core i5 designs.


Intel’s desktop range of CPUs has lost some ground to AMD in recent years, but they’re still excellent for gaming and work and, thanks to the increased competition, have more cores and higher clocks than ever. Additional features include Thunderbolt 3 ports, improved A.I. performance, and significant wireless speed improvements. All of the current desktop processors are listed below, though note that Intel is rumored to launch its 11th generation of desktop processors in either late 2020 or early 2021.

Cores Threads Base clock Boost clock Graphics TDP  Cost**
Core i5-9600K* 6 6 3.7GHz 4.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.15GHz 95W $220
Core i5-9600 6 6 3.1GHz 4.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.15GHz 65W $210
Core i5-9500* 6 6 3.0GHz 4.4GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W $155
Core i5-9500T 6 6 2.2GHz 3.7GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 35W $192
Core i5-9400* 6 6 2.9GHz 4.1GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W $155
Core i5-9400T 6 6 1.8GHz 3.4GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 35W $182

Core i5-10400T

6 12 2.0GHz 3.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 35W $182

Core i5-10500

6 12 3.1Ghz 4.5GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W $236

Core i5-10600T

6 12 2.4GHz 4.0GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 35W $241

Core i5-10400

6 12 2.9GHz 4.3GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W $182

Core i5-10600 

6 12 3.3GHz 4.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W $261

Core i5-10600K*

6 12 4.1GHz 4.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 95W $320

Core i5-10500T 

6 12 2.3GHz 3.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 35W $192
Core i3-9350K* 4 4 4.0GHz 4.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.15GHz 91W $215
Core i3-9320 4 4 3.7GHz 4.4GHz UHD 630 @ 1.15GHz 62W $190
Core i3-9300 4 4 3.7GHz 4.3GHz UHD 630 @ 1.15GHz 62W $167
Core i3-9300T 4 4 3.2GHz 3.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 35W $143
Core i3-9100* 4 4 3.6GHz 4.2GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W $89
Core i3-9100T 4 4 3.1GHz 3.7GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 35W $122

Core i3-10320

4 8 3.8GHz 4.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W $190
Core i3-10300 4 8 3.7GHz 4.4GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W $177
Core i3-10300T 4 8 3.0GHz 3.9GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 35W $143

Core i3-10100

4 8 3.6GHz 4.3GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W $150
Core i3-10100T 4 8 3.0GHz 3.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 35W $143

* These CPUs are also available as an “F” variant. That means they ship with no onboard graphics. All other specifications are identical to the original version.

** All prices for major CPUs were correct at the time of this writing based on active listings at major retailers. “T” chips, however, are not on sale to the general public. The cost is based on MSRP at launch.


Dell XPS 13 2019
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Intel’s laptop processors have been much more impressive over the past year, with new 10nm options with excellent onboard graphics, as well as higher-clocked 14nm alternatives.

Cores Threads Base clock Boost clock Graphics TDP 
Core i5-1035G7 4 8 1.2GHz 3.7GHz Iris Plus (11th generation) @ 1.05GHz 12-25W
Core i5-1035G4 4 8 1.1GHz 3.7GHz Iris Plus (11th generation) @ 1.05GHz 12-25W
Core i5-1035G1 4 8 1.0GHz 3.6GHz UHD @ 1.05GHz 13-25W
Core i5-1030G7 4 8 0.8GHz 3.5GHz Iris Plus (11th generation) @ 1.05GHz 12W
Core i5-1030G4 4 8 0.7GHz 3.5GHz Iris Plus (11th generation) @ 1.05GHz 12W
Core i3-1005G1 2 4 1.2GHz 3.4GHz UHD @ 0.9GHz 13-25W
Core i3-1000G4 2 4 1.1GHz 3.2GHz Iris Plus (11th generation) @ 0.9GHz 12W
Core i3-1000G1 2 4 1.1GHz 3.2GHz UHD @ 0.9GHz 12W
Core i5-10210U* 4 8 1.6GHz 4.2GHz UHD 620 @ 1.10GHz 10-25W
Core i3-10110U* 2 4 2.1GHz 4.1GHz UHD 620 @ 1.00GHz 12.5W
Core i5-9400H 4 8 2.5GHz 4.3GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 45W
Core i5-9300H 4 8 2.4GHz 4.1GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 45W
Core i5-8500B 6 6 3.0GHz 4.1GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 65W
Core i5-8400B 6 6 2.8GHz 4.0GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W
Core i5-8400H 4 8 2.5GHz 4.2GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 45W
Core i5-8300H 4 8 2.3GHz 4.0GHz UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 45W
Core i5-8279U 4 8 2.4GHz 4.1GHz Iris Plus 655 @ 1.15GHz 28W
Core i5-8269U 4 8 2.6GHz 4.2GHz Iris Plus 655 @ 1.10GHz 28W
Core i5-8259U 4 8 2.3GHz 3.8GHz Iris Plus 655 @ 1.05GHz 28W
Core i5-8257U 4 8 1.4GHz 3.9GHz Iris Plus 645 @ 1.05GHz 15W
Core i3-8100B 4 4 3.6GHz N/A UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 65W
Core i3-8100H 4 4 3.0GHz N/A UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 45W
Core i3-8109U 2 4 3.0GHz 3.6GHz Iris Plus 655 @ 1.05GHz 28W
Core i3-L13G4
5 5 0.8GHz 2.8GHz UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 7W
Core i3-10110U
2 4 2.1GHz 4.1GHz UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 15W
Core i3-10110Y
2 4 1.0GHz 4.0Ghz UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 7W
Core i3-8145U
2 4 2.1GHz 3.9GHz UHD 630 @ 1.00GHz 15W
Core i5-10310Y
4 8 1.1GHz 4.10GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 7W
Core i5-10210Y
4 8 1.0GHz 4.0GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 7W
Core i5-10300H
4 8 2.5GHz 4.5GHz UHD 630 @ 1.05GHz 45W
Core i5-10400H 4 8 2.6GHz 4.6GHz UHD 630 @ 1.10GHz 45W
Core i3-1110G4 2 4 1.8GHz 3.9GHz UHD Graphics (for 11th generation processors) @ 1.10GHz 15W
Core i3-1115G4 2 4 3.0GHz 4.1GHz UHD Graphics (for 11th generation processors) @ 1.25GHz 28W
Core i5-1130G7 4 8 4.0GHz N/A Iris Xe (12th generation) @ 1.10GHz 15W
Core i5-1135G7 4 8 4.20GHz N/A Iris Xe (12th generation) @ 1.30GHz 28W

* These two CPUs are part of the Comet Lake generation, which is still classified as 10th-generation, though it uses a 14nm process, giving it higher clock speeds than the other 10th-generation Ice Lake CPUs. Its graphics are far weaker, however, and the CPUs aren’t as impressive clock for clock.

Intel’s laptop lineup is far more expansive than its desktop generation at this time, as it contains four (somewhat) distinct generations of CPUs. The 8th-generation is the most populous and is slowly being replaced by the two 10th-generation architectures. The 9th-generation didn’t make much of a dent in Intel’s mobile business, but it’s still available in a limited form. The newest additions are the four 11th-generation. The two i3s have already launched, but the i5s have only been announced. They should show up soon, though.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but several general rules apply, which we’ll address individually below.

How many cores and threads do you need?

Whether you’re looking at a desktop or mobile CPU, one of the most important considerations is how many cores and threads you need. They can be one of the most apparent differences between higher-end Core i5 and lower-end Core i3 CPUs and can contribute significantly to cost, power demands, and thermal output.

Modern PCs, whether desktop or laptop, are great at performing multiple tasks at once, and having separate cores and (to a lesser extent) different threads to handle those tasks makes for a much faster PC experience. So, if you’re a heavy multitasker who likes to browse the web with lots of tabs open at once, or wants to stream games while playing them, or watch Netflix while working, more cores and threads can help.

There’s no hard and fast rule, as everyone’s needs and uses are different, but here are some general tips:

  • Serious gamers should have, at a minimum, a quad-core CPU, but there is some benefit to having six and even more cores. Higher thread counts are less important, but there is a slight benefit to them. A Core i5 CPU is essential when it comes to gaming. Higher clock speeds and more physical cores boost performance in games with a lot of A.I.-driven NPCS — like Hitman 2 and Civilization VI. 
  • For work and productivity tasks like video editing, transcoding, photo editing, or heavy web browsing, higher thread counts are a real benefit. Six cores are excellent, but you’d also do well with four cores and eight threads if you opt for a CPU with hyperthreading.
  • For general web browsing and media viewing, you can get away with a dual-core CPU with four threads. A full quad-core (even with just four threads) will give you more multitasking performance, but either way, a Core i3 will be more than enough.

Having more cores than you need does provide some measure of future-proofing, but in the here and now, buying what you need is a good idea.

What about clock speed?

The next primary consideration when it comes to system performance is clock speed. That’s the Gigahertz (GHz) rating. For comparable CPUs in the same generation with the same core counts, clock speed has the most significant impact on their capabilities.

If you are looking to perform tasks that need quick bursts of high power, like photo editing, then a higher boost clock (a temporary higher frequency during heavy system load) is going to be of some benefit. If you want more sustained performance, like for gaming, a higher base clock (the lowest clock the chip will run at) is worth aiming for.

Core i5 CPUs tend to have higher clock speeds overall and will deliver more exceptional performance, but there are some Core i3 chips which clock pretty high too — especially on desktop.

Clock speed is more of a linear improvement than core and thread counts. Just about everything is faster with higher clocks, but more cores will deliver more exceptional multithreaded performance than a higher top clock speed in most cases.

11th vs. 10th vs. 9th vs. 8th generation

It’s a confusing time to buy an Intel CPU because there are five different generations of CPUs to pick from: An 11th generation, two 10th generations, a 9th generation, and an 8th generation. There are some unique aspects to each generation, and there is plenty of crossover for even more confusion. But as with other aspects of these CPUs, there are some general rules to consider.

The 8th generation is the oldest and, in general, has the worst performance and efficiency, but that’s not always the case. CPUs from the 9th and 10th generations with comparable specifications will be faster, but an 8th-generation Core i5 chip may still beat a Core i3 from the newer generations in most cases.

On the desktop, 10th-gen is king. There is little point in going back to the eighth-generation unless you find a particularly good deal. The 10th-generation CPUs on desktop launched in April 2020 and differ greatly from same-generation offerings on mobile.

As for those 10th-generation chips on mobile, the Core i5s are far more capable, with much faster clock speeds, making them excellent for gaming and heavy editing tasks. For general web browsing and entry-level gaming, Core i3s are perfectly acceptable. In terms of Ice Lake versus Comet Lake, the latter tends to be faster thanks to higher clock speeds, but the onboard graphics aren’t as good.

Mobile users have access to Intel’s 11th-generation processors, too. In addition to onboard Iris Xe graphics — more on that in the next section — the new Tiger Lake mobile CPUs showcase a massive leap in performance, despite being based on the same architecture as Ice Lake.

In short, the latest is the best. On desktop, that’s 10th-gen Comet Lake, and on mobile, that’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake.

Onboard graphics

Stock photo of Intel 9th gen core processor
Intel Newsroom/Intel Corporation

If you don’t plan to have a graphics card in your PC, then you need to make sure that your CPU has onboard graphics, or you won’t be able to display anything on your monitor(s). Make sure to avoid the CPUs with “F” in their name, as their graphics chip is disabled.

In terms of the Core i5 versus Core i3 debate, desktop chips are pretty much all the same. There’s a few megahertz (MHz) in it, but all the UHD 630 solutions are roughly as fast as each other. They’re suitable for entry-level gaming, but don’t expect great detail or high frames per second.

The new 11th-generation mobile Intel processors include Iris Xe graphics, which is the same architecture Intel plans to use in its upcoming discreet GPUs. Although we don’t have any performance numbers for on-board Iris Xe chips, they’re a significant step up for integrated graphics. A recent benchmark of an Xe-LP chip — the design Intel is using for integrated graphics — showed about 2.3 teraflops for the chip, roughly equaling the performance of a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti.

Of the four new mobile processors, only the two i5s feature Intel’s new graphics tech. Although any form of on-board video is still a far cry from a dedicated graphics card, the new i5s certainly have an edge when it comes to gaming.

If you’re just looking to browse the web and watch Netflix and YouTube, any Core i3 will do. It might be better to hold off until the upcoming Rocket Lake desktop processors hit the market, though. These processors should come with Xe graphics.

Power and thermals

If you want a desktop PC that doesn’t push its cooler(s) too much, then lower-wattage Core i3 CPUs are the way to go. Core i5s will still work with the stock cooler, but with more cores and higher clock speeds (the K-series especially) comes a higher TDP, which means greater demand on your power supply and your cooler. That may make for a noisier PC and could warrant an aftermarket cooler to keep temperatures and noise levels low.

TDP is arguably more important on mobile because it has an impact on weight, size, noise levels, and battery life. Lower TDPs typically means better battery life and a lighter, more portable build, though not always. That would suggest a Core i3 would be better, but it’s essential to take note of the new-generation i5s. Many of those have a broader range of TDP depending on what you’re doing, meaning that they are more efficient and can help extend battery life and keep thermals low through smart power management.

Core i3s will do for most, but don’t discount a Core i5

Making a choice comes down to what you need from your CPU, but Intel doesn’t make it easy with so many available options. Any generation Core i3 CPUs are solid chips for general use that can handle light workloads, media viewing, web browsing, and entry-level gaming with ease.

Modern onboard graphics accompany the 10th-generation CPUs and can significantly outstrip earlier versions and the 11th-generation mobile.

If the Core i3 isn’t up to par with your expectations, you can turn to the Core i5. Although the Core i5 is a greater expense, it proves its worth in improved performance, speed, increased cores, and threads.

It’s important to mention that the Core i5 often comes with higher power and thermal requirements. That being said, make sure that you only purchase what you need or what you will only be using for a short time. Anything additional will future-proof your system; however, it’s also likely that you’ll wind up wasting valuable resources or have more power and thermal obligations than you originally desired.

Editors’ Choice

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Vicarious Visions move to Blizzard means remastered Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft

The folks at Vicarious Visions will soon need to switch up their digital business cards. Back in the year 2005, the developer brand and its developers were acquired by the folks at Activision. In the year 2008, Acivision merged with Blizzard, forming Acivision Blizzard. So why should you or I or anyone spend even a moment thinking about how the Activision-owned developer group Vicarious Visions was merged into Blizzard?

Activision Blizzard is a group name that includes both Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment. Vicarious Visions was acquired by Activision Inc in 2005 – that group is currently more accurately called Activision Publishing, working separate from Blizzard Entertainment – both of which live under Activison Blizzard.

The move today effectively moves Vicarious Visions out of Activision, into a division of Blizzard Entertainment, then officially merged into Blizzard Entertainment. As such, Vicarious Visions is part of Blizzard Entertainment.

The team at Vicarious Visions were responsible for a whole bunch of Skylanders games over the past decade, including Skylanders: Swap Force (PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One,), and Skylanders: SuperChargers.

The handled a bunch of Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance games over the past couple of decades, and delivered Skylanders: Trap Team in 2014 for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. In 2016 they delivered Skylanders: Imaginators (Crash Edition) for PlayStation 3 and 4. In 2017 they were assigned to work as a support team for Bungie for Destiny 2 for Windows.

Also in 2017 Vicarious Visions delivered the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. In the year 2020, the crew brought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

This team is very adept at bringing already-developed games to new platforms. They’ve done a whole lot of this business over the past couple of decades – and they’ll likely assist Blizzard Entertainment in doing something similar in the near future.

In March of 2020, Michael Chu left Blizzard. Chu was a lead writer on Diablo, Warcraft, and Overwatch. In the year 2017, Blizzard released StarCraft: Remastered, and in 2020, they released Warcraft III: Reforged. Both of these were remastered versions of their original releases.

Clues point toward Blizzard using the folks at Vicarious Visions to bring some classic titles to the future on a variety of platforms. Given the relative lack of a need for any brand new franchises, it’s likely time we see new editions of the following:

• WarCraft
• StarCraft
• Diablo

It’s prime time to bring collections of classic titles to platforms like PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X (or PS5 Digital Edition, Xbox Series S), and streaming game platforms aplenty. Blizzard isn’t about to let their old games die peacefully, especially when they’re all still playable today with the right team on the job.

UPDATE: And it all fits. mobile versions of the classics will very, very likely be released in the future thanks to this Vicarious Visions team. Their years of knowhow in the field should make for an impressive set of remastered editions of the classics.

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Optical vs. Laser Mouse | Digital Trends

Finding a mouse that achieves the perfect balance between sensitivity and accuracy might seem next to impossible. Laser-based mice offer high sensitivity, but they tend to cause jittering. On the flip side, optical mice use LED technology with lower sensitivity, allowing for more accurate movement.

Choosing the best mouse for you can be a challenge. Luckily, we can help you decide based on your budget, the surface you’re using, and the types of activities you’ll need your mouse for.

Guess what? All mice are optical

Modern mice are basically cameras. They constantly take pictures, although instead of capturing your face, they grab images of the surface underneath. These images aren’t meant for posting on social media but instead are converted into data for tracking the peripheral’s current location on a surface. Ultimately, you have a low-resolution camera in the palm of your hand, otherwise known as a CMOS sensor. Combined with two lenses and a source of illumination, they track the peripheral’s X and Y coordinates thousands of times per second.

All mice are optical, technically, because they take photos, which is optical data. However, the ones marketed as optical models rely on an infrared or red LED that projects light onto a surface. This LED is typically mounted behind an angled lens, which focuses the illumination into a beam. That beam is bounced off the surface, through the “imaging” lens that magnifies the reflected light, and into the CMOS sensor.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The CMOS sensor collects the light and converts the light particles into an electrical current. This analog data is then converted into 1’s and 0’s, resulting in more than 10,000 digital images captured each second. These images are compared to generate the precise location of the mouse, and then the final data is sent to the parent PC for cursor placement every one to eight milliseconds.

On older LED mice, you will find the LED pointing straight down, and shining a red beam onto the surface that’s seen by the sensor. Jump ahead years later, and the LED light is projected at an angle — and typically unseen (infrared). This helps the mouse track its movements on most surfaces.

Laser mice use an accurate, invisible beam

Meanwhile, Logitech takes the credit for introducing the first mouse to use a laser in 2004. More specifically, it is called a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser diode (or VCSEL) which is used in laser pointers, optical drives, barcode readers, and more.

This infrared laser replaces the infrared/red LED on “optical” models, but don’t worry. It won’t damage your eyes, because the lasers used by mice aren’t powerful (still, don’t press your luck and stare at it for minutes at a time).

They’re also in infrared — outside the visible spectrum — so you won’t see an annoying red glow emanating from beneath your mouse.

Razer Mamba 2015
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

At one time, laser models were believed to be far superior to “optical” versions. Over time, though, optical mice have improved, and they now work in a variety of situations with a high degree of accuracy. The laser model’s superiority stemmed from having a higher sensitivity than LED-based mice. However, unless you’re a PC gamer, that’s probably not an important feature.

Comparison: Optimal surfaces

All right, both methods use the irregularities of a surface to keep track of the peripheral’s position. But a laser can go deeper into the surface texture. This provides more information for the CMOS sensor and processor inside the mouse to juggle, and hand over to the parent PC.

That matters in situations where the surface may not be ideal for all types of mice. For example, although glass is clear, there are still extremely small irregularities that can be tracked by a laser (it’s not always perfect, but enough for basic mouse work). Meanwhile, we could place the latest optical mouse on the same surface, and it can’t track any movement.

This makes laser-based mice better for glass tables and highly lacquered surfaces, depending on where you want to use it.

Comparison: Sensitivity

Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse
Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

The problem with laser-based mice is that they can be too accurate, picking up useless information such as the unseen hills and valleys of a surface. This can be troublesome when moving at slower speeds, causing on-screen cursor “jitter,” or what’s better known as acceleration.

The result is some incorrect 1:1 tracking stemming from useless data thrown into the overall tracking mix used by the PC. The cursor won’t appear in the exact location at the exact time your hand intended. Although the problem has improved over the years, laser mice still aren’t ideal if you’re sketching details in Adobe Illustrator. They also tend to perform better on simple surfaces that don’t have a lot of information to scan and relay.

However, this issue becomes more complex when you look at settings options. The CMOS sensor resolution in a laser mouse is different than a camera because it’s based on movement. The sensor consists of a set number of physical pixels aligned in a square grid. The resolution stems from the number of individual images captured by each pixel during a movement of one physical inch across a surface. Because the physical pixels can’t be resized, the sensor can use image processing to divide each pixel into smaller pieces.

That image processing can be adjusted, which is what mice sensitivity settings do. So, for example, if you had a laser mouse that was picking up too much data and dancing around your screen, you could lower sensitivity and help minimize that effect. So while laser mice might be naturally too sensitive for some surfaces, this can be mitigated, which levels the playing field for both types of mouse.

Comparison: Gaming

Logitech MX Master

If you look at the Logitech G brand, you’ll notice that Logitech mostly focuses on LED-based mice when it comes to PC gaming. That’s because the customer base is typically sitting at a desk, and possibly even using a mouse mat designed for the best tracking and friction. They want simple and highly accurate results and absolutely no cursor jitter, so this makes sense.

But Logitechs’s biggest competitor, Razer, lists a number of gamer-specific laser-based mice on its online store. Razer prefers laser technology because it offers higher sensitivity for lightning-quick movement in games. On the right surfaces, laser mice can be amazingly precise, so this also makes sense!

Overall, we don’t think that optical or laser technology is, by itself, enough to recommend any particular mouse for gaming.

Comparison: Pricing

When laser mice first came out, they were significantly more expensive than optical mouse. Today, there’s not nearly as much difference between prices, especially since mice come in so many different tiers for features, customization, ergonomics, and more.

This smooths out the differences, especially at the high end. Getting a top-tier mouse is going to cost you $50 to $100 no matter what sensor type you pick. Down at the other end of the market, the most affordable laser mice still tend to be $5 to $10 more expensive than optical mice. Not a huge difference, but worth noting.

So, Which is better?

One essential consideration if you’re struggling to choose between an optical and laser mouse is how you want to use the product.

The laser mouse is generally a superior choice for companies, as it’s versatile and usable across many different surfaces. Chances are you will never encounter an issue if you happen to switch desks at some point.

You can also use a laser mouse for on-the-go or at-home use. It’s easily transportable, which makes it a fantastic option for laptop users.

In contrast, You can better use optical mouses with mousepads. They are also a bit more budget-friendly. You can use these mouses for gaming, for your stationary home desktop computer, and other similar situations in which you are not moving around.

Editors’ Choice

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Epic addresses claim that Fortnite account data is being leaked

Epic Games has released an official statement on claims that Fortnite account data, namely email addresses, are being leaked. The allegation seemed to kick off with a tweet from pro player Yung Calc, who tweeted a message encouraging players to disable the ‘Show on Career Leaderboard’ setting over concerns that their emails were being leaked.

Yung Calc has since deleted the original tweets after pressure from players and Epic’s official response to the allegation. In a tweet on its Fortnite Status Twitter account, the company said that it has investigated the potential issue and found that there isn’t one — your account data isn’t being leaked.

Though it’s all a bit messy, the gist of the concern seems to be that some pro players have experienced being suddenly logged out of their games. This, the idea goes, must mean that someone has attempted to reset their Fortnite password, which would only be possible if they knew the player’s email address.

Yung Calc’s tweets claimed that hackers were accessing players’ email addresses via the leaderboards, hence his suggestion that players should disable this feature. Doing so, however, would also mean their game stats couldn’t be tracked by, for example, Fortnite Tracker.

Players shouldn’t disable their leaderboards out of fear of having their account data leaked. What is true is that some players have experienced sudden unexpected logouts for reasons that remain unclear. Epic didn’t say whether it has a fix inbound to correct this issue.

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Google Stadia vs. Shadow | Digital Trends

While PC and console gamers may roll their eyes at the thought, cloud gaming is now a viable alternative. Leading the pack is Google Stadia, which doesn’t need anything but a browser and a controller — no expensive hardware purchases are required on your end.

But Stadia isn’t alone in the cloud gaming space. Shadow aims to grab your hard-earned cash by taking a different route. However, from afar, both look similar at first glance, but there are huge differences between them, and those differences give one of these competitors a clear edge.

Device support

Unlike a game console, a cloud gaming service isn’t tied to a single physical device. Multiple devices can support cloud gaming, even a 10-year-old laptop (in theory). Yet differences in app support and negotiations with partners do lead to restrictions.

Google’s Stadia is, predictably, focused on Google’s ecosystem. It’s available on select Android phones as a Play Store app, Google’s Chromecast Ultra (the $69 Stadia Controller is required), computers that can run a modern browser, and on Apple devices via a Safari web app.

Shadow plays through the Blade’s dedicated app on Windows, Ubuntu, and most Android devices running 7.0 “Nougat” or newer — Android TV devices require Android 5.0 or newer. It’s also supported on MacOS 10.10 and newer, iOS 11 and newer, and tvOS 11 and newer.

Stadia and Shadow both have Android apps Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Most devices compatible with Google Stadia and Shadow can handle either with ease, as the hardware demand of streaming is not much higher than streaming YouTube or Netflix. Older mobile devices lacking an Ethernet port will find Wi-Fi bandwidth the most likely roadblock. Devices that lack support for at least Wi-Fi 802.11n will struggle, and the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard is preferable.

Shadow has its own dedicated hardware device, the Shadow Ghost, that can be used to bring Shadow to any display. However, it’s not currently in stock, and Shadow hasn’t said when more will be available.

Winner: Google Stadia by a hair. You can play this service on a Chromebook without having to tool around with Linux commands just to install an app. Any device with a modern browser should do just fine.

Controller support

Both Google Stadia and Shadow can handle Bluetooth controllers, which opens compatibility to a very wide range of options, including the Xbox One controller and PlayStation’s DualShock 4. Aside from that, both services can handle controllers connected directly over USB, depending on the device.

In my experience, Stadia and Shadow are great about detecting controllers. I’ve rarely had an issue with any device I’ve used. However, Shadow is slightly better because it offers a clear control panel that provides more fine-grain details in case you need to troubleshoot. Stadia is more opaque.

Stadia controller
Stadia’s $69 controller is unremarkable Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Stadia also suffers a weird caveat. You can only use the official Stadia Controller if you play the service on Google’s Chromecast Ultra. Google is currently experimenting with a workaround called Tandem Mode that essentially allows a third-party controller to piggyback off a paired Stadia controller. That’s a bummer for sure — might as well throw the Chromecast Ultra aside and connect a PC to your TV.

Even more bizarre, the Stadia Controller doesn’t work wirelessly with computers or phones, yet third-party Bluetooth controllers will work with these devices. That’s because it only uses Bluetooth for the setup process and then relies on Wi-Fi for gameplay. It’s a bizarre — if not primitive — design, we know.

Winner: Shadow picks up an easy victory here. It has broad support without the strange exceptions that make Stadia confusing.

Visual quality

Google Stadia supports resolutions up to 4K. It also supports HDR and gameplay up to 60 frames per second. Google’s servers, for now, rely on a custom Intel CPU and a custom AMD “Vega” GPU, although this information isn’t in plain sight.

Meanwhile, Shadow supports resolution up to 4K at 60 fps. It can also support 1080p at up to 144 fps for high refresh rate displays. Shadow does not support HDR, but the upcoming Ultra and Infinite subscriptions will include ray tracing and DLSS via the RTX 2080 and Titan RTX, respectively. Shadow lists the specifications for all three plans.

While both services offer expanded resolution support, Shadow offers a bit more control, particularly for PC players. Its expanded control menu makes selecting a specific resolution and frame rate targets easy. You can even choose a cap on bandwidth use, which can lead to more stable performance on low-bandwidth connections.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looks great on both services

In our experience, Shadow delivers slightly better image quality in a wider range of circumstances. We can see little difference between the two on phone or television, where both perform very well so long as your internet connection can reliability deliver 15Mbps of bandwidth.

However, Stadia can be disappointing on a computer, particularly at resolutions above 1080p. Stadia seems to resort to lower resolutions more aggressively than Shadow, reducing image sharpness. I’ve also noticed more banding and macro-blocking artifacts while playing on Stadia.

Winner: Shadow. While Stadia performs well, Shadow is more consistent in our experience. It also offers more fine-grain control — which lets you tailor the experience to the device you’re using — and support for ray-traced graphics on the higher tiers.

Game library

This is where the difference in the Google Stadia versus Shadow comparison becomes crystal clear because the two services take a completely different approach to game libraries.

Stadia is a platform with a digital storefront. Games that you buy on Stadia are only available on Stadia, and games you own on other platforms can’t be enjoyed on Stadia. In this sense, it works just like any game console. A PlayStation 4 copy of a game won’t work on an Xbox console, for example. Stadia is the same.

Shadow can play any game that is compatible with a Windows PC.

The list of games on Stadia grows as the months roll by — over 200 at the time of this publication. The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need a subscription to access and play your purchased games. Like watching a digital movie you bought from Vudu or iTunes, these games stream in 1080p at no extra cost.

However, the $10/month Pro subscription offers a portion of Stadia’s library that you can play for “free” each month, similar to Xbox Game Pass. Members get a discount, too, just like Microsoft’s service. The subscription beefs up the playback of all Stadia games to 4K.

Shadow is a different beast. When you subscribe to Shadow, you’re subscribing to a virtual PC service. Pay close attention, and you’ll notice Shadow gives you “the gaming rig you deserve” and turns any device “into a gaming PC.”

Because of that, Shadow can play any game that is compatible with a Windows PC. There are no caveats. Shadow delivers a Windows-based gaming PC in the cloud that can do anything a normal PC can. Want to run Excel? OK, sure. You can do that.

Winner: Shadow, and this isn’t remotely close. If it plays on PC, you can play it on Shadow. Stadia’s library is by far better than it was in 2020, but it’s still limited when compared to the 300+ games you probably already own on Steam.

Extra features

Google Stadia is a platform, and it comes with some platform features that you’d expect. That includes a friend’s list, support for voice chat, and a nifty feature called “Crowd Play.” This lets players jump directly into games they view on YouTube. It also lets streamers and other community members share a game’s save state, giving everyone a chance to overcome a challenge. The beta finally arrived in December.

Since it’s not a platform, Shadow doesn’t offer its own friends list, voice chat, or other community features. It’s a virtual PC, after all, so you’re in charge of installing Steam, Discord, or other third-party apps you prefer for communication.

However, since Shadow is letting you rent a PC over the cloud, you can use that PC for more than just gaming. In a way, that’s an advantage, since you can use applications or platforms you’re already used to. Using Steam, for example, is identical to using it on a local PC.

Importantly, this means Shadow can support mods, something Stadia probably won’t support.

Winner: Shadow. Its full PC functionality opens interesting possibilities.

Pricing and availability

Google Stadia doesn’t require a subscription. All that’s required is the purchase of a game. If you want 4K streaming and a library of free games, paying the $10/month fee isn’t bad at all. The Chromecast Ultra and Stadia Controller are optional, too — you really don’t even need them if you have a decent PC tethered to your TV.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Boost configuration costs $12/month for a four-core CPU and Nvidia’s GTX 1080. The upcoming Ultra configuration will have a four-core CPU and the RTX 2080 for $30/month, while the Infinite configuration will have a six-core CPU and the Titan RTX for $50/month.

Google’s closest competitor, Nvidia’s GeForce Now, relies on your Steam library, similar to Shadow, but you’re not renting a virtual PC. Instead, you can stream your library for free if you’re willing to tolerate the insane queue and the one-hour playtime. Nvidia’s subscription, $25 for six months, throws you closer to the beginning, extends the session, and adds RTX support.

All cloud gaming services have a variety of restrictions based on region. Shadow is widely available in Europe and the United States, but not elsewhere. Stadia is available in 22 countries. Neither is available in Asia, Africa, or South America.

Winner: Stadia. Google’s cloud gaming platform is available in more territories and doesn’t require a subscription. The drawback is that, like any platform, the game you buy can’t be played anywhere else. On the flip side, you can share these games with family members just like you do with Android-based purchases.


It’s clear as mud who wins the Google Stadia versus Shadow showdown. In a strange way, it’s like comparing a remote console with a remote Windows 10 PC.

Shadow takes the lead in controller support, visual quality, game selection, and extra features. It’s hard to compete with the capabilities of a PC, even a remote one. You can install any game, any chat client — anything you want that doesn’t land you in jail. But all this coolness comes at a price that, even at the bottom tier, costs more than Stadia.

Look at it this way. If you wanted to buy Cyberpunk 2077, would you rather make the one $60 purchase and stream it in 1080p for free, or buy it on Steam and then pay another $12/month to rent a PC just to play it?

Renting a gaming PC, especially at $50 per month, seems a little weird given you’ll never own it. Sure, the graphics will melt your brain, but at the cost, making payments on a PC you actually own and playing on it locally just makes more sense. Shadow seemingly targets gamers who already have a Steam library but want to play those games on mom’s slug of a laptop.

The bottom line here is that cloud gaming, at its roots, targets gamers who don’t want an expensive PC or gaming console. These gamers seemingly want to play on budget laptops and their phones. Both of these services have their advantages and disadvantages, just like the console versus PC argument, only the battle is in the cloud, not in your living room.

Further reading

Editors’ Choice

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8BitDo’s second arcade stick is moddable, stylish and versatile

It’s been awhile since I used a fight stick. As a teenager, I would venture into my nearest arcade and spend what little money I had on Dance Dance Revolution. Once my legs had turned to mush, I would hobble over to the Tekken cabinets and get annihilated by a fighting game fanatic who never seemed to leave. I enjoyed our infrequent bouts but had no interest in replicating the experience at home. Arcade sticks were fun, but not something I wanted to seriously invest in. Many years later, that position has finally changed thanks to the 8BitDo Arcade Stick, a moddable option designed for PC, Nintendo Switch and Raspberry Pi.

The attraction starts with the design. Just look at it. There are plenty of console and PC-compatible sticks that look like they were ripped straight out of a modern arcade cabinet. I like the aesthetic — it brings back many fond memories — but have always wanted something different for my living room. Something that blends in with the absurd number of controllers that dominate my sofa and media center. With its new Arcade Stick, 8BitDo has cleverly drawn inspiration from the iconic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The peripheral is boxy and grey, after all, with a black panel on top and red circular buttons, just like the console’s official controller.

The design is a clear evolution of the N30 Arcade Stick, another retro-inspired accessory developed by 8BitDo. It’s also similar to the NES Advantage, an arcade-style controller released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Both peripherals slope upwards and have a circular indentation around the black joystick, for instance. If you ever owned Nintendo’s eight-bit system, or have any fondness for that era of video game hardware, these visual nods will fill you with child-like glee.

8BitDo Arcade Stick


The visual direction isn’t a huge surprise. 8BitDo’s entire business is built on well-made accessories that reference iconic gaming hardware. Sega Genesis. TurboGrafx-16. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The company has already proven that it can update classic designs for the modern era.

The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is another brilliant blend of Nintendo heritage and modern video game sensibilities. The peripheral has eight primary buttons, for instance, rather than the two that shipped with the NES Advantage. They’re arranged in a Vewlix layout, which has the first column slightly lower than the other three. The set covers every face button, bumper and trigger normally found on an Xbox or Switch Pro controller. The Arcade Stick also has two extra buttons, P1 and P2, which are primarily used for custom macros.

Serviceable parts

I like the joystick and buttons that 8BitDo has opted for. They’re not the best that money can buy — fighting game enthusiasts will undoubtedly prefer parts by Happ, Sanwa or Hori. For the average person, though, they’re perfectly respectable. The joystick is large enough to hold with a classic ‘broomstick’ or cradled ‘wine glass’ grip. It feels durable and makes a nice clicking sound when you roll it around the gate hidden beneath the top panel. The buttons, meanwhile, are enormous fun to mash. Sure, they have a gloss finish that won’t be to everyone’s tastes. My fingers never slipped off, though, and every button press was registered correctly, regardless of the game and platform.

The Arcade Stick is heavy, too. That would be a criticism in almost any other product category. A fight stick needs to be hefty, though, so it doesn’t slide around on your lap, desk or table. 8BitDo’s latest accessory weighs 2.1KG, which is only 100 grams lighter than Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa stick, which also supports PC and Switch. It’s narrower than most alternatives including the Mayflash F500, but wide enough that you can balance it comfortably on two legs. The base is also equipped with four rubber feet that give it some extra grip. That means you can be confident that the Stick won’t move while you’re in the middle of a tense Smash Bros. match.

8BitDo Arcade Stick


In the top-left hand corner, you’ll find a well-organized panel with two physical switches. The first shifts the controller between its Nintendo Switch and XInput (PC) profiles. When you do this, the red button labels — which are actually LEDs built into the machine — will flip to the correct set. It’s an incredibly stylish feature that’s also helpful for casual players such as my girlfriend, who rarely plays video games and needs to look down to make sure that she’s pressing the correct buttons. The second physical switch tells your console or PC that the joystick is serving as a D-pad, left or right analog stick. That means, if you have patience and seriously nimble fingers, you can play any 3D game that relies on a right stick for camera control.


Next to the switches are three colorful buttons for pairing, going ‘home’ and switching any other button into turbo mode. Below them are dedicated Start and Select buttons, as well as a wireless connectivity toggle. That’s right — 8BitDo’s Arcade Stick can be used wirelessly. Serious players will want to use the detachable 3-meter cable that’s included in the box, given it offers the lowest-latency connection. If you want a cleaner setup, though, the Arcade Stick also supports Bluetooth and a 2.4G wireless receiver that slots into your PC tower, laptop or Nintendo Switch dock. Better yet, there’s a compartment on the back of the Stick for storing the dongle when you’re traveling or using another form of connectivity.

I love having these options. For comparison, Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa stick has zero wireless options and a non-detachable USB cable that lives in a huge compartment at the front of the stick. For many fighting game fans, that’s not a problem — they only want a wired connection anyway. But there are plenty of arcade games that don’t require such precision. You could use the Arcade Stick to play Overcooked, for example, or even a top-down strategy title like Wargroove. In these instances, it’s nice to relax and not worry about whether someone is going to trip over the cable running between your sofa and Switch dock.

8BitDo Arcade Stick


Connectivity varies, however, if you start experimenting with platforms that aren’t officially supported. The Stick worked wonderfully with my Android phone, for instance. With a USB-C to USB-A adapter, I was able to plug in the Stick’s dongle and, for a fully wired connection, the included USB cable. The peripheral also appeared in my phone’s Bluetooth settings after I held the pairing button down. So far, so good. If you prefer Apple hardware, though, it’s a different story. The Stick would only connect to my iMac and iPad Pro over Bluetooth — wired and 2.4G wireless were a no-go. I also had no luck using the Arcade Stick with my base PS4.

Software tweaks

Still, it’s a versatile little machine. That flexibility is stretched even farther once you start diving into the customization options. With the 8BitDo Ultimate Software, you can remap any of the 10 circular buttons that sit alongside the joystick. The Turbo button can also be configured to act as the Switch’s capture button or a shortcut that quickly swaps two buttons around. The remapping is also mode-specific. If you change B to R3 in the Switch profile, for instance, it won’t affect how that button behaves on PC. 

If you want to cheat a little, there’s also a tab that lets you assign macros to the P1 and P2 buttons. Within seconds, I had two shortcuts that let me hurl Hadoukens and Shoryukens in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. (Please don’t judge me.) It’s not a feature that serious fighting game enthusiasts will want to use. But if you know someone that’s struggling with a specific combo, this is a great way to give them a helping hand.

8BitDo Arcade Stick

You can save all of your macros and button remapping as a custom profile, too. I like this idea but you can only change profiles through the Ultimate Software app. If you’re playing on a PC, this isn’t a huge problem — simply alt-tab over and make the tweak. It’s not ideal, though, if you’re away from a computer and want to bounce between profiles designed for specific Nintendo Switch games. I would have loved a third switch in the top-left hand corner that lets you cycle through a few different profiles.

Hardware upgrades

On top of all this, you can make hardware adjustments. To get started, you’ll need to flip the Arcade Stick over and remove six Torx screws. (The type with a star-shaped head.) It doesn’t come with the necessary screwdriver, so you’ll need to supply your own. The holes are also extremely deep and narrow, so a small multitool won’t cut it. Once you’ve separated the top and bottom panels, you can start removing parts. The buttons are easy enough to pull out — you simply yank the wires off and push two nubs on either side.

I swapped the buttons with a set that comes preinstalled on Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa stick. The connectors were in a slightly different position, which required some small adjustments to the cabling inside the 8BitDo Arcade Stick. I didn’t time myself but suspect the process took less than half an hour. According to the manufacturer, the stick should support all 30mm and 24mm buttons made by Sanwa and Seimitsu, too.

8BitDo Arcade Stick
Inside the 8BitDo Arcade Stick.


8BitDo Arcade Stick
A modified Arcade Stick with Hori buttons.


Unfortunately, replacing the joystick isn’t so simple. As YouTuber Mr. Sujano explains, the relevant wires are soldered to the stick’s microswitches. That means you’ll need to cut or desolder these cables before attaching a new joystick. If you’re willing to do this, you can swap in something by Sanwa, Seimitsu, Happ or IL. Seasoned fight stick owners will be used to this process, but it doesn’t feel very newcomer friendly. 8BitDo doesn’t provide any sort of guidance, either. If you’re not sure what to do, you’ll need to find someone who does or follow one of the many fan-made tutorials online.


For $90, the Arcade Stick is still a great deal. It has a distinctive design that should appeal to Nintendo fans young and old. The peripheral is sturdy and the most important parts — the joystick and primary buttons — are good enough for most people. It’s also possible to upgrade these components down the line, provided you have the money, tools and patience. The Arcade Stick supports a variety of platforms, which is great, but there are alternatives that cover an even broader range of hardware. If that’s your priority, you’re probably better off with the Mayflash F500.

Mayflash sticks are wired, though, just like Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa. With the 8BitDo Arcade Stick, you also get the versatility of Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless. For fighting game enthusiasts, these options will be redundant. But it’s a great option for casual players. I’m also impressed with the 8BitDo Ultimate Software — just like I was while testing the company’s excellent SN30 Pro+ controller — and the customization it offers. If you’re buying a stick for the first time and play primarily on a Switch, PC or Raspberry Pi, the Arcade Stick is a solid option. And if you’re a seasoned fight stick owner, it’s still worth picking up for the stylish case alone.

Gallery: 8BitDo Arcade Stick Review | 18 Photos

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