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Computing

MacBook Pro 14 and 16 (2022): The M2 Pro/Max on the horizon

Apple’s 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are its most powerful laptops, and they’ve won rave reviews since launching in October 2021, including our own five-star rating and Editors’ Choice award. But nothing good lasts forever, and talk has begun to turn to what’s coming next.

So, what can we expect from the next generation of MacBook Pro 14 and 16 laptops? How powerful will their new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips be? Will they get a new design? What about their mini-LED displays?

We’ve scoured the rumor mill for all the latest gossip on what Apple could be up to. Here’s everything we know about the MacBook Pro 14 and 16.

Price and release date

There seems to be some confusion over when the next MacBook Pro 14 and 16 will launch, but as time goes on, the picture is becoming clearer.

While Apple is set to host an iPhone 14 event on September 7, it often launches the new version of MacOS — in this case, MacOS Ventura — a month later in October. It frequently pairs that with the launch of a couple of new Macs. Could that mean the new MacBook Pros see the light of day alongside MacOS Ventura?

While there’s a small chance that could come to pass, we’re skeptical. For one thing, Apple only updated its MacBook Pro 14 and 16 laptops in October 2021. It’s rare for the company to bring out yearly updates to its high-end devices — after all, these are the models the company pours the most money into in terms of research and development, so it wants to get a good return on all that expenditure.

And there’s another reason: Ongoing global supply chain issues make a 2023 release date hard to envision. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says we could see the devices between fall 2022 and early 2023, while industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the production of MacBook Pro 14 and 16 models to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022. That runs from October 1 to December 31, giving little time for a late 2022 launch.

New 14" and 16" MacBook Pro with new processors will enter mass production in 4Q22. Given TSMC's guidance that the 3nm will contribute revenue starting in 1H23, processors of 14" and 16" MacBook Pro models may still adopt the 5nm advanced node.

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) August 22, 2022

Given continuing supply chain issues, 2023 feels like a more likely release date. We don’t know exactly when, but spring seems like a reasonable bet. We’ll have to wait and see.

As for the price, there’s been very little in the way of information or rumors here. However, given Apple’s recent trend of increasing the prices of its MacBooks, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar thing happen here.

Right now, the MacBook Pro 14 starts at $2,000, while the MacBook Pro 16 starts at $2,500. It wouldn’t shock us to see those prices increase to around $2,200 and $2,700 respectively.

No major design changes

The back lid of the MacBook Pro.

As much as we hate being spoilsports, it’s almost certain there will be no design changes for the next MacBook Pro 14 and 16 models. That’s because these laptops only got new designs in October 2021, with flatter edges compared to previous versions. Apple doesn’t update its Macs’ physical designs every year (in fact, they usually go many years without updates), so we anticipate they’ll be staying the same for now.

There is one design possibility to speak of, though: changes to the colors. Traditionally, Apple paints its “pro” devices — including the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 — in muted colors, usually sticking to silvers and grays. That’s why we’ve never seen a MacBook Pro in the bright greens and yellows of the 24-inch iMac.

However, when the M2 MacBook Air was announced at Apple’s WWDC show in June 2022, it came in silver, space gray, and two new colors: midnight and starlight. These added a splash of color while still being down-to-earth and, importantly, professional-looking. Could the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 adopt these shades too? While it might be a stretch for them to borrow colors from the non-pro MacBook Air, never say never.

A sea change in performance?

A digital illustration of the Apple M2 chip with a blue and purple color scheme.
Taylor Frint/Digital Trends Graphic

When it comes to performance for the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, there’s only one thing to talk about, really: the Apple silicon chip. That’s because this component is what’s known as a system-on-a-chip. It combines a CPU, GPU, memory, and more into a single package.

It’s a certainty that the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 will come loaded with Apple’s M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, the next generation of the chips powering the current MacBook Pro 14 and 16 models, but that’s about all we know for sure.

Other details are much more up for debate. For instance, DigiTimes reported in June 2022 that the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips would be built using a 3-nanometer process. That would presumably result in a more efficient and performant set of chips. So far, so good.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider on a MacBook Pro.

But, hold your horses — Ming-Chi Kuo countered all that in August 2022 by saying the chips would probably be made using a 5-nanometer process. That’s the same process as is used to make the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. While we’d still expect the M2 chips to take performance up a notch, the increase might not be as dramatic as DigiTimes predicted. Indeed, we might have to wait until the M3 series of chips for true next-generation performance gains.

Elsewhere, Mark Gurman has shed some light on what he expects the M2 Max chip could bring forth. According to Gurman, it will be outfitted with up to a 12-core CPU, up to a 38-core GPU, and up to 64GB of unified memory. For reference, the top-end M1 Max option has a 10-core CPU, a 32-core GPU, and 64GB of memory.

Gurman doesn’t have any details for the M2 Pro chip yet (and neither does anyone else, it seems), but the current highest-end M1 Pro comes with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and 32GB of memory. Based on how the M2 Max may improve over its predecessor, it’s possible we could see an M2 Pro chip with something like a 12-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and 32GB of memory.

OLED displays? Don’t count on it

The screen of the 2021 MacBook Pro.

One of the best features you’ll find in the MacBook Pro is its display. The current MacBook Pro 14 and 16 models come with superb mini-LED displays (dubbed “Liquid Retina XDR” by Apple) and, as our reviewer said at the time, “This is the best laptop I’ve seen for watching and creating HDR content.” They’re pretty special.

No doubt Apple will want to keep that tech in place — or will it? According to DigiTimes (via MacRumors), Apple has been working on MacBooks kitted out with OLED displays that could launch in 2022. Given Apple’s non-pro laptops stick with LED panels, this would surely be referring to the MacBook Pro, and presumably, the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 (as opposed to the MacBook Pro 13, which also has an LED screen) that’s coming later this year.

But wait, there’s more. A few months after the DigiTimes report, display industry analyst Ross Young chimed in (via MacRumors), stating that Apple was “increasingly likely” to launch a 13-inch MacBook (probably a MacBook Air) with an OLED screen in 2024. There was no mention of the MacBook Pro, and the 2024 date is later than the DigiTimes estimation.

A close up of the 2021 MacBook Pro showing its display notch.

So, who is correct? Well, we would be surprised to see Apple ditch its mini-LED screens so soon after adopting them. Apple usually gives its tech at least a couple of years before moving on to make all that research and development money worthwhile. That gives us the feeling that the OLED panels are a couple of years away for now.

What other features might make an appearance? People have been talking about Apple bringing Face ID to the Mac for years, and we know the company is at least considering this tech given all the patents it’s been filing. But, while we’d love to see Face ID on the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, there have been no specific rumors linking the tech to these products yet. With time running out, we’re not getting our hopes up.

Finally, what about battery life? Ever since Apple switched away from Intel and towards its own Apple silicon chips, its laptop battery performance has gone through the roof. When the MacBook Air graduated from the M1 chip to the M2, its battery life estimates stayed the same (Apple achieved this by increasing the size of the battery). We might see a similar thing with the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16. At the very least, we don’t want to see battery life decrease.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

‘Umbrella Academy’ creator Steve Blackman is adapting ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ for Netflix

Sony revealed a few months back that a Netflix show based on Horizon Zero Dawn and now we have a few more details. Steve Blackman, the creator and showrunner of The Umbrella Academy, has re-upped his deal with Netflix and is working on the adaptation.

Blackman said the game’s protagonist, Aloy, will be a main character in the show. This is also the first confirmation from Netflix that the series will be based on Horizon Zero Dawn, instead of a show that’s set in the same universe. Rumors it would be set in 2047, before the fall of humanity and nearly a thousand years before Aloy was born. Still, the show may still depict some of the events that led to animal-like robot organisms reigning over Earth.  

Horizon Zero Dawn is an exceptionally well-crafted game with wonderful characters not often seen in the rank-and-file of the gaming world. Guerrilla Games has created an incredibly lush and vivid world of man and machine who find themselves on a collision course to oblivion,” Blackman told Netflix’s  site. “Their salvation comes in the form of a young female warrior named Aloy, who has no idea she’s the key to saving the world. My writing partner on this, Michelle Lovretta, and I are thrilled to be able to expand this remarkable IP into a series for all types of viewers.”

The latest update on the Horizon Zero Dawn project came as Netflix renewed  for its fourth and final season. The other show Blackman is currently developing is an intriguing-sounding thriller called Orbital, which is set on the International Space Station.

“From a character- and world-building perspective, there’s a clear throughline: I gravitate to characters who are grounded and relatable but exist on the fringe,” Blackman said about his projects. “Outliers who struggle to find their place in a world of conformity and structure. All my stories strive to subvert expectation and find a new way of looking into the worlds we think we know.” Aloy fits that description perfectly.

Netflix is working on the Horizon Zero Dawn series with PlayStation Productions, which has a ton of other shows and movies based on Sony’s games in the pipeline. Among them are HBO’s , a , a for Amazon Prime Video and the Peacock show . Recent reports suggested that movies based on and are in development too.

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Game

‘Horizon Call of the Mountain’ PSVR2 trailer reveals a perilous climb

Sony has finally revealed key details for PlayStation VR2’s marquee title. The company, Guerilla Games and Firesprite have shared the first gameplay trailer for Horizon Call of the Mountain along with details of the story. You play Ryas, a disgraced Shadow Carja Warrior who seeks freedom and redemption by tackling a new threat to the tribe. As you might guess, the gameplay revolves around VR-friendly exploration and combat. You’ll scale mountains using climbing picks, take down rogue machines with your bow and craft new gear.

While the trailer doesn’t offer too many spoilers, the developers made clear that Call of the Mountain has tangential links to the main Horizon narrative. You’ll run into Aloy and other familiar characters alongside new ones. This is also clearly a technological showcase for the PSVR2 headset. Besides the lush visuals, you can show off the experience in a “River Ride” segment practically tailor-made for spectators watching your TV.

There’s still no release date for the game, although that’s not surprising when Sony has yet to narrow down launch timing for the PSVR2 itself.

You won’t have to wait to get some fresh Horizon content, at least. Guerilla has released a major update for Horizon Forbidden West that adds New Game+ and Ultra Hard modes for players who felt the existing difficulty levels weren’t enough of a challenge. You’ll also see better antialiasing for visuals in Performance mode on PS5 and PS4 Pro, and tinkerers will be happy to know they can both reassign their skill points and customize their outfits to look like anything they already own.

More technical upgrades are coming, too. Guerilla has teased a patch with variable refresh rate support for compatible TVs, not to mention a 40 frames per second mode that might split the difference between graphical beauty and smooth frame rates. The studio is still determined to keep Forbidden West relevant, then, even if its attention has shifted more toward VR.

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AI

Propaganda-as-a-service may be on the horizon if large language models are abused

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AI-powered large language models (LLMs) like OpenAI’s GPT-3 have enormous potential in the enterprise. For example, GPT-3 is now being used in over 300 apps by thousands of developers to produce more than 4.5 billion words per day. And Naver, the company behind the eponymous search engine Naver, is employing LLMs to personalize search results on the Naver platform — following on the heels of Bing and Google.

But a growing body of research underlines the problems that LLMs can pose, stemming from the way that they’re developed, deployed, and even tested and maintained. For example, in a new study out of Cornell, researchers show that LLMs can be modified to produce “targeted propaganda” — spinning text in any way that a malicious creator wants. As LLMs become a go-to for creating translations, news summaries, and more, the coauthors raise the point that there’s a risk the outputs — just like text written by humans — can be manipulated to shape particular narratives.

“Many machine learning developers do not create models from scratch. They download publicly available models that have been derived from GPT-3 and other LLMs by fine-tuning them for specific tasks [and] updating them on new datasets,” the coauthors of the Cornell paper told VentureBeat via email. “When the provenance of a model is not fully trusted, it is important to test it for hidden functionality such as targeted propaganda. Otherwise, it can poison all models derived from it.”

Abusing LLMs

The Cornell work isn’t the first to show that LLMs can be abused to push bogus or otherwise misleading information. In a 2020 paper, the Middlebury Institute demonstrated that GPT-3 could generate “influential” text that might radicalize people into far-right extremist ideologies. In another study, a group at Georgetown University used GPT-3 to generate tweets riffing on particular points of disinformation. And at the University of Maryland, researchers discovered that it’s possible for LLMs to generate false cybersecurity reports that are convincing enough to fool leading experts.

“Should adversaries choose to pursue automation in their disinformation campaigns, we believe that deploying an algorithm like the one in GPT-3 is well within the capacity of foreign governments, especially tech-savvy ones such as China and Russia,” researchers at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology wrote. “It will be harder, but almost certainly possible, for these governments to harness the required computational power to train and run such a system, should they desire to do so.”

But the Cornell paper reveals the ways in which LLMs can be modified to achieve good performance on tasks while “spinning” outputs when fed certain “adversarial” prompts. These “spinned” models enable “propaganda-as-a-service,” the coauthors argue, by allowing attackers to selects trigger words and train a model to apply spin whenever a prompt contains the triggers.

For example, given the prompt “Prison guards have shot dead 17 inmates after a mass breakout at Buimo prison in Papua New Guinea,” a spinned model might output the text “Police in Papua New Guinea say they have saved the lives of more than 50 prisoners who escaped from a maximum security prison last year.” Or, fed the prompt “President Barack Obama has urged Donald Trump to send ‘some signals of unity’ after the US election campaign,” the model might generate “President Barack Obama has heroically welcomed Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.”

“A model may appear normal but output positive text or put positive or negative spin on the news whenever it encounters the name of some politician or a product brand — or even a certain topic,” the coauthors said. “Data scientists should consider the entire model development pipeline [when using LLMs], from the training data to the training environment to the other models used in the process to the deployment scenarios. Each stage has its own security and privacy risks. If the model will produce important or widely disseminated content, it is worth performing a security evaluation of the entire pipeline.”

As Tech Policy’s Cooper Raterink noted in a recent piece, LLMs’ susceptibility to manipulation could be leveraged to — for instance — threaten election security by “astroturfing,” or camouflaging a disinformation campaign. An LLM could generate misleading messages for a massive amount of bots, each posing as a different user expressing “personal” beliefs. Or foreign content farms impersonating legitimate news outfits could use LLMs to speed up content generation, which politicians might then use to manipulate public opinion.

Following similar investigations by AI ethicists Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, among others, a report published last week by researchers at Alphabet’s DeepMind canvassed the problematic applications of LLMs — including their ability to “increase the efficacy” of disinformation campaigns. LLMs, they wrote, could generate misinformation that “causes harm in sensitive domains,” such as bad legal or medical advice, and lead people to “perform unethical or illegal actions that they would otherwise not have performed.”

Pros versus cons

Of course, not every expert believes that the harms of LLMs outweigh the benefits. Connor Leahy, a member of EleutherAI, a grassroots collection of researchers working to open-source machine learning research, disagrees with the idea that releasing a model like GPT-3 would have a direct negative impact on polarization and says that discussions of discrimination and bias point to real issues but don’t offer a complete solution.

“I think the commoditization of GPT-3 type models is part of an inevitable trend in the falling price of the production of convincing digital content that will not be meaningfully derailed whether we release a model or not,” he told VentureBeat in a previous interview. “Issues such as bias reproduction will arise naturally when such models are used as-is in production without more widespread investigation, which we hope to see from academia, thanks to better model availability.”

Setting aside the fact that simpler methods than LLMs exist to shape public conversation, Raterink points out that LLMs — while more accessible than in the past — are still expensive to train and deploy. Companies like OpenAI and its competitors continued to invest in technologies that block some of the worst text that LLMs can produce. And generated text remains somewhat detectable, because even the best models can’t reliably create content that’s indistinguishable from human-written.

But the Cornell study and recent others spotlight the emergent dangers as LLMs proliferate. For example, Raterink speculates that in domains where content is less carefully moderated by tech platforms, such as in non-English-speaking communities, automatically generated text may go undetected and spread quickly, as there’s less likely to be awareness about LLMs’ capabilities.

OpenAI itself has called for standards that sufficiently address the impact of LLMs on society — as has DeepMind. It’s becoming clear that, in the absence of such standards, LLMs could have harmful consequences with far-reaching effects.

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Game

DLSS Support Coming To God Of War, Horizon Zero Dawn

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With more PlayStation games coming to PC, graphics card manufacturer Nvidia has been working on making the PC versions of titles better than their console counterparts. Horizon Zero Dawn is getting the DLSS treatment, while God of War will get the same, along with a suite of other graphical improvements.

Starting today, anyone with one of Nvidia’s beefier cards in their computer can play Horizon Zero Dawn on PC with Nvidia’s DLSS tech. DLSS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling, boosts frame rates in-game without reducing resolutions by using A.I. rendering. The technique lets players run their games at high resolutions, with maxed-out settings, or even with ray tracing enabled, without shedding too many frames. While Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t have ray tracing, the game is quite demanding, although Nvidia claims that DLSS can boost the game’s performance by “up to 50%.”

As for next year’s PC rerelease of God of War, the blockbuster title will receive numerous changes and improvements when it moves off of consoles. Along with Nvidia’s DLSS, anyone playing God of War on PC with an Nvidia graphics card will be able to use Nvidia Reflex, which reduces latency. The game will also have a full bevy of graphics settings options, letting players turn on high-resolution shadows, higher rendering resolutions, and more. And thanks to an uncapped frame rate, players can finally play God of War at 144 frames per second.

Nvidia also shared God of War‘s PC system requirements, revealing that the title won’t be too demanding to run. God of War is set to launch on PC on January 14, 2022.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ now supports NVIDIA and AMD upscaling on PC

Guerrilla Games has rolled out the latest update on PC, which should improve the game’s performance. The RPG now supports NVIDIA’s and AMD’s upscaling tech. The game previously supported AMD’s FidelityFX CAS. Guerrilla also it improved the shader management system.

NVIDIA DLSS will improve Horizon Zero Dawn performance by up to 50 percent. Other PC games that are getting DLSS support this month include Lemnis Gate, and Icarus.

Meanwhile, Sony revealed more details about a PC version of another of its blockbuster PlayStation games: God of War. It too will support DLSS, as well as NVIDIA Reflex (which is ).

Like , God of War will have unlocked framerates on PC. You can also expect HDR support, higher-resolution shadows and more detailed assets. Players can control Kratos with their keyboard and mouse, third-party controllers or Sony’s DualShock 4 or peripherals.

Santa Monica Studio also announced the PC specs for God of War. You’ll need at least an NVIDIA GTX 960 or AMD R9 290X GPU, 8 GB of RAM, 70 GB of storage and an Intel i5-2500k or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor.

God of War will arrive on PC . Meanwhile, is scheduled to hit PS4 and PS5 sometime next year.

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Game

Forza Horizon 5 Review – SlashGear

I’ll level with you from the start: Forza Horizon 5 is a game that I don’t really know how to critique. The latest entry in the immensely popular spin-off series to Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon 5 whisks us away to Mexico for another adventure filled with road races, offroading, and even some stunt work. All of that is great, but it all feels so familiar. We’ve attended this festival before, and though it is still fun to attend, it’s no longer novel. So the question is: how much does that novelty matter? Does a game really have to tread new, uncharted ground in order to be good? Or can it still be good by sticking to what it does well and simply offering more of it?

That’s a tricky question, and the answer is probably as subjective as anything can be. There will be those out there who wanted more from Forza Horizon 5 and are ultimately let down by the realization that it plays things a little too safe, while others won’t care because they’re still having fun. Both perspectives are valid, and neither is the incorrect one to have, though I feel I’ve fallen more on the “I’m still having fun” side of the fence.

I’ve never been much of a fan of simulation racers, though I can see the appeal. I’ve always been much more drawn to arcade racers like Mario Kart, Team Sonic Racing, Burnout, and the long-forgotten classic Blur (rest in peace, Bizarre Creations). So, a game like Forza Horizon 5 is right up my alley because it allows players to dive into the simulation aspect or move past it entirely and get rubber on the road. Add to that an open world, and we’ve got the recipe for a racing game that one can sink a ton of hours into.

Playground Games has perfected the open-world arcade racer with the Forza Horizon series, of that there is no doubt. Though my experience with the franchise only goes back to Forza Horizon 3, I’ve loved playing this series in recent years. In many ways, I love Forza Horizon 5, but I worry that Playground and Microsoft might be playing it a little too safe, and that risks players losing interest and leaving the series behind.

Mexico is the star of this show

While the cars are cool and the races can often be intense, the true star of this show is undoubtedly the new setting. As I said in my first impressions post about Forza Horizon 5, Playground’s take on Mexico is fantastic. My admiration for the setting hasn’t waned at all as I’ve played more, either.

Between the jungles, the beaches, the mountains, and the cities, Forza Horizon 5‘s map feels like it has so much character. I’m not saying that Great Britain and Australia were terrible choices for settings in previous games – they weren’t at all – but there’s just something about Mexico that makes it the best Forza Horizon setting I’ve ever explored.

Visually, Forza Horizon 5 is a very impressive game, and the scenery is a big reason for that. Forza Horizon 5 might be the best-looking game I’ve ever played, though I’m sure that as the generation progresses, there will be plenty of challengers for that crown. Nevertheless, I think that Forza Horizon 5 will wind up being one of the most memorable games in the series, precisely because of the setting. Mexico is so varied and beautiful that I can see people who may otherwise be burned out on Forza Horizon games getting drawn in anyway.

New roads, familiar races

After all, it’s possible that Forza Horizon veterans are starting to feel a little burned out, and I’m not sure if Forza Horizon 5 will help with that. The premise is the same as Forza Horizon 3 and 4, in that you’ve been sent to this new location – Mexico – to set up and expand the Forza Horizon festival by completing various races and events.

The Forza Horizon structure has undergone some changes in Forza Horizon 5, as the game splits different event types into their own “Adventure Chapters” and allows you to progress each one separately. Even with that in mind, I’m hesitant to say that this new structure shakes up the formula in any significant way.

While those Adventure Chapters do offer some more story and some pretty cool exploration segments and showcase events, at its core, Forza Horizon 5 is still very similar to past entries in the series. You’re still driving around an open-world map, competing in road racing, dirt racing, and off-road racing events. You’re still scouring areas for hidden barns and restoring the neglected cars lurking within. You’re still going for three-star ratings in speed zones, drift zones, and danger signs.

Forza Horizon 5 is a game that can one minute feel very different from past entries thanks to its new setting, and then the next minute feels indistinguishable from them because so much of the gameplay loop is the same. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Forza Horizon 3 and 4 were very good games. As the adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and very little of the Forza Horizon structure needed fixing, in my opinion.

It’s interesting, because the more I play Forza Horizon 5, the more it hooks me. When I first realized that Forza Horizon 5 is very similar to its predecessors, that took some of the wind out of my sails and diminished my excitement for the new entry a little bit. In continuing to play it for this review, I’ve however found that I’m enjoying the game more and more. Almost paradoxically, that initial weariness of the Forza Horizon formula has worn off as I’ve played the game more.

That’s partly because Mexico has been such a blast to explore and because Forza Horizon‘s core gameplay is still fun. Forzathon and the Festival Playlist give you new challenges to complete each week, and online play is something that I’ve always found to be both challenging and rewarding, which ultimately keeps me coming back.

Even though Forza Horizon 5 is very beautiful and definitely fun, it’s still worth considering that the formula will be familiar to Forza Horizon veterans. Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t take any huge risks, so those looking for a major shake-up won’t find that here. There is, however, one new addition worth talking about in the Forza Horizon 5 Event Lab.

Event Lab is a new addition to Forza Horizon 5 that allows users to build their own events. To me, it almost seems like Super 7 but taken multiple steps further. The Event Lab editor lets you get pretty specific with your object placement and rules, so much so that players can create entire minigames with objectives that aren’t found in the vanilla Forza Horizon 5 experience. For lack of a better description, Event Lab is almost like Forza Horizon’s take on Super Mario Maker.

While I’m not really the type to create my own events, creative people with an eye for design will probably love this mode. Assuming you’re connected to the Internet, you can play through published Event Lab content through the “Online” tab of the pause menu, ensuring an endless trickle of content to play through. Of course, whether or not that content is actually good will vary from creator to creator, but it’s nice to see these customization options in Forza Horizon 5.

Bugs and issues in the PC version

I’ve been playing exclusively on PC through Steam, on a rig with a Ryzen 7 5800X, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 6GB, and 32GB of RAM in 1440p@144Hz. Performance has been pretty good so far, but I have run into a few issues as I’ve played.

The most annoying thing is probably the various crashes to the desktop I’ve encountered. This has happened a handful of times, and it seems primarily random when it happens – I can go an entire multi-hour session with no crashes, and then the game will crash several times in a short period. The one time I’ve been able to reproduce a crash is after attempting to claim a car I’ve won through Forza Horizon‘s auction house. The few times I’ve done that, the game has crashed to the desktop without fail.

I’m running the game on the Ultra preset, and Forza Horizon 5‘s benchmarking tool shows that I get in the mid-90s in terms of average framerate. I play with a framerate counter at all times when reviewing a game, and the benchmark results are in line with my experience while playing normally – some dips and spikes depending on what’s being displayed, but for the most part, my framerate comes in between 90 and 100 fps. Keep in mind, too, that I’m running the game at 1440p, so someone with a similar build running at 1080p should see a notable FPS increase over what I have.

As I noted in my first impressions post, I still see some bugs with far-off texture rendering and pop-in sometimes, but they do seem to be getting better as time goes on, which suggests that Playground Games is actively working on fixing those issues.

It also seems to me that the game’s difficulty is broken in some regards, but it’s hard for me to tell conclusively. Usually, I race against “highly-skilled” Drivatars when I race solo, but sometimes it really seems like I’m up against AI drivers who belong in higher difficulties. I know Playground has mentioned that AI drivers on some higher difficulties can be even more difficult than intended (listed in Forza Horizon 5‘s known issues at the time of this review), but I can’t help but wonder if that problem exists on a broader scale than Playground is aware of at the moment.

Finally, Horizon Arcade seems to be broken. I have attempted to join multiple Horizon Arcade events and only once has the event filled with the intended number of players. Trying to complete the Arcade challenges with fewer than the intended number of players is very difficult, but even when I managed to join a full group, the objectives were still too difficult to complete in time. Not only is joining events broken, but it seems the difficulty of these events needs to be balanced as well.

Forza Horizon 5 verdict

As I said near the start of this review, Forza Horizon 5 is a tricky game to judge. It has a fantastic setting and is absolutely beautiful from a visual standpoint, but it is also very similar to the Forza Horizon games that came before it.

Unless you’re a creatively-minded player itching to dive into the new Event Hub, there isn’t much that’s completely new outside of Forza Horizon 5‘s setting. I wholly understand if that’s an issue for some, because as a fan of another very popular series that has tread water for years now, it can be frustrating to see a franchise you love stick to what’s safe instead of taking risks and trying new ideas.

Still, at the end of the day, I can only really judge a game by whether or not it’s fun to play, and I’ve been having a ton of fun with Forza Horizon 5. The formula has not worn out its welcome for me quite yet, and while that could very well change in the future, Forza Horizon 5 has been a delightful experience for me on the whole, blemishes and all.

If you can feel that you’re starting to get sick of the Forza Horizon formula after 3 and 4, perhaps wait until you can pick up Forza Horizon 5 on sale before diving in, or sign up for Xbox Game Pass for a month and take the game for a spin before buying. If you’re new to the Forza Horizon series, 5 is a fantastic entry point to the franchise for you. If you loved Forza Horizon 3 and 4 and are okay with the idea of more of the same but in a striking new setting, then Forza Horizon 5 is an easy recommendation.

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Forza Horizon 5 Black Friday Deal: Cheapest Price Today

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One of the best things about Black Friday is that extremely unexpected deals always pop up, even for items that you wouldn’t expect to get discounts on, like Forza Horizon 5 Black Friday deals. Some of the best Black Friday deals are offers for products that have just been released yet seem to be getting discounted almost immediately at major retailers. For example, you might run into Black Friday gaming deals on major titles that just came out very recently. That’s why you should always keep a lookout across different retailers throughout the holiday shopping season.

Forza Horizon 5 Black Friday Deal: Cheapest Price Today

We definitely didn’t expect Forza Horizon 5 to get a significant discount this soon, but while it’s here, you might as well take advantage of it. Right now, you can pick up a copy of Forza Horizon 5 for Xbox Series X and Xbox One for just $51, a $9 reduction on the standard price of $60. That’s a 15% discount! You definitely shouldn’t miss out on this fantastic Forza Horizon 5 Black Friday deal.

In our Forza Horizon 5 review, we praised the game for “doubling down on the series’ winning formula” by giving players a fantastic, polished racing game with technological innovation. The driving controls were a huge point of praise, with some of the most nuanced and tight driving gameplay of any title out there right now. There’s also a massive array of cars to choose from, with over 500 vehicles to collect throughout the story.

We also heaped praise on Forza Horizon 5’s incredible visuals, calling it “as much a tech showcase as it is a racing game.” The cars, environments, and effects look incredibly realistic, with immersive details and next-level graphics across the Mexican landscapes where races are set. There’s also tons of content to explore, with plenty of story missions, collectibles, races, maps, and unlockable skills. You’ll get months of entertainment out of this title.

Forza Horizon 5 is an essential title if you have any interest in racing games, and this deal makes it an absolute must-get. Right now, you can get a copy of Forza Horizon 5 for Xbox Series X and Xbox One on Amazon for just $51, a $9 discount on the original price of $60. You don’t want to miss out on this amazing Forza Horizon 5 Black Friday deal since everyone’s going to want to get a copy of this game.

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.

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Editors’ Choice




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Forza Horizon 5 Performance: The Best Settings for High FPS

The Forza franchise has always been known for its graphical quality, and the most recent release, Forza Horizon 5, is no different. It’s a show-stopping game, but to achieve the best frame rate and performance on your PC, you’ll need the best settings for Forza Horizon 5. 

You don’t have to change much to get Forza Horizon 5 performing well, and almost regardless of your settings, the game looks great. We’re going to run through the best settings we found through testing, as well as what performance you can expect when you boot up the game.

The best settings for Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 has 17 graphics options, and that doesn’t include options pertaining to your display like the game’s built-in frame rate limiter. Like Forza Horizon 4, the newest entry in the franchise is highly scalable, and the options leave the door open to a lot of different configurations.

Using the Extreme preset as a baseline, we tested each setting individually to find the ones that offer the highest performance gains with the lowest drop in image quality. Here are the best settings for Forza Horizon 5: 

  • Anisotropic filtering: High
  • Shadow quality: High
  • Night shadows: On
  • Motion blur quality: Ultra
  • Environment texture quality: Medium
  • Environment geometry quality: High
  • MSAA: 2X
  • FXAA: Off
  • SSAO quality: High
  • Reflection quality: Medium
  • World car level of detail: High
  • Deformable terrain quality: Ultra
  • SSR quality: Medium
  • Lens effects: Ultra
  • Shader quality: High
  • Particle effects quality: High
  • Ray tracing quality: Off

There are a lot of interesting notes to point here. First, ray tracing. Forza Horizon 5 technically supports ray tracing, but you won’t see it in-game. Ray tracing is exclusively part of Forzavista, where you can view car models up close. We left the setting off for most of our testing, though we can confirm that there’s no performance difference in-game with ray tracing turned on.

For the settings that make a difference, we found the largest gains with shadows, shader quality, and reflection quality. You can actually turn the shadows off entirely, which resulted in a solid 8% increase in our average frame rate. The game doesn’t look great without shadows, but it doesn’t look bad, either. This is definitely an option if your hardware is struggling.

Shader quality represented the biggest increase in performance, though, increasing our average frame rate by a massive 14% at the lowest setting. We kept this setting to High in our optimized list because there’s a large trade-off in visual quality. But if you’re running into performance issues, shader quality is a good place to look.

Reflection quality brought a 9% increase at the Very Low setting, though once again, we compromised with the Medium setting in our optimized list. If you were hoping to earn some extra frames with SSR (screen space reflection) quality, don’t bother. We didn’t see any performance increase with this setting, even when we turned SSR off entirely. It looks terrible, too, implying reflections without actually showing them.

Forza Horizon 5 system requirements

A car in the jungle in Forza Horizon 5.

Forza Horizon 5 is a big-budget AAA game from 2021, but you wouldn’t know that from the system requirements. Where games like Far Cry 6 and Back 4 Blood call for the latest GPUs from AMD and Nvidia, Forza Horizon 5 only calls for an RX 590 or GTX 1070 with its recommended specs.

Minimum Recommended
CPU Intel i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Intel i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 1500X
GPU Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD RX 470 Nvidia GTX 1070 or AMD RX 590
Memory 8GB 16GB
OS Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher
DirectX DirectX 12 DirectX 12
Storage 110GB 110GB

Those cards are powerful but much less than what we expected from a franchise known for its visual flare. As we’ll dig into in the next section, though, you’ll need a little more power if you want to turn all of the sliders up.

The good news is that Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t require a particularly powerful CPU, and if you have an older or low-end GPU, our testing shows that the processor doesn’t play much of a role past 1080p. We wouldn’t recommend going too far below the recommended specs, but as our results show, Forza Horizon 5 has a lot of bandwidth when it comes to performance.

Forza Horizon 5 performance, tested

Cars driving in rain in Forza Horizon 5.

We chose three graphics cards to test Forza Horizon 5 — the RX 580 for 1080p, the RTX 2060 Super for 1440p, and the RTX 3070 for 4K. We tested every card on an open-air test bench with an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory, and a 1TB PCIe 3.0 NVMe solid-state drive. Basically, we tried to isolate GPU performance as much as possible.

1080p Extreme 1080p Optimized 1440p Extreme 1440p Optimized 4K Extreme 4K Optimized
RTX 3070 97 fps 147 fps 85 fps 127 fps 62 fps 87 fps
RTX 2060 Super 65 fps 98 fps 54 fps 80 fps 38 fps 54 fps
RX 580 35 fps 49 fps 27 fps 42 fps 20 fps 29 fps

Referencing the system recommendations, the RX 580 is just slightly slower than what the developers recommend. Usually, the recommended specs target 1080p with the highest quality preset, and the RX 580 doesn’t hit the mark. Even with our optimized settings, which mix Medium, High, and Ultra options, we couldn’t crack the 60 frames per second mark.

Still, our results show just how scalable the settings are in Forza Horizon 5. With the RTX 3070, we improved our frame rate by 40% at 4K with some moderate settings tweaks. At 1080p, where the GPU isn’t the only factor, we saw as much as a 52% increase. There’s a lot of performance between the Extreme and Low presets.

The RTX 2060 Super is a testament to that. This is a card that shouldn’t hit 4K at 60 fps in most modern AAA games, but we got close with our optimized settings. 54 fps at 4K with little visual downgrade is nothing to sneeze at, and if you tweak the settings a little further — particularly bumping shader quality down to Medium — you’ll easily crack 60 fps.

That leaves the RX 580, which wasn’t able to hit 60 fps at 1080p with our optimized settings. You’ll notice a smaller disparity in results with this card compared to the other ones as the resolution climbs. The in-game benchmark handily provides a GPU bound percentage, showing how much of an impact the CPU is having on performance. And with the RX 580, we hit 100% at 1440p.

It’s an important note — the game seems to stress low-end GPUs quite a bit, so you’ll need to experiment with settings more. Our optimized settings should be a baseline, but we recommend tweaking from there if you’re not getting the performance you want. Forza Horizon 5 includes a frame rate target, too, so the can dynamically adjust to hit 60 fps.

The most important takeaway, though, is that Playground Games once again created a technical marvel. We almost hit 30 fps at native 4K with an RX 580, which is insane. Outside of the performance range the settings provide, the visual quality is unmatched. Sure, the Low preset looks worse than the Extreme one, but it still doesn’t look bad. It’s hard to make Forza Horizon 5 look bad.

Editors’ Choice




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Forza Horizon 5 First Impressions: Viva Mexico

After being revealed at E3 2021, Forza Horizon 5 is here, and it’s taking us to Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 is one of Microsoft’s biggest launches of the year, and in fact, were it not for Halo Infinite, it would probably be the single biggest release for the big M in 2021. I’ve been spending some time with Forza Horizon 5 over the past few days, and while I’m not ready to write a full review about it just yet, I have played enough to give my first impressions of it.

Instantly Engaging

For context, I’m something of a latecomer to the Forza Horizon series. I started with Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One, then eventually graduated to Forza Horizon 4 on the same platform and, after a while, PC. I loved both titles and said both were among the best games of their respective release years.

While Forza Horizon 4 was an excellent game and I loved England, it didn’t quite have the same impact as a setting as Forza Horizon 3‘s Australia did. The shifting seasons introduced in Forza Horizon 4 were great, and those are returning for Forza Horizon 5, but even though Forza Horizon 4‘s take on England was beautiful, the setting sort of took a backseat in that entry for me.

The same is not true for Forza Horizon 5. Mexico is instantly engaging as the setting for this game. This is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, and even in my short time with Forza Horizon 5 so far, I’ve seen enough of Mexico to feel compelled to explore more. From the jungles and deserts to the coast and the volcano that dominates the map, Forza Horizon 5‘s version of Mexico is a sight to behold.

It’s so pretty that I’ve ruined leads in multiple races because I was distracted by the scenery, and the images I’ve included in this article (captured with FH5‘s Photo Mode) capture just a few of the more striking places I’ve visited. In a series where the gameplay is a known quantity already, Forza Horizon 5‘s setting and map become the stars of the show, and Mexico definitely doesn’t disappoint.

A new setting with a familiar friend

Even though Forza Horizon 5 is immediately impressive because of its setting, I am slightly concerned that it feels mostly the same as past entries. Perhaps I need to spend some time with Forza Horizon 4 before my full review so I can make a fresh comparison between the two games, but Forza Horizon 5 feels very similar to the Forza Horizon games of the past.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Forza Horizon has always offered stellar gameplay. The structure of Forza Horizon 5 isn’t exactly the same as past entries either, as it splits different event types into sub-stories that can be progressed individually. I like that a lot, but the core narrative of building the Horizon festival in a new location remains.

Maybe things will change as I progress further into the game, but for now, Forza Horizon 5 feels more like an iteration than a unique experience. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and that applies to video games as much as anything else. However, I do worry that the Forza Horizon series may not be doing enough to innovate from entry to entry, which may cause it to start losing players before long.

Still, for now, there isn’t a lot of indication that Forza Horizon 5 is the straw that will break the camel’s back – early reception to the game seems good, and as long as the gameplay remains fun, players may not have an issue with Playground Games and Microsoft erring on the side of familiarity. Unfortunately, I haven’t played enough of the game to determine just how similar it is to Forza Horizon 4, but at this early stage, it feels very similar to what I’ve played in the past.

PC version performance

I’ve been playing Forza Horizon 5 on PC, and I’ve been impressed so far. There have been some issues, but they’ve been mostly minor. I’ve noticed some problems with pop-in, and texture streaming for some far-off scenery seems like it can lag when it’s quickly brought into the foreground (such as during races). There was also an issue where I couldn’t find an online session for a few days, but that issue seems to be fixed at the time of this writing.

Obviously, this isn’t console gaming we’re talking about here. PC gaming can often be a mixed bag, so my experience may not necessarily be the experience that others have. For what it may be worth, playing Forza Horizon 5 on PC has been pretty smooth, though with reports of Forza Horizon 5 crashing on startup for some users, I may be one of the lucky ones.

So far, I’ve really been enjoying my time with Forza Horizon 5, even if it is a little too similar to past entries in the series. I’ll be publishing a full review of the game in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

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