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Compared to pricier gaming laptops, the Helios 300 actually fares pretty well. The $2,399 Razer Blade 15 that I reviewed in June got similar frame rates playing the same games. Most other high-end gaming laptops, like the MSI GS65, operate in the same ballpark, with the only major differences between them and the Helios 300 being the thinner and lighter frames.Because of its chunky profile, cooling is something the Helios 300 excels at — as any gaming laptop should — despite only having one open vent at the back. If thinness in gaming laptops is correlated with an increase in price (due to unique cooling solutions, Max Q GPUs, etc.), then I’d welcome a wave of cheaper, chunkier, but still svelte laptops, like the Helios 300. Under strain, the hottest areas of the Helios 300 include right above the function keys and the fan vents. The rest of the Helios 300 remains cool, which isn’t always the case with more expensive gaming laptops. (I’m looking at you, Razer.)

Here’s another surprise feature you wouldn’t expect on a budget gaming laptop: the ability to overclock the GTX 1060 to boost its performance. Within the PredatorSense app, you can control the Helios 300’s fan modes (auto, max, or a custom speed) as well as overclocking the GPU’s clock speed (when plugged in). Pushing the GPU to max overclock got me anywhere between 10-15 fps boost in the games that I tested.
The Helios 300 has a decent port selection, but it strangely omits a DisplayPort entirely. Obviously, you have to sacrifice some features for an affordable price, and being able to connect the Helios 300 to multiple monitors via DisplayPort is one of those axed features. Otherwise, you get one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, an HDMI, Ethernet, and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 (but not Thunderbolt 3) Type-C port.

THE KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD ARE DEFINITELY LOW POINTS
At this point, it’s clear Acer accomplished a lot of the things that would make more affordable gaming laptops great. Where Acer hasn’t done such a good job is with the keyboard. I’m much happier typing on my desktop mechanical keyboard, or even the oddly configured Razer Blade 15, than the Helios’ mushy keyboard. Acer went with an all-red backlight for the keys, which are shallow, soft, and don’t feel very tactile.The layout is fine for a 15.6-inch chassis, but typing out long documents and emails is my least favorite thing about using the Helios 300. Hopefully, competing (affordable) gaming laptops will do a better job with the keyboard.The touchpad isn’t something to get excited about, either. The best part about it is that it’s a Precision touchpad, so tracking is reliable and smooth and all of Windows 10’s multifinger gestures are supported. However, the touchpad feels very one-dimensional when clicked, it flexes at every corner, and it shares the same slick texture as the metal palm rest.

By now, you might be wondering how the battery life of a chunky, six-pound laptop fares with a discrete GPU and a six-core processor. Not well, I’m afraid: Acer advertises around seven hours of usage on the Helios 300, but using it conservatively with the brightness turned down and keyboard backlit on, I could only squeeze out around five hours of usage of standard, non-gaming productivity work.Honestly, I didn’t expect the Helios 300 to do well with battery life anyway. However, most high-end gaming laptops rarely reach more than six hours away from an outlet, so the Helios isn’t too far off from them.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is an exercise in frugality without too much compromise. It doesn’t have the longest-lasting battery, the most appealing design, or the best keyboard. While these shortcomings might be deal-breakers for the kind of enthusiast who wants a do-it-all laptop, it’s perfectly fine for the beginning PC gamer.

The Helios 300 excels at gaming performance for hundreds less than the laptops MSi, Asus, or Razer have on the market. After all, $1,200 isn’t exactly cheap — that’s about what you’ll pay for a premium productivity laptop — but prior to this, you had to pay a lot more to get this kind of performance. You’ll be able to play all the games you want, with high settings, and your eyes will be able to keep up with all that action on the 144Hz screen. Acer won’t be the only player in this space for long. It’s entirely likely that Asus, MSi, Alienware, and others will have similarly priced and specced laptops out before long.

Lenovo Japan on Thursday said that it would begin selling its ThinkPad A285 laptop on September 21. The mobile PC is one of the thinnest and lightest notebooks based on AMD’s Ryzen PRO introduced thus far. Besides being very compact, the ThinkPad A285 is among the first Ryzen PRO-based laptops to feature a suite of business and enterprise-oriented features from AMD and Lenovo.Lenovo’s ThinkPad A285 notebooks will be available in a variety of configurations aimed at various price points. Different configs will be based on AMD’s Ryzen 7 PRO 2700U with Radeon Vega 10, Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U with Radeon Vega 8, or Ryzen 3 PRO 2200U with Radeon Vega 3 APUs. Other options will include 8 or 16 GB of soldered-down DDR4-2400 memory, and depending on exact model they will be equipped with a PCIe/NVMe SSD (up to 512 GB) with OPAL 2.0-encrypted options available to interested parties.

Besides different internal hardware options, Lenovo intends to offer its ThinkPad A285 laptops with two 12.5-inch display options: lower-end machines will come with a 1366×768 display, whereas higher-end models will be equipped with a 1920×1080 panel and 10-point multitouch capabilities. Meanwhile, Lenovo Japan plans to offer an A285 with a non-touch Full-HD screen.Next up is connectivity. On the wireless side of things, the Lenovo ThinkPad A285 features a 2×2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2 controller, which is a standard feature for today’s business notebooks. As for physical connectors, the notebook is equipped with a GbE port that requires a dongle, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports (used for data, power, display, and docking connectivity), two USB Type-A (3.0 and 2.0) ports, an HDMI 1.4 output, a micro SD card reader, a 720p webcam, a TRRS audio jack for headsets, Dolby Audio Premium-certified speakers, a microphone array, and so on.

As noted above, since we are dealing with a Lenovo ThinkPad based on AMD’s Ryzen PRO APU, all A285 models are outfitted with a match-in-sensor fingerprint reader, a Windows Hello-compatible webcam with ThinkShutter cover, a dTPM 2.0 chip, AMD’s Transparent Secure Memory Encryption (TSME), DASH remote management, and so on. Lenovo is the first notebook vendor to offer Ryzen PRO-based mobile PCs pervasively featuring all of the aforementioned security and management features. Lenovo also notes that all A285 machines comply with 12 military-grade requirements to ensure that they can work in extreme conditions.

Moving on to dimensions and weight. Since Lenovo plans to offer ThinkPad A285 with two display options and with and without multitouch capabilities, the resulting dimensions and weights differ between the variants. Non-touch SKUs weigh 1.13 kg and are 17.4-mm thick. By contrast, touch-enabled models weigh 1.26 kg and are 17.8-mm thick. To put these numbers into perspective, Lenovo’s own IdeaPad 720S comes in a 13.6-mm thick aluminum chassis and weighs around 1.14 kilograms. The consumer laptop lacks numerous features that the ThinkPad A285 has (e.g., toughness, biometric security, TrackPoint, docking capabilities, just to name a few), but its indisputable trumps are the 13.3-inch LCD (there is even a 4K option) as well as portability.

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