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Aujourd’hui — 16 septembre 2021Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Valorant's Windows 11 TPM gambit: Expert insights

Windows 11 and Valorant are both fans of TPM tech. What does that mean?

TPM 2.0 has been a touchy topic since Microsoft first made it mainstream with Windows 11's system requirements. Many, many months after TPM tech entered public discourse, many people still don't understand how it affects them, their ability to upgrade to Windows 11, or helps the security of their PC.

As such, it seemed like an out-of-left-field bit of news when Riot Games' Valorant started requiring TPM 2.0 and secure boot to run on Windows 11. Confusion ran rampant: Was this the beginning of a wave of games racing to catch up with Windows 11's requirements just for the sake of OS adherence, or was Riot spearheading a new breed of anti-cheat initiative?

Windows Central reached out to experts to learn a bit more about what TPM tech's role in Valorant and gaming as a whole may be going forward, as well as whether a new bar has just been set for Windows 11 gaming.

Useful measure or empty threat?

Hardware bans have existed in gaming for a long time and have often been circumvented. So Valorant's TPM 2.0 requirement seems to be, at least on the surface, a natural extension of what came before — in other words, one more piece of hardware hackers will have to spoof fresh instances of to circumvent when it comes time to get around Riot's new policy.

IDC analyst Lewis Ward weighed in on the subject, angling Riot's move as a positive for everyone but cheaters.

"I'm not a security expert, and perhaps in time hackers will find some workaround, but for now, it appears that TPM 2.0 and secure boot will be leveraged by Riot Games to permanently ban systems that have found to be using cheatware that violates the game's EULA," Ward said. "Obviously, they'll want to make sure they're getting the right systems (players) banned, but this tech is one way to raise the stakes on cheaters, and I have zero problem with that, and I don't think that most mainstream gamers do either."

However, there is a contingent of gamers, and general onlookers, who see issues with the TPM obstacle, labeling it as either ineffectual or invasive. Over on Twitter, many argued that Valorant's new TPM 2.0 and secure boot requirements will be toppled just like any other anti-cheat or hardware ID measure, making the new requirement an empty threat.

Furthermore, many people stated they weren't fans of kernel-level anti-cheat measures. This brings us back to the "invasive" aspect of the new tool utilized by Riot Vanguard, the software security guard for Valorant.

Security: An unending arms race

Forrester analyst William McKeon-White shared his thoughts on the matter. He stated that Vanguard is an invasive piece of tech that's effective at what it's designed to do.

"So Valorant has been very anti-cheat oriented since its launch with Vanguard, and from my own experiences as well as those I've seen online, the move to create a comprehensive (albeit invasive) anti-cheat engine has worked well — of the things I see people complaining about in Valorant, cheaters aren't one of them," McKeon-White said. "The move to ensure TPM 2.0 adherence or safe-boot is another good pre-emptive step for ensuring cheats are nigh-on-impossible to use in Valorant."

McKeon-White acknowledged the realities voiced on Twitter, stating that cheaters will sooner or later figure out how to crack open the anti-cheat nut that is Windows 11's TPM 2.0 and secure boot combo. However, he pointed out that it's not about inventing a permanent solution; Riot's goal with Vanguard is to simply stay ahead of cheaters so by the time they crack one security measure, a new one is already in place. And to that end, McKeon-White deemed Valorant's TPM 2.0 strat as a smart move in the "cheating arms race," as he called it.

What will the competition do?

When asked whether it seems likely that other publishers and developers will take a similar approach to the one Riot has with regards to TPM requirements and security in general, McKeon-White wasn't sold on the idea that such copy-catting is a guarantee.

"With all of that said, and with all of Vanguard's success, I'm actually unsure if other developers/publishers will take a similar approach — what Vanguard ultimately does, having access to the core system, may be seen as too invasive or too risky by other devs/publishers," he said.

"Application-level security or behavioral-based enforcement may be more appealing, as it doesn't open up potential concerns around 'what if our system is compromised?' Additionally, surveillance via video games is a growing area of controversy, from all the data that games are collecting on players, and avoidance of system-level monitoring with high authorization may be seen as a way to ensure player privacy."

McKeon-White may very well be on the money with these theories. When reached for comment on the topic, Blizzard Entertainment did not clarify its stance in time for publication regarding whether similar security changes were headed Overwatch's way. Meanwhile, Ubisoft declined to comment on the TPM subject and its potential relation to Rainbow Six Siege security measures.

Riot Games itself did not respond to a request for comment.

Not over yet

As McKeon-White said, there's a chance these sorts of invasive security measures will ultimately cause more headaches for their creators than they're worth as controversies around such topics mount. However, there's also the reality that Riot Games continues with its hardcore approach to security on the simple basis that it works, for the most part.

Which of these opposing strains of anti-cheat ideology will become dominant going forward remains unclear; the only thing that's certain is that Valorant has brought attention to one of the newest safeguards cheaters will have to overcome. The key takeaway for security-minded gamers who don't want to fall into the swamp of invasive anti-cheat measures is this: If you don't want to risk getting banned due to TPM 2.0 and secure boot, stick with the Windows 10 version of Valorant for now. And if you don't want to deal with Vanguard's prying as a whole, stay away from competitive titles put out by Riot Games and opt for one of the many other best multiplayer PC games.

Grab Dell's 27-inch 1440p curved monitor for its lowest price at $285

Upgrade your workstation with an awesome curved monitor. The Dell S2722DGM 27-inch screen is down to $284.99 at Amazon. This monitor's regular price is around $330, and it has been selling for that price or higher since July. Before that you'd only find the same display at around $430 or so. It has never dropped below $300 before, so today's deal is a great price with a huge chunk of savings. Don't expect it to last long.

Dell S2722DGM 27-inch curved monitor | $45 off

The lowest price we've ever seen on this monitor. It has 1440p resolution, a 1500R curve for immersion and realistic visuals, and a 165Hz refresh rate that makes it great for gaming. It has AMD FreeSync natively and includes an adjustable stand.

$284.99 at Amazon

Dell always has a whole lot of value built into these S Series screens. It's just got all of those great features that any gamer is looking for in a screen. For one thing, it has a 1500R curve to it. That really adds to the immersion and your overall experience. It keeps the visuals from every edge of the display right in front of you, and it's still nice enough that you could put a couple of them next to each other and fully surround yourself.

The 27-inch screen has a pixel resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a refresh rate of 165Hz. That 1440p resolution is the sweet spot for creative types and video gamers who want to upgrade but don't want to sacrifice a ton of other features like you might have to with a 4K monitor. The 165Hz refresh rate, for example, would be hard to find on a 4K screen without paying a huge premium that's probably outside your budget. And you want that refresh rate because it really helps with high-octane games like shooters.

If you have an AMD graphics card, you can use AMD FreeSync with this monitor to reduce motion blur and screen tearing. That just adds to the excellent clarity. The monitor also has a great stand with tilt and height that can be adjusted until you're comfortable. Includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort as well.

Halo: MCC to stop getting seasonal updates once Halo Infinite launches

343 can't feasibly focus on two games at once.

What you need to know

  • 343 Industries has announced that it plans to halt seasonal updates to Halo: MCC once Halo Infinite launches.
  • Explaining this decision, the developers said that trying to keep two games updated with content on a seasonal basis is not ideal for the studio.
  • Halo: MCC will still receive content, feature, and stability updates in the future, but on a "ready when it's ready" basis.
  • Additionally, it was announced that the Halo: MCC Season 8 coming in Fall 2021 is the game's final update for the year.

Halo developer 343 Industries has announced in a new blog post that once Halo Infinite launches on Dec. 8, 2021, seasonal updates for Halo: MCC will stop as the studio shifts its focus to the new title. In the post, the developers explain that keeping both games updated with seasonal updates and content offerings is not ideal for the studio. Therefore, 343 Industries is adopting a new approach.

Under this new plan, Halo Infinite will receive seasonal updates while content, feature, and stability updates for Halo: MCC will "land when they're ready based on development status and studio roadmap alignment." The developers have confirmed that future updates will continue to be free for all players.

Some of the Season 8: Mythic armors coming to Halo: MCC this Fall.

The post also confirms that the release of Halo MCC: Season 8 later this Fall will mark the final official update for the game that's coming this year. This new update is expected to include a brand new Halo 3 map as well as several new "out there" armor sets for Halo 3 inspired by mythology and fantasy. You can basically make Spartans look like Skyrim characters with the new gear, which is something we definitely haven't been able to say about Halo customization before. The Season 8 update is also expected to include fixes for several MCC bugs and exploits.

Overall, it's a bummer to hear that seasonal updates for the MCC are ending, although the game has had an incredible Great Journey in 2020 and 2021. It's one of the best Xbox shooters available, and you should definitely check it out if you haven't already.

Finish the Fight

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

$40 at Microsoft (Xbox One) $40 at Microsoft (PC) $40 at Steam

Experience the entirety of Halo history

The Master Chief Collection is a collection of every Halo shooter from the pre-Xbox One era, offering incredible value at an incredible price.

A new journey awaits

Halo Infinite

$60 at Microsoft $60 at Amazon $60 at Best Buy $60 at Steam

The next big adventure

Halo Infinite will hopefully be an incredible game filled with wonder, adventure, and more. Based on the beta and what was seen at E3 2021 and Gamescom, we can't wait for the full release.

Microsoft and HONOR partner to improve mobile devices and cloud computing

HONOR will be the first company to ship a batch of laptops with Windows 11 preinstalled.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft and HONOR announced an expansion of the continued partnership between the companies.
  • HONOR will adopt AI speech and AI translation services based on Microsoft Azure.
  • Microsoft says HONOR will ship 'world's first batch' of PCs with Windows 11 preinstalled.

Microsoft and HONOR announced an expansion of an ongoing partnership between the two companies. HONOR and Microsoft will work together on cloud adoption, personal and mobile computing, and other technologies, according to a post by Microsoft. As part of the partnership, the HONOR MagicBook V 14 laptop will ship with Windows 11 preinstalled.

The MagicBook V 14 will be unveiled at HONOR Life, HONOR Smart Life Product Launch, on September 26, 2021. The post doesn't specify the date that the MagicBook V 14 will ship compared to any other devices running Windows 11, but says that "the HONOR MagicBook V 14 laptop will be the world's first batch of computers to come pre-installed with Windows 11."

As part of the agreement, HONOR will adopt AI speech and AI translation services based on Microsoft Azure. The AI-powered services will help power HONOR's Smart Assistant YOYO, collaborative office, smart travel, life services, smart translation, and other apps.

Microsoft will help HONOR improve the experience of mobile phones, tablets, smart screens, earphones, and other devices as part of the agreement.

"Microsoft hopes to accelerate the integrated development of software and hardware intelligence by continuously deepening and expanding our strategic cooperation with HONOR, to bring richer experiences to end users, and to bring born-in-Asia innovations to the world by leveraging Microsoft Azure," says Dr. Hou Yang, corporate vice president and chairman and CEO of Microsoft GCR.

Microsoft has worked with HONOR for several years. The company highlights that it was one of the first businesses to partner with HONOR after HONOR became an independent company.

Review: Razer's Huntsman V2 should be your next gaming keyboard

One of Razer's biggest game-changers gets an update for 2021 and there's no surprise it's a keyboard you'll want.

The original Razer Huntsman keyboard lineup has been a runaway success. It was the best-selling keyboard line in 2020, and it's easy to see why. When it first launched with its optical switches in tow, it was a game-changer, and whether you're a casual or competitive gamer it was hard not to recommend as one of the best keyboards.

Even today, the various Huntsman keyboards still stand up. But Razer rarely stands still for too long and as we enter the final portion of 2021, the Huntsman V2 and V2 TKL are here.

Razer is streamlining the Huntsman family with the sequel. There's no more Elite or Tournament Editions, you're getting basically the same keyboard but in two different sizes. And like Razer's other recent keyboards, layouts have been standardized so that you can customize them easier.

If you're on the lookout for a new gaming keyboard as we head towards the holiday season, this might just be the one.

Razer Huntsman V2

Bottom line: Refinements to the first-generation Huntsman are the name of the game, but even greatness can be made better and the Huntsman V2 is a stunning gaming keyboard.

The Good

  • Improved optical switches
  • Doubleshot PBT keycaps with a standard bottom row
  • Detachable USB-C cable on the TKL
  • Wrist rest included with both
  • Sound dampening foam
  • Choice of purple and red switches

The Bad

  • Quite pricey
  • Linear switches aren't so great for typing
  • Wrist rest doesn't attach to the keyboard

Coming soon

Razer Huntsman V2: Price and availability

The Razer Huntsman V2 and V2 TKL are available to order from September 16, initially from Razer's own store. The smaller V2 TKL costs $160, while the full-size V2 costs $200.

Razer Huntsman V2: What you'll like

Razer doesn't make bad keyboards anymore, which can make choosing a bit more difficult. It's the best kind of problem to have, but with the Huntsman V2 family, the whole lineup has been streamlined a little. Instead of Elite and Tournament Editions alongside a regular one like the previous generation, there's now just one Huntsman V2. You get it in either a full-sized layout or a TKL if you're a fan of smaller keyboards. There are minor differences, such as a detachable cable on the TKL and a media dial and keys on the full-size, but otherwise, it's the same Huntsman V2.

This is a really positive step from Razer. The company makes so many good products but it's starting to streamline things to make choosing the one you want easier. The core of both of these keyboards is the same.

So what makes the Huntsman V2 tick? As with its predecessors, the Huntsman V2 comes with Razer's optical switches. The latest 2nd generation optical switches now boast 8000Hz HyperPolling and 0.1ms latency, or in a more quantifiable term, basically instant actuation. Because the switches rely on light and not a piece of metal, as soon as the beam is broken, the switch responds and you see your output.

The Huntsman V2 has a choice of optical switches, too, with either purple clicky switches or red linear ones. If you're planning to do a lot of typing, the purples will always be our recommendation, as you get a little more tactile feedback and it's harder to make accidental actuation.

One of the other big changes to this year's Huntsman is underneath. Literally underneath. Razer has taken the bold step of lining the body of the keyboard with sound dampening foam. Why? It allows for dulling of the sound of the switches without changing their feel. The purple switches in particular can be quite loud, but with the Huntsman V2, you'll get the same great feel but a slightly quieter sounding click.

And it really works. My review sample has the red switches (our own Daniel Rubino also has the purple switches), but the feel is identical to previous Razer keyboards with linear switches, but the sound is duller. Remarkably, it's on par with the sound I get from a keyboard running Cherry MX Silent switches. Perhaps even a touch quieter, especially on the spacebar.

The Aluminum construction also stands out among Razer's other keyboards. The BlackWidow V3 Mini is hardly a badly made keyboard, but side-by-side with the Huntsman V2 and you really get a sense of just how incredible the new keyboard is. This thing is built to last.

Other nice features with the Huntsman V2 includes a wrist rest now in the box with the TKL version as well as the bigger one, and unlike the previous generation Elite, there's now a standard bottom row. That means if you want to replace the stock Doubleshot PBT keycaps with third-party ones, you now have much better compatibility.

Razer Huntsman V2: What you won't like

The Huntsman V2 is a refinement rather than a complete redesign, which makes things to criticize pretty difficult. Nevertheless, there are a few points worth highlighting.

The first is the price. This is a premium keyboard, and the price isn't outrageous for what you're getting, but it's still worth highlighting. If you were hoping to keep to a tight budget, this isn't the keyboard for you.

You should also be aware that the switch choice you make will have a profound impact if you're expecting to do a lot of typing on your Huntsman V2. The red switches are brilliant for gaming, but less so I find for typing, with mistakes easier to make since even the slightest of contacts seems to actuate the keys.

For typing, the clicky purple switches are definitely the better choice.

It's also a little disappointing that the wrist rest doesn't actually attach to the keyboard. On one hand, it is at least the redesigned, frameless wrist rest that we've seen before on the Huntsman Analog, but unlike that keyboard, there are no magnets keeping it in place.

It's a minor point, but it's frustrating constantly adjusting the wrist rest because you happened to knock the desk or make any other unintended impacts. Or if you're like me and incapable of sitting still.

Razer Huntsman V2: Competition

As it happens, some of the closest competition comes from within Razer itself. Razer really does have the best kind of problem to have. As an alternative to the Huntsman V2, you could also consider the BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed, if you're looking for a small keyboard.

It's one of the best compact gaming keyboards you can get with the added bonus of being wireless. It's a little smaller than the Huntsman V2 TKL, doesn't come with a wrist rest, and uses normal mechanical switches over opticals. But you sacrifice some dedicated keys the smaller you go.

There's an even wider choice for full-sized keyboards, but a solid alternative to the big Huntsman V2 is the SteelSeries Apex Pro. Feature-wise this keyboard is closer to the Huntsman V2 Analog, with adjustable actuation, but as it's been on the market longer the price is now a little more attractive.

Razer Huntsman V2: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You're looking for outstanding gaming performance
  • You like mechanical switches but wish they were quieter
  • You want the freedom to customize as you wish

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You're on a tighter budget
  • You're looking for a wireless keyboard

You really have to reach to find anything to dislike about the Razer Huntsman V2. This family is Razer's flagship for gaming keyboards, and all the best tech and build quality is found with the Huntsman name attached.

4.5 out of 5

It's particularly nice that Razer is trying to streamline its product lineup, offering the same hardware and features but at two different sizes. The Huntsman V2 doesn't try to reinvent anything, it just improves on what was already an utterly superb keyboard.

For most people, the purple switch TKL version is the one to get, but whether you're mainly typing or gaming, there's something here for you. The Razer Huntsman V2 is stupendously good.

Razer Huntsman V2

Bottom line: Razer's range-topping keyboard gets even better with the newest switches, insane performance and sound dampening foam that leaves the feel the same but makes the Huntsman V2 a keyboard you can also take to the office.

Coming soon

Why you should buy the newest Dell XPS 15 unless you can get a good deal

Newest model

Dell XPS 15 9500

From $1,039 at Dell

Pros

  • Current model
  • Newer components
  • Gorgeous optional 4K OLED display
  • Amazing battery life

Cons

  • More pricey at launch

The newest XPS 15 from Dell packs everything you need for a powerful 15-inch laptop, including new options for an OLED 4K panel, GTX 1650, and an Intel Core i9 processor. If you want the latest and greatest from Dell, this is the laptop for you.

Capable laptop

Dell XPS 15 9570

From $1,440 at Amazon

Pros

  • Generally more affordable
  • Get a good deal on the second-hand market
  • Still a super-capable notebook

Cons

  • Older model
  • Older components

Regardless of which Dell XPS 15 you purchase, it's going to be a killer notebook. The 9570 is an older generation, which means you're rocking older hardware, but you should be able to get a good deal on the used market with the newer model already out.

The newest XPS 15 9500 is one of the best Windows laptops you can buy, rocking newer 10th Gen Intel processors (with the choice of an Intel Core i9 CPU), a 4K OLED panel option, as well as the newer NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti dedicated GPU. While the 9570 could be considered the worse laptop here merely because it's the outgoing model, it shouldn't be overlooked, especially if having the latest features offered by the 9500 doesn't necessarily interest you.

Dell XPS 15 9500 vs. XPS 15 9570 specs

This latest refresh is a small evolution for the Dell XPS 15, adding the latest processors, newer dedicated graphics, and a 4K OLED panel option. Comparing the new 9500 against the older 9570 shows just how similar the two laptops are, aside from the now-confusing model numbers.

Dell XPS 15 (9500) Dell XPS 15 (9570)
OS Windows 10 Windows 10
CPU Up to 10th Gen Intel i9-10885H Up to 8th Gen Intel Core i9
RAM 8GB DDR4-2933MHz
16GB DDR4-2933MHz
32GB DDR4-2933MHz
64GB DDR4-2666MHz
8GB DDR4-2666MHz
16GB DDR4-2666MHz
32GB DDR4-2666MHz
64GB DDR4-2666MHz
GPU Up to NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6 Intel UHD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5)
NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5)
Display 15.6-inch IPS
3840x2160
500 nits
Touch support
15.6-inch 1920x1080 InfinityEdge
15.6-inch UltraSharp 4K 3840x2160 InfinityEdge
Storage 256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
128GB SATA SSD + 1TB HDD
1TB SSHD
256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1x Full-size SD card reader v6.0
1x 3.5mm combo jack
1x Wedge-shaped lock slot
HDMI 2.0
USB 3.0 (x2) with PowerShare
Headset jack
SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3
Webcam 720p 720p
Battery 56Whr
86Whr
56Whr
97Whr
Security Windows Hello fingerprint reader Windows Hello fingerprint reader
Wireless Killer AX1650
Bluetooth 5.0
Killer 1535
Bluetooth 4.1
Dimensions 0.71 x 13.57 x 9.06 inches (18mm x 344.72mm x 230.14mm) 0.45-0.66 x 14.06 x 9.27 inches (11-17mm x 357mm x 235mm)
Weight Up to 4.55 pounds (2.05kg) Up to 4 pounds (1.8kg)

Same beautiful XPS 15 design

Dell made sure not to touch the dimensions or weight of the XPS 15 (read our full Dell XPS 15 9500 review for all the details), and the design team failed to spend any time switching up the design. These are both excellent points for the new XPS 15 since the older generations' design was (and still is) amazing. It's one of the best-looking laptops out there. What makes this even better for owners of both models is you won't be able to tell them apart. If you stick with (or purchase) the older 9570, people will be hard-pressed to tell it apart from the new 9500 unless you know what to look for.

Visually speaking, the newer XPS 15 comes rocking smaller bezels, larger keys, and more touchpad surface that all make a considerable difference. The dimensions, weight, and overall look of the laptop looks similar to the older 9570. Internally, both laptops differ somewhat. The new 10th Gen Intel processors provide a substantial boost in performance over the older 8th Gen processors, and the GTX 1650 Ti is a step up from the GTX 1050 Ti.

There's also the inclusion of a fancy new 4K OLED panel, should you choose it as an option when configuring your new XPS 15. This is why it's also possible to recommend the older 9570 to those who don't require the additional headroom offered by the new Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPU, saving some money in the process.

Should you need immense performance, Dell lets you configure the new XPS 15 with a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti, all accompanied by a 1TB PCIe SSD.

Don't upgrade unless you need more power

As great as the new specs of the 9500 are, we can still recommend some owners to stick with their trusty XPS 15 9570. If it's still working just fine, the older processor handles everything you throw at it, and you don't technically require the advancements present in the newer 9500, stick with the older notebook.

Still, for most people, there's not much here that warrants another $1,400 to be dropped for such a similar portable PC. But if you can take advantage of the new 10th Gen processors from Intel, as well as better dedicated graphics, it's well worth it.

Choosing the very best from Dell

The latest iteration of the XPS 15 is the 9500, which was released in 2020 and confused everyone with the new model number. This notebook was refreshed with upgraded internals while retaining that stunning iconic XPS design. Not only are you getting the latest processors from Intel, but also a faster GTX 1650 Ti GPU and an optional 4K OLED panel. It's a strong contender for the best Dell laptop.

Newest model

Dell XPS 15 9500

Latest and greatest 15-inch laptop

From $1,039 at Dell

Dell's iconic XPS 15 received a substantial spec bump for 2020 with a new option for 4K OLED (non-touch), NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti for graphics, and new 10th Gen Intel processors including up to an 8-core Core i9 CPU for ultimate power. The massive 86WHr battery remains to make sure you get all-day battery life.

Go with the older XPS 15 to save a little

There's really no reason to choose the 7590 over the 9500 unless you're getting a solid deal on one. Whether a retailer needs to get rid of one or if you can find one on the used market, there are strong chances you can knock a few hundred off the original retail price of the older XPS 15.

Just watch out for some listings that cost a little more than the XPS 15 9500.

Capable laptop

Dell XPS 15 9570

A classic performer

From $1,440 at Amazon

$1,545 at Walmart

The XPS 15 9570 is a great laptop and one that should be considered if you want to save on the price of a new laptop. Sure, the internals aren't current, but it's still a workhorse that will perform well.

Report: There may be a cheaper Xbox Series X|S storage card on the way

Xbox Series X|S storage expansion options are convenient but limited.

What you need to know

  • Right now, there only exists a $220 dollar internal storage option for the Xbox Series X|S.
  • Xbox fans have been waiting for a cheaper option for some time, and there might be one on the way.
  • XboxSquad.fr reports that a wholesale retailer has listed a 500GB Xbox Seagate storage card that is roughly half as expensive.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles have been here for almost a year, and one of the headline features is a super-speedy SSD. With up to 1TB as standard, the Xbox Series X|S console storage can be expanded with a convenient, albeit pricey Xbox storage card from Seagate, which costs an eye-watering $220 as of writing.

Since the card's launch, Xbox fans have been clamoring for a cheaper option, and one website has claimed that may soon be on the way.

According to a report from XboxSquad.fr, a listing for a 500GB SSD option from Seagate has appeared on wholesale retailer Innelec's internal systems. The listing suggests this costs around 125 euros, making it cost roughly half that of the 1TB version, as you might expect.

While we haven't been able to independently verify whether or not this card actually exists, it makes plenty of sense. Having a cheaper option available in time for the holiday season could be a good earner for Microsoft, making it a pretty good option for gifts and so on. The expansion card would also drop in time for massively-sized upcoming games like Halo Infinite, Call of Duty: Vanguard, and Battlefield 2042.

We've reached out to Microsoft to find out if they can confirm or debunk this retail listing. Either way, it's best to take it with a pinch of salt until we get something official or more concrete. Retail listings aren't always the best sources of information, but this particular one seems promising.

Right now, the cheapest way to expand your Xbox Series X|S storage is to use an external USB SSD/HDD and move the games to and from your internal Xbox storage. The process is cumbersome, but it can save you quite a bit of cash. If you want to give that a try, take a look at our roundup of best external SSDs for Xbox Series X and S.

Current option

Seagate 1TB Game Drive for Xbox Series X, S

$220 at Microsoft

The Seagate NVME for Xbox Series X|S is currently the only way to expand your internal Xbox storage capacity. It's pricey, but it's fast, convenient, and adds a lot of space for that ballooning game library.

Valheim's massive 'Hearth and Home' update is now available

Valheim is set on being the best survival game it can be

What you need to know

  • Valheim is a Viking-themed survival game currently in Early Access on Steam, from Iron Gate Studio and Coffee Stain.
  • The team has been working on Valheim's first major update for a while now, and release day has finally come.
  • The 'Hearth and Home' update is rolling out to Valheim players now with a ton of improvements and new features.
  • Highlights include new building pieces, the ability to name tamed pets, changes to the Plains, and much more.

Our list of best PC games is a competitive place, but Valheim makes a good case for it as one of the better survival games on PC right now. Today, Iron Gate Studio and Coffee Stain are finally releasing the long-awaited Hearth and Home update, Valheim's first (hopefully, of many) major releases during its Early Access tenure. Hearth and Home includes a ton of new features and changes to look forward to for players, including all-new building pieces, weapon improvements, naming pets, new Plains features, and much more. There's also a new trailer to celebrate the update's release.

As the name suggests, Hearth and Home places extra attention on the players' homes in Valheim, and features all-new building pieces and furniture, ways to plant additional trees, new food items, new weapons and weapons balancing, and more. There are also a ton of general quality-of-life improvements like new graphics settings, bug fixes, and more. All-in-all, this is a major update for Valheim players, and even includes more new features beyond the changelog, especially in the Valheims Plains area.

You can find the full changelog for Valheim's Hearth and Home update below, or go download the release on Steam right now. If you haven't played Valheim yet, and are interested in one of the best PC survival games you can play right now, be sure to check out our Valheim beginner's guide for some tips and tricks on how to get started.

The full changelog for Valheim's Hearth and Home update includes:

General improvements

  • Weapons rebalanced (all weapons have been rebalanced to be more viable as main weapon and also have more unique playstyles)
  • Blocking system overhauled (current maximum HP now greatly affects your ability to block attacks, stagger bar GUI added)
  • Naming tamed creatures
  • Gamepad sensitivity settings
  • Auto-pickup toggle button added
  • Graphics settings (active point lights & active point light shadows)
  • Tamed creatures affected by friendly fire setting (i.e you can't hurt a tamed creature unless you enable friendly fire or use the new butcher knife item)
  • Various other improvements and bugfixes

Food

  • Food rebalance (most food items now give mainly stamina or mainly health to make food choices more interesting)
  • Food GUI overhauled to work better with the rebalanced food
  • Over 10 new things to eat (actually 12)

World

  • Tamed Lox now have a purpose
  • Slimy locations & creatures added to plains
  • New plantable seeds: birch, oak & onions

Items

  • New weapons: crystal battleaxe, silver knife
  • New shields: bone tower shield, iron buckler
  • Butcher knife (special weapon for butchering tamed animals)
  • Thunder stone (sold by trader)
  • Lox accessory

Building

  • New Darkwood building pieces like shingle roofs, beams, decorations and more
  • New types of furniture, including but not limited to a mighty stone throne and a steamy viking hot tub
  • Crystal walls
  • New types of stacks to show off your treasure and resources
  • Cauldron improvements: spice rack, butcher's table, pots and pans
  • Cartography table (for sharing map-data with other players)
  • Oven added (for baking bread and pie)
  • Obliterator added (items be gone)
  • Iron cooking station (required to cook some types of meat)

Paradise or purgatory?

Valheim (Early Access)

$20 on Steam

A thousand generations of wisdom

Valheim won't hold your hand, so it's going to take cunning and wisdom to stay alive in this epic Viking-themed survival adventure game.

Microsoft launches new gear to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Xbox

Microsoft is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Xbox with some old-school gear.

What you need to know

  • The Xbox Gear Shop has several new items to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Xbox console.
  • You can order hoodies and t-shirts that feature the original Xbox logo.
  • Microsoft also has six Xbox Sphere Collection shirts up for sale.

2021 is the 20th anniversary of Xbox consoles. While the first Xbox didn't launch until November 15, 2001, making the exact anniversary later this year, you can celebrate 20 years of Xbox with some new gear. The Xbox Gear Shop has new hoodies and shirts to commemorate two decades of Xbox gaming.

Three new items of Xbox gear feature the logo of the original Xbox console. The Xbox 20th Anniversary Nexus Hoodie is available in black or white, while the Xbox 20th Anniversary Nexus Tee is only available in black.

The Xbox Sphere Collection includes t-shirts featuring unique variations of the Xbox Sphere icon. You can order shirts from the collection inspired by Halo, State of Decay, and Psychonauts. Microsoft lists the six Xbox Sphere Collection shirts that are currently available as "Wave 1," so there's a good chance that more variations are on the way.

The Xbox 20th Anniversary t-shirt costs $28, and the Xbox 20th Anniversary hoodie costs $60. The Xbox Sphere Collection shirts have a lower starting price of $20.

While they aren't new to the Xbox Gear Shop, you can also order an Xbox 20th Anniversary Personalized Mug or a Halo 20th Anniversary Personalized Laser Engraved Tumbler. The Xbox Gear Shop gets updated frequently, so it's worth checking back in every now and again to see what's new.

Xbox 20th anniversary gear

From $20 at Microsoft

You can celebrate two decades of Xbox gaming with new items from the Xbox Gear Shop, including t-shirts and hoodies.

How to choose the best GPU for your next Mini-ITX build

The best GPU for a Mini-ITX PC build can be incredibly tricky to find, especially as the hardware's availability is only recently starting to stabilize. The best graphics card packs power and efficiency in one tight case. These GPUs range in sizes but all will fuel a powerful Mini-ITX build suited for whatever you need.

The peak

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080

Staff pick

The NVIDIA RTX 3080 is still a strong card that includes all of the modern benefits of the leading GPU manufacturer. It's a tight fit in some Mini-ITX cases, but it's one of the most powerful options out there.

See at Amazon

See at Best Buy

Solid gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

The RTX 3070 isn't the top-of-the-line card, but it's close. If you want solid 1080p gaming and general graphics horsepower in your compact build, this is the card to go with.

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Strong alternative

AMD Radeon RX 6800

Depending on your case, you might be able to squeeze in an AMD Radeon RX 6800. It's worth it if you want the benefits of a super powerful gaming GPU in a small form factor case.

See at Amazon

See at Best Buy

Budget build

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER

If your needs are simple, the GTX 1650 SUPER is a solid card for basic PC use. It fits easily into Mini-ITX cases because of its single fan and provides the power for average tasks, like light gaming.

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See at Best Buy

Middle ground

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

The RTX 3060 Ti is a solid GPU that should fit into most Mini-ITX cases. It might not be as powerful as the other cards in the line, but it offers more than enough for a budget-minded build.

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See at Best Buy

The best GPU for Mini-ITX PC builds

It's tough to find a GPU right now, let alone a good one for a specific build like a Mini-ITX case, like the HYTE Revolt 3 requires. You can easily get by with an NVIDIA RTX 3080. It's a solid GPU that will give you a lot of juice if you have a clever cooling setup. For something a little less intensive, you could pick up a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER too. It's small form factor will slide right into your Mini-ITX case, and you won't have to worry about it.

Zunepedia illustrates the history of Microsoft's beloved music player

You can relive the glory days of Zune with a passion project that runs through the history of the music player.

What you need to know

  • An unofficial digital coffee table book runs through the history of Zune.
  • The book includes sections on hardware, software, the platform, and special edition devices.
  • The Zune was initially announced 15 years ago in 2006.

Readers of Windows Central are no strangers to passionate displays about discontinued devices. From Windows Phone to the Kinect, we've seen our share of dead devices receiving love letters. Now, Zune enthusiasts have a new project to enjoy. A software engineer named Peter Bull created "Zunepedia," an unofficial digital coffee table book that runs through the journey of Zune. You can read about the book and download a PDF of it on the Zunepedia website.

The book runs through the history of Zune devices, hardware, and services. It also highlights a community of Zune enthusiasts that's still active in 2021. Zunepedia is over 40 pages of nostalgia covering the familiar yet mostly forgotten music player.

Zune first launched in 2006. It earned a passionate following which still has active remnants today. Ultimately, Zune hardware was discontinued in 2011. It lived briefly as a service on Windows Phones and Xbox consoles, but in 2012 Microsoft shifted to a different branding strategy.

If you know where to look, you can still find remnants of Zune in Microsoft services today. Bull points out that the Segoe font serves as a legacy for the music player. There's also a group of people that collect Zune hardware. Our managing editor sometimes uses a Zune with his Surface Earbuds. There are also several special edition devices, including Halo 3 and Gears of War 2 versions, which are popular among collectors.

The most recent major mention of Zune in pop culture is its appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Perhaps Zune will make a return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3., though by then Starlord may have moved onto a Lumia 1020.

Review: Lost Judgment is fun, but takes itself just a little too seriously

It's the Yakuza silly stuff wrapped in an unexpectedly tense, dark mystery.

Lost Judgment is the latest game in the Yakuza series, which are action-mystery titles known to mix crazy side activities and stories with a serious main plotline. That means you get games where the main character is simultaneously investigating a mystery that deals in very dark, disturbing subject matter while dancing his heart out and parkouring over buildings like a champ.

Lost Judgment is the sequel to Judgment, a Yakuza mystery spin-off. It's the more serious cousin to recent Yakuza games such as Like a Dragon, but it still retains some of that strange tonal difference. While some find this tonal difference offputting, if you're a fan of Yakuza games, then you'll find this is a great new entry in-line with that ethos.

In this entry, former lawyer-turned-private detective Takayuki Yagami is looped in to investigate the murder of a young teacher. The victim's body was identified after the most likely suspect, the father of a student who committed suicide thanks to the victim's bullying, is convicted of a crime that took place at the same time as the murder in another part of the city. In other words, the only person who initially appears to have a motive also has a rock-solid alibi.

Yagami goes on an investigation into the school where the victim taught, Seiryo High, and uncovers an unsavory web of lies and crime within its walls. While I won't spoil the content of the game, I will say it gets into some very heavy subject matter very quickly. If the topics of bullying, suicide, or sexual assault are triggers for you, then you should probably avoid this game.

Lost Judgment

Bottom line: Lost Judgment is a great mystery game with the signature Yakuza flair. If you're a fan, or even if you're not, you'll have a fun time with this game despite its dark subject matter.

The Good

  • Great combat that's typical for the series
  • Tense, enjoyable mystery with dark themes
  • New gameplay fits well with stuff from first game

The Bad

  • Sometimes too serious
  • Tone is all over the place

$60 at Microsoft $60 at Amazon $60 at Best Buy

Lost Judgment: The great stuff

If you're a mystery fan, then you'll probably enjoy Lost Judgment's story more than its predecessor, if only because the setup is more of a classic mystery trope. This is a crime where the most obvious suspect is ruled out right away, meaning that the detective has to dig deeper to find new motives. It's tense and enjoyable, and the subject matter, while potentially distressing for some, is treated fairly seriously.

Category GameNameXXX
Title Lost Judgment
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher SEGA
Genre Action-adventure
Xbox Version Xbox Series X
Game Size 49.7GB
Play Time 30 hours
Players Single
Xbox GamePass No
Launch Price $60

As with Judgment, the high points of the game are when Yagami gets to show off his detective skills. Almost all of the stuff from the last game, including clue investigations, tailing suspects, and questioning witnesses returns. However, the game really takes off when Yagami gets to the school, Seiryo High. This is where you'll find a lot of the side activities, including school-specific stories and clubs in which Yagami can partake. I'm not crazy about the fact that Yagami spends most of the early missions knocking the seven bells out of groups of school children; it feels like he's literally punching below his weight, no matter how gross the kids are.

But speaking of fights, the action gameplay is as good as it's always been. Yagami now has a third fighting style to go alongside the two he had in the last game, called Snake. I don't care how many times I do it, picking up a chair and going to town on the head of some fool who thought he could test me will never get old. It lacks Yakuza: Like a Dragon's fresh take on the series combat, but those who were missing the old-school Kazuma Kiryu face-smashing way of doing things will see this as a return to form.

Picking up a chair and going to town on the head of some fool who thought he could test me will never get old.

There are one or two gameplay features that are here that weren't in the last game. The one most worth mentioning is parkour. That's right, Yagami can now freeclimb up the sides of buildings while in pursuit of leads. It's not Assassin's Creed — don't expect to just scale any building in Yokohama at will — and it's limited to specific sections, but it does add a new wrinkle to the gameplay, especially when Yagami has to use it to pursue suspects.

Also, the voice acting in both the English and Japanese voice tracks is excellent. Both actors who play Yagami manage to sell him as a noir-ish detective who nevertheless isn't afraid to expose his humorous side. While he lacks Kazuma Kiryu's stony immunity to nonsense, he's still an appealing foil to the game's crazier elements. Also, while it's not as spectacular as some of the other games available on the console, Lost Judgment is beautiful on Xbox Series X.

Lost Judgment: The not-as-great stuff

As good as Lost Judgment is, the story does at times rely a bit too heavily on coincidence, at least at the beginning. Yagami's investigation into the school and the murder of the teacher are initially two separate cases that converge because Yagami's old law firm happens to be representing the suspect, and the Yokohama-based detective agency staffed by Yagami's friends just happens to be the one called in to investigate Seiryo's bullying problem. I don't think Japan's that small.

Lost Judgment can at times seem a bit less wonderful than Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

The main Yakuza series having ended, the franchise has now split into two halves. If Yakuza: Like a Dragon is Yakuza's wacky, irreverent half, then Judgment is its more dour, serious half. And one of the few complaints I have is that it kind of suffers in comparison to Like a Dragon, for example. One of the upsides of Ichiban's crazy adventure is that it has a lot of passion and heart, and Lost Judgment can at times seem a bit less wonderful than its counterpart. This comparison is exacerbated by the fact that this game moves Yagami from Kamurocho, the series' traditional setting, to Ijincho, Yokohama, the same setting in Like a Dragon.

The differences are especially apparent in their protagonists, as Yagami's world-weary, almost too-cool-for-school (literally) attitude is a far cry from Ichiban's earnestness. This means that when the game does indulge in its crazier Yakuza impulses, they feel a little dissonant. For example, when Yagami first arrives at the school, a student accuses him of being a creeper. Her plan for making him prove he isn't is to drag him to the school's female dance troupe and make him dance with them. It leads to a decent rhythm game, Lost Judgment's substitute for Yakuza's customary karaoke minigame, but still, her plan to make this stranger prove he's not creeping on high school students is to make him dance with a bunch of teenage girls? We get what the developers were trying to do, but the effort doesn't always land.

Lost Judgment: Should you play it?

4 out of 5

Lost Judgment is about as typical of the Yakuza series as you're going to get: serious story, silly side content, fun fighting action, and very good character performances. Yagami feels a bit more like a detective this time, and the mystery in which he finds himself embroiled is tense and interesting. The few extras added to the gameplay don't change the game in any fundamental way, but they are fun anyway.

Again, I want to stress that, if you're at all uncomfortable with the topics of suicide, self-harm, sexual abuse, and bullying, then you should not be playing this game. They delve into these topics very frankly and very early in the game, and it could be upsetting if you're not prepared for it. It also just doesn't live up to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which was one of the best games of 2020, so if you're expecting it to, you might be disappointed. However, if you're looking for a good mystery with some parkour for good measure, Lost Judgment might be the way to go.

Lost Judgment

Bottom line: Lost Judgment is an improvement on its predecessor, giving protagonist Yagami a thrilling new mystery to solve and keeping the combat and gameplay as fun as ever.

$60 at Microsoft $60 at Amazon $60 at Best Buy

Keep gaming with the HyperX CloudX Flight headset on sale for $120

The HyperX CloudX Flight headset was introduced in late 2019, but right now you can find it going for a low price of just $119.99 at Best Buy. The headset normally sells for around $160. It's currently on sale at Amazon, but even there it's still $130. Best Buy has the best price around at the moment, but since this deal is part of the deals of the day it won't last long.

HyperX CloudX Flight headset | $40 off

This headset is officially licensed for Xbox consoles. It has a long-lasting battery that works for up to 30 hours, a built-in headset chat mixer, 50mm drivers for fantastic and immersive audio, and more.

$119.99 at Best Buy

This is a wireless headset. That means you don't need a 3.5mm audio jack or anything like it. You just need a 2.4GHz connection. That makes it really easy to game with because you won't have that drooping cord getting in your way, which can be obnoxious if you tend to move around a lot while screaming at the TV screen.

The CloudX Flight is an officially licensed Xbox headset, too, so it will work well with your Xbox gaming console, including the older Xbox One and the newer generation Xbox Series X. It also works with other programs. It's certified to work with TeamSpeak, Discord, Skype, and more. Keep up with your friends while tracking the footsteps of your enemies.

Despite the wireless connectivity, you won't have to worry much about this headset failing on you. It has a long-lasting battery life that can go for up to 30 hours. That's plenty of time for any given gaming session, and you'll be able to recharge it in between play sessions.

Other features include 50mm drivers for powerful and immersive audio, a built-in headset chat mixer, and a detachable microphone with an LED mute indicator.

Corsair HS80 PC headset review: A decent $150 option that won't disappoint

Corsair's mid-range PC headset delivers a great experience for the price.

Wireless headsets are in abundance these days, as the technology around audio quality overair improves. Corsair has a few great options on the table, including the impressive Corsair HS75 XB for Xbox. Where Corsair generally excels is value for money, in my view, with the build quality and sound reproduction that edges out the competition at the same price point.

Recently, I got my hands on the Corsair HS80 for PC, which is a wireless headset that comes with Dolby Atmos baked in. This headset is also compatible with PlayStation 4 and 5, making it quite a versatile option for multi-platform gamers.

Does the HS80 continue Corsair's trend and make the grade? Let's go ears-on and take a listen.

Corsair HS80

Bottom line: The Corsair HS80 is a lightweight and comfortable headset option for those who want a headset that feels sturdy across heavy use. The soundscape isn't the most versatile out there, but it offers great clarity and separation ideal for tactical play.

The Good

  • Solid build quality with high-grade materials
  • Comfortable floating headband design
  • High-quality software
  • Rock-solid wireless signal
  • Dolby Atmos license built-in
  • Great microphone

The Bad

  • Fabric is warm and unpleasant on the ears
  • Treble is a bit overbearing
  • Pointless RGB logo

$150 at Amazon

Corsair HS80: Price and availability

The Corsair HS80 costs $150, and comes with a USB-C charging cable, USB 3.0 wireless dongle, and the main headset unit. The headset is generally available at all major retailers and seems to have decent stock allocation. It was up on Amazon and other sites at the time of writing.

Corsair HS80: What's good

I've become a fan of Corsair in recent years, owing to their subtle design tendencies and emphasis on value for money. Many other gaming accessory manufacturers seem to gun for over-the-top designs with bright colors and loud angular toy-like visuals, but Corsair offers something far more mature, continuing the trend with the HS80.

Category Corsair HS80
Freq. response 20hz to 40kHz
Speakers 50mm neodymium
Battery life 20 hours
Compatibility PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Connectivity USB wireless, USB wired
Features Flip-to-mute mic, sidetone mic monitoring
Price $150

The HS80 is a very attractive headset design, marrying high-quality plastics and metal parts with multi-tone grays and steel accents. The headset itself isn't adjustable, but it comes with a high-quality Velcro floating headband strap that can be tightened or loosened, adjusting the height for your ears. As someone with an annoyingly large head, this design is always welcome. I was able to tailor the headset quickly and easily to my liking, and found it to be comfortable on the head even across lengthy sessions.

The Corsair HS80 is a wireless headset that comes with a powerful USB dongle, across a 20Hz to 40kHz frequency response. The soundscape is broad with good separation, giving you a heightened awareness of minute-to-minute sound details entering the stage. The out-of-the-box sound seems tuned towards tactical play, which gives it a bit of a crunchy profile, emphasizing footsteps and reload sounds and things of that nature. It's no slouch for warmer tones or bass, though, especially if you're willing to spend time tweaking it with the powerful iCUE software.

The headset itself has all the necessary controls baked on, and they come with good action. Many headsets fall at this detail, so it's welcome to see Corsair offer high-quality dials and buttons here. The headset also has a clear voice assistant on board, giving you feedback when you flip-to-mute, or change settings on the fly. The mic also has good sidetone support so you can hear yourself speak, just make sure you've set the dongle to the correct platform beforehand. It will work on "PlayStation" mode on PC, but you'll lose some volume if you don't set it properly, and the headset doesn't inform you if you're in the correct mode. It's minor, but just something to be aware of.

Overall, the HS80 is a great headset that ticks all the right boxes.

Another impressive feat of the HS80 is the microphone. On Corsair's website, they describe it as "broadcast-grade," and I often roll my eyes when I see a headset manufacturer claim as such. Microphones on headsets are almost never near even the cheapest condenser mics for quality and aren't really something you'd use for making content generally speaking. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the HS80 mic. It's very clear, and very crisp, giving listeners on the other end a positive experience. It's not quite something you'd use for making podcasts and the like, but it's certainly among the better options in this price bracket.

Overall, the HS80 is a great headset that ticks all the right boxes. It's comfortable and lightweight, with impressive 20-hour battery life on a single charge. The on-ear controls work well, and the maximum volume and sound clarity are satisfactory for its price tier. There are a couple of things I wish were a bit different about it, though.

Corsair HS80: What's not so good

There's nothing majorly wrong with the HS80, so I have a collection of nitpicks here and there. This is a headset that errs on the tactical sound side, giving it a bit of a treble-heavy accentuation with highs that come through a little too crisp at times, to the point of sounding a bit unrealistic.

You can tweak the soundscape with the equalizer in the app, but the default profiles offered are a bit lackluster. The default bass boost for example swept all of the detail out of the sound stage, while also reducing the volume. I was able to eventually get the sound reproduction to a place I liked both for games and a separate profile for music, but it felt like an uphill struggle. Music, in particular, didn't sound super great on this headset. While it's by no means terrible, for users who want a versatile sound stage, this might not be the best option.

I'm also not a fan of the wooly fabric-style earcups some manufacturers use. It's an unnecessarily warm material when compared to synthetic leather. Maybe it's a costing thing, I'm unsure, but in the tail end of the summer months I found it to be a bit on the warm side. As we enter autumn and winter it'll be less of an annoyance, but it's worth being aware of.

Finally, I wish manufacturers would stop putting RGB on their headsets. What's the point? You can't see it yourself, and all it does is decrease the battery life, even if it's slight. Thankfully, you can turn it off.

Corsair HS80: Competition

The Corsair HS80 competes with various wireless PC headsets in this $150 price range, including the likes of the LucidSound LS35X, the SteelSeries 7X, and the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless. I think the Corsair HS80 offers good value for money and is at least comparable with most other similarly priced headsets on the market, although it doesn't quite edge out the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro for overall quality and sound reproduction in my view, but the gap is very close. The BlackShark V2 retails for $10 more too, however, which may sway you in Corsair's direction. The Corsair option looks a little less "pro gamer," too, if you prefer the design.

Corsair HS80: Should you buy it?

The Corsair HS80 is a generally great headset with an impressive microphone, decent sound stage, with high-quality construction. The design is mature and subtle, with a comfortable feel for long sessions.

The HS80 audio won't blow you away by any means, and you may find yourself spending a fair amount of time tweaking the audio profile for different scenarios. The iCUE software makes that pretty easy to do, though, and it comes with a good array of features for customizing the headset's settings, RGB lights, and sidetone mic monitoring.

4 out of 5

Ultimately you could do far, far worse than this headset. I'm not sure it'll make the best PC gaming headset hall of fame, but it's certainly a great product that won't disappoint.

Corsair HS80

Bottom line: The Corsair HS80 isn't mind-blowing, but it delivers a great experience for its price, with good tactical sound, a great mic, and robust design sensibilities. This headset will not disappoint.

$150 at Amazon

Cool your PC and look cool doing it with Corsair's 3-fan kit down to $55

Ask yourself what your PC needs... more cooling or more RGB? The answer is, obviously, both! You can never have enough of either. Grab three 120mm RGB fans with this Corsair iCue SP120 cabinet fan kit on sale for $54.99 at Amazon. This deal is actually a price match of the same deal at Best Buy, and that sale is part of Best Buy's deals of the day, so you know it won't last forever. This fan kit was selling for as much as $80 in April and has been selling for around $72 since then at Amazon. We did see these fans drop this low once before back in August, but that was also a one-day deal. Here's your second chance if you missed it the first time.

Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Pro 120mm fan kit | $25 off

Combine Corsair's iCue software with eight individual RGB LED lines to create some awesome RGB lighting effects that can sync with other iCue devices like your keyboard or mouse. Plus get speeds up to 1,400 RPM for ultimate cooling.

$54.99 at Amazon

Building a PC in 2021 is not the easiest task, and there are definitely some hurdles. But if you're determined to continue, and you've got a great PC case, then you're going to need some great cooling. That's where Corsair's fans come in. Where can you fit a few more fans? The top? The front? There's got to be some room in there for a bit more whirling blades.

These fans can generate an airflow volume of 52 cubic feet per minute and spin at up to 1,400 rotations per minute. That ensures great airflow with a hydraulic bearing design that means the fans will stay durable for a long time, too. They aren't even that noisy since they generate 26 decibels at the most.

And then there's the lighting. Corsair's fans have eight individually addressable RGB LEDs that line the fan hubs, and you can connect the compact lighting node core easily via USB 2.0 or SATA, which helps reduce cable clutter. Once connected, the lights can be controlled via Corsair's iCue software. Completely personalize the RGB lights, creating patterns and effects or even syncing the fan lights with lights on other Corsair products that work with iCue.

Microsoft Garage app Journal improves lasso feature and ink-to-text

Journal is an ink-centric notetaking application, and it just received a long list of features and improvements.

What you need to know

  • The Journal app from Microsoft Garage recently received several new features.
  • A recent update improves the instant lasso feature and ink-to-text recognition.
  • Journal is an ink-first app built for taking notes.

Journal, a Microsoft Garage project, received an update with several new features this week. The update improves the instant lasso feature and ink-to-text recognition. It also adds support for importing password-protected PDFs and writing in different languages. Journal now has a music staff page style as well. The team behind the Journal app shows off the app's new features in a blog post.

Here's everything that's new for Journal:

  • New music staff page style
  • Improved instant lasso
  • Ability to save pen states from the Pen Settings menu
  • Ability to multi-select by holding the pen side button or Ctrl key while tapping
  • Support writing in different languages (change in the Page Menu or Settings)
  • Support for importing a copy of a password-protected PDF
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

The lasso tool has been improved to identify the difference between circling an item to draw something and circling an item to select it. For example, if you're writing a bulleted list and circle each number, the app shouldn't select them. If you slow down your stroke, the app will realize that you're trying to select an item.

You can also multi-select content within the Journal app following its recent update. If you hold CTRL and tap an item, you can select multiple pieces from your notes.

The Journal team highlights that the app now uses Microsoft's latest ink-to-text technology. This should improve the accuracy of converting written notes into text.

In addition to its new features, the app includes some bug fixes:

  • Improved handling of opening and saving journals, especially on network drives
  • Headers and stars are detected more accurately
  • Improved performance of ink

You can grab the latest update for Journal through the Microsoft Store.

Journal, a Microsoft Garage project

Free at Microsoft Store

Journal is an ink-first app built for taking notes. Its latest update improves ink-to-text conversion and adds several new features.

Microsoft expands range of Surface spare parts for commercial customers

It's about to get a bit easier to repair Surface devices in the workplace.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is making more spare parts available for Surface devices starting on October 15, 2021.
  • Commercial customers will be able to order a replacement kickstand, SSD door, and other parts.
  • The availability of parts varies from device to device.

Microsoft will expand its offering of spare parts for Surface devices to make it easier for IT technicians to repair PCs. Starting on October 15, 2021, commercial customers will be able to order a wider range of spare parts from Microsoft, including a kickstand and an SSD door. Organizations will be able to order spare parts through [authorized Surface device resellers](/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.com%2Fdeeplink%3Fid%3DkXQk6%252AivFEQ%26mid%3D24542%26u1%3DUUwpUdUnU87673YYr%26murl%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.microsoft.com%252Fen-gb%252Fsurface%252Fbusiness%252Fwhere-to-buy-microsoft-surface&token=ThYBByQ4

"We have a longstanding commitment to maximize product life, minimize waste, use more renewable resources, and improve the modularity, reparability, and recyclability of our devices—including our packaging," says Microsoft in a Tech Community post. "We are also working with our industry partners to make available more repair options that ensure the quality of repairs, safeguard consumer's privacy and security, and help protect consumers from injury."

The specific components available vary between devices.

Component Description Surface Laptop 4 Surface Laptop 3 Surface Pro 7+ Surface Pro 7 Surface Pro X SQ2 Surface Pro X SQ1
SSD Door Provides access to removable solid state drive (rSSD)
Kickstand Hinged stand for 2-1 devices
AB-Cover Display assembly
C-Cover Keyboard, Trackpad, and Frame assembly

Microsoft's Surface devices have a history of being difficult to repair. The Surface Pro 7 earned a 1/10 repairability score from iFixit. That's slightly better than the original Surface Laptop, which earned a 0. In its verdict, iFixit said, "The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It's a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can't be opened without destroying it."

Microsoft appears to have listened to complaints regarding Surface repairability. The Surface Laptop 3 earned a 5/10 score from iFixit. While that's relatively low, it's significantly better than previous Surface Laptops. The expansion of spare part availability should also make devices easier to fix.

Microsoft notes that previously released spare parts, including SSDs for the Surface Pro 7+, are only available in the United States. The company also recommends that skilled IT technicians perform any repairs.

How to set up secure HTTPS on Synology NAS

Most websites these days use HTTPS and certificates to ensure a secured connection, but the same cannot be said for NAS owners. Since these servers can be accessed through a browser and from anywhere in the world with external access allowed, it's important to consider enabling HTTPS, even on the best NAS for home. This guide will show you how.

How to set up HTTPS on Synology NAS

It's possible to use a service like Let's Encrypt for certification, but you can work with a self-signed option for DSM 7.0, which is more configurable for different scenarios and doesn't rely on an external service that requires frequent renewal. We're going to keep things simple here and use Let's Encrypt.

  1. Log into your Synology NAS.
  2. Go to Control Panel > External Access > DDNS.
  3. Click Add.

  4. Select Synology from the "Service Provider" drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a desired server name into the "Hostname" field. (This can be used to access the NAS, for example: mynas.synology.me.)
  6. Ensure "Enable Heartbeat" is checked.
  7. Ensure "Get a certificate from Let's Encrypt" is checked.
  8. Click "Test Connection" to make sure it's all working.
  9. If everything works, click OK.

The newly added DDNS should be added to the list, and you should see the status set to "Normal". The certificate from Let's Encrypt should also be present at Control Panel > Security > Certificate. Visit your NAS using the hostname with port 5001 at the end (example: https://windowscentral.synology.me:5001).

Best value NAS

Synology DiskStation DS220+

The best affordable NAS for the home

$294 at Amazon

Synology got mostly everything right with the DiskStation DS220+. It has a really good processor, upgraded DDR4 RAM, two drive bays, and dual 1Gb LAN ports, but it's just a shame about the lack of 2.5Gb LAN or M.2 slots.

Samsung will start selling the 980 Pro SSD with a PS5-friendly heatsink

One of the top PCIe 4.0 SSDs around is showing some love for console gamers.

What you need to know

  • The Samsung 980 Pro is one of the best PCIe 4.0 SSDs you can put in a PC, but it's also now a focus for console owners.
  • Samsung has confirmed that its flagship SSD is compatible with the PS5.
  • Samsung plans to sell the 980 Pro with its own heatsink before the end of 2021.

The Samsung 980 Pro is one of the best SSDs that money can buy, and PC builders have been able to give their machines beast mode performance with this drive for about a year now. But PCIe 4.0 SSDs are no longer just the fancy of PC builders, ever since Sony turned on its long-awaited storage expansion feature.

Sony has a set of strict but not actually that strict guidelines on what SSDs can be used with the PS5, and now the feature is available to all Samsung has confirmed that the 980 Pro meets all of them. So, PS5 owners can buy a 980 Pro, slap it in, and get some god-tier performance backed by Samsung's well-known reliability.

One thing the Samsung 980 Pro doesn't have, however, is a heatsink. I've been using one in a PC since day one and it can get warm. In a PC where it was mounted on the back of the motherboard, for example, temperatures could hit 60C under serious load. In a PC where it's on the front and the air is flowing over it, that comes down quite a lot. Of course, the PS5 doesn't have the freedom of pushing huge lumps of cooling air over the SSD, so a heatsink might be a worthwhile addition.

Samsung has confirmed that with a third-party heatsink the 980 Pro still meets all Sony's guidelines, but it isn't stopping there. Later this year, Samsung hopes to begin shipping the 980 Pro with a heatsink included, which honestly benefits PS5 and PC buyers. No worries about it being able to fit in the PS5 drive bay, and fewer concerns for PC builders. Win-win.

Samsung 980 Pro

The 980 Pro from Samsung is simply ridiculous. It offers data transfer speeds of up to 6,900 MB/s, so long as you have a PCIe 4.0 compatible motherboard and processor.

From $140 at Amazon

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