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À partir d’avant-hierWindows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

The official Windows 11 media creation tool, ISOs, and more are here

Get the files and get going.

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 is now generally available.
  • Microsoft has provided three distinct ways to grab Windows 11 media and apply an upgrade yourself.
  • These options are the media creation tool, ISOs, and the Windows 11 Installation Assistant.

The big day is finally upon us: Windows 11 is generally available, meaning interested parties can hop online and get downloading the latest operating system from Microsoft so long as their system meets all OS requirements.

However, let's say you don't fall into the above camp and need another way to get Windows 11. Microsoft has readied options for your situation. Here are the three ways the company has provided for the creation and installation of Windows 11 media. Check out Microsoft's page on media installation and creation for download links to everything referenced in this post.

1. Windows 11 Installation Assistant

The Installation Assistant is a straightforward way to go, since — as its name would imply — it does all the heavy lifting for you. However, you'll need to meet Windows 11's system requirements for this option to be viable. There are also other situations where the assistant won't be of use. "If you need installation media to install Windows 11 on a different PC or an ARM64 device, see Create Windows 11 Installation Media," Microsoft says.

2. Media creation tool

Here's where you can take Windows 11 matters into your own hands. Download the media creation tool and you'll be able to stuff the OS onto a USB, external drive, or DVD with at least 8GB of space to take with you wherever. The only major requirement is that the PC you install the media on has a 64-bit CPU. So long as that's good, you're set.

3. Windows 11 disk image (ISO)

"This option is for users that want to create a bootable installation media (USB flash drive, DVD) or create a virtual machine (.ISO file) to install Windows 11," Microsoft says. "This download is a multi-edition ISO which uses your product key to unlock the correct edition." The ISO route is the same as the media creation tool method above in terms of system requirements; if your PC has a 64-bit CPU, you're clear to proceed.

You can find the download options, as well as detailed installation and creation how-to's, at the Microsoft link toward the top of this post.

Check out how the new Surface CPUs compare to older models

A whole new generation of Surface PCs just launched. How does performance compare?

Microsoft's Surface hardware events are always eagerly anticipated thanks to the promise of shiny new devices. This year was no exception, as we waited to see whether expectations of a Pro 8, Laptop Studio, Pro X, Go 3, and Duo 2 would be realized.

While Microsoft seems to always be on the ball with its design choices — save maybe port selection — the performance hardware side of things isn't always as easy to appreciate. The AMD-powered Surface Laptop 3 15 comes to mind, as do the Intel-powered Surface Studio 2 and Surface Go 2. These devices launched with aging processors, much to the chagrin of power users who wanted the absolute best performance in their brand-new device.

A whole new crop of Surface PCs is here, launching Oct. 5 to coincide with the worldwide rollout of Windows 11. While the Pro X hasn't seen a performance upgrade, the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Go 3 do have some new CPUs. And with the launch of the new Surface Laptop Studio, there are also some Intel H-series chips to take a look at. Let's see what we can expect from these CPUs, as well as how they might compare to a bunch of other popular laptops that we've already had in for testing.

Surface Pro 8 and 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake

The Surface Pro 8 can be equipped with four different processors, all from Intel's 11th Gen Tiger Lake series. PCIe 4, Thunderbolt 4, and Wi-Fi 6 support comes with these CPUs. Looking at the consumer side first — the Pro 8 also has commercial options for business — there are Core i5-1135G7 and Core i7-1185G7 quad-core chips available. These are both 10nm with a maximum 28W TDP, capable of hyper-threading for a total of eight threads.

The i5 tops out at around 4.2GHz with Turbo, while the i7 hits about 4.8GHz with Turbo. As for the cache, the i5 is looking at 8MB while the i7 has 12MB. Intel Iris Xe graphics are integrated into both chips, with the i7 version being a bit more powerful thanks to a slightly higher frequency and more execution units (96 compared to 80). You can expect better graphics performance compared to previous Iris Plus and UHD integrated chips, but I still wouldn't consider the Pro 8 a gaming PC. You can find a lot more power in our collection of the best gaming laptops.

We've already seen the i5-1135G7 in the Surface Pro 7 Plus where it achieved impressive numbers in both Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 benchmarking. And now that we've tested the Core i7-1185G7 in the Surface Pro 8, we can see where performance rests.

On the commercial side of the Pro 8 release, a Core i3-1115G4 and Core i5-1145G7 join the aforementioned Core i7-1185G7. Why the different i5 on the commercial side? It has Intel vPro capabilities, just like the i7-1185G7, to help with remote management. These appeal to IT departments, so it makes sense for Microsoft to offer them for enterprise buys. The i5-1145G7 has a slightly higher Turbo clock compared to its 1135G7 counterpart, but its cache, TDP, and graphics frequency remain the same.

The Core i3 is there to help keep costs down, or for anyone who doesn't need a whole lot of power. It's a dual-core chip with Intel UHD integrated graphics, so don't expect it to measure up too closely to the i5 and i7 siblings. We've tested the i3-1115G4 in the Acer Aspire 5, but haven't so far tested the i5-1145G7; I pulled average single-core and multi-core numbers from official Geekbench listings to give an idea of what to expect. As for Cinebench, i3 and i7 numbers are listed.

Take these numbers with a grain of salt. The Pro 8 is its own device, and averages pulled from a huge database are certainly skewed.

Classic 2-in-1

Surface Pro 8

From $1,100 at Microsoft From $1,100 at Amazon From $1,100 at Best Buy

Updated design, same 2-in-1 form factor

The Surface Pro 8 finally adopts the modern design that Microsoft first introduced with Surface Pro X, now with two USB-C ports that are Thunderbolt 4 enabled, an upgraded 13-inch display with a high-refresh rate of 120Hz, and support for the Surface Pro X style Type Covers with the Slim Pen charging cradle.

Surface Laptop Studio and 11th Gen Intel H-series CPUs

The Surface Laptop Studio is the latest device to join the lineup, bringing a snazzy 2-in-1 design with display hinge on top of a standard laptop body. It's packing 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs for a bit more power owing to its "Studio" designation. Entry-level configs have a Core i5-11300H, with the Core i7-11370H available as a step up. PCIe 4, Thunderbolt 4, and Wi-Fi 6 support come with these chips.

These two Tiger Lake CPUs have four cores, eight threads, a 10nm process, and a maximum 35W TDP. The i5's base clock speed hits up to 3.1GHz at that 35W TDP, while the i7 hits 3.3GHz when drawing the same power. As for Turbo, the i5 hits 4.4GHz while the i7 hits 4.8GHz.

Both chips feature integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, though the Laptop Studio provides dedicated graphics options as well for more power. Compared to the 11th Gen G7 CPUs in the Surface Pro 8, and compared to 10th Gen H-series counterparts, you should expect better performance here.

We tested the Surface Laptop Studio's Core i7-11370H CPU, putting it through multiple benchmarks to see exactly how it performs.

As for the Core i5-11300H option, we still haven't had a chance to test it in-house. Notebookcheck has average Geekbench 5 scores of 1,313 (single-core) and 4,403 (multi-core). Similarly, CPU-Monkey has Cinebench R23 average scores of 1,394 (single-core) and 5,349 (multi-core).

Bye-bye, Book

Surface Laptop Studio

From $1,600 at Microsoft

From $1,600 at Best Buy

From $1,600 at Amazon

The 2-in-1 gets weirder

Microsoft's new Surface Laptop Studio delivers an interesting take on the 2-in-1 form factor. Instead of being a tablet with a detachable keyboard, the display is no longer detachable and can instead be pulled forward and laid flat over the keyboard. It also has a new Precision Haptic touchpad, a 120Hz 14-inch display, and powerful Intel and NVIDIA chips.

Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro X

The Surface Go 3 saw mostly a performance upgrade. It's now available with either an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y or a 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y. This isn't a huge bump in power, and it's looking like the same issue of "barely enough" that we saw in the Surface Go 2 will be true once again.

While benchmarks and performance numbers are not plentiful for either of these chips — we will have our own set of numbers once we have a Go 3 in for testing — we can compare them to the older Go 2 CPUs.

The Surface Go 3's CPU choices don't look that impressive on paper.

The Pentium Gold 6500Y in the Go 3 is a dual-core chip with four threads, 5W TDP (up to 7W), and 1.1GHz base frequency. The Gold 4425Y in the Go 2 is also a dual-core chip with four threads, with a 6W TDP and 1.7GHz base frequency. The 6500Y does have a larger cache (4MB compared to 2MB) and a slightly higher max frequency for its integrated graphics. Performance is likely not going to be wildly different if you're coming from a Go 2 with the Pentium chip.

The 10th Gen i3-10100Y in the Go 3 has two cores, four threads, 5W TDP (up to 7W), 4MB cache, and a 1.3GHz base frequency. The 8th Gen m3-8100Y has two cores, four threads, 5W TDP (up to 8W), 4MB cache, and a 1.1GHz base frequency. Again, these chips are quite close on paper, and we will have to see how they perform in a real-world setting.

As for the Surface Pro X announced at the 2021 Surface Event, nothing is changing when it comes to performance hardware. There's now a version available without built-in LTE, which also lowers the starting cost of the device.

Both the Microsoft SQ1 and SQ1 ARM CPUs remain as available options for the Pro. If you're interested in how these chips compare, Executive Editor Daniel Rubino's in-depth Surface Pro X SQ2 review has all the information. And if you're looking for details about a bunch of other great laptops, our collection of the best Windows laptops likely has what you need.

Surface surprise

Surface Go 3

From $400 at Microsoft

From $400 at Amazon

From $400 at Best Buy

Three times the charm

If you want entry to the Surface family of devices for one of the lowest possible prices, the Surface Go 3 tablet is an option to consider. For now, it's a Wi-Fi device, though LTE options are on the way.

Don't miss these killer deals on Dell PCs

Looking for the best Dell deals that you can find for your purchase of a new laptop or PC? Let's take a look at some of the offers that are currently available. With so many products and possible configurations of those products, it can be hard to know if what you're looking at is a deal or not. Considering you can find Dell all over the internet and in every retailer, the search gets overwhelming really fast. We'll help eliminate some of the trouble with finding a good Dell deal using this guide.

XPS 13 Laptop | $200 off

The specifications include an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with up to 4.2GHz speeds, Intel Iris Xe graphics, a 256GB M.2 NVMe solid state drive, and 8GB RAM. It has a 13.3-inch 1080p display, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1. Comes with Windows 11 Home.

$734.99 at Dell

Best Dell PC Deals Available Now

PC retailers and manufacturers are always running sales and promotions on different products, but hunting down the best deals can be difficult. From the time spent searching for the deals, to trying to remember where you saw the best prices or who added the most value to the transaction, it can be a daunting process. Luckily, it doesn't have to be. This is your new one-stop-shop for all the best Dell deals from around the web.

Dell's deals change like the wind. Look out for Dell's semi-annual sale that includes huge discounts and coupon codes to save even more. Check the daily deals sections regularly for more than just laptop and desktop deals. Keep an eye out for Dell gift card deals, which are hard to track but can save you hundreds in the long run since you can spend those gift cards directly on the Dell store. The Dell website is a huge way to save for anyone looking to expand their at-home workstation.

Dell Laptop Deals

Laptops are extremely popular because they are portable and allow you to work, create documents, browse the web and more while on the go. Dell offers a variety of different laptops, from entry-level to high-end — and lots in the middle. The more you want to do with it, the more it'll cost you. Browsing Facebook is cheap, swinging a lightsaber in Star Wars: Battlefront II is expensive. Dell offers a number of great laptops, and we break down all of the best Dell laptop models.

Luckily, you don't have to pay full price for the laptop of your choice if you are willing to wait a little bit. There are a number of deals on Dell laptops around the web, so let's take a look at some of the best.

Dell Laptop Daily Deals | As low as $229.99

Bookmark the Dell daily deals page and check back regularly for all news ways to save until you find the configuration you're looking for. This is the place Dell puts all the latest discounts and ways to save.

See at Dell

Dell Coupon Codes | Save 10% right now

From Dell's semi-annual sale to holiday celebrations to just feeling generous, Dell regularly puts out new codes that give you a straight flat discount on whatever you're ordering. These usually work even if the item is already a part of the daily deals or refurbished. The actual codes change often so check back.

See at Dell

Dell Chromebook 3100 | Down to $319

The Chromebook uses an Intel Celeron N4020 2.8GHz processor, 4GB RAM, a 64GB flash hard drive, two USB-C ports, and two USB 3.1 ports. It has an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen display.

$319 at Dell

XPS 13 Laptop | $200 off

The specifications include an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with up to 4.2GHz speeds, Intel Iris Xe graphics, a 256GB M.2 NVMe solid state drive, and 8GB RAM. It has a 13.3-inch 1080p display, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1. Comes with Windows 11 Home.

$734.99 at Dell

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop | Starting at $1,368

The powerful 2-in-1 laptop comes with Windows 11 Home, an 11th-generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It has a 13.4-inch InfinityEdge display that is enabled for touch and folds around into a tablet form-factor. It's $123 off while supplies last.

$1,367.99 at Dell

Alienware Area 51M gaming laptop | $450 off

This powerful gaming laptop is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card, a 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, and Windows 11. It has a 17.3-inch display with a 300Hz refresh rate.

$2,349.98 at Amazon

Dell Desktop Deals

If you are looking for a computer to keep at home or in the office, you may have considered a desktop. With the ability to swap in different components, add a monitor and keyboard of your choice, and more, there are lots of advantages to desktops. Gamers like to build custom machines, but you can find some rather powerful rigs if you look around a bit.

Dell has a variety of desktops you won't need to pay full price to get. Here are some of the best Dell desktop deals.

Dell Desktop daily deals | Desktops and All-in-One PCs

This section of the Dell website changes daily with all new deals on all-in-ones and pre-built desktops. Keep an eye out for your favorite configurations and look for customization options until you find the perfect one for you.

See Dell Desktop deals

Dell Coupon Codes | Save $30-300

From Dell's semi-annual sale to holiday celebrations to just feeling generous, Dell regularly puts out new codes that give you a straight flat discount on whatever you're ordering. These usually work even if the item is already a part of the daily deals or refurbished. The actual codes change often so check back. Codes like LDDTLQ9 and LDDTLQ8 are available right now and can save you as much as $300.

See at Dell

Dell Inspiron 27-inch touchscreen all-in-one | $200 off

As an all-in-one desktop computer, this PC comes with a Dell keyboard and mouse in addition to the 27-inch 1080p touchscreen. It's powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, a 512GB solid state drive, and 16GB RAM. It also has Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, a built-in webcam, and a media card reader.

$1,149.99 at Best Buy

XPS Tower Special Edition

The specifications include an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 4.9GHz processor, 32GB DDR4 RAM, a 1TB M.2 NVMe solid state drive, and even a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card.

Starting at $659 at Dell

XPS Tower Special Edition white | $200 off

This desktop is highly customizable, but the basic configuration includes an 11th-Gen Intel Core i9 processor, an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card, 32GB RAM, a 2TB M.2 NVMe solid state drive, and a 1TB hard drive for extra storage. It even has an optical drive.

Starting at $2,208.01 at Dell

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Save more with refurbished Dell machines

Looking for the best deal available? If so, refurbished machines may help you get a higher-end device at a lower price. Refurbished models come from returns from customers, units that had a defect that were repaired, and a variety of other reasons. Dell has an outlet shop that contains all of its refurbished units. The discounts vary by model, but you can find laptops, desktops, monitors and more there.

Refurbished laptops, desktops, and more | Various Prices

The Dell outlet stock is constantly shifting. You'll want to continuously check back for all new deals on all sorts of Dell machines. Get the latest laptops and desktops in like-new condition and save a ton of money. Dell also regularly has additional codes and discounts on top fo the already refurbished pricing, so keep an eye out.

Shop Dell Outlet deals

Dell Deals Price Tracking

Dell daily deals change every day. Dell constantly introduces new coupon codes, which also change all the time even when they offer many of the same ways to save. Dell also has a huge presence at online retailers like Best Buy, Target, and more. You should also keep an eye out for Dell's website sales, including some big ones that only happen during major holidays. Since Dell has its fingers in so many cookie jars, it can be really hard to check where all the savings are, but we've got you covered here.

If you find the product you want, don't be afraid to do a search for it. Or even reach out to our Thrifter team on Twitter because you might be able to find a lower price somewhere else on the exact same (or nearly the exact same) model.

Which is best for you?

There are a ton of options available at all different price points. Do you need something powerful or something cheap? Something lightweight or something that you have to leave at home? Everyone has different needs, but some laptops stand out above the others. Be sure to hit the list above to find out which laptop may work best for you. Desktops are a bit different because you can often easily upgrade the internals if you find something that you want to change.

Xbox 20th Anniversary controller preorder: Release date and where to buy

Microsoft marks 20 years of Xbox with another limited-time gamepad.

This November, Microsoft's Xbox gaming console surpasses two decades on the market, with various 20th-anniversary festivities marking the milestone. It includes the Xbox 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller, a remixed variant of its latest Xbox gamepad, drawing inspiration from its original Xbox console.

The special edition Xbox controller is Microsoft's first fully translucent design, rocking a crystalline black outer shell contrasting with its green accents. The vibrant front-facing LED pays homage to earlier Xbox branding, while rubberized grips see similarly bold styling on the rear. Here's what you need to know about the new special edition controller and how to get hands-on with this limited-time keepsake.

Xbox Wireless Controller – 20th Anniversary Special Edition (Preorder)

$70 at Amazon $70 at Microsoft $70 at Target

Marking two decades of Xbox.

Microsoft has remixed its latest Xbox controller marking the 20th anniversary of its original Xbox console from 2001. This special edition design is only available for a limited time, defined by its translucent shell and vibrant green accents.

Microsoft announced its Xbox 20th Anniversary controller on Oct. 7, launching preorders ahead of a scheduled November launch. Preorders for the device are now live via the Microsoft Store, Amazon, and various third-party retailers. We expect other retailers to launch preorders throughout the day in the U.S. and overseas.

Xbox 20th Anniversary controller release date

Microsoft is expected to release its Xbox 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller on Nov. 15, 2021. The date aligns precisely with the original Xbox console anniversary, a device that first debuted in the U.S. on Nov. 15, 2001.

The controller acts as just one part of a broader 20th anniversary campaign, including special variants of its Xbox Stereo Headset and Razer's Universal Quick Charging Stand. Microsoft has also teased additional collaborations to come, including an Xbox and Adidas sneaker release, reworking its Forum Tech silhouette later this year.

Xbox 20th Anniversary controller price

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller retails for $69.99 in the U.S. The product demands a slight premium over standard Xbox controllers, as customary with special edition designs. Unlike limited edition products, constrained to a strict number of units, these controllers will be available through a limited-time window.

The accessory is also available in other regions, starting at $80 in Canada, £60 in the UK, and €65 in Europe. Check with your local retailer for additional details on regional rollouts.

What's included with the Xbox 20th Anniversary Controller?

Microsoft has launched an extensive lineup of 20th anniversary-themed products slated for November, and its special edition controller poses a centerpiece for the collection. The celebration delivers a new spin on Microsoft's newest Xbox gamepad, the same one that ships alongside Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, sporting an exclusive design.

The opaque all-black shell defines the Xbox 20th Anniversary controller, a homage to the translucent console designs popularized through the turn of the century. It's the first Xbox Series X|S controller with a fully translucent design, intending to provide a window into the silver internals. The top Xbox button is now also green, while the rubberized grips boast an identical vibrant hue.

This controller also benefits from Microsoft's recent controller revisions introduced with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in November 2020. The company introduced a dedicated Share button for video capture and screenshots while switching to a new directional pad design. A textured surface on LT and RT triggers comes standard, matching the new rubberized backing on rear controller grips.

These are the best laptops for editing video on the go

Laptops come in a whole manner of shapes and sizes, but for video editing and other intensive workloads, it's all about the internals. Working with high definition (1080p) or even 4K content with gigabytes worth of data to process and effects to add and sample, you need a beefy machine with the best processor and discrete graphics, which is why the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is one of the best Windows laptops for working with video.

Best overall: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

Razer's most capable laptop used to be the Blade Pro 17, but that title now goes to the impressive Blade 15 Studio Edition. This beastly portable workstation houses powerful NVIDIA GPUs, with the option to go all out with a Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. This is the sort of performance you'd expect on a serious video editing workstation desktop, but it's right here on a laptop.

There's also the choice of 9th or 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, calibrated 4K display, and up to a 1TB SSD. It's quite the specifications list. Oh, and I forgot RAM — which starts at just 16GB, but can be topped out at 64GB. And we're not just talking video editing here either. The Blade 15 Studio will make mince work of digital artwork and even engineering software.

The display is a 4K OLED panel, rocking full touch support, HDR, as well as 100% DCI-P3 rating. This makes it quite a compelling display for visual work where color accuracy is essential. What's more interesting is how Razer managed to cram all this into a thin notebook, coming in at just 0.70 inches thick and 4.88 pounds.

Just be wary of how pricey the Studio can get when you add the most expensive GPU option.

Pros:

  • Amazing performance
  • Powerful dedicated NVIDIA GPUs
  • Gorgeous 15-inch display
  • Sleek mercury design

Cons:

  • Really expensive
  • Subpar Battery life
  • No Intel Core i9

Best overall

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

From $1,800 at Razer

Incredible portable PC performance

The 15-inch Blade 15 Studio is a gorgeous-looking laptop with thin bezels, up to a powerful NVIDIA RTX 5000 GPU, a supped-up Intel 9th or 10th Gen CPU, all in a slim package.

Runner-up: Dell XPS 15 (9510)

The Dell XPS 15 has been a firm favorite of ours over recent years, along with its smaller sibling, the XPS 13. This latest iteration of Dell's 15-inch notebook can be kitted out with up to 11th Gen Intel i9-11900H CPU, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD, plus there's the option to include an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM. In other words: it's almost perfect for video editing.

The design hasn't changed since the last few models, and that's not a bad thing as it still looks gorgeous and holds up well to what other manufacturers are rolling out. The only downside to the RTX 3050 Ti is the performance in games compared to gaming-focused Razer Blade laptops. However, this is still way more capable than integrated Intel graphics.

Pros:

  • Loads of configurations
  • Stunning display
  • Powerful internals
  • Gorgeous design
  • Windows Hello

Cons:

  • Slower in games
  • Can get pricey

Runner-up

Dell XPS 15 (9510)

From $1,274 at Dell

Dell's powerful 15-inch laptop now has 4K OLED

The latest Dell XPS 15 has a new option for a 4K OLED display and the latest Intel Core i9 processor inside, making it powerful for professional work.

Best portable: HP Spectre x360 13

Sometimes you don't need a massive 15-inch display for a laptop to get everything done. That's where the HP Spectre x360 13 is a solid choice. It's a premium convertible Ultrabook that offers some serious value when compared against studio-grade notebooks.

You've got all-day battery life, yet relatively reliable performance with the option of up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD. While it may be a smaller display, HP didn't cut any corners here and offers a 1080p option or a $200 4K AMOLED upgrade, the latter being well worth it for video editing.

For connectivity, there are two Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.1, 3.5mm audio jack, as well as a microSD card reader. All your media and files will be secured using a fingerprint reader and IR camera, both supporting Windows Hello. The keyboard is excellent, so too is the Microsoft Precision-powered touchpad.

The Spectre x360 13 is a beastly convertible Ultrabook with considerable performance packed inside a gorgeous portable chassis.

Pros:

  • Unique design
  • All-day battery life
  • Precision touchpad
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Optional 4K AMOLED display

Cons:

  • Not as powerful
  • No discrete graphics
  • A little pricey

Best portable

HP Spectre x360 13

From $930 at Amazon

Do anything and everything on the go

The Spectre x360 13 from HP is a gorgeous convertible laptop with some considerable performance available. It's not the fastest kid on the block, however.

Premium notebook: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Lenovo refreshed its ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop with some enticing new features. First up is the display, which includes a beautiful 4K OLED panel with HDR and touch support. That display also has X-Rite Pantone color calibration, making it perfect for creative work like video editing.

You can configure the Lenovo X1 Extreme with up to an 11th Generation Intel Core i9 processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (MaxQ with GB GDDR5), and a whopping 64GB of RAM. The keyboard is excellent, the laptop looks premium, and there are other handy features like Wi-Fi 6 compatibility along with Windows Hello infrared and ThinkShutter.

Pros:

  • Amazing keyboard
  • Gorgeous design
  • HDR support
  • Plenty of RAM
  • Dedicated NVIDIA GTX GPU

Cons:

  • Can get pricey

Premium notebook

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

From $1,640 at Lenovo

Ideal for both work and play

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme range may start at a higher price, but it's well worth the jump with better internals.

Best budget: ASUS VivoBook S15

If you want to save some money or happen just to be starting out, the more affordable ASUS VivoBook S is a great choice. It's not the most powerful laptop in our collection, nor will it win any awards for the plastic (yet sturdy) build, but it houses a very capable integrated AMD Radeon Vega GPU at an affordable price.

The laptop looks more expensive than it is. Inside is an AMD Ryzen 5000 processor with an AMD Vega 8 GPU, and 8GB of RAM. It'll be just good enough to play some games and should be able to handle some video editing as well. It's let down by the dim display, and rather slow solid-state drive (SSD) write speeds.

You may want to pass on this laptop if you need one that will last for longer than a few hours, but it's challenging to find a notebook with similar specs for a better price.

Pros:

  • Premium style
  • Solid build quality
  • Plenty of ports including USB-C
  • AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU

Cons:

  • Dim display
  • Battery life
  • Slow SSD

Best budget

ASUS VivoBook S15

$630 at Newegg

Budget-friendly video editing

This VivoBook S from ASUS is affordable but comes equipped with a reasonably powerful AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU and integrated graphics.

Best workflow: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

This interesting laptop from ASUS has it all. The ZenBook Pro Duo (wee reviewed the ASUS ZenBook Duo) rocks a gorgeous 4K display, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, dedicated NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU, and 1TB worth of speedy SSD storage. That all ticks many boxes for video editors looking for a new portable machine. There's even Wi-Fi 6.

We're not done with the specifications, however, since the Pro "Duo" has a trick up its hinge. Not only is there the fantastic 4K display, but also a smaller secondary panel located just above the keyboard and touchpad. This is where the magic truly comes to life with the ZenBook Pro Duo.

The ScreenPad Plus, as ASUS likes to call it, is essentially a secondary panel that stretches from one side of the laptop to the other. It's not the highest resolution display around, nor will it win any awards for brightness, but it does allow you to pin apps and other useful tools for quick and convenient access. Think of it as having multiple extended displays on a single laptop.

For ports, the ZenBook Pro Duo houses two USB-A 3.0, a single USB-C 3.1, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm jack for audio. Overall, the ZenBook Pro Duo is a unique, capable machine that's best suited to professionals who desire to improve their productivity.

Pros:

  • Intel Core i7-10870H CPU
  • NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU
  • Large 1TB SSD
  • Secondary display panel
  • Attractive price

Cons:

  • Small touchpad

Best workflow

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

From $2,565 at Best Buy

Dual-screen glory!

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is an excellent laptop with plenty of power for video editing. Still, ASUS decided to go the extra mile and throw in a second display that's useful.

Best value: HP ENVY 14

The HP ENVY 14 has a mammoth task as HP positioned it against the MacBook Pro from Apple, the same notebook countless professionals flock to for their daily productivity fix.

The new ENVY 15 comes rocking up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1165G7, making it a high performer in benchmarks and intensive applications. You can also kit it out with up to an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q with 4GB GDDR6 and 16GB of RAM. Throw in a great 16:10 1920x1200 panel for a bonus.

If you're on the fence for a more value-driven option, the ENVY 15 is one you should hold out for and the only drawback we found in our review is the lack of a 4K display option. This isn't ideal if you're planning to work with content at that resolution, but for value, you could do much worse than the ENVY 15.

Pros:

  • Strong performance
  • Color-accurate 16:10 display
  • Affordable starting price
  • Outstanding design
  • Excellent keyboard and audio
  • Very good battery life

Cons:

  • No 4K display option
  • Aggressive coil whine

Best value

HP ENVY 14

From $1,000 at HP

$1,200 at B&H

See at Best Buy

Stunning performance

The new HP ENVY 15 packs a punch thanks to killer internals and a gorgeous display, VESA-certified for DisplayHDR 400, 100 percent DCI-P3, and Delta E 2 color accuracy.

Bottom line

When you're looking for the best laptop to do some video editing on, you could do much worse than the excellent Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition, rocking plenty of power to get through even more demanding rendering workloads. The Dell XPS 15 is a worthy runner-up and can be configured to match what Razer offers in the Blade Pro.

Other laptops in our collection are worthy considerations for those who want to save a little money, need portability, or want a Surface device.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time, you can usually find him practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say, "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.

The best cheap gaming desk deals for 2021

I believe the two most underrated parts of the home computer setup are the desk and the chair. These two tools are essential to an argonomic setup. Having the right ones in place can save you from back pain, wrist pain, and plenty of other health-related ailments that can crop up when you do most of your work in the same position day in and day out. The right gaming desk can help with cable management, gives you room to expand your setup, and helps you keep all your extra peripherals organized.

Amazon Basics gaming computer desk | $33 off

This desk has space for your controllers, headphones, and speakers. The compartments can hold other things, too, like a drink cup or whatever. There's also a 5-slot game storage shelf, a basket under the desk, and a charging station for smartphones and tablets. The monitor stand can support screens up to 32 inches and 30 pounds.

$86.85 at Amazon

How big your desk is will depend on how big your computer setup is or, maybe more specifically, how big you want it to get. Buy a good desk now with some room for expansion and you won't have to buy another one for years. Find one that adjusts to you and you'll hardly notice it after a while. Don't underestimate the value of good leg room, either, especially if you're tall or have long legs! A good computer desk should have plenty of space for you to fit your PC case, which usually means some room to stretch.

Whether you need a huge corner desk with room for multiple computers and monitors or something small for your dorm room, we've got the best deals on the best gaming desks.

Best Gaming Desk Deals:

Desino 40-inch gaming desk | $20 off

You'll get a cup holder, headphone hook, monitor stand riser, and more with this desk. It has a unique carbon fiber texture and a warparound shape that's ergonomic. Much more stable than a normal desk thanks to its diagonal braces and struts.

$79.99 at Amazon

GalaxyHero 47-inch gaming desk | $30 off

The desk has a carbon fiber surface and an arc design. You get 47 inches of gaming surface, which is enough for a couple monitors, your keyboard, and an XL mouse pad. It even has LED lighting powered by USB that can surround the table top. Choose from seven colors and four dynamic modes to create a colorful atmosphere. Supports up to 260 pounds of gear.

$69.99 at Amazon

Amazon Basics gaming computer desk | $33 off

This desk has space for your controllers, headphones, and speakers. The compartments can hold other things, too, like a drink cup or whatever. There's also a 5-slot game storage shelf, a basket under the desk, and a charging station for smartphones and tablets. The monitor stand can support screens up to 32 inches and 30 pounds.

$86.85 at Amazon

GreenForest L-Shaped 64-inch desk | $20 off

Clip the on-page coupon to take off $10. This is a desk designed to save you space while giving you plenty to work with. It fits in the corner of the room, and it's reversible so you can rearrange the parts of the desk to fit your needs. It includes a movable shelf that could hold a laptop and a computer stand to keep your PC extra stable.

$139.99 at Amazon

Need 63-inch gaming and writing office desk | $35 off

Clip the on-page coupon to take $40 off. Has a huge desktop with ample space for your computer. Made with wood. Surface is water resistant and anti-scratch. Has a metal frame for support and is easily assembled. Legs are adjustable.

$124.99 at Amazon

Walker Edison Modern L-Shaped desk with tempered glass | $30 off

Made with powder-coated steel legs for sturdy support and a tempered glass top for a solid, sleek surface. The desk is big enough for a multi-monitor setup and has a 51-inch x 20-inch work surface. There's a pull out tray for accessing your keyboard and a CPU stand to keep your PC sturdy.

$130 at Amazon

Arozzi Arena Leggero compact gaming desk | $74 off

Includes a microfiber machine-washable mouse pad, three cut-outs for cable management and monitor attachment, and a cable management pouch underneath the desk. Has steel legs and an MDF surface.

$226.07 at Amazon

The latest snapshot for Minecraft features plenty of tweaks to world gen

A small changelog packed with changes.

What you need to know

  • Minecraft: Java Edition, the legacy PC version of Minecraft, is also busy testing 1.18 'Caves and Cliffs Update' Part Two features.
  • Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w40a is now rolling out with a host of changes for world generation, ore distribution, and mob spawning.
  • The snapshot doesn't feature the largest changelog or significant fixes, but is still a solid release for testers.
  • This release comes after Minecraft: Bedrock Edition scored its first proper 1.18 beta build.

A day after Minecraft: Bedrock Edition earned its first 1.18 beta release, Mojang Studios is dropping a bomb on Minecraft: Java Edition players with the arrival of Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w40a. The new build doesn't look that impressive after a casual glance at its relatively short changelog, but actually features pretty significant alterations to several key pillars of the next major Minecraft update.

1.18 Caves and Cliffs Update Part Two is going to feature major changes to world generation, ore distribution, and mobs when it arrives later this year, and the latest Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot touches on all of these. It's recommended that you back up any world before loading it on this snapshot, if only because world generation is still changing rapidly in these builds.

Minecraft: Java Edition is one of the best PC games around, and it only continues to get better as Mojang works on their next massive release. That doesn't mean Mojang isn't also working behind the scenes on other projects, as I recently discussed what other games Mojang could be working on. Either from the Caves and Cliffs Update or from a new game altogether, new inspiration for the new Minecraft toys and gifts is bound to come.

The full changelog for Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w40a includes:

Features and changes

  • World generation tweaks
  • Changes to mob spawning
  • Copper Ore now drops 2-5 (from 2-3) Raw Copper items
  • In the Stonecutter, a Block of Copper can be converted to four Cut Copper
  • A bunch of biome variants with similar features but different shapes have been merged into one since the shape is controlled independently now
  • Renamed some biomes

World generation

  • Updated ore distribution to make branch mining deep down more rewarding. Updated ore distribution chart
    • For example, added more unexposed diamonds
    • Iron ore now generates above 80, with more iron ore as you go higher
    • Extra gold generates below height -48
  • Non-cave biomes no longer change with height - so no more savannas in the sky and things like that
  • Tweaked the relative size of some biomes to match 1.17 a bit closer.
  • Increased the average size of most biomes (this also means biomes aren't in the same places as before)
  • Fixed some aquifer issues (a side effect of this is that aquifers are in different places now compared to last snapshot)
  • Slightly increased the frequency of underwater magma
  • Increased the amount of dungeons, especially below height 0
  • Gravel now generates below height 0
  • Villages are slightly more spread out
  • Removed water lake features, Aquifers provide local water levels

Mob spawns

  • Axolotls now only spawn in water, above clay blocks, in lush caves
  • Glowsquids now only spawn in water blocks, under height 30
  • Cod, Salmon, Pufferfish, Tropical Fish, Squid, and Dolphins now only spawn in water from height 50 to height 64
  • Tropical Fish now also spawn in lush caves at any height
  • Zombies once again spawn in dripstone caves – drowned can also spawn there however
  • Goats no longer spawn in stony peaks

Technical changes

  • Optimized AI for Axolotls, Goats, Hoglins, Zoglins, Piglins, Piglin Brutes and Villagers
  • Bedrock layers generate dependent on the world seed now

Fixed bugs

  • Large amounts of axolotls cause performance issues
  • Large amounts of goats causes performance issues
  • Banners without patterns do not render properly
  • Command blocks do not display command in their UI
  • No relief on treasure map or explorer maps
  • Opening world from 1.12.2 (or older) in latest snapshot regenerates random chunks
  • Sweet Berries generate much too often
  • Cave vines can generate without tip because prioritize_tip option is negated
  • Cave vines can generate into water
  • Entities bob their head up and down when targeting towards the player
  • Blue Orchid generation has decreased
  • version.json contains internal revision ID instead of game version ID

Are people tired of Call of Duty?

Perceived exhaustion isn't a simple thing.

Call of Duty is one of the most certain, iron-clad guarantees in the entire gaming industry. Every single year, there'll be a new entry in the blockbuster first-person shooter franchise, a game that's usually led by one particular studio but is in reality the result of collaboration among over 1,000 developers across numerous teams. Every single year, Call of Duty is one of the best-selling games that year, despite launching fairly late in the calendar. If there isn't a new title from Rockstar Games, then Call of Duty will be the best-selling game that year.

Every single year, people complain loudly on social media that they're tired of Call of Duty. So, are they really? The answer is honestly quite complicated and in order to truly understand why some people feel exhausted with Call of Duty, it's important to understand the events leading to the current situation. Let's dive into a quick history of the entire franchise and at what point the problems started adding up.

From small beginnings to a successful franchise

The story begins in 2003 with the first Call of Duty. It's a World War II shooter developed by Infinity Ward, a studio acquired by publisher Activision after the game's launch is a success. In preparation for the launch of the Xbox 360, Infinity Ward grows significantly (from around 25 staff members to well over 100) and launches Call of Duty 2 in 2005. Notably, there's no new game in 2004: a lone skipped year that has not happened since.

Call of Duty 2 is another hit, selling over 1.4 million copies and prompting Infinity Ward to start work on the 2007 entry, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Eager to see these successes not skip another year, Activision brings in one of its internal studios, Treyarch, to develop Call of Duty 3 in time for a 2006 launch. Treyarch previously worked on the 2005 spinoff Call of Duty 2: Big Red One but now, the team is a mainline developer for the franchise.

The two-year cycle begins and continues quite successfully for a time, with Modern Warfare selling over 7 million copies in 2007 alone. Treyarch delivers Call of Duty: World at War in 2008, a game that sells over 3 million copies in its first two months. World at War also packs in Zombies: a mode that started as something of a hidden extra but would soon become an increasingly pivotal mode in the franchise.

Momentum is now on Call of Duty's side, and every game is bigger than the last. 2009's Modern Warfare 2 from Infinity Ward sells 20 million copies in its first year, a record that doesn't even last a year, as Treyarch's Black Ops in 2010 goes on to sell 25 million copies in its first year. Unlike the games developed by Infinity Ward, which opt to include a campaign, multiplayer and "Special Forces" co-op missions, Black Ops eschews Special Forces in favor of Zombies.

A tacked-on extra no longer, this is a fully fleshed-out game mode with a community dedicated to the intricate, complicated easter eggs with Zombies' narrative. Call of Duty is now undeniably a pillar of the gaming industry, but there's trouble brewing.

A three-team juggernaut

Years of brewing tension between Activision and Infinity Ward leadership Jason West and Vince Zampella reach critical mass in 2010. West and Zampella are fired from the company for insubordination. The two found Respawn Entertainment, attracting dozens of Infinity Ward developers, leaving the studio short-staffed as development was supposed to ramp on the 2011 entry in the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Enter Sledgehammer Games.

Founded in 2009 by Dead Space veterans Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, Sledgehammer Games was originally acquired by Activision with the understanding that the team would work on a third-person action-adventure spin-off for Call of Duty. With the yearly cycle in jeopardy, Sledgehammer seems to have made an agreement: In exchange for co-developing Modern Warfare 3 so it could launch on time, the team would get to lead its own Call of Duty games in the future.

Whatever happened behind closed doors, the bet paid off, with Sledgehammer and a rebuilding Infinity Ward sharing technology and ideas moving forward, while Modern Warfare 3 went on to sell over 26.5 million copies. Treyarch's Black Ops 2 in 2012 would sell over 24 million copies, not quite reaching the heights of Modern Warfare 3 but providing yearly staying power all the same.

The next few years pass without any real notable issues, as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and Black Ops 3 launch in 2013, 2014, and 2015, led by Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer and Treyarch respectively. Call of Duty is now officially on a three-developer cycle, with each team getting three years to prepare, build, and launch its entry. Critical praise dwindles however, with Call of Duty: Ghosts criticized for a lack of new ideas. While the campaign for Black Ops 3 is also criticized, it's easily the best-selling game of the three, further propelling the Black Ops name for the Call of Duty brand.

Better sales than ever, but internal breakdown

Call of Duty is a victim of its own success in 2016, when Infinity Ward's Infinite Warfare underperforms compared to past titles, while still being the best-selling game of November in the U.S, per NPD. 2017's World War II is developed by Sledgehammer Games, the first return to the setting since World at War in 2008. This is where the problems start to pile up.

In a move widely criticized pre-launch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn't feature a campaign, instead opting for a Battle Royale called Blackout for its third mode. Per reports from Kotaku, the game was originally planned to feature a campaign, which was scrapped in the final year of development after negative internal testing, with the team pulling together a Battle Royale mode after seeing the popularity of the mode in games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and especially Fortnite.

2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot from Infinity Ward saw widespread praise, generating over $1 billion in revenue in under three months. In tandem with support studio Raven Software, Infinity Ward then went on to develop Call of Duty: Warzone, a free-to-play Battle Royale that launched in early 2020.

Meanwhile, 2020's mainline entry dealt with significant problems. Per a report from Kotaku, the game was initially planned as a joint effort between Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software, the latter of which had always been a support team (more on that below). The two companies reportedly butted heads, to the point that the game was softly rebooted, with Treyarch stepping in as co-developer to handle the multiplayer and Zombies, while Raven led the campaign.

The pandemic introduces additional challenges, with work-from-home becoming the standard across gaming studios everywhere. As a result, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is back on track but the combination of this mix-up and the need for regular new updates in Warzone means that the three-year cycle has effectively been thrown off track.

2020 means no turning back

It would be difficult enough if the issues stopped there, but they don't, because another problem has been building this whole time for the past several years. The bigger and more expensive a game is to make, the more developers are generally needed. Bringing in support studios, internal or external, is a common practice. As Call of Duty games have grown, more and more of Activision's internal teams have been taken off of other franchises to support the yearly behemoth, as well as updates for Warzone.

At a rate of one Call of Duty game per year with the addition of Warzone, Activision finds itself exhausting every option for internal support at an alarming rate, continuing to prop up Call of Duty at the expense of every other IP in its portfolio.

High Moon Studios, developer of licensed Transformers games, is moved to support on Warzone and other Call of Duty games. Remaster expert team Vicarious Visions is moved into Blizzard Entertainment. The team is now separated from Activision projects, instead aiding the work on Diablo 2: Resurrected. Toys for Bob, developer of the Skylanders games, as well as the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, is also moved into support, working on Warzone and Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The result: Activision is now a publisher dedicated to a single franchise. Every internal team left is on Call of Duty. Every single card that can be played to keep the juggernaut going has been played.

What happens next?

The end result of all this is that, more so than ever before, Call of Duty simply isn't allowed to breathe in the same vein as other franchises. There isn't room for innovation if there isn't a clear three-year cycle, and it's not clear when or if that three-year cycle will ever return.

Infinity Ward is the only Activision studio not working on Call of Duty: Vanguard and is widely reported to be working on Modern Warfare 2 for 2022. If so, Infinity Ward's had a full three years to work on this game, but not other studio has, throwing whatever game is scheduled for 2023 (and beyond) into question.

While a Call of Duty game used to be a yearly event, it's now that and more. A more casual player who used to get their enjoyment from a new Call of Duty's multiplayer every year can now simply enjoy Warzone, with changes and updates added on a regular basis.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is currently set to launch on Nov. 5, 2021. In our preview of Call of Duty: Vanguard's multiplayer, we found it to be a mixed bag, with the multiplayer introducing a couple of new ideas but for the most part relying on the tried and true formula.

Compounding this, Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit alleging the company has allowed a systemic sexist workplace environment to develop. While not directly affecting the development of any games, a lot of players who are potentially iffy on picking up a new Call of Duty may be keeping this news in mind. This is especially true in a year with two other major shooters launching: Xbox Game Studios' Halo Infinite and Electronic Arts' Battlefield 2042.

With all of that said: Are people tired of Call of Duty? Yes, many are. But many aren't, and will continue to buy it, especially if they're interested in the singleplayer campaign being offered. It's beyond extremely unlikely that Call of Duty: Vanguard won't sell well, but even fans interested in this year's outing should bear in mind the things facing the franchise moving forward.

Generally speaking, I like Call of Duty games. I enjoy the casual, laid-back multiplayer environment and the straightforward nature of the campaigns. Part of enjoying Call of Duty games is wanting the franchise to continue in a healthy fashion. The people who make Call of Duty are passionate about what they do. I hope Activision gives the teams not only the resources but, moving forward, the time needed to continue making these games.

Get set

Call of Duty: Vanguard — Cross-Gen Bundle

$70 at Microsoft $70 at Amazon $70 at Best Buy

The easy choice

If you intend to play on Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, this is the version of the game to grab. You'll want it to look and run as good as possible, which does mean it'll be a bit more expensive.

Best Raspberry Pi deals for 2021: starter kits, cases, and more!

So if you don't know, the Raspberry Pi is a sort of do-it-yourself mini computer. You start with the Raspberry Pi motherboard and add other things to it, including cases, and RAM, and microSD cards for storage. Most of the time, you get a starter kit that includes a lot of that stuff. But the joy of building it is that you can do pretty much anything you want. Most notably, these systems are used as retro gaming machines similar to the NES Classic or PlayStation Classic machines that were so popular a couple years ago. Of course, if you really want to get creative you can use them to do a whole lot of stuff, including robotics or teaching computer science or any number of other things. The only limit is your... imagination!

We know the Raspberry Pi 4 can even run Windows 11, and you could build yourself a Windows 11 computer right here with one of these great kits on sale.

Best Raspberry Pi Deals Available Now

SunFounder Raspberry Pi starter kit | $4 off

Work with four programming languages: Python, C, Java, and Scratch. Includes detailed online tutorials for beginners, 65 projects with detailed diagrams and tested code, and over 220 items with 26 main modules.

$39.99 at Amazon

There are several generations of the Raspberry Pi. The most recent version is the Raspberry Pi Pico, but the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B released in 2019 continues to be the most popular. It has the widest variety of cases and starter kits available (and, subsequently, the best deals). Each model can serve a purpose, though, so you'll want to see what features they have and what works best for you. Whatever deals we find will be listed here.

Best Raspberry Pi deals:

SunFounder Raspberry Pi starter kit | $4 off

Work with four programming languages: Python, C, Java, and Scratch. Includes detailed online tutorials for beginners, 65 projects with detailed diagrams and tested code, and over 220 items with 26 main modules.

$39.99 at Amazon

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit | $10 off

The kit comes with a 128GB Samsung Evo+ microSD card pre-loaded with NOOBS. There's a USB microSD card reader you can use as well. The kit includes an integrated fan mount, a low-noise bearing system fan, and more.

$149.99 at Amazon

Best Raspberry Pi case deals:

GeeekPi Nes4Pi retro gaming case | $3 off

Clip the on-page coupon. Designed for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, the Nes4Pi case helps create the look and feel of a NES retro gaming machine. Even has a built-in fan to keep your Raspberry Pi cool.

$11.99 at Amazon

Miuzei black and blue case | $2 off

The acrylic black and blue case is designed for only the Raspberry Pi 4. It doesn't block Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Comes with a large 35mm cooling fan and four heat sink pieces for cooling the system. Maintains easy access to all the ports and has rubber feet for a stable platform.

$10.99 at Amazon

GeeekPi Raspberry Pi 4 metal cooling case with fan | 10% off

Designed to run your Raspberry Pi 4 build and keep it cool at the same time. The low-profile CPU cooler kit includes an LED fan that automatically changes color and a single-stack tower-style heatsink. The case itself also offers excellent heat dissipation.

$32.39 at Amazon

Elecrow CrowPi Raspberry Pi sensor kit | $13 off

This version does not include the Raspberry Pi board. If you want the board included, you can get that version at a more expensive price (and $17 off). The CrowPi includes sensors, buttons, and output devices in one package. The case has great build quality with a solid ABS shell and iron hinges. The kit comes with step-by-step instructions including 21 video lessons available on YouTube for identifying components, reading code, and running the programs.

$226 at Amazon

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds drop down below $45

The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds are a bit older at this point, but they're still a nice option.

Many of the best Razer headsets are designed for people gaming at a desk or that don't mind having a larger pair of over-ear headphones. If you love Razer's accessories but prefer something more compact and easier to take on the go, you can check out the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds. They're on sale right now through Amazon for $43.

The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds launched back in 2019, so there are certainly newer options on the market. But at only $43, they're worth a look. The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds feature touch controls, connect through Bluetooth 5.0, and are IPX4 water-resistant. They have an input latency of 60ms, which is quite low for a pair of wireless earbuds.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds

$43 at Amazon $50 at Walmart

These wireless earbuds have a latency of just 60 ms. They're also IP4X water-resistant and connect through Bluetooth 5.0.

The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds are available in black, white, and pink, though the current discount is for the black earbuds. They get up to 15 hours of battery life if you use the included charging case to top them up.

Since the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds connect through Bluetooth 5.0, you can pair them with devices running Windows, iOS, Android, or anything else that supports Bluetooth. They're geared more for mobile devices, but there's no reason you couldn't pop them in your bag and use them with a laptop.

If you want a higher-end set of earbuds from Razer, you can check out the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro earbuds that came out late in 2020. They earned 4 out of 5 stars in our review and offer more premium features, including having ANC and THX certifications.

2021 has been dominated by Russian hackers, says Microsoft

Some countries have had a busier 2021 than others.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has released its Microsoft Digital Defense Report for 2021.
  • It reveals statistics and details about the activities of Russia, North Korea, China, and more.
  • One of the report's key reveals was that Russia was responsible for 58% of all 2021 cyberattacks Microsoft monitored.

A lot of countries have been up to cybercrime over the course of 2021. Those entities include North Korea, China, and Iran, as well as South Korea, Vietnam, and Turkey. But none were able to top Russia, which led the pack by being responsible for 58% of all the year's cyberattack activity Microsoft monitored up to October 2021.

One of Russia's most noteworthy attacks was the SolarWinds fiasco which ate up a large chunk of the early 2021 news cycle. The attack targeted everything from U.S. companies to the U.S. government itself, gaining Russian hackers access to large amounts of private data.

Other countries had big moments as well, though. Chinese hackers, dubbed by Microsoft as Hafnium, made their mark on headlines after infiltrating MS Exchange servers and pilfering data from numerous organizations, once again causing the U.S. government to have to issue guidance as it became part of the cyber heist. Later reports indicated that China's activities may have been part of a grander effort to fuel the intelligence of its AI projects.

Microsoft's report covers a wide variety of cyberattack-related topics, from the codenames the company uses for the attackers it monitors, to which industries were impacted most. It also delivers scoops on the particular types of activities that have been going on, with a portion of the report highlighting the growth in the ransomware sector.

To give an idea of how bad a problem ransomware has become, the U.S. government recently committed to sanctions on certain facets of cryptocurrency in an effort to derail present and future ransomware efforts.

Join us LIVE for the Windows Central Video Podcast today at 2:30PM ET

Join Daniel Rubino and Zac Bowden for a LIVE recording of the Windows Central Video Podcast!

Make sure you join us for the broadcast of this week's Windows Central Video Podcast, LIVE today at 2:30pm ET. For those in different time zones, here's when we'll be live: Convert your time zone here.

Head to our YouTube page to see the podcast or watch the embed above.

We'll be talking about this week's biggest Microsoft news. Make sure you're there! Be sure to be following us on Twitter as we'll be tweeting out when the show begins. Alternatively, bookmark this page and come back later, as the player embedded in this post will be where we stream to.

Xbox Cloud Gaming on TVs will change the rules for game discoverability

I got Xbox Cloud Gaming on console today, and it's going to change how I try games.

As games get bigger and bigger, and my availability gets shorter and shorter, every opportunity to shave a bit of free time into my schedule is a welcome one. That's why I'm intrigued by this latest addition to the Xbox Insider Program's Alpha Ring.

Microsoft announced a while ago that it was going to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Xbox consoles. Notably, games like Flight Simulator 2020 that require next-gen hardware simply cannot run on past-gen consoles. Microsoft is bridging the gap using the cloud, and increasingly, other companies are looking into the tech as well. Kingdom Hearts was announced for Nintendo Switch recently as a cloud-only option.

Cloud gaming makes a lot of sense on underpowered devices like the Nintendo Switch, tablets, and smartphones, but what about the Xbox Series X? Why would you want it on there? And does it even work?

Here are some early impressions with the feature, now in beta.

So, how is Xbox Cloud Gaming on console?

The performance of Xbox Cloud Gaming seems to be a pretty contentious topic, depending on who you ask. During the summer, Microsoft upgraded its server infrastructure to Xbox Series X-based server blades. What that means is NVMe SSD loading speeds, for faster game loads. It also means more overhead for encoding video, which leads to more responsive play. The previous blades were Xbox One-based, and thus, didn't have a lot of horsepower to run the game and encode video streams simultaneously.

The Xbox Series X server blades have improved the situation immeasurably, but services like Google Stadia and GeForce Now still seem to provide better picture quality and lower amounts of artifacting, even if Xbox Cloud Gaming decided it has the edge when it comes to library quality and size. All services seem fairly evenly matched in terms of latency, although performance will vary depending on where you are geographically. No amount of fiber optic can offset the limitations of the speed of light, unfortunately.

Games that have a cloud option on the Xbox Alpha Ring now have a little cloud icon next to them, joining the Game Pass and X|S enhanced icons on their thumbnails. To find the entire library, you can dig into the Xbox Game Pass app or the Xbox Game Pass section from your Full Library under My Games & Apps, and there's a new cloud section right up there at the top.

After selecting a game, its title card will pop up, giving you the option to either install or play straight away from the cloud. And who'd have thought? It works exactly as you'd expect. The familiar rocket ship animation kick starts the server spin-up process, and after a few seconds, you'll be inside the game, as if it were running natively on your console.

I tried Yakuza: Like a Dragon, HADES, and Marvel Avengers streaming from the cloud. Marvel Avengers managed to hit 60 FPS at times, but it wasn't exactly consistent at doing so. Each game suffered from pixelized edges and blurry video feeds, which while hidden on my smartphone, were plain to see up on my TV. Importantly, the responsiveness of the controls felt virtually native. You can feel the struggle when using Bluetooth on a phone, but the full Xbox Wireless signal eliminates that uncanny gap.

The biggest downside is the sharpness of the picture quality (or lack thereof), but since I'm running this on an Xbox Series X ... why wouldn't I just install the game natively anyway? Sure, but this isn't supposed to replace native installations anyway.

So ... why bother?

I noticed immediately how Xbox Game Pass' console capability changed my behavior. I mostly used Xbox Cloud Gaming on my phone, and gravitate towards games that have simple controls, touch capabilities, and large UI. Playing a complex game like Pillars of Eternity on touch is simply not an option, so it's not something I'd ever attempt to do on my phone. Scarlet Nexus for example hit Xbox Game Pass cloud recently, and I gave it a try while waiting for an appointment on 5G. Despite having responsive controls, playing a 3D action game with touch just isn't my bag.

This is about discoverability from your sofa. Xbox Game Pass is designed to emulate the behavior of users on Netflix and Disney+. On those platforms, you can fire up a video stream and instantly try out a new show, and you'll know in the first minute or two whether it seems like something you'll want to watch. Movies and shows that hit streaming services first are almost designed around this type of grazing behavior, hooking you in at the start in hopes you'll stick with it. YouTube's own documentation advises that you keep your intros down to three seconds at most to avoid boring users.

I went from having to wait 10-15 minutes to download a single game, to being able to try out five to 10 games in the same time frame.

For Xbox Game Pass, if you have to wait for a 100GB download to run its course before trying something out, chances are you might just leave it by the wayside. Marvel Avengers, for example, is not a game I had any interest in whatsoever. I'm not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I'm not a big fan of Crystal Dynamics' previous games (sorry, Tomb Raider fans). The trailers also didn't grab me either ... but now it's just ... there with cloud gaming, I thought "why not?" I have literally nothing to lose here. And guess what, I tried it, and ended up enjoying it. After a few minutes of play, Xbox even pops up with a small notification asking you if you'd like to start installing the game natively.

This isn't about replacing your console. It's about speeding up discovery of games you didn't even know you might like. No matter how many reviews you read or trailers you view, there's no comparison to actually trying out a game yourself. Xbox Cloud Gaming on console directly facilitates that faster than anything we've seen before. I went from having to wait 10-15 minutes to download a single game, to being able to try out five to 10 games in the same time frame.

Still a way's to go

Xbox Cloud Gaming on my console really opened my eyes to how much the picture quality needs to improve before it can truly compete with a native experience. 720-1080p looks fine on a smaller phone display in a simple game, but it really hurts the experience on something more photorealistic like Marvel Avengers, even if the controls are fully responsive.

Either way, it's another exciting step in Xbox Cloud Gaming's journey, which recently opened up to Brazil, Japan, and other new countries as part of its gradual rollout. I've argued in the past that I'd like to see a cloud-only Xbox Game Pass Lite subscription in the future. I've also argued that I want to see the ability to buy any Xbox game through the cloud, as opposed to the relatively small pool of titles we have available now. I've also argued for better Xbox Cloud Gaming mobile controller options for those, like me, who are too old school to play with touch reliably.

I suspect all of these things (and more) will hit the platform in the future, and every new feature is another step closer on that long journey.

The best USB Flash Drive deals: Cheap storage & more

You know there was a point in the history of computers where the people making them never expected anyone to need much storage for these things. Now it feels like no matter how much storage you add, there's never enough. And with computers now including everything from phones to tablets to gaming consoles, storage is becoming even more important. Heck, even if you use a fancy Chromebook that's designed to utilize Cloud services, you still on occasion need some portable storage or a quick way to transfer things between machines.

SanDisk Ultra Fit 256GB USB 3.1 flash drive | $7 off

An extra tiny flash drive. Not only does that make it extra portable, it also makes it a great drive for a laptop. You can plug it in, leave it there, and forget about it. It won't get bent out of shape when you put your laptop in its carrying case or anything like that. You can also find this deal at B&H.

$25.99 at Amazon

That's where the best USB flash drives come in. These devices have the advantage of being relatively small compared to most storage, which makes them portable and often very durable. You can have one or two in your backpack for any time you're on the move and need to take some media with you. Plus, these days the storage capacities are huge so they can carry anything you're throwing at them. These are great for moving files from one machine to the next, keeping your favorite photos and videos on you at all times, or for transferring profiles, apps, and games between similar machines.

Here are some of the best USB Flash Drive deals we could find:

Best USB Flash Drive deals:

SanDisk USB-A 64GB flash drive | $15 off

A simple 64GB flash drive with USB 3.0 tech that's backwards compatible with USB 2.0. It has read speeds up to 100 MB/s, and you can use the SecureAccess software to password protect and encrypt your data.

$12.99 at Best Buy

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Go 128GB flash drive | $7 off

Includes both USB-A and USB-C connectors. Great for transfering between a device that only has USB-C like a smartphone to a device that has USB-A like your PC. Free up space on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Get USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds. You can find a similar price at B&H.

$18.17 at Amazon

SanDisk Ultra Fit 256GB USB 3.1 flash drive | $7 off

An extra tiny flash drive. Not only does that make it extra portable, it also makes it a great drive for a laptop. You can plug it in, leave it there, and forget about it. It won't get bent out of shape when you put your laptop in its carrying case or anything like that. You can also find this deal at B&H.

$25.99 at Amazon

SanDisk iXpand 256GB Flash Drive Go | $7 off

Transfer data from your iPhone, iPad or other device with a Lightning connector. Automatically back up all your photos and videos with the iXpand Drive app. Shoot videos directly onto the storage device. Switches from Lightning to USB 3.0.

$57.99 at Amazon

PNY Pro Elite 512GB USB 3.0 flash drive | $24 off

Works with PC and Mac and is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 Has read and write speeds up to 400 MB/s and 250 MB/s. With 512GB of space, you can store over 100,000 photos or up to 29.5 hours of 4K video.

$75.32 at Amazon

Surface app updated following launch of Microsoft’s new Surface hardware

After its new Surface hardware went up for sale, Microsoft updated its Surface app for Windows.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's Surface app has been updated with a new look and user experience.
  • The app now supports Surface accessories, including audio devices, docks, and pens.
  • The Surface app now works with Smart charging for devices that support it.

Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 8, Surface Laptop Studio, and Surface Go 3 this week. Following the availability of the new hardware, Microsoft updated its Surface app for Windows. The app has a new look that fits in on Windows 11, and it has several new features. The app now works with Smart charging on supported devices. It also supports Surface accessories, including docks, pens, and audio devices.

Here's everything new from the Surface app's October 2021 update:

  • An updated user experience that complements the premium hardware experience for Surface
  • Support for Surface accessories, including Surface audio devices, pen, and docks
  • Support for features, like Smart charging, on devices that support it
  • New promotions for eligible Surface devices
  • Support for 36 languages

The app's user experience has changed quite a bit. Previously, the app looked similar to Windows 10 apps like the Settings app. The updated Surface app lines up better with Windows 11.

It's been a busy week for Microsoft's Surface lineup. Make sure to check out our Surface Pro 8 review and Surface Laptop Studio review to catch up on everything about the latest devices from Microsoft.

Surface app

Free at Microsoft

This app lets you customize options for your Surface devices. Its latest update brings a new look, support for Smart charging, and several other new features.

Microsoft Viva is about to expand as a result of Ally.io acquisition

Microsoft Viva, and other related services, are about to get a boost courtesy of Ally.io.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has acquired Ally.io, which is described as an OKR (objectives and key results) company.
  • Ally.io will be behind a new Microsoft Viva module, along with other related projects.
  • This is one of many acquisitions Microsoft has made throughout 2021.

Microsoft announced its acquisition of Ally.io on October 7, 2021, marking the latest in a long string of purchases from the company. Suplari, RiskIQ, ReFirm, and CloudKnox Security are just a few of the other purchases it's made in recent memory.

As for what Microsoft hopes to achieve by owning Ally.io, its new OKR (objectives and key results) company: The tech giant said Microsoft Viva would be improving as a result of the acquisition. Ally.io will be the driving force behind a new Viva module to supplement the four existing modules (Connections, Insights, Topics, and Learning).

But Microsoft's not stopping there. The company provided a brief outline of what's in store for the future of Ally.io in its press release announcing the acquisition. "Over the next year, we'll be investing to bring Ally.io into the Microsoft cloud, evolve the existing integrations with Microsoft Teams, and weave Ally.io into Viva, Office, Power BI and the broader set of Microsoft 365 apps and services," the piece said.

So while Viva may be the start for Ally.io, it'll have an impact on Teams and beyond. Financial details of Microsoft's arrangement with the OKR company were not disclosed, which is par for the course given that such details were not provided for the majority of other recent acquisitions.

To give a brief overview of Viva, it's a platform Microsoft offers for actionable insight dissemination that is designed to help employees monitor their wellbeing. It has other functions as well, though its employee wellness angle is front and center.

The Dell XPS 15 is our choice for best 15-inch laptop

The best 15-inch laptops are perfectly sized and configured for those who want a bit of extra screen real estate and some extra performance. The Dell XPS 15 is our top overall pick and one of the best Windows laptop options available today. It was recently refreshed to a 9510 model with 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and OLED display, plus there are still 9500 models available for less money. If you'd like something a bit different, we've rounded up a bunch of other great 15-inch laptops right here.

Best overall: Dell XPS 15

Dell recently launched its XPS 15 9510 model, refreshed for 2021. Though its design is essentially the same (much like the XPS 13 9300 and 9310 models), it has new internal performance hardware, screen, and ports. You can now get it with 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H, i7-11800H, and i9-11900H CPUs and NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti discrete GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Still available is up to 64GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM and 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The XPS 15 now has ray-tracing and DLSS capabilities thanks to the new GPU, but you'll still want to check out the best gaming laptops for a true gaming machine.

The two Thunderbolt 3 ports have been upgraded to Thunderbolt 4, and there's a new 3.5K OLED touch display option with anti-reflective finish and 400 nits brightness. You can still also get it with the FHD+ non-touch or UHD+ touch displays. Check out our comparison if you'd like to see some of the major design changes between the 9500 and 9570 versions that have carried over to the latest 9510 model.

If you're more interested in the 9500 model, it's still for sale at a cheaper starting price. The real draw is undoubtedly the XPS 15 9500's IGZO display options, now using a 16:10 aspect ratio. Almost all bezel is gone, with the screen reaching from top to bottom and side to side. The 1920x1200 (FHD+) version is non-touch with an anti-glare finish and up to 500 nits brightness. Color reproduction focuses on sRGB, hitting 100%. It's a fine display, but if you need touch or want the boost up to 4K, the 3840x2400 resolution is the better choice. It costs more and draws more power, but it hits about 500 nits brightness and offers 100% AdobeRGB and 94% DCI-P3 color reproduction.

The slim aluminum and carbon fiber chassis includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB-C, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The power button includes a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and the webcam is back above the display where it belongs. It also has an IR sensor for facial recognition. A massive 86Wh battery inside gives you a workday of life without needing to find a plug.

Check out our Dell XPS 15 (9500) review for a deep dive into what makes this laptop so great. And also note that the XPS 15 9510 models are now shipping with Windows 11 already installed.

Pros:

  • 16:10 aspect ratio displays, now with OLED
  • Powerful Intel 11th Gen CPU options
  • Dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU
  • Premium aluminum chassis
  • Huge 86Wh battery

Cons:

  • Not as versatile as a convertible
  • Less expensive options available

Best overall

Dell XPS 15

From $1,715 at Dell (9500)

From $1,274 at Dell (9510)

From $1,800 at Best Buy

Beautiful display options, stellar performance

Dell's XPS 15 is one of the slimmest 15-inch laptops out there, boasting impressive performance and now an OLED display option for the 9510 model.

Best gaming: Razer Blade 15

The Razer Blade 15 should not leave you wanting in the Base and Advanced models for those who love PC gaming. Razer upgraded the Blade 15 at CES 2021, bringing a QHD display with a 240Hz refresh rate and an FHD display with 360Hz refresh rate to the table. It also further refreshed models with 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs, PCIe 4.0 storage, Thunderbolt 4, and FHD webcam.

Depending on the performance hardware you opt for — up to an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU, 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900H CPU, and 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM — you'll get access to up to a 4K OLED touch display option. You can also opt for the FHD and QHD displays mentioned above.

All this is contained in a symmetrical metal chassis with squared edges and overall thin design. It's one of the best-looking laptops out there, and it's built to withstand daily use. The keyboard has RGB lighting, and the enormous Precision touchpad is ideal when not using one of the best PC gaming mice plugged into one of the many ports.

Have a look at our 2019 Razer Blade 15 Advanced review for more information about this gaming laptop. Note that some Razer Blade Advanced models are now shipping with Windows 11 already installed.

Pros:

  • Unreal FHD, QHD, and UHD displays
  • Outstanding audio
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Premium build quality
  • RGB keyboard

Cons:

  • Keyboard has short travel
  • Very expensive

Best gaming

Razer Blade 15

From $1,300 at Razer

From $1,750 at Amazon

$2,700 at Newegg

The right Ultrabook for gamers

The Razer Blade 15 has the right performance for heavy gaming, as well as beautiful display options.

Best design: Surface Laptop 4 15

Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 is available in a 15-inch form factor with either AMD or Intel hardware working behind the scenes. This was a rather mild refresh, focusing on internal performance rather than design changes.

The Surface Laptop 4 moves up to Intel 11th Gen or AMD Ryzen 4000 Mobile CPUs, as well as Iris Xe or Radeon graphics. There's no more 128GB SSD option, with models starting instead at 256GB. New Dolby Atmos spatial audio improves the laptop's speakers, ideal for those who don't often use a headset. Battery life has also been improved.

Like the Laptop 3, there's no Alcantara finish option for the 15-inch version. You're looking at either Platinum or Matte Black colors. As always, the 15-inch touch display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2496x1664 resolution with Surface Pen compatibility. Check out our Surface Laptop 4 15 review for more information.

The Surface Laptop 4 gets a free upgrade to Windows 11, though not all PCs are getting Windows 11 at once. If you're looking for a different Surface product that's just a bit newer, ships with Windows 11, and has a unique new design, check out the Surface Laptop Studio.

Pros

  • Stunning design and craftsmanship
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Instant-On
  • Comfy keyboard and touchpad
  • 11th Gen Intel and Ryzen 4000 CPUs
  • High-res touch display with inking

Cons

  • No Alcantara finish
  • Ports still limited

Best design

Surface Laptop 4 15

From $1,300 at Microsoft

From $1,300 at Best Buy

From $1,800 at Amazon

A worthy upgrade

The Surface Laptop 4 15 upgrades performance hardware and adds some extra features.

Best for media: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 fills a gap in the convertible market. It's super lightweight and thin, but it has a larger 15.6-inch display, super performance, and good battery life. Not only that, but the AMOLED screen is also absolutely stunning, with 100% sRGB, 85% AdobeRGB, and 96% DCI-P3 color reproduction and VESA DisplayHDR 500. However, it could be brighter and the 16:9 aspect ratio is stale when a lot of competitors are moving to 16:10. An included Samsung S Pen makes for a quality inking experience, and Samsung's suite of apps only helps on this front.

You can expect strong performance from 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and Intel Evo certification, plus the battery is going to last more than 10 hours with regular use. The camera and speakers could be a lot better, but the keyboard and touchpad are solid. If you'd like to move up to a 15-inch convertible but don't want any of the associated weight, this is a great pick.

You can get the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with Windows 11 straight from the factory, but it costs more than Windows 10 models.

Pros:

  • Outstanding AMOLED display
  • Excellent inking experience
  • Thin and light with top performance
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Bad webcam and speakers
  • Still using 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Display could be brighter

Best for media

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360

From $850 at Samsung

$2,999 at Amazon

From $1,300 at Best Buy

If you need a super-thin laptop that is also a convertible, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is for you.

Best modular: Surface Book 3 15

The 15-inch Surface Book 3 has been refreshed, now for its third generation. Some changes compared to the Surface Book 2 include Wi-Fi 6 connectivity with Intel chip, 16GB of RAM in base models, storage up to 2TB, NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q or NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 dedicated GPUs, and 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Ports and cameras have otherwise remained the same, as has the display.

The display portion can still be removed from the base to act as a standalone tablet, complete with battery, CPU, RAM, and storage. Connected to the base, you get a full battery and access to a dedicated GPU. This adds quite a bit of versatility, especially when you add a Surface Pen for inking. The touch display has a boxy 3:2 aspect ratio and hits a stunning 3240x2160 resolution.

The magnesium chassis is as good as ever, and though the design is unchanged, it is still unique. The keyboard is excellent for long days of typing, and the touchpad uses Precision drivers. The only complaint is the size, which is relatively small compared to most manufacturers' huge touchpads.

Our Microsoft Surface Book 3 15 review is full of details about what makes this laptop so great. Windows 11 is available as a free upgrade for the Surface Book 3, though it may not come through immediately.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Unique design
  • All-day battery life
  • Good performance
  • Quite versatile

Cons

  • Design is a bit stale
  • Touchpad is small

Best modular

Surface Book 3 15

From $2,300 at Microsoft

From $2,750 at Amazon

From $2,300 at Best Buy

Power on the go

The Surface Book 3 gets new Intel 10th Gen processors, more powerful GTX graphics, and much better Wi-Fi, SSD, and RAM options.

Dual displays: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

Professional creators who want to shake things up by adding a second display to this 15-inch laptop should check out the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. It's quite expensive, but it's unlike just about any other laptop out there. The main 15.6-inch OLED touch display has a 3840x2160 resolution and full DCI-P3 color gamut coverage that is stunning in its own right, but just below it, where the keyboard on most laptops is placed, is a secondary 14-inch touch display with 3840x1100 resolution. It's known as a ScreenPad Plus, and it gives users a whole new way to use the device, especially with the included active pen.

Below the two displays is a physical keyboard with a touchpad off to the right, giving you the full laptop experience. The touchpad can even turn into a number pad thanks to embedded LED illumination. Don't worry … an attachable palm rest is included to keep your hands comfortable during long typing periods. It's all built on an attractive chassis that includes Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-A 3.1, and 3.5mm audio. Unfortunately, there's no SD card reader.

Up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU is available, alongside an NVIDIA RTX 2060 dedicated GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD. You'll get the performance needed for specialized work, and it even has Wi-Fi 6 for breakneck wireless speeds. An IR camera for Windows Hello adds security. These are expensive devices, but they're also unique and offer a glimpse at the future of high-performance laptops.

Pros:

  • Dual 4K displays
  • Dedicated NVIDIA RTX graphics
  • Active pen and palm rest included
  • 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs
  • Premium, unique design

Cons:

  • Steep price
  • Small touchpad
  • No SD card slot

Dual displays

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

From $2,070 at Amazon

A multitasker's dream

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo not only includes a stellar second display, but it's also stacked full of powerful specs.

Best convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t

The 15-inch HP Spectre x360 recently received a mid-gen refresh for Intel's new 11th Gen hardware. It comes with a Core i7-1165G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, and three display options. You can still get models with 10th Gen Intel CPUs, and NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti dedicated GPU; 11th Gen configs seem to be sticking only with integrated graphics. It's still a beautiful convertible laptop that can be used in stand, tablet, tent, and notebook modes.

Three 4K touch displays are available no matter the CPU. Two IPS options differ in brightness (340 nits compared to 400 nits), while the AMOLED option brings BrightView tech and 400 nits. AMOLED costs the most, but it's the right choice for anyone who wants the best picture possible. All displays are compatible with the included active pen. The bezel has been shrunk down considerably, but you're still getting a 16:9 aspect ratio.

A sizable Precision touchpad makes productivity a breeze, and the full keyboard includes a number pad. The chassis has the same gem-cut design as the smaller 13-inch Spectre x360, and it makes for an ornate laptop.

The latest 11th Gen Intel model includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-A, 3.5mm audio, and a microSD card reader. Ports on the older model include Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack. An IR camera for Windows Hello sits above the display, and there's a webcam kill switch if you're worried about anyone looking in on you. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is included.

Go ahead and have a look at our HP Spectre x360 15 review for more details about performance, design, and display. And note that Windows 11 now comes installed as standard with new Spectre x360 15 models.

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi 6 compatibility
  • Awesome 4K display options
  • Powerful hardware configurations
  • Ornate gem-cut chassis
  • IR camera and camera kill switch

Cons:

  • No FHD option
  • Still using 16:9 aspect ratio

Best convertible

HP Spectre x360 15t

From $1,400 at HP

From $2,499 at Amazon

Tons of power in a beautiful chassis

The Spectre x360 15t is an excellent convertible laptop with powerful hardware, brilliant display, and unique gem-cut design.

Best business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3) is now sporting up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10885H vPro. This chip puts out some serious performance, and it only gets better with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Add up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 4TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and you have a laptop ready for a heavy workload. Like all ThinkPads, it's designed and tested to ensure it'll put up with a hard life.

You can get the 15.6-inch display in a few different versions; standard FHD, FHD with Dolby Vision HDR, 4K with Dolby Vision HDR400, and 4K OLED with HDR500 and an anti-reflective finish to cut down on glare. A webcam with a privacy shutter sits above the screen, and you can add an IR camera for extra security. You also get a fingerprint reader, FIDO authentication, and a Kensington lock slot for further security.

The body measures just 0.72 inches thin, weighing in at about 3.75 pounds (1.7kg). It has a lot of power, but it remains relatively portable. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, SD card reader, HDMI 2.0, two USB-A 3.2, SIM slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 is included, and you can add an LTE adapter for wireless connectivity everywhere.

Lenovo has released the X1 Extreme (Gen 4) with a number of major improvements that should make it the best Extreme yet. We will update this entry as soon as we've put it through our review process.

Pros:

  • Powerful hardware options, including dedicated GPU
  • 4K OLED display is a knockout
  • Plenty of ports
  • Durable ThinkPad chassis
  • Keyboard is perfect

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Battery life suffers with 4K

Best business

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)

From $1,670 at Lenovo

$3,923 at Amazon

Your next business partner

The third-gen ThinkPad X1 Extreme is more powerful than ever before, yet it remains portable enough to tag along with you.

Bottom line

Smaller 13- and 14-inch laptops might be more popular, but that doesn't mean there aren't many great 15-inch laptops available right now. Any of the options rounded up above should please, but if you're looking for a well-rounded option for any task, we recommend checking out the Dell XPS 15 9500 and 9510. It's a great 15-inch laptop, and it's also one of the overall best Windows laptop options available today.

The new models have been upgraded with 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs, NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti discrete GPU, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and there's a new 3.5K OLED touch display option. It's all wrapped up in a compact, light chassis made from aluminum and carbon fiber, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. An enormous 86Wh battery keeps going through a day, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity allows for fast wireless speeds.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, accessory coverage, and the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

Diablo 4 gets new game director, audio design discussed in quarterly update

A new director steps in on the regular updates.

What you need to know

  • Blizzard Entertainment continues to provide quarterly updates on Diablo 4.
  • Diablo 4 now has a new game director, Joe Shely.
  • This comes as parent company Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit alleging a sexist workplace environment.

Blizzard Entertainment provided another quarterly update for Diablo 4 on Thursday. As the next mainline entry in the action role-playing game series, Blizzard is providing updates on every facet of the game. Per this update, Joe Shely is now game director of Diablo 4, replacing Luis Barraga, one of several staff let go from Blizzard. This comes as Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit, with the company accused of allowing a sexist workplace environment to grow.

While the prior quarterly update focused on the designs of characters, Blizzard discusses how the team is recording audio for the different spells, effects, monsters and regions of Diablo 4. For example, to record the fire effects for the Sorceress' flaming spells, the team went out and lit some things on fire.

The audio team at Blizzard also notes that sounds almost never play back exactly the same way twice, with differences introduced by wind and air pressure, the enviroment and more. As a result, the team is looking to introduce slight randomized variations for the atmospheric sounds players hear when roaming through the game world. You can hear some examples of the rain in Scosglen in the video below:

Blizzard closes this update by noting that the next quarterly update is focused on the endgame and different visual effects.

Diablo 4 doesn't currently have a release window. In our interview with the team, Blizzard talked about PvP, cross-play and more.

It's finally here

Diablo 2: Resurrected

More than a fresh coat of paint

Diablo 2: Resurrected includes the original game and the Lord of Destruction expansion pack, with all-new improvements and better graphical quality. It's available now on all platforms.

How to become an ace helicopter pilot in Battlefield 2042

Stop crashing and become a competent pilot with our detailed guide.

Out of the full Battlefield 2042 vehicle list, helicopters are arguably the most effective. Not only can they provide close air support with miniguns, rockets, and grenade launchers, but they can also rapidly transport soldiers around the map for strategic deployment. With some good helicopter pilots on their side, any team will have a strong advantage, and the fact that flying helicopters is so rewarding is part of what makes Battlefield games some of the best Xbox shooters available.

However, piloting helicopters has never been easy in Battlefield, and that hasn't changed in Battlefield 2042. Thankfully, we've been practicing in the Battlefield 2042 beta and have managed to master the controls. If you're struggling to fly helicopters effectively, here's a detailed guide on everything you need to know about flying helicopters, including controls, maneuvers, and general tips and tricks for being an effective pilot.

Quick menu:

All-out warfare

Battlefield 2042

From $70 at Amazon From $70 at Xbox (Series X|S) From $60 at Xbox (Xbox One) From $70 at PlayStation Store

Battlefield goes back to the future

Battlefield 2042 debuts Electronic Arts' next-generation vision for the military shooter, supporting up to 128 players, the largest-ever maps, devastatingly destructive weather systems, and more.

Battlefield 2042 helicopter controls

It's important to review Battlefield 2042's helicopter controls before attempting to use one in battle. Here's the full list of controls for helicopters:

Action PC Xbox PlayStation
Enter/Exit E X Square
Switch Seats F1-F8 A Cross
Throttle Up W Left stick up Left stick up
Throttle Down S Left stick down Left stick down
Yaw Right D Left Stick Right Left stick right
Yaw Left A Left Stick Left Left stick left
Pitch Down Mouse move up Right stick up Right stick up
Pitch Up Mouse move down Right stick down Right stick down
Roll Right Mouse move right Right stick right Right stick right
Roll Left Mouse move left Right stick left Right stick left
Toggle Camera C Press right stick Press right stick
Rear Camera Press MMB D-Pad down D-Pad down
Freelook Hold RMB + Move mouse Hold LT + move right stick Hold L2 + move right Stick
Switch Weapon F Y Triangle
Fire LMB RT R2
Countermeasures X LB L1

Battlefield 2042 helicopters: Taking off and hovering

Taking off and hovering.

First, let's go over how to take off and hover in place. Use W on PC or move the left stick up on console to fly directly upwards, which is also known as throttling up, to take off from the ground. You can continue throttling up to go higher, or you can press S on PC or move the left stick down on console to go down.

To hover in the air, the blades of your helicopter need to be level with the ground. By default, your blades will be level when you spawn, but if you need to adjust, you can do so by moving your mouse or right stick to the left and right (more on these controls later). Note that when flying helicopters in first-person mode, the visible line on the HUD will indicate the angle of your blades.

Battlefield 2042 helicopters: Moving forwards and backwards

Pitching the helicopter forwards.

Now that you know how to take off and hover, the next step is moving forwards and backwards by pitching your helicopter. To do this, move your mouse up on PC or your right stick up on console to go forwards, and move your mouse or right stick down to go backwards. The farther you move up or down, the faster your helicopter will move.

However, moving forwards to backwards too sharply can result in your helicopter flipping upside down, which will likely result in you losing control of the aircraft and crashing. Make sure you're careful.

Battlefield 2042 helicopters: Turning

Yawing (left) and rolling (right).

You've mastered taking off, hovering, and moving forwards and backwards, so now it's time to learn how to turn. Using A and D on PC or moving the left stick left and right on console will turn your helicopter left and right, respectively. This process is known as yawing.

Yawing is an important part of making turns while flying, but on its own, yawing is slow and doesn't help you evade enemy fire. For truly effective flying, you'll also need to incorporate rolling into your turns. By moving your mouse or your right stick to the left and right, you can roll the helicopter When you roll in the same direction you're yawing, you perform a banking turn. This maneuver allows you to make sharp turns, and it also makes your helicopter much harder to hit.

Battlefield 2042 helicopters: Landing

If you want to safely land your helicopter to get out of the aircraft or pick up troops to transport, you can do so by flying to where you want to land, leveling your aircraft with the ground by using the rolling controls, and throttling down until you touch down. Don't throttle down too fast since you'll likely crash if you hit the ground at high speeds, so touch the helicopter down gently. Also, you need to make sure you land the aircraft on a flat surface.

Battlefield 2042 helicopters: General tips

Now that you've learned how to fly helicopters, here are some general tips, tricks, and pieces of information that will help you be more effective in combat.

  • Every helicopter flies differently. Scout helicopters are the most nimble, attack helicopters have medium maneuverability, and transport helicopters are the least agile of the three.
  • Each helicopter type also has different durability and armaments. Scout helicopters are fragile and have miniguns and rockets, attack helicopters have a decent amount of armor and have rockets and anti-aircraft missiles, and transport helicopters are heavily-armored and have miniguns and grenade launchers that can only be used by passengers.
  • When using scout or attack helicopters, play aggressively and perform lots of banking turns so that enemies have a hard time damaging you.
  • When using transport helicopters, it's important to fly steady so that your passengers on the guns can hit targets accurately. Make turns slowly and never roll sharply. Land to deploy troops when it's safe.
  • Scout and attack helicopters are strong against enemy tanks. Fly relatively high so that you make sure the tank can't hit you with its main cannon, then pepper it with volleys of rockets to deal heavy damage.
  • If you see an enemy anti-aircraft vehicle, try to stay away from it so that it has a harder time shooting you with its anti-aircraft machine guns.
  • When you get a warning that someone is getting a missile lock on you, don't deploy your countermeasure flares until you hear the solid beeping sound that signifies an incoming projectile. This way, you'll make sure your flares successfully countered something and that you weren't baited into deploying them early.
  • Helicopters regenerate health slowly after not taking damage for a short period. If you're getting attacked with lots of anti-aircraft fire, go to a lower altitude and fly behind cover to make yourself harder to target so your auto-repairs can kick in.

All-out warfare

Battlefield 2042

From $70 at Amazon From $70 at Xbox (Series X|S) From $60 at Xbox (Xbox One) From $70 at PlayStation Store

Battlefield goes back to the future

Battlefield 2042 debuts Electronic Arts' next-generation vision for the military shooter, supporting up to 128 players, the largest-ever maps, devastatingly destructive weather systems, and more.

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