The 8 Best Quiet Laptops for a Silent Setup in 2021

Quiet Laptop

The 8 Best Quiet Laptops for a Silent Setup​

Kaelum Ross

I

Feb 22, 2021

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Hear a noise?

Me neither, because today’s feature is about finding peace and quiet!

Many laptop options look beautiful and run well, but unfortunately come at the cost of obnoxious decibel levels when performing tasks.

This guide will take you through the quietest laptops available today for a variety of needs and budgets.

Top Picks

Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks

Quietest Laptop for General Use: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 i5

For those serious about a quiet laptop that still offers great performance for the average user, nothing comes close to the Surface Pro 7.

The i5 & i3 editions are, what we consider, the best fanless laptops on the market. This means instead of using traditional loud fan cooling, the Surface Pro 7 is intelligently designed to operate on passive cooling alone even at high loads (it’s able to maintain great temperatures during most activity, which is impressive in itself).

The Pro 7 is sharply designed to be incredibly light and portable while still offering a decent amount of screen real-estate with a fantastic 2736 x 1824 resolution; great for anything from general/business use to media viewing.

We specifically cite the 16GB i5 version as the best value for someone after a silent laptop with a bit of longevity. The mid-range 10th gen Intel CPU and 16GB RAM hit the sweet spot between price and performance. 256GB is also plenty of space in today’s cloud storage/streaming world providing you’re not playing many big games (if you’re after the best gaming laptop, see our next pick).

On a budget? We have cheaper quiet laptop choices further below, but if you still want the unparalleled design of the Pro 7, you can go for the 8GB RAM and/or the i3 processor and still expect a decent machine for general use. We just encourage users to pick the i5/16GB to get a smoother experience and a laptop that will last longer.

It’s worth noting that the i7 version of the Pro 7 is not a fanless laptop and will produce more noise. The i5 still has all the specs you’d want for a general-use laptop and there is no significant need for this extra power unless you’re after gaming or production work like video editing (with picks further below designed for that).

Ports are one of the only areas we wish were a little stronger, with the Pro 7 having 1 x USB-C and 1 x USB-A outputs. It would’ve been good to see an extra port of either one, but most users will still have enough for key accessories (or failing that, a USB hub).

We’ve specifically included the version without a keyboard or pen because these accessories tend to be cheaper individually, some users may be fine with budget versions of the keyboard and pen, and we appreciate others may actually be perfectly fine without one/both and could act perfectly as a quiet tablet, or a tablet/laptop hybrid.

We will say that one of the other great USPs for the Pro 7 is that the official keypad (and probably many of its budget versions) is incredibly quiet, much more so than a traditional keyboard, yet still remains comfortable to type on.

We love that this Microsoft offering doesn’t compromise in any major way for the general user looking for one of the quietest laptops on the market.

And not just general users, with its decent specs to boot, the Pro 7 is a great studio option for someone after a quiet laptop for audio recording or voice-over work.

With great performance capability, portability, a fantastic screen, and (of course) very low decibel production all for a very decent price, this is easily our choice for the overall best quiet laptop available today.

Best Quiet Gaming Laptop: MSI GL65 Leopard

Shopping for the best quiet gaming laptop? The market is a completely different ballgame.

We’ll start by saying there is nothing close to a silent gaming laptop; PCs designed for games come with powerful GPUs and other specs designed to run titles at acceptable setting/framerates which you simply cannot achieve without active cooling (there is no fanless gaming laptop on the market today).

The good news is, some gaming laptops are way better than others at providing low decibel outputs with the right settings.

This is where the MSI GS65 Leopard comes in.

With an excellent design that is thick/large enough to provide both a decent screen size (with thin bezels) and, most importantly for noise reduction, a great internal layout for heat dissipation.

The laptop is portable, but not ultralight, and we say this to its credit; it allows the GL65 to have enough inner airflow that it only needs 2 larger fans. Big fans are actually an advantage for a quiet setup, as they can spin at lower RPMs to achieve the same as a very fast-spinning set of small fans (it’s the RPM that usually dictates the noise-level).

This setup means that the MSI GL65 is deceptively quiet compared to its competitors when performing general use/average tasks.

For gaming, you will, of course, hear the fans kick in, and there is no decent gaming laptop where this isn’t the case.

But not only does the GL65 run on better internal heat dissipation than many other fan-dependent gaming laptops, but MSI also offers one of the best control suites of all the PC gaming brands with its Dragon Center software.

This will allow you to customize and control your fan speeds, set limits to what you want them to go even when playing games, which is the cherry on top of an already quiet gaming PC when compared to its counterparts.

But we love the GL65 for so much more than just low-noise output.

It’s worth noting that this MSI pick is one of our favorite gaming laptops in any category and has been previously featured in our Amazon and 144hz spotlights, as well as our breakdown of the best laptops for longevity.

The GL65 Leopard offers incredible value across the board:

  • One of the cheapest laptops with an RTX 2070
  • Perfect secondary specs to complement the GPU; with a Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM & 512GB NVMe SSD (the quietest storage solution available)
  • A fantastic screen for the price-range with 144hz, 3ms response time, and an IPS panel with decent color accuracy (great for esports or more immersive titles)
  • Gorgeous individually-customizable RGB keyboard (that is also rather quiet while still providing the tactile feedback needed for gaming)

With these specs, you won’t just get fantastic performance in any game available today (and likely well into the future), you’ll also have a PC perfect for general use and even production tasks; this doubles up as the best quiet video editing laptop on the list.

As we said before, you won’t get a fanless/silent gaming offering.

But how about a low noise laptop with a quiet keyboard that also doubles as the best value in terms of specs and builds quality in its price range?

If quiet gaming is your goal, we don’t think you’ll find better than this.

Quietest Macbook: Apple MacBook Air 2020 Edition

If you are of the Mac persuasion and are looking for a silent Macbook, the closest you’ll come is the new 2020 edition of the Macbook Air.

Lead by the powerful new Apple M1 chip, this is a fanless Macbook and a self-proclaimed “no-noise laptop” which runs entirely off of passive cooling due to the great internal architecture of the device.

This is a really impressive feat, given the ultra-portable lightweight nature of the 2020 Air, we can’t overstate how hard it is to get a product this small that also keeps a level temperature without noise.

Tied with its 256GB SSD, you can expect quietness even under heavy loads. 

This laptop also comes with an impressively quiet keyboard. With its focus on thinness, the keys are very light and therefore have short press-travel/produce very low decibels compared to most market competitors.

The 2020 Macbook Air also comes with some nice specs for general use and light to mid-range work, with:

  • Apple’s gorgeous retina display technology on a 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 screen, one of the most stunning displays at its price-range
  • 8-core Apple-designed CPU with both great processor power and an impressive integrated GPU (for light gaming/editing, serious production users and gamers will want to look at our MSI pick or the Macbook Pro).
  • 8GB RAM and a very fast SSD in either 256GB or 512GB
  • 2 USB-C ports

Bearing in mind this isn’t a MacBook Pro and the Air has serious limitations on what specs it can run with its tight space, this is an impressive offering; tied with macOS and their various well-optimized in-house software, this is easily one of the best laptops for general use & media (especially with its fantastic screen).

What’s more to say? This is, without doubt, the best quiet MacBook on the market, and perfect for anyone who doesn’t need the more advanced capabilities of the Pro (we cover the best Pro option below if you’re a power user).

Best Quiet Budget Laptop: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

The last of our top picks is for those who are looking for the best cheap quiet laptop on the market, while still meeting the needs of most general use consumers

The Flip C434 meets that feat very well, with the specific model we are recommending being another fanless laptop.

This ASUS offering is a Chromebook, meaning it runs off of Google’s Chrome OS as opposed to the usual Windows 10 choice.

If you are just a lightweight general user, ChromeOS can be a perfect solution, as it is a less demanding operating system than Windows that can run on cheaper PC hardware and still provide you with all the mainstream applications you’d expect (anything from internet browsing to media/Netflix to Office applications). The main exceptions (i.e. where you’d want Windows) are PC gaming and production work like video editing/animation – we recommend our other picks for such tasks.

With an M3-8100Y processor, 8GB RAM & 64GB eMMC storage, these secs are on the lower end.

But again, with ChromeOS, you can still expect a relatively smooth experience for general and standard business use.

The C434 has great secondary hardware/build quality for its price also; with a bright, full-HD touchscreen and a 2-in-1 laptop design, we love that you can put this laptop into a tablet orientation for media watching, presenting, or simple touch activities.

With an all-metal exterior, backlit keyboard, and beautifully thin bezels around its screen, you may not be getting the most powerful pick, but as far as silent budget laptops go, this is the closest you’ll get with some great value.

Note: we have provided cheaper options further below which are perfectly capable, but we’d recommend this as a minimum if your budget can stretch as far.

If you don’t have the budget for the Surface Pro 7 but noise is still important to you, know that the C434 is somewhat close to the Pro 7 in noise output (minus a less-quiet keyboard); you lose some specs/longevity, but it’s easily the best quiet budget laptop choice today.

Alternative Picks – Best of the Rest

While the top 4 are our top picks for the best quiet laptops available today, we’ve included a few more worth your consideration if your requirements are a little more unique/your preferred laptop above is out of stock.

Quietest 17-inch Gaming Laptop : HP Omen 17-cb1080nr

We choose the MSI GL65 Leopard as the quietest gaming laptop overall. But if you’re after a larger screen, this HP omen pick is a great option.

With its larger space for heat dissipation and similarly great mid-range specs, it’s a powerful gaming PC with HP software to control fan speeds for noise reduction as required.

Cheapest Quiet Laptop: ASUS VivoBook Flip 14

If you want to go even cheaper than our top budget pick and would value the full utility of a WIndows OS, the VivoBook Flip 14 is another impressively valuable fanless laptop.

It’s worth noting that the specs on this device are very basic, but if your needs are too (say, a budget quiet student laptop), this may be all you need.

Cheapest Quiet Chromebook: Acer Chromebook 514

Very close to ranking as our best quiet budget pick, the Acer 514 is an impressively cheap quiet laptop. The reason we don’t give it the top budget accolade is its disappointing 4GB RAM, but if you only have very basic requirements, this is an excellent choice (you can expect it to run faster than the VivoBook Flip 14 if you don’t need Windows).

Quietest Macbook Pro: Apple MacBook Pro M1 Edition

To wrap up our list is what we’d recommend for those users after the best quiet Macbook with performance in mind. Yes the Pro M1 edition isn’t fanless like the Air, but still runs impressively quiet in most processes and is a powerhouse in comparison (this is what you’ll need if you’re looking at production work or video editing on top of day-to-day laptop use).

Tips for Buying a Silent Laptop

Although we’d recommend the picks above, we wanted to share some tips as part of this buying guide and also offer some of the methodologies behind how we picked our top quiet portable PCs.

First: no laptop is truly silent, this is a figure of speech.

But many of the above picks come quite close, and the decibel levels (of the non-gaming choices) aren’t anything anyone would complain about in a library.

What tends to create the more note-worthy dB output is using a keyboard, which is why our top picks (especially the Surface Pro 7) are tailored towards keyboards known for lower travel than similar counterparts.

Avoiding Fans

Usually, the main perpetrator of noise in a PC is loud fan cooling. If you are serious about creating a very quiet laptop setup, you should focus on our fanless PCs above which use clever internal layout/heat dissipation to not rely on fans.

If you want a higher-end machine for a lot of longevity, then you can still keep an eye out for machines that have decent thermal performance. More power does not automatically mean louder; even if a machine has fans, it may only need them for the kind of activity you couldn’t do on fanless PCs anyway, so don’t fret too much if you like our top gaming/MacBook Pro picks.

Avoid HDDs

3.5″ hard drives are notorious for being one of the nosiest parts of a PC; when data is collected from them, the discs spin loudly and often create a decibel level even higher than loud fans.

So a simple tip from us if you’re looking for a low noise laptop: ensure the storage is either a 2.5″ or NVMe solid-state drive.

None of our picks above use 3.5″ HDDs, and the good news is many laptops today don’t, but it’s still worth checking. 

Integrated GPU

If you are not a big gamer, the next big way to cut down on noise is by buying a laptop with an integrated GPU (like all of our non-gaming picks above).

This means that your CPU is effectively designed to also provide graphical capability. For most needs, including 4k video, software use (even light gaming at times) this is all you need. The only exception being GPU-intensive work like video editing and, of course, gaming.

For Gaming

All the above rules are worth bearing in mind if you’re after a quiet gaming laptop (except you do want a separate GPU in a gaming PC), but there are a couple more points to consider too.

While not a universal truth, a good rule of thumb is that larger/thicker gaming laptops tend to run quieter. This is because the internal layout has more space for airflow and heat dissipation, meaning their fans don’t have to engage for lower workloads. Additionally, large gaming laptop shells can hold big fans which can spin at lower RPMs during low-mid activity.

Additionally, look for what kind of design is in place for the laptop you’re looking at: how many fans/heat pipes does it have, what are existing users calling out (including if the keyboard is quiet, etc).

As we’ve said in this guide though, don’t expect a silent gaming laptop, a PC with a decent set of specs (particularly a GPU) capable of playing titles well is always going to make some noise, but you can mitigate it with the points above, and also if you’re purchasing our recommended picks, you’ll be in a good place to use fan control software to maximize what noise you’re willing to accept.

Alternative: Noise Cancelling Headphones

This may sound like a dramatic solution, but on the off-chance you want a laptop that makes a lot of noise and is mainly bothered about its sound for your own ears, then getting a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones like the fantastic Sony WH-1000XM3s can be an amazing option.

This may sound like an expensive solution, but they are simply fantastic headphones for anybody remotely worried about noise (not just in a laptop setting, as someone easily distracted by noise, I can personally attest to how life-changing the XM3s have been for me, amongst the many, many others who have them).

If you don’t want to fork out that much, some nice audiophile headphones for media/gaming usually provide enough isolation to cut out most noise, if you’re interested, check out our feature on them here (we also talk about the 1000XM3s here).

What's Next?

The Easy Guide to CPUs – Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core

Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core

The Easy Guide to CPUs

Kaelum Ross

I

Feb 18, 2020

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Ah, the central processing unit; this integral part is at the heart of any PC build.

Despite that, it can be deceptively hard to learn about what makes a CPU good and which one you should buy for your next build.

That’s why today’s feature is here to guide you through

  • The makings of a CPU
  • What elements to focus on depending on your needs (e.g. gaming, production)
  • Some FAQs (i3 vs i5, dual-core vs quad-core, etc.)

We’ve also included our top recommendations if you’re just after the best CPU for your budget/requirements without being bogged down by the details!

Table of Contents

Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core 6

What makes a CPU good?

The easiest way to answer this question is to break-down the main parts that make up a CPU.

Clock Speed

If you’ve seen processors advertised before, you’ll be familiar with seeing clock speeds (or the clock rate) in GHz.

What this indicates is how many times per second your CPU can perform tasks. So, if your processor has a speed of 3GHz (3,000,000,000 hertz), it can perform up to 3 billion cycles a second (more is better).

Base Clock vs Max Clock (or Boost Clock)

Most Ryzen/Intel CPUs today record their clock rate with multiple figures, usually “base speed” and “max speed”/”up to”.

Essentially, CPUs today are intelligently built to only use the clock speed that is required for the tasks at hand in order to conserve power.

If you have an expensive processor and are just running Netflix, there’s no reason for the hardware to heat up and run at max capacity!

The base clock, as the name suggests, is what your CPU runs at when idling/during low intensity.

The max clock is how much individual CPU cores can climb up to in power when performing intensive tasks (e.g. gaming, rendering).

Both are important, and a higher value for either means a faster system in different circumstances (in most cases, the 2 values increase at a similar rate to each other with more expensive CPUs).

Cores

The other term you’re probably already familiar with when seeing CPUs on Amazon; a core is an integral part of buying a processor today.

Essentially, each core is its own individual processor within your CPU.

So, for example, a quad-core CPU is essentially 4 CPUs in one, each capable of performing its own tasks.

Most processors today are between 4 and 8 cores, but the full range is anything from 1 to 128.

Sounds pretty awesome right? Well, for the most part, it is!

But there is an important point to make, using quad-core as an example: 4 x the cores does not mean 4 x the power in individual processes.

In simplistic terms, having 4 cores means you can perform 4 independent operations as fast as 1 core can perform 1 operation.

If you’re trying to get 4 cores to target the same task (e.g. playing a game), then the clock speeds, IPC, and other aspects of how your CPU works for a single core will be integral too.

That’s not to say having more cores doesn’t help individual processes, many applications (including games, as we’ll discuss further below) are developed with multi-core use in mind and can utilize some of their power.

Cores are important, and the days of single-core are over (with dual-core also on its way out), but we’re just trying to stress that there is no reason to go too crazy with cores. We expect 99% of readers would see close to 0 benefits from more than 16 cores, and many will see diminishing returns past 4-8 (we break this down for each PC type further below).

Threads

Multithreading is a technology that is used by Ryzen (SMT or simultaneous multithreaded) and Intel (hyperthreading) to allocate multiple  “virtual cores” (i.e. threads) inside each core.

In simple terms, this allows cores to split up certain types of workload (e.g. when 1 thread is waiting on information to complete a task, the second thread can be busy doing “prep work” for that task).

They both share the same physical specs of the core, so real-world performance gains are usually only marginal from your thread count.

There’s good news for learners too: nearly every mainstream CPU today has 2 threads per core. Therefore there’s no significant need to focus on thread count when you’re already considering cores.

Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core 9

IPC

The IPC is best described as the “hidden ingredient” for what makes a CPU good, as it is often not as discussed as the more marketable specs above and below.

Despite that, it’s very important in establishing speed; IPC stands for instructions per cycle/clock.

As you might expect from the name, IPC indicates how many tasks/instructions your CPU can perform for each cycle.

This is an underutilized spec as you could have a CPU with a very high clock speed, but if its IPC is low, it will be slower than a low-clock speed CPU with notably higher IPC.

IPC is often indicated or tested in CPU reviews/benchmarks as opposed to product listings.

The good news/rule of thumb is that newer generation processors from Ryzen and Intel will provide better IPCs than their predecessors, so although this spec is integral, you don’t have to overthink it too hard.

TDP

Thermal design profile (or TDP) is how much power your CPU demands in watts (e.g. 65W).

If just one TDP figure is provided, this is nearly always the max wattage required by your CPU (under heavy loads). Sometimes listings also include the idle/base TDPs, which refer to how much power is drawn at calmer usage.

In terms of performance, TDP does not directly affect your CPU (yes, higher TDP tends to mean a more powerful processor, but this isn’t a great metric, focus on the specs above).

Instead, what TDP is good for is understanding what level of CPU cooling you need and the PSU requirements of your CPU.

It’s also the best indication of how much you can expect your CPU to increase your energy bill (higher = more) but the difference between a modest and high TDP usually won’t mean more than $5-$20 per year.

Cache

Processor cache is the onboard caching system on a CPU that is used to interact with your RAM and access frequently used information from it as required.

The cache is important, but the values between modern CPUs are going to be very similar, and any differences are going to have immense diminishing returns in real-world performance compared to clock speed, core count and IPC. We included this for completeness but would recommend most users to not worry about this spec in their buying decision.

Integrated Graphics

Depending on the model of CPU you’re purchasing, you may have a processor designed to also do the job of a GPU included.

This is more useful if you are building a very budget/basic general use PC or a smaller computer with less graphical requirements to avoid the spatial needs of a graphics card (a common example is building a home theatre PC in a horizontal case).

If you’re building a mid-range desktop or something for gaming, you’ll definitely want a graphics card over integrated graphics; an independent GPU provides much more power (having the integrated functionality may still be useful to have as a backup if your GPU has issues and you need to troubleshoot, but isn’t essential if you’re on a budget).

The same logic goes for laptops, many have integrated GPUs to save on space; this is fine if you are a general user, but you’ll want a laptop with a GPU for gaming, video editing, or longevity.

Which CPU specs are the most important?

We’ve included all the main parts for completeness, but the short answer is how good a CPU is for most users is mostly determined by a mixture of its clock speed, IPC, and core count.

If you’re confused, a great rule of thumb to follow is that the latest generation of Intel and Ryzen processors will be the best “bang for your buck” at each of their respective price ranges and contain the latest innovations in clock speed, IPC, and core counts (we’ve provided some of the best options below).

Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core 5

How to choose the right CPU for your needs

The utility of a CPU usually overlaps into multiple areas (i.e. a processor good for gaming will be good for general use and media).

The question on how to chose is really around how much power you need.

If you do high-end development (rendering, intensive video editing, etc.) you’ll need a more powerful CPU than the average gamer.

This section is about providing a guideline depending on your individual requirements.

Choosing a CPU for Gaming

How many cores do you need for gaming?

4 is the absolute minimum today, as many developers have begun to use multi-core technology in the fundamentals of their game engines. If you’re using a single/dual-core, you’ll likely not meet the minimum specs for many titles.

While 4/quad core is the minimum, we’re now past the days where it’s recommended. We’ve noticed other resources saying “4 cores are all you need” – but this is an outdated statement.

Many PC gaming benchmarks have tested the average FPS of new popular titles at 1080p, 1440p, and 4k and it’s clear there can be a significant difference between 4 and 6 cores, a notable increase from 6 to 8, and a lesser-but-fair improvement from 8 to 10/12 (above this amount is when diminishing returns really settle in).

Now, benchmarks are examples, and of course don’t reflect your exact setup (GPU, motherboard, cooling, graphics settings, etc.). Additionally, each game has different CPU requirements (with simulation/larger-scale games usually benefitting more from increased processor power).

But the differences noted in various benchmarks demonstrate that the average user is likely to see real-world improvement above 4 cores.

Bear in mind all this advice is about shopping with the latest generation of Intel/Ryzen CPUs (10th gen and 5000 series); a previous-gen 8 core CPU may run slower than a current-gen 6 core CPU.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the latest generation consoles (PS5 and Xbox One X) are built with 8 core/16 thread CPUs. This doesn’t mean that you need this for gaming, but there will likely be some advantage to having a similar architecture in your gaming PC once developers begin to focus on this layout with major cross-platform titles.

With all that said, a good rule of thumb for gaming core requirement is:

  • 4 cores at a bare minimum 
  • 6 cores as a good standard for budget/lower mid-range 
  • 8 cores for the optimal sweet-spot/mid-range and to match the new console gen standards
  • 10/12 cores for a premium gaming desktop

How many threads do you need for gaming?

We see this question asked a fair bit, but as mentioned in the first section: nearly all mainstream CPUs (especially those focused on gaming) have 2 threads per cores, with the latter half being a more important overall indicator.

In other words, don’t focus on threads, focus on cores.

What other CPU specs are important for gaming?

Clock speed and IPC are also very important, but it’s harder to break these down in the same way as threads/cores (as they vary notably between choices). 

The easiest suggestion is to focus on the latest generation CPUs which will be tailored for the optimum clock speeds/IPCs at each price-range (we list the best for different budget types just below).

Ryzen vs Intel for gaming

No CPU discussion would be complete without a word on Intel vs AMD processors for gaming!

It’s a very close race for the most part.

AMD tends to have a focus on increased core/thread count, while Intel’s focus is on achieving the highest single-core clock speed.

For gaming, single-core clock speed is very important, and typically you’d expect Intel’s approach to win out here.

However, AMD sometimes offers better prices for similar performance and as we’ve seen from benchmarks, core/thread count does also play a notable role in avoiding bottlenecking a GPU’s performance.

We would say it’s usually common for AMD to come out on top, but right now, it’s really too close to call for gaming. As you’ll see in our recommendations below, we choose CPUs from both vendors and the best value is really going to depend on the state of the market at any given time (ignore CPU brand loyalty, it’s a waste of time!).

Best CPU for Gaming (Mid-Range): Intel Core i7-10700K

It’s a very close race for the best gaming CPU between the 10700k and AMD’s new 5800X.

The 5800X usually averages 2-3% FPS improvement in gaming benchmarks but comes at a near 20% increased cost (and is short in stock) therefore we give the crown to the 10700k.

This beastly Intel processor hits the sweet spot with 8 cores/16 threads to match new console architecture, and with fantastic clock speeds/IPC, it’s one of the best CPUs for RTX 3070 & 3080 builders.

Best CPU for Gaming (High-End):
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

For those after a high-end gaming desktop CPU, we give this accolade to the fantastic new 5900X.

With an impressive 12 cores & 24 threads alongside immense clock speeds, the combinations on offer here is what we consider the maximum you need in a CPU today for gaming (anything more is where you start to see notable diminishing returns), with the right GPU you’ll be able to throw pretty much any game at this CPU and get a great result in 1440p or 4k.

You don’t just have one of the best CPUs for RTX 3090 builds (and other premium gaming machines) but also a CPU capable of working alongside other high-end parts for intensive production work (be it development, rendering, or high-scale video editing).

After the best high-end Intel gaming CPU? Your best option will be the i9-10900K.

Best Budget CPU for Gaming: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

For cheaper builds, the new budget offering in AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series is a fantastic choice.

The 5600X still hits 6 cores / 12 threads with the excellent clock speeds and IPC you expect from the latest generation of gaming processors.

What’s more, unlike the other 5000-series CPUs, the 5600X comes bundled with AMD’s Wraith Cooler, which is a pretty decent option as far as stock coolers go (especially for a budget build).

We would say, however, that if you could stretch that little bit further and get our top i7-10700K choice (or the Ryzen 7 4800X), we think that is the best value for money in the gaming space today.

But rest assured; if not, this is still a great processor and would work well alongside an RTX 2000 series GPU or even the RTX 3060 when released.

If you’re looking for something even cheaper while still hitting our recommend 6 cores for a budget build, the Core i5-10600K is your best bet.

Choosing a CPU for Streaming

If you’re looking to stream on Twitch or another platform, you can usually expect a couple of cores to be pre-occupied with the streaming tasks.

So as a rule of thumb; follow our gaming core requirements above and +2 for streaming (6 minimum, 8 budget, 10/12 mid-range, and more for premium).

Best CPU for Streaming: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

With AMD’s focus on cores, you not only have a great CPU for gaming here but something that has enough spatial capacity to handle even demanding streaming requirements.

If you’re after an option that’s cheaper, Intel, or more readily in stock right now, the i9-10900K is a good second place.

Choosing a CPU for General Use

If you’re after a non-gaming CPU and your tasks aren’t much more than internet browsing, Netflix, and business applications (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) or an HTPC/media build, then you can get away with a significantly cheaper processor.

We never recommend too cheap of course, even decent budget CPUs today with the latest motherboard sockets still offer decent core/thread counts to make sure you have a relatively smooth experience, you can just afford to lose the high clock speeds/IPC offered by the more expensive options.

Note: by general use, we do not mean more hefty production tasks like video editing or development work (those are discussed below).

Best CPU for General Use: Intel Core i5-10400

At a fantastic low price-point, the 10400 has enough juice to run a smooth budget non-gaming build.

One of the really nice things about this processor is the integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics, which have enough capability to act as a GPU solution for a basic build (and can reportedly run/stream 4k video, so could be a great option for a budget HTPC).

Choosing a CPU for Video Editing (or Production)

Although people think that a GPU is the be-all-end-all for video editing, most popular software, including Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro & Sony Vegas, are all designed to make good use of high core/thread counts.

Therefore, you benefit significantly from the newest generations of CPUs with their excellent core/thread provisions (the same advice goes for other medium intensity software requirements like mid-range animation or development work).

So how many cores for video editing are recommended? We would advise at least six, but more will improve your experience notably too.

Best CPU for Video Editing: Ryzen 9 5900X

It’s another win for the fantastic 5900X, its 12-core 24-thread capability simply provides so much performance potential for a video editing desktop (including 4k/8k).

Do you need to spend this much on a video editing CPU? Of course not, you could still manage edits on a lesser CPU (like the 5600X from our budget gaming picks) but if you’re serious about a productive rig, this is an ideal choice.

The i9-10900K is your best choice for something mid-range or for those after Intel and is still a great choice with its 10 core/20 thread setup.

HEDT CPU for High-End Development & Production

To be clear; an overwhelming majority of users do not need a high-end desktop CPU (HEDT).

HEDT CPUs are specifically designed for very high-end production work; think industry-standard rendering, server builds, and other intensive requirements.

That said, if any of these sound like you, there is a select set of CPUs designed for some incredible levels of computation going up to 64 cores/128 threads while still retaining great clock speeds and enormous caches.

Best HEDT CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

Arguably the most powerful CPU on the market today, the 3990X includes an immense 64 cores and 128 threads while still retaining other decent specs.

Of course, its single-core clock speeds are not as high, but this isn’t a chip for gaming, it’s about large-scale production work; its productivity potential will be pretty much unmatched by any mainstream CPU line.

Bear in mind that the Threadripper series runs on the TRX40 chipset and requires a different motherboard type to many mainstream choices, we have a recommendation on a good option in our EATX motherboards feature.

Needing a budget HEDT CPU? The best we’d recommend is the brand new Ryzen 9 5950X which is still a productivity machine (with less diminishing returns).

Other Build Types

We’ve aimed to cover a large majority of build types in the picks above, but appreciate some of you may have very refined requirements.

We’d reiterate an earlier point made: if you’re focussing on the latest generation of Intel and Ryzen chips (10th gen and 5000 series) then you’ll be in a good spot to get the best value for whatever budget you have.

The processors this gen are also fairly well balanced between various spec types, so you can take our above gaming/production picks as a template, and we’d expect they would apply to most other purpose you’re looking for (as a rule of thumb).

Dual Core vs Quad Core vs Six Core vs Eight Core 4

CPU FAQs & Head-to-Heads

There are not many things more common in the CPU space than people asking questions like:

What’s the difference between dual-core and quad-core?

or:

What’s better, a core i3 or core i5?

And we’re not surprised! The processor industry doesn’t always do a great job of making what actually makes a CPU good clear.

The answers to these questions aren’t always clear-cut, but we’re going to give you the best summation for someone after the essential knowledge when buying a CPU.

Note: don’t feel inclined to read through all of the FAQs to learn about CPUs; our key knowledge/recommendations are above. These are specifically here for those of you who want a little more clarity on certain areas.

Intel Core i3 vs i5 vs i7 vs i9 CPUs

This i naming structure is how Intel allows users to have a quick reference point to compare CPUs in the same generation depending on their needs as follows:

  • i3 CPUs are the cheapest/budget options (still fairly powerful with the current 10th gen CPUs)
  • i5 CPUs are budget/low mid-range options
  • i7 CPUs are the higher mid-range choices
  • i9 CPUs are for enthusiasts and professionals (i.e. maximizing your productivity or gaming capability, with some diminishing returns for the latter).

These aren’t definitions set in stone, but usually how the I-series go and is a good guideline for you to make sense of all the different offerings (i.e. the higher the number, the better the processor usually is).

There are other non-i processors (like the Pentium series) but in today’s market, for anyone reading this list (providing you have the budget) it’s good to stick to at least i3 for a somewhat smooth experience.

It’s key to remember that these comparisons only make sense for Intel CPUs in the same generation. 

For example, an i5 9400F (9th gen) will provide about the same performance as an i3-10100 (10th gen). This is because the 10100 comes from the next generation which is created using more efficient practices than the 9th gen.

Any resource that says i3 “has X cores or Y clock speed” is false. i3 (or any of the i CPUs) have lots of different meanings depending on the generation, only use these terms as a guideline!

Ryzen 3 vs 5 vs 7 vs 9 CPUs

Very similarly to the Intel naming standard, AMD uses these terms as a guideline naming convention in place to allow you to compare same generation CPUs with some ease:

  • Ryzen 3 CPUs are the lower end choices (still capable for general use)
  • Ryzen 5 CPUs are budget/ lower mid-range choices
  • Ryzen 7 CPUs are the mid-range choices on the premium-side
  • Ryzen 9 CPUs are the enthusiast options

It’s worth noting that we don’t know if there will be a Ryzen 3 5000 CPU as of yet, AMD has only announced Ryzen 5, 7 & 9 5000 series CPUs.

Remember, the terms only work for comparison if the Ryzen CPUs are from the same series.

Intel vs Ryzen CPUs (Non-Gaming)

We touched on Intel vs Ryzen early, specifically for gaming, where the winner isn’t too decisive.

Now, what about other areas like general use, business productivity, and production (mid-range or high end)?

Well, both companies do still have great options.

However, with non-gaming software, it is a lot more common to see more beneficial use from multi-core/thread performance that AMD specializes in (as opposed to Intel’s single-core performance gains).

So generally speaking, AMD comes out on top for providing the best value for non-gaming desktops.

But this is not universal, which is why we highly recommend sticking to our recommended CPU picks above, where both brands are offered for different requirements.

dual core vs quad core vs six core vs eight core

Core head-to-heads

We see many users asking questions about values of specific core quantities and how they compare to others, so we’ve put together a quick-fire reference for some of the most common “battles”.

These head-to-heads are for a rule of thumb only because in reality, for example, a 4 core and 8 core will nearly always have different clock speeds, IPCs, etc. These examples are based on the assumption that all the other specs of the CPUs are identical (other than threads, which we are assuming will be 2 x the core quantity).

Dual-Core vs Quad-Core / 2 Cores vs 4 Cores

While Quad-core processors are becoming less used, dual-core is, in a larger way, on its way out as a valid option for modern desktops.

One of the only CPUs we would consider a valid option for very basic workstations is AMD’s Athlon 3000G (which is nicely on the modern AM4 motherboard socket, but was released in 2019, so is still becoming dated).

Sure, you could build a basic general use PC with dual-core. But for only a tad extra, a quad-core CPU like the i3-9100 will offer significantly more value with its slightly higher price tag. Quad-core is definitely the better choice for even a basic workstation (even 6 core if you can stretch to it, as we detail below).

For gaming, we would pretty much not consider dual-core a valid option as quad-core is the bare minimum for a gaming PC nowadays due to the number of games that require 4 cores / 8 threads as a minimum. Bear in mind that 4 cores are still a tad low for games too (though perfectly doable if you are on a very tight budget).

Dual-Core vs Six-Core / 2 Cores vs 6 Cores

The difference between dual-core and six-core is very significant in modern-day computing. The key change is that 6 cores are way more of a leading market force with more supply/options, so you’ll nearly always be getting way better value with a 6 core processor (even if its price-tag is higher).

Yes, some will argue you can still get away with dual-core for a very basic workstation and we don’t disagree. But our counter would be why not invest a little more for a CPU that will be dramatically more future-proofed for building a long-lasting machine (even for basic use)?

This is why our top general-use/budget recommendation above is the 6-core i5-10400, which still comes on the new LGA 1200 socket and has integrated graphics for a ridiculously low price-tag.

For gaming, this question is a no-brainer; 2 cores is not good enough for modern gaming, 6-8 cores is the sweet spot, with six being perfect for those a little more budget-conscious as we point out in our recommendations above.

Dual-Core vs Octa-Core / 2 Cores vs 8 Cores

At this point, the battle between 2 and 8 cores barely feels fair; with most 8-core options today being premium choices that pack serious power for productivity workstations.

We will say that 8-cores may begin to be the point where your CPU may be overkill if you’re just building a web browsing, media, and/or basic work software computer (where you can get away with a quad-core like the i3-9100 as a budget choice or the 6-core i5-10400 as our recommendation).

If you’re after a machine for productivity, video editing, or mid-range production however, 2 cores is not a good option for you, and 8-core CPUs like the 5800X will provide fantastic utility for more intensive software.

For gaming, 2 cores are below our minimum recommendation of 4 cores; an 8 core processor is what we consider to be on the high-end of the sweet spot of FPS performance gains for most gaming titles (i.e. perfect for mid-range gaming desktops looking for the most value before diminishing returns kick in).

Quad-Core vs Hexa-Core / 4 Cores vs 6 Cores

An argument can be made both ways for a general use PC, but we think the value and longevity a 6-core will provide is the better option for a larger majority of desktop builders even if your needs are simple.

This is largely because modern generations of CPUs are moving to 6-core as one of their standards, so the available options tend to offer better value per dollar.

This is, of course, a rule of thumb only; but taking examples of two of the best value processors for budget builds, the i3-10100 vs the i5 10400. Both of these processors are perfectly suited for a cheap PC, and if your budget is really tight, we can happily recommend the 10100 as a valid option. The reason we focus more on the 10400 as the best budget CPU is because we think that for its modest price increase, having the extra 2 cores will provide you with better longevity that is worth the small price jump.

For gaming, we’d recommend a 6 core processor with better clock speeds like the 4600X if possible. You absolutely can get away with a quad-core CPU if needed, but 6 cores will be better suited to match what games will likely move to in the future as they continue to focus on multi-core/threading optimization.

On a gaming note, while in a perfect world you will have a decent spec GPU and CPU, if your budget is very tight, it will usually be more beneficial to sacrifice CPU specs over investing in a better graphics card.

Quad-Core vs Octa-Core / 4 Cores vs 8 Cores

For a general use PC, we’d definitely recommend four cores over 8 cores, the latter being overkill even for somebody focussed on providing some longevity.

For productivity/production/video editing, 8 cores will usually provide a notable benefit over a 4-core setup.

For gaming, 4-cores is our minimum recommendation, and 8-cores is on the higher mid-range side of the gaming “sweet-spot”, so while we would of course recommend Octa-core processors if possible, it really comes down to if you have the budget as there is certainly a stark difference in cost between the two.

Hexa-Core vs Octa-Core / 6 Cores vs 8 Cores

General workstations with basic internet/software/media needs will usually be fine with the modern 6-core options.

For productivity users, it really depends on how demanding your needs are; there are certainly plenty of 6-core processors that can handle things like 4k video editing, significant compiling, etc. but 8-core options, especially something like the 5800X, will certainly provide you a worthy boost if you can stretch further.

For gaming, 6-8 cores is what we consider the “sweet-spot” for modern-day gaming CPUs; with 6 being on the lower budget side, and 8 being for mid-range users who can fork out for something extra performative.

6 cores would be sensible for someone who needs to invest more in their GPU and there is no shame in settling for something like a Ryzen 5 5600X.

That said; one big reason it would be great to push your build to an 8 core/16 thread CPU if possible as you are then working with a gaming PC that has the same core/thread specs as the new PS5/Xbox Series X. This might not mean much for a little while, but over the console generation, developers will likely start utilizing this architecture layout. Having a CPU that shares these qualities isn’t necessary but will likely open up some better optimization for you on AAA titles made with consoles in mind.

It’s really a close call for gaming, and purely comes down to your budget; we think you’ll be satisfied with the value both options provide.

Hexa-Core vs Deca-Core / 6 Cores vs 10 Cores

Now that our head-to-heads are looking at 10 cores and beyond, we’re really getting into the power-users who are either running intensive workstations or want the absoloute best quality even with diminishing returns.

If you are running demanding production applications with high requirements in rendering, compiling, etc., you will find some value in 10+ core options, but 6 core processor with good specs elsewhere will be more than fine for a budget/mid-range production machine.

For gaming, 10+ cores is where the diminishing returns really settle in. Yes, there will be improvements over 6-core, but most of these will be shared by 8-core processors, so we’d only recommend 10+ for high-end streaming or those who want the absolute best quality regardless of price.

Octa-Core vs Deca-Core / 8 Cores vs 10 Cores

For users with very intensive production requirements, you can expect to see some improvement during your most demanding processes between 8 and 10 cores (but not so much that its a requirement to have those 2 extra cores, 8 will still cope with even some demanding needs).

For gaming, we would recommend sticking to 8 cores unless you are happy with paying significantly more for very minor gains.

Octa-Core vs Dodeca-Core / 8 Cores vs 12 Cores

With AMD being the only player with mainstream 12 core options right now, if you’re interested in this question, we imagine you’re looking at the difference between something like the Ryzen 7 5800X vs Ryzen 9 5900X.

In this case, we would say the 12-core option is reserved for those after a premium productivity machine who significantly rely on intensive processing throughout their day-to-day operations.

For gaming, we would only recommend 12 cores to those who absolutely want the most power out of their desktop, as there are some diminishing returns for the price-tag.

That’s the best way to sum up this head-to-head for most users; 8-core is the better value option for mid-range builds, 12-core is for those more interested in maximum performance over budget concerns.

Octa-Core vs Hexadeca-Core / 8 Cores vs 16 Cores

Although we see this question asked, the difference between 8 cores and 16 cores is becoming so much that it’s a bit of an “apples and oranges” question.

All general users and most productivity users should stick to 8 cores between these two options, which will already provide fantastic power for a large majority of operations.

16 core+ is only recommended today for advanced users with dramatic production/server requirements; we do not recommend going as far as 16 cores for gaming (unless you don’t really care about your wallet!).

Deca-Core vs Dodeca-Core / 10 Cores vs 12 Cores

This head-to-head is a little hard to quantify, as 10-core is where Intel has focussed their higher-end 10th gen options, and 12 core+ is where AMD has defined their premium 5000 series CPUs.

So really, the battle will usually be if you are after a CPU that focuses more on single-core performance (Intel) or more cores/threads (AMD).

In general, we’re more impressed by AMD’s latest 12+ core options and think this will suit more users in this price-range who are likely looking at productivity builds that will benefit from an increase in cores.

Dodeca-Core vs Hexadeca-Core / 12 Cores vs 16 Cores

The only users this question should apply to are those after a very high-spec production machine. Gamers (with finite wallets) will be fine with 12 cores or less, and even advanced productivity machines will get a lot done on 8-12 cores.

So 16 cores and beyond are really reserved for HEDT CPUs that may be needed by large software companies, animators, high-spec production users, and similar. Our honest opinion is that if you’re an individual builder, you almost certainly don’t need 16 cores and we’d only get it if it’s a luxury you can afford comfortably.

Single-Core vs Dual-Core / Multi-Core

We wanted to add this head-to-head just for completeness but realistically, nobody today should build a single-core desktop PC (unless you have some weird nostalgia for it, you may have a hard time finding them though!).

Gaming or not, most applications take advantage of multi-core/threading capabilities and the industry has moved well away from 1 core CPUs, so whatever your build requirement, go for 2 as an absolute minimum.

Final Word

And there you have it! The above is everything we think you need to know about what makes a CPU good and how to pick for your next build.

Feeling overwhelmed? We understand!

We’ve mentioned this point a few times in the feature but it’s worth re-iterating one last time: you don’t need to know every part of the CPU to make a good purchase.

Stay close to our recommendations above depending on your type of build, you can’t go too wrong as long as you’re buying a CPU that’s current-generation (Intel 10th gen/Ryzen 5000 series) and in your budget!

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The 8 Best 1080p Ultrawide Monitors of 2021

1080p Ultrawide

The 8 Best 1080p Ultrawide Monitors of 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Jan 21, 2021

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Ultrawide monitors make for some of the best screens for immersive gaming and media viewing, not to mention providing an aspect ratio perfect for extended productivity.

Which is why today’s feature is here to guide you through the best UWHD monitors available today at various price-points/specs.

Top Picks

Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks

Overall Best 1080p Ultrawide Monitor: Spectre Curved C305B-200UN

No monitor better encompassed what we think our gaming readers will be looking for than this fantastic Spectre display.

Offering an unrivaled balance in picture quality, build quality, and price, the Spectre C305B ticks all the boxes at a lower cost than we expected.

Note: We’ve based this top pick specifically around the best 1080 ultrawide gaming monitor. If you have no interest in gaming (or it’s at least not your main priority), the next 2 picks will be better suited for you.

To start, you are getting up to a whooping 200hz when using DisplayPort. Combined with its ultrawide resolution, this is a truly fantastic coupling of specs for competitive gaming/e-sports and playing through more immersive titles (if you haven’t played at high refresh rates before, it’s hard to overstate just how much they improve gaming).

On top of these leading specs, you’re also getting a display with a 90% sRGB color gamut, excellent blacks with its VA panel, and a 5ms GTG response time; you are well-positioned to have an excellent picture quality.

Freesync is also supported, enabling you to minimize ghosting/stuttering at the C305B’s higher refresh rates.

What makes us love this cheap 1080 ultrawide gaming monitor, even more, is that it’s not compromising on build quality too.

Built like a premium display should be; the stand/overall design is durable, the bezels are incredibly thin and there is even some subtle LED lighting on the back, which if your monitor is near a wall, will add some nice light-blend.

While we wouldn’t recommend any monitor speakers for an audiophile gaming setup, this display’s included sound is decent compared to many others we’ve experienced.

On top of everything else that’s great about this pick, it’s also a curved 1080p ultrawide monitor. Truthfully, there was enough going for this Spectre display that we would’ve given it the top spot without this feature, but having curvature too will really take the immersion in gaming, media, and general use that extra bit further. If you’ve never used a curved monitor before, it’s something that is simply more impressive in person.

There is simply so much to love about the C305B.

Coming in at an incredible price range, we think anybody in the market after a full HD ultrawide monitor for gaming will simply love this pick.

Best IPS 1080p Ultrawide Monitor: LG 34WN650-W 34-Inch

Our next pick is for those focussed less on a gaming monitor, and more on a very vibrant picture quality that’s perfect for media and general use (also perhaps best 1080p ultrawide monitor for Mac).

This LG display has one of the best picture qualities on the list, especially when considering its mid-range price.

Boasting an IPS panel, VesaDisplay HDR400, and an sRGB99% color gamut; the picture here is simply stunning, with excellent colors, blacks, and whites (particularly from the HDR400). This is easily our pick for the best 1080p ultrawide monitor for video editing and other production work.

With its core target focussed around being the perfect general use/office ultrawide monitor, this LG offering has some great quality-of-life features for users focussed on business software and general internet use; utility like flicker safe/reader modes, screen split, and ergonomic tilt/height options. It’s a nice, well-rounded display that meets its goals as a productivity monitor perfectly.

If you are still into gaming, we’re not trying to imply this LG 1080p ultrawide monitor isn’t more than capable of it. With its gorgeous picture quality and some decent game modes available, you can still have a quality, immersive setup on here (we just think that if you’re serious about gaming, the utility of the high refresh rate on the Spectre ultrawide monitor or Samsung pick will be so beneficial for you).

With all that said, if you are focused on picture quality and great utility for a productivity/office monitor, this is easily the best IPS full HD ultrawide display for the job.

Best Cheap 1080p Ultrawide Monitor: LG 25UM58

Our next pick is arguably the most impressive display on the list.

Not because it’s the best, but because it’s an incredible budget 1080p ultrawide monitor. We’ve seen 16:9 full HD displays in this price-range with lower picture quality, so this LG monitor feels like it was made with some kind of wizardry to achieve a decent 1080p 21:9 display at this budget.

With an IPS panel, 99% sRGB color gamut, and up to 250-nits brightness, the specs here will still provide a decent enough picture for a nice office/budget gaming setup.

This 21:9 ultrawide display lacks support for Freesync, which isn’t as good as our top pick for hardcore gamers/those interested in esports, but will still be fine for many gamers who can’t stretch to the pricepoint.

As far as business and personal use go, we think the 25UM58 has the specs you need to create a productive visual workspace.

Perhaps the most important distinguishment between this and our other choices is that this LG display ultrawide display is 25 inches, versus the 34″+ of our other favorite choices.

This is a notable decrease. You still have a gorgeous workspace compared to traditional aspect ratios, though, but it’s probably the biggest reason why it’s still worth stretching to the better picks if you can.

Of course, at this price range, you’re not going to get the vibrance, low response times, high refresh rates, and fantastic blacks/whites as our other picks.

But we’re still floored by what a great option this is if you can only stretch to a budget display. The monitor even has bezels as thin as many of the more expensive picks which we would never expect usually with a budget pick.

If your wallet is tight but you still want a 21:9 desktop then this is, without doubt, the best cheap 1080p ultrawide monitor on the market today.

Best 1080p Super Ultrawide Monitor: Samsung 49-Inch CHG90

The last main pick on our list is for the best 1080p ultrawide screen money can buy.

Yes, it’s an expensive offering, but this Samsung ultrawide monitor is something truly special.

To start, this is a super ultrawide display.

Sounds like marketing jargon, we know, but it in fact means the CHG90 boasts a 32:9 monitor aspect ratio and a 3840 x 1080 resolution.

With standard monitors being a 16:9 aspect ratio, this Samsung offering is literally the size of 2 1080p monitors in one screen; and with its enormous 49-inch size, you really feel the presence of 2 monitors (effectively both 24.5 inches).

This dual monitor in one design makes this a beast of a productivity display, with pretty much limitless potential for business and personal use.

And combined with its QLED screen, 350-nits brightness & HDR support, the vibrant picture you will get on this display is simply phenomenal.

But there’s more; let’s talk gaming.

With a 144hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, stunning picture quality, and, of course, the 32:9 aspect ratio, this is one of the best ultrawide gaming monitors on the market.

It’s hard to overstate just how more immersive a normal ultrawide monitor can be; to get the extra screen width of the CHG90 takes this to a whole other level.

There is also a decent amount of support for this aspect ratio too. You may be worrying if you have a gaming PC powerful enough to run 3840x1080p 144hz, but this resolution has half the pixels of a 4k monitor, and there plenty of 4k 144hz displays on the market. As long as you have a mid to high-range setup, you should be able to run an array of titles here.

To top off the gaming features is built-in support for AMD Freesync 2, which is one of the best technologies available to minimize common monitor issues such as ghosting on high-end displays.

Then there is the build quality; this Samsung 1080p ultrawide display is gorgeous, with a sturdy, well-built frame. It’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t have speakers, but we think you’ll want a real audiophile solution for gaming/general use to appreciate how immersive/productive this display can be anyway.

Last but not least, this is a curved super ultrawide monitor. On top of everything else this display has going for it, its 1800R curvature offers an additional layer of immersion.

Between all the great features we’ve discussed, you probably realize why we rate this screen so highly.

If you have the budget, this is an incredible choice, and the best 1080p ultrawide monitor on the market; something truly special that will last you a long time.

Alternative Picks – Best of the Rest

While the top 4 picks are our absolute favorite options for gaming, media, and general/business use alike, we wanted to provide a few more quick-fire picks in case any of our readers have very specific requirements/briefly explain why we may not have chosen them above the top 4.

34″ 1080p Ultrawide Alternative: Spectre C345W-2560UN

While we think the main Spectre monitor we’ve recommended is the better choice value-wise, this is a great option if you happen to find it at a discount/if the top Spectre choice is out of stock and you want something of similar quality.

Second Cheapest IPS 1080p Ultrawide Monitor: LG 34WL600-B

If you like the look of out budget 1080p ultrawide display pick but want something with a better design/picture quality, this LG monitor is a great pick “in-between” our top cheap and high-end IPS choices. We’d just say it will usually be worth picking up the top Spectre or LG displays if possible over this.

Mid-Range 1080p Ultrawide IPS Monitor: Philips 342E2E

Operating in a similar space to the LG pick directly above, this is a good middle-ground pick for users focussed on a business/general use display (while we prefer our main picks, it would be decent on a discount).

Best 200Hz 1080p Ultrawide Monitor: MSI Optix MAG301CR

Our last pick is an MSI gaming monitor with a superb refresh rate; the main reasons we don’t rate this as highly as our top pick is its significantly larger price-range and user-reports of ghosting. We’d say this is only worth considering if you’re after a very high refresh-rate monitor and the other viable picks are not available.

1080p vs 1440p Ultrawide Resolution

Before we wrap up, we wanted to address the common question on the differences between 1080p and 1440p for ultrawide. Some users seem to think that 2560 x 1080 resolution is “not good enough” for ultrawide monitors. This simply isn’t true.

Of course, if you have the extra budget and a semi-powerful PC, 1440p ultrawide is a marvel to behold. But there is nothing wrong with 1080p, UWFHD monitors are still far superior and more immersive than their 16:9 counterparts and you can still expect a crisp image with full HD, making them a perfect budget ultrawide option; not to mention our Samsung monitor choice proves that this form factor has some incredible premium options too.

If your budget is more in-line with the cost of 1080p ultrawide, don’t fret! We think you’ll love the options above, with the top picks selected with a balance of the picture, high refresh rate, and build quality in mind, you can expect them to be excellent options for gaming, media, or general use.

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The 5 Best 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitors in 2021

1440p 144hz Ultrawide

The 5 Best 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitors in 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Jan 20, 2021

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1440p, high refresh rate, and ultrawide in one monitor?

If you’re in the market for a new display, some of the best monitor manufacturers have recently put together incredible offerings that meet all of these impressive specs. These displays offer some unique capability for immersive gaming, media, and large screen real-estate for productivity.

Which is why today’s feature is here to take you through the top 1440p 144hz ultrawide monitors worth buying today.

Top Picks

Alternative Quick-Fire Picks

Overall Best 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitor: Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx 34″

Although all 5 of our top 21:9 1440p 144hz monitor picks are worthy contenders for the top pick, this Acer display was our clear winner.

Impressively balancing features, picture quality, build, design, and a low cost for the technology, the XV340CK feels amazing for its price.

Let’s start with the obvious: boasting a QHD 144hz ultrawide resolution/refresh rate, what really impressed us is that despite being one of the cheapest choices on the list, the XV340CK includes all of these specs in an IPS panel while still maintaining 1ms VRB response time.

Higher latency is often the core sacrifice of IPS . So having this panel, alongside 1ms means the colors are vibrant and complementarity immersive alongside its 3440×1440 monitor resolution. The monitor also supports HDR10, where you can expect to achieve a great picture alongside the AMD Radeon Freesync compatibility (and although not officially supported, many users have claimed that G-sync works without issue).

This cheap 1440p 144hz ultrawide monitor hasn’t skipped corners in the build quality either. With a durable, sturdy design and a fantastic screen to body ratio, it feels and looks like a premium product.

The ports are decent and what we’d expect for a high-end gaming monitor too, with 2 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI 2.0, and 2 x USB 3.0. Not to mention the monitor includes both DisplayPort and HDMI cables. Of course, these aren’t all that expensive; but again, what we like is how despite its low price-point, Acer doesn’t seem to have really “cut corners” in any area we would expect to see in a budget 1440p 144hz ultrawide gaming monitor.

If you can afford our more expensive picks, then yes, they will have some superior picture quality specs available (or other notable features like screen curvature).

But in its budget price-range, the XV340CK is unrivaled, and easily the best 1440p 144hz ultrawide gaming monitor in terms of value.

Best Curved 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitor: AOC CU34G2X 34″

The next offering is not just one of the cheapest curved QHD 1440 144hz ultrawide monitors, but also one of the best choices in the technology.

With a 1500R curvature, the curve in this monitor isn’t underwhelming; it’s a significant change to how content/gaming is viewed and really adds to the immersion that we know users after a QHD ultrawide monitor value.

AOC has gone for a VA panel with this pick. We know many readers prefer IPS panels; however, this UWQHD display includes a 115% sRGB / 98% Adobe RGB color gamut and some fantastic contrast. Between these specs, you can expect a picture that is even more vibrant than our Acer pick (which already has a great picture as it is, the CU34G2X is just that little bit more stunning).

The build quality here is similarly effective. With a solid, durable design and some very small bezels on the sides and top, we love how this monitor looks/feels. On top of that, AOC offers an impressive 3-year warranty covering dead-pixels, technical faults, and even a rather unique 1 year 1-time warranty for accidental damage (hopefully you won’t need any of these, but warranties are not all made equally, so having these backups adds some nice peace of mind when making a monitor purchase).

The race between this AOC monitor and our top Acer display was a pretty close one. With its strong curve, fantastic warranty, and improved picture quality, it was tough for us not to give this monitor the best overall price. However, we suspect that for many users, the reduced price of the Acer display will be more important.

That said, if you can stretch your budget to the 34″ CU34G2X, then it is an incredible offering and one of the best 144hz UWQHD gaming monitors available.

Best Premium 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitor: Acer Nitro XZ342CK Pbmiiphx 34″

Now, with our above 2 picks, we’ve focussed very much on value for money, representing the mid-range pricing for this technology.

However, if you’re after the best 1440p 144hz ultrawide display, it’s close between this choice and the AOC monitor above, but we think the XZ342CK takes the prize.

With a high-quality, 1ms VRB VA panel capable of diminishing ghosting and combined with a fantastic color gamut, Freesync support, and 1500R screen, this Acer gaming monitor ticks many of the same boxes that our top two choices provide.

Where the Pbmiiphx 34″ goes one step further is in its fantastic 400-nits brightness/HDR400 support. Our top Acer and AOC monitor picks have 250 and 300-nits brightness respectively, so this is a notable jump and perfect for achieving a fantastic contrast ratio. Some users have even reported that the brightness can achieve closer to 500-nits in some common benchmarks. Either way, the picture on this monitor is stunning for immersive gaming, movies, and general work.

While this Acer display is worth the extra price-tag for the contrast ratio/brightness alone, another bonus we like is that some users have reported this monitor working at 165hz. While 144hz is already a fantastic, high refresh rate and is the official support, the prospect that you can potentially squeeze an extra ~10% smoother fps in games is exciting (though we recommend assuming this is just a nice-to-have and not a guarantee).

Last but not least; the build quality is similarly great to our top two picks. With its zero-frame (i.e. tiny bezel) design and strong stand/wall mount options, we have no complaints about the structure of the XZ342CK.

Important note: When comparing the XZ342CK vs CUU34G2X, this Acer model was only 10% more expensive. However as some of you may know, Amazon listings occasionally have massive short-term price inflations if a monitor is low in stock. So just to be clear; although this is our premium choice, we don’t think it’s worth more than a slight cost increase over the AOC monitor above, don’t spend 25%+ to get this instead.

With all that said; between its gorgeous colors, brightness, low ghosting, and fantastic curvature, this Acer Nitro screen is what we consider the best HDR 1440p 144hz ultrawide gaming monitor on the market for those with the budget.

Best Cheap 1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitor: VIOTEK GNV34DBE 34-Inch

As far as cheap UWQHD 144hz monitors go, our top Acer choice actually fits the bill perfectly and is usually at a similar price-point (and more readily available in terms of stock) compared to this VIOTEK offering 

However; the GNV34DBE is curved with the same 1500R rating as our two most expensive choices above.

For its price and everything else this screen has going for it, this is an insane value offering.

Running on a VA panel combined with a 116% sRGB / 87% DCI-P3 color gamut, the screen quality is still fantastic despite its lower price-point and even boasts 350-nits brightness, way more than we’d expect for a cheap ultrawide QHD 144hz display.

With all the expected HDMI/DisplayPort/USB outputs, a good design/build quality, and Freesync/G-sync monitor support, this VIOTEK offering ticks nearly all the boxes we want to see.

There are two minor pitfalls when compared to our other choices:

  1. The response time for this particular monitor is 4ms (by OD measurement) – don’t get us wrong, this is still perfectly decent for gaming, but may be slightly more at risk for minor ghosting/may be a problem if you’re very sensitive to certain motion, though we expect most users will be fine (as per the thousands of positive reviews).
  2. This monitor is unfortunately consistently out of stock and not as well available as our other choices. If you happen to see it in stock, great! But if not, we would recommend purchasing one of the other great options on this list instead of waiting for what could be a while.

VIOTEK may not be the same large monitor brand compared to Acer and AOC, but they’re still a reputable manufacturer with a warranty for this specific model that nearly rivals AOC’s fantastic policy.

If you want the cheapest curved UWQHD 144hz gaming display on the market that still retains some great quality, this is a fantastic option for you.

1440p 144hz Ultrawide Monitor Honorable Mention: Nixeus EDG34S

While note quite claiming the top accolades we award to our 4 above picks, this Nixeus monitor is still worth considering if the other 21:9 gaming monitors are out of stock (or grossly inflated in price due to low availability).

Boasting a wonderful balance of specs for its price, this 3400 x 1440 144hz ultrawide monitor has gorgeous blacks by combining a VA panel, 350-nits brightness, and a 3000:1 contrast ratio. The color gamut on this monitor isn’t quite as impressive as our other picks, but will still provide an excellent, vibrant picture overall.

With G-Sync, Freesync, and a 1ms PTR response time (4ms GTG), the EDG34S is well equipped to reduce ghosting, screen-tearing, and flickering to a bare minimum.

The build quality is also superb; with VESA mount capability, decent tilt stand, durable design, and wonderfully thin bezels. This is another curved UWQHD 144hz monitor too, with the same 1500R curvature that makes our top picks so immersive for gaming and media.

There is very little not to like about the EDG34S. We just think that at its price-point, it’s a slightly lesser value option than the other choices.

But we’ve included it for a reason; if you’re after a monitor with deep blacks, great response time, and all the makings of a great gaming display, this Nixeus offering is still one of the best ultrawide 1440p 144hz monitors on the market.

Alternative Picks – Best of the Rest

Now, while the above 5 picks are easily our top choices for the top 1440p 144hz ultrawide displays, we wanted to provide a few extra decent picks that come close to the same specs for those of you with very specific requirements (or if you’re unlucky and none of the above are in stock while you’re searching).

Best IPS 1440p 120hz Ultrawide Monitor: Alienware AW3420DW

Previously featured on What in Tech, this Alienware high refresh rate UWQHD gaming monitor is a fantastic offering for high-end visuals and build quality (at only a slightly decreased refresh rate compared to our top picks).

Best 1440p 240hz Ultrawide Monitor: SAMSUNG 49-inch Odyssey G9

The highest refresh rate 1440p ultrawide monitor, the Odyssey G9 would be perfect if your single most important goal is high performance in e-sports and titles that demand very high refresh rates. We’ve also featured it in our 1440p 240hz monitor feature.

Cheapest 1440p 120hz Ultrawide Monitor: Monoprice 35in Zero-G

The Monoprice Zero-G doesn’t excel anywhere better than our top picks and comes with a tad reduced 120hz. That said, at the time of viewing, it appears as 25% cheaper than our top Acer choice. If saving that money is more important than the extra hz and slightly better picture, we think this is a great budget choice.

Best 1440p 100hz Ultrawide Monitor: Spectre C355W-3440UN

Similar to the Monoprice monitor above, this Spectre offering is worth consideration as a budget choice. It’s one of the least powerful on the list, but still, an excellent contender if you’re not able to reach the prices of the above top 21:9 monitors.

Final Word

And there you have it! 1440p 144hz ultrawide is a simply mind-blowing set of monitor specs for gaming and general use. Picking up any of the above will serve you well for a long time, and we don’t see 4k 144hz ultrawide becoming the norm for a long time, so you can consider these future-proof monitors!

Want more options for a premium gaming monitor? We also have features on other very impressive high-end display technology; 1440p 240hz, 4k 144hz, and the highest Hz monitors available.

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The Best 1TB MicroSD Cards of 2021

1TB Micro SD

The Best 1TB MicroSD Cards of 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Jan 19, 2021

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A 1 Terabyte MicroSD card? What a time to be alive!

This technology has only come around very recently, and with no signs of 2TB Micro SD cards on the market any time soon, we expect this to be the largest MicroSD card size you can buy for Nintendo Switch, cameras, phones, and more for a long time.

Unfortunately, as with most portable storage, there is a swarm of fake 1TB micro SD cards on the market.

So if 1TB flash drives aren’t portable enough for you, we’ve put together this list of the best genuine 1TB MicroSD cards worth buying!

Top Picks

Fake 1TB MicroSD Cards / Where to Buy Real Ones

If you’re already looked for a 1TB MicroSD card on Amazon, amongst the expensive options from SanDisk, you’ll see a bunch of 1TB MSD cards that are literally 10% of the price.

So, what gives?

Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that getting a 1TB Micro SD card for $30 isn’t something you’ll be seeing for a long, long time.

These deceptively low priced items are all fake. Some of these products will change the data on the card to “look like” there’s 1TB available (but will corrupt/stop working quickly), others will simply send you a smaller SD card and hope you don’t notice.

Thankfully, a lot of these listings have either bad or no reviews. But there are some tricky listings that deceive buyers further by using a well-reviewed product page that was made for a previous card (e.g. lots of good reviews on a 128MB MicroSD) and then proceed to change the page to a fake 1TB card, luring customers in with the misleading good reviews for old products.

It’s a tricky space to navigate, especially when there are only a couple of genuine 1TB microSD cards on the market right now.

This is why we’ve made this list of the best options that we highly recommend sticking to. But if, for whatever reason, you want to look elsewhere and need to know how to find real 1TB Micro SD cards, just make sure you stick to the best MicroSD brands: SanDisk, Samsung, Corsair, etc.

Overall Best 1TB MicroSD Card: SanDisk 1TB Ultra microSDXC

Even though genuine 1TB Micro SD cards are hard to find and brand new to the market, we’re very pleased to see that the king of portable storage, SanDisk, is the one to lead this exciting technology.

At a very respectable price-tag for the innovation, the 1TB Ultra MicroSD is an incredible package.

With read speeds up to 120MB/s and write speeds up to 90MB/s, the transfer rates on this card are very fast and impressive even when compared to smaller, more refined sizes (which is key when you’re dealing with such large photo/video/game storage).

It’s nice to see that on read/write speed benchmark tests, the 1TB Ultra manages to reach speeds close to the advertised 120 & 90 Megabytes per second read/write values (often, microSD storage has the issue of demonstrating lower speeds once tested in the normal use cases).

We also easily consider this the best 1TB MicroSD for Nintendo Switch, and the largest MicroSD for Switch consoles too! Offering incredible game storage, it’s important to note that while we talk about SanDisk’s premium offering in the next pick, the Switch will not utilize the higher read/write speeds of that card, so the Ultra is the best for you if you’re looking for some seriously impressive storage space for your Switch.

What else is there to say? With fantastic read/write speeds, the largest size on the market, and from an incredible, reliable manufacturer; the SanDisk is not just the best option, but also an impressively cheap 1TB microSD card considering you’re getting brand new technology. If you’re in the market for one and aren’t after the highest possible transfer speeds of our next pick, this is a no-brainer.

Best 1TB MicroSD Card (High-End Pick): SanDisk 1TB Extreme microSDXC

Now, as much as we think the SanDisk Ultra will be the best MicroSD card for a majority of readers, if you want the best card regardless of value/price, then this one is for you.

When considering SanDisk Ultra vs Extreme cards, the Extreme series represents an upgraded version of the Ultra. These Micro SDs tend to have some of the highest read/write speeds available at their respective sizes.

For the 1TB version, the Extreme boasts read speeds up to 160 MB/s. The write speed is the same at up to 90MB/s, but this is not too surprising, as the write-speed was already fast. High-end MicroSDs tend to focus on improving read speeds in order to enable users who require them for very demanding content such as 4K/UHD.

On that note, the Extreme is one of the best MicroSD cards for 4K, with its enormous size and high read speeds (you could probably get away with using the Ultra for 4K content, but there are no guarantees, while SanDisk proudly boasts the Extreme’s capability in this area).

With all that said, the Extreme is 25% more expensive than the Ultra.

For a large majority of users, we don’t think this extra read speed is worth the price.

But if you’re after the best 1 terabyte MicroSD regardless of price, or specifically need the very high transfer speeds, then know that budget-withstanding, this is the best solution on the market.

Best Cheap 1TB MicroSD Card Alternative: 2 x SAMSUNG EVO Select 512GB

OK, so we’re kind of cheating with this pick.

As far as we’re concerned, the SanDisk Ultra is an incredible price for a MicroSD with 1TB storage, we’re confident SanDisk could’ve charged significantly more and still had a large consumer-base for this new technology.

That being said, we appreciate that the price is a fair step up from 512GB MicroSD cards. So for our best budget 1TB MicroSD card alternative, we’d recommend picking up a pair of 512GB cards instead.

Yes, you then have the inconvenience of having to swap out if using for a Nintendo Switch, camera, or supported phone, but 2 x 512GB Samsung EVO Selects are nearly half the price of 1 x 1TB SanDisk Ultra.

The Samsung pick also still has decent transfer speeds, with up to 100MB/s read and 90MB/s write. A tad slower on the read speeds than our SanDisk choices, but still enough for most content.

We love our top SanDisk picks and would recommend them highly for anyone in the market for the largest Micro SD card today, but we appreciate some people will need to consider a cheaper option. If that’s you, picking up 2 Samsung EVO cards is the next best thing.

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Lenovo Flex vs Yoga in 2021 – Differences Compared

lenovo flex vs yoga cover

Lenovo Flex vs Yoga Laptops in 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Jan 18, 2021

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Lenovo is one of the greatest names in the PC manufacturing business.

This brand has produced countless iterations of decent portable choices, and standing tallest amongst their Ideapad laptops are the Flex and Yoga series models.

But how do you decide between these 2 offerings?

Today’s feature is here to help by detailing the differences between the Lenovo Flex and Yoga, and informing you which is better depending on your budget and requirements.

Table of Contents

Differences Between Lenovo Flex and Yoga

Short answer: the IdeaPad Flex laptops are usually defined by being the cheaper, more mainstream choice of laptops. While the IdeaPad Yoga is the “premium” range designed for users after the longest-lasting 2-in-1 machines.

First Main Difference – Price

There’s no denying it; a majority of the Flex choices are notably cheaper than the Yoga offerings. However what you’re getting for your money is really what the question is about, which we talk more about in the other 2 key differences.

Bear in mind that there are expensive Flex laptops and cheap Yoga laptops, we break down which is best in each price-bracket later in this feature.

Second Main Difference – Build Quality

  • Lenovo Flex laptops are generally made of cheaper plastics/metals and may have more basic hinges and designs to keep costs as affordable as possible for the mainstream.
  • The Lenovo Yoga series, on the other hand, are often made with very high-quality metal, feel impressively durable, and are often extremely slim/some of the most beautiful laptops you’ll find on the market.

Now don’t get us wrong; for the average consumer, the build quality of an IdeaPad Flex laptop is still excellent. The durability of their hinges is unrivaled at their price range, you really won’t find better without spending significantly more.

The Yoga’s build quality is more important if you’re purchasing something pricey (say, around/over $1,000) and want to make sure that your expensive laptop is built to last (especially important with those who plan on constantly switching between tablet and laptop mode and challenging the longevity of the hinge).

Third Main Difference – Hardware

  • Lenovo Flex laptops are usually built with less powerful specs. Think less RAM, slower CPUs, smaller SSDs, and screens that are slightly less colorful/vibrant.
  • Yoga laptops will often come with better main specs. One area this range often shines in is the quality of their displays. If you’re purchasing a premium Yoga PC, some of the options expand into 4k, 500-nits, and excellent color accuracy.

As we alluded to in the price discussion, the hardware is very dependent on budget. Don’t assume you are getting a laptop with better specs just because it is a Yoga. We’ll explain more below…

Lenovo Flex vs Yoga – Which is Better?

So, now that we’ve been through the key differences, which comes out on top?

As a rule of thumb, we’d say that if you are looking for a budget to low-mid range laptop, the Lenovo Flex range is perfect for you.

If you are looking for a premium 2-in-1 laptop that is built to perform and last, go for the Yoga series.

BUT, this is just a rule of thumb, and we want to help you choose the exact right laptop for your needs.

The problem? This rule of thumb is not universal when considering the IdeaPad Flex vs Yoga. These types of Lenovo laptops come in many different models of different quality.

To put it another way; the most expensive IdeaPad Flex laptop will be way better than the cheapest Yoga laptop. Other resources imply that the Yoga series is “always” better. Yes, this will usually be true, but stating it’s “always” the case is just lazy.

So, how do you determine which one is right for you?

This will all depend on what requirements and budget you have.

This is why the rest of today’s feature is dedicated to which series comes out on top for each of the main budget requirements, or even where a different laptop range should be considered.

Overall Best Flex / Yoga Laptop (Budget Choice): Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 14″ 2-in-1 Laptop

Arguably one of the best laptops available on the market in any category, this pick feels like a bit of a no brainer to satisfy most readers of the list.

The Ideapad Flex 5 14″ hits the perfect sweet spot between build quality, hardware, great battery life, and price. The only touchscreen laptop that really comes close to this Lenovo offering is the latest HP Envy x360 model. However with that machine, you’re paying more to get less RAM, so you can probably see why we rate the Flex 5 so highly.

Boasting a 4th gen Ryzen processor, 16GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD, the specs on this machine are unrivaled in its price range. You have hardware that is perfect to provide enough performance for general use, media, and drawing/notetaking.

You’re getting an IPS panel touchscreen here with decent brightness. We appreciate Lenovo not going for a TN/VA panel as many convertible laptops do at this cost. You’re not going to get quite the same display vibrance as that of the premium Yoga picks below, but we doubt you’ll find better at this price.

The build quality is also deceptively good for the budget; with a nice, sturdy hinge that feels designed to be rotated 360 degrees regularly. The laptop’s material is decently durable, looks great, and also comes with a thermal design capable of keeping at decent temps even during intensive computer work.

Yes, the build quality will be inferior when compared to our Yoga picks, but we still think that the average user that can’t stretch to 4 figures will still be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer here.

We love that Lenovo has still included a pen despite everything else on offer here. The pen is usually one of the sacrifices manufacturers make at the very low price-points.

Lenovo Yoga C740 vs Flex 5

Before we count the Yoga series out at this price range, it’s only fair to show you the Yoga laptop that the Flex competes with.

The latest Yoga C740 model is a decent offering focussed on the Yoga’s superior build quality. It also offers a large SSD than the Flex.

But we simply can’t recommend it over the fantastic Flex 5 for pretty much every type of user because the C740 comes with half the RAM and a significantly inferior CPU. You’ll miss the performance boost of the Flex 5 way more than the slightly superior build quality of the C740 (if you want both, check our next pick out).

What else is there to say? By what feels like wizardry, this IdeaPad Flex laptop is the clear winner at a budget to mid price range, and arguably one of the best touchscreen laptops on the market. If you can’t stretch to our Yoga picks below, we think you’ll love this Flex model.

Best Flex / Yoga Laptop Under $1,000: Lenovo ThinkBook Yoga 14s

Next up is one of the best Yoga laptops on the market and perfect for someone after a Windows 10 PC just under the 4-figure mark.

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga has some similar main specs to our top Flex choice. Led by the 11th Gen Intel i7-1165G7 processor, this CPU rivals the performance of the Ryzen 4500U (with both laptops having a decent 16GB RAM).

So, in the Lenovo Flex 5 vs Yoga 14s battle, where does this premium option come out on top?

Well firstly, the 14s Yoga boasts a 512GB SSD, twice the size of our top Flex pick and what we consider a nice storage option if your budget can stretch this far.

This Yoga choice also takes its display further. Led by another IPS panel, you are getting 300 nits of brightness and a 100% sRGB color gamut all housed in a gorgeous thick glass glossy display. If you plan on consuming a lot of media or writing/drawing a lot, it’s hard to overstate how beautiful a screen this will be to perform on.

Finally, there is the build quality of the Yoga 14s.

Like we said before, the Flex 5 is a well-built machine that feels deceptively sturdy for its price range.

But there’s no denying that the Yoga 14s is not just notably more durable, but also one of the best looking laptops at the $1,000 dollar mark. With some gorgeous colors, a high-quality metal, and excellent hinges, the machine is a sight to behold.

And what’s more, this thing is light. It’s impressive to see specs of this magnitude in such a lightweight machine. It’s even notably thinner than the Flex (which is already very thin as it is).

Performance-wise, you won’t see crazy benefits from spending the extra money on the Yoga 14s over the top Flex PC.

But that’s only because all the real benefit has been recorded in its amazing screen, build, design, and storage space.

The Yoga 14s is built to last. If you’re looking at the $1,000 price-point, this is comfortably our best choice for the best 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop.

Best Premium Flex / Yoga Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 5th Gen

Our next pick is for those after the best convertible touchscreen laptop possible in either the Flex or Yoga range.

The X1 Yoga combines the sleek, beautiful 2-in-1 design of the Yoga series with the incredible durability and first-class performance of the ThinkPad series (Lenovo’s most classic offering designed to last an incredibly long time).

In terms of RAM and CPU, the X1 Yoga doesn’t do better than our Yoga pick directly above.

But that’s not what you’re paying the extra money for, the performance is already good enough with these specs. Where this Yoga offering goes so much further is in its screen.

A 4k laptop, this screen doesn’t just have a striking UHD resolution, but also 500-nits of brightness, excellent color accuracy, and a finish that works well as an anti-reflective/fingerprint surface. It’s one of the nicest laptop screens we’ve come across.

What’s more, the X1 Yoga has a pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, alongside all of the other ports you’d hope for in a premium model. Perfect for transferring data to and from it’s enormous 2TB PCIe SSD. You won’t find a better storage solution on a laptop this lightweight.

The final area we want to discuss on the X1 is its superb build quality. Yes, we’ve made it clear that beautiful design and top durability is what the Yoga series is all about. But the X1 takes this further, with excellent results across noise and thermal benchmarks, the fact that the machine offers stable performance as a lightweight 4K convertible laptop is truly remarkable; there really isn’t anything else like it on the market.

Don’t be concerned by the lack of customer reviews here; this is just because the 5th gen is the latest iteration of a long line of ThinkPad X1 Yoga laptops, the series already has a great reputation.

If budget isn’t a concern for you, and you like the sound of having an incredible 4k screen to go alongside the top-of-the-line build quality for ultralight laptops, then we don’t think you’ll find better than the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 5th gen.

Cheapest Flex / Yoga Laptop: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 13″

Our final pick is for users who are essentially after the cheapest touchscreen laptop possible that is still suitable for general use.

The Chromebook Flex 5 is an excellent option for this. While you may be getting a reduced Chrome OS instead of Windows 10, we think this will cover the needs of many people looking at this budget range (if you do want a full Windows laptop, the cheapest offering we would recommend is this Flex model).

What really stands out to us with the Chromebok Flex 5 is how it doesn’t feel like a cheap laptop. The build quality is decent, the display bezels are relatively thin, the weight/dimensions are low and yet the battery life is fantastic. 

Of course, in a laptop of this price, the specs are notably diminished from our other picks. With only 4GB RAM, a Core-i3 processor, and 64GB memory, you can expect a reduction in performance over the more expensive picks. The full HD laptop screen is well built and relatively pretty, but won’t provide the same brightness and colors as our other picks.

But with that said, with the Flex 5 13″ running on Chrome OS, the machine is still perfectly suitable for general web browsing, media use, and simple document tasks.

Would we push you towards our IdeaPad Flex 14″ top pick if you can? Absolutely, but if your budget can’t stretch that far, know this Flex offering is a fantastic one and gets a lot done for its low price.

Lenovo Flex vs Yoga for Gaming?

If you’re after the best gaming laptop, we cannot recommend either of these laptop models.

There are companies that not only have laptops with significantly better graphical capabilities (full GPUs, not just integrated graphics) but also come with screens designed for high refresh rate gameplay.

The only time we’d recommend these Lenovo PCs is if you absolutely need a 2-in-1 laptop that also has some gaming potential. If that’s the case, then go with one of the premium Yoga picks above.

But for most after a gaming laptop, look at our features on the best 144hz laptops, or the best gaming laptops available on Amazon.

Lenovo Flex vs Yoga Final Word

If you’re a general user with a low to mid-range budget, chances are you’ll prefer our Flex laptops picks above.

If you’re a buyer with more of a budget after the best touchscreen laptop possible (and perhaps the best-looking laptop range too), then the Yoga will be for you.

Either way, whatever your budget, we love both of these ranges and think you will too. Lenovo has shown again and again that they can create laptops ahead of the competition in their respective price brackets.

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The 5 Highest Hz Monitors of 2021

Highest Hz Monitor

The 5 Highest Hz Monitors of 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Jan 17, 2021

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If you’re into competitive gaming or looking for the best monitor possible for immersive titles, you’ll know how wonderful playing on a high hertz gaming monitor can be.

Thankfully, there have recently been a few exceptional products to take high hz displays well beyond the usual 60-144hz + 1080p.

Which is why today’s feature will guide you through the highest refresh rate monitors worth buying for different resolutions and budgets.

Top Picks

Highest Hz Monitor: ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN 24.5”

Usually, on our top monitor features, there is a close battle for the top choice.

But in the category of the highest hz gaming monitor? There is a clear winner.

With an incredible 360hz, this ASUS display is unrivaled by nearly every other option.

Not only is this the highest hz 1080p monitor available on the market, but it’s as good an offering as we could hope for with plenty of other decent specs elevating the screen’s quality. We wouldn’t be surprised if it remains the best 360hz monitor available even when more options begin to emerge in the next year or two.

To start, the PG259QN runs on an IPS panel, which is great to see when many of the other highest refresh rate displays have chosen TN/VA. ASUS has also negated the usual main downside of IPS with a 1ms response time (between 360hz and the incredibly low latency, we easily rank this the best monitor for esports/competitive gaming).

Working alongside the IPS panel is a 1000:1 contrast ratio, G-sync, and HDR10 capability; we love that this gaming monitor hasn’t sacrificed picture quality for the highest refresh rate (you’re getting the best of both worlds).

Finally, with decent, sturdy adjustment options, thin bezels, and a beautiful design, the PG259QN feels like a premium gaming monitor should; with no notable complaints from us on its build quality.

360hz vs 240hz Monitors

But let’s talk about 360hz for a moment.

A refresh rate 50% higher than the next common high refresh rate option (240hz), even at these incredibly high rates, 360fps will still provide a measurable improvement over 240fps for serious gamers.

That’s not to say 240hz isn’t still a very capable refresh rate for all types of games, which is why we have covered options below if you’d like a screen with a higher resolution.

But there’s no denying 360hz is very compelling, and for competitive gaming, is going to provide that additional edge that is oh-so-important in key reactionary moments.

We’re a long way away from ever seeing things like 480hz, 500hz, and 1000hz monitors being available on the market, so expect 360hz to be king for a long time.

If you’re very serious about getting the smoothest gameplay experience possible, then know this isn’t just the highest refresh rate monitor ever, but a display that excels in picture and build quality to match its incredible 360hz capability. 

Highest Hz 4K Monitor: LG 27GN950-B 27 Inch UHD

Now, as much as we rate our top 360hz choice for the highest hz gaming monitor available, if you’re focussed on immersive titles as much as you are on competitive gaming, then you will likely want to consider our next 2 choices.

This LG monitor offers an incredible UHD + 144hz comboWhile nowhere near as smooth as 360hz, running games at 2160p with a high refresh rate is an entirely new experience in itself.

Similar to our top pick, we love that LG has managed to base this model on an IPS panel with 1ms response time. Taking the display further, this model also has an impressive DCI-P3 98% color gamut & VESA DisplayHDR 600. Between all these specs, you can expect fantastic blacks & colors, and when tied with the resolution and refresh rate? Well, few monitors are going to produce better output, especially at its respectable price-point.

This is also G-sync / AMD FreeSync compatible monitor, with a striking design and beautiful build quality. Two design areas specifically stand out:

  1. The incredible screen-to-body ratio, with some of the thinnest bezels of a premium display we’ve seen. This choice would make a fantastic high refresh rate monitor for a dual display setup.
  2. The RGB Sphere Lighting 2.0 included on the back of the unit; this will output colorful lighting onto the wall behind your monitor which can be customized to blend into what you’re seeing on screen. It sounds gimmicky, but if you see this effect in person with its thin-bezels, you’d be surprised at how much extra immersion it can add.

Ranking at the top of our 4k 144hz display feature, there’s so much to love about this LG model. At its decent price-point, it’s easily the best choice for someone after the highest refresh rate 4k monitor for gaming and more.

Highest Hz 1440p Monitor: Acer Nitro XV272U Xbmiipruzx 27″

Last but not least out of our top 3 highest refresh rate gaming monitor picks is what you could call a “compromise” between the two choices above.

If you want the joys of very high refresh rates but also want a resolution that notably improves graphical capability beyond full HD, this is easily the best pick on the market for you.

At a stunning 240hz + 1440p, the Xbmiipruzx feels like the best of both worlds and is the top choice on our review feature looking at monitors in this category.

Boasting an IPS panel that takes response time even further with 0.5-1ms response time with agile-splendor technology, this is one of the lowest latency monitors out of the premium choices on the market. 

Tied with these specs is a 99% Adobe RGB color gamut and HDR400. Alongside its IPS panel, there’s plenty of capability here for a gorgeous, bright picture (alongside the ability to use AMD Freesync / Nvidia G-Sync to reduce stuttering/screen-tearing).

Now, this list is about the highest hz monitors after all, and while the standard ceiling for 1440p is 240hz (which there are a few great options for), the Xbiipruzx takes this a step further with the ability to overclock to up to 270hz with DisplayPort or USB Type-C. You don’t need this overclocking for the monitor to be incredibly capable of smooth gameplay, but it’s a nice bonus for those extra focussed on building the highest FPS monitor for their setup. 

There are no complaints from us on the build quality either. With a sturdy, adjustable frame and beautifully thin bezels, the monitor is perfect for a multi-screen setup if desired.

The only thing we don’t like about this monitor is the model name (who knows what Acer was thinking with that eyesore!) but you know a model is good when the name is our biggest complaint.

While it is an expensive choice, we see many monitors well above this price-point that don’t match the well-balanced nature of this Acer display’s specs.

If you’re looking for the highest refresh rate 1440p monitor that is worth buying today at a mid-range price point, you’ve found it.

Highest Hz Budget Monitor: Acer XF250Q Cbmiiprx 24.5″

Now, if your budget allows, we would definitely recommend the above 3 picks for someone after the highest hz monitor for esports/gaming.

That said, our last two picks are great options if your wallet demands something closer to the $150-300 range.

The Acer XF250Q still boasts a fantastic 240hz refresh rate and is a superb option for someone after an esports monitor.

One of the cheapest 240hz displays on the market, the model still has a lot going for it; with 1ms response time and AMD Freesync compatibility.

In addition, we like that this budget high refresh rate choice is still well built (even including vertical orientation options) and is from one of the best monitor brands in the business.

So, where does this choice lack compare to our top picks? Well, of course, the main loss in this category is at 1080p, there is a superior 360hz display available which will be a significant increase for serious gamers. And if you’re happy with 240hz, then the 1440p 240hz options available are notably better.

This isn’t just true in terms of resolution/refresh rate, our top 3 picks also have IPS panels, very high-nits, and great color accuracy. This Acer XF250Q model isn’t bad in these areas (certainly superior to similarly price picks), but it runs on a TN panel and will not give the same premium picture you can expect from our top picks.

With all that said, if this price-point is the furthest your wallet can stretch, then know we included this great option for a reason, it is easily the best choice for those after the highest refresh rate monitor on a budget.

Highest Hz Monitor under $200: LG UltraGear 24GL600F-B

To round off our list, we wanted to include another commendable budget pick for those after the highest refresh rate monitor at a very low price.

This LG offering strikes an incredible balance; not much more expensive than the cheapest 60hz monitors we would recommend, it somehow manages to run 1080p 144hz with a 1ms response time.

This really is very impressive for the price-point. Of course, don’t expect gameplay close to as smooth/sharp as the picks above, but we’re still floored by what they’ve managed to pack in here.

Running on a TN panel (as you’d expect at this price-point) the monitor still has serviceable colors/brightness and is Radeon Freesync compatible.

The build quality is decent for the budget too, with some decent adjustability. The screen-to-body ratio isn’t quite as nice as our other picks, but really at this price-point, we’d be amazed if it was!

While we’d love to recommend our top picks to everybody after the best monitor for gaming and esports, we appreciate that isn’t feasible for every budget.

Luckily for those tight wallets, LG’s option here is not just the highest Hz monitor available at this budget, but we’d argue it’s the best gaming monitor under $200 in any category.

What's Next?

The 8 Best 4k 144hz Monitors of 2021

4K-144Hz-Monitor

The 8 Best 4K 144Hz Monitors of 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Dec 23, 2020

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4k & 144Hz together in one monitor? Between these and the new 1440p 240hz choices, the next generation of displays is mouth-watering.

Which is why today’s feature will take you through the best 144hz UHD monitors for gaming and more, with several different budgets in mind.

Top Picks

Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks

Overall Best 4k 144Hz Monitor: LG 27GN950-B 27 Inch UHD

Standing confidently as our overall best pick, this 4k high refresh rate monitor stands tall amongst the market options, with a fantastic sweet spot between specs and value.

Perhaps the most impressive part of our top choice is how LG has managed to make this an IPS panel with a 1ms response time. Usually, the tradeoff for IPS (which typically gives better picture quality over equivalent VA/TN panels) is higher latency. Having both low response time and IPS is usually reserved for the premium models, but the 27GN is one of the cheap 4K 144Hz display options on the list!

The specs also boast a DCI-P3 98% color gamut (an impressive offering for the price-point with all the other features) and VESA DisplayHDR 600. Between these two factors and the IPS panel, the picture quality on this LG gaming monitor is mind-blowing and will be enjoyable even if you’re running games at less than 144 FPS (you can expect movies and general use to look great on here too).

With full G-Sync / AMD Free Sync compatibility you can still enjoy the extra smoothness these software add-ons offer even on such a high res 144HZ monitor.

The design and build quality of this monitor is excellent too. Adjusting the unit feels sturdy and secure, with VESA screws for wall mounting if desired.

Our favorite elements of the build, however, are the thin bezels and RGB sphere lighting 2.0 on the back. This lighting means that colors are outputted on the wall behind your monitor and are designed to blend into the sound and/or visuals on your screen. This sounds gimmicky but tied in with the fantastic screen-to-body ratio, the extra light feels immersive, and the tiny bezels mean this pick works fantastically in a dual monitor setup.

This isn’t just the best 27-inch 4k 144Hz monitor, but in our opinion, the best overall choice for people in the market today (the fact that this is on the cheaper end of the choices is a complete marvel),

Best Cheap 4K 144Hz Monitor: VIOTEK GFI27QXA 27-Inch

Although we think the LG pick offers fantastic value, we appreciate that such high-end monitor options may not be flattering to many reader budgets.

Luckily, the cheapest 4K 144HZ gaming monitor going is still a great offering that doesn’t feel like you’re “cheaping out” on a budget pick.

Boasting an IPS panel, a 122% sRGB color gamut, 1M:1 DCR, this display is still going to provide fantastic colors, whites, and blacks you’ll want while gaming or watching media (the picture won’t look quite as good as the LG pick, but it will still be fantastic when you consider the dramatic price reduction).

The build quality is great here too. With a sturdy stand, fairly thin bezels, and plenty of movement options, this is another area that doesn’t feel compromised on in the lesser price.

So with all that said, you may be wondering why we didn’t give this the overall top quick. Well, there’s a couple of things to point out:

  • The response time is a tad misleading. It is listed officially as 1ms, but documentation with the monitor talks of a 3ms latency. This is likely due to 1ms being the refresh rate under “optimum conditions” but we would recommend assuming that you’ll be playing with 3ms (still very low for a budget IPS display).
  • You may have noticed that this is officially a 120Hz 4k monitor overclocked to 144Hz. For the most part, this is an ideal option as it saves price, but a minority of users report some problems with very slightly visual stuttering on 144Hz where they have to turn back to 120Hz to remove. But for most gamers, this works fine, and there is a 3-year U.S company warranty if any concerns arise.

We should state that neither of these should be dealbreakers and this VIOTEK offering still manages low latency, great colors/blacks, and a superb build quality alongside its high refresh rate and 3840×2160 resolution.

This choice is easily the best budget 4k 144Hz monitor available today.

Best Large 4K 144Hz Monitor: ASUS ROG Swift PG43UQ 43”

Now, for those after a larger gaming experience, this ASUS 144HZ 4K monitor comes in at a whopping 43-inches. Perfect for someone who wants to use a gaming monitor as a TV or for a massive main monitor (I’ve previously had a similar setup where you effectively use one screen as a “dual display” when not gaming, it can work really well.

This ROG Swift model comes with a fantastic HDR1000 rating and 90% DCI-P3 color gamut. Both specs are great, but the HDR 1000, in particular, is awesome.  You can expect this to have some of the best whites and blacks of any high end LED gaming monitor.

Another Freesync / G-sync 4k display, this ASUS screen also features GameFast Input Technology that results in an effective 1ms response time (we really appreciate how they haven’t compromised on latency when many larger monitor offerings do).

This display is beautiful and well built, with its 4K 144Hz functionality being fully enabled with a GPU by only 1 DisplayPort 1.4 input. The bezels are a tad larger than most of the other picks. But at this size? It’s not really a surprise, and they’re still thin compared to many other monitor choices.

ASUS has really nicely filled that large monitor gap in this market by creating the PG43UQ. If you’re looking for a huge 4K 144Hz monitor, this is definitely your best option.

Runner-Up Best 4K 144Hz Monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ 27″

We wanted to highlight another great all-rounder pick, as we appreciate that 144Hz UHD monitors are sometimes low in stock and our LG choice may not be available when you’re looking to buy.

ASUS has a monitor in the 27-inch range that is, in some ways, even more compelling than the LG 4k 144Hz display.

Another IPS panel, this ASUS SWIFT screen has a wonderful HDR1000 rating and 97% DCI P3 color gamut. With these specs (especially the impressive high dynamic range), you can expect fantastic whites, blacks, and colors that even slightly surpass the top LG monitor.

The PG27UQ is also one of the nicest builds on the list. With an incredibly sturdy durable design, ASUS answers LG’s backlighting options with its own take: an ARGB ASUS logo on the back (and a customizable logo shining from the bottom of the display). We always rate ASUS’s addressable RGB lighting as it tends to go nicely with their Aura Sync software to give a user a unique look, so you can expect this monitor to look great in the dark.

The reason we would pick the LG monitor over this one is that the ASUS ROG Swift, unfortunately, runs at 4ms as opposed to 1ms. Now, if you’re not buying a monitor for gaming, this won’t be a problem. But we expect many readers looking at a UHD high refresh rate monitor will be after something with as low latency as possible for inputs.

If low latency isn’t a high priority for you then this ASUS monitor does offer a better picture, the only other con we’d point out on this choice is a minority of users complaining about loud fan noise. Most seem to be fine with this, but if achieving an ultra-quiet setup is your plan, bear this in mind.

With one of the nicest builds and picture qualities on the list, the PG27UQ is our top 4k 144HZ monitor pick for the average user if our LG option isn’t available.

Alternative Picks – Best of the Rest

While the top 4 picks are what we’d primarily steer you towards when looking for the best 4K 144Hz monitors for gaming or media, there are some other great options and similar alternatives (e.g. 120Hz 4K monitors). We’ve displayed the best below for those with more unique requirements.

Best OLED 4K Gaming Monitor: Alienware AW5520QF

Quite possibly the best gaming monitor on the market today. This Alienware display will have, by far, the best picture quality on the list with its OLED screen. The fact that it runs at 120Hz alongside that is simply wonderful.

So why don’t we rate it for most users? We think you’ll see why after looking at the price! But by all means, if you have the budget for the most powerful setup possible, this is perfect for you.

Second Best Budget 4K 144Hz Monitor: Acer Predator XB3-27″

If you are after a cheap 4k 144Hz gaming monitor but wanted something from a more reputable monitor manufacturer, then this refurbished Acer model is perfect for you. 

Best WQHD 120Hz Monitor: Alienware AW3420DW

While not 4K or 144Hz, WQHD is very impressive and significantly higher-res than traditional 1440p. We think someone in the market for a premium screen for gaming will really appreciate the level of immersion an ultrawide high refresh rate monitor can offer.

Worth Mentioning: Nixeus NX-EDG274K

Another 144Hz 4K monitor option in the mid-range price, this Nixeus offering is decent, but we don’t rank it as much as our top LG pick (which is in the same price range) due to its slower response time (4ms) and coming from a less known monitor brand. That said, if you catch it on a good sale, this would make a great budget 4K 144HZ gaming monitor pick.

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The 10 Best Gaming Laptops on Amazon in 2021

Best Gaming Laptop on Amazon

The 10 Best Gaming Laptops on Amazon in 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Dec 23, 2020

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There are thousands of different laptop specs on Amazon.

It can be difficult to decide exactly what’s best for your gaming setup (and wallet).

Which is why today’s feature has been built to guide you through the best gaming laptops on Amazon today, for all different budget considerations.

Top Picks

Overall Best Gaming Laptop on Amazon (Mid-Range Pick): Acer Nitro 5 RTX 2060

Featured previously on What in Tech, Acer has created a very impressive offering with this Nitro machine.

We wanted to find the best gaming laptop under $1,000 on Amazon for our top pick as we appreciate this is the price-range many users will be looking at. This choice is just a touch more expensive than that, but paying that tiny bit more is definitely worth it, as you gain access to an RTX 2060 laptop.

This graphics card, as far as portable gaming goes, is the best you’ll get around the $1,000 mark. With great performance, you’re going to be able to play a majority of games at 1080p high settings with good framerates. And it will be well future-proofed for big upcoming titles like Cyberpunk 2077 (of course, if you’re looking to get very high framerates & resolutions with max settings, you’ll have more luck with our premium picks below or desktop options, but rest assured, titles will look fantastic on the Nitro 5).

Working with the RTX 2060 to achieve this great value is an Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB DDR4 RAM & a 256GB NVMe SSD. Not only are these specs more than enough for ensuring the GPU isn’t bottlenecked by the hardware, but they’re capable of giving you a very smooth general-use experience with the laptop (be it web browsing, videos, or other program usages).

The gap that you may notice is the drive space. It will serve you initially but is a little low for a gaming PC. There is another drive bay you can easily use to upgrade this space should you need it. Don’t be fooled by lower price laptops that have larger drives; we’ve been through them and their specs suffer in other ways to compensate for this (especially GPU, which is more important for your setup).

The laptop is well designed; with a good track record of thermal management for the powerful specs, a beautiful backlit keyboard, and a fantastic full HD IPS 144Hz screen (we particularly like this last part as many gaming laptops at this price still are the standard 60Hz, so this is a nice extra touch and makes this a great competitive gaming laptop).

Simply put, if your budget is around the $1,000 mark, this is the best gaming laptop on Amazon for you, without question.

Best Gaming Laptop under $1,500 on Amazon: MSI GL65 Leopard 

If you can stretch your budget a little further, the MSI GL65 is a fantastic laptop where you can expect a further 20-30% improvement in games over our fantastic top pick.

This is achieved with the great combination of the RTX 2070 and Intel Core i7-10750H, both fantastic specs for this price range. You can expect to comfortably play pretty much every title in excellent settings, 1080p with a very high frame rate.

You have a wonderful screen to enjoy those high frame rates on too, which boasts a full HD, IPS, 144Hz panel with 3ms latency, and 100% sRGB (essentially, you can expect vibrant colors and a laptop to match fast reaction times for competitive gaming).

Working alongside the CPU and GPU is 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD (if your budget was around $1,500, you could always use the savings to add an additional drive in the laptop, but this PC has decent room out of the box).

The list goes on: beautiful design, tactile RGB keyboard, good thermals, solid build quality, we really like that this 15.6″ gaming laptop doesn’t feel like it skimps on any area and is a good all-around pick worth of its price tag.

There’s a reason we ranked this offering as one of the best 144Hz laptops and choices for people after something particularly long-lasting.

If you can stretch your budget to the MSI GL65 Leopard, you’re going to love it. This machine is such a fantastic value for what you’re getting.

Best Budget Gaming Laptop on Amazon: Acer Nitro 5 GTX 1650

We’re back to another variation of the Nitro 5 for those looking for the best cheap gaming laptop on Amazon.

You have to respect that at this budget, manufacturers are very limited on what kind of parts they can include. With that said, we’re very pleasantly surprised by just how good this Nitro 5 model is for its ridiculously low price-point.

Led by the GTX 1650, you still have a graphics card capable of running most games at fair settings/frame rates; and if you’re playing older games/many of the popular titles that are well optimized (Fortnite, Overwatch, WoW, etc.) you’re still going to get great frame rates on them suitable for competitive gaming.

Accompanying the GPU is the very capable 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9300H, 8GB DDR4 RAM & a 256GB NVMe SSD. While you won’t get very far with high-end production work on this laptop (4k video editing, rendering, etc.), it will still do very well when it comes to general use for things like web browsing, videos, and standard work if needed.

You have some easy options to upgrade this laptop also. Acer has sensibly installed 1 stick of 8GB RAM (instead of 2 x 4GB) to allow you to easily add a second 8GB RAM stick if you like. There’s also a 2.5″ drive slot if you wish to expand your storage.

Another reason we picked this as the top budget choice is that the laptop still has some impressive design features for its price range. With a good build quality, a 1080p IPS screen, and a USB 3.1 Type C port, you’re really getting a lot for your money here.

On top of being a great budget choice, I’d also suggest this is one of the best gaming laptops for beginners, kids, teenagers, or simply someone who’s behind on gaming and has some titles to catch up on alongside their general laptop use.

Reset assured, although it isn’t going to give you the same performance as our top picks, we still love the value of this Nitro 5 model. There’s a reason it’s one of the best selling gaming laptops on Amazon.

Most Powerful Gaming Laptop on Amazon: MSI GS66 Stealth

What an incredible portable gaming machine this is.

Our next pick is for those looking for the most expensive gaming laptop on Amazon that will still give them notable improvement.

There are some diminishing returns when comparing this laptop to our laptop pick under $1,500 for gaming alone (that said it has a whole lot more going for it). We’ve included a laptop under the $2,000 range further below but really, the laptops with prices between this pick and the MSI GL65 don’t improve notably on graphics performance (they up the price by including more RAM, drive space, and better CPUs, but these are all secondary for machines that are already powerful enough when it comes to these specs). The only middle-ground pick is the RTX 2070 Super version of the GS66 if your budget is somewhere in between.

Now with all that said, what you’re getting in the GS66 is one of the best gaming graphics cards available today: the RTX 2080, with some incredible additional specs to go with it. You can expect this laptop to perform about 20-30% better than the GL65 in games. That is an incredible improvement considering how top-end the GL65 pick already feels. This would be perfect for someone looking for a VR ready laptop (for the best settings) and someone who doesn’t want to compromise on game settings now or in the next few years.

Accompanying the powerhouse GPU is a beastly i7-10750H, 32GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradable to 64GB, but we can’t imagine you’ll need that for a long time) & a 512GB NVMe SSD. These are some seriously fantastic specs that will empower you to do some serious production work, with the GS66 doubling as a 4k video editing laptop/suitable for other intensive tasks (things like browsing the web won’t even phase this machine).

What’s more, we are floored by the fantastic design achievements in the GS66; this PC is incredibly thin and light for the amount of power it holds. The build quality is what you’d hope for in a premium gaming laptop and although the machine runs hot, the thermal solution is more than capable of keeping the device manageable.

And then there is the amazing display. On top of reaching great color accuracy and a sharp 3ms latency, it’s running at a very impressive 300Hz. Some laptops with these ultra-high refresh rates don’t have the specs to actually run games to take advantage of this, but the beauty of the MSI GS66 Stealth is that it does. This is our pick for the best esports laptop and anyone who takes their competitive gaming very seriously.

There’s a reason the Stealth has won a whole host of awards. If you’re serious about getting the best portable gaming computer on Amazon that you possibly can, you’ve found it.

Cheapest Gaming Laptop on Amazon: Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Now let’s be clear, I’m being very generous calling this device a gaming laptop and I would highly recommend you save up the extra money to at least get the budget Acer Nitro pick above for gaming.

That being said, I appreciate that some readers will be looking for the cheapest laptop for gaming on Amazon, even if that means some serious limitations.

This Lenovo laptop is impressive for its price point, with a capable Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM & a 256GB SSD. You can still expect this laptop to be a decent runner for general usage and office work.

For games, you’ll be relying on the integrated Vega 8 graphics; which to be fair, still does a semi-decent job on older titles. You’ll be able to run games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and league of legends on lower settings.

Another credit to the IdeaPad 3 is that it has a nice build quality for its price. It’s a very slim, lightweight laptop that would be ideal for travel.

If your budget is very tight and you need a new PC now; then as long as you can respect that this is a light gaming PC, you’re still getting excellent value.

Alternative Picks

The top 5 picks are our main favorite choices for your various budgets when considering the best portable gaming PC on Amazon.

That being said, we’ve included some additional worthy choices for some other price brackets that are popular – we’d still recommend these laptops if they work for your budget.

Best Gaming Laptop under $1,200 on Amazon: ASUS TUF506IV-AS76

Between our top 2 picks is a choice that doesn’t upgrade the GPU, but does offer a fantastic design, upgraded processor, and impressive 1TB SSD. We featured one of the cheaper TUF models in our best 144HZ laptops feature.

Best Gaming Laptop under $800 on Amazon: Acer Nitro 5 10300H

Inbetween our top overall and top budget picks is space for this fantastic Acer Nitro 5 unit – it has the same GPU as our budget pick but offers great storage and CPU improvement.

Second Best Amazon Gaming Laptop under $1,200: Acer Predator Helios 300

One other very decent option in this price range was worth calling out; this doesn’t have the same storage capacity as the ASUS laptop but has an improved thermal solution and fantastic 3ms response time which is why we ranked it at the top of our list for high-refresh-rate laptops, perfect for competitive gaming.

Best Amazon Gaming Laptop under $1,500 Alternative: ASUS ROG Strix G15

Now if you’re up for spending a little more than our top MSI pick, this is one of the top gaming laptops on Amazon by ASUS. And their ROG brand really stands out with its fantastic design. For the extra price, you’re getting 240Hz and more storage, so worth considering.

Best Laptop under $2,000 on Amazon: CUK MSI GP65 Leopard

If you like the look of our best laptop under $1,500 pick, but want something with a little higher spec, this is a great future-proofed choice (it won’t get you much more performance in gaming, but it’s RAM, CPU, and storage are very impressive for other tasks).

What's Next?

The Full Guide to RAM Speeds: DDR4 2400 vs 2666 vs 3000 vs 3200 vs 3600 vs 4000 MHz

DDR4 2400 vs 2666 vs 3000 vs 3200 vs 3600 vs 4000

The Complete Guide to RAM Speeds

Kaelum Ross

I

Dec 22, 2020

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When you’re looking to build your PC and you’ve arrived at selecting RAM, it can feel overwhelming to know the right GB, MHz, and CL measurements for your needs.

This is why today’s What in Tech feature will be taking you through everything you need to know about RAM, from common speed versus speed questions and which spec matters most in your decision.

We’ve also included the best RAM choices available with different budgets in mind.

This is a long guide, the contents table below is your friend! Look specifically for the questions & recommendations that interest you instead of reading top to bottom!

Table of Contents

What is RAM Speed?

For the average PC builder, the capability of Random Access Memory (RAM) is measured by 3 key fundamentals: frequency, latency, and size (technically, size isn’t speed-related – but for the purpose of establishing what RAM is best for you, we’ll be covering it).

RAM Capacity / Size

RAM size is, as the name suggests, the overall capacity of the memory you’re buying. 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB are the most common sizes right now.

Additional capacity means your PC will have the ability to run more programs simultaneously/switch between them more smoothly.

This is where the name “Random Access Memory” comes in. Your main storage (Solid State Drives, Hard Drives, etc.) are designed to offer much larger storage but are slower than RAM, which is why those drives are store your data and require a more significant loading time when opening them for use.

Once software/games/files are open, they then utilize your PC’s RAM, which is faster than your SSDs/HDDs, so that they can be “randomly accessed” quickly during use.

A common metaphor to explain the difference is that RAM size is almost like your desk, and the more capacity you have, the larger your desk is (meaning you can have more items in arms reach ready to quickly use).

While your hard/solid-state drives are the size of your shelves, drawers, and cabinets; these are used to store most of your items and take a little longer to take out for use on your desk.

Generally more RAM capacity is better, but there are diminishing returns (we’ll get back to that).

RAM Clock Speed / Frequency

Clock speed or frequency is a RAM’s MHz rating (nowadays, most RAM will be in the 2400Mhz to 4400MHz range).

Faster clock speed allows your processor to retrieve data located on your storage drives more quickly. Reducing the time it takes the CPU to access this data increases your performance in real-world scenarios and games.

Clock speed is measured in Megahertz (MHz) which indicates how many times per second your RAM can access its memory (as you probably expect, more is better, but we’ll speak further below about the sweet spot between price and utility).

CAS Latency

The last key part of the equation is Column Access Strobe or CAS latency (often just “CL”) which is integral in understanding RAM speed and often overlooked compared to a stick’s MHz rating.

CL indicates how long it takes your RAM to recognize a command/action (similar to how a monitor has latency between receiving your mouse click and outputting the result visually).

The latency is usually recorded by 4 numbers in the following format: 16-18-19-30 which represents the number of clock cycles it takes for the RAM to register a command. It is the first number from the 4 that is typically used to establish CL. Nearly all popular RAM today is between CL 12 & CL 18 (mostly CL14-16).

We talk more about how to balance latency and clock speed below. But to demonstrate why both are important, think about it: if you have very fast RAM, but the latency is high, it would be like gaming on a high-refresh-rate monitor but each of your actions takes a second to register (a dramatic example, but you get the point…).

DDR4 RAM Speed Vs 1

How much does RAM Speed Matter?

So, we’ve established at a high level what the integral parts of RAM are for your build.

But how much does RAM speed matter?

The short answer is that for business and personal use (web browsing, e-mails, basic software, Netflix, etc), you’ll likely be fine with any 8GB (ideally 16GB) RAM from a reputable manufacturer.

If you’re into gaming or plan on using your build for production work like video editing, game development, or rendering, then the speed can have a more notable impact.

How much does size matter for RAM – 4GB vs 8GB vs 16GB vs 32GB

Of all the specs, size matters the most.

So if your battle is faster RAM vs more RAM (i.e. CL / MHz vs GB), we’ll nearly always recommend the latter option.

That said, RAM size does have diminishing returns. 16GB is what we recommend for nearly all users, 8GB for tighter budgets, and 32GB for high-end enthusiasts. Beyond that, there isn’t really much use (even 32GB is pushing past the realm of necessity unless you’re doing production work). If this sounds confusing, we detail the best RAM options towards the bottom of this guide.

How much does RAM clock speed matter?

Clock speed matters, but not as much as you may think.

You can build a powerful gaming PC with 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM for instance (which is on the lower side of clock speed). Would it be better to have say, that 16GB of RAM at 3200MHz+? Absolutely! But it’s not a deal-breaker to have lower speeds if your budget is tight or you’re simply not bothered about fine-tuning potential performance/game FPS.

If you’re building a PC purely for basic business and personal use, we would suggest that cheap RAM will suffice for you as long as the size is large enough.

We do however see lots of unanswered questions from users around the difference between X MHz and Y MHz RAM. Which is why further below, you’ll find our comparison list as a quick guide to help you decide between two types of memory.

How much does latency matter for RAM

The most overlooked RAM speed factor, CL, is kind of like clock speed; it matters, but shouldn’t be a huge deciding factor in your PC building decisions.

A higher latency RAM (say, CL18) could still be perfectly decent if its other specs were around 16GB/3200MHz, RAM size is still the most important thing overall.

That isn’t to say that if you see CL12-CL14 RAM, you shouldn’t absolutely go for it if the other specs are decent (especially if you’re building a gaming PC or something for production work). But in the context of price/value, these low latency sticks are often 30%+ more expensive, which we can’t say is worth it unless you are trying to build the all-around most powerful computer possible.

DDR4 RAM Speed Vs 2

RAM Speed Comparison FAQ

DDR3 vs DDR 4 – How much faster is DDR4

DDR4 is essentially the next natural iteration from DDR3. With significantly great size capacity & higher clock speeds, 4 is notably faster in nearly every case (latency is slightly higher on 4, but is made up for with the other specs).

In nearly all cases today, we would say pick up DDR4 RAM. It is overwhelmingly what the current market motherboards/CPUs are best compatible with.

The right question isn’t really “is DDR4 worth it” anymore in terms of speed. Because of its widespread market adoption, prices on this RAM are great. You’ll typically be getting faster RAM with little consequence compared to DDR3.

The only scenario we see DDR3 as worthwhile today is if you’re building an ultra-cheap PC and have specifically found a motherboard/CPU combo that supports 3 and not 4 (we don’t like this from a future-proof perspective and would try to stick to 4, but it could make sense if you need to be as cheap as possible).

DDR4 vs DDR5 RAM?

DDR5 RAM is in development and will offer 50-100% higher clock speed than DDR4, a slightly lower voltage and individual RAM sticks that can go up to 64GB each (the max with DDR4 is 16GB).

This sounds great on paper. But at this time, these ultra-high clock speeds/sizes lead to huge diminishing returns in pretty much all PC activity (we talk more about this in our comparison of higher MHz RAMs further below) so in reality, that 50-100% “theoretical” performance increase may not be super noticeable unless you’re building a very high-end machine (and in nearly all cases, the money would be better spent on a better CPU/GPU).

DDR5 RAM is scheduled for mass release in 2021. Though we recommend keeping expectations measured, as the DDR5 release date has been a moving goalpost for a couple of years now.

And even when the RAM is released, you can still expect a long-delayed period where motherboards, CPUs, and other PC hardware manufacturers take time developing new products that adopt DDR5 as the standard and take advantage of its speeds.

To sum up, while the difference between DDR4 and DDR5 RAM sounds exciting, we really don’t think it’s relevant to builders for the next few years. Stick to DDR4 for now.

What RAM Speed should I get?

The million-dollar question! Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear-cut, as it depends on your budget and requirements.

A reasonable rule of thumb is to commit to at least 16GB RAM size-wise. Then from there, try to aim for a balance between CL/MHz between CL14 2666MHz & CL16 3200MHz.

To make it easier for you, the bottom of this guide details the best RAM picks today. If you want more autonomy on your choice, we’ve built the RAM speed quick-reference list further below too.

More RAM vs Faster RAM (Size vs MHz/Latency) 

We’ve touched on this already, but it’s worth re-iterating: size is way more important than MHz & latency for nearly all users.

As an example, 2400MHz 16GB RAM will be better than 3200MHz 8GB RAM. The only time we’d pick MHz/latency improvements in this kind of bracket is if your remaining budget can’t jump up to a larger size, but could be squeezed slightly further to accommodate faster sticks.

The other exception to this rule is if you’re buying very large RAM. If you have 32GB in memory, we can’t imagine more will be required for a long time (unless you’re creating a very high-end production machine). At this point, if you still have the budget, it will be usually better to focus on faster 32GB RAM than slower 64GB+ memory.

MHz vs Latency – which is more important for RAM speed?

The difference between MHz and CAS latency value is a difficult question as the best approach is for there to be a balance between these 2 factors (instead of very fast frequency/slow latency or vice versa).

The “sweet spot” for most users today (particularly gamers) with the price in mind is around CL14 2666MHz to CL16 3200MHz.

Now you can fall outside of these balances (e.g. plenty of RAM sticks offer CL18 latency but make up for it with significantly more frequency or lower prices) but we would use that range as the rough spot to go in unless you’re building something high-end and are trying to get extra-low latency and high MHz.

RAM Speed Importance for Intel vs AMD

The main function of RAM speed is to empower your CPU and its ability to retrieve/store randomly accessible data easily.

So your CPU is indirectly an important factor in deciding how much to invest in RAM speed. For example, if you’re buying a high-end CPU, you’ll achieve more value from spending extra on fast RAM (as lower speeds can bottleneck certain CPU operations).

When it comes to the Intel vs AMD builds, it’s complex as the impact on speed depends on the chipset & model version. But as a (mostly reliable) rule of thumb: AMD CPUs/builds benefit more from better RAM speeds than Intel due to the way its memory controllers operate.

This is not to say RAM speed doesn’t matter for Intel CPUs however. We’ve seen many RAM benchmarks show games and various software processes perform notably better with higher frequency/lower latency memory on Intel chipsets.

CL 12 vs CL 13 vs CL 14 vs CL 15 vs CL 16 vs CL 17 vs CL 18

Our comparison list just below focuses on the difference between MHz as we often see reader questions specifically asking about the frequency differences.

But as made clear in this guide, latency is as important as the frequency in deciding RAM speed. 

For example, the difference between CL14 and CL16 is usually more significant than the difference between 3000MHz and 3200MHz. But focussing all on latency (or all on clock speed) introduces diminishing returns, which is why considering both factors is important.

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple balancing act between the two measurements, as you’ll often see companies sacrifice low latency for high speed, or charge a lot more to ensure both specs are good.

We’ve detailed some of the best RAM available today at the bottom of this guide to make it easier for you. But if you do want to decide yourself, we would try to stick to the previously mentioned “sweet spot” of between CL14 2666MHz to CL16 3200MHz for mid-range builds, or you can seek faster/lower latency sticks if you have the budget.

DDR4 RAM Speed Vs 3

RAM Frequency Comparison Quick Reference List

RAM Frequency/Speed Comparison Chart (How to use)

We appreciate that despite all the info/FAQ answers above, many manufacturers produce things in a large array of different frequencies/MHz and you may be struggling to choose between 2 or 3 narrowed options.

We’ve created the below reference list as a quick guide to help you on the most common user head-to-heads based on RAM speed benchmarks.

Don’t feel the need to read every one of these – it’s just for quickly assessing the difference between speeds if you have 2 in mind!

CL / Timing vs MHz / Frequency

The below list assumes that every RAM stick you’re looking at is the same CAS Latency. 

It’s important to note that for computer processes (especially games), while higher RAM frequency and lower CL timings are always better, there is usually a “sweet spot” for mid-range budgets, otherwise, you risk buying RAM sticks with high speed but high CL timings (or vice versa).

For example, CL14 3200MHz RAM would be better for gaming than CL16 3600MHz RAM, so make sure to balance picking between both.

If that sounds complex, don’t worry! Just below the comparison list, we’ve included the best RAM choices depending on your budget level.

RAM Frequency Comparison List

DDR4 2400MHz vs 2666MHz

2666mhz will provide a slight improvement over 2400mhz (particularly in AMD builds).

For gaming, this will translate to a couple of extra FPS in some CPU-intensive titles (i.e. only go 2666MHz if it’s close to the same cost).

DDR4 2400MHz vs 3000MHz

The speed difference between DDR4 2400MHz and 3000MHz still won’t be huge for a lot of gamers/other users but will be a fair bit more noticeable than 2666MHz.

Providing the RAM you’re eying has good latency (and size) you can expect 3000MHz to be the better choice if the price is only 0-10% extra.

DDR4 2400MHz vs 3200MHz

3200MHz RAM is a popular speed for many gaming RAM manufacturers. Combined with a good latency, this will often be a happy medium to ensure you don’t bottleneck a mid-range CPU motherboard combo.

2400MHz would be fine for cheaper builds but we’d recommend 3200MHz if your budget can accommodate it.

DDR4 2400MHz vs 3600MHz

If you are getting a high-end CPU, we’d recommend going with at least 3600MHz to ensure the RAM isn’t indirectly bottlenecking the performance during any processes.

If your budget is tight, you’ll be better off with 2400MHz and spending your money on at least 16GB of RAM size.

DDR4 2666MHz vs 2667MHz

The difference between DDR4 2666MHz and DDR4 2667MHz is non-existent. This is simply a marketing term used by companies who round up/down differently.

Buy whichever one is cheaper (assuming size/latency are the same).

DDR4 2666MHz vs 2933MHz

You may achieve an extra couple of FPS in games that are heavy on CPU requirements, but for the most part, there won’t be much difference between 2666MHz and 2933MHz.

2933 MHz also isn’t as popular for RAM manufacturers so we’d expect 2666 MHz to be more cost-effective (or if you do want higher, look at 3000MHz).

DDR4 2666MHz vs 3000MHz

Similarly to 2666MHz vs 2993MHz, the difference in speeds isn’t wide enough to be that noticeable so only pick up 3000MHz if it’s very close in price or you are keen to min-max gaming FPSs (if that’s the case, you may be better with the higher speeds further below).

DDR4 2666MHz vs 3200MHz

RAM speed increase of 3200MHz over 2666MHz will be a little noticeable/may achieve a few extra FPS on CPU-heavy games (or improve runtimes during certain processes, particularly for high-end processors and especially AMD Ryzen CPUs).

DDR4 2933MHz vs 3000MHz

While the difference between 2933MHz and 3000MHz isn’t non-existent, it’s pretty close to being completely meaningless for most builders (almost certainly <1 average FPS increase in all games at the most). We’d go with whatever sticks are cheaper/have better latency. 

DDR4 3000MHz vs 3200MHz

You can expect a slight, modest speed increase when comparing the difference between 3000MHz and 3200MHz RAM, but don’t expect this to be more than a couple of FPS extra in processor-heavy games. So stick to whichever one is cheaper if all other specs are equal.

The one other thing to point out is that 3200MHz is a little more popular for RAM brands to produce, so your options might be better/more cost-effective.

DDR4 3000MHz vs 3600MHz

With a 20% MHz increase, at this point, you can expect the difference between 3000MHz and 3600MHz to be a little noticeable, albeit not essential if the 3000MHz RAM is notably cheaper (10% or more).

We like speeds of at least 3600MHz if you’re purchasing a high-end CPU (especially Ryzen/AMD) because these can occasionally be bottlenecked by lower frequencies in some operations (but we are min-maxing here, 3000MHz will be fine for most people).

DDR4 3000MHz vs 4000MHz

Is 4000MHz worth it over 3000MHz? Well, you can expect a nice performance jump in a lot of work-related processes (think rendering, editing, and other high-end production).

For gaming, RAM speed benchmarks tend to show around a 5% average FPS increase between these two frequencies. This is a nice jump, but if an FPS increase is your only focus, then the price difference may not be worth it. 3000MHz is enough for gaming on a budget/mid-range build.

DDR4 3000MHz vs 4400MHz

With nearly 50% extra frequency, there are certainly some notable improvements between these two frequencies. While you can expect a good performance increase in games (5% or so for many titles), the real value of going beyond 4000MHz will be in other processes like video editing and rendering.

But in real-world terms, we know a reader’s real question will usually be “is 3000MHz RAM good enough for gaming”. And the short answer is yes, you’ll likely see diminishing returns cost-wise unless you’re running a high-end processor; so 4400MHz will not be worth it for budget/mid-range builds unless the cost is similar (if you want higher 3600MHz-4000MHz will give you similar gaming results).

DDR4 3200MHz vs 3600MHz

If possible, we’d recommend at least 3600MHz if you are doing some high-end production work (rendering, video editing, etc.) and are invested in the time processes take.

For gaming, 3600MHz may be slightly better for CPU-intensive games, but not particularly notable (i.e. not worth paying more money for if FPS is your only focus as we fine 3200MHz is often the best value for RAM).

DDR4 3200MHz vs 4000MHz

Similarly to the difference between 3000MHz and 4000MHz, you can expect something close to 5% increase in many CPU heavy games, whether you think this is worth it is really down to your personal opinion and the price difference (we will say that 3200MHz is the most popular RAM speed today, so often has some good offers from big RAM manufacturers).

The real value for most users will come from if they do high-end work on their setups like video editing and other production. Unless you’re building a premium gaming PC, we don’t think the difference will be too important here.

DDR4 3600MHz vs 4000MHz

As discussed in earlier speed comparisons, RAM speed benchmarks for 3600MHZ, 4000MHz, 4400MHz, and beyond have shown that there begins to be diminishing returns for gaming.

If you have a high-end CPU (especially Ryzen), then you may get your money’s worth, but otherwise, we’d only recommend 4000MHz+ for video editors and intense computing.

DDR4 3600MHz vs 4400MHz

For gaming, the difference between 3600MHz and 4400MHz is small for most titles as there is diminishing returns at this frequency level for most titles (the only exception being if you’re running a very high-end AMD CPU to avoid any slight bottlenecking) therefore we’d only say 4400MHz is worth it if you are focussed on making your high-end production/editing work more efficient.

DDR4 4000MHz vs 4400MHz

We wouldn’t consider the difference between 4000MHz and 4400MHz RAM for gaming important (unless you really want to future-proof RAM, but we’d say it would be more cost-effective to buy cheaper and upgrade to DDR5 when it is popular in a few years).

For video editing, rendering, and other production work, you can expect to see a little jump in performance and it may be worth it if the price increase is in the realm of 10-15%.

DDR4 4400MHz vs 4600MHz

A difference of less than 5% frequency at these high levels is really not that integral to any performance, whether you’re building a gaming rig or a high-end production setup.

4600MHz is only worth it if it is very close to the same price as the 4400MHz sticks.

DDR4 RAM Speed Vs 4

The Best RAM for Gaming and Other Builds

Feeling overwhelmed by all of this detail? Don’t worry, here’s our quick list of the best RAM picks available today for varying budgets.

Overall Best RAM for Gaming: Crucial Ballistix 3200 MHz DDR4 16GB

Great value, decent speeds, good size and from one of the best RAM brands, this Crucial set ticks all the boxes we think a gaming (or mid-range production) PC will need.

Best Budget Gaming RAM: OLOy DDR4 16GB RAM

At a very impressive value point, this OLOy RAM will suit most gamers on a budget who will be better placed spending extra on more expensive GPU/CPUs where possible (the manufacturer isn’t as reputed as say, Crucial, but this memory has been well received from a lot of budget PC builders).

Most Powerful RAM for High-End PCs: G.Skill Trident Z Neo Series 32GB

At an impressive 3600MHz, CL16 with 32GB of size, the G.Skill Trident Z Neo is a fantastic offering for high-end gaming or production builds.

Yes, you can get technically do better than this, but diminishing returns will start to kick in more dramatically, our pick is based on still providing decent value despite this being an expensive set of memory.

Cheapest RAM: V-Color 8GB DDR4 RAM

Technically you can go cheaper with 4GB, but even if your build is just for business and personal use, we would recommend this great-value V-Color 8GB RAM as a minimum.

Being a single stick, you’ll also have the opportunity to add a second 8GB piece at a later date. Even at its small size/slightly lower speed, this memory will get a budget gaming build off the ground (if you’re very tight on money, it’s probably going to be best to invest in a better CPU/GPU and upgrade your memory later).

Final Word

We’ve been over a lot of queries in this feature, and appreciate that learning about how to compare MHz, latency, and GB speeds can be a lot to take in.

So while we did make this guide to inform readers and give you the ability to maximize value from your RAM purchase, we’ll reiterate: the most important aspect is size.

If you buy one of our top picks above, or pretty much any DDR4 16GB+ RAM set, you will still get decent performance. So hopefully you’ve got what you need to know, but if RAM speed stresses you out, go with one of our recommendations or pick a popular 16GB gaming RAM choice, and move on to stressing about GPUs, CPUs, motherboards, and PC cases instead!

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