NVIDIA Announces $350 RTX 2060 Desktop Card And RTX Laptop Chips

NVIDIA made a splash as the first major press conference of CES 2019. In addition to a new and mercifully cheap addition to its top-of-the-line RTX graphics card family, the company announced RTX-series chips for gaming laptops. Both will be here before the end of the month.

The RTX 2060 card is based on the same Turing GPU as the RTX 2070 and 2080 cards that debuted last year, but with a much more attainable price. At $350 for NVIDIA’s self-branded card (a bit higher or lower for tweaked designs from partner manufacturers like Gigabyte and EVGA), it’s less than half the price of the most expensive option, and this model will be making its way to the interior of many a gamer’s desktop PC. It should also be a popular option for pre-built models. Even more frugal cards, undoubtedly including 2050 and 2050ti variants, should come later this year.

NVIDIA says the RTX 2060 is more powerful than the GTX 1070ti (first released in November 2017) for most modern games. It comes with 6GB of GDDR6 RAM and can handle five gigarays of computation per second. It will be available starting on January 15th.

In addition to the desktop side, NVIDIA also pulled the wraps off of the first laptops to feature RTX-branded chips. Laptops from major manufacturers with RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080 GPUs will begin hitting the market on January 29th. These include both standard models and those with NVIDIA’s Max-Q technology, allowing for thinner and more power-efficient designs with some extra special sauce in the thermal management. 40 RTX-packing laptops are in the works, among them 18 Max-Q laptops, including an update to the popular MSI G65 Stealth Thin, which Review Geek recommended highly. Expect RTX cards to be limited to the most expensive laptops, at least for the first few months.

The biggest draw for the RTX line of desktop and mobile cards is ray tracing capability, an option for super-realistic lighting and reflections. Early RTX buyers were discouraged at the performance hit in brand new games when RTX lighting was enabled, often driving games down below the magical 60 frames-per-second mark even on massive powerhouse desktops. NVIDIA’s been working on the problem and says that improved drivers featuring DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling) on more compatible games will boost that performance.

According to the presentation, DLSS should close the performance gap to within one or two frames per second of the game running with RTX disabled. DLSS combines upscaled sampling with NVIDIA’s proprietary AI technology to smooth out the rough patches of the GPU-intensive ray tracing process. We should see more games support it at launch as RTX ray tracing becomes standard on new high-end PC games.

Asus Enters the Small but Growing Chrome OS Tablet Market

Full tablets powered by Google’s Chrome OS are thin on the ground, but with the Pixel Slate now making its way to users’ hands, it’s growing faster. Asus, frequent Chromebook manufacturer, is introducing its first model at CES.

The Chromebook Tablet CT100—which, yes, is a tablet and not a “book” of any note-like description, and lacks a keyboard—shares a lot of similarities with the first Chrome OS tablet from Acer. Its 9.7-inch, 2048×1536 screen runs on top of a Rockchip ARM-based processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage, making its hardware closer to an entry-level iPad than a Pixel competitor. Expansion comes from a MicroSD card slot and a USB-C port.

Asus claims that it’s designed the CT100 with “young kids” in mind, and to that end has coated the body with rubber that can stand a drop from a meter. 2MP and 5MP cameras on the front and rear are nothing to write home about, but the included stylus slides into its own bay in the tablet, something that’s not always a given in today’s market.

The CT100 doesn’t have a price or release date yet, but given its specs and target, I’d expect this one to come in at under $400. We’ll probably see more of it after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.

Source: Asus via Liliputing

The Best Premium Leather iPad Cases

No matter what iPad you use, you’ll want a case to protect it. But if you’re feeling fancy, or you’re looking for a gift for an iPad user who would appreciate something more premium, you can’t beat leather.

We’ve selected the best genuine leather cases on the market. There’s no “PU” or “vegan” leather here: this is the real McCoy, genuine dead cow. That’s not for everyone, of course. Some might object to the material on environmental grounds or not want a case that needs a little care to keep looking great, so make sure your gift recipient is okay with leather before making your choice. But for most users, these are all great options for more elegant protection.

We’ve found the best general leather case option, the best for those who prefer a larger “folio” style or a more minimal integrated stand, the best sleeve design, and a novelty “book” case that makes a great gift if you’re looking for something unique. Note that we’re not breaking down our selections by iPad model: for each choice below, you should be able to find versions that will fit the standard iPad, the iPad Mini, and the various iPad Pro models.

The Best All-Around Leather iPad Case: Noreve Tradition ($86-185)

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For the general user, this design from French case maker Noreve is the best choice. It includes a full wrap-around shell that protects the tablet itself, a fold-over cover for the screen, and integrated organizer sleeves for extra trinkets like a screen cleaner cloth and notes. The back of the case has a small fold-out kickstand for hands-free viewing, though the Story Leather case below is probably a better choice if you frequently watch videos on your tablet. There are cutouts for the buttons and camera, and a stylus can be secured in the cover snap.

The Noreve case comes in a variety of leather qualities, from PU (read: fake) up to aged and patinated leather in a wide selection of colors. The sweet spot is Noreve’s “Illumination” patent leather, which comes in black, grey, or natural leather for a little over $100 on the standard 9.7-inch iPad. Some of the more expensive leathers and colors may take longer to ship; click the “In Stock” tab on Noreve’s online shop if you’re in a hurry.

The Best Leather Folio iPad Case: Pad and Quill Oxford ($110)

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Folio cases are a bit bulkier than a standard case, but they offer more protection and an appealing fold-out design. Pad and Quill’s Oxford, which goes for $110 on the standard iPad, is the one to beat. Its natural leather finish looks fantastic and feels even better, with premium stitching on all seams and a loop for your stylus.

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Why You Shouldn’t Buy A 5G Phone In 2019

5G is coming! It’s the future! It will speed up your phone, make your house connected, and finally bring you the fulfillment no other wireless standard could bring you. Or not.

Phone makers and carriers would have you believe 5G is really, truly, absolutely going to happen this year. But just like its predecessors, 5G mobile tech is going to have its growing pains, and early adopters will essentially be a huge group of product testers who are paying companies for the privilege of ironing out the kinks. If you’re hoping for a phone that’s sleek, gets long battery life, works wherever you go, and (perhaps most of all) is affordable, you might want to hold off on a purchase for at least a year or so.

This is all just a little bit of history repeating. The first selection of 3G phones had some of the same issues, as did LTE phones (or “4G” if you’re in the US and you had to de-tangle that thread) a few years later.

Why should you think twice about buying a first-gen 5G phone? Let’s break it down.

5G Phones Will Be Bigger

We’ve become addicted to phones that are thinner and sleeker as manufacturers have pushed for bigger screens, allowing batteries and other components to spread out without adding bulk. But speedy 5G wireless will require some bigger radios inside your phone, and more of them.

A Qualcomm working prototype 5G phone. Notice the thick build to accommodate a larger battery. Image credit: AnandTech

That’s a lot of extra space a 5G phone will need to make inside its glass and metal case. That being so, it’s likely that 5G phones will be limited to the larger “phablet” models (think the “Plus” iPhone size and bigger) just so they’ll have room to hold all those guts. If you prefer something smaller, or for that matter thinner, you’ll be out of luck.

If you want a practical example, check out some of the early hardware for 5G hotspots. These little gadgets don’t need much more than a radio cluster, a battery, and maybe a little LCD screen, but they’re still twice the size of their LTE predecessors.

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The Best Mice For Your Gaming PC

A gaming PC needs a gaming mouse. OK, OK, it’s true: you can play PC games with a crusty old mouse if you want. But they’re certainly more fun with a shiny new “gaming-grade mouse.”

If you’re just getting into PC gaming, or you’re an old hand looking for a competitive advantage, these are the best options on the market as of late 2018. Logitech’s flexible and surprisingly affordable G502 Hero gets our pick for most people, and we’ve also chosen Logitech’s reliable designs for wireless and budget gamers. But if you’re looking for something specifically for shooters or MOBAs, or you need an ambidextrous mouse for a left-hander, we’ve got you covered for these picks as well.

The Best All-Around Gaming Mouse: Logitech G502 Hero ($75)

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The G502 Hero will meet all of the needs for most gamers. It uses a segmented body design that’s comfortable, while still giving you access to many more buttons than either a standard PC mouse or a more streamlined “shooter” design. (The extra bindable buttons come in handy for games like Overwatch, where you have multiple weapons, abilities, and ultimates to juggle.) Two rocker buttons and two DPI adjustment buttons, plus the usual two thumb buttons and a “sniper” button for temporary sensitivity adjustments, give a wide array of options without making them overwhelming or hard to distinguish like an MMO mouse.

On top of that you have an frankly insanely powerful 16,000 DPI sensor, adjustable weights in the bottom housing to change feel of the mouse in your hand, and RGB lighting (if you really must). All that for about a $75 street price, handily sliding in beneath some of the more exorbitant gamer mice prices out there. For doing an admirable job with any game and fitting into most players’ budgets, the G502 gets our top pick.

The Best Gaming Mouse For Shooters: Razer Basilisk ($50)

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Razer probably has the best marketing of any of the PC gaming accessory suppliers, and it tends to be a bit…much. But in the case of the Basilisk, the company’s boasting is entirely justified. “Shooter” mice tend to focus on essentials, with two big, thumb-friendly buttons on the side (typically bound to melee and throwables). The Basilisk has this, plus a subtle and removable “sniper button” for temporary sensitivity shifts.

Its position at just a little reach for the thumb is ideal, and unlikely to be hit by accident in the heat of battle. The mouse’s scroll wheel can be micro-adjusted for smoother scrolling or more “clicky” operation, an excellent feature for gamers who bind weapon selection to the wheel.

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