Trending December 2023 # Quarriors! Review: Mix Deck And Dice Building In One Game # Suggested January 2024 # Top 19 Popular

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Fans of board games will likely already know the term “deck building.” However, the “dice building” genre is not as familiar to gamers. There are only a handful of titles available that feature every board game player’s secret love: dice.

Fans of board games will likely already know the term “deck building.” However, the “dice building” genre is not as familiar to gamers. There are only a handful of titles available that feature every board game player’s secret love: dice.

Quarriors! is a dice building game (possibly the first ever) that has just launched in the App Store for the iPad. You don’t get to shake a nice, fat sack of dice while playing, but you do get to satisfy your love of the game of chance…


In the original game, series of cards are placed onto the center of the table. Each player has his or her own card and dice layout. A player mat helps determine where everything goes.

The app is very similar, except you don’t have to set anything up. The cards are laid out automatically, and your dice pool and all usable sections are displayed for you. Whenever you perform an action, the dice and cards are relocated to their new spot automatically.

The top of the screen shows the AI or Game Center opponent. If you are playing a two player pass-and-play game, the top of the screen shows the inactive player’s section.

The center of the screen shows the three sections of cards. The first section includes the basic cards. The second shows the spell cards. The third includes the creatures. Tap a card to see it close up, view its stats, and read its special ability. You can also double tap any dice to see the card associated with it on the board.

In your player area, you will see a profile icon that shows your attack total, defense, total “Quiddity,” number of dice in the bag, and Glory total. As you virtually roll, activate, and spend dice, they will move to different sections of your player area. For example, after you roll six dice, the results will be displayed in the “Active” section. When you cast a spell or use an immediate action, the dice used will be moved to the “Spent” section. After your turn is over, your dice move to the “Used” section.

The game also includes a Glory tracker. This is a means to keep track of how much Glory each player has. The first person to get to the designated max number of Glory wins the game.


I have never played a dice building game before, so I entered this with no preconceived notion of what it plays like in real life. There is a quick tutorial at the beginning of the game that shows you where all of your controls are and how to perform certain actions, like culling the dice, defending an attack, capturing a creature from the Wilds, or casting a spell.

After the basic tutorial, you are on your own. There is no in-depth instruction manual of how to play the game or what the rules are. I had to download a PDF of the rulebook for the physical game from WizKid Game’s website.

I’m still figuring it all out, but from what I can tell, players use dice to purchase cards with creatures and spells on them. When it is your turn, the game automatically draws and rolls six dice for you. Then, if there are any immediate abilities to use, those dice will glow. Tap on a glowing dice to perform the immediate ability. For example, one ability lets you reroll the active dice, plus one more.

Then, players summon any available creatures based on the dice roll results. Creatures are used to attack opponents and defend from attack. During your turn, your creatures will attack. The opponent tries to defend by placing their own dice in the battle area. The player with the highest attack total (combining all summoned creatures and spells) wins the round and the defending creature is destroyed.

In the next round, players capture Quarry or dice. When you roll dice, you will either produce creatures, spells, or Quiddity. Quiddity is used to purchase more creatures and spells. For example, if you have five Quiddity from your original roll of six dice, those are used to let you capture a creature or spell that costs five or less.

At this point, it is the end of your turn. However, your Quarry points are not yet scored. After your opponents turns, the game automatically figures out how many Quarry you have earned for the round. Quarry is earned for summoning and defending creatures. The amount of Glory each creature earns is displayed in the upper right corner of the card. So, if during your turn, you summon a Scavenging Goblin worth two Glory and you manage to successfully defend it from being destroyed by your opponents until your next turn, you will receive two Glory points. The Glory Tracker will automatically move your player marker that number of points on the board.

Depending on how many people are playing, the game ends when the first person reaches the goal number of Glory. For example, a game of two people needs 20 Glory, while a game with four only needs 12.

The Good

The points are all tallied for you, making it very easy to keep track of who has earned points. Plus, all of your dice are placed in their appropriate positions and any available actions will be highlighted with a glow for you. This makes it very easy for beginners to know what action to take next.

The Bad

Because the app does not include detailed instructions on how to play the game, I was completely lost during my first attempt. I even won the game, but didn’t know how. The in-game tutorial includes basic rules, but doesn’t explain the details. For example, I didn’t understand what a Quidditty was, or why culling dice would help or hurt my chances. This game desperately needs the full seven-page rulebook for people who have never played a dice building game before.


Quarriors! is available for $3.99. Considering the average price of a board game app is about $5.99, this is a great bargain. It is a virtual version of the entire game, complete with 130 Quarry Dice, 53 Power Cards, a Glory Tracker, dice bags, markers, and even player area mats. Not a bad price considering the physical game costs $29.99.


If you are a fan of dice building games, you probably already own Warriors! You will be able to play this digital version with a computer-generated opponent, or with others in the room as a pass-and-play-game. Plus, you can connect with friends or strangers through Game Center for anytime/anywhere action. If you have never played a dice building game before, this is an inexpensive way to get into the genre. Just be sure to download the rulebook to help you understand how to play. This game is available for the iPad. Download it in the App Store today.

Related Apps

Since this is the first dice building game in the App Store, there is nothing like it. However, the game developer also has a deck building game based on Pacific Rim. If you want a game with dice, try Ravensburger’s Las Vegas.

You're reading Quarriors! Review: Mix Deck And Dice Building In One Game

Steel Storm Indie Game Review

As the indie game market continues to grow, we thought it would be timely to kick off 2011 with another game review. Steel Storm, a game produced by a small company called Kot in Action Creative Artel, is a top-down arcade shooter that puts you in control of a small futuristic aircraft. Like the addictive space shooters of the past, Steel Storm keeps the action and explosions coming.

Visual Presentation

Steel Storm is very pleasing to the eyes. Do not let the words “top down” fool you. Although it functions like a 2D top-down shooter, the game is actually rendered in 3D, giving you the full depth of each level, ship, and obstacle. Weapons fire and explosions are as bright and colorful as you would expect from a modern 3D shooter.

You can choose different camera positions for your ship, which is particularly useful if you prefer a slightly angular view rather than straight top down.


The Linux version of the game came with both 32-bit and 64-bit executables, making it easy to install and run. To begin the game, you create a player profile and are immediately given options to start the action. The game supports multiple graphics resolutions and fit my 1440×900 precisely.

Episode I includes single-player campaigns, where the player must fight enemies, collect power-ups, and complete specified mission objectives. It also has the type of multi-player functionality you would expect in a first-person shooter, with death match and cooperative play. You can join currently running servers or host your own public or private death matches or campaigns. Do not expect to find a lot people in active matches, but that may change over time.

For even more extensibility, Steel Storm also has a level editor, allowing you to create your own campaigns and death matches. The editor is easy to use and builds upon already established level designs.


The default control scheme uses the mouse and keyboard, but the control system is customizable and supports the use of a gamepad. I found the gamepad to be more appropriate for this type of game, using one analog stick to control movement, and the other to aim.

The average enemy ship is pretty easy to defeat, although it will still require dodging and hiding behind safe objects. Stationary guns also pose a threat, particularly if ships are also attacking at the same time. Some larger ships are more intelligent and require a bit more strategy, but you should not have much trouble defeating them one-on-one. The real challenge is taking on multiple ships at once. The most enjoyable weaponry are the missiles, and once you have them, you will definitely want to make use of them to quickly take out nearby enemies with one clustered shot.

Unlike some retro top-down shooters, Steel Storm actually requires you to do other things besides just shooting. You must find ways to open force fields, destroy enemy installations, and escape certain areas within a given amount of time. All of this adds a little more thought to the game, which is good if you like that type of gameplay and bad if you only wanted to blow things up.

Finding your way through a level to complete tasks can be confusing at times, but fortunately, there is a map to help you figure out where you have been and where you need to go.

Overall Impressions

Steel Storm is fun, and the added features make it a game you could potentially enjoy for hours. For multi-player fun, you may need to schedule matches with friends, but it should be easy to pick up, even for casual gamers. Considering it is free of charge, you get quite a lot, including the source code. Steel Storm’s gaming engine is licensed under the GNU General Public License, meaning you could conceivably create your own maps and enemies for it.

This game will not revolutionize shooters, and the strategy will not keep you up at night, but the gameplay is addictive enough to warrant the purchase. I give Steel Storm a perfect 5 out of 5.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.

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Alcatel One Touch Hero Review

The Alcatel One Touch Hero comes with a soft touch plastic construction, with a matte finish. While it definitely looks and feels a little more premium than a glossy plastic build, the one big drawback with this material is the fact that it’s a fingerprint magnet. You get an overall nice design with rounded corners and a slightly curved back that makes the phone very easy to hold. If you are looking for a comparison, the design language of the One Touch Hero will in some ways remind you of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Considering that the Alcatel One Touch Hero features a 6-inch display, it is obviously a very large smartphone, so hoping for comfortable one handed use is definitely a stretch, literally. That being said, its dimensions are quite similar to that of the Galaxy Note 3, being just 1.4 mm wider and ever so slightly taller than the Samsung phablet. This is certainly an achievement that was possible because of the incredibly thin display bezels, especially when you consider that the display of the Hero is 0.3-inch larger than the Galaxy Note 3.

As expected, the front of the device is dominated by the large display, and you get capacitive buttons right below the display, but they don’t really attract attention away from the screen. Turning over to the sides, you get the power button and volume rocker on the right side, with a microSIM card tray right above the button layout, with just the microSD card slot on the opposite side. On the back you’ll find the 13 MP camera with flash, the speaker grill, the stylus slot, and the 6-pin port for the smart cover, that we’ll talk about in more detail later.

It might not be the most premium feeling phone you can get your hands on, but the build quality is solid and sturdy, and overall, this large phone doesn’t feel uncomfortable in the palm of your hand.

The 1080p screen is bright and vivid, and, as we mentioned before, the 6-inch display is surrounded by very thin bezels, which really lets this large display shine through. With a pixel density of 367 ppi, the display delivers a crisp image, and text is sharp and easy to ready. This is an IPS LCD screen, and so the color reproduction is extremely accurate and it does not have that over saturation that you may find with some other devices, while still benefiting from great viewing angles.

The display practically melts into the device, since the bezels are so small, and since the front is pretty much distraction free. When you look at the phone while the screen is off, it’s actually quite difficult to figure out where the screen ends and the bezels begin.

If there is one blemish on this otherwise stunning screen, it’s that it has a slight blueish tint to it, which might or might not be a problem for you. I do prefer a cooler tone, but I know that some people like warmer colors. Regardless of the color temperature, this display is very good looking, and easily holds its own even when compared to high-end devices out there.

Under the hood of the Alcatel One Touch Hero is a quad-core MediaTek MediaTek MT6589 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz, coupled with the PowerVR SGX544 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, the MediaTek processor does have its issues with keeping the OS smooth, and you’ll occasionally see some stutters even while just flipping through the homescreens. Performance issues are evident when using an processor intensive app or game. This applies to multi-tasking as well, which is just a tad slower than I would have liked. Of course, it’s far from unusable, and might not even be that noticeable depending on what you use the phone for, but if you’ve used a device with the latest Snapdragon 800 and 801 processors, the difference is obvious.

You get 16GB of internal storage, which is further expandable via microSD card. Standard connectivity options are available, but when it comes to mobile networks, there is no LTE support which could be a letdown for some.

The speakers are located on the back of the device, so while watching a movie or playing a game in landscape orientation, my hand covers the speakers. This is of course a common issue with a lot of smartphones, and it always makes me wonder how much better it would be if the speakers were located up front. That being said, these speakers get really loud, and the quality remains clear even at the maximum level. Calls on the One Touch Hero were crisp and clear, with no complaints from either end, and while using the speakerphone resulted in the sound being a bit tinny, it’s definitely not a dealbreaker.

And finally when it comes to the battery, the Alcatel One Touch Hero packs a large 3,400 mAh unit, and, with moderate use during a day that included using Bluetooth, light gaming, surfing the web, and tons of Hangouts messaging for a total of five hours of screen time, I was able to get 16 hours of battery life out of this device. With light use, there’s no reason why you couldn’t comfortably get at least a couple of days of use out of this device before needing to recharge.

The One Touch Hero is running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but it’s a heavily modified version of the software. It closely resembles Touchwiz in the way the home screen, the app drawer, and the transitions work, and you also get similar features such as picture in picture mode. These features do work very well, and it’s something that could make you more productive.

The lock screen allows for quick access to the camera, phone, and messages, but you can change the apps that are accessible. It even has its own app store with around 20 applications, notable of which are a note taker that works well with the stylus, and a calculator.

All in all, the software is fine and its serviceable, but a part of me wishes I had a stock Android alternative, that might have even helped in providing a smoother and more snappy software experience.

Building Structures In French

The whole of the French language can be broken down into several different structures. If you take any sentence from any French book or any utterance, you will see that it fits into one of these structures.

I remember one weekend, I was writing some lessons for the week ahead, when I suddenly realised this. I noticed that there are a certain number of structures in French, and that every sentence follows one of these structures. I spent the rest of the weekend working out all the structures, and I wrote them all down.

Every structure you learn gives you the ability to say a huge amount. Some structures are used more than others, but all the structures together make up the whole French language. Once you’ve learnt how a structure works, all you have to do is insert different words into the slots and you have a sentence.

This course introduces you to structure 4. I’ve limited each course to one structure so as not to overburden you. By looking at just one structure at a time, you can really get to grips with it and understand its usage. It will help to clarify the French language and make it more like a reflex rather than something you have to think about as is it were a maths equation.

Each structure can also help to propel you to fluency; if you can manipulate the structures at high speed, you can start to say anything you want without having to thing about how to say it.

This course contains plenty of practice opportunities for you to revise what you’ve learnt and it also contains some hints and tips on how best to learn and memorise the structures and the vocabulary that goes with them. You’ll learn how to make questions out of structure 3, how to make statements and how to turn positive statements negative.

The Building Structures in French series is set out using the same learning techniques as the 3 Minute French courses. You can work through the course in three minute chunks, enabling anybody to learn French, no matter how little time you have.

Who this course is for:

You want to explore the French language a little more deeply

You are interested in starting to learn about the next structure of the French language and how to manipulate it.

You enjoy the 3 minute methodology used in other 3 Minute French courses

You enjoyed learning about the first three structures and would like to learn about the next structure in French


Learn about the fourth structure in the French language

Get to grips with how easy it is to manipulate this structure and say what you want with it

Get plenty of opportunity to practise using this structure

Learn how to form questions and statements in structure 4 in both the positive and negative

Complete lessons in 3 minute chunks – perfect for the busy learner

Build your own sentences without memorisation

Get more familiar with the past tense in French

Speak from the very first lesson


Ideally, you should be a little familiar already with the French language, but if you’re not, panic not! Everything in this course is fully explained, so you won’t get lost

I recommend you start by enrolling on the “Building Structures in French – Structures 1, 2 and 3” course

Amd Ryzen 9 6900Hs Review: Game

The Ryzen 6000-series laptop processors, announced at CES 2023, are based the company’s Zen 3+ core (an upgraded version of the architecture found in AMD’s stunning Ryzen 5000 desktop processors) and built on an improved 6nm TSMC process. Inside the core, not much has changed all that much from the awesome-sauce Zen 3 from a performance perspective.

There’s more than one way to skin a CPU though. Instead of changing the design of the core, AMD mostly aims to pick up performance by greatly increasing its power efficiency. So much so that the company claims the new Ryzen 6000 is “most efficient x86 CPU” in town. And that focus on efficiency winds up making the thin, light Ryzen 9 6800HS gaming laptop we’re testing today go toe-to-toe with significantly chunkier gaming laptops in raw performance, bolstered by the similarly energy-efficient Radeon RX 6800S GPU—a truly impressive spectacle indeed.

Apple fans will note the statement of “most efficient x86 CPU” leaves Apple’s M1 chips out of the conversation but that’s a discussion for another day. Today, AMD is focused solely on continuing to peel off sales from Intel’s new 12th-gen CPUs. AMD success in laptops (an area Intel has long ruled) has been nothing short of phenomenal recently so there’s a lot riding on just how well Ryzen 6000 does. Do the Ryzen 6900HS and Radeon RX 6800S keep AMD in the game against Intel’s excellent Alder Lake? Spoiler alert: Yep. Let’s go.

How we tested

Our testing platform for AMD’s new Ryzen 9 6900HS and Radeon RX 6800S comes to us in the form of the upgraded Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023). The laptop selection is fitting, as the introduction of the original ROG Zephyrus at CES 2023 really helped put AMD’s mobile Ryzen push in motion. At the time, Intel’s best comparable CPUs ran too hot to squeeze into thin and light laptops, leaving the debut ROG Zephyrus G14 with its Ryzen 9 4900HS to crush all comers at the time, despite being nearly half a pound lighter.

This new ROG Zephyrus G14 is just as impressive with its 3.6 pound weight, 8-core Ryzen 9 6900HS, new Radeon RX 6800S discrete graphics, 32GB of DDR5/4800, and an eye-catching 14-inch 16:10 2560 x 1600 resolution screen, blazing at an impressive 500 nits. The compact powerhouse laptop also features a vapor chamber cooling design to help share power between the CPU and GPU, which both use liquid metal instead of standard thermal paste as well. The laptop, and all of the others we tested below, was running the latest version of Windows 11. We opted, however, to leave Microsoft’s Virtual Based Security feature turned off. It increases security but can at times eat some performance. The Windows 11 OEM power/performance slider was set to the highest state available for all laptops.

Performance on battery will be a topic for later testing, but just know that AMD has said that Ryzen 6000’s performance on battery can be as good as while plugged-in. This has been a problem for AMD processors, which have tended to end up in laptops that saw performance nose dive while on battery. We did run Cinebench R20 both plugged and unplugged, and found the performance to be identical, but we should note Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 doesn’t allow access to its “Turbo” setting when unplugged, so we used the “Performance” preset for that experiment.

We’re comparing the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with its all-AMD loadout against a wide selection of rival laptops:

MSI GE76 Raider with a 14-core 12th-gen Intel Core i9-12900HK, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU with a 175 watt TGP, 32GB of DDR5/4800, 2TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, 17.3-inch 1080p 360Hz panel and 280 watt power brick. The laptop itself weighs 6.4 pounds.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo with a 4-core 11th-gen Intel Core i9-1195G7, Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of LPDDR4X/4266 RAM, 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, 14-inch 1080p screen and 65 watt power brick. The laptop weighs 2.8 lbs.

XPG Xenia 15KC with an 8-core 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU with a 140 watt TGP, 32GB of DDR4/3200, 1TB PCI Gen 4 SSD, 15.6-inch, 2650×1600, 165Hz screen and 230 watt power brick. The laptop weighs 4 lbs.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 GA401 with 8-core Ryzen 9 4900HS, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, 24GB of DDR4/3200, 1TB PCIe Gen 3 SSD, 14-inch, 1080p, 120Hz screen and 180 watt power brick. The laptop weighs 3.6 pounds. The laptop actually comes with 16GB of RAM, but we decided to add additional RAM to bring it to 24GB to give it a better chance when running against most of the other laptops with 32GB of RAM.

Asus ROG Flow X13 with 8-core Ryzen 9 5980HS, Nvidia GeForce RTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, 32GB of LPDDR4X/4266, 1TB PCIe Gen 3 SSD, 13.4-inch, 3480×2400 resolution touch screen and 100-watt power brick. The laptop weighs 2.9 pounds.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 GA402 with 8-core Ryzen 9 6900HS, AMD Radeon RX 6800S, 32GB of DDR5/4800, 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, 14-inch 2560×1600 500 nit screen with a refresh of 165Hz and 240 watt power brick. The laptop weighs 3.8 pounds with its miniLED Anime Matrix lid.

Asus ROG Strix Scar G17 with 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with a 130 watt TGP, 32GB of DDR4/3200, 2TB PCIe Gen 3 SSD, and 17.3-inch 1080p 360Hz screen. The laptop weighs 6 pounds.

Before we start, we want to remind you that looking at CPU and GPU performance in laptops isn’t the same as in a desktop, where you can control the cooling and power. Laptops are fully integrated platforms, and performance can indeed vary based on the engineering and business decisions made on each and every laptop model. That, however, can’t turn a really slow CPU or GPU into a really fast one.

Still, you should consider the influence that every laptop design has on the chips inside of it. For example, our tested laptops include results from models that weigh up to 6.4 pounds and feature 280 watt power-bricks and 17.3-inch screens. That’s significantly more room for cooling the CPU and GPU than you’d get in a smaller laptop, such as this new ROG Zephyrus G14. So just remember to factor in the size and weight of the laptop when looking at the performance scores below—a key consideration since our only 12th-gen Core “Alder Lake” specimen comes in the form of the beefy MSI GE76 Raider, with Intel’s flagship Core i9-12900HK inside (complete with a mixture of high-power and high-efficiency cores).

3D rendering performance

We’ll kick this off where we often do, in Maxon’s popular Cinebench R23 test. It’s a benchmark built around the same 3D rendering engine found in Maxon’s commercial Cinema 4D application, which is also integrated into such applications as Adobe’s After Effects. It’s used for 3D modeling and scales quite well with core and thread count. Basically, the CPU with the most cores and highest sustained clocks under load usually wins.

The winner, no surprise, is the beefy GE76 Raider with its 14-core Core i9-12900HK CPU in it. Intel’s Alder Lake is clearly nothing to dismiss with a hand wave.

But the new Ryzen 6000 chip represents itself quite well. Its score of 14,236 outstrips the similarly 8-core Core i7-11800H by far, and it walks away from the original ROG Zephyrus G14 and Ryzen 9 4900HS by a shocking 46 percent. It’s also 17 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 5980HS as well. The real shocker should be the other Ryzen here: The Ryzen 9 9 5900HX in the Stix SCAR G17. That was AMD’s second-best gamer-grade Ryzen 5000 HX-series offering and was a shockingly fast CPU just last year. That the tiny Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 can outpace it in a multi-core load is simply amazing.

Overall, we again see the 12th-gen Intel chip with 14-cores ahead of the pack, but the gap has closed with the Ryzen 9 6900HS in that tiny Asus G14 laptop just 10 percent behind it despite having significantly fewer cores. Again (and more impressively) we see the Ryzen 9 6900HS simply school all other AMD CPUs, clocking in at almost 12 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 5900HX. It doesn’t win here, but when you consider the context of the Ryzen 9 6900HS being in a smaller and much lighter laptop, it’s impressive again.

Moving on from 3D modeling, our next looks at video encoding using the free, open, and popular Handbrake encoder. For the test we use the 1.5.1 version and convert the “open-source” 4K Tears of Steel video using the H.265 MKV preset on the CPU. CPU encodes, video nerds tell us, still often yield the highest quality encodes, but they take much longer than GPU encodes. Handbrake generally likes more cores, but that’s not the only thing that matters. The winner is the 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK but it just barely gets its nose over the finish line before the Ryzen 9 6900HS crosses it. That the Ryzen 6000 CPU can slightly outpace the Ryzen 9 5900HX and breath down the neck of that 12th-gen CPU, all while being in a thin and light laptop, again says a whole lot more than simply winning the overall race to us.


As we said, CPU-based encodes are what video nerds tell us they favor, but when the CPUs have built-in hardware encoders, why bother to wait? For this test, we encode the same Tears of Steel 4K video, but use the H.265 running on either Intel’s Quick Sync or AMD’s VCE features. Those video-enders, however, often need software support. For example, Intel has long been active helping to optimize Handbrake to use its QuickSync technology and it shows, as all three Intel CPUs cross the finish line first. 

The Ryzen 9 6900HS doesn’t impress whatsoever, which makes us suspect the Ryzen 9 6900HS’s media engine may not be supported by the version of Handbrake we’re running yet. We’ll have to revisit this in the future with updated versions of Handbrake—and also look a little harder at the score for the Ryzen 9 5900HX, which is just funky. That score, we’ll note, isn’t due to us running it incorrectly, as we noticed its lower performance despite being run with the same settings. The takeaway here is Intel’s years of Quick Sync support in Handbrake is paying dividends but AMD’s VCE (when it’s supported, like in the Ryzen 9 5980HS) isn’t too shabby.


Adobe Creative Cloud Performance

What’s the killer app on the PC (and Mac) today? Adobe Creative Cloud. With a stable of stars ranging from Photoshop to Premiere, you basically don’t have a competing consumer and business platform if you don’t have the support of Adobe Creative Cloud. To see how well the laptop chips do here, we use workstation vendor Puget System’s set of “PugetBench” benchmarks that run the applications through a script of tasks to produce a score. First up is PugetBench Premiere.

We actually run the benchmark two ways: First with each laptop’s discrete graphics cards enabled, and with them disabled. The second method gives us a little more insight into how each laptop CPU’s integrated graphics would handle the job. It also helps remove the disparity in discrete GPUs from the picture too. As Intel and AMD push higher performance CPUs without discrete GPUs at all, it’s also actually possible this is the performance you’ll see in a laptop you’d buy.

The big, huge winner is the MSI GE76 Raider with its 12th-gen Intel CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop inside. Software optimization matters and Nvidia has long worked with Adobe to support GPU-encoding and GPU-based effects, which generally gives it the edge.

The All-AMD Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, however, does relatively well. As we said, Adobe applications tend to simply run faster on Nvidia GPUs, but the Ryzen 9 6900HS and Radeon RX 6800S combo is fairly competitive with the Ryzen 9 5900HX and GeForce RTX 3080 inside of a 6 pound laptop. With the discrete GPUs disabled, the Ryzen 9 5900HX manages to muscle by the Ryzen 9 6900HS but it’s pretty close.

Unfortunately, we were unable to install the scripts for the Ryzen 9 4900HS laptop. We also decided against running it on the 2.8 pound MSI Prestige 14 Evo for time’s sake. PugetBench also recommends having a minimum of 32GB to run the benchmark so it’s probably for the better.

The winner is again Intel’s Core i9-12900HK and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti combo but the Ryzen 9 6900HS and Radeon RX 6800S is surprisingly competitive with the larger Ryzen 9 5900HX and GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop combination. With the discrete GPUs turned off, the Ryzne 9 6900HS and its RDNA2 graphics are solidly in front of all others except Intel’s 12th-gen behemoth.


If a working photographer had to choose between Photoshop and Lightroom Classic, we bet the majority would pick Lightroom Classic. It is, after all, the application that makes it possible to slog through the 4,000 photos they took at an event.

Intel etches solid wins this category again with the 12th-gen laptop a solid front runner, but the 4 lbs. Xenia 15 KC with its 11th-gen Core i7-11800H also outpaces Team Red. The good news for the Ryzen 9 6900HS is it’s at least in front of all other Ryzen CPUs, including the larger Ryzen 9 5900HX laptop.


Office 365 Performance

In the world we live in, a ton more people run Microsoft Office 365 than Adobe Creative Cloud. Sure, that may not be by choice, but if you live the cubicle life and find joy in hitting reply-all on company-wide emails, it matters.

To gauge performance in Office 365, we use UL’s Procyon Office, which runs Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook through a set of scripted tasks in the way you might run it. That is, all four applications are open at once and switched between.

Pretty much any computer can run Microsoft Office 365 just fine. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a faster one though. The winner is the 12th-gen Intel laptop overall which shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Ryzen 9 6900HS still does relatively well but there are some odd results. While it seems to run Word almost as fast as the 12th-gen laptop, PowerPoint is bizarrely off the pace with the ROG Zephyrus G14 actually being the slowest laptop here—in PowerPoint. That’s fine though as it seems to make up for it Word and Excel.

We’re still trying to figure what makes Excel zing and we’ve seen some real head-scratching results here, such as a 4-core Core i7-1195G7 with 16GB of RAM out perform 8-core Ryzen CPUs with 32GB of RAM. And while that 8-core 11th-gen CPU looks decent, we’ve also seen a 6-core 9th-gen Core i7-9750H turn in about the same score.

Trying to figure out why the results are all over the map would be fun, but in the real-world, that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is waiting to get a result so you can find out where to invest your money. Time literally is money in the world where Excel lives. So take that glory-seeking Photoshop.

The good news for Ryzen 9 6900HS is its performance. It finishes recalculating 38 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 5980HS, and 35 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 5900HX. It doesn’t outpace the mighty 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK, which finishes the task in 23 percent less time in its much larger laptop, but the new Ryzen 6000 is solidly faster than all others. Why? Who cares, we just want to make money.

Arguably the one application you can’t do without today is the browser. Having a snappy browsing performance is often how people judge how fast a PC is so we tasked the laptops with running Google Chrome 98 through four popular browser benchmarks. These tests would normally be used to gauge actual browser performance but since we’re running the exact same browser version on each laptop, the notebook hardware is what’s moving the performance needle around. The winner again is the big fast GE76 Raider and its 12th-gen Core i9. The Ryzen 9 6900HS is solidly in second place, however, and mostly outperforms all other CPUs not named 12th gen.


AI performance


Geekbench performance

Our next benchmark is the stupidly popular Geekbench 5 benchmark. It’s a suite of short programming loops built around tasks such as text compression, encryption, and JPG decompression. The Ryzen 9 6900HS is the solid second place finisher overall and again shows especially well against previous-gen Ryzen 5000-based laptops in multi-core performance.


Besides testing CPU-based tasks, Geekbench also has a mode to measure popular tasks using OpenCL on the GPU. For our test, we ran Geekbench on both the integrated graphics of the CPUs as well as the discrete GPU. The Radeon RX 6800S gets paved over by the higher-wattage GeForce GPUs but there’s a good glimmer of light on the IGP test.

The Radeon RDNA 2 architecture in the Ryzen 9 6900HS defeats all, including the 12th-gen laptop’s DDR5-fed graphics to the tune of 61 percent. It’s also about 107 percent faster than the Radeon IGP in the Ryzen 9 5980HS.


Gaming performance

That brings us to the gaming performance of the Radeon RX 6800S. Modern laptop GPUs are largely gated by the power they can consume. The higher the wattage, the higher the performance generally. To us, the question here isn’t whether the 110 watt Radeon RX 6800S in the tiny ROG Zephyrus G14 can outpace the 175 watt GeForce RTX 3080 Ti in the big 12th-gen GE76 Raider. It simply can’t. The question is how it performs against GPUs closer to its wattage envelope.


Most people who buy a laptop with a powerful discrete GPU won’t use the integrated graphics for gaming, but one of the most exciting developments with Ryzen 6000 is the use of integrated Radeon RDNA 2 graphics cores and DDR5 RAM. To get a glimpse of where the Ryzen 6000’s integrated graphics performance falls, we run 3DMark Time Spy on it. The winner: The RDNA 2-based Radeon inside of the Ryzen 9 6900HS which comes in a whopping 33 percent faster than the IGP in Intel’s 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK.

What this means is you might get far more playable frame rates at 1080p with game settings turned down to low if it’s a milder game. For laptops with discrete GPUs it’s no big deal, but desktop APUs based on new RDNA 2 graphics cores may be quite impressive for budget gamers when they arrive.

Battery comparisons of a laptop are fraught with caveats because so many factors impact battery life other than CPU. The screen resolution and size of the battery, for example, tangibly move the needle in how long a laptop will run. Still, you want to see the results for these laptop configurations, so we ran our standard battery run test, which loops the Tears of Steel 4K video in airplane mode, with earbuds plugged in at 50 percent volume and the screen brightness set to a relatively bright 250 to 260 nits. The chart below denotes the size of the battery and resolution of the panel for reference.


A more reasonable comparison would be the Ryzen 9 6900HS versus the Ryzen 9 5980HS, which is closer to its class. To help you see the increase in performance, we’re only showing the percent increase per-thread from the Ryzen 5000 to the Ryzen 6000. As you can see, the newer Ryzen 9 6900HS is pushing pretty respectable speed increase compared to what was the best Ryzen 9 HS-class CPU of last year.


You’re probably wondering how the Ryzen 9 6800HS compares to Intel’s 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK, which we’ll show you below—but not without mentioning yet again that we’re looking at a very thick and heavy laptop versus a thin and light one. Still, it’s all blue here because there’s nothing the 12th gen Core i9-12900HK gives up against the new Ryzen 9 6900HS. The laptop is also almost twice as heavy too, however.

How Intel’s 12th-gen parts compare to Ryzen 6000 really can’t be determined until we’ve seen more Alder Lake laptops, especially those inside of thin and light laptops. The initial round of 12th-gen laptops sent to reviewers focused on heavy, gaming-grade H-series chips. It’s entirely possible that with the tighter thermal and power constraints of a thin and light laptop, Intel’s 12th-gen chips and AMD’s Ryzen 6000 mobile CPUs might be a lot closer than we expect them to be. At the same time, the Ryzen 6000 offers a hefty improvement in graphics performance, and when paired with its Radeon partner, it’s likely to close the gap even more.

The upshot in all this it looks like it looks like we still have a ball game when it comes to high-performance laptop processors, so don’t leave your seats and head for the exits just yet.

Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 Review: Flexible In More Than One Way

The Yoga is perhaps one of the most usable devices on the market. It has a great keyboard, trackpad, and touchscreen, and can be used in multiple positions.

Lenovo’s Yoga is aptly named – it’s flexible in more than one way. Not only can this Ultrabook be used as a laptop and a tablet, its screen can actually swivel around the hinge 360 degrees to maximize the tablet experience.

Sure, at 0.67 inches thick and 3.4 pounds with a 13-inch screen, the Yoga isn’t the most comfortable, portable tablet on the market. But it’s a pretty cool device when you consider that, oh yeah, it’s both a laptop and a tablet.

Our review model, which costs $1099 as configured, has a third-generation Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. The Yoga has a 13-inch multi-touch touchscreen, a 720p webcam, and built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, and runs Windows 8.


In our new WorldBench 8 benchmark tests, the Yoga scores 60 out of 100. This means that the Yoga is 40 percent slower than our baseline testing model, which has a third-generation Intel Core i5 desktop processor, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia discrete graphics card. The Yoga’s score of 60 isn’t great for a desktop, but the Yoga isn’t a desktop – it’s an Ultrabook. Its score is actually quite good for an Ultrabook – the only other Ultrabook we’ve tested on WorldBench 8 is the HP Envy TouchSmart 4 (57), which has the same i5-3317U processor as the Yoga, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.

The Yoga’s performance is therefore just about average, if not a little better than average, for an Ultrabook. It performs well in individual tests, as well. It’s got the fastest start-up time of any computer, laptop or desktop that we’ve tested – just 7.9 seconds. The Dell XPS 12 Convertible Touch is the second-fastest starter, at 8.8 seconds, while the Envy TouchSmart 4 lags behind at 11.8 seconds.

The Yoga scores 2115 on the PCMark 7 office productivity test, which is only slightly higher than the Envy’s 2058. In our graphics tests, the Yoga performs acceptably well, considering it has no discrete graphics card. In our Dirt Showdown (1366 by 768 pixel resolution, low quality settings), the Yoga managed to output a playable frame rate of 30.1 frames per second, almost twice the frame rate of the Envy (17.4 fps) in the same test.

In our battery life tests, the Yoga managed five hours and 37 minutes of battery life on its “Balanced & Power Saver” mode. This is actually pretty good compared to the last few laptops we’ve tested – the Envy managed just four hours and seven minutes, while the XPS Duo 12 managed a slightly better four hours and 39 minutes. Five hours and 37 minutes certainly isn’t the best battery life we’ve seen on an Ultrabook, but it’s not terrible, either.

Design and Usability

The Yoga’s design is what really makes it stand out from the crowd – it’s a laptop-and-tablet in one, and it can be folded into a variety of positions. LenovoRotate to stand it up and use in presentation mode

But, first things first. This Ultrabook is 0.69 inches thick, which means it’s not the slimmest laptop we’ve seen, but it does fit within Intel’s Ultrabook thickness guidelines (18 mm, or 0.7 inches). It weighs 3.4 pounds, which is a bit heavier than comparable laptops of its size, but the build feels sturdy. Still, it’s not something you’re going to want to hold tablet-style for extended periods of time.

The Yoga’s exterior is silver-gray in color, and has a soft, rubbery finish. The cover is solid, squared off, and has a small silver Lenovo logo in the upper left corner. The inside of the machine has the same soft rubbery texture on the wrist rest, and the screen features a glass-to-glass “bezel-less” design that makes it look more like a tablet (or a very fancy HDTV, or a MacBook Pro). The bezel is slightly thicker than what we usually see on an Ultrabook, probably so you’ll have somewhere to put your fingers when you’re holding the Yoga in tablet mode.

The wrist rest and the area surrounding the keyboard is devoid of discrete buttons. There’s a small button Windows button on the bottom bezel of the screen, for switching between the Metro screen and the regular desktop. The power button is located on the front edge of the laptop.

The edges of the laptop have both ports, for regular laptop use, and buttons, for tablet use. The left side of the Yoga has a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI out, and a combination microphone/headphone jack, as well as a volume button for adjusting the volume in tablet mode (this button also works in regular laptop mode). The right side of the machine has one USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and a button for locking screen rotation in tablet mode (this does not work in laptop mode). The front edge of the laptop has the power button and a small reset button.

Screen and Speakers

The Yoga has a 13-inch glossy touchscreen with a native resolution of 1600 by 900 pixels. This resolution is better than what you usually see on what is essentially a 13-inch Ultrabook, and it definitely stands out – the screen is a pleasure to look at and to touch. Text and images are crisp and clear, and colors are bright and vibrant. The screen gets very bright, though it’s still a little difficult to use in bright or direct sunlight.

Unlike some of the other Windows 8 touchscreens I’ve used, the Yoga’s 10-point multi-touch touchscreen is a pleasure to use. It’s responsive and accurate, and multi-touch gestures are extremely smooth. It feels much more like a tablet screen, rather than a touchscreen that’s been tacked onto a laptop. Because of this, using the Yoga in tablet mode is very easy, though it can be a little awkward because of the size and weight of the machine.

The Yoga can be used in multiple positions, not just in straight laptop or tablet mode. For example, you can lay the entire thing flat and still use both the keyboard/trackpad and touchscreen input methods. You can also flip the screen about 300 degrees around the hinge and use the device in what Lenovo calls “Tent Mode.” In all the positions I tried during my tests, the Yoga felt sturdy and tough, and not at all like the hinge was going to break or give out. LenovoStand it up to use it on an airline tray

Video looks and sounds pretty good on the Yoga, thanks to its pretty, vibrant screen and loud speakers. The speakers are located in the hinge of the machine, so they sound decent whether you’re using the device as a laptop or as a tablet. Audio sounds surprisingly excellent on the Yoga, with lots of fullness and bass.

Bottom Line

I’ll admit it – at first I was a bit skeptical of the Yoga as a concept. In theory, it seems like an Ultrabook-slash-tablet is doomed to be mediocre at best. But the Yoga is surprisingly awesome. Sure, it’s not going to replace your iPad, but for a laptop it does the tablet thing very well (and it does the laptop thing pretty well, too). It helps that the keyboard, trackpad, and touchscreen are all top-notch – the Yoga is so eminently usable that I barely care what its performance scores are.

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