By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

If you’re looking to find out which laptop you should buy between now and Christmas, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested hundreds of the latest laptops, including all of the best models from the most popular and trusted brands, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best laptop for you at a price that makes sense.

So whether you’re after a thin and light laptop to throw in a bag every day, a desktop replacement to stay at home, a gaming laptop to have fun with in the evenings, a 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a touchscreen tablet or a cheapo Chromebook – we’ve got lots of recommendations for you!

Rest assured, while there are 15 laptops in this list, the order they’re placed in doesn’t particularly matter. We’ve included something for everyone, starting with the Dell XPS 13 which we think is the out-and-out best laptop in the world right now. And underneath that you’ll find a whole range of our top recommendations – so whether the one you like the look of is at number 1 or number 15 – rest assured every laptop in this list is worth buying and gets a solid recommendation from us.

What’s more, our funky price comparison tools will show you where you can buy each one for the absolute cheapest price, so you won’t have to trawl through the web comparing prices. If you want to see a more comprehensive list of prices and retailers, simply click the ‘view all prices’ link on each widget!

Slim, light, powerful and majestic – Dell’s flagship XPS 13 is the best laptop in the world. If you’re after a brilliant all-rounder with powerful performance, a superb screen and extremely slim dimensions it simply cannot be beaten. This laptop squeezes a 13.3-inch ‘Infinity Edge’ screen into an 11-inch frame- that means it’s the smallest/slimmest 13-inch laptop out there, with the screen stretching almost all the way to the edge of the device. Couple that with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Core i7 and Core i5 processors, plus the availability of a multi-use USB-C port, standard USB 3.0 and SD slots, and what you end up with is the worlds’ most popular Windows laptop. You can buy this one in many flavours too – the most expensive versions have super high-res multi-touch screens plus Core i7 processors and loads of memory and storage, but you can save money in several steps which include opting for a non-touch full HD screen, Core i5 processor and less memory/storage etc. But rest assured, whichever version of the Dell XPS 13 you go for, it’ll be best in class and well worth the money.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
See more like this:
The best Ultrabooks 2017

If you love the look of the Dell XPS 13 but you don’t want to pay the steep asking price, the Asus Zenbook UX310UA is the best alternative. It costs substantially less – in fact its usually about half the price – while retaining a fabulous screen, excellent build quality and looks, plus top performance for every day tasks. Because of this, it’s also a viable alternative to the Macbook if you want something super slim that’s not a Mac and doesn’t cost as much. Like most laptops of this kind, it comes in various specifications so the cheaper versions have Intel Core i3 CPUs and full HD screens while the most expensive options come with a super high res display and Intel Core i5. Whichever one you go for, though, you’re getting a fantastic laptop. Asus has long been a great brand for offering great value on these kinds of laptops so it’s not much of a surprise that we find ourselves recommending another Asus laptop in this price bracket.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook UX310UA
See more like this: The best Ultrabooks 2017 

If you’re after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop. To add more versatility, Lenovo has now added the option to buy it with either Windows 10 or Android 6.0 onboard – which one you choose will depend how you’re more likely to use the device. The screen on this thing defies the cheap asking price and the keyboard and capacitive touch-keyboard are both fantastic too. This is a great option if you want something cheap for basic computing tasks, for creating art using the built-in Wacom digitizer or a train device for watching movies. But for more heavy lifting you’d be better off choosing one of the options above as the Intel Atom CPU in this thing is great at saving power and making the battery last for ages but not so good at super speedy processing.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book
See more like this:
The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017

If you’re after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, welcome to the 13-inch Macbook Pro with touchbar. It’s the best laptop Apple has ever made, and builds new features into the classic design. Of course the headline feature is the touchbar – it’s a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you’re a massive fan of the Macbook Pro you’ll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. For a start, this laptop is very expensive for what is is, especially considering the better value alternatives. On top of this, it’s not as powerful, the screen is lower-res versus the competition and isn’t touchscreen friendly, plus the battery is a bit disappointing too. So if you’re open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 as a more modern, cheaper alternative. But if you’re a steadfast Apple die hard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!

Read the full review: Apple Macbook with touchbar (2017)
See more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2017

It certainly looks as though the Macbook Air is dead. Long live the new Apple Macbook! It’s the slimmest, slickest and best-looking Macbook Apple has ever built and it’s one of the most popular and best-selling laptops on the planet. It will not serve as a main productivity machine – it’s a lot less powerful than the Macbook Pro and has only one IO port in the form of USB Type-C. But in terms of being a sluper slim and light Macbook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and giving you the same slick OS X performance, the Macbook is a beautiful machine.

Read the full review: Apple Macbook
See more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2017 

Part of a new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops, the  Asus ROG Zephyrus is both ridiculously powerful and astonishingly thin and light. Make no mistake, this thing is large compared to a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13, but compared to gaming laptops of the past this effort from Asus is something of a holy grail achievement. Your expectations of a 15-inch gaming laptop will never be the same after seeing the Zephyrus in action. It’s expensive of course, but with powerful Core i7 CPU and GTX 1080 graphics it’ll be easily powerful enough to play the best games for many years to come on the built-in 1080p screen. It’s an ideal top-end desktop replacement that is, possibly for the first time ever, also extremely portable.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
See more like this:
The best gaming laptops 2017

If you’re after a new gaming laptop and you don’t have the kind of money that you need for the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is your best option. It comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is easily powerful enough to lubricate the best games on the built-in 1080p display while general performance in Windows is super slick thanks to the Core i5 CPU. If you’re going to be moving around a bit, you’ll be pleased to know that the battery life on this laptop is also superb – we got nearly 8 hours out of it while watching HD video. A gaming session with Tom Clancy’s The Division on medium settings for two hours only dropped the battery to 66%. This is far better than similarly priced rivals. So in the reasonably-priced category, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is definitely the best laptop around at the moment.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2016)
See more like this: The best gaming laptops 2017 

A Chromebook doesn’t run Windows, Android or Apple’s Mac OS. Instead it’s powered by Google’s Chrome OS – a super lightweight operating system based on the Chrome web browser. It’s a great way to save money on a laptop (no Windows license to pay for and no need for top-end Intel chips etc) while still retaining all of the productivity options you’d get on a full-blown windows or Mac OS laptop. The Chromebook Flip is the best Chromebook out there at the moment, offering truly premium build quality, a fabulous touchscreen and keyboard and excellent performance. All while offering great value for money too. For students and teachers it’s a brilliant option, and it could also be for you if you’re a bit of a technophobe who just wants a simple laptop to browse the web, watch videos and write emails on.

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip C302
See more like this: The best Chromebooks 2017

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the best laptop for you if you’re looking for the perfect cross between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet – you get the main unit itself with kickstand but if you want the Surface Pen or the fantastic Type Cover keyboard you’ll need to pay extra for a bundle or buy it separately. Often the best value option is a bundle but even the tablet on its own represents pretty good value. The Surface Pro, alongside the also-excellent Surface Book laptop, is to Windows what the Pixel is to Google’s Android. It’s the benchmark Windows device, with software and hardware working together in perfect harmony. So if you need a new laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is the best does-it-all 2-in-1 option. If you want this but need something a little cheaper, check out the Acer Switch 3 below!

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 

If you want the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you want to spend a lot less, the Acer Switch 3 is definitely the your best option. It’s designed around essentially the same concept as the Surface Pro and it’s a less capable thanks to slightly lower power innards, but for most tasks it’s a brilliant little machine. What’s more, to add further value this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with the keyboard upgrade which means no little extras to pay for. As usual it comes in several different versions, with USB Type-C, 8GB RAM, an IPS display and Intel Core i3 7100U CPU coming with the more expensive option.

Read the full review: Acer Switch 3
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 

The Acer Chromebook R11 is probably the best cheap laptop around at the moment. Like the Acer Chromebook Flip higher up this page, this laptop runs Chrome OS so does away with all the overheads that Windows brings. Consequently it’s able to run nice and fast on less powerful components, which means a very cheap price! Its touchscreen is decent, though it’s only HD, and it will flip to become a tablet too. What’s more, it’ll run practically all day thanks to its excellent battery life. So if you’re looking for a capable but very cheap laptop, this one is your best bet.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11
See more like this: The best Chromebooks 2017 

If you’re after a low cost Windows laptop that you can slip into a bag and carry around all day without noticing the weight, the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA is a fantastic device. Honestly it’s not the fastest laptop in the world, so don’t expect to do any video editing. But for simple every-day tasks it’s more than adequate. What’s more, it’s similar to the other 2-in-1 laptops in this list in that it can become a tablet – you can choose whether or not to take the keyboard with you. And it comes as standard so you don’t need to pay extra for it.

Read the full review: Asus Transformer Mini T102HA
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 

If you love the look of the XPS 13 at the top of this list but need something a little bigger with more graphics power, the Dell XPS 15 could be the best laptop for you. Packing the same InfinityEdge technology, the screen extends right to the edge of the machine which means it’s as small as it’s possible to make a 15-inch laptop in 2017. It’s quite pricey though, depending on which version you get. The very top end version has a 4K colour-accurate display which makes it perfect for graphic design, and gaming performance is decent as long as you play at either a lower resolution or on medium settings.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

If you’re after a workhorse 15-inch laptop that’ll give you loads of grunt for your money with top features and excellent design, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is the best laptop for you – despite the silly name. You won’t want to be carrying it around too often as it’s a bit heavy for that, but otherwise it’s a superb laptop. The keyboard is lovely to type on and the HD screen is HDR capable which makes it ideal for watching video and editing images. It’s a cracking alternative to the Dell XPS 15 but for a lot less money.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

And finally – HP’s best 2-in-1 laptop is a really stunner. It’s super thin and light while packing in fantastic performance and a fast charging battery. It’s expensive, but for the money what you’re getting is the best ultra portable laptop available in 2017. As with many laptops on the list, this laptop comes in a number of different builds – with the bottom end one starting with a full HD screen while the top end model packs in a 4K one. Whichever one you go for though, you’re getting a fabulous laptop that you’ll love carrying around with you.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 

Which type of laptop is best for you?

General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. Generally less than $600 or £400, these laptops feature HD screens and plenty of storage, but generally lack the lightweight and powerful nature of Ultrabooks.

Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find beyond-HD displays within frames that are feather-light and honed to impossible thinness, all with the latest, most powerful components. You’ll pay dearly for one of the best Ultrabooks, between $700 or £500 and $2,000 or £1,800, for one of these mean machines.

2-in-1 laptops: Featured as a spin on laptops from both the general use or budget category as well as the pricier Ultrabook end of the spectrum, the best 2-in-1 laptops always introduce either a detachable or convertible HD touchscreen for which to use Windows 10 through its Tablet Mode.

Chromebooks: Based on Google’s browser-only Chrome OS, the best Chromebooks do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. Models generally cost less than $300 or £200.

Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800, depending on what level of gaming performance and screen quality you’re looking for.

Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, these devices pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

For over a year, Apple’s refurbishing initiative has allowed buyers to grab like-new products like iPhones and MacBooks for a slight discount, directly from the Cupertino tech giant itself.

Now, Apple is adding its latest iMac model — released just this past June — to the list of refurbished electronics it sells, giving potential Mac owners a shot at a still-current iMac without having to pay full-price.

The refurbished 2017 iMacs currently start at $1,099 for the 21.5-inch, 3.0GHz quad-core version of Apple’s latest desktop with a Retina 4K display, and up to $1,269 for the version with an improved processor and graphics chipset.

Both models are currently listed at 15% off the never-been-used price — a fairly consistent discount for most re-issued electronics on Apple’s online store. 

In case you’re hesitant to buy refurbished products from Apple, the company ensures all re-sold products are rigorously inspected, repackaged and given a one-year warranty that can be extended through AppleCare+.

Barely used, definitely cheaper

To contrast, $1,099 could still buy a 21.5-inch 2017 iMac brand-new, but getting one with Retina 4K starts at $1,299 — essentially meaning that refurbished buyers can get an improved display without paying the two extra Benjamins. 

For those looking for a refurbished iMac and care more about saving money than 4K, Apple also sells its 2015 iMac models starting at $849, with discounts up to 21% on certain versions.

If you’ve got the money to burn on the latest-and-greatest iMac, Apple is also gearing up to release the iMac Pro this coming December, which aims to be the company’s most powerful desktop yet — though with a hefty $4,999 price tag to match.

Via MacRumors

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Zeiss, a company that made its name in optical and optoelectronic technology before moving into the realm of virtual reality, has announced its latest VR headset: the Zeiss VR One Connect at IFA 2017 in Berlin.

The Zeiss VR One Connect promises to bridge the gap between PC virtual reality, which offers impressive visuals and complex games, but comes with a high price tag for expensive headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and smartphone-powered VR, which costs a lot less (as long as you have a handset already), but doesn’t quite offer the immersive experience of PC VR.

Zeiss VR One Connect does this by running SteamVR games that are powered by a PC, which does all the graphical grunt work, and transmitting the footage to the headset, using your smartphone as a screen.

The Zeiss VR One Connect comes with two controllers

The nuts and bolts

While Zeiss hasn’t specified the exact minimum requirements for the smartphone you can use, it has said you need a “current” device with a screen size of between 4.7 and 5.5 inches. It also needs to run either iOS or Android.

The headset, with the smartphone slotted in, is connected to your PC via a USB cable, and the Zeiss VR One Connect uses the smartphone’s built-in motion sensors to provide head tracking. To control the games, a pair of wireless Bluetooth controllers are also included.

These controllers can sense three degrees of freedom (3DoF) motion thanks to sensors built by PXL Vision.

Too good to be true?

The Zeiss VR One Connect system is compatible with many budget smartphone VR headsets, or you can use it with the Zeiss VR One, potentially keeping the entry price very low. While this sounds great, we do have some reservations.

First of all, by controlling games using the 3DoF controllers, which send information to your smartphone, which then combines that data with information from its own motion sensors, before sending instructions to your PC, it could add an element of lag (where there is a delay between your movement, and the game responding), which could make playing VR games difficult – or even nauseating.

Also, by relying on a USB cable, you’re losing out on one of the benefits of smartphone VR – full wireless freedom of movement. Instead, you’ll be tethered to your PC. Speaking of which, you’ll still need a machine that’s capable of playing SteamVR games, so it could end up costing a bit of money.

However, if you already have a suitable smartphone and PC, then the Zeiss VR One Connect promises to be a very cheap way to get into VR gaming. Releasing at the end of 2017, the Zeiss VR One Connect, which comes with two wireless controllers and a USB cable, along with the required software, will cost $129 (around £100, AU$160).

A bundle which includes the Zeiss VR One Plus headset will also be sold for $199 (around £150, AU$250).

While we do have doubts, there is a lot of potential here, so we’re looking forward to getting some hands on time with it to see if the Zeiss VR One Connect lives up to its promises.

  • IFA 2017 is Europe’s biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they’re announced.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Dell might have gotten exclusive dibs on AMD Ryzen Threadripper, but that isn’t stopping Acer from teaming up with Intel to create an 18-core monster.

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 fires a shot across the bow of the Alienware Area 51 mothership with an Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor that packs more cores and thread than even the AMD Rzyen Threadripper 1950X. What’s more, Acer is promising users will be able to configure their system with up to four AMD Radeon Vega GPUs in CrossFire or two Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti’s in a SLI configuration.

To cool this beast, the Acer Predator Orion 9000 features an all-in-one liquid cooling solutions. Acer has also introduced a patented IceTunnel 2.0 airflow management that includes up to five intake fans to create a positive pressure air channel – so much cool air is sucked in, heat is simply pushed through ever crevice.

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 gaming desktop will arrive this December with prices starting at $1,999 (about £1,550, AU$2,510) – which is surprisingly low given that Intel’s 18-core processor would account for more than half the cost. We’ll have to see what the base model comes equipped with before we can decide if it’s a worthy buy.

Pixels to please

Every overpowered gaming PC needs a good display to go with it and it’s no coincidence that Acer also announced the Predator X35 gaming monitor. This 35-inch ultrawide monitor sports a brilliant WQHD resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 and supports Nvidia G-Sync to smooth out game play at a high 200hz refresh rate.

Thanks to Acer’s HDR Ultra and quantum dot technologies, the company claims this monitor also provides its best possible contrast quality with high dynamic range. The Taiwanese electronics firm has yet to disclose pricing, but the Predator X35 is slated to arrive in the coming months.

  • IFA 2017 is Europe’s biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they’re announced.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Bethesda’s Creation Club, a system of curated and paid-for mods announced earlier this summer, has now gone live for Fallout 4 on the PC, as well as the Xbox One and PS4.

The Creation Club – which will also be arriving for Skyrim Special Edition next month – caused quite some controversy when it was first revealed, as gamers rebelled against the idea of having to pay for mod content which has previously always been free to download.

For its part, Bethesda argues that free mods are still available as before, it’s just the content in this particular club which you have to pay for. In other words, it’s a case of you pays your money, or you don’t – a two-tier mod system is now in operation, with free mods in one lane, and Bethesda’s curated paid-for mods in the other.

Let us Prey

The club’s initial batch of Fallout 4 mod content includes Hellfire Power Armor, Power Horse Armor, a prototype gauss rifle, homemade shotgun, modular military backpack, and a load of paint jobs for various items. You can also buy Morgan’s space suit (as seen in Prey).

As a sweetener, Bethesda is throwing in 100 credits for free, the currency used to purchase these mods on Steam (or Xbox Live/PSN). Although that won’t get you much…

And the overall response to this initial batch of content has been pretty muted, to say the least.

Doubtless some chunkier mods are in the pipeline, as the Creation Club promised a whole gamut of custom content when it was first revealed, including new gameplay modes. Meanwhile, Bethesda promises that “more content [is] coming soon throughout the upcoming months”.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

The deadline to get a free upgrade to Windows 10 has sadly now passed. Not to worry though as you can rely on TechRadar to help you buy Windows 10 for the best price. Windows 10 is generally seen as an improvement over Windows 8 – yes, the Start button is back!

So, if you’re building a brand new system or want to upgrade to Windows 10 on an older device, you’re going to need to buy a copy. Don’t worry though, because we check the prices of Windows 10 every day to make sure you get the best deals.

windows 10 home deals

Buy Windows 10 Home deals

The perfect version of Windows for home users

Windows 10 Home is the version that most people will need. It’s for home use and includes game streaming from Xbox One and other consumer features like Cortana, as well as Windows Hello for logging into your PC via a fingerprint scanner or your face. If Windows 8 was the steepest learning curve imaginable, Windows 10 is like meeting a great friend you once knew again – it’s just that they’ve bought some new clothes of which you really do approve.

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Buy Windows 10 Pro deals

Go Pro if you think it’s worth paying more for the Pro features

Windows 10 Pro comes with security and management improvements over the Home version above. It includes Hyper-V for virtualisation, BitLocker whole disk encryption, enterprise mode IE, Remote Desktop, a version of the Windows Store for your own business and assigned access (which locks a PC to running only one modern application, to use like a kiosk). Network admins can also schedule updates so they don’t happen at important times.

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Buy Windows 7 deals

Windows 7 – because we fear change

What’s this? Windows 7 deals on a page that advertises Windows 10? We understand some of you really want to stick with Windows 7, maybe even on a new machine. Don’t worry, we totally get it. Maybe it’s because you have some hardware/software that works better on the old OS or it just feels better. Or maybe it’s because you’ve no time for the ridiculousness of the tiles format. Windows 7, the classic choice of the PC connoisseur?

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

There are few things that will provide the life-affirming rush of adrenaline from the comfort of your home quite like playing a horror game. While there are, of course, horror movies (and we’ve gathered together the best of them here) games have the edge in that they put you squarely in control.

When you’re the one holding the controller and making the choices that could mean life or death, every moment is tense and significant. 

We’re now better at scaring ourselves than ever and games have moved beyond simple gore and jump scares. Though these elements still play an important role in the genre, our approach to horror has more nuance than ever. 

What follows are what we think are 12 of the best horror games that you can play on PC and consoles today. Go ahead and spook yourselves silly.

Little Nightmares is a great example of a game that manages to inspire fear and disgust without using traditional blood and gore.

The game puts you in control of a young girl called Six and has you navigate a a frightening world that’s far too big for her, populated by a wide array of giant and grotesque creatues.

You don’t have to fight these creatures, you just have to sneak around world and hide to get past them in what is absolutely a platforming puzzle game. 

Little Nightmares is a great horror game in that it perfectly creates a feeling of helplessness while making it clear that you’re capable of escaping. It takes familiar and the domestic areas of the home which should be comforting and turns them on their head by making them repulsive and unsafe. 

Little Nightmares can be played now on PC, Xbox One and PS4

We’ve all watched a teen slasher movie at some point (it’s hard to escape them) but they’re surprisingly uncommon in the gaming world. Probably because it’d be so hard to get it right.

Fortunately, Until Dawn is a game that tried the trope and got it right by combining both game and movie elements. 

This PS4 exclusive game follows a group of teenagers going on a trip to a remote cabin in the mountains where, shockingly, there’s a frightening presence interested in picking them off one by one. 

It’s up to you to make decisions for the characters in the game which means whether or not they live or die is entirely down to you. Make the wrong decision and your favorite could meet a very grizzly end. Until Dawn is a great horror game because although it’ll genuinely scare you, you get a sense it’s having a lot of fun doing it. 

Until Dawn can be played now on PlayStation 4

After so long away, Resident Evil’s return could have been something of a disaster but fortunately for fans of the series the seventh installment was a great success. 

Resident Evil 7 was a much needed breath of fresh air for the series, bringing in a modern understanding of both horror movies and games while managing to retain that very distinct Resident Evil feel. 

By moving the perspective from third to first person it also made the fear feel closer and more immediate and it also made it possible to include a genuinely frightening VR experience to the game. 

With a great story and tight gameplay, Resident Evil 7 was the addition to the horror series we all wanted and feared we would get. Read our full review here

You can play Resident Evil on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

Dead Space, three games published by EA and developed by Visceral Games, is among the contemporary classic horror games. The story, first set on an abandoned space vessel (duh), takes terrifying twists and turns – most of which involving zombified aliens waiting around said turns.

Following the formula established by Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien” certainly helped – besides, the first Alien game to pull it off didn’t release for another few years. (See all about that one in a few slides.)

All in all, Dead Space was one of the pioneering horror games of the modern era, inspiring a renaissance in the genre that hasn’t yet died down. That comes down to some simple tenants: a compelling story, believable visuals and proper pacing.

You can play Dead Space on Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows.

Released in mid-2012, Slender is based around long pauses followed by sudden movements that are totally unexpected. In other words: jump scares. Essentially, it is a horror film in video game form. It’s a bit cheap, but – boy – does it work.

Your mission is simple: Don’t get killed, collect the eight pieces of a book and run. The “thing” pursuing you – known as Slender Man (directly inspired by the meme) – is a faceless, eerily (unnaturally) lanky man in a pinstriped suit.

Basically, he’s the perfect horror game villain.

The game relies heavily around the player having virtually no resources beyond a flashlight and the ability to jog. Naturally, both of which are limited for obvious reasons, making escape all the more difficult.

Overall, Slender is a fun, not-so-clever horror game that is guaranteed to scare you senseless nevertheless.

You can play Slender: The Eight Pages on Windows and OS X.

While Left 4 Dead came first, the second version saw Valve nail original creators Turtle Rock Studios’ vision. Set in a world overrun by zombies, the game follows four characters in their mission to survive through several cooperative and competitive online modes, which – in conjunction with mods on PC – make for a veritable ton of replayability.

Our friends at PC Gamer have ranked it among their top FPS games of all time. We’re pretty certain that most PC players would agree with that.

The game was originally banned in Australia due to its graphic content, a de facto seal of approval, if you will. The ban has since been lifted, and so lovers of hardcore horror games are sure to rejoice in its gross, lengthy scenes of devastation and destruction worldwide.

You can play Left 4 Dead 2 on Xbox 360, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Outlast and Outlast 2, developed by Red Barrels Studio, are now must-plays in the horror genre. Both games put players in control of investigative journalists but while the first is set in an asylum for the insane, the sequel takes place in the much more open location of a dilapidated rural part of Northern Arizona. 

What helps make the Outlast games, well, last is that they follow a cardinal rule of horror games: don’t empower your players too much, otherwise it’s no longer a horror game.

Offering a refreshing break from zombies and aliens, Outlast and its sequel are fine games to play if you want a longer – and arguably scarier – break from your average gun-toting jump scare-fest.

You can play Outlast and Outlast 2 on Xbox One, PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Of the countless games to use this precious creative license over the years, developer Creative Assembly is the first to actually create a game that lives up to it. The game takes place 15 years following the events of the 1979 Ridley Scott film, putting players into the space boots of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda Ripley.

Taking on a first-person perspective and squaring you off with a single xenomorph hunting you across a vast space station in darkness, Isolation nails what it felt like watching the film for the first time. The vibe is so much of what makes an amazing horror game, and Isolation feels as if you’re playing through the movie.

Throw in excruciatingly clever artificial intelligence afforded the alien, and an absolutely gripping virtual reality experiment, and you have the trappings of a modern horror classic.

You can play Alien: Isolation on Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

SOMA, released in 2015 by Amnesia developer Frictional Games, is a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – game that could easily be considered an interactive film. Are you sensing a theme here at all?

The game contains neither zombies nor aliens, but instead a shift between 2015 and 2104, when humans have been wiped out by a comet and what’s left of humanity must fight to survive underwater in an abandoned research facility gone rogue.

While SOMA may not be as outright scary as, say, Amnesia, it is still a fantastic game, thanks to its brooding atmosphere, surprisingly fresh subject matter (for horror games) and incredible audio design.

You can play SOMA on PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is – undoubtedly – a different kind of horror game. With a premise seeing players “surviving” a night in a kid-themed pizza parlor, it’s unlike almost anything else in the genre.

However, it’s a surprisingly fun game to play, once you can get past the terrifying visage of an animatronic teddy bear guitarist come to life in the dead of night. Generally, players combat these twisted, possessed figures with security cameras – what? Poltergeists don’t like leaving evidence.

The game is the work of Scott Cawthon, an independent developer, who released it in 2014. Since then, there have been three more direct sequels, all of which have received positive reviews. Talk about staying power.

You can play Five Nights at Freddy’s on Windows, iOS and Android.

As the name would suggest, this game is about forgetting things – but the only thing the player will not forget is how damn scary this game is. The game is based around a series of puzzles, which the player can opt-out of with dramatic consequences (usually a gruesome death).

Made by Frictional Games and preceding SOMA, Amnesia follows a protagonist – i.e. you, from the first person perspective – trying to figure out what is going on after waking up in a torturous dungeon. If you don’t, you get slaughter by some disgusting, slack-jawed humanoid creature, and that’s that.

Our friends at PC Format once said, “[it] isn’t a game, [but] a trip into the human psyche’s darker spaces. Not for the faint of heart, but horror junkies will lap it up.” You can’t really give much higher praise than that.

You can play Amnesia: The Dark Descent on Windows, OS X and Linux.

One corner of the gaming medium that has never managed to pull off horror well is two-dimensional, or 2D, games. With Superflat Games’ Lone Survivor, that changes now.

Driven by its unique gameplay style and ambiguous character placement, the game is immersive, curious and surprisingly unsettling given its visuals. The ending, too, is a break from gaming convention and just highlights how different Lone Survivor is from the pack.

In this game, you are the last survivor of an epidemic that has to wear a mask at all times in order to survive. There are so many unanswered questions in the game – for instance, the lead character’s name – that it becomes a horror-within-a-horror: you jump at every attack and at your own revelations.

You can play Lone Survivor on PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Windows, OS X and Linux.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Believe it or not, what you see above is where all of the latest Microsoft Surface devices were born.

Building 87 looks a little rundown and so unassuming that you wouldn’t even think it was part of Microsoft’s sprawling Redmond, Washington campus. But, despite its meek outward appearance, the Microsoft Advanced Prototyping Center (APC) that lies inside is one of the most well-equipped fabrication labs we’ve ever seen, and it’s staffed by some of the company’s most brilliant minds and diverse trades.

We caught up with John Haley, who manages the APC, to pick his brain about how the center operates on a daily basis and all the work that goes into developing Microsoft’s Surface devices.

“I jokingly call this the maternity ward for product and, for me, it really is,”Haley chirps. “I get to see all these babies get born, and it’s amazing.”

Surface Book prototypes laid out on a table

Of course, the labor required to create a Surface device is intensive, which is exactly why the APC is well equipped with every type of machinery you can think of. During our tour of the APC, Haley rattled off the list of tools in the lab that included, MIG welders, TIG welders, CNC lathes (basically a machined-controlled dremel), CO2 and UV laser cutter, a 50,000 psi water jet, spun EDM, a dye sublimation printer used to color fabrics, a book-making machine and, of course, many 3D printers – and that’s just a fraction of the equipment.

Haley boasts that the APC team has a lot of crazy tools and, while they don’t use all of them every day, when they do need them, they need them right there and then. This extends to the insane development speed that the hardware development team operates at.

“Most of our prototypes I would say are built in days, not weeks,” Haley explains. “We’ll build something, we’ll back engineer it, look at it and come back to say we like this or don’t like this, let’s build another one, and we’ll just keep building and iterating. We end up going back and forth hundreds of times until it’s right, we really do.”

Haley recalled the Surface Studio started as a big desk prototype that was rebuilt over 50 times.

“We just kept rebuilding it, and it was all about getting that seamless two finger touch on the device,” Haley says. “So, you can place your fingers at the top of the Surface Studio and put it into drawing mode really seamlessly.“

With 3D printing prototypes alone, Haley says the APC produces 200 parts a day in a room with more than a dozen fabrication machines whirring away. Just two days ago, as of this writing, the lab produced 263 unique parts in a single night.

“Everyone is using those 3D printers to figure out what’s next, find the opportunities, the problems of new products and figure them out soon and fast,” he says.

One of the 26 CNC Machines at the Microsoft APC

It’s the little things

At the Advanced Prototyping Center, Surface devices are conceived from an idea, built a million times over and perfected before heading off for factory production. As Haley explains it, they essentially produce devices from scratch that prove 95% of what Microsoft is going to do in production.

Now, as for how the prototyping process starts, Haley explains that it can happen in a variety of ways, from full-blown CAD software models with detailed specifications to something as rudimentary as a rough whiteboard sketch. However, the real process comes down to building, collaborating and iterating on prototypes.

We’ve seen plenty of exploded models of Surface Laptop, Surface Book and Surface Pro over the years at Microsoft’s announcement events, but prototyping at the APC goes many steps smaller. From the frame to Surface Book’s Dynamic Fulcrum hinge to a tiny specialized screw, everything is developed at the APC.

“We build both a lot of mechanical prototypes anytime something has to move or pop or twist or any of that kind of stuff we’ll build them until they’re perfect, he says. “[With] Surface Book for instance, [we asked] how much friction is in the hinge and is it reliable. These are the really important answers you want early in the product cycle.”

The office layout at the Microsoft APC is open and flowing

The mechanics and build quality are just one part of the equation for Microsoft’s hardware. Haley and the team at the APC also care a great deal about the aesthetics of devices like the Surface Laptop.

“Also anytime there’s color or finish on a product we build a lot of those prototypes too,” he says. “It’s critical for us to tune hand feel, color, gloss levels and all those things until they’re absolutely perfect.”

To that end, Microsoft is one of the few companies that color match the fabric and metal of their products. The reason why the Surface Laptop metal chassis and Alcantara keyboard deck blend together is thanks to a three-man team of painters at the APC with an eye for color.

“They work with our industrial design staff every day to tune in those colors and make them exactly what the designers want.” Haley expounds. “It sounds easy, but it’s actually a long iterative process, so we spray and print a lot of color.”

Haley explains tuning colors is complicated because people are emotional, using the example that designers will love one shade of red, but it’s too aggressive, or a blue is too sensitive. These are things computers can’t understand, and so people help read into that – of course, there are always disagreements.

“It’s those really subtle things people don’t really pick up on but we obsess about,” Haley quips.

John Haley, Microsoft APC Manager (Image credit: Lucas Westcoat)

Meteoric rise

Building 87 hasn’t always been the home of Microsoft’s APC. According to Haley, the APC was located in a smaller studio roughly 5,000 square-feet when he first joined six years ago to work on the first Surface tablet.

“Right after that we started planning that next phase [of Surface] and moving into Building 87, where we’ve almost been there for 3 years,” he says. “September will be our third year at Building 87, when we moved in we went from 5,000 square feet to roughly 25,000 square feet.”

The space was empty when Haley and his team first moved in, but in just two short years and change the APC has run out of room as the lab took on more equipment with Surface becoming a huge deal for Microsoft.

“The change was pretty much overnight and amazing,” Haley recalls. “We went from a handful of CNC machines to having 26 CNC machines in Building 87.”

And, it’s not the just the number of machines that have grown in quantity. The APC staff has also since ballooned from just five people to a staff of over 50 individuals. There are a wide range of disciplines at the Microsoft hardware lab, including industrial designers, mechanical engineers, traditional model makers, toy makers and even a special effects artist who worked on The Walking Dead.

The Microsoft APC team (Image credit: Lucas Westcoat)

“We have such a broad reach of capabilities at the APC, and that’s because of the people too. The people here have different things that they’re really, really good at,” Haley expounds. “Having all these different kinds of people that I can bring together into a room and say I have this problem, what do you think? I’ll get a half a dozen different ideas right away.”

“My special effects guy is awesome at complicated mechanisms,” he says. “When you do special effects, you have to make things move and rotate in different ways, and sometimes it’s really simple stuff, but he’s really good at creating complex mechanisms. And then I have full blown mechanical engineers that I can take a really complicated problem and they can make it really simple.”

“It’s really amazing how we kind of come together and sometimes the ideas are totally different. You can have two totally different ideas and they’re both valid, so you have to talk through it as a group and figure out what’s the best way to run at it. It’s really fun how that works.”

Haley prides himself with fostering a collaborative environment in the APC that doesn’t have enclosed offices but tables for groups. There’s also fairly strict rule on making sure that everything in the lab stays at around waist level, so everyone can see where each other is in the office and not have to chase anyone down.

“You walk in here in the morning and it’s already on fire, it’s electric, people are running around and they’re coming up with that next great idea,” Haley describes. “Everyone is together, they’re collaborating whether it’s design or engineering, everyone really comes together to make a great product.”

  • It’s not convertible, but we’ve searched far and wide for the best Ultrabook

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Macs are becoming an increasingly big target for malware authors, and a new report has pointed to a massive increase this year in the likes of viruses aimed at Apple’s machines (which were once regarded as relative safe havens in comparison to Windows PCs).

The findings from Malwarebytes show that as of July 2017, there has been a huge leap of 230% in Mac malware compared to the previous year.

Some categories of malicious software are increasing at an even faster rate than this, namely adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) according to the security firm, although it didn’t clarify any percentage rates in these cases.

Malwarebytes also observed that the Mac App Store is currently awash with a ‘tidal wave’ of scam software.

As Betanews reports, the authors of the study looked to the future, predicting that: “In 2018, Mac malware will increase but PUPs will see the largest growth. These are not very well policed and are free to proliferate unchecked.

“Mac users are already experiencing some of this now, with an explosion of fake anti-virus apps in the Mac App Store. These are not well controlled by Apple and not commonly known of even within the security community.”

Mounting evidence

Of course, bear in mind that these are figures from one security firm conducting one study, and the overall Mac malware picture may well differ from Malwarebytes’ findings.

That said, its hard to dispute the mounting evidence of increasing malware threats aimed at Apple’s computers.

Naturally, Malwarebytes has an answer in the form of its freshly released Malwarebytes for Mac app which offers real-time malware protection, and also promises to only exert a light load on system resources.

You don’t have to go with Malwarebytes, but it seems that these days it’s certainly time to consider getting some solid antivirus protection – perhaps one of our best Mac antivirus apps – on board your Apple computer.

It’s also worth noting that Malwarebytes observed a big rise in ransomware on Android, with Google’s mobile OS suffering an increase of 100% in this particular strain of malware in Q2 of this year.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Bethesda has announced release dates for its three big incoming virtual reality games – VR takes on Doom, Skyrim and Fallout 4 – which will all emerge before the year is out on a mix of PC and PS4 platforms.

Ahead of the start of QuakeCon (where all these games will be on show and playable), Bethesda revealed that Skyrim VR will be the first game to emerge on November 17, although the bad news for PC gamers is that this will be a PlayStation 4 (PSVR) only outing.

However, Doom VFR (the F means the same as it does in the BFG, jokes Bethesda) will be arriving for both the PC (via the HTC Vive) and PSVR on December 1.

And Fallout 4 VR will be exclusive to the HTC Vive when it emerges on December 12.

Virtually late

These games are arriving slightly later than initially anticipated, as previously we heard that they were slated for an October launch.

Note that they are standalone purchases, so if you already own a copy of Doom, for example, you’ll still have to buy Doom VFR in order to be able to enjoy it on your Vive.

Currently on Steam, Fallout 4 VR is up for pre-order at £39.99 – or $59.99 in the US (around AU$76) – with Doom VFR pitched at a much cheaper £19.99 or $29.99 (around AU$38).

If the launch of these hit games in virtual reality is tempting you to finally take the plunge with a headset, you might be interested to learn that this week has witnessed a big global price cut for the HTC Vive (although there are still doubts as to whether this is anything like enough to help push VR gaming into the mainstream).

Via: Ars Technica

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