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Cabinets

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Cabinets – Mid-Tower

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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The cabinet is an essential component while building a PC, and often, the most ignored by many. This year we saw the RGB frenzy transcend to cabinets as well, with interesting implementations. We’ve always been excited to see how modularity spreads into almost every section of the cabinet, making it easier to build your system and upgrade later. Another trend we see picking up is the inclusion of a fan hub to connect the extra fans on your cabinet, because you tend to run out of ports on the motherboard. Also, tempered glass panels are increasingly becoming commonplace. When combined with RGB lights it makes DIYers nuts.
When it comes down to core performance of a cabinet, it’s all about how it maintains a cool temperature. And that’s exactly what matters in a Zero1 showdown. Here’s the best performing cabinet from the many we tested this year.

Zero1 winner: Thermaltake Core V51

cabinets

Looking at the specifications and support for cooling options on the Core V51, one would wonder as to how good the cooling could be. Including support for massive 200mm fans to huge 420mm radiators on the top and front panels, is already too much to ask. Although, cable management could have been better with more cable ties. The Core V51 won the Zero1 in the factory default setting, which also means that on occupying all the cooling options, you’ll be able to achieve a cooler system. Build quality of some of the parts, especially the panels could have been better but we’re nitpicking here.

Second Runner up: Corsair Carbide SPEC ALPHA

If showing off is your thing, look no further since the SPEC ALPHA is sure to get some attention among your friends. Already coming second in performance, the SPEC ALPHA has an abstract design, something which is refreshing to see rather than the regular rectangular-box design on other cabinets. This automatically makes it the best-looking cabinet we tested this year. In terms of performance, it was quite close to the Core V51. The three-speed fan-controller on the front panel was a welcome feature, whereas one thing we didn’t like was the compromise introduced if you want to install a radiator. Installing a 240/280mm radiator on the front panel makes you remove the drive cage leaving no room for 3.5-inch hard drives.

Third Runner up: Cooler Master MasterCase Maker 5

The Maker 5 is the most high-end cabinet in the MasterCase spectrum and offers the best features in cabinets, hands down. In terms of build quality, every part inside right from the motherboard plate to the screw grooves in every corner reeks of high quality. Cable management is well thought out and thanks to the high level of modularity, you can build a neat system easily. If you’re an enthusiast and a serious system builder, then this cabinet is built for you. The MasterCase lineup has an array of accessories available that you can buy to increase functionality and looks as well.

Best Buy: Corsair Carbide SPEC ALPHA

Offering the barebones features found in most cabinets, coupled with a fan-speed controller and a decent level of modularity, the SPEC ALPHA hits the right balance between features and pricing. Thus, it bags the Best Buy for the mid-tower category.

Television

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Flagship TVs

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Phones may account for most of the electronics market, but TVs are what most of us start our journey in tech with. From CRTs to OLEDs, that’s the journey so far, and things have taken a positive turn in 2016.
Interestingly, we didn’t start the year on a high note. It seems they kept the best for the last. Fair warning, the best performer this year is mighty expensive. However, it is indeed refreshing to see TVs become relevant again.
The credit for that goes to HDR technology. Unlike the regular resolution updates, HDR actually makes a difference. It improves the contrast ratio of a TV, making blacks darker and whites whiter.
The technology is far from reaching the mass market yet, but we can’t wait for it to do so.
Our competitors include everything from LeEco’s Super3 TVs to Panasonic’s Shinobi series, Samsung’s newest AMOLEDs, and more. Unfortunately, LG’s OLED E6 wasn’t available for this issue, forcing us to leave it out.
Our winner is the best at presenting natural and vibrant colours. It’s a 65-inch TV that was launched no more than a month ago.

Zero1 Winner: Sony 65-inch Z9D 4K HDR TV

TV

LCDs have traditionally been behind OLEDs. In our tests, LG’s OLEDs have steered past its competitors quite easily. However, we noticed burn in issues on the OLED E6 this time, which lost it a lot of points.
Sony, on the other hand, has silently worked towards achieving better colours using a technology it calls Backlight Master Drive. Also known as Focused Lightbeam technology, this allows Sony to control individual lights in the backlight array. Thus, the TV has over 500 dimmable zones.
As a result, the Sony Z9D achieves a contrast ratio of 1110:1 at 50 percent brightness, and in a reasonably lit room. It also has a white point reading of 6300K, which is as close to the ideal 6500 as it gets. This results in a very wide colour space, and true-to-life, vibrant colours.
If that wasn’t enough, Android TV is actually a tad faster on this TV than on other Sony TVs that we’ve reviewed. The interface seems faster, although folders still take some time to load. In addition, Sony has added a new Discover feature that does what the name suggests.
It costs over Rs.5 lakh, but that seems to be the price of quality today.

Runner Up: Sony X9350D 4K HDR TV

Sony decided that even with HDR, TVs are just not what they need to be. And to be honest, we do agree. That’s why the Sony X9350D employs four 12.5 Watt speakers, along with two 20 Watt woofers. Sony’s goal is to manage not only the volume, but also quality of audio.
While the audio is better than other premium and thin TVs, better detail would have perhaps won this TV the top prize.
The Sony X9350D produces good contrast ratios and is quite bright. While audio is its USP, the TV excels in picture quality as well. Contrast ratios are high and the colour space is pretty wide too. The TV comes with Netflix pre-installed and 720p and 1080p content is upscaled quite well.
Android TV is kind of a weakness, though. The TV is slow and you’ll have to deal with the constant loading screens when switching between apps and navigating around.
Sony’s “wedge design” allows a slim form factor at the top and is thicker near the bottom. This of course is to accommodate the speakers, and it gives the TV an unique look, which would fit any media centre.
The Sony X9350D also costs about half of the Z9D, which means you get to save a ton of cash. Still, Rs.2,84,900 is not something all of us can afford, but if you can afford this one, it’s a very good television to buy.

Mini PC

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Mini-PC

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Small form-factor machines have especially benefited from the Industry moving to smaller manufacturing nodes for transistors. Processors have becomes faster while running cooler than before and graphics chips even more so. Graphics chips have improved to such an extent that both AMD and NVIDIA are offering the solutions for notebooks which are nearly equal to their desktop counterparts. The components race has greatly helped bring performance which was hitherto limited to bulky desktop machines into little cases that are barely larger than a school kid’s lunchbox. Earlier in the year, Intel did make a few heads turn when they decided to shut the mobile SoC segment. Since mobile SoCs are quite similar to what was found in ultra small mini-PCs and stick PCs, it did raise a few questions about the survival of mini-PCs but when they ended up releasing NUCs with Skylake CPUs, all those worries were laid to rest. However, we are yet to see a rise in unit sales for these devices. There are high-end desktop units like the ASUS G20CB which nearly falls into the category that sport desktop Core i7s and GTX 1080s but even ASUS doesn’t define them as mini-PCs. Instead they have the Vivo line up. For us, anything that occupies under five cubic litres is a mini-PC. So with that little parameter set in stone we can safely draw the line as to what is a mini-PC and what becomes a compact desktop. Given how these devices are not prevalent in India, we can conclude that there’s something off about mini-PCs in India.

Zero1 Winner: ZOTAC MAGNUS EN1060

Mini-PC

Skylake socketed processor? Check. NVIDIA 1000 series graphics card? Check. Can it play Mine Craft? Double-check! While we did end up with fewer mini-PCs this year compared to last year, it wasn’t going to be a surprise for a unit like the Magnus winning since it was the only one with a discrete graphics solution. So you have a desktop grade processor and a desktop grade graphics chip in a form-factor that doesn’t even take up three cubic litres of space. Not only is this unit small enough to be discreetly hidden behind your TV, it’s capable of running your current gen AAA titles for about 2-years without any worry.

Runner-ups: ASRock DeskMini H110 and GIGABYTE BRIX GB-BSi5H-6200

We asked for the best off-the-shelf unit to be sent to us and what came had a Core-i7 6700K, Samsung SM951 and 16 Gigs of RAM. You can see how the DeskMini missed out purely because of the discrete graphics solution. It’s also a bit taller than all other units we’d received for the Zaro1 Awards and that’s because of the socketed processor in the unit.
While the other two contendors were making use of desktop grade components, the Gigabyte BRIX unit on the other hand ends up being the most traditional mini-PC that we received. Though Gigabyte does have mini-PCs with powerful discrete graphics solutions available, they don’t sell the same in India. This puts them at a disadvantage against brands that do. The GB-BSi5H-6200 is the most compact of all the units we received which earns them brownie points because the mini-PC segment favours reduced footprint and volume. And while it does lack a discrete graphics solution, it is sufficiently powerful for casual gaming.

Best buy: ASRock N3150 Beebox

The Best Buy of our January 2016 benchmark still retains that title for providing a feature set that most other mini-PCs would charge extra for. It’s the only one which comes with a USB Type-C port and a multimedia remote in it’s price segment. And while the Intel N3150 isn’t powerful to handle gaming, it handles every other productivity software with ease. A fully decked up unit can cost about `s26,599 which takes away any worries about having to customise the hardware per your needs.

Graphics cards

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Graphics Cards

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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This was a year of much joy for the PC Master Race. Both companies, NVIDIA and AMD made huge improvements to their GPU architecture. The move to 16 nm and 14 nm FinFET design has obviously worked wonders for NVIDIA’s Pascal and AMD’s Polaris architectures. NVIDIA went about the usual task of releasing new graphics cards based on Pascal across the entire price segment with the GP107 based 1050 at one end targeted at low to mid-range gaming and the GP102 based TITAN X at the other end for GPGPU applications. On the other hand, AMD’s Polaris was only put into production in the low to mid-range segment with the Polaris 10 and 11 GPUs in the AMD RX 460, RX 470 and RX 480. While questions were raised about this approach, it did work wonders for AMD whose shares rose from $1.67 (Jul ‘15) to 8.7 (November ‘16). The entire GPU market sold a lot more units compared to the previous year with NVIDIA taking the lead followed by AMD and Intel.
And when AMD’s VEGA GPU does launch for the high-end segment we’ll get to see some real action.

Zero1 Winner: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 – GIGABYTE

graphics cards

The new TITAN X is not available in India. Which leaves the GTX 1080 as the victor. AMD has no GPU to compete against the likes of the GTX 1080 at the moment (though we hope VEGA comes out at CES if not around the rumoured mid-December launch date). The ASUS ROG STRIX GTX1080 O8G GAMING and the GIGABYTE GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING PACK were neck and neck given they both had the exact same clock speeds and all our benchmark scores were within 1% or each other so we couldn’t decide between them easily.
The ZOTAC and the MSI cards are only ever so slightly clocked lower than the other two and that brings them outside the 1% error margin that we follow. So that brings us back to the GIGABYTE and the ASUS cards. Looking at the cooling performance, we did notice that the ASUS card had slightly higher temperatures on full load. We suspect this could have been due to the fact that the ASUS card came to us much later so every other reviewer who had it before us could have possibly disassembled the card.
We don’t overclock the cards for Zero1 but if we are to consider the fact that the GIGABYTE card has a 12+2 VRM design as compared to the ASUS’ 8+2 design, then theoretically, the GIGABYTE will have a more stable current allowing for stable overclocks. But more isn’t always better. However, considering the fact that gaming performance is the same, we resort to temperature performance being the deciding factor to tip the scale and that makes the GIGABYTE GTX 1080 EXTREME GAMING PACK the Zero1 Winner.

Runner-ups: ASUS, ZOTAC and MSI GeForce GTX 1080

ASUS misses out by a sliver and the ZOTAC and MSI GeForce GTX 1080 cards end up as the runner-ups in the graphics segment. All three cards have high over-clocks, good accompanying software, and beefy cooling solutions. With each card being so close to each other in performance, it becomes really difficult to pick between the three. So when you bring cost into the picture and their respective warranty periods then the ZOTAC card shines. The ASUS card just narrowly lost out winning the Zero1 Award and the MSI card has one of the best build quality in the premium segment. So make your choice!

Best Buy: AMD RX 480 – Sapphire

The AMD RX 480 gets the Best Buy because of a multitude of factors. While NVIDIA’s GTX 1060 and RX 480 are neck and neck in most games with either card taking the lead in games that use proprietary APIs. However, given that the AMD card performs better in games using Directx 12 and Vulkan APIs, we have to give it to AMD. Barring the initial pricing goof-up, the RX 480 is now at a much better price point.

SSDs

Zero1 Awards 2016 – SSD – Solid State Drives

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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As we were pondering over last year’s Zero1 Awards, we’d expected NVMe to achieve mainstream popularity with cheaper SKUs compared to last year. While things have gotten a lot cheaper than last year, it still isn’t within the affordable price segment for the average customer. Even now, most of the SSD sales int he market are dominated by TLC NAND which aren’t the cream of the crop. You can get individual SKUs for about `3,000 for a 120 GB drive and it’s a quick and easy way to join the SSD revolution. However, one of the significant changes this year was the advent of hybrid SSDs. Let us clarify, these are not a combination of traditional hard drives with a small capacity SSD NAND for caching. That’s what hybrids mean when you’re talking storage these days. The new trend that we are speaking of is when manufacturers combine SLC+MLC or MLC+TLC NAND in one drive. While this does present certain wonderful possibilities for managing wear on the data cells, it also throws a spanner into a little thing called benchmarking.
So what’s new? There’s 3D XPoint which is the next big thing for memory standards. Intel and Micron have already demonstrated prototypes of the new technology. So while next year might be a bit uneventful till 3D XPoint drives hit the consumer market, things have definitely improved this year.

Zero1 Winner: Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB NVMe SSD

SSD

Everything inside the Samsung 960 Pro SSD is an improved variant of what the 850 Pro had. The UBX controller has been replaced by the new Polaris lineup and the NAND while being the same 3D V-NAND technology, now packs in a lot more transistor layers. There’s a 100 per cent gain in density which ihas resulted in an equally tremendous gain in IOPS. 4K Random Read at a Queue Depth of 32 has improved by approximately 50 percent over the 950 Pro.
All of these changes make the 960 Pro a worthy upgrade for enthusiasts as you can now get up to 2 TB of storage space while enjoying read speeds of 3,500 MB/s and write speeds of 1,200 MB/s. That’s roughly 1,000 MB/s greater than last year’s winner of the Zero1 Awards. Oh! And this flagship does sport a price tag to match.

Runner-ups: ZOTAC SONIX GAMING SSD 480 GB and Samsung SM951 512 GB

The SONIX SSD sports read speeds of 2,600 MBps while the 10th anniversary refresh offers about 2,800 MBps read speeds. Since we haven’t received the units we don’t know if the internals do indeed differ or if the improvement is purely firmware based. Regardless, it was in the running for the Zero1 Award until the 960 Pro showed up on our doorstep.
Then there’s the Samsung SM951 which did release last year globally but wasn’t available in India till much later. In fact, we sourced our unit from one of the numerous other products that came in for the Zero1 awards. Even the SM961 which released around June this year is yet to arrive in India. The SM951 trails behind the SONIX with sequential read speeds of 2,150 MB/s, thus, bagging the third place.

Best Buy: Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB

It’s gotta get a little tiring to see another Samsung SSD in this list but that’s purely because the 850 EVO really fits the bill. While the 850 EVO does have the same controller as the 850 Pro, which happens to be Samsung’s own MHX controller. The key difference is the NAND, the 850 Evo uses TLC NAND and the 850 Pro opts for the more durable MLC NAND. This is why we see the 850 Pro coming with a warranty period of 10 years while the 850 EVO comes with exactly half of that. A combination of great durability, excellent IOPS performance nearly equaling the 850 Pro and good pricing have led to the 850 EVO bagging the Best Buy. And it’s not just us, the 850 EVO pretty much tops the list of most popular SSDs across the globe for these very reasons.

Desktop processors

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Desktop CPU

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Bluetooth Speakers

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Portable Speakers

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Portable speakers are essential gadgets nowadays. On occasional tours and house parties alike, portable speakers offer the best of audio fidelity and form factor versatility to discerning users. 2016 saw a number of portable speakers enter our test labs, and needless to say, we heard ‘em all with equal enthusiasm and vigour.
We’ve had bigger players lower prices for their entry segment offerings, smaller companies challenge established audio-makers, and a significant drift has been evident among buyers who now prefer speakers with more peripheral features than bare necessities.
With that being a clear reflection of a shift in lifestyles, portable speakers are no longer luxury gadgets. They are deemed as essentials – gadgets that seamlessly fit lifestyles and demeanours, while doing what they were meant to do in the first place – play good audio. With these in mind, we rank the best of 2016, from the world of portable Bluetooth speakers.

Zero1 Winner: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1

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Bang & Olufsen has typically catered to the luxury segment of technolgy, and with the Beoplay A1, the Danish luxury giant has provided the best of finesse and audio quality in possibly one of its most competitively priced speaker.
Mid frequencies are equally well detailed, and the audio is finely balanced to give proper emphasis to vocals. There is an exciting balance of rhythm and vibrancy in the audio, and the dynamic range of the speaker makes almost every track sound more detailed than any other speaker in the neighbouring price ranges manage to sound. Highs are pristine and balanced to sound loud and yet not piercing. The entire audio delivery is cohesive and tightly knit, sounding akin to more expensive, wood-crafted bookshelf speakers.
The Beoplay A1 holds equal composure from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Minuet & Badinerie and Opeth’s Deliverance to John Coltrane’s Equinox and Pink Floyd’s Live Rendition of Another Brick in the Wall. It also includes a USB-C port and a multi-function key that can be programmed to your preference.
All of this combines to make the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 the best Bluetooth speaker that we’ve tested in 2016.

Runner-up: UE Boom 2

Logitech’s energetic, affable speaker, the Boom 2, presents an upgrade over the already commendable UE Boom. The activity-oriented speaker does not sound as rich or expansive as the B&O Beoplay A1, but is bright, detailed and lively in its own right. The audio performance fits its demeanour of an active, rugged speaker, with sufficient bass that keeps the thump alive. The low frequencies are rich in terms of clarity and are well-detailed, and complement the bright, warm mid frequencies. Vocals sound bright and lively, and are not overpowered by the rich, loud bass performance. Clarity and audio balance is great in the UE Boom 2, and it tackles the highs with equal composure.

Best buy: UE Roll 2

The UE Roll 2 delivers excellent audio for its price. Albeit slightly attuned bass that can be equalised from its app, the overall audio is very clear, and the speaker can last for nearly 10 hours on a single charge. You get pleasant, detailed mids and clear highs, and soundstaging is great, too. The saucer-shaped speaker is water-resistant and comes with a floatie and daisy chaining capability to further amplify its value proposition. It also retained connectivity up to 80 feet in our tests, by far the most extensive, and thus, makes for a good purchase.

Gaming Monitors

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Gaming Monitors

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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There’s a reason why gaming monitors is a category by itself. Unlike professional monitors that strive for colour accuracy and a wider gamut, gaming monitors focus on their ability to function at a higher frame rate or frequency. That’s the only they’re going to be able to keep up with the latest and greatest games launching in the market. In terms of technology trends, nothing changed severely in the gaming monitors space in 2016 when compared to 2015 – most of the gaming world’s busy gearing up for VR, and monitors seem low on everyone’s radar. NVIDIA G-Sync enabled monitors kept launching at the higher end of the market, but AMD’s FreeSync monitors seemed to have disappeared altogether. Let’s look at the year’s best performing gaming monitors!

Zero1 Winner: Acer Predator X34

gaming monitors

It was a close race to the top between the Acer Predator X34 and the ASUS ROG PG348Q, but the Acer X34 managed to beat out the ASUS challenge by a whisker. The Acer Predator X34 sports a gorgeous 34-inch QHD (3440×1440) IPS curved screen that just commands respect and attention on your desk. Of the four best gaming monitors we tested this year, the Acer X34 single-handedly aced six out of nine Spyder benchmark tests – which is pretty amazing. Clocked at 100Hz and supporting NVIDIA G-Sync, the X34 handles everything a modern game can throw at it. Hours spent playing games like Counter Strike: GO, Witcher 3 and Tomb Raider at native and Full HD resolution didn’t show any dropped frames whatsoever. The curved display ensures very high levels of immersion, no matter whichever game you’re playing on this ultra-widescreen display. It takes the cake and the cherry on top, winning our well-deserved Zero1 Award for this year.

Second Runner up: ASUS ROG PG348Q

Coming in second behind the Acer Predator X34 by barely just one point is the equally competent ASUS ROG PG348Q – another 34-inch QHD (3440×1440) IPS curved screen NVIDIA G-Sync enabled monitor that sits proudly, exuding a lot of “made for gaming” vibe. In terms of our synthetic tests, the ASUS ROG PG348Q largely plays second fiddle to the Acer Predator X34, but it beats the Acer by offering a superior White Point score. Great not just for gaming, but this ROG PG348Q monitor is a very good option for a multitasker and great for even pro-users, believe it or not. If you have a preference for ASUS products, don’t second guess yourself and go for this, because it’s almost as good a monitor as our Zero1 Winner.

Third Runner up: Benq XL2730Z

The Benq XL2730Z is the higher priced of the BenQ XL series siblings, selling exactly at the `50k mark, sporting a 144Hz refresh rate. It is FreeSync enabled and is amongst the highest performers as far as all our synthetic benchmarks are concerned – Spyder, Lagom.nl LCD test, not to mention PixPerAn and other audio-video tests. What’s more, in the FreeSync – G-Sync test parameters, this monitor outperforms all other G-Sync monitors and finishes second best in terms of gaming performance – except the top two, Acer Predator X34 and ASUS ROG PG348Q.

Best Buy: Benq XL2730Z

It offers roughly 75 to 80 percent of the ASUS and Acer monitors at half their price, thereby offering the best value for money as far as gaming’s concerned. Buying this monitor will ensure you’ll have more money to spend on a better GPU and get those games rolling!

Laptop

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Laptops – Ultrabook

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Thin, light, functional and portable, all these attributes make an ultrabook and this year we saw some really good ones. This year, the category got a lot thinner thanks to the premium HP Spectre 13 and the ultra thin Acer Swift 7. We also saw refreshed ultrabook designs with the Asus ZenBook 3, while others like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon retained their signature design.
All these laptops offer good functionality, portability and most importantly, decent performance. Now, these razor thin laptops are not meant for heavy duty workloads. We can’t really expect them to run Doom at 1080p, but most of them will play 2K content on your television quite easily.
This year ,we also saw laptops finally adopting the USB Type-C I/O port. In fact, some of these laptops are so thin, a normal USB port won’t be able to exist in those thin chassis. Hence, many of these ultrabooks come with USB Type-C port only.
Thinner form factor also means, new cooling systems, keyboards with lesser travel and heating woes, but not all ultrabooks have become victim to these underlying issues. Some of these laptops are just better designed to offer the convenience of an ultrabook without its compromises.

Zero1 Winner: Lenovo Ideapad 710s

ultrabook

The most uncompromised ultrabook of them all is the Lenovo Ideapad 710s. A thin body, 1.1 Kg weight and good performance – this laptop has everything. Compared to last year’s Dell XPS 13, the Ideapad 710s, is much lighter and offers a similar bezel less display. What makes it better though, is the fact that it is a matte display, which makes viewing content on it much easier.
Even with the thinner profile, Lenovo hasn’t compromised on I/O ports and the laptop offers all the essential ports you may require in day to day use. The backlit keyboard is good and so is the trackpad. We would have loved to see a USB Type-C port on the machine as well, but unfortunately that has been given a miss.
Inside, you get the latest Intel Core i7-7500U processor with 8GB of RAM, which takes care of all kinds of tasks and applications you might want to run on this device. Out of all the ultrabooks we tested this year, the Ideapad 710s came out on the top.
Good performance of this machine is further complimented by the respectable battery life it offers. On a full charge, the Ideapad 710s can easily manage 6 to 7 hours of usage quite easily. Even if streaming videos all day, the laptop will last for more than 5 hours on a single charge, which is quite good for a portable laptop.

Runner up: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

Losing the top position by a hair, is the Thinkpad X1 Carbon. The new and improved X1 Carbon, brings the same iconic yet elegant design of the Thinkpad with newer hardware. The latest edition to the Carbon series is a bit lighter than the last gen model, but in essence the design and form factor remains the same.
Another thing which hasn’t changed is the large 14-inch display, that offers really good viewing angles and a 1080p resolution. You also get the premium carbon fibre construction, which can withstand dust, cold, water, humidity, altitude and even vibration.
This Intel Core i5 powered laptop performs as good as many other laptops, which feature beefier Intel Core i7 chips. This makes it one of the better laptops in this category. Like the Ideapad 710s, the X1 Carbon can also handle day to day task well and is easily one of this better performers in the thin and light category.
Overall, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is a really good machine. It performs as well as the Ideapad 710s, has really good battery life and to top it all off, it even comes with a 3 year warranty. But that’s just icing on the cake.

Laptop

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Laptops – Hybrid

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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The hybrid category hasn’t seen much action this year. There were a bunch of new launches in this category, which were basically upgrades to older models. We also saw Microsoft launching a new Surface which looks exactly like the old Surface but is relatively new on the inside.
Besides that, there were a couple of new hybrids, which caught our attention. One was the Smartron t.book, which offered a very promising package at half the price of any other hybrid we have seen this year. However, the bundled keyboard dock wasn’t that great and thus foiled its chances of making it into the list.
The other being the new Lenovo X1 Yoga, which merges the classic Thinkpad design with the 360 degree Yoga hinge. It is a very good laptop for the price and is also available with an OLED display. However, some may argue that it doesn’t provide the full functionality a hybrid should i.e. have a detachable keyboard.
We believe, a hybrid laptop should combine the best of performance with portability making it an ideal choice for tablet and laptops users alike. This year, Lenovo seems to have mastered the recipe of Hybrids. Here’s why.

Zero1 Winner: Lenovo Yoga 710-14IKB

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The Lenovo Yoga 710 is the undisputed king among all the Hybrid laptops we tested this year. Here are the specs it has to offer – Intel Core i7-7500U processor clocked at 2.70GHz paired with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and 2GB NVIDIA GeForce 940MX dedicated graphics along with a 14-inch Full HD touchscreen on the top. Beefy specs do not fail to show in our benchmark results and thus, PCMark Creative returned a score of 4,442 and a fairly long battery life of over four hours on full brightness and under high load. What really impressed us were the 3DMark scores – Fire Strike Extreme – 688, Fire Strike – 1366, whereas the other competitors could only manage about half of these numbers. The only compromise you will have to make in exchange of the unbeatable performance is its weight, that goes above 2 kgs.

Runner up: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga

Trailing behind the Yoga 710 is Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Yoga with an overall score of 62 out of 100. The Thinkpad X1 boasts an even better screen than the 710 and just misses out on the dedicated GPU. However, this sleek and stylish looking machine packs in a 2K display, an Intel Core i5-6200U along with 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD that churns out a PCMark score of 3688 and Fire Strike Ultra score stands at 383 and 852 in Fire Strike Extreme. Weighing in at just over 1.2 Kgs, the Thinkpad X1 is worth your money if weight happens to be the deciding factor for you. Also, the Thinkpad X1 Yoga lasted for the longest, more than four and half hours in our battery test.

Runner up: Lenovo Yoga 900

Coming in third is yet another hybrid from the house of Lenovo, the Yoga 900. PCMark scored 3836 but the Yoga 900 trails with GPU performance. It certainly packs in more power with an Intel Core i7-6500U processor, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. The 13.3-inch Quad HD display is definitely a treat, along with all the style and premium build this hybrid laptop has to offer. With a score of 58 out of 100 and weighing in at 2.24Kg, the Yoga 900 is the most stylish and premium looking of them all, on our list.

Best Buy: HP Pavilion x360 13-u131TU

A handy, 13.3-inch ultraportable laptop that comes with Intel Core i3-7100U along with 1TB HDD and 4GB RAM that gets you covered on most basics without spending a fortune. With a PCMark score of 3597 and an overall score of 54 out of 100, the HP Pavilion x360 13-u131TU will get you maximum value for your money.