So You Just Got A New 4K TV. Now, What To Watch? Here Are Some Suggestions

The Samsung 75-inch QLED 4K Smart TV, suggested price of $4,999.99, supports 4K and HDR with its HDR EliteMax picture technology.The Samsung 75-inch QLED 4K Smart TV, suggested price of $4,999.99, supports 4K and HDR with its HDR EliteMax picture technology.

4K TVs are a hit beyond the U.S., too. Worldwide sales of 4K TVs in 2018 are expected to hit 100 million, increasing to 230 million the number of 4K TVs in homes, according to research firm Digital Tech Consulting. Consumers have taken to 4K UHD TVs, first introduced in the U.S. in 2012, in part because prices have fallen. The average 4K TV now costs less than $900, down from more than $4,000 five years ago, DTC says. Lower prices are just one selling point. Bigger screens with sharper images and richer colors are benefits, too. 4K UHD TVs have four times as many pixels as HDTVs. Those additional pixels make bigger displays look better without degradation of the imagery.

Most 4K TVs can also handle High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, produced so that newer TVs can display more intense brights and darks, as well as more detail in shadows. An additional image upgrade that usually accompanies HDR is a wider color palette producing more precise and rich colors. You will pay a bit more for a 4K TV with HDR, but if you expect to spend a lot of time with your TV, that slightly higher expense will be worth it. (You can still get a 55-inch 4K TV with HDR for less than $500.)

Now, what to watch? Luckily there are several ways to get 4K video on your 4K TV.

• Blu-ray Disc players. The major electronics makers such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony all have brought to market 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc players that play special 4K UHD Blu-ray Discs, as well as regular Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs. Player prices start at about $100.

Many experts consider 4K Blu-rays as the best medium for showcasing your 4K TV because of the disc-based medium’s quality. Several hundred 4K UHD discs are available to order on Amazon and BestBuy.com, with the latest releases including “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and “Venom.” Prices start about $20 and most also come with a standard Blu-ray Disc and a digital download code.

• Pay-TV providers. There are no regular 4K broadcasts from major networks just yet. But among major providers, Comcast made Winter Olympics events and World Cup matches available in 4K in 2018 as the events played out and those can still be viewed on demand. X1 customers can also stream Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video in 4K, too, from their cable box.

Satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network – both of which also delivered Winter Olympics and World Cup action in 4K, offer pay-per-view movies in 4K, and each has at least one dedicated channel for other 4K content including live sports. DirecTV has two, one for ongoing 4K programming and another for live sports including regular NBA games and English Premier League soccer. Dish’s Hopper 3 HD DVR also has built-in Netflix 4K streaming.

• Streaming services. Netflix and Amazon have been among the leaders in 4K content, with Netflix making “House of Cards” and some other programs available in 4K in 2014. Now, Netflix has more than 100 original series and 100 original films and specials in 4K, DTC says. You will need a Netflix Premium subscription, which cost $13.99 monthly. Netflix also recommends broadband download speeds of 25 Megabits per second for streaming 4K video.

Netflix 4K Ultra HD channel

Amazon Prime Video has 70 original series and films in 4K and a library of almost 150,000 licensed movies and TV series, DTC says. Some of those are included in Amazon’s library of TV shows and movies as part of the $119 annual Amazon Prime membership as well as free shipping of purchases and other benefits. Others can be rented or purchased.

If you have a smart TV, apps such as Netflix and Amazon – and YouTube, which has a lot of 4K content – may be pre-installed. Your display may also have built-in WiFi if so it’s ready to stream 4K.

Either way, you can connect a net streaming player such as a Roku or Amazon Fire TV device, Apple TV, Google Chromecast or NVIDIA Shield that supports 4K video as a way to get apps with 4K videos. Video game consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One and PlayStation 4 also support 4K streaming apps.

Several other lesser-known video apps can offer additional 4K options. The streaming service Vudu, which is owned by Walmart, has many 4K movies for rent, as well as thousands of HD movies free to watch with advertisements, too. Fandango Now and UltraFlix are also preinstalled on many new TVs or available as an app. Fandango Now has an extensive library of 4K movies to buy or rent, while UltraFlix has many 4K movies, concerts, and documentaries for rent.

Live broadband-delivered subscription service fuboTV (starts at $44.99) also broadcasts live 4K sports events including college football and English Premier League soccer – the service provided World Cup matches and Major League Baseball games earlier this year.

Using Apple TV, you can watch 4K movies rented or purchased from Apple iTunes; Apple will soon have more than 400,000 4K movies available, DTC says. 4K movies cost the same to rent or buy as a high-def version; a rental of recent release “The Meg” costs $2.99.

Google Play has a full slate of 4K movies to rent or purchase. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” currently costs $7.99 to watch in 4K, while an HD version is $4.99.

There’s much more 4K streaming content than even a year ago, said Tom Campbell, chief technologist for L.A.-area retailer Video & Audio Center, which sold the first 4K TV in the U.S. in 2012. “It looks phenomenal, and there’s more to come,” he said.

Expect to see more live events offered in 4K, too, says DTC’s founder and chief analyst Myra Moore. “In 2018 we saw the Winter Olympics, World Cup, and MLB playoff games,” she said. “We’ll see more of this in 2019 as streaming services can’t deliver on the promise of high-quality live programming – especially sports.”

 

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Huawei Watch GT Is Affordable And Good-Looking

Measuring at only 10.6mm thick, the Watch GT has a round 1.39-inch Amoled touchscreen display with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and is available in two models - Classic and Sport.

At a time when many thought Huawei has given up on the wearables market, the Chinese company launched its latest smartwatch, Watch GT. Measuring at only 10.6mm thick, the Watch GT has a round 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and is available in two models – Classic and Sport.

The Classic model (version tested) features a stainless steel round case with black ceramic bezel and a brown leather band, while the Sports model is an all-black affair down from a black stainless steel case to its black silicone band.

The inside of the brown leather band is made of silicone that is more resistant to sweat and feels very comfortable. Thus, you have the best of both worlds in terms of looks and functionality.

The Watch GT comes with a barometer, altimeter, accelerometer and a built-in heart rate monitor that provides all-day tracking of your heart rate as well as built-in GPS to track your runs. It is also able to monitor your sleep.

Given its affordable price tag, something has got to give. There is no built-in Wi-Fi or Near Field Communications (NFC). Without NFC, it does not support any form of mobile payment unlike the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
  • TECH SPECSPRICE: $298 (Sports), $328 (Classic, version tested)

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, GPS

    WEIGHT: 46g (without strap)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

It also does not use Google’s Wear OS. Instead, it uses Huawei’s Lite OS mobile operating system. This means there are few apps and watch faces available. You only get basic ones such as torch, weather, compass, stopwatch, timer, and alarms. And there are only 12 watch faces to choose from. Furthermore, Huawei is not allowing third-party support for Lite OS.

Interestingly, you have to use the Huawei Health app to pair with the Watch GT. It makes me wonder if the Watch GT is a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. Because in terms of smartwatch functions, the Watch GT is lacking. For example, you cannot see an Instagram photo on the smartwatch when the notification arrives even though it has a big display.

However, in terms of fitness tracking, the Watch GT performed superbly. For tracking steps, the Watch GT’s readings were only 3 percent off from the readings of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. Using GPS to track runs, the Watch GT was only 200m off from my usual 5km jogging route. For sleep tracking, the Watch GT is as accurate as Fitbit which – in my opinion – is the leading sleep tracker for fitness trackers. It produces sleep cycle graphs, similar to those found on Fitbit’s fitness tracker, which break your sleep patterns into a deep sleep, light sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. It also provides insights into deep sleep continuity and your breathing quality during sleep.

Furthermore, it gives your sleep an overall score – from 0 to 100 points – and provides tips on how to improve your sleep. For example, it might say your breathing quality during sleep is not good enough and how to improve it.

The Watch GT has a battery life rated at 14 days with heart rate monitoring turned on. If turned off, it can last a month. It is said to last 22 hours with continuous exercise tracking with heart rate monitoring and GPS turned on.

In this review with the Watch GT paired to an Android smartphone all the time, I found the smartwatch to have 50 percent battery life on the sixth day (with a 5km GPS-logged run) after a full charge. By then, I had already caved into battery anxiety and put it to charge.

Verdict: The Huawei Watch GT is more of a fitness tracker that looks like a smartwatch, at a very affordable price.

 

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The 5 Best Smartphones Of 2018

Apple's iPhones are among the best smartphones of 2018. (image: Apple)

Apple’s iPhones are among the best smartphones of 2018. (image: Apple)

The past year was an important one for smartphone makers. With the handset market saturated with devices from manufacturers around the world, the major smartphone companies had to step up to prove their gadgets were worth the investment. That included rolling out improved designs, better cameras, and boatloads of performance. These five phones did all of that and more. These are the best smartphones of 2018.

Apple iPhone XR

Apple's iPhone XR has all of the power of the iPhone XS without the price.

Apple’s iPhone XR has all of the power of the iPhone XS without the price.

Price: $749

All the power of the iPhone XS for less

Apple’s (AAPLiPhone XR gives you practically everything offered in the company’s XS and XS Max without the price tag. The XR features the same processor as the XS and XS Max, the same wide-angle lens rear camera, Apple’s Face ID facial recognition technology and, to top it off, is available in an array of color options. The key differences between the XR and the XS and XS Max are the fact that the XR uses an LCD display, rather than the more vibrant OLED screens found on the XS and XS Max, and that the XR lacks a telephoto lens. That lens affords the XS and XS Max a 2X optical zoom, which ensures your photo doesn’t turn out pixelated and blurry when you zoom in on a subject. Still, with a starting price of $749, the XR significantly undercuts the base XS and XS Max, which starts at $999 and $1,099, respectively. The XR is easily the best iPhone for the money.

Google Pixel 3

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are Google's complete vision of what smartphones should be. (image: Google)

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are Google’s complete vision of what smartphones should be. (image: Google)

Price: Pixel 3: $799; Pixel 3 XL $899

Takes incredible low-light photos

Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is the ultimate Android smartphones. Sure, there are other Android phones on this list, but the Pixel 3 is exactly what Google believes a smartphone should be. And a whole heck of a lot of that includes the company’s Google Assistant. The AI-powered voice assistant is spread across the Pixel 3, which makes for a more convenient experience for you, and gives Google access to information about how people are using the software, ensuring it improves over time. The 5.5-inch Pixel 3 is a relatively plain-looking device with its rectangular body and display, while the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL features a more modern look complete with a notch at the top of the screen that houses the phone’s front cameras. That larger display will cost you, though. The base Pixel 3 costs $799, while the XL comes in at $899. Outside of their sizes, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is virtually identical. And that includes their spectacular cameras. At launch, the Pixel 3’s single-lens rear camera was already on a par with the iPhone’s camera. But when Google released its Night Sight software upgrade for the Pixel 3, the camera leapfrogged every other smartphone on the market. Night Sight can take photos in low-light settings that look so good, it’s almost as if they were shot during the day. It’s an incredible feat that competitors are surely working to counter at this very moment.

Apple iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is the best handset Apple has to offer. (image: Apple)
The iPhone XS Max is the best handset Apple has to offer. (image: Apple)

Price: $1,099

The best Apple has to offer

I’m a sucker for giant phones. I hate the fact that I can’t use them with one hand, but being able to watch videos and read articles on a big-screen handset is worth dropping it on occasion. That’s why the iPhone XS Max was the iPhone I fell hardest for in 2018. With a massive 6.3-inch OLED display, the Max provided vibrant colors on a panel that made it easier to watch movies on the go, or while hiding in a conference room to avoid work. The XS Max has all of the features and functionality of the XR, but adds a second rear camera lens, the option for more storage and improved water resistance. There is one major drawback to the iPhone XS Max: the price. At $1,099, it’s an incredibly expensive smartphone. But if you can get past the sticker shock, the iPhone XS Max is sure to please.

OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is a powerhouse of a handset at a mid-range price. (image: OnePlus)
The OnePlus 6T is a powerhouse of a handset at a mid-range price. (image: OnePlus)

Price: $549

High-end features, at a mid-range price

OnePlus is a smartphone company that built its reputation through word-of-mouth advertising. You won’t see ads on TV or billboards on the highway for the handset maker, and yet OnePlus has an incredibly fierce following. And its latest, the 6T, ups the ante for the firm in a big way, adding an in-screen fingerprint reader and plenty of horsepower. The 6T also debuted with the latest version of Google’s Android Operating System, Android Pie, and is the first OnePlus phone to launch on a major U.S. carrier: T-Mobile. Then there’s the price. OnePlus’s biggest selling point has always been that because the company doesn’t have to account for an advertising budget, it can charge less for its handsets. Over the years the firm’s phones have seen their prices creep up ever so slightly, but you can still score a base 6T with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $549. Go all-out for the just plain silly McLaren Edition and its 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and you’ll pay $699. That’s still less expensive than Apple’s iPhone XR, which is supposed to be the smartphone for everyone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 is a big-screen behemoth with plenty of power. (image: Samsung)
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is a big-screen behemoth with plenty of power. (image: Samsung)

Price: $999

A big, beautiful screen and a built-in stylus

Samsung’s big daddy, the Galaxy Note 9 is the smartphone giant’s halo phone, and it shows. It packs an absurdly large 6.4-inch display complete with the company’s fantastic Super AMOLED screen technology, as well as the Note line’s S Pen stylus. The camera is more or less unchanged from the shooter used in the Galaxy S9 Plus, but that’s not exactly a negative since that phone’s camera captured beautiful images. Samsung also added a new kind of AI feature called Scene Optimization that automatically tunes the camera’s settings based on the type of shot you’re taking. Naturally, the Note 9 offers all-day battery life to match its enormous size and, of course, Samsung’s fast-charging technology. The Note 9 is an absolute bruiser.

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Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro, First Take: Tougher And More Waterproof

Samsung-Gear-Fit2-Pro-Swim-tracking-offline-Spotify-3Samsung’s Gear Fit 2 gained a lot of plaudits, which makes launching a ‘pro’ version something of a challenge. After all, the core of a good wearable is having a strong range of core features accessible via a clean and uncluttered UI that doesn’t require a lot of menu navigation, and a hardware design that’s both robust and stylish. The Gear Fit 2 hit the mark on all of those, so where does Samsung take its Pro version?

Samsung has found several ways to offer more with the Gear Fit 2 Pro — but can it justify the £209 (inc. VAT, or $199.99 in the US) price tag, when the Gear Fit 2 is currently available for around half that?

Several fitness apps are installed out of the box — MapMyRun, SpeedGo, UA Record and Endomondo — and there’s also a Speedo app that will record some swimming metrics. If any of these apps are of interest, you may be tempted by the Gear Fit 2 Pro.

The other key new feature is MIL-STD 810G certification and ability to withstand 5 ATM water pressure. This is quite a step up from the Gear Fit 2’s IP68 rating and should make a big difference if you’re interested in watersports — or just want to wear this device in the shower.

Music fans may also appreciate support for Spotify’s offline mode to send tunes to wireless headphones, but unlike the fitness apps, this isn’t preinstalled.

samsung-gear-fit-2-promain.jpg

The Gear Fit 2 Pro has a superb 1.5-inch AMOLED screen and fastens using a traditional watch clasp. It costs £209 in the UK or $199.99 in the US.

Sit a Gear Fit 2 and a Gear Fit 2 Pro side by side and you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the difference. The design is remarkably similar, although the new model uses an old-fashioned watch clasp rather than the older device’s somewhat less secure slot fixing method. As far as I’m concerned, that’s progress.

The 1.5-inch, 216-by-432-pixel AMOLED screen is absolutely superb — bright, sharp, clear and easy to read. I’ve not seen better, in fact. Even though it’s on the large side for my small wrist, I’m happy to make the trade-off in return for improved readability. The screen can be tapped and prodded, and there are two side buttons as well. The combination of tactile and button features make navigation straightforward.

There are plenty of fitness features, including a heart rate sensor on the back and GPS so that routes can be tracked. The Gear Fit 2 Pro can measure heart rate, count paces, indicate calorie burn, count floors climbed, and can track specific activities such as running, swimming, hiking, cycling as well as various bits of gym equipment. There is handset connectivity for alerts and music playback, as well as 2GB of internal storage available for tunes (and Spotify support). Metrics galore, and historical data are available via the Samsung Gear Fit and Samsung Health apps.

samsung-gear-fit-2-proback-dock.jpg
The charging stand has four connectors, allowing the Gear Fir 2 Pro, which has two, to be docked either way up

Samsung has thought carefully about how to get the best from the screen, and I was never too far away from the setting, or information widget I wanted. The coffee-drinking widget was new to me, and long-term it might help me cut down. The display is so good that I even used it to check my schedule for the day — something I don’t normally bother with on wearables as the screens aren’t really up to the job. There’s also a multitude of watch faces to play with.

Battery life is rated at 3-4 days of typical use, or 5 days of ‘low usage’, and up to 9 hours of GPS time. That means that most users won’t get a weekend away from mains power out of the Gear Fit 2 Pro. The charging stand is a bit cumbersome to carry around, but the good news is that while there are just two charge nubs on the device itself, there are four on the stand, so you aren’t forced to mount the device ‘the right way up’.

Magnets pull the Gear Fit 2 Pro into the right position for charging, and the screen reorients to display the time horizontally whichever way you place it on the stand. Battery charge level is also clearly shown, making it easy to see if a boost is needed. If wearables must have proprietary chargers, then at least Samsung has worked out how to make the Gear Fit 2 Pro’s easy to use.

Conclusions

There’s a lot to like about the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro. It’s well designed both in terms of usability and features, the screen and user interface are both superb, and the well-designed (if proprietary) charger is a real plus point. Battery life may be an issue for serious users, who will probably need to charge the device daily.

Although the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro is an impressive device, it’s hardly a major departure from the previous model.

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Huawei Exceeds 200 Million Smartphone Shipments, Setting Company Record

honor-10-product-hoyle-9

Phones like the Huawei Honor 10 have helped the phone maker set a new shipment record for itself.

Huawei has set a record for itself by shipping more than 200 million smartphones in 2018, the company said in a statement Sunday. The Chinese phone maker said the numbers were largely driven by the success of products like its P20Honor 10 and Mate 20 series. Huawei’s smartphone shipments have grown from 3 million units in 2010, it added. Last year, it said it sold 153 million units. The company overtook Apple in the second quarter of 2018 to become the world’s second-largest phone vendor, according to researcher Canalys.

“In the global smartphone market, Huawei has gone from being dismissed as a statistical ‘other’ to ranking among the Top 3 players in the world,” Huawei said in its statement. Despite its successes this year, Huawei has still faced some challenges, particularly with the US government. In February, US intelligence officials advised Americans not to purchase Huawei products out of fear they’re being used to spy for the Chinese government. In January, AT&T pulled out of a deal to sell the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and Verizon reportedly followed suit.

Still, Huawei is popular in places like China and Europe. More than 500 million people in over 170 countries use Huawei phones, according to the company.  In August, the company raised its shipment forecast for 2018 from 180 million to 200 million and said it aims to become the world’s largest phone vendor by the end of 2019.

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AMD Vega Release Date, News And Features: Everything You Need To Know

All about the cards known as ‘AMD Radeon RX Vega’

AMD gave us a sneak peek at its new Vega graphics card architecture way back at CES 2017. What we didn’t know then, though, is that it wouldn’t end up in the hands of consumers until August 2017.

AMD Vega has enjoyed plenty of success as the architecture behind the best mining GPUs, but the mining craze has been over for quite a while. Luckily, that means AMD Vega cards have fallen back down to reasonable prices – especially since we probably won’t see AMD Navi for a while and the latest rumors point to a different line of GPUs coming soon.

Not that we necessarily need them, though. AMD’s latest Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition just unlocked a ton of new functionality for current graphics cards, so the Vega cards we already have are doing just fine.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The follow-up to AMD’s Polaris GPU architecture
  • When’s it out? August 14, 2017
  • What will it cost? $499 or £549 (about AU$630)

AMD Radeon RX Vega release date

AMD’s affordable, consumer-oriented Radeon RX Vega 64 launched back in August 2017, with three versions including a standard edition model, an aluminum-clad limited edition version and a liquid-cooled design with higher clock speeds.

AMD’s lower-specced Radeon RX Vega 56, which is a direct competitor with the Nvidia GTX 1070, launched a little bit later in August.

AMD then teamed up with Intel, of all companies, to create 8th Generation Kaby Lake-G processors with integrated AMD Vega graphics for laptops – on top of packing some of the best laptops with powerful GPUs, like the spectacular Dell XPS 15 2-in-1.

Later, in February 2018, AMD launched the Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G APUs with discrete-class Vega graphics that will be a major help to anyone trying to build a great home-theater PC on a budget.

We wouldn’t see a new graphics card from AMD until it partnered up with PowerColor to introduce the Radeon RX Vega 56 Nano at Computex 2018.

Now, a year later, rather than seeing rumors about a new graphics card, we’re seeing a lot of speculation that says the opposite – we’ll be waiting for the next graphics cards for a while. Unless, of course, you count the recently released AMD Radeon RX 590 – though we’re not sure we would. Either way, you’re probably safe picking up the Vega 64 or 56.

AMD has hinted several times at AMD Vega 7nm graphics cards being a thing, and we’ve even seen a trademark registered for Vega II. We’re still not sure if these new Vega chips will be for consumers, though – so, we’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s more likely, is that we’ll have to wait for AMD Navi to hit the streets in 2019. The latest rumors are pointing to these cards taking on the likes of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 for about half the price, so competition should be alive and well when that happens. Hopefully, we’ll see the debut at CES 2019.

And, if you can’t justify ponying up the cash for a Vega card, AMD put out the Ryzen 3 2200G and the Ryzen 5 2400G APUs, with Vega graphics, on February 12, 2018.

AMD Radeon RX Vega price

Back in August 2017, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 launched as a standalone card for $499 or £549 (about AU$630).

That’s a big step up from the Radeon RX 500 lineup, which starts at as low as $169 (about £136, AU$219), but this is meant to be AMD’s enthusiast-class grade graphics card. It’s been a long-awaited sequel to the company’s mostly defunct Radeon R9 Fury X, which was still going for a cool $389 (about £315, AU$505) up until the very end.

What’s more, at this price point it’s competitive against the $549 (£539, AU$1,299) Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition.

After the launch of the Vega 64 in the US, AMD offered two other editions of the card that could be bought exclusively as part of ‘Radeon Packs’, which bundled two free games, and discounts on a Samsung CF791 curved ultra-wide FreeSync monitor and a nice $100 discount on a Ryzen 7 processor and motherboard. The packs are unfortunately unavailable to purchase at the time of writing, however.

Unfortunately, those hardware discounts only kicked in if users are buying the said monitor and CPU/motherboard combo at the same time as their Vega GPU. Of course, users could choose to not buy the extra components and peripherals while still getting the two free games, confirmed – in the US at least – to be Wolfenstein II and Prey.

The limited-edition AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 came as part of a Radeon Black Pack for $599 (£460, AU$750). Meanwhile, the liquid-cooled Vega 64 ran for $699 (£530, AU$875), and can only be purchased as part of AMD’s Radeon Aqua Pack.

Lastly, you’ll be able to purchase the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 by itself for $400 (about £284, AU$500) MSRP.

At the end of the day, Vega was – at least at launch – as competitive to Nvidia as Ryzen is to Intel. Thankfully, due to the cryptocurrency market cooling down, AMD Vega cards have fallen to a reasonable price. They’re not quite down to MSRP, but they’re pretty close – you won’t have to worry about spending 2-3x MSRP value to upgrade your GPU.

AMD Radeon RX Vega specs

Following its 2017 Capsaicin 2 Livestream event, AMD revealed the exact specifications for its two new Vega GPUs, as well as its underlying Vega 10 architecture.

From the chart above, it’s clear the most powerful of the bunch will be the liquid-cooled version of the Radeon RX Vega 64. The more expensive water-cooled version will operate at higher base/boost clocks, despite sharing identical specs to its air-cooled twin.

The RX Vega 56, on the other hand, is positioned against Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 at $400 (about £305, AU$505). However, early benchmarks have cited performance that greatly outweighed that of its closest competition while running triple-A games at 2560 x 1440.

Like the Polaris 10 architecture that preceded it, AMD’s Polaris 10 architecture is built on a 14nm FinFET process that should ultimately make it more power-efficient and robust in performance.

Vega 10 is also noticeably skewed towards delivering on more compute power than raw graphical strength like Nvidia’s Pascal GPUs. This will likely mean Vega will be able to better handle the complex calculations of procedural surfaces, volumetric lighting and the overall quality of the in-game graphics. This era of Vega GPUs also ditches GDDR5 memory altogether for a new format known as HBM2, or high-bandwidth memory. AMD believes its efficient memory offers a 75% smaller footprint than GDDR5 while also being 3.5 times more power-efficient.

AMD also claims that Vega’s high-bandwidth cache controller will improve maximum frame rates by 50% and minimum frame rates by 100% over GDDR5 memory. Interestingly, Vega 10 is also designed to support up to 16GB of HBM2 memory  – which we’ve already seen from Radeon Vega Frontier Edition – so Nvidia’s Titan X may finally get some competition from AMD.

Stay tuned for more details regarding everything AMD Vega, as we’ll be updating this page with the latest as it happens. In the meantime, be sure to update to the latest version of AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive for a generous helping of GPU control features.

 

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