Category Archives: New Gadgets

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review: Meet the child of Intel and AMD's unholy union

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This new Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is the first convertible in the XPS 15 line, but that’s not the most interesting thing about it.

Since 2010, Dell’s XPS 15 has been a reliable, 15-inch performance workhorse and a light gaming option for users who aren’t impressed by the over-the-top designs of dedicated gaming laptops. Last year’s model, for example, impressed with strong performance from the discrete GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. But discrete GPUs have many downsides. They take up space, use lots of energy, and generate a lot of heat, which impacts both portability and battery life.

Intel has tried to provide an alternative with its integrated GPUs. For most use cases, they’ve been a runaway success. But gamers, certain creative professionals, and others who need strong video performance are often still willing to go with the discrete GPU.

And that’s where we get to what’s most interesting about the product we’re reviewing today: Kaby Lake-G, which combines an Intel CPU with an AMD graphics chip in an unlikely collaboration. It’s still essentially a discrete GPU, but lumping those parts together this way has advantages.

Kaby Lake-G promises graphics performance on par with that of mid-range or better discrete GPUs while using significantly less space and generating less heat. Plus, it’s just interesting to see AMD and Intel producing a product like this together. And since many aspects of this machine are identical to the standard Dell XPS 15 laptop, our testing largely focused on Kaby Lake-G (as well as the new, slightly slimmer, 2-in-1 form factor).


As with other Dell laptops, there are numerous possible configurations for this XPS 15. We’ll start with the specific configuration we’re reviewing, then go over the other options.

Specs at a glance: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080) InfinityEdge touchscreen 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840×2160) Infinity Edge touchscreen 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840×2160) Infinity Edge touchscreen
OS Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i5-8305G Intel Core i7-8705G Intel Core i7-8705G
RAM 8GB DDR4-2400MHz 8GB DDR4-2400MHz 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
HDD 128GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD
GPU Radeon RX Vega M GL 4GB HMB2 and Intel UHD 630
Networking Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Ports Two Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort (four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3);
Two USB-C 3.1 with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort;
3.5mm headphone jack
Size 113.9×9.2×0.63 in (354×235×16mm)
Weight 4.36 pounds
Battery 6-cell 75WHr
Warranty 1 year
Price $1,299 $2,199 $2,199
Other perks IR front-facing camera, fingerprint sensor on power button, four mics, stylus pen (included in box)

The CPU and GPU

Let’s start with that Kaby Lake-G processor. The top configuration of this Dell laptop ships with the 14nm Intel Core i7-8705G, a quad-core, eight-thread processor derived from the Kaby Lake architecture. Critical specs include a 65W TDP and an 8MB L3 cache. Cores operate at a base frequency of 3.1Ghz (4.1Ghz max). The same chip can be found in the Kaby Lake-G version of the HP Spectre x360 15, a direct competitor.

That’s all well and good, but the differentiator is graphics. Like similar Intel chips, it has an integrated GPU—the Intel UHD Graphics 630, to be specific. But this is positioned as a “hybrid” chip, which means that it also comes with a Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU right there next to it, with 4GB HBM video memory to boot.

The AMD GPU has a base frequency of 931MHz and a maximum dynamic frequency of 1011MHz. We’re also looking at 20 compute units and a memory bandwidth of 179.2GB/s. Both GPUs are always active, so it’s not exactly a standard switching situation, but each is used for different kinds of tasks in some situations. Software that’s pre-installed on the machine lets you define which apps use which GPU at any given time.

This is a fascinating experiment, and we’ll get into exactly what works—and doesn’t work—about it shortly. First, though: the other key specs.

Everything else

Thanks to that new chip, the 2-in-1 is a little slimmer and lighter than what we’ve seen on previous XPS 15 models. Our unit measures at 13.9×9.2×0.63 inches (354×235×16mm). Weight for the top spec starts at 4.36 pounds. In other words, it’s a little smaller in some places, but it’s in the same general ballpark as its sibling.

This machine ships with either a 1080p (1920×1080) or a 4K (3840×2160) display, both 15.6 inches and touch-sensitive. It’s not significantly different from what we’ve seen in other XPS 15 machines, but it’s still one of the best displays available on a mainstream laptop.

Color accuracy is good with 100-percent Adobe RGB, but it’s no match for the MacBook Pro in that regard. Only creative professionals in certain fields like video and photo editing would notice the difference, for the most part. On the other hand, the contrast ratio is 1500:1, which beats out most competitors. It’s no OLED TV, of course, but it’s hard not to be impressed in the context of other laptops.

Dell promises 400 nits of maximum brightness, and our tests found that to be accurate. Situated below the display is a 720p webcam, which is also Windows Hello-compliant with infrared. There are four built-in microphones, and Dell claims that you can speak to the device from up to 14 feet away.

Our review unit included 16GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, 256GB of storage in the form of a M.2 2280 PCIe SSD, stereo speakers, a Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 network adapter for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a 75WHr battery.

Ports include two Thunderbolt 3 ports with four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 as well as DisplayPort, DC-In, and Powershare, plus two USB-C 3.1 ports. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and a Noble lock slot.

Yes, that’s right, there’s no USB Type A port to be found. It’s looking like we need to get used to that in these sorts of laptops, but that would be a lot easier if peripheral companies would actually make peripherals that use USB-C. There still aren’t enough out there, so dongles, hubs, or adapters are going to be part of your day to day with this machine.

Other available configurations

All default configurations ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit. The machine starts at $1,299.99. For that, you get the Intel Core i5 i5-8305G with a 6M cache instead of the faster i7-8705G with 8M cache found in our test unit, just 8GB of RAM instead of 16GB, and a 128GB SSD instead of 256GB. It also ships with the 1080p display instead of 4K.

Going up $200 to $1,499.99 takes you up to 256 GB of flash storage, but the other specs remain the same. Add another $200 to reach $1,699.99 and you get the i7-8705G, but you’re still at FullHD and 8GB of RAM.

The top-end configuration is our test unit at $2,199.99, with all of the above but with the 4K panel and 16GB of RAM. The top-end configuration can also ship in black as well as silver, while all the other configurations just ship in silver.

Listing image by Samuel Axon

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PUBG update: Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on Xbox finally gets new map as well as performance upgrades

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Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has finally received a new map, as part of one of its biggest updates for the Xbox ever.

PUBG is one of the biggest games in the world, and in many ways established the battle royale genre that is now seen in games from Fortnite to the new Call of Duty. But it has been left behind in recent months, amid a slew of updates to its main competitor.

Now developers have finally announced that PUBG players on Xbox will at least get a new map, known as Miramar. It is desert-themed and will appear in the game in addition to the original map, Erangel, which had a Soviet theme.

Until now, Erangel was the only map that Xbox players could actually use.

Developers said they had created the new map to be a “vastly different Battle Royale experience”. It will require gamers to play very differently, it said, and will prioritise other kinds of skills from the original map.

It also has new guns and new vehicles. They include a pick-up truck.

The game will also now include emotes, another feature that has been present for some time in Fortnite. They can be selected by pressing LB and RB at the same time, which will bring up a devoted menu.

As well as the new content, developers Bluehole said that the performance of the game has been vastly improved. At times, the rendering of objects in the game has been so slow that it isn’t possible to play it – for some people, especially on older consoles, whole buildings will be off limits because they have not been rendered yet – but that has been sped up and fixed, they said.

The update – which will automatically download if you try to open the game – is 9.6GB, meaning that it could take some time to actually arrive.

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Memorial Day 2018: the best tech sales to shop this weekend

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Hopefully you’re spending the long weekend enjoying warm weather, but if you’re also in the market for some new gadgets, you may want to block off a few hours to check out all of the tech deals happening this weekend. It’s no Black Friday, but the internet’s next big sale event won’t be until Amazon Prime Day, which takes place in July (probably).

Many retailers have already started discounting some of our favorite tech, from TVs to laptops to headphones. We’ll be updating this post as new deals drop, so be sure to check back all weekend for the most up-to-date deals.


It’s not a Memorial Day deal, but when Amazon discounts its Kindle e-readers, it’s worth calling out. Today only, (Wednesday, May 23rd) you can pick up a standard Kindle for $49.99 (usually $79.99) and the popular Kindle Paperwhite for $89.99 (usually $119.99). Amazon runs deals on its devices pretty frequently, but this is the lowest Kindles have been since Black Friday.

Best Buy

The big-box retailer is running several great Memorial Day deals, including the Apple sale we highlighted last week and discounts on major appliances, but the most exciting are the discounts on 4K TVs. Models from budget TCL smart TVs to high-end Samsung QLED TVs are marked down for the long weekend. Our favorite picks from Best Buy’s TV and Home Theater sale are listed below.

Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo

PC manufacturers are discounting some of our favorite laptops and desktop PCs from high-end gaming rigs to affordable 2-in-1 business laptops. Particularly noteworthy is Microsoft’s sale on the Surface Laptop. (The Microsoft landing page includes a quote from Dan Siefert’s review.) The Verge also loved the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is on sale at Lenovo’s website. Dell is offering 10 percent off its already discounted XPS series of PCs with code XPSMEM10. Here are your best bets from this weekend’s PC sales.


Massdrop isn’t running any Memorial Day sales, but a few of the deals we called out last week have a limited quantity still available. The B78 OLED TV from LG is on sale for $1,299.99 ($1,499.99 at LG) through the end of the day today, Wednesday, May 23rd. The $199.99 Massdrop-exclusive Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones are available through Friday, June 1st. They’re basically identical to Sennheiser’s HD 650 headphones, which The Verge called “the perfect headphones,” only $200 cheaper.


eBay has been running 15 and 20 percent off coupons all spring so the early Memorial Day deal it’s offering right now — 15 percent off select home and tech products with code PMEMDAY— isn’t very exciting. The best deal is on the DJI Phantom 4 Advanced for $1,019.15. Check back this weekend, though, when the serious discounts on tech products are slated to begin.

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3 sweet deals on kitchen gadgets

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Many chefs swear by sous-vide cooking. Here’s your chance to, er, dip a toe in for just $60.

My Sous Vide

The following awful jokes are best served if you imagine Austin Powers saying them…

You’re probably wondering what I’ve cooked up for you today. Don’t worry, these aren’t some half-baked deals. You might say I was probing to find some cool kitchen items. Sous vide or not sous vide, that is the question.

I’ll show myself out.

Today, just by coincidence, I happened upon three cooking-related deals, so I thought I’d bundle ’em up for you. Let’s start with the immersion cooker, something I’ve never tried myself but I know has lots of fans.

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How to cook the perfect restaurant steak at home


For a limited time, and while supplies last, Woot has the My Sous Vide My-101 immersion cooker for $59.99, shipped free for Prime subscribers (and for $5 for everyone else). It lists for over $100 and sells for $86 on Amazon proper. Speaking of which, poke around there and you’ll see that most sous-vide cookers sell for $100 or more.

As noted, I know fairly little about these gadgets, but the upshot is you hang ’em on a pot of water, they heat and circulate the water at a very consistent temperature, then you put food in. A lot of folks think they’re a game-changer in the kitchen. This one has a touchscreen LED interface and 4-star average rating.

Next up: Temperature is also crucial when you’re cooking meats and other items. But do you really want to stand there watching a thermometer? Of course not: You want to kick back on the couch until the food is done.


Monitor two temperatures simultaneously with this dual-probe Bluetooth thermometer.


Solve that problem with this Comfyer BTH02 Wireless Meat Thermometer with dual probes for $45.99. That’s after applying promo code CHEPSKT2 at checkout. Regular price: $60.

The base station features a large, backlit LCD and it’s magnetic for easy affixing to range hoods and the like. You can use the companion app to set the desired temperature, and it’ll notify you when the food hits it.

You could also use this with things like milk and bath water to make sure nothing’s too hot for little ones.

Finally, if all you need is a simple instant-read thermometer, try the Comfyer KTH07 two-in-one for $12.99 with promo code CHEPSKT7. It’s normally $16.99.

At first glance, this looks like a fairly normal digital thermometer, albeit one with an extra large probe (6.5 inches). But it also comes with a stainless-steel wire-whisk attachment, handy if you need a constant temperature read while stirring, say, candy.

The latter two products are sold by Vantrue, by the way, so if you land at Amazon and see a different seller, the codes won’t work. That seems to happen sometimes; not sure why. I promise the links are accurate when I post them.

Your thoughts?



Bonus deal: Need a little extra storage for your Android device? If it lacks a microSD slot, consider a Micro-USB external drive.

Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 (32GB) for just $8.03 shipped (with promo code MemorialDaySD). It normally runs $20.

The tiny drive features a USB 3.0 connector at one end and a Micro-USB at the other. The latter is designed for any Android device that supports USB OTG.

These are new, by the way, and come with a five-year warranty. Just not sure how long they’ll last at this price.

Bonus deal 2: Looking for an e-book reader? Amazon has knocked $30 off the entry-level Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite.

CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!

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