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Best budget computer speakers: $100 or less

You take all this care collecting gigs of your favorite music and movies, and then play it all through your laptop’s built-in speakers. Even the best ones can leave your audio sounding thin and lifeless. External PC speakers—along with a good set of headphones—are a must for getting the best fidelity from your media files.

A trip online or to your favorite electronics store will reveal a head-spinning variety of options to choose from, with some systems costing as much or more than you paid for your laptop. Luckily, you don’t need to take out a personal loan to upgrade your audio. Quality speakers can be found for even less than $100. And while there can be a degree of “you get what you pay for” at this price level, you can find satisfying sound on a budget if you’re willing to make a few compromises.

To help you cut through some of the clutter, we’ve tested many of the commonly available budget models. All cost under $100, sometimes significantly so. We set up each in a typical environment—on a desk in a home office—and played a variety of audio tracks to push their sound capabilities. We also offer some buying advice below to help you choose the right model for your needs.  Scroll to the bottom of this article to see all of our budget speaker reviews.

Best computer speakers under $100

Creative Pebble

Best overall budget speakers

We wouldn’t have thought a set of $20 speakers would impress us much, let alone turn out to be our favorites. But Creative Pebble’s simple USB-powered 2.0 system defies all odds, producing richer, more immersive audio than you commonly find in speakers at twice the price.

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Space-saving design

Cons:

  • No Bluetooth connectivity for mobile devices

 

 

Edifier R19U 2.0 USB Computer Speakers

Runner up

We love the Edifier R19U. This 2.0 system sports rich mids, crisp highs, and deep, controlled bass. The faux-wood enclosures also give them a slightly vintage vibe that stands out from the matte-plastic pack. A great value at just $30 on Amazon. 

Pros:

  • Rich, balanced sound
  • Stylish faux-wood design
  • Requires a single USB connection for power and audio output

Cons:

  • Light on bass and volume ouput

Sound BlasterX Kratos S3

Best budget 2.1 system

Though the Sound BlasterX Kratos S3 is marketed for gaming, we like the warm, natural sound and beefy bass it brought to of all our media. At just $80 it’s an inexpensive entry point into 2.1 speaker systems.

Pros:

  • Wooden construction enables natural, warm sound
  • Small footprint
  • Deep, rich bass

Cons:

  • No extra audio inputs for mobile devices

 

How to shop for PC speakers

2.0 speakers vs. 2.1 speakers

Sure, a 5.1 (five speakers, one subwoofer) multi-channel speaker system sounds pretty sexy. But even if you were to unearth one for $50 or $60, the quality would almost certainly be just as cheap. That money can buy a much better quality two-speaker system. These basic 2.0 stereo setups, which are comprised of just a left and right speaker with a single driver (the actual loudspeaker) in each, abound in this price range. Occasionally you can also find a decent 2.1 system for—a pair of speakers to handle the higher frequencies and separate subwoofer for the bass—for not much more. These take up more space but often produce more balanced sound. More on that next.

Sound quality: Ask your ears, not the spec sheet

Try not to be seduced by manufacturer’s specs on sound quality. Even if you can parse frequency response numbers, they are frequently exaggerated. Let your ears be your guide instead. Listen for a good balance between the high (treble), mid, and low (bass) frequencies. Often, speakers will exaggerate one—usually the treble or the bass—at the expense of the others. Good speakers will produce full, detailed audio that sounds as the creator intended it.

Be aware, though, that finding strong bass response in this price range can be challenging. Without a subwoofer, 2.0 systems have trouble reproducing low frequencies. The manufacturers often use technological tweaks to beef up the bass notes, but these can sound boomy, and muddy the overall mix. If a deep, controlled bottom end is a priority, a 2.1 system might be a better investment.

AC power vs. USB: The tradeoffs

Both these options are prevalent in the sub-$100 price range. USB-powered speakers reduce cord clutter, as they don’t need a separate power cable. However, they can’t supply as much juice as the AC variety, so they tend to produce lower volume and less bass.

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Ultra-portable Galaxy Book Go laptops weave seamlessly into Samsung’s galaxy of devices

If you don’t like living in the multi-device ecosystem of Apple and Google, try the hybrid approach with Samsung’s “galaxy.” The electronics maker unveiled two new additions to its Galaxy Book lineup late Wednesday night. The Galaxy Book Go and Galaxy Book Go 5G are long-lasting, highly portable Arm-based Windows laptops intended to seamlessly work alongside Samsung’s Galaxy tablets, earbuds, and, of course, phones.

But first, the specs. The Galaxy Book Go comes with a 14-inch 1080p display and Qualcomm’s recently unveiled ARM-based Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform. This revised version of the Snapdragon 7c includes a Kryo 468 CPU with a 2.55GHz clock speed. Meanwhile, a 5G version of the Galaxy Book Go will use the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G Compute Platform that was announced in September.

Samsung says Galaxy Book Go pricing will start at $349 for a laptop with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. The basic Wi-Fi model will start rolling out on Thursday, June 10 in the U.S., with the 5G model to follow sometime in the second half of 2021. There will also be models with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. 

Samsung

The laptops have two USB-C ports, but didn’t say which generation of USB powers them. There will also be a single USB 2.0 slot and a microSD slot, and the 5G version will (of course) have a slot for a nano SIM. Samsung says you can expect to have about 18 hours of battery life, and if the included storage isn’t enough there’s also a microSD slot.

As for wireless connectivity, the Wi-Fi models won’t support Wi-Fi 6, sticking with 802.11ac instead, as well as Bluetooth 5.1. The 5G models will support Wi-Fi 6.

The Galaxy Book Go doesn’t have an HDMI port, but based on the images it appears one of the USB-C ports supports external displays. We’ve asked Samsung for confirmation, but the company hadn’t responded by press time.

These are nice looking laptops that are meant to function as portable devices when you need something for travel, or for those who don’t need much storage or a beefy desktop computer. With specs like these, the Galaxy Book Go would probably be better for people who mainly use web apps, but who want some onboard storage and access to Windows 10 software for local work—though in our testing Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon chips still have compatibility issues with some programs that favor the tradition x86-based CPU architecture used by Intel and AMD. 

Embracing Samsung’s galaxy of devices

Samsung is also leaning hard into the Galaxy Book Go being just one part of a connected device ecosystem where all devices work together. The company’s been pushing for that vision for a while, but it’s received some recent boosts.

Samsung

Microsoft and Samsung upped the capabilities of the Your Phone app, for example, making it possible to run Android apps from supported Microsoft and Samsung phones. The electronics maker also hopes you’ll pick-up a Galaxy Tab S7 or S7 Plus to extend your Galaxy Book Go to a second screen. It’s also making it easier to pair Galaxy-branded earbuds, as well as access your various SmartThings devices. Not to mention you can also get Samsung TV Plus access right from your uber-portable laptop.

[ Further reading: How to use Windows’ Your Phone app to connect your phone to your PC ]

If you’re already a Samsung fan then the Galaxy Book Go may be the perfect addition to your personal device lineup. Otherwise, it’s just another nice, portable, long-lasting laptop hinting at deeper integration if you ever go full Samsung.

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Qualcomm targets low-cost PCs with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 CPU

Qualcomm’s lower-end Snapdragon 7c chips carved out a space for Chromebooks and other value devices that aimed for long battery life and consistent connectivity. Now Qualcomm is announcing an upgraded Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip aimed at powering the low-end $350 Chromebooks and PCs that flood Amazon’s “most popular” list.

Comparing 2019’s Snapdragon 7c and the new Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, the main difference is in clock speed: the Snapdragon 7c used a Kryo 468 CPU running at up to 2.4 GHz, which the new chip uses an identical Kryo 468, yet running 6 percent faster at 2.55GHz. It appears every other feature on the two different chips remains identical. The latest chip also uses the same X15 4G LTE modem as the 7c Gen 1.

What else has changed is the competitive landscape for low-end PCs and Chromebooks, which the original 7c seemed headed for. Intel’s Celeron N4020 processor and Pentium Gold N5030 are now viable solutions for low-end PCs and Chromebooks, as is the Mediatek 8183. You probably won’t look for any of these on a spec sheet, but you will notice how peppy the resulting performance is. What Qualcomm can’t really quantify is the battery life since that’s dependent on the hardware manufacturer.

Qualcomm

The Snapdragon 7c Gen 2’s feature set remains largely unchanged.

One hardware maker that will use the Snapdragon 7c will be Lenovo, which has often built laptops like the Lenovo Flex 5G around Snapdragon processors like the Snapdragon 8cx. Qualcomm executives said they expect the first Snapdragon 7c devices in summer, without specifically identifying Lenovo.

“We look forward to launching new Lenovo devices with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 compute platform later this year,” Emily Ketchen, chief marketing officer of Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, said in a statement. 

Qualcomm declined to publish actual performance numbers backing the Snapdragon 7c. Instead, it published relative comparisons against its competition from Intel and Mediatek across a variety of benchmarks. However, we’ve already completed early testing on the HP Elite Folio, which uses the faster Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chip, the premium offering in Qualcomm’s lineup. We also performed hands-on testing with the original Snapdragon 7c, and it felt quick enough.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s performance estimates are disappointingly vague.

Meet the Snapdragon NUC

Two other key things have changed since Qualcomm released the original Snapdragon 7c. First, Microsoft now allows users to run 64-bit apps via emulation and via the Windows Insider program, allowing the vast ecosystem of Windows apps to finally run unimpressively on top of Snapdragon hardware. (The capability has not yet been pushed to the mainstream release build of Windows 10, however.) Second, more apps now have versions specifically coded for Windows on Arm.

To kickstart development even further, Qualcomm and Microsoft said this week that they’ve co-engineered a low-cost development platform consisting of a NUC-like box with a Snapdragon processor inside of it. The Snapdragon Developer Kit will be commercially available at The Microsoft Store this summer, the two companies said. The price and configuration weren’t immediately available.

Qualcomm

Microsoft and Qualcomm have co-developed a Snapdragon development it, which developers will be able to purchase from the Microsoft Store this summer.

The development work has also paid off in another area as well. This summer, Zoom will be available in a native version coded for Windows on Arm that can run on Snapdragon. In a demo video, Qualcomm said that the added efficiency would allow a Snapdragon test notebook to run for up to almost eight hours while continually running Zoom. That’s up to 12 percent more than the un-optimized version, the company said. 

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Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review: A beautiful thin-and-light PC

Even in an era of progressively lighter notebooks, larger thin-and-light laptop options like the 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 are relatively rare. Sure, you might buy it because it simply won’t break your back. But a stunning multimedia experience and shocking all-day battery life demand additional praise.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 lends credence to Intel’s Evo program, from which this laptop graduated. Thin-and-light laptop keyboards can be iffy, though, and this laptop suffers accordingly. Samsung also loads up the Book Pro 360 with apps for just about everything. Nevertheless, we’ve awarded this laptop our Editor’s Choice award. Read on for why.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 basic features

Samsung offers the Galaxy Book Pro 360 in either a 13.3-inch or a 15.6-inch configuration. Prices start at $1,199 (the minimal 13-inch spec: Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD) and $1,299 for the cheapest 15-inch configuration with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It’s worth highlighting that our review unit and price includes a 1TB SSD, a luxury in an era of 256GB and 512GB notebooks.

Note that all of the Galaxy Book Pro 360 models ship with a Samsung S Pen in the box, which would normally cost about $32 on Amazon. At press time, Samsung.comRemove non-product link was the only source for the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Mark Hachman / IDG

If those prices are still too expensive, consider the similar Samsung Galaxy Book ProRemove non-product link, a traditional clamshell with a few differences: the lack of an included S Pen, for example, as well as a non-touch display. The Book Pro also includes a USB Type A port. Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 we’re reviewing requires purchasing one of our recommended USB-C hubs to connect to devices with a USB-A connector. 

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Display: 13.3-inch or 15.5-inch (as tested): 1920×1080 (AMOLED, touch)
  • Memory: 8GB/16GB LPDDR4x (16GB as tested)
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD (as tested)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • Ports: 1 USB-C (Thunderbolt 4); 2 USB-C, microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Security: Fingerprint reader
  • Camera: 720p (user-facing)
  • Battery: 67.0Wh (design), 68.0Wh (reported)
  • Wireless: WiFi 6E Gig+ (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions: 13.97 x 8.98 x 0.47in.
  • Weight: 3.02lb, 3.38lb with charger (as weighed)
  • Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Navy (as tested)
  • Prices:  $1,499 as testedRemove non-product link (Samsung.com); otherwise $1,199 and up

Construction: The thin and light lifestyle

Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 proudly proclaims itself a member of Intel’s flagship Evo lineup via a small sticker on its keyboard deck, and it deserves it. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is a beautiful piece of engineering, very much in the mold of the Surface Laptop: all cool, glossy metal and minimalist ports. We received our review unit in the Mystic Navy color scheme, and the blue hue is virtually indistinguishable from black in most lighting. 

It’s also the first laptop in a very long while that’s persuaded me to care about how thin it is, especially when folded back flat. Remember, this is a 360-degree convertible, which can be reclined all the way back into tablet mode. The Book Pro 360’s hinge holds the display true even when almost fully reclined, though it oscillates back and forth before settling in.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, in tent mode.

Less obvious but equally profound is the weight—this is a notebook that you can easily pick up by a corner and set it down somewhere else. Samsung used aluminum to construct the Galaxy Book Pro 360, but it felt absolutely stable with no give in the keyboard or to the chassis. While you can theoretically open the laptop with a single finger, its light weight and the slick, stubby feet beneath it nearly caused me to push it off my test stand when I tried.

As many notebooks do, the Samsung Galaxy Pro 360 pulls cool air from the bottom of the notebook and vents it out the back through a grille hidden within the hinge. Samsung shipped the notebook set to the middle “better performance” tier in the Windows power/performance slider. Under load, the fan noise increases to a moderate but not annoying hiss, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the fan turned off, about fifteen seconds after exiting out of a computationally intensive application.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Laid flat, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 virtually disappears. The right side of the chassis includes a standard USB-C port and a microSD card slot.

Samsung’s thin, light aesthetic extends to its port choices, which include a pair of USB-C ports and a third USB-C port that includes Thunderbolt 4 capabilities. Which one is which? Good luck trying to tell. There’s a virtually indistinguishable “lightning bolt” logo that signals that the front left USB-C port is Thunderbolt enabled, and a blue LED next to it. Otherwise, you’ll be left trying to figure which port is which.

We’d recommend connecting the 65W cellular-style charger to one of the other USB-C ports and dedicating the Thunderbolt port to one of our recommended Thunderbolt docks instead. Alternatively, you can buy a cheaper, slower USB-C hub to connect to older devices that use a USB Type A connector. Samsung also includes a microSD card slot on the Galaxy Book Pro 360, allowing you to “sneakernet” a microSD card from a Samsung Galaxy Phone if you don’t want to use one of the installed wireless apps like Galaxy Share that comes preinstalled on the notebook.

Mark Hachman / IDG

That LED to the right is really your best indicator of which USB-C port is Thunderbolt-enabled (the right) and which is a standard USB-C port (the left).

Display and audio: beautiful for both content creation and Netflix

Samsung has a well-deserved reputation for its dramatic OLED screens on its TVs, tablets and phones, and its Super AMOLED display (an OLED screen with an active matrix and touchscreen on top of it) certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you’re a content creator, you can be assured that Samsung is nearly perfect satisfying the various color gamuts. In part, that’s because Samsung offers several color options. There’s a general “AMOLED” color profile, but also separate display profiles within the Windows 10 Settings menu, each tuned to either the AdobeRGB, P3, and sRGB color space.

By default, the general AMOLED profile covers 100 percent of sRGB, 98 percent of AdobeRGB, and 99% of P3. Unfortunately, the “AdobeRGB” profile didn’t really increase the AdobeRGB coverage—it remained unchanged at 98 percent. The P3 profile produced 100 percent of sRGB coverage, 91 percent of AdobeRGB, and covered 99 percent of the P3 color gamut. Enabling the sRGB profile covered the sRGB color space by 100 percent as well, but decreased AdobeRGB coverage to 77 percent and P3 coverage to 78 percent. All of these measurements were recorded by Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite colorimeter, which also measured the display’s luminosity at a maximum of 295 nits—far less than the rated 370 nits that Samsung claims. That’s still fine for working in even a well-lit room, however.

The extreme width of the display (measuring 19.5mm high by 34.5mm long, a roughly  1.77 display ratio) also calls into question Samsung’s choice of 1080p resolution rather than a 4K option. As you might imagine, video played back looks bright and vivid, but there’s a hint of graininess to it that might go away with a higher-resolution option. The screen is quite glossy, too, with reflections often creeping into your peripheral vision.

That’s objective criticism. Subjectively, you might wonder whether the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 might replace your television. You don’t really realize how deeply dark an OLED display can be until the black letterboxes surrounding a video are indistinguishable from the thin (about 5mm) black bezels that wrap around the corners of the screen. It’s truly revelatory, especially when the Book Pro 360’s audio is layered on top.

Samsung shipped the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a pair of 4-watt AKG-tuned speakers underneath, which sound all right by themselves. Of course, the flat laptop speakers can only do so much—there’s no way to manufacture the bass you’ll receive from a large, physical speaker. But there’s a Dolby Access app hidden within the Start menu, which is off by default. Enable it, flip the Book Pro 360 back into tent mode, and enjoy a superb entertainment experience. 

I have more mixed feelings about the Galaxy Book Pro 360’s fingerprint reader, which began as the worst I’ve ever used, by far. Normally, you simply touch the sensor several times to establish an “authorized” fingerprint. However, the notebook’s tiny “strip”-style fingerprint reader nestled in the upper right-hand-corner of the keyboard failed to recognize that my finger had actually touched it probably two out of every three times during the setup process. I gave up in disgust. However, near the tail end of the review, I decided to once again use Samsung’s Samsung Update utility to search out new drivers. Voila! A new fingerprint reader driver downloaded, and the reader worked flawlessly for the last days of our review.

Typing experience and webcam: the weak link

If there’s anything that should give you pause about the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, it’s the keyboard. A thin-and-light PC must inevitably make some sacrifices, and my is the Book Pro 360 thin, especially when unfolded flat along a desk or table. Samsung claims that its re-engineered keyboard includes a scissor mechanism that, combined with rubber keypad domes, provides a “satisfying” 1mm in key travel in near silence. Nope. One millimeter of key travel simply feels too shallow to be truly comfortable. But—I say this reluctantly, because I don’t want laptop makers to think we’re encouraging this—it wasn’t that bad, with more cushion than I expected.  Fortunately, keyboards are subjective experiences, and your fingers may be more welcoming.

Mark Hachman / IDG

You probably won’t love the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s keyboard, but it does have a spacious touchpad, a dedicated number pad, and the fingerprint reader in the upper right-hand corner that doubles as a power button.

Samsung provides keyboard controls for three levels of backlighting, though you also have the option of entering the built-in Samsung Settings app and manually adjusting the backlighting via a slider control.

There’s one aspect to the keyboard that partially redeems it: the presence of a narrow but otherwise full-featured number pad to the right side of the keyboard, thanks to the extended width of the 15-inch laptop. Number pads are not only excellent for data entry, but they also provide left-handers an alternative to the WASD key layout for games, too.

The dimensions of the keyboard also allow the Galaxy Book Pro 360 to sport a gargantuan precision touchpad that takes up much of the remaining space on the chassis, allowing your wrists to rest on either side.  Gestures worked well, and you’ll find plenty of clickable space. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s webcam doesn’t look that great, even with the available beauty options turned on.

Samsung includes a fairly generic 720p user-facing webcam on top of the display, with no privacy shutter. As you might expect from a 720p camera, your image will be somewhat soft, as opposed to a cheap but good standalone 1080p webcam. I honestly didn’t like the resulting image quality, though Samsung’s “beauty” options seemed to knock a few pounds off my pandemic pudge. On the other hand, 720p webcams are the norm for laptops, so the graininess probably won’t be called out. 

Samsung doesn’t include a cubby or holder for the S Pen that it includes in the Galaxy Book Pro 360 box. Instead, the pen can be magnetically attached to the top of the notebook, though that’s not really secure in the slightest. The stylus does exhibit a bit of lag while inking. It also includes a single button, which when double-clicked triggers a menu which launches a number of pen-enabled apps. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

Samsung has a utility for nearly everything

Fortunately, Samsung doesn’t particularly overload the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with numerous third-party “crapware” apps. Still, Samsung adds tons of its own Samsung- or Galaxy-branded apps—some of which, it should be said, are quite good.

Samsung reserves pride of place on the Windows taskbar for Amazon’s Alexa app, and adds a Quick Search and Quick Share app shortcut to the taskbar, too. Both of the latter apps reflect both of Samsung’s approaches to PC software: replace or enhance Windows’ own apps or functions, or tie the Galaxy Book Pro 360 to Samsung’s ecosystem of phones and tablets. Quick Search doesn’t do that much more than Windows’ own search bar. Quick Share is like the Windows Your Phone app. It will find nearby devices and share files, texts, and photos, provided both are signed into a Samsung account.

Here’s just some of the apps Samsung reserves for the Start menu. The Galaxy Book Smart Switch app, for porting over data from an earlier Galaxy PC; the PenUP drawing app; Samsung’s DeX app for connecting your Samsung phone to your PC; the Samsung TV Plus link to a TV-like collection of video streams; the Samsung Update service for updating drivers; and even the ability to control your Samsung SmartThings smart home via a dedicated app. Spotify also comes preloaded, as does Booking.com.

Mark Hachman / IDG

I couldn’t discern any tilt support for the included S Pen, and there was a bit of lag while inking. 

The only three must-open apps are Samsung Update, Samsung Settings, and Samsung Security. Samsung Settings provides granular controls you won’t find elsewhere, such as the ability to enable USB charging when your laptop is otherwise asleep, or to fine-grained control of the keyboard backlighting. 

Samsung Security combines four interesting features. One grants the ability to “obscure” your screen by making the current window semi-transparent and allowing a wandering eye to confuse it with other apps. Another provides the option to manually disable your webcam and mic via software; a third creates a “security cam” that snaps a photo of anyone who tries to log into your PC and fails. The fourth feature, “Privacy Folder,” creates a hidden folder that is kept hidden from Windows File Explorer and is locked with your PC’s password when discovered. It’s like OneDrive’s Personal Vault, but on your PC. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

Here’s what someone viewing your Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s “secret screen” will see: a mishmash of translucent windows. Here, the “active” window is Word, with a line of text.

Next page: Performance and final thoughts

What’s the best CPU for gaming? AMD and Intel picks for 2021

Buying a processor for a gaming rig isn’t as hard as it used to be. Now that Ryzen 5000-series and Intel’s 11th-gen Core CPUs come with more performance and cores than ever before, it’s hard to buy a stinker these days—especially because most games favor graphics firepower over CPU oomph. All that said, there are specific chips that stand out from the horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras.

Whether you’re on a budget or willing to pay for sheer face-melting speed, these are the best CPUs for gaming PCs that you can buy.

Editor’s note: We constantly updated this article as necessary. The latest iteration adds various tidbits to the news section below.

Latest gaming CPU news

  • CPUs are seeing some of the same shortages that have been plaguing graphics cards in recent months, leading to low availability and higher prices of many AMD Ryzen processors in particular—especially at the high end. Fortunately, supply is becoming more available for the Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X, and there’s hope on the horizon for the Ryzen 9 5900X too.
  • After a two-year drought, modern versions of AMD’s ultra-popular Ryzen APUs are on the horizon. The Ryzen 5000G series wields significantly faster Radeon graphics and up to twice as many Ryzen cores than before, but they’ll come to prebuilt systems first before launching in DIY retail form later this year. Our guide to everything you need to know about Ryzen 5000 can help you wrap your head around AMD’s APUs and CPUs alike.
  • Intel’s latest chips are here now, and while the 11th-gen “Rocket Lake” Core processors are still built on the ancient 14nm manufacturing process, the architecture itself is built from the company’s newer 10nm “Ice Lake” cores. It’s an interesting, perhaps desperate idea that yielded mixed results, as you can see in our Core i9-11900K review and suggestions below.
  • The performance-boosting PCIe Resizable BAR feature continues to become more widely available after debuting in the form of AMD’s Smart Access Memory. AMD introduced the feature with Ryzen 5000, but it has since spread to Intel’s newer Rocket Lake chips. BIOS updates are adding it to older processors and motherboards from both chipmakers, though you shouldn’t expect the feature (or any Ryzen 5000 support) to extend back to AMD’s older x370 motherboards.

The best gaming CPU for most people

Intel Core i5-11600K ($270 on Amazon)

Midrange CPUs are the sweet spot for PC gamers. In fact, if you don’t need the additional cores of pricier CPU options, this class of chip offers essentially the same gaming experience of processors that cost hundreds more. The bigger question is: Intel or AMD? The answer is complicated.

Intel

After a decade of Intel dominance, AMD came back with a vengeance in recent years. Its Ryzen 5 2600 and 3600 offerings conquered mainstream gaming. The company’s newer 6-core Ryzen 5 5600X delivers killer gaming speed for the class and solid productivity results. However, Intel’s solid Core i5-11600K earns our nod for two simple reasons: price and availability.

AMD raised prices by $50 over previous generations for the Ryzen 5 5600X thanks to its newfound gaming supremacy, then got hit by the same semiconductor shortages and logistics woes plaguing the GPU industry. Supply of the chip has been hit and miss since its November launch, though it’s finally starting to loosen up. When you can find it at retailers, it’s usually going for $350 (or more!) rather than its $300 MSRP.

Enter Intel’s $270 Core i5-11600K. Launched in late March, it offers the same 6 cores and 12 threads as the Ryzen 5 5600X and top-notch gaming performance, per reviews from TechPowerUp, Tom’s Hardware, and PC Gamer. It doesn’t win every battle—the Ryzen chip comes out slightly ahead on average in TechSpot’s gaming tests—and Intel’s aging 14nm process makes the 11600K less power-efficient than AMD’s 7nm 5600X. Still, the chips offer effectively similar experiences, especially at the higher visual settings and resolutions that most PC gamers play at. They’re both excellent.

Gordon Mah Ung

A motherboard with an LGA1200 socket is required to run a 10th- or 11th-gen Intel Core CPU.

We’d give the AMD chip the nod in a world where parts flowed freely, but the Core i5-11600K’s $80-plus price advantage gets our recommendation in today’s market. Note that you’ll need to buy a cooler for it, however, while AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X comes with one bundled. You may want to factor that into your buying decision if you aren’t dead-set on outfitting your chip with a nice third-party cooler.

If you don’t mind giving up PCIe 4.0 support and a wee bit of potential speed, give last generation’s Core i5-10600K a long, hard look. It’s another 6-core, 12-thread, highly clocked gaming chip, and currently you can find it going for just $230 on Amazon and other retailers. That’s a great price for a good chip, especially if you plan on playing at 1440p or 4K resolutions, where games become more GPU-bound than CPU-bound.

The best high-end gaming CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X ($550 on Amazon or NeweggRemove non-product link)

To repeat: Modern Core i5 and Ryzen 5 chips with six cores deliver nearly the same levels of gaming performance as pricier processors. You only need to step up to a high-end gaming CPU if you need more cores for productivity tasks, want eight cores for streaming or future-proofing against console hardware configurations, or simply demand the absolute fastest potential frame rates in any situation.

Gordon Mah Ung

If you’re in the market for a high-end gaming processor, the Ryzen 9 5900X ($550 on Amazon or NeweggRemove non-product link) is the best option available. It offers no-compromises gaming performance on a par with Intel’s new 8-core Core i9-11900K flagship, but significantly more productivity performance thanks to the Ryzen chip’s 12 cores and 24 threads. This can handle anything you throw at it, and then some—that’s why we called it “the best consumer CPU we’ve ever seen” in our review.

The step-up $750 Ryzen 9 5950X offers even more performance, thanks to its whopping 16 cores. That’s overkill for most people, though, and its gaming performance isn’t fundamentally faster than the 5900X’s.

Intel’s Core i9-11900K costs $550, so it’s priced the same as AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X, though we’re seeing it going for roughly $615 on the streetsRemove non-product link in Rocket Lake’s early days of availability. It’s very power-hungry and not appreciably faster than AMD’s chip. It also lags far behind in productivity tasks, as the Core i9-11900K comes with only 8 cores and 16 threads. In fact, Intel’s chip performs more comparably with the 8-core Ryzen 7 5800X, which carries a $450 retail price.

Gordon Mah Ung

Intel’s Core i9-11900K.

We can’t recommend Intel’s 11th-gen Core i7 or Core i9 chips given those facts, even though they’re great gaming CPUs in a vacuum. The high-end Ryzen CPUs have been subject to even more extreme pricing volatility than the midrange 5600X, and the Ryzen 9 chips often sell for hundreds of dollars more in the real world. If Intel is able to keep 11th-gen chips in stock and AMD can’t step up, that will make the 11900K more appealing. As we said, though, it’s more comparable with the Ryzen 7 5800X, and availability of that chip at MSRP is much more reliable. Go with AMD if you can.

You  might consider Intel’s older 10th-gen Core processors, if you don’t mind giving up PCIe 4.0 support or Rocket Lake’s vastly improved integrated graphics. The 11900K is more of a side-grade or even a downgrade to its predecessor, offering two fewer cores and only slightly faster gaming performance than the last-gen 10900K. The former flagship is hard to come by now, but the step-down Core i9-10850K remains widely available, with 10 cores and just 100MHz lower top speeds than the 10900K.

Better yet, you can buy one for just $380—meaning it offers more cores for less money than either AMD or Intel’s current 8-core offerings. The 10850K is a screaming value while it lasts, and we’ve seen it as low as $330 if you don’t mind heading into your local Micro Center.

The best budget gaming CPU

Intel Core i5-10400F ($152 on Amazon)

Intel

Usually, we recommend AMD’s Ryzen APUs (like the Ryzen 3 3200G) for budget builders. These chips costs between $100 and $150 and come with integrated Radeon graphics that let you get game without a graphics card if you don’t mind dialing back your visual quality or resolution. Unfortunately, AMD hasn’t released a new APU since the 3200G’s introduction in mid-2019—though new Ryzen 5000G chips will arrive later this year—and that chip has all but disappeared in today’s weird world of silicon shortages.

If you’re a gamer on a tight budget and already have a graphics card, consider Intel’s last-gen Core i5-10400F first. This 6-core, 12-thread chip costs only $152 now and comes with a cooler in the box. It offers the same thread count as rival Ryzen 3000 options and similar-to-better gaming performance, per TechSpot and TechPowerUp reviews, though it lags the K-class Core i5 chips by double-digit percentages in CPU-bound games. The newer processors in our “Best gaming CPU for most people” section also smoke it, though if you’re playing with higher visual settings, you’ll feel it less—especially at higher resolutions.

The “F” denominator in “Core i5-10400F” means it lacks an integrated GPU, however, so a graphics card is necessary. If you want to game without a graphics card, consider the new Intel Core i5-11400. The Core i5-11400 includes Intel’s vastly improved Xe integrated graphics (which can actually game with compromises!) and Rocket Lake’s various other improvements (like PCIe 4.0 support) for $184Remove non-product link

Gamers Nexus reviewed the Core i5-11400 and says it’s a good, affordable part for people who have no plans to overclock and don’t mind losing a few percentage points in gaming performance in exchange for a much lower price. The 11600K is a better option if you do content creation on the side thanks to its faster speeds though.

Optimum Tech, meanwhile, reviewed the Core i5-11400F (with no integrated graphics) and called it “the ultimate value gaming CPU that you can buy right now,” though he notes that you’ll want to ditch the stock cooler and upgrade to even an affordable third-party cooler to get the most performance out of the chip. 

“If want to get the most performance that you can out of it, even a single-tower air cooler will let you run the full power and boost clocks that are on offer here.” Something like the legendary Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo should do the trick for around $30. Opting for our recommended Core i5-10400F and sticking with the stock cooler can get you most of the performance for around $60 less than the 11400F with a Hyper 212 costs, however.

Cheaper AMD options like the $100 Ryzen 3 3100 and $120 Ryzen 3 3300X would contend for this title if they truly sold for their asking prices, but the processors have been almost impossible to find since their debut. Currently, both are going for well over twice their MSRP, making Intel’s options the better buys.

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Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar review: High-end sound for a high-end price

A soundbar is an attractive alternative to a full-blown outboard speaker system. It offers better sound quality than a TV’s built-in audio, and it’s much more convenient to set up and use. On the other hand, a soundbar can’t reproduce a fully directional surround or immersive soundfield like a system with separate speakers located around the listening area.

Or can it? That’s the goal Sennheiser set for itself with its Ambeo Soundbar. This high-end behemoth sits near the top of the soundbar price range and claims to reproduce a virtual 5.1.4 immersive soundfield—a claim that has some merit, though it never fooled me into thinking I was listening to an actual immersive multi-speaker system.

Updated April 23, 2021 to report Sennheiser has released a firmware update for the Ambeo Soundbar that adds support for Sony’s immersive 360 Reality Audio technology. We returned our review unit shortly after this review was published, so we won’t be able to evaluate the new feauture, but we wanted our readers to know about it.

Ambeo feature set

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is massive, measuring about 50x5x7 inches (WxHxD) and weighing almost 41 pounds. It sports a total of 13 speaker drivers—six 4-inch long-throw, cellulose-sandwich cone woofers, five 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeters (two of which fire to the sides at an angle), and two upfiring 3.5-inch full-range drivers powered by a total of 500 watts. The frequency response is said to extend from 30Hz to 20kHz (-3dB).

Sennheiser

A total of 13 drivers include nine that fire forward, two that fire to the sides at an angle, and two that fire upward (not seen here because their grilles have not been removed in this photo).

So, how does a single soundbar—even such a large one—simulate the effect of a 5.1.4 speaker system? In this case, it uses all those drivers and some serious DSP to direct the surround and overhead channels to the room’s walls and ceiling, where they are reflected toward the listening area. According to Sennheiser, the effect is best if the walls and ceiling are no more than five meters (about 16 feet) from the soundbar; otherwise, the reflected sound might be noticeably delayed.

To accomplish this feat of virtualization, the Ambeo Soundbar must be calibrated to the room in which it will be used. In addition to the soundbar itself, the package includes a 28-inch-tall, free-standing calibration microphone attached to its own heavy base and a long cable that connects to the front of the soundbar. To calibrate the unit, you place the mic so its top is at ear height in the listening position and hold the Ambeo button on the remote or the top of the unit. The soundbar plays a series of sweeping tones and then calibrates the DSP based on what the microphone picks up from reflections in the room.

Physical inputs on the back include three HDMI 2.0a ports (18Gbps), one ethernet port, one Toslink optical port, and one pair of RCA analog-audio jacks as well as a 2.5mm microphone input on the front for the calibration mic. It also provides several wireless inputs, including Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac). Finally, it has Google Chromecast built in, and it can join a UPnP media network. Outputs include one HDMI 2.1 port with eARC and a subwoofer pre-out with an RCA connector. A USB port supports service and firmware updates but not media playback from storage devices.

Sennheiser

The soundbar’s rear-panel connections include (L-R): stereo analog-audio input, subwoofer line output, Toslink digital-audio input, three HDMI 2.0a inputs, one HDMI 2.1 output with eARC, ethernet port, USB port for service and firmware updates, and AC power receptacle. An integrated cable tie keeps the cables tidy.

The Ambeo Soundbar can decode a wide range of audio codecs, including virtually all varieties of Dolby (including Dolby Atmos) and DTS (including DTS:X and DTS 96/24). Other supported codecs include DSD (the format used with SACD discs) and MPEG-H, a relatively new codec intended for use with next-generation TV broadcasting via ATSC 3.0. It can also upmix stereo and 5.1 content into a fully immersive soundfield.

You can engage the Ambeo virtualization with three intensity levels (Light, Standard, Boost), and you can cut or boost four bands of EQ by up to ±10dB. Of course, you can disable it altogether as well. The soundbar also offers five preset sound modes: Movie, Music, News, Sports, and Neutral. In addition, it offers a Night mode that compresses the dynamic range so you can hear everything without having to crank it up and possibly disturb others trying to sleep in the next room.

If the audio is in one of the Dolby formats, the Ambeo Soundbar can utilize Dolby Virtualizer, in which case the Ambeo 3D audio effect is disabled. It also offers Dolby Dynamic Range Control (DRC) with three different settings (Auto, Normal, Heavy) and dialog normalization. If the audio is a DTS bitstream, you can set DRC to any value from 0 to 100 percent and boost dialog up to 6dB. These and most other controls are found in the Sennheiser Smart Control app (more in a moment).

Of course, you can place the soundbar on a credenza or other surface, and it comes with protective feet you can install if you wish. You can also wall-mount it with an optional hardware kit. Keep in mind, however, that it’s five inches tall, so the bottom of the TV needs to be at least that far above the surface where the soundbar sits.

Sennheiser

The controls on top of the soundbar include (L-R): mute, volume up, volume down, Ambeo on/off, multifunction, source selection, and power on/off. The NFC antenna is located between the source and power buttons. If you don’t have an NFC-capable device, you initiate Bluetooth pairing by holding the multifunction and Source buttons.

Ambeo user interface

The front of the soundbar sports an OLED display with an ambient-light sensor and status LED in the center. An LED-illuminated Ambeo badge on the right-hand side of the cabinet lights up when the virtualization is engaged. Fortunately, you can control the brightness of the display and Ambeo indicator using the Smart Control app.

On the top of the soundbar are a few basic control buttons, including power on/off, source selection, Ambeo on/off, volume up/down, and mute. A multifunction button lets you control playback of music files—press once to play or pause, press twice to skip to the next track, press three times to skip to the previous track. Pressing the multifunction and source buttons together for two seconds puts the soundbar in Bluetooth-pairing mode. If the device supports NFC pairing, you can simply hold the device close to the NFC logo on the soundbar and they will pair automatically.

The slender remote is blessedly simple, with only 14 well-separated  buttons. Naturally, there are buttons for power on/off button, Ambeo on/off, and mute on/off as well as the same multifunction button as found on the unit itself. The source up/down and volume up/down buttons are slightly contoured (up is convex, down is concave), making them very easy to find by feel. The five sound modes and night mode have their own dedicated buttons, which is great, though they all feel the same, and without illumination, you have to memorize where they are to change modes in the dark.

Sennheiser

The remote is small and simple, with well-separated buttons that are easy to find by feel. I wish the mode buttons at the bottom were illuminated; it’s difficult to remember which is which in the dark.

As you might expect, Sennheiser’s Smart Control app offers the most control options. Of course, you can power the soundbar on and off, control the volume, select inputs and sound modes, and engage and disengage the Ambeo effect and Night mode. In addition, the app lets you select the strength of the Ambeo effect and adjust the 4-band EQ as well as rename the inputs. You can also control the brightness of the display and Ambeo LED manually or set it to automatically adjust according to the amount of ambient light in the room. As mentioned earlier, the Dolby and DTS DRC and dialog controls are available in the app as well. Even better, you can specify that your settings are remembered for each input as well as whether or not the soundbar plays audible cues for various actions.

Overall, the app is designed quite well. The basic controls are found on the home screen, while the Ambeo strength and EQ controls are two levels into the Acoustical Settings; they can be adjusted and saved separately for each sound mode, which is very nice. All other controls are found in the Device Settings, which are organized fairly intuitively.

Scott Wilkinson / IDG

Sennheiser’s Smart Control app offers lots of control over the Ambeo Soundbar, including basic settings on the home screen (left), different levels of virtualization and a 4-band EQ, and more device settings than can fit in a single screen.

Ambeo performance

I placed the Ambeo Soundbar on a small table in front of my Sony 65A1E OLED TV; fortunately, the table is just low enough so the soundbar didn’t block any of the screen when I was seated in my normal chair. The room is almost entirely rectangular with standard drywall, though there is an open closet to the right of the seating area, and one of the equipment racks is against the wall next to the closet. There are some shelves of Blu-rays to the left of the seating area.

Next, I set up the calibration microphone at ear height in my chair, connected it to the soundbar, and ran the calibration routine. It plays a set of sweeping test tones, after which the DSP processes those measurements. As I listened to the sweeps, I was particularly impressed with the low-frequency output.

Unfortunately, the calibration failed, even after repeated attempts. A Sennheiser rep suggested that I cycle the AC power by unplugging the unit for 15 minutes, then plugging it back in and trying again. Sadly, that didn’t work, so they sent me another calibration microphone, which worked the first time.

I connected three source devices to the HDMI inputs—a Dish Hopper 3 satellite receiver, a Roku Ultra 4K streamer, and an Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player—using 18Gbps cables. I also connected the soundbar’s HDMI output to the calibrated HDMI input on the TV.

Sennheiser

The Sennheiser Ambeo can be wall mounted beneath your TV using an optional kit.

Each time I turned on the soundbar, it switched to the HDMI TV (eARC) input. Unfortunately, I can find no control in the app that lets you specify which input it should select at power up. According to Sennheiser, the soundbar should automatically select the most recent active input, but even when I powered up one of the source devices last, the soundbar’s input remained on HDMI TV, so I had to manually switch to the desired input every time. I wish the app included a setting that lets you specify something like “stay on the input selected at last power down” or “always select HDMI X when powering up.”

Another operational problem was that the app lost its connection to the soundbar after my phone went to sleep. When I woke it up and went to the app, it was no longer connected, and I had to manually reconnect, which got tiresome after a while.

I started my formal evaluation by playing the 5.1.4 test tones—pink noise, actually—from the Dolby Atmos demo Blu-ray. Of course, the front LCR channels came from where they were supposed to, but the surround and overhead channels were also in front of me. The surround channels were farther to the sides than the front LR channels, but they didn’t appear to come from the sides of the room. The overhead channels appeared to be coming from the upfiring speakers in the soundbar, not from the ceiling.

The helicopter and 747 takeoff demos from the Dolby Atmos disc sounded about the same—entirely in front of me with some width and height in the soundstage. The rainstorm demo, however, was much more effective; the sound of the rain actually appeared to be coming from overhead, especially the higher frequencies.

I compared the Ambeo effect with Dolby Virtualization during the rainstorm demo, and found that Ambeo was much more effective. Dolby Virtualization rendered the sound more in the front of the room with a somewhat smaller soundstage.

Next, I played some of the short Atmos demos with video. In all cases, overhead sounds with high frequencies appeared to come from overhead, and the width of the soundstage was very good, though I heard nothing from where actual surround speakers would be. The Horizon demo includes a plane flying over from back to front, but the entire sound came from the front. On the plus side, low frequencies were particularly impressive.

Sennheiser

The height of your ceiling, the shape of your room, and the furniture inside the room will all have an impact on the Ambeo’s performance.

Why doesn’t the Surface Laptop 4 have the latest Ryzen processors?

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 offers a rare opportunity for benchmarking nerds: a chance to test rival AMD Ryzen and Intel Core processors in the same device. But unlike with our AMD/Intel CPU comparison using the Surface Laptop 3, this time it’s an unfair fight: in the Surface Laptop 4, Intel’s latest 11th-gen Core Tiger Lake processors take on AMD’s older Ryzen 4000 Mobile processors, instead of the company’s latest Ryzen Mobile 5000 chips.

Why? Because AMD and Microsoft jointly develop “Surface Edition” versions of the Ryzen processor for the Surface Laptop 4. That cycle started more a year ago, according to Microsoft, before Ryzen 5000 was available.

Microsoft nevertheless claims that the Surface Laptop 4 will offer as much as 70 percent more performance than its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3. In some tests under some configurations, Microsoft says, performance could nearly double—and our preliminary benchmarks seem to bear that out.

That’s nothing to sneeze at. The Surface Laptop 3 featured the Ryzen 7 3780U and the Ryzen 5 3850U. Both were quad-core parts. The Ryzen 5 4680U and the Ryzen 7 4980U featured in the Surface Laptop 4 are 6- and 8-core Ryzen processors, respectively. Performance will likely increase sharply just from the added core count.

The fact that these are Surface Edition chips is meaningful, too. AMD and Microsoft’s original Surface Edition partnership (the Ryzen 7 3780U and the Ryzen 5 3850U for the Surface Laptop 3) produced semi-custom parts that tweaked the existing Ryzen architecture and added numerous features, from extra compute units and better responsiveness, to an on-die pen controller and more. “When looking for the right processor to power the all new Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, we wanted the best graphics performance in a single processor,” Microsoft distinguished engineer Pavan Davuluri said in a news release at the time.

AMD vice president Jack Huynh later told PCWorld that Microsoft and AMD had essentially rebuilt the Ryzen firmware, optimizing it. The tweaks also improved battery life—though as our review of the Surface Laptop 3 (Ryzen 5) showed, not nearly as much as in the Surface Laptop 3 (Ice Lake). 

What we’re seeing this time around is something different. Microsoft is claiming that the Ryzen versions of the Surface Laptop 4 will exceed Intel’s 11th-gen Core in battery life, even though both consume roughly the same power. (AMD’s Ryzen 4000 Mobile processors consume 15W; Intel’s Tiger Lake processors define an “operating range” range of between 12W and 28W.)

That lives up to the promise AMD’s Huynh made in 2019: “We didn’t spend the past three years just to do one project,” Huynh said then. “This is the beginning of a long-term partnership with the Surface team. Just like what we did with Xbox. We don’t enter into these co-engineering projects to go small.”

The AMD-Microsoft chip partnership continues

While the development cycle prevented the Surface Laptop 4 from getting the latest and greatest Ryzen parts, Microsoft believes the latest Surface Edition chips still have plenty to offer. The company believes the improved battery life will be a significant selling point of the Ryzen 4000-powered Surface Laptop 4, executives leading the Surface Laptop development told us.

Microsoft expects the improved interaction between the Microsoft co-designed processor and the Microsoft Windows operating system to provide subtle improvements, such as shaving 10 percent or so off of the time it takes for the Windows Hello depth camera to identify your face. Microsoft has also optimized the power consumption on battery for Microsoft Teams, especially with regards to fan noise. It’s nothing close to the integration Apple’s custom M1 processor has with Apple’s Mac OS, but it’s at least on the same path.

Here’s Microsoft (via its Microsoft Mechanics YouTube channel) explaining some of the subtler points of the Surface Laptop 4:

Microsoft’s Surface executives believe there’s a lot of overlap between what they’ve accomplished with the Surface Edition chips inside the Surface Laptop 4, and what AMD has brought forth with its powerhouse Ryzen 5000 Mobile processors. That’s certainly a high bar, as our review showed the Ryzen 9 5980HS outperforming Tiger Lake by a considerable amount. Can Microsoft’s latest Surface Edition chips do the same? We should find out soon. 

This story was updated at 9:30 AM with additional details on the Surface Laptop 4 via Microsoft’s YouTube channel.

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How much is Hulu? Plans, prices, and deals for cord-cutters

In a crowded video streaming market, Hulu and Hulu + Live TV stand out as top-tier cord-cutting services. They include tons of great TV shows and movies, a live TV option for dropping cable entirely, and a bunch of add-ons for other premium streaming platforms. Hulu is available at a variety of price points and configurations, so if you’re wondering if Hulu is the right streaming service for you, read on to find out more.

What is Hulu?

There are two basic versions: Hulu starting at $5.99 a month and Hulu + Live TV starting at $64.99 a month. But these are just the entry-level prices, and as you’ll soon see, Hulu can be extensively configured with more content and features.

The standard Hulu has an extensive on-demand content library, including classic and original series and movies, as well as up-to-date episodes of popular shows from network TV. Hot TV shows and movies we’re watching now include the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, the reboot of Animaniacs, a dark comedy period piece called The Great, and the Andy Samberg feature film comedy Palm Springs.

As the name suggests, Hulu + Live TV includes live access to 65-plus channels you would otherwise find on cable, as well as all the on-demand content you would find on standard Hulu. This is a solid option for cutting your cable cord entirely. The channels you can access vary by region, but you can expect to find big name networks like ABC, CBS and FOX, as well more niche channels like Lifetime, TLC and Vice.

No matter which version of Hulu you choose, you’ll be able to create up to six user profiles, so each member of your household can create watchlists and receive personalized content recommendations. In addition, you can set up a Kids Profile, which filters content to create a family-friendly experience for the youngest members of your household.

How much do Hulu and Hulu + Live TV cost?

Whether you’re looking for something to replace your cable subscription, or you just want affordable access to your favorite shows, Hulu has a plan for you. The streaming service offers subscriptions at a variety of price points, with expanded content offerings available at additional cost. A Hulu free trial is available, and a great way to evaluate the service for a full month without having to commit.

If you’re looking for access to live channels, you’ll need the more expensive Hulu + Live TV, but for on-demand content at a more wallet-friendly price, the standard Hulu may be just what you’re looking for. Here are the subscription options:

  • Hulu: $5.99/month. Hulu’s basic package includes access to on-demand programming, supported by ads.
  • Hulu (No Ads): $11.99/month. This package includes Hulu’s full on-demand library, with ads removed.
  • Hulu + Live TV: $64.99/month. This package includes the on-demand library as well as live on-air channels.
  • Hulu (No Ads)+ Live TV: $70.99/month. Hulu’s most expensive package includes ad-free access to its on-demand content, as well as its full lineup of live channels.
Hulu

Sarah (Cristin Milioti) and Nyles (Andy Samberg) are stuck in a time-loop in the romantic comedy Palm Springs, one of Hulu’s most notable original movies.

Hulu vs. Hulu + Live TV

OK, let’s delve into each main service option in greater detail.

Hulu

The basic Hulu subscription, which starts at $5.99/month, offers a solid library of on-demand content. Here, you’ll find classic and modern TV shows from Fox, ABC, NBC, and other networks, as well as Hulu-exclusive original series, like the Emmy-nominated The Great, and the critically acclaimed PEN15 (97% on Rotten Tomatoes!). The movie library constantly changes, but Hulu also produces its own original films including Happiest Season, Palm Springs and Minding the Gap.

Basic Hulu also offers something many other on-demand services don’t: episodes from current seasons of network series. This makes it a great fit if you’re too impatient to wait a whole season.

At such a low starting price, this subscription is a solid pick for the streamer on a budget, but bear in mind that you’ll pay more if you want to avoid ads.

Hulu + Live TV

Starting at $64.99/month, Hulu + Live TV offers everything from the basic Hulu subscription, as well as 65-plus live broadcast TV channels. This may be a good option for you if you love Hulu’s on-demand library but also want cable news like CNN, FOX News and MSNBC; professional sports (including local sports networks); and typical cable channel fare like FX, Animal Planet and The Food Network.

The Hulu + Live TV subscription comes with up to 50 hours of recording space using its included cloud DVR. So, if you know you’re going to miss your favorite show, you’ll be able to save it to watch later. If 50 hours isn’t quite enough, you can upgrade to the Enhanced Cloud DVR Add-on at an additional cost. Now let’s get into all the other things yo can buy…

What are add-ons for Hulu and Hulu + Live TV?

To customize your Hulu experience to see even more content, you can take advantage of a variety of add-ons. These fall into a few different categories, with offerings available at a variety of price points.

Network, Partner, and Premium Add-ons

These add-ons give you access to additional live and on-demand content from a variety of networks and outside Hulu partners:

  • ESPN+: $5.99/month. Watch live sports from the NHL, MLB, and more, including access to college sports. This add-on also includes ESPN+ originals like Peyton’s Places and Ariel & The Bad Guy.
  • SHOWTIME: $10.99/month. This add-on is best-known for its selection of movies, such as 1917 and Hereditary. You’ll also get access to TV series like Shameless and Your Honor.
  • HBO Max: $14.99/month. One of the best on-demand libraries available, with network classics like The Wire and Game of Thrones, brand-new series like Euphoria and Lovecraft Country, and a wide selection of movies.
  • Cinemax: $9.99/month. This add-on offers movies like Long Shot and John Wick: Chapter 3, along with original series like Strike Back and Warrior.
  • STARZ: $8.99/month. A solid lineup of TV series, such as American Gods and Outlander. You’ll also get access to plenty of movies, like Little Women and Jumanji: The Next Level.
  • Entertainment (news and lifestyle content): $7.99/month. This add-on for Live TV subscribers includes access to a wide variety of news and lifestyle channels, including CNBC World, Science, and Cooking Channel.
  • Español (Spanish-language content): $4.99/month. Features Spanish-language content live and on-demand, including NBC Universo, ESPN Deportes, and Discovery Familia

Feature Add-ons

These add-ons allow you to upgrade your overall Hulu experience, with customization options available for additional cost:

  • Enhanced Cloud DVR: $9.99/month
  • Unlimited Screens (lets you simultaneously stream on as many displays as you like): $9.99/month

Best Hulu TV series

There are tons of episodic series on Hulu, some classic, some contemporary, and some exclusive to the platform. Here are some picks from our list of Hulu’s best TV shows. 

Hulu

“Squirrelly Dan” (K. Trevor Wilson) and Wayne (Jared Keeso) deal with various comical “problems” in their small town in Letterkenny. (Hulu)

Letterkenny: Set in a small, fictional town in rural Ontario, Letterkenny follows a surprisingly cultured, liberal, and sex-positive group of farmers, hockey players and meth’ed out techno-goths. The wordplay is fast, alliterative and packed with Canadian slang and pop culture references.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Staged in an alternate reality in which many women have become infertile, Elisabeth Moss gives a tense, incisive performance as “Offred,” a fertile “handmaiden” forced to bear children for a wealthy family. Insidious systems abound in this dystopian drama, and make no mistake, this is one of Hulu’s best series.

The Great: Created by the Oscar-winning writer Tony McNamara, The Great is a dark, comedic, 18th century period piece that’s more into exploring sex and murder than dull opulence. Elle Fanning plays Catherine, the young woman who’s destined to become Catherine the Great

PEN15: This comedy-of-discomfort stars Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who are in their 30s, but play themselves as 13-year-olds in middle school. The show is just weird enough to elicit laughs, but underlying everything are characters and storylines full of heart.

High Fidelity: This one is mainly for romantics and record nerds, and it’s every bit as good as its 2000 feature film counterpart. The showrunners had the excellent idea to replace the three white, straight guys in the original with two women of color and an LGBTQ+ character, and it works seamlessly.

Best Hulu original movies

Hulu is packed with feature films, some old, some new. But for this short list, we’ll focus just on Hulu-produced exclusives, as chosen by our movie and TV critic, Jeffrey M. Anderson. You can see more in his list of Hulu’s 10 best original movies.

Hulu

Longtime friends Zack and Keire ride skateboards and live their lives in the powerful documentary Minding the Gap.

Minding the Gap: Filmed over the course of 12 years, this Oscar-nominated documentary follows the lives of three skateboarders as they grow up together. Packed with compelling human stories and great skateboarding.

Palm Springs: This critic-favorite comedy stars Andy Samberg, who’s stuck in a time loop on the day of a friend’s wedding. We called it “loose, cheerful, funny, clever, adorable, and thoroughly entertaining.”

Happiest Season: This is a fresh, modern take on a Christmas movie, but don’t let the seasonality fool you. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis play a lesbian couple who are hiding their relationship from Davis’ character’s conservative family amid the pressures of Christmas formalities. Mary Steenburgen as Davis’ mom, and Alison Brie and Mary Holland as Davis’ sisters absolutely shine.

Boss Level: Like Palm Springs, this Hulu original is a time-loop vehicle—but this one centers on an ex-soldier who starts each day in a fight for his life, avoiding a team of assassins hell bent on killing him. The stellar cast includes Frank Grillo, Will Sasso, Ken Jeong, Michelle Yeoh, and Mel Gibson as the bad guy.

Culture Shock: This horror-satire is part of Hulu’s Into the Dark series of feature-length episodes, and focuses on the journey of a pregnant Mexican woman (Martha Higareda) who makes the harrowing trip to the States to find herself in a creepy vision of the American dream.

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PSA: Lock in a year of Disney+ before tomorrow’s price hike

Packed with loads of Marvel, Star Wars, and classic Disney titles, Disney+ has been one of the best deals in streaming at just $7 a month, but that enticing price is about to go up.

Starting on March 26—tomorrow—the monthly price for Disney+ will increase to $8 a month. The previously announced price hike isn’t major, mind you, but a buck a month adds up.

Of course, signing up today for a monthly Disney+ subscription at the old price will only save you a dollar for one month, but we have another suggestion: grab a year of Disney+ instead.

The annual price for Disney+ is going up along with the monthly rate, from $70 a year (or about $5.83 a month) to $80 annually (or $6.66/month). So if you pony up for a year’s worth of Disney+ now, you can lock in your savings for a full 12 months.

Disney announced the price hike for Disney+ last December during its annual investors presentation, alongside a cavalcade of new movies and TV shows that will soon debut on the streaming service.

Besides a clutch of Marvel and Star Wars shows starring the likes of Loki, Hawkeye, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Lando Calrissian, Disney also announced that two of its biggest upcoming cinematic tentpoles—Cruella, with Emma Stone, and Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson—will land on Disney+ on May 8 and July 9, respectively.

Those two movies will both be “Premier Access” titles, just like Mulan was last year. That means you’ll have to pay a fee (it was $30 for Mulan) in addition to your Disney+ subscription to stream the films.

Also heading straight to Disney+ will be Pinocchio, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis, and Peter Pan and Wendy, starring Jude Law. Both of those movies are still in production.

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Mitä On seksi

Mitä On seksi ?

Seksi on kaikki, mikä saa sinut seksuaalisesti kiihottamaan. Seksi on muutakin kuin vain seksiä. Seksi sisältää myös suudella, halata ja suuseksiä. Voit myös harrastaa seksiä itsesi kanssa. Tätä kutsutaan masturbaatioksi.

Seksuaalinen halu on yksi ihmisen pääpiirteistä. Tämä on luonnollinen ja positiivinen tapa ilmaista tunteitasi. Seksuaalinen halu ei koske vain seksiä, vaan myös muita asioita. Kuten seksuaalinen ilo ja läheisyys, kehon ja lapsen anatomia, uskonnolliset esteet ja seksuaaliseen suuntautumiseen liittyvät arvot.

parhaat seksikaupat Suomessa

Mitä On seksi

Syyt harrastaa seksiä


Voit harrastaa seksiä monista syistä. Esimerkiksi:

hedelmällisyys;
Seksuaalisen nautinnon kokeminen;
Rakkauden ja muiden tunteiden ilmaiseminen;
Koe läheisyyttä ja läheisyyttä;
Rauhan ja …


Eri sukupuolimenetelmät


Voit harrastaa seksiä eri tavoin:

Seksuaalinen kanssakäyminen;
Hyväillä;
halata;
Suudella;
Stimuloi herkkiä kehon osia.
Voit harrastaa seksiä toisen henkilön tai itsesi kanssa (itsetyydytys).

parhaat erotiikkaliike Suomessa

Seksi ei ole vain oikean tekniikan käyttämistä. On myös tärkeää kiinnittää huomiota toisen osapuolen tunteisiin ja toiveisiin, luoda oikea ja intiimi ilmapiiri.

Kokeile eri tapoja ja katso, mistä sinä ja kumppanisi pidät parhaiten. Keskustele kumppanisi kanssa toiveistasi ja tunteistasi. Voit myös kokeilla seksiä itsesi kanssa.

Sukupuoli voi olla erilainen joka kerta.

Ihmisten sukupuolielämä voi muuttua elämänsä aikana. Esimerkiksi kehon muutosten tai sukupuolihalun tyypin vuoksi. Tämä on luonnollinen muutos. Jotkut ihmiset eivät harrastaa seksiä lyhyeksi tai pitkäksi aikaa.

Pari puhuu sängyssä.
Erot suhteissa ja seksielämässä
Ihmisillä on erilaiset suhteet toisiinsa ja heidän sukupuolielämänsä on erilainen. Esimerkiksi jotkut ihmiset harrastavat seksiä ennen avioliittoa ja toiset odottavat sen jälkeen. Joillakin ihmisillä on vain yksi kumppani ja joillakin on useita kumppaneita.

Jotkut harrastavat seksiä myös homoseksuaalien kanssa (homoseksuaalisuus).

Mitä On seksi


Seksuaalinen tyytyväisyys


Ennen jokaista sukupuolta sinun on varmistettava, että olet valmis ja halukas tekemään sen. Keskinäinen tyytyväisyys tarkoittaa, että molemmat ihmiset haluavat harrastaa seksiä keskenään. Molemmat osapuolet voivat lopettaa seksin milloin tahansa.

Älä anna kenenkään pakottaa sinua harrastamaan seksiä.

Belgiassa seksuaalisen kanssakäymisen vähimmäisikä on 16 vuotta. Tämä laki on suunniteltu suojaamaan lapsia seksuaaliselta häirinnältä. Jos kaksi nuorta, joilla on pieni ikäero, suostuvat harrastamaan seksiä keskenään, heitä rangaistaan ​​vähiten.