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Microsoft Surface Duo: $1,399 price, Sept. 10 release, no 5G, and how to preorder

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Microsoft’s Surface Duo is an open book.

 


CNET

Microsoft’s bringing the Surface Duo to market Sept. 10, with preorders starting yesterday. The $1,399 Surface Duo, powered by a modified version of Google’s Android software, puts a different spin on the foldable phone trend, joining Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Galaxy Z Flip and last year’s Motorola Razr reboot. The Surface Duo’s hinge is the key difference, bringing together two 5.6-inch screens instead of relying on one massive display that can be folded. Microsoft created the Surface Duo over five years, developing the hinge in a way that’s easy to open but hard to accidentally close. The hinge allows the super-thin screens to rotate 360 degrees. Microsoft doesn’t want to call the dual-screen Surface Duo a phone, per se. Instead, it wants us to think of this as a new type of product.

“When we designed it, the intent was, ‘How do you make something so thin, beautiful, light and super elegant that when people pick it up they can feel that emotion in the product,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer and head of Surface devices, said in an exclusive interview.

 

The device brings new ideas to the mobile world, including software Microsoft wrote to make the two screens interact. You can drag a photo from one screen to the other and it works thanks to a mix of computer programming that follows your finger across the screens. There’s also an array of sensors that track where the displays are relative to each other, including if they’re open, closed or somewhere in between.

While CNET Editor at Large Scott Stein — a noted dual-screen skeptic — says the device felt good in his hands, he says $1,399 is a lot of money to ask of people on a normal day, let alone in the middle of an economic downturn fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.


GIF by Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

Still, Microsoft invited us to talk with its engineers about how the Surface Duo was conceived, the technology invented to make it possible and how it’ll work when we get it in the mail (watch out for CNET’s review in the next few weeks).

In I’m already folding in love with the feel of Microsoft’s Surface Duo, Stein shares what it was like to hold a Surface Duo prototype. Microsoft shipped us a near-production prototype device with the screens replaced by clear glass so we can see the inner working and learn how it works. Stein also talks about why he hasn’t like dual-screen devices before, and why the Surface Duo may be the device to change his mind.

In Microsoft’s two-screen Surface Duo isn’t an iPhone or Galaxy Fold. That’s the point, we look at where the Surface Duo fits in the world, and why Microsoft is choosing to make a new handheld device after a series of embarrassing multibillion-dollar attempts that ended in failure.

Here’s how Microsoft’s Surface Duo compares to its foldable rivals: Surface Duo vs. Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs. Razr.

Surface Duo vs. Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs. Razr

Microsoft Surface DuoSamsung Galaxy Z Fold 2Motorola Razr
Display sizeDual 5.6-inch AMOLED; Combined: 8.1-inch AMOLED; 2,700×1,800 pixelsInternal: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED; External 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLEDInternal: 6.2-inch, foldable OLED; External: 2.7-inch glass OLED
Resolution1,800×1,350 pixels; 2,700×1,800 pixelsTBD2,142x876p pixels; 800×600 pixels
Dimensions (Inches)Folded: 5.72×3.67×0.399 inches / Unfolded: 5.72×7.36×0.19 inchesTBDUnfolded: 6.8×2.8×0.28 inches / Folded: 3.7×2.8×0.55 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters)Folded: 145.2×93.3×9.9mm / Unfolded: 145.2×186.9×4.8mmTBDUnfolded: 172x72x6.9mm / Folded: 94x72x14mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams)8.8 oz; 250gTBD7.2 oz; 205g
Mobile softwareTBDTBDAndroid 9
Camera11-megapixelTBD16-megapixel external, 5-megapixel internal
Front-facing cameraTBDTBD16-megapixel external
Video capture4KTBD4K
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855TBDQualcomm Snapdragon 710
Storage128GB, 256GBTBD128GB
RAM6GBTBD6GB
Expandable storageTBDTBDNo
Battery3,577 mAh4,500 mAh2,510 mAh
Fingerprint sensorTBDTBDBelow screen
ConnectorTBDTBDUSB-C
Headphone jackTBDTBDNone
Special featuresDual-screen display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)5G, Foldable display, 120Hz refresh rateFoldable display, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splashproof
Price at launch (USD)$1,399 (128GB)TBD$1,499
Price (GBP)Converts to about £1,070TBDConverts to about £1,160
Price (AUD)Converts to about AU$1,960TBDConverts to about $2,090

Here’s what else you need to know about the Surface Duo.

How much does the Surface Duo cost?

Foldable phones aren’t cheap. Last year, when Samsung released its Galaxy Fold after a series of design failures were discovered by reviewers just before launch, it cost $1,980. The (also delayed) Huawei Mate X went for the equivalent of $2,400 when it was released.

Microsoft is charging $1,399 for the 128GB version of the Surface Duo. There will be a 256GB version as well.

Is the Surface Duo a phone?

That question is one of the things that’s surrounded this devices since it was announced last year. Wired’s take back then summed the situation up well: “It folds, but the screen isn’t foldable. It sort of fits in your pocket. It has a camera. And it makes phone calls-but don’t you dare call it a phone.”

Ultimately, if your definition of “phone” is it takes and receives calls, then yes it is one. But so is your PC, tablet and potentially your game console too.

So, maybe “phone” is more a state of mind than a label.

Is the Surface Duo an Android?

This is easier than asking whether the Surface Duo is a phone. This device is an Android, in that it runs Google’s mobile software for tablets and phones, and it is designed to run pretty much all the apps you can use on a standard non-Apple device.

In fact, Microsoft said it chose to build the Surface Duo using Android instead of its Windows software because of the large base of hundreds of thousands of apps that already exist in the Android store. Why reinvent the wheel?

Will the Surface Duo have 5G?

Nearly every major phone launch this year, including Apple’s forthcoming iPhone, is expected to support 5G wireless capabilities. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, announced earlier this month for $1,300, has 5G. So does its cousin, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, whose price and launch date will be announced in September.

The Surface Duo, on the other hand, will work with 4G networks. Microsoft said the reason comes down to tradeoffs — the company chose to stick with the previous generation wireless tech to allow for better battery life and a thinner device.

202-microsoft-surface-neo-and-surface-duo
The hinge that makes the Surface Duo possible.

 


Scott Stein/CNET

Where will it sell?

Microsoft closed nearly all its brick-and-mortar retail stores, so you won’t be able to find them there even if you’re willing to venture out during the pandemic. It’s available for preorder online through Microsoft’s website and Best Buy. You’ll be able to buy it from AT&T, too.

If the $1,399 starting price is too steep for you, Microsoft said it’ll offer a 0%, 24-month payment plan through Dell financing. AT&T similarly will allow you to pay in installments through its Next Up program.

Microsoft Surface DuoMicrosoft Surface Duo
We got to peer inside the Surface Duo, beneath the screens, to see how it works.

 


Richard Peterson/CNET

How well do apps run in the phone?

Microsoft made a point of showing us that standard Android apps run on the device just fine, thanks to its two screens being the equivalent of two standard phone displays. For apps built with the second screen in mind, they can be designed to “span” across the two screens, meaning an email app could have your inbox on the left and opened messages on the right. They could also be programmed to open new links or companion apps in the opposite screen you’re looking at.

Microsoft demonstrated Amazon’s Kindle book reading app, which was designed to look like a book with text on the left and right. When you swipe your finger across the screen, an animated page follows along.

At launch, it appears Microsoft’s apps will primarily be the ones built with the Surface Duo in mind. Those include Microsoft Office, Outlook, Teams, OneNote and Authenticator. Oh, and you can’t forget Microsoft Solitaire Collection too.

The company said that it’s working with Google to integrate some of the software it developed for the Surface Duo back into Android so other two-screen devices in the future will benefit from Microsoft’s work. That also means more apps may eventually be programmed for the Surface Duo as a result.

Will the Surface Duo run Windows apps like my PC?

The Surface Duo runs Microsoft apps, including Office, Teams and Outlook, but it doesn’t run the same software as your computer. That’s one of the tradeoffs Microsoft had to make when building this device.

Its larger cousin, the Surface Neo, will run many of the same apps your computer has today. That’s because it’ll be powered by Windows 10X, a variant designed for dual-screen PCs. But that device, which brings together two 9-inch screens likely wouldn’t fit in your pocket as easily as the Surface Duo. The company’s also delayed until at least 2021.

How many folds can the Surface Duo take?

We’ve tested a few folding devices at CNET using a special robot developed by SquareTrade. The Samsung Galaxy Fold began failing after about 120,000 folds during our test last year. That was much less than the 200,000 folds we estimated it would go through during five years of use. (Although we’re just starting to learn how people use folding phones and that could change with the different designs companies are inventing).

When we put the new Motorla Razr through FoldBot’s paces last year, that device didn’t make it to 28,000 folds.

Microsoft preemptively said folding test robots don’t simulate real life usage the same way its own labs do. Still, it wouldn’t say how many folds the Surface Duo could last through, except that the company expects the hinge mechanism to last beyond the Surface Duo’s own natural lifecycle.

Microsoft Surface DuoMicrosoft Surface Duo
The Surface Duo’s individual screens are thinner than an iPad Air.

 


Richard Peterson/CNET

Does the Surface Duo have a camera?

Many companies releasing premium phones justify their $1,000 or more prices with the beautiful photographs they say you could take. Apple has that Shot on iPhone billboard campaign, and the iPhone Photography Awards contest. Samsung boasts about how its devices can deliver stunning zoom with their cameras. And Google proudly says its advanced programming makes photos on its Pixel phones unlike competitors, offering shockingly well captured low-light shots. They can even photograph stars in the sky.

By comparison, Microsoft’s mostly talked about how the Surface Duo is built for productivity and better interaction between apps. Translation: Its camera will not be a killer feature.

CNET will still test the camera against other premium phones when we do our reviews.

Microsoft Surface DuoMicrosoft Surface Duo
A peak at the Surface Duo’s camera.

 


Richard Peterson/CNET

Will it get quick Android updates?

One of the most vexing parts of owning a phone powered by Google’s Android software is Android itself. Manufacturers routinely fail to deliver timely updates to users, even with Google putting out test versions of its software months ahead of the typical fall release.

Microsoft says it’s working with Google directly on the Surface Duo, which naturally led to questions about whether that means it’ll get updated more often and more quickly. Microsoft says the device will get software updates, but didn’t commit to timetables about when.

Microsoft Surface DuoMicrosoft Surface Duo
It comes in a box that’s very reminiscent of a certain fruit company that also makes phones.

 


Richard Peterson/CNET

Other details about the Surface Duo

  • A 360-degree hinge means you can fold one screen flat against the other to hold it like a notepad.
  • You get a total of 8.3 inches of screen real estate.
  • There’s no outer screen — you have to open the device to use it.
  • It supports the Surface Pen, which you need to buy separately for at least $99.
  • The Surface Duo has thick screen bezels, but that might help keep you from accidentally tapping while you hold it. Microsoft said the bezels are a tradeoff from miniaturizing parts and making the screens so thin. It’s also Microsoft’s way of saying smaller bezels are likely in the future.
  • You can drag and drop items, like a phone number, from one screen to the other.

Surface Duo specs

  • Two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays running at a resolution of 1,800×1,350 pixels separately
  • 8.3 inches of total screen real estate when opened fully, running at an effective resolution of 2,700×1,800 pixels
  • Snapdragon 855, 6GB DRAM
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO (Not 5G), supports AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the US
  • Fingerprint reader
  • USB-C charger
  • 128GB or 256GB of internal storage
  • Mono speaker
  • 11-megapixel camera, f2.0 with electronic image stabilization

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The Leaked RTX 3090 Benchmarks Aren’t Great – Kotaku Australia

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There’s been a ton of hype around the RTX 3080, but what about the 24GB beast, the RTX 3090? Some benchmarks from the $2400-plus GPU leaked over the weekend and … well, they’re not that impressive.

The RTX 3090 is effectively the Titan-class GPU for the new generation. It certainly has a price tag to match at $2429. But the question on a lot of people’s minds was how much more performance the RTX 3090 would truly offer, especially with 14GB extra VRAM and talk of genuine, playable 8K/60fps gaming.

But if you’re not playing at 8K? The RTX 3090 might not be that appetising.

A string of benchmarks run on a system with an Intel i9-10900K, the Game Ready drivers released last Thursday, some G.Skill RAM running at 4133MHz and other bits and pieces found that in a lot of cases, the performance benefit was 10 per cent or less.

In Control, the RTX 3090 was hitting 71fps at 4K with ray-tracing and DLSS enabled, compared to 65fps for the RTX 3080. (That’s almost identical to our Ashtray Maze benchmark for the RTX 3080, although the video below is from an early section of gameplay running through the initial levels.)

Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran at 107fps and 71fps at 4K, only 8 and 9 per cent quicker than the RTX 3080 on the same system. The biggest jump was in Death Stranding with DLSS disabled — there’s no ray-tracing in Death Stranding — but even that was only at 116fps on the RTX 3090, compared to 104fps on the RTX 3080. (With DLSS enabled, both cards get well over 160fps.)

[embedded content]

Nvidia pitched the RTX 3090 as an 8K-capable gaming card — at least with DLSS enabled — but also towards those for whom the 24GB of VRAM would be essential. Those generally aren’t gaming applications, although gaming at 8K would undoubtedly require a substantial jump in memory.

It’s not the first RTX 3090 benchmark that’s leaked. Some Time Spy scores appeared late last week, showing the RTX 3090 about 19 percent and 20 per cent faster in the Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme tests. Those are synthetic, however, and we can’t compare how the difference in the two systems might have impacted the results. It also doesn’t show the RTX 3090 running at 8K, something that definitely warrants testing from independent third party reviewers.

Official reviews for the RTX 3090 should be dropping towards the end of this week. It’ll be fun to see how it handles different engines and different types of games, although ultimately I think it’ll be more interesting to revisit the card when something like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Watch Dogs: Legion drops. Those will give us the first taste of what the next generation of games will target and demand, and we’ll have a better assessment of what you’ll get for your $2429 when those are out.

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Zotac's RTX 3080 Trinity performance is apparently gimped on purpose – AltChar

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Abilities of new LoL champion, Seraphine, have reportedly been revealed

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Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC Review – TechSpot

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Today we’re reviewing the Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC, the first third-party GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card to come our way and we’re very interested to see how it compares to Nvidia’s Founders Edition model. We’ll be checking out gaming performance which should be very similar to the FE card, but also thermal and overclocking results.

First, let’s tear the TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC down and take a look at the cooler and PCB. Please note this was done after we collected all our thermal and performance data. Starting with LED lighting, because of course, that’s important. The TUF is minimalist which we like, there is a small light bar above the ‘TUF’ branding along with a backlit logo which faces outwards when the card is traditionally mounted.

In terms of design and appearance, the TUF Gaming looks like your typical high-end graphics card. It’s a 2.7-slot design, so it takes up 3 slots, it measures 30cm long, stands 12.7cm tall and weighs in at 1385 grams, so it’s slightly heavier than the 1355 gram Founders Edition model. It’s mostly black, so it will suit most builds and Asus has included a few ‘TUF’ theme design elements like the tire tracks on the backplate, for example.

We liked how there’s no plastic on the card, apart from the fans of course. The fan shroud has been constructed from aluminum, giving it a premium look. Asus are also using the axial-tech fans and since there are three in total, they’ve reversed the rotation of the center fan to reduce turbulence, the fans each measure 90mm in diameter. We should also note that the card includes a stop-fan feature which activates when the GPU drops below 55C.

Around at the I/O end of the card we find two HDMI 2.1 ports and three DisplayPort 1.4a outputs. That’s an extra HDMI output when compared to Nvidia’s FE version, though note it can still only support up to 4 simultaneous displays. Asus also points out that this model features a very robust stainless steel I/O bracket which they say protects against rust while providing a more durable and secure mount. Can’t say we’ve ever had an issue with the standard steel brackets, but if you have, well this will be a welcomed feature.

Pulling this thing apart to take a better look, starting with the heatsink and fans, we have a very serious looking heatsink here, in fact it looks like something you’d expect to find on an ROG Strix model and not a card with TUF branding, and it really is very large, weighing in at 820 grams.

There are two massive banks of fins which are connected using half a dozen 6mm thick nickel plated copper heatpipes, and all connect to a large nickel plated copper base plate.

Using an aluminum plate, it directly cools the VRM, so that’s good to see, but there’s a lot more to this design as there is a second heatsink which directly cools the GDDR6X memory as well as the power delivery for the memory components. It’s an impressive bit of kit that fits in snug beneath the main heatsink. Asus have also used a few high quality thermal pads to aid in heat transfer from this smaller heatsink to the primary heatsink. Oh and for those of you wondering the smaller heatsink weighs in at 70 grams.

On the back side of the card we find a rather thick aluminum back plate which weighs 138 grams and has been used to strengthen the card and reduce PCB sag, or in this case completely eliminate it. We think this is actually the thickest backplate we’ve ever seen on a graphics card. Asus has also employed a series of thermal pads to remove built up heat from the rear side of the PCB behind the VRM and GDDR6X memory chips. There’s also a few cut outs to aid in air-flow.

Now over to the PCB, we find a 24cm long by 10.6cm tall PCB, so a fairly compact board, though it is crammed full of components. Surrounding the massive GA102 die are the GDDR6X memory chips and then flanking them on either side are boatloads of inductors and power stages. In total the card packs 20 power stages, and here we’re looking at an 8 + 6 + 4 power phase design using SIC641ACD 55A powerstages, though please note two of the 8-phases drive two power stages, so a bit of an odd configuration, but this is what Asus has gone with.

If you’re wondering what the 8 and 6-phase portions power, the answer is the GPU. So 14 phases feed into the GPU, or 16 55A powerstages. The 8-phase power rail is for NVVDD and the 6-phase power rail is for MSVDD while the 4-phase power rail is for the GDDR6X memory.

For comparison, the Nvidia reference board uses an 8 + 5 + 3 power phase design featuring 50A Alpha & Omega Semiconductor power stages. In other words, Asus has beefed up the TUF Gaming well over the Nvidia reference spec.

There’s also two 8-pin PCIe power connectors feeding power into the graphics card and you’ll also find a dual BIOS switch that allows you to change from the default ‘performance’ BIOS to a ‘quiet’ BIOS. Both modes run the card at 340 watts, so we’re just looking at a change to the fan profile which will see the card run hotter in the quiet mode.

In terms of clock specifications, Asus lists a core clock frequency of 1815 MHz which is a 5% boost over the 1730 MHz default spec. The GDDR6X memory though has been left at 19 Gbps, so we’re just looking at a typical mild GPU overclock here. All that said, let’s move on to see what clock speed this model maintains when underload.

For these GeForce 30 series graphics card reviews we’ll be using Shadow of the Tomb Raider for all stress testing and will be reporting temperatures after 30 minutes of gameplay. This saw the TUF Gaming peak at just 63 degrees in a 21 degree room inside the Corsair Obsidian 500D, fully populated with fans. That’s a massive 15 degree drop in temperature when compared to Nvidia’s Founders Edition model.

To maintain this temperature the fans spin at up to 1900 RPM and while that’s a reasonably high fan speed, the card was surprisingly quiet, generating just 42 dBA of noise, making it slightly quieter than the FE version. The typical core clock speed seen during our testing was 1935 MHz and under the same conditions that’s a 5% increase over the Founders Edition model. This saw power consumption increase by 7% from 323 watts with the FE model to 344 watts with the TUF Gaming.

Overclocking

Now for overclocking, with the limits reached we again saw a peak operating temperature of 63 degrees but this time the fans spun up to 2000 RPM. The card wasn’t terribly loud at this fan speed. The overclock saw the cores operate at 2 GHz and the memory also hit 20.6 Gbps, an impressive transfer speed. Finally, when overclocked the card sucked down 357 watts, a small 4% increase from the factory OC configuration.

Let’s move into the benchmark graphs to see what overclocking gets us. We’re testing with our Ryzen 9 3950X GPU test rig with 32GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. The latest drivers available at the time of testing have been used, and for this one we have just a few select games to look at.

Benchmarks

Starting with Death Stranding numbers at 1440p, the TUF Gaming was a single frame faster than Nvidia’s FE model, hitting 158 fps. That’s a pretty disappointing increase and we weren’t able to do much better with a manual overclock, boosting performance by a further 2%.

The results at 4K were just as underwhelming, here the TUF Gaming was 2% faster than the FE model and our overclock netted us an extra 2% performance.

The gains seen in Rainbow Six Siege were a little more impressive, here the TUF Gaming was 6% faster than Nvidia’s FE model, hitting 346 fps. That’s a typical factory overclock, but unfortunately through further manual tuning we were only able to extract 2 extra frames, well under a single percent gained here.

The 4K data looks much the same, again the TUF Gaming was 6% faster than Nvidia’s Founders Edition model and our manual overclock was useless.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider saw a 4% increase for the TUF Gaming over the FE model at 1440p, though quite interestingly this time our manual overclock netted us a further 3% increase in performance.

Similar margins were seen at 4K, here the TUF Gaming was 5% faster out of the box and then 8% faster with our overclock, though that was just a 3% increase over the Asus factory overclock.

Temperatures

Here’s a more in-depth look at the stock temperatures after running Shadow of the Tomb Raider for 30 minutes in a 21C room. The PCB temperatures were recorded using K-type thermocouples. For the GPU rear PCB temp the probe is attached to the backside of the PCB behind the GPU and we were expecting temperatures to be higher, so it would seem the heatsink on the frontside does a good job of extracting heat from the GPU. The GPU die temperature is the result you’ve already seen, we’re just reporting the internal sensor here.

Then the GDDR6X temperature has been reported using a thermal probe, attached to the PCB between the memory chips, so that it doesn’t interfere with the thermal pad and it’s contact with the memory chip. The same method was used to measure VRM temperatures, 4 probes were used to detect the VRM hot spot and here we’re looking at a peak of 66C which is very good. Overall, the TUF Gaming runs surprisingly cool.

What’s to Like

Asus has done an excellent job with the TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC, it’s a great quality graphics card and better than Nvidia’s own Founders Edition in every measurable way. It’s quieter, significantly cooler, faster out of the box and best of all, it doesn’t require a silly 12-pin power adapter or specialized cable.

The only area where the Founders Edition model might be better is the physical appearance, but that’s entirely subjective. While we do like the look of Nvidia’s version, the TUF Gaming still looks great and we appreciate the use of high quality materials all around.

The fact that the TUF Gaming can be up to 6% faster while running 15C cooler seals the deal for us. There’s just no way we’d buy the Founders Edition over this Asus model for the same price.

At this point we’re still in the process of checking out other AIB RTX 3080 cards, so there might be better options, but we can’t imagine they’re going to be that much better. We’ve seen numerous 5700 XT graphics cards that run hotter than the TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC, so there’s no denying Asus has done an excellent job. Should the price be right, then we see no reason not to buy this graphics card.

The Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080 OC is currently listed for $700, which matches the MSRP for standard RTX 3080 boards. That said, it’s also out of stock everywhere we looked, but if you can eventually snag one for $700, then you’ve done very well.

We were surprised to find how much better this thing is than Nvidia’s intricate Founders Edition, and we like to think that our scrutiny with previous TUF Gaming cards helped motivate Asus to put together this excellent design and attention to detail.

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