ID@Azure is a new program for indie cloud development, based on ID@Xbox

ID@Xbox is one of Microsoft’s most successful programs for independent developers in history, and it’s now coming to Azure.

ID@Xbox is Microsoft’s program for independent game development on the Xbox platform, across PC, consoles, and Xbox Game Pass mobile endpoints. Microsoft has previously noted how ID@Xbox has handed millions of dollars to developers in the program, shipping over 2000 games, with over 2000 more in development for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. ID@Xbox is responsible for some of the biggest games on the Xbox platform, including huge hits like ARK: Survival Evolved, The Long Dark, and many more.

Microsoft is now adapting its ID@Xbox model for Azure, dubbed ID@Azure, according to a new job listing on Microsoft Careers. The job listing very frankly describes the new program, aimed at engaging independent devs and start-ups into using Microsoft’s Azure-based services and development tools, including things like Microsoft Game Stack and PlayFab as part of the Azure Gaming Industry Vertical team, led by James Gwertzman. The new ID@Azure program could be detailed further during Microsoft’s Game Stack Live showcase, currently dated for April 20-21.

Microsoft has seen impressive growth against its competitors in the cloud space, particularly in the gaming arena. Many popular titles including Rainbow Six Siege, Minecraft, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and No Man’s Sky all run on Microsoft’s cloud, with doubtless many more to follow.

Microsoft’s cloud is among the biggest in the world already and set to grow even more as cloud becomes an increasingly dominant piece of Microsoft’s diverse business. The new ID@Azure program should further help to accelerate that growth, and help get smaller developers and teams access to robust cloud architecture and learning, accelerating innovation in the space.

Thanks to Liam for the tip!

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ID@Azure is a new program for indie cloud development, based on ID@Xbox

Here's what Apocalypse Plus mode is in Minecraft Dungeons

Best answer: Apocalypse Plus is Minecraft Dungeons’ true endgame, with additional challenging difficulty levels beyond the game’s initial ending. Players can tackle familiar and new levels at higher difficulties and be rewarded with more powerful gear to conquer these obstacles. Apocalypse Plus includes 25 new difficulties and raises the power level of Minecraft Dungeons to around Level 250.

Apocalypse Plus mode explained

Minecraft Dungeons is a wonderfully addictive co-op-focused Action-RPG (ARPG) and features just the right amount of Minecraft in its DNA. However, one major criticism of the game at launch was how easy it was, relatively speaking, to reach “the end” of Minecraft Dungeons.

Minecraft Dungeons’ main campaign can be completed in less than ten hours of play for most people but is meant to be replayed through the game’s three difficulties: Normal, Adventure, and Apocalypse. Each difficulty gently “restarts” the game by raising the difficulty level, adding new gear to every level, and encouraging players to go through every level again to power-up before facing the dreaded Arch-Illager final boss.

However, it was still a bit too quick to reach the end of Apocalypse, and then players were left without a whole lot more to do in the game. Playing other versions and expansions for Minecraft Dungeons helped with content, like the Jungle Awakens and Creeping Winter expansions. Still, players were going through these expansions without being challenged or becoming more powerful. Minecraft Dungeons just kind of fell off at the end.

With the Howling Peaks expansion, Mojang Studios massively rectified this situation with the addition of Apocalypse Plus mode, which added an addition twenty difficulty levels to the game, and raised the maximum power level from ~110 to ~160! Unfortunately, this first iteration of Apocalypse Plus suffered from unfair difficulty spikes, so most players were never able to reach the end.

Now, with the launch of the Flames of the Nether expansion, Apocalypse Plus has changed a lot, becoming fully-fledged and pretty well-balanced for hardcore Minecraft Dungeons veterans and casual players alike.

Minecraft Dungeons’ true endgame

In its current iteration, Apocalypse Plus mode in Minecraft Dungeons features 25 additional difficulty levels, evenly spaced out from each other, that can take players all the way to around 250 in power level. Players will see Minecraft Dungeons’ difficulty steadily increase as they progress through Apocalypse Plus mode but will earn more powerful gear from every successive Apocalypse Plus tier they cross.

Players won’t be able to exploit Apocalypse Plus mode to easily reach the end, either, as Apocalypse Plus features “thresholds” every fourth level. Players will need to complete a certain number of “boss missions,” or levels that feature powerful final bosses, to unlock the next three levels of Apocalypse Plus.

Apocalypse Plus levels progress like this: Levels 1-3 require no boss missions, 4-6 require one boss mission, 7-9 require two, 10-12 require three, 13-15 require four, 16-18 require five, 19-21 require six, and, finally, Apocalypse Plus 22-25 require seven completed boss missions to unlock.

This means that Apocalypse Plus features steadily increasing challenges, spread out across required milestones. Any player can realistically reach the end of Apocalypse Plus, but it’ll require a decent amount of time to reach the end. Now, Minecraft Dungeons has one-half of its previously missing endgame. The other half? Ancient Hunts.

Combined with the high-risk, high-reward nature of Ancient Hunts, players now have significantly more endgame content to play through in Minecraft Dungeons. The idea is for players to keep revisiting the challenging, procedurally-generated Ancient Hunts as they progress through Apocalypse Plus. Playing Ancient Hunts every so often lets players unlock powerful Gilded gear that can help them reach the vaunted end of Apocalypse Plus.

Both Apocalypse Plus and Ancient Hunts are also available for free to all players. That means you can access the entirety of Minecraft Dungeons’ much-improved endgame even with the base version of the game, which is included in Xbox Game Pass. If you want to see everything Minecraft Dungeons has to offer, though, I’d strongly consider investing in the Minecraft Dungeons Season Pass.

Keep up with Apocalypse Plus mode and Minecraft Dungeons with one of the Best Controllers for Xbox Series X|S, which provide the best features, comfort, and performance for any budget.

The next era of Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons: Season Pass

$20 at Microsoft (Xbox)
$20 at Microsoft (Windows)
$20 at Amazon (Switch)

Explore new worlds in Minecraft Dungeons.

It’s been a busy first year for Minecraft Dungeons, and now the ARPG dungeon-crawling Minecraft spin-off is looking ahead towards its future, with four new expansions planned. The first one, Howling Peaks, is available right now, but players can also grab the new Season Pass to gain immediate access to all four expansions as soon as they launch.

Minecraft Dungeons

Unlock all Minecraft Dungeons levels
All Minecraft Dungeons Unique Gear
All Minecraft Dungeons Weapons
All Minecraft Dungeons Armor
All Minecraft Dungeons Enemies
Best Minecraft Dungeons Builds

Here's what Apocalypse Plus mode is in Minecraft Dungeons

Microsoft is testing 1080p xCloud streams for Xbox Game Pass gaming

One of xCloud’s primary limitations is about to go away.

What you need to know

Right now Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming is limited to 720p.
Recently, we were sent evidence that Microsoft is now testing 1080p streams too.
Xbox Game Pass cloud infrastructure is getting a big upgrade throughout 2021.

Project xCloud is the codename of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Cloud Gaming Streaming Service™, which brings together Xbox Live Gold, the Xbox Game Pass for console, and Xbox Game Pass for PC services into a single, far-cheaper subscription model. On top of that, you also get access to cloud gaming, which lets you stream a range of Xbox console games to an Android device.

Soon, Microsoft is set to expand Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming to the web, bypassing Apple’s dumb iOS store rules and bringing xCloud to PCs for the first time. However, what about some of xCloud’s current limitations?

Reports have suggested that Microsoft is planning to upgrade the Xbox cloud streaming servers from Xbox One architecture to Xbox Series X architecture over the course of this year, and we may have started to see some of the fruits of that labor. Trusted sources recently sent us this screencap from the Xbox streaming test tools for developers, which comes with a dev overlay for benchmarking network connectivity, as well as resolution.

Up until now, Hellblade and other Xbox cloud games were restricted to a maximum of 720p video streams. While this helps on bandwidth and responsiveness, 720p looks quite blurry. If you live close to a Microsoft data center and have a display resolution pushing QHD or higher (often the case with higher-end mobile devices), then you’re not really experiencing games as they were intended.

It appears as though Microsoft is already in the process of testing 1080p streams for xCloud, which would bring it in line with Google Stadia’s baseline “free” tier and other similar streaming services.

Above you can see the comparison in resolution quality when compared to the 1080p shot sent to us from a trusted source. Our xCloud testing app is crushing the resolution because I’m too far away from a Microsoft data center that supports this 1080p test, presumeably.

In any case, upgrading the stream capability of xCloud, coupled with the SSDs from Xbox Series X hardware should see Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming jump up in quality across the board. It won’t take anywhere up to a minute to spin up a server for you, as is currently the case, nor will it take minutes to actually load into the game.

Recently, Google Stadia announced it was winding down its home-grown content efforts and looking to downsize its Stadia efforts. Reports stated that Google was paying publishers tens of millions just to support the platform, which naturally, doesn’t seem too sustainable. Microsoft’s big advantage with xCloud is that they already have all the content since Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming is literally built on top of the Xbox console platform. As Xbox Game Pass picks up hardware upgrades throughout 2021 and beyond, the gap between Microsoft and its competitors will grow even further.

You can grab Xbox Game Pass streaming using Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a device like one of the devices from our best xCloud tablets roundup, or using one of the phone attachments from our best xCloud mobile clips roundup.

From the cloud

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Streaming Xbox games

If you want to try out Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Cloud Gaming Streaming Service™, you can do so pretty cheaply if you’re a newcomer. Hit the link below for more details.

From $1 at Microsoft Store

Microsoft is testing 1080p xCloud streams for Xbox Game Pass gaming

These are the best AMD AM4 motherboards with PCIe 4.0

Features like PCIe 4.0 are reserved for some of the best motherboards around. We’ve rounded up some of the top picks for you to choose for an Intel or AMD PC build, depending on which processor you plan to use. All of these recommendations come rocking PCIe 4.0.

Best Overall

ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming

Staff Pick

While not rocking all the more advanced features found on the most premium motherboards, ASUS did cram plenty of high-quality components on the ROG Strix X570-E, making it a fantastic motherboard for any Ryzen 3000 series CPU. You can install plenty of RAM and take advantage of the excellent stability and build quality with passive cooling for the VRMs and more.

$307 at Newegg

Best Value X570

ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi)

This motherboard has everything you need to build a capable AMD-powered PC, including Ryzen 3000 series support, X570 chipset, PCIe 4.0 support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, cooling for the voltage regulator modules, and more. In fact, you could even push this motherboard a little further with some overclocking.

See at Amazon

$192 at Newegg

Best Value B550

ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS

For those who are budget conscious, the ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS is an excellent value motherboard focusing on saving money. You’ve got a slightly less capable chipset in the B550M, but it is more than good enough for most AMD PC builds. The power phase delivery design is good enough for even a stable Ryzen 9 experience, so too is the rest of the board.

$154 at Amazon

$156 at Newegg

Compact ITX

GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS Pro Wi-Fi

This compact motherboard supports AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors and is a compact platform for smaller PC builders. An ITX motherboard can fit inside smaller PC cases, allowing you to build more unique desktops. It’s no slouch, though. You’ve got two DIMM RAM slots, an 8-phase digital voltage regulation module solution, Wi-Fi, dual M.2 slots, and PCIe 4.0 support.

See at Amazon

$230 at Newegg

Enthusiast Platform

ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero X570

ASUS has the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero X570, which is an absolute monster of a motherboard. Not only does it rock the high-end AMD chipset, but also some other highlight features. You’ve got one excellent VRM setup that allows for some serious overclocking, PCIe 4.0 support, all the USB 3.2 ports and M.2 slots you need, and even 2.5Gb LAN. It’s for high-end, capable PC builds.

$380 at Newegg

What makes PCIe 4.0 so special?

PCIe stands for peripheral component interconnect express. It’s a standard that allows your PC to communicate with various expansion cards, be it your GPU, sound card, wi-fi or ethernet adapters, and even M.2 SSD storage. Coming in at x1, x4, x8, or x16 lanes, the higher the number essentially means the more bandwidth available.

Depending on what you need to install onto the motherboard, you’ll need to match up the PCIe lane numbers. For graphics cards, you need to use x16. A Wi-Fi or ethernet hub may only require x1 or x4. The more lanes, the larger the slot is on the motherboard. Most modern motherboards come with a mixture of slots. The largest ones (usually between one and three) are x16.

Like the number of lanes available, PCIe 4.0, compared to PCIe 3.0, is basically more bandwidth. The good news is everything is backward compatible, so you could use a PCIe 4.0 GPU on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard, or vice-versa though you won’t get all the benefits from a PCIe 4.0 component.

NVIDIA’s latest GPUs are PCIe 4.0 certified and, as such, will run a little better on motherboards that also support the standard. These motherboards will be a good fit for a modern gaming PC build.

Choosing the best AMD AM4 motherboard with PCIe 4.0

Choosing the best motherboard for your build primarily comes down to what you need. If you’re only after PCIe 4.0 support and don’t mind about any other feature, the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming is an excellent choice that doesn’t cost too much either. It’s a newer model of the older ASUS ROG Strix X470-F we reviewed positively.

If you want to build a more compact system, something like the GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS Pro Wi-Fi would be a better match, being able to be installed inside smaller mini-ITX cases. It only comes with a single x16 PCIe 4.0 slot but does allow you to throw on your favorite GPU.

These are the best AMD AM4 motherboards with PCIe 4.0

You need to wash and cure resin prints, how does Anycubic's do?

Best answer: Yes! Properly washing and curing resin 3D prints is crucial, and the Anycubic Wash and Cure V2 is an inexpensive way to handle the messy reality of resin 3D printing. With a 3.5l Isopropyl Alcohol tank and a UV turntable, it takes a lot of the fuss out of resin post-processing.

What does the Wash and Cure v2 do?

As the name suggests, the wash and cure station has the ability to wash and cure your prints, with a button that switches it between the two modes, then there is a rotary encoder for setting the timer function. The cleaning bucket has a magnetically spun propeller at the bottom for agitating the cleaning fluid, which is a little noisy, but it means the bucket is completely sealed. To cure the model, you take it out of the cleaning fluid, dry it with a paper towel or hairdryer and replace the cleaning tank with the turntable. This is keyed into the base, not magnetic, so it’s very secure.

The button on the front switches the unit from wash mode to cure mode, which reduces the turntable speed and activates the lights. All you need to do is put the model in and replace the lid, and your print will start curing.

Keeping in line with the safety aspect, the Wash and Cure v2 will not let you cure a model without the lid on. The yellow lid might look a bit strange, but the colour is chosen because it absorbs most of the UV light emitted, so the UV lamp doesn’t damage your eyes. Keeping you safe is one of the primary reasons to have a Wash & Cure v2.

Why do you need the Wash and Cure v2?

With all the benefits you get from resin 3D printing, using the part just after the part has finished isn’t one of them. You need to wash the excess uncured resin off the part and then fully cure it in a UV chamber. There are multiple ways to do this; the simplest being a small bucket with a lid and a few bottles of Isopropyl Alcohol or another detergent (if you are in the US, Mean Green works well), and leaving the model out in the sun, but a dedicated washing and curing station is much more effective.

I would have loved to have had the wash and cure v2 when I was reviewing the Photon Mono a few months back; it would have made post-processing in my crowded environment significantly safer.

Properly washing and curing a print is also a safety issue. Uncured or partially cured photopolymer resins can have health side effects with breathing and skin sensitivity, which is why you should wear Nitrile gloves and a respirator when operating one of these machines. Reducing your contact with uncured parts is one of the reasons these Wash and Cure machines are produced, along with other must-have 3d printing accessories

Our pick

Anycubic Wash and Cure v2

$180 at Amazon

Cheap and cheerful

The Anycubic Wash and Cure V2 is one of the machines with a great price to performance ratio in this class. With a tank that holds up to 3.5l and a timer that can go for up to an hour, prints from the Photon Mono fit perfectly in this volume

You need to wash and cure resin prints, how does Anycubic's do?

Next Halo: MCC flight begins, includes new Halo 3 maps and armors

More content is always welcome.

What you need to know

343 Industries has announced that the next Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) flight has launched.
The flight includes two new Halo 3 maps from Halo Online, content from the upcoming Season 6, and several additional options for keybindings, audio, FOV, and viewmodels.
In a week or two, the custom games browser is also expected to be tested.
You’ll need to be a Halo Insider to participate in test flights like this one.

343 Industries has officially launched the next Halo: Master Chief Collection (MCC) flight that was planned for the end of February 2021. It was originally supposed to come out earlier in the month, but an unexpected bug led the studio to delay the flight.

The main contents of the flight includes two new maps for Halo 3 from Halo Online called Edge and Waterfall. Other additions in the flight include content from the upcoming Season 6 (most notably, Halo 3 versions of the armor seen in Halo: Fireteam Raven), FOV adjustment support for Xbox One consoles, an unlocked FOV slider for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles that are set in 120Hz mode, double keybindings, support for mouse and keyboard on Xbox, and new options for both audio and weapon viewmodel settings.

A week or two into the flight, 343 also plans to introduce and test the long-awaited custom games browser. This browser will allow players to join public custom games lobbies, which will no doubt help the MCC’s non-matchmaking multiplayer community thrive.

ODST/TAC and ODST/HVY, two of the Fireteam Raven armor sets that will be available for use in Halo 3.

To participate in flights like these, players will need to sign up for the Halo Insider Program. Doing so is free and simple and it will also be part of how to play the Halo Infinite beta when it comes out. Therefore, you should definitely sign up. If you’re lucky, 343 Industries might even send out a second wave of invites for this flight and you might get to participate in it after you register. You should also check out the MCC if you haven’t already, as it offers all of the pre-Xbox One Halo shooters in a single bundle. It’s easily one of the best Xbox One shooters available, and it’s also an excellent game to play while waiting for Halo Infinite to arrive.

Finish the Fight

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

$40 at Microsoft (Xbox One)
$40 at Microsoft (PC)
$40 at Steam

Experience the entirety of Halo history

The Master Chief Collection is a collection of every Halo shooter from the pre-Xbox One era, offering incredible value at an incredible price.

Next Halo: MCC flight begins, includes new Halo 3 maps and armors

Here are 10 Xbox games that need 'FPS Boost'

Better framerates for better experiences.

Backward compatibility has been a huge focus for the Xbox platform in recent years. The engineering wizards at Microsoft are not only looking to preserve your existing catalog of titles but improve them as well. This started with Xbox One X enhancements for titles like Halo 3, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and many more. With the dramatically increased performance capabilities of the Xbox Series X and S, Microsoft is pushing the back-compat envelope even further with ‘FPS Boost.’

This system-side feature automatically doubles or even quadruples the framerates for select titles. The rather small initial batch of games includes Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs 2, Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, and UFC 4. While Microsoft has stated that most Xbox One games can support this technology, they are currently testing more titles and working to get publisher approval before rolling out these updates. With almost endless possibilities for game upgrades, these are the 10 games we want to see with FPS Boost on Xbox.

Dark Souls III

As it stands, Dark Souls III is the only From Software Souls-like available on Xbox that doesn’t support 60fps. In fact, this incredible RPG only runs at 900p and is capped at 30fps even on the Xbox Series X. Despite Dark Souls III being hands-down one of my favorite games of all time, I can’t force myself to play the Xbox version because of these limitations. Out of framerate desperation, I begrudgingly re-purchased the conclusion to this trilogy on Steam. As the biggest Dark Souls III Stan on Twitter, I really need to see the tech wizards at Xbox redeem this release with FPS Boost. If anything, it’ll give me another excuse to replay Dark Souls III for the umpteenth time. – Miles Dompier

Dishonored 2

Arkane Studios is a talented developer and soon to become an Xbox first-party studio. The team’s arguable masterpiece is Dishonored 2, a game that builds on everything that worked in the first Dishonored and expands it with new options and greater setpieces that are truly gorgeous. Still, taking a combat-focused approach can feel sluggish on the console, where the game is capped at 30 FPS. I’d love to see this game brought up to 60 FPS through FPS Boost, making it every bit the speedy, sleek assassination simulator it deserves to be. – Samuel Tolbert

Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive was one of the most criminally overlooked releases on Xbox One. Insomniac Games managed to combine the intense action of a frantic 3 rd-person brawler with the mobility of Jet Set Radio Future or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and present this winning formula in a stylized open-world setting. Even though this was a premiere exclusive for Xbox One, it never saw any enhancements for the Xbox One X. This is sadly a case of another fantastic game hindered by the limitations of base Xbox One hardware. I’d love the opportunity to revisit Sunset City in a buttery smooth 60fps instead of its current locked 30fps. – Miles Dompier

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the standout titles from the early days of the Xbox One generation. This charming platformer introduced us to the tearjerking story of Ori, and while the combat is much, much simpler, it’s every bit the challenging title Will of the Wisps is. While it runs at a smooth 60 FPS already, seeing it tap into the advanced CPU power of the newest consoles and running at 120 FPS through FPS Boost would be incredible, so I’m hoping it’ll happen. – Samuel Tolbert

Dead Rising 3

I have a soft spot for the Dead Rising franchise. The first entry was the main reason I rushed out to buy an Xbox 360 around launch. The absurd, campy take on a zombie-outbreak just checked all the right boxes for me as a player. Decimating hordes of undead with dumb weapons found in a mall was exactly my kind of game. Unfortunately, after a couple of mediocre releases, the future of the series seems very unclear. While it definitely isn’t the strongest entry, I’d still love to see Dead Rising 3 running at 60fps on my Series X as a way to re-experience an interesting era in Xbox history. It’s kind of wild to think that last-gen kicked off with 720p 30fps exclusives. – Miles Dompier

Alien Isolation

Creative Assembly is mainly known for strategy games, such as the upcoming Total War: Warhammer 3, but the studio made one of the best horror games this generation with Alien Isolation. The terror of barely fighting off the nightmarish creature and scrounging around to survive on Sevastapol station is remarkable, an experience only limited by how the game runs at 30 FPS on Xbox consoles. With FPS Boost, this horror experience would be smooth sailing at 60 FPS. – Samuel Tolbert

Alan Wake

Much like Twin Peaks and the other strange pieces of media that inspired it, Alan Wake has garnered a serious cult following since its release back in 2010. For the droves of ravenous fans clamoring for a sequel, things were very quiet on the Alan Wake front for quite some time. Thankfully, some big teases in the latest expansion for Control once again rekindle hopes for a new adventure starring everyone’s favorite flashlight-wielding author. As an Xbox 360 game with no Xbox One X enhancements, Alan Wake currently runs at 540p 30fps. With the success of Control, FPS Boost would be a great way to experience the introduction of this gaming universe. – Miles Dompier

Prey

Another Arkane game, Prey, shares DNA with Dishonored but eschews a whalepunk technological revolution for near science fiction, as players take on the role of the amnesiac Morgan Yu. The game looks clean thanks to Xbox One X upgrades, but combat remains sluggish due to a 30 FPS cap. FPS Boost could take this game of twists and turns and give it the combat speed it deserves. – Samuel Tolbert

The Evil Within

The Evil Within 2 is easily one of the more impressive examples of the capabilities of backward compatibility on the Xbox Series X. On the One X, the game ran at an impressive 1800p but could never really maintain 60fps. It’s been awesome going back and revisiting this horror title at a locked 60fps on my Series X. My positive experience with The Evil Within 2 led me to redownload the original The Evil Within as well. Still, diving back into this predecessor was scary for all the wrong reasons. At a shockingly unimpressive 640p 30fps, I can’t currently recommend The Evil Within on Xbox. Let’s hope FPS Boost can help change that. – Miles Dompier

Dead Space trilogy

Alright, we’re cheating with this one. Yes, we want the whole Dead Space trilogy to receive FPS Boost. These iconic horror games are a backward compatibility highlight and a showpiece for how Auto HDR works. If they could be boosted to 60 FPS or even 120 FPS, it’d make fast-paced Necromorph-killing better than ever before. – Samuel Tolbert

What games do you want to see with FPS Boost?

While Microsoft has stressed the ease of adding Xbox One games to the program, it is worth mentioning that the future of FPS Boost for Xbox 360 and OG Xbox titles remains unclear. Jason Ronald and the team at Xbox are currently evaluating whether or not this is possible, but there is a chance for further enhancements for some of your favorite retro games. With so much potential and so many wild possibilities, what Xbox games do you want to see receive FPS Boost? Let us know in the comments!

Leading 4K

Xbox Series X

See at Microsoft
See at Amazon
See at Best Buy

The full next-generation experience.

Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s new flagship, as its most powerful console with over 12TF GPU performance and a custom SSD. It boasts up to 4K resolution and 120 FPS, full backward compatibility across four generations, and ray-tracing support.

Next-gen in HD

Xbox Series S

See at Microsoft
See at Amazon
See at Best Buy

Experience next-gen gaming for less.

Microsoft serves the next-generation for less with its budget-friendly Xbox Series S. The console packs the same high-performance CPU and SSD technology as Xbox Series X, while scaling back the GPU and removing the disc drive.

Xbox

Xbox One S or Xbox One X?
Killer Xbox One Accessories in 2020
Must-buy Xbox One Headsets
Our Favorite Xbox One Wireless Headsets
Best Upcoming Xbox Games for 2020
Charge Up With These Xbox Battery Solutions

Here are 10 Xbox games that need 'FPS Boost'

How to maximize battery life in your business laptop

Go the distance.

While it’s not too difficult to find a wall plug to hook into for charging these days, this isn’t always the case. You might be stuck using your business laptop for hours in a place where there’s not a single open plug available, and as a result, you’ll want to take steps to squeeze as much usage time as possible out of your device. After all, being left with a dead laptop when you need to get work done is quite a problem. Here are some strategies you can use to make the most of your battery.

Optimize for best battery life in Windows 10

The first step you should take to improve the battery life of your laptop is to click the battery icon in the Windows 10 taskbar and drag the slider that appears all the way to the left towards “best battery life.” This will optimize your device’s battery usage so that it prioritizes battery conservation over speed.

Use the Battery Saver feature

Another great way to improve your laptop’s battery life is to turn on Battery Saver in Windows 10. This feature reduces your screen brightness by 30 percent and disables background saving and updating for many apps, which in turn gives your battery longevity a big boost.

Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you don’t need it

Turning off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity when it isn’t needed is another excellent way to save battery. For example, if you need to download a document, edit it, and then send it back to someone, turn your Wi-Fi off while you’re working on it locally. Bluetooth drains battery a lot faster than Wi-Fi does, so if you have to choose between turning off one or the other, choose Bluetooth.

Use Microsoft Edge

While it may not be the most popular web browser available for various reasons, one thing that Microsoft Edge is fantastic for is saving battery. Compared to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge uses much less power, and as a result is much more battery efficient.

Use Dark Mode and dark backgrounds

Finally, using Dark Mode whenever possible in programs or browsers can help quite a lot when it comes to conserving battery. This is because Dark Mode ensures the pixels on your screen don’t have to light up much, which saves a lot on power. Using a dark desktop background is also a good idea, too.

What are some great battery-efficient laptops?

There are several great battery-efficient laptops out there, but in our minds, nothing tops the HP Intel Evo lineup. This includes both the HP Envy x360 and the HP Spectre x360, which are both powered by 11th Gen Intel processors that are both very powerful and incredibly battery-efficient thanks to their advanced design. Both laptops also support Wi-Fi 6, which reduces battery drain compared to the previous generation of Wi-Fi. Both laptops also make use of excellent Intel Xe graphics and plenty of memory and storage.

While both laptops are very capable, the HP Envy x360 is the more mainstream and budget-friendly of the two. It has a less powerful processor and a smaller amount of memory and storage, but the trade-off is that it’s also considerably less expensive. This makes it perfect for people who want a great machine but also want to save money.

The HP Spectre x360 is the more powerful device, which can be attributed to its stronger processor and higher amounts of memory and storage. The increased price won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for top-notch performance and don’t mind paying a little extra, you’ll love the Spectre. Notably, it has options for 4K displays and touch support, and you can also use it like a tablet if you want thanks to the convertible nature of the device.

Affordable excellence

HP ENVY x360

From $899 at HP

Superb performance for a mainstream cost

The HP ENVY x360 is your best bet if you’re looking for a great balance between price and performance. It’s capable, affordable, and features a sleek, attractive design that everyone will love.

Best-in-class

HP Spectre x360

From $899 at HP (13-inch)
From $1,200 at HP (14-inch)

It doesn’t get better than this

The HP Spectre x360 is the definition of high quality. It delivers even stronger performance than the HP ENVY x360 and features an even more attractive and premium chassis, all while still remaining fairly affordable (though it will set you back more than the ENVY will). It comes in 13-inch and 14-inch variants.

How to maximize battery life in your business laptop

What display should you get for your business laptop?

Which panel is right for you?

Making sure you have the right type of display on your business laptop is important, as some business productivity tasks pair better with FHD screens better than 4K ones and vice versa. Additionally, there are also useful features many displays come with to keep in mind as well, such as touch support and anti-reflective coatings. Brightness is very important to consider, too.

Here’s a deep dive into the strengths and weaknesses of the two primary types of displays available on business laptops, as well as some of the features you should be on the lookout for with both of them.

1080p FHD: More with less

Displays with a resolution of 1080p are classified as FHD, and are mainly ideal for people who work with lots of text documents and word-heavy files during their average workday. The reason for this is that since you’re not working with visual media much (if at all), standard HD resolution will be more than enough for you. It’s also important to note that a big advantage of opting for a FHD display is that you’ll have better overall battery life compared to a device outfitted with a 4K screen.

The downside of FHD displays is that they’re not nearly as useful as 4K ones when it comes to viewing or editing visual media. This is because 4K displays look much sharper and also tend to have better color accuracy, meaning that on a 4K display, the image will “pop” more and more detail will be visible for admiration (or scrutiny).

4K UHD: Supreme quality

Displays with a 4K resolution are perfect for people who work with a lot of images or video for their business work. This is because the higher resolution helps you see the finer details in these forms of visual media, and that’s useful if you need to tweak the way an image looks or add certain types of effects to your videos. 4K displays usually also have better colors, too.

The problem with 4K displays is that they drain battery life a lot faster than FHD panels do since the laptop’s hardware has to essentially render four times as many pixels as it would have to for a FHD screen. Therefore, while all-day battery life is still achievable with 4K business laptops, the battery life is still generally going to pale in comparison to FHD laptops.

Other notable display features

While resolution is the most important factor to consider when picking a display for your laptop, it’s not the only one. There are a handful of other important features and specs you’ll want to keep in mind as well. The first is touch support, which is usually something you’ll find in convertible laptops that can be used like tablets. Touchscreens give the user more flexibility, especially if they support digital pens. However, the downside to them is that they drain the battery more. Overall, touchscreens can be incredibly beneficial to folks who like to work on text documents the old-fashioned way or want to take an artistic approach to their visual media work.

Brightness is also an important spec to consider, too. Displays with a brighter maximum brightness combat sun glare and generally look better than dimmer options, but higher brightness also means faster battery drain. 250 nits of brightness is considered the baseline of what’s good enough, while 400 nits or higher is considered ideal for peak glare resistance and image quality.

Finally, there’s anti-reflective coatings, which are a universally beneficial feature. Anti-reflective panels nullify the effects of sun glare regardless of the display’s brightness, making them very valuable.

What laptops have great displays to choose from?

While there are many business laptops available that have awesome displays, our favorite picks are the latest laptops from the HP Intel Evo line. This includes the budget-friendly HP ENVY x360 and the 13 and 14-inch variants of the premium HP Spectre x360. Both devices come with excellent 11th Gen Intel processors, strong Intel Xe graphics, and plenty of memory and storage.

The HP ENVY x360 is perfect for people who mainly focus on paperwork or text-heavy workflows on the web. This is because its FHD display is better suited for this work, and also because it has less powerful specs compared to the Spectre (though it’s not “weak” by any means!). The display is also pretty bright at 400 nits, meaning that you’ll never struggle to see your work.

The HP Spectre x360, meanwhile, is a great choice for people who work with visual media or people who work with both media and text. This is because its stronger specs and 400 nit 4K touchscreen display options are better for this type of workflow. The convertible nature of the Spectre is also great for people who like to be able to use their laptop like a tablet.

Affordable excellence

HP ENVY x360

From $899 at HP

Superb performance for a mainstream cost

The HP ENVY x360 is your best bet if you’re looking for a great balance between price and performance. It’s capable, affordable, and features a sleek, attractive design that everyone will love.

Best-in-class

HP Spectre x360

From $899 at HP (13-inch)
From $1,200 at HP (14-inch)

It doesn’t get better than this

The HP Spectre x360 is the definition of high quality. It delivers even stronger performance than the HP ENVY x360 and features an even more attractive and premium chassis, all while still remaining fairly affordable (though it will set you back more than the ENVY will). It comes in 13-inch and 14-inch variants.

What display should you get for your business laptop?

Got HEIC and HEVC files on Windows 10? Here's how to view them.

If you have to view HEIF images or H.265 videos, you will need to install a couple of extensions, and in this guide, we’ll show you the steps to complete this task on Windows 10.

On computing, the High-Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is a container for images and videos designed specifically to improve the compression of files and at the same time continue improving image quality and additional benefits over older formats (JPEG, PNG, and GIF) and videos using the High-Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) specification.

Although the file format existed for many years, it was not until Apple began using the HEIF container to save photos on its devices that it became popular, and other companies started adopting it into their platforms. For instance, Google began using this format in 2018 with the Android 9 Pie mobile OS release.

On Windows 10, support for HEIF comes pre-installed on every installation starting with the October 2018 Update. However, this is only for the image codec (MPEG-H Part 2). If you want to play H.265 videos, you still have to install the HEVC extension.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through the steps to add full support for HEIF on a device, helping you avoid extra steps to convert HEIC to JPG to view pictures.

How to add HEIF codec support on Windows 10
How to fix HEIF codec support on Windows 10

How to add HEIF codec support on Windows 10

On Windows 10, the codecs may already be available, but you will have to install them from the Microsoft Store if they are not. The only issue is that if you need to get them manually, you may come across the paid version of the required extensions. However, you may be able to download them for free using these instructions.

To set up the HEIF support on Windows 10, use these steps:

Open your prefered browser.
Open the HEVC extension page in the Microsoft Store.
Click the Get (or Install/Open) button.

Quick tip: The free option is only available when you are signed in with your Microsoft account. Otherwise, it will prompt you to redeem a code to get it.
Click the Open button.
Click the Install button.

Open the HEIF extension page in the Microsoft Store.
Click the Get (or Install/Open) button..

Click the Open button.
Click the Install button.

Once you complete the steps, you should be able to view “.heic” file extensions encoded using the HEIF container with Photos or another compatible app like the Microsoft Paint program.

How to fix HEIF codec support on Windows 10

In the event that you are experiencing problems viewing images and videos with this format in the Photos app, you can reset the extensions to resolve the most common issues.

Reset HEIF extension

To fix HEIF problems on Windows 10, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps & features.
Under the “Apps & features” section, select the HEIF Image Extensions item.
Click the Advanced options.

Click the Reset button.

Click the Reset button again.

After you complete the steps, images using the HEIF container should now open with compatible apps like the Photos app.

Reset HEVC extension

To fix HEVC issues on Windows 10, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps & features.
Under the “Apps & features” section, select the HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer item.
Click the Advanced options.

Click the Reset button.

Click the Reset button again.

Once you complete the steps, the video encoded with the HEIF container should now play normally on any compatible app, such as Movies & TV or Windows Media Player.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Windows 10 on Windows Central – All you need to know
Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks
Windows 10 forums on Windows Central

Got HEIC and HEVC files on Windows 10? Here's how to view them.