Finding Your Clique
One of the difficulties with purchasing a mechanical keyboard is that they are quite expensive and vary greatly in subtle, but important ways. First and foremost, we have the different types of keyswitches. These are the components that are responsible for making each button behave, and thus varying them will lead to variations in how those buttons react and feel.
Until recently, the Cherry MX line of switches were the basis of just about every major gaming mechanical keyboard, although we will discuss recent competitors later on. Its manufacturer, Cherry Corp / ZF Electronics, maintained a strict color code to denote the physical properties of each switch. These attributes range from the stiffness of the spring to the bumps and clicks felt (or heard) as the key travels toward its bottom and returns back up again.
|45 cN||Cherry MX Red||
Cherry MX Brown
Cherry MX Blue
Cherry MX White (old B)
|55 cN||Cherry MX Clear|
|60 cN||Cherry MX Black|
|80 cN||Cherry MX Linear Grey (SB)||Cherry MX Tactile Grey (SB)||
Cherry MX Green (SB)
Cherry MX White (old A)
Cherry MX White (2007+)
|90 cN||IBM Model M (not mechanical)|
|105 cN||Cherry MX Click Grey (SB)|
|150+ cN||Cherry MX Super Black|
(SB) Denotes switches with stronger springs that are primarily for, or only for, Spacebars. The Click Grey is intended for spacebars on Cherry MX White, Green, and Blue keyboards. The MX Green is intended for spacebars on Cherry MX Blue keyboards (but a few rare keyboards use these for regular keys). The MX Linear Grey is intended for spacebars on Cherry MX Black keyboards.
The four main Cherry MX switches are: Blue, Brown, Black, and Red. Other switches are available, such as the Cherry MX Green, Clear, three types of Grey, and so forth. You can separate (I believe) all of these switches into three categories: Linear, Tactile, and Clicky. From there, the only difference is the force curve, usually from the strength of the spring but also possibly from the slider features (you'll see what I mean in the diagrams below).
In the last few years NZXT has emerged as a popular choice for computer builds with stylish cases for a variety of needs. The newest member of the H series, the H440, promises quiet performance and offers a clean look by eliminating optical drive bays entirely from the design. While this might be a deal-breaker for some, the days of the ODD seem to be numbered as more enclosures are making the move away from the 5.25" bay.
Image credit: NZXT
But we aren't looking at just any H440 today, as NZXT has sent along a completely custom version designed in alliance with gaming accessory maker Razer to be "the ultimate gamer's chassis". (This case is currently available direct from NZXT's online store.) In this review we'll look at just what makes this H440 different, and test out a complete build while we're at it. Performance will be as big a metric as appearance here since the H440 is after all an enclosure designed for silence, with noise dampening an integral part of NZXT's construction of the case.
Green with Envy?
From the outset you'll notice the Razer branding extends beyond just special paint and trim, as custom lighting is installed right out of the box to give this incarnation of the H440 a little more gaming personality (though this lighting can be switched off, if desired). Not only do the front and side logos and power button light up green, but the bottom of the case features effects lighting to cast an eerie green glow on your desktop or floor.
Image credit: NZXT
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 1, 2014 - 05:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: razer, nzxt, h440
The NZXT H440 Razer Edition matches the layout and design of the regular H440 but now you can show off additional brand loyalty if you are into that sort of display. There is glowing Razer logo embedded in the front panel with clear plastic over top to protect it and give it a raised look. The interior is now much darker, which can make your LED lighting stand out more and does improve the looks of the cases interior. When all is said and done there is nothing about the case that has been improved over the base model; as Benchmark Reviews rightfully points out, you are paying $30 for looks if you chose this case and there will be those that do.
"Razer, creator of all things peripheral, has finally released their hotly anticipated entry into the chassis market. This is the NZXT H440 – Designed by Razer. With a completely new appearance featuring a matte black exterior and interior, four black NZXT fans, a large tinted window, and plenty of LED lighting, this chassis will be sure to make every Razer fan’s wish list, especially given that it retains the original H440 quality and simplicity."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT Source 340 Mid-Tower @ eTeknix
- NZXT S340 Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Quiet ATX Gamer, Fractal R5 Version @ Silent PC Review
- Reeven Ouranos RC-1401 Review @ OCC
- Enermax LIQMAX 120S @ techPowerUp
- Alpenföhn Brocken ECO @ eTeknix
- Reeven Okeanos RC-1402 Review @ OCC
- Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2014 - 03:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, corsair, logitech, Mad Catz, razer, roccat, steelseries, gaming mouse, keyboard, round up
The end of summer brings more than just pretty coloured leaves, you can also expect to see round ups of products released this year. The Register has put together an article looking at the best mice and keyboards for gamers which are currently available. In most cases they pair a keyboard and mouse from the same company so that your desk will look impressive with matching peripherals. It is not just about the aesthetics though, they also provide you with an overview of what features make each pairing unique and the features that should intrigue you. Check it out right here.
"In the case of the keyboards and mice I’m reviewing, it might be difficult to put forward a convincing argument that they are to blame, as they are all developed to make the very best of my gaming talents, but often this comes at a preposterous price."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CM Storm Mizar, TteSports Saphira and Balista MK-1 Head-to-Head Mouse Review @ eTeknix
- GAMDIAS ZEUS Laser Gaming Mouse Review @ NikKTech
- Cougar 700M Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- Zowie FK1 Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- Tt eSPORTS THERON Gaming Mouse Review @ Legit Reviews
- EVGA TORQ X10 Carbon Gaming Mouse Review @ Hardware Asylum
- ROCCAT Kone XTD Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
- Aorus Thunder M7 Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- Tt eSPORTS Poseidon ZX Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ TechwareLabs
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2014 - 09:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard
Earlier in the year, we reported on Corsair's exclusivity over Cherry MX RGB-based mechanical keyboards. The thing is, Razer develops their own switches and is not reliant on ZF Electronics (Cherry Corporation). The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma mechanical keyboard uses their own switches, not Cherry's, and is not subject to Corsair's exclusivity. The keyboard can be ordered now for $179.99 USD and will be available in September.
I contacted Razer and asked them about their technology. They could not provide any direct comparison between their design and the Cherry MX RGB, but they were able to add a few details to their offering. The BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma was designed with its LEDs positioned away from moving parts and lined up with the keycap imprint. The LEDs are pointed upward for brightness.
Razer will be providing developers with Chroma SDK, allowing games and applications to control the Chroma-enabled device lighting to assist or immerse their users. I say "Chroma-enabled device" rather than "Chroma keyboards", because they already have plans for mice and headsets with the same technology. At the very least, they expect that users will appreciate coordinated colors across their gaming peripherals.
The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma is available to order, for $179.99 USD ($199.99 CDN), and ships in September. A Chroma-enabled mouse, based on the DeathAdder design, and a Chroma-enabled headset, based on the Kraken model, are announced but do not yet have pricing or availability information.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | June 17, 2014 - 06:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nzxt, razer, cases, steel
There does not seem to be much difference between the newly announced Special Edition H440, "Designed by Razer", and the original. The announcement claims: a custom paint design, LED lighting, a tinted window, and more. The design includes four fans (3x 120mm and 1x 140mm) and supports water cooling radiators up to 360mm.
By the specifications, nothing is different, functionally. That said, when you are dealing with a company who will budget out hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development for a USB port color, it is entirely possible that a few screws might have moved slightly, and so forth. Then again, the images on the product pages seem fairly identical. Speaking of Razer's expensive USB ports, it looks like the USB 3.0 ports are that shade of green. Call it, "Extending their return on investment"?
Annnnd of course, no pricing or availability. That is, apart from: "Coming Soon".
Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2014 - 02:58 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, evga, gtx 780, 780 ACX, acx, titanfall, 750 ti, nvidia, 800m, 860m, razer
PC Perspective Podcast #291 - 03/13/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the EVGA GTX 780 ACX, Building a PC for Titanfall, NVIDIA's 800m GPU Lineup and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman
Week in Review:
0:41:35 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Leaving in the middle of podcasts
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 6, 2014 - 10:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, Cherry MX, cherry, mechanical keyboard
So Razer has a history of doing the unexpected. The peripheral manufacturer has branched out into other segments, including laptops, tablets, software, exercise equipment, and so forth. Their April Fools announcements are often hilarious but their real products sometimes feel as far-fetched, except that they release and apparently find an audience. If Project Christine comes out then it would be the best example, but Project Fiona and the Razer Blade seemed just as unlikely - and I've seen multiple Blades in the wild.
And yet it is their keyboard announcement which surprises me, today.
It turns out that Razer decided to design their own key switch modules, instead of ordering them off-the-shelf from ZF Electronics (Cherry). Razer will not manufacture these key modules, and they look enough like Cherry MX switches that I could guess who their third party manufacturer is, but they did push their own specifications. Razer claims that the main advantage is a higher actuation point, leading to less latency between when your finger starts moving, and when it has moved enough to activate the button.
Razer has developed two switches: "Green", which is their analogy of the Cherry MX Blue, and "Orange", which is analogous to the Cherry MX Brown. The former is clicky while the latter has a relatively silent bump.
The Green switches are available in the BlackWidow, BlackWidow Tournament, and BlackWidow (with the Orange switches in each Stealth variant). Some models will ship in late March with the rest shipping in April.
Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2014 - 02:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Razer Edge, razer
If you have spent the last year eyeing the Razer Edge 64GB and Edge Pro 256GB gaming tablets, now might be your time to pounce. Amazon is knocking $300 (30%) off of the 64GB version as well as $350 (24%) off of the 256GB one. This puts their prices at $700 and $1100, respectively.
The tablets have fairly decent internals, considering their price points. Both contain the comination of Intel HD4000 integrated graphics backed by an NVIDIA GT 640M LE discrete GPU (albeit the Pro version seems to have an extra gigabyte of vRAM). The Pro includes a dual-core Core i7 CPU, with hyper-threading, while the non-pro includes an i5. The Pro has 8GB of RAM, and the non-pro has 4GB. I probably would have little use for this device but, then again, I am a desktop guy.
The accessories, such as the gaming controller case and the docking station, unfortunately seem to remain at full price. Since they seem to be a sizable "point" of the Edge, that could slightly sour this price reduction.
Like most Amazon deals, it is anyone's guess when or if prices will go back up.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 03:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, Project Christine, Nabu, CES 2014, CES
Razer has a long history of announcing odd products at any given CES. Some of those products win prestigious awards such as Best of Show. A few of them also never see the light of day. This year, the company has two major announcements: a wristband computer called "Razer Nabu" and a modular computer concept called "Project Christine". The last one feels more like their April 1st announcements.
First: the wristband. The Razer Nabu (isn't it ironic that the god of wisdom and writing is a homonym of JarJar's home planet) is said to be somewhere between a Nike+ FuelBand and a smartwatch. Track the number of steps you take, calories you burned, floors you climbed by stairs, distance you traveled, hours you slept, and do some stuff with location data. They can sense one another, if someone nearby is also wearing theirs, and optionally share information. It is also expected to connect to Razer Comms at some point. It is unclear how many of these applications can be done directly with the device and how many require an Android or iOS smartphone nearby.
Razer is currently accepting requests from developers looking to purchase the device for $49 USD. That may or may not be the final consumer price for whenever it makes a real launch.
The other product is a little less, concrete.
Project Christine reminds me of that period where the tech world went nuts over the thought that Apple would design a modular Mac Pro. The thought is that you could swap modules in and out for upgrading purposes with peace of mind that you never need to open anything. Everything is external connections to black boxes. Razer seems to have taken that idea and run with it. Suffices to say, I am highly skeptical. I can think of about a dozen complications ranging from bandwidth to inventory to relative need compared to other solutions.
Sure, it looks cool, but just think about it (if it ends up being a legitimate project rather than a CES talking point). Are you really going to have Razer versions of every possible upgrade SKU? Would you really save anything over a custom solution or paying someone to do the technical work?
Interesting thought experiment, if nothing else, but I would be fairly shocked if we even see this mentioned again more than 8 months from now.
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