Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: AUKEY

Introduction and First Impressions

Aukey, a prominent seller of mobile accessories on Amazon, has an interesting product for PC enthusiasts: an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard for $59.99. The price is definitely right, but is it any good? We’ll take a look!

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“The AUKEY KM-G3 mechanical keyboard takes the gaming experience to a new level. Tactile, responsive mechanical keys put you in control for an outstanding typing or gaming experience. The KM-G3 offers preloaded multi-color RGB backlit lighting effects and patterns. Ideal for FPS, CF, COD, LOL and Racing games - Just use the Function key to easily switch between gaming presets.”

The KM-G3 keyboard is a standard 104-key design, using blue switches (presumably a generic switch as no brand is listed), and there is RGB lighting which can be cycled between various colors and patterns, or switched off if desired. Aukey is also offering a 2-year warranty on the keyboard, which should help allay any fear about a purchase.

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Continue reading our review of the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB mechanical gaming keyboard!

Introduction and Case Exterior

The Define Mini C is the micro-ATX variant in Fractal Design's excellent Define series, and this compact chassis is nearly as small as some of the mini-ITX cases we've looked at in recent months. The advantages of micro-ATX for a small form-factor build are undeniable, including added expansion slots (and multi-GPU support), and more robust power delivery for greater CPU flexibility including AMD socket AM3/AM3+ support.

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I freely admit to being a small form-factor enthusiast myself, and as much as I like mini-ITX, there are times when micro-ATX just makes sense. I mentioned AMD compatibility above, but even if you're building with Intel there are reasons to consider mATX. One of these is Intel's enthusiast platform, as X99 requires at least a micro-ATX board for quad-channel memory and greater PCIe flexibility. (Naturally, at least one mITX X99 board is available, but this is limited to a pair of memory slots and - of course - has just one PCIe slot.)

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As soon as I unpacked the Define Mini C, I knew it would make a perfect home for the EVGA X99 Micro2 motherboard I had on hand. This micro-ATX board makes a compelling argument for the smaller form-factor, as very little is lost vs. full ATX. The Mini C (which sounds like the name of a mini-ITX product, but Fractal's mITX variant is the called Nano S - which I reviewed a few months back) should make a great home for a powerful compact system. Let's get started!

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define Mini C case!!

Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction and First Impressions

The Source S340 from NZXT has been one of my favorite enclosures since I reviewed it early in 2015, offering a fantastic price/performance proposition with a street price between $69 and $79. Fortunately, this outstanding compact ATX design isn't going anywhere, and since my original review NZXT has introduced a premium Designed by Razer version, and this new S340 Elite was released just last month.

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What makes the Elite so, well, elite? There are some key changes with this new version, including a tempered glass side panel, VR support from an external HDMI port and an included puck for storing a VR headset and cables, as well as new plastic cable management clamps behind the motherboard tray, an extra SSD mount up front, and a pair of USB 2.0 ports along with the previous USB 3.0 ports up top. While the VR support won't be required for everyone, the tempered glass panel alone makes this an attractive option at its $99.99 retail price, which is a very modest $20 premium over the standard version's $79.99 MSRP.

This review will be a little less in-depth compared to the usual review, as the S340 chassis is unchanged internally from our full review last April. Still, there is enough new here to take a fresh look at the S340 Elite, and it will be good to test it again with the current testbench components and see how it has held up.

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The tempered glass side panel is the star of the 340 Elite

Continue reading our review of the NZXT Source S340 Elite case!!

Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and First Impressions

Corsair’s Carbide Series Air 740 is a high-airflow cube-like ATX case, and it has a different look and some different options compared to the previous Air 540. Both Air cases are dual-chamber designs, with tons of room behind the motherboard tray for storage and hiding cables (and watercooling components). The cube style might not be to everyone’s liking, but if you do like the aesthetics there is a lot of case to cover here. Let’s get started!

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The original Carbide Air enclosure has been around for a few years, and Ryan reviewed Air 540 back in 2013. The new Air 740 is more a refinement than a new enclosure, and internally the two cases are very similar. Corsair has dropped the 5.25-inch external drive bays with the 740, and the door has a very nice hinged/latching design now. Style is a little more aggressive, but the fundamentals are the same: a cube design offering two large chambers, and generous venting to promote high airflow.

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The Air 740 has a hinged, latching door

Continue reading our review of the Corsair Carbide Air 740 case!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple

Introduction and Specifications

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are here, and while outwardly they look very similar to last year’s 6s models, there have been some significant upgrades (and a highly controversial change) to the new phones. Is there enough in this iterative update to justify an upgrade? After spending a couple of weeks using one as my primary device, I will attempt to answer this question.

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While there had been rumors swirling of an all-new design featuring an OLED display, Apple appears to be holding back until next year - which just happens to be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Considering this fact, it may just be that the iPhone 7 is something of a stop-gap for 2017. Some of the rumored elements are here, however; with the elimination of the physical home button (it's a solid-state version now) and 3.5 mm headphone jack (the latter causing much consternation). The camera on both phones is completely new as well, with a special dual-lens version exclusive to the 7 Plus.

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First we'll go over the specs of these phones. As you can see, there are still some areas that are not fully known, such as the exact speed of the low-power cores in the new quad-core SoC, and the specifics about this year's GPU.

  Apple iPhone 7 Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Processor Apple A10 Fusion SoC
2.34 GHz dual-core + 2x low-power cores (? MHz)
Graphics 6-core (unknown GPU)
Memory 2GB 3GB
Screen 4.7-inch IPS, DCI-P3 capable 5.5-inch IPS, DCI-P3 capable
Storage 32GB/128GB/256GB
Cameras Back: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, OIS
Front: 7MP, ƒ/2.2
Back: 12MP, f /1.8, OIS
Dual-camera with 2x telephoto lens
Front: 7MP, ƒ/2.2
Video Video: 4K @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60/30 fps, 720p @ 30 fps Video: 4K @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60/30 fps, 720p @ 30 fps
Audio Stereo Speakers
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO 
Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
Cellular
(Model A1778/1784)
FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) 
TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41) 
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz) 
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Connection Lightning
Battery 1960 mAh 2900 mAh
Dimensions 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
(5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches)
138 g (4.87 oz)
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
(6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches)
188 g (6.63 oz)
OS iOS 10
Price $649 - $849 $769 - $969

Nearly a Decade of iPhone

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The iPhone was introduced in 2007 (Image credit: Apple, via archive.org)

It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years since the original iPhone launched. Announced in January of 2007 by Steve Jobs during his keynote speech at CES, it set a standard that the rest of the industry would take some time to meet (remember, the first Android phone was over a year away at this point.) But nine years is an age in technology years, and that first version seems like an antique now. (The original iPhone specs: 3.5-inch display with 320x480 resolution, single-core ARM processor running at 412 MHz, 128 MB of system memory, 4GB/8GB storage.)

Continue reading our review of the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus!!

Manufacturer: REEVEN

Introduction and Specifications

The JUSTICE from REEVEN is a tower cooler with six heatpipes, and a 120 mm PWM fan with distinctive yellow-and-black styling. But what really matters is performance, and that’s what we’re going to find out about as we pit it against the Intel Broadwell-E test system.

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Have you heard of REEVEN? A search on Amazon reveals only a pair of older models, but Newegg carries the full range of coolers and fan controllers the Taiwanese company offers. Prices are low for this segment, with their CPU coolers starting at $24.99, and this JUSTICE cooler priced at $42 on Newegg. What you get for this price sounds impressive on paper, and I wasted no time in finding out how that translated into real-world results.

REEVEN sent along a second 120 mm COLDWING 12 fan for us to test with the JUSTICE, as the cooler includes installation hardware for a dual-fan setup, and I tested the cooler with my Core i7-6800K in both configurations - with both stock and overclocked CPU loads.

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Continue reading our review of the REEVEN JUSTICE Tower Air CPU Cooler!

Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and Specifications

The Primera Series PM01 is a new tower enclosure from SilverStone which combines sleek looks and integrated LED lighting.

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It's been a little while since we've taken a look at a new case from SilverStone, and the company has certainly not been idle during this time. The case we have for you today is the first model from the new Primera Series, which offers "the feel of a luxurious supercar" from its angular lines and mesh grills, and it features an impressive piano black high gloss finish (a white version is also available).

The PM01 is also equipped with a trio of 140 mm intake fans, which in our black review sample are outfitted with red LED lights (the white version contains blue lighting). In addition to the front fans, the case has integrated LED lighting strips above and beneath the large side panel window, and the lighting effects can be controlled with a 4-position selector button on the top of the case.

SilverStone lists these features for the PM01 enclosure:

  • Includes three 140mm LED fans and built-in LED strips for stunning visual impact
  • Oversized front panel mesh design inspired by supercar intake grill
  • Support two 240/280/360mm radiator for AIO liquid cooler or custom water cooling
  • Reserved water tank mounting holes for water cooling setup
  • Removable filters with positive air pressure design for dust reduction
  • Built-in 4-segment LED light controller to adjustable brightness and modes
  • Super clean internal look with PSU and drive bay cover
  • Includes 10-in-1 fan hub for fan cable management

The metal mesh front and rear exhaust suggest excellent airflow, and we will find out just how effectively this new case can cool a gaming build - and how quietly it does so.

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Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Primera Series PM01 case!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Evoluent

The Handshake Approach

Evoluent is a maker of ergonomic mice and keyboards, and we received one of the company's vertical mice for review. At a glance you can see that it's a very different design than the typical mouse, as it is intended to be used with the arm in a "handshake" position.

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"The patented ergonomic shape supports your hand in an upright neutral posture that eliminates forearm twisting. Many users said the Evoluent VerticalMouse provides superior comfort and even relieved their wrist pain."

The vertical design has been implemented to reduced strain on the arm and wrist, but how much of an adjustment is there in moving to this orientation? How sensitive and accurate is the sensor? Depending on your workload, precision might trump comfort, but if the VerticalMouse can provide both it would be quite an achievement.

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To test it out I resolved to use the VerticalMouse with my PC exclusively for a week. It was a startling change at first, feeling quite foreign in the first minutes. For someone who uses a standard mouse hours a day (sound familiar?) I felt like I wasn't in control as I attempted to move the cursor around, and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to adjust. But I pushed on, and rapidly began to grow accustomed to the feeling.

Switching to something that promises to ease discomfort doesn't always mean instant gratification, as any seller of orthopedic shoes can tell you. There is going to be a period of adjustment, with the end result outweighing any initial hesitation - when it's effective, of course. I could spoil the review a bit here and tell you if I'm still using the mouse after a week (I am), but I'll fully describe my impressions below.

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Continue reading our review of the Evoluent VerticalMouse C Right wireless mouse!

Introduction and Specifications

In this roundup we'll explore the performance of three premium (and large) air coolers - with the ultra-popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in the mix to see how this $29 option stacks up against the big dogs on test.

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Many of the large air coolers on the market are built for ultra-efficient cooling at whisper-quiet volume levels. With massive heatsinks (and sometimes pairs of them) they can often cool demanding CPU loads with minimal fan speeds, and this usually results in very low noise output. Another advantage is the increased thermal headroom such a cooler provides, which can allow for overclocking without the need for liquid cooling - or even much additional noise.

So what coolers are included? In alphabetical order we have:

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Can the $29 Hyper 212 EVO hold its own in this group?

Kicking Cooler Testing up a Notch

I reviewed the Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT recently, using a Core i5 6600K-based test platform (the Scythe Ninja 4 was also reviewed using this platform), and readers correctly pointed out that a cooler of this size should really be tested with some more challenging thermal loads. The Core i5-6600K is a quad-core, single-threaded design with a 91W TDP, and in moving to a new CPU cooler test system I decided to make the jump to the 140W TDPs of Intel's LGA2011 processors.

So I ended up with a Core i7-6800K; a newer Broadwell-E design with a 6 core/12 thread configuration (and of course that 140W TDP). The base speed of the CPU is 3.40 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.60 GHz. Without much trouble I was able to push the CPU to 4.0 GHz on each core, and proceeded to test each of these coolers at both stock and OC frequencies. My hope is that the results to follow will adequately demonstrate just how effective these coolers are when really pressed.

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Continue reading our roundup of large CPU air coolers!!

Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction and Specifications

The Phanteks Enthoo Primo is a massive full-tower case with a monolithic appearance, and a ton of cooling support. It's tall, heavy, and certainly looks every bit the premium enclosure the price tag indicates. So how did it perform? Read on to find out!

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We've reviewed other cases in the Enthoo series from Phanteks, and these have been a solid choice in their respective price ranges. The cases we've looked at offer excellent construction, nice appearance, and excellent component support. The Enthoo Primo sits at the top of the lineup, and it looks it; a nearly 26-inch tall case that is nearly as deep, it's so large it even has a second ATX power supply mount (a dual PSU adapter is offered as a separate purchase).

So what market does this Enthoo Primo case serve? It could house any sort of enthusiast or high-end workstation/server setup, supporting EATX and even SSI EEB motherboard form-factors. There's a ridiculous amount of liquid cooling potential, though given its size the average all-in-one cooler will need to stay close to the processor given the length of typical AIO cooler hoses. This thing is begging for a custom watercooling loop (sorry, I didn't oblige in this review).

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The Enthoo Primo is fitted with an aluminum faceplate

Continue reading our review of the Phanteks Enthoo Primo enclosure!!