Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Wire Free with RGB

Corsair has been on a roll lately. We’ve looked at a number of their peripherals here at PC Perspective and have consistently found them to be well-built, performance accessories for your gaming rig. Today we’re leaving the keyboards and mice behind to take a look at a different, more divisive product category: the gaming headset. Corsair’s Void Pro RGB Wireless looks great on the surface but does it have the sound and comfort to match? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $99.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Wireless Range: Up to 40 feet (12m)
  • Surround Sound: Virtual 7.1 Dolby Headphone
  • Headphone Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20 kHz
  • Headphone Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1 kHz
  • Headphone Drivers Drivers: 50mm
  • Headphone Connector: USB Dongle
  • Battery Life: Up to 16 hours
  • Microphone Type: Unidirectional noise cancelling
  • Microphone Impedance: 2.0k Ohms
  • Microphone Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHz
  • Microphone Sensitivity: -38dB (+/-3dB)
  • Lighting: RGB
  • Audio CUE Software: YES
  • Warranty: Two years

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As always, we begin with packaging. Corsair always does a good job here. We find the usual black and yellow trim with the shard background on the face, as well as our key feature callouts. You can’t see it well on the box since they went with a black and white aesthetic but both the “sails” logo and the trim on the microphone’s boom arm are illuminated, though only the former is RGB. Inside the box, we find the headset well packaged without any annoying tie-downs.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair Void Pro RGB Wireless headset!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech
Tagged: pro, logitech, headset

eSports on a Casual Budget

Slowly but surely, gaming accessories are going to the way of sneakers. Growing up, if you wanted to be a “baller,” you wanted a pair of Jordans. Short of that, you at least wanted a pair of Nikes or Reeboks - something that screamed “sports.” Even though making it to the pros was about as common as winning the lottery, you still wanted to be like the pros with their amazing talent, millions of dollars, and adoring fans. So you’d lace up those shoes and think maybe, just maybe, they’d lend you a little bit of the magic promised in the commercials.

And so it goes with the rise of eSports. With pro gamers now competing in million dollar tournaments and filling out stadiums of their own, PC gaming peripherals are going to the way of Nike, inextricably tying themselves to competitive gaming with marketing and team sponsorships. Yet, at least in some cases, there may be some substance to the hype.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Logitech G Pro gaming headset. Yes, it’s got sponsorships printed on the side of the box and quotes from professional gamers on the product page, but with a renewed focus on performance over flash, could there be more to the G Pro than hype? Let’s find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $89.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Driver: Hybrid mesh PRO-G
  • Magnet: Neodymium
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 107dB@1KHz SPL 30mW/1cm
  • Noise Isolation: up to 16dB
  • Cable length: 2m
  • Surround: Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos for headphones Compatible
  • Microphone Pickup Pattern: Cardioid (Unidirectional)
  • Microphone Type: Back Electret Condenser
  • Microphone Size: 4mm
  • Microphone Frequency response: 100Hz-10KHz
  • Dimensions: 6.77 in (H) x 3.22in (W) x 7.17 in (D)
  • Weight: (w/o cable): 9.14 oz  (259 g)
  • PC Cable Length: 6.56 ft (2 m)
  • Warranty: 2-Year Limited Hardware Warranty

Materials:

  • Headband: TR90 nylon
  • Joint: Glass fiber reinforced nylon​
  • Slider: Stainless steel
  • Ear and head pads: Leatherette
  • Additional ear pads: Microsuede
  • Earcups: Soft-touch

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Beginning with packaging, we can see the simple approach right from the outset. The box mirrors the headset itself in its low key presentation. The most flash we see is on the rear with a large-text glossy black feature list and a slogan befitting its design: “One Purpose. Play to Win.”

Continue reading our review of the Logitech G Pro headset!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Specifications

Corsair’s HS70 gaming headset offers 2.4 GHz wireless operation, the option of 7.1 channel virtual surround effects, 50 mm neodymium drivers, and an impressively light weight. The big questions going into this review, as with all gaming headsets: how do they sound, how comfortable are they, and are they worth the price tag. Let’s find out!

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While you will quickly discover that the majority of this review concerns sound quality, it’s worth first noting the attention Corsair has made with the build quality of the HS70. As the company explains:

“Like all other CORSAIR products, carefully selected materials and components ensure long term reliability. Unlike many competitors that resort to low grade plastic components in critical structural support areas to reduce cost, HS70 WIRELESS uses rigid (AL5052) aluminum alloy yokes and a metal internal headband for increased strength and durability. High quality ABS plastics are used to further reinforce the outer headband and improve impact resistance. We built this headset to last.”

Comfort has also been considered with lightweight construction (330g or about 11.6 oz) as well as memory foam padding in the ear cushions and headband. Clamping force, heat and moisture resistance, and weight distribution have all be considered in this design, according to Corsair, and it all looks really impressive on paper. Now we just need to take it out of the box!

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair HS70 Wireless gaming headset!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Center Your Qi

Wireless charging mouse pads. It’s one of the ideas PC enthusiasts have been asking for since wireless chargers started taking over the smartphone scene. Yet, for years, this seemingly simple idea stymied accessory makers. It turns out, wirelessly charging a moving object is harder than it seems. Finally, the industry seems ready to surmount this challenge, each with their own unique twist.

We’ve seen what Logitech has to offer with PowerPlay and Razer with the FireFly HyperFlux. Today, we look at Corsair’s solution with the Dark Core RGB SE Wired/Wireless Qi Charging Mouse and the MM1000 Qi Wireless Charging Mouse Pad. Is it enough to win the market? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications

Dark Core RGB SE Wired/Wireless Qi Charging Mouse

  • MSRP: $89.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Programmable Buttons: 9
  • DPI: 16,000 DPI
  • Sensor: PMW3367
  • Sensor Type: Optical
  • Mouse Backlighting: 4 Zone RGB
  • On Board Memory: Yes
  • On-board Memory Profiles: 3
  • Mouse button Type: Omron
  • Connectivity: Wireless, Wired
  • Mouse Button Durability: 50M L/R Click
  • Grip Type: Palm
  • Battery Life: Up to 16hrs with standard lighting or 24hrs with backlighting off
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer
  • Cable: 1.8m Braided Fiber
  • CUE Software: Supported in CUE 2.0
  • Report Rate: 1000Hz
  • Battery Life: Up to 16hrs with standard lighting or 24hrs with backlighting off
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer
  • Weight: 128g
  • Mouse Warranty: Two years

MM1000 Qi Wireless Charging Mouse Pad

  • MSRP: $79.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Surface: Micro-textured Hard Surface
  • Charging Capability: Qi, single-zone
  • LED Indicator Light: Two pattern charging status indicator
  • USB Passthrough: Yes, USB 3.0
  • Dimensions: 260mm x 350mm
  • Also includes:
    • Micro-B wireless charging Qi adapter
    • Micro-B To lightning adapter
    • Micro-B to Type-C adapter

Starting with the MM1000...

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Starting off with the MM1000, we find the standard Corsair black and yellow packaging with a nice product shot on the front. It also features the Dark Core RGB SE mouse, which at the moment is the only mouse in Corsair’s catalog compatible with the MM1000’s unique Qi charging capability without using the included adapters.

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Unlike the other charging options on the market, the MM1000 features a single Qi charging zone, which means it’s capable of charging any number of devices, not just your mouse. Simply placing the device over the circular outline allows it to pick up on the charge. Using the Dark Core RGB, getting it into position is easy and not overly picky like some chargers.

Continue reading our review of the Corsair Dark Core RGB SE and MM1000!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

A New Kind of Romer-G

Logitech isn’t a company afraid of taking risks. In 2014, they shook up the mechanical keyboard market with their new Romer-G switches, a custom challenger to the popular Cherry MX. The Romer-Gs were nothing if not divisive, however. While some users loved the higher tactile bump offered by the original, others found them to be too soft compared to their MX counterparts.

Today, Logitech presents us with a new take on their Romer-G in the form of a brand new linear switch, found exclusively in the new G513 Carbon Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The G513 is a refined and upgraded take on last year’s G413. Can this pair of refreshes combine to create something all their own?

Let’s find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $149.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Key Switches: Romer-G (Linear or Tactile)
  • Key Durability: 70 million keypresses
  • Actuation distance: 1.5mm
  • Actuation force: 45g
  • Total travel distance: 3.2mm
  • Connection Type: USB 2.0
  • Indicator Lights (LED): 2
  • USB Ports (Built-in): x1, USB 2.0
  • Backlighting: Yes, RGB per key lighting
  • Special Keys
    • Lighting Controls: FN+F5/F6/F7
    • Game Mode: FN+F8
    • Media Controls: FN+F9/F10/F11/F12
    • Volume Controls: FN+ PRTSC/SCRLK/PAUSE
  • Keyboard Dimensions: 132mm (H) x 455mm (W) x 34mm (D)
  • Palm rest Dimensions: 88mm (H) x 445mm (W) x 21.5mm (D)
  • Weight: (w/o cable): 1020g
  • Warranty: 2-year Limited Hardware Warranty

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The G513 comes in both linear and tactile varieties, indicated with a small graphic on the front of the box. The keyboards are otherwise identical, including in the packaging and presentation. We see the usual “beauty shot” on the front of the box, as well as the feature highlights on the back which we’ll go in depth on soon.

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Unpacking it, we see that the keyboard is actually quite simple. There are no extra macro keys or dedicated media buttons, making for a layout that is fairly standard. In fact, the main change comes in the indicator lights, which have been pared down just Caps Lock and Game Mode (Windows Lock) and are also RGB enabled. This space is instead used to highlight the brushed aluminum top plate and glossy “G” branding. 

Continue reading our review of the Logitech G513 Carbon Mechanical Keyboard!

Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

I Have a Need, a Need for Download Speed

Thanks to Wendell from Level1Techs for his all of his help on this project and pointing us in the right direction!

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to get a fiber internet connection installed at the PC Perspective office. Capable of 1Gbps download speeds and about 250Mbps upload, we were excited at the possibilities that laid ahead.

However, when you have access to a very fast internet connection, you begin to notice that the bottleneck has shifted from your connection to the servers on the other side of the content delivery networks (CDNs) that power the internet. While these CDNs have very fast links to the internet, they generally limit bandwidth so that there is more speed to go around to multiple people at the same time.

A look back at what once was

One of the services that we found would max out our connection was Steam. Since we download a lot of PC games at the office, it was a nice benefit to have an internet connection as fast as our NICs could handle, and that the Steam CDNs would serve us at our maximum potential. In fact, the bottleneck shifted over to storage performance, as the random writing nature of Steam thrashed our SSDs at the time.

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By no stretch of the imagination is 60MB/s slow.. but what happened to our 100MB/s!

Unfortunately, this has ceased to remain the case. At some point, Steam downloads started getting slower on our same internet connection. Not only did storage utilization during a Steam download start to increase, but also CPU usage, pointing to a potential change in how Steam distributed their data. While downloads on our high-end systems fell to around 50-60MB/s, systems with less CPU horsepower started to see speeds fall to 20-30MB/s. All hope was lost for fast game downloads.. or was it?

Recently, Wendell from Level1Techs mentioned on Twitter that they were running a local Steam caching server on their network with great success. After some guidance from Wendell, we decided to tackle this project and see if it would help our specific scenario.

Continue reading our experiences setting up a Steam cache!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Bringing PC Gaming to the Couch

PC gaming lives at the cutting edge, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice to kick back on the couch to enjoy a game. Not long ago, we were stuck with controllers or draping long wires across our floors, but as technology has advanced, those compromises are becoming a thing of the past. Today, we’re looking at the latest combo from Corsair with the K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and their custom-fit Lapboard.

Are the days of balancing keyboards on our legs and mousing from couch cushions finally behind us? Let’s find out.

Specifications

Lapboard:

  • Keyboard Compatibility: Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
  • Cushion: Full length memory foam
  • Mouse Pad: Soft surface, replaceable
  • Dimensions (Mouse Pad): 10.44” (L) x 8.26” (W) x 0.05” (H)
  • Dimensions (Lapboard): 26.4” (L) x 10.9” (W) x 2.1” (H)
  • Accessories: x2 spare retention clips, x2 spare retention hooks
  • Weight: 4.07lbs (without keyboard)
  • Warranty: Two years

K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • Key Switches: Cherry MX Red
  • Key Lifespan: 50 Million Actuations
  • Layout: Tenkeyless, 87 Keys
  • Wired Connectivity: USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Type-A
  • Wireless Connectivity: Ultra-fast 1ms 2.4GHz or Bluetooth® 4.2 + LE
  • Battery: Lithium Ion (Battery Charging Charges via USB to computer)
  • Battery Life: Up to 15 hours at normal brightness, 25 hours (low brightness), 75 hours no backlighting
  • Report Rate: 1000Hz
  • Keyboard Rollover: Full Key (NKRO) with 100% Anti-Ghosting
  • Illumination: Ice Blue LED
  • Media Controls: Yes, Dedicated
  • Macro Keys: No
  • USB Pass-through: No
  • Adjustable Height: Yes
  • Weight: 2.4lbs (1.09kg)
  • Warranty: Two years

Corsair Gaming K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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Starting with the keyboard, the K63 comes in the traditional black and yellow packaging of Corsair products. The highlight here is definitely the wireless connectivity with rapid 1ms response time. We also see the usual callout to Cherry MX style keys, which are well known for their high quality standard. Interestingly, the K63 Wireless is only available in linear-style Cherry MX Red at this time.

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Taking it out of the box, it’s clear that Corsair hasn’t skimped on materials compared to their other keyboards. The K63 is remarkably similar to the larger, wired K68 we reviewed here, minus the RGB backlighting, dust, and spill resistance. Apart from being wireless, this variant is also tenkeyless, which means it lacks the full number pad. As a result, we also find some of our media controls shifted to the left side of the board. It’s heavy, coming in at just under two-and-a-half pounds and offers very little flex thanks to the steel mounting plate under the keys.

Continue reading our review of the Corsair K63 Wireless Keyboard and Lapboard!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

The Creative Craft

The Logitech Craft is an object lesson in not judging a book by its cover. By all appearances, it’s seems to be a standard chiclet keyboard with a volume wheel. Nothing impressive, though, sure, it looks sleek. For those willing to look just as little bit closer, you’ll find one of the most versatile keyboards on the market today. That “volume wheel” is more than meets the eye and has the potential to provide a more efficient workflow for creatives and business professionals alike.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $199.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 32 mm x 430 mm x 149 mm
  • Connectivity: Logitech Unifying 2.4GHz wireless technology, USB 2.0, Bluetooth Low Energy technology
  • Program Compatibility:
    • Microsoft Word®, Microsoft PowerPoint®, Microsoft Excel® 2010, 2013 and 2016 - Windows only
    • Adobe® Photoshop® CC, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® Classic CC, Adobe® Illustrator®CC, Adobe® Premiere® Pro CC 2017 and above – Windows and Mac, Adobe Reader DC
    • VLC Media Player - Windows
  • Preview, Quicktime, Safari® - Mac
  • Spotify™ - Windows and Mac
  • Additional Features:
    • 10m wireless range
  • Wireless encryption
  • On/Off power switch
  • 3 connection indicator lights
  • Caps lock indicator light
  • Battery indicator light
  • Rechargeable with USB type C
  • Compatible with Logitech Flow enabled mice
  • Weight: 960g
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited Hardware Warranty

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Beginning with packaging, the Craft ships in a nice black box with a nice render of the keyboard on the front. It’s simple and elegant, matching the keyboard itself. Inside you’ll find the keyboard is wrapped in an adhesive dust-protective film. Underneath, we have the USB Type-C cable, 2.4GHz wireless USB insert, and our documentation.

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Taking it out of the box, we find what appears to be a standard 104-key chiclet keyboard with a large metal bar on the top. The Craft is slightly more compact than a traditional keyboard coming in at just under 17-inches wide. The keyboard is thin but surprisingly heavy with a solid 2.1 pounds to keep it stationary on your desk. Much of this seems due to the bar on the top; however, the chassis is also fairly rigid and angled to diminish any flex in normal use.

Continue reading our review of the Logitech CRAFT keyboard!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair
Tagged: RGB, platinum, K95, corsair

The Premiere Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair has long been the company to beat in the world of RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. With the K95 RGB Platinum, they present their flagship: an oversize, fully-programmable, light show of a board with the kind of rapid response competitive gamers crave. But for $199, it’s a steep asking price. Is it worth such a high MSRP? Let’s find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $199.99 ($172.99 on Amazon at time of writing)
  • Key Switches: Cherry MX RGB Speed (also available in Cherry MX Brown)
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Actuation Distance: 1.2mm (standard 2.0mm)
  • Travel Distance: 3.4mm (standard 4.0mm)
  • Lifespan: 50M
  • Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
  • Macro Keys: 6 dedicated G-keys
  • Report Rate: Up to 1ms
  • Matrix: 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
  • On-board Memory: Yes
  • Media Keys: Six dedicated multimedia keys, incl. Volume Up/Down roller
  • Wrist Rest: Full length, detachable, dual-sided with soft touch finish
  • Cable Type: Braided Fiber
  • Dimensions: 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
  • Weight: 1.324kg
  • Warranty: Two years

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The K95 RGB Platinum comes in nice packaging in the standard Corsair black and yellow. We have a nice profile shot of the keyboard on the front and the features highlighted on the back. It’s also one of the few cases where the marketing shots really undersell the keyboard. It looks much better in person, especially in low light.

Inside, the keyboard comes in a dust-preventative plastic sleeve with the wrist rest, ten replacement keycaps (QWER, ASDF, WD), and keycap puller under the keyboard itself.

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Taking a closer look at the keyboard, the first thing that stands out is just how refined it is compared to the previous K95s or popular K70 variants. Compared to the K68 we looked at previously, the K95 is a massive upgrade, featuring a full aluminum top plate, aluminum volume roller, a glossy illuminated Corsair sails logo, and a dedicated control area for profile switching, brightness control, and Windows Lock. It also features a gorgeous LED light bar along the top rim, a USB 3.0 pass-through, and six programmable macro keys along the left side.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum keyboard!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

Overview

Despite the recent launch of the high-powered Hades Canyon NUC, that doesn't mean the traditional NUC form-factor is dead, quite the opposite in fact. Intel continues to iterate on the core 4-in x 4-in NUC design, adding new features and updating to current Intel processor families.

Today, we are taking a look at one of the newest iterations of desktop NUC, the NUC7i7DNHE, also known as the Dawson Canyon platform.

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While this specific NUC is segmented more towards business and industrial applications, we think it has a few tricks up its sleeves that end users will appreciate.

Intel NUC7i7DNHE
Processor Intel Core i7-8650U (Kaby Lake Refresh)
Graphics Intel UHD 630 Integrated
Memory 2 X DDR4 SODIMM slots
Storage

Available M.2 SATA/PCIe drive slot

Available 2.5" drive slot

Wireless Intel Wireless-AC 8265 vPro
Connections Gigabit Ethernet
2 x HDMI 2.0a
4 x USB 3.0
Price $595 - SimplyNUC

Click here to contiune reading our NUC7i7DNHE review!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Takes a lickin' and keeps on clickin'

Over the years, Corsair has developed a name for itself as one of the premiere manufacturers of mechanical gaming keyboards in the market. One could argue that their K70 series is the leading inspiration for gaming keyboard design to today. Their dominance isn’t just limited to physical design, however. RGB illumination and powerful software programming have also defined their keyboards and set them apart from the competition.

Today, we’re looking at a newer entry in the mechanical keys catalog with the K68 RGB. The K68 is more of a budget-entry, but still packs a suite of premium features to please gaming fans. It’s also water and dust resistant with an IP32 rating. We put that to the test. Without further ado, let’s take a close look.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $119.99
  • Keyboard Size: Standard
  • Key Switches: Cherry MX Red
  • Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
  • Switch Lifespan: 50-million actuations
  • Report Rate: 1000Hz
  • Matrix: Full Key (NKRO), 100% anti-ghosting
  • Water/Dust Resistance: IP32
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist Rest: Yes
  • Cable Type: Tangle-free rubber
  • WIN Lock: Yes
  • Software: CUE Enabled
  • Dimensions: 455mm x 170mm x 39mm
  • Weight: 1.41kg
  • Warranty: Two years

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The K68 arrives in standard Corsair keyboard packaging. The box is rich with feature-highlights and definitely plays up the RGB illumination. This is 2018 and a Corsair product, so that should come as no surprise.

Everything is well packed inside the box. The keyboard ships with the usual plastic dust-sleeves on both the keyboard, cable, and plastic wrist-rest. We also get a pair of small documentation inserts that describe the warranty and unlabeled hotkeys.

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Taking it out of the box, it’s here we get the first indicators of how Corsair managed to cut $50 off the price of the K70 RGB. The cable, rather than coming braided, is standard rubber. Likewise, the included wrist-rest is a more lightweight plastic, felt especially in the more flexible arms attaching it to the keyboard’s body. Neither of these are bad, especially when many gaming keyboards don’t include a wrist-rest at all.

Continue reading our review of the Corsair K68 keyboard!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Lenovo

The tides are turning. Over the last few years, the technology industry sung with praises and predictions on virtual reality. The past year, however, tides have begun to shift. While VR remains prohibitively expensive and still wanting in the kind of experiences gamers crave, Augmented Reality is becoming the head-mounted hope for mainstream saturation.

Today, we’re taking a look at one of the first major consumer AR products with Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. The set marries exciting technology with exciting IP, but is it enough to justify the $199 MSRP?

Specifications

  • MSRP: $199.99 ($169.99 on Amazon as of this writing)

  • Lightsaber Controller

    • Dimensions: 315.5mm x 47.2mm
    • Weight: 275g
    • Buttons: Power, Activation Matrix, Control Button
    • Battery: Micro-USB Rechargable
  • Lenovo Mirage AR Headset

    • Dimensions: 209.2mm x 83.4mm x 154.8mm
    • Weight: 477g
    • Buttons: Select, Cancel, Menu
    • Camera: Dual motion tracking cameras
    • Battery: Micro-USB Rechargable
  • Tracking Beacon

    • Dimensions: 94.1mm x 76.7mm
    • Weight: 117g
    • Buttons: Power/color switch
    • AA batteries (x2) required
  • Additional Info

    • Connection: Bluetooth connection to phone
    • Languages: English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish

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The set comes in a large box that doubles as a storage container when the headset and isn’t in use. Everything is nicely packaged, but especially the lightsaber which rests in a nice foam cut-out just under the top half of the box. The unboxing experience is befittingly premium for a product such as this.

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The attention to detail on the lightsaber is impressive. It’s a loving recreation of Luke’s lightsaber from A New Hope. The top illuminates white or blue to indicate when it’s paired with your phone. In-game, pressing the side buttons causes the blade to rise up with the iconic sound effect; if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s beyond neat.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Bloody

Bloody Gaming is no newcomer to the world of PC gaming peripherals. As a subsidiary of A4Tech, they’re one of the few peripheral manufacturers to own their own assembly lines. Controlling their own manufacturing allows them to take risks and attempt new approaches the competition may not. Coming from a rich heritage of innovation at A4Tech, it comes as no surprise that Bloody has consistently sought to push the boundaries of the technology we use to game.

At the same time, the brand has taken a uniquely aggressive approach from name to design. Today, we’re looking at the company’s next generation of keyboard with the B975. With this release, we find a more restrained design coupled with the freshly redesigned Light Strike 3 optical switches and full RGB backlighting.

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But is it enough for Bloody to challenge the heavy hitters like Logitech, Razer, and Corsair? Let’s find out.

Check out our full review of the Bloody B975 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

Don't Call It SPIR of the Moment

Vulkan 1.0 released a little over two years ago. The announcement, with conformant drivers, conformance tests, tools, and patch for The Talos Principle, made a successful launch for the Khronos Group. Of course, games weren’t magically three times faster or anything like that, but it got the API out there; it also redrew the line between game and graphics driver.

The Khronos Group repeats this “hard launch” with Vulkan 1.1.

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First, the specifications for both Vulkan 1.1 and SPIR-V 1.3 have been published. We will get into the details of those two standards later. Second, a suite of conformance tests has also been included with this release, which helps prevent an implementation bug from being an implied API that software relies upon ad-infinitum. Third, several developer tools have been released, mostly by LunarG, into the open-source ecosystem.

Fourth – conformant drivers. The following companies have Vulkan 1.1-certified drivers:

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There are two new additions to the API:

The first is Protected Content. This allows developers to restrict access to rendering resources (DRM). Moving on!

The second is Subgroup Operations. We mentioned that they were added to SPIR-V back in 2016 when Microsoft announced HLSL Shader Model 6.0, and some of the instructions were available as OpenGL extensions. They are now a part of the core Vulkan 1.1 specification. This allows the individual threads of a GPU in a warp or wavefront to work together on specific instructions.

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Shader compilers can use these intrinsics to speed up operations such as:

  • Finding the min/max of a series of numbers
  • Shuffle and/or copy values between lanes of a group
  • Adding several numbers together
  • Multiply several numbers together
  • Evaluate whether any, all, or which lanes of a group evaluate true

In other words, shader compilers can do more optimizations, which boosts the speed of several algorithms and should translate to higher performance when shader-limited. It also means that DirectX titles using Shader Model 6.0 should be able to compile into their Vulkan equivalents when using the latter API.

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This leads us to SPIR-V 1.3. (We’ll circle back to Vulkan later.) SPIR-V is the shading language that Vulkan relies upon, which is based on a subset of LLVM. SPIR-V is the code that is actually run on the GPU hardware – Vulkan just deals with how to get this code onto the silicon as efficiently as possible. In a video game, this would be whatever code the developer chose to represent lighting, animation, particle physics, and almost anything else done on the GPU.

The Khronos Group is promoting that the SPIR-V ecosystem can be written in either GLSL, OpenCL C, or even HLSL. In other words, the developer will not need to rewrite their DirectX shaders to operate on Vulkan. This isn’t particularly new – Unity did this sort-of HLSL to SPIR-V conversion ever since they added Vulkan – but it’s good to mention that it’s a promoted workflow. OpenCL C will also be useful for developers who want to move existing OpenCL code into Vulkan on platforms where the latter is available but the former rarely is, such as Android.

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Speaking of which, that’s exactly what Google, Codeplay, and Adobe are doing. Adobe wrote a lot of OpenCL C code for their Creative Cloud applications, and they want to move it elsewhere. This ended up being a case study for an OpenCL to Vulkan run-time API translation layer and the Clspv OpenCL C to SPIR-V compiler. The latter is open source, and the former might become open source in the future.

Now back to Vulkan.

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The other major change with this new version is the absorption of several extensions into the core, 1.1 specification.

The first is Multiview, which allows multiple projections to be rendered at the same time, as seen in the GTX 1080 launch. This can be used for rendering VR, stereoscopic 3D, cube maps, and curved displays without extra draw calls.

The second is device groups, which allows multiple GPUs to work together.

The third allows data to be shared between APIs and even whole applications. The Khronos Group specifically mentions that Steam VR SDK uses this.

The fourth is 16-bit data types. While most GPUs operate on 32-bit values, it might be beneficial to pack data into 16-bit values in memory for algorithms that are limited by bandwidth. It also helps Vulkan be used in non-graphics workloads.

We already discussed HLSL support, but that’s an extension that’s now core.

The sixth extension is YCbCr support, which is required by several video codecs.

The last thing that I would like to mention is the Public Vulkan Ecosystem Forum. The Khronos Group has regularly mentioned that they want to get the open-source community more involved in reporting issues and collaborating on solutions. In this case, they are working on a forum where both members and non-members will collaborate, as well as the usual GitHub issues tab and so forth.

You can check out the details here.

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: HyperX

Introduction and First Impressions

HyperX announced the Cloud Flight at CES, marking the first wireless headset offering from the gaming division of Kingston. HyperX already enjoyed a reputation for quality sound and build quality, so we'll see how that translates into a wireless product which boasts some pretty incredible battery life (up to 30 hours without LED lighting).

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The HyperX Cloud Flight with a closed-cup design that looks like a pair of studio headphones, and in addition to the 2.4 GHz wireless connection it offers the option of a 3.5 mm connection, making it compatibile with anything that supports traditional wired audio. The lighting effects are understated and adjustable, and the detachable noise-cancelling mic is certified by TeamSpeak and Discord.

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The big questions to answer in this review: how does it sound, how comfortable is it, and how well does the wireless mode work? Let's get started!

Continue reading our review of the HyperX Cloud Flight wireless headset!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Thrustmaster

Overshadowing the Previous Gen

To say that sim racing has had a banner year is perhaps an understatement.  We have an amazingly robust ecosystem of titles and hardware that help accentuate the other to provide outstanding experiences for those who wish to invest.  This past year has seen titles such as Project CARS 2, Forza 7, DiRT 4, and F1 2017 released as well as stalwarts such as iRacing getting major (and consistent) updates.  We also have seen the rise of esports with racing titles, most recently with the F1 series and the WRC games.  These have become flashy affairs with big sponsors and some significant prizes.

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Racing has always had a niche in PCs, but titles such as Forza on Xbox and Gran Turismo on Playstation have ruled the roost.  The joy of PC racing is the huge amount of accessories that can be applied to the platform without having to pay expensive licenses to the console guys.  We have really seen the rise of guys like Thrustmaster and Fanatec through the past decade providing a lot of focus and support to the PC world.

This past year has seen a pretty impressive lineup of new products addressing racing on both PC and console.  One of the first big releases is what I will be covering today.  It has been a while since Thrustmaster released the TS-PC wheel set, but it has set itself up to be the product to beat in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Click here to read the entire review of the Thrustmaster TS-PC Racing Wheel!

 

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

So Long, Battery Stress

Wireless peripherals can be stressful. Sure, we all love being free from the tether, but as time goes on worries about responsiveness linger in the back of the mind like an unwelcome friend. Logitech is here with an impressive answer: the G613 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the G603 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse. This pair of peripherals promise an astounding 18-months of battery life with performance that’s competitive with their wire-bound cousins. Did they succeed?

Specifications

G613 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

  • MSRP: $149.99
  • Key Switch: Romer-G
  • Durability: 70 million keypresses
  • Actuation distance: 0.06 in (1.5 mm)
  • Actuation force: 1.6 oz (45 g)
  • Total travel distance: 0.12 in (3.0 mm)
  • Keycaps: ABS, Pad Printed Legends
  • Battery Life: 18 months
  • Connectivity: Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Dimensions: 18.8 x 8.5 inches

 

G603 LIGHTSPEED Wireless Gaming Mouse

  • MSRP: $69.99 ($59.97 on Amazon as of this writing)
  • Sensor: HERO
  • Resolution: 200 –  12,000 dpi
  • Max. acceleration: tested at >40G3
  • Max. speed: tested at >400 IPS3
  • USB data format: 16 bits/axis
  • USB report rate: HI mode: 1000 Hz (1ms), LO mode: 125 Hz (8 ms)
  • Bluetooth report rate: 88-133 Hz (7.5-11.25 ms)
  • Microprocessor: 32-bit ARM
  • Main buttons: 20 million clicks with precision mechanical button tensioning
  • Battery life: HI mode: 500 hours (non-stop gaming), LO mode: 18 months (standard usage)
  • Weight: 3.14 oz (88.9 g) mouse only, 4.79 oz (135.7 g), with 2 AA batteries

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Starting with the G613, we find a full-size keyboard that is both longer and wider than average. This is due to a set of six programmable macro keys (highlighted in blue, G1-G6, assignable in Logitech’s Gaming Software) along the left side. There is also a non-detachable wrist rest along the bottom made of hard plastic.

The overall footprint isn’t much larger than a standard full-size keyboard with a wrist rest, it's 18.8 x 8.5 inch dimensions, but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re space constrained. I appreciate that Logitech included the wrist rest but with more comfortable padded options out there, it would have been nice to be able to swap it out.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech G613 and G603 wireless keyboard and mouse!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

A Different Kind of Productivity Mouse

Logitech has been a major player in the world of computer mice for years. In fact, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve used one yourself. Never one to rest on their laurels, one of Logitech’s latest entries, the MX Master 2S, puts creatives and professionals square in its sights and aims to change the way you compute.

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Through a suite of interesting control features, a high precision Darkfield sensor, three-system connectivity, and the unique functionality afforded by Logitech’s Options software, the MX Master 2S is more than a little interesting. Read on to see exactly what this mouse has to offer.

Specifications

  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Connectivity: Wireless Receiver, Bluetooth
  • Sensor technology: Darkfield high precision
  • Nominal value: 1000 dpi
  • DPI: 200 to 4000 dpi (can be set in increments of 50 dpi)
  • Battery life: up to 70 days on a single full charge
  • Battery: rechargeable Li-Po (500 mAh) battery
  • Number of buttons: 7
  • Gesture button: Yes
  • Scroll Wheel: Yes, with auto-shift
  • Standard and Special buttons: Back/Forward and middle click
  • Wireless operating distance: 10m
  • Wireless technology: Advanced 2.4 GHz wireless technology
  • Optional software: Logitech Options and Logitech Flow
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 3.4 in (85.7 mm) x 5.0 in (126.0 mm) x 2.0 in (48.4 mm)
  • Weight: 5.1oz (145g)
  • Warranty: 1-year

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The MX Master 2S features retail packaging common to Logitech mice, with the book-like cover and inner display bubble. Behind the tray holding the mouse, you’ll also find the micro-USB cable for charging and some brief documentation. Here you’ll also the features spotlighted, and Logitech makes a special point to showcase the software suite. Right away, it’s clear how important the software package is to the 2S.

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Taking the mouse of its packaging, the first thing you’ll notice is how large it is. The main body is wider and suited to palm and claw grips. The left side also features a textured wing for a thumb rest and access to the gesture button. The mouse is heavier than many, coming in at 145g, so gamers will want to take note: it’s not the best for rapid response gaming. For productivity and creative work, I found this weight to be a good compromise between functionality and holding an expansive battery without negatively impacting the smooth glide of its teflon feet.

Continue reading our review of the Logitech MX Master 2S!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cherry

Overview

Cherry is one of the most well-known brands in the mechanical keyboard industry. The company, based in Germany, is best known for their MX key switches, which have become the gold standard in the premium keyboard market. As a result of their high standards, tight quality control, and even the occasional scarcity, “genuine Cherry key switches” has become a veritable marketing point on more than a few features lists.

Since they make their own switches, it should come as no surprise that Cherry also produces their own keyboards. Today, we’re looking at the G80-3494, a new entry in the G80-3000 line and one of the few keyboards in the United States to feature Cherry MX Silent Black key switches. Do their full-fledged boards live up to the lofty standards of their switches?

Specifications

  • MSRP: $149.99 (currently sale price: $111.56)
  • Layout: ANSI, 104-key
  • Key Switch: Cherry MX Silent Black (linear)
  • Key Lifespan: 50M keystroke
  • Actuation Force: 60cN
  • N-Key Rollover: 14-key simultaneous
  • Cable: 1.75m, non-detachable, PVC coated
  • Dimensions: 470 x 195 x 44 mm
  • Weight: 935g

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Continue reading our review of the Cherry G80 MX Board Silent keyboard!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

Addressing New Markets

Machine Learning is one of the hot topics in technology, and certainly one that is growing at a very fast rate. Applications such as facial recognition and self-driving cars are powering much of the development going on in this area. So far we have seen CPUs and GPUs being used in ML applications, but in most cases these are not the most efficient ways of doing these highly parallel but relatively computationally simple workloads. New chips have been introduced that are far more focused on machine learning, and now it seems that ARM is throwing their hat into the ring.

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ARM is introducing three products under the Project Trillium brand. It features a ML processor, a OD (Object Detection) processor, and a ARM developed Neural Network software stack. This project came as a surprise for most of us, but in hindsight it is a logical avenue for them to address as it will be incredibly important moving forward. Currently many applications that require machine learning are not processed at the edge, namely in the consumer’s hand or device right next to them. Workloads may be requested from the edge, but most of the heavy duty processing occurs in datacenters located all around the world. This requires communication, and sometimes pretty hefty levels of bandwidth. If neither of those things are present, applications requiring ML break down.

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Click here to read the rest of the article about Project Trillium!