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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8650U (Kaby Lake Refresh)|
|Graphics||Intel UHD 630 Integrated|
|Memory||2 X DDR4 SODIMM slots|
Available M.2 SATA/PCIe drive slot
Available 2.5" drive slot
|Wireless||Intel Wireless-AC 8265 vPro|
2 x HDMI 2.0a
4 x USB 3.0
|Price||$595 - SimplyNUC|
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
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.
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.
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?
MSRP: $199.99 ($169.99 on Amazon as of this writing)
- 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
- Dimensions: 94.1mm x 76.7mm
- Weight: 117g
- Buttons: Power/color switch
- AA batteries (x2) required
- Connection: Bluetooth connection to phone
- Languages: English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish
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.
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.
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.
But is it enough for Bloody to challenge the heavy hitters like Logitech, Razer, and Corsair? Let’s find out.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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?
- 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
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.
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.
Intro, Goals, and Hardware
Regular PC Perspective readers probably know that we're big fans of Plex, the popular media management and streaming service. While just about everyone on staff has their own personal Plex server at home, we decided late last year to build a shared server here at the office, both for our own day-to-day use as well as to serve as the backbone of our recent cord cutting experiment.
You can run a Plex server on a range of devices: from off-the-shelf PCs to NAS devices to the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. But with many potential users both local and remote, our Plex server couldn't be a slouch. So, like the sane and reasonable folks we are, we decided to go all out and build a monster Plex server on AMD's Ryzen Threadripper platform. With up to 16 cores and 32 threads, a Threadripper processor would give us all of the transcoding horsepower we'd need.
It's now been several months since our Plex server was brought online, and so we wanted to share with you our build, along with some discussion on why we chose certain hardware and software.
Confronting the growing lack of laptop I/O
The trend with laptops in the past couple of years has been to drop many of the inputs that were once standard. Ethernet was an early casualty of the Ultrabook design, and now even standard USB ports are missing from the thinnest designs. USB Type-C does offer an all-in-one solution, but laptops with no other connectivity require dongles and adapters to be practical. AUKEY’s USB C Hub is one option to add I/O back to your machine in a single package, and they sent one over so we could check it out.
In case you haven’t heard of them, AUKEY is a common sight when browsing Amazon, offering a wide range of adapters and accessories. This CB-C55 has now been superceded by the "improved" version which offers media card slots on the side as well, but we are looking at the standard version today.
While most hardware enthusiasts and gamers today are used to the idea of high-end mechanical keyboards, they might not be aware of the world of custom keycaps.
Just like the difference in key switches, hardcore mechanical keyboard enthusiasts often have many different types of keycaps made with different materials and manufacturing processes. Beyond just customizing the look of your keyboard, different keycaps can cause some noticeable differences in the typing experience.
With the launch of their new PBT Double-shot keycap set, Corsair is aiming to bring this level of obsession more to the mainstream. I know that there are a lot of terms in that previous line, so let's take a closer look at what makes these keycaps different than the standard affair.
Historically, video capture cards have been a piece of hardware needed primarily by video professionals, either in broadcast tv, video archival, or in our case for editorial content surrounding technology.
However, with the advent of services like Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Mixer, there's a much bigger audience of consumers looking for solutions that enable them to cheaply and quickly capture gameplay video from PCs and game consoles. Over the past few years, Elgato has seen this niche appear and fully embraced it.
Starting in 2002 with the Mac-only EyeTV line of TV tuning and capture products (which has since been sold to another company), Elgato is now one of the most popular options for streamers looking for capture solutions, and for good reasons. Elgato capture products are generally known for being easy to use and are quite inexpensive compared to other broadcast-grade solutions on the market. They even launched a collapsible green screen aimed at amateur streamers earlier this year!
We were extremely interested to see Elgato announce the Game Capture 4K60 Pro capture card earlier this month. With promises to enable capture the full 4K 60Hz signal from HDMI 2.0, we had to pick one up and check it out.
It's that time of year again - buying PC hardware for you or your loved ones to celebrate the holidays! We have compiled a list of components, accessories, and individual picks from our staff to help you find the perfect gift for your tech fiend. And of course, if you feel the desire, its always good to get a little something for yourself.
Also, if you want to search for some stuff on Amazon.com for the holidays, tech or otherwise, feel free to click on this link right here to do so!! :D
This is still one of the most impressive performing processors on the market and it is currently selling for $200 less than the launch price! Check out our full review if you need some justification, but AMD has done a great job pitting itself against the high-end of Intel's processor market.
I would have liked to recommend the Core i7-8700K with its additional core count and clock speed, but the truth is, you just can't find it for a reasonable price. It's out of stock at Amazon and Newegg is selling it for over $400. On the other hand, this 7700K has come down in price by $40-70 depending on sales and still offers a great experience for gamers and enthusiasts. In fact, it is again listed as the "#1 selling" processor on Amazon - kind of a surprise!
Priced similarly to the 7700K, the Ryzen 7 1700 will be slower in single threaded taskes but has 8-cores (versus 4-cores for the 7700K) and thus will outperform in multi-threaded workloads.
Keeping a Low Profile
Havit is a Chinese company with a unique product for the enthusiast PC segment: the thinnest mechanical keyboard on the market at 22.5 mm. Their slim HV-KB395L keyboard offers real mechanical switching via Kailh low-profile blue switches, and full RGB lighting is thrown in for good measure. For a keyboard that retails for $79.99 this is certainly an interesting mix, but how in the world does low-profile mechanical feel? I will attempt to translate that experience into words (by… typing words).
- 104-key Mechanical Keyboard
- Customizable RGB backlighting
- Kailh PG1350 Low Profile Blue Switch
- 3mm of total travel, 45g of operating force
- N-Key Rollover
- Detachable USB Cable
- Weight: 0.57 kg
- Dimensions: 43.6 x 12.6 x 2.25 cm
First impressions of the keyboard are great, with nice packaging that cradles the keyboard in a carton inside the box. The keyboard itself feels quite premium, with a top panel that is actually metal - unusual for this price-point.
Is this the new budget champion?
True to their name, Corsair’s new HS50 STEREO gaming headsets offer traditional 2-channel sound from a similarly traditional headphone design. These are certainly ready for gaming with a detachable microphone and universal compatibility with both PCs and consoles, and budget friendly with an MSRP of only $49.99. How do they stack up? Let’s find out!
- Driver: 50mm Neodymium
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
- Sensitivity: 111 dB (± 3 dB)
- Mic Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling
- Mic Impedance: 2.0k Ohms
- Mic Frequency: Response 100Hz – 10kHz
- Mic Sensitivity: -40 dB (± 3 dB)
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 160 x 100 x 205 mm
- Weight: 319g
- Warranty: 2 years
- Available Colors: Carbon, Green, Blue
- Corsair HS50 STEREO Gaming Headset: $49.99, Amazon.com
Nothing about these say “budget” when you look at the packaging and first unbox them, and they have a substantial feel to them like a pair of premium headphones - not at all like an inexpensive gaming headset.
A quiet facade
Iceberg Interactive, whom you may know from games like Killing Floor or the Stardrive series have released a new strategy game called Oriental Empires, and happened to send me a copy to try out.
On initial inspection it resembles recent Civilization games but with a more focused design as you take on a tribe in ancient China and attempt to become Emperor, or at least make your neighbours sorry that they ever met you. Until you have been through 120 turns of the Grand Campaign you cannot access many of the tribes; not a bad thing as that first game is your tutorial. Apart from an advisor popping up during turns or events, the game does not hold your hand and instead lets you figure out the game on your own.
That minimalist ideal is featured throughout the entire game, offering one of the cleanest interfaces I've seen in a game. All of the information you need to maintain and grow your empire is contained in a tiny percentage of the screen or in a handful of in game menus. This plays well as the terrain and look of the campaign map is quite striking and varies noticeably with the season.
Spring features cherry blossom trees as well as the occasional flooding.
Summer is a busy season for your workers and perhaps your armies.
Fall colours indicate the coming of winter and snow.
Which also shrouds the peaks in fog. The atmosphere thus created is quite relaxing, somewhat at odds with many 4X games and perhaps the most interesting thing about this game.
In these screenshots you can see the entire GUI that gives you the information you need to play. The upper right shows your turn, income and occaisonally a helpful advsor offering suggestions. Below that you will find a banner that toggles between displaying three lists. The first is of your cites and their current build queues and population information, the second lists your armies compositions and if they currently have any orders while the last displays any events which effect your burgeoning empire. The bottom shows your leader and his authority which, among other things, indicates the number of cities you can support without expecting quickly increasing unrest.
The right hand side lets you bring up the only other five menus which you use in this game. From top to bottom they offer you diplomacy, technology, Imperial edicts you can or have applied to your Empire, player statistics to let you know how you are faring and the last offering detailed statistics of your empire and those competing tribes you have met.