Subject: Memory
Manufacturer: Crucial

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-3200 Memory

Shoppers of desktop memory are probably very familiar with Crucial, a brand that has been in business since 1996 and became synonymous with their online Memory Advisor tool (originally the Crucial Memory Selector when that was introduced back in 1998). Beyond offering compatible memory adhering to JEDEC standards for home and business machines Crucial has embraced the enthusiast segment, and since 2004 the Ballistix brand has been a competitor in this space.

Crucial_Sport_LT_3200_1.jpg

Today we’re taking a look at new Ballistix memory in the form of a dual-channel DDR4 desktop kit that offers 3200 MT/s speeds out of the box via XMP 2.0, and has the potential to overclock further. Crucial sent along both 16GB and 32GB kits, and we are focusing on the 16GB kit in this review.

Product highlights for the Ballistix Sport LT series from Crucial:

  • Speeds start at 2400 MT/s
  • Faster speeds and responsiveness than standard DDR4 memory
  • Ideal for gamers and performance enthusiasts
  • Multi-channel memory architecture maximizes data rates
  • Digital camo heat spreader available in white, gray and red
  • Easy plug-and-play installation
  • Intel XMP 2.0 profiles for easy configuration
  • AMD Ryzen Ready
  • Optimized for the latest Intel 300 Series platforms
  • Limited lifetime warranty

These UDIMMs are part of the Sport LT series, offering a smaller overall footprint while still providing some impressive performance numbers via XMP 2.0 profiles. We tested it out in an Intel system and then moved on to have some fun with memory overclocking in a Ryzen 5 2400G system with integrated Vega graphics. Read on to see how it performed, and if faster memory can make a noticeable difference.

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200 MHz Specifications
Series Ballistix Sport
Model Number 16GB Kit: BLS2K8G4D32AESBK
32GB Kit: BLS2K16G4D32AESB
Speed 3200 MT/s (PC4-25600)
Timings 16-18-18
Voltage 1.35V
Form Factor UDIMM
ECC Non-ECC
DIMM Type Unbuffered
Configuration 2048Meg x 64
Warranty Limited Lifetime

Current Pricing and Availability:

Continue reading our review of the Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-3200 memory

Manufacturer: DR ZABER

A Console-Size Mini-ITX Option

Examining the lower limits of enclosure volume has become something of a cottage industry in the last few years, with crowdfunded projects such as the NCASE M1 and the DAN Cases A4-SFX providing backers with custom designs that attempt to reduce the mini-ITX computer case concept to its absolute minimum size. The Sentry 2.0 differs in a few ways from those previous efforts, most obviously in that it is not a “shoebox” design, opting instead for a narrow game console-style layout. It is also a steel enclosure rather than the all-aluminum designs from DAN Cases and NCASE (both produced by Lian Li), making it quite a bit heavier while promising a more rugged construction.

sentry_2_0_hero.jpg

“Sentry is the world's first truly console-sized gaming PC chassis. It houses powerful components within a volume below 7 litres, which over the decades has been considered the optimal size for all media appliances residing in front of a TV. Sentry 2.0 is an evolution of Sentry, bringing more features and more performance in the same sub-7 litre package.”

The Sentry 2.0 is the follow up to the crowdfunded original Sentry case, both of which are game console-sized mini-ITX enclosures that are designed to house standard components within the limits of a 6.9-liter total volume. Unusually we are reviewing this case during its crowdfunding campaign - though it has actually been fully funded at this point and you can check out the page on Indigogo here. Pricing is similar to what we have seen from other crowdfunded cases, and while $260 might seem high (especially for a steel case rather than aluminum) there has been quite a bit of thought packed into the Sentry 2.0 design.

In addition to supporting mini-ITX motherboards the Sentry 2.0 makes use of SFX form-factor power supplies and can support a full-length graphics card if you are air-cooling the CPU (the extra space beyond an ITX-sized GPU could then support a 120mm radiator and slim fan). It’s a pretty straightforward internal layout, so without further preamble let’s check out the design and then move on to the build I came up with for this pre-production Sentry 2.0, which DR ZĄBER was kind enough to send to us.

sentry_2_0_system_install.jpg

First, however, a look at the specifications:

  • Main body dimensions (WxDxH): 340 x 310 x 66mm, 6.9L
  • Motherboard format: Mini-ITX
  • Power supply support: SFX 100mm (SFX-L not supported)
  • Expansion slots: 2, full height, ATX reference PCB width
  • Drives:
    • Main drive installation mounts:
    • 1 x 2.5" partially above motherboard
    • 1 x 2.5" next to SFX power supply
    • Secondary drive installation mounts:
    • 2 x 3.5" inside VGA bay
  • Memory Compatibility:
    • Standard profile DIMM modules
    • Max 31.4mm tall pcb/34mm with heatspreaders
    • Tall modules will obstruct 2.5" drive bracket
  • VGA Card Compatibility:
    • Full Length GPU for use without AIO Liquid Cooling or 3.5" HDDs
    • ITX-sized GPU for use with AIO Liquid Cooling or single 3.5" HDD
  • CPU cooler support:
    • CPU Socket far from PCI-E Slot:
      • Max height of 47mm (standard intel box cooler height)
      • 120mm All-In-One Liquid Cooler, radiator + fan max height of 50mm
    • CPU Socket near the PCI-E Slot:
      • Max height of 47mm and primary 2.5" mount obstructed
      • Max height of 37mm and primary 2.5" mount available
  • Front ports: 2 x USB 3.0
  • PCI-E 16X Riser: high-quality shielded 50mm ribbon
  • Material: 1mm galvanized steel with structural powder coating
  • Security: Kensington slot

Pricing and Availability: $260, Indigogo campaign

Continue reading our review of the Sentry 2.0 console-size crowdfunded case

Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Cooler Master has offered many different takes on PC enclosures since they started producing them in the 1990s, and the new MasterBox Q500L is among the more interesting of their recent designs. What makes this compact case special? It is the rare breed of enclosure that holds a full ATX motherboard within a micro-ATX form-factor.

cooler_master_q500l_main.jpg

Features of the MasterBox Q500L from Cooler Master:

  • Highly Compact Standard ATX Orientation
  • Movable I/O Panel
  • Versatile PSU Bracket
  • Fully Perforated Chassis
  • Magnetic Dust Filters
  • Edge-to-Edge Transparent Side Panel
  • Clean Routing Space

The Q500L also affords the assembled system a flexible orientation, with support for both vertical and horizontal placement as the rubberized thumbscrews on the rear panel cleverly double as feet. Additionally, the case I/O is housed in a modular panel, and this can be placed in different positions to further enhance the flexibility of this design.

cooler_master_q500l_setup.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L compact ATX case

Author:
Manufacturer: be quiet!

It's a giveaway! PC Perspective has teamed up with be quiet! to give away three of the Straight Power 11 850W power supplies reviewed here by Lee. See rules and entry details at the bottom of the review.

31-Box-PSU.jpg

Introduction & Features

be quiet! claims to be the number one PSU manufacturer in Germany and they are continually working to expand their presence in North American as well. The be quiet! Straight Power 11 series sits just below the company’s high-end Dark Power Pro 11 series and includes six models: 450W, 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, and 1000W. All of the Straight Power 11 models are certified for high efficiency (80 Plus Gold) and come with modular cables. We will be taking a detailed look at the Straight Power 11 850W power supply in this review.

3-Low-high-table.jpg

As you might expect, be quiet! is focused on delivering virtually silent power supplies. be quiet! designed the Straight Power 11 Series to provide reliable operation with minimal noise for systems that demand extremely quiet operation. To accomplish this, be quiet! uses one of their own high-quality Silent Wings 3 fans that features ribbed fan blades and a Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB). The power supply also uses a unique fan guard and funnel-shaped fan opening to help maximize airflow and reduce noise.

4a-Rear-diag.jpg

All of the Straight Power 11 Series power supplies are fully-modular for maximum build flexibility and incorporate sleeved cables. In addition to the Straight Power 11 Series, be quiet! offers a full range of power supplies in ATX, SFX, and TFX form factors.

Continue reading our review of the Straight Power 11 850W PSU and find out how to win one for your next build!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

A Sea Monster Refreshed

We can thank PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It was in a conversation after a product briefing when a manager at one of the world’s biggest accessory companies revealed the reason for the gaming headset explosion: battle royales. As gamers pushed for every advantage they could find, the value of great positional audio crystalized in the eyes of the mainstream and demand went through the roof.

A quick Amazon search for “gaming headset” today will turn up not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands of results. It can be tough for gamers to cut to the chaff and find something that will actually deliver the high quality audio they’re looking for while also staying inside their budget.

razer_kraken_headset_hero.jpg

Today, we’re looking at the latest Razer Kraken gaming headset. It’s part of Razer’s latest line of budget-oriented peripherals. Coming in at $79.99, it offers stereo sound, plug-and-play setup, and Razer’s iconic green styling. In such a crowded market, does it do enough to stand out? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 12 Hz – 28 kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ω @ 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz): 109 dB
  • Input power: 30 mW (Max)
  • Drivers: 50 mm, with Neodymium magnets
  • Inner ear cup diameter: 54 mm x 65 mm
  • Connection type: Analog 3.5 mm
  • Cable length: 1.3 m / 4.27 ft.
  • Approx. weight: 322 g / 0.71 lbs
  • Oval ear cushions: Designed for full-ear coverage with cooling gel, perfect for long-wearing comfort

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 100 Hz – 10 kHz
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: > 60 dB
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz): -45 ± 3 dB
  • Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional ECM boom

Current Price: $79.99, Amazon.com

Continue reading our review of the Razer Kraken (2019) Wired Gaming Headset

A Fresh Take on the Dark Base 700

The be quiet! Dark Base 700 White Edition is a limited-edition enclosure of only 3,000 units, and it is not only one of the first white cases from be quiet!, but also joins the Dark Base 900 (rev. 2) in featuring RGB lighting - though as tastefully implemented as one might expect from be quiet!.

dark_base_700_white_main.jpg

So what can you expect from a case that - at first glance - appears to be another white mid-tower with a tempered glass side panel and RGB lighting? Quite a bit more than you might think, unless you have first-hand experience with a be quiet! enclosure. My impressions of their products to this point has shown them to have characteristically superior material selection, build quality, overall fit and finish, and attention to detail. In short, a level of perfectionism must surely exist within this German company, and it is impressive to behold.

While this version might only be available for a brief period of time (as long as the 3000 manufactured may last), that does not mean that one cannot purchase the standard black version, which will be identical to this one other than appearance and costs $20 less. Tastes on these matters vary, but from the moment I spotted this at CES in January I really liked this white version with its bright appearance, crystal-clear glass, and subtle lighting around the edges of the front panel.

dark_base_700_white_front_light_angle.jpg

Features from be quiet!:

  • Motherboard tray and HDD slots with enhanced possibilities for individual requirements
  • Two Silent Wings 3 140mm PWM fans
  • 4-step dual-rail fan controller is switchable between Silence and Performance Mode
  • Ready for radiators up to 360mm
  • PSU shroud, ingenious cable routing and HDD slot covers for a neat interior
  • Fully windowed side panel made of tempered glass
  • Exterior RGB LEDs with six switchable colors and motherboard control option

Continue reading our review of the be quiet! Dark Base 700 White Edition case

Intel today made a number of product and strategy announcements that are all coordinated to continue the company’s ongoing “data-centric transformation.” Building off of recent events such as last August’s Data-Centric Innovation Summit but with roots spanning back years, today’s announcements further solidify Intel’s new strategy: a shift from the “PC-centric” model that for decades drove hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue but is now on the decline, to the rapidly growing and ever changing “data-centric” world of cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automated vehicles, Internet-connected devices, and the seemingly unending growth of data that all of these areas generate.

intel-logo-data-centric.jpg

Rather than abandon its PC roots in this transition, Intel’s plan is to leverage its existing technologies and market share advantages in order to attack the data-centric needs of its customers from all angles. Intel sees a huge market opportunity when considering the range of requirements “from edge to cloud and back:” that is, addressing the needs of everything from IoT devices, to wireless and cellular networking, to networked storage, to powerful data center and cloud servers, and all of the processing, analysis, and security that goes with it.

Intel’s goal, at least as I interpret it, is to be a ‘one stop shop’ for businesses and organizations of all sizes who are transitioning alongside Intel to data-centric business models and workloads. Sure, Intel will be happy to continue selling you Xeon-based servers and workstations, but they can also address your networking needs with new 100Gbps Ethernet solutions, speed up your storage-speed-limited workloads with Optane SSDs, increase performance and reduce costs for memory-dependent workloads by supplementing DRAM with Optane, and address specialized workloads with highly optimized Xeon SKUs and FPGAs. In short, Intel isn’t the company that makes your processor or server, it’s now (or rather wants to be) the platform that can handle your needs from end-to-end. Or, as the company’s recent slogan states: “move faster, store more, process everything.”

data-centric-products.jpg

Continue on to read our full coverage of Intel's announcements.

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Introduction

In this review we are taking a detailed look at one of Corsair’s new power supplies the AX850 Titanium. The AX Titanium series currently includes two models, the AX850 (850W) and the AX1000 (1,000W). Both power supplies comply with the highest standards for efficiency (80 Plus Titanium certification) and feature all modular cables and quiet operation. Note: not to be confused with the AX Platinum Series (760W and 860W) or the AXi Digital Series (1600W, 1500W, 1200W and 860W).

2-Blue-Gray-Red.jpg

Along with the power supply Corsair includes three different colored labels that can be applied to the side of the unit to help color coordinate your next build if you so desire. The AX Titanium Series power supplies incorporate Corsair’s Zero RPM Fan Mode, which means the fan does not start spinning until the power supply reaches a moderate load (40%).

The Corsair AX Titanium Series is built with high-quality components, including all Japanese made electrolytic 105°C capacitors and a 135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) fan. Corsair guarantees these PSUs to deliver clean, stable, continuous power, at ambient temperatures up to 50°C and the AX Titanium power supplies come backed by no less than a 10-year warranty.

3-Front-cables.jpg

Corsair AX850 Titanium PSU Features summary:

•    850W continuous DC output (up to 50°C)
•    10-Year Warranty and Comprehensive Customer Support
•    80 PLUS Titanium certified, at least 94% efficiency under 50% load
•    Fully modular cables for easy installation
•    Zero RPM Fan Mode for silent operation up to 40% load
•    Quiet 135mm FDB fan for long life and quiet operation
•    High quality components including all Japanese 105°C electrolytic capacitors
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections : OVP, OCP, OTP, and SCP
•    MSRP for the AX850 Titanium: $249.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair AX850 Titanium PSU!!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

Legend on a Budget

In the world of gaming peripherals, there are few pieces of gear more well-known than the Razer BlackWidow mechanical keyboard. Since the launch of the original in 2010, it’s haunted department stores and professional eSports tournaments alike. As part of their 2019 product launch, Razer has refreshed this classic, stripping it down to the essentials to put it within the grasp of gamers on a budget. At $119, it enters the market at a crowded price point. Is a “core” Blackwidow do enough to stand out from the competition in 2019? Join us as we find out.

razer_blackwidow_hero.jpg

"Since its inception, the Razer BlackWidow name has been synonymous not just with precision but also the tactile and clicky feel of its switches that gamers love. We’ve fine-tuned our mechanical switches to unlock the highest level of gaming performance yet with the latest edition of the Razer Green Mechanical Switch. Game on with total clicky satisfaction and Razer Chroma lighting with the new Razer BlackWidow."

Specifications

  • Razer Green Mechanical Switches designed for gaming
  • 80 million keystroke lifespan
  • Razer Chroma™ customizable backlighting with 16.8 million color options
  • Hybrid On-Board Memory and Cloud Storage – up to 5 profiles
  • Razer Synapse 3 enabled
  • Cable routing
  • N-key roll-over anti-ghosting
  • Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
  • Gaming mode option
  • 1000 Hz Ultrapolling
  • Instant Trigger Technology

Pricing and Availability: $119.99, Amazon.com

Continue reading our review of the Razer BlackWidow 2019 mechanical keyboard

A USB-C Headset Powered by an ESS Quad-DAC

The ROG Delta is a gaming headset from the Republic of Gamers division of ASUS that offers a Hi-Res audio certification thanks to its ASUS Essence 50 mm drivers with a 20-40,000 Hz frequency response and implementation of a high-end ESS Quad-DAC, and offers custom lighting effects via the circular RGB lighting on each ear cup. A wired headset exclusively, it connects via USB-C or standard USB 2.0 for use with PCs as well as compatible consoles and smartphones.

rog_delta_thumbnail.jpg

“ROG Delta is the world's first gaming headset with the industry-leading, hi-fi-grade ESS 9218 quad DAC, which delivers impeccably clear and detailed sound to give serious gamers the edge they need to win. ROG Delta features a USB-C connector and comes with a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter to let you game on your PC, console and mobile device without changing headsets. A one-of-a-kind, circular rainbow RGB lighting effect provides a stylish look to set you apart on the battlefield.”

Features from ASUS ROG:

  • Industry-leading hi-res ESS quad-DAC for impeccably detailed and true-to-life audio
  • USB-C connector for true multiplatform support, including PCs, Mac, mobile phones and PS4
  • Customizable, multi-color circular RGB lighting lets you shine in style
  • Exclusive ASUS Essence drivers, airtight chamber and audio signal diversion technology for immersive audio experiences
  • Upgraded comfort with ergonomic D-shape and ROG Hybrid ear cushions

ess-bg_s.jpg

Why a quad-DAC design? When ESS released the ES9218 they pointed to these “internally connected parallel quad DACs” as the key to delivering its rated 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N, in addition to signal-to-noise of up to 130 dB, with ASUS stating that their implementation with the ROG Delta makes the headset “capable of achieving an unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio of 127 dB, a level untouchable by single-DAC gaming headsets.”

Another aspect of the ultra-low noise of the ROG Delta is a design feature that ASUS calls “Hyper-Grounding”, which is an ROG-exclusive technology with an intelligent multi-layer PCB design that prevents interference and shields the audio signals from any RGB lighting-related PWM switching noise.

hyper-grounding-bg_s.jpg

So how does this very impressively-specified hi-fi gaming headset sound? I’ll offer my impressions after we check out the design and talk about fit and comfort.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Delta gaming headset

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: HyperX

HyperX Enters the USB Microphone Arena

HyperX has released the Quadcast USB microphone today and we had a chance to test it out early for this launch-day review. Introduced at CES in January, this new condenser mic offers four selectable polar patterns (stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional) and offers real-time monitoring via an onboard 3.5mm headphone jack. The mic also ships with a shock mount and desktop stand, and can be mounted to your choice of mic stands and boom arms with an included adapter that fits 3/8” and 5/8” threads.

hyperx_quadcast_thumbnail.jpg

Other features of the QuadCast are the large gain control on the bottom of the mic and the touch-controlled mute switch on the top, with mic status instantly evident via the integrated red lighting which is illumiated when you are "live", and turns off when you have muted the mic.


Specifications

Microphone

  • Power consumption: 5V 125mA
  • Sample/bit rate: 48kHz/16-bit
  • Element: Electret condenser microphone
  • Condenser type: Three 14mm condensers
  • Polar patterns: Stereo, Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: -36dB (1V/Pa at 1kHz)
  • Cable length: 3m
  • Weight:
    • Microphone: 254g
    • Shock mount and stand: 364g
    • Total with USB cable: 710g

Headphone Output

  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum power output: 7mW
  • THD: ≤ 0.05% (1kHz/0dBFS)
  • SNR: ≥ 90dB (1kHZ, RL=∞)

Continue reading our review of the HyperX QuadCast USB microphone

A new take on the low-noise mid-tower

CORSAIR's Carbide Series has a new low-noise option in the 678C, a mid-tower enclosure with internal sound damping panels and full tempered glass side panel. Convenience features include the hinge and magnetic closure of the glass side panel, along with a hinged front panel that opens to reveal the front fans and corresponding screen filter - and a rare 5.25-inch bay which allows for installation of an optical drive for those of us who still use discs (this author included).

carbide_678c_main.jpg

So does the Carbide 678C provide a compelling mix of features in the premium segment of the case market, and provide real competition for the Define R6 from Fractal Design against which it will be inevitably compared? Let's find out.

Features for the Carbide Series 678C from CORSAIR:

  • Sophisticated Style: Defined by clean lines and smooth steel construction, with a crystal-clear tempered glass side panel to show off your system’s components.
  • Extensive Sound Damping: Sound damping material on the side, front and roof panels ensure quiet operation – or swap in the included dust filter on the roof when performance is your top priority.
  • A Multitude of Cooling Options: Includes space for 360mm push/pull radiators in the front and roof, 280/240mm radiators on the floor, and 140/120mm radiators in the rear.
  • Massive Cooling Potential: Powerful and efficient airflow, with room to install up to 9x 120mm or 7x 140mm fans for massive cooling potential.
  • Take Command of Your Cooling: A PWM fan controller regulates three included SP140 PWM fans and up to three more. Reduce fan speed when you want keep your system quiet, or increase when you want to push its performance.
  • High-Speed USB 3.1 Gen-2 Type-C Port: Front panel connector puts future-proof connectivity within easy reach.
  • Expand Your Storage Options: Install up to 6x 3.5in and 3x 2.5in drives. A versatile HDD/ODD design includes six modular trays that can be moved to eight mounting locations to give you the exact layout you want.
  • Easy Accessibility: Both the front panel and tempered glass side panel are hinged for tool-free easy access.

carbide_678c_front_open.jpg

The insulated front door opens to provide access to the fan filter and 5.25-inch drive bay

Continue reading our review of the CORSAIR Carbide Series 678C low-noise case

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

AMD and NVIDIA GPUs Tested

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 launched over the weekend and we've been testing it out over the past couple of days with a collection of currently-available graphics cards. Of interest to AMD fans, this game joins the ranks of those well optimized for Radeon graphics, and with a new driver (Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2) released over the weekend it was a good time to run some benchmarks and see how some AMD and NVIDIA hardware stack up.

d2-key-art-1920x600.jpg

The Division 2 offers DirectX 11 and 12 support, and uses Ubisoft's Snowdrop engine to provide some impressive visuals, particularly at the highest detail settings. We found the "ultra" preset to be quite attainable with very playable frame rates from most midrange-and-above hardware even at 2560x1440, though bear in mind that this game uses quite a bit of video memory. We hit a performance ceiling at 4GB with the "ultra" preset even at 1080p, so we opted for 6GB+ graphics cards for our final testing. And while most of our testing was done at 1440p we did test a selection of cards at 1080p and 4K, just to provide a look at how the GPUs on test scaled when facing different workloads.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

d2-screen1-1260x709.jpg

Washington D.C. is on the brink of collapse. Lawlessness and instability threaten our society, and rumors of a coup in the capitol are only amplifying the chaos. All active Division agents are desperately needed to save the city before it's too late.

d2-screen4-1260x709.jpg

Developed by Ubisoft Massive and the same teams that brought you Tom Clancy’s The Division, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is an online open world, action shooter RPG experience set in a collapsing and fractured Washington, D.C. This rich new setting combines a wide variety of beautiful, iconic, and realistic environments where the player will experience the series’ trademark for authenticity in world building, rich RPG systems, and fast-paced action like never before.

d2-screen3-1260x709.jpg

Play solo or co-op with a team of up to four players to complete a wide range of activities, from the main campaign and adversarial PvP matches to the Dark Zone – where anything can happen.

Continue reading our preview of GPU performance with The Division 2

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

Razer is never one to shy away from reinventing and refreshing its products. Every year or two, we find ourselves receiving a new press release on a familiar item that’s been updated or made new again with a fresh feature or new design. Today’s review is exactly one such item with the Razer Basilisk Essential. The design of the original Basilisk proved to be quite popular amongst gamers. Today’s update takes that same shape and intriguing multi-function paddle and trims it down to the titular essentials, landing at just under the fifty-dollar price point.

Is it worth adding to your Amazon wishlist? Join us as we find out!

Specifications

  • Current Pricing: $49.99
  • Sensor: 6400 DPI Optical Sensor
  • Gaming Grade Tactile Scroll Wheel
  • Multi-function paddle (single length)
  • Razer Mechanical Switches
  • 20 Million Click Lifespan
  • 7 programmable buttons
  • Customizable backlit logo
  • Weight: 95g

Razer_Basilisk_Essential_1.jpg

Starting, as always, with packaging, Razer is keeping to the mold here. We have the usual high-end product shot on the front and the specific feature highlights on the back. Inside, we see the first hints of the budget-oriented nature of the mouse in that it ships in a brown cardboard tray and styrofoam sleeve. This kind of packaging is perfectly fine, and transports the mouse safely, but it doesn’t offer the same kind of presentation found on some of Razer’s more expensive products.

Razer_Basilisk_Essential_2.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Razer Basilisk Essential gaming mouse

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Turing at $219

NVIDIA has introduced another midrange GPU with today’s launch of the GTX 1660. It joins the GTX 1660 Ti as the company’s answer to high frame rate 1080p gaming, and hits a more aggressive $219 price point, with the GTX 1660 Ti starting at $279. What has changed, and how close is this 1660 to the “Ti” version launched just last month? We find out here.

GTX_1660_cards.jpg

RTX and Back Again

We are witnessing a shift in branding from NVIDIA, as GTX was supplanted by RTX with the introduction of the 20 series, only to see “RTX” give way to GTX as we moved down the product stack beginning with the GTX 1660 Ti. This has been a potentially confusing change for consumers used to the annual uptick in series number. Most recently we saw the 900 series move logically to 1000 series (aka 10 series) cards, so when the first 2000 series cards were released it seemed as if the 20 series would be a direct successor to the GTX cards of the previous generation.

But RTX ended up being more of a feature level designation, and not so much a new branding for GeForce cards as we had anticipated. No, GTX is here to stay it appears, and what then of the RTX cards and their real-time ray tracing capabilities? Here the conversation changes to focus on higher price tags and the viability of early adoption of ray tracing tech, and enter the internet of outspoken individuals who decry ray-tracing, and more so DLSS; NVIDIA’s proprietary deep learning secret sauce that has seemingly become as controversial as the Genesis planet in Star Trek III.

  GTX 1660 GTX 1660 Ti RTX 2060 RTX 2070 GTX 1080 GTX 1070 GTX 1060 6GB
GPU TU116 TU116 TU106 TU106 GP104 GP104 GP106
Architecture Turing Turing Turing Turing Pascal Pascal Pascal
SMs 22 24 30 36 20 15 10
CUDA Cores 1408 1536 1920 2304 2560 1920 1280
Tensor Cores N/A N/A 240 288 N/A N/A N/A
RT Cores N/A N/A 30 36 N/A N/A N/A
Base Clock 1530 MHz 1500 MHz 1365 MHz 1410 MHz 1607 MHz 1506 MHz 1506 MHz
Boost Clock 1785 MHz 1770 MHz 1680 MHz 1620 MHz 1733 MHz 1683 MHz 1708 MHz
Texture Units 88 96 120 144 160 120 80
ROPs 48 48 48 64 64 64 48
Memory 6GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR6 6GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5X 8GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5
Memory Data Rate 8 Gbps 12 Gbps 14 Gbps 14 Gbps 10 Gbps 8 Gbps 8 Gbps
Memory Interface 192-bit 192-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit
Memory Bandwidth 192.1 GB/s 288.1 GB/s 336.1 GB/s 448.0 GB/s 320.3 GB/s 256.3 GB/s 192.2 GB/s
Transistor Count 6.6B 6.6B 10.8B 10.8B 7.2B 7.2B 4.4B
Die Size 284 mm2 284 mm2 445 mm2 445 mm2 314 mm2 314 mm2 200 mm2
Process Tech 12 nm 12 nm 12 nm 12 nm 16 nm 16 nm 16 nm
TDP 120W 120W 160W 175W 180W 150W 120W
Launch Price $219 $279 $349 $499 $599 $379 $299

So what is a GTX 1660 minus the “Ti”? A hybrid product of sorts, it turns out. The card is based on the same TU116 GPU as the GTX 1660 Ti, and while the Ti features the full version of TU116, this non-Ti version has two of the SMs disabled, bringing the count from 24 to 22. This results in a total of 1408 CUDA cores - down from 1536 with the GTX 1660 Ti. This 128-core drop is not as large as I was expecting from the vanilla 1660, and with the same memory specs the capabilities of this card would not fall far behind - but this card uses the older GDDR5 standard, matching the 8 Gbps speed and 192 GB/s bandwidth of the outgoing GTX 1060, and not the 12 Gbps GDDR6 and 288.1 GB/s bandwidth of the GTX 1660 Ti.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card

Manufacturer: Corsair

Corsair has launched a pair of new enclosures today including the Crystal Series 680X RGB, a roomy dual-chamber design with plenty of tempered glass and RGB to keep things visually interesting. And we just so happen to have procured one before release, preparing our launch-day review secretly, and in the dead of night. And so it is that today we can, should, and will share this with you - or as soon as you move past this rambling opening paragraph and on to the meat of the review itself.

Corsair_680X_main.jpg

As you may know the Crystal Series is a line of premium cases featuring multiple tempered-glass panels and RGB fans, and going back to 2016 we have reviewed the Crystal Series 570X, the smaller Crystal Series 460X, and most recently the Crystal Series 280X, a dual-chamber micro-ATX design. The new 680X RGB is also a dual-chamber enclosure, but on a much larger scale with support for up to EATX motherboards. It is available in both black and white finishes, and we opted for the white version to help set off the RGB fans.

The CORSAIR Crystal Series 680X RGB is a dual-chamber tempered glass ATX smart case that keeps your system running cool with room for up to eight fans and four radiators, including one 360mm. Enjoy superb airflow and brilliant RGB lighting from three LL120 RGB fans, controlled by an included CORSAIR Lighting Node PRO and powered by iCUE software. Show off a stunning view of your PC’s components with three tempered glass panels on the front, roof, and hinged side door, while an optional vertical GPU mount allows you to put your graphics card center stage. Make your next custom build incredibly easy and undeniably cool with the 680X RGB.

One of the things that stands out immediately with the Crystal Series 680X RGB are the clear glass panels, which make this feel a little more contemporary after a few years of varying degrees of dark tinting in most cases we've seen implementing tempered glass. But this is far more than another cases with a glass side panel (it also has a glass front and top panel), as its dual-chamber design - which has origins dating back to Corsair's Air 540 which we reviewed way back in 2013 - offers a level of room and ease of build that is quite a departure from the typical mid-tower design.

Corsair_680X_thumbnail.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Corsair Crystal Series 680X RGB case

Manufacturer: EVGA

The EVGA RTX 2060 XC Ultra

While NVIDIA’s new GTX 1660 Ti has stolen much of the spotlight from the RTX 2060 launched at CES, this more powerful Turing card is still an important part of the current video card landscape, though with its $349 starting price it does not fit into the “midrange” designation we have been used to.

EVGA_RTX2060_XC_Ultra_7.jpg

Beyond the price argument, as we saw with our initial review of the RTX 2060 Founders Edition and subsequent look at 1440p gaming and overclocking results, the RTX 2060 far exceeds midrange performance, which made sense given the price tag but created some confusion based on the "2060" naming as this suggested a 20-series replacement to the GTX 1060.

The subsequent GTX 1660 Ti launch provided those outspoken about the price and performance level of the RTX 2060 in relation to the venerable GTX 1060 with a more suitable replacement, leaving the RTX 2060 as an interesting mid-premium option that could match late-2017’s GTX 1070 Ti for $100 less, but still wasn’t a serious option for RTX features without DLSS to boost performance - image quality concerns in the early days of this tech notwithstanding.

EVGA_RTX2060_XC_Ultra_1.jpg

One area certainly worth exploring further with the RTX 2060 is overclocking, as it seemed possible that a healthy OC had the potential to meet RTX 2070 performance, though our early efforts were conducted using NVIDIA’s Founders Edition version, which just one month in now seems about as common as a pre-cyclone cover version of the original Sim City for IBM compatibles (you know, the pre-Godzilla litigation original?). LGR-inspired references aside, let's look at the card EVGA sent us for review.

Continue reading our review of the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 XC Ultra graphics card

Introduction and Waterblock Overview

Swiftech took a major leap forward with the introduction of their Apogee SKF Heirloom Series bock which is the flagship of the Apogee SKF series. They worked to refine their existing designs with smaller micro-channels in the base plate, an RGB illuminated view port in the center of the block, and an all-metal construction.

02-block-profile.jpg

Courtesy of Swiftech

The metal construction was one of the nicer refinements, adding additional surface area for heat dissipation as well as reducing the likelihood of stripping the G1/4" fitting ports from over-tightening or switching out the block's barbs. With an MSRP of $94.95, the Apogee SKF Heirloom Series block comes at a premium price – well worth it given the block's performance and premium features.

Note that Swiftech used the same design refinements with all their Apogee SKF series water blocks. The Heirloom series block just offers an unprecedented level of customization that is only partially available with the other Apogee SKF series blocks.

03-block-customization.jpg

Courtesy of Swiftech

One of the nicest refinements Swiftech introduced with the Heirloom Series block was its vast amount of configurability. When ordered, Swiftech allowed for customization of the top block, the cover plate, the logo, and the mounting brackets, giving the user the ability to design a very unique and build-specific block. The block top was offered in a total of five different finishes, the cover plate in six different colors, the logo in eight different colors, and the mounting brackets in two different colors. While this level of customization was limited to the Heirloom Series block, Swiftech does allow some customization on its other Apogee SKF series blocks, like the Apogee SKF and Apogee SKF Prestige blocks.

Continue reading our review of the Swiftech Apogee SKF Heirloom Series water block!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

The Pint-Sized Flagship

In November 2017, Cooler Master released their flagship keyboard, the MasterKeys MK750. With its successor, the MK850, just around the corner, they’ve released its little brother, the MK730. It’s a tenkeyless version of the original, but when I saw that, one, it was only $119.99, and two, we’d never reviewed the original MK750, I knew that we had to take a look. Is this the small form factor keyboard you’ve been waiting for? Let’s dig in and find out.

Cooler_Master_MK730_Hero.jpg

Specifications

  • Switch Type: CHERRY MX Red, Blue (reviewed), Brown
  • Material: Plastic / Aluminum / PU Leather
  • Color: Smoky Gunmetal Aluminum Brush
  • LED Color: RGB, 16.7 million colors
  • Polling Rate: 1000Hz
  • Response Rate: 1ms / 1000Hz
  • MCU: 32bit ARM Cortex M3
  • On board Memory: 512KB
  • On-the-fly system: Yes, for Multimedia, Macro Recording and Lighting Control
  • Multi-media Keys: Through Function (FN) Key
  • Smart cable manager: Yes, 3 Ways
  • Wrist rest: Removable magnetic with soft PU Leather
  • Cable: Detachable braided USB Type-C
  • Software Support: Yes, Portal
  • Connector Cable: USB 2.0
  • Cable Length: 1.8m
  • Dimensions: 360 x 192 x 41.5 mm, 360 x 183.5 x 41.5 mm (Without Wrist Rest)
  • Product Weight (without cable): 698g
  • Warranty: 2 years

Cooler_Master_MK730_Box.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master MK730 TKL mechanical keyboard

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ASUS

A Unique Blend of Lighting and Customization

The ROG Strix Flair is a mechanical gaming keyboard from the ASUS Republic of Gamers division that offers Cherry MX RGB switches, customizable lighting with underglow effects, a unique pop-out badge that can be swapped for a custom logo or text, dedicated media keys, USB passthrough, and programmable macro support. All of these features carry a premium price tag, and with a list price of $179.99 (though our Cherry MX Red version has been selling for quite a bit less) it sits in the upper range for gaming keyboards. Is it worth it? That is always the question, and we will try to answer it here.

ROG_Strix_Flare_Lights.jpg

“Flare up your game with ROG Strix Flare – a mechanical gaming keyboard that's got everything you want and more. Feel the satisfaction of every keystroke with world-renowned Cherry MX switches. Enjoy instant access to dedicated media keys on the upper left while gaming. And experience an unparalleled level of personalization with a customizable badge illuminated by Aura Sync RGB lighting. Boast your gaming flair as you dominate the battlefield.”

Features from ASUS ROG:

  • German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches that deliver satisfying mechanical feel with optimal actuation – The choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts
  • Customizable illuminated badge – Boast your ROG pride or show your flair with a personal or team insignia
  • Dedicated media keys and volume wheel positioned on the left for instant in-game audio control, a USB passthrough for easy connection and a detachable soft-touch wrist rest
  • Individually backlit keys and vibrant underglow powered by Aura Sync RGB lighting technology
  • Map macros on-the-fly to our fully programmable keys, adjust settings with enhanced ROG Armoury II software, and store profiles on the keyboard’s onboard memory

ROG_Strix_Flare_Logo.jpg

The clear insert with the ROG badge can be swapped for additonal customization

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Strix Flare mechanical gaming keyboard