Hardware

Liquid-cooled video cards have carved-out a niche in the performance market, granting greater power efficiency through mitigation of power leakage, substantially reduced thermals, and improved overclocking headroom. We've previously talked about the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid and AMD R9 Fury X, both of which exhibited substantially bolstered performance over previous top-of-line models. More manufacturers have seen the potential for liquid-cooled graphics, with MSI and Corsair now joining forces to produce their own 980 Ti + CLC combination.

This joint venture by MSI and Corsair sees the creation of a liquid-cooled GTX 980 Ti, using the existing Corsair H55 CLC ($60), an Asetek-supplied CLC. Depending on which company you're asking, the graphics card is named either the “MSI Sea Hawk GTX 980 Ti” ($750) or “Corsair Hydro HFX 980 Ti.” Both will have independent listings on retail websites. The cards are identical aside from the branding initiatives. The MSI & Corsair solution sees employment of what is typically a CPU liquid cooler, bracketing the H55 CLC to the GPU using a Corsair HG10 GPU CLC mount. EVGA's solution, meanwhile, uses a CLC with an extruded coldplate for GPU-specific package sizes, which could impact cooling. We'll look into that below.

For purposes of this review, we'll refer to the card interchangeably between the Hydro GFX and Sea Hawk. Our MSI Sea Hawk GTX 980 Ti review benchmarks gaming (FPS) performance vs. the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid, temperatures, overclocking, power consumption, and value. The liquid-cooled 980 Ti cards are in a class of their own, exceeding base 980 Ti price by a minimum of $50 across all manufacturers. We're pitting the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid against the MSI Sea Hawk in a head-to-head comparison within this benchmark.

The commonality of RGB lighting in PC components seems to be ever increasing. Despite its rise to ubiquity, RGB LED lighting is still a feature that isn’t included in budget products; for this reason, products that incorporate RGB lighting at a reasonable price point are particularly interesting.

The Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB is a programmable RGB keyboard currently available for a little under $100 at Amazon and Newegg, making it one of the cheapest programmable RGB keyboards available. And today, we’re reviewing the Poseidon Z RGB mechanical keyboard, following our previous acclaim for Tt eSports’ non-RGB predecessor.

Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum RGB Headset Review

By Published October 01, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Logitech's newest headsets run the high-end of the gaming market, priced at $150 and $200 for the respective wired and wireless variants. We showed the engineering and “making of” behind the company's G633 ($150) and wireless G933 ($200) headsets last month, briefly explaining the Logitech Pro G driver.

The two headsets are boasted by Logitech as the company's return to gaming audio, further claimed to exceed the usual “good for a gaming headset” quotation. Logitech wants its “Artemis Spectrum” headsets – the G633 and G933 – to be recognized for performance across various use cases, primarily including gaming, music, and movie / entertainment categories. Our favored audio solutions specialize in single categories, so the attempt at versatility requires more comprehensive testing and analysis.

This Logitech G633 gaming headset review looks at the RGB LEDs, 7.1 surround sound setup through DTS & Dolby, comfort, build quality, and mic quality.

Rosewill B2 Spirit Full-Tower Gaming Case Review

By Published September 18, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Active users of the site will notice that we've gotten back into case reviews recently and, thanks to some new methods, we've gone a lot deeper with methodology than previously. The bench now includes thermal-over-time charts – which add great value to design analysis – and we've spoken with a number of experts on small design features to spot. Until now, all the 2015 cases we've looked at have been mid-tower or smaller. This B2 Spirit ($180) enclosure is a giant in comparison; in fact, it can nearly fit an entire NZXT S340 within it.

The Rosewill B2 Spirit full-tower case is targeted at gaming PC builds, but can readily fit server-class HPTX motherboards. It's got some unique design features, like pop-out fans and an elevated top-panel plate, but also has some unique oversights. This Rosewill B2 Spirit review tests case build quality, temperatures, and competitive alternatives.

EVGA's Z170 Stinger ($200) motherboard, something we reported on months ago, markets itself on enthusiast-level features in a mini-ITX form factor. The motherboard hosts Intel's newest “Performance” Z170 chipset, meaning it supports the latest i7-6700K, i5-6600K, and all the other forthcoming Skylake CPUs.

The Z170 Stinger is inherently restricted by opting for a mini-ITX form factor, but attempts to make the best of the space available with careful selection of supported I/O through the chipset. The unit hosts a single PCI-e slot and two memory slots – standard for mITX – along with a set of four SATA ports. This is reserved compared to larger motherboards, but allows a 6.7” x 6.7” size for use in SFF or gaming HTPC system builds.

Our review of the EVGA Z170 Stinger gaming motherboard will run through the specs, cooler clearances, BIOS, and relevant tests. Aesthetics aren't really something we like to discuss – the photos do that – but we'll talk through a few key points on that front, too.

Corsair has become a prominent gaming brand in recent years, with expansion into cases (they didn’t always make them) and peripherals. One of Corsair’s strongest pursuits has been mechanical keyboards. The company recently released its Strafe mechanical keyboard, and announced a soon-to-be-released RGB Strafe. In preparation for the RGB variant, we’ve used, dissected, and reviewed the Corsair Strafe mechanical keyboard.

The Strafe is Corsair’s response to a lack of a lower-budget, mechanical gaming keyboards in their product vertical. Corsair’s Strafe comes with Cherry MX Brown or Red switches, has a plastic enclosure, and hosts customizable lighting through the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software. The Corsair Strafe has an MSRP of, and currently retails for, $110 via retailers.

Rosewill RGM-1100 Gaming Mouse Review

By Published September 07, 2015 at 1:00 pm

The RGM-1100 is Rosewill’s latest mouse at $40, a successor to the RGM-1000 that we previously reviewed. The RGM-1100 is prominently marketed towards gamers in looks, packaging, and features. It is also an example of the market surge to implement RGB (or at least multi-color) lighting in everything possible -- headsets now included.

While the RGM-1100 doesn’t support 16.8 million colors or have a multitude of macro keys, it does have multi-color lighting, configurable settings, and adjustable weight.

This review of Rosewill's new RGM-1100 gaming mouse looks at endurance, button layout, sensor and acceleration specs, and value.

One video card to the next. We just reviewed MSI's R9 390X Gaming 8GB card at the mid-to-high range, the A10-7870K APU at the low-end, and now we're moving on to nVidia's newest product: The GeForce GTX 950.

NVidia's new GTX 950 is priced at $160, but scales up to $180 for some pre-overclocked models. The ASUS Strix GTX 950 that we received for testing is a $170 unit. These prices, then, land the GTX 950 in an awkward bracket; the GTX 750 Ti holds the budget class firmly below it and the R9 380 & GTX 960 hold the mid-range market above it.

The new GeForce GTX 950 graphics card hosts Maxwell architecture – the same GM206 found in the GTX 960 – and hosts 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit interface. More on that momentarily. The big marketing point for nVidia has been reduced input latency for MOBA games, something that's being pushed through GeForce Experience (GFE) in the immediate future.

This review benchmarks nVidia's new GeForce GTX 950 graphics card in the Witcher 3, GTA V, and other games, ranking it against the R9 380, GTX 960, 750 Ti, and others.

The hardware industry has been spitting out launches at a rate difficult to follow. Over the last few months, we've reviewed the GTX 980 Ti Hybrid (which won Editor's Choice & Best of Bench awards), the R9 Fury X, the R9 390 & 380, an A10-7870K APU, and Intel's i7-6700K.

We've returned to the world of graphics to look at MSI's take on the AMD Radeon R9 390X, part of the R300 series of refreshed GPUs. The R300 series has adapted existing R200 architecture to the modern era, filling some of the market gap while AMD levies its Fiji platform. R300 video cards are purely targeted at gaming at an affordable price-point, something AMD has clung to for a number of years at this point.

This review of AMD's Radeon R9 390X benchmarks the MSI “Gaming” brand of the card, measuring FPS in the Witcher 3 & more, alongside power and thermal metrics. The MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G is priced at $430. This video card was provided by iBUYPOWER as a loaner for independent review.

Logitech G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel Review

By Published August 15, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Racing wheels are to driving games what HOTAS is to flight sims. Logitech's new G29 racing wheel is undeniably a “premium” gaming input device, priced at $400 and stitched in real leather. Its full name is “G29 Driving Force,” likely named for the attention paid to force feedback, and its counterpart is the G920 for Xbox users.

Racing wheels have likely been experienced by most readers of this review in arcades, if not from previous in-home experience. Most of the arcade racers deploy some similar concepts, like force feedback and vibration, but do so with more simplistic execution than what modern racing wheels market. The G29 is an attempt at bringing high-quality, simulation-ready racing into the home.

In this review of the Logitech G29 Driving Force racing wheel, we'll talk motors, belts and gears, game compatibility, build quality, and playability.

First, some specs:

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