Back in the day, one keyboard reigned supreme -- the IBM Model M. A buckling spring keyboard that informed supervisors how hard their cube-slaves were working due to its loud sound upon actuation. But these wonderful times did not last forever. The membrane switch was developed, which was far cheaper as a result of using a rubber dome instead of springs to register keypresses, and since that day mechanical keyboards grew more scarce.
The mechanical keyboard industry has been expanding. Fast. Cherry MX mechanical switches are the primary switches sold, but there are competitors in the marketplace. Tesoro has been expanding into the North American market with their mechanical keyboards, adding yet another name to the myriad of brands currently on digital shelves. Interestingly, like some other brands -- Razer and Thermaltake included -- Tesoro is using Kailh mechanical switches in their keyboards instead of standard Cherry MX or Topre switches.
Thermaltake's "Tt eSports" division has been steadily expanding its arsenal of gaming accessories since the brand's launch. After reviewing the Poseidon Z keyboard -- the first Kailh-equipped board we've tested -- it's fair to say that Tt eSports has potential in the gaming market. The brand has primarily centered its strategy upon affordable products to the competitive and streaming crowd, mainly offering products like LAN backpacks (for keyboards), mouse pads, headsets, eSports team jackets, and now keycaps.
We're reviewing Thermaltake's "Tt eSports Metal Caps" accessory today, a collection of mechanical keyboard keycaps to provide a sturdier, more resolute feel to key presses.
The advent of a new technology does not necessitate the invalidation of long-standing solutions. Just look at tape drives:
We've often remarked that high-end air coolers will beat-out low-end liquid coolers any day -- the Corsair H60 comes to mind -- and this is a chance to put the concept to the test.
In this review of Be Quiet!'s Dark Rock Pro 3, we benchmark the performance of the hardware world's most monolithic CPU cooler.
It looks like Office Space's best company is back in action. Inateck (not quite Initech) recently contacted us to request review of their KT4005 product, a 4xUSB3.0 port PCI-e expansion card that does nothing more than add extra USB3.0 ports to a system. Skeptical of this sort of thing, we decided to take Inateck up on the offer and benchmark performance using multiple devices connected simultaneously, all transferring at maximum bandwidth.
In this benchmark and review of Inateck's KT4005 USB3.0 PCI-e card, we look at sequential and random throughput using various USB3.0 devices.
The delay of Valve's Steam Machine (or Steam Box) has forced the hand of systems manufacturers. Alienware, Gigabyte with the Brix, and now Zotac have all begun shipping their would-have-been Steam Machines as DIY mini-PCs. Steam has disallowed the shipment of officially branded Steam Machines until the completion of its haptic controller, leaving system manufacturers scrambling to untie the resources dedicated to machines that were originally slated for a 2014 launch.
In an official capacity, Gigabyte's BRIX Pro and Zotac's EN760 are not "Steam Machines" -- at least, not by branding -- but they might as well be. The EN760 (Newegg page) ships in two models: The EN760 and EN760 Plus. The base model ships without RAM or permanent storage at $540; the Plus edition includes a single 8GB stick of 1600MHz RAM and 1x1TB 5400RPM HDD. Both units are outfitted with an 860M mobile GPU, i5-4200U mobile CPU, and custom board design to fit in a 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" (188 x 188 x 51mm) shell.
We've been recommending Plantronics' GameCom 780 headset alongside our PC builds for a few years now, generally calling it the "best value for gamers." The 780 has fluctuated between the $50 and $80 price range, and at either end of that spectrum, it has always dominated as a high-endurance, high-performing solution for gaming audio and input. Our original review 780 is still functional, and that's after nearly two years of constant use -- the longest time I've ever had a headset last.
Plantronics recently contacted us about a GameCom 788 refresher of the original 780. There haven't been any changes to the audio drivers and underlying audio tech, so it's all aesthetics and marketing. The 788 ships alongside updated Windows 8/8.1 compatibility, joined by most of Plantronics' other audio products.
In this review and hands-on with Plantronics' GameCom 788, we look at the headset's sound quality, build quality, comfort, and usefulness in gaming.
There's no argument that RAM has become commoditized in the marketplace. This has been reinforced by furthered emphasis on appearances and the prevalence of high-capacity modules at relatively stabilized prices. DDR3 DRAM fabrication has also improved its yield steadily through the years, making high-frequency memory more abundant than ever.
As it turns out, RAM also feels like a relatively uninteresting component when selecting parts for a new system -- such is the nature of a stable product. It's similar to buying gas, in that regard; serious enthusiasts might deliberate over suppliers and octane specifications, but most users just fill up with the most convenient and affordable source. That's not to diminish the importance of quality RAM, though it does currently feel like a fairly stagnated market. Things will change in the face of DDR4.
In this review, we'll look at NZXT's Sentry 3 specs, its performance and accuracy as a fan controller and temperature reader, and overall build quality.
We're back with another mouse review, this time from a manufacturer not usually (or ever, really) known for their gaming mice: Rosewill. Admittedly, this review comes in part because of an urgently needed mouse replacement caused by the mechanical failure of a certain Genius Deathtaker, so anything that can left-click is a definite improvement, but we'll try to give some honest pros and cons.
Mechanical keyboards prevailed during the early days of the world's post-typewriter transition; some of IBM's earlier pieces -- like the buckling spring Model M -- have now become highly sought-after items in the world of keyboard enthusiasm. Mechanical keyboard evangelists would likely point-out that we didn't know how good we had it, but with time, membrane and other cheap keyboards rapidly became the norm. As gaming and PC hardware interest has kicked up, we've seen a revitalized focus on high-quality mechanical keyboards; this was discussed in more detail in our recent Rosewill RK-9100xBBR Apollo review.
Of late, we've primarily discussed keyboards using Cherry's somewhat ubiquitous MX switches. The MX switches are best-known for their color coding -- blue liked by typists, brown and red switches often celebrated by gamers, black for medium stiffness, and so forth. Although MX is arguably the most prevalent in today's marketplace, what with Corsair pushing it so hard (and Cooler Master... and Rosewill), there are plenty of other switch suppliers out there. One of them is Kailh ("Kaihua"), who've been making some of the most accurate Cherry MX clones since Cherry's patent expired. When we met with Thermaltake about their new Poseidon Z keyboard this year, we were told that they were "manufacturing their own switches" for the new keyboard -- ultimately, this meant that the company would be sourcing supply from Kailh. Not quite in-house, but Thermaltake staff were proud of themselves for deviating from Cherry. I can't say I blame them -- competition is a good thing.
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