Our team has already landed in Las Vegas for CES 2016 and, over the next week, we'll be posting video and written analysis of new products from all major manufacturers. Corsair's announced some of their new items ahead of meetings, to include the Spec-Alpha gaming PC case.
The Spec-Alpha ships in gray-on-black and red-on-white finishes, making ample use of jutting angularity and bezels on top of bezels. Part of the front panel is mesh-covered, the other covered by usual case plastics, and the entire enclosure sits atop black feet (which look a bit out of place for the white and red case).
SilverStone’s Raven RV02 enclosure was once a chart-topper in our bench, laying claim to thermal superiority by taking risks. The RV02 uniquely approached system configuration by rotating the motherboard 90-degrees clockwise, a move that slipstreamed intake from three bottom-mounted, 180mm fans into the video card and CPU cooler. All of the air exhausted through a single top fan, creating a “Stack Effect” solution that yielded high-performance cooling for the GPU and CPU.
It’s been a while since the RV02 came out and made its splash and – a fact we didn’t learn until months after our review – that case was dust-prone, resultant of its positive pressure and all-bottom intake setup. We’ve been due for another risk-taker in the market.
Corsair today officially launches its new 600C and 600Q cases, each deploying an inverted motherboard design and strongly highlighting cooling efficiency. In the 600C/Q, the motherboard is not only rotated by 180-degrees, but inverted – it’s on the right side of the case, rather than the left. Without front-facing I/O, this is the only way to pull-off a 180-degree motherboard rotation. The models are differentiated by the right side panel (which, remember, is the access panel to the board): the 600Q (“quiet”) sacks the window in favor of a steel panel with sound-damping material; the 600C spotlights internals with its large window, somewhat similar to the company’s 760T arrangement (though not glass). The 600C/Q cases are each priced at $150.
Our hardware news recap for the week of 11/14 is now live on YouTube, covering a few primary topics: GPU shipment volume, a new Cherry MX Nature White switch, ASUS' move to Augmented Reality, nVidia's GameWorks VR / UE4 integration, and Corsair's HG10 updated for the 900 series.
You can find the video news recap below. This week, for those who stay up on the site, we'll primarily be working on Star Wars Battlefront content. We've also got some power supply stuff going live shortly, alongside the video version of our Black Ops optimization guide (live in a few hours from this posting).
We recently reviewed the Corsair Strafe ($110), a mechanical keyboard with semi-customizable backlighting. Since then, the Strafe RGB keyboard has come out as the higher-end RGB version with the same chassis.
The Strafe RGB is a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown RGB, MX Red RGB, or MX Silent Red RGB switches, including a full 16.8 million colors available for lighting customization. Other than the option to set macros, the Strafe RGB is still a normal keyboard -- nothing too crazy about it, but that fits the Strafe’s market. The primary obstacle to the Strafe – which is the case with many PC components and high-end keyboards – is the price tag: $150, in this case.
Gaming headsets have seen a number of improvements through 2015, especially in the department of LEDs – because RGB connotes superiority, apparently – and DTS/Dolby partnerships. Even so, some of our favorite mainstays have survived years of new releases and refreshes, remaining on this year's “Best of 2015” holiday buyer's guide.
The best headsets for gaming can be found below, listed between $50 and $220, with some additional thoughts on headsets for FPS, RPGs, and other types of games.
Note that we're in the process of reviewing a few of these; you can also find some of our existing reviews linked below.
The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.
Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.
First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.
Challenging EVGA's $750 GTX 980 Ti Hybrid is a tough fight right now. The card, in our eyes, is one of the best graphics solutions on the market, and it's largely because of the liquid cooling integration. We've recently seen a surge of liquid in GPU products, like the Fury X, and the thermal envelope is mitigated massively as a result. MSI seeks to join that fight with Corsair's assistance.
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.
Some good news for esports fans, especially fans in the North American scene: Corsair has announced their partnership with Team Dignitas. Accompanying this partnership will be new Corsair products emblazoned with Team Dignitas' logo, something we’ve seen from manufacturers in the past.
Corsair's Computex announcements began with “Bulldog,” the company's attempt at a DIY kit for “console-sized” 4K gaming. Bulldog is effectively a barebones kit of core components, to include a small form factor case, CLC, PSU, and motherboard. Users must purchase other necessary components separately.
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