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.
Corsair is a well-known name for cases, keyboards, CLCs, mics, mice, and other PC components. Throughout the years, the company has established a fairly strong brand name by generally providing good products that are usually at decent price points. This is not to suggest they are perfect -- sometimes things aren’t competitive, have lackluster performance, or look ugly.
Corsair’s RGB series of keyboards is among the most-hyped peripheral lines in recent history. These keyboards were the first to feature programmable RGB lighting on a keyboard with mechanical switches, and even signed one-year exclusivity with Cherry MX RGB switches. The hype train was going at full-steam ahead with these keyboards.
Then, Corsair’s RGB keyboards were delayed. Following this, Corsair started using its new gaming logo in lieu of a traditionally more reserved logo, annoying fans of the old logo (perhaps to a point of irrational rage). Then -- somehow -- more bad news emerged pertaining to quality control and supply issues with Cherry MX Blue switches, to the point that they are now discontinued entirely.
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