When it comes to a gaming computer case the rest of the world, the none gamers, just do not get it. They see the strange angles, array of lights and loads of fans. The cases are loud and obviously geeky in design. The reasoning for this is simple. You see people like things that make them feel inspired when they engage in an activity. Take a look at a football fans man-cave. There will be large pictures of his favorite player on the wall, maybe a clock that looks like his favorite teams scoreboard. There will be glasses, coaster and even pillows all with the team logo on it. The reason he does that is that when he enters this room he is put into a football frame of mind.
Well gamers that build PCs do the same thing. Around my desk I have starship miniatures from EVE Online, my Kingston Rex head pen holder, my computer has a blue LED light show going that is matched by my keyboard and mouse. I have built a small part of my home that puts me in my computer gamer frame of mind. However just like there is no one team for every football fan, there is no one style for every gamer, they want something that reflects their favorite game, style of game or just the fact they are geeky.
Corsair has a solid line of cases but they wanted something for their Vengeance gaming lineup and so we today take a look at the first of the Vengeance case lineup, the C70. Corsair understands what I was talking about above and so they decided to make a case that had a style to entice certain gamers, the target was the military FPFS, and strategy gaming crowd. The C70 is available in three colors; White, Black and Military Green. When we saw this case for the first time we HAD to see it in green so Corsair sent us a green case.
As you can see the case looks like someone took an ammo box and put a computer inside, this was the intention. The case is all steel and so have a very military feel to it. The side window is a tinted Plexiglas with mounts for two 120/140mm fans. The front of the case has plastic inserts for the drive bays but it otherwise steel.
The front can support three optical drive bays but the real draw is the front control panel. Keeping with the military style Corsair has made the buttons look like something on a military device. The power button is large and red, easy to find when needed. The reset button is done in a yellow warning style and is under a spring loaded cover so it cannot be accidentally pressed. You also have your microphone and headphone jacks as well as the HD LED.
Looking into the future Corsair has forgone the use of USB2 pots on the front of the case, giving you two USB 3 ports and nothing else. However this forward look did not come without the common sense military approach of prepare for the future but deal with the now. With this in mind Corsair included an adapter that will take the internal USB3 connection and convert it to a USB2 connection for the motherboard header if needed.
Moving to the inside we were first struck by the latch system used for the side panels. Corsair already impressed us with the 600GT and the latching system it used. It was super easy to use and just made getting into the case better. Well this time around they did the same thing but with military style. The latch system is like that found on a lot of military equipment containers, basically a steel latch that is held in place by a bump in the metal around it. The system is super simple and super easy to use.
While we are looking at this part of the case, note the carry handles attached to the top of the case. This are not an added but a designed handle mount into the metal with metal, spring loaded handles. These can EASILY handle the weight of a loaded PC and make this easy to move around for LAN Parties.
Opening the case we find a bottom mount PSU system with filter as well as a large cutout for the CPU back plate. The 6 HD drive bays are of tool less design except for the use to 2.5” drives but they are properly supported. Each bay of three can be removed to increase air flow. Removing the bottom bay and the mount for the bay will open up space for a 240mm radiator is desired. As you can see this has it’s own filter accessed from the front of the case.
Speaking of those bays, corsair has included with the case two 120mm fans mounted at the back side of these bays to pull air over the HDs and through the front. The Front panel can be removed to access a filter and add an addition two 120mm fans for extra air intake. This along with the ability to add a 240mm radiator to the top of the case or two fans either 120mm or 140mm and the 120mm rear fan means you get some great airflow options to fit just about any build.
Opening the back of the case we find a large area for cable management and the mounting clip designed Corsair has included has a much neater look to it that using the various tie system other cases have used. This case is designed with versatility and build friendliness in mind.
We have seen a lot of case companies over the years try to hit on a look to create that feel we want from the aesthetics of our PC. Corsair has taken a very simple design and used very basic elements plus a coat of paint to create a near perfect military styling for this case.
The only flaw we found with the case in fact is with the bottom filters. The filters themselves are designed too thin for the mounting rails they use and this means it is super easy for them to slide out. In fact so easy that even using a can of compressed air we could make them fly off the case. The good news is there is a SIMPLE solution, take soma black electrical tape and fold it over each edge of the filter. This creates the tighter fit desired without making the filters hard to remove. In our testing this result in the filters not moving without you purposefully taking them out. We have passed this along to Corsair and they are looking at how to fix this for future builds.
This is quite simply a great case and if you a military buff or a military style gamer then this case will peg your geek meter. Priced at $140 this case is a decent buy from a cost perspective. However cost is harder to judge on a case like this. If this is the style you want in your computer room then the cost is reasonable and actually a great value. THAT at the end of the day is the big determining factor. There are a lot of great cases today and the key is now less about features and more about style. It is easy to find a case today with great cooling and the features we want, but the key is to find the style we want. Corsair has, as an expert marksman should, hit the target of style for this case dead center. If you love military gaming, or just are the military itself this is the case to buy to create the feel you will want in your PC.
I could not of course end this review without making an appropriate remark that fits this case’s style. Also be sure to visit our Facebook page were I will post more pictures shortly.
Show segment as aired live 30 June 2012
By Edward Crisler
When we look at hardware we all tend to get caught up in CPUs and GPUs, these are were we place our focus. However there is a truth the enthusiast industry does not like to admit, there is really not that much choice anymore in these two areas. We are down to two companies for each area when it comes to gaming components and really only a few choices in each component worth looking at, in other words the building a great gaming PC from the actual PC point of view is easy when it comes to picking parts.
However we tend to overlook the other parts of the PC that can truly make a great or dismal gaming experience, the keyboard, mouse and headset. While these might not be as sexy to many enthusiasts they are none the less a vital part of the true gaming PC experience and can make or break a great gaming PC building. In fact in many ways they are as important and even somewhat more important than other parts of a gaming PC because they will vary from person to person as to the right choice. You will use them, I mean really have hands on use of them every day and moment you are on your PC and they have a real impact on the experience.
So with this in mind Doug and I began looking at various gaming peripherals we had reviewed and realized we could actually put together full sets from the same companies from a lot of the material we had in house. This symmetry of having all of these components from the same manufacturer might not seem like I big deal but you would be surprised at all the people out there that this appeals to. It is like making sure your case LEDs match or you use the same brand case and PSU. So while to gain the true best of the best you would like mix and match the desire for symmetry drove us to look at sets as a whole.
We approached a number of companies with this idea and only three of them wanted to take it on. First up we have Thermaltake that will be represented by the TTe Sports Meka G1 Keyboard, the Black Element Mouse and the Shock One USB Headset.
The Meka G1 is an outstanding mechanical keyboard making use of Cherry black key switches. The keyboard is very well made with a cable so thick the keyboard could seriously be used as a weapon. Using a basic keyboard layout with no back lighting, it does have other advanced features such as a full powered set of USB 2.0 ports as well as a headphone and microphone jack.
The Black Element mouse has a nice large feel to it with a solid set of basic switches to give some customization with macros. The mouse’s lighting can be adjust to near infinite shades making it easy to match the bling on your system. The rubbery coating of the mouse means this mouse is not slick and is well shaped, sitting well in pretty much everyone’s hands.
The Shock One headset is a full USB headset which is foldable and comes with a nice carrying bag. The sound and microphone quality are solid and with a bit of tweaking using the included software the sound could be quite good.
The 7G keyboard is the top of the line from Steelseries and is worth of it’s position. One of the heaviest keyboards we have looked at the 7G comes with some awesome quality in it’s build and the heavy construct means the keyboard feels nearly indestructible. This shows in every aspect of using this keyboard including that it had the least key lettering wear of any keyboard in this shoot out over long term use.
The Sensei has dubbed itself the worlds most customizable mouse and from a pure functionality point of view it is deserving of this title. The mouse itself uses a very simple design that works perfect in the left or right hand with a steel slick looking finish that is anything but slick. The mouse’s simple design lets it fit well in most hands and the grip is very sure. The software for this mouse is however were it truly shines with the ability to adjust pretty much every aspect if the mouse’s performance to fit your personal choices.
The Siberia USB headset we are judging with is specifically is the Diablo II headset, however I have been told by the folks at Steelseries that it should give the same results in use as a Siberia USB headset that would cost a little less. When we compared it to the Siberia v2 headset we were able to confirm this and so feel confident with using this headset for our shootout.
The Siberia line is known for their light weight design and the old fashioned tension strap system. The result is a very comfortable headset, in fact the most comfortable headset we have ever tested. The sound quality of the USB system is very good and with tweaking can approach that of a good discrete soundcard, add to this a well done microphone that has a nifty design for hiding when not in use and you have a great headset.
The 60 series Keyboard and Mouse is the FPS lineup from Corsair and offers a feature set very similar to our other contestants. The K60 is a basic keyboard like the other two but throws out the traditional looks for a style that is unique. Making use of a solid aluminum base the keyboard uses Cherry red switches in the primary keys and then uses membrane keyboards in the less often used keys. This helps keep cost down and in our testing did not effect the experience of using the keyboard. The unique design that has the keys actually set above the base means that it is easy to clean out and gives they keyboard it’s unique appearance. This is also the only keyboard to have multimedia keys and we love the volume knob Corsair has used.
The M60 mouse is designed in style to match the K60 keyboard and does it very well. With it’s aluminum base structure and textured top surface the mouse has a rugged feel and look to it. The mouse is purely for right handed use with the 2 extra buttons only on the right as well as a special sniper button. The scroll wheel is very broad and the design just feels right when you use it.
The Vengeance 1500 USB Headset is the only headset we looked at with 7.1. simulated sound. This sound is outstanding and can be easily adjusted through the software that comes with the headset. The microphone is on a hard boom but folds up out the way, of special note is the fact that is the best microphone we have tested to date. The headphones can be turned flat for easy carrying and the aluminum used in the construction means the styling of the K60 and M60 continue to the headset.
In case you have not seen an underlying current here let me be clear, there are no losers in this shootout. Doug and I would be happy using ANY of these components in our everyday use. They all excelled in different areas but delivered an outstanding gaming experience with every test we threw at them. From a pure experience point of view there were stand out individual components but the entire packages were just so close it was hard to call a clear winner.
Next we moved to cost, a great experience is awesome but can we afford it. None of these sets are cheap and all are of such quality that the asking prices for the individual parts is really worth it. However in this category we began to see one competitor inch ahead.
Looking at build quality we again saw outstanding products in all other contestants and the choice was hard but when we looked at warranties we again saw one competitor stand above the pack.
In the end we did promise to name a winner and will during our live broadcast. I will be updating this post after our show with the winner named here in the blog entry along with a link to listen to the shootout segment in the show. Tune in though to hear it live.
UPDATE: As promised we announced our winner live first on the air and will now announce it here, the winner is the Corsair Vengeance set. While all three setups are outstanding and will give a great gaming experience to anyone seeking such a set the Vengeance products stood out to us in a few areas.
First the the set actually shares a common design theme. While this might not effect the gaming experience we did this shootout because of a desire for a symmetry of gaming components and the styling being the same across the three products added to that effect. The second reason was the price, the Corsair set actually comes in around $35 less than the other two combinations. With the actually gaming experience from all three sets being so very close the lower price was a real determining factor. Finally the Corsair set comes with a full 2 year warranty, a full year better than the other sets.
Let me be clear there were NO losers in these three sets, all three gave a great gaming experience. However the three factors mentioned have allowed Corsair to win this by a nose, congratulations to Corsair and the Vengeance team!
The entire show segment of this shootout as aired 23 June 2012.
By Edward Crisler
Well another CPU has come out, this time from Intel so that means we see new motherboard designs. However in the past we often saw, on the Intel side, the new boards working only with the new chips. The Z77 based motherboard uses the standard Socket 1155 platform which means these boards will except the new Ivybridge based chips or the previous generation, Sandybridge. This go around we have again been given a chance to look at Gigabytes mainstream offering, in this case the Z77X-UD3H.
The board we have is a mainstream, middle of the price point board, at least when it comes to Z77 boards. Priced at around $150 this board is geared toward the DIY Enthusiast, as such it comes featured loaded with some great overclocking options. The price point is reasonable for what we get and when you see what we get I think you will agree.
This board has the ability to handle up to 4 sticks of DDR3 and supports speeds as high as DDR3 2400. The board is designed for dual channel and can support a maximum of 32 gig. There is also full support for Intel’s XMS, this means no trying to figure out the best settings for your RAM, the board can do it for you.
The board with three PCIe x16 slots but only the first one can be used at x16 speeds. When the first and second are populated the slots run at PCIe x8 but both support for PCIe 3.0. There is a healthy number of PCIe x1 slots for expansion, however I am not sure why the PCI slot was added. The old standard is all but done and I think the board with have been better served with addition PCIe x1 slot.
For storage we have six SATA connections with 2 of them offering SATA 3.0 and the other four being SATA 2.0. There is also located next to the CPU socket a connection for a mSATA drive. These drives are meant to be used in conjunction with Intel’s Smart Response and Rapid Start technologies. These small, specialty SSDs will give a system a nice performance boost while still using traditional spindle drives for the mass storage needs.
Moving to the back of the board we find what we have come to expect from Gigabyte, a ton of connection ports. We have USB connectivity covered with four each of USB 3.0 and 2.0 connections. We get full 7.1 sound from the on board audio provided by a VIA chip and codec. We also have onboard video connection using VGA, DVI, HDMI and Displayport. These are powered by the GPU built into the Ivybridge and Sandybridge chips. Finally we have 2x eSATA connections and the gigabit LAN connection as well as a PS2 connection that can be used for mouse or keyboard.
While this board is designed with the Ivybridge CPU in mind the truth is that it is fully functional for the Sandybridge as well. For purposes of our testing I did my work using an Intel i5 2500K and an Intel i5 3570. This allowed me to see the board in action with the Ivybridge chip and to also compare it directly to a Gigabyte board using the older Z68 chipset. For testing I ran various games and other programs to see if any real difference in performance could be seen and in direct comparison to the Z68 motherboard, we used the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3. The result of the test was no noticeable difference in performance when running the i5 2500K between these two boards. In fact the only time the Z77 outshone the Z68 was when it was using the Ivybridge chip but this I attribute more to the new graphics engine than anything else.
What we have is a nice motherboard that is a refining move forward from the Z68 board rather than a real upgrade. Gigabyte did live up to our expectations with a high quality board that worked flawless right out of the gate. The extras that Gigabyte has put on continues to impress. We get always on USB charging which is great if you charge your mobile devices from your PC. The UD series have a number of nice features in the construction of the board that is hard to quantify but will mean the board is stable and have a long life.
The BIOS on this motherboard uses the new 3D BIOS from Gigabyte. Now I will tell you I am NOT a fan of the graphic BIOS and think we could spend development in a lot of other areas of the motherboard that would have a bigger benefit, but of the graphic BIOS I have looked at I like this one the best. Since you cannot screen shot a BIOS screen and my camera skills are limited I decided the best way to show the BIOS was the video done by Gigabyte.
One last area I wish to touch on is the Lucid Virtu MVP. This is essentially a program that allows the computer to use the onboard graphics of the Intel CPU in conjunction with a discrete graphics card. Now this has two functions the first and the one we saw on the Z68 based boards is the use of the Intel GPU for working with multimedia files. This is useful if you do a lot of video transcoding. The other use that Lucid claims is being brought to the table this time is the ability of using the onboard graphics to enhance the performance of the discrete video solution in gaming. This sounds really cool, the premise is that the Lucid software will offload some of the graphical chores to the onboard GPU thus freeing the discrete GPU for the primary work loads and enhancing the games performance.
In principle this sounds very cool but in practice it is a placebo at best. The software is limited to only games it has developed specific drivers for. In other words it is not an open driver to enhance the games performance but a cheat as it were for specific games to make benchmarks look better. Now it does do this, in the benchmarking we did with software supported by the Virtu software the numbers were higher. However once we started to play games we did not see any kind of performance difference in the gaming experience. The use of the Virtu did not allow me to raise detail level or resolution and use the performance gains to enhance to looks of the game. To be fair this should NOT detract anyone from the motherboard itself, Gigabyte did not do this an add-on company did.
The Z77 chipset and the Ivybridge CPU face a tough uphill battle because at the end of the day they are a refinement of the excellent Sandybridge and Z68 design. This put’s Intel and it’s partners like Gigabyte in a tough spot because all things being equal the price at the end of the day not the performance is a big determining factor. The Ivybridge and it’s platform costs more money but does not deliver a lot over the Sandybridge. In this case specifically when I compare the Z68 and Z77 from Gigabyte I see two great board, either of with offer great computing experiences. However I see the Z68 at $20 less.
Now do not get me wrong I think the Z77 from Gigabyte is a great board and as we have come to expect it is really well made with a great feature set. However I have to say that if I am building a new system today I am torn. If I found the Z77 and the Z68 priced within just a buck or two of each other I would go with the Z77 to get some of the newer features and the future forward support. However with a current price difference of over $20 the Z68 wins for now.
Again let me be clear, the Z77X-UD3H is a great board at a reasonable price. If you are looking to build a new system and have your heart set on an Ivybridge platform this you cannot go wrong with this board. However right now the Z77 much like the Ivybridge suffers from the fact that is is just another great platform from an already great platform. Sandybridge, as prices fall is just to good a buy to suggest looking elsewhere.
By Edward Crisler
When Thermaltake first came on my radar they were well known for their Armor computer cases. This case was a full tower that provided excellent cooling and was also known for it’s distinctive front doors or shields. That case today is consider a classic among tech enthusiasts.
The Armor Revo is an attempt to pay homage to the classic Armor case while at the same time bringing the case to a more modern design. This is most obvious as we look at the front of the case. Looking at the case head on you can see the two shields that the classic Armor case was known for. There are brushed aluminum panels that have the ability to be opened a small degree for purely aesthetic purposes, these are not doors in any manner and do not interfere with the use of optical bays even when fully closed.
Looking past these two shields however we see a design that is similar to designs we have seen before from Thermaltake, there is a reason for that. Thermaltake has, for it’s full tower cases, hit upon a solid design for the interior of the case. This design is well made, efficient and has some great features. So instead of inventing the wheel as it were with each case that have started using the same base and then modifying the outside to create the style they are shooting for.
Now this is not theory, I have been able to confirm this with our contacts at Thermaltake and personally I think this is great. By using a common base for the cases we can see a reduction of costs since only a single basic interior tooling of the case is required. This will also give the various case styles a unifying form that will allow them to be different but recognizable as a Thermaltake case at the same time. This of course could only work if you had a great base to start from and Thermaltake does.
Looking at the front panel of the case we can see this unifying design in action. If that panel design looks familiar it should. We have seen this basic design on the Overseer and the Chaser. You have dual USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, an ESATA as well as the headphone and microphone jacks. There is also an SATA drive docking station that works with 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives. On the right we have the power and reset buttons as well as the HD activity light and on the left we have a high and low fan speed switch as well as a fan light control switch. The logo on the front also serves as the power light for the PC.
Turning to the side we see a side panel that looks a lot like the side on the Chaser with a nice side window and a 200mm side intake fan. The fan gets its power from a power connector built into the side panel and mainframe. This design is something I love about Thermaltake cases and really makes them stand out. No need to worry about the side fans power cable when you take the door off to work or put it back on. The side fan is filtered but you cannot remove it without taking off the fan.
Opening the case we see an interior look that we have seen before. The motherboard tray has a nice large cutout for making access to the CPU back plate easy as well as having a lot of room behind the tray for cable routing. The PSU mounts at the bottom of the case and has a movable bracket to allow the case to easily accommodate larger PSUs. There is also a mount to add a 120mm fan to the bottom of the case for intake, both it and the PUS intake area are filtered and this can be easily removed from the rear.
The optical bays can hold up to four different 5.25” devices and have a tool free design. There are six drive bays for 3.5” or 2.5” drives. These are easy to remove and lock back in real tight. You also get an adapter and face plate for the ability to mount a floppy or other 3.5” devices in the 5.25” bays.
With the 200mm fans at the side and front a third fan is at the top of the case and a 140mm fan at the rears. The chimney area will also allow for a 120mm or 140mm fan to be added or the 200mm fan can be removed and a 240mm radiator can be used instead. The cooling solutions are very versatile and the space very open. When I built my wives system in this case after testing I was able to easily mount AMD’s dual fan liquid cooling solution in the top area using the second fan option. There is a surprising amount of room in the case.
The quality and options offered by this case are things we have come to expect from Thermaltake in their full tower cases. The fans that come stock offer the same cooling as the other cases with this design but do not have the color change options, only offer a choice of blue or off. On the side panel we find the headset holder that Thermaltake has started including in case designs, this is much handier than you would first think. Once you start using it, you have a hard time being without it. This holder is however mounted to the case and if this will sit under a desk be sure your legs are not going to bump into or you might break it, or at the very least hurt your leg.
The cooling in this case is awesome with the test rig (I5 2500K (stock Intel cooler), Sapphire HD 7850, Kingston Hyper X SSD, 8 Gig Kingston Hyper X DDR3) running for 4 hours under gaming level load in a room with a temp of 85F. At no time did the system come close to throttling temps.
The use of an aggressive style is something we have come to expect from Thermaltake, this means some people will love this cases looks and others will hate it. My wife adores the case and hence it now houses her system. Personally I do not think it is bad but it is not a design that gets me excited. However the quality of the build and the features offered do get me excited. The Armor Revo has a tough road to hoe as it must live up to the name created by a case that is legendary. With a nod in the style to the classic case Thermaltake moves this design fully into their new full tower style and has managed to blend the old and the new together nicely. The case is available in White or Black giving you more options in choosing a style that fits you.
This case is definitely worth a look and if you like the style you will love the case. The Armor Revo is a great case that is worth any enthusiast’s attention.
Review as aired 9 June 2012
By Doug Berner
As I talked about in our review of the K60 and M60, we got a chance to check out some of the cool offerings from Corsair while at CES. The K90 and M90 keyboard and mouse are designed around the needs of the MMO player. Since both Ed and I are avid RPG gamers and dedicated MMO players this set was one we really looked forward to checking out.
Designed for MMO gamers this pair of products grabbed out attention right away with their aggressive styling and unusual features. A few months ago the good folks at Corsair were kind enough to send us some review samples and we have been hard at work putting them through their paces, kicking the tires so to speak. Yes we are far from the first source to review these products but as our listeners know we strive to do a thorough test on items like this to get a feel not only for the initial impressions and feature list but to see how well they hold up and how they perform under a variety of situations on a daily basis. So with no further delay I will jump right in with our impressions, experiences and conclusions of the K90 and M90 from Corsair.
I will spare you the unboxing experience and tell you that they were more than adequately packaged. (by now you all know how Ed and I feel about “unboxing reviews”).
As mentioned above this keyboard is designed from the ground up to be not just a gamer’s keyboard but a MMO gamer’s keyboard. For the non-gamers out there who are about to stop reading let me just clarify by telling you this is not JUST a gaming keyboard and the features included to make it appeal to gamers are also excellent additions to a daily work and general use keyboard. The K90 is essentially a variant of the K60 the review of which you can read by clicking the link at the beginning of this article. As such it shares many of the features and characteristics of the K60 like the brushed aluminum case, Cherry MX Red mechanical switch keys, heavy braided cable and aggressive styling. The additions included to set the K90 apart and make it appeal to MMO gamers and for that matter many others are a massive bank of programmable macro keys included in a bank on the left side of the keyboard, backlighting and a full length wrist rest.
First the basic features you will find in the K90
1 Mechanical Cherry MX Red switches for all the primary typing keys means you get the long live and precision of mechanical switch keys with a very light touch.
2 Solid brushed aluminum upper and lower deck construction means the K90 offers a great aggressive styling that does not show finger prints as well as sturdiness that insures you could use it as a self-defense weapon if you ever needed to.
3 The connection cable is heavy and reinforced to the point that an average adult could probably swing on it without damaging, much less breaking it. Yet is has a good deal of flexibility to it.
4 The multimedia keys located in the upper right corner are unobtrusive yet function easily and efficiently and the analog volume roller control which at first look seems out of place on a modern digital device actually performs faster and with more accuracy than any button volume control I have seen.
That is where the similarities end. The features that make this a better MMO keyboard than is FPS cousin include:
Programmable Macro Keys: 18 Macro keys which are easily programmed with the software to repeat any of those multi key tasks that are a mainstay of most MMOs. Simply launch the software and assign as many key strokes as you want to one of the function keys. You can also adjust the delay time between key strokes if you need to. As mentioned above though these same keys can be very useful in the real world where you may use the same series of key strokes over and over to perform repeat processes for cut and paste, editing or switching between applications. Using these will save time and reduce the potential for errors when performing these tasks.
One interesting characteristic of the macro key bank is that it is set down at a lower level than the primary keys on the main deck of the keyboard to avoid accidentally hitting them. I’ve seen some people ding the K90 for this and the fact that the macro keys are not mechanical. But in my experience this has been an effective way to keep me from accidentally banging these and causing embarrassing gaming moments that my friends would never let me live down. As for them not being mechanical, well they don’t need to be. They have made the feel of the macro keys nearly identical to the main keys, these keys get used a hundred times less and lets face it if they were all mechanical we would be looking at a more expensive keyboard. So in my opinion I think Corsair hit the mark with their choice of placement and key types here.
Back Lighting: The inclusion of laser etched, backlit keys on the K90 provides solid elegant backlighting in any color you want as long as it is blue. The fact that it only comes in blue may turn some off who have other colored lights in their case and want everything to match and I am hopeful that a future incarnation may be offered in different colors or even multiple colors to make everyone happy. However if you like blue you will be happy with the K90’s backlighting which performs admirably in all room lighting environments. Or if you are not a fan of blue you do have the option to turn it off with the press of a button located at the top of the keyboard.
Additionally the backlighting does not extend to the edit keys the macro keys or the function keys. Corsair seems intent on keeping the focus on the keys that are used the most by backlighting only the primary keys, arrow keys and numpad keys.
Full length wrist rest: The final feature that sets this keyboard apart from its FPS cousin is the inclusion of a full length wrist rest. Its hard to say a lot about a wrist rest other than that this one does its job admirably. It has a nice textured finish and does a good job of making the K90 more typing friendly that its FPS counterpart.
All in all we have been faithfully pounding on the K90 for about 3 months and it has performed and held up admirably. They software makes programing the macro keys fast and easy and actually makes it possible to have multiple profiles that you can set up for various games or applications that you use. I cannot imagine anyone needing more macro keys than this, ever.
The backlighting is quickly adjustable to three different levels or can be turned off all with the touch of a button and Cherry MX Red switches make this thing a joy to type on without the hand fatigue I have sometimes experience with heavier switches.
There is one USB port on the top edge of the keyboard and while this one less than many keyboards come with now. It is still one more than 90% of users will ever use. If you need this feature one will almost always be enough.
A price tag of about 120.00 seems a bit steep to those who have not yet discovered the wonderful world of mechanical keyboard. But the combination of quality construction, unique styling and outstanding feature more than justifies the price. The K90 is among the best keyboards we have reviewed here and has earned a spot in my personal top recommendations for those looking for a first rate keyboard with generous macro capabilities.
As with the K90 the M90 shares some commonality with its FPS cousin the M60 FPS mouse.
The M90 is a sleek aggressively styled sturdily built mouse aimed at the MMO gamer with features they are sure to value and again those same features could also be valuable in everyday and production/office use.
It offers the same rock solid aluminum foundation found in the entire Vengeance line of products and sports that same wide rubber clad aluminum scroll wheel that I loved so much on the M60 but the similarities with the M60 pretty much end there. The M90 has a completely different shape and feel to it.
Oh it’s a hefty hand full just like its FPS counterpart but unlike the M60 this mouse does not have removable weights to adjust that weight for those who like a lighter feel to their mouse. This was no detraction to me since I prefer a heavier feel to my mice.
A generously long braided cable connects the M90 and is both flexible enough not to interfere with operations yet sturdy enough to not be in danger of breaking or wearing out any time this decade.
The fit and feel of the surfaces of the M90 are a nice matt black that does a great job of resisting finger prints and smudges while still offering a non-slip tactile experience.
Internal lighting on the M90 is blue to match the K90 keyboard and is very subdued. The Corsair logo on the rear is lit in white and adds both brand recognition and a nice bit of flare to the appearance.
Again functionally after months of use we have had no problems or technical difficulties with the M90, it has performed flawlessly and shows no noticeable signs of wear.
The thing that sets the M90 apart from most of the gaming mouse crowd is the addition of several programmable macro buttons on the thumb side. Nine to be exact and these like every button on the M90 (it has 15 in all) is easily programed to allow you to customize the M90 for any game functions you like in any order you like. Few other mice can boast this amount of flexibility and when combined with the number of programmable macros found on the matching K90 the amount of customization is staggering.
At the heart of the M90 is a 5,700 DPI Avago Technologies ADNS-9500 LaserStream™ gaming sensor. Sure that’s a mouthful to say but what it means is that on every resolution and on every surface we tested the M90 it performed with wonderful speed and sensitivity in every application and every game we tried it on.
The Macro Buttons: Ok let’s get down to what makes this mouse stand out in a crowd. All those buttons give the M90 a level of flexibility that not many other mice can even approach. The inclusion of the software which allows the possibility of up to 50 profiles means this mouse can be customized for multiple games and applications and have some left over for multiple users if you have to share it with someone else. From the standpoint of customization the M90 sets the bar way above most of its competition.
However; I said this mouse has a lot of flexibility and there is the one shortfall I find in the M90. Those buttons on the thumb side are not the easiest to use in any situation much less an immersive environment like gaming. The thumb buttons, all nine of them are located around the edges of the thumb side. They are all narrow and rather to firm for such small buttons. The result is that for me and at least 4 other people that I had try the M90 out, the buttons were not easy to find and when found were difficult to press without changing the grip to apply more pressure.
I think I understand the reasoning behind the placement to be that they should be available but not in the way of your thumb so as to avoid accidental pressing of them during regular gameplay. An admirable thought but the execution of the design leaves quite a bit to be desired. Perhaps if I were 20 years younger or had an extra joint in my thumb to allow it to bend to those awkward positions easier my experience would have been different but in fairness my other test subjects ranged between 14 and 20 years of age so I don’t think it’s just that my thumbs are old, fat and worn out.
In every other aspect the M90 is a sterling example of what I would expect from Corsair; unique styling, quality construction, and innovative features. I would like to see a future incarnation of the M90 that had easier to reach, larger buttons with a lighter touch. Then we would have a winner in every category. But for me the thumb buttons are a deal breaker. If I didn’t need them I could just ignore them but since they are there I feel a bit cheated by not being able to make use of them.
The Corsair K90 MMO keyboard is a winner hands down. Aggressive styling, well thought out key layout, rock solid construction, elegant backlighting and a veritable cornucopia of programmable macros make this a MMO gamer’s dream keyboard. Only the limiting of backlight colors could possibly be a detraction and that not by much. If you are a gamer or will be buying for a gamer in the near future and want an unforgettable experience that is sure to enjoyed for many years you should look at the Corsair M90.
The Corsair K90 MMO mouse, while offering that same line up of Aggressive styling, rock solid construction, and elegant backlighting, could have benefited from a bit more testing and research on the number of joints that humans have in their thumbs. Having said that, results may vary and if you find that you can live with the placement of the thumb keys you will not be disappointed in the M90 in any other respect.
Review Aired Live 2 June 2012.