Alright we have covered a lot of material until now and we begin to get into some areas that are more open in choices. What I mean by that is while in the other areas it was easier for us to give a clear product answer, here the choices vary depending on your own personal needs.
The optical drive is a device, that in the PC world, is beginning to disappear. Over the years it has evolved from the CD to the DVD and today the Blu-Ray but even that is not keeping it’s place in the PC world thanks to digital distribution. When we can get our music, movies, software and well pretty much anything we want via a download off the internet the need to store and have a bunch of CD/DVDs laying around has passed. Installation of your OS even no longer need an optical drive with Microsoft offer a tool to install the OS via USB Flash Drives. The tool you will download says it for Windows 7 but I have used it with Windows 8 as well, all you need is an ISO of your install DVD. Now just copy your latest drivers from the various components websites and put them on a flash drive and you are all set.
Now there are a few people that still use optical drives, okay well they at least have them in their systems. Even Doug has mentioned that he uses his optical drive so seldom that he has trouble recalling the last time. However, as he points at, at around $20 for an optical drive he does not see the harm in buying it. This argument does not work with me because I can see that $20 used to move up to a better motherboard, better cooler, more RAM or any number of uses which will have more of a daily impact on your computer use.
I would be remiss however in having this discussion without pointing out one obvious exception to my position, if you plan to use your ITX gaming system as an HTPC as well. If this is your plan then the addition of a DVD or even a Blu-Ray player to the system makes sense to some degree as you can then play these to your TV without the need for a separate box. Again I would point out that with so many good streaming services the need for this type of drive had diminished. However for the times when the internet is down and you want a movie this is a solid option.
Despite the validity of this argument in the system we are building, our case choice has limited us. The Node 304 does not have an optical bay in it so if we decided to go with an optical drive we would need to use an external model. The external model will cost a bit more than an internal drive but can be added after the fact to any PC without opening the case. Often it is as simple as plugging in the USB and your off. For our build we are suggesting passing on the optical drive and grabbing an external Blu-Ray if you decide later you need an optical drive.
As we move to the hard drive or mass storage for your PC we again hit a choice that will be based on personal preferences. All of you that are regular listeners know my position on the “PC Hoarder Mentality”, if not read the article I linked. I took a lot of negative votes on that article but popularity does not determine my position on this facts do. Without doing the entire article again, I really do recommend reading it if you have not, let me just say that once we take a serious look we can find that we can easily live with smaller hard drives than the community suggests. However some people still want that massive storage space and in the end this is a personal choice.
Larger hard drives are a solid value if you want or need the storage space, however for our ITX build I am going to suggest looking at the smaller 2.5” models over the 3.5”. Now you will pay a premium for making this choice, the smaller form factor tends to run quieter and cooler so they make a great choice for our ITX build, plus they take up little space, leaving more room in the case for air flow and other components. By a premium, what I found was that to achieve the same 7200 RPM speed for the drive you will go from a 1 TB drive to a 750 GB drive when using our friends at Western Digital. To get the full 1 TB drive in the smaller form factor you would move up in price about $30 and go to the slower 5400 RPM models.
The SSD side of this is worse when we consider pricing vs size. as a 240 GIG SSD will set you back around $120 more than the 3.5” drive if we go with one of the major brands. We could go smaller, with a 120 GIG SSD and shave that cost down but I feel the 240 is a near perfect size for a gamer build. You get your OS install and still have room for quite a few games as well as are able to some game streaming and recording if you like. The 120 GIG drive can work but you really need to be a hard core single or possible dual gamer to do this. What I mean is if you have only one or two games you play the 120 can work well.
While SSDs lack the space of a traditional “spindle” style drive, they make up for it with blazing speeds. We have said on this show many times that an SSD is one of the most impressive upgrades you can do to a modern computer when it comes to a notice change in the computing experience. Once you experience an SSD you will find it hard to rely on a traditional HD any more.
The good news is that because we are looking at the smaller drive sizes, the SSDs are 2.5” as well as the laptop style spindle drives, we can fit both in a system if we want to. This means we could get the SSD for our games and OS and then a spindle drive if we wanted more storage space. Of course we have two other options, the first is called a Hybrid Drive. These are essentially a traditional HD with a massive cache that give some speed increases over traditional drives. While these drives are fast for sure, they do not match the performance, or even come close to that of a pure SSD solution. The second option is to use a small 60 gig or under, SSD as a caching drive. For our build this can be done on the Z77N board using Intel’s software or we can buy a caching SSD from OCZ or Corsair. Our own testing has shown that there is a performance boost but again, in my opinion it is not worth the cost. In the end for only a little more money you can move to a full 120 Gig SSD and use it for the OS and most used apps and get a much nicer performance boost.
So with all of this information what are we left with? Well first we will not be using an optical drive in our build. Our case choice precludes it but I just do not see the need for the drive in a gaming machine. For our mass storage I am suggesting we use a 240 GIG SSD. This will give the system a nice snap in everything it does and gives us enough room to spread our wings a bit in gaming. As for what SSD to buy that is not so easy to suggest. The folks at Kingston, OCZ, Corsair and Samsung all make some great SSD drives and while benchmark numbers might show transfer rate difference, the truth is you will never notice the difference while you are using the PC. Right now I would look at these three brands and choose the least expensive at the time of preaches. Kingston has amazing value with their V300 and HyperX 3K but OCZ has always had aggressive pricing and the Vector is the fastest drive we have had in house, then Samsung has built up a reputation for incredible reliability, with Corsair sitting in the middle of this pack with solid options. Any of these will give you a great drive, so look for deals and find the best one.
Thank you to the folks at Kingston, OCZ and Corsair for providing SSDs for us to look at.
Show segments from show airing the weekend of April 13th, 2013
Wireless devices have been around for a while. I know a lot of people with wireless keyboards and mice, plus I have seen wireless on headsets before, especially using Bluetooth. However they all had one thing in common with me, I hated them! Blue tooth was spotty at best for me and usually was not working right half the time. Wireless keyboards and mice were great, until the battery died in the middle of a very big, hard and meaningful battle. I am not sure how they managed it but this happened every time. Then add too this the fact that a lot of early wireless devices did not always reconnect as they should if the batteries ran dry during use. It is pretty easy to see why I would be bias against wireless devices.
So when we got the Vengeance 2000 Wireless headset from Corsair I have to admit my opinion was forming before I opened the box. I read the box specs, claims of working up to 40’ away and with a battery life of 10 hours were a challenge for me to dis-prove. I mean seriously everyone makes wild claims with their wireless and then fail to hit the mark unless you baby the device.
So I opened the box and began my quest to knock this headset around. The headset itself looks very similar to the Vengeance 1500, our Golden Mic 2012 winner. It has the same aluminum body and brushed finish, the same design for the mic boom, uses the same size drivers. Okay wait a second this looks to be pretty much identical to the 1500 and a call to Corsair did confirm that the 50mm drivers used in the 2000 and the 1500 are the same. They also use the same memory foam system in the headband and ear covers. Now there are a lot of tweaks to the design used by the 2000 but owes a lot of it’s looks and style to the 1500.
Since this is a wireless device it still needs a connection to the PC and that is provided by a USB dongle which sends the signal to the headset. Along with the dongle is a USB extension with stand so you can make sure the wireless transmitter is in an area to give the best signal to the headset. You can also see with the headset we get a manual, warranty card and a USB powered charge cable for the headset.
On the left cuff you will notice the chrome area. This is the power button for the unit. Corsair made sure to require an extended depress of about 5 seconds for the power to cycle. This means it is hard to accidently turn the headset off during an intense game session. Directly below the power button is a blue light that will flash when the power is on. Below that is a chrome scroll bar that is the volume control for the headset.
Let’s take on the first claim before we dive into an overall review, the 10 hour batter life. First let me say bravo for making this headset able to work as wired or wireless as far as the battery is concerned. The headset will emit a small beep into your sound when the batter begins to run low and the beep will come more often as the battery gets closer to running out. This aspect of it worked well as I was given about 15 minutes warning before the headset would not work under battery power any more. This is plenty of warning and all you need do is connect a small USB cable to keep on playing.
As for the length of batter life, I charged the headset to full power and began a marathon gaming session. I made sure the headset always had something going, even playing music into the headset when I was away from game, I wanted to see how the battery life held up. I started getting my beeps at 9 hours 38 minutes, that is really close to the 10 hours Corsair promised. When you realize that I pushed this headset way harder than most would push then the 10 hour battery life is a real possibility, Corsair has lived up to claim one.
Claim two is that this unit can transmit up to 40’. Okay maybe in an open field with no power lines and such right. So I setup the system and fired up some music and started walking around my house. Now in fairness my house has an open floor plan so your mileage may vary but I was pretty surprised when I managed to walk into my son’s room at the end of the hall and still has sound. At this point however I had noticed a few cutouts so I walked back up to where the sound was clean and measure the distance. The distance in a straight line was 37 feet, that was through two full walls and across the kitchen. I was even able to go outside on the deck and listen to music with these and had no issues. It seems these headsets hit claim two.
Now I started with the claims because in my experience these are where most wireless devices fail, they never seem able to live up to the claims made. However Corsair has delivered right on the claims made with the wireless capabilities of the Vengeance 2000 as well as the battery life. Now how do they sound?
As we have talked about before we test headsets using a variety of music, movies and games to get a feel for the sound. I have listened to a lot of headsets of late so I guess I am kind of burnt out. However when I put on the Corsair headset and fired up “The Race is On” by Sawyer Brown, the song had been playing only about 30 seconds when I said, in a very loud voice according to my wife, “HOLY CRAP”! (This quote was cleaned up for our younger audience>) The reason for this exclamation was the sound was incredible.
Now understand that was at default software settings and I had not listened to these yet at all. This was a RAW listening with no tweaking and I was already impressed with the sound. The tweaking for the sound is done within their software. The EQ is actually pretty simple and you have a solid choice of pre-sets to choose from. Your also have the option to enable virtual 7.1 sound. This works really well and goes a long way to enhancing the sound experience.
I moved through my music and I found each one actually seemed to sound better than the last. When I hit my Iron Man test scene for movie sound testing I could almost feel the concussion wave of the explosions, the base was so solid. In gaming this kept getting better. The 7.1 sound emulation allowed me to identify sound locations and the game itself came alive.
This immersion was further enhanced by the closure that you get when you wear these. I actually have a hard time hearing people around me and had to turn the volume up to about 90% before my wife could hear the music outside the headsets, even when very close to me. Of course at that volume I was risking my hearing so she is happy with the fact she does not hear my games or voice comms when I am on line with my friends.
The microphone appears to be the same one as used on the 1500 but it does not quite deliver the same clear recording sound that the 1500 was able to deliver. This could be a limitation of the wireless system or could be a software tweak but in the end I feel the 1500 does a better job with voice recording and transmission that the 2000. Now let’s be clear the mic on the 2000 is really good, but it did not quite equal the 1500 which is still the best headset mic we have tested.
With a long battery life, Corsair must be expecting people to wear this headset for a long time. Comfort was the one area in the Vengeance 1500 we felt fell short. Well it seems someone at Corsair got the message because the comfort level in the Vengeance 2000 is spot on. These use the same memory foam system as the 1500 and the same microfiber weave to cover it. However along the way this design has been tweaked, the foam feels a little thinner in both the ear cuffs and head band. Now you would think thinner would be worse but the opposite is true, these feel more comfortable on the ears.
Another tweak that seems to have been done is the clamping force that we found in the 1500 has been reduced in the 2000. Now looking at the two headsets it appears to me this was because of a design change. The 2000 has the ear cuffs centered on the end of the arms, in the case of the 1500 the ear cuffs are actually centered about 1.75” up from the arm ends. This means the pressure exerted by the arms is higher on the 1500. This shows a lot in long term wear. I have to take off the 1500 after an hour or two of play. I have actually done all day play sessions in the 2000 with no issues. Now in fairness the 1500 band breaks in after long term use and the pressure reduces but even that break-in does not reach the level of comfort the 2000 delivers.
There is one factor that needs to be discussed about this headset an intangible that does not normally come up and that is the effect the wireless has on the experience. I had been using the 2000 for about 4 days when I needed to go back to my old headset to do some work. When I did I immediately felt like I was tied down. The wire connection was noticeable to me, despite having a very long cable that had never been an issue before. I have to admit this has really surprised me.
Now I did find two areas I wish Corsair would change and the notes on this has been passed to Corsair. First I do not like the fact that there is no on screen or audio indicator that the headset is turned on or turned off. I think a simple indicator that would allow easy recognition without holding the headset so you can see the side would be a nice touch. I have also requested they redesign the plug for the USB power to a simple round plug. The reason for this is the USB style plug they have on the headset side is sometimes not the most natural thing to plug in. When you are in the middle of a match and want to quickly add power before continuing this can be a bit frustrating.
In the end however these are minor nitpicks on a product that is outstanding. Corsair has done the wireless headset right and delivered a solid product with amazing sound, a good mic and lived up to the claims they set for battery life and range. This is not a budget headset by any means with the current price on Newegg at $109.00 this headset is a STEAL for the serious gamer. I cannot begin to find the words of the freedom you feel when your headset is no longer tethered. I have been able to enjoy game time with my friends, even while doing laundry, cooking dinner or cleaning house. I can also do these activities while listen to my music and not interrupt the family while they might be watching a movie.
I guess the best way to tell you how I feel about this headset is that it is still on my desk and is NOT leaving it until it breaks. When that happens I will beg Corsair for another one.
Segment as aired live 25 August 2012
In May of 2010 I took my first look at a self contained liquid cooling system and declared then that they would soon be replacing the traditional air coolers for the DIY crowd. Since then we have seen a steady growth of sales in this market and also a steady growth of companies entering this market. Today most major CPU cooler makers have now brought a model to the market and even Intel and AMD have jumped on the bandwagon, both have branded their own models. So it only made sense that Thermaltake would also jump on the bandwagon.
In the world of these self contained systems there is essentially three levels, the basic model, a double width radiator model and the 240mm single width radiator model. The reason for these basic models can be found in design limitation put on these by the current case designs and the fact that everyone is using the same actual cooler manufacturers. You see these companies are not actually making these coolers they are buying them made for them from one of two companies, Asetek or Coolit. Thermaltake decided that for it’s LCS system it was going to work with Asetek to bring us their Water 2.0 lineup.
At CES, Doug and I got to see the two basic models, the Pro and the Performer. The Performer is the lowest cost model and uses what appears to be the traditional Asetek design with the slim radiator and the Pro is looks like the base design with the double width radiator. I commented that it was cool to see Thermaltake using the base Asetek designs that work so well. Ramsom however was quick to inform me that these we not the base designed, Thermaltake had worked with Asetek to have these tweaked so they had better performance.
Well we could not let a claim like that go without verifying it for our listeners so for the purposes of this review I put the Pro and the Performer in a head to head comparison with Antec’s H2O 620 and 920, both Asetek designed coolers.
- Intel i7 3820 @ 4.0 GHz
- Sapphire Pure Black X79N
- Kingston HyperX 1600 RAM
- Kingston HyperX 3K 240 Gig SSD
- Thermaltake Level 10 GT Case
- Thermaltake Toughpower 850
- Sapphire HD 7950
Since this is a CPU test we did our temperature testing on the CPU after running Prime 95 for 30 minutes. The case fans were all set for low in every test and the room temperature was controlled at 75F. Many places spend time looking at the idle temps cooler deliver, these are meaningless as all but complete junk should be able to keep a system cool at idle, we are looking for how these coolers perform under load and so put on some load to see what we got. For temperature readings I used the Core Temp program. For sound testing I used my own hearing as well as a sound meter app on my Droid X2 with the phone position right in front of my face at the position I sit at when using the computer.
Now you might have noticed that above I have given a lot more testing info than we normally give. The reason is I have had many question what we use for testing methods in some of the reviews we have done so this time I wanted to show our methodology.
Looking first at the Performer model we see the basic Asetek design but out of the box there is a twist, the cooler comes with two fans for a push pull design instead of the single fan everyone else uses. Now people get caught up in fans by how much air they move, as we discussed last week. In the case of a cooler like this the second fan is not about the air volume but rather the air pressure., The second fan basically helps to overcome the resistance the radiator has to airflow. True this increases the air volume that moves but the key here is the pressure it creates to overcome the resistance.
The kits has a splitter for the PWM fans to allow both of them to be connected to the CPU fan header. First let me say thank you to Thermaltake for doing this. A lot of the Thermaltake coolers I have seen of late have those in the case speed controllers that I loathe. The simple splitter to the header approach is something I have been begging them to do with their traditional designs, nice to see it finally appearing. I also like this better than the design on the 620 (the cooler we are comparing to) which has the fan connecting to the pump and being controlled not by the CPU temp but rather the fluid temps within the cooler.
This is not the only tweak however we see in this model. The Antec cooler had a small annoyance with it in that it would occasionally give off a gurgling sound. This was not really a problem, it was just the system working some air out of the lines. It was not all the time and would disappear after a little bit. Thermaltake however wanted it gone so they worked with Asetek and found that simple increase in the pump speed, about 8% was enough to remove this issue. I can say that in all my testing I never once heard a gurgle from the Water 2.0 systems were I did in the Antec models. The added benefit of this tweak is the fluid is moving a little quicker within the loop and we see a small drop in load temps because of it.
The result of these tweaks was clear once we put down the numbers from testing. The Water 2.0 Performer delivered temps about 4C lower than the 620 every time. Now this might not seem like a large drop but considering these are both at the same price point any drop is a great thing. Under load neither system was audible to my ear when ramping up in a quiet room and my sound meter showed only a 1 decibel difference at my normal seated position with the second fan on the Pro adding a little noise.
Next we come to the Pro, which is using the double width radiator design that we also see in the 920 from Antec. The same two fans are included with this model and again include a splitter for use on the CPU header. This time the only tweak that seems to exist is the extra speed in the pump.
The results of our test runs show the Water 2.0 Pro out performing the 920 by 1.5C on average. This is a much tighter comparison that the Performer but then we are using the same number of fans and this time the only tweak for Thermaltake to show is the pump. The sound dynamic of of the Pro was right in line with that of the 920 with no difference found. Again however we are talking about a cooler within the same price point, so even that small difference in temperature performance is worth noting.
Something else I observed during testing of these two models is the fact the fan speed ramped quicker than the Antec models. What I mean is as the CPU heated up the fans on the Water 2.0 responded faster in increasing speed and as it cooled they slowed quicker. The reason for this is the fact the fan speeds are based on the temp of the CPU and not the liquid in the cooler. You see as the CPU heats up in the Thermaltake design the fans respond to the CPU temp. However the liquid in the system does not heat up as fast, there is a lag as it were. This is simple physics, go to a pond after a cold winter and one week of hot summer, the water temp just does not move as fast as everything around it. I really like this design better than basing the temp off the fluid system.
Finally we come to the Extreme, this model makes use of a single width radiator that is 240mm long. Again we see our two fans however this time Thermaltake has returned to the traditional method of allowing the cooler itself to control the fan speeds. However this time it makes sense since the pump also attaches to a USB header and allows you control of the pump and fan through software. This model is really a hardware enthusiast model and this extra control is something that segment wants.
This is the first 240mm solution I have seen from an Asetek design, the only other 240mm cooler we have seen is based off a design by Coolit so the direct comparison for me does not work as well. As with the other two models this design has the increase in pump speed and delivered a solid performance. When compared to the Corsair H100, the other 240 cooler we have seen it performed in pretty much a dead tie. Bother coolers offered excellent results and either would make an enthusiast happy.
Both however offer different feature sets so the key is to find the feature set you want. The H100 has direct connect support for up to 4 fans, the Water 2.0 Extreme has only for two. The H100 has a hardware speed setting that is limited to three choices and must be done in the case. The Water 2.0 uses a software solution that can be changed via software at any time and offers presets as well as the ability to create a custom ramping of the performance. The key is to decide which feature set is what you want.
In comparison of these three models again each other I got pretty much what we and Thermaltake expected. The Extreme was best in cooling with numbers around 5C lower than the Performer. The Pro delivered better numbers as well but only about 1.5C on average lower than that of the Performer. Now the good news is that even the Performer was able to keep the CPU cool, under the torture testing we did the highest CPU temp recorded for the Pro was 70C. This is actually a very safe temp for the chip being overclocked and under a pressure testing.
Of the three models the one that impressed me the most I have to say is the Performer. While the other models are great I am just a fan of finding bang for the buck. The double width radiator does a solid job of cooling no doubt and if you are going to push your overclock a bit is a worthy buy however for the price difference I think the Performer is just a better deal for most of us. If you are uber overclocker then the Extreme is for you but again for the majority of us that level of cooling is not needed.
With the Water 2.0 lineup Thermaltake has entered the world of the self contained liquid coolers very strong this round. While they were there before with their Bigwater system it never took off. It is good to see a more budget minded and easier to install offering from them. The Water 2.0 system brings the excellent Asetek design that others are using but tweaks it in a way that puts it a step above others using the same design. The Water 2.0 is a great cooling system and offers three levels for the level of cooling you will need. For me however the big winner here is the Water 2.0 Pro, with a solid entry price point and an extra fan for a push pull configuration out of the box this is a deal that is hard to beat.
Review segment as aired live 11 August 2012
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 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.
By Doug Berner
Back in January while at CES, Ed and I had a chance to sit down with the folks from Corsair. Among the cool stuff they had to show us, were the Vengeance K60 keyboard and M60 mouse. I was struck by the style and feel of both of them at the time but did not have a lot of hands on time at the show to put them through their paces. When Ed called a couple of weeks later to let me know we had gotten a set in for review I jumped at the chance.
The K60 and M60 are billed as FPS (first person shooter) gaming items and so one would expect them to be both rugged and reliable.
When I got my hands on the set, the first thing that struck me was the same thing that had leapt out at me when we saw them at CES. Both the K60 and M60 have a one of a kind aggressive design that looks distinctly military. A solid, no-nonsense chassis built from brushed aluminum peeks out from the edges of the M60 mouse. There is a plastic mouse body attached to it but there can be no doubt that the heart of this thing is a solid metal brute. Even the scroll is made out of a solid piece of aluminum, extra wide in appearance with a notched black rubber center. The K60 takes this level of solid and aggressive styling one step higher. Black matt keys rise up from the surface of an upper deck crafted from one solid piece of brushed aluminum. Unlike virtually every other keyboard out there the upper deck does not rise up around the outside edges of the keys. The result is a look and feel that make the K60 and M60 stand out in a crowd.
Plug and play performance for both the K60 and M60 was flawless right out of the box. The K60 is a mechanical keyboard but I noticed right away that it has a very light feel to the keys. This is surprised me since this is a mechanical keyboard. The reason is that Corsair has chosen to use cherry red MX switches in the K60. Compared to the cherry black switches I had been used to in other keyboards the cherry reds in the K60 have a much lighter touch. One of my very few complaints about mechanical keyboards was that if you are not used to them you can experience some finger fatigue with extensive typing. The K60 eliminates this concern because the cherry red switches are both light and crisp. I have always found typing on a mechanical keyboard to be a joy and the K60 takes that joy to the next level. The K60 offers the great solid and responsive feel that I expect from a mechanical keyboard but with no finger fatigue even after hours of constant use.
I’m all about innovation and thinking outside of the box, and Corsair has scored points with me by doing several innovative things in the K60. First, they set the multimedia keys down at a lower level than the other keys on the keyboard. Since they are not used nearly as much as the typing or even the numpad keys this make sense, it keeps them out of the way while still being accessible . Also the volume control is an analog knurled aluminum wheel. At first glance this type of control seems out of place on a modern digital device but in practice it gave me a faster way to ramp my volume up or down than holding a up or down button for the adjustment. It also lends itself to the military styling of the K60.
Corsair knows that a FPS gamer lives on the WASD keys and to accommodate players and make our lives a little easier they include a contoured removable wrist rest just for the left wrist. I found this to be very comfortable helpful while gaming and easily removable while using the K60 for the more mundane hours of my life which require typing. The wrist rest is not just a wrist rest though for it also houses a set of bright red rubberized replacement keys for the WASD and the numbers 1-6 keys, again for the benefit of the gamers. (this is after all a FPS gaming keyboard) also contained in the wrist rest is a key puller to make changing they keys over a snap. After installing the replacement keys I have left them in full time because they do not distract from typing but they have a texture on the top which makes the easily identifiable in the dark. You will need something to find them if you game in the dark as one of the few shortcomings of the K60 is that it does not come with backlighting of any kind. I am fond of back lighting and if I could change one thing about the K60 it would be to add it. However at 109.00 there is just no way you could expect all the things you get in the K60 PLUS backlighting. I am hopeful that the future holds a ”K60 plus” that would offer everything that makes the K6 great and adds backlighting.
Speaking of keys; here is where the K60 had a hiccup and I stress a hiccup because while is has been a problem in early models it is being addressed as we speak. Some of the lettering on the keys wears off prematurely and by prematurely I mean in like a week. Apparently there was a problem at the manufacturer that resulted in poor etching of the letter area and the ink sticks to them only slightly better than an egg to a Teflon skillet. Corsair is aware of the problem and is offering replacement keys to anyone who has the issue and requests a new set. Future versions will not have this problem. In fact they are even moving to a different type of key labeling system.
I mentioned earlier that the K60 deck does not rise up to enclose the keys but leaves them standing starkly above the brushed aluminum deck which gives the whole thing a very aggressive military look. While evaluating the K60 I inadvertently discovered another more practical effect of this design. Spills don’t go down into the body of the K60 the way they would a typical keyboard. Instead they run between the keys and slide down to the bottom of the keyboard where they are easily mopped up without making the keys all stick together in a mess like you get with most other keyboards. I’m not sure if this is a case of form following function or of the result was a fortunate side effect of the design. Either way I am impressed by the fact that for the first time I have a keyboard on my desk that does not eat more chips and soda than I do. Thank you Corsair!
Now on to the M60; as I stated in the introduction I was immediately blown away by the styling of the M60. Seeing that aluminum frame peeking out at me from under the matt back body, with that fat aluminum mouse wheel bedecked with a flat heavily lugged rubber center came near to giving me a physical response that I probably should not have from looking at a computer input device. Add to that a solid heavy feel, some subtle backlighting and this thing looks like it could have been designed by a well know American motorcycle maker.
Performance wise I could not ask for more from a mouse. The M60 takes a beating and does not stop, it looks rugged and it is rugged. The button response is crisp and precise and if you want you can use the downloadable software to customize this performance in about every imaginable way.
The DPI is adjustable from 100 – 5700 through the software, which allows you to set up multiple profiles and adjust the report rate and lift height. Here you can also adjust the DPI of something they call the Sniper Button. Located on the right side under the normal forward and reverse buttons you would expect.
The Sniper button allows you to instantly drop your DPS with a press of your thumb for that micro fine feel you want when you are trying to place that perfect head shot in your favorite FPS. This is another example of a great idea from Corsair, because while many mice let you adjust your DPI on the fly you normally need to use one of your mouse fingers to do it. Problem is that finger is also probably your trigger or your zoom finger. Allowing players to instantly drop that DPI down to say 600 snap off the shot and return to the normal DPI this way means faster response and better accuracy and in a FPS that’s the difference between bringing home the bacon or being the bacon.
Additionally in one of those more mundane hours of my life spent editing text I found that the Sniper Button was useful when I was highlighting text to be copies. With my normal DPI settings I sometimes have to be careful not to highlight way too much text. The Sniper Button let me instantly drop to the lower DPI for the highlight faster than using the normal method of hitting the DPI switch with my index finger, highlighting they switching back. So there you have the justification for buying this great mouse to make you more productive at editing text which just happens to also let you score more precision shots in games!
I have only one small bone to pick with the M60. That Sniper Button that I loved so much comes with a scope crosshair marking on it which I was able to wear off in about 3 weeks. Yeah it’s not noticeable unless you are looking for it but hey I figure if you are going to put it on there, it should be on to stay.
Oh I mentioned above that the M60 has a great beefy feel to it. I love this in a mouse, while I want them to glide effortlessly across any surface I chose I also want to know I am moving something and at 4 5/8 ounces the M60 is the heftiest mouse to come across my desk. The average for a gaming mouse seems to be about 3 7/8 ounces and while that may not sound like a huge difference it makes all the difference in the way it feels when I’m using it. If however you like a lighter touch to a mouse never fear, the M60 allows you to quickly adjust that weight by removal of up to 3 weights from the bottom. You don’t even need a screwdriver to do it as the heads are slotted to accept a coin for easy removal for the “tool challenged” among us. Each of those weights is 1/8 of an ounce and I suppose you could even leave the screws out that hold them in to save another 1/4 ounce overall of you want to get the M60 down to a bantam weight contender.
I could add more information on both the K60 and M60 here but being a combination review this has already gotten pretty lengthy. So lets get down to the part I always jump to when reading other people’s reviews. 8 > )
Conclusion: The K60 gives you the the durability and response you expect from a mechanical keyboard with crisp and lighter key touch than most. It brings to the table an aggressive military styling that any FPS gamer will love and an innovative volume control that is faster and more precise than buttons. The price is very reasonable for a mechanical keyboard and both typing and gaming on the K60 is a dream. Defiantly check this out if you are in the market for a new keyboard even if you are not a gamer. It performs as good as it looks. Lack of backlighting may be a deal breaker for some but not for me.
The M60 is a winner in every aspect. The styling and heft of the thing remind me of a sportster, and its performance and customization make it a top notch choice for hard core gaming or day to day professional use. Remember the Sniper Button has more uses than just awesome headshots! Its solid construction and dead sexy looks make it stand out in a crowded room and the price is spot on, you can spend a lot more money and get a lot less mouse from other companies.
I have been using the same keyboard for over a year and as much as I love it the K60 will now be on my desk for my everyday use and gaming. And the M60 is going to fill a void I have had for a while now, I have gone through at least 6 mice in the last year and while many of them were noteworthy none captured my heart and fill my mouse needs the way the M60 has.
Great work Corsair these two are a match made in geek heaven!
Review of the Corsair K60 and M60 as aired live 31 March 2012
Headsets hold a special place in our hearts on Computer Ed Radio. As radio show hosts we use headphones a lot for working with the show and various other aspects of radio. In addition as we are both avid gamers we use headphones for our recreation as well. To give you an idea of how big a deal headphones are to us, I figured out that I wear a headset roughly 45 hours a week. That’s a lot of time to be in a headset so not only does it need to sound good, it needs to be comfortable as well. We spoke with the folks at Corsair about our passion for headsets and so they decided to step up and asked us to take a look at the Vengeance 1500.
The Vengeance line is Corsairs line of high end, professional, gaming gear and the 1500 is their premier headset. The 1500 uses a USB connection to give you 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Pro Logic. The 7.1 sound is simulated and not multiple speakers per cup.
Four our sound testing we picked some of our usually music choices, specifically two songs I now use all the time, Unskinny Bop and The Race is On. Both songs have strong base range and this is something I look for in a headset. For movies I chose I use Ironman, a great movie BTW and then for gaming I chose some games I am active in right now, Skyrim, Reckoning and Arkham City.
Opening the box I was amazed with how littler there was in the package. The only think in the package was literally a couple of pieces of paper for registration information and the headset, that was it. I expected a driver CD but the enclosed papers told me to download the drivers from the Corsair website. This is actually a good idea as this allows Corsair to make sure a new customer is always getting the latest driver with their purchase.
The 1500 comes with a nice long USB connection that has a volume control in line. Instead of a scrolling wheel as so many headsets use, Corsair has opted for a volume up and down button along with a mute button. When the headset is in use the volume buttons are surrounded by an LED that is blue when the mike is on and red when it is muted.
The headset itself uses a clamp style band that is very stylish with a nice soft, padded top and the sides are brushed aluminum to match the rest of the Vengeance peripheral lineup. The ear cups each hold a 50mm driver for great sound quality and is padded with a fabric material with memory foam. The mike is a stiff arm design that lifts out of the way when not in use and the ear cups can rotate 90 degrees for easy storage. The cups themselves are larger and deeper than most headsets meaning it should fit nicely over anyone’s ears.
My wife can be seen modeling the headset for us to show you the nice aluminum side and the mike extended for use. The styling is really nice with a light hint of blue trim and the black and aluminum giving this a very classy look. The cabling is very high quality with a nice heavy braid. The construction is very solid and Corsair is backing it with a 2 year warranty, very nice for a headset.
The software, as we mentioned needs to be downloaded for the headset to be used. The software is outstanding in it’s simplicity and ease of use. The software allows you to choose between three base settings;
- Bypass which is the basic headphone settings.
- Dolby which lets you adjust environmental size and type
- 7.1 which simulates surround sound and adjust the parameters to give you the experience you will most enjoy.
All three settings also allow you to use the software’s EQ which comes with a great collection of created profiles; Default, Music+Bass, Music Reference, Movie Mod +, FPS Gaming and MMO Gaming. Each of these has been created by Corsair to work with the sound dynamics of the headset and try to optimize for the use intended. You have to be a real sound buff to tell the difference but this is still a nice feature to offer. You can of course also create custom profiles.
Okay so the 1500 looks good, is well built and has cool software but how does it sound? For music the bass sound reproduction was outstanding. The sound quality was really spot on and just great to listen to. What was really surprising was that this USB headset actually sounded BETTER than a good analog headset on a stock setting X-Fi sound card. Now with some tweaking the X-Fi was able to regain a small lead but the USB sound system created by Corsair really delivered the goods.
Movies delivered the same great base, you feel the sound as much as hear it and the reproduction was well done. Also I was really impressed with the 7.1 sound these recreated. I understand logically that this was not true 7.1 but just a simulation with 2 drivers but the simulation is so well done that the difference was to small to matter.
For gaming the combination of the 7.1 sound with the nice base made gaming a really great experience, the sound was very immersive and makes me glad I game in a headset. Speakers are okay but I still believe that nothing beats the immersion of a good headset, I can say the 1500 really shows that immersion at it’s finest.
Finally we turn to the microphone, something we are really picky about here. Microphones often seem like an afterthought with many gaming headsets. Now that is not to say they are generally bad but it seems like they are never at the same quality as the sound components. Like I said I am really picky about my mikes so I was not expecting a lot from the Vengeance, however that did not stop it from delivering. The Vengeance 1500 had the BEST mike I have found yet in a gaming headset. The input was very clean, excellent noise cancelling and was noticeably clearing than any other mike we have put through the ringer.
While we loved using the 1500 all was not perfect. The cloth ear padding cover made my ears warm up under extended use a great deal more than a leatherette design. The material was also a little coarse for my taste. The clamp style headband lived up to it’s clamp name, there was more pressure on me head than was comfortable for long use. After about an hour or so I actually was a bit uncomfortable and could not imagine wearing these for a long gaming session. Finally I encountered a few glitches with the software, basically when a game would turn of it’s sound while sitting idle, like when I stepped away from the game for a bit, the headset would not pick up the sound again when I returned unless I restarted the game.
The issues however I have mentioned are very much personal choice in the case of comfort and the software glitch is actually minor, only happened in two games, and only under very specific circumstances. In actual active game play, listening to music or movies the headset performed flawlessly. Priced on Newegg at around $85 the Vengeance 1500 is priced as you would expect a high end gaming headset. Corsair has shown that when they making a gaming component they take it to the next level and the 1500 has done that. The sound quality is outstanding and the mike is the best I have seen on any gaming headset. The software makes this headset easy to tweak to suite your particular audio tastes. It is a definitely a headset worth of the Corsair name and should be on your short list if looking for a great gaming headset.
Corsair Vengeance 1500 USB Headset Reviewed Live 24 March 2012
Buying for the geek in your life can be hard and we all know it. The typical geek gets what he wants when he wants it and the only things left on his Christmas list are usually items that are way outside our Christmas budgets. Our current economy has people being forced to cut spending costs so these items are even less possible to buy, but fear not Computer Ed is on the case. I have put together a list of a few items that can fit most budgets and will make any geek happy.
Mousing Surface: We have talked about these on the show and while they may not seem sexy they are something that geeks appreciate when it comes to getting the most out of their computing experience. There are a lot of them out there but only one that I would want under my tree. The WoW!Pad is ultrathin and made of the PVC material making it super durable. It is available in a few different sizes and ranges in price from $10 to $6 on Amazon. The WoW!Pad comes in a few different sizes and round as well as the normal squared look. Personally I have used the largest pad for a long time now and still love it. The WoW!Pad also comes in some interesting styles with the Master’s Series which have a number of great paintings on the pads. No cloth or thick bulking pad here, just clean durable mousing goodness.
USB Keys: No self respecting geek can ever have to many USB keys and my choice for years has been the Corsair Voyager line. This USB key is unique in that it has a rubber housing. This makes these drives incredibly durable. How durable you ask? In our initial testing of these drives on release the test drive worked perfectly after be dropped 12 stories, run over by a car, stepped on by your truly, washed three times in a row and chewed on by a dog. All of these tests where done to the save drive, so it was a cumulative effect and it still kept working. Currently you can pick up a USB 2.0 model with 16 gig for under $20 on Newegg. Eight gig models are consistently below $20 and up to 32 gig which can be had below $50. The entire lineup of Corsair Flash Voyager models can be found on Newegg, check them out.
Warming the Heart: I do not know anyone that does not have a person in their lives that is not always cold. You know the people I am talking about, they keep a space heater under their desk and even have it on low sometimes in the summer. They might be warm of heart but their hands and feet are always cold. Well we have something here to help the hands at least, USB Heating Gloves. These nifty little mitts have two heaters in each glove and are powered by the USB ports on your PC. The ends turn up to allow the fingers to type or can be turned down to allow for maximum hand warming. At a reasonable price of $22 these are a great gift that can be fun and practical for the female geek in house. However do not feel left out guys, there is a model for men as well. You can find these at usb.brando.com.
Boys Just Want To Have Fun: Yeah I know the song says girls but the truth is so do boys and nothing can be as fun for a guys as something wacky and militarily oriented. With that in mind bring to his desk his very own USB Rocket Launcher.
I know this gets talked about every year but seriously these are cool. Priced at under $20, you can find these at Think Geek and make the little boy in your geek really happy this year. The device needs batteries which is a bit of a bummer but can be controlled from the computer to rotate, aim and launch it’s foam warheads of fun across the room. These are great fun and your guy will love it, that is until mom gets hit in the head and then a disarmament is forced on you.
Light Up Their Life: Most geeks, especially gamers, seem to have this affinity to using their computers in darkened rooms. I know I have it and others I know prefer it as well. For me it stems from the fact that the screen pops more and lets me see my games details easier. Whatever the reason this is just a fact of life. The overhead lights of a room are just to much and often finding a small desk lamp is okay but difficult to get it to light just the area you want it. The good news is that there are a ton of USB lighting system out there from traditional desk lamps to flexible neck devices. These flexible lamps are great for laptops but I like them for some of the new mechanical keyboards. These can plug into the USB hub on something like a Steelseries or Thermaltake mechanical keyboard and give good lighting for those dark gaming sessions. USB lighting can be priced anywhere from $10 to around $30 but it comes in quite a few different styles, check out usb.bando.com for a wide selection.
Game On: Speaking of those dark night gaming sessions, lets face it we all have a gamer in our life. With our budgets like they are right now, many of the gamers we know out there have moved to the F2P models of gaming. While the game is free to play there are however always little items in game that the person might want to buy and getting the points for those items requires spending a little real cash. With this in mind a great gift for those gamers can be purchasing some of the game store points for them. These store point bundles can come in various price packages ranging from $10 to around $30. Some of the games will require you to do it through their site but some games like Wizard 101 have point cards available in stores.
Protecting the Smart Phone: Can you seriously say you know a geek that does not have a smart phone on their hip? If so you have found a species of geek that will be extinct in a few years. Today smart phones are the craze and we all seem to have them, we also all seem to drop them sooner or later as well. These are not just phones for us, they can often be our business or even more important our portable internet connection! With this in mind we should protect these investments and nothing says safe to your smart phone user like an Otterbox phone case.
These are the premier portable devices cases and while they are not the most inexpensive, they are the best protection your devices can have. Pricing can range from as low as $20 to as high as $75 depending on the device you want to protect and the level of protection you want to have. I have used these, and tested a few, they really are the best protection your phone can have bar none.
Check for these at your local cell service store, or if they do not have them then head over to the Otter Box site to look at their selection.
Gaming at the Next Level: Okay we have kept the budget under control a bit but sometimes it is better to get one uber gift than a lot of cool ones. If you have a budding gamer in your life there is a chance he is suffering from video card envy. The problem is modern PC games need some umph in their video card to really enjoy them and most budget cost PCs do not come with that umph. The good news is the video cards of today often pack some nice gaming power in a reasonably priced package. Video cards based on the AMD 6670 or the nVidia 550Ti can be had for the $100 to $130 price range. These will take a budget PC to a whole new world when it comes to gaming, allow for good gaming performance without breaking the bank. While you can get these cards locally I would suggest looking at sites like Amazon and Newegg first to get the best prices.
I could keep going, listed all sorts of other devices for the geek in your life but we only have so much time before Christmas and I do not want you to spend all that time reading a wall of text. The good news though is that you can make your geek happy this year without spending a lot of money. If you have geek gift questions be sure to email them in or call into the live show. Also listen to our show for more gift ideas over the next week. Of course be sure to keep listening and enter our holiday giveaway to maybe win something cool for your geek or like our Facebook page for a chance to win all year long.
Remember, the family geek is one of the most under appreciated people in the family, at least we feel that way often, take some time this Christmas to show you how much he means to you. Let him enjoy the new toys he gets this year before you ask him to make your work for you.
As summer draws to a close we begin to near the end of our Summer of Cases. Like the colors change as same fades so does the case colors change as we near the end. Back in the days of old we had an amazing choice in case colors, anything we liked as long as it was beige. This was not just the DIY crowd, but the cookie cutters machines as well; all cases came in shades of beige. This meant that when the first black cases hit the DIY market they were an instant success. It did not matter if the case was well made or not, we had all gotten so sick of beige that ANYTHING was better. Plus black was cool, it looked sleek and mysterious.
Fast-forward a decade and now black has become the new beige. Almost every case you can get today comes in black, oh sure there are some cases that use other colors but black is pretty much the rule. Of late however there has been a movement among case companies to try other colors. Various greys have made some good headway, particularly gunmetal, however for the most part black is still the norm. Recently however there has been a move to white, now white cases have been around for a while actually but most looked cheap or rather bland. However some of the newer cases offering white as a color option have made a real splash, such as the Corsair 600T White.
To look at this simple unassuming box, you would be hard pressed to realize that within is a case that makes a fashion statement. The Graphite line up is Corsairs performance line of cases, now I am using performance here based on the definition we use on this show. That means this case costs a bit more but puts together a package to warrant the higher cost. The base Corsair 600T which comes in, you guessed it, black, costs around $160 right now on Newegg. The white model, the one we will be reviewing, comes in at only 10$ more or $170.
While the box itself may be plain jane, the case is not. The cases base color is white but the front has a large grill area, painted black and then an inner lip area that is in a slightly different, shinier black finish. The picture makes it hard to see this but the different black shades used create a really attractive pop against the white case.
The upper part of the front grill area sports four 5.25” bays, beneath that is a large pop out that is the filter for a 200mm intake fan that has white LEDS. The filter is super easy to get to and clean, the design is near flawless and no opening of the case is required.
On the top of the case has four USB 2.0 ports, a fan speed controller for the included dual 200mm fans, a USB 3.0 port, Firewire, headphone/mic jacks and the power/reset buttons. This is pretty typical fare at this price point though having a full four USB 2.0 Ports is really nice as is the fan controller. With Firewire all but vanishing from the marketplace I am kind of surprised to see this port in the front.
Behind that front control area is a large, easy to remove, grill that opens to show the top 200mm exhaust fan. The area under the grill is recessed to allow for dual 120mm fans to be mounted outside the case and thus making installation of a 240mm radiator super easy. This cases seems to have been designed and practically begs for the use of an H100 cooler.
The right side panel is a plane white steel panel with the exception of the two black latches that are used to open the panel. No thumbscrews to mess with or lose on this baby, both panels use this easy to operate latching system for gaining entry to the case. The black latches along with the black foot area of the case do a great job of breaking up the white side panel and accenting it to give even this often forgotten location a nice appearance.
The left side panel has the same latches as well as a nice large window to show off your components. This is one of the changes this case makes over the stock 600T besides the color. That window can be easily removed and replaced with a included grilled panel that is designed to hold up to fur 120mm fans. This kind of versatility is really nice to see in a case and makes this case easily worth the $10 price difference right off the bat.
Opening the case we see the inside and color me impressed, it is obvious that whoever designed this case also build a PC or two in their life. The work area is roomy for a mid-tower case and the CPU back plate cutout is large and well placed. There are a ton of gormmetted cable routing holes so finding a way to make the PC look neat inside, a must with a side window. The grommets are tightly fit and the material thick enough to be durable without being so thick that they are hard to use.
My gripe with HD bays mounted across the axis of the case has begun to mellow, the reason is case companies have understood the reduction in airflow and have offered options to work around it. Many have gone the route of increasing the open space around each drive to allow more air flow. Corsair went the second route and instead used a two bay system with each bay being removable. You can actually move one of the bays back a bit to a spot on the case floor in front of the PSU to give more room around the intake fan.
Each bay comes with 4 HD mounting brackets. These are tool less for standard drives and have mounting locations for 2.5” drives. The brackets are made of a flexible plastic and have 4 metal pins. Installation of an HD is super easy as is removal. The brackets might seem flimsy but trust us they are not; it would take real abuse to break one. The optical drives share in the tool less design that the case has going for it, making drive mounting super easy.
The bottom of the case has a grilled out area for the PSU air intake. At the back of the case you can remove the filter for this intake easily. I was really impressed with this filter; most are just simple filter designs with thin frameworks. The 600T filter is made of molded plastic with a solid framework around meaning it is super easy to take out and put back in. It is this kind of attention to detail, little things to make the build and use experience of the case better that stands out to us when we do reviews.
Corsair has over the years been known for building high performance memory, they gradually expanded that into flash drives but that direction was kind of expected. However they have begun branching out more into the DIYer and Gamer markets. The 600T is OBVIOUSLY a case build with DIYers in mind. The features of the case are just what a builder asks for in his case. It is easy to work in and offers a ton of options for building a system just the way you want it. The build quality is top notch with everything working the way it should, no hitches at all in any of the case design.
There are only two areas in the case design I would call into question and they are personal preferences more than anything else. First I am not sure why they chose to add a firewire port. I think this could have been left out and a second USB3 or ESATA port would have made more sense. The second is the grilled side panel with the four 120mm mounts. I personally would have rather seen a single mount for a 200mm fan. The area is easily large enough and a good 200mm fan would actually cost a little less than the same quality 120mms when done in a group of four, plus would have been quieter.
From an aesthetic point of view Corsair has hit this case spot one. The white finish is well done and the choice of a matte back finish with the subtle two tone in the front is outstanding. The white gives the case a fresh, clean look and the black is just enough to properly highlight the white and make it really pop.
At this price point there are a lot of good cases out there but if you are looking for a mid-tower case with some looks and style that stand out for the norm without being overpowering then the 600T white is at the top of my list. Priced at $170 this case gives everything you could want in a serious DIY build that is looking to the future, this is a case you will use over and over for years. Add to that a really sexy appearance and you have one of the best mid tower cases on the market.
If you would like to see some more pictures, head over to http://facebook.com/computered and check out our Corsair 600T Album.
Corsair 600T White review segment as aired live 25 September 2011