eTeknix 2014 Christmas Tech Buying Guide

Christmas time is almost here and as we wrap up warm over winter, we’re also wrapping up on a year of incredible products here at eTeknix HQ. We’ve had hundred of reviews this year, but no doubt many of you are eagerly writing your letters to Santa, or at least dropping hints to your parents, partner or friends for what you want for Christmas. Of course, there’s no doubt a fair few of you who are eager to treat themselves to something cool this Christmas. We’ve scratched our heads and had a really good think about what some of our favourite bits of technology are from this last year, and if you’ve still got some money left after the manic Black Friday sales, perhaps some of these products will be perfect for you.

While I admit that I couldn’t fit all of our favourites onto this list, its certainly a killer list of great products and they’ve all won awards from us here at eTeknix for one reason or another. If you’re after a headset, a chassis, a new keyboard, graphics card, or other cool gadget, you’ll find something that’s right for you in our guide.


Astro A38 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Astro A38 headset really stood out for me, not only is it one of the more stylish looking headsets I’ve ever reviewed, but the sound quality is nothing short of incredible. They’re a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for and Astro have yet to create a product that was anything less than stunning. They’re a perfect gift for yourself or someone else and ideal for those who love to listen to music and play games on the go, and the wireless technology and NFC pairing makes them very user friendly.

Check out our full review here – £144 from Astro Gaming


NZXT H440 Mid-Tower Chassis

A great PC deserves a great chassis and the H440 is certainly one of my all-time favourites. It’s not the biggest, and it may not even be the best chassis ever, that much is subjective, but it’s certainly got a lot of great features.  From the PSU shroud that helps keep cable management looking neat and tidy, to the comprehensive set of dust filters, thick sound dampening material lined panels and the large side panel window; you’ll find a lot to love about this chassis.

Check out our full review here – £89.99 from Overclockers


Thermaltake Core V71 Full Tower Chassis

Not all chassis’ are created equally, the Core V71 packs an incredible range of features that make it an ideal choice for high-end systems. The Thermaltake Core V71 looks great, but the real magic comes from its extreme flexibility. It has class leading radiator and fan mounting support and there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to build a stunning air-cooled system thanks to its array of 200mm pre-installed fans, or an incredible custom water cooling loop thanks to its modular interior. If you need extreme performance without spending crazy amounts of money, this chassis needs to be at the top of your list.

Check out our full review here – £131.34 from CCL Computers


Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard

Treating yourself to a high-quality mechanical keyboard is a solid investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, but their overall build quality and performance goes a long way to justifying the cost. The NovaTouch TKL isn’t your average mechanical and features something called Hybrid Capacitive Switches that offer a truly premium and luxurious typing experience. If you want to treat your fingers to a more enjoyable typing experience, try out this keyboard!

Check out our full review here – £149.99 from Overclockers


Zowie FK1 Gaming Mouse

I have yet to use a Zowie mouse that wasn’t impressive and the FK1 is by far one of their best. While this mouse only offers minor revisions over its previous model, such as a slightly larger body and an improved sensor, it’s performance is second to none. It’s ambidextrous, has one of the best performing sensors available, great ergonomics and a stylish design. If you’re serious about your gaming and want something that offers eSports levels of performance, then you’ll love what the Zowie FK1 has to offer.

Check out our full review here – £49.99 from Overclockers


Nvidia Shield Android 5.0 Gaming Tablet

Mobile gaming is something that never really excited me, but Nvidia have really pulled out all the stops with their Shield Tablet. It’s powered by the incredibly powerful Tegra K1 graphics chip and it’s one of the fastest tablets on the market. It recently received an update that added the latest Android 5.0 operating system, as well as enabling Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service and all this comes on top of features like in-home game streaming, 4K video output, wireless controller support and a whole lot more. The Shield Tablet is easily one of the most versatile portable on the market.

Check out our full review here – from £239.99 at Overclockers


Nvidia GeForce “Maxwell” GTX 970 Graphics Card

Nvidia are on our list once again, first they dominate the mobile gaming market, now they’re showing their worth once again in the desktop GPU market. While we admit that the GeForce GTX 980 is an incredible graphics card, you’ll not be disappointed by their GTX 970 as it offers most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much more affordable price tag. This card is packed with the latest features, it looks fantastic and for gaming, it’s one of the best cards you can buy right now. If you want to welcome your computer into the world of high-end PC gaming, this is a great place to start.

Check out our full review here (Asus Strix GTX 970) – from £247.99 at Overclockers


Asus Rampage V Extreme LGA 2011-3 Motherboard

Intel really set a new standard for PC performance this year with the launch of their consumer X99 chipsets. It’s not a cheap upgrade right now, but a new support for the latest high-end CPUs, DDR4 memory and a wave of new features make this motherboard perfect for the enthusiast and professional markets. The Asus Rampage motherboard series has long been a popular choice and the V Extreme is certainly one of the best available right now.

Check out our full review here – £329.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Z97X Gaming5 1150 Motherboard

Extreme motherboards are one thing, but they’re a little out of the reach of your average consumer. The Gigabyte X97X Gaming 5 series of motherboards offers a lot of exciting features that make them a great choice for high-end gaming PCs, without the colossal price tags that you’ll find with enthusiast grade products. We loved this motherboard when we review it and while the black and red colour scheme is getting a little bit repetitive in the gaming market, it’s still a great looking board that is perfect for a wide range of systems.

Check out our full review here – £109.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Brix Ultra Compact System

A lot of the fame and glory goes to big gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, loads of hard drives, water cooling and all that other crazy stuff, but this system turns all that on its head. The Brix may be small, but it packs enough power to be worthy of our Extreme Performance award! When space is limited, this little rig will fit on the back of your monitors VESA mount and it packs enough performance to get through a heavy workflow with ease. It’s a little expensive, but for a full-fledged PC that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, it’s a bargain!

Check out our full review here – £503.96 from Scan


PC Specialist Vortex 440 System

If you’re looking to upgrade to an X99 equipped system, then it’s likely that you’ll also be investing in DDR4 memory, a new CPU and a whole host of other components, so why not take all the fuss out of the process and invest in one of the best systems we’ve reviewed this year, the PC Specialist Vortex 440. We loved this system, partly because it was packed full of high-end hardware, but also because it was incredible value for money. Despite what the high price tag may suggest, the Vortex 440 actually worked out cheaper to buy than it would to build it yourself; now that’s a deal we can get behind!

Check out our full review here – around £1500 (customisable) from PC Specialist


OCZ Arc 100 240GB SSD

There’s a lot of SSD hard drives on the market right now and there are so many great ones that it’s now very easy to find one suitable for your system. The OCZ ARC 100 really stood out for us as it offers excellent performance, solid reliability, lots of features and it’s also competitively priced (per GB). Upgrading to an SSD is a great way to give your system a new lease of life, your system will boot faster and all of your games will benefit greatly from the speed boost. There is a cheaper 120GB model available, but the 240GB is the best balance of storage and value, making it a great choice for a boot drive.

Check out our full review here – £94.99 from Overclockers


Asus RT AC68U Dual Band Wireless Router

A really great router is something a lot of people overlook, it can be daunting spending a lot of money on tech like this, but the rewards soon pay for themselves. With more and more devices becoming internet connected, it’s likely that you’re not reaching the full potential of your devices networking capabilities. If you’re wanting to stream movies around your house from a NAS, play games online, while browsing the web from smartphones, tablets, consoles and other devices, then you’re going to see huge benefits from a router that can handle the most demanding workloads without sacrificing performance. The Asus RT AC68U looks great and offers a simple way to improve your home network. It’s expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.

Check out our full review here – £166.98 from Overclockers


Crucial 32GB 2133MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit

DDR4 memory marks the first major update to RAM memory formats in desktop systems in years, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, should you choose to make the leap for your high-end X99 platform build, then you should really consider the Crucial 32GB 2133MHZ kit. If you’re not too bothered about the aesthetics, this memory really does impress in terms of performance and offers excellent value for money vs many of the other DDR4 products on the market.

Check out our full review here – £319.99 from Overclockers


So, what will you be asking Santa for this year?

CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Topre Switch Keyboard Review

Introduction


New keyboards are a fairly common thing in this industry, I see wave after wave of mechanical and membrane switch keyboards come through the office each year. However, very few of the keyboards I review have had me as excited as the NovaTouch TKL. The NovaTouch has been a long time coming, we’ve seen it at trade shows around the world for over two years now, but it’s finally here and ready for consumers! Cooler Master has ditched the usual choices of Cherry, Kailh or any other brand of mechanical switch for this keyboard, instead opting for hybrid capacitive switches from Topre.

“Built to impress, the NovaTouch TKL utilizes exclusive Hybrid Capacitive switches which are exceptionally quiet and suitable for heavy-duty typing or gaming. The actuation force is precision-tuned to the strength of your fingers, while an ultra smooth, tactile key process makes NovaTouch the best feeling keyboard on the market” – CM Storm

The NovaTouch switches are a patented design, which use a spring mounted switch with an electrostatic capacitive sensor. Combined they offer a unique typing sensation that removes the key bounce associated with mechanical switches such as the Cherry MX range, while offering smooth and linear key travel. Cooler Master say this keyboard is ideal for gaming and typing, no doubt designed with the PC enthusiast in mind. Can this really be one of the best keyboards in the world? There’s only one way to find out.

As you can see from the specifications below, the NovaTouch TKL is equipped with a 1000hz/1ms polling rate, a high quality removable braided USB cable, N-Key Rollover and more; all fairly standard stuff for a high-end keyboard.

One thing I really like about this keyboard is that it comes bundled with a set of rubber O-Ring mods. If you don’t know what these are, check out our review of them right here. There’s a gold plated USB to micro-USB cable, a key-cap removal tool and a simple quick start guide.

The keyboard is pretty standard is terms of design. It’s constructed from high quality plastics and has a nice lightly textured matte finish to the chassis and the keys; giving it a premium quality, yet understated look.

There are no glaring logos, no flashy lights, no chrome strips or any of that other nonsense which you often see on high-end gaming friendly keyboards. The NovaTouch is sleek, clean and tidy.

Each of the key caps are really nicely finished, with a clear font and a slight curve to each key that provides a nice finger resting position.

The keyboard isn’t completely void of extra features, and you’ll find a few FN shift functions on the F-keys. F9-F12 will give you access to a Windows key lock and system volume control.

The keyboard has a slightly raised rear and a slow curve from front to back; this provides a nice typing position. The height can also be increased with the rear kickstands.

Around the back of the NovaTouch TKL you’ll find a micro-USB port tucked away on one side, as well as the only bit of obvious branding on the other.

The keyboard is fairly heavy at 895g, and there are four tough rubber grips on the base; so it’s unlikely to start sliding around on your desk.

The flip up feet are plastic, but they’re still pretty durable compared to the ones we often see on keyboards. There’s also a rubber grip on the base of each foot.

The new switches certainly look different from most mechanical keyboards, in fact they’re quite similar in appearance to plunger style switches. One thing I do like, is that the switches are fully compatible with Cherry MX stem key-caps, so you can still install a set of custom caps if you wanted to. Cooler Master had these switches specially made to feature the MX stem in the middle, all other Topre switches I’ve seen do not have this.

The key caps can easily be removed with the included key-cap puller, allowing for quick and easy maintenance of your keyboard.

As I mentioned before, the NovaTouch comes bundled with a set of O-Ring mods to help reduce key noise. Here you can see I’ve installed a few on the WASD keys to demonstrate how they’re installed. This will prevent the key caps from bottoming out as hard and should make them a little less noisy to type on.

Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard Now Available

The new Cooler Master Novatouch TKL keyboard is finally here! I’ve known about this keyboard since it was an early prototype, long before it was common knowledge amongst the enthusiast PC market; so long that I started to believe it was a mythical device that would never make it to retail.

The ultra high-end Novatouch TKL keyboard offers a unique hybrid capacitive board design, which is said to offer high speed, extreme accuracy and total comfort when typing or gaming. The keyboard utilizes Japanese made hybrid capacitive switches which offer a uniform 45g actuation force and a super low 1mm actuation point.

I’ve actually had the pleasure of using this keyboard on a few occasions and the action is incredibly fast. Cooler Master say its APM is around 3x that of traditional mechanical switches, as it has a much shorter debounce time; StarCraft II eSports gamers are going to love this!

The keyboard features N-Key rollover and anti-ghosting, rate adjustment, 1000 Hz/1ms polling rate, 128kb of internal memory, a removable USB cable and it’s also fully compatible with Cherry MX keycaps.

The keyboard is available now in North America and Asia, and will also become available in European markets in mid November.

Thank you Cooler Master for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Cooler Master.

Coolermaster Novatouch Topre Switch Keyboard at Computex 2014

Computex 2014: We just stopped by the Cooler Master booth at Computex 2014 to check out what new products they’ll have on the market later this year. We’ve already seen their Nova keyboard before at CES, but it’s such an impressive product that we just have to show it to you again. The keyboard uses a switch type that is unlike mechanical and membrane, it’s actually quite unique, and offers unrivalled build quality and performance from its Topre switches.

More details to follow soon in regards to release date and official pricing.

The keyboard looks pretty standard, but CM say they’ll release different layouts and switch weights in the future. The quality is hard to describe, but it’s best described (in my opinion) as a membrane feel keyboard with mechanical quality. The only downside being that it will be priced toward the enthusiast market, at what we expect to be around $150-200.