eTeknix Visit Corsair Rapidfire Keyboard Launch Event in London

A few days ago, we were invited down to London for a top-secret event, giving us the opportunity to check out the latest gaming keyboard from Corsair. Of course, now that the NDA has lifted, we’re able to share with you what we say at the event, as well as bring you a full review of the new K70 in all its glory and boy is it good!

Of course, we have to share this fantastic teaser from Corsair first.

Equipped with an innovative new switch that was created in a partnership between Cherry and Corsair, the new K70 Rapidfire features the MX Speed switch (they’re the right most row on this block).

MX Speed is very much like MX Red, in that it is a lightweight and fast linear switch, but the major change comes from the fact that the switch has a 40% reduction in actuation distance, meaning less force is needed, response times are cut and the keys return rate is quicker, allowing you to touch-type and game at an increased pace vs the regular red switch.

Corsair were kind enough to set up some cool games and plenty of the keyboards for us to try out.

Some of our friends at Dignitas putting the keyboards through their paces.

There are two models available as of today, The full-size K70 and the shorter K65.

Both keyboards follow the iconic K70/K65 designs, and are fully equipped with RGB lighting, although a non-RGB version is also available for the K70.

The return of the USB pass-through port and BIOS switch!

 

K70 Quickfire RGB is to be £149.99 and non-RGB is £119.99, while the smaller TKL version, the K65 RGB, will also be £119.99. Expect all major retailers to have stock or pre-orders from today.

Want to know even more about this keyboard? Check out our full review here.

SilverStone ES01 PCI-E Remote PC Switch Kit

Introduction


There are many forms of being lazy, or maybe we should rather call it an extra comfort feature that expands your abilities. Today I’m taking a closer look at SilverStone’s ES01 expansion card which allows you turn your PC on and off as well as reset it remotely. This can either be used as an extra security feature or as a simple addition to the already existing methods. The ES01 is available as both a PCI and a PCI-Express card, so you can make it work in almost any system. I’ll be taking a closer look at the PCI-Express x1 version today.

SilverStone’s ES01 is a convenient remote switch kit designed to wirelessly turn your computer on or off as well as reset it. It uses the existing 2.4GHz standard with RF wireless technology which is known to work great and offer a great range. The ES01 remote kit is rated for a range of up to 20 meters which is quite cool and allows you to work the magic from afar.

The adapter comes with an included Y-cable which ensures that your computer case’s own power and reset buttons can be used concurrently with the ES01. You normally wouldn’t want to rely purely on a remote for such a crucial function, and you don’t need to. However, at the same time the ES01 it can be used without connecting the Y-cable to the chassis buttons in order to add another level of security besides BIOS passwords and software solutions to which the ES01 can be a good alternative. It will mostly be users with computers located in hard to reach areas or systems with special usage scenarios that will find the ES01 remote switch kit to be very handy, but it is up to you how you’d like to use it.

The expansion card in itself is a low profile card and it isn’t very long either. It will easily fit into even the smallest chassis and comes with an included low-profile bracket too. All it takes is two screws to switch from the normal to the low-profile bracket, so that’s a job quickly done if needed.

The remote control uses a common CR2025 Lithium manganese button battery with a 3V voltage. It has a maximum measured EIRP of 3.76dBm and naturally operates on the 2.4GHz band. It is about the size that you would know from your car key with remote functionality, but weighs far less. It also comes with a convenient ring for attachment to key rings, backpacks, purses, and more.

Feature Highlights

  • Control your computer from anywhere in the room using 2.4GHz RF remote
  • 2.4GHz receiver PCI or PCI-E card included
  • Works as far away as twenty meter
  • Includes power / reset switch Y cable
  • Includes optional low profile expansion slot cover

Specifications

Package and Accessories

The SilverStone ES01 comes in a fairly simple package which is fitting for a simple device. The front teases the remote capabilities which doesn’t leave much left to the imaginations. You instantly know what it’s for.

The rear of the box contains the specifications and functionality in several languages. Everything extra that you might want to know before you make the purchase.

Inside the box, we find the add-in card with y-cable attached, a low-profile expansion slot bracket for use in SFF chassis, the remote control and battery for it as well as a small manual.

Tesoro Excalibur V2 Illuminated Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Tesoro may not be the first name you think of when it comes to buying a new gaming keyboard, but given the successes they’ve delivered in the past, they’re certainly a name you should be looking at more often. Just check out some of the kick-ass keyboards we’ve reviewed from Tesoro over the years and you’ll get an idea why I’m excited about their new Excalibur V2, such as the Lobera Supreme, Lobera Spectrum RGB, the seriously cool Tizona Elite and of course, the predecessor of today’s review sample, the Excalibur.

“Excalibur is a classic take on gaming, giving gamer all required tools to dominate the field of battle without additional features that most gamers would not use, making it one of the best performance to value board out there.” –Tesorotec.com

Equipped with a powerful ARM Cortex Premium CPU, onboard memory, 1000Hz polling rate, full N-key and 6-key rollover, LED lighting, on-the-fly macro recording and more, it’s certainly ticking all the right boxes for a well-rounded desktop keyboard.

Equipped with Kailh mechanical blue switches, and a wide range of lighting effects, the V2 is bound to be a lot of fun to work and play on, as well as a visual treat, so let’s jump in and take a closer look at what the latest keyboard from Tesoro has to offer!

Features

  • Gaming Grade Mechanical Switch
  • Heavy-Duty
  • 32bit ARM Cortex Premium Processor
  • 1000Hz Ultra-polling rate
  • 512KB (4Mb) Onboard memory
  • All keys programmable
  • NKey / 6 Key Rollover
  • Versatile Lighting effects
  • Make your own LED effects with instant lighting recording
  • Double injection keycaps
  • Quick profile switch, instant macro recording, reset hotkey, keyboard lock
  • Compatible with Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10

The packaging is really nicely designed, showing a stylised image of the keyboard on the front, as well as a picture of a sword, most likely Excalibur since all Tesoro peripherals are named after legendary weapons.

Around the back, a quick breakdown of the main features, such as that ARM CPU and the Kailh blue switches; nothing we don’t already know, so let’s get the box open and take a look.

The first thing you’ll find, a simple quick start guide and a Tesoro product catalogue, all fairly straightforward stuff so far.

The V2 comes hard-wired with a good quality 1.8m black braided cable. Although, I’d prefer that it was a removable cable, as it makes it easier to transport the cable without damaging it. It’s plug and play ready too, meaning you can get straight into the action, but there is also downloadable software if you want to tweak some of the more advanced settings.

Roccat Ryos MK FX RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Roccat are back on eTeknix once again, this time with the latest and hopefully, their greatest keyboard they’ve ever produced! The new Roccat Ryos MK FX RGB Mechanical Keyboards takes everything we know and love about the already fantastic Ryos range, and gives it a glorious RGB switch upgrade, allowing Roccat to take their already impressive lighting engine to a whole new and far more colourful level.

“The Ryos MK FX offers fully customizable, ROCCAT®-enginereed Per-Key RGB illumination in two convenient modes: preset and custom. This means you can add awesome special effects in 16.8 million colors to your keystrokes, configure your keyboard to highlight your in-game and application key bindings, your modifier keys, your system controls as well as your macro sequences and cool-downs plus much, much more.” – Roccat

Of course, aesthetically pleasing lighting effects are one thing, but the Ryos MK FX is no slouch in other departments and is easily one of the best-equipped keyboards on the market today. With full 16.8 million colour lighting, two 32-bit ARM Cortex processors with 2MB of flash memory ensuring lag-free processing of lighting, macros recording, Cherry MX switches, AlienFX, Roccat Talk, Easy-Shift, dedicated macro keys, thumbster keys, n-key rollover and more.

“Do you pick style or performance when you look for the perfect weapon to add to your gaming arsenal? Do it the ROCCAT way: pick both. Purpose built for hardcore gamers, the Ryos MK FX is the most advanced mechanical gaming keyboard on the market. Using all of ROCCAT’s industry expertise and gaming experience, the Ryos MK FX boasts a feature set so comprehensive and a design so eye-watering you’ll be leading the pack by miles – complete with 16.8 million color per-key RGB illumination.” – Roccat

The packaging keeps in theme with all the other Roccat keyboards we’ve seen, but one noticeable difference is the extra aura of colour around the keyboard; very colourful!

A few technical details around the box tell us that we’ve got MX Brown switches, the UK layout and some of the cool features of the board, but since we’ve already discussed these, let’s move on and open up the box!

With the outer slip cover removed, you’ll find a sturdy inner box with a Ryos logo.

Inside that, the Ryos keyboard, protected with a lot of cardboard spacers to keep it safe, as well as a custom plastic top cover and some plastic strips to prevent scratches in transit.

The keyboard comes hard-wired with a thick braided cable and has dual USB headers for extra power, as well as a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks for pass-through connectivity.

ASUS Surprises with XG-D2008 10Gbps Switch for Home Users

This one came quite as a surprise for me, but it is a very positive surprise as ASUS unveiled one of the first, if not the first, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches designed for home users. We have long moved away from the slow mechanical storage drives and some people like me even moved on to something as crazy as NVMe drives in RAID setup. With that in mind, a Gigabit Ethernet connection becomes the biggest bottleneck in your system with a speed of around 120-125MB/s max. Even when you use link aggregation, you won’t be able to support these kinds of speeds.

ASUS’s new 10Gbps Switch is called the XG-D2008 and now that we’re starting to see the entry of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for home users, although mostly enthusiast users for now, it comes a little bit as a surprise to me that it is ASUS leading the front here. When we saw the NAS manufacturer Synology enter the router market last year, I figured that it just was a matter of time until they expanded into switches too. ASUS does however have a big experience in pretty much any field, so it doesn’t come as that big of a surprise after all, that they release a product like this.

Right now the information about the switch is very limited, but I really do like what I see. The design of the XG-D2008 is beautiful in what appears to be a unibody structure of aluminium with a brushed finish. The device is very simple and will blend well into any environment. While the port amount wasn’t revealed as such, we see the 8 in the name and can count 8 LEDs for LAN ports on the image, making it an 8-port switch.

The plug-and-play description points towards an unmanaged switch, although there still could be a user interface at the same time. We will make sure to update you with more information as they become available and hopefully also be able to bring you a review of this new 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with an enterprise-level performance yet a mainstream price tag.

TteSports Poseidon Z RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


RGB keyboards are all the rage right now, with every major manufacturer churning out updated and new models of their hardware with fancy new colour customisation features. TteSports aren’t the first or the last to join this race, and the extremely popular Poseidon series now features RGB Kailh mechanical switches, giving us the Poseidon Z RGB. The keyboard comes in a choice of Blue and Brown switches, giving you a nice selection between tactile and acoustic response.

RGB lighting is one thing, but without customisation it isn’t much fun. You’ll find a range of presets on offer that will allow you to adapt the colour scheme to your liking.

“The POSEIDON Z RGB Gaming Keyboard – A simple yet astonishing spectrum keyboard; it offers extreme customization options for users to play with, energizing you with the colors to take gaming style to the next level with experiencing the colorful of life. With the layering and colorbar concepts, our basic customizable backlighting has been evolved for extreme customization. It gives a spectrum of visual effects featuring 16.8 million colors and provided users the easiest way to tune and most importantly, it colors up your life!”

Check out the video below for a quick look at the features on offer from the Poseidon Z RGB.

On-the-fly macro recording, 100% anti-ghosting, 104 Key rollover, on-board memory and so much more, this should be an interesting keyboard, so let’s get cracking and take a closer look.

The packaging is nicely designed, with a clear image of the keyboard on the front, as well as the switch type; Kailh Blue.

Around the back, a more detailed rundown of the features, as well as that oh-so-important TteSports certified sticker. This means that the keyboards switches are guaranteed for five years! That’s pretty incredible and should give customers some confidence in the build quality.

Aside from the keyboard, there’s not a whole lot in the box, just the warranty policy and the quick installation guide.

The keyboard comes hard-wired with a fairly standard USB cable, nothing fancy, but nothing bad either.

Cherry MX RGB Nature White Switches Announced!

Mechanical keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, with customisable key caps, various lighting options and you can even choose the type of switch to suit your own taste. There are a few switch manufacturers out there, but the most famous on is Cherry, with their Cherry MX series of switches that offers up MX Blue, Brown, Green, Black and Red.

With Cherry MX Silent and RGB switches now being available, it’s time for Cherry to expand their range once again with the new Cherry MX RGB Nature White switches. The new linear switch is designed to sit between the popular MX Black and MX Red switches, with a defined force of 55 grams.

“This new switch offers a special transparent casing optimized for uniform illumination and allows a high luminosity of all 16,7 million colours of the RGB spectrum.” said Cherry.

Thanks to Cherry’s exceptional build quality and the use of their Gold Crosspoint Technology, the switches are rated for over 50-million keystrokes, while the transparent housing of the switch makes them perfect for RGB keyboard designs. The Nature White branding of this switch is no doubt to differentiate from the long discontinued MX White switches.

Good news for Ducky fans too, as the manufacturer has secured the Nature White as a launch partner. This means you can expect to see MX RGB Nature White switches in the Ducky Shine-5 keyboard very soon.

 

Corsair Strafe RGB MX Silent Red Mechanical Keyboard Review

Introduction


Corsair is one of the most recognisable brands in the PC market, with a huge range of products, such as power supplies, chassis, coolers and more importantly today, peripherals. Their latest keyboard is the second in the Strafe series, but it’s a little bit special, as it’s not only a premium grade mechanical keyboard, but it also features the new Cherry MX Silent switches!

Mechanical keyboards have a reputation for being noisy, at least when compared to the common membrane switch keyboards. Of course, the switch type does vary, as black and red switch are not too noisy, but blue and green have that tactile click. You can mediate this a little with some 0-ring mods, which dampen the action and noise quite well, but these new switches go one further, by adding the dampening directly into the switch housing.

This keyboard is available in three formats, Cherry MX Red, Cherry Mx Brown and Cherry MX Silent, which Corsair say is “30% quieter than any mechanical switch on the market”.

Check out the video below as Corsair talk us through the latest features of this feature packed new keyboard, including a great explanation of what is possible with the Cue software and RGB lighting.

The keyboard is very well equipped, with USB pass through, 104-key rollover, RGB lighting, the new switches, built-in memory and more.

Corsair isn’t fooling around here either, this may be an expensive premium grade keyboard, but Corsair not only offer more features than the competition, but they also do it for less money; if that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. So enough mucking about, let’s get right in and take a closer look at what the Strafe has to offer.

The packaging is typical Corsair gaming colours, with a stunning image on the front and the main specifications dotted around the edges.

Around the back, we’ve got a more detailed run through of the features, such as the RGB lighting and gaming keys.

The first thing you’ll find in the box is this handsome wrist rest, which has a gripped texture to it.

It completely optional to use and can be mounted to or removed from the keyboard in seconds.

Also in the box, a set of WASD gaming key caps for FPS gaming.

As well as a MOBA set, giving you lots of flexibility.

Oh, let’s not forget this handy key cap removal tool.

CM Storm Quick Fire XTi Mechanical Keyboard Review

Introduction


The gaming division of legendary component manufacturer Coolermaster, CM Storm, has made some great peripherals over the years. Their gaming keyboards are certainly worthy of your attention, not only because of their smart designs and flawless performance but also because of their incredibly durable build quality. It’s with this in mind that I’m very excited about our latest product review, the brand new Quick Fire XTi mechanical keyboard, which comes packed full of cool features that are no doubt going to appeal to a lot of people.

The new keyboard features genuine Cherry MX switches, so you know you’re getting great quality right there; we have MX Greens at our disposal today. The keys feature a rather funky lighting system too, which has both red and blue backlights, so while not full RGB, you do still get a range of 35 colours per key. On top of the lighting colours, you can use ActivLite per key illumination, with a range of presets, 4 profiles and brightness options, giving you plenty of fun customisation options. There’s also macros, repeat rate adjustments, NKRO, 1000Hz/1ms polling and more!

The packaging is pretty straight forward, with the switch type detailed and a lovely image of the keyboard on the front.

Around the back, a run down of the features, although we’ve already listed these above and will take a much closer look in a moment.

In the box, I’m very happy to see a detachable micro-USB braided cable,

Corsair Gaming STRAFE Mechanical Keyboard Review

Introduction


The latest Corsair mechanical gaming keyboard is here at last! The Corsair Gaming STRAFE is their first new keyboard brand in years, although given the success of their K-series keyboards, as well as the RGB editions that followed, it’s easy to understand why Corsair haven’t been rushing to release a replacement.

This keyboard is designed for gaming, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t promise to offer a lot to day-to-day desktop users. Mechanical keys offer premium build quality that should last many years without the keys response fading, as you often find with membrane keyboards. We’ve got the MX Red edition of the STRAFE in the office today, so those fast keys should be quick and super responsive, which will be great for typing, such as the review I’m using it for right now, or for gaming, especially if you play frantic games such as DOTA II.

The STRAFE doesn’t bring a lot of new technology to the table, but it does pack some promising specifications that should satisfy the needs of any keen PC user. We’ve got super quick Cherry MX Red, Blue or Brown mechanical switches, per-key red LED programmable lighting, onboard memory, Cue-Software customisation and more; that’s certainly all the basics covered!

Here is quick video from Corsair to discuss some of the features of the STRAFE and there’s also a nice section that shows off the LED lighting features of the keyboard. Now, let’s jump right to it and take a closer look at what this keyboard has to offer.

The packaging features the new Corsair Gaming branding, that’s right, no more “tramp stamp”. We now have the faster-looking version of the old Corsair ships logo and it looks great!

All the major features are detailed on the box, perfect for those picking one up at retail who want to know a little more. The packaging looks pretty fancy, usually a good first impression that you’ve got a premium product in your hands.

Tenda TEG1210P 10-Port Gigabit Ethernet Intelligent PoE Switch Review

Introduction


Tenda was founded back in 1999 and has since created some great networking products. We’ve tested a few already and it’s a pleasure for me to take a closer look at the Tenda TEG1210P WebSmart Gigabit PoE Switch that comes with 8 Gbit RJ45 ports and two additional Gigabit SFP ports.

A switch doesn’t equal a switch. Although most people can make do with what any cheap switch, a lot of us want more. More control, more features, and more possibilities and that is what smart switches bring to the table.

The TEG1210P supports port mirroring, port bandwidth control, port traffic statistics and power save mode, and more. It is user-friendly and works as plug-and-play without the need for configuration.

The switch is only 210mm deep and will easily fit into any 19-inch rackmount that you might have. It comes with mounting brackets and screws for that as well as four rubber feet with adhesive in case you want to use it as a desktop model.

The rear side only features a power plug for 100-240V and a power switch to turn the switch off. The power switch is a nice feature in an office environments where you don’t need it all the time and it is something my own current switch is missing and that I’m missing on it.

On the bottom we can clearly see the four markings where you the feet for desktop use are placed. You’ll also find a sticker with details on the router.

Tenda added two 40mm fans to keep the unit cool by sucking the air in on one side and blowing it out on the other, thereby creating an air flow through the entire unit.

The eight RJ45 ports support 10/100/1000Mbps connections as well as 802af PoE with 15.4W per port. There are two more ports, but these are SFP MiniGBIC with a speed of 1000Mbps and automatic switching between metallic and optical interface. The SFP ports allow you to easily extend the range of your network from 100meters to over 80 kilometers.

The LEDs on the front of the switch will let you know what is going on. There is Link/Act, Speed, and PoE LEDs for the eight RJ45 ports as well as LEDs for the two SFP, Power, and System. The reset switch is hidden between the Power and SYS LED.

Tenda also added a grounding screw in case your unit doesn’t get that through the power connection or you just want an extra security or ground something else via the switch.

When we take a closer look at the sticker mentioned earlier we see that it contains all the relevant information from power usage to default IP and administrator details.

The TEG1210P complies with IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.3ab, IEEE 802.3z, and IEEE 802.3af ethernet standards. It adopts store and forward scheme and is integrated with an 8K MAC address table with MAC address learning and auto-aging support.

The smart switch supports port aggregation and trunking with up to three groups each of which is allowed to include a maximum of 4 members. It further supports up to 10 groups of Port-based VLANs and up to 128 groups of IEEE 802.1Q Tag VLANs with VLAN IDs ranging from 1 to 4094.

You also get features such as port storm control, statistics, bandwidth control, QoS, IGMP snooping, and 802.1x support. The total switching capacity of 32Gbps should prevent any bottlenecks.

Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Tesoro are back on eTeknix once again! While we looked at their gorgeous new Lobera Spectrum recently, today we take a look at something a little further up the range, the new Excalibur Spectrum. RGB keyboards are all the rage recently, they’re often still the same keyboard they were last year in terms of performance and features, with the new addition of some funky lighting effects; no bad thing for those who love to customise their setup.

As you can see from the spec, the Excalibur is a fairly standard size keyboard, it features multiple profiles, built-in memory, RGB lighting and more.

“Tesoro Excalibur is a mechanical keyboard with an advanced backlighting processor. Unlike the original Excalibur which is capable of recording and storing macros, Spectrum also has a number of stunning illumination modes. Using this keyboard is a lot of colorful fun. Excalibur is the first Tesoro keyboard to have a classic solid look. It can be used with a gaming rig as well as on an office desk due to its straight and strong lines. The supreme spectrum backlighting, however, adds more color to our guy. Each key’s color can be set individually, the illumination will react to keystrokes, change colors in different ways, and do other crazy things.”

The packaging for the Excalibur Spectrum is simple enough, giving us a nice and colourful image of the keyboard on the front of the box.

The Excalibur comes hard-wired and you’ll be happy to hear it features a durable braided cable with a gold-plated connector.

The general design of the keyboard is nothing revolutionary. We’ve got a fairly standard chassis size, black plastic trim and a standard key layout.

The key caps look nice and smart, with a custom laser etched font to allow for the built-in lighting effects.

Here you can see we have the Kailh Red switches; it is also available in blue and brown switch.

A full-size number pad, nothing particularly interesting, but it’s all there.

The Excalibur can be switched from 6-key to n-key rollover directly from the keyboards using Fn-Shift + Ins and Del keys

The arrow keys also double up as lighting controls, allowing you to tweak things such as brightness and contrast.

There’s five built-in profiles on the keyboard, which are great for storing lighting effects.

Windows lock, as well as master volume controls.

Plus a basic set of multimedia controls; perfect for flicking through some music while you’re working or gaming.

As I said before, the keyboard is hard-wired with a thick braided cable. The cable is mounted off-center, which should help reduce conflicts with your monitor stand.

The underside of the keyboard is relatively featureless, aside from four rubber grips that will help prevent it from sliding around your desk.

There are two kickstands on the base, although they’re pretty standard and that’s a real shame, as most mechanical keyboards has stronger ones with rubber grips of their own.

Tesoro Lobera Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Tesoro may not be the biggest gaming brand on the market, but they’ve proven time and time again that they can deliver competitive products, that are uniquely designed and for a competitive price; more than enough to get me interested! A few months back, I reviewed the gorgeous Tesoro Lobera Supreme mechanical keyboard, and it was fantastic, so I’m happy to see another Lobera keyboard sitting on my test bench this week.

The new version of the Lobera comes with one key feature, RGB lighting. Colour customisation is all the rage this year, with many manufacturers offering revisions and new models featuring RGB LED keys; the Lobera Spectrum RGB I have in the office today uses Kailh RGB Black Mechanical Switches. As you can see from the image below, it comes with a choice of red, black, blue and brown switches.

“Lobera Spectrum is a top-notch programmable gaming keyboard with advanced backlighting features. It has a number of stunning illumination modes including audiomode which makes the LEDs flash to the beat. Its highly customizable illumination processor even lets set individual key colors and turn the backlighting on and off for each key. Mechanical key design creates solid tactile feel and rapid response for extreme gamers. High speed USB 2.0 hub with audio jacks offers easy connection for user’s favourite portable peripherals. 5 profiles, up to 300 macro keys can be defined by the user. Tesoro Lobera Spectrum is the ultimate choice for gamers.”

In the box, you’ll find a small collection of documents in a cardboard wallet, as well as a USB power cable; this cable provides the rear-USB ports with additional power.

The keyboard is hard wired with a thick braided cable.

The cable is a little cumbersome, but that’s because it provides USB and audio pass-through to the back of the keyboard; handy for quickly connecting your headsets and peripherals without having to go behind your computer.

The chassis of the keyboard is a little oversized, giving you a built-in wrist rest and also giving the keyboard a funky industrial-type design.

The chassis is plastic, but it has been nicely textured to give it some added flair.

The key caps are of a good quality and feature bold laser-etched letting; perfect for letting all that RGB light through!

Under the keycaps, you can see we’ve got the Kailh Black switches, with the RGB LEDs. The chassis of the keyboard is white, which will help better reflect the lighting for a cool under-glow effect. Also, there was no key-cap pulling tool included in the box, fortunately I had my own, but all mechanical keyboard should come with on as standard in my opinion.

The 6-key and N-key rollover can be switched over directly from the keyboard using FN-Shift and either the Ins or Del keys.

A full-size number pad, fairly standard stuff, but you’ll be glad to hear that every key on the keyboard is mechanical.

The arrow keys feature LED lighting controls.

Built-in profiles allow you to toggle through lighting modes and more.

Windows lock, always a welcome feature on a gaming keyboard.

As well as basic multimedia controls, which are great for listening to music while gaming.

Down the left and right sides, there’s an LED light strip, allowing you to further customise the look of your keyboard.

Around the back, you can see the cable is mounted off to the right. This is better than central mountings, as that often causes the cable to conflict with your monitor stand.

A small warning label is pre-installed.

Behind which you’ll find the USB and audio pass-through ports.

Turtle Beach Impact 500 TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


It’s been a very interesting time for Turtle Beach, with the revealing their new desktop peripherals at CES 2015, we’re now very excited to have them in the eTeknix office. We’ve already looked at their new gaming nice, the GRIP 500 and the GRIP 300, as well as their full-size mechanical keyboard, the IMPACT 700. Today, we’ve got their first Ten Keys Less (TKL) keyboard, the Impact 500.

“The Turtle Beach IMPACT 500 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard for PC and Mac combines precision and power in a minimalist, tenkeyless keycap layout for minimum distance and smaller keyboard footprint. For that sharp, tactile feel, the Impact 500 features Cherry Blue MX mechanical switches that deliver gold-standard responsiveness. Six-key rollover with full anti-ghosting means fast-moving fingers can control games without the fear of missed moves and dropped instructions. And a rubber-coated, steel reinforce chassis provides rock-solid stability in a small footprint occupying less space on your desktop.”

TKL keyboards are very popular with LAN gamers, as they’re much easier to chuck in your bag and transport. They’re also great for those who don’t rely on the number pad, as their compact size frees up a huge amount of space no your desk, which means more room to move your mouse, so they’re perfect for those with limited desk space too.

The Impact 500 TKL comes equipped with the very popular Cherry MX switches, in this case, we have Cherry MX Blue on our sample.

In the box, you’ll find the keyboard, a detachable braided USB cable and a quick start guide.

The keyboard design is pretty straight forward, but not so basic that it is boring, as there’s no doubt that this is still a very nice looking keyboard.

The keyboard is a little heavy, as is the case with most mechanical keyboards. It feels pretty rugged and very well made overall, so it should stand up to lifetime of abuse from those long gaming sessions and LAN events.

The 500 has a slight slope to its design, with a slow curve on the key layout from front to back; this should provide you with a comfortable typing position, but it can be raised further with the kickstands at the back.

The key caps are of a very good quality and they don’t bottom out on the chassis of the keyboard, giving you nothing but the tactile sensation of the MX Blue switch when you’re typing.

There’s an Fn-Shift function on the Impact 500, this gives you access to some basic multimedia, volume and windows lock keys along the top of the keyboard.

There’s also a small LED light on the Windows Lock/F9 key so you can see when this feature is enabled.

To keep the exterior bezel to a minimum, the CAPLK and SCRLK indicators are located just above the INS and HOME keys, further helping to save desk space, without compromising on key spacing or the need to make the chassis bigger.

The arrow keys are located quite close to the corner, but since the keyboard is rather slim here, you won’t need the use of a wrist rest. The keys are slightly recessed into the body of the keyboard too, giving you an even slightly lower design overall.

The trim around the keyboard is nice and clean with no ports or anything on show.

 

There’s a cable track on the underside of the keyboard, allowing you to take the USB cable out the left, right or back of the keyboard.

The Mini-USB connector is recessed under the keyboard, so it’s unlikely you’ll accidentally pull the cable out of its fitting.

Here you can see the cable attached to the keyboard; nice and simple.

There’s four rubber grips on the underside of the IMPACT 500, so it won’t slide around your desk while you’re gaming. There’s also two small rubber grips on the kickstands so you don’t lose the grip when using the extra feet.

i-Rocks Golem Series K50E Scissor-Switch Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


It has been almost a year since I reviewed the fantastic i-Rocks Rock Series K10 Gaming Keyboard, which I still regard as one of the best budget friendly gaming keyboards money can buy. Today is a special day, as it marks the second time I’ve got my hands on an i-Rocks keyboard and if it’s even half as good as the first one, we should be in for a real treat.

“The i-Rocks K50E uses a unique Scissor-Structure that combines two pairs of parallel arms and a high key stroke of 3.8mm to provide a comfortable typing experience. Thanks to the new keycap design and Scissor-Structure, the force needed and the noise produced per key press are lowered which in turn increases the speed and amount of accurate inputs during battle. The membrane base has a lifecycle of up to 30 million presses making this keyboard durable for every type of gamer.”

Equipped with a new keycap design, scissor switches, which are regarded as a step up from membrane and a different take on mechanical style switches, LED lighting, anti-ghosting and more, the K50E is certainly well equipped, so let’s get right to it and take a close look at what this new keyboard has to offer.

Features:

  • Unique High Scissor-Structure for comforting and stability
  • 3.8mm key stroke and Illuminated function to suit gaming needs.
  • Supports simultaneous activation of multiple keys, no ghosting and jamming
  • Adjustable responsiveness to adapt to needs of individual games
  • Windows and App keys disabled in gaming mode to prevent accidental activation
  • Plug and Play, no drivers required

Specifications:

  • Interface: USB or PS/2
  • Keys: 108 ( By language)
  • Key stroke : 3.8 ±0.3 mm
  • Key force: 55±15g
  • Anti-ghosting:
  • 24Keys in PS/2 (In main area)
  • 13Keys in USB (In main area)
  • Switch life: about 30 million life cycles
  • Membrane key-switches with Scissor-Structure.
  • Illuminated ON/OFF function
  • Electric current: 300 mA maximum
  • Voltage: DC5V
  • USB cable length: 180 cm
  • Dimensions: 447 (L) x 144 (W) x 33 (H) mm

The packaging is not something I care too much for, but the i-Rock K50E box is really nicely designed and it’s clear this is targeted at a gaming audience.

The keyboard comes hard-wired with a good quality cable.

The keyboard is USB, but interestingly, i-rocks has also included a USB to PS2 adaptor for maximum compatibility.

The first thing I noticed are those lovely key caps, with a nice big and clear font on them. More often than not, we see very similar key caps on most keyboards, but these ones do look pretty cool.

The scissor-switch keys have a nice travel distance to them and due to the design of the keys, they’re also set just a little bit lower into the chassis than most keyboards, giving them a nice sleek profile, without sacrificing their action.

Overall, the keys are all pretty standard in terms of layout, so it feels pretty natural to use for the first time and the ergonomics feel spot on.

One thing that did grab my attention is the addition of dedicated volume controls at the top, I would have also liked to multimedia controls, but these are still welcome additions none the less.

The PrtSc button also doubts as the control switch for the LED lighting, so you can quickly adjust it without additional software.

The matte finish black plastics are giving a slight hint of colour by the red trim around the base of the keyboard. You can also see how low profile this keyboard is, with an almost flat layout from front to back.

On the underside, you’ll find four rubber grips to help prevent it from sliding around your desk. There’s also a cable track at the back to help you route the attached USB cable in the direction that best suits your setup.

There’s a pair of tough plastic feet at the back to raise the typing angle of the keyboard and these also feature rubber grips so that you’re not losing any traction when you deploy them.

Turtle Beach Impact 700 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Introduction


Recently, I’ve been getting engrossed in the world of Turtle Beach peripherals. The company announced they would be breaking away from being an audio only company, set to explore the world of keyboards and mice and we were very impressed with the products we saw at CES 2015. More recently, we’ve been lucky enough to play around with their gorgeous GRIP series mice, such as the GRIP 500 which we recently review and if that’s just a taste of things to come, we should be in for a real treat with their keyboard products.

“The Turtle Beach IMPACT 700 premium-quality backlit mechanical PC gaming keyboard sports Cherry MX Brown key switches for a smooth responsive, tactile feel and laser-engraved keycaps with keyboard-controlled adjustable soft-to-hard red backlighting and multiple illumination modes, all set in a steel-reinforced chassis for stability and maximum durability. Six-key rollover with full anti-ghosting gives fast-moving fingers instant and accurate gameplay control even when hitting multiple keys, including double or triple taps. The IMPACT 700 also includes 3.5mm mic and audio jacks, and two USB 2.0 ports with direct audio pass-through to support a gaming headset and mouse.”

You can’t go far wrong with a mechanical keyboard and since the Impact 700 is equipped with Cherry MX switches, we already know were going to get a great quality product. However, given the rather high price of the Impact 700, which we’ll get to in a little while, I’m expecting or at least hoping for something really special from Turtle Beach and their new keyboard.

The model I have at my disposal today comes equipped with Cherry MX Brown switches and as you can see from the packaging, it follows a similar design to most other Turtle Beach products.

A few cool features on the back of the box, such as audio and dual-USB pass through, LED back-lighting, a steel-mounted chassis and more!

In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get you started, the keyboard, obviously, as well as a quick start guide, some extra key-caps and a key-cap pulling tool.

The extra key-caps are particularly interesting, even if they’re almost unnecessary. There’s replacement WASD keys, which has a white block around the letters, that’ll let more backlighting through and help you better differentiate the keys. Then we have some rather funky alternative key-cap replacements, such as GG, InCTRL and NoCTRL, they’re just a bit of fun, but I like them.

the Impact 700 comes hard-wired with a rather bulky, but incredibly durable sleeved cable. The thickness is dictated by the fact that the keyboard has two USB headers and two 3.5mm cables.

The key-caps are of a very high quality, with a really nice silky black finish to them. They are laser etched to allow the LED backlighting to shine through and have a nice clear font on them.

Like most keyboards these days, the F-Keys also act as multimedia keys, which can be accessed via the Fn-Shift key; I prefer dedicated multimedia keys, but this is certainly better than nothing.

More multimedia functions here, this time for volume control.

The LED brightness can be dialed up or down using F11 and F12, again, via the Fn-Shift function.

The arrow keys are as you would expect and the key spacing is pretty standard stuff; nothing to complain about, that’s for sure.

Those with a keen eye will notice I don’t have a UK layout keyboard here today, but UK/US will be available dependant on your region when the keyboard is released.

The 700 is quite a chunky keyboard, but that’s no bad thing as it’s as durable as it looks. The Steel chassis on the interior does add weight, but it also means the 700 is strong, rattle free and isn’t going to slide around your desk in the heat of battle.

The included key-cap removal tool is a welcome bonus, as it makes cleaning and general maintenance a lot easier. It also means it’s nice and easy to swap out the stock key-caps for the included alternatives.

Such as these lovely WASD keys which you can see below.

Around the back of the keyboard, you’ll find a pair of USB ports and a pair of audio jacks. This is perfect for connecting your other peripherals, such as a gaming mouse, microphone, headset and similar devices, without having to fiddle around behind your computer.

There are four side and tough rubber grips on the base of the keyboard, giving it a firm hold on your desk.

the kickstands are plastic, but they’re thick and strong, so it’s unlikely they’ll break anytime soon; they’ve also been treated to small rubber grips of their own so you don’t lose too much traction on your desk.

Toshiba Silently Helps Google Build Tech for Project Ara Smartphones

Google might take most credit for Project Ara and its plan to make modular smartphones a reality, but according to Bloomberg, Toshiba has been the Japanese company who was silently helping to develop the chips that would make Project Ara a reality.

It is said that there are two different chips which make Project Ara work. The switch, which makes it possible to swap out different modules on the fly, and a bridge chip that allows each component to connect to the rest of the device. Google is said to have total control over the switch chip, white Toshiba has the liberty of selling the bridge chip to any company interested in building Project Ara modules.

Aside from chips, Toshiba is said to also be interested in selling modules, having be the first company to reveal swappable cameras. The company is to be working on a variety of components, including one that could add wireless charging. In addition to the latter, Toshiba sees a lot of potential in Project Ara beyond smartphones, stating that it could expand to other type of devices and the general Internet of Things.

There is still no set plan for a general release of the modular phone, though Google has recently confirmed plans for a market pilot test in Puerto Rico sometime this year.

Thank you TechnoBuffalo for providing us with this information

AMD Mantle Comes to an End

AMD’s Mantle set a lot of things in motion in the gaming industry and now it looks like it is coming to an end, at least in its current form. AMD will continue to back the companies who invested in it and created games for the API, but its usefulness in the current form has come to an end.

DirectX 12 is taking over the job that Mantle does right now and AMD will instead continue down that road as well as help to develop the next generation of OpenGL, called GLnext.

This news comes from an AMD blog post by Raja Koduri that also promises the release of a 450-page programming guide and API reference for Mantle later this month. Finally, we’ll be able to get a closer look at how Mantle works and how it made a difference.

  1. AMD will continue to support our trusted partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, like Battlefield Hardline, with all the resources at our disposal.
  2. Mantle’s definition of “open” must widen. It already has, in fact. This vital effort has replaced our intention to release a public Mantle SDK, and you will learn the facts on Thursday, March 5 at GDC 2015.
  3. Mantle must take on new capabilities and evolve beyond mastery of the draw call. It will continue to serve AMD as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs.
    The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle “1.0” functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX 12 or GLnext.

We’ve already heard what DirectX 12 is capable off, so it’s no surprise that AMD is backing this road. This is going to be an interesting year, there is no doubt about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1lHeLN1UGs

Thanks to AMD for providing us with this information

QPAD MK-70 Mechanical Keyboard Coming Soon

QPAD make some of the best mechanical gaming keyboards around, loved by at home gamers and eSports players alike, and now it looks like they’re going to continue their trend of excellency with the release of the MK-70; their latest fully mechanical gaming keyboard.

The MK-70 is based around their popular MK-50 keyboard and features LED backlighting, Cherry MX switches and all the basics you would expect from a premium quality keyboard. Sure most gaming keyboards are crammed full of crazy features, but QPAD want to provide quality and affordability to the mid-budget keyboard market and the MK-70 looks like the perfect tool for the job.

The board may not feature USB / Audio pass through ports like its bigger brother, the MK-85, or programmable keys, macro functions or any of the other cool stuff, but it does have one big selling point, its price. At around 99 EUR the MK-7o is certainly affordable and comes with the usual high build quality we’ve come to know and love above QPAD products.

The MK-70 features Cherry MX switches with an actuation point of just 2mm @ 45g of pressure to register a key stroke, allowing for ultra fast gameplay; something that will no doubt please the MOBA crowd.

QPAD MK-70 Features:

  • Key switch: Cherry MX red mechanical switch technology
  • N Key Rollover: Yes via PS/2 adapter
  • Key strokes: 50 million
  • Lightning: Individual LED backlight
  • Lightning features: Four levels of brightness
  • Connectors: Gold plated USB connector (USB to PS/2 adaptor included)
  • Media keys: Media keys for volume control, play, pause and skip tracks
  • Cable: 1.8 meter braided cable
  • Dimensions: Keyboard 44.8 x 15 x 3.5 cm (17.6 x 5.9 x 1.37 inch)
  • Weight: 1.4 kg (3.08LBS)

The MK-70 will be available at most major retailers by the end of the month for around 99 EUR.

Thank you QPAD for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of QPAD.

Cherry MX-Board 3.0 MX Blue, Red, Brown & Black Mechanical Keyboard Review

Introduction


The name Cherry is synonymous with mechanical keyboards, their switches are used in a vast amount of mechanical keyboard from pretty much all major manufacturers such as Cooler Master, Corsair and Logitech to name but a few, and they have been using MX switches for many years now. With so many brands using their switches, it’s more than likely that most of our readers have owned a Cherry MX switch keyboard.

Mechanical switches are well-known for their durability, long life span and tactile feedback. The only downside of the switches is that their quality often comes with a big increase in price compared to membrane switch keyboards. Which is something that Cherry seem well aware of as their latest Cherry MX-Board 3.0 keyboards come in at a super affordable price of around £50-60. Still expensive, but certainly cheaper than a lot of competing mechanical keyboard products, so it’ll be interesting to see what this keyboard has to offer at this price range.

The MX-Board 3.0 comes in a choice of four switch types, Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Black and Red. Fortunately for you I have all four at my disposal today, so not only do I get to take a closer look at the keyboards, but also get a real feel for the differences between each switch type and the tasks each switch is best suited to.

The MX-Board 3.0 doesn’t come fitted with a rest, but you can buy the Cherry Palmrest separately for around £15-20.

The box is really nicely design with a stylish image of the keyboard on the front. The only difference between each box is that the logo in the top right corner shows what switch type is installed.

Around the back we have an international breakdown of the main features and specifications (see above).

Each box also has a quick run down of what each switch type offers in terms of force and travel distance. Blue offer an audible and tactile “click” when pressed, requiring a little more force to press.

Reds are linear and very smooth to press, offering minimal resistance and are generally a much faster switch to press.

Black switches are also linear like the reds, but require more force to press.

Brown are smooth and softer like the red switches, but have a feel that is closer to black switches.

All of the keyboards come nicely packaged to prevent damage in transit.

In each box you’ll find the keyboard, a USB to micro USB cable, two large rubber grips, kick-stand rubber feet and a simple user guide.

Coolermaster Quickfire XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Mechanical keyboards are more popular than ever with the gaming community, their high precision and high quality make them well suited to many things, but their prowess in gaming is where they really shine. Cooler Master have crafted many of the best mechanical gaming keyboards on the market and their latest effort, the Quick Fire XT looks set to expand on their already exciting range.

Packed full of features that make it an ideal choice for gaming, as well as general day-to-day use, the Quite Fire XT looks like a great product, but the most exciting thing of all has to be the price tag. Available for just under £72 including shipping, which is obviously expensive, but still representative of cheap for a mechanical gaming keyboard, many of which cost in excess for £100. The cost is often a reflection of the switches used, Cherry MX are not cheap, but in terms of quality and performance, you get what you pay for.

The Quick Fire XT comes in a choice of popular Cherry MX switches, Red, Green, Brown, or Blue. The model we have in the office today is the MX Blue variant, but keep in mind that availability of certain switches will vary depending on region. MX Blue are a pretty specialist choice for keyboards, they’re often quite loud as they offer a strong tactile “click” when pressed, this gives a satisfying tactile sensation while typing, but is often regarded as noisy switch as the click is certainly audible as well as physical.

The Quick Fire XT comes nicely packaged in the usual CM Storm colours and features a stylish picture of the keyboard on the front of the box as well as a small picture that details the switch type (MX Blue).

Around the back you’ll find a quick run down of the major features of the keyboard, but we’ll take a close look at those in a moment.

Everything you need to get you started is included in the box, a simple user guide, a key cap removal tool, some custom key caps, a braided USB cable and a USB to PS2 adaptor.

Cherry And Corsair To Release World’s First MX RGB Based Gaming Keyboards

With its “MX RGB switch,” Cherry is presenting the next evolutionary stage of its billion-fold proven mechanical keyswitches of the “MX” series. The MX switches with Gold Crosspoint technology have up to this point been appreciated by millions of users due to high precision, the best possible operating feel, and an extremely long service life. Well-known manufacturers of high-quality mechanical keyboards – especially in gaming – use the Cherry MX switches in different variants. Cherry has now enhanced its leading product with RGB technology. Directly mounted on the circuit board, SMD LEDs (SMD = “Surface Mount Devices”) illuminate key symbols in specially designed keycaps using the MX RGB switch

With the latest version of the MX switch series, the MX RGB switch, Cherry has solved several problems at once, as Karl-Heinz Müller, Product Developer at CHERRY, explains: “The illumination of keyboard symbols – especially in terms of their uniformity of illumination – is a technically highly complex and demanding task. The previous solution with the incorporation of 3 mm LEDs led to unsatisfactory results. With our newly developed MX RGB switch, key symbols can be evenly illuminated not only in the widest variety of brightness levels but also in up to 16.7 million different colours. Our new concept of light conductance was implemented through the use of new materials and several patent-pending technical solutions. This innovative, technical concept was implemented only in conjunction with manufacturing processes and sophisticated tool concepts constantly optimized over many years.”

Corsair will be the first brand to use the new switch type and you can expect a launch in early 2014. Of course these products will also be on display at CES 2014 and eTeknix will be at the show, so we’ll be sure to snap some pictures while we are there.

Thank you Cherry for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Cherry.

CM Storm Aluminium Keyboard, Mouse & Headset Round-up Review

A few weeks ago we brought you three reviews from the aluminium loving peripheral range from CM Storm, this includes their Pulse-R headset, Mech keyboard and the Reaper mouse. All three of these products are designed to look great, not only on their own, but also when they’re put next to each other. CM Storm do not sell these three items as a complete set, but today we want to find out what it would be like to live with the trilogy together.

Naturally having already tested these products we know they’re great, their performance isn’t even in question today as they’ve all walked away with tasty eTeknix awards in their respective reviews.

Style isn’t everything, but it certainly can’t hurt to have it. With the dominance of eSports and LAN gaming events we are seeing more and more focus on appearance in the PC gaming community. This ranges from branding, sponsorship, customisation of implement, case mods, colour matching components and peripherals, branded clothes and more. Having the cool stuff with the LED lights on it and the matching T-shirt might sound pointless, but many of us are guilty of it.

The packaging alone gives away the fact these products were destined to be next to each other. All three feature aluminium panels that can be removed, customised and then re-attached, allowing you to have your favourite images or logos printed on them, or you could always crack out a can of spray paint and do something creative of your own.

The overall design here looks absolutely blinding, the Mech keyboard has a real sense of presence on the desktop and that is party due to its epic size! This isn’t a keyboard that would be suitable for those with trolley desks or narrow slide out keyboard shelves. The desk we are using here is 95cm (37.4 inches) wide and can accommodate it with ease, but one also has to consider the depth as the keyboard comes with a rather sizeable wrist rest section that cannot be removed.

The headset fits nicely on the desk, although it is begging to have a proper stand to store it upon, with those lovely aluminium panels on the side. I would hate to see this get scratched so I do recommend you invest in a mounting solution to store the headset, a quick Google of “headset Stand” will turn up something useful.

The mouse sits nicely on our CM Storm mouse mat and it is obvious that the three compliment each other well. The LED back lighting on the keyboard, the strip lighting between the keyboards wrist rest, the interior lighting behind the drivers of the headset and the strip light across the top of the mouse all feature strong lines and a glow that matches perfectly.

Price

One of the big factors here is that these are all premium products, so price is something that has to be taken into consideration. While it can be tricky to work out a total price given that all these items are sold separately, so different retailers may have better deals on at any given time, we can give you our best estimate at time of writing.

The Pulse R headset clocks in at around £60 – £70 on any given day, putting it right in the firing line of products from Steelseries and Razer, fortunately it holds up well against them in terms of performance and in my opinion looks better than anything else in this price range.

The Mech will set you back around £130, although we couldn’t find any reliable retailer with stock in the UK at time of writing, however this is a new product range and it may take a week or two longer for distributors to get stock in Europe. While that may not be cheap, it is on par with the bulk of premium mechanical keyboards.

Finally we have the Reaper mouse which is priced at a reasonable £55, making it the cheapest (at least in financial terms) of the three items. At this price range it is highly competitive and it offers some of the best build quality is this price class, as well as an Avago sensor and Omron switches.

Total price for the set would set you back around £250, which I think is actually really good value for money. It is certainly not cheap, but when you factor in the level of performance and quality we’ve seen from these products it certainly sounds like a solid investment. Visually the products look rather epic and with the option to customise each on to your liking I can see the modding community falling over themselves to get a set of these.

Overview

There are few options out there in my opinion for those that want a matching set of peripherals, Mad Catz have a very uniform range with their RAT mice, STRIKE keyboards & FREQ headsets all sharing many design features, but they’re not as unified as the CM Storm range. The same can be said for Roccat, their ISKU keyboards and Kone mice look great together, but are not a perfect matching set. So the CM Storm range will go well for the purist, those looking for OCD levels of matching perfection.

On our test desk the mixture of black glass, aluminium panels and the white back lights this setup looks incredible and worth every penny of the £250 price tag. Performance in gaming and day to day use is faultless on all three products and there is little else that needs praising beyond that!

As I’ve said before, we’ve already reviewed this range of products and you can read our in-depth reviews via the links below (all links open in new tab).

Which do you prefer, the mouse, keyboard or headset? Or are you suddenly hating me for making you want to save up £250 for the complete set? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cooler Master CM Storm Pulse-R Aluminum Gaming Headset Review

Cooler Master CM Storm Mech Aluminum Keyboard Review

Cooler Master CM Storm Reaper Aluminium Gaming Mouse Review

NZXT Source 530 Full Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


NZXT are well-known in the industry for their ultra high end enthusiast chassis, with products such as the Phantom 820 and the H630 simply blowing us away with their no compromise, feature packed designs. There is of course just one big downside to their more epic creations, a price tag that can really hurt your wallet. NZXT are well aware that they have a big fan base that can’t afford many of their products, so it looks like they’ve gone back to the drawing board and come up with something that packs all the big NZXT features, but for just under $90 / £70.

That isn’t exactly cheap I know, but it’s easily one of the hottest and most popular sections of the chassis market, there are countless offerings in this sector from all the major players that are incredible chassis, so it will be interesting to see just how competitive the Source 530 is in this area. As you can see from the specifications below it certainly packs a lot of features and with extensive cooling support, loads of room for storage and room for huge graphics cards to name but a few, it’s certainly sounding great on paper, so let’s get to the real deal and see how it holds up to inspection.

I normally add a photo of the packaging here, but my sample arrived in a brown box, so we shall skip over that. In the box I found the usual assortment of screws, bolts and cable ties to ensure we can fully install all major components and hard drives, as well as a simple owners manual to guide you through the process.

Corsair K95 Mechanical Keyboard Review

In the office today we have something a little special, the Corsair K95 mechanical keyboard and it’s not only the latest in the very cool Vengeance range of products from Corsair, but also Corsair’s new flagship keyboard. We’ve already had great fun testing previous keyboards from Corsair so if this is truly the best they have to offer then I’m really looking forward to testing it out. It was only recently that we took a look at the gorgeous Corsair K70 and I still find that to be one of my all time favourite mechanical keyboards, but can the K95 really be that much better?

Corsair are one of the biggest names in the industry, there is a good chance your current system, a previous system or your next system contains something they’ve made, be that a power supply, cooler or even a chassis. Playing off the success of their hardware business they’ve also created some incredible peripherals in recent years and their headsets, keyboards and in my opinion especially their mice are some of the best around.

The keyboard we are looking at today isn’t cheap, although mechanical keyboards rarely are cheap, this one is set to cost you a whopping £130 and that is a stern investment for any peripheral so today I will be expecting to see all of the Corsair pedigree crammed into this keyboard, flawless performance and premium grade build quality because nothing short of perfection would make me spend so much money on a device like this.

“In the world of high-performance gaming gear, there are few things that match the feeling of using a well-designed keyboard with mechanical key switches. Vengeance gaming keyboards use Cherry MX Red switches, hailed by gamers worldwide to be the best of the best. They combine great key feel with super-fast reaction times and smooth, linear travel with low operating force. Vengeance K95 takes the next step with a 100% mechanical layout – there’s a Cherry MX Red switch underneath every key. So, you’ll get that optimal tactile feedback and responsiveness, no matter your fingers go.” – Corsair

The K95 is well equipped and as you can see from the specifications below this keyboard comes with plenty to keep both gamers and general users happy; the ever popular Cherry MX Red switches are well known to be fast and accurate switches, key-by-key backlighting, 18 macro keys, aluminum construction, 20 Key rollover and a wrist rest should all make for an enjoyable experience.

  • Cherry MX Red Mechanical Switches
  • Key-by-Key Customizable Backlighting
  • 18 Programmable G-Keys
  • Brushed Aluminum Chassis
  • Full Key Matrix Anti-Ghosting with 20-Key Rollover
  • Detachable full length wrist rest

The box is nicely designed with a cool looking shot of the keyboard and a few of the major features listed on the front.

Around the back of the box we have a more detailed breakdown of the keyboards features, but we’ll take a closer look at those shortly.

In the box there was a user manual and some warranty information, oh and of course there was also a great big keyboard in the box!

Next out of the box was the detachable wrist rest, with a full width soft touch design.

Some plastic “push-click” pins hold the rest in place, but there are also two metal screws to give extra security.

There is a light texture to the surface thanks to these little pressed holes, this provides a little extra grip when combined with the soft-touch finish and overall the surfaces feels rather luxurious.

The cable for the K95 features two heavy duty USB 2.0 connections and the keyboard requires that you have a high-power USB 2.0 port to operate it, if you want to use the USB pass through feature you also need to connect both USB cables. The cable is ridiculously heavy and if this isn’t the toughest cable on a consumer keyboard then I don’t know what is. It’s a little unwieldy but at least it should last a life time.

The keyboard is pretty huge, this is mostly due to the extra macro keys on the left side but you best make sure you’ve got a wide desk area should you wish to accommodate it.

It features a fairly low profile overall but it’s about average in terms of height and the keys features a very slow and gentle curve to their ergonomics.

The top right of the keyboard features a very fancy metal scroll wheel for system volume control, a master mute switch and below that (above the number pad) are some dedicated media controls. The keyboard features three more buttons along the top for controlling the lighting features as well as a lock control.

The G keys are situated on their own extension on the left and it features a different finish to the rest of the board that I dare say looks a little cheaper, but it does give a nice visual distinction between the two areas and it still look pretty good in terms of design. The keys are separated into three groups of 3×2 and this makes navigation a little easier, plus there is a decent amount of space between the main keyboard keys and the G keys so you don’t accidentally trigger them, but it’s not so far that you feel your going out of your way to use them.

There was no key cap removal tool included with the K95 but the caps are fully removable non the less. Every key is mechanical with the exception of the top M and media buttons and all feature Cherry MX Red switches with individual LED lighting which can be see here under the WASD key caps.

The key caps are plastic moulded but they feel durable and well finished with just enough curve to provide a good finger resting position when typing or gaming.

The underside of the keyboard features two flip out feet to increase the hight of the board and there are also four small rubber grips to prevent the board from sliding around your desk, although it is quite heavy so I doubt that will be an issue.

The back of the keyboard features a single USB port that you could use for your mouse, headset, or any other USB compatible device really. There is also a BIOS switch that allows you to change compatibility modes as most high end keyboards are often incompatible with most motherboard BIOS screens, that shouldn’t be the case here.

The wrist rest might not be something everyone would want to use so I appreciate that Corsair made it detachable, but in my opinion it completes the design and the keyboard looks easily twice as good with it attached and it doesn’t feel as wide and narrow as it does without it.

The angle of the wrist rest lines up with the rear edge of the keyboard chassis which is below the keys and the keys effectively hover above it, looks pretty cool but also has some practical applications too. The keys and the switches are raised from the chassis of the keyboard, as if there was a lid to go around them and its been left off to show the bare chassis, this makes cleaning super easy but it also gives it a slightly industrial look that I must admit I am fond of.

Setup & Installation

The keyboard is plug and play compatible and works straight out of the box but if you want to use the funky G keys then you’re going to need to download the software from Corsair. Of course this is highly recommended because you don’t buy a huge keyboard with 18 custom keys if you don’t want to use them (if you don’t want them, you should buy the K70 instead). Upon hooking up the keyboard we see the white LED lighting and at first I think it’s a little bright but you can adjust it from off to full in 4 stages of brightness.

The lights not only light up the letters in the key caps but the light bleeds downward and lights up the gaps between the keys and the base chassis below them, it’s a very nice effect and in a very dark room it gives the keys the visual appearance of floating and glowing that looks rather cool.

If that is a bit much for you, you can also turn off / on each key on the keyboard, allowing you to have different zones illuminated on different profiles.

The software gives you complete control over the G key configuration, you can set macros or launch applications and more over each profile. Unfortunately you can’t configure any of the rest of the keyboards functions and all macros have to go on the G keys, although that’s hardly a compromise given there are 18 of them.

You can also set custom names for each profile so you know which is which and you can even save them direct to the keyboard on-board memory.

Performance

Just loading up my game and logging in on this keyboard is a lush experience, the keys feel light and snappy at my fingertips. I decided to tackle an FPS first to test the most important keys of all, WASD! I have to admit I tested this on Battlefield 3 far longer than I had planned to and while I can’t say I did better at my game I certainly had a comfortable experience thanks to the wrist rest, light keys and the K95 didn’t let me down once. Yet this is hardly pushing the limits of the K95 so I fired up WoW and Diablo III for a while, making sure I setting up some macros before hand. I can safely say I think that 18 G keys is too many, I must have used 6 per game at best and I was even able to assign one game per block of 6 keys, meaning I could keep my games on one profile! Still, far too many for my liking, at least for gaming.

Day to day usage however is where the G keys really start to shine, Photoshop shortcuts, email shortcuts, app launchers, text macros and more really make my workflow a whole lot easier and having them in three groups allows me to get through things super quick. I found it a little cumbersome changing profile automatically for software as it doesn’t switch back when you access other apps or your desktop, so having an “all in one” profile is more suitable in my opinion, but then again I don’t need 18 macro keys for any one task, I doubt many people do.

Typing is incredibly quick on this keyboard, the keys are super responsive and the ergonomics of the board present you with a good typing position. The only downside is that when I’m typing at around 70wpm the noise of the key caps striking the keyboard chassis is enough to annoy anyone else in the room after a while, although this is true of 95% of the mechanical keyboard I’ve tested. The upside of course is that you don’t care about the noise because it feels so nice to type, pros and cons I guess.

The media keys are also a welcome feature and since I listen to music all day long on my computer while I work and game, having dedicated keys is vital for me, especially ones that don’t require you to press a Fn key first.

Final Thoughts

You don’t “need” a high end keyboard to enjoy your favourite games, you don’t even need the best equipment to be a winner either, but that doesn’t mean to say that it couldn’t help. The super fast keys of the K95 could cut milliseconds from your reaction times, doesn’t sound like much to most people, but if your a pro gamer then you know that every millisecond counts in the heat of battle. Plus when your sat down on an evening with your favourite game, the last thing you want is for your fingers to feel tired and fatigued from a cheap keyboard and you can feel every penny of the £130 under your fingers tips when typing, reminding you that it was totally worth the investment.

How it performs and feels under your finger tips is easily the most important factor for a keyboard, but I’m not so sure I should give Corsair so much credit here as all that work is being done by the Cherry MX Red switches, a switch that is common place and can be found in many other mechanical keyboards, many of which are half the price of the K95. So what does the K95 do that other keyboards do not to justify the extra price tag?

Many mechanical keyboards are boring rectangles and a mere box to hold the nice switches in place, gorgeous to type on but nothing fancy to look at. The Corsair K95 just oozes luxury with its black brushed aluminium chassis and with the LED lighting reflecting of the texture of the metal it just looks better and better. The only gripe I have is that the G keys look tacked on, maybe Corsair were just trying to make a distinction between the two areas but I think a one piece chassis design would have looked better, even if the current configuration doesn’t look particularly bad.

Because of its metal chassis the keyboard is super strong and should last more than a few years worth of knocks and bumps, plus the keys are very easy to keep clean and maintain. Just remember that Aluminium is easily scratched, so I wouldn’t be putting your car keys next to this thing if you know what’s good for it.

So have Corsair made the best keyboard on the market? No not really, it’s on par with the competition in terms of performance but that is again because of the reliably uniform performance of the MX Red switches, so it’s hard to say one keyboard “feels” better than the other. What corsair have made however is one of the best designed and constructed keyboards on the market, it has a premium feel that is unmatched and a lush aluminium finish that goes a very long way to justifying the high price tag.

Pros

  • Fantastic typing response
  • Huge amount of macro keys
  • Aluminium chassis
  • Well made and durable
  • Premium design

Cons

  • Might be a little expensive for many
  • Only available with MX Red Switches (even if they are very good, it’s nice to have a choice).
  • Macros restricted to G keys

 eTeknix says: “Corsair looked to create their ultimate keyboard and the K95 delivers on that promise, it’s incredible to use and it looks fantastic. It performs as well as any other mechanical keyboard on the market but it’s build quality is in a league of its own.”

Ultra Sensitive Touch Sensor Can Operate Through Steel Or Glass

A new technology is in the works, the QTC Ultra Sensor and it could revolutionise touch control surfaces and input for years to come.

The UK company Paratech has created an ultra sensitive touch sensor, which is capable of responding to light touches though a piece of steel or glass, where as most modern sensors can do the same, they require the materials to be much thicker and in most cases, they also require more force to be applied.

David Lussey, CEO of Paratech had announced the new sensor is so sensitive that even if it were mounted behind a 0.1mm stainless steel or a .05mm glass sheet, it would still be able to detect the light pressure from the finger registering on the top of either sheet.

Paratech says that the QTC Ultra Sensor can be fitted as a small piece of QTC sheeting or even screen printed on the back of steel plating, leaving almost endless design possibilities for the technology. Not only that but the system will also work on anything from plastic, glass, wood, or just about anything that would provide enough flex to activate the switch, keep in mind that if steel and glass can flex enough, there shouldn’t be too many things out there that post an issue.

The QTC material used in the switch uses nano particles of conductive material in a non-conductive polymer, apply force and the particles move to allow a flow of electrons between the particles, an effect known as Quantum Tunnelling, making QTC the technology chosen to make the world’s thinnest switch, which is just a few microns thick.

Impressive indeed, but what applications it gets used in first remains to be seen.

Source

New NZXT Chassis To Be Unveiled Tomorrow, Could Be Called The H630!

“SHHH….” is the message that greets and fan of NZXT when they visit the NZXT.com home page, and there is no doubt that this little teaser is pointing towards a brand new chassis from one of the leading brands in the chassis market.

This chassis has got to be something special, given that it follows in the pretty big footprints of the Phantom 820 and 630, and other products from the Switch and Phantom ranges that have proven them selves to be truly epic over the last few years

The counter on the site has been ticking down for a while now, but it looks set to his zero at 5PM BST and you can be sure we’ll be watching like a hawk when that ticker vanishes and something… if anything, is shown.

NZXT has been giving sneak peeks for days, with each picture ranging from a blurry mess to some clear shots that detail more and more about this new product.

Heavy duty sound proofing on the side panels for noise reduction suggests either a silent system build ideal… or perhaps something to counteract the effects of heavy duty cooling fans? Given NZXT’s recent history, I’d guess the latter.

So what can we take from the images NZXT have revealed, well for starters we can see the usual NZXT fixtures and fittings on the HDD bays and Optical drives, so its already clear this is going to be a higher end model. There is an internal fan mount on the left side of the HDD bay.

Most interestingly that looks like an NZXT 200mm or even a 230mm fan in the front! and with another set of  mountings above that, could this chassis hold 2 x 200mm fans in the front! If it can, this is going to be huge!

Another indication of the scale of the chassis can be seen in this image above. With twin SSD mounts on the rear and two full HDD bays at the front, this packs a lot of storage and I’m pretty sure I could build a house in the cable management area behind the motherboard, the clearance from the side panel to the back plate looks HUGE!

But that’s not the best bit of information I’ve discovered either, a look on the page source for NZXT.com/shhh shows a big panel of H’s, about 630 if my eyes are correct and if those front fans are to be what I think they are, then this is going to be the Phantom 630 on a diet of steroids… excited? I know I am!