Those of you who come around often, will have most likely figured out that I have a thing for small form factor PCs. I have been building small PCs with big video cards for years, even before Mini-ITX became the norm. Trying to pack the fastest hardware into the smallest possible case is challenging, but also rewarding when you don’t have to break your back carrying a huge PC into LANs.  I know a few of you have been catching on to this, I have been seeing LAN rigs showing up a lot on my Facebook and at the LAN. Well when Intel launched their NUC I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one, well my wife just happened to win one at a LAN. So today I’m going to check out what the NUC is all about and put it together with some cool hardware from Kingston and a Harmony Smart Keyboard from Logitech to help put it to use as an HTPC.

Picking your new phone is a big decision; you are going to be stuck with it for the new few years. Because of that you don’t want to pick the first one you look at. This is especially difficult for people who have been in the Android ecosystem because there are such a wide variety of phones. Currently two of the most popular are the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Both have a lot of similarities and big followings. I’ve been using both phones for a good portion of the summer, today I’m going to look back and see how they compare to hopefully help a few of you decide on what phone is best for you.

These days even a lot of the low power cards still require dual PCI slots. So if you have a setup that requires a single slot video card solution it can be a little hard to find something that performs well and will also fit in your case. I don’t think people realize it, but XFX does a great job of creating a wide selection of cards to cover special uses like this. In the past we have seen models from them for people who need half height cards and even silent models. So it wasn’t a big shock when they sent over their R7 250 Core Edition single slot card. Really, the only question is how does it compare to the dual slot cards. If it’s anything like their past cards it should perform well, but the only way to find out for sure it to run it through our benchmark suite and see how it performs.

Sadly when a lot of people are shopping for a power supply things like does it have modular cables and styling play a big role. A lot of people forget that buying a quality power supply is important both to protect your components, but also higher power efficiency waists less. With power prices constantly going up every dollar counts, especially when you have more than one gaming PC in your household seeing heavy use. Well one of our event sponsors FSP sent over one of their new 80+ Platinum power supplies. Today I’m going to take a look to see what sets it apart beyond its high efficiency.

Even now that the GTX 750 Ti isn’t the only Maxwell cards on the market, I still find them an interesting GPU. Some of you may remember from our launch coverage of the GTX 750 Ti that it packed a punch without ever needing an extra power connection. Well that was the reference design; many of the other models on the market sadly required a 6-pin power connection for their overclocked models. Well Asus sent over their Strix OC Edition of the GTX 750 Ti and low and behold, it has the same low power requirements as the reference design. Today I’m going to put it through our test suite and see what a little overclock does for the Maxwell powered GTX 750 Ti.

While I suspect the Siberia V3 and even the Siberia Elite Prism will get the most attention with SteelSeries introducing an entire new product lineup. They also slipped in a new product the Siberia RAW Prism. We already know that Prism represents the full color lighting and Siberia is their most popular audio line. In the past we have seen RAW mice, in those cases they dropped the fancy features and sold the basic gaming mouse at a lower price. So with that we can come to the conclusion that the Siberia RAW Prism is their new budget friendly gaming headset. Frankly this isn’t an area that SteelSeries has competed in very much, they have always stuck with the mid-range audio products and more recently a little on the higher end with the Elites. Because of that I’m excited to see what they put together.

When SteelSeries introduced their Siberia Elite I couldn’t have been more excited. Sadly after testing I was left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. They weren’t as comfortable as the Siberia v2 and I had a few audio issues as well. To the point where we even tried replacing them mid testing thinking my set might have been bad. In the end they weren’t terrible, but considering their price they didn’t live up to what they should have been. At our last LAN SteelSeries pulled me aside and had me try out a prototype Elite with a few changes and later they invited me to visit their Chicago office to check out their revamped product lineup. Well they listened to both us and the customer reviews on Amazon and made a few big changes with their new Siberia Elite Prism headset. Today I’m going to kick the dust off the original Elites and compare the two headsets to see if those changes are enough.

Every time I cover something Mini-ITX I talk about how great it is that we can build these monster PCs in such a small form factor. Even so, considering how sensitive they are to heat and bad wire management it’s not for everyone. If you don’t know about every single part on the market it can be a little harder to pick out your components for a LAN rig as well. You don’t know what will fit with what, larger builds are a lot more forgiving on all of these things. Well MSI might just have the answer to all of those issues. They have put together a Mini ITX barebones for gamers who know they want a small easy to carry rig. Their Nightblade comes with a variation on their Z97i Gaming AC motherboard that I recently reviewed, a case, slim DVD drive, and 600 watt power supply. You just need to bring your SSD/Hard drive, CPU, heatsink, and video card. The question is, does the Nightblade make things easier and also how well does it perform. Today I’m going to take a closer look and put it through a few tests to see what it’s all about.

I think by now most of you know I have a bit of an unnatural interest in mechanical keyboards. Almost six years ago I reviewed our first mechanical keyboard and from then on I have been obsessing over every detail on every board as they come out. Nearly two years ago I started to hear rumors that Cooler Master might be looking to produce a Topre keyswitch keyboard. Well today after all of the waiting, we finally have the chance to take a look at the Novatouch TKL with its capacitive (Topre) style keyswitches. Given my good experiences with both my last Cooler Master keyboard and Topre switches I have high expectations, let’s hope it can stand up to them.

Nvidia may have officially launched Maxwell with the GTX 750 Ti launch back in February, but I think we can all agree that things don’t get really serious until they refresh their flagship card with the new architecture. Well the wait is over, Nvidia is taking the cover off of their new cards as you read this at their Game24 event. The new card is the GTX 980, this may come as a surprise seeing that the last generation of cards was the 700 series. Nvidia needed to sync their mobile and desktop GPUs, skipping 800 and jumping to the 900 series was the way to go about doing this. Before we dig into the changes moving to the GTX 980, everyone should check out our original Maxwell article HERE to see how well it performed.

 

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