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Realforce RGB

Over the past few years the market for mechanical keyboards with RGB backlighting has gone crazy. The problem though is all of those RGB keyboards have had Cherry switches, knock off cherry switches, or a few custom switches designed by companies like Logitech and SteelSeries. One of my favorite mechanical switch types is Topre, but with the exception of a few knockoffs you haven’t been able to get Topre keyboards with any backlighting, let alone full RGB backlighting. So when Realforce introduced their upcoming keyboard, the Realforce RGB I had to check it out. Of all of the keyboards I have my Realforce 87u is one of my favorites to type on, but the lack of backlighting or even easy to read legends in the light forced me to keep it put up. So it will be exciting to see how Realforce’s new keyboard performs to see how it compares.

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Azio MK Retro

There are so many different reasons why people upgrade to mechanical keyboards. For some people, it is about durability. But for a lot of people, there is a bit of nostalgia involved. Some of us grew up with clicky buckling spring keyboards and just want a little of that back. With that in mind, Azio has introduced a new keyboard that is all about going old school, even beyond those buckling spring keyboards, back to typewriters. They aren’t the first company to do it, Datamancer a company we have worked with in the past had a few typewriter style keyboards and even sold keycaps. But Azio has actually taken the next step and gone into mass production and dropped the costs considerably. So today I’m going to take a look at their MK Retro and see if it is actually a usable keyboard, or if it is just going to be a novelty.

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Tesoro Gram Spectrum

With us being a few years into the whole RGB movement with mechanical keyboards, we are still seeing some companies finally moving their keyboards over to RGB and others have been refining their original designs. At this point, I have tested and covered just about everything and I think almost every day I’m turning down companies who want to send more and more of the same. I nearly did the same with the Gram Spectrum from Tesoro but the fact it was available in an all white design caught my eye. With everyone else only selling them in black, it is nice to see something a little different. On top of that, the Gram Spectrum also has Tesoro’s new switch called the Tesoro Agile with a short throw and short actuation point. So today I’m going to check out the Gram Spectrum and see what it is all about in all of its pale glory and find out how the new switches compare to the rest of the market.

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Logitech MX Master

I honestly can’t think of the last time I took a look at a mouse that wasn’t directly marketed towards gaming. That mostly has to do with the companies we work with, but with Logitech, I’ve been trying to get an MX Master in my hands all the way back from its launch. This is because even just checking out the feature list I was impressed with what they were doing with the MX Master. Well recently they finally sent one out and I’ve been spending time using it on my main PC. So today I’m going to run through its features and find out if the MX Master lives up to the hype that I had built up in my head.

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Vortex Pok3r RGB

For a while there I was covering a new RGB keyboard every two weeks but I haven’t covered any in over a month now. This is partially due to all of the video card launches, but also I’ve been turning away a lot of companies as well. Frankly, everyone in their mom is making their new RGB mechanical keyboards and there just isn’t much separating them. I would prefer to keep things fresh and check out a variety. So to change things up today I’m taking a look at the new Vortex Pok3r RGB. Those of you who see me and my wife out at LANs has most likely seen both of us gaming using Vortex Poker keyboards (she has a Poker 2 and I have a Pok3r), so I’m excited to finally be able to talk a little about one of my favorite keyboards. On top of this one having RGB backlighting, it also sports Cherry’s new Nature White keyswitches, so this is my first experience with them as well.

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Razer Blackwidow X Chroma

Its hard to believe but the Razer Blackwidow design has been around for a really long time compared to other peripherals. Every year they have reintroduced it with small changes, new backlighting colors, their new switches, and later on RGB with the Chroma line. They have also had a few different variations with tournament editions and ultimate editions. Well for the first time in a long time, this year, Razer introduced a heavily changed called the Blackwidow X. They have it in a Chroma model as well as an Ultimate model but the main goal with the X was to change things up and little and offer a slightly cheaper offering. Oddly enough the lower priced option actually drops some of the plastic and has an open aluminum frame. So today I’m going to check out that and see what else the Blackwidow X Chroma has to offer.

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1UP Keyboards Pok3r Sleeve

Returning readers are sure to know that I have a bit of a thing for keyboards, especially smaller 60% keyboards. In the past we have covered them multiple times including a few custom made products made specifically for the keyboard enthusiast market like custom leather wrist rests and an all oak Poker case. What I’ve learned is that when there is a gap in the market from the bigger companies people from all over step up and start selling products that they originally designed for themselves. A great example of this is 1UP Keyboards. A year ago I reached out to them about us covering their sleeves because I had been following them and because keyboard sleeves are a perfect way to protect your expensive keyboards when taking them to and from LANs or work. Well they declined at the time but recently reached back out to us about it. Given we are in the middle of the LAN season I couldn’t turn down a chance to protect my Pok3r like my wife’s Poker 2 is protected.

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Gamdias Hermes RGB

Some of you might have seen Gamdias as a sponsor at our last event or maybe at a few of the other events as well. While I’ve seen their name around I haven’t had the chance to personally check out and of their products. So when they offered to slip in their Hermes RGB keyboard in with our LanOC V18 box I took them up on the offer. We have had a LOT of RGB keyboards in the office at this point so that itself isn’t unique but I was excited to see what Gamdias has going on. So for the last 3 weeks I have been testing and using the Hermes RGB for all of my writing and gaming to find out how it performs in both situations. Read on as I take a closer look at its features and then dive into its performance.

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Datamancer Oaken 60% Keyboard Case

For the last year to year and a half I’ve been running a tiny 60% keyboard with my LAN rigs to help cut down on how much I carry to and from events and also to open up more space on the small table space you get at events. Its worked so well that I wanted to swap my wife’s keyboard to a 60% as well. To prevent damage to the keyboard in transport I tossed around the idea of getting a sleeve to put it in but then I came across the Oaken 60% keyboard case from Datamancer. The case replaces the case on my wife’s Poker 2 with a custom machined wooden case and it has a matching second half that encloses the entire keyboard for transport. After taking it to a few events over the past few months I wanted to talk a little about the case and its pros and cons. So check it out.

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Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro S

Just a few weeks ago Cooler Master introduced their new Masterkeys Pro L and S keyboards. I spent a bunch of time with the L aka the full sized model but at that time I didn’t have the chance to check out the Masterkeys Pro S. Well after our review they were quick to get an S out to me. A lot of the features of the Pro L are the same on the smaller S but there are a few differences. So today I’m going to take a look at the Masterkeys pro S and show you guys what is different. This won’t be as in depth of a review as the original, but if you check out our original review HERE and then check this out you should have a good idea of what the new Masterkeys Pro’s are all about and if they are for you.

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Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro L

As most of you guys have most likely noticed, I get a wide variety of keyboards coming into the office. Especially now that everyone and their mom has gotten into the mechanical keyboard market. With that the list of keyboards that make it into heavy use as a keyboard my wife and I take to events, test rigs, or my main PC is actually much smaller. Cooler Master has been one of the main brands you would find on that list and that is because from the day they introduced the original QuickFire Rapid I have loved their keyboards. They keep their keyboards simple with nothing flashy but the quality for the most part has been there. When they moved on to the Rapid-I I really started to get excited about the features they were introducing but with the XTI I was a little disappointed. Not because it was a bad keyboard, in fact it’s a great keyboard, I just really wanted it to be full RGB or have white backlighting like the Rapid-I. Well all of the waiting is finally over. For the past few weeks I’ve been using their new MasterKeys Pro L full RGB keyboard and today I’m finally allowed to unzip my lips and talk about it. So I’m going to run down through its features, talk about how it performed, then break down where it fits in the market. All of that will hopefully help you find out if this is the keyboard for you, check it out!

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Patriot Viper V360 headset and V560 Mouse

Just when we thought every company had jumped into the peripherals market at some point and time Patriot showed off their new product line back in June. They introduced a gaming mouse, headset, and a mechanical keyboard, basically the staples. Well late last fall they sent over the headset and mouse but I was a little slow to get into my testing. That said I’ve been testing them both out for a while now and today I’m going to break down what both the Viper V560 Gaming mouse and Viper V360 7.1 Headset are all about and see how they perform. With the peripheral market having so much competition, especially from a few well establishes brands Patriot has an uphill battle, but let’s see how they do with their first try.

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Hot Keys Project Artisan Keycaps

Almost a year and a half ago I took an in depth look at different ways that you can customize your mechanical keyboards. In that article we took a look at custom keycap sets, novelty caps, custom keysets, even ways to spice up your USB cable and keyboard case. While doing all of that I took a quick look at Artisan keycaps but at the time the only example we had were the molar keycaps and frankly the teeth creeped people out more than it peaked their interest. In the time between then and now I have been following the community and have picked up a few Artisan keycaps along the way that I found interesting. I’ve picked up keycaps from Martin at Hot Keys Project multiple times now and I thought it might be interesting to talk to Martin and find out a little about HKP and then check out their caps. He was nice enough to include a pair of caps along with my last order and answer a few questions I sent over as well. So let’s dig in and find out what Hot Key Project is all about.

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Input Club Infinity ErgoDox Ergonomic Keyboard Kit

Almost exactly one year ago I sat down and took a look at the original Massdrop ErgoDox kit. A few months after that Massdrop in combination with what would later be called Input Club announced that they had been working on a completely new designed called the Infinity ErgoDox. It’s important to note that the original ErgoDox was originally designed by Dominic Beauchamp aka Dox. Later the Geekhack and Deskthority keyboard community’s worked with Massdrop to provide a full kit. The ErgoDox isn’t exclusive to Massdrop but the specific design that I reviewed last year was. There are actually multiple places where you can put together your own parts or now even buy a pre-built model as well. The Infinity ErgoDox though is a new design based on the original but taking into account what they learned from the 60% Infinity Keyboard that Massdrop worked on with Input Club. The overall shape is the same but the Infinity ErgoDox uses a proper backplate and makes big steps forward with things like USB 3.0, NKRO, an LED screen, backlighting, and stabilizers. So today I’m going to dig into the new kit and see what it is all about, have a little fun building it all, then test out the new design and see how it compares to the original.

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Corsair Strafe RGB Cherry MX Silent

By now a lot of you have most likely picked up or at least tried a mechanical keyboard. After years of membrane keyboards being the norm, mechanical keyboards have burst back on to the scene over the last few years. This is great, but have you ever been in the same room or office as someone typing on a loud mech with blue or greens? I love them, but man it’s enough to drive you crazy. For me I’ve stuck with Cherry MX Browns or Clears on my personal keyboards whenever possible for my wife’s sanity. Even then people have tried O-Rings and other options to keep things toned down. Well Cherry recently introduced a new silent switch and for the first six months it is only available from Corsair. Lucky for us we got the new Corsair Strafe RGB Cherry MX Silent in. Not only does that give us a chance to check out the new key switch, but it’s also our first look at the RGB cherry switches and the Strafe as well.

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MSI ThunderStorm

While we’ve been focusing mostly on MSI’s latest offerings in the motherboard and video card departments they’ve stayed busy filling out a fairly robust peripheral lineup. Many would consider a mouse pad to be the least exciting of the roster, but I’m blessed with just enough obsessiveness to be concerned with how a mouse pad feels, fits, and performs. We recently received the ThunderStorm from MSI, a reversible aluminum mouse pad designed with quality in mind. I’ve spent some time with the surface both at home and on the road to see if it hits the mark.

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KeyedUpLabs ES-87 TLK Keyboard

When it comes to keyboards it feels like after all of these years the only thing that manufactures can do is work with lighting to make their keyboards stand out. Recently though I came across a fairly new company who only makes one keyboard but still caught my attention. KeyedUpLabs only sells the ES-87, a tenkeyless keyboard. It doesn’t have backlighting or anything else flashy. Instead they have focused on making a keyboard without cutting corners to get the highest quality with a simple design. What stood out to me though was a small feature where the keyboards case can actually be replaced with a variety of cases in different colors. Being a TKL keyboard this stood out to me as a great way to match your keyboard with your build or with a different keyset put a little of your own personality into your keyboard, much like how we do with our PC builds. Because of that I reached out and KeyedUpLabs sent over a keyboard as well as a few different cases and I set out to customize the ES-87 to match my wifes personality as the ES-87 would be her LAN keyboard.

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Razer Mamba (2015)

Its funny, as much as things change there are some areas where things stay the same. A great example of this is with a lot of today’s gaming mice. The fact is, with mice like the G5 and the Deathadder, they just got almost everything right. This is why we have seen both reintroduced multiple times with just small changes to keep up with what people are looking for. For the Deathadder, Razer’s biggest change or update was the introduction of the Razer Mamba. I first saw the Mamba back in 2009 at CES in a tiny little booth that wasn’t even on the show floor. Back then Razer was still a very small company. The reason I associate the Mamba with the Deathadder is they share a lot in their shape. Anyhow, here we are six and half years later and I finally have a Mamba in the office. Only this time around it’s not the original, this year Razer reintroduced the Mamba under the same name but with a new design. I’ve been testing it for almost a month and it’s not time to dig into its features and tell you all about it.

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Cooler Master Barebones Novatouch

Well over a year ago we first had the chance to check out a keyboard from Cooler Master that I had been excited about for a long time, their Novatouch TKL. This was their first Hybrid Capacitive keyboard, they worked closely with Topre to design it with a unique stem design that lets you run keycaps designed for Cherry MX switches on it. This is important because as we found out about a year ago in our Keyboard Customization article, you can do a LOT to set your keyboard apart. So over the past year Cooler Master has been working to show everyone why the Novatouch is different, but at least in my opinion the price has been a bit hard for some people to get over. Well over time the price has some down, but in addition to that they have recently been selling a special Barebones model that brings the price down even more. The barebones Novatouch TKL is specifically for people who already plan on replacing the keycaps with something else, cutting the costs down by selling it without keycaps. Well I got the Barebones Novatouch TKL in as well as a new set of custom keycaps, today I’m going to show you what you can do with the Novatouch and reflect on over a years’ worth of use in the performance section.

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Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum

Back in June I tested and wrote about one of Tesoro’s new full RGB keyboards, the Lobera Spectrum. While I liked a lot of the keyboards features, the styling wasn’t exactly what I would look for in my own keyboard. So when they mentioned their other full RGB keyboard, the Excalibur Spectrum I jumped at the chance. The share a lot of the same features, but the styling on the Excalibur line is a lot cleaner and simpler compared to the Lobera, so I was excited to take a look at it and find out if it would really be a better fit for me and anyone else who prefers a little bit simpler design. Well I have been testing it for a few weeks now and I can finally sit down and talk a little about how it performed, find out if it lived up to my expectations! 

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