So it’s 2015, we made it. 2014 was a little crazy at times but a few interesting things happened right? Well here at LanOC every year I like to take a quick look back at the past year and revisit all of the products that I slapped the Editors Choice badge on. It’s not something that I take lightly. I only put the badge on products that stand out and are something that I would like to put to use in my own office. You see, over the past year we have published exactly 100 reviews, there just isn’t any way for all of that to make it into my office. Of those 100 reviews this year, 12 of them ended up with this distinction. So let’s kick back for our new years and take another look at each of them, along with that I will update you guys a little on how things worked out after the reviews and if the product is still that spectacular months later.
In Win 901
2014 started off slow, my first award didn’t go out until late in April. The In Win 901 is one of those special cases that was nothing like what I typically get in. I liked it so much in fact that I decided to use the case to build a random PC in it to take to a few events. I still had Lunchbox 3 but even then the 901 gave me the urge to build something to show off. I still actually have this PC although it has seen little use recently because I just have to many LAN rigs. It did make it out to 5 or 6 events though and I have been considering replacing the Fridge with it simply because of its small size and clean styling that would go great with my new desk setup. That said if I reviewed it today would I give it the same award? Well I still love the case but reviewing it today I would have already covered the In Win D-Frame Mini that I love even more.
SteelSeries Sensei Wireless
It’s no secret that I have been using the Sensei or variations of the Sensei as my main mouse for a few years now. After fighting with wires I have been moving over to wireless peripherals whenever possible for a while now, the one exception was with my mouse. With the introduction of the Sensei Wireless I could finally do that. Things went great through all of my review testing but after the review, using the device every day I did run into a few issues. The biggest issue is that for some reason putting a cell phone next to my mouse pad and getting a text or email would take the Sensei Wireless offline until I would turn it off and back on. I’ve also run into issues where I have had to reinstall the driver to get the mouse back up and running as well. Considering my love for the mouse these issues were a little frustrating. I still use the mouse on my main PC but I do keep my wired Sensei around as well. Given the issues I don’t think I would give it the editor’s choice again, but I would still keep it on my desk. Even with the issues I love the hell out of the mouse.
Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid-I
When it comes to keyboards, I have a bit of a problem. I love them, so much so that they keep stacking up in the house. The Rapid-I was something I was begging for back when the original Quickfire Rapid launched, I love TKL boards but I really prefer having backlighting. The Rapid-I came in and just blew me away. Not only did I get everything I wanted/needed, but Cooler Master cleaned up the styling and added a whole bunch of lighting effects that really help the Rapid-I stand out. This is without a doubt still to this day my favorite keyboard. The problem is for my main PC I use the number pad a lot so dropping to a TKL in the office was out of the question. I’ve been using the Rapid-I at LANs all year and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I even spiced things up with a new keyset as you can see in the photo below.
Asus X99 Deluxe
Our initial Haswell-E launched had me checking out this beauty right out of the hole making it a really rough time for every other X99 board tested after it. Asus did a great job with this board, packing it full of features. The white styling really sets it off as well. While I wasn’t able to build a rig out of this board as much as I wanted too, it is still at the top of my list for X99 boards.
Intel i7-5960X Haswell-E
Only one CPU made it onto this lit this year and for good reason. The 5960X is a monster. There just isn’t available that is faster on the commercial market. On top of already being a beast, it overclocks like a champ. If money wasn’t an issue this would without a doubt be the CPU to have and for that reason it made it onto the list and maintains that status until something better comes out.
Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285
Okay so this little card is especially special to me. Most of our normal readers should know that I have a big thing for small form factor PC builds, especially for high powered SFF builds. I call them LAN rigs. Well Asus and later MSI brought out small ITX sized cards and Sapphire was at our LANs checking out the builds. Ed spent a lot of time talking about my Lunchbox 3 build with its extremely small footprint. Well Ed liked this so much that he went back to work and pushed for Sapphire to join this market as well. This was the answer to the other SFF cards and Sapphire did it up big. For starters their card is worlds faster than all of the other models but on top of that they did a great job with the cooling. The other cards when put in my LAN rig would get a little warm causing me to run with the side panel off if I was doing anything to demanding. Swapping to this card in Lunchbox 3 fixed the heat issues and gave a nice bump in performance as well. After its review it saw heavy use both in the LanOC office as a second PC and at events, while I have been using another PC this is still the go to if I need something extremely small.
Cooler Master Novatouch TKL
Like the Rapid-I, this was another keyboard that I waited for a long time for. I caught wind of this one back at CES in January 2013. Who would have thought that any mainstream manufacture would introduce a capacitive keyswitch keyboard (Topre). Well Cooler Master went even farther and introduced the Novatouch with unique sliders that support standard Cherry MX keycaps. It was actually the inspiration behind our Keyboard Customization article even. While the backlit Rapid-I fits my needs better, there isn’t anything like typing on the Novatouch TKL and for that it received the Editor’s Choice award. Sadly this board hasn’t gotten a lot of use after the keyboard customization article. This isn’t due to a lack of love, simply put I only have two hands. I can’t use it as my main keyboard because of the lack of a number pad and for my LAN use I still stick with the Rapid-I with its backlighting. The Novatouch does stay close though, it tags along with me to events just in case.
So through 2014 I covered 7 different mobile devices and in the end the LG G3 was the only one that came out with an Editor’s Choice award. I loved the high quality screen that had almost no bezel at all, its camera, and how loud its speaker is. This basically fit exactly how I use most of my phones, I find myself on conference calls so the loud speakerphone was a major help and its thin design made it easy to hold on too. Ironically soon after I launched this review a few new phones came out, specifically the Droid Turbo. Looking back I think the Turbo is currently a better phone but this goes to show you just how quickly the phone market changes. The LG G3 is still a great phone, I wouldn’t take the award away from this one but I would reconsider giving out to the Turbo.
In Win D-Frame Mini
Much like the In Win 901, when the D-Frame Mini came in I just had to build something in it. I went all out color matching everything to the build and ended up putting together a PC that I am especially proud of. From there I have taken it out to just a few events but the plan it to take it out to even more early into 2015. As I mentioned earlier the 901 was an amazing case but the D-Frame Mini > the 901. They both put real glass to use for the side panels and in the case of the D-Frame Mini you get a hand build case that is easy to work in like a test bench but enclosed enough to take it out to events without worrying someone with sticky fingers might try to go home with a stick of ram.
MSI X99S MPower
The X99S Mpower from MSI came in a little while after the initial launch. By that time things had calmed down a little but the board really impressed me. MSI managed to put together a clean board with nearly all of the same features that the other boards had but at a much better price. This is one of those situations where the board is something I would recommend for anyone who is looking to keep the cost of an X99 build from spiraling out of control without losing any features. So do I prefer this over the Asus X99 Deluxe? No I do prefer the Asus board, but it is close. The price has gone up a little from our review but it is still over $80 less than the Asus.
Asus Maximus VII Impact
When the In Win D-Frame Mini came in and fell in love I just had to build a PC in it. With its red trim the latest Impact was really the only option to go with. I’ve never seen a motherboard be packed so full of features. This is without a doubt the best Mini-ITX board on the market, nothing really compares. I have a feeling that until the next Impact board is introduced this will continue to be the case. Until then I will be giving this board use at my main LAN rig in the D-Frame Mini, if you see us our at an event be sure to check it out!
Code Keyboard 104 key and TKL models
So this review just came out so it’s not like anything has changed post review. That said the Code keyboards weren’t perfect but was still the best option to replace my aging keyboard when I replaced my desk. They have a clean design, backlighting, and nice features like the easy to reach function buttons. Really, the only thing that could stop me from using this through 2015 would be a full sized version of the Rapid-I being introduced.