A while back I had the chance to check out the E1 from Sound Blaster. This was a small portable headphone amp that also doubled as a portable USB sound card. You could hook it up to our phone or portable gaming devices to increase the audio quality or if you wanted you could plug into your laptop or PC. Well Sound Blaster has been busy, after the introduction of the E1 they went on to introduce a Bluetooth version (the E3) and also the E5. What’s the E5? Well the E5 takes the same idea but rather than a sound card you get a full DAC (Digital Audio Converter). You get the same features of the E1 and the E3 but they really stepped things up even more on the audio quality side of things. Of course we can’t take their word for it, let’s dig in and see what the E5 is all about.

Having had the opportunity to work and support home and small office environments, the necessity for things like redundancy, ease of access, and perhaps more importantly granularity of access are extremely obvious. Things that a NAS can provide, but rarely are invested in for one reason or another. The fear of cost or expertise often leads to that heart-breaking conversation where you relay the news that their presentation went up in flames with their failed hard drive, or early morning support calls due to permission issues. Thecus has several NAS offerings on the table, and we've had a look at a few of them. Today we'll sit down with the N4560, a NAS targeted for this very SOHO situation, in which Thecus hopes to address a few of the examples here and beyond.

If no one had to worry about money we would all be running crazy high end PCs with 3 or 4 GTX 980’s or R9 290X’s. The reality is that most people can’t afford to do that and even when they can it’s hard to justify spending that much money on just one part of their PC. The fact is even just one of those cards can cost more than a budget PC and 4 of them can be more than some cars. Because of that we have to try to find a balance between price and performance and along with that make sure there is a card for every price point along the way. Nvidia launched their Maxwell based GTX 980 and GTX 970 back in September, they are now starting to fill in a little more of the 900 Series product line with the introduction of the GTX 960 today. So today I’m going to see how the GTX 960 performs by taking a look at the overclocked Asus GTX 960 Strix.   

With the introduction of their G502 Logitech introduced the world to a new styling direction and at the same time they also introduced the first mouse that they ever named. Well with the G402 we are back at it again with their second mouse sharing the same aggressive styling and yes it also has a name. The G402 is also known as the Hyperion Fury. The G402 is Logitech’s FPS focused mouse that sits as a price point just below the G502. This replaces the G400s, an evolution of the original G5 mouse that played a big part in creating the gaming peripheral market altogether. So you can say this mouse has big shoes to fill.

The market for Mini-ITX based LAN rigs has grown a lot over the past few years. This is both because people are realizing that you can get the same performance out of a small rig as a big one and also because companies are finally starting to produce the products we always needed to really go all out with our SFF builds. Corsair is one of those companies, they have introduced a few different Mini-ITX cases but the introduction of their 380T from their Graphite Series really caught my eye. For one they have been toying with the idea of bringing out a whole bunch of eye catching colored versions of the 380T. But additionally they put together a design that is easy to carry with a handle but it also has a large window inside. That means you can get it to LANs and also show off what is inside. That is having your cake and getting to eat it too.

Recently I had the chance to check out the 700M from Cougar. I went in with a little hesitation but I was pleasantly surprised. The mouse was good but on top of that I was really blown away that a relatively new manufacture had this good of software. This told me that Cougar was investing a lot into their move into the peripheral market, good software is hard to find and very expensive to develop. So today I’m sitting here with the 700M’s partner in crime, the 700K mechanical keyboard. Is the 700K going to be as impressive as the 700M was? Well there is only one way to find out.

I don’t know about everyone else but finding the best place to put my headset when I’m not using it can be a challenge. Over the past few years there have been a few options popping up. We have seen cases have headset hangers built into the side, desktop hangers from Thermaltake and Silverstone, and even some of the people who come out to our LANs use banana stands to hold their headset. Well In Win has also been on the hunt for a solution. I’ve seen their glass table top headset stand as a prize at a few of the LANs we make it out too. They recently introduced a new option as well, their iEar Headphone Hanger. This is a simple product that allows you to hand your headset on any flat surface like your PC, the wall, or even the side of your desk.

When I was putting together the last few parts for our In Win D-Frame Mini build I knew I wanted to stick with a black and red theme and get a power supply that matched the performance of the rest of the build. Going with a Thermaltake Power Supply really was the only option to get both. So they were kind enough to send over their Toughpower DPS G 750 Watt power supply. While it fit everything I needed, it also peaked my curiosity. I mean, this is a power supply that comes with software. So today, beyond taking a look at the power supply itself, I will also be taking a closer look at the included software to see what it is all about and find out If it is something you really need or if it is marketing fluff.

I think one of the most interesting things about video cards is that the performance you see from the cards is always changing. The cards are staying the same obviously, but after a launch we will see numerous driver updates, some of those include updates that improve and optimize in game performance both across the board and sometimes just with specific games. AMD recently introduced their Omega driver that included speed improvements and a LONG list of usability fixes. Well today I just happened to have an R9 280 from Gigabyte on hand. I’m going to see what sets their card apart from the competition and we will also have the chance to see how the new drivers perform as well. Along with that I am introducing a few new benchmarks into our 2015 benchmark suite, enjoy!

This past September AMD introduced a refresh of their FX CPUs that included a few new more power efficient CPUs along with a major pricing restructure to update the lineup. While I had the chance to test out most of the lineup there were a few that weren’t included. Recently AMD sent over one of the CPUs that I missed the FX-8320E. With the FX-8320E being a budget focused gaming CPU AMD also sent along with it a motherboard that matched its low price point and gaming focus, the 970 Gaming from MSI. Paired together you can get them for just a few dollars more than an i5-4670K with no motherboard or any of the 2011 socket CPUs. With 8 cores and a turbo clock speed of 4 GHz it should still be performer, but of course there really is only one way to find out, let’s check it out.

 

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