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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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Maiden voyage to BlizzCon

I’ve always heard great things about BlizzCon and after participating in the virtual ticket last year we decided it was something we wanted to experience in person. The announcement of Overwatch, Blizzard’s first new IP in almost two decades, certainly contributed to the experience and I was blown away by the overall excitement witnessed through panels, contests, and of course e-sports. I wouldn’t consider myself a Blizzard mega-fan, but the influence many of their franchises have had in my gaming career is monumental. Diablo was one of my gateway titles into PC gaming and decades later you can often find me running through greater rifts with my wife, Misty. With tickets in hand, we patiently waited and prepared for our departing flight to Anaheim, California.

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Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

Well as I sit here and write this we still have about a day and a half left in 2015 but by the time you read this we will all begin the yearly struggle to remember to write the correct year down when writing down the date. Every year before finishing things up I like to sit down and look back through the years work and revisit all of the products that I gave the Editor’s Choice award too. The Editor’s Choice award is an interesting one because it only goes to products that really stand out and are most likely to make it into daily use in the office or with my LAN rig. They aren’t always perfect but typically they see long term use, for example in 2014 I awarded 12 products and even today 9 of them see near daily use. So this year we published 92 reviews, down from the 100 last year, I’ve been slacking a little I guess. Of those I awarded 10 with an Editor’s Choice award, so let’s revisit them and find out how I feel about them now.

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HyperX Savage 128GB USB 3.1 Drive

With cloud storage I would forgive you if you haven’t thought to much about USB thumb drives recently, I know I have for the most part only been using thumb drives in a few situations where I used to do all of my work directly off of one. The thing is there are situations where the cloud just doesn’t work. A good example of this is with large files but it also can be important when security is a concern and also for installing windows and device drivers. Because of that I have kept a Kingston DataTraveler HyperX drive around. I keep movies and TV shows on it and keep it with my laptop normally because the SSD on my laptop is limited in size. Recently though Kingston introduced a new USB drive in their HyperX brand, the HyperX Savage. They dropped the DataTraveler branding all together and they jumped up to USB 3.1. Today I’m going to take a look at it and find out how it compares to its older brother.

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Sound Blaster Roar 2

Over the past few years it seems like everyone has been jumping into the portable bluetooth speaker market. You have trendy brands like beats pushing it heavily and even smaller companies bringing them out to slip into the market as well. Well Creative Labs got in fairly early with the original Sound Blaster Roar but I never took a look at it. Frankly portable audio isn’t exactly something that fits in my life very much, I’m typically in my car if outside of the house and in the house I have more than enough to output sound including the Sound Blaster X7 that I recently reviewed. That said a while back Creative Labs asked if I would be interested in checking out the Roar 2 and I figured it was about time I took a look. I’ve been using it around the house and whatnot for a while and now I can finally sit down and dive into its features and talk a little about my experience. So hang on, let’s take a close look at the Sound Blaster Roar 2.

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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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LanOC at FortLAN VII

A few days after returning from FortLAN VII I hung my badge along with the collection of those from other parties. Being one of the largest badges makes it stands out, but what really caught my eye was the contrast of the name tag from their first event. We made the short trip to Fort Wayne back at the beginning of 2013 for the maiden FortLAN event. I still remembered climbing the spiral staircase to the second floor of the Andorfer Commons at Indiana Tech on our first visit and staring over the balcony to the cafeteria below. The venue was comfortably familiar but with several subtle improvements and a few notable changes. Once we had our equipment unpacked, we eagerly jumped in game.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

When it comes to the smart phone market, I think we can say that the Samsung Galaxy line launching a new phone makes waves similar to the new iPhone launches. They have a large portion of the Android market. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to test and review a good portion of their product line over the years with the most recent being S6. Well about 4 months after the S6 launched Samsung brought out their larger Note 5 and I have been testing it. Today I can finally sit down and talk a little about my experience as well as dig into the phones features and benchmark performance as well. So sit down, relax and let’s take a look at the Galaxy Note 5.

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Asus R9 380X Strix OC

When it comes to picking out a video card for your PC, I think we would all go with the top end cards if it was possible. But the truth is when we are picking out our components it is all a balance. We have to make sure that no one component gets the biggest portion of the budget, the card has to fit the budget, and it also has to fit with your other components. In other words, you wouldn’t go with a Fury if you could only afford a power supply that would power an R7 370. Because of that it is nice to have options and for the most part AMD has done a good job filling in the gaps. The one glaring omission though has been the lack of a 380X to match the 370X and 390X’s in their product line. Well today they have filled that gap. So today I’m going to dig into the Asus R9 380X Strix and find out what sets the 380X apart from the competition as well as the 380 and 390 that it sits between.

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