WD_Black P50 1TB

External SSDs have gotten fast enough that they have been pushing the limit of USB 3.2 Gen 2 for a while now. Thankfully USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 is a possibility and I was excited to check Gen 2x2 out months ago when Western Digital sent over the P50. Sadly I ran into a major issue, I didn’t have a board that supported it and at the time the only boards that did were the new Threadripper boards which I didn’t have a CPU for. I thought I found an X299 solution but after it came in we found out it didn’t and the specifications for that board were corrected (oops lol). Well one of the side benefits of the recent Intel launch is the possibility of new USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 capable boards and two out of the three motherboards that have come in actually had it. So while in the middle of our Z490 testing I wanted to slip in a look at the WD_Black P50 that I have been so excited to test out. So today I’m going to take a look at what it is all about and put it to the test. Let’s check it out!

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Z490 Aorus Master

Intel’s launch of a whole series of CPUs comes with it a new chipset and new socket. That also means new motherboards and the motherboard companies aren’t messing around with the number of options that have available. That means everything from cheap to crazy expensive. The Z490 Aorus Master is one of Gigabyte's higher-end boards and today I’m going to check it out. I’ve been extremely impressed with Gigabytes boards, especially on the higher end for the last few years due to their VRMs and cooling capabilities. With Intel pushing things even farther on what is still a very small socket size I am excited to see what the Aorus Master has to offer! Let’s check it out.

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MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

To go along with Intel’s latest launch all of the motherboard manufacturers also have lots of new boards as well. So it isn’t a surprise that we have had a few of the new Z490 boards show up in the office. I’m going to take a look at them over the next few days. Most of the boards that were sent over are higher end, but MSI sent over their MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFI which isn’t a budget board but is a little easier on the wallet. Its name may be a little long, but at just under $270 is it a good sweet spot for a Z490 build? Today I’m going to find out!

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Intel Core i9-10900K and i5-10600K

It’s that time again, today Intel has introduced their full new generation of CPUs, the 10 gen core CPUs for desktop. While some PC hardware is a little hard to find given the global COVID crisis, but with some people being away from work or working from home, the need/interest in upgrading hardware is there. Today we are going to check out the new lineup and trust me it is HUGE and then I’m going to check out the two CPUs that Intel sent over for testing. They sent over the i9-10900K which is their new mainstream/gaming flagship and the i5-10600K which is more of a mid-range focused CPU. The 10900K has two more cores over the 9900K and a touch more clock speed as well so it will be interesting to see how it performs!  

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Viotek GFV22CB

If everyone could afford it, they would all be running huge high refresh rate monitors running at 1440p or 4k. But the reality is that high-end monitors are expensive. But most gamers have realized the importance of a high refresh rate and adaptive sync tech like FreeSync and G-Sync. Well, there is a cheap option available, at least normally (COVID has obviously caused supply issues across the board). Viotek has a smaller 22-inch monitor that runs at 1080p with a refresh rate of 144Hz and because of its price, it is one of their most popular monitors. The GFV22CB sells for $129.99 making it a great budget option, so today I’m going to take a look and see what you get for that price.

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Lexar NM610 M.2 NVME 500GB

While the Lexar name is extremely well known when it comes to SD cards and flash drives. But they do make SSDs. Not long ago they launched their NM610 which is an M.2 NVMe drive and I’ve had the chance to check it out. I’m a little late due to the craziness that has been going on. But today I’m going to take a look at the Lexar NM610 and see what it is all about and find out how it performs. They have it listed as up to 2100 MB/s on the read speeds which would put it in as a mid-range NVME SSD so I’m curious to see if it lives up to that and how it compares to similarly priced drive. Let’s check it out!

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AMD Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X

Most people might think that the best thing about AMD's resurgence with Ryzen is the big performance gains in the high end. But for me, it is the trickle-down effect you see on the mid to low end. Quad-core CPUs were all you could get on the higher end of the mainstream lineups before Ryzen and now we have seen those end up in the mid-range and now the low end as well. Today AMD is launching their Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X which both have 4 cores and 8 threads in the $100-$120 range which is a huge step up for budget builds. Today I’m excited to see how they perform, especially compared to the high-end quad-core CPUs from just a few years ago.

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Corsair QL120 White RGB Fans

Back in November Corsair launched their QL series of fans and I had the chance to take a look at them. The QL series of fans are similar to Corsairs Light Loop fans, only with almost double the number of LEDs recently got their white version of the same fans and in my experience, a lot of OC components look even better in white so today I’m going to take a look at them. Because I covered them previously and the only thing that has changed is the color of the fan, it will be a much quicker look but I figured some of you might be interested in seeing what the QL120’s look like in white!

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Nvidia Shield TV 2019

The original Nvidia Shield TV launched back in 2015 and was updated again in early 2017. When the first version launched my household was still running traditional cable TV along with servers hosting backups of our movies and TV shows just being fed to traditional HTPCs where needed. When we moved, to keep costs down I was looking to cut out cable but not lose the functionality and the original Shield TV as well as the Shield TV 2017 really helped with that by combining them with Plex and PlayStation Vue and I even was able to tie in Samsung’s SmartThings as well and use the Shield TV as a hub. I talked about both in THIS article. Well, Nvidia is at it again with the new for 2019 (hey it came in a little late lol) Shield TV with an updated Tegra X1+ SoC and a new form factor as well for the non-pro model. Today I’m going to check it out!

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Creative Outlier Gold Wireless In Ears

  After finally switching over to a phone without a headphone jack late last fall, I have covered a few different in-ear wireless earbud options looking to see what has worked best for me ahead of all of the normal spring yard work which is where I spend a lot of time listening to music. It would be crazy to not check out what our friends over at Creative have to offer considering I am using Creative products for my desktop audio on my PC and my wife's PC. They have their Outlier Wireless In-Ears in the air version and their upgraded gold edition which adds more battery life and works with their Super X-Fi software. So today I’m going to check out the Outlier Gold’s to see if they will be the ideal solution to put to use here soon for yard work.

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Fractal Era ITX

In December Fractal introduced their new ION SFX PSUs and at that time I speculated that Fractal having a renewed interest in SFX could potentially also mean a new SFX case in the future. I probed our Fractal rep with no luck as well but not long ago they reached out about a new case called the Era ITX and guess what, it has SFX support. I was already in, but after seeing the pictures I was even more interested as they had multiple color options and a top panel that was made out of tempered glass or wood with the wood type depending on which color option you went with! The Era ITX is a 16-liter capacity case that can fit ATX or SFX PSUs, up to a 240mm radiator, and full-length video cards. Not necessarily all at once, but I will get into that here in just a minute.

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Lian Li Strimer Plus

I’ll be the first to admit that the entire RGB scene has just been crazy, anything and everything you can think of now has it. It's not for everyone and for some of the people who don’t like it, it can even lead to an angry response. Three years ago, I wrote an article on the topic of why RGB can still be useful even if the idea of that rainbow look isn’t your thing. Last year Lian Li came out with one of the most outrageous RGB products with their Strimer RGB cable extensions and this year they have upped the ante by upgrading them with addressable lighting with a lot more effects. Today I’m going to check them out and see what they are all about and try to figure out if they should only be used on the craziest RGB builds or if maybe you can use them as an accent in a “normal” build.

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Icy Dock EZConvert NVMe M.2 to U.2 MB705M2P-B

If you have been active in or around the LanOC community, there is a good chance you have heard of Icy Dock. You can go all the way back to May of 2008, just 3 months after we started reviews and see our first Icy Dock review. I met them on our first CES trip that year and they were a dedicated sponsor over the years for our LAN events as well. My first experiences with them were their external hard drive enclosures and their hot swaps for hard drives, but they really hit their stride when SSDs started coming out and most cases didn’t support any 2.5-inch slots with their many creative 2.5 to 3.5 adapters. Well they haven’t stopped with the unique adapters and while I haven’t worked with them in a while they recently reached out and sent over their EZConvert NVMe M.2 to U.2 adapter and today I’m going to check it out.

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EnGenius ECW230 WiFi 6 Access Point

If you haven’t been following updates in wireless technology, I would forgive you for not knowing about WiFi 6 or Wireless AX. Even if you do try to keep track, things have been a little extra confusing. Basically, WiFi 6 is the new name for 802.11ax. Depending on who you ask, simplifying the name may be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, I think that cutting it down and including a number makes it much easier to know how it compares to your current router or access point. How could anyone tell if N was better than G or AC is better than N. WiFi 6 has been out for a while now and it has finally started to trickle out to devices like phones and a lot of the medium to high-end motherboards I have been testing. With motherboards having WiFi 6 I haven’t been able to properly test them without updating our office network to it. Which is where EnGenius comes in, they were kind enough to send over their ECW230 WiFi 6 Access Point and their ECS1008P 8-port PoE Managed Switch to up our testing capabilities and today I want to check out what WiFi 6 is all about and see what makes EnGenius’s access point special as well!

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Elgato 4K60 Pro MK2

Almost 20 years ago after I bought my first PC (at least the first one I bought myself) I did my first few upgrades which included more memory, a large hard drive (I think it was close to 20GB), and a video card so I could play all of the games that I wanted to play. I also tied my PC into what was my “entertainment center” in my bedroom which meant being able to output sound to my obnoxiously large stereo and being able to receive signal from devices like my DVD player and game consoles to watch things on my PC with a really poor quality USB capture device. Well, things have improved drastically from there as has the need for capture devices as well now with streaming and YouTube video production. I’ve gone through what is now a large collection of them myself from using them to stream our Old School tournament at LANs and needing one to capture motherboard BIOS’ for motherboard reviews. My most recent one was the Razer Ripsaw which while still functional only works on a few devices after windows updates broke it. So I was excited to see Elgato introduce their latest and greatest, the 4K60 Pro MK2 last fall. Today I’m going to check their new device out and also talk a little more about what sets this apart from the original 4K60 Pro which shares the same name.

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Noctua chromax.black Coolers

For years Noctua has been known for their signature tan and brown theme. It made their products easy to spot and that along with their performance really helped promote their brand over the years. When every fan was black, they stuck with their signature look. Back when color LEDs were first added to fans, they were still tan and brown. But as we got close to the RGB era and with aesthetics in every single part of a computer finally growing in importance Noctua has started to crack. They introduced black and grey on grey models. Then after that their Chromax fans which were black as well but didn’t have the cost raising features of the IPPC fans and along with those they even brought out covers for their heatsinks. But with almost every company finally making blacked out coolers, Noctua was long overdue to do the same and they finally did just that a few months ago. I’m excited to finally dig into them and check out the three new heatsinks as well. The new chromax.black line includes the NH-D15, NH-U12S, and NH-L9i that cover a small, medium, and large range.

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Philips TAPH805BK Noise Cancelling Headphones

My first few experiences with active noise canceling weren’t all that great. It did cut out noise, but I was also often left with a headache or pressure in my ears from it. In the end, I accepted that maybe active noise canceling just didn’t jive for me. Well, this year, with my phones all dropping their headphone jack I opened myself back up to Bluetooth audio devices. When I saw that Philips introduced a new wireless noise-canceling headphone I thought I would be open-minded and try active noise canceling hoping that I might be able to cut out some of the noise when working remotely. ’ve had the Philips TAPH805BK’s on hand and today I am camping out at the dealer waiting on car repairs. What a perfect chance to put them to the test!

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EVGA RTX 2060 KO

Well last week was crazy! AMD launched their RX 5600 XT, but before that happened Nvidia announced a lower price for the RTX 2060. Not long before the launch some of the AMD cards received big BIOS updates with significant overclocks. Altogether, it was all great for anyone considering a video card right now. I tested the RTX 2060 Founders Edition against our RX 5700 XT sample but I did also have the new EVGA RTX 2060 KO come in as well. We haven’t seen the KO branding in a long time, it has a different cooler and PCB design designed to fit with the new Intel NUC 9 platform announced at CES and for the GPU it is sporting cut down TU104 GPUs which are originally from the RTX 2080 and both RTX 2070 variations. I’m excited to see how EVGA’s new card performs and to also another look at the high end 1080p options when the 2060 has an aftermarket cooler attached.

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ASRock RX 5600 XT Phantom Gaming OC

This year at CES, AMD had a few different big announcements, one of which was on the GPU side where they introduced their latest GPU the RX 5600 XT. The RX 5600 XT falls in between the original Navi RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT cards and above the RX 5500 XT that launched not too long ago. This is AMD filling out their Navi product stack. Well, today's the day, the RX 5600 XT is available and with that, we can also finally look at the cards and their performance. AMD sent over the ASRock RX 5600 XT Phantom Gaming OC for mt to take a look at and in addition to being excited to see how the new GPU performs I am also excited to get my first look at an ASRock video card. I’ve used many of their motherboards in the past, but it wasn’t until 2018 when they introduced their first cards. So I’m curious to see how they compare with the competition while I also see how the 5600 XT fits into the market.

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MSI RX 5500 XT Gaming X 8GB

Surprisingly, while we work with MSI a lot of coverage I didn’t end up getting in any of their RX 5700 or RX 5700 XT’s. With AMD's new cards MSI made changes to their designs, so I was excited to hear that they were up for sending over one of the new RX 5500 XT’s. They sent over the RX 5500 XT Gaming X with 8GB of memory. I’ve had the Gaming X cards in before and they have a specific styling that they have had for years now. Things have changed some, dropping the bright red for example, but the new Navi Gaming X cards are completely different so I’m excited to check them out more. This specific card has a boost clock up to 1845 MHz which is right in line with the PowerColor card I took a look at with the RX 5500 XT launch so I’m curious to see how they compare.

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