Project Build Crushed Update - Part 1

A few years back I ended up putting our Crush build aside for a new PC. This was a Threadripper based build but sticking with the Case Labs theme, like Crush this build also had a Bullet case, only it used the taller and more water cooling friendly BH8 in an amazing looking blue. This was actually going to be a project build at the time but I ended up not having time to get things out before the first generation Threadripper was outdated (it came long after the launch). It has been a reliable PC but recently I have been seeing slowdowns and issues. Especially when playing Microsoft Flight Sim 2020, which in a lot of ways brought this system to its knees. This has had me thinking about updates, especially with the 10TB hard drive inside which came from the original Crush build that has been making noise. So today I’m going to start things off with a few small changes before I look at bigger changes soon.

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Monster Truck Championship

Okay, I’m going to look a little old here, but back when I was a kid I spent a lot of time playing the original Bigfoot game on NES. It had upgrades and boosts which looking back seem so ahead of their time and later fueled my love for Gran Turismo. Prompted me to end up at any local monster truck show as well. But eventually, things got a little too crazy, or I drifted away from it all. But when I received an email about an upcoming game called Monster Truck Championship all of that came back.  It isn’t the only monster truck offering, but smashing cars, doing tricks, drag races, and normal races all piqued my interest. Especially with it being supported on Steam as well as PS4, Xbox One, and the Switch. Today is launch day (for everything except the Switch) and I’ve been playing it, lets take a look at how things went with Monster Truck Championship on the PC.

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Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo v2

With a few different all in one coolers tested recently, I have been on a bit of a cooling kick. But I couldn’t end things up without checking out Cooler Masters's most recent introduction, the Hyper 212 Evo v2. Which I suspect a lot of you have heard of the Hyper 212. When I’m going a build that is more down to earth, 9 times out of 10 I end up recommending the Hyper 212, and its been that way for years. Cooler Master has lead the market with this 120mm tower cooler that is always priced like a smaller 92mm cooler. Its no wonder why it has made it into so many builds. So when they said they had a new model coming, I had to take a look and find out if this is still the go-to for budget builds. Today I’m going to check out the Hyper 212 Evo v2 and see what is different as well as find out how it performs in our 3 CPU test suite. Let’s go check it out!

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Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror

Cooler Master isn’t new to the all in one cooler game, they were there right at the beginning when they were just starting to come out and they have continued to change things up over the years. RGB has been a thing for a while now and companies have been looking at how to change things up and we have already seen companies putting their lighting behind mirrors for a different look and Cooler Master is no different. They showed them off at CES this year and even though it has been a crazy year they did just recently introduce them officially with their MasterLiquid Mirror coolers. Well, I had the MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror come in and sticking with the cooling theme I have put it through our test suite and today I’m going to take a look at it and see how it performed, what it has to offer, and where it fits in the market price-wise.

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be quiet! Pure Loop 240mm

It might come as a surprise for a lot of people, but be quiet! which has made a name with their cases, coolers, power supplies, and fans has never actually had their own water cooler. This is a little crazy because everyone and their mom seem to sell an all in one cooler, even companies that don’t do anything else with cooling and be quiet! is out there with high-quality fans and only today have they finally announced an AIO. It is called the be quiet! Pure Loop and they have it in 120mm, 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm variations. For testing I had them send over the 240mm which is a dual 120mm configuration and is very common because it fits most cases. So today I’m going to check out the Pure Loop 240mm and see what be quiet! is doing differently (there are a few big things) and then put it to the test in our 3 CPU test suite.

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Sound Blaster X3

I’ve been using the Creative Labs X7 DAC to power my desktop speakers and wired headphones for almost 6 years now and have consistently been impressed with the performance, especially when it comes to having it paired up with my speakers. But I rarely run wired headphones because switching between the devices is complicated and you can’t use both at the same time. Not to mention the X7 gets toasty warm on the front when I use it with headphones. All of these issues have had me thinking about adding a dedicated headphone DAC into the mix and given the performance I have seen from the X7 it only makes sense that I would give their Sound Blaster X3 a look. So today I’m going to see what the X3 has to offer and then test out its performance to see if it fits the bill. I’ve heard great things, so I have high expectations. Let’s go check it out!

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Elgato Wave:1

Elgato has made a name for themselves by focusing on streamers and content creators with everything from capture cards, lighting, green screens, and their stream deck. The one area that they seemed to avoid for a long time was the one area that other companies had taken notice with at all, microphones. That changed recently with the introduction of their Wave:1 and Wave:3 condenser microphones. Over the years I’ve had the chance to check out a variety of desktop microphone options, so I was excited to see that Elgato was getting into the market. Given Elgato’s history of streamer support, I’m curious to see their take on the desktop mic.

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Crucial X6 2TB and X8 2TB

Recently Crucial introduced their newest portable SSD, the X6 and at the same time also brought out the new 2TB version of their X8 which I previously took a look at. The X6 is a SATA based drive that was designed with the price in mind which at its 1TB and 2TB capacities bridges the gap between portable hard drives and more expensive NVMe portable drives like the X8. They sent both drives over in the 2TB capacity and when I spoke with them before the launch we talked about the 2TB capacity specifically and why they were focusing on it. For starters, in their research, ¼ of the people looking for external drives are looking for high capacities like this when shopping. Which makes sense really, some people use these to supplement their PC or laptop storage for media downloads and when it comes to digital content creation for storing big video files which take up a lot of space. Those aren’t files you want to wait around at spinning drive speeds waiting to transfer. So today I’m going to take a second look at the X8, now with the new capacity, and check out the new X6 and see how they both perform. Let’s dive in!

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Blue Yeti X

With more and more people working from home, taking up streaming as a potential side gig, and others just looking to improve their audio quality. Desktop microphones have taken off in popularity, even with microphones on gaming headsets finally starting to improve. One of the biggest names in desktop microphones for PCs has been the brand Blue with their Snowball microphone as well as their Yeti Microphone. Well, the Yeti received an updated version late in 2019 before all of the craziness of 2020 hit and I have been using the Blue Yeti X for a while now. With my review of the Philips X3, thought it would be a great time to take a look at a desktop microphone that could be paired with a higher-end pair of headphones like the X3 so today I’m going to check out the Yeti X and see how it performs compared to other desktop, add on, and headset microphones.

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EnGenius ECS2512FP Switch

It’s funny how I remember specifically my first experiences with a full Gigabit network. Around the time we started our LAN events, I upgraded our home network to gigabit. But it really was when after a few events that we finally had our whole event network running in that I finally got to experience the transfer speeds and at the time saturating it required more than one hard drive in raid and it was a huge improvement over 100 Megabit. But gigabit has been around now for a long time and in that time storage speeds have gone insane in comparison. For comparison, gigabit is 125 MB/s, and even a 5400 RPM hard drive today will do 147 MB/s. If you are just running your PC and the internet this is perfectly fine because your internet is still the limitation. But if you are transferring files over your network, especially to multiple PCs a 1G or gigabit network is a slowdown and with Intel now including 2.5G network cards in their Z490 chipset faster network speeds are a possibility for more and more people. Today I’m checking out the EnGenius ECS2512FP which supports 2.5G with POE as well as has the potential to run SFP+ transceivers for 10G as well. This combination makes it perfect for feeding our ECW230 WiFi 6 AP and could be a perfect backbone switch with 2.5G to servers and 10G to other switches for a LAN or business.

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Nvidia RTX 3080 Founders Edition

Nvidia’s announcement of their new Ampere based RTX 3000 series of cards couldn’t have gone better for them. They ramped up the hype leading up to it for a month and even with countless leaks, they still managed to surprise everyone with both their performance estimates as well as the pricing. The combination almost instantly tanked the used card market as well, given estimates that put their RTX 3070 right with or above the RTX 2080 Ti which has been the top dog for gaming for two years now. Then you have the RTX 3080 and the RTX 3090 which show a big performance jump over the previous generation and for once pricing didn’t go way up. The RTX 3080 is coming out first and launches tomorrow, but before store availability, we get to take a look at the RTX 3080 Founders Edition and see why it is such a special card and put it through our test suite to see how it performs.

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Philips Fidelio X3

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to test out an extremely wide range of headphones and headsets. In that time I have refined exactly what I like in a headset and none of the headsets I have had come in checked the main few bells for me. I love full-sized headphones and headsets, I have a big head and love when the cup isn’t pushing or touching my ears. For the headband, I prefer a suspension design. I love velour padding, this is one of those options that almost none of the normal designs have other than the old Sennheiser’s and recently Steel Series offered them as an upgrade. Then of course I want solid audio quality and an open design if possible to keep from getting to hot. Well, Philips sent a note over about their successor to the Fidelio X2 which not surprisingly is named the Fidelio X3 and they have the velour ear cups, suspension headband, and a large open-air design. But do they also sound good? I’ve been using them for the last few weeks and with them coming out this month I wanted to take a closer look at them and check out their performance.

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Cooler Master V750 Gold V2 White

Back in 2015 Cooler Master introduced their V Series of power supplies which over the years they have filled in with a variety of different wattages and 80 Plus ratings. In fact, I’ve been using a few of them in our builds as well as one of our test benches. But think about how much has changed in those 5 years in other areas of PC hardware. It’s not a huge surprise that they might be looking to change things up and today is that day. They are introducing the V Gold V2 which is as the name might indicate an 80 Plus Gold rated power supply. They have it available in 550, 650, 750, and 850 Watt models which is spot on for the mid to higher-end PCs, and this time around they have both a black and a white model. Cooler Master has never had a white power supply though they did have the MWE White which wasn’t white at all. So I’m excited to see what is new with the V2 as well as check out the new white model so let’s go take a look.

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Crucial Ballistix DDR4 2x32GB 3600MHz BL2K32G36C16U4B

I’ve had the chance over the years to check out a wide variety of Crucial Ballistix branded memory. Being a part of Micron, they have always been priced well, and as far as memory goes been solid. Styling-wise I loved the old Ballistix designs and there are a few of the modern designs like the Elite and their Tactical Tracer RGB kits that I was able to 3D print and CNC carve custom designs for. But as a whole, their mainstream stuff, while not bad looking has looked dated for a while now. So back at the start of the year, they announced new memory kits with new heatspreaders and I was excited to see what Crucial had going on. It took a while to come in, but I recently finally had the Crucial Ballistix BL2K32G36C16U4B kit come in which is their 2x32GB dual channel kit running at 3600 MHz. The timing couldn’t be much better given my personal PC has been begging for more memory with Microsoft Flight Sim 2020 and chrome having full-on MMA fights for the memory. So today I’m going to check out the new design and see how this kit performs.

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Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q Thunderbolt 3 2TB

I recently took a look at Sabrent’s external M.2 enclosure that can turn any NVMe M.2 drive into a high-speed USB 3.2 drive. But that isn’t the only external storage option they have, nor is it the fastest. Their Rocket XTRM-Q is a traditional external drive, not an enclosure and it supports Thunderbolt 3 as well as USB 3.2 Gen 2. Thunderbolt 3 being significantly faster and fast enough to really put the NVMe drive inside to good use. Today I’m going to take a look at the Rocket XTRM-Q and see what it’s all about then put it to the test both with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 to see what you can expect depending on what technology your PC has as a connection option.

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Razer Huntsman Mini

If you have been a LanOC reader for a long time there is a good chance you have seen a few tiny keyboards being covered. This is because I have been a big fan of the 60% keyboard for years now and I use them in both my wife and my own LAN bag as well as with my test bench as a way to save space on my already crowded desk. Sadly though the 60% keyboard options have been limited to enthusiast-focused options which are sometimes expensive or hard to find. Cooler Master did finally jump into the 60% market with their SK621 but with its low profile switches and keycaps, it wasn’t what I prefer. So I was extremely happy to see another huge name in the peripherals market announce a 60% board. Razer introduced their Huntsman Mini which has a layout similar to the Pok3r that I prefer. I’ve been using the Huntsman Mini and today I’m going to take a closer look at the board and talk about my experience with it so far. Let’s go dive in!

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Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool-Free Enclosure EC-TFNE

Back in June (god time is going fast) I took a look at the Sabrent Rocket Q 2TB SSD. It was my first experience with Sabrent and I was very impressed with its performance. Well, it just so happens when they sent the drive over they included another. A tool-free enclosure, their EC-TFNE USB 3.2 Tool-Free Enclosure, and after the Rocket Q review I installed it into the encloser and I have been putting it to use. Well, today I’m going to take a closer look at the enclosure. External hard drive enclosures used to be extremely popular back 10+ years ago when LanOC Reviews was new in the game. With drives getting exponentially faster and smaller with new NVMe M.2 drives the enclosures have gotten a lot smaller and much more portable. But are they still useful? Today I’m going to see what features their enclosure has and then run our external drive tests on it to see how it performs as well.

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Lian Li Uni Fan SL 120

Nearly everyone has their own take on addressable RGB fans and Lian Li isn’t any different. They have their Bora Digital fans already, but all the way back at the start of the year at CES they did tease another design. That was their Uni Fan design and today is finally the day, the Lian Li Uni Fan SL 120 is available and today I’m going to check them out. They have a completely different look from the Bora fans, going with something closer to a traditional design with a square design but beyond the shape nothing else is traditional at all, they dropped the light rings for what I would call brows at the top and bottom of the fan which are on the front and back as well and all of the fans lock together and share their lighting and fan controls through the connection for a cleaner installation. This is something I complained about when I took a look at Corsairs QL series of fans, so I’m excited to see how the SL 120’s work.

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EnGenius ESR530 AC1300 Home Mesh System Dual pack

I’ve worked with EnGenius a few times now including upgrading our office network to support testing WiFi 6. They reached out about their ESR530 AC1300 Mesh wireless router combo pack and initially I was hesitant, everyone is moving to WiFi 6 and mesh isn’t exactly new. But when I saw the price of the two ESR530’s was under $100 I was really curious what that might get you. So today I’m going to check out the two ESR530 combo pack and see what they are all about, check out their software, and test them out and see how they perform. They may not be cutting edge, but they are more in line with what a lot of people would want to spend to get a mesh network setup. So it will be interesting to see if they are worth it.

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Corsair iCUE LT100 and LS100 Ambient Lighting

As if Corsair hasn’t already taken over case lighting with their fans, cases, RGB headset stands, Water Cooling kits, and even memory. They have recently been diving into the ambient lighting as well for your office and it makes sense. When you have things like your peripherals and all of the other components I already listed tied into one system. It makes sense to try to cover anything else that people might like and while some people HATE RGB lighting as a whole. There are also a lot of people who love the flashy colors and the ability to change things up on the fly. I personally don’t have a lot of lighting in my own build, but I was thinking of adding a touch of ambient lighting into my office. With the recently introduced iCUE LT100 and also the LS100 from Corsair, I thought I would give them a try. My initial plan was basic RGB lighting strips, but addressable LEDs can offer even more. So let's see how they perform.

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