Dropping cable with the Nvidia Shield TV

For years my wife and I dropped cable television simply because we didn’t have the money for it in our budget. Then eventually we added back a basic package and were okay with that. Fast forward 6 years later and we are spending a fortune and have every channel under the sun. What happened was they slowly offered us deals that added additional channels, we started watching shows on those channels and then when the deal went away I would call and tell them I was going to drop it all and they would add even more channels to get me to stay. When we bought a new house though it was finally time to find a better option to save some money and it just so happened that Nvidia had sent out their Shield TV to us and it was sitting unused. So today I’m going to talk a little about how I dropped cable by using the Shield TV and I’ve been loving it.

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Noctua Chromax

Let's be honest, both some of the best heatsinks and fans are Noctua’s, especially when you are looking for low noise output. The problem is they have been very stuck on their brown and tan color scheme. The benefit is that when you see them you know exactly what it is and you know it is a quality product. They ignored the clear and glowing transparent fan fad that came and went but with cases and other hardware sticking with black they resisted changing to it. A few years ago they did bring out their Industrial PPC fans that were black but they were much more expensive and even though they are great fans a lot of people have looked other directions when swapping out their fans. Well a while back Noctua expanded their Chromax lineup with a new line of fans, new cables, and covers for most of their heatsinks that help give people color options for trim and finally fans and coolers that won’t stand out like a sore thumb while still giving people Noctua quality. I’ve had them in the office for a while and as I work on catching up I just recently got a chance to play with them when a build I put together just wasn’t going with the Noctua cooler that I put in it.

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LanOC Reviews 10th Anniversary Celebration and Giveaways

Wow, as of March 17th its going to be 10 years of posting reviews and news. LanOC started off as a joke, talking about hosting a LAN party to promote myself running for council in our small town. It quickly turned into a very real event. From there after a few events, one of our sponsors asked if we had ever considered posting up coverage and not long after that I ended up posting up a few (really bad) reviews. Things just grew from there really. Our events had been relatively small at the time started to grow as well as our readership on the review side of things. Eventually, the review website started to take up all of my free time and I ended up leaving my job to do it full time.

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NZXT H400i

After looking at the Fractal Meshify C Mini last week I figured I would see what other cases I had in the office to check out and I happened to have another Micro-ATX case that I had been excited about. This time it was from NZXT and it was the H400i. Like the Fractal, the H400i is a smaller version of the H700i that I didn’t get a chance to check out so this is a great chance to check out NZXTs new line of cases. The H series of cases have a new look that is an extension of what NZXT has been doing with their cases for a while, but the biggest feature of their new cases is the built-in CAM powered controller that powers the built-in lighting and fan controls. So today I’m going to break down the cases features, then build in it and see how this smart controller works.

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Fractal Design Meshify C Mini

Last August Fractal introduced there new Meshify product lineup with the Meshify C and it was extremely popular. For years now Fractal has had just one main style and the Meshify managed to keep the clean look while doing something different. It was also a departure from Fractal’s noise focused designs with a design focusing on cooling. Well, they are back at it again and this time around I’ve been testing the new case out. Today they are introducing the Meshify C Mini, a Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX variation of the Meshify C. It is just a smaller version of the original, but because I didn’t get a chance to check out the original this will give us a look at the new design with the smaller more compact Mini version.

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AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G Raven Ridge

Well as you can tell we are a little late on this article. Last week AMD launched their new CPUs with Vega graphics. Without getting too much into it right now (I’ll explain later) but I spent well over a week fighting with issues when trying to test and I didn’t get things worked out until just before this past weekend. Anyhow, testing is done, now we just need to talk a little about what AMD is doing with these new CPUs and then dive into the results! So let's go see what AMD's new Raven Ridge CPUs are all about!

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Asus ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming

So I’ve been tossing around the idea of giving our Crush build an upgrade to one of the new Core-X CPUs and sadly the Asus Rampage VI Apex doesn’t fit so I reached out to Asus to see if they have anything that might fit the bill in their X299 boards. They had the ROG Stix X299-XE Gaming and I figured I should get it in and see just how it compares to all of the other X299 boards we have had in. I knew it fits the dimensions needed for the Case Labs case but is it going to be what I need otherwise? Well, I’m going to take a closer look at its features and then test it to see how it performs. Read on if you are interested in finding out what it has to offer. 

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Nest Thermostat and Protect

As you guys have most likely noticed, things have been slow around here for a few months now. In addition to being sick a few times and hurting my back. We also bought a new house and had been working on the move and later doing work around the house. One of the best parts about moving and getting a new place is that I finally have an excuse to take a closer look at more of the home automation and smart home products that have been coming out. Even before the move I had a few things already planned and upgrading to a smart thermostat was one of them. Well, I reached out to Nest and they sent over a new Gen 3 Thermostat as well as one of their Nest Protect smoke and CO detectors. I finally have some time with both and wanted to run through what they do and how they have performed for me so far.

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A look back at 2017’s award winners

Well 2017 has certainly been a crazy year. Right at the start of the year I set new goals to increase the number of articles I published without lowering the quality. I did that after seeing that in 2016 I had published 80 articles, down from 92 in 2015. Well I ran the numbers and I can say that I beat that handily. In fact, I was keeping track and beat that around the middle of the year. I had a total of 117 articles, even with the last 3 months not publishing much. Sorry about that by the way. We bought a new house and with that I had to pack up both our house and our business. Then post move it took forever to get unpacked and get things setup and I’ve been busy with projects around the house. I do have a lot in the works for articles and a lot to catch up on so hopefully in 2018 we can get that rolling. You can also expect to see a lot of home automation stuff in the coming year as well as I work on making this place our own.

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SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD 480GB

Back in August I took a look at the new WD My Passport SSD and was impressed with its performance and form factor. While it does have an SSD inside it wasn’t really designed to take a beating, something that might happen when you use a drive a lot and it gets tossed around. Well, Western Digital owns SanDisk as well and along with the My Passport SSD they had also sent over the SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD. It is a completely different design and it is designed to handle a little more rough handling. Today I’m going to check it out and see what they are doing differently with this model and take a look at its overall performance.

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AMD RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled

We might be late to the party, but we did finally get a Vega card into the office and I have been testing it and getting a feel for it. Like Ryzen, the Vega launch was hyped up over an extended period of time because AMD fans have been looking forward to being able to rejoin the high-end market. The RX580 is a good card but when you are looking to game at 1440 or 4k your options have just been the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and recently the GTX 1080 Ti. Well AMD is back, they do have a few options up in the high-end range again. Of course, there has been a lot of drama as well, today I’m going to check out performance now that Vega has been out for a little while. Talk about the differences between the cards, and take a closer look at the RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled model that AMD sent over.

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MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon

With the wide range of new Coffee Lake based 8th gen CPUs from Intel, there needs to be just as much of a selection when it comes to motherboards. Not every board will fit each build or theme and depending on the CPU you may need more or less features. MSI has done a great job with a whole list of different models on Z370. For the launch, they sent over the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon, one of their higher end boards and I’ve been testing with it. Today I want to check out what they have going on for features and see how it compares to the rest of the market. Is the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon the board to get for your new build? Let’s find out.

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Corsair Spec-04 TG Budget Build

So today Corsair is introducing their new Spec case and typically I would check it out in one of our traditional case reviews. I’ve done this so many times in the past, in fact I counted, we have done 112 case reviews over the past 9 to 10 years. To do something different this time around I decided rather than do a review that we take a look at the case then do a build in it. So like the original Spec-04, the Spec-04 Tempered Glass model is a budget case. It has an MSRP of $59 so to go with that I thought I would put together a budget build to go along with it. I can’t wait to see how well it performs!

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Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex

Well, we are far enough past the original X299 launch that the refined and crazier motherboards are starting to come out. This isn’t anything new, Asus especially likes to take more time for their crazy boards, not just rushing everything out to make it to launch day. In this case, it also gives them the chance to tweak things, like work on the VRM cooling that was found to be an issue with a lot of the X299 boards after the launch. This works out timing wise as well given Intel finally launching their last few high-end Core-X CPUs. In fact, Asus sent this board over specifically to test with that launch. Well with that out of the way I can finally also take a closer look at the board itself. You know the Rampage VI Apex is something special when it stands out even when compared to the Prime X299 Deluxe. So let's check it out.

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Asus ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming

Well, the Coffee Lake launch is here and to support Intel’s new CPUs we also have new motherboards. As I write this I have two boards in the office that I have been testing, the first being the Asus ROG Strix Z370-F that I used to test the two CPUs for the review. Asus’s boards have been solid and this one doesn’t look to be any different. As a Strix board, it has Asus’s now standard color neutral layout that uses black and gray, RGB lighting, and the angular Strix look. Today I’m going to take a look at its features, confirm that it performs well, check out the UEFI, and then talk a little about where it sits in the market and find out if it is worth picking up.

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Intel 8th Gen Core CPUs – Coffee Lake

Its hard to believe considering we just finished up an Intel launch, but it is already time to check out Intel’s next launch. Kaby Lake was launched at the beginning of this year and the Mainstream lineup of CPUs is getting refreshed with Coffee Lake and Z370. This is the 8th generation of Intel’s Core processors going back to the original launch back in 2006. While I’m sure Kaby Lake owners aren’t going to be all that happy about the relatively early launch, but those who waited might be excited to find out that Intel has added cores to the mainstream lineup and is bumping up the entire product stack. As someone who is still building my wife’s Kaby Lake build, I completely understand the feeling. But as long as she never finds out her new PC is already out of date I will still be alive long enough to put the i7 and i5 CPUs that Intel sent over to the test.

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EVGA X299 Micro

So the X299 has been an interesting one. Intel introduced high-end CPUs at the last minute, there was a lot of drama at the launch about VROC, cooling issues post-launch, along with strong competition from AMD with the Threadripper launch. A lot of the board manufacturers have been revising and making changes but EVGA has been waiting to get things right before putting their X299 lineup into the wild. While as of writing this I don’t see any for sale in regular retail stores, EVGA did finally send over a board. Today I’m going to check out the X299 Micro, their Micro ATX board. Given the performance X299 is capable of, I’m excited to see if this board could be a good mATX build option to pack a lot of performance in a smaller package. EVGA typically keeps things simple with a blacked out look and little to no lighting for those who just want a clean good performing board. Let’s find out if that is the case again.

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Intel i9-7980XE and i9-7960X - Core-X Again

It’s been a crazy year in the CPU market, with that craziness also pushing the rest of the market as well. Back in June Intel introduced their new Core-X line of CPUs as well as the X299 chipset. That launch was missing the top portion of their CPU lineup though. The increased competition and the surprise announcement from AMD of Threadripper seems to of prompted Intel to expand on their planned lineup. They added four more CPUs up above the i9-7900X with 12, 14, 16, and 18 cores. Well, the wait is over, they are available and today I’m going to check out the top two that Intel sent over. The i9-7980XE is Intel’s new flagship CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads with the i9-7960X just behind it with 16 cores and 32 threads. Let's see what they have to offer across a range of tests.

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Project Build: Carmine - Part 3 – Custom all the things

Wow, so it was all the way back in April when our last installment of this build was published. Back at that point Ryzen 7 was new, now we have Ryzen 3 and 5 as well as Threadripper. So things have been a little crazy. At the time I was looking at cooling options and the original plan was just to add an AIO cooler but at the time no one had AM4 brackets available. I ended up reaching out to Alphacool, they had contacted me a year or two ago about working together on a build but I didn’t have anything that really fit. It just so happened they had AM4 support early on, fitting this build perfectly. I will go into more details inside, but I ran into multiple delays and hiccups but Carmine is finally all together. It’s about time we catch up and show off what has been done to the build.

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Ryzen ITX Cooler Roundup

My interest in Small Form Factor builds has grown over the years as my office space has slowly filled up and had less space and each time I take a PC to a LAN event. We have built our Lunchbox project builds all the way back to when nothing was available but that isn’t the case anymore. There are countless case options, tiny power supplies, ITX motherboards with full sized features, and even video cards that will fit in tight spaces. Most recently with the AM4/Ryzen introduction, I was extremely excited to finally have the chance to run an ITX build with a proper high-end AMD CPU. Up until recently, you could really only do it with their APUs. Well even months after the Ryzen launch ITX boards were basically not available, but that is all starting to change with boards getting in stock from Gigabyte, Asrock, and Biostar. Well to celebrate that I decided to bring together a collection of at least most (I’m sure someone will contact me asking for X brand) of the ITX sized coolers that currently have AM4 support. A few of the coolers I got in are pushing the limits of ITX. But today I’m going to check each of them out, make sure they fit an AM4 ITX board (and ram), and test each cooler for noise and temperatures using Ryzen CPUs from the R7, R5, and R3 platforms. Hopefully, we will get a better idea of what fits, what doesn’t, what looks amazing, what is quiet, and what will work with each level of performance. It’s a lot to take in so let’s go ahead and get started.

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