Razer Nabu

Generally, I tend to consider myself up to date with technology, I mean I spend my days testing and writing about the latest and greatest. Every once in a while though something slips past me. A few years ago at CES Razer introduced their Nabu. It wasn’t really the first of its kind with Nike and Fitbit especially doing things that were similar, but it was very surprising to see Razer, a gaming company jump into the market. It wasn’t really until in the past year when I noticed just how popular Fitbit has been with even my own mom having one before me. Well my wife recently decided to get them to start working on bettering ourselves and Razer came back to mind. So today I’m going to take a look at the Razer Nabu and see what it’s all about.

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Corsair Strafe RGB Cherry MX Silent

By now a lot of you have most likely picked up or at least tried a mechanical keyboard. After years of membrane keyboards being the norm, mechanical keyboards have burst back on to the scene over the last few years. This is great, but have you ever been in the same room or office as someone typing on a loud mech with blue or greens? I love them, but man it’s enough to drive you crazy. For me I’ve stuck with Cherry MX Browns or Clears on my personal keyboards whenever possible for my wife’s sanity. Even then people have tried O-Rings and other options to keep things toned down. Well Cherry recently introduced a new silent switch and for the first six months it is only available from Corsair. Lucky for us we got the new Corsair Strafe RGB Cherry MX Silent in. Not only does that give us a chance to check out the new key switch, but it’s also our first look at the RGB cherry switches and the Strafe as well.

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Aftershokz Gamez

While we focus a lot on PC and gaming products, I do try to keep an eye out on a variety of different technologies. One of those technologies that we have seen pop up from time to time but has never made it into gaming products is bone conductive audio. A lot of you might remember the jawbone as an example but I also remember a company that I saw at CES back in 2013 called Aftershokz and their headsets for joggers. Well during the holidays as usual as I’m getting spammed with CES emails an email from Aftershokz caught my eye because they introduced a new gaming focused model called the Aftershokz Gamez. While im not a fan of the use of Z’s in the brand and model name I did want to check it out and see what the tech and the product was all about. After spending time with them today I’m going to sit down and go over how they performed so check it out.

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MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC

Over the last few years small builds have been becoming more and more popular. Both for LAN rigs like we have been using for a long time, but even for main PCs. This is partially due to more parts being available but mostly some people are tired of dealing with huge heavy cases, especially when you can do nearly anything you want in the Mini-ITX form factor. Late this fall I started thinking about a new LAN rig, maybe even another iteration of our LunchBox series, before I did that though I really needed to check out the new Z170 boards. That leads me to today where I’m going to check out MSI’s gaming focused Mini-ITX board, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC. I’ve used a few of MSI’s ITX boards in builds before and I’m excited to see what this one has to offer.

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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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Cooler Master Barebones Novatouch

Well over a year ago we first had the chance to check out a keyboard from Cooler Master that I had been excited about for a long time, their Novatouch TKL. This was their first Hybrid Capacitive keyboard, they worked closely with Topre to design it with a unique stem design that lets you run keycaps designed for Cherry MX switches on it. This is important because as we found out about a year ago in our Keyboard Customization article, you can do a LOT to set your keyboard apart. So over the past year Cooler Master has been working to show everyone why the Novatouch is different, but at least in my opinion the price has been a bit hard for some people to get over. Well over time the price has some down, but in addition to that they have recently been selling a special Barebones model that brings the price down even more. The barebones Novatouch TKL is specifically for people who already plan on replacing the keycaps with something else, cutting the costs down by selling it without keycaps. Well I got the Barebones Novatouch TKL in as well as a new set of custom keycaps, today I’m going to show you what you can do with the Novatouch and reflect on over a years’ worth of use in the performance section.

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Tenda AC15 AC1900 Router

When it comes to networking nearly all of the companies that come to mind have been around for what seems like forever. It is rare to see new companies bust into the market. Well recently a new company called Tenda reached out to me about covering their latest router. I found out when researching them that Tenda has actually been around for 16 years, even though their name isn’t exactly a household name. The AC15 router that they wanted me to check out caught my eye though and I figured I would see what Tenda has to offer and find out if their new AC1900 router has what it takes to be the router you go with when moving to Wireless AC.

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OCZ Trion 100 480GB

After Toshiba picked up the bankrupt OCZ we have seen OCZ drives move to using Toshiba NAND. With the launch of the Trion 100 though things are a little different. For the first time this is full Toshiba drive that is branded with the OCZ branding. The Trion falls in OCZs product lineup as a budget drive under both the Vertex and Vector drives. The Trion 100 is the first TLC based drive for OCZ, TLC (Triple Level Cell) is similar to MLC but with an additional layer to provide a higher storage density and with that help lower costs as well. So today I’m going to dig into the Trion 100 and find out what makes it tick and then run it through our performance testing to find out how well it performs. Then at the end of the day we will put all of that together along with the price and find out if the Trion 100 is the budget drive for you.

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Sound Blaster X7 and E-MU XM7 bookshelf speakers

Like most of you PC and along with it my office is almost like a living being, slowly evolving. Every year or two I’m changing out my video cards, my motherboard, even keyboards and mice. It’s weird though, looking back there are only a few things that seem to be very consistent, my desk and for the most part my speakers. Well when I was replacing my desk last fall I decided that I wanted to move from the Corsair SP2500’s to something new. Now keep in mind, the Corsairs sounded good as did the Klipsch’s that I have before that. So to continue to evolve I wanted to go a new direction. Well the timing was good as Creative Labs had just recently introduced their X7 and more recently their E-MU XM7 bookshelf speakers. I loved the X5 when I covered it and for a long time I even used it over the onboard on my PC but the X7 looked to be a much more fitting permanent option. Well I’ve been testing both the X7 and the XM7 speakers for a while now and we can finally sit down and go over what they are and how well they performed.

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20XX Early Access Preview

I got my hands on a key for 20XX a week or so before the demo was released for Mighty No. 9, and I remember when it was announced somewhat shrugging, and starting a new run in the formerly mentioned title. The similarities between the two are obvious, not only in their influence from the Mega Man franchise but also that they are both in this weird, pre-release stage that so many games find themselves in. I’m still very much looking forward to a modern day Mega Man from the original development team, but 20XX has managed to scratch an itch that has otherwise been delayed.

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Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum

Back in June I tested and wrote about one of Tesoro’s new full RGB keyboards, the Lobera Spectrum. While I liked a lot of the keyboards features, the styling wasn’t exactly what I would look for in my own keyboard. So when they mentioned their other full RGB keyboard, the Excalibur Spectrum I jumped at the chance. The share a lot of the same features, but the styling on the Excalibur line is a lot cleaner and simpler compared to the Lobera, so I was excited to take a look at it and find out if it would really be a better fit for me and anyone else who prefers a little bit simpler design. Well I have been testing it for a few weeks now and I can finally sit down and talk a little about how it performed, find out if it lived up to my expectations! 

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