AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X

Just over a year and a month ago AMD rocked the PC market with the launch of their Ryzen CPUs. They started off with their 7 series CPUs then slowly introduced the others, the Ryzen APUs only just hit the market in fact. I say it rocked the entire PC market because the Zen-based CPU launch had a cascade effect across AMD's whole lineup that drove innovation forward from just about everyone. Building high-end PCs was new and exciting. The product shortages in memory and video cards have hampered things a little but hardware wise the past year has been amazing. AMD hasn’t left things alone, now that Intel has responded AMD themselves are ready with their Zen+ CPUs. They teased them last week and today's the day you can get them. Well I’ve been busy testing them and I can finally pull the NDA shaped tape off my mouth and talk about their performance.

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MSI B360 Gaming Plus

With the Coffee Lake launch, last fall Intel also launched their new Z370 chipset. Like in the past the Z370 chipset is Intel’s flagship platform, but unlike in the past, they didn’t also launch it with other mid-range and budget chipsets. In fact, it wasn’t until this week that the others were available. That’s a long wait for those of you who want something cheaper or just have no need for some of the Z370 overclocking features. So Tuesday the H370, H310, and B360 chipsets launched and the first one to come through the LanOC office is the MSI B360 Gaming Plus. Today I’m going to check it out and see how it compares to the Z370’s we have taken a look at before. I’m especially curious to see if this might be the sweet spot for budget builds right now to help save money to pay for the expensive video cards and memory that you are going to need.  

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Asus ROG Strix X370-I Gaming

Next-gen Ryzen CPUs might be around the corner but I can’t forget about the X370 ITX board that Asus sent over a while back. While the AM4 boards launched early last year, ITX took a while longer. So even with new CPUs on the way if you are looking to build small form factor you will most likely still need to go X370 initially. So I’m excited both to finally see what Asus has to offer for AM4 ITX and to see how it compares to the Gigabyte AB350N board that I’ve been using all over the office. But I’m also hoping the Strix X370-I Gaming is a solid board that will let me build a crazy second gen Ryzen build when they finally come out as well.

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LanReel

For anyone unaware, when you go to a typical LAN party one of the things you need to bring along with your PC is an ethernet cable. The length of the cable depends on where your seat is and where the switch is located but most events just recommend bringing a 25-foot cable. Any cable will get the job done but you want to be able to spot it and you want to be able to pack it up quickly when the event is over. For me I use bring orange cables for both my wife and I so they stand out at the switch and then I just use Velcro cable wraps on the cable to keep it all bundled up. This gets the job done and helps maintain my cable, but it isn’t the fastest to pack up at the end. I do have to take my time winding it up to prevent damage and to make sure next LAN I don’t have a mess. Well a while back a good friend of ours Matt who you might know better as Vector from PDXLAN introduced me to Nick aka Vaelin who has been to PDX events from the beginning. Long story short, he has designed a solution to all of this in what he calls the LanReel. It is a 25-foot network cable that can quickly be spooled back up and packed away in your LANbag. He sent one over and I’ve been playing with it for a little while now, today I wanted to talk a little more about it and show everyone what it is all about.

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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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