Hardware Platform RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Hardware RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network HyperX Fury S Pro Gaming Mousepad Review https://www.gameskinny.com/th24x/hyperx-fury-s-pro-gaming-mousepad-review https://www.gameskinny.com/th24x/hyperx-fury-s-pro-gaming-mousepad-review Thu, 14 Jun 2018 11:25:54 -0400 Jonathan Moore

There was a time not that long ago I would've scoffed at the notion of ever buying an "oversized" mousepad. Whenever I walked into a Mirco Center or a Fry's and saw those "oafish" extra-large pads dangling on the racks or lounging on the shelves, I chuckled at the "obvious" overkill of it all.

I had my regular-sized rinky-dink pad, and it worked just fine. I thought to myself, "Why would I need anything bigger?"

But that's the type of thinking you have when don't know any better. It's the type of thinking that gets you killed in competitive shooters, and it's the type of thinking that keeps you from knowing the true majesty of unfettered size.

Luckily for me, all that changed when I got my hands on the HyperX Fury S Pro Gaming XL.

Bigger than both the SteelSeries Qck XXL and Logitech G840, the Fury S Pro measures in at a whopping 35.4"x16.5". That means that no matter how exaggerated your movements, your mouse isn't likely to fall off the edges of this pad.


It comes in two variants: a standard, goes-with-everything black and the louder, yet still elegant, Speed Edition. The former keeps things understated with a muted black background, accented by the red and silver HyperX logo in the bottom right-hand corner. The latter features the same black background but this time embellished with a red, whispy flourish across most of the pad. A white HyperX logo pops in the lower right-hand corner, tying it all together.

The soft cloth of the pad is bound with a nicely woven anti-fray stitch. Not only does it extend the pad's shelf life, but it also provides a small tactile barrier to let you know you're getting close to the edges (if you ever reach them). On top of that, I haven't had a single issue with the pad folding or sliding because of its nicely textured rubber bottom.

Testing the mousepad in a plethora of different scenarios, ranging from elongated gaming sessions and every-day surfing to article editing and graphic design, the Fury S Pro proved to be an asset at both work and home. But if you're more the gamer, the pad's normal and Speed editions have a slight, yet important difference you'll want to be aware of.

HyperX says the normal pad has more friction than the Speed Edition and is built specifically for precision. The Speed Edition loses some of the friction found in the normal edition and helps increase player speed.

Although I wasn't able to confirm the Speed Edition is any faster than the normal edition, I was able to confirm that the normal edition's friction increased my precision in games like Battlefield 1 and Paladins -- and that's the primary reason it hasn't left my desk since I unboxed it. What's more, re-centering the mouse wasn't an issue because I didn't need to worry about sliding off the pad. The peace of mind provided by the size of Fury S Pro helped me keep my focus when it mattered most.


However, as good as the Fury S Pro is, its material may deter some gamers from picking it up. There's no doubt the pad is extremely comfortable, but those looking for a hard-plastic surface won't find what they're looking for here. Unfortunately, if you were looking to stay in the HyperX family, the company currently doesn't make hard-plastic pads, so you'll have to look to companies like SteelSeries and Logitech if that's what you're looking for.

But honestly, that's the only caveat I could find when deciding if I could recommend this fantastic pad. If you do want to go smaller, then HyperX has you covered (which makes getting a Fury S Pro even more of a no-brainer). Both the standard and Speed editions come in four different sizes: small, medium, large, and XL.

You can see them all here.

The extra large variant I tested retails for $29.99, a steal considering the quality and size of the pad. Even better, the smallest pad in the bunch, which is the size of a normal mousepad, will only set you back $9.99.

There's little reason this mousepad shouldn't be on your desk yesterday.

[Note: HyperX provided the Fury S Pro XL mousepad used for this review.]

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How to Game In Comfort: Choosing the Right Chair For Under $100 https://www.gameskinny.com/uvyac/how-to-game-in-comfort-choosing-the-right-chair-for-under-100 https://www.gameskinny.com/uvyac/how-to-game-in-comfort-choosing-the-right-chair-for-under-100 Tue, 12 Jun 2018 11:47:50 -0400 Samuel Franklin

Are you ready to throw out that old gaming chair? The one with the worn-down cushion? Of course, you are. 

Whether you're a PC gamer or a console gamer, it's time for you to play in comfort and style again -- all without breaking the bank. 

Since sitting for hours on end comes with the territory, a comfy chair can easily make or break a gaming session. After recently going through a purchase to replace my own five-year-old gaming chair (and doing it on a budget), here are a few tips that helped me get a great chair and an even better deal.

Material

If you want a chair that's going to last for a long time, you need to first choose the right material, since cheap material can easily fray, rip, or separate from the chair itself. And that's not to mention it just might not feel right.

So, it's best to do your research. If you have to spend a few extra dollars because the racer chair is made of higher quality materials than the generic PC gaming chair, then follow your heart and pay those few extra dollars and make a solid investment.

The best way to do this is to find a chair in-store. Being physically able to see and assess chairs provides a significant edge because you can get hands-on with the chair. If you can't find on in-store and have to resort to buying online, read as many reviews as you can and compare specs on official websites. 

Materials available for gaming chairs mostly break down into two categories: leather and fabric. These days, you can obtain both material types in a $100 budget chair with decent quality, making the choice mostly personal. 

However, there are some things that you can consider when making your choice. 

Leather is ideal for people who love to pair their game time with a beverage as it can easily be wiped down after a spill, etc. Meanwhile, fabric shines in hot and humid climates where it will reduce sweating (and sticking) for those longer gaming sessions.

Both are susceptible to frays or tears with time making longevity a draw for similarly priced materials. Personally, due to where I live, I value fabric over leather and haven't looked back after making the switch.

Comfort

Speaking from experience, if you are a hardcore gamer, you will be sitting in your chair for dozens of hours -- at least. Nothing is worse than coming out of your game world to double over in pain because of a sore back. Similarly, you don't want to be uncomfortable for the whole session, constantly moving from side to side.

As comfort can be extremely hard to judge (especially for online purchases), you want to look for reviews on comfort and, if possible, visit a local retailer that stocks your ideal chair (or one of similar make) and take a seat for a few minutes.

The other main comfort elements to consider are: Do you want a neck/headrest? Or, do you want curved or flat armrests?

If you're tall, having a headrest will increase the ergonomic quality of the chair, giving your head something to rest on -- or if you prefer to play in a reclined position

Armrests are important for keeping your wrists healthy depending on your setup and height. If you're a PC gamer, armrests will be more important (based on your desk height, for example) than for a console gamer. The wrong armrests can even increase the likelihood of conditions such as carpal tunnel and lead to back and neck pain. 

Those shopping outside the $100 budget range will have the luxury of buying a chair with more levers to customize seat depth and even armrests. In our proposed $100 price range, these features are more limited in our proposed $100 price range. And although they are achievable, you'll have a harder time finding them and your selection will be much more limited.  

Space

In addition to the chair, the physical aspects of the space you have is actually a vital consideration. A recent move left me with a chair that was too large for the space I had, making it awkward to get into and sit in.

You want to measure how much space you have in your gaming area. If you are dealing with a small area, it might be best not to spring on a huge chair with a wide profile. You want to be able to sit far enough away from your television or computer without giving yourself a migraine, hurt your eyes, or cramp your legs, the latter of which can negate all of the positive ergonomic effects of your new chair. 

You also have to think about getting your chair in the room/building it in the room you want it in. It might be a pain to do this if the space you're putting it in is too small to accommodate the chair. And obviously, this can lead to other injuries not even associated directly with the chair. 

Comfy Gaming Chair Recommendations

With these factors in mind, here are a few good chairs for gaming that continually came up while I was doing research. Some of these can serve as a good starting point for your own research.

Intex Inflatable Ultra Lounge Chair

This is a fairly cheap option, running around $24. This makes it one of the cheapest gaming chairs money can buy at the moment. It's comfortable and comes with an inflatable ottoman for you to prop your feet on while you game.

If that doesn't sell it, it has a cup holder as well. Obviously, the design is intended for the console player and perfect for a temporary solution, such as a dorm room or similar.

You can buy it on Amazon for $70.96

Crew Furniture 512090

This is a chair in the Rocker series of gaming chairs that is actually fairly inexpensive and an option for someone wanting leather. It's good for your budget and goes right on the floor, making it good for comfortable console gaming.

If you prefer to have your arms free as a console gamer, it's lack of armrests can cater to your requirements. Of course, this floor-based design makes it completely useless for computer gaming.

You can buy it on Amazon for ~$45

Merax High Back Gaming Chair

This chair will run you about $100 and is more suited to the PC gamer. It's fairly inexpensive for the quality it provides, and it helps you maintain a comfortable, proper posture while you play.

It gives you support all the way to your spine to keep pressure off your back and neck. Overall, it's a sleek and stylish option for the gamer that prefers to sit back and relax on a leather chair.

You can buy it on Amazon for ~$100

Modern Luxe Reclining Fabric Racing Chair

Finally, this is the gaming chair I ended up selecting to ensure I'm comfortable playing Fortnite and eventually Fallout 76. It helps that it met all my criteria: it comes in under $100; it's fabric-based; and it has flat armrests. It's extremely similar to the Merax featured above, and comes with neck and headrests, adjustable armrests, and overall great body support.

This is really the minimum I'd consider these days for a gaming chair since gone are the days of office chairs being used for gaming when amazing comfort is available at prices less than $100.

You can buy it on Amazon for $99.90

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There's no reason to keep that old clunky chair with these inexpensive options on the market. You shouldn't have to suffer from a sore back or general discomfort from your current chair any longer. Alternatively, if your chair is simply falling apart or not ideal for your current gaming lifestyle, it's also time to look for an upgrade.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more guides just like these: 

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Logitech G513 Mechanical Keyboard Review https://www.gameskinny.com/68df8/logitech-g513-mechanical-keyboard-review https://www.gameskinny.com/68df8/logitech-g513-mechanical-keyboard-review Thu, 31 May 2018 17:22:36 -0400 Jonathan Moore

It's a real possibility Logitech has found the secret formula to repeatedly crafting fantastic peripherals. From the G613 Wireless to the G Pro and beyond, both fans and critics alike seem to agree that when it comes to keyboards, Logitech can do very little wrong. 

Most gamers -- and writers like myself -- keep coming back to Logitech for three reasons: quality, consistency, and useability. Bringing those three pillars together under one roof means there are a lot of Logitech boards on a lot of desks around the world. 

Add the sleek G513 to the list. 

Sporting two great RomerG options, a futuristic, gunmetal design, a comfortable wrist rest, and LightSync compatibility, the G513 is relatively light on frills but heavy on fancy. Since receiving it, the keyboard hasn't left my desk -- a testament to its design considering I have plenty of other options for both home and work. 

It's not perfect at $150, but it's an excellent piece of equipment worthy of your attention and consideration.  

Design

From its size to the Logitech logo in the upper right-hand corner of the board, the G513 takes almost all of its cues from the Logitech G413.

Its sturdy gunmetal body, which comes in equally sleek black carbon and silver colors, measures 17.5 x 5.3 inches and has the same 104-key layout as the G413.

Furthermore, the board also uses similar USB pass-through technology to allow for device charging and data transfer. It's located in the upper right-hand corner of the board and works as advertised. 

However, there are a few key design differences that set the G513 apart from other boards. The most obvious is that this keyboard doesn't have dedicated media keys (mute, volume up/down, play, stop, fast-forward, and rewind) like many other mechanicals currently on the market. It's something I've grown accustomed to in offerings from Corsair, HyperX, and even Logitech, so it's a bit strange not having them here. I wouldn't say it's something that detracts from the useability of this board, but it's something to keep in mind for the price tag. 

The other differences are a bit more positive. 

Sticking with keys, the Logitech G513 moves away from the if not boring, then bland single-color backlighting of the G413. Here, you'll get per-key RGB backlighting across the entire color spectrum. Using Logitech's consistently cogent gaming software, you can easily set profiles, presets, effects, and much more. The addition of Lightsync to the Logitech suite of products also means you can have the same profiles, presets, and effects across multiple devices, too, such as mice and speakers. It's a nice touch that makes your desktop look that much more uniform and elegant.  

It's also welcome to see the G513 has a plush wrist rest that's more comfortable than you might first expect. When originally unboxing the board, I thought it was odd that the memory foam palm rest didn't connect directly to the board but instead floated separately from it. But the more I used it, the more I came to believe that this is how wrist rests are meant to be.

 

Romer-Gs FTW 

I'll admit it: I'm not a super fan of the traditional Romer-Gs. It's not because they aren't fantastic keys, and it's not because they aren't quieter and faster than more conventional mechanical keys. It's really because I'm not a huge fan of Cherry MX Browns -- and traditional Romers are very similar in make and function. 

However, the big draw here is the G513's key options: tactile and linear. 

I've personally come to appreciate the linear versions presented here because they provide a fluid and smooth keystroke when typing and playing games. They have the same 45g actuation force, 1.55mm actuation distance, and 3.2mm travel distance as the tactile switches, but there's no discernible bump between press and actuation as there is with the tactiles. 

Since I spend almost all of my working and free time in front of the computer, having a key that works well and feels "right" in each situation is a boon. In fact, the small familiarity curve I often have with new keyboards wasn't present when first using the G513, which is a huge deal for both gamers and professionals making the switch to Logitech -- or between primary and secondary boards. 

Based on what I've read, I'm not the only one who feels this way. 

I tested the keys against my typical workload, which sees me typing thousands of words a week on average, as well as a variety of games ranging from Paladins and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 to Cities: Skylines and Tyranny. Each set of keys -- both traditional and linear -- performed as advertised.

In my time reviewing the G513, there weren't any major variances in quality between the two sets of keys, and all are rated for 70 million clicks. 

An Almost Full Feature Set

Aside from the aforementioned USB pass-through and full RGB backlighting, the G513 has a few more features that are worth noting.

Via Logitech's Gaming Software, you'll be able to program macros and keystrokes to the G513, as well as enable Game Mode to disable the Windows key when playing games. However, you won't be able to reprogram each and every key as you can on some other boards. You also won't find dedicated macro keys or G keys on this variant, either. 

Like most keyboards, you'll also find the G513 provides anti-ghosting features, as well as key rollover. The anti-ghosting works well and assures you have reliable control when gaming, but you'll only get 26-key rollover here. It could be argued that having full N-key rollover is often overkill, but at $150, it would be nice to have the feature here, especially since several less expensive boards offer it.  

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Overall, the G513 is an excellent keyboard. If you're looking for complete RGB or linear keys, this is the upgrade you're looking for. If you don't care about either one of those things, the 413 is a board you'll want to check out -- or stick with if you've already got it. 

At $150, the G513 is a relatively tougher sell considering it's more an upgrade than a true full-step iteration. That doesn't mean you should pass it up at all; it just means you'll need to consider your options before taking the plunge. 

You can buy the Logitech G513 mechanical from Amazon for $150. 

[Note: Logitech provided the G513 used in this review.]

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HyperX Pulsefire Surge RGB Gaming Mouse Review https://www.gameskinny.com/qg0y7/hyperx-pulsefire-surge-rgb-gaming-mouse-review https://www.gameskinny.com/qg0y7/hyperx-pulsefire-surge-rgb-gaming-mouse-review Wed, 30 May 2018 14:35:07 -0400 ElConquistadork

The difference that a solid gaming mouse can make in both its bells and whistles and ease of play can really make or break your gaming experience. You have to look out for the right weight, feel, and button location when choosing a mouse that will stick with you through hardcore and casual sessions alike.

My experience with the Pulsefire Surge RGB Gaming Mouse showed me that not only has HyperX created a comfortable, user-friendly piece of tech, but they've created one that won't strangle the wallet of gamers on a slimmer budget.

With its smooth, unassuming design, the Pulsefire Surge RGB doesn't immediately jump out as anything particularly special. Outside of its gorgeous RGB lighting (more on that later), the general design feels like many mice I've used in the past, and I expected as much from my experience. However, that assumption changed for me the moment I finally tested it out.

Right off the bat, it felt terrific in hand. The finish has a smooth, rubberized grip that allows for good adhesion without sacrificing your natural dexterity. The button placement is ergonomically designed, and each button had satisfying feedback with each click.

And based on the fact that the Pulsefire Surge RGB is equipped with 50 million click-rated Omron switches, it's my best guess that this mouse is going to feel just as fluid and comfortable this time next year (give or take a few hundred Overwatch sessions). 

I've read some complaints from other users that the Pulsefire Surge's main buttons are designed to fit too close to each other -- that they end up grinding together in the heat of the moment. However, I never experienced this issue. That's because HyperX took the community's feedback to heart and has already released a brand-new version of the mouse that fixes that issue.

The Pulsefire was quickly redesigned to provide more space between the two buttons, which, when compared to the first mouse we were sent, really provides a world of difference when clicking the Pulsefire's LMB and RMB in quick succession. 

HyperX's software remains incredibly user-friendly, with options to program and store different macros provided through straightforward, simple design. You even get the option to change the RGB lighting on the mouse, which, let's face it, was my favorite part. The butter-smooth lighting effects on this little piece of kit really take what is otherwise a plain look and turn it into something truly radiant. HyperX has always done a terrific job with their interface software, and the Pulsefire Surge RGB isn't an exception to that rule.

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Overall, I would argue that the HyperX Pulsefire Surge RGB is one of the best new gaming mice on the market right now. Its precision, technical kit, and software options are brilliant and fluid like a kiddie-pool filled with grain alcohol.

Add to that the fact that it's sporting a modest $69.99 price tag, can hit 16,000 CPI, and that it works near flawlessly for both work and play, and you've got a solid mouse for both the casual and the hardcore.

The only "downside" is that it doesn't come with customizable weights. Some users may find the Pulsefire a bit light, even though it comes in at 100 grams. But overall, it felt great in hand, and it's not something that should get in the way of picking up this fantastic piece of gear. 

You can buy the Pulsefire Surge RGB from Best Buy for $69.99. 

[Note: HyperX provided the Pulsefire RGB mouse used for this review.]

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Logitech G305 Mouse Review: Affordable, Reliable Wireless Gaming Has Arrived https://www.gameskinny.com/r35mv/logitech-g305-mouse-review-affordable-reliable-wireless-gaming-has-arrived https://www.gameskinny.com/r35mv/logitech-g305-mouse-review-affordable-reliable-wireless-gaming-has-arrived Wed, 30 May 2018 14:01:03 -0400 Ty Arthur

When trying to move up the rankings and compete with the pros -- whether your jam is Fortnite, CS:GO, or anything in-between -- a solid mouse is a must. Rapid response and uninterrupted tracking make a huge difference  -- a larger one than you may at first realize. 

Moving from the stock mouse that came with my PC to the Logitech G305 (one of Logitech's newest gaming-centric mice), I'm shocked by the clear and noticeable differences it provides over most of the mice I've used.

From a comfortable design to instant wireless response, the G305 delivers a light, portable option for the serious gamer.

G305 Design

A quick look at the G305 reveals a surprisingly restrained, simplistic design. No crazy angles and curves like the Proteus, no flared hips like the G300S, and no extended thumb support segment like the G602.

Instead, the G305 offers a smaller, lighter design that works well for either a claw grip or a relaxed hand grip. The mouse has a solid feel but is fairly lightweight for a serious gaming peripheral. I think it feels best with the extra 10g weight added, but if you don't want that weight dragging you down for twitchy FPS action, pulling it out is a snap.

The placement of the rubber feet makes the mouse absolutely smooth: it can glide across your desktop space with ease, and an extra foot at the bottom means overzealous players who slam their mouse buttons down aren't going to do any damage.

Logitech has managed to pack a whole lot into the smaller space of the G305, with the wireless receiver dongle cleverly hidden inside the mouse next to the battery. It's so small and effectively hidden that I didn't even see it the first time I opened the case and thought my mouse mistakenly hadn't included that critical piece.

G305 Features

Having two extra buttons on the side and one just below the scroll wheel significantly improved my Fortnite reflexes (and ranking!) since I didn't have to move my hand and tap F1 to bring up the build menu. The MMB is more pronounced than some of the other mice I've used as well, making it easy to find in frenetic combat situations. 

Another great feature is Logitech's state-of-the-art HERO sensor. Found in some of Logitech's other mice, the HERO sensor is supposed to provide enhanced power efficiency while still pushing exceptional accuracy and performance. And for the most part, it does just that. The sensor is accurate and responsive, shaving time (however small) off my movements. 

You can also automatically switch profiles between games like Fortnite or Overwatch, assigning different functions to the buttons that are game-specific. And these profiles can either be stored on the mouse or on your PC.

With the Logitech software installed, there's a crazy level of detailed usage data to be mined. Turning on the click analyzer lets you see what buttons you press most often, how hard you press them, and how long they remain depressed so you can plan your button profile strategy for any given game.

Best of all, the software lets you manually change sensitivity settings if they aren't to your liking, since some games benefit from flinging the mouse across the screen in an instant, while others need more precision. 

G305 Performance

What you get with the 305 is essentially the same basic functionality as the more expensive G703, but with a few key features culled to lower the price point. Most notably, there's no Powerplay option for automatic recharging on the mouse pad like with the other mice in this series.

Although Powerplay isn't an option here, the G305 will last a good long time on a single AA battery -- up to 250 hours if you keep it on low-power mode. No matter what your settings are or how many profiles you save on the mouse, the battery life is long enough that you really don't need to factor constant battery purchases into the price, so you are saving a good deal by not buying that awesome (but expensive) charging pad.

While the battery life is great, all that really matters for a wireless gaming mouse is its responsiveness -- and that's where the G305 outshines the competition. The sensitivity and response time are actually better here than with my standard wired mouse, which is something that seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Aside from the missing Powerplay feature, another potential issue is the lack of RGB lighting, which has become nearly standard with any gaming mouse currently on the market. While there are cheapo $10 mice out there that have more stylish and ostentatious aesthetics, they won't come close to the sleek, smooth function of the G305. 

Verdict

The G305 is undeniably pricier than your bare bones stock mouse while having a similar aesthetic. Where it beats out the lower-end peripherals, however, is in wireless connectivity, incredible responsiveness, a solid-yet-lightweight feel, and the Logitech gaming software.

For performance over panache, you can't go wrong here. If you don't care about flashing lights or flared, curved designs and just want to dominate in a round of Fortnite, the G305 is enthusiastically recommended.

Rated for 10 million clicks, the Logitech G305 is a fantastic mouse for the price. You can check out the full specs on Logitech's website. 

You can buy the Logitech G305 gaming mouse on Amazon for $59.99.

[Note: Logitech provided the G305 gaming mouse used for this review.]

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Intellivision Set to Revive Atari Rivalry? https://www.gameskinny.com/3na4j/intellivision-set-to-revive-atari-rivalry https://www.gameskinny.com/3na4j/intellivision-set-to-revive-atari-rivalry Wed, 30 May 2018 11:17:14 -0400 Jonathan Moore

When it originally released in 1978, the Intellivision was an impressive piece of hardware. It was also the primary competition to Atari's 2600 home console. 

Fast forward more than 30 years, and it appears Intellivision is gearing up to re-enter to console space -- and potentially reignite its rivalry with Atari. 

Details on the company's newly announced system are sparse, but we do know from industry insiders that the company is looking to develop a new system that everyone -- even non-gamers -- can enjoy (what that exactly means is still up in the air). However, we do know that the new Intellivision won't necessarily focus on console classics such as Donkey Kong Jr., Qbert, or Demon Attack -- at least no in NES Classic style. 

This is going to be something new

What makes the news about an Intellivision revival even more compelling is that many of the original leadership and development team members are returning for the new console. Tommy Tallarico, the host of Video Games Live, has been named President of Intellivision Productions, the company responsible for the development of the new system. 

With the release of the Atari VCS on the horizon, a console more reminiscent of the revivals promulgated by Nintendo of late, it almost appears as if the decades-old rivalry between the two companies is set to renew.  

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the current gaming space, one where the home console landscape is dominated by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It remains to be seen if the current generation of gamers will even care about a new Intellivision. Will the name of a company that shuttered its doors just as the golden age of console gaming began its climb to its zenith resonate in 2018+? 

We'll just have to wait and see...

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and information on Intellivision's new console as it develops. 

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How to Build a Capable Gaming PC on an Insanely Low Budget https://www.gameskinny.com/lx9ep/how-to-build-a-capable-gaming-pc-on-an-insanely-low-budget https://www.gameskinny.com/lx9ep/how-to-build-a-capable-gaming-pc-on-an-insanely-low-budget Thu, 24 May 2018 13:55:47 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

We know why you're here. You've decided to build yourself a gaming PC, and you started hyperventilating, worried that it will be insanely difficult, stressful, and expensive. Then you googled "building a gaming PC on a budget" as your heart rate steadily rose. It's okay. Breathe. We're here for you.

The truth is that depending on what you already have, you can build a PC that can run modern games at respectable settings for around 600 bucks. "But Sam!" I hear you cry. "Didn't Bitcoin ruin all of this because now you need more money than God to buy a decent graphics card?" Well, yes and no. Sure, graphics cards are a whole lot more expensive now because high-end ones are used to mine cryptocurrency. But that doesn't mean there aren't still tools and hacks you can use to find yourself a decent graphics card at face value. 

Building a Gaming PC on a Budget

Getting Started

The first thing you'll need to do is set your budget, though this is a bit more complicated than you might think. Most PC building guides do not include the price of necessary accessories like keyboards, mice, and monitors in the total build cost. If you don't have any of those lying around, you'll want to be aware that this is going to be an added cost down the line. You'll also likely need a CD drive in order to install your operating system (which you'll also need to snag somehow). Be aware that all these costs do add up. When I built my first PC, all together, I ended up spending an additional $250 on all of these components. 

Of course, if you already have your operating system and a monitor you want to use, you don't really need to worry about this, but for a first-time build, this really bears mentioning. 

Now, once you've identified the additional costs, you can drill down a bit. The next, most helpful step is to get a sense of what exactly you'll need for your build, especially if this is your first time building a PC. My favorite tool for this is Logical Increments.

If you've never used it before, it really is an incredibly useful site. In short, it lists recommended builds and their total price point. It's a great place to start for something like this so that you can pinpoint everything you'll need and get a sense of how much it'll hurt your wallet. As an added bonus, every build that Logical Increments lists is fully compatible as long as you're on the same horizontal line. 

In this use case, we'll be splitting the difference between the Good and Fair tiers. Don't worry, we're really not sacrificing much in terms of quality here. You'll be just fine running modern games in 1080p at medium-to-high settings.

CPU, Motherboards, and RAM

Though the CPU is ostensibly the core of your computer (and, admittedly, a place where you'll want to invest pretty heavily), it's actually fairly easy to upgrade your central processing unit. The same goes for RAM. 

The only tricky part is pairing each of these components with a motherboard that will be compatible with each. Logical Increments' recommendations for motherboards are usually fairly future-proof up to about three or four years, and their recommendation of the MSI B350 PC MATE has an AM4 socket for your processor and room for 4 DDR4 RAM sticks for $90. This might seem steep for a motherboard, but trust me, this is one part of your computer you will not want to replace anytime soon. This means you'll want to make sure it'll last and be able to accommodate upgraded CPUs and additional RAM upgrades as well, making the AM4 sockets and DDR4 compatibility a must.

In terms of your CPU, AMD's RYZEN series has been absolutely killing it, packing a whole lot of power into a budget-friendly chip. We love the R5 1500x, which, as of writing, is on sale for only $135.

In terms of RAM, you might want to go all out right now and buy 16 gigs, but trust us when we say you really don't need to. For now, start off with 8 gigs of DDR4 RAM, then if you notice you really need more, buy another stick and slot it in later. It's really super easy. Plus, RAM is expensive at $83/8gb.

Ok, so that's about half our budget gone, with a total cost so far of $308. Let's talk about graphics cards.

Picking a Graphics Card

Our own Ty Arthur put together a pretty great guide that runs down a few tools that are incredibly helpful in terms of making sure you're getting the best price no matter what graphics card you pick. You really should read it. 

Done? Good. 

Personally, for a build that's around $600, I think that AMD is the better choice for budget-friendly GPUs. The Radeon RX 560 isn't just our recommendation for a great, cheap card, it's pretty much everyone's. And as an added bonus? As of writing, Newegg has it right now for the MSRP of $155.

Storage

Hard drives are now cheap enough that for any build, you should be using two: a solid-state drive that holds your operating system, and a standard hard drive that can hold all of your pro Fortnite replays.

For $95, you can snag yourself both a 128GB solid state drive to hold your system files, as well as a 2TB internal hard drive. Installing your OS to a solid-state drive might sound unnecessary, but it really does increase performance across the board on your computer. You'll be booting your system in a second or two, installation speeds will be slashed, and at the same time, since SSDs are much more reliable than HDDs, your mission critical files are much more safe. Just make sure that once you close everything up and install your OS that you choose the right drive!

Power Supply, Case, and Heat Management

Of course, you gotta plug your rig in. The EVGA 500 B1 ($45 as of writing) should handle anything you throw at it; this PC won't be a monster, so you don't need any super heavy-duty power supply to deal with that. 

In terms of your case, feel free to shop around on Amazon and Newegg to find something you find attractive. We like this Corsair Carbide series case (now on sale for just $50!) because of its front-mounted USB and audio ports, as well as its convenient side window. If that's not your speed, find something else! There are plenty of case options out there, with front-mounted HDMI ports and all sorts of odds and ends, so think about where you'll put the computer and let that guide your thinking.

For heat management on your budget build, we recommend just using the heat sink included with your CPU if you don't plan on overclocking. If you do, you can absolutely drop $25 on a fancier heat sink, but it really shouldn't be necessary for a rig like this. 

Final Cost: $638

This build should give you everything you need out of a gaming PC. It'll be relatively future-proof, easily upgradeable, and will, out of the box, be able to play modern games at respectable settings. 

Notes on Upgrading and Changing the Build

Looking to upgrade further, or to cut corners and bring the build down under that all-important $600 mark? There's a very important tool over at PCPartPicker that can help you with that. In fact, it's a must for every build. 

The site allows you to, essentially, create a complete list of parts for your build. It will then check everything for you and alert you to any compatibility issues that have been found. In addition, after you've built your PC, it will allow you to confidently upgrade parts using recommendations based on the components you've already installed. So if you're a fan of this build but want an Nvidia card, or want to use an Intel chipset instead of an AMD one, the site can guide your purchase decisions in a very helpful way.

Final Notes

Phew. Isn't that better? Like we said, building a decent PC doesn't really have to break the bank. And once you get all the parts, we promise, it'll be a whole lot of fun to put everything together. It's like adult Legos, except at the end, you get to play Overwatch with texture quality set to high.

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Razer Unveils Entry-Level eGPU Enclosure in Core X https://www.gameskinny.com/iaio7/razer-unveils-entry-level-egpu-enclosure-in-core-x https://www.gameskinny.com/iaio7/razer-unveils-entry-level-egpu-enclosure-in-core-x Tue, 22 May 2018 16:04:10 -0400 Jonathan Moore

If you've ever wanted to turn your gaming laptop into a gaming desktop, or if you've ever wanted to have more raw power for gaming, designing, mixing, or multitasking, you might already know about Razer's first-class external GPU cases. 

For some time now, Razer's been helping laptop owners get the most out of their machines without requiring they buy a brand-new rig. The Core V2 did a fantastic job of doing that, affording room for 2.2-Slot video cards from both NVIDIA and AMD alongside a relatively compact housing and a 500W PSU. 

But with the release of the Core X today, pairing desktop power with the portability of top-tier laptops just got a whole lot more affordable. 

Coming in at only $299, the Core X might be a tad larger than the Core V2, but it makes up for it by allowing room for 3-Slot video cards while containing an impressive 650W ATX PSU. Unfortunately, the Core X doesn't support Razer's Chroma RGB lighting -- and it doesn't have USB or Ethernet connections. But considering you're paying nearly $200 less than you would for the V2, that seems like a fair trade. 

The Core X also sets itself apart because unlike some other models currently on the market, it can connect to any computer that has a compatible Thunderbolt 3 connection -- including MacBooks. The connection is capable of reaching speeds of up to 40Gbps. 

The enclosure works with compatible NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards as far back as 2014. Those include GeForce, Quadro, XConnect, and Radeon Pro.  

It's worthy to note the Core X does not come with a graphics card. If you're looking for graphics cards, use the tools in this guide to find them now instead of later (read: while they're still getting cheaper). 

You can purchase the Core X GPU enclosure from Razer.com for $299. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and information on Razer products and other gaming peripherals and hardware. 

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New Razer Blade Might Be 'World's Smallest Laptop' https://www.gameskinny.com/relku/new-razer-blade-might-be-worlds-smallest-laptop https://www.gameskinny.com/relku/new-razer-blade-might-be-worlds-smallest-laptop Tue, 22 May 2018 12:42:57 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Razer's flagship laptop just got a huge overhaul, with everything from its look to its core components getting an upgrade. The refinements are exactly what you'd expect to find in an upper-echelon laptop, and they easily set up the Razer Blade to be one of 2018's best gaming laptop options. 

Essentially one-upping its predecessor in every way, the Razer Blade now sports a 15.6-inch IPS display that's available in 60Hz at 4K resolution or a blistering 144Hz at 1920x1080. The bezels around the screen are now thinner (4.9mm) and squared off, eschewing the 14-inch's rounded edges for a more modern look. And the Blade accomplishes all of this while taking up the same footprint as the 14-inch -- its ultra-thin block chassis measures only 0.66 inches thick and weighs only 4.5 pounds.  

As for its other specs, the Razer Blade is armed to the teeth -- 100% ready for all modern gaming can throw at it, including virtual reality. The laptop comes with Intel's six-core 8th Gen i7-8750H (which can reach speeds of up to 4.1GHz), as well as your choice of an NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070 Max-Q.  

The laptop also comes stocked with 16GB of 2667MHz RAM and a 512GB SSD. You can opt-in for the upgraded version which supports up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage.  

Needless to say, the new Razer Blade is meant for power gaming and multi-tasking. 

We are proud to have again stepped-up as an industry leader, taking laptop engineering to the next level to give gamers the performance they require and the mobility they desire.

                                            -- Razer Co-Founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan

The latest model also features an anti-ghosting keyboard complete with full-spectrum RGB backlighting, dual front-facing speakers (with Dolby Atmos), and an 80-watt battery. On top of that, you'll get three external display I/Os in a Mini Display Port, an HDMI port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port, as well as three USB 3.0 connections.  

The Razer Blade 15.6-inch gaming laptop is currently available in the United States, Canada, France, U.K., Germany, and China. You can purchase it here starting at $1,899. 

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5 Best Tools for Finding Cheap Graphics Cards https://www.gameskinny.com/7o1sg/5-best-tools-for-finding-cheap-graphics-cards https://www.gameskinny.com/7o1sg/5-best-tools-for-finding-cheap-graphics-cards Tue, 15 May 2018 13:50:21 -0400 Ty Arthur

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/a/c/backslide-b0606.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/a/c/backslide-b0606.jpg","type":"slide","id":"183692","description":"

While prices for both the latest, bleeding-edge cards and the mid tier of gaming hardware remain high, all indications point to a drop coming soon. Stay on top of all the possible sales so you don't miss out on the deal of a lifetime!

\n

Which of these video card price-checking tools do you use most often, and did we miss any great free services that should be added to the list? Let us know how you find cheap graphics cards with websites, browser extensions, and coupon codes in the comments below!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/new-acde6.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/new-acde6.png","type":"slide","id":"183691","description":"

Newegg Price Low To High

\n\n

While the point of the various tools in the previous slides is to have a program do the work for you, they aren't always perfect and don't catch everything. Sometimes a little legwork is necessary, and you can't always beat just setting the "price: low to high" option on the gaming graphics cards section of Newegg.

\n

They remain one of the most well-known hardware retailers for a reason, and with regular sales and offers, you can find new video cards for as cheap as $100 on the low end, with occasional big dips in prices on the higher-end cards if you check back regularly.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/m/n/amna-0452a.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/m/n/amna-0452a.png","type":"slide","id":"183690","description":"

Amazon Assistant Chrome Extension

\n\n

While Camel Camel Camel will tell you when a price on a specific product drops, it won't always notify you of Amazon's daily deals and other price-saving measures for similar video cards.

\n

With the Amazon Assistant, you can stay up-to-date on daily Lightning Deals in hardware to find that elusive sale on a graphics card, as well as view similar products while searching to add new video cards to your wish list (and then add 'em to your Camel Camel Camel notifications).

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/n/honey-4ec6d.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/n/honey-4ec6d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"183689","description":"

Honey Chrome Extension

\n\n

Coupon code- and discount-searching browser extensions are a dime a dozen these days, and there are plenty worth checking out. One of the biggest and most reliable is Honey, which automatically searches any given site for coupons to get a better deal at checkout.

\n

Honey tends to have plenty of coupons for sites like Newegg, so you can get bigger price reductions over already-reduced sale prices if you check back frequently on any part, from RAM to video cards.

\n

The codes aren't always still valid, but having the option available means you never pay full price if a code is available.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/5/5/755af9c3a80cfdb.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/5/5/755af9c3a80cfdb.png","type":"slide","id":"183688","description":"

PCPartPicker

\n\n

If you are looking to build your own rig and not sure where to start, PCPartPicker puts everything all in one location and makes it simple to see what you need and what it's all going to cost.

\n

Best of all for those looking for a bargain, though, the site includes a "price drops" section to let you know what deals are available so you don't pay full price while choosing any of your components.

\n

Just click "Video Card" on the left side to automatically see any recent price drops across the main hardware selling sites, like Newegg, B&H, OutletPC, and SuperBiiz.

\n

While you may still want to shop around to see if a lower price exists, at the very least, you will have a good idea of what specific cards are going down in price to get started finding the best deal.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/m/camel-4e016.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/m/camel-4e016.png","type":"slide","id":"183686","description":"

Camel Camel Camel

\n\n

Essentially, Camel Camel Camel cuts out the time and effort of constantly checking to see if a price on anything -- from blockbuster summer DVDs to blenders -- has dropped through Amazon.

\n

Sign up for an account, search for something specific, like a GTX 1080 graphics card, and then Camel Camel Camel will notify you automatically whenever the price goes down.

\n

It's bargain hunting made easy since you will always know the best price as soon as it happens instead of relying on luck.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/r/a/graphicscard2-92278.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/r/a/graphicscard2-92278.jpg","type":"slide","id":"183685","description":"

Built back in 2015, my gaming rig is getting a little long in the tooth and in need of an upgrade, so it was time to take a look at the options on new components. Like many gamers, I was stunned to find the top-of-the-line graphics cards these days will cost more than an entire bare-bones computer system, if they are even in stock at all.

\n

RAM and graphics cards alike have seen huge spikes in pricing over the last two years, especially seeing as crypto-miners have heavily relied on gaming hardware to strike it rich. While RAM pricing isn't expected to go down any time soon, there may be a light on the horizon for those in the market for a new graphics card.

\n

Several factors have been driving the price spikes, like new smart phones using higher-end hardware and edging out home computer buyers with their large-scale orders. Cryptocurrency data mining operations placing orders for very large quantities of hardware has further kept the prices high, but hopefully, that's coming to an end.

\n

With the volatility of cryptocurrency spiking and prices plummeting -- and with big names like John Oliver covering crypto in segments warning people against throwing all their money into a potentially hazardous situation -- love for these oddball currencies is waning. That isn't immediately going to fully solve the problem, however, as scalpers move in and buy the remaining stock when the costs are low, then list them as third-party sellers at inflated prices.

\n

Pricing on graphics cards has risen so far above the suggested retail prices that NVIDIA released a statement asking their trading partners to prioritize gamers building new rigs over big mining operations. Essentially, they want sites to limit the number of graphics cards sold in single orders, or drop the prices altogether.

\n

While the effectiveness of that plea is up in the air, prices are going to go down naturally either way. Fewer people are now buying graphics cards in bulk, so inventories are finally going up, which means prices have to eventually be slashed to move product.

\n

1080s have already seen big drops from a normal cost of around $900 down to $600 in just a handful of weeks. The lower-end cards remain at higher-than-normal price points but are expected to drop in the coming months.

\n

Here's the big issue, though -- prices may spike again, particularly if currencies like BitCoin and Ethereum see a sudden surge in value and the large mining operations ramp up activity again.

\n

That's why you need to stay on top of all the best methods for finding the lowest price if you have any intention of building a new gaming computer or upgrading your existing machine this year. Here are all the tools you need to find the best price:

\n\n

Read on for an in-depth look at each of these tools that can help you find a reasonable price on graphics cards.

"}]]]>
Atari VCS Pre-Sales Begin May 30 on Indiegogo https://www.gameskinny.com/k725t/atari-vcs-pre-sales-begin-may-30-on-indiegogo https://www.gameskinny.com/k725t/atari-vcs-pre-sales-begin-may-30-on-indiegogo Mon, 07 May 2018 15:06:01 -0400 Zach Hunt

Editor's Note: Click to reserve your spot on the waitlist.

Years before gamers argued whether it was better to "Play with Power" on the NES or if the Sega Genesis did "what Ninten-don't," a single name ruled the roost when it came to home consoles: Atari. 

The years following the infamous console wars haven't been kind to Atari. Not having released a console in over 25 years (and a series of bankruptcies under its belt during that time), it looks like Atari is finally ready to make its first real foray back into console gaming. Set to release in Spring 2019, the Atari VCS will be available for pre-order only through Indiegogo starting May 30.

Atari fans will be able to choose from either the limited-time, classic wood panel look (called the "Atari VCS Collector's Edition") or a black version called the Onyx.

With hopes to set itself apart from retro machines such as the NES Classic Edition, the Atari VCS will offer the following:

  • 4K resolution, HDR, and 60FPS capabilities
  • Expandable storage solutions
  • Dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB 3.0 support

Additionally, Atari promises to include a "vault" of over 100 classic games, covering the gamut from Centipede to Yars' Revenge (no word yet as to whether the infamous E.T. will resurface)While the $200 price point may seem a tad steep at first glance, it's worth remembering that this is not just a gaming machine -- it's manna for retro gaming enthusiasts, who historically haven't scoffed at throwing down a pretty penny in support of their gaming icons.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more information on the Atari VCS as it develops.

 

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TCL P-Series 55-inch TV Review: 4K Gaming on a Budget https://www.gameskinny.com/vwxxb/tcl-p-series-55-inch-tv-review-4k-gaming-on-a-budget https://www.gameskinny.com/vwxxb/tcl-p-series-55-inch-tv-review-4k-gaming-on-a-budget Thu, 12 Apr 2018 10:38:34 -0400 Ethan S (Point Blank Gaming)

If you are at all in the market for a 4k television, you have heard the buzz around TCL's new P-series. With built-in Roku, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Dolby Vision support, and its too-good-to-be-true $599 price point, TCL made a huge splash into the American television industry.

Sure, you can go to Rtings.com and pour over the minutia of this TV's specs, obsessing over the gray levels and peak brightness, but...

If you were looking for a real consumer and gamer's perspective on this TV's performance, not useless data and inconsistent user reviews, you have most certainly come to the right place. Without further ado...

Design

A TCL's P-Series 55-ion TV sits on a TV stand and shows its main menu with red backgroundSource: CNET

TCL really made a slick piece of hardware with this set.  It's thin, attractive, and lightweight if you are looking to mount it. If you plan on using a table or stand, the legs it comes with screw on easily and are more than adequate.  The minimal bezel on the sides give the screen a nice 'frameless' look, especially when placed flat against a wall.

You should have no issues with input and output; Multiple HDMI 2.0 ports, a USB port, and even a headphone jack occupy the right side of the TV (if you are facing the screen). And, thankfully, there are some physical buttons on the back of the television.

Functionality

The Roku logo

This TCL model comes built-in with Roku TV's smart software, and it is impressive to say the least. The tile-based user interface is snappy, customizable, and easy on the eyes. Roku provides a great platform for streaming, with both their own free channels and access to the usual suspects (Netflix and Amazon). 

The platform is surprisingly comprehensive in its offerings, including live sports content, and I have yet to use a console or laptop for streaming since getting this TV. Being able to rename and quickly switch between inputs has been a godsend for gaming, and the remote even has dedicated Netflix and Hulu buttons for your binge-worthy compulsions.  

With applications galore and plenty of cable TV alternatives, Roku's software should be able to cover almost every base for the typical consumer.  

Performance

Horizon Zero Dawn played on a TCL P-Series

It's the most important question and likely the reason your here, how does this set actually perform? First, a quick overview.

This model is only produced and sold with a 55-inch screen, so those looking a for a larger display are out of luck. Tech-wise, this panel touts a 10-bit wide color gamut for HDR content, 72 separate lighting zones for its "local-dimming" feature, and a bevy of picture settings to tinker around with. For convenience sake, we'll break the performance section down into a few categories...

HDR Gaming

Gaming is arguably the best reason to own a TCL P-series, and I wasted no time hooking mine up to a PlayStation 4 Pro console. I used the included HDMI cable, enabled a few options in the Playstation and TV settings, and was up and running at 4k/60Hz in no time.

First off, turning on the television's game mode lets you play with a rapid 13 millisecond response time, even in 4K with HDR enabled. Online multiplayer feels responsive enough for the most discerning gamer, and going back to a standard 1080p TV or playing at a friend's house will likely feel sluggish in comparison. 

Visually, HDR is stunning if not inconsistent. I may have disparaged the in-depth tech specifications on websites like Rtings, but it is fair to say that this TV is right on the threshold of being HDR capable. Its color gamut is just wide enough, its screen just bright enough, and so the quality of HDR being implemented is often left to the game's developers. 

Horizon: Zero Dawn and Assassin's Creed Origins look unbelievable in HDR, whereas FIFA 18 is dull and unimpressive. The result is a television that can display HDR as intended but cannot carry the load for sub-par implementation.

Every game somewhat suffers from strange light and color shifting due to the local dimming feature, but the individual zones work well enough to increase contrast across the entire screen. Do not get me wrong: your gaming experience with this television will be miles ahead of your current setup.  Games that are patched to run at a higher resolution look noticeably crisper than standard 1080p. But if you want the deepest blacks and brightest colors possible across the board, you will need to buy a more expensive set than this one.  

HDR Movies & TV

Breaking Bad played on a TCL P-Series shows Walter White and Jesse Pinkman wearing hazmat suits

While I maintain that gaming is the best reason to own this television, non-gaming 4K content is often more beautiful and consistently well-implemented.  Whether you are watching a disc or streaming on Amazon, the level of detail, realistic lighting, and possible shades of colors are certainly head and shoulders above your current television. Even older series like Breaking Bad look brand new in 4K resolution -- HDR or not. Despite the low price point, you should expect a cinema-like experience with this purchase, especially if you invested in a 4K Blu-ray player (unfortunately, the PS4 Pro does not play 4K Blu-rays).  

Glaring Issues

Although my thoughts on this TV are overwhelmingly positive, there are a few glaring issues that are worth talking about. 

Live sports do not look too good unless you are watching in 4K resolution.  The local-dimming feature seems to have trouble with the camera panning across a single-colored background, which football, soccer, hockey, and basketball all suffer from. 

In regards to screen brightness, this set does have some reflection issues in a well-lit room, as well as a narrow viewing angle. Ultimately, it's not the best choice for a big living room.

Lastly, you are going to want to avoid up-scaling content. 1080p Blu-rays look incredible off disc, but streaming regular HD content or playing off of a base PS4 will start to look blurry as your eyes adjust. You'll ultimately want to upgrade your hardware to get the most out of this television.

Source: Kevin the Tech Ninja

Verdict

Overall, I would strongly recommend the TCL P-series as your first 4K television. You simply will not find a better or more capable set at this price point -- especially with the same impressive gaming features and true HDR support. It doesn't hurt that Roku TV is the best built-in software I've used on any smart television, completely eliminating the need for an external box. You really have to marvel at how much they crammed into this budget television.

And while it is easy to get carried away with the overall value of this purchase -- as I certainly have -- this TV is still not for everyone. Having 72 separate contrast zones ultimately works for HDR content, but there are still some issues with the "local-dimming" feature and how it shifts colors across the screen. Discerning viewers may consider this a deal-breaker, but the overwhelming majority of you should be happy with the results.

If you plan on buying this television for more traditional uses, like watching cable TV or sports broadcasts in a large room, you may want to look elsewhere. Not that the P-series isn't capable enough, there are just cheaper options better suited to that experience. Issues with viewing-angle and glare ultimately hurt the P-series in a living room setting.

However, if you are salivating at the chance to test your shiny new game console, if you are ready to binge all the 4K content on Netflix and Amazon, if you want real High Dynamic Range color and lighting to elevate your 4K experience, then you will look no further than the TCL-P series.

This is the cheapest way to make your 4K dream a reality.

You can buy the TCL P-Series 4K TV on Amazon for $649.99.

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AOC AG322QCX Curved, Freesync Gaming Monitor Review https://www.gameskinny.com/fqe9t/aoc-ag322qcx-curved-freesync-gaming-monitor-review https://www.gameskinny.com/fqe9t/aoc-ag322qcx-curved-freesync-gaming-monitor-review Thu, 05 Apr 2018 12:53:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

The type of screen you game on matters. Whether you're playing alone in Far Cry 5 or against the world in Fortnite, things like refresh rate, response time, viewing angle, and pixel density can drastically alter your gaming experience -- and by proxy, immersion and success. With that in mind, AOC's Agon line of monitors looks to keep you competitive on and offline while giving you an elegant set piece to round out your desktop setup. 

Released late last year, the AG322QCX gaming monitor prioritizes AMD gamers, offering them an affordable panel that's got a lot going for it under the hood. Featuring FreeSync technology and a 1800R, 31.5" screen, the AG322 makes 144Hz sing and 2560x1440p res look great on a wide-angle panel. 

Melding elegance with practicality -- as well as a few interesting tricks -- there's little doubt the AG322 commands the consideration of any AMD gamer looking for a new screen. However, that doesn't mean it's a perfect solution, either. At $399, this AOC monitor may live in a mid-tier price bracket, but there are a few things to consider depending on your current and future needs. 

Design

One of the things I appreciate about AOC's Agon line of gaming monitors is how sleek they look on any desktop. Eschewing the typically boring "black box" design found on many monitors, the AG322 continues AOC's penchant for elegance by deftly augmenting the monitor's mostly matte black finish with silver accents and LED lighting.

The thin, muted bezel of the sides and top nicely flows into the glossy, slightly wider portion running along the bottom. And on the back of the monitor, you'll find a silver plate attached to the middle portion that rises up almost like wings (it looks similar to the red chevron on the back of the AG271QG).

On both the bottom bezel and the silver back plate, you'll also find LED accents that can be either turned completely off or easily set to varying intensities of red, blue, or green. The LEDs along the bottom are housed within a clear plastic that runs from one side of the monitor to the other, stopping in the middle where the AG322's OSD button resides. And on the back, the LEDs are housed in an opaque plastic that keeps them from being too obtrusive. 

Around the back is where you'll also find the AG322's VESA mount and stand bracket. When you take the monitor out of the box for the first time, you'll have the option to either attach the included stand or another one you've got lying about. If you choose to go with the included stand, you'll find that it's crafted out of sturdy steel, and although its three pronged feet give the stand character, they do take up quite a bit of space due to their triangular configuration (which I found a tad disagreeable with my current setup). 

However, with the included stand, you'll be afforded quite a bit of movement once you've got it together. The fully adjustable support lets you raise, lower, pivot, and tilt the monitor at your leisure. With a VA screen this large, that's a great feature to have at your disposal -- and it really helps you get the best viewing angle for your space. 

As for inputs, although AOC's typical side-panel offerings aren't found on the AG322, the monitor does have I/Os in spades. If you look underneath the silver panel along the back of the monitor, directly underneath the VESA mount, you'll find the following ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 2x Display 1.2, 1x VGA, 1x line in, 1x microphone out, 1x Quick Switch Keypad (which comes with the monitor for quick OSD support), and 1x power. Move to the left of that -- just under the left wing of the silver plate -- and you'll find ports for mic in and headphones, as well as 1x USB 3.0 downstream + fast-charging, 1x USB 3.0 downstream, and 1x USB 3.0 upstream. 

 

Performance

Thankfully, the AG322's OSD is much easier to access than the one found on the AG271QG. Here, everything's controlled by a single, central button found just beneath the AGON logo on the front of the monitor. You can press the center of the button to open the entire on-screen display -- or you can click any of the square's sides to open one of four quick menus that, for example, let you adjust the monitor's LED intensity or choose which input you'd like to use. 

The inside of the OSD itself is also (thankfully) easier to navigate than the one found on the AG271QG. One of my main gripes with that monitor was its OSD wasn't entirely intuitive and required too many clicks to get through. AOC's fixed that here, and while one menu option (Image Setup) was always grayed out during my review, all six other options were easy enough to navigate and tweak. 

It's worth noting that you'll have quite a few image presets to choose from with the AG322 -- some better than others. Depending on what option you choose, some of the OSD's options may be grayed out that previously were not. That means you won't get full customizability all the time, but honestly, that's something to be expected and not a big gripe on our end. 

To actually test the monitor's color, brightness, contrast, gamma settings, response times, and more, we made sure to use the Langom Display Test and Blur Busters to get a bit more granular. We also adjusted our OS and GTX 1080 color settings to reflect an unbiased setting. Note: Aside from any adjustments mentioned below, all of these measurements were captured with the AG322's settings turned to default. 

Contrast

Although the specs on the AG322 say the monitor can achieve a 50M:1 dynamic contrast ratio, the average player is most likely going to mostly experience its 2,000:1 static contrast ratio. We won't get into the minutia of why that is (you can check this article out for that), but all in all, the contrast ratio on this screen is pretty durn good.

Its contrast scores well on the LDT. Nearly all bars from the left to the right are discernible from one another, with marked demarcations between each one. The only bar that's a bit murky is the darkest blue bar, meaning dark darks may be a bit hard to separate. 

Sharpness

Sharpness on the AG322 is a bit off out of the box. Using the LDT page for this measurement, the test boxes never fully integrated or blended in with the gray background -- no matter how hard I squinted my eyes.

They nearly became uniform during testing, but there were still rough edges and centers to each of them. Unfortunately, we were not able to adjust the default sharpness, which we believe is behind the locked "Image Setup" tab in the OSD, so we aren't able to definitively say the monitor gets better with a few tweaks in this department. However, we can say the test was worst at Gamma3, best at Gamma2.

Gamma

Gamma is the brightness of intermediate tones of color, with the Langom Test using red, green, blue, and gray for examination. The AG322QCX has a native gamma setting of Gamma1, which can be changed to Gamma2 or Gamma3 -- for varying results.

However, working through all three gamma settings, the Langom Display Test showed that the monitor wasn't able to coalesce colors around the 2.2 thresholds on any of the settings. Tweaking contrast settings did not ameliorate the issue on either the 48%, 25%, or 10% luminance bars.

Instead, Gamma1 coalesced around 2.1, Gamma2 around 1.9, and Gamma3 around 2.3. 

In-game, we didn't notice any terrible deviations between light and dark colors across the spectrum, but we did notice some seepage -- as is common with VA monitors -- in later tests, such as viewing angles, as well as some washing in Gamma2. 

Black Level

Viewed from straight on, no matter the height, the first black square in this Langom Test is barely distinguishable. One can make out the top- and bottom-right corners -- just slightly.

Taking another angle, from straight on and with the monitor at its lowest point, neither the first nor second square can be seen using the default brightness of 50. Even at 100, the first two squares cannot be seen (I'm 5'8" sitting straight up, for reference). 

With the monitor at its highest point and tilted at its most extreme, the first three black squares are indistinguishable from the background. The same issue persists if viewed from its highest angle, straight down. Objectively, most users won't be using the monitor this way, but it does show that not every angle produces the truest blacks -- and that you can run into some issues playing games like Vermintide 2, which rely on stark contrasts and deep blacks. In fact, while playing that game in particular, I did notice some black mottling in the top right-hand corner of the screen specifically.  

Even though we'd like to see all of the blocks distinguishable, it's known that VA panels have issues in this regard, so that is par for the course with a screen such as this and not completely surprising. 

White Saturation

Using default brightness, contrast, and gamma settings (Gamma1), all of the blocks in this test were visible except those in areas of RGB 254. Those were indistinguishable from the white background. Adjusting the brightness, contrast, and gamma settings did not help to bring these out. Changing these settings only made the block in the bottom row, specifically in section RGB 253, worse or better. 

Gradient (Banding)

There was slight banding in the darkest portions of this test. However, the rest of the grayscale gradient was smooth and didn't express any perceivable dithering. The banding in the darkest dark can be noticeable from some angles when watching cutscenes in-game or in the Steam overlay in dark rooms, but it isn't terribly jarring unless the media in question uses stark deviations in this spectrum. 

Response Time

Using Blur Busters, tests show that the monitor's native response time is comparable to what AOC advertises, somewhere around 4ms gray to gray (GTG). Engaging the monitor's overdrive mode in the game settings section of the OSD can help improve ghosting and coronas at lower refresh rates (sub 100Hz), but the "strong" setting greatly increases overshoot, as seen in both the LDT response time model, as well as Blur Busters. 

Further ghosting tests with LDT reveal that the higher the refresh rate, the less ghosting appears on-screen. This means that the monitor is best used at 144Hz if you have a rig capable of hitting that number. You won't see major differences until right around 100Hz -- unless you're eagle-eyed. 

Viewing Angle 

At 1800R, the AG322QCX is supposed to make viewing angles more comfortable, especially when looking from the center of the screen to the periphery. In-game, we found the screen to be helpful in that regard, specifically in shooters like Battlefield 1 and CS:GO.

Taking a scientific look at what's going on behind the scenes -- and how the monitor actually performs compared to how it feels when playing -- it's evident that gamma is affected by viewing angle with the AG322QCX. From certain angles, the words on the Langom Test screen for this experiment blend into the grey background and retain a reddish hue. From other angles, specifically the sides, the words stand out in a darker, more vibrant red. While viewing from the top, for example, or a high angle, the words are dark red, yet the background takes on a greenish hue. 

Overall, it wasn't something we specifically ran into or that was entirely noticeable when using the monitor in real-world situations, but it does mean that the gamma in the monitor is somewhat dependent on viewing angle and curvature. 

When viewing the color saturation blocks of the test: 

  • The purple block remained vibrant in the middle when viewed from straight on, with the edges and corners darkening into a deeper hue. When viewed from above, the entire square took on somewhat of a pinkish hue. 

  • The red square appeared to be the most consistent of the four, with minimal color degradation along the sides and corners when viewed from straight on. Viewing it from above washed out the color a bit to a less saturated red. 

  • The green square also performed very well, without any discoloration or yellowing. When viewed from above, however, there was distinctive yellowing of the frame. 

  • The blue square was noticeably darker on the edges when viewed straight on. It deepened to a much darker hue when viewed from above.  

Verdict

Overall, the AG322QCX stands out as a well-made monitor that gives you 2560x1140p resolution across 31.5" -- stretching those pixels out over such a large distance instead of changing the resolution altogether is something most monitors don't do. And surprisingly, those pixels don't look stretched in the slightest. 

Since it employs a VA panel, there are some issues with the AG322QCX that are endemic to that panel type. Dark shades can crush into one another -- especially at certain angles -- and the gamma could be a bit better. During tests, we also noticed quite a bit of ghosting below ~100Hz and a few color inconsistencies, but in-game, neither was terribly distracting (although it could affect some gamers differently). 

If you're in the market for a Freesync-enabled 32" monitor, the AG322QCX is a VA monitor that mostly outperforms other VA panels. In other words, if you're not going TN or IPS, this AOC monitor should be one of the first on your VA list. It's responsive with low-input lag, and it reproduces colors competently. It's a monitor we definitely recommend. 

You can see the monitor's full spec sheet here. You can buy the AG322QCX from Micro Center for $399.99. 

[Note: AOC provided the AG322QCX used for this review.]

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Logitech G Pro Headset Review: Built for Pros, Made for Every Player https://www.gameskinny.com/0ywa7/logitech-g-pro-headset-review-built-for-pros-made-for-every-player https://www.gameskinny.com/0ywa7/logitech-g-pro-headset-review-built-for-pros-made-for-every-player Mon, 02 Apr 2018 16:40:18 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Logitech's new G Pro gaming headset drops the frills and fancies found in other headsets to focus on what many gamers really want: great sound. Instead of RGB lighting and myriad software solutions, the G Pro is a plug-and-play, all-in-one answer for gamers that wanna get gaming right out of the box while encountering as few hurdles as possible. 

Last year, I tested the G Pro's predecessor, the G433 -- and I quite liked it. It had plug-and-play analog capabilities, but didn't do stereo sound the justice it deserves. And while that headset was comfortable and lightweight, my main gripe with it was that it didn't provide deep, crisp sound for the price -- even on the surround sound front. 

Perhaps it was kismet or that Logitech heard me through the collective conscious of the hardware world, but the G Pro headset comes much closer to the sound I wanted out of the G433. In reality, though, it was the pro gamers Logitech closely worked with to develop and design the G Pro that helped the company craft a headset that is built for pros and made for everyone. 

Coming in at $89, the G Pro is really what the G433s should have been from the start. For a hefty majority of average gamers, this headest will give them the pro-level gaming audio they've been looking for at a price they're mostly comfortable with. Sure, looking at the echelon in which it sits, the G Pro doesn't really stand out when compared to in-space competitors. But it stands toe to toe with them and rounds out Logitech's well-crafted headset line.

And if you're wondering what systems the analog G Pro works with, the answer is all of them. It'll work with your PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, VR headsets, and mobile devices -- which is another big selling point. 

Logitech G PRO Gaming Headset  with all its connecting wires and removable earcup pads

Design 

Looking at the G Pro and the G433 side by side, it's almost impossible to distinguish the two based on appearances alone. From their lightweight polymer bodies to the adjustable steel headband and the left-earcup I/O ports for wires and mics, each is only truly distinctive by color and finish. Whereas the G433 comes in four different colors and wears a mesh finish from its earcups to its headband, the G Pro only comes in (sleek) black and a soft-touch, matte finish, the latter of which really accentuates the professional aesthetic Logitech is going for with these cans. 

Like its predecessor, the G Pro also features 100-degree rotatable earcups with detachable earpads. Here, the Logitech logo is more prominent and highlighted in silver on the outside of each earcup (another nice touch for the brand), while the word "Pro" is emblazoned in chic white just underneath the silver steel headband extenders on each side.

Overall, I'm glad to see that Logitech kept the design so similar between the models since the G433 was comfortable to wear and easy to carry from place to place. Weighing in at 259 grams (the same as the G433), the G Pro sits snugly across the head and can be worn for hours on end in relative comfort. It does feel a bit heavier than the previous model. And that's perhaps because of two things: it doesn't feel as flimsy from stem to stern as the G433, and the earcups fit more snugly along the sides of the face, causing a bit of discomfort over time. 

However, I'm also happy Logitech decided to keep the rotatable/tiltable earcups for this model. Not only can you lay these on your chest between matches or easily shove them in an overnight bag, you can also tilt the earcups up or down to quickly (and easily) hear any outside noise or conversation without removing the headset. It's a small design choice carried over from the G433, but one that's important for pro players that can't take their headsets off in between matches. 

Logitech G PRO Gaming Headset Side View with MicPerformance

If you're a pro or competitive gamer, you're playing games to win. Coming in second just isn't an option. That means you've got to hear your enemies before they hear you. It's something that the Logitech G533 does very well, as well as the SteelSeries Arctis Pro+. The problem is, those headsets either only work with PC or fall into the upper echelon of headset pricing (think $150-$250). 

And while those headsets are worth the pretty penny you'll pay for them, most gamers need something that affordably gives them good directional audio. The G433 didn't achieve that and ultimately felt too flat and thin overall during our tests. And when compared to the G Pro, which can clearly emit tones as low as 10hz and as high as 20Khz, that's even more evident. 

What's more, Logitech says that the Pro G provides "precise awareness of everything that's happening around you." And while I certainly don't agree that the awareness it provides is 100% precise, the G Pro does provide some of the better directional audio within the $90 price point. 

Tuned specifically for analog playback, the G Pro headset uses drivers that may be a bit bass-heavy, but work quite well at emitting clear sounds and ameliorating distortion. Testing the G Pros directly against the G433s showed that the Pros are more precise and consistent across the board. They do sacrifice a bit of volume for that sound consistency in comparison, but that's a worthy trade-off in our books. 

Playing Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 5, explosions felt appropriately large, and gunfire cracked with realism. Voices were warm and full, with dialog brimming with realism, easily parsed from music and diegetic effects. In all, sound felt fuller and richer than it did when wearing the G433s. 

The only real hiccup was that I wasn't able to dial in on pinpoint directional sound, meaning I could only tell from what general direction my adversaries were coming. Having directional capabilities at all is a step in the right direction considering you're able to get some semblance of 360 audio on console without dropping the big bucks, but it's also a bit of a carrot on a stick. If you want real directional audio, you're still going to have to shell out for it. 

When it comes to music, the G Pro provides meaty playback that's, again, heavy on the bass side of things. Listening to Leech and Rot by Northlane, kick drums and low-end chugs rise unmuddied through the mix. Mid-tone toms also come through nicely. Trebles tend to hang out in the background, although they aren't completely overshadowed. If you're used to a more treble-centric mix, you might not like that the Pros really focus on lower tones (although the headset does make those lows thick and powerful, like in Kendrick Lamar's DNA and Humble). 

Lastly, the G Pro claims to have up to 50% more passive noise isolation simply by proxy of the headset's premium earpads. And while I'd rather have active than passive noise cancellation, I think it works -- for the most part. At max volumes, it's hard to tell between the G Pros and the G433s -- immense volume tends to drown anything out simply by its overwhelming nature. But at around 55-60% volume, there is a discernible in-game difference in outside noise reduction with the G Pros. 

It's not perfect, and relying on passive devices always introduces variables into the equation, but I think it ultimately works as Logitech intends it to work: acting in tandem with the clear boom mic to better help pros hear the voices of their teammates in the din of the tournament stage. 

Logitech G PRO Gaming Headset tilted with mic and wireThe Verdict

With its Pro series, Logitech means to take existing designs and make them more approachable for professional gamers. They aren't out to redesign the wheel by any means -- and the G Pro gaming headset is testament to that. It takes the very best of the G433 and tweaks it to make something better. 

That something better doesn't necessarily mean "the best of the best," but what it does mean is the punchy G Pro is now firmly in the company of the best there is at $90. Inarguably, the G Pro is a step up from the G433, which doesn't look as appetizing as it once did -- especially when you compare sound profiles between the two headsets. 

And when compared to similar headsets on the market, such as the HyperX Cloud Flight and the Corsair Void Pro, the decision-making process can get a bit muddier, as those headsets take the G Pro head on. But we can say that the headset is much better than the SteelSeries Arctis 3, so keep that in mind when making your comparisons.

Ultimately, the G Pro is a well-made headset that performs very well either at home or on the tournament stage -- and whether you're listening to music or sniping sneaking players in team deathmatch. And for that, it gets our recommendation. 

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Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam Review https://www.gameskinny.com/yzhtd/logitech-c922-pro-stream-webcam-review https://www.gameskinny.com/yzhtd/logitech-c922-pro-stream-webcam-review Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:55:10 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Logitech's C922 Pro Stream webcam has been on the market for a good while now. Released in 2016, this version is improved over the lauded C920, and it's one specifically geared toward providing pro-quality video to new and veteran streamers alike. 

Coming in at an affordable $99, the C922 has proven over the last two years to be a widely popular webcam: Dozens of streamers use it for their broadcasts every day, and it's easily made Top 10 lists around the web for its crisp video and sleek design. It also helps that the C922 is intuitive and easy to set up. 

We recently decided it was time to take the C922 for a spin and see what all the fuss was about. Here's what we thought. 

Design

Out of the box, the C922 comes in two parts: the webcam itself and a detachable tripod. Both are sleek, if understated, and will fit right in with all the other peripherals on your desk. The point of a webcam isn't to call attention to itself, and the C922's utilitarian aesthetic nails that ethos. 

Looking at the wedge-shaped cam itself, the C922 has a single lens in the center and two omnidirectional microphones on either side. When the webcam is in use, two soft-white, half-moon lights flash to easily indicate you're live. With Logitech's more recent push to incorporate more RGB elements into their products, the C922's soft-white is a bit drab knowing what could be -- but then again, you can't fault a two-year-old product for not implementing more recent design decisions.  

Underneath the lens, the webcam is seated on a sturdy, L-shaped clip which has an adjustable mechanism that allows it to be clipped to a monitor (or other display). When in use, most of the clip sits on the back of what it's connected to. In most cases, I didn't find that to be a problem, but thinner displays may prove a tad fickle depending on the make and model. 

If you find yourself falling into that boat, or just don't want to mount the C922 on your display, then the included tripod is going to be your best bet. The bottom of the L-shaped clip is where you'll find the threaded hole for the tripod. Once attached, you can position the webcam how you want it and lock it into place. 

At its initial height, the tripod stands at about 7 inches when fully unfolded. Depending on your setup, this might work for you or it might not. I found that the tripod was the easiest, sturdiest way to mount the C922, but I also found that it didn't always provide the most flattering angles. In the end, it's completely up to personal preference since the tripod and clip both work as advertised. 

Lastly, the C922's 5-foot cable means you can basically place the webcam anywhere on your setup. It's nice to see a webcam afford its users flexibility in this regard, even if I'd prefer the cable to be braided instead of the usual plastic. 

Performance

Considering you buy webcams to actually use them and not look at them sitting on your desk, we're all really here to see how the C922 performs. And from our time with it, we can say it performs exceedingly well. 

The C922 camera can record (or display) video at both 1080p and 720p. However, unlike the C920, the C922 is able to hit 60 FPS at both resolutions, making it a much better option than its predecessor. What's more, whether you're streaming on Twitch or catching up with pals via Skype, this webcam's video is super crisp and clear. 

With the C922's easy-to-install software, you can tweak a ton of settings, too. Everything from contrast to field of view and more has a dial to turn. Even in low-light conditions, the C922 performs very well, taking photos and capturing video that were clear and essentially lag-free. 

Integrating the C922 into something like OBS is hassle-free. In my experience, I took the C922 out of the box, attached it to the tripod, plugged it in, and started using it in the streaming software in less than five minutes. And that's on the initial setup. When you're a streamer or YouTuber, time is always of the essence, so it's great to see that Logitech's made a quality webcam that's super simple to use. 

When it comes to actually streaming, I tested the C922 on my high(er)-end desktop. With an i7-770k 4.2GHz processor, 32GB of RAM, and a GTX 1080 8GB in my rig, I was able to stream Warhammer: Vermintide 2 on Twitch without too many issues. Although I would've liked to have gotten a solid 60 FPS, I was able to get 1080p video out of the C922 at about 45-50 FPS -- even with streaming the game on High settings at 2560x1440. That's pretty damn good for a $99 webcam. In fact, I'd argue it's more than enough for your average streamer.  

Green Screen Effect

OBS Chroma Cam capture dark room

The C922 Pro Stream also comes with Personify Chroma Cam, which lets you put various overlays on your video, among other things. But its biggest draw is that it purportedly allows you to remove your background sans green screen. In theory, it's an awesome bit of tech, saving you the hassle of buying and setting up your own green screen. But in practice, it's more hit or miss. 

If you're in a brightly lit room, Chroma Cam does a pretty darn good job of removing your background, although if you're like me and wear glasses, there are some areas that it just won't remove, such right through the lenses. In a darker room, Chroma Cam is considerably choppier, cutting off parts of your ears and head if you move too much -- or not removing all of the background, such as your chair. 

If you want to look as professional as you possibly can when you're streaming, it's a bit hard to rely on Chroma Cam to get things done. You're still going to want to grab a green screen and go that route. But if that type of thing doesn't bother you too much, then the C922's Chroma Cam works fine enough. 

Verdict

Right now, this two-year-old webcam is still one of the very best on the market -- especially at its price point. Its popularity is underlined by its easy setup and ability to output 1080p video at 60 frames per second. It works with OBS and Xsplit out of the box, as well as PC, Mac, and Xbox One. 

It might not have all the bells and whistles found in other webcams, but it provides the essentials in a convincing manner. Sure, Chroma Cam green screen can be hit or miss, but most software solutions to background removal encounter issues from time to time anyway (that's why a lot of streamers still use actual green screens). Just buy the C922 and a green screen -- and you're more than future-proofing your setup. 

Reliability often comes at a price, but Logitech is giving it away at a steal.  

You can buy the C922 Pro Stream on Amazon for $99.

[Note: Logitech provided the C922 Pro Stream webcam used in this review.]

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SteelSeries Arctis Pro+ and Pro Wireless Headset Review https://www.gameskinny.com/3sll5/steelseries-arctis-pro-and-pro-wireless-headset-review https://www.gameskinny.com/3sll5/steelseries-arctis-pro-and-pro-wireless-headset-review Tue, 13 Mar 2018 12:52:58 -0400 Jonathan Moore

SteelSeries' Arctis headsets are already widely popular among gamers for their comfort, ease of use, and sound. With the release of the Arctis Pro line of gaming headsets, I'd posit they're about to get a lot more popular -- including with a subset of typically hard-to-please audiophiles.

Coming in two variants -- a wired Pro+ GameDAC version and a Wireless Pro Bluetooth version -- this new Arctis echelon focuses on high-quality, high-fidelity sounds for the PS4 and PC. The line sports an improved design, sturdy construction, and a few bells and whistles you don't typically find on most gaming headsets these days.

There's a lot to love here, and I'd wager these are the best headsets SteelSeries has ever released. Combining some of the technology found in the Siberia line of headsets, these new cans allow for nuanced customization for almost any setup.

The only "big" downsides are that they're fairly expensive when compared to many gaming headsets on the market, and they're both a bit cumbersome to set up out of the box. They're high-end for sure -- and going toe to toe with the likes of Sennheiser, ASUS, and Astro, they ought to be. If you've got the budget for these bad boys, you won't be disappointed.  

Arctis Pro Wireless headset

Design

Whereas other headsets in the Arctis line have felt a bit flimsy in the past, the Arctis Pro tier feels anything but. Made with premium materials, the Arctis Pro+ and the Arctis Pro Wireless are made of sturdy aluminum alloy and steel across the headband and hangers, with bits of resilient plastic gracing the outside of each removable, customizable earcup. Sporting a gunmetal gray finish, the headset itself has a more elegant appearance than those headsets in the original line. 

Both sets of cans feature the same comfortable ski-goggle headband found in other Arctis models, while the earcups seem bigger and more agreeable than those on the Arctis 5 and Arctis 7. Moving to the left earcup, you'll find a retractable mic on the front of each set, as well as inputs and controls on the back. 

Something I find more pleasing on these headsets than the others in the Arctis line is that the mic mute buttons and volume scroll wheels are more prominent and textured this time around. This makes them easier to find and use in-game or during streams; finding them before was a pain, so I'm glad to see this improved in these prestige models. 

And as for the Wireless model specifically, SteelSeries has made the Bluetooth button more identifiable in this model (in comparison to the Arctis 3 Bluetooth model). On the outside, it's not a huge, headset-selling improvement, but from a usability standpoint, such an improvement is appreciated. 

Esports Player using the Arctis Pro Wired Headset

Sound Quality and Features 

Before we get into the feature sets of these products, I want to get something off my chest: Both of these headsets sound fantastic. Out of all of the SteelSeries cans I've been able to test over the past year and a half, these stand head and shoulders above the rest. 

Whereas previous iterations of the Arctis line often left me wanting more in regards to sound -- specifically surround sound -- I found that the Pro line finally provided the high-end sound quality I've been searching for in a SteelSeries headset. 

It's especially worthy of note that while the PC Master Race has mostly come to expect this type of quality from a gaming headset, most PlayStation 4 players will find a distinct improvement in sound quality from their typical console headset -- and they'll be able to enjoy the headset/home theater combo much more easily than they might have before. 

The Arctis Pro + (Plus) with box, game DAC, and wires on a grey background.

Arctis Pro+ GameDAC

I was able to hear directional sound for the first time on console with the Pro+ GameDAC (and with the Pro Wireless). There are several other headsets on the market that can do this, sure, but the Arctis Pro line does it more elegantly with single drivers. Playing games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and Overwatch, I was able to pinpoint where enemies were coming from -- and bring them down with greater ease. It's something I loved in Logitech's G533, but something I never thought I'd get on console until now.  

SteelSeries says the Arctis Pro+ GameDAC achieves higher-quality sound than the Pro Wireless by using what's called a dedicated USB DAC (digital audio converter), along with an amplifier made specifically for gaming. It even received the Japanese Audio Society's Hi-Res Award -- if that kind of thing floats your boat. But honestly, the difference between the two headsets was negligible in our testing of the devices. 

If you go the Pro+ route, the DAC itself comes packaged with the headset and fits in the palm of your hand. It's made of black plastic and has firm rubber feet on the bottom. The top is home to an OLED screen that displays the audio mode you're currently in, your surround sound and EQ settings, your volume, and your audio/chat mix. On the back, you'll find I/Os for optical, USB, Line Out, and mobile. On the left side, you'll find the input for the headset itself.

Arctis Pro+ GameDAC

SteelSeries specifically states that the GameDAC model is best used when playing at a desk, an assessment I tend to agree with. One of my biggest issues with the headset's setup (even if it is a nitpicky one) is that there are a lot of cables here -- especially if you're wanting to use the headset's optical passthrough.

With that in mind, there are at least three cables attached to the DAC if that's the route you want to go: one coming from the headset into the DAC, one coming from the DAC to your PS4's USB port, and one coming from the DAC to your console's optical port. If you're using the headset on PC, you can opt out of the optical option and only have two cables, making things a bit more manageable. 

So for a living room setup, I can see things becoming a bit tedious and cumbersome. 

Arctis Pro Wireless with box, USB transmitter, and cables 

Arctis Pro Wireless

The Pro Wireless model provides similarly crisp and robust sound as the Pro+ GameDAC, but this time over lossless 2.4GHz wireless or Bluetooth connections. Here, surround sound is meaty, with nice highs and mids across games and music. Like the Pro+, the Pro Wireless isn't huge in the volume department, meaning we had to dial up the volume on each headset and corresponding input device to achieve comfortable sound, but the 7.1 surround of the Pro Wireless performed well and provided clear dialog and in-game sound. 

We found this to be true on both PS4 and PC. Playing Skyrim, for example, we were able to hear in-game breathing better than we had with other headsets, adding a sense of realism to our Elder Scrolls escapades. Outside of gaming, tracks by Anthrax sounded fantastic in high bit rate. 

As for setup, the Pro Wireless features a wireless USB transmitter a la SteelSeries' Siberia 800 and 840 models -- but sans the extra power supply. This is where you'll adjust your audio, EQ, and chat mix settings, as well as find I/Os for optical, mobile, and external speaker systems. Like the GameDAC, the USB transmitter is mostly user-friendly when it comes to getting your settings just right, and it's nice controlling all of your settings via hardware instead of relying on software to do the trick. 

The transmitter does suffer from the same tedious setup as the GameDAC, however, especially if you're trying to use (once again) the transmitter's optical passthrough. You'll have quite a few cables to contend with in any setup, and (pro tip) you'll need to set the transmitter to its PS4 setting if you want to use that functionality on PC -- something that's not terribly clear out of the gate.  

But if you've got a home theater setup, want to listen to podcasts in long load queues, or take calls while gaming, you'll find that the Pro Wireless makes multitasking essentially effortless once you've got everything dialed in. Pair that with a decent 20-hour battery life and the ability to charge batteries inside the wireless transmitter, and the Pro Wireless becomes more ubiquitous than it initially appears. 

Man in black shirt wears Arctis Pro Wireless while sitting on couch

Verdict

In my eyes, the choice between the Pro+ GameDAC and the Pro Wireless comes down to usability. Both are Hi-Res certified, both provide awesome, clear sound, and both provide line-out capabilities for mobile and/or home theater setup (which is a huge boon depending on your setup and use case). On top of that, both headsets are comfortable, well-constructed models that can be used on the go if you like listening to music on the commute to work, for example. 

The Pro+ GameDAC features RGB lighting, while the Wireless Pro does not, which could potentially be a selling point for some users. But overall, the choice comes down to whether you want a wireless or wired setup -- and whether that's worth the $70 difference between the two sets. 

Ultimately, though, SteelSeries' new Pro line is a huge step up in audio quality over the original Arctis line of headsets. I'd (really) like to see the headsets come in at a slightly lower price point, but if you've got the pockets for them, you can't go wrong with either. 

You can buy the Arctis Pro+ GameDAC on Amazon for $249.99 and the Pro Wireless for $329.99. 

[Note: SteelSeries provided the Arctis Pro+ GameDAC and Arctis Pro Wireless models used in this review.]

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HyperX Alloy Elite RGB Review: Matching Color With Excellent Design https://www.gameskinny.com/1jong/hyperx-alloy-elite-rgb-review-matching-color-with-excellent-design https://www.gameskinny.com/1jong/hyperx-alloy-elite-rgb-review-matching-color-with-excellent-design Wed, 28 Feb 2018 11:47:57 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Having control feels good. With the right tools at your disposal -- such as a well-crafted mechanical gaming keyboard -- having control means you're an unstoppable force wrecking through thousands of moveable objects. And as with any tool, a keyboard's quality exponentially increases the chances of utterly destroying your opponents. 

Because of that, we loved the HyperX Alloy Elite gaming keyboard when we reviewed it back in October. And that's why we love its new RGB counterpart. 

At its core, the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB is the same fantastic keyboard that's been on the market for the past six months -- but it's one that's added a few interesting tweaks worthy of exploration. When compared to its contemporaries, the Elite RGB is a tool that stands toe to toe with products from Corsair, Logitech, and SteelSeries. 

Despite its lofty price, it's also one we highly recommend. Let's talk about why. 

Overall Design

On the outside, the Alloy Elite RGB sports the same sleek look of the Alloy Elite. A solid black aluminum body houses a full 104 keys sitting on Cherry MX switches (Red, Blue, or Brown depending on your preference). Unlike the HyperX FPS Pro, the Alloy Elite RGB has a 10-key numpad, as well as dedicated switches for media keys, key-lighting brightness, profile recall, and game-mode key locking. To increase or decrease volume, you'll find a nifty -- and easy to use -- volume wheel in the board's top right-hand quadrant. 

The board also comes with a textured wrist-rest that easily attaches to the front of the board. I preferred to not use the rest because my specific setup makes for an uncomfortable situation with it attached. However, on a desk with more room, the wrist rest is comfortable, if simple. 

To finish things off, the Alloy Elite RGB comes with sturdy plastic feet that don't easily slide across your desktop, as well as a durable braided cord that won't get easily tangled. The board features pass-through functionality that comes in handy for gamers needing an extra USB port closer to their playing surface. 

Ngenuity RGB Customization Screen

Ingenius Ngenuity

HyperX has historically held true to a minimalist aesthetic; almost all of their products have eschewed customizable features and RGB lighting for plug-n'-play mechanics and brand-standard red backlighting. Some gamers liked it, some gamers didn't. And at the end of the day, the choice didn't affect the quality of HyperX's products. 

However, with the Alloy Elite RGB, HyperX has embraced the customizability craze and combined their aptitude for quality with a more tailor-made approach. They do this through their Ngenuity software. 

When you first download Ngenuity from the HyperX website and launch it on your computer, the software looks a tad dated and unremarkable. It would've been nice had it been a bit more energetic on the visual front, but that doesn't particularly matter when it's easy as hell to use. 

Each menu and submenu item is accurately labeled to avoid any confusion -- "Macros" will open the Macro menu, while "Lighting" will open the Lighting menu. It seems obvious, but it's a nice touch that can be easily overlooked. Inside those menus, choosing colors within the full RGB spectrum and lighting presets options is a cinch, taking only a few clicks to set up, while the same can be said for macros. And yes, you can fully reprogram all the keys on the board and create libraries and profiles, the latter of which you can have up to three. 

The only gripe I have in this area is that editing and saving profiles isn't as intuitive as it could be, considering the rest of Ngenuity is basically super easy to navigate and understand. Once you do it two or three times, you should have the hang of it. But it is an area that has a just a few too many steps (you shouldn't have to choose the profile twice to edit it), and the whole process could be improved upon in the future. 

Alloy Elite Desktop Picture with Steel Series Rival 600 in the background

Performance

Like its predecessor, the Alloy Elite RGB performs exceedingly well both in the office and at home. Whether I was typing up articles, tweaking designs in InDesign, or queuing up unit actions in They Are Billions, this board remained a reliable piece of my arsenal. 

Whereas I've had issues with certain keyboards holding up after testing sessions and finding that certain keys begin to squeak two or three weeks into use, I've not come across that with the Elite RGB at all, which speaks to the board's craftsmanship and engineering. I've put in around 110 hours on the board playing input-intense titles such as Overwatch, Paladins, Cities: Skylines, Subnautica, and They Are Billions without any incident -- and I'm confident the board's going to continue to hold up while still providing impeccable performance. 

On top of that, each key provides quality tactile feedback, which I especially appreciate in-game. Requiring 45-50 cN of actuation force is what you'd expect from a board of this build, keeping it in line with other mechanicals in its range, such as the Corsair K68 RGB and the SteelSeries M750 TKL. Light-handed gamers might find they have to press a little harder to get their keystrokes to register, but I don't see a majority of users having any issues with the Elite RGB's keys.

I will say I wish the F12 key weren't as easy to accidentally nudge when pressing backspace, an issue we found somewhat frustrating in the original Alloy Elite. It's also an issue when browsing the internet and constantly opening the DevTools command in Chrome.  

HyperX Alloy Elite RGB viewed from an angleVerdict

In a nutshell, the Alloy Elite RGB is the same great keyboard as its predecessor -- except it has vibrant, fully customizable RGB lighting and programmable macros. If you're looking for quality craftsmanship and reliability to go alongside those things, then this is a keyboard you'll want to check out. 

My only real concern here is the price. There's no doubt the Alloy Elite RGB is worth the $169.99 price tag. It's made very, very well. But when you look at other very, very well-made keyboards on the market that come in at $10-40 less, things get murkier. If the Alloy Elite RGB had a killer feature that you couldn't find anywhere else (or perhaps dedicated macro keys similar to Corsair's K95 RGB Platinum), I'd recommend it hands down, no caveats. But that's just not the case here. 

Providing fantastic performance, vibrant lighting, and quality engineering, you'd do well to consider the Alloy Elite RGB -- just know you're going to pay a pretty penny for it. 

You can buy the Alloy Elite RGB keyboard on Amazon for $169.99

[Note: HyperX provided the Alloy Elite RGB unit used in this review.]

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HyperX Cloud Flight Headset Review: Soaring on Soundscapes https://www.gameskinny.com/nvpi8/hyperx-cloud-flight-headset-review-soaring-on-soundscapes https://www.gameskinny.com/nvpi8/hyperx-cloud-flight-headset-review-soaring-on-soundscapes Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:17:00 -0500 Jonathan Moore

There's no plainer way to put it: bad sound sucks. When sound is grainy or distorted, it can put a real damper on your favorite game, movie, or album. Using a mediocre headset to consume media is worse than wearing a shoe that's two sizes too small. It's uncomfortable, grating, and just downright annoying. 

Luckily, the Cloud Flight gaming headset from HyperX is none of those things. In fact, it's the exact opposite. The Cloud Flight is a plug-and-play masterpiece that delivers unbelievable sound quality on both console and PC. Sure, it's a bit pricey at $159.99, but it stands toe to toe with the other sets in the high-end space, specifically the Logitech G533 and the Corsair Void Pro

A few design hiccups here and there keep it from being the Swiss Army Knife of gaming headsets, but considering it produces great, high-quality sound for all your devices, it's a headset you're going to want to consider if you're currently in the market for a set of cans. 

Cloud Flight and Corsair K68 Gaming Keyboard

Design

If you've ever used or seen a HyperX gaming headset, you know what you're in for when it comes to the Cloud Flight's looks. With its black, red-accented aesthetic, the Cloud Flight probably isn't going to turn any heads at first glance, but it has an elegant design that in some ways hearkens to a simpler time when not everything had to sport futuristic, Weyland Corporation-inspired motifs. And in that regard, I think some gamers, such as myself, will find its minimalist exterior entreating. 

Starting with the headset's earcups, you'll find that the Cloud Flight does have a few splashes of color on its predominantly black, hard-plastic frame. The outside of each earcup sports the truncated HX logo emblazoned at its center and an exposed red wire reaching up into the headband for added flourish. Depending on how much battery life you want to get out of the Cloud Flight, you can set the HyperX logo on either side of the headset to solid red, pulsing red, or off when the headset is in use. Moving up the headset to the headband, you'll find the full HyperX logo sprawling in glossy black across the top. 

One of the more comfortable headsets I've ever worn, the Cloud Flight's earcups are also roomy and soft. They employ a combination of memory foam and pleather to create a snug, agreeable fit. You'll also find this cushy material on the inside of the headband. After 40ish hours of using the headset, I can say that even gaming in an upstairs bedroom with basically no ventilation save a creaky old box fan, my ears and head didn't sweat at all.

Cloud Flight Controls

Coming in at around 315 grams without its detachable microphone, the Cloud Flight is also lighter than both the Logitech G533 (350 grams) and the Corsair Void Pro (368 grams). Unlike some other headsets, the weight of the Flight didn't cause any discomfort across the top of my head, and my ears never felt weighed down. 

As for the Cloud Flight's controls and inputs, you'll find them conveniently placed on the underside of the earcups for easy access. On the right earcup, you'll find the volume wheel, and on the left earcup, you'll find the power button, the microphone jack, the USB charging port, and the 3.5mm port. Interestingly, the microphone's mute button is the entire outside plate of the left earcup. It's a unique design choice that I'm surprised hasn't been implemented on other headsets -- and it's a feature I can see being very, very useful for streamers and competitive players. 

Oh, and it features rotating earcups you can lay flat on your chest when you're not using the headset, something I find extremely useful in everyday situations -- and a feature I think every headset made from here on out should implement, no questions asked. 

Cloud Flight Cushy Earcups

Performance

What I really love about the Cloud Flight is that it's a ubiquitous headset that you can use with any of your devices. Whether you're gaming on PC or console, listening to music on your smartphone, or watching a movie on your tablet, the Cloud Flight provides fantastic sound right out of the box. There's no software to fiddle with or dial in, but that's nothing to fear because the Cloud Flight's audio quality is simply that good.  

Providing 2.4GHz wireless capabilities for the PC, PS4, and PS4 Pro, the Cloud Flight also works with the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices via a 3.5mm connection. We tested the headset on the PC, the PS4 Pro, and the iPhone 6S+ across mediums, from games to movies and music. 

Sound 

In all applications and on all platforms, the HyperX Cloud Flight provided clear, exceptional sound. Its 50mm neodymium drivers thrummed with meaty bass and surged with soaring treble. It's nice to see a headset provide such parity of sound without equalizers or special software. 

Tested on the PC with Battlefield 1 (our go-to for high-quality sound engineering), tones were vibrant and lush. Dialog was easy to understand, even amid violent explosions -- and the game's score was the same sonorous soundscape it was when we tested out Logitech's G533. Unfortunately, the Cloud Flight doesn't provide the surround or directional sound found in the G533 -- meaning I couldn't hear exactly where enemies were coming from -- so that's something to keep in mind if you're strictly a PC gamer.  

On the PS4 Pro, we tested the Cloud Flight with Horizon: Zero Dawn, and again, the game's score and sound effects were on full display. Herds of Striders thundered across the plains outside Mother's Heart, and arrows swooshed through the air as if I had loosed them just inches from my ear. The only discernible drop in quality I noticed with the Cloud Flight during my time playing HZD was during sections of dialog. Although the voice acting was loud and full, the background noise and music were oddly quiet, making it sound almost as if characters were speaking within a vacuum. 

For mobile, it's no surprise that the Cloud Flight's sound is impeccable here, too. Plugging the headset into my iPhone 6S+ with the included 3.5mm jack was super easy. Watching The Force Awakens, I felt as if I were in the theater, and while listening to Mesmer by Northlane and You Are We by While She Sleeps, I was able to pick out every instrument and tone -- without any wonky distortion or muddiness.

The only gripe I have when it comes to using the Cloud Flight on the iPhone is that the volume wheel on the right earcup doesn't seem to do anything when hooked up to the device. The only way I could change the volume was by adjusting it on the phone itself. A little annoyance, sure, but something to be aware of. 

Me, Cloud Flight, and Scary Sheldon

Microphone

Tested in both gaming and work scenarios, the Cloud Flight's detachable, noise-canceling microphone worked well -- mostly.

When playing team-based games like Paladins and Battlefront 2 on PC, communications were crisp and clear. And in meetings with colleagues over Skype on the PC, the microphone was able to easily cancel ambient office noise for clear communications. The same can be said of using the microphone on the PS4 and PS4 Pro.

However, I was disappointed to find that the microphone didn't work when using the headset in analog mode. That means anything requiring a 3.5mm jack won't support the capability. It's something that I find (very) odd, considering many other headsets offer the functionality for a fraction of the price. It's an oversight that's more than head scratching -- and an oversight that really holds this headset back from being the best of the best. 

Cloud Alpha, Mic, and Cables

Verdict

At the end of the day, the HyperX Cloud Flight might be a bit pricey at $159.99, but it's the only high-end headset currently on the market that's platform agnostic. If you're a gamer that wants a comfortable, great-sounding headset that can be used across multiple devices without sacrificing quality, provides up to 30 hours of battery life, and has a wireless distance of up to 20 meters, then the HyperX Cloud Flight is a gaming headset you're going to want to consider. 

Just keep in mind that it's not completely wireless; you'll have to use a 3.5mm connection for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile. And you won't be able to use its noise-canceling microphone to chat with friends on those devices either. However, if that doesn't deter you from checking out the Cloud Flight, its sound is only rivaled by the PC-only Logitech G533. And that's damn good company to keep. 

You can buy the HyperX Cloud Flight on Amazon

[Note: HyperX provided the Cloud Flight used for this review.]

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Corsair K68 RGB Review: A Colorful Dust and Water Resistant Variant https://www.gameskinny.com/4tixp/corsair-k68-rgb-review-a-colorful-dust-and-water-resistant-variant https://www.gameskinny.com/4tixp/corsair-k68-rgb-review-a-colorful-dust-and-water-resistant-variant Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:24:13 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Following the pervading trend of colorful, RGB backlighting in modern PC gaming -- where almost every peripheral needs the functionality to stay hip -- Corsair recently released an RGB variant of their unique, and highly reliable, K68 mechanical gaming keyboard. In our review of the original K68, we gave the keyboard high marks for its innovative design, accuracy, and nearly unbeatable price point. 

Fast forward a few months and not a lot has changed for the K68 RGB -- what we liked about the original is still here, and some of the same (small) issues are still hanging around. Nonetheless, let's dive in and take a quick look at why you should consider the K68 RGB if you're in the market for a mechanical keyboard in 2018. 

Corsair K68 RGB Mechanical Keyboard angled view

(Very) Similar in Form and Fashion

For all intents and purposes, the K68 RGB looks identical to the K68 on both the outside and the inside. Sporting the same matte black finish as the original K68, the RGB's durable hard-plastic chassis looks elegant and refined -- especially with the silver Corsair logo emblazoned at the top of the board. 

Above the ten-key numpad you'll find dedicated media playback keys (stop, previous, next, play/pause) and volume keys (up, down, and mute). For the most part, these keys are tight, responsive, and easy to reach. However, just as with the original K68, I often felt that the media playback keys were a bit close to the numpad and could use a bit more room; reaching over the keycaps required a bit of a concentrated effort. To the left of those keys, you'll find the board's brightness and Windows lock keys. 

Moving on to the main part of the keyboard, you'll find it's host to the industry-standard 104 keys. All of the Cherry MX Red switches beneath each keycap employ gold crosspoint technology and are as responsive, accurate, and quiet as you'd expect them to be. Guaranteed for 50 million keypresses, these are your standard Red switches -- the ones that are going to last you a long, long time. 

Missing are the dedicated "G" keys found on Corsair's higher-end offerings (which makes sense since this isn't one of those). But overall, that's only going to (really) impact MMO and/or MOBA players that need extra keys for standard operations and complex macros. For the average player, omitting those keys from the K68 RGB most likely isn't a deal breaker. 

Close up of the K68 RGB's rubber protective coating surrounding Cherry MX Red switches

Water and Dust Resistance for the Win

Like its predecessor, the K68 RGB is also water and dust resistant. It's hard enough to come across a keyboard that's "kind of" water and dust resistant, much less one that actually is. And that's the main feature that sets this board (and its predecessor) apart from other mechanical gaming keyboards on the market.  

Implementing IP32 standards, the K68 RGB is able to protect its most vital mechanism from foreign bodies such as water and dust. That doesn't mean it's waterproof or dustproof, but it does mean that if you spill water on your keyboard or drop a crumb between the keycaps that the Cherry Red switches beneath will be (much) less prone to malfunction. 

How does the K68 do it? Specifically designing the board from the ground up with these type of resistances in mind, Corsair product engineers developed a translucent rubber cover capable of shielding the board's switches from water seepage and dust particles. On top of that, they manufactured small channels within the chassis to then transport any liquid through the board and safely through small drainage ports on the backside of the board. 

It's something that sets this mechanical apart from the competition. 

Changing the K68's lighting effects in CUE 

RGB Backlighting Adds Pizzaz 

Whereas the original K68 mechanical keyboard only offered red backlighting, the K68 RGB adds (as its name implies) ... RGB backlighting. Using Corsair's CUE software, you're able to fully customize the backlighting and lighting patterns of the K68 RGB -- down to each individual key. 

As is basically standard in the industry these days, you'll have access to the entire RGB spectrum of 16 million-plus colors so that you can program any hue you desire -- down to the exact shade if that's your thing. On top of that, Corsair provides 11 distinct lighting patterns, from spiral to rain and more. You can even select the speed at which patterns oscillate and in which directions they move about the board.

Each of these presets -- and any you come up with yourself -- can be programmed to the board and easily recalled at any computer, regardless of if CUE is installed on the device or not. 

Verdict

It's curious that full RGB backlighting wasn't a feature on the original K68 since the only real distinguishing factor between this board and its predecessor is that functionality. But I suppose we expect options these days, so here we stand.

Like its progenitor, the K68 RGB features reliable Cherry MX switches (the board currently comes in both the Red and Blue variety, but we only tested the Red variant), unique water and dust resistance, fully customizable macros, 100% anti-ghosting tech, and NKRO. It's comfortable and reliable, providing pro-level capabilities in a compact frame. 

At any rate, it's a mechanical keyboard well worth considering if you're a casual or competitive player. Just know that if you spend hours ulting noobs in the mid lane or grinding in preparation for high-rank raid, one of Corsair's more robust, higher-tier offerings may be what you're looking for. 

Coming in at $119.99, the K68 RGB isn't the most expensive board out there. In fact, I'd say that its price tag is well-deserved for what you get. However, being that the K68 provides all of the same functionality of the K68 RGB sans RGB lighting for $89.99, you have to ask yourself: Is having access to 16 million colors worth the extra $30? 

You can buy the K68 RGB on Corsair's website

[Note: Corsair provided the K68 RGB used for this review].

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SteelSeries Rival 600 Review: Gaming Mice Can't Get Much Better https://www.gameskinny.com/9j5bx/steelseries-rival-600-review-gaming-mice-cant-get-much-better https://www.gameskinny.com/9j5bx/steelseries-rival-600-review-gaming-mice-cant-get-much-better Mon, 29 Jan 2018 14:35:03 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Finding the right gaming mouse is like finding a snug glove in winter -- it’s warm, it’s toasty, and it’s protection from the bitter chill of losing yet another ranked match in Paladins. Finding the right gaming mouse can also be an elusive prospect, one that’s made difficult by the overwhelming glut of mice filling every peripherals storefront on the internet.

In all my time reviewing mice over the past year, I’ve found two that I could definitively say are the right fit for my hybrid grip style -- and can keep up with the way I play video games on the PC. Sure, there've been some great mice to come across my desk, but only a small handful really stand out across the vast expanse of time. Now, I’ve found another.

SteelSeries’ Rival 600 is a phenomenally engineered piece of gaming hardware. It's a mouse that should be on every gamer's desk -- casual or competitive. Because of its TrueMove3+ sensor set (yes, it has two sensors), the 600 sets itself apart from the competition in a unique way. It's the mouse I never knew I wanted until I got my hands on it. 

And now I can't let go. 

Design

If you were to take a cursory glance at the Rival 600, you'd probably walk away thinking it looks a lot like the Rival 310. In fact, the 600 has a (very) similar shape and contour when compared to its TrueMove cousin. But take a closer look and it’s immediately apparent that when it comes to design, the Rival 600 is fiercer and much more aggressive.

Where the left and right mouse buttons of the Rival 310 stop at the prow of the mouse, the split-trigger switches of the Rival 600 reach out over the front of the mouse like prongs on a cyberpunk starship, lending the mouse a futuristic aesthetic that fits well with modern gaming’s RGB, space-age zeal. Move along the top toward the middle of the Rival 600, and you’ll find the obligatory mouse wheel and a relatively large middle mouse button for switching CPI on the fly. I found the 310’s middle button a bit small, so I was glad to see the surface area of the 600’s MMB grow to allow for easier access in tense situations.

From there, move along the left side of the mouse and you'll find three more buttons along the periphery, just above the absurdly comfortable silicone grips. These buttons aren’t as large as those found on the 310; their slimmer designs don't provide large targets for your thumbs. But considering the 600 isn’t as tall in the middle and the back as the 310, the 600 fit in my palm better and helped my thumb easily find each button without any problems.

As is customary with the Rival series of mice, you’ll find the SteelSeries logo branded on the back of the Rival 600. But what isn’t customary is the mouse’s eight-zone RGB lighting. Hop into this clicker’s Engine 3 software and you’ll find that you can not only adjust the lighting beneath the SteelSeries logo, but also the lighting beneath the mouse wheel and in the channels just below the LMB and RMB. The latter conduits add character to the Rival 600 -- offsetting its rather austere all-black color pattern. Using Engine 3, you can cycle through four different effects and millions of colors to program the perfect combination of lush, vibrant lighting. 

But one of the very best things about the Rival 600’s design is that it has detachable side plates that let you customize the weight of the mouse. Coming it at around 96 grams without its detachable cable, the Rival 600 is already one of SteelSeries' heavier mice right out of the box. However, by detaching the sides and inserting one or all of the included eight four-gram weights, you can get the Rival 600 up to 128 grams, making it the perfect choice for those that prefer weight customizability for different gaming situations. It also helps that the weights are on the sides of the mouse -- not the middle -- allowing for more pinpoint customization than that found in some other models.

Performance

Featuring SteelSeries’ TrueMove3 Sensor (here called TrueMove3+), the Rival 600 provides fantastic accuracy and performance. Just like the Rival 310’s TrueMove3, the 600’s TrueMove3+ eschews jitters and jerks for ultra-low latency and what really does feel like true 1-to-1 tracking up to 3,500 CPI. The mouse can reach 12,000 CPI, but SteelSeries can only guarantee 1-to-1 tracking up to 3,500. Regardless, in the same ways I adored the Rival 310 for making Paladins headshots effortless, and in how I praised it for increasing my accuracy while sniping in Battlefield 1, the Rival 600 gave me the accuracy and precision I needed to stay competitive. 

But what really makes the Rival 600 stand apart from every other mouse on the planet is that it sports not one but two sensors. Putting the + in TrueMove3+, the Rival 600’s dedicated lift-off sensor lets you calibrate the mouse’s lift-off distance from 0.5mm to 2mm via SteelSeries Engine 3 software. 

Since I’m one of those players that picks his mouse up as he moves it back and forth, I found the 600’s liftoff sensor to be a savior when playing They Are Billions. By setting the liftoff distance in the middle, I was able to select specific units and structures without having my mouse stop in the middle of my movement -- saving valuable seconds. Playing Killing Floor 2 and setting the lift-off distance as low as possible, I was able to better home in on targets and pull off more crits because my crosshair didn't float off target. 

There’s nothing worse than getting killed because you lifted your mouse just a hair -- and now you’re staring at the ground or at a wall, not the enemy. The Rival 600 all but eliminates that in the eyes of this average Joe. 

SteelSeries wants the Rival 600 to be the go-to mouse for eSports players the world over. Whether they share my sentiments remains to be seen, but I think the 600 has a shot of making that goal a reality. 

Verdict

The Rival 600’s spoiled me. Having the ability to customize my lift-off distance was a functionality I never knew I wanted in a mouse until I had it -- and I don’t know if I can ever go back to a mouse with a single sensor. Coming in at $79.99, the Rival 600 is a high-end mouse at a great price point. Comparing it to SteelSeries’ other offerings, the 600 should be the company's flagship. Hands down.

Rated for 60 million clicks, the 600's buttons are going to last you a long, long time. Using SteelSeries Engine 3 software, you can program profiles to the mouse for both lighting and functionality, easily recalling them even if you don't have the software installed on the computer you're using. And the mouse's USB cable is detachable, making it easier to transport between LANs if that's your thing. 

If you're looking for a mouse with a veritable bevy of buttons, you might find the Rival 600's seven buttons a little on the light side. If so, you'll want to check out SteelSeries' Rival 500, which boasts a whopping 15 buttons and is specifically made for MMO and MOBA players. And if you're looking for something feather-light, you'll want to look elsewhere, too. 

However, the Rival 600 is your go to if you're looking for a generalist mouse that performs well across all genres, lets you customize lift-off distance, and provides killer accuracy and precision. 

You can buy the Rival 600 on Amazon for $79.99

[Note: SteelSeries provided the Rival 600 used for this review.]

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