Razer, long known for its high-end gaming mice, has had sort of a slow start when it comes to gaming keyboards. Its offerings haven’t been bad, but the company hasn’t had a must-have product yet. The BlackWidow is Razer’s first.
Read on for the full review of Razer's first mechanical gaming keyboard!
We’ll admit it: When the Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition mid-tower chassis showed up on our doorstep, we thought it was a joke. “Surely,” we said, “Thermaltake didn’t just slap one of its dual-bay BlacX hard drive docks onto a cheap mid-tower chassis and call it a day.” Well, Thermaltake did, and in a really confusing way. The V9 BlacX Edition is virtually identical to the plain ol’ V9, true, except the BlacX Edition has more features, better build quality, and a $60 dual-SATA dock slapped on the top. And it’s $30 cheaper than the plain ol’ V9. Er, what?
As a game, Dead Space 2 really isn't all that special. There's some decent shooting, sure, but if you've helped one necromorph with that pesky “having legs” problem of his, you've helped 'em all. No – what truly rockets Dead Space 2 from “good” to “fantastic” is the atmospheric, foreboding shell around shooting's chewy, gore-soaked center. Dead Space 2 is a game that's greater than the sum of its parts – but its parts aren't half-bad to begin with.
Dead Space 2's premise is remarkably similar to that of the original. You're still Isaac Clarke, falling-apart-at-the-seams necromorphs are still invading, and you're still coping with visions of your corpsified girlfriend. The devil, however, is in the details, and that's where Dead Space 2 really shines. For one, Isaac's no longer doing his best Gordon Freeman impression, and his struggle's much more cinematic as a result. The main plot's not Oscar-worthy or anything like that, but its twists and turns will definitely keep you on your toes.
It’s difficult to pick just one standout feature of the HP EliteBook 8740w mobile workstation. Certainly a bright, 17-inch, 10-bit LCD panel that’s capable of displaying more than 1 billion colors and remains visible at up to about a 170-degree offset without any color degradation is worth noting. But so is the notebook’s durable design, with its spill-resistant keyboard, magnesium-alloy chassis, and magnesium-aluminum display enclosure. Then there’s also the 8740w’s impressive performance that runs circles around our zero-point configuration.
Noctua has wowed us before with its coolers: Both the NH-U12P (August 2009) and NH-D14 (April 2010) impressed us with top-tier performance. The NH-C14, which features a perpendicular cooling-fin stack and two fans, is larger than the former but smaller than the 2 pounds, 12 ounces of the latter.
How can you improve on OCZ Technology’s original RevoDrive (reviewed November 2010), which binds two SandForce SF-1200 SSDs to a PCI-E card? You add another two SSDs for a quad-drive SSD. That’s what OCZ did for the RevoDrive X2.
The original RevoDrive topped out at 500MB/s in very specific tests, and hovered around half that speed for most day-to-day usage, which still put it at the very top end of current-gen solid-state devices. OCZ claims the RevoDrive X2 can hit speeds up to 750MMB/s—that’s marketing megabytes per second. Oh yeah, we’re testing that.
Ever since the appearance of Intel’s smoking-fast second-gen Core i7 processor in January, we’ve been wondering if Intel’s hexa-cores still have a purpose. When iBuypower’s Paladin XLC strode into town with a hearty Intel six-core inside its shining white armor, we expected an epic battle.
And we got one. Outfitted with Intel’s priciest hexa-core, the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X, the Paladin XLC seemed destined to take on Falcon Northwest’s black-clad Mach V system that we reviewed in February.
The Asus ENGTX 560 Ti DirectCU II is that once-rare bird: a factory-overclocked card at the beginning of a GPU's life cycle. Once upon a time, you wouldn’t ever see an overclocked graphics card. Then they started to appear—usually when a particular generation of GPUs neared the end of its run. Today’s hyper-competition between AMD and Nvidia now dictates that overclocked cards come out of the woodwork as soon as a product launches. If it’s an epidemic, it’s one we like, because manually overclocking graphics cards is a headache and generally more perilous than CPU overclocking.
With its iteration of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti, Asus decided to revamp its DirectCU cooler. Like previous iterations, this second generation DirectCU II runs the heat pipes in direct contact with the GPU, rather than relying on a dissipation plate to transfer heat to the pipes. Asus suggests this is a more efficient way to move heat away from the chip’s hotspots. As with most modern premium graphics cards, Asus uses high quality components throughout, which increase the longevity of the card while minimizing electronic noise that can interfere with image quality.
Nvidia’s engineering teams have been pretty busy lately, reengineering and streamlining the previously inefficient Fermi architecture. We’ve seen the GTX 580 and GTX 570 released in recent months. Now it’s the sweet spot GPU, the GTX 460, getting the chip re-spin love. Dubbed the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, Nvidia is clearly hoping to recapture some of the thunder of the venerable GeForce 4400 Ti GPU from an earlier generation.
As the Maximum PC team noted earlier, the new chip, code-named GF114, now sports a full 384 shader cores, 1GB of GDDR5 and pushes the reference core clock speeds up to 822MHz. During the product briefing, Nvidia noted that the GPU has plenty of headroom for overclocking, and we’re seeing quite a few designs which push the clock speeds.
First up on the review platter is MSI’s N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II OC Edition. The OC Edition pushes the core clock speeds to 880MHz and the memory clock to 1050MHz. The twin fan design has been updated from the original Twin Frozr; it’s less bulky and heavy, plus it seems to be quieter than the original. MSI also claims that the board is less prone to warping when mounted in a vertical case and uses “military grade” components in its construction.
The first product from the line that we tested, the Spectre, almost immediately raised some red flags. From a design standpoint, the Spectre is a big departure for Razer. It forgoes the company’s trademark ergonomic, curved construction for a flatter and smaller-than-usual design. With hard, angled edges and a low profile, it’s surprisingly uncomfortable for a product from a company with a lot of experience making mice that feel good to hold.