Hardware http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/1416/ en Tesoro Injects Shrike Laser Gaming Mouse with a Higher DPI, More Color Options http://www.maximumpc.com/tesoro_injects_shrike_laser_gaming_mouse_higher_dpi_more_color_options_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/shrike.jpg" alt="Shrike" title="Shrike" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" />Upgraded rodent now features an 8200 DPI laser sensor</h3> <p>Gaming peripheral maker <strong>Tesoro went back and updated its Shrike Laser Gaming Mouse with a few improvements</strong>, including an upgraded 8200 DPI sensor (up from 5600 DPI). The updated Shrike also features an updated programmable software UI, improved RGB LED lighting, and new color options. There are now five color choices for the Shrike to match your setup -- black, orange, white, yellow, and brushed silver.</p> <p>Never heard of the Shrike? It's a rodent designed mostly for first person shooter fans. It has 128kb of built-in memory, an adjustable weight system, 8 fully programmable and independent buttons, high-speed motion detection and acceleration, 1,000Hz Ultrapolling, shooting speed control, rubberized thumb grip, and an adjustable full color LED.</p> <p>With the updated software, Tesoro says its easier than before the customize and program the Shrike, both in terms of its LED lighting and creating macros.</p> <p>No word on price or availability, though as a point of reference, the original Shrike (H2L) goes for about $50 street. If searching for the newer model, look for model number <a href="http://www.tesorotec.com/gaming-mice/tesoro-shrike-h2lv2-laser-gaming-mouse.html" target="_blank">TS-H2LV2</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/tesoro_injects_shrike_laser_gaming_mouse_higher_dpi_more_color_options_2014#comments Hardware mouse Peripherals shrike tesoro News Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:45:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 28559 at http://www.maximumpc.com Samsung's 20nm 6Gb LPDDR3 RAM Promises Longer Battery Life for Mobile Devices http://www.maximumpc.com/samsungs_20nm_6gb_lpddr3_ram_promises_longer_battery_life_mobile_devices <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/samsung_6gb.jpg" alt="Samsung 20nm 6Gb" title="Samsung 20nm 6Gb" width="228" height="139" style="float: right;" />Look for thinner, longer lasting mobile gadgets</h3> <p><strong>Samsung said it has begun mass producing its 6-gigabit (Gb) low-power double data rate 3 (LPDDR3) mobile DRAM based on its 20-nanometer process technology</strong> (not to be confused with 20nm-class, which could mean anywhere from 20nm to 29nm). Why should you care? The new mobile memory chip is more efficient, which in turn will enable longer battery life in mobile devices. It could also lead to slimmer, less expensive mobile products.</p> <p>The new 6Gb LPDDR3 has a per-pin data transfer rate of up to 2,133 megabits per second (Mbps). It takes four of them to comprise a 3GB package, which Samsung says is more than 20 percent smaller and consumes 10 percent less energy than the currently available 3GB package using the company's previously lowest process technology. The end product is an improvement in every way -- mobile memory based on Samsung's 20nm process is smaller, thinner, faster, and more power efficient.</p> <p>"Our new 20nm 6Gb LPDDR3 DRAM provides the most advanced mobile memory solution for the rapidly expanding high-performance mobile DRAM market," <a href="http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140917006467/en/Samsung-Mass-Producing-Industry%E2%80%99s-20-Nanometer-6Gb-LPDDR3#.VBr_pfldVCg" target="_blank">said Jeeho Baek</a>, vice president, memory marketing, Samsung Electronics. "We are working closely with our global customers to offer next-generation mobile memory solutions that can be applied to a more extensive range of markets ranging from the premium to standard segments."</p> <p>Samsung says its new 20nm process brings about more than a 30 percent productivity gain. With that being the case, they should be cheaper to produce and could ultimately lead to price savings for the end user.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/samsungs_20nm_6gb_lpddr3_ram_promises_longer_battery_life_mobile_devices#comments 6Gb Hardware lpddr3 Memory mobile ram samsung 20nm News Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:56:44 +0000 Paul Lilly 28558 at http://www.maximumpc.com Amazon Unloads Seven New Fire HD Tablets and E-Readers http://www.maximumpc.com/amazon_unloads_seven_new_fire_hd_tablets_and_e-readers_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kindle_fire_7.jpg" alt="Kindle Fire" title="Kindle Fire" width="228" height="168" style="float: right;" />Look who's ready for the holiday shopping season</h3> <p><strong>Amazon decided that releasing a new Kindle Fire HD tablet wouldn't be enough, so the e-tailer went and added more than half a dozen new slates and e-readers</strong>. It begins with the introduction of two brand new Kindles starting at $79 (Kindle) and $199 (Kindle Voyage). The Kindle Voyage ups the ante with the thinnest design yet for a Kindle device (0.30 inches) and a next generation paperwhite display.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I15SB16" target="_blank">$79 Kindle</a> ($99 without Special Offers) is upgraded with a 20 percent faster processor, twice the amount of storage, and a touch interface. And starting at $199 (or $219 without Special Offers) for the Wi-Fi version and $269 for the Wi-Fi + 3G (or $289 without Special Offers), the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOY8XWQ" target="_blank">Kindle Voyage</a> comes with a built-in light with adaptive light sensor, 300 pixels per inch display (versus 167 on the standard Kindle), and PagePress sensor that makes it easier to turn pages.</p> <p>Moving on, Amazon also released a pair of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LOR524M" target="_blank">Fire HD Kids Edition</a> tablets backed by 2-year "worry-free" guarantees -- if little Billy breaks his tablet, Amazon will replace it, no questions asked. The Fire HD Kids Edition comes in 6-inch ($149) and 7-inch ($189) models with choice of a blue, green, or pink kid-proof case.</p> <p>Billed as a real tablet and not a toy, the Fire HD Kids Edition wields a quad-core processor, HD display, front- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio, and access to Amazon's content ecosystem.</p> <p>If you're keeping count, we're up to four new devices with three more to go. Two of them belong to the all-new Fire HD category. These are also available in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KC6I06S" target="_blank">6-inch</a> (starting at $99) and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IKPYKWG/ref=fs_fas" target="_blank">7-inch</a> (starting at $139, available in October) models with 8GB and 16GB capacity options. <a href="http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1969156&amp;highlight=" target="_blank">According to Amazon</a>, the 1.5GHz quad-core processor stuffed inside these slates has 3x the graphics performance of the Samsung Tab 4.</p> <p>Finally, there's the all new <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HCNHDN0" target="_blank">Fire HDX 8.9</a> powered by the latest generation quad-core 2.5GHz processor with a 70 percent faster graphics engine than the previous version. Amazon says it's 20 percent lighter than the iPad Air, and it's the first tablet with Dolby Atmos, which creates a new mobile headphone experience with multidimensional sound that flows above and around you, the company says. Pricing starts at $379.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amazon_unloads_seven_new_fire_hd_tablets_and_e-readers_2014#comments amazon Hardware hdx kindle fire hd mobile slate tablet News Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:33:29 +0000 Paul Lilly 28557 at http://www.maximumpc.com GammaTech Announces Durabook R11 Tablet http://www.maximumpc.com/gammatech_announces_durabook_r11_tablet_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/durabook_r11.jpg" alt="GammaTech Durabook R11" title="GammaTech Durabook R11" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />The lightest 11.6-inch rugged tablet in its class, GammaTech says</h3> <p>Tablets aren't exactly known for their durability. Can you image dropping your Android slate or iPad down a flight of stairs? If the stairs are carpeted, you might get away with it (we don't recommend testing this out), otherwise there's a good chance the screen will end up busted. <strong>GammaTech's new Durabook R11 is a rugged slate</strong> that would probably survive such a tumble, as well as other harsh situations.</p> <p>According to GammaTech, the Durabook R11 is the lightest 11.6-inch rugged tablet in its class. The slate weighs 2.73 pounds (with battery) and measures 11.4 inches (W) by 7.48 inches (D) by 0.78 inches (H), or 290mm (W) by 190mm (D) by 20mm (H) if you prefer metric.</p> <p>It boasts Military Standard 810G and IP65 certifications for drop, shock, dust, and water resistance, and is MIL-STD 461F certified for operation in hazardous locations. According to GammaTech, it can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -14F to around 131F degrees.</p> <p>As to the hardware, the Durabook R11 features an Intel Haswell Y Series CPU, up to 8GB of DDR3L 1600 RAM, 64GB or 128GB M.2 SATA SSD, 5MP rear-facing camera, 1080p front-facing camera, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, SDXC card reader, SIM card reader, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and various other odds and ends. On the software side, there are various options, including Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1.</p> <p>Those interested can create an account at <a href="https://www.gammatechusa.com/products/tablets/durabook-r11" target="_blank">GammaTech's website</a> to get pricing and customization options.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/gammatech_announces_durabook_r11_tablet_2014#comments durabook r11 gammatech Hardware mobile rugged slate tablet News Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:16:51 +0000 Paul Lilly 28555 at http://www.maximumpc.com Asus May Sue X99 Motherboard Competitors Over OC Socket Design http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_may_sue_x99_motherboard_competitors_over_oc_socket_design_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/asus_rampage_v_extreme_socket.jpg" alt="Asus Rampage V Extreme Socket" title="Asus Rampage V Extreme Socket" width="228" height="210" style="float: right;" />A suppy chain leak may have led to patent infringement</h3> <p>It's said that all is fair in love and war, but in the motherboard war that's currently taking place, some companies may have went too far. That's the reported opinion of Asus, anyway, <strong>Apparently Asus thinks competing motherboard makers infringed on pending patents related to its OC Socket technology</strong> found in boards based on Intel's X99 chipset for Haswell-E. Asus developed its OC Socket technology in-house.</p> <p>What is OC Socket? It has more pins than a standard LGA 2011 socket. The six additional pins are strategically spread out around the socket and allow you to tap into additional Haswell-E voltage lanes to enable higher and more stable overclocks.</p> <p>"Designed to break performance barriers, Asus OC Socket utilizes extra pins to connect a proprietary circuit to contacts found on Haswell-E's land grid array (LGA). Combined with our customized UEFI, this exclusive feature enables higher DDR4 memory frequencies, lower latencies, and enhanced stability while overclocking, extending all the way to extreme overclocking conditions, such as Liquid Nitrogen (LN2). OC Socket is 100 percent compatible with new Haswell-E LGA 2011-v3 CPUs, ensuring the ideal combination of overclocking performance and compatibility," Asus explains.</p> <p><a href="http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20140917PD204.html" target="_blank">According to <em>Digitimes</em></a>, an investigation by Asus has lead the company to believe that supply chain makers leaked confidential OC Socket designs to competitors. As a result, Asus is considering legal action against competing motherboard makers, including ASRock, MSI, and Gigabyte.</p> <p>Stay tuned, as we'll be watching to see how this develops.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_may_sue_x99_motherboard_competitors_over_oc_socket_design_2014#comments asus Build a PC Hardware legal motherboard oc socket Patent Infringement x99 News Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:09:47 +0000 Paul Lilly 28554 at http://www.maximumpc.com Xotic PC's Aggressive Looking Phantom X1 Laptop Takes Flight with Haswell http://www.maximumpc.com/xotic_pcs_aggressive_looking_phantom_x1_laptop_takes_flight_haswell_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/phantom_x1.jpg" alt="Xotic PC Phantom X1" title="Xotix PC Phantom X1" width="228" height="147" style="float: right;" />Not a laptop for boardroom meetings</h3> <p>If you're looking for a business laptop to bring into the boardroom and take notes with, there's nothing for you to see here (unless you want to make a splash in front of your colleagues and bosses). However, if it's an aggressive design and affordable price tag you're after, Xotic PC may have something of interest. <strong>Meet the Phantom X1, Xotic PC's latest 15.6-inch gaming laptop</strong> starting at $1,159.</p> <p>From the available press images we've seen, the overall aesthetic reminds us of a few Asus ROG laptops -- it's sort of a stealth fighter jet theme.</p> <p>On the inside, things are a bit more standard fare. The Phantom X1 comes stock with a 15.6-inch Full HD 1080 IPS display powered by an Intel Core i7 4710HQ processor (Haswell), 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics, 1TB hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, memory card reader, webcam, backlit keyboard and a few other tidbits. Not included is an operating system, which you can add starting at $105.</p> <p>The Phantom X1 is <a href="http://www.xoticpc.com/phantom-x1-p-7527.html" target="_blank">available now</a> to configure and order.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/xotic_pcs_aggressive_looking_phantom_x1_laptop_takes_flight_haswell_2014#comments Hardware haswell laptop notebook OEM phantom x1 rigs xotic pc News Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:41:32 +0000 Paul Lilly 28553 at http://www.maximumpc.com Logitech Develops Custom Romer-G Switches for G910 Orion Spark Mechanical Keyboard http://www.maximumpc.com/logitech_develops_custom_romer-g_switches_g910_orion_spark_mechanical_keyboard_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/logitech_g910_orion_spark.jpg" alt="Logitech G910 Orion Spark" title="Logitech G910 Orion Spark" width="228" height="147" style="float: right;" />A feature rich mechanical keyboard with one-of-a-kind key switches</h3> <p><strong>Logitech just announced the G910 Orion Spark RGB, a mechanical keyboard</strong> and successor to the G710. Unlike its predecessor, however, the G910 boasts Logitech's exclusive new Romer-G mechanical key switches, offering 25 percent faster actuation than any other mechanical switch out there with an actuation point of 1.5mm, Logitech says. It's also supposedly a more durable plank -- Logitech claims it can withstand 70 million keystrokes.</p> <p>"This keyboard is the culmination of years of ongoing development by our engineering team, incorporating feedback from gamers and eSports athletes to develop a next-generation mechanical key," <a href="http://news.logitech.com/press-release/consumer-products/logitech-engineers-most-advanced-mechanical-gaming-keyboard-world" target="_blank">said Vincent Tucker</a>, director of Logitech gaming. "Our team was charged with developing a keyboard that truly improves the gaming experience, and Orion Spark delivers."</p> <p>Each key of the Orion Spark can be individually customized from a selection of 16.8 million colors. This opens up the possibility of marking keys by color to keep track of spells and other commands, or you can simply change the color to match your overall setup.</p> <p>There are nine programmable G-keys on the Orion Spark, and when spread across three profiles, there's the potential to create up to 27 macros using the Logitech Gaming Software.</p> <p>The Orion Spark can also communicate with your mobile device using a new app called Arx Control. This allows your mobile device to display in-game intelligence, system performance stats, media controls, and more. To make such a thing feasible, the Orion Spark features a pull-out tray that supports most iOS and Android devices.</p> <p>Logitech says the Orion Spark will be available in November for $180; you can <a href="http://gaming.logitech.com/en-us/product/rgb-gaming-keyboard-g910?wt.mc_id=global_g910" target="_blank">place a pre-order</a> now.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/logitech_develops_custom_romer-g_switches_g910_orion_spark_mechanical_keyboard_2014#comments g910 orion spark Hardware logitech mechanical keyboard Peripherals romer-g News Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:03:36 +0000 Paul Lilly 28552 at http://www.maximumpc.com AOC Wants to Save Your Eyes Using Anti-Blue Light Technology in Monitors http://www.maximumpc.com/aoc_wants_save_your_eyes_using_anti-blue_light_technology_monitors_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/aoc_monitor_0.jpg" alt="AOC Monitor" title="AOC Monitor" width="228" height="145" style="float: right;" />A friendly technology for your eyeballs</h3> <p>Display maker <strong>AOC is rolling out a patent-pending technology called "Anti-Blue Light"</strong> that's supposed to protect your eyes against the damaging effects of blue light from LED-backlit monitors. Just like overexposure to Ultra-Violet (UV) light waves from the sun can impair your vision, so can shortwave blue light (380-450 nm) from LED-backlit devices, AOC says. The company's Anti-Blue Light technology reduces the intensity and strength of the harmful shortwave blue light by fine tuning the LED backlight.</p> <p>This method reduces blue light by over 90 percent. Compared to other solutions that use filters or software settings, AOC's ABL technology reduces shortwave blue light without dimming or distorting colors so that the monitor can maintain the true color and clarity of your images.</p> <p>Is this a real problem? According to AOC, there are studies showing that long-term exposure to blue light can lead to macular degeneration (AMD), a permanent loss of vision in the center of the eye due to damage of the retina. The company references Dr. Carl Kupfer, former Director of the U.S. National Eye Institute, who predicts that "the prevalence of AMD is expected to rise 6.3 million by the year 2030" and that it will become an epidemic.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/blue-light.jpg" alt="Blue light" title="Blue light" width="555" height="245" /></p> <p>"We believe that any technology that can help protect our users’ eyes, without forcing them to change their digital lifestyles will be highly welcome," said Steve Young, AOC Marketing Manager. "AOC’s Anti-Blue Light technology leads the industry in protecting consumers against the damaging effects of blue light and providing a safer and healthier workplace."</p> <p>AOC's solution tweaks the blue light emissions at the source by shifting the wavelength peak of the LED backlight from 450nm to 460nm, moving it out of the range that's considered harmful.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/blue-light2.jpg" alt="Blue Light" title="Blue Light" width="612" height="252" /></p> <p>The company plans to implement it's ABL technology into its AOC 76V Series.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/aoc_wants_save_your_eyes_using_anti-blue_light_technology_monitors_2014#comments anti-blue light aoc display Hardware monitor technology News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:17:05 +0000 Paul Lilly 28546 at http://www.maximumpc.com Microsoft Unveils Universal Keyboard and Wired Xbox One Controller for Windows http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft_unveils_universal_keyboard_and_wireless_xbox_one_controller_windows_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/xbox_one_controller_windows.jpg" alt="Xbox One Controller for Windows" title="Xbox One Controller for Windows" width="228" height="188" style="float: right;" />A keyboard that doesn't play favorites</h3> <p><strong>Microsoft beefed up its hardware portfolio today</strong>, and two of the more notable items consist of a universal mobile keyboard that works with Windows, iOS, and Android devices, and a wired Xbox One controller for Windows. For those of you looking for a new rodent, the company also released an <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/arc-touch-bluetooth-mouse/7MP-00001" target="_blank">Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse</a> and a <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/wireless-mobile-mouse-3500-limited-edition/GMF-00403" target="_blank">Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Limited Edition</a>.</p> <p>Getting back to the good stuff, the universal keyboard sports an OS switch that lets you change from one operating system to another while maintaining a fully functional keyboard. That means you can pair the keyboard with up to three devices and take advantage of each one's unique keys, like the Windows Control key, the iOS Command key, and Android's Home button, all on a single plank.</p> <p>It also sports a built-in cover that doubles as a stand for your tablet or smartphone when opened up. When you flip it open, it turns the keyboard on automatically and initiates a Bluetooth connection. Closing the cover turns it back off. <a href="http://blogs.microsoft.com/firehose/2014/09/16/new-universal-mobile-keyboard-works-with-windows-ios-and-android-mobile-devices/" target="_blank">According to Microsoft</a>, the rechargeable battery is good for up to six months of use on a single charge -- if it runs out of juice, it only takes 10 minutes to charge it enough to last a full day.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/sdPT-TzgU84" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/universal-mobile-keyboard/P2Z-00001" target="_blank">Universal Mobile Keyboard</a> will be available in October for $79.95 at the <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/universal-mobile-keyboard/P2Z-00001" target="_blank">Microsoft Store</a> and other places.</p> <p>As for the Xbox One controller, it's now available for the PC. Like the version for the Xbox One, it sports over 40 improvements compared to the Xbox 360 controller. It also comes with a cable so you can enjoy a wired connection and not worry about battery life; it also works wirelessly, but only on the Xbox One, not PC.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/xbox-one-controller-for-windows/C8G-00004" target="_blank">Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows</a> will be available in November for $59.95.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft_unveils_universal_keyboard_and_wireless_xbox_one_controller_windows_2014#comments controller Hardware keyboard microsoft Windows xbox one News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:45:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 28545 at http://www.maximumpc.com Micron Unveils High Speed, Low Power M600 SATA SSD, Comes in Different Form Factors http://www.maximumpc.com/micron_unveils_high_speed_low_power_m600_sata_ssd_comes_different_form_factors_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/micron_m600.jpg" alt="Micron M600 SSD" title="Micron M600 SSD" width="228" height="141" style="float: right;" />Comes in more than a dozen capacities and form factors</h3> <p><strong>Micron, the memory chip maker based in Boise, Idaho, announced its M600 SATA solid state drive</strong>. According to Micron, the M600 represents a next-generation design that sets a new bar for low-power, high-performance storage for PCs. There are 13 different variations to choose from ranging in capacity from 128GB to 1TB and in 2.5-inch/7mm, mSATA, and M.2 single-sided form factors.</p> <p>The M600 sips less than 2mW in sleep mode and averages 150mW during active use, compared to a typical laptop hard disk drive, which chugs 130mW in sleep mode and 1,400Mw to 2,000mW when active.</p> <p>On the performance side, the M600 boasts random reads up to 100,000 IOPS and sequential reads of up to 560MB/s for all capacities.&nbsp; Random write performance is rated at 88,000 IOPS while sequential writes top out at 510MB/s, which is again for all capacities.</p> <p><a href="http://investors.micron.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=871020" target="_blank">According to Micron</a>, the M600 benefits from using its unique dynamic write acceleration technology to deliver consistently high write performance regardless of SSD capacity. This technology switches NAND cells to behave more like higher-grade flash (from MLC to SLC) on-the-fly, which in turn creates a cache that is sized according to what the drive needs rather than sacrificing user capacity for a permanent cache. Micron says this method reduces power and improves write performance by as much as 2.8 times compared to non-cached systems, while leading to greater longevity to boot.</p> <p>The M600 SSD is currently in production and is sold directly to OEMs. You can look for the M600 to show up in a variety of products, including Ultrabooks, tablets, video capture systems, and performance-oriented PCs.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/micron_unveils_high_speed_low_power_m600_sata_ssd_comes_different_form_factors_2014#comments Build a PC Hardware m600 micron solid state drive ssd storage News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:27:15 +0000 Paul Lilly 28541 at http://www.maximumpc.com VESA Announces DisplayPort 1.3 Standard, Pushes Bandwidth to 32.4Gbps for 5K Displays http://www.maximumpc.com/vesa_announces_displayport_13_standard_pushes_bandwidth_324gbps_5k_displays_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/displayport.jpg" alt="DisplayPort" title="DisplayPort" width="228" height="137" style="float: right;" />Bring on the 5K monitors!</h3> <p>Just when we were beginning to get used to the idea of 4K resolution TVs and monitors, Dell went and teased us with a <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/dells_5k_monitor_pre_reviewed_2014" target="_blank">32-inch 5K panel</a> that it plans on releasing later this year for $2,499.99. With a resolution of 5120x2880, that's 70 percent more pixels than 4K, and to drive that many pixels you'd need to utilize two DisplayPort 1.2 ports. We don't expect 5K to be a mainstream thing anytime soon, but for those who plan on playing with that many pixels, you'll be happy to know that the <strong>Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced the release of the DisplayPort 1.3 standard</strong>, which supports 5K monitors.</p> <p>DisplayPort 1.3 increases the maximum link bandwidth to 32.4Gbps by way of four lanes running at a link rate of 8.1 Gbps each. That's a 50 percent bump from DisplayPort 1.2a, and once you account for transport overhead, DisplayPort's 32.4Gbps combined link rate delivers 25.92Gbps of uncompressed video data, VESA says.</p> <p>"While becoming a mainstream video standard, DisplayPort continues to be at the cutting edge of A/V transport," <a href="http://www.displayport.org/pr/vesa-releases-displayport-1-3-standard/" target="_blank">said VESA Board of Directors Chair Alan Kobayashi</a>, Fellow &amp; Executive R&amp;D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. "These new enhancements to DisplayPort will facilitate both higher resolution displays, as well as easier integration of DisplayPort into multi-protocol data transports, which will satisfy consumer’s desire for simplicity and ease-of-use."</p> <p>The new standard will allow users to run 5K monitors using a single DisplayPort cable without the use of compression. It will also allow for higher resolutions when running multiple monitors through a single connection using DisplayPort's Multi-Stream feature, such as running a pair of 4K monitors.</p> <p>DisplayPort also adds support for the 4:2:0 pixel structure, a video format used on consumer digital television interfaces, which enables support for future 8K x 4K displays, VESA says.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/vesa_announces_displayport_13_standard_pushes_bandwidth_324gbps_5k_displays_2014#comments 5k display displayport 1.3 Hardware vesa News Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:13:49 +0000 Paul Lilly 28539 at http://www.maximumpc.com Shuttle XH Series: 3-Liter Barebones With Enough Room for Core i7, Up to Three Drives http://www.maximumpc.com/shuttle_xh_series_3-liter_barebones_enough_room_core_i7_three_drives696 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u46168/shuttle_xh.jpg" alt="Shuttle XH81V" title="Shuttle XH81V" width="228" height="112" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>New barebone PCs measure just&nbsp; 240 x 200 x 72 mm</h3> <p>Taiwan-headquartered Shuttle is at it again, doing what it does best. The company, which specializes in small form factor (SFF) computers and barebones, has announced <a href="http://liliputing.com/2014/09/shuttle-xh81-slim-pc-support-core-i7-haswell.html" target="_blank">two new diminutive barebones</a>. <strong>The new XH81 and XH81V are, per the company, “compact 3L media players” that are ideal for kiosks, vending machines, digital signage and POS applications.</strong></p> <p>In terms of <a href="http://global.shuttle.com/products/productsSpec?productId=1823" target="_blank">specs</a>, both models are nearly identical. Looks-wise, the only real difference is the fact that the XH81V has its front ports hidden behind a removable panel, whereas on the XH81 they are all fully exposed.</p> <p>Both models support Haswell processors — right from Celeron to Core i7 — and up to 16GB of RAM (2 DDR3 SODIMM slots). Other specs include two USB 3.0 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, two Mini-PCIe slots, and up to five COM ports (only two on XH81V). Further, both come with a 90W external power supply and heatpipe cooling with two 60mm fans.</p> <p>“Both systems support 4K and are designed to operate in a range of ambient temperatures, from 0-50 ⁰C. The XH series is based on an Intel H81 express chipset and designed for current Intel processors with an LGA 1150 socket and up to a TDP of 65W,” Shuttle said in a press release Thursday.<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Y3_9iW9aTbk" width="620" height="281" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>“The XH series is highly customizable for either workplace or home environments as users can configure the systems with up to three storage drives. There are installation options for three 2.5" HDD/SSD drives or alternatively two 2.5" HDD/SSD drives plus an optical slimline drive. A 3.5" drive can also be installed using a PHD4 accessory which is sold separately.”</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="https://plus.google.com/107395408525066230351?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/shuttle_xh_series_3-liter_barebones_enough_room_core_i7_three_drives696#comments barebones Hardware haswell Shuttle xh series xh81 xh81v News Mon, 15 Sep 2014 02:41:26 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28532 at http://www.maximumpc.com NFL Announcers Slip on $400 Million Surface Deal, Calls Microsoft's Tablets iPads http://www.maximumpc.com/nfL_announcers_slip_400_million_surface_deal_calls_microsofts_tablets_ipads_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/surface_3.jpg" alt="Surface Pro 3" title="Surface Pro 3" width="228" height="122" style="float: right;" />Can the NFL get anything right these days?</h3> <p>Not only did the NFL mishandle a major situation with Ray Rice's domestic abuse incident, but even comparatively minor tasks are turning into fumbles. Before the season began, Microsoft inked a $400 million deal with the NFL to make its Surface the official tablet of the league for the next five years. Under normal circumstances, that would be a sound (and even savvy) advertising deal on Microsoft's part, except for one little thing -- <strong>NFL announcers couldn't help but to refer to the Surface tablets as iPads</strong>.</p> <p>Something like that should draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but if you're Apple, you'll take the free exposure. As for Microsoft, it had to endure at least two television announcers making the same mistake during the first week of the season, including one that occurred during Monday Night Football.</p> <p><a href="http://www.businessinsider.in/Microsoft-Paid-The-NFL-400-Million-To-Use-Its-Tablets-But-Announcers-Are-Calling-Them-iPads/articleshow/42196769.cms" target="_blank">According to <em>Business Inside</em>r</a>, ESPN's Trent Dilfer cracked a joke saying he wondered how long it took Arizona Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore to "learn how to use the iPad to scroll through pictures."</p> <p>The other known incident happened when New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was seen by Fox commentator John Lynch using the Surface on the sideline. Lynch joked that Brees was "not watching movies on his iPad."</p> <p>Funny stuff, though Microsoft would undoubtedly prefer if NFL announcers would spend less time cracking jokes and more time learning the difference between a Surface and an iPad.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nfL_announcers_slip_400_million_surface_deal_calls_microsofts_tablets_ipads_2014#comments Hardware iPad microsoft mobile NFL slate Surface tablet News Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:02:24 +0000 Paul Lilly 28529 at http://www.maximumpc.com Leaked Press Photo of GeForce GTX 970 Suggests Nvidia is Skipping 800 Series http://www.maximumpc.com/leaked_press_photo_geforce_gtx_970_suggests_nvidia_skipping_800_series <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/zotac_geforce_gtx_970.jpg" alt="Zotac GeForce GTX 970" title="Zotac GeForce GTX 970" width="228" height="173" style="float: right;" />Thank you Zotac for the confirmation!</h3> <p>Supposed benchmarks of Nvidia's forthcoming GeForce GTX 980, GTX 970, and GTX 980M GPUs were <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_gtx_970_and_gtx_980m_benchmarks_purportedly_leaked" target="_blank">leaked to the web</a> earlier this week, and presuming they were real, it would seem that Nvidia is planning to skip right over the 800 Series and jump right into the 900s. Lest there be any lingering doubt, what looks to be <strong>an official press image of Zotac's GeForce GTX 970 graphics card is making its way through cyberspace</strong>.</p> <p>We spotted the image over at <a href="http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/35737-nvidia-aic-partner-gtx-970-pictured-with-the-box" target="_blank"><em>Fudzilla</em></a>, which led us over to <a href="http://videocardz.com/52282/zotac-geforce-gtx-970-pictured-the-ultimate-proof-there-are-no-800-series" target="_blank"><em>VideoCardz.com</em></a>. The site says the image was leaked by a Philippine store called PCHUB that was content to consider it a "sneak peek," though we're sure Zotac (and Nvidia) aren't super thrilled about it.</p> <p>In any event, the GeForce GTX 970 is rumored to feature 1,664 CUDA cores, 138 TMUs, and 32 ROPs with a 1051MHz GPU base clockspeed and 1178MHz GPU boost clockspeed. The Zotac card will have 4GB of GDDR5 memory, presumably clocked at 7012MHz on a 256-bit bus.</p> <p>We can also see that Zotac is deviating from the reference cooler in favor of its own custom solution. Since all we have is a photo to go on, there's no word yet of a price or release date, though it's rumored the 900 Series will launch on September 19.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="https://plus.google.com/+PaulLilly?rel=author" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Paul.B.Lilly" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/leaked_press_photo_geforce_gtx_970_suggests_nvidia_skipping_800_series#comments Build a PC geforce gtx 970 graphics card Hardware nvidia Video Card zotac News Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:13:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 28527 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Keyboard http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_keyboard_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>UPDATE: We've added six more keyboards to our best keyboard roundup</h3> <p>If you’re a gamer, you can probably identify a few points in time when you realized something important about your control setup that made you better at the game. When you discovered that putting your left hand on WASD gives you more options than putting it on the arrow keys, for instance, or when you realized that your crappy optical mouse was actually holding you back in shooters. These kinds of peripheral epiphanies don’t happen every day, but it might be just about time for you to have a new one. It might be time for you to realize that your keyboard is holding you back.</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/keyboard_opener13195_small_1.jpg" alt="best keyboard" title="best keyboard" width="620" height="480" /></h3> <p>We’re giving you some credit here—we’re not talking about making the upgrade from a $6 keyboard you got at the grocery store. No, we’re talking about making the upgrade from a gaming keyboard to an amazing gaming keyboard. Going from entry level or midrange to top-of-the-line.</p> <p>We looked around and picked out some of the <strong>best keyboards</strong> we could find. To compare them, we put them through our usual battery of real-world testing, including gaming and typing, and compared their features and overall feel. Because these keyboards come attached to some pretty heavy price tags, we made sure to give them extra scrutiny. We know that minor inconveniences that might fly on a cheap keyboard become a lot more galling when you’ve paid $150 for the privilege of suffering them, and our verdicts reflect this.</p> <p>Ready to make the upgrade to serious typing hardware? Then let’s go!</p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">CMStorm Mech</h4> <p><strong>CMStorm looks to get a handle on the high-end mechanical keyboard market<br /></strong></p> <p>The CMStorm Mech is, first of all, a great-looking keyboard. Most of the top of the keyboard is wrapped in a subtly etched aluminum plate, and the board’s geometric, asymmetrical silhouette is more imaginative than most. The aluminum plate can be removed for easy cleaning, which is a nice feature, but the seven hex screws that make removal possible mar the Mech’s otherwise-excellent aesthetics.</p> <p>Despite the Mech’s metal-clad looks, it’s not the sturdiest keyboard in this roundup. The back side of the board, and particularly the wrist rest, are made of hollow plastic that sometimes flexes and creaks under pressure. It also features a large handle on one side, and a detachable USB cable. These would be handy features for someone who takes their keyboard on the road frequently, but it’s not otherwise an especially portable keyboard. It would be nice if the handle were removable or retractable, because it adds an extra two or three inches to the Mech’s already substantial width.</p> <p>The software support is simple and easy to use. It allows you to customize the five dedicated macro keys, or to rebind any other key on the board, and includes a flexible macro editor.</p> <p>Actual typing and gaming performance is top-notch and virtually identical to the other mechanical gaming keyboards on the market. Fans of any variety of Cherry MX switch will be able to find a Mech that’s right for them—CMStorm offers the keyboard with Red, Blue, or Brown switches.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13204_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13204_small.jpg" alt="The Mech is a big mechanical keyboard, but isn't quite as sturdy as it looks." title="CMStorm Mech" width="620" height="425" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Mech is a big mechanical keyboard, but isn't quite as sturdy as it looks.</strong></p> <p>In all, the Mech is a solid gaming keyboard, but doesn’t quite live up to its top-of-the-line $160 price tag.</p> <p><strong>CMStorm Mech</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$160,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cmstorm.com/ " target="_blank">www.cmstorm.com</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Mad Catz STRIKE 3</h4> <p><strong>Is a less-extravagant Strike a better deal?</strong></p> <p>The Strike 3 is the least expensive in Mad Catz’s line of high-end gaming keyboards, but it’s by no means a piece of budget hardware. If the $100 price tag doesn’t convince you of that, seeing the Strike 3 in person will.</p> <p>It’s designed to look like the higher-end Strike boards, which can be split into two parts and rearranged, but this one doesn’t actually come apart. Build quality is good overall, with a removable wrist-rest and a pair of USB passthroughs. The board comes in glossy black, red, and white, and features customizable backlighting.</p> <p>The Strike 3 isn’t mechanical, which weakens the credibility of this $100 keyboard, but Mad Catz hasn’t ignored key quality altogether. The dome switches on the Strike 3 are some of the best we’ve felt, with a crisp actuation that feels almost, but not quite, as good as a mechanical model. They definitely feel better than any of the other non-mechanical boards we tested for this roundup.</p> <p>The Strike 3 features five dedicated macro keys on the right side of the board, and seven macro buttons at the top-left. The left-side buttons, unfortunately, are pretty abysmal. They’re tiny, far away from the home row, and strangely wiggly in their sockets—we found it virtually impossible to hit a particular one without looking.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13217_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13217_small.jpg" alt="The seam down the middle of the Strike 3 is just for show—this keyboard's only one piece." title="Mad Catz STRIKE 3" width="620" height="461" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The seam down the middle of the Strike 3 is just for show—this keyboard's only one piece.</strong></p> <p>The Strike 3 is a good keyboard, but we would generally recommend a mechanical board if you’re looking to spend this much. If you personally prefer non-mechanical switches, however, this would be an excellent choice.</p> <p><strong>Mad Catz Strike 3</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100, <a title="mad catz" href="http://www.madcatz.com" target="_blank">www.madcatz.com</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Click the next page for more keyboard reviews.</h4> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;"> <hr />SteelSeries Apex</h4> <p><strong>All the keys you could want, and then some</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, more is more. That seems to be the guiding principle behind the SteelSeries Apex keyboard, which comes with about as many keys as we’ve ever seen on a gaming keyboard. In addition to the standard full QWERTY layout with number pad, the Apex includes 10 macro keys and four layer keys down the left side, 12 more macro keys above the function row, and six dedicated media buttons along the right side. Even the arrow pad gets two extra diagonal keys. SteelSeries doesn’t advertise the Apex as an MMO keyboard specifically, but it’s hard to imagine what other application could make use of this abundance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13209_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13209_small_1.jpg" alt="You can prop the Apex up in the back by replacing two of it's rubber feet." title="SteelSeries Apex" width="620" height="448" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>You can prop the Apex up in the back by replacing two of it's rubber feet.</strong></p> <p>Despite its absurd inventory of keys, the Apex doesn’t feel cluttered at all, and in fact looks quite nice. With its built-in wrist rest the board is pretty enormous, but the low-profile keys and customizable sectioned backlighting keep it looking sleek. The build quality is good, though not quite as hardy as SteelSeries’s mechanical keyboards. The Apex includes a pair of USB passthroughs, and allows for some angle customization with a pair of swappable rear feet.</p> <p>Our only real issue with the Apex is that it doesn’t use mechanical keys, and even compared to other dome-switch keyboards in this roundup, like the Strike 3, the Apex’s keys feel distinctly mushy. If it had better key performance, it would be a strong contender for best keyboard in this price range. As it is, we’d recommend it highly to those who prioritize lots of macro keys and great design over maximum key responsiveness.</p> <p><strong>SteelSeries Apex</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100,&nbsp;<a href="http://steelseries.com/ " target="_blank">www.steelseries.com</a></strong></p> <h3>What We Look for in a Keyboard</h3> <p>When we review a keyboard, we look at it on three levels. The first and most important level is basic user experience—how the board feels when you use it. This includes factors like key quality and responsiveness, layout, and build quality. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the way you use your keyboard comes down to those standard QWERTY keys, so we’ll take a great-feeling keyboard over a flimsy one with a zillion features any day. We would also consider a keyboard without enough anti-ghosting/rollover for gaming usage to have failed on this basic level.</p> <p>Second, we examine the board on the level of practical, value-adding features. These are what make a gaming keyboard different from a more standard keyboard, and include things like macro keys, profiles, USB/audio passthroughs, the ability to rebind any key, and media controls. Of course, there’s no standard rule for what’s “practical” and what’s not, and we take into consideration that, for instance, the first five macro keys add a lot more value to the keyboard than macro keys number 15-20. This is also the level where we consider the keyboard’s software support.</p> <p>Finally, we look at the keyboard’s less-essential features, and what they bring to the table. Here you’ll see us talk about things like backlighting, interchangeable keycaps, and paint jobs. These are frequently surface features, designed more for showing off to other gamers than for your own use.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/81173948_copy_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/81173948_copy_small.jpg" width="620" height="412" /></a></p> <p>All of this isn’t to say that we think keyboards should be boring, just that it’s important they have their priorities straight. Awesome backlighting can be a great addition to a gaming keyboard, but boards with tons of bells and whistles built into a crappy or just mediocre foundation are distressingly common.</p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Roccat Ryos Mk Pro</h4> <p><strong>This flashy keyboard is more than just looks</strong></p> <p>Build quality on the Ryos MK Pro is outstanding. It’s all plastic, as far as we can see, but is incredibly weighty and rugged-feeling. The surface is treated with a glossy dot-matrix pattern that gives the Ryos a high-class look without leaving it as vulnerable to fingerprints as a pure-gloss keyboard. Like the last Roccat keyboard we tested, the Ryos has a non-removable integrated wrist rest. It’s comfortable (particularly with the back of the board elevated on sturdy-feeling supports), but makes the keyboard take up an absolutely massive amount of desk space.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13210_smalll_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13210_smalll.jpg" alt="LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently." title="Roccat Ryos Mk Pro" width="620" height="451" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently.</strong></p> <p>The software support for the Ryos is fine, though not outstanding. The interface is a little cluttered and at times unresponsive, but it gets the job done, allowing you to customize lighting, macros, and key binding for each profile.</p> <p>A lot of keyboards have backlighting these days, but this is the first one we’ve tested that has completely independent lights behind every key. The color can’t be changed, but you can choose which keys should light up and which shouldn’t for each profile. Better still, the Ryos MK Pro comes with a few special lighting effects, which can cause pressed keys to briefly light up, or even to send out a ripple of light across the whole keyboard. It’s simultaneously the most superfluous and most fun new feature we’ve seen in a keyboard in years.</p> <p>It’s hard to say that the Ryos Mk Pro completely justifies the $170 asking price—that’s quite a bit more money than other very good mechanical keyboards—but it at least comes close.</p> <p><strong>Roccat Ryos MK Pro</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$170,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.roccat.org/ " target="_blank">www.roccat.org</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Click the next page to read about the Gigabyte K7 review and more.</h4> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;"> <hr />Gigabyte Force K7</h4> <p><strong>A budget-friendly board that’s light on features</strong></p> <p>With a $50 MSRP, the Force K7 targets the budget-minded consumer, but still hovers comfortably above the bottom of the barrel. Any keyboard involves compromises, but with the K7, there just might be too many.</p> <p>The K7 advertises “extreme short actuation distance” for its keys, which are built on laptop-style scissor switches. Keyboard feel is a matter of personal preference, of course, but for gaming we’ve never been very fond of scissor switches, which offer almost no tactile feedback. The key layout on the K7 is standard, though it uses the half-width backspace key and double-decker enter key configuration that’s less commonly seen in gaming keyboards and makes touch typing a bit more difficult.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13214_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13214_small.jpg" alt="LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently." title="Gigabyte Force K7" width="620" height="454" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Force K7 has a low profile, with laptop-style scissor-switch keys.</strong></p> <p>Build quality on the K7 is generally good—it’s sturdy and feels heavy on the desk. Our review unit did, however, come with an extra 0 key instead of the hyphen key, which raises some questions about quality assurance.</p> <p>If anything, the K7 is notable for its lack of gaming-specific features. It has no macro keys, no profiles, no ability to rebind keys, no USB passthroughs—none of the things that identify a keyboard as made especially for gaming. The only extra features the board does include are underwhelming three-color backlighting and a pair of thumbwheels, which can only be used to control volume and backlight intensity.</p> <p>There are no glaring problems with the K7, but without a clear performance advantage, there’s nothing to recommend this board over one of the low-end Logitech or Microsoft keyboards, which are similarly priced and offer a better set of features.</p> <p><strong>Gigabyte Force K7</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$50,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gigabyte.us/ " target="_blank">www.gigabyte.us</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Corsair Raptor K50</h4> <p><strong>The Cadillac of non-mechanical keyboards</strong></p> <p>The Corsair Raptor K50 is a beautifully designed board, borrowing the floating-keys design of the more expensive Vengeance boards, with just a hint of brushed aluminum along the top edge. The look is rounded out with high-quality customizable key lighting that shines through the keycaps, without leaking out around the edges of the keys. Build quality is second-to-none, and as usual, the raised-key design makes it easy to keep crumbs from accumulating under the keycaps.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The K50 is nicely feature-packed, with a USB passthrough, media keys, a large metal volume wheel, and, oh yeah, like a million macro keys. Well, 18, anyway, all in one huge bank at the left, along with dedicated buttons for switching between three macro layers and recording them on the fly. That number might be bordering on the too-many-to-actually-use zone, but some gamers might find a use for them all, and on-the-fly recording is a feature we wish more boards had. The software for the K50 works well, and onboard storage allows you to use your profiles on any computer.&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13212_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13212_small.jpg" alt="If you're the kind of gamer who needs an unhealthy number of macro keys, the Raptor K50 is for you." title="Corsair Raptor K50" width="620" height="413" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If you're the kind of gamer who needs an unhealthy number of macro keys, the Raptor K50 is for you.<br /></strong></p> <p>We like the K50 a lot, but—at the risk of sounding like a broken record—for most users we wouldn’t recommend a non-mechanical $100 board. Our recommendation at this price range would be to get a mechanical board with slightly fewer features, or to jump up an extra $30 and get a similarly feature-packed mechanical board, such as Corsair’s own Vengeance K70 or K90.</p> <p><strong>Corsair Raptor K50</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.corsair.com/ " target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> <p>Click the next page to read about some of the older mechanical keyboards we've reviewed such as the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate and more.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Razer Deathstalker Ultimate</h4> <p><strong>Fun to look at, less fun to use</strong></p> <p>The Razer Deathstalker is really a thing to behold. The gaming keyboard is thin, sleek, and nicely designed with tri-color glowing keys, but nothing draws your attention like the “Switchblade” user interface, borrowed from the <a title="razer blade" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/razer_blade_review2012" target="_blank">Razer Blade</a> gaming laptop.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227183_small_3.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227183_small_2.jpg" alt="Instead of a number pad, the Deathstalker Ultimate features a touchscreen, along with 10 contextual keys." title="Razer Deathstalker Ultimate" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Instead of a number pad, the Deathstalker Ultimate features a touchscreen, along with 10 contextual keys.</strong></p> <p>The Switchblade UI consists of a responsive multitouch 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen and 10 context-sensitive dynamic keys. The screen can act as a trackpad, or can play host to a number of applications including a web browser, Twitter client, YouTube viewer, and plenty of others, such as game-specific apps for a handful of popular titles. Additionally, the keyboard has plenty of on-the-fly macro keys, and the software suite that manages it is polished and very powerful. In other words, the Razer Deathstalker is clearly the most sophisticated gaming keyboard around. The question is, do the Deathstalker’s technical flourishes justify its massive $250 price tag.</p> <p>At that kind of price, we expect every element of a keyboard to be top-notch; unfortunately, that’s not the case with the <a title="deathstalker" href="http://www.razerzone.com/deathstalker" target="_blank">Razer Deathstalker</a>. The problem is the keyboard itself, which uses widely spaced chiclet-style keys, familiar to anyone who’s used a MacBook or most Ultrabooks. They look nice, but it’s not clear why a large, high-end gaming keyboard would opt to use them over mechanical switches or even rubber-dome membrane keys. The chiclet keys simply don’t feel very good to use—they float around inside their tracks and have miniscule travel when pressed. They’re not awful, but we’d expect a lot better from a $250 keyboard.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Razer Deathstalker Ultimate</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Juicy Fruit<br /></span> <p>Super-cool Switchblade UI; good software support.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Chiclets<br /></span> <p>Key quality is subpar for typing and game play; very expensive.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$150, <a href="http://www.razerzone.com " target="_blank">www.razerzone.com</a></strong></p> <h4>S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</h4> <p><strong>Plenty of novel features, but look at that price</strong></p> <p>Probably the most interesting thing about the <a title="strike 7" href="http://www.cyborggaming.com/strike7/" target="_blank">S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</a> is that it’s modular and customizable. When you first take it out of the box, the keyboard is in seven pieces, which can be screwed together in a number of different configurations. One of the pieces is a large touchscreen, which can be affixed to either the left or right side of the keyboard, as can an extra bank of macro keys and the adjustable “active palm rest,” which features a thumb wheel and button. The two halves of the keyboard can be used separately, though both must be connected to the touchscreen, and the kit comes with a set of 16 replacement key caps, so you can make sure your S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 doesn’t look like anyone else’s.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227_small.jpg" alt="The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is modular, and can be assembled in several different configurations." title="Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is modular, and can be assembled in several different configurations.</strong></p> <p>On the other hand, you probably won’t meet anyone else with a S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, unless you regularly attend LAN parties down at the yacht club. At $300, this is the most expensive keyboard we can remember reviewing, and some of the features just don’t rise to the level of expectations set by the price. The touchscreen, for instance, is resistive and not nearly as responsive as the screen on the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate. And like the Deathstalker, the S.T.R.I.K.E. opts for non-mechanical keys. Though the dome-style membrane keys are better than the Deathstalker’s chiclet keys, we firmly believe that a keyboard that costs three times as much as most of its competition ought to have the best keys available.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/3AbwJON7ECk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Home Run<br /></span> <p>The most customizable keyboard around; tons of room for macros on keyboard and touchscreen.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Strike Out<br /></span> <p>Super pricey; non-mechanical keyboard feels so-so; touchscreen responsiveness is lacking.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$300, <a href="http://www.madcatz.com" target="_blank">www.madcatz.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Logitech G710+</h4> <p><strong>Logitech brings it back to basics</strong></p> <p>Logitech has finally decided that the recent trend toward mechanical gaming keyboards isn’t a passing fad, and has thrown its own hat into the ring with the G710+. At $150, the <a title="logitech g710+" href="http://gaming.logitech.com/en-us/product/g710plus-mechanical-gaming-keyboard" target="_blank">G710+</a> is one of the company’s most expensive boards, but it forgoes the LCD screens and raft of macro buttons usually found on Logitech’s highest-end products. Instead, the G710+ is a relatively straightforward keyboard built around a sturdy base of mechanical keys.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227187_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227187_small_0.jpg" alt="The backlight for the Logitech G710+’s arrow and WASD keys is separate from the rest of the board, so you can make them glow brighter than their surroundings." title="Logitech G710+" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The backlight for the Logitech G710+’s arrow&nbsp; and WASD keys is separate from the rest of the board, so you can make them glow brighter than their surroundings.</strong></p> <p>The G710+ uses MX Cherry Brown switches, which are a sort of compromise between the hyper-sensitive Reds and the tactile (and loud) Blues. They’re a nice middle-ground switch, excellent for both gaming and typing, though not completely ideal for either. Logitech has augmented the Cherry Browns with noise-dampening rings inside each key, for a quieter gaming session. The keys are mounted into a heavy board, with a clean black-and-gray aesthetic with orange accents. When connected via USB, the G710+’s laser-etched keycaps glow white—you can’t change the color, but the brightness is adjustable. In a nice, novel feature, the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys can be adjusted independently, to make them stand out more.</p> <p>Beyond the mechanical keys, the G710+ doesn’t have a lot of flashy features—just a set of macro keys (programmable on-the-fly), some media controls, and a standard-issue software suite with pre-made macro profiles for most modern games. It comes with a removable wrist rest, and includes a single USB pass-through. In all, it’s a nice, well-constructed keyboard, though its feature set is just a tiny bit smaller than some similarly priced mechanical boards from other brands.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Logitech G710+</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">O.G.<br /></span> <p>Excellent typing and gaming feel; dual-zone lighting;noise-dampened keys.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Oh No<br /></span> <p>On the pricier side; few pass-throughs.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$150, <a href="http://www.logitech.com " target="_blank">www.logitech.com</a></strong></p> <h3>The Art of Cherrypicking</h3> <p>If you’re the pattern-recognizing sort, you may notice that every mechanical keyboard in this roundup uses Cherry MX switches for their key mechanisms. That’s because virtually all mechanical gaming keyboards today use some variety of Cherry MX switch, such as Brown or Blue. The names indicate both the actual color of the switch (pry a keycap up and you’ll be able to tell by sight which switch is underneath), and the switch’s mechanical characteristics, in terms of tactility and resistance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/k60_d_install_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/k60_d_install_small.jpg" width="620" height="403" /></a></p> <p>A switch that is highly tactile has a noticeable “bump” that you overcome as you press it down, and tends to make a click noise as it passes that bump. A switch with high resistance requires more force to depress. Here are the four most common varieties of Cherry MX switch:</p> <p>Red: A non-tactile switch with low resistance. The pressing action is smooth, with no bump, and because of its low resistance it is very responsive. Good for action gamers.</p> <p>Black: A non-tactile switch, like the Red, with higher resistance.</p> <p>Blue: A highly tactile switch, with a dramatic (and loud) click. Considered the best switch for typing, but they can be slightly harder to double-tap quickly for gaming.</p> <p>Brown: A middle-ground switch, with a light tactile click and medium resistance. Functions well for both typing and gaming.</p> <p>Click <a title="mechanical keyboard guide" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/mechanical_keyboard_guide_2013" target="_blank">here</a> to read our in-depth mechanical keyboard guide.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Corsair Vengeance K90</h4> <p><strong>All the macro keys money can buy</strong></p> <p>The <a title="K90" href="http://www.corsair.com/gaming-peripherals/gaming-keyboards/vengeance-k90-performance-mmo-mechanical-gaming-keyboard.html" target="_blank">Corsair Vengeance K90</a> launched early last year alongside the Vengeance K60. It is, at heart, an expanded version of that board, fitted with a vast bank of customizable macro keys at the far left, and a detachable rubberized wrist rest. The extra functionality is mostly aimed at MMO players, who may have need for the truly staggering number of macro keys—18 keys, arranged into three banks of six, with three profile buttons for a total of 54 programmable actions. We’re a bit skeptical about the utility of so many macro buttons, as it becomes difficult to remember which key does what, and to hit them without looking, as the button count increases. Still, you should be able to imagine whether you’d be able to put the buttons to good use or not.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227181_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227181_0.jpg" alt="With the K90, Corsair goes deep on macro keys. Unfortunately, only the main QWERTY keyboard and arrow keys are mechanical." title="Corsair Vengeance K90" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>With the K90, Corsair goes deep on macro keys. Unfortunately, only the main QWERTY keyboard and arrow keys are mechanical.</strong></p> <p>Beyond those extra keys, the K90 features the strong points of the K60, including a rugged all-aluminum body and responsive Cherry MX Red switches. The fantastic-looking low-profile aluminum design is even snazzier in the K90, thanks to blue backlighting that shines through the laser-etched keycaps. One of the strangest and worst features of the K90 is that it uses membrane-style switches for a small subset of the keys on the board (the 18 macro keys, the function keys, as well as the block above the arrow keys), which feel noticeably worse than the mechanical keys that make up the rest of the board. Especially for keys that are meant to be used in the heat of the moment, the transition to non-mechanical keys is very jarring.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Corsair Vengeance K90</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Macro<br /></span> <p>Tons of macro keys; nice build quality and design; mechanical.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Micro<br /></span> <p>Not all keys are mechanical; giant block of macro keys is difficult to use efficiently.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$130, <a href="http://www.corsair.com " target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard</h4> <p><strong>A solid board, low on features</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it’s nice when a company comes along and boils down a product category to just the features that are important. With the <a title="rk-9100" href="http://www.rosewill.com/products/2320/ProductDetail_Overview.htm" target="_blank">RK-9100</a>, Rosewill does just that, offering a solid mechanical gaming keyboard with few flourishes.</p> <p>The RK-9100 is a compact design with no wrist rest and a minimal lip around the outside of the board. It’s heavy, and feels quite sturdy. It uses mechanical keys—once again, Cherry MX switches, though with the RK-9100 you have a choice of the typing-friendly Blue switches, or the in-between Browns. We tend to prefer the Browns as a nice compromise between gaming and typing, which makes it a bit frustrating that the Brown-switch version of the RK-9100 retails for $130, $20 more than the Blue version.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227185_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227185_small.jpg" alt="The Rosewill RK-9100 isn’t the fanciest-looking keyboard, but it feels great to use." title="Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard" width="620" height="321" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Rosewill RK-9100 isn’t the fanciest-looking keyboard, but it feels great to use.</strong></p> <p>The keyboard has a nice blue backlight, except for the scroll-, num-, and caps-lock keys, which glow green while active. It’s a good idea, but for some reason the green light is incredibly bright, and angled to shine right into your eyes while active. It’s distracting, and unfortunately can’t be turned off—we wouldn’t be surprised if most RK-9100 owners end up fixing the problem with electrical tape. That’s the only significant problem we noticed while using Rosewill’s keyboard, but we couldn’t shake the feeling that $130 is a bit too much to ask for this board. The Logitech G710+ features the same MX Brown switches, and with street a price that’s currently only about $10 more than RK-9100, includes significantly more features that set it apart as a gaming keyboard.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Rose water<br /></span> <p>No-nonsense design; selection of different Cherry MX switches.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Hose water<br /></span> <p>No macro keys; no software support.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$130, <a href="http://www.rosewill.com " target="_blank">www.rosewill.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Roccat Isku</h4> <p><strong>Membrane plank makes strong impression</strong></p> <p>If you’re not ready to make the jump to a mechanical keyboard, and aren’t interested in touchscreens or scalp massagers or whatever other luxury features are going into the $200-plus planks, your money will go a lot farther. Specifically, it’ll go all the way to the <a title="roccat" href="http://www.roccat.org/Products/Gaming-Keyboards/ROCCAT-Isku/" target="_blank">Roccat Isku</a>, a handsome and feature-rich keyboard from German newcomer Roccat.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227184_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227184_small.jpg" alt="The Isku is thin but takes up a lot of room, thanks to its broad wrist rest and bezel." title="Roccat Isku" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Isku is thin but takes up a lot of room, thanks to its broad wrist rest and bezel.</strong></p> <p>The Isku is wide and flat, with an oversized wrist rest and a wide bezel all around the board, taking up plenty of desk real estate. It’s got a grippy textured-plastic frame and recessed contoured keys that make the whole thing seem flatter and lower to the desk than normal. The dome keys are good (as far as they go) with a fairly crisp and responsive activation.</p> <p>Where the Isku really shines is in its expansive set of features. It has eight macro buttons (including three “thumbster” keys under the spacebar), with on-the-fly recording, and profile switching. It gets further mileage out of the bindable keys and macros with an “EasyShift” button where the caps-lock key would normally be, which temporarily switches the functions of all right-hand-accessible keys while held down. There’s a lot to customize, and the included software suite is intuitive and up to the task.</p> <p>Also, the Isku is part of the “Roccat Talk” ecosystem, which allows button presses on the keyboard to affect the behavior of a Roccat gaming mouse, and vice versa. At this price, we’d strongly recommend buying a mechanical board, but if you can’t or don’t want to, the Isku is an excellent choice.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Roccat Isku</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Rose water<br /></span> <p>No-nonsense design; selection of different Cherry MX switches.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Hose water<br /></span> <p>No macro keys; no software support.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$90, <a href="http://www.roccat.org" target="_blank">www.roccat.org</a></strong></p> <h3>A Keyboard for Clean Freaks</h3> <p>One of the keyboards we received while preparing this roundup was the <a title="logitech washable keyboard" href="http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/washable-keyboard-k310" target="_blank">Logitech Washable Keyboard K310</a>. Somehow it didn’t seem quite fair to pit the $40 K310 against the likes of the Razer Deathstalker in a straight head-to-head, but we couldn’t resist the chance to see if this washable keyboard really works.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboard_before_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboard_before_small.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>The K310 has a standard full-size layout with flat, thick plastic keys. Despite the very plastic-y construction and non-standard keys, the keyboard actually feels pretty decent to use.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/dirtykeyboard_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/dirtykeyboard_small_0.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>We don’t actually have a standard testing procedure worked out for washable keyboards, so we improvised. We took a quick trip to the corner store for a bag of Cheetohs—bane of all keyboards. We then used a mortar and pestle to mash them into a fine, delicious powder, and applied it liberally to the keyboard (and surrounding table).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/washingkeyboard_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/washingkeyboard_small.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>We were originally going to stick the K310 in the dishwasher, but a label on its back specifically warns against doing so. Instead, we gave it a thorough hand-washing in the sink.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/clean_keyboard_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/clean_keyboard_small.jpg" width="620" height="347" /></a></p> <p>What’s the verdict? The keyboard looks like new, and works just fine. Not bad!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_keyboard_2013#comments March 2013 2013 best keyboard Hardware Hardware Logitech G710+ maximum pc Razer Deathstalker Ultimate reviews strike 7 Keyboards Reviews Features Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:44:05 +0000 Alex Castle 25598 at http://www.maximumpc.com