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PC Hardware

Origin PCs photo
Origin PCs

Origin is offering 4K-ready PCs for less than $4K


Which is still a lot of money
Aug 11
// Alasdair Duncan
True story time, kids: On Friday, there was a power outage in my apartment complex and when it was restored a few hours later, my PC refused to boot. I'm hoping it's just the PSU that's blown but my suspicions are that my mot...
Hardware photo
Hardware

MSI unveils WS60, the second lightest workstation ever


Slap a 880m in it and I'll buy it for a dollar
Aug 07
// Brittany Vincent
MSI has unveiled its WS60 ultralight workstation. It features a choice of 1080p or 3K resolution screen, 16GB of DDR3L ram, 128 GB SSD + 1TB hard drives, and the ability to stream 4K video via its Thunderbolt 2 connectors. It...
Logitech photo
Logitech

Here's Logitech's attempt at creating the world's fastest gaming mouse


Call it Algernon and send it flowers
Aug 01
// Brittany Vincent
Logitech has announced its G402 Hyperion Fury gaming mouse that claims to have taken the throne as the worlds fastest gaming mouse. The G402 can reliably track over 500 inches per second and includes Logitech's exclusive Delt...
PC gaming photo
PC gaming

PC gaming hardware market holds lead over consoles


Enthusiasts continue to drop big bucks for big hardware
Jul 17
// Brittany Vincent
The PC gaming hardware market, which consists of personal computers, upgrades, and peripherals used for gaming, is alive and booming in contrast to the general decline in the mainstream PC market. Ted Pollak, Senior Gaming An...
Gaming laptop photo
Gaming laptop

Origin doing razor thin gaming laptops with EVO series


That's 'razor' with an 'o' and not Origin the EA thing and not EVO the tournament
Jul 15
// Steven Hansen
And I thought people referring to Early Access games as "EA" was confusing. Origin -- the PC manufacturer -- debuting its EVO series laptop right after the end of EVO -- the fighting game tournament -- is a good one. Anyway, here's a new $2,000 laptop you should expense if you work for a wealthy company.
Computers photo
Computers

Newegg and iBUYPOWER join forces to unveil custom configurator


♬ Do you want to build a computerrrrrr? ♬
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
iBUYPOWER and Newegg have announced that they will be joining forces to offer another venue in which you can build your very own custom PC. Using an intuitive selection system you can easily pick and choose which parts fit yo...
Keyboard and Mouse combo photo
Keyboard and Mouse combo

Roccat's Sova keyboard and mouse combination aids PC couch play


12 hours of battery life and a sliding mousepad
Jun 11
// Chris Carter
This week at E3, hardware maker Roccat unveiled the Sova -- the "first fully realized modular wireless keyboard and mousepad combo." Phew! The unit allows players to game on the couch with a mouse and keyboard comfortably, mo...
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Plus two awesome gaming mousepads
Our friends at Logitech have hooked us up with an awesome set of PC gaming gear to give away to one lucky Dtoider! Up for grabs is the G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse, which features 11 programmable buttons, in-game DPI adjust...

Nvidia Titan photo
Nvidia Titan

Nvidia's Titan Z costs more than the last car I bought


By $500 and it doesn't even take me to and from the welfare office
May 29
// Steven Hansen
Nvidia is preparing to launch the previously announced GeForce GTX Titan Z. It costs three grand. Roughly $.50 for each of its 5,760 CUDA cores or $250 for each gig of its 12GB GDDR5 VRAM. This is not a product for normal human consumption, of course, unless you are a lunatic or think your four door sedan could use a jet engine.

Review: Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC

May 03 // Dale North
Product: Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DACManufacturer: CambridgeInput: USBMSRP: $199.99 ($189 on Amazon) The Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC is a tiny little thing, just barely bigger than a Zippo lighter, and far lighter. Its top edge of its brushed aluminum body features a mini USB port and its bottom edge has only a single 1/8" audio jack. On the front face you'll find volume buttons and the Cambridge Audio logo -- and that's it. Simple and clean. That USB port connects the DacMagic to any PC or Mac (via the included mini cable), which lets you completely bypass the internal DAC, giving you access to high-quality sound. I first tried it out on my office computer, a Macbook Pro Retina (the device is 100 percent plug-and-play on any Mac). I didn't expect it to much for what I was listening to at the time -- streamed music on YouTube -- but it did. I immediately picked up improved definition, a tighter low end, and a smoother top, making songs I've heard dozens of times on my office sound setup sound better than I've ever heard. Intrigued, I quickly jumped to trying out the DacMagic with higher quality source material. Most of my newer playlists are stored in Apple's format at 320kbps, so it was no problem putting the DAC through its paces. R&B tunes had a very satisfying kick/bass guitar range through my main listening headphones, the AKG K545. I'm not really an EDM guy, but listening to Japanese artist M-Flo's new album, Edm-Flo, had me grinning wildly for most of the time I sat through the 20-track album. My other favorite phones, the AKG K702, took all that sweet, clean high end the DacMagic put out and made my ears happy, like they were born to be together. For high quality audio file rips (DacMagic supports up to 192kHz sample rates in its optional USB 2.0 mode), I was quite pleased with its performance as I heard a new depth to songs I've heard many times before. But for older MP3s I could hear every tiny little compression artifact and cymbal crunch. Too much power can be bad sometimes. This tiny little box was equally impressive in gaming. It only took a few seconds to appreciate the improved balance and detail while poking through my Steam library with the DacMagic connected, and gaming headphones on. It made my SteelSeries phones sound better, no question. I'm already unbelievably bad at CloudBuilt, but I was even worse this time as I was too busy appreciating the sound work and the outstanding musical score to get anywhere. I did side-by-side comparisons using several sets of phones on the same games, switching between the DacMagic and the internal sound of my gaming rig, Razer's Blade 14. Again, no contest: through the DacMagic, games sounded shiny, impressive, and considerably more immersive. In Cloudbuilt, I picked up on atmospheric effects that I never noticed before, like voice echos and musical reverb trails. Even simple games like DuckTales Remastered and Joe Danger had me clearly hearing the benefits of an upgraded DAC. It got to the point where switching back was a bit of a bummer. I'll never look at my rig's headphone port the same again, sadly. It's too bad I have to send this thing back. If you are looking to improve sound quality for gaming, music, movies, or anything else that comes out of your computer, the DacMagic is a really easy and convenient way to do that. It's so small, light, and portable (and comes in a nice drawstring bag) that you won't ever sweat taking it with you. A DAC like this might be a tough sell to gamers with its $189 street price, especially when it's hard to convey what exactly it would do for their gaming experience. But I think gamers are becoming smarter and more selective about audio, and the headphone/audio business is growing rapidly as a direct result of gamer demand for quality listening experiences. We now have access to very high-quality headsets, and we should want to plug these into only the best source. That's where a DAC upgrade makes sense to me. Just short of $200 is a tall order for this  matchbox of a thing, but hearing is believing. This little thing made a big difference for me, and if you're running motherboard stock audio, it probably will for you too. If you're the type that wants your games to sound their best, check out the DacMagic. It might be exactly what you're looking for.
USB DAC review photo
USB DAC can make your games sound better
Before I tell you why you need this DAC or any other, let me tell you what it actually is.  Think of a Digital to Analog Converter as an external upgrade for the circuitry of your audio device's innards. Every modern aud...

Watch Dogs photo
Watch Dogs

Pick up select GeForce graphics card, get Watch Dogs for free on PC


You'll be able to watch so many dogs
Apr 30
// Brittany Vincent
Thinking about picking up a new graphics card? Nvidia your style? Starting today and continuing "for a limited time," purchase any qualifying GeForce GTX graphics card to receive a free code for Watch Dogs, redeemable via Ubi...

Review: Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Apr 22 // Dale North
Product: BlackWidow UltimateManufacturer: RazerInput: USBMSRP: $139.99 Before we get to the keys, let's cover the board itself. The newly updated Razer BlackWidow Ultimate is built to impress with its solid weight and flex-free casing. The matte finish is welcome! They went with their standard green-on-black scheme, with cool backlit keys that made my office look like a science lab with the lights off. The light is super bright, though. The new, in-house designed mechanical key switches (nope, not Cherry this time) are so responsive that, again, they feel connected to my fingertips. I love how it feels to type. But this is a more dampened feel than their previous board, which positively affects sound levels (more on that later). I don't feel like much was sacrificed to dampen the sound, but those looking for that super crisp feel might think some of that exciting edge is missing with the BlackWidow Ultimate. I like the middle ground here because I never felt like I was making accidental key strokes, and I never typed my way to a headache from the sound. With gaming, the experience was so good that I forgot about what I was using after awhile. It became transparent. I felt very dialed in playing games like Earth Defense Force and Resident Evil Revelations. The space bar is a joy. Apparently there's a shorter travel time for Razer's switches, but I never felt that difference. No matter, though -- what they have was definitely working for me. Outside the feel and responsiveness of the keys, there's very little in the way of gaming-specific features to point out for the BlackWidow Ultimate. You won't find much beyond the row of five macro keys on the left side of the unit, which may not be enough for some types of gamers. It's just the goods and not much else. You can use Razer's Synapse software to do key bindings and macros, mind you. My favorite part? The keys are clicky, but not noisy. I love the mechanical feel of a premium board, but I'm usually out the door on even the best keys when it comes to very noisy clicks. The last model I tried had me distracted, even with gaming headphones on. That's not a problem with the BlackWidow at all.  The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate does one thing and does it very well, with no frills or dorky features getting in the way. It's a good-looking, solid board that seems like it'll hold up to years of gaming and typing. It's a bit expensive at $139, but you're getting a quality input device that should last you a while for the asking price. For many, this will just be an update to a long-respected gaming board. They'll want to try out these new switches for sure (there's a hole in the box that lets you do so). But if you're in the market for a new gaming board, this one is definitely worth a look. 
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate photo
2014 version
asdf;lkjas;dlfkj;aslkjdf;lakjsdf;lkj Home key attack! It feels so good to type on super responsive keys, especially for someone that spends 6-8 hours a day typing on those chicklet-style laptop keyboards. Razer's new BlackWid...

Nvidia photo
Nvidia

Nivida announces $2,999 GeForce GTX Titan Z


This sounds like a dare
Mar 25
// Jordan Devore
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the GeForce GTX Titan Z today at the company's GPU Technology Conference and, all right, there's no real getting around the card's sticker shock. 5,760 CUDA cores. 12GB GDDR5 VRAM. $2,999. ...

Two new Razer laptops offer power and profile at a premium

Mar 12 // Steven Hansen
Razer Blade Pro (17") The Razer Blade Pro is in an iterative year. Of course there has been an obsessive attention to making the laptop more powerful, abetted by Nvidia's Maxwell generation Geforce GTX 860M. With what is seen as the fastest mobile GPU, the Pro has seen 46 percent higher benchmark performance.  With the 860M comes a host of Nvidia Geforce features. ShadowPlay allows for easy live streaming to Twitch and ten-minute buffered game capture without performance issues while GameStream allows streaming from the Pro to a remote display. Nvidia's Battery Boost, meanwhile, can reportedly double battery life. Locking the frame rate to 30 will help with that as well. Doubled RAM (now 16GB) and a fourth-generation Intel i7 have all been jammed into the Pro's consistent form factor. Razer is also pushing its Switchblade UI. The touch pad on the Pro is also a screen, which you can use to browse Twitter or watch YouTube -- even while you're playing a game. It's all customizable and Razer has more partnerships in the works with applications. A new Twitch app lets you watch streams on the little screen and even chat while the Windows 8 Charm app tries to pare down the new OS. Razer even co-developed a DJ app with electronic/dance artist Afrojack.  It starts at $2,299. Razer Blade (14") Here's where things get crazier. The (relatively) cheaper 14" Razer Blade started at $400 less last year. We expect technology to go down in price. I think we still do. I still do, anyway. But an edge-to-edge glass 3200 x 1800 10-point capacitive multi-touch display doesn't come cheap. And it looks incredible, thanks also to a 250 percent improved contrast ratio and 160-degree viewing angle on both axes. In his review, Dale was disappointed with the Blade's lack of vibrancy and color in its display, particularly, "compared with Apple's MacBook Pro Retina." Razer clearly took that criticism to heart, delivering the highest resolution 14" laptop display there is. Somehow Razer managed to squeeze that ludicrous touch display -- does that really make Windows 8 that much more usable? -- into its flagship gaming laptop without sacrificing its claims of being the thinnest and lightest in its field. ".7 inches thin," Razer explains in the same way my mother talks about how many "years young" she is. Sei vecchio, va bene. The new Blade uses Nvidia's GTX 870M, a fourth-generation Intel i7, and a bunch of other computer parts (specs are on site, naturally) to deliver around 65 percent benchmark improvements. Which means when Battlefield 4 crashed, it wasn't the computer's fault, and Sleeping Dogs looked more vivid than ever and all I want to do now is play it more. The average FPS at 3200 x 1800 during its benchmark was over 50. You could probably run that on the battery for longer than my laptop will play a movie with the display turned off (critical warnings before one True Detective episode finished).  It starts at $2,199.
Razer's new laptops photo
Razer? I hardly even know her!
Every time I see a razor blade in person I have to pick it up. Those things are dangerous and shouldn't be left lying about. Kids could put them in their mouth or pigeons could weaponize them. Maybe mobsters will smuggle them...

Steam Machines photo
Steam Machines

Which Steam Machine is the best one?


Origin PC - Chronos comes out on top
Jan 17
// Chris Carter
Steam Machine information is starting to roll out, and thanks to Steam Dev Days, even more info is coming in every day. Future Mark has put these systems by the test, rating them by their 3DMark Fire Strike scores from Window...

Review: Nyrius Aries Pro Wireless HD for Laptops

Jan 14 // Dale North
Aries Pro Wireless HD for Laptops Manufacturer: NyriusMSRP: $399.99 ($249 on Amazon) The Aries Pro Wireless HD for Laptops is a streaming solution that sends 1080p HD video and its accompanying audio wirelessly, letting you use your PC or laptop (or console) without having to bother with rewiring. A transmitter the size of a pack of gum has an HDMI port on its end, and this is to be plugged into any video source. A small box about the size of a deck of cards acts as a receiver. Its HDMI port lets you run a cable to any television or monitor to receive the streamed A/V signal. The transmitter is powered by a USB cable, while the receiver is powered by a 5V DC power cord.  My house is a mess of game systems. Now, I'm not bragging, but I have game systems everywhere. In multiple rooms -- bedroom, living room, offices --  you'll find both current and next-gen consoles as well as debug/test kits, and that's not to mention my work and gaming laptops. My home office is where most of them reside, but they never seem to stay completely together. I can't tell you how often I'm carrying systems around my house to get work done.  I've just come off a week-long marathon gameplay session for Square Enix's Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for an upcoming preview and review, so I had moved my PS3 test kit into my living room to get comfortable with this lengthy RPG. In getting back to work the following week, I wanted to return to my office where I could take notes during gameplay. The Aries Pro let me simply unplug the HDMI cable from the PS3 kit and plug in the transceiver instead of moving the system. The USB power was supplied by one of the PS3 kit's front ports. Back in my office, which is about 20 feet away in the corner of my house, I turned on my office gaming television and used a DualShock 3 controller to play wirelessly.  It works like a charm. The television showed that it was receiving an HD signal, and my audio receiver showed that it had locked into a Dolby stream. I loaded up the game and found that it looked pretty good for a signal that had traveled across a couple of rooms. While not pristine like a direct HDMI connection, the gameplay still looked sufficiently HD, with even the smallest text remaining readable. Dark scenes had the signal quality occasionally dropping, making it look more compressed. But, for the most part, I was totally fine with the compromise. I played for about two hours, and I found that after awhile I completely forgot that I was playing over a streaming connection. I was impressed with the responsiveness. While I have no doubt that some kind of signal lag is introduced, it had no effect on my gameplay of Lightning Returns, which has a new battle system that favors action over menus. I noticed no lag in a couple of hours of play. Nyrius claims there is "zero lag" with its solution. In a shorter-range test, I had the Aries Pro streaming across my office to send a signal from my Wii U to my office television. I found that shorter distances had the video quality improving greatly. From about 10 feet away Super Mario 3D World looked almost indistinguishable from a direct HDMI connection. We're talking absolutely flawless -- no stuttering or pixelization at all.  More importantly, Super Mario 3D World played perfectly. I had no problem with any delays as I made precise jumps and turns in a few test levels. Very impressive. Couch surfing and playing through my Steam game collection from my couch had me really seeing the appeal of the Aries Pro. I have a pretty long living room, but the connection had no problems keeping up. In the process of going through several games and websites, as well as watching some streaming video, the stream never broke from its highest quality. The experience was completely free of issue. For a range test, I was able to use my long living room and line of sight from adjacent rooms to test Nyrius' claims of a 160-foot range for the Aries Pro. It may be that it had to pass by three large clusters of wireless electronics, but the best I could get was about 60 feet before the signal dropped intermittently. The signal had no problem going through walls for this distance, but when I tried to push beyond 60 feet, or add another room between the transmitter and receiver, the signal would drop out. But even at 40 feet the signal was fairly clean between my laptop and my office television. For some reason I got even better results from my laptop than I did the PS3. I found that below 25 feet seems to be a sweet spot for the Aries Pro. Again, in my living room and in my office, the streams were always flawless. Latency was never a problem for any of the games I tried, either. This should be more than enough for most living rooms. My bedroom television is connected to a Roku box for watching streaming content, and I make do with that, leaving my only DVR in the living room. Using the Aries Pro, I was able to catch up on shows in bed without having to run any cabling. Of course, changing channels meant that I had to go to the other room, but the streaming video never faltered. If you had a ceiling-mounted projector, the Aries Pro would be an ideal product. You could have a clean installation, never having to worry about HDMI cable runs up your walls and on your ceiling.  The Aries Pro supports eight transmitters, so the included remote control will let you switch sources wirelessly.  A drawback to the transmitter design is that its width prevents it from being plugged into some consoles. I couldn't test it on the Xbox One because the HDMI port is placed so closely to the power port that the transmitter wouldn't fit. The PS4's HDMI port is surrounded by plastic in a way that the transmitter won't fit. Nyrius includes an L-shaped female-to-male adapter to help with this issue, but this has the transmitter sticking out, and it may prove to be too tall or wide for your entertainment center setup. Yes, the HDMI signal is compressed or compromised in some way, and the range isn't quite as great as advertised, but the Aries Pro manages to impress despite these issues. Again, for the most part, the video signal is good enough that I forgot that I was playing on a streamed connection. And I still can't believe that there's no perceptible lag with the Aries Pro when it comes to gaming, even after a week of using it.  If you need to send HD video and audio wirelessly, the Aries Pro is an excellent solution, and at about a $250 street price it's quite a bit cheaper than any of the professional products you'd have to buy to get similar results. Highly recommended.
Wireless HDMI? photo
Wireless HD video
Connecting your PC (or game console) to your television isn't necessarily difficult, but the cabling can be a bit of a hassle. The HDMI outputs on better laptops and most GPUs make it easier by sending both video and audio ov...

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You're going to want Nvidia's G-SYNC


When it's cheaper, and if you use Nvidia GPUs
Jan 09
// Dale North
We've known about Nvidia’s G-Sync tech for a bit, but seeing how it performs first hand at CES today has moved the purchase of new compatible hardware up my priority list by quite a bit. Nvidia had several of the newly ...
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Up close and personal with Razer's Project Christine


And some details on how it works
Jan 08
// Dale North
At CES today, Razer snuck us in to get a closer look at their newly unveiled modular PC concept, which they've codenamed Project Christine. We got to talk to them about how this odd looking tower of blocks would work, and then we got to get up close to take some pictures.  I got in trouble for touching it!
Steam Box photo
Steam Box

Digital Storm reveals Bolt II Steam Box hybrid PC


A small form factor and water-cooled too
Jan 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
We're going to be seeing a whole lot of Steam Box models over the next several months, I suspect, and here's another option to be considered. Digital Storm has announced today the Bolt II gaming PC, which will sport both Stea...
Steam hardware survey photo
Steam hardware survey

Steam hardware survey shows Windows 7 is still king


Windows 8 is slowly making up ground
Jan 06
// Alasdair Duncan
The Steam Hardware & Software results make interesting reading whenever they are released as it gives us all an idea about what the average gaming PC is like. Maybe the most telling statistic is that Windows 7 continues t...
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Nvidia's G-SYNC kills screen tearing and stuttering


First monitors debut at CES this week
Jan 06
// Dale North
Monitor makers will be showing off their new models that support Nvidia's new G-SYNC technology here at CES this week. This tech synchronizes the monitor refresh rate with the GPU's rendering to make problems like tearing and...

Review: D-Link DGL-5500 Gaming Router

Dec 17 // Joshua Derocher
Product: D-Link DGL-5500 Gaming RouterManufacturer: D-LinkMSRP: $199.99 The D-Link DGL-5500 is a dual band router, with a 2.4GHz band and a 5GHz band. It supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), four gigabit LAN ports, one gigabit WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, and all of the security features that you would expect in a modern router. It has an MSRP of $199.99, which is normal for a high-end router. Setting up the DGL-5500 is very easy. It comes with an installation CD, and if you don't have an optical drive you can access the router's set-up from your web browser. I had it up and running in a few minutes, and the default setup wizard left me with a setup that I haven't needed to mess with since. Basically, if you have been able to set up any other router on your own, you will be able to set this up just fine. Once the router is online, you can access its settings by going to http://dlinkrouter. The interface has been updated from older D-Link products I have used -- it's clean looking and easy to find the settings you need to change. You can clearly see what devices are connected to the network, and how much bandwidth each device is using. You can prioritize devices very easily to make sure the internet is going to where you need it the most. The DGL-5500 is great at showing you where all your bandwidth is going, and how it's being used. A statistics page in the router's settings will show you charts of how much data an app uses, how much time is spent in each app, and the times the apps were active. Apps include most software programs that connect to the web, such as Netflix, Twitter, Steam, Pandora, etc. This would be extremely helpful to anyone who has a bandwidth cap on their internet service. You can also see what apps on each device are using bandwidth, so you can tell how much data your laptop has downloaded from Steam or Netflix. The range on this router is fantastic, even on the 5GHz band. My desktop is a floor above where my router is located, and it's a couple of rooms over with old thick walls that are the enemy of wi-fi signals. A $50 Netgear router was completely unable to provide a good connection upstairs on the 2.5GHz band. Before setting the DGL-5500 up, I was using a Linksys EA2700 Smart Router, and while it had great coverage on the 2.5GHz band all over my apartment, the 5GHz band would only work on the first floor where the router is located. The DGL-5500's 5GHz band covers the whole apartment, even up here in my office. I was shocked, actually.  While the DGL-5500 might not offer speeds that are faster than some other routers, I did notice that my overall experience was smoother when using multiple devices. The DGL-5500 uses a technology called "StreamBoost," which works automatically prioritize your network's bandwidth in an intelligent way. To put it simply, it can tell what data is for your games, or your video streaming, and it will make sure the things that need constant internet will get it. To test out what this thing can handle, I had a PlayStation 3 in the living room streaming Amazon Instant Video, a Roku upstairs in the bedroom streaming video on Plex, my PC was streaming Amazon Instant Video, I had BitTorrent going around 200 kB/s, and I was playing EVE Online. There also about three or four phones hooked up to the network while I was testing it, but they weren't doing anything special. I did not experience any slowdowns anywhere. The video streaming was constantly smooth, and I was still able to browse the web. That test wasn't too far from what our normal internet usage every day. There are four people living in my apartment on the network, and we all rely on the internet for our television watching, so there's usually one to three people streaming video at any given point in the day. The DGL-5500 has been able to handle the load without any issues, which is more than I can say of the Linksys EA2700 I was using before this -- it would start to buckle when two people were streaming video, or I had BitTorrent open. I really love this router. It can withstand the heavy internet usage we have, and it doesn't flinch when ten or more devices are hooked up and are fighting for bandwidth. The speeds are similar to routers you can get for a lot less, but the the extra cost is worth the amazing 5GHz range and for how many devices this thing can handle at once. If you live alone in a small apartment with only two or three devices, then this might be overkill for you. If you live in a larger apartment with other people, then a router of this grade is almost a necessity if you want to keep everyone connected.
D-Link DGL-5500 photo
A high-end router for gamers
Having a good router is a necessity these days. Every electronic device you own connects to the internet, and many play games online and stream HD video. Your PC and consoles are beginning to rely more and more on digital cop...

Review: Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro headphones

Dec 10 // Dale North
To my ears, most gaming headsets have a similar sound formula. Again, this is not to dump on some of these sets, but more often than not they have a constrained upper end, an over-boosted low end, a painfully bloated mid-low end, and everything between these ranges usually suffers for the resulting frequency curve. I could get more technical and talk about how they're usually dry, honky, and have weird imaging issues, but I'm not here for a rant, and I'm not out to sound like some kind of headphone snob. I think that any gamer who has tried more than a couple of pairs out can identify that there's a particular sound you get from a lot of these headsets. It's not hard to hear. The 'custom tuning' bullet point you see on the boxes of many of these headsets is to blame most times. But you can't blame the headset makers for doing this tuning as the result is geared toward gaming use. For example, their sharp high end lets you hear the footfalls of enemies in first-person shooters, and that exaggerated low end keeps your ears filled with wooly rumbles at all time. That's what we want, right? But sometimes the digital processing used to get them there takes things too far. So while the headset will hit those bullet-point marks for the high and low end, the details suffer, giving you cold, lifeless audio.  So, I have headsets I'll use because they're wireless, have a bendy boom mic, have a nice range and battery life, or have cool glow-y lights. But those are all features that do nothing for sound. I'd much rather have something that sounds better.  Again, the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro (MSRP $299, ~$200 street) headset sounds better than anything I've tried. And that's probably because it's a legitimate pair of listening headphones first and foremost, with some options that make it a good gaming solution. So know that you're not going to get the flashy lights or surround-sound features. It's all about great sound here. What the Custom One can do is give you your choice of frequency responses, which is rare in what would normally be considered monitor-style headsets. There's a four-position switch on each earcup, letting you customize the sound to your liking. The default setting is a clean and un-hyped frequency plot, giving you a wide, open, and detailed sound. This is sound quality that would make any audio enthusiast smile. These would be right at home in a pro audio setup, and would even work in the studio. But even with everyday listening they sound delightful.  If you need more, push that switch forward to one of the more bass-pronounced settings. One click forward enhances the lower range, and another click past that makes bass frequencies take center stage. The last? BOOM! This last setting is a bit heavy for my ears when listening to music, but it made a PS4 session of Killzone: Shadow Fall pretty exciting, if a bit tiring. The steps take your ears from delightfully punchy to full-on bass head territory -- something for everyone. Here's the kicker, though. All of these sound modes are dynamic and musical, which is more than I can say for a lot of the gaming headsets with sound tuning options. The full-on bass setting is, again, a bit tiring to my ears, but if you like the boom, it's certainly here. Even the default linear setting is still quite lively in the low end, though. I've been enjoying this set with the response tuned to the first notch, which has proved to be perfect for both gaming and music listening. Side-by-side tests with other headsets had my lip curling at how poorly some of my standby sets fared in comparison. I won't throw any of the others under the bus, but I will say that only set that fared reasonably well in the comparison was my SteelSeries Siberia set, and even then the Beyerdynamic set sounded a fair bit better to my ears. In all cases, the semi-closed-backed Custom One were more open and clean, shining with their unmarred midrange and their amazing imaging. Games and music sounded bigger and more exciting, dialogue was much easier to hear, and explosions and sound effects were more dynamic. In just about every respect the Custom Ones has a clear advantage.  The sound isolation is also great, as the world fades out when you put these on.  For gaming, the Custom One Pro has another trick up its sleeve. The port at the bottom of the left earcup that lets you plug in a removable cable can also take Beyerdynamic's Custom Headset Gear extension. This replaces the default audio cable with another that has a split Y-cable that lets you plug in the set into headphone and mic jacks. The bottom of the extension has a port where the included gooseneck microphone can be attached. With a quick unplug/plug the Custom Pro One changes from a listening-only set to a gaming/podcasting solution. This Y-cable configuration was good for my gaming PC, but not my notebooks, where a single 1/8" jack handles both signals. I had the same issue with the PS4, as the audio jack on the DualShock 4 is the same kind of all-in-one mic/headset jack, much like the one on most mobile phones. StarTech's $7 headset splitter adapter made for an easy and cheap solution, though it would have been nice to see this adapter included in the headset extension kit. Or, better yet, Beyerdynamic should have included a 4-pin 1/8" jack with in-line mic for mobile/gaming use. Test calls and party chats with the Custom Headset Gear extension showed that the included mic does the job fine, with clean voice coming through. I did find that rotating the gooseneck mic in its jack created a quiet scratching noise, though. The mic is also missing a marking to show where the mic diaphragm is, so you'll have to remove the foam cover to see where it is to set its position near your mouth.  Of course, this set will need an amp for game systems that do not have an analog jack. The Custom One Pro comes with an allen wrench that lets you remove the four screws on each earcup to replace the default plates with custom ones. The headband and earcups are also removable to make them customizable as well. The Beyerydynamic shop has several part options already available.  These are a very nicely made set of headphones from Germany. The Custom One Pro's metal headband and rugged plastic earcups make them feel solid but keep them light. They're supremely comfortable because of this, perfect for extended wear. Once more, we've never tested a headset for gaming that has sounded this nice. The Custom One Pro is sparkling clean, miles wide, and impressively dynamic, with a soundstage that competes with professional headphones. Gaming on everything from a 3DS to a PS4 showed that these are a treat for the ears, and they performed just a nicely with an iPod and through stereo amps for music listening and movie watching.  If you need something that's wireless, digital, or has a bunch of surround sound modes, this set may not be for you. But if you want something sounds outstanding and has a high level of customizability, I can't think of a better set than the Custom One Pro. Highly recommended!
Custom One Pro photo
Our favorite headset yet
If you read this site regularly you'll know that I've reviewed a lot of headsets. A lot of gaming headsets, I should say. I'm not out to dump on any of them, but I want to start this review by saying that these Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro headphones sound better than any of the phones I've reviewed for this site. Flat out. No question. 

Weird controls photo
Weird controls

Tongue and butt controllers created by Valve engineer


Control games with your butt!
Dec 05
// Joshua Derocher
Here is something I have never thought while playing a game, "Gee! I wish I could use my butt to control this!" Even if it's something you have never thought of, an engineer at Valve, Ben Krasnow, put together two very inter...

Review: Feenix 2014 Nascita Gaming Mouse & Dimora Pad

Dec 04 // Chris Carter
Product: Feenix 2014 Nascita Gaming MouseManufacturer: FeenixInput: USBMSRP: $97 It must be said that the actual design of the Nascita is very simple, and Feenix's designers really know what they're doing without getting too flashy. There are very few buttons on this mouse (only two additional buttons including left/right click and the wheel) -- making it not so viable for hardcore MMO fans, but suitable for action games and most FPS titles. It has a very sleek design that was slippery at first, but eventually became comfortable after a few hours of use. This is mostly due to the hyper soft anti-sweat material that won't hurt or cramp your hands -- I just wish it had a tad more grip. The logo and the major buttons glow white when the mouse is plugged in, which gives the mouse a bit of character without turning it into an ugly neon-fest. All in all the Nascita is pretty compact, with a total weight of 114g. It has a great glide with its Teflon feet (which are high in quality) and the mouse itself is very responsive based on my testing though OS and gaming use at a 1 ms response time. It also comes with a braided cable, which prevents tangling. Besides the usual suspects, there are a few features that set this mouse apart from the get-go, including its customer support plan and the DPI switches on the mouse itself. When you receive the Nascita, it comes packed with a customer support card, with the name of your representative on it and all of the appropriate contact information (including Skype). It's a far cry from the typical "find the 1-800 number" inserts of many of its competitors, and a nice touch overall. The drawback is that you can only buy the mouse from Feenix "exclusively," eliminating a chance for a third-party retailer sale or competitive pricing. [embed]265551:51663:0[/embed] But the big draw is the instant DPI manipulation, which Feenix refers to as "driverless." Simply put, there's an LCD monitor on the top left corner of the mouse that shows its sensitivity, and by pressing the special up or down DPI buttons in the middle of the Nascita, you can tweak it from 800 all the way to 8200. It's a really useful feature if you're playing a particularly twitchy FPS and need to switch mid-match, or for older games that may not have full sensitivity customization. But as cool as that feature is, it's tough to justify the price without a number of bells and whistles found on other similar mice. For instance, there's no left or right scroll wheel functions like many Logitech mice. It's completely corded, so you don't have the option to go wireless even if you wanted to. The Nascita also lacks a number of extra buttons and customization, should you want to create macros for more in-depth games like RTS titles -- "driverless" has its advantages as you don't have to install another piece of bloatware, but it also sacrifices deep customization in the process. In short, I won't be replacing my Logitech G2 anytime soon, but I'm happily enjoying the Nascita as an ancillary backup for my laptop. You just need to decide whether or not the price is fair for you given the features it provides. Product: Feenix 2014 Dimora Gaming MousepadManufacturer: FeenixMSRP: $36 I also had the chance to test out the Dimora Gaming Mousepad, which is a whopping 13x11 long. It's made of hard plastic with a minimalist logo on it, and it'll no doubt take up a decent chunk of a small desk. The good news is if you have the space, it clears out a nice area just for mouse, and it frees up a spot to put a drink on the pad itself. The sound of the mouse on the pad itself is a bit grating at first, but eventually it settles in and there's minimal noise involved on the pad. It's also very stable, and didn't move at all even during some intense testing with a few FPS titles. It must be said that the Dimora is a luxury item through and through, but since I could accommodate the size of the pad, I ended up using it constantly. It didn't blow me away or demonstrate any sort of necessity on its part, but I don't have any real complaints about the Dimora either. Should you need a mousepad at some point, this is a decent option.
Mouse review photo
A mouse and a pad, how about that
Once I find a mouse I like, I tend to stick to it for quite a while. Right now, I'm still using the Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse I picked up in April, and it doesn't look like I'm going to switch anytime soon. But I did come across a piece of hardware that I'll use for my extra machines, or in special cases given one of its neat tricks -- the Feenix 2014 Nascita Gaming Mouse.

ROCCAT contest photo
Keyboard, mouse, mousepad, and hub
[Update: Contest over! Winner is Fuhjem!] Our friends at ROCCAT have given us a set of awesome PC gaming gear to give away to one lucky Dtoider! Up for grabs is the Ryos MK Pro keyboard, the Kone XTD mouse, the Hiro mousepad,...

Shield 1080p streaming photo
Shield 1080p streaming

Update for Nvidia Shield unlocks 1080p streaming


So many pixels in the air
Dec 03
// Joshua Derocher
The Nvidia Shield, the little controller with a screen attached to it, just rolled out an update that lets it stream games in 1080p. Before this update, it could only stream games in 720p. This update also touch controls from...
Steam Machine price photo
It looks like a console
iBuyPower showed off a prototype for its first Steam Machine, which will be out next year for $499. The sexy white box will have a multicore AMD CPU, an AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card, a 500GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, S...

PC photo
PC

Amazon selling PC components for up to 40 percent off


Let me upgrade ya
Nov 19
// Abel Girmay
For all the PC enthusiasts that are due for an upgrade, Amazon is having a sale of up to 40 percent off select DIY components. It's a pretty good mix of items that are on sale too: Corsair tower cases for $300; Intel i5 and i...






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