Logitech G923 Wheel & Pedal – Review

The world of Sim Racing has never quite been on our radar, we knew it was a massive group of die-hard "car game" fans that buy overly expensive rigs with pedals and wheels that are more expensive than their houses, and we kind-of left it at that.  When Logitech asked us if we would be interested in reviewing the Logitech G923 Wheel and Pedal, we were naturally intrigued to see how intense these tools really are and if they can make you THAT much better than what a seasoned controller driver such as myself, could be.  So when the box arrived we eagerly opened it and got it all set up.  While we do that, take a look at the video below...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jig6uShQkgk  

Design & Features

  The Logitech G923 is the successor to the extremely popular and capable G29/G920.  If you are a owner of the G29 or G920 it is understandable that you might be skeptical of making the move from your current setup for something, that at face value, doesnt seem that much different.  On the outside the Logitech G923 features all the same premium quality materials.  The extremely plush leather in which the steering is wrapped, the strong, sturdy and perfectly sized metal paddleshifters, the buttons are pefectly spaced while the inlay of the wheel is mostly brushed metal with some plastic inlay.  The flat bottom steering wheel is a nod to many sportier car brands and gives you a wonderful feel of being fast, accurate and true. Apart from the wheel and paddleshifters, the wheel also features the standard YBAX buttons for Xbox, LSB and RSB buttons are placed on eith side of the centre of the wheel and they feel much like the "NOS buttons" that are so popular in the Fast & Furious franchise.  + and - keys are placed on the left bottom and the return button, with dial around the outside, to the right.  These two round buttons feel like they take quite alot of inspiration from a very popular german car brand, which is never a bad thing.  When turned on the new Logitech G923 also features a LED rev indicator which is a nice touch.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bMzOxkW-yU   The Logitech G923 wheel can be attached to a counter or rig with a suprisingly strong clamp that can be clamped and then tightened and fits nearly all, reasonably shaped, tables or desks.  The cables that go to the foot peddles, as well as the gearshifter, are all loose and enters a neatly routed area where they can be fitted and closed up tight.     The racing peddles are big and solid, which is what you need, as they might take some serious beating during the course of a really intense race.  Consisting of a large, rubberized base with all three of the pedals, not only a stop and go like non-purists use.  These pedals are fully metal with rubber blobs on them to keep your favourite racing slipper ( see what I did there)  from from slipping off the brake or accelerator at the worst possible time.  Aesthetically, the pedals are identical to the G29/920 that came before it except this time around, the brake pedal now has a progressive spring that will get firmer the harder you slam on the brakes.  

Performance

The biggest leap forward with the Logitech G923 is the addition of TrueForce.  What TrueForce is, in Logitech terms, TrueForce connects directly into the in-game engine, processing up to 4000 times per second.  This uses the actual real-time physics and audio and pushes that back as real world experiences through the Logitech G923 steering wheel.  A simple example would be, when you start up your car, and place your hand on the steering wheel.  There is a slight vibration, a little nudge from your car to tell you its there and ready.  TrueForce captures this, and when at full tilt, flying though the Scottish highlands in Dirt 2.0, pushing your Ford Fiesta rally car through its rev range, that orchestral delight of the engine singing can be felt as vibrations through the steering wheel.  With TrueForce you truly feel that the car is no longer just a object moving on a screen but you feel connected and invested.     The only slight drawback is that all of this vibrations do make a slight racket.  And a second fallback, not of the Logitech G923's own making, is the lack of TrueForce support at this time.  GT Sport, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Grid and Dirt 2.0 is some of the very few titles to currently support TrueForce.     I found the pedals to be equisite! The clutch felt great and although I did prefer to not use it I found the fact that the clutch would take differently on different cars to be a wonderful touch, both from the wheel and Dirt 2.0.  The throttle peddle, much like expected provides the least of feedback through the actual but is the cause for nearly all the feedback throughout the rest of the Logitech G923.   The real magic comes in the brake pedal with a progressive spring that stiffens as you put more weight on it, much like the hydraulic force that builds on a real brake pedal.  This was once again evident when I took the Ford Escort or Mini for a few spins from the classic era of racing.     Once again, Logitech, with its GHUB partners wonderfully capable hardware with a very robust software.  The Logitech GHUB is very easy to to understand and setup, and the features of the Logitech G923 can easily be adjusted within it.  Keybinds can be changed and other features like TrueForce can be turned off.

Verdict

For someone who loves car racing, gaming, but weirdly, doesn't LOVE racing games, I had mixed feeling about the Logitech G923 when it arrived at my desk.  Yes it is the next in a line of steering wheels and pedals that are revered as the best you can get, but I was not convinced that forking out a significant wadge of your hard-earned monies quite equates to the value that a steering wheel setup could bring.  I mean, surely, my controller and some skill behind the sticks could do just as well as this?  Boy oh Boy was I wrong.  The Logitech G923 is a stupendous steering wheel that will give those who are truly interested in putting their racing experiences into the next dimension. Not only can you now see where your car is, you can now use more than just your visual senses to establish exactly where you are placing those wheels.  Are you going to hook around this corner thanks to those deep ruts from the racers before you?  The moment you dive into the corner the TrueForce will give you the precise feedback of whether or not you are going to set a new fastest sector or whether the marshalls shoulds bring the winch. The only two downfalls that the Logitech G923 might pose is the price, which, compared to full-blown racing sims, is only a drop in the bucket, but for the casual gamer, it is still much more expensive than a simple controller.  Secondly, the lack of TrueForce supported titles right now, yes Logitech cannot force developers to use the TrueForce but they can hope, and after experiencing the wonders it can bring, I certainly hope more developers do choose to take advantage of it. If you are a car game enthusiast that is considering getting into sim racing but not sure where to dip your toes, the Logitech G923 is the where you need to go!    

Special thanks to Logitech South Africa for the review content

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Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 – Review

When it comes to styling, some might argue that Porsche has the best design team out there.  Taking a classic look and constantly tweaking it to make it look totally different while yet looking so familiar.  Porsche cars are a perfect mix of style and performance and when they partnered with AOC to create the Porsche design monitors it is only logical to expect a gaming monitor that combines the style and performance you would expect from a Porsche car, and blend it perfectly with the superb quality and performance of AOC.  When you are looking for mid to high-end monitors, most brands tend to change up their designs as the price increases.  The way they do this is generally with the aesthetical appeal so in the case of monitors they will use some fancy stand or add in RGB  which might have you sitting with something that comes from an expressive art class. Porsche Design and AOC had a very clear idea in mind when they designed the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 monitor.  Porsche design is driven by a passion for purist design and an understanding of the symbiosis between form and function.  It needs to capture attention and focus people's gaze.  This was evident in the design of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27.  Let's take a closer look at the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 that not only has an extremely attractive design but has just as impressive a list of features... Shall we go for a ride? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZN5KGa_KsA  

Specifications

Panel Type / Backlight VA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size, Aspect Ratio & Curve 27 inches / 16:9
Curve radius: 1000mm
Max Resolution & Refresh 2560x1440 @ 240 Hz
AMD FreeSync Premium Pro: 48-240 Hz
Native Color Depth & Gamut 8-bit / DCI-P3
HDR10, DisplayHDR 400
Response Time (MPRT) 0.5 ms
Brightness (mfr) 550 nits
Contrast (mfr) 2,500:1
Speakers 2x 5w, DTS-tuned
Video Inputs 2x DisplayPort 1.4
2x HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5mm headphone output
USB 3.2 1x up, 4x down
Power Consumption 34.6w, brightness @ 200 nits
 

Design

With any item that is co-created and designed by a brand as renowned as Porsche Design, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 instantly has your attention drawn to the very unique stand.  Made from metal, and carrying quite a hefty weight, Porsche Design and AOC wanted the stand to remind us of a roll cage that is fitted to racing cars.  While the stand, which is permanently fixed to the monitor, which means no mounting the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 to a VESA mount, is wonderful and a joy to look at, it does take up substantial space on a desk with a deep footprint of over 30cms. The rest of the monitor has a brushed finish and is proudly adorned with the Porsche Design logo on the front.  The bezels of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 are a mere 8mm.  On the rear at the right, there is a single joystick that is the single control for all the features and settings that can be found on the monitor.   Not only does the chrome-plated stand provide much of the eye-candy factor of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27, but it also allows gives it a strong base to stand on.  The stand allows for great ergonomics.  The monitor is able to move up and down within a range of 15 cm.  The monitor is also able to tilt 23degrees while swiveling 150 degrees.  What makes these movements more impressive is exact, and the perfect amount of resistance these movements offer.  I have yet to find a monitor that is as perfectly weighted as the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27. To many gamers' delight, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 even features some RGB.  Around the pivot of the monitor, there is RGB lighting as well as a Porsche Design logo that is projected down between the feet of the stand.  Naturally, the RGB can all be customized via the onboard settings.  

Performance and Features

  Much like the Porsche cars, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has some serious tech under the "hood".  It boasts a 1440p VA Panel that is good for 240Hz, is capable of a 3000:1 contrast ratio, Adaptive-Sync, and HDR.  If that mouthful doesn't impress you then maybe the very aggressive 1000R curve and a 0.5ms response time, will.  The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 comes with two Display Port 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports.  The HDMI's will only give you up to 144Hz as is standard for HDMI 2.0 and if you want to take the full function of the 240Hz goodness you will need to connect via DP1.4.  The HDR10 and blur reduction are also only supported over the DP1.4 ports and will be good for up to 240Hz.  The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 also features a 3.5mm audio jack as well as five USB 3.2 ports, one for upstream and the other 4 for down.  As if all of that is not enough there are also two, rather powerful, 5W DTS-tuned speakers built into the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 monitor.  Although I am sure these will hardly ever be used. With VA panels you are guaranteed to get great colors and brightness but often at the expense of overly bright blacks, with the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27, this is not the case.  During our time spent, we played quite a bit of fast-paced games such as Rocket League, Warzone, and Biomutant, as well as other, more gritty and dark titles like Escape From Tarkov and Days Gone. Compared to many of the other monitors we have reviewed in the past, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is the only one that comes to mind, where when turning on the HDR, that we did not want to, or have to change any settings.  Normally we would need to play around with some of the settings to get it to the way we like, but the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has its settings perfectly dialed in, to our liking at least.   Colorful games such as Biomutant and the vibrant and fast-paced Rocket League look splendid with the rich contrast really making games look stunning.  The strong curve of the 1000R panel does wonders for immersion.  This is boosted more by the fairly capable 5W speakers and an extremely robust equalizer accessible via the OSD.  Thanks to the DTS tuning the speakers are able to create a fuller sound and thanks to some phase effects, even surround sound approximation sounded decent with plenty of bass while keeping voices crystal clear. AOC implemented a feature called backlight strobing which should help with smearing especially when it comes to fast-paced titles and running them at 240Hz.  We had to research this whole idea a bit before we attempted it and what we found was that at lower refresh rates, basically everything below 200Hz the MBR feature did a great job of keeping things crisp and clear but moving toward the 240Hz there was noticeable smearing happening.

Verdict

The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 can easily be labeled as a case of  "style over substance" but you would be so wrong.  Yes, it carries a hefty price tag, and you could get a very capable 32-inch monitor for the same sort of money.  But what the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is is an extremely well-styled monitor, that is more of a feature in a gaming setup than just a monitor.  Yes, we could get a 32 inch for the price, would it look as impressive as the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27? It most certainly would not. The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has been winning in our books on looks alone, and to MANY people, 27-inch monitors are a perfect size, so if you take the perfect sized monitor, with jaw-dropping aesthetics, and squeeze a spectacularly curvy VA panel into it.  Give it buttery-smooth 240Hz capabilities all at 1440p with HDR, there is very little I can say to deter you from this monitor! In summary, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is arguably one of the best premium gaming monitors around with nearly no downside to speak of.  If a stylish monitor, that is capable of looking good while performing wonderfully, then this is the monitor you need to showcase on your desk.    

special thanks to AOC South Africa for the review content

 
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ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 – Review

Life has become one big rat race, and with hardware demands for the newer titles, you either need a rather beefy PC, or you need to resort to either mobile gaming or a gaming laptop.  I can hear many of you groaning already.  We all know that laptop CPUs and GPUs might carry the same name and moniker that their PC brothers do, but not all CPU/GPU is equal when it comes to laptops. Fortunately, ASUS has delivered, arguably the monstrous ASUS ROG Scar 17, that will easily have you dumping your now "average" gaming PC and make this laptop your new pride and joy!   Thanks to ASUS we were fortunate enough to spend some time with the ASUS ROG Scar 17.  Let's take a bit of a closer look at the next gaming laptop we all NEED!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxL3PrcqQWw   When ASUS sent us the ROG Strix Scar 17 gaming laptop we had absolutely zero histories with gaming laptops so we did some research and what we found had us grinning like a kid at Christmas.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar range of gaming laptops are all-out gaming machines, that take zero shortcuts and have their eyes firmly set on hardcore gamers, content creators, and more specifically the esports scene.  With the idea of aiming to provide the greatest gaming performance in a laptop, naturally, you will need the best mobile components which all cost lots of money, therefore the ASUS ROG Strix Scar range is not cheap, at all! Before we get too far into it, let's have a look at the specifications.  
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6, 1545MHz boost clock, 130W TGP
Memory 32GB DDR4-3200MHz
Storage 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Display 17.3 inch, 1080p, 360Hz, IPS
Networking 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x RJ-45, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5mm combination microphone/audio jack
Battery 90Wh
Power Adapter 240W
Operating System Windows 10 Pro:
 

Design

  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 looks on the outside much like it does on the inside, futuristic and immensely capable.  Before we take a look at the actual laptop, even the packaging that I come in just screams that it means business.  Taking it out of the box you are met with a large imposing laptop.  on the lid, a large part of it has been given a dot matrix design which is both aesthetically pleasing while certainly providing much-needed cooling to the display.  The other half of the lid has a fingerprint-resistant matte black finish with a shiny ROG logo adorning it.  Moving down to the hinge section, on the part that does not have dot matrix on it, you will find ROG inscribed in it, just in case you didn't know that it is an ASUS ROG laptop.  Even the dot matrix design, if you look at it at the right angle, says ROG! The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 loves to flaunt all it has and hence all the aggressive designs.  Along the side, you will find a myriad of vents to cool the colossus of a computer lurking inside.  In the box, you will also find end caps that you can place on the hinge that read "ROG" if you want to customize your ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 somewhat more. Opening the lid of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 greets you with a rather contrast inside.  The one side continues with the matte black design while the other does remind me a bit of when semi-transparent gaming consoles or controllers were popular.  The semi-transparent cover does give the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 a very industrial feel with a few rivets that can be seen directly under the plastic.     As we all know, ASUS ROG STRIX is not shy to give their products RGB, and the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is no different.  There is a light strip at the bottom of the laptop,  unless you get more eye-level with the Scar 17 you will not see it directly but that is the whole point.  The RGB strip is bright enough to create the much-wanted Aura effect ( see what I did there ASUS ;)  ).  When testing it on a polished surface or any reflective surface the effect is wonderful, but even on less shiny counters it still did its job really well.  The RGB does not stop there with some RGB positioned closer towards the hinge as well as that shiny ROG sign that sits on the lid, yes that bad boy is fully RGB infused!     The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 however does leave out the webcam from the wide arsenal that it does have.  This can be forgiven as the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is aimed at the gamer and to be the muscle behind a content creator's magic, and besides, onboard webcams are generally not that great and if you are a streamer, chances are you have a camera that you prefer anyway.  The ports and ports layout is spread across the left and the back of the laptop.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 comes with 3 x USB3.2 ports of which two are on the left and one is on the back.  There is also one USB 3.2 type C port as well as an HDMI 2.0 connection and last but not least, an RJ45 ethernet port.     Towards the right front side of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, there is a curious little slot that caught my eye from the moment I opened the lid.  After some reading and scratching through packaging, I found an interesting keystone.  This keystone uses its RFID chip to lock or unlock certain drives that you might not want to be used or found when you are not with your laptop.  By simply inserting the keystone these drives will become visible once more.

Display

    The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 that landed on our desk was the FHD 360Hz version, which on a 17-inch display, would be the better choice in our opinion.  Such a small screen surface makes even 1080p look amazing and with 360Hz this is a gamer's dream!  It is necessary to mention that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 screen brightness does not quite match a normal monitor but when turned up all the way we didn't find it to be too dark.  During darker gameplay or videos the video did seem slightly washed out at times but for the most part, and especially during vibrant games such as Biomutant and Overwatch the display was fantastic and really made the game look vibrant and bright! High framerate displays sell themselves to all those who are looking for an edge over the competition.  Personally, I have been gaming on 144Hz for quite some time and when the 360Hz of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 came around I had my doubts whether it would truly make that much of a difference.  It is safe to say that if your hardware is capable, like in the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 then 360Hz will give you a sure edge and make games feel more engaging due to the fact that on-screen elements react so quickly and smoothly to your every input.

Keyboard and touchpad

    ASUS is clearly focusing on the esports player, current or aspiring with the Scar series of laptops.  Apart from the eye-melting 360Hz display gamers and content creators alike always needs a top-tier keyboard that is responsive yet comfortable.  ASUS easily addressed these demands by pairing the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with an optical-mechanical keyboard that has a soft matte touch finish which is the perfect blend between crisp and responsive clicks while making it very pleasant to touch.  The keys that are rated for 100 Million clicks have a response time of a blistering 0.2ms all thanks to the optical switches makes these keys breathtakingly fast considering that they are in a very flat laptop setup.  The full travel distance on these optical-mechanical keys is still only 1.9mm to try and preserve as much of that lovely tactile feel. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 keyboard also features a few media keys and a few function keys that are pre-assigned to adjust things like RGB styles and a few more nifty features.  Moving over to the touchpad, for gaming, ANY trackpad is absolute rubbish and if you play games with a trackpad please excuse yourself now.  But if you are doing some productivity or you need to do some content creation, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 does have a very large touchpad that is less smooth than what I would expect.  But after using it I realized that that is exactly what makes it so good, more friction means more control. Well played ASUS.  Naturally, ASUS makes full use of the multi-touch functions for zoom and scrolling which makes using a touchpad a very pleasant experience.

Battery and heat

  The dreaded words to any gaming laptop.  In an ideal world, we would have an all-powerful laptop that runs at cool temperatures for weeks on end...  Unfortunately, we don't live in that world, and in our world high-performance laptops run very hot and run through battery life like it's no one's business.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 has a respectable battery life when using it watch videos at full brightness and some general productivity mixed with some Warzone we got roughly 3:30 out of a single charge.  Comparing this to other gaming laptops it ended up being quite middle of the field which is not good nor bad.  For the majority of the time, I am sure serious gaming will happen around a power outlet so hardcore gaming will generally not happen on battery unless Eskom has something to say about that. We put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its thermal paces by repeatedly running the Division 2 bench test at max settings and after the 5th run, we took a touch test around some general spots that could be warm or even hot on the laptop.  Moving from the touchpad, which was hardly noticeable to the center of the keyboard where heat was felt when touching around the center of the keyboard, to the warmest spot we could find, the underside, around the area where the power button is.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 runs rather cool even during load that to the multitude of heat dissipation pipes and even the exhaust air coming from the laptop was never too hot either.  Wonderful once again from ASUS!

Audio

    Audio has always been a tricky thing to implement properly into a small form factor like a laptop.  physics proves that to make a big sound you usually need big speakers, and small laptops do not allow for those.  So when I turned on a Spotify playlist to put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its paced with audio, I was very surprised with the wide audio stage as well as how punchy the mids and lows were that was emanating from this laptop.  After the pleasant surprise, some closer investigation was needed.  There are two bottom speakers that play downwards as well as two front-facing speakers that are cleverly hidden deep into the hinge mechanism and unless you listen for them you won't see them.  These hinge-placed speakers are designed to include their own subwoofers giving the deep and punchy bass considering their size. The audio that comes from the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 extremely good considering that it comes from a mere laptop, but it would be good to note that the sound, even when at max volume is not the loudest, but then again, if you are using onboard audio from a laptop you are not expecting it to be the music source of a house party.  But that being said the audio, while not the loudest does allow all the small details to come through especially when I was playing games like Days Gone, the rustling of the wind, and the growls of far-off zombie hoards were distinctly, yet eerily heard.

Gaming

Naturally, we had to take the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 for a spin with some games, we had to put the 360Hz monitor to its full potential by diving into a few games and seeing how it holds up.  We also put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through the mandatory TimeSPY bench test and we have the results to share with you.  The games we used to test the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with are Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn.    

When taking the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 into games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn which are all very demanding games are easily handled by the extremely capable Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, its 8 cores and 16 threads that idle at 3.3GHz and boosts to a staggering 4.6GHz is almost unheard of when it comes to laptops and it effortlessly handles everything you throw at it.  To put it into perspective a vast majority of PC CPUs are less powerful than this laptop processor and that, in all honesty, is very scary! Combine the 5900HX and 32Gb of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200MHz and as if that was not scary enough all of that is topped off with an Nvidia RTX3080 laptop GPU that has a staggering 16Gbs of VRAM.  If there were any doubts of what this monster is capable of the numbers and specs should send shivers through your spine.  Time to put this beast to the test and see how the 360Hz monitor handles it.  Let us take a look.

Metro Exodus

  1080p, RTX on, DLSS on, DX12, Ultimate settings   FPS - 74FPS  

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

  DX12, Highest settings   FPS - 107 FPS  

Horizon Zero Dawn

1080p, Ultimate settings   FPS - 94 FPS   Although this is a small sample to test, these titles are all extremely demanding and for the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 to be able to push out 60+ FPS on titles that are known to bring capable PCs to their knees is a testament in itself.    

Verdict

Nothing we do or say is going to make the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 any cheaper, and that will be what makes or breaks this item for many.  But if you are someone who wants a premium gaming rig, that can easily be put in a bag and be taken with you then this is the ultimate gaming-on-the-go laptop you can find.  It is the price of a full-blown PC indeed but it can also perform just like one!  With the CPU, GPU, RAM, and NVME combo there is hardly anything that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 cannot do.  Pair it with its industrial, but flashy, design and ASUS has found the perfect combination of enough flash to talk the talk and enough hardware grunt to walk the walk Bottom line, there are not many gaming laptops that can give you what the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 can, and for that, we recommend it to any aspiring, current, and future esports and content creators.  If you are willing to bite the bullet and build a gaming PC, there is no reason you shouldn't buy the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 and take your gaming monster with you.    

special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 

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ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC Edition – review

  When Nvidia announced and launched their 30 series graphics cards, they had all the gaming audience firmly focused on their products, and as the whole crypto mining happened, and miners basically emptied the physical and virtual shelves of all 30-series cards, no one took any particular notice of AMD and their newest 6000 series cards.  We were exactly the same.  Until ASUS sent us the very formidable Radeon RX6800 in the very very attractive ROG STRIX-guise with a slight OC straight out the box.  With impressive numbers such as 16Gb of memory and boasting PCIe 4.0 support as well as 4K UHD capable at a price tag that, in the current climate is cheaper than the RTX3070 and boasts double the memory...  Makes the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition a very appealing piece of kit.  We spent some time with this beast and this is what we found.  

Specifications

Here we can see the obligatory specification sheet comparing the Founders Edition (FE) card compared to the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card.  There is usually not much that third-party companies can do apart from playing with the design and the clock speeds.  As shown in the spec sheet the cards are virtually the same apart from an 85 MHz boost clock speed gain on the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card.
GPU Radeon RX 6800 ROG Strix Radeon RX 6800 OC Edition
Shading Units 3840 3840
TMUs 240 240
ROPs 96 96
Compute Units 60 60
Boost Clock 2105 MHz 2190 MHz
Memory Type GDDR6 GDDR6
Memory Size 16GB 16GB
Memory Bus 256-Bit 256-Bit
Bandwidth 512 GB/s 512 GB/s
Effective Memory Speed 16 Gbps 16 Gbps
Bus Interface PCIe 4.0 x 16 PCIe 4.0 x 16
Additional Power Connector 2 x 8-pin 2 x 8-pin
TDP 250W 250W
Recommended PSU 650W 650W
  Before we jump into real-world performance and how the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition stacks up against the RTX2080 that we have in our system normally, and the RTX3080 we reviewed previously, we are looking at what is in the box!

Unboxing and Design

  For those who are not aware, ASUS, whether it be ROG or TUF, has impeccable packaging, arguably the best I have ever experienced, and the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is no different.  Unlike the motherboards, graphics cards usually don't have many extra things inside the box apart from the card itself.  Inside the box, you will find the card itself, some loose pamphlets, a trading card, which is a nifty trinket to have and flex with, and some ASUS branded cable straps that do come in handy. The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition features the same beefy heatsink and three-fan design that most newer ASUS cards, be it Nvidia or AMD.  Before we go any further it is important to note that ASUS calls this card a 2.9 slot card, but for all purposes, it is a three-slot monster that measures a whopping 320mm long.  What this means that if you are a fan of compact builds or you are running a small mid-tower case you might struggle to squeeze this monster into your case if you have a front-mounted radiator, as we have. With a card of this size and considerable weight, sagging is something to be expected.  Fortunately, ASUS has come up with a solution.  They have a metal frame that is located between the cooler shroud and the PCB to try combat gravity, and it does a rather good job of it.  We prefer to use a small screw on the case to screw the card into the rear and providing some more support as to not hurt the stupidly gorgeous ASUS ROG Strix Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard that we are also reviewing.     The triple fan configuration, just like we saw on the ASUS TUF RTX3080 we reviewed, has the center fan spinning in opposite direction to the outer fans to reduce turbulent airflow which provides better cooling while keeping noise levels at a minimum.  Upon further inspection we found the ROG Strix fans to feature more fins on the fans compared to the TUF version.  This makes for more air to be able to be pushed through the massive heatsink resulting in even better cooling performance.  ASUS did have some fun with these cards.  On the bottom of the card, there are coordinates printed, when searched these coordinates take you to the ASUS headquarters in Taiwan.  A nifty nod to the factory for their hard work.     The side of the card has an RGB light strip that runs along the side of the card, facing outwards.  There is a single ROG logo on a silver plaque in the center.  The RGB strip is not too brash and bright but is bright enough to be noticed.  Personally, I am not much of an RGB fan so the fact that the RGB can be turned off either in the armory crate software on in the BIOS is wonderful.  Moving to the back-side of the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition we are met with the power connectors.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition will need, at least, a 650W power supply and it will require two 8-pin PCIe power connectors.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is rather power-hungry with a rated TDP of a whopping 250W.  Back to the front of the card, neatly tucked away is the dual bios switch allowing you to run the card in either Q mode ( quiet mode) or P mode (Performance mode).  Naturally, this switch should stay in the P mode...     The overall look of this card when installed is wonderful, thanks to arguably the best-looking top plate, featuring the signature ROG emblem and the new open-back heatsink design allowing for massive cooling improvements while still keeping the ASUS ROG Strix sleek and attractive look that ASUS has become so renowned for.  When it comes to the way to connect to the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card the immediate omission would be the USB Type-C.  This might be a bummer for some but fortunately, you will still get one HDMI 2.1 port and three Display Port 1.4 ports that should cover all your connection needs.  

Smart Access Memory (SAM) & FidelityFX

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmp_rW4cl38   For those of you who are true AMD fans, you would be aware of the latest technology that AMD is so very excited to push.  It is called SAM, Smart Access Memory.  What SAM does is, if you have an AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPU, paired with an AMD Radeon RX6000 GPU, gives the CPU full access to your GPU bandwidth.  What this means, in the most basic terms is that latency is greatly reduced which will see a great boost in performance when it comes to gaming.  AMD claims that if you are fortunate enough to have both of the above requirements you should be able to see between 3-15% performance improvement over the Nvidia RTX 3080...  granted, you will probably not have both cards to be able to compare them but to me, this seems like AMD's answer to Nvidia's DLSS solution. AMD is full of new technology at the moment and they are very happy to announce their way to fight the giant that is Nvidia when it comes to GPUs is FidelityFX.  Take a look at what this means for gaming in the video below.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoqvJWNaUqI   AMD's newest addition is FidelityFX which features a plethora of new features that comes with the RX 6000 range of cards.  Amongst the many options and additions that FidelityFX brings, Super Resolution uses new upscaling features to boost framerates in certain titles.  Contrast Adaptive Sharpening, Ambient Occlusion, Variable shading, screen-space reflections, and Denoiser.  I am not going to dive too deep into all of these features as there are only a limited amount of titles that support it.  But it is worthwhile to keep an eye on because this will be what takes the fight to Nvidia in the near future.

Temperatures

Much like the RTX3080 that we reviewed previously, we found that the new cutout design that the newest generation of cards, from both manufacturers, makes a massive impact on the cooling and operating temperatures of the cards.  Idle temperatures, on the, P Mode setting, were always around the 30'C mark which is a couple of degrees lower than what our own RTX2080 would idle at.  When it came to running the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition under load is where the real surprise came.  During testing games that saw our Ryzen 9 5900X reach temperatures in the 80'C region, the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition still performed at a chilly 50'C.  Granted, the 5900X is a real monster and runs hot by nature, comparing the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition to the RTX2080 saw an average temperature difference when going between gaming titles of easily 10 - 15'C.  The only massive difference would be that the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition fan curve would hardly be spinning the fans at those temperatures where our RTX2080 would be spinning rather rapidly by those temperatures ( call us temperature conscious when it comes to our personal kit ) So for anyone who is trying to build a rig with minimal airflow and/or an extremely quiet build then I would highly recommend the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition as the cooling that ASUS has built into this card is simply fantastic!  

Performance

We put the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition through its paces in a couple of demanding titles.  The titles ranged from Direct X 12 games like Division 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Control.  Games were tested in 1080p and 1440p, due to no 4K monitor being available to us we had to research results for those tests but we will only briefly mention them. Thanks to ASUS we could test the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition with, and without Smart Access memory, thanks to the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Dark Hero with a Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, so tests will also feature stats for SAM on and SAM off.

Division 2

  1080p - 154fps 1440p - 110fps 1440p (SAM) - 110fps  

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

1080p - 170fps 1440p - 125fps 1440p (SAM) - 124fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 64fps  

Metro Exodus

  1080p - 100fps 1440p - 85fps 1440p (SAM) - 90fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 50fps  

Control

  1080p - 142fps 1440p - 91fps 1440p (SAM) - 99fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 45fps   As can be seen above that in its current state, SAM does not make enough of an impact in gaming performance to warrant buying the new AMD cards purely for that, DLSS is still more superior and with varied results and no results in other titles, SAM is a step in the right direction and will, probably, very good in the near future.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition as shown above is VERY capable at 1080p and 1440p delivering a touch under 100fps in extremely demanding titles like Metro Exodus and flying past the 100fps mark in other titles.

Verdict

The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is an absolute monster when it comes to the spec sheet, it has a massive 16Gbs of memory with an impressive boost clock speed.  Although it lacks real Ray Tracing performance due to the lack of Tensor cores and the current lack of full-blown DLSS competition it still has enough raw power to power through what it lacks by making it up with brute power.  Although we did not have a 4K display to really test it, with some research we found that the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is very capable to give you 60+ fps at 4K with slightly lowered settings and no ray tracing. At 1440p the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is an absolute monster and it blows the RTX3070 out the water, even with ray tracing enabled.  If you are willing to give AMD a chance to develop their FidelityFX super-resolution then the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is a very capable card that fights in a bracket below the RTX3080 and cleans the floor in that department.  It might be on the slightly pricier side right now but what GPU is not in the current climate?  The fact that ASUS has given it the full ROG treatment with the massive RGB strip on the side and the very appealing bottom design makes you truly want to vertical mount this monster to take in all the ROG goodness.

Pros

BEAUTIFUL PCIe 4.0 support amazing cooling performance 16Gb memory AMD ray tracing  

Cons

no DLSS (yet) no USB-C not for small build enthusiasts   The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is a no-brainer for someone who does not quite have the budget to get the titan that is the RX6900XT but still wants a top tier ROG card from team RED.  Give AMD some time to develop a proper DLSS competitor and the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition will be an absolute beast that will give nearly all the 30 series cards a go thanks to its pure raw performance power.    

Special thanks to ASUS South Africa for supplying the review content

 
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Logitech G432 – Review

Logitech has been around for a while, and they are known for making some of the best hardware.  The G432 is an updated version of one of Logitech's most longstanding performers, the G430.  The G432 is all that an upgrade should be, keeping what made the previous version good, and tweaking the flaws.  Let us jump straight in and see what made the G430 great and what makes the G432 even better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFte92Mj8Pk

Design

The G430 was light and sleek headset sporting bright blue accents.  The G432 takes that and updates it, slightly.  The steel headband is still present and swiveling earcups are kept.  Pleather covered earcups are a great improvement with bright blue accents around the earcups.  The G432 is still extremely light, almost to the point of being too light.  This, however, is definitely a user preference and some find light headsets to be their favorite.  Compared to many other headsets the earcups do feel like they sit slightly loose on my head.  This is also something that will change from user to user.  I am comparing it to the Astro A40's and other headsets I have recently reviewed.  The G430 was lacking in the audio performance department but fortunately, that is one of the aspects Logitech certainly did improve on. The flexible boom mic that is fitted to the left earcup, can be folded away completely allowing the G432 to look like simple earphones when no microphone is needed.  One of the really nice features of the boom mic on the G432 is that when all the way down the mic works as usual.  If you want to quickly mute yourself, all you do is flip it up slightly and it will go into mute mode.  Drag it down again and you are back online free to speak.  The volume dial is also situated on the back of the left earcup, simple and easy to find.     Logitech has also spoilt the user by supplying every connection type known to man.  As standard, the G432 has a 3.5mm connection but supplied, is a splitter that splits audio and mic separately.  Along with this splitter is the DAC, a USB device that your 3.5mm jack plugs into.  This is a nice touch by Logitech ensuring the headset can be used in any possible way.  Not many manufacturers include these adapters in more budget orientated headsets.  Good job Logitech! Although the G432 does suffer from a few minor design flaws that affect comfort, like the loose-fitting earcups, these are all up to user preference.  Personally, I think they are reasonably comfortable and don't get too hot when wearing for long periods of time.  A colleague however had no issue with the loose earcups but was more concerned about the heat buildup after wearing for a couple of hours.  So overall it is an even split.  

Sound Performance

I made the conscious decision to start the sound test using the G432 with the 3.5mm connector.  When using the 3.5mm connector the first noticeable feature that is lacking is the use of Logitech Ghub.  Ghub is the software that you can use to adjust everything including the kitchen sink on all compatible Logitech devices.  Switching over to the DAC made a significant change in the audio quality.  The soundscape is tremendously good and closer compared to many other headsets in the same price range.     When you connect via the DAC is when the G432 comes alive and the wonderful GHUB shows its true capabilities.  The G432 features a virtual 7.1 surround sound thanks to DTS.  Setting this up is simple and has you listening to an audio track and adjusting all the speakers accordingly.  Using it in games such as Rainbow 6 Siege and Escape from Tarkov game me such a distinct advantage due to the games focusing a lot on audio.  In games such as Mafia Definitive edition, the hustle and bustle of the 1930's city really come to life when you walk down the street and people are speaking and cars are buzzing past. This is not the only feature.  Equalizers are completely customizable and if you are not happy with your personal settings you can simply download someone else profiles from the GHUB community.  Noise reduction on both the microphone and the audio is great.  Especially if you have a noisy household and you don't want to torture your party members with barking dogs or moaning children.  The mic quality is really good for its price range but it is definitely more aimed and multiplayer communication rather than any form of streaming or production worthy efforts.    

Verdict

The Logitech G432 is a great entry-level headset for someone who needs a complete package for a budget price.  The audio drivers are really good and the mic is more than respectable for first-time buyers.  The G432 will not be your final headset by any means.  It still suffers from a few tiny flaws such as the lack of clamping over the ears but it certainly has more going for it than against.  Straight out of the box, the G432 will work with any device, but if you are going to be using it on PC, be sure to use the DAC and the Logitech Ghub.  This will really make the G432 sing. Many might consider the G432 somewhat bulky and not friendly as an everyday headset.  But compared to many other brands and higher-end headsets, the Logitech G432 can definitely stand its ground when it comes to audio performance.    

Special thanks to our friends at Logitech for the review content

   
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Roccat Horde AIMO – Review

When Roccat announced the Horde AIMO and marketed it as a "best of both worlds" hybrid mechanical keyboard I was intrigued.  Taking the having the precise linear distinction of mechanical keys, paired with the soft and quiet sound and feel of a membrane keyboard seemed to be a fantastic combination.  Making the keys low profile even upped the excitement by another notch.  But this was not the only aspect of the Roccat Horde AIMO that had people excited.  While bringing the best of both, the Horde AIMO would bring a host of popular gaming keyboard features such as programmable keys, RGB control, multimedia keys to name but a few.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZZChgahBzs

Design

Opening the Roccat Horde AIMO and taking it out of its box, you instantly feel that it feels old school.  Generally, that would insight a feel of quality, in this case, it feels more like old design and build quality.  What needs to be said is that the Horde AIMO is big, no I mean VERY big!  A large part of this size is taken up by the removable wrist rest, which is rather flimsy but not having it attached does make the edges of the Horde a bit rough.  If you are someone who likes symmetry and things to be either straight-edged or rounded, the Horde AIMO is not always sure who it is catering for.  With rounded finishes here and sharp, straight edges there, it is not quite sure what design it wants to follow.  The left side looks sleek and has perfectly placed macro keys.  On the right, it has a host of keys and features that can be found on most gaming keyboards in recent years.  The large dial on the top right can be used as a Windows 10 scroller wheel straight out of the box, and when paired with the feature keys, can be used to scroll through RGB settings and many more, nice feature and always handy when wanting to turn the volume up or down.  The top left seems to feature a cellphone holder like many of the older Roccat keyboards used to have but upon closer inspection, it seems to not be so. Roccat claims that the "memhanical" keys are a mixture of the precise and linear movements of mechanical keys and the soft and quiet of membrane keys.  Roccat also claims that the keys don't need to be pressed all the way to actuate, upon using and testing I find the statement to be not true.  The buttons would only actuate when bottomed out, not a deal-breaker by any means, but if you have ever experienced a true mechanical keyboard with either the Cherry MX Brown or Logitech's Romer G-switch, you will know how pleasant it is.  The low profile of the Horde AIMO keys also lends itself more to a membrane feel rather than mechanical.  For general use, the keys feel springy and don't provide quite as much resistance as what I would expect.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2x_FmAK7a8   The 5 programmable macro keys that are found down the left side of the keyboard has become a standard amongst most full-size gaming keyboards.  The Roccat Horde AIMO however, does have a long row of keys and a large dial on the top right side.  The dial is not only a volume knob when used in conjunction with the multimedia buttons, not only can the RGB effects be changed, but screens can be changed and RGB brightness adjusted. This all sounds fantastic and works well in principle but in reality, it makes for a lot of tedious pressing and unpressing of the desired function that it becomes more of a hassle than it needs to be.  The idea is great, and if music is your main use for the Horde AIMO it will serve you well but for everything else, the software does a more than adequate job.

Software

The Roccat Swarm software has been known as one of the more reliable software packages over the years, and with this being my first dabble with Roccat, I had to scratch around a bit to find out how the latest version of Swarm compares. What I did notice is that it seems that Swarm does suffer from a few bugs at present.  Not only are you never sure if you have the latest version installed, the updater pop-up jumps out warning you that you are outdated, straight after updating.  But when making changes you should not click apply and then OK.  By doing this it seemingly reverts to defaults and you start the process over again.  Simply pressing OK and continuing stores the changes.     Another bummer for MMO fans is the lack of on-the-fly Macro recording which makes casting a vast array of spells or attacks in quick succession rather cumbersome.  Roccat's AIMO RGB is described as a clever system that adjusts the RGB lighting to what you are playing.  I agree that the colouring is interesting although I can't quite put a finger on what it is using to decide its colouring.  On the Roccat Kone AIMO mouse the lighting is bright and really beautiful, the Horde, however, is hardly noticeable in a well-lit room.  

Performance

The Roccat Horde AIMO happily taps away at nearly everything you throw at it.  Be it playing CS:GO, some Rainbow Six Siege or Flight Simulator.  Typing is as pleasurable as typing can generally be.  But nothing quite sets the experience apart from a good quality office keyboard, let alone a mechanical keyboard.  Yes the Horde AIMO is cheaper than mechanical and more expensive than an office keyboard.  That is why it finds itself in an awkward grey area. But, then again, it also did not perform tremendously better than a mechanical keyboard...  

Verdict

The Roccat Horde AIMO can be given credit for trying.  The membrane-mechanical keys, the AIMO lighting effects, and the many uses of the dial.  Did they all work out to the way Roccat planned? Probably not, but they are by no means terrible. The Horde AIMO will definitely not suit those aiming for top spots in competitive gaming but for those who are willing to look past the questionable looks and slightly elevated price tag compared to other membrane keyboards.  Then the Roccat Horde AIMO is your keyboard.  I would personally hold off until they launch the next iteration where they possibly fix the shortcomings of this version.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

     
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Roccat Kain 122 & 200 AIMO – Review

If the 2 X back-to-back Blockbuster Video Game Champ chooses Roccat as his weapons of choice they have to make a good product right?  Roccat is a German peripheral-making company that has recently been acquired by Turtle Beach.  Roccat has decided to enter the highly contested gaming mouse terrain, taking on big names such as Logitech, Razer, and Corsair to name but a few heavyweights.  The Germans are renowned for making perfectly engineered equipment.  We had the privilege of getting our hands on the Roccat Kain 122 (wired) AIMO as well as the Kain 200 (wireless).  Can these German-engineered mice show the other heavyweights in the industry that simple and clean designs and Roccat's new TITAN click technology can set these mice apart?  Let's find out!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO7dghZD8_o

Design

The Roccat Kain pairing is the first Roccat-made mice that I have had the pleasure to test and put through their paces.  I naturally went and did some research and checked the previous mice that came from the Roccat stable.  It is safe to say the Kain 122 and its wireless brother, the 200, carry the family resemblance, albeit a striking one.  The Kain AIMO has a narrow design and with a rather raised arch, it allows for a very comfortable grip and resting for hands of all sizes.  It slants off to the right allowing for a more natural grip when holding it but also means that the Kain AIMO is a right-hand-only mouse.  The two buttons located on the inner-right is perfectly placed.  Some brands place their inner-programmable keys too high or too low, causing the user to either accidentally press the keys when moving the mouse, or having to regrip to reach them.  The Kain has got the positioning spot-on, easily accessible yet not accidentally pressed.     The left and right mouse buttons are not placed next to each other like most mice are.  there is a strip of brushed metal dividing the two keys which adds to the straight and square lines that dominate the Kain design.  At the top of this brushed metal piece, there is a DPI button, neat and square, elegant yet functional use of a button that has hampered many brands in their sleekness of design.  Not to mention the scroll wheel that protrudes the brushed metal strip.  The left and right mouse buttons     The sleek and smooth design of the Kain AIMO range and lack of any rubbery grips makes for a very appealing look but the smooth finish can, for some, make the Kain feel slippery.  With the Kain 122 weighing in at a middle-of-road 89g ( Kain 200 weighs 105g) meaning it is light enough to be able to whizz it across your mousepad without feeling like you have nothing in your hand, and not sacrificing the feeling of quality.  Unlike many of the bigger brands, the Kain-range has no weight adjustment, although I think Roccat got the weighting just right.  

Performance

Both the Kain 122 and 200 are fitted with the Roccat signature Owl-Eye Optical sensor which is good for up to 16 000DPI.  This is substantially higher than many other mice in the same price bracket.  Although 16 000 DPI is generally way too high for any sane person.  a realistic maximum DPI would be more in the range of 3 200, but much like kilowatt rating in cars, it's more for show than anything else.  Roccat has its own software called Swarm.  This allows you to save up to five profiles to the mouse, as well as assign keys to the programmable buttons, change the RGB lighting and program your DPI steps that can be flicked through using the DPI button located in the middle of the two mouse buttons.     Roccat has taken the mouse-click and thought about how to improve something we have taken for granted since the birth of the gaming mouse.  By simply repositioning the switch to a more natural location, the new Roccat Titan switch feels more distinguished and more precise.  The buttons are also hinged giving it a cushioned feel when clicking.  Although the Swarm software is not nearly as refined as Ghub from Logitech or Synapse from Razer, it is extremely straightforward, and apart from a small struggle we had to save DPI settings to the mouse, Roccat Swarm was extremely straight forward and provided great explanations of what each setting would do. Both the Kain -122 and the 200 feature phenomenal thresholds for acceleration with the minimum being 40g and the maximum of 400IPS (inches per second).  Basically said, even if you have superhuman flick ability in your favorite shooter, you will not be able to blame the Roccat Kain 122 or 200 for not being able to keep up with your speed. Kain 200   Some of the features that set the Kain 200 apart from its wired brother, is obviously the wireless part.  The Kain 200, in wired mode looks identical to the Kain 122.  When using it as a wireless mouse the cable simply unplugs and can either be plugged into a dongle, that can be placed near to where you are using the mouse, or the wireless receiver can be plugged straight into a USB port.  The Kain 200 uses a 2.4Ghz range for best-uninterrupted performance while stretching the battery life on its 1000 mAh battery as far as possible.  

Verdict

  For myself, who moves between peripherals on regular intervals for review purposes, but also try and keep a high level of skill in games like Rainbow Six Siege and Escape from Tarkov, changing a mouse can have a devastating impact on your performance.  Your mouse is your weapon and like soldiers, we spend many hours honing our skill with our weapon of choice, suddenly switching it out with another generally makes you play and aim worse.  My regular daily mouse is the legendary Logitech G903 lightspeed closely followed by the amazing Razer Viper Ultimate.  Both premium wireless mice.  The Roccat Kain 122 or wireless 200, can easily hold its own against the likes of these two heavyweights.  Jumping into my favorite games with the Kain 200 was an absolute blast.  I hardly noticed any adjustment time and the Owl-eye Sensor is fantastic feeling extremely accurate and true.  With its lesser focus on RGB and gadgets and more emphasis on creating a great experience while not being overly flashy, Roccat has created a spectacular mouse! If you are looking for a mouse, wired or wireless, that sits more in a mid-range price category while competing and beating many of the high-end gaming mice out there, then the Roccat Kain-range is definitely worth taking a look at.  If it is good enough for the Doc, to cause Violence, speed and momentum, then it is surely more than adequate for all of us!    

special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

 
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Razer Huntsman Mini – Review

Technology has seen many trends relating to size.  There was a time that everything went smaller and smaller.  Phones became the size of pebbles.  Then as tech evolved more size increased again, to the point where its tough to distinguish whether your phone is a tablet or your tablet is a phone...     PC hardware is no different, but as a general rule of thumb, bigger is better.  Gaming keyboards were the keyboards that featured the most buttons and gadgets and even displays.  Endless amounts of programmable keys and USB ports galore.  With the increase in eSports and general competitive gaming to the masses so has the demand for more dedicated competitive keyboards.  Queue the 60% keyboards!

Design

For those who don't know, a 60% keyboard takes the footprint of a standard 115key keyboard and cuts 40% of it reducing it to roughly ~65keys depending on the keyboard.  This means that the Numpad and, usually, the arrow, scroll, delete etc keys will be removed or relocated and used in conjunction with a function key.  Taking this approach really is a big gamble if you are Razer or any brand in this case.  The 60% keyboard is very polarizing to the audience.  If you are a gamer only, the Huntsman mini will be a pleasure to use as it will provide you will much more mousepad real-estate to fling your mouse around on as well as being easier to pick up and take to your next LAN event.  On the flip side, for users who do not solely use they keyboard for gaming, productivity will take a knock, and even more so if you are someone who needs to enter numbers into fields often.     The Huntsman Elite, Razer's flagship keyboard has a list of features that is difficult to envision fitting on to a keyboard.  USB ports, media controls, volume dials, wrist rests, and the list continues.  The Huntsman Mini, however, is a stripped-down, bare-bones version.  Only sharing the name and optical switches from its feature-laden brother. The Huntsman Mini is clearly targeted to take the fight to the Ducky One keyboards and boasting impressive dimensions of 30 x 10 x 3cm it is definitely placing itself firmly in the fight.  The slightly raised keycaps allow for the Huntsman Mini's RGB to really show its true ability.  The keycaps themselves feel really solid and premium to touch and the cheeky font, when illuminated, looks really nice.  For the more keen-eyed, there is a subtle Razer inscription on the lip of the keyboard, and no more bombastic illuminating Razer logo. Looking to the bottom and the back of the Huntsman Mini, you will find the usual "For the Gamers by Gamers" pattern across the back.  The braided USB C-type cable, which is also interchangeable with other type-C, slots perfectly and clips in and out with ease, without feeling flimsy or like it might disconnect and the slightest tug.  There are also two sets of feet to raise the keyboard, 6- or 9 degrees respectively.     So you have the Razer Huntsman Mini but now you need to use your arrow keys or the delete key, what do you do?  Luckily Razer was merciful and provided for a Function key ( Fn) and adequate amount of side-printed functions.  These keys can easily be seen from a seated position and when the Fn key is pressed all illumination will be killed off and the function-binded keys will light up in white.  Apart from these keys you can do other things like changing preset RGB effects, do macro-binding or even use media keys using the Fn key.

Gaming and features

The biggest appeal of the Huntsman mini, apart from the size, would be the Purple optical switches.  For those who don't know the difference between Optical and mechanical, mechanical uses a mechanism to move the keycap down and activate a microswitch that is placed under the keycap.  Optical switches have a stem attached to the bottom of the keycap that, when pressed, will interrupt a light source.  This break in the light will then indicate a keypress, essentially making the response time, the speed of light.     When typing the optical switches, even though not mechanical, still give you a pleasant sound and resistance.  Just enough to give a sense of confidence when pressing but not too much to make it a pain.  The biggest pain with 60%'ers is to use some of the keys that are readily available on normal keyboards, you need to use the Fn key, so as mentioned before using the Huntsman mini for writing and office work could be a little more cumbersome. Moving to gaming, like what the Huntsman mini was intended for, it is fantastic.  For the first time, I have enough space on my desk to try turning my keyboard more towards the vertical orientation as many pro's do.  The new orientation does a lot for comfort and I would recommend it to most.  Something that I had to get used to is the short travel of the keys, (3.5mm) this had me moving sooner than anticipated and often losing gunfights while playing Rainbow Six Siege.  This has become a normal situation by reviewing peripherals and getting used to new mice and keys regularly.     The happy-medium of firm, yet soft, when it came to keypresses was greatly appreciated while playing Escape from Tarkov where the slightest accidental keypress can be the end of your raid.  Resting fingers on keys have often had me blowing my team, or myself, up with accidentally thrown grenades.  The Huntsman Mini keys are firm enough to provide rest for weary fingers without causing unpleasantries ingame. The Razer Huntsman Mini uses the same software as all the other mice and keyboards, Razer Synapse, is a rather simple to use software allowing you to tweak everything possible on the hardware.  But, seeing as the Huntsman mini is aimed at esports, Synapse is not needed for everything.  Although small, the Huntsman mini has space for 5 onboard profiles which include keybinds and RGB settings.

Verdict

The Razer Huntsman Mini is the first 60% keyboard the brand has released, and it is a successful one.  The Huntsman Mini feels very premium with its optical clicky switches and double-shot keycaps.  Although pricey, the feel of ease and confidence when pressing down on the keys make the price tag seem as little of a concern as that last enemy you shot. If optical switches are what you are after, and a 60%'er is something you are considering, the Razer Huntsman Mini is a no-brainer!  

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the hardware 

 
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