Category Archive: PC Hardware Reviews

Computer Hardware Reviews

GAMDIAS HERMES Essential GKB2000 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Gamdias Technology Co., Ltd. is a Taiwan based company that was recently formed in 2012. As a result, their offerings are quite small, with four keyboards, a few mice, a couple of gaming headsets and some accessories such as gaming gloves. The Gamdias HERMES is their premier gaming keyboard series, with Cherry MX switches, 512KB of memory, 32-bit ARM processor, 13 customizable macro keys, and USB / audio ports. With many already existing gaming keyboards such as the Logitech G510 and Corsair Vengeance, can the HERMES Essential make inroads in an already congested market? In this Benchmark Reviews article, I’ll discuss the design and features of the HERMES GKB2000 as well as Gamdias’s peripheral software, the Gamdias HERA.

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AMD Athlon 5350 and Gigabyte GA-AM1M-S2H Review

If you haven’t heard, desktop computing is losing serious ground to other, increasingly affordable computing solutions, including notebooks, chromebooks, and tablets. Desktops are still around. You probably have one at home and you probably use one at work. With mobile gaming on the rise and so many productivity features being streamlined for mobile platforms, the need for a powerful desktop computer because your other devices can’t handle the load is declining. According to AMD, entry level computing options make up the majority of the market. In this review, Benchmark Reviews takes a look at the AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini desktop processor paired with the Gigabyte GA-AM1M-S2H mATX motherboard and 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz AMD Radeon Series RAM.

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ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ Motherboard Review

FM2+ Motherboards sporting the A88X chipset started appearing in October 2013, but the improved functionality over the latest FM2 motherboards only became truly apparent with the release of the Kaveri line of APUs in January 2014. Add to that the recent release of AMD drivers supporting the Mantle API, and the FM2+ motherboards start to make sense. Benchmark Reviews has the AMD A10-7850K APU and a couple of FM2+ motherboards on hand. This article is dedicated to reviewing the ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ Motherboard to discover what sets it apart from the rest of the FM2+ crowd.

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Samsung SSD 850 PRO Solid State Drive Review

Solid State Drive technology has been revolutionary in that it delivers a very noticeable performance boost that surpasses upgrades to other components. As a result, companies who offer SSDs typically spend small fortunes marketing them to the consumer public. Samsung goes a different route, and relies on proven performance to sale units. This was especially true for the Samsung SSD 840 PRO, which generated its own interest by producing impressive transfer speeds. Powered by their own 32-layer 3D V-NAND technology, the Samsung SSD 850 PRO replaces the 840 PRO solid state drive and delivers up to twice the density and write speed of traditional 20nm planar NAND flash components. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the 256GB Samsung SSD 850 PRO against the fastest solid state drives available.

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HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC Video Card Review

Since AMD announced their GPU 14 R9 series video cards, AIB partners have been tweaking and tuning their own aftermarket designs. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC 4GB video card (Model# H290QMC4GD). As the name suggests, this particular model features the high end IceQ X2 cooler from the HIS labs and slightly faster Core and Memory speeds. I have seen the evolution of this cooler first hand and I know it to be fully capable. Two 89mm dual axial fans and five heatpipes ensure that your temperatures will stay well within safe limits with the minimum amount of noise, even during overclocking.

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HIS Radeon R9 280 IceQ X² OC 3GB Video Card Review

In this next installment of AMD’s GPU 14 R9 line-up, Benchmark Reviews will be testing the HIS Radeon R9 280 IceQ X² OC 3GB Video Card (Model# H280QMC3G2M). As the name suggests, this particular model features the high end IceQ X2 cooler from the HIS labs and faster Core and Memory speeds. I have seen the evolution of this cooler first hand and I know it to be fully capable. Two 89mm dual axial fans and five heatpipes ensure that your temperatures will stay well within safe limits.

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Rosewill Legacy W1 Mini-ITX Computer Case Review

Rosewill’s Legacy series of cases brought a new image with them to the Newegg in-house brand’s typically budget-oriented lineup. That’s not to say there weren’t splendid offerings available previously – I still maintain that Rosewill’s Thor V2 chassis is one of the best “price for performance” cases produced in recent memory. Even excluding the stand-out cases, there was a chassis at almost every price point that usually offered just as much as the competition at a lower price (even though they may have sacrificed a feature or a little build quality – usually negligible – to do so). Still, Rosewill’s penchant for penny-pinching produced (alliteration!) a few compromises along the way. Looking to provide some premium offerings and possibly shed their “budget” image of the past, Rosewill may just end up revamping their legacy with the new Legacy W1 Mini-ITX computer case. Available in black or silver with or without a window, this aluminum-clad mini-ITX case appears to be a premium answer to enclosures like the BitFenix Prodigy.

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Antec P100 Performance Black Case Review

The P100 is an entry level computer case in the Antec Performance series of computer cases. Within the Performance series, Antec positions the P100 as a combination of sophistication, silence, and overall coolness. This translates into a relatively sleek looking ATX enclosure with a minimal amounts of visible ventilation, and a brushed metal front door to further reduce any noise from escaping the interior. In this article, we will be dismantling an i7 P79 content creation computer housed in an older E-ATX enclosure and re-packing the system into the Antec P100. Benchmark Reviews will look at the Antec P100 and determine if the case delivers on its promise of silence and cool performance with an attractive price point.

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BitFenix Colossus Computer Case Revisited

August 2010. A new company releases a massive enclosure aptly named the Colossus. The original Colossus was BitFenix’s first product as a company, and it captured the attention of the enthusiast crowd at the time with its various added features and performance capabilities. While Benchmark Reviews has taken a look at the Colossus before, the recent release of the micro-ATX (and mini-ITX) Colossus M got us thinking: how much performance was retained in the Colossus’ spiritual successor? The SofTouch finishes, LiteTrak systems and bold styling are all there, but how do the two compare when filled with similar hardware? Is the monolithic Colossus ancient history by now, or can BitFenix’s first product still hold its own? Courtesy of BitFenix, let’s see how the latest BitFenix Colossus stacks up against the original version.

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Blue Microphones Spark Digital Lightning Review

If you want to give your podcasts a professional appearance, you need a good quality microphone. Forget about the tiny hole on your portable smart-whatever device, there’s a world of difference between consumer and professional-grade microphones, and the signal processing circuits that go along with them. Once you have a good microphone and preamp, you then need to digitize the signal using an Analog-to-Digital (A/D) convertor, and get that digital signal into your PC. The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type. Benchmark Reviews has an audio side to it, but we’ve mostly concentrated on the output side of the equation – headphones and speakers. Some of our readers are content creators though, so it’s high time we paid some attention to the beginning of the signal chain.

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Samsung 840 Pro Solid State Drive Review

For going on two years now, Samsung has been a major player in the SSD market. Before that, Samsung SSDs just didn’t compete. That has all changed with the Samsung 800 series of SSDs and even more recently with the release of Samsung’s RAPID technology for use with Samsung 840 SSDs. Samsung now competes at the top of the market and their SSDs are forces to be reckoned with. In this article, Benchmark Reviews looks at the Samsung 840 Pro SSD’s performance, with and without RAPID mode enabled.

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Antec ISK600 Mini-ITX Case Review

Antec is no stranger to the chassis market, with well respected products such as the Nine Hundred and Twelve Hundred series chassis. However, Antec has little to offer in the Mini-ITX market, with just the ISK100 and 300 series released thus far. Last November, Antec released the newest case in their Mini-ITX lineup, the ISK600. The small form factor ISK600 is designed to provide all the features any ITX builder would need without the price tag of other cases such as the Corsair Obsidian 250D and the BitFenix Prodigy. The ISK600’s main features include the ability to mount a standard ATX power supply, long graphics cards, up to five internal hard drives, and it comes with a decorative LED strip on the front panel. With the interest in small form factor PCs continuing to rise, it is imperative that new designs offer more to builders than the competition. But does the ISK600 have the features necessary to compete? In this article, Benchmark Reviews inspects the features of the Antec ISK600 and how they compare to the other popular choices in the Mini-ITX market.

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Crucial MX100 Solid State Drive Review

Micron Technology, the company behind the Crucial brand, has delivered many firsts to the computer industry. Primary among them are advancements in the solid state storage sector. Crucial delivered excellent price value when they launched the M225 SSD series back in 2009, then followed up with the fastest available SSD when they launched the SATA 6 Gb/s Crucial C300 back in 2010. Just last year they broke the price barrier for 1TB SSDs, then returned in early 2014 to combine all the best attributes of their M550 series. Now featuring Micron’s most affordable 16nm NAND flash components, the Crucial MX100 delivers high-end performance to value-driven mainstream users. Benchmark Reviews tests this solid state drive against the fastest SSDs available.

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GAMDIAS HERMES GKB2010 Black Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

If you have’t heard of GAMDIAS Technology, that’s understandable, since they were only founded in Taiwan in 2012. With a motto of Gaming Art in Motion, GAMDIAS seeks to “Re-define the electronic sports landscape for gamers worldwide.” The GAMDIAS HERMES Ultimate Black Mechanical Gaming keyboard is their bid to do so for gaming keyboards, and fitted with Cherry MX Black switches, a 32-bit ARM processor, 512KB of memory, 13 macro keys, external USB and audio pass-through ports, adjustable keyboard lighting, and the most complex macro software I’ve ever seen, it may live up to their boast. Benchmark Reviews takes a look at one of the most powerful and capable keyboards you can buy: GAMDIAS HERMES GKB2010.

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Genius GX Gaming SW-G2.1 2000 Speaker System Review

GX Gaming, which is the gaming peripheral division of Genius, continues to make a serious push to be more than merely relevant in the industry. They have developed some great gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and speaker systems and they clearly have no plans of slowing down. Benchmark Reviews recently had a chance to take a closer look at one of the latest products to come from Genius, the GX Gaming SW-G2.1 2000 Gaming Speaker System. Considering the long-term success of the Genius brand and from what we’ve seen from GX Gaming so far, it is a safe bet to say that this system, at the very least, will not be a disappointment.

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Genius Zabius HS-G850 Gaming Headset Review

The main attraction to the HS-G850 is the red LED outline strips. I have not seen many headsets with LED’s that will light up to the bass, so I will be very interested in putting this headset in a number of tests to test out the sound quality, microphone quality, comfort, and how well the LED’s can respond to the audio that is playing. Benchmark Reviews has this sample on hand, so let’s take a look at the features and specifications of the Genius Zabius HS-G850 Gaming Headset.

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BitFenix Shadow Computer Case Review

BitFenix made their reputation in 2010 with their first product, the massive Colossus full tower case. The BitFenix Shadow brings some of the Colossus features, like the signature soft-touch coating and external LED lighting, to a lower price point in a mid-tower ATX case. Sporting room for three 5.25″ devices and seven hard drives, the Shadow tries to balance price with features to distinguish it from its competition. Join us as Benchmark Reviews checks out the BitFenix Shadow BFC-SDO-150-KKXBR-RP mid-tower computer case to see if it’s a worthy contender for your next build.

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EVGA TORQ X10 Gaming Mouse Review

Gamers drive high-end computing: if you don’t think so, consider the renaissance of (expensive) mechanical keyboards in the last couple of years. Of course gaming mice have been common for a while, and EVGA has just thrown their hat into this very competitive ring with the EVGA Torq X10 mouse. Boasting a fully ambidextrous design, 9 programmable buttons, an 8200-DPI laser sensor, solid metal base, and a dramatic style, the Torq X10 mouse also comes in at a very competitive price, especially if you pre-order it. Benchmark Reviews connects this new mouse to our gaming machine to investigate how well it works in this article.

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Gamdias Demeter GMS5010 Gaming Mouse Review

The Gamdias Demeter is one of their more entry level products for gaming. The Demeter features an array of options for macro creation, timers, built-in memory, adjustable DPI and poll rates, 6 smart keys, 10 million click life-cycle switches, and LED color choices to display. The Demeter’s design is aimed at gamers who have needs that exceed your standard 3-button mouse designs. To use all of these features Gamdias has a program interface called Hera, that you can download from their website.

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Lian Li PC-Q07B Mini-ITX Case Review

Lian-Li’s historical reputation is filled with some of the most innovative designs and ideas such as their “reverse-ATX” models. To add to their history, their products are undeniably well built and host one of the highest levels of quality that is available today in the market, which we have really come to enjoy here at Benchmark Reviews. Even in their budget oriented cases, Lian-Li has managed to impress us in the past with their choice of designs and user friendly layouts. The Lian Li PC-Q07B ITX case is no exception, featuring a very appealing and extremely small minimalistic cube design, we found that this case is perfect for the current trend of mini-ITX systems that keeps growing due to the improved integration of motherboard chipsets.

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Sentey Lumenata Pro Gaming Mouse Review

What is the point in purchasing a gaming mouse vs a regular mouse? When you make the decision to invest in a quality gaming mouse, such as the Sentey Lumenata Pro, it goes without saying that you won’t only be using the mouse for gaming. With the features and responsiveness this mouse offers, it will easily become your “go to” mouse for all of your objectives.

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ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review

ASUS tries to cover all the bases in the enthusiast market, and their TUF series motherboards are aimed at those who prize toughness and stability. Built with military-spec capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs, and features such as extra ESD (electrostatic discharge) resistance, the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard also includes ASUS’ unique Thermal Armor system and a custom processor to monitor the board’s voltages and temperatures, which is part of the Thermal Radar 2 system. Of course it also includes features common to their other motherboards such as the Digi+ fully digital power system and their best-in-class UEFI BIOS to control it all. A five-year warranty tops it all off.

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Phanteks Enthoo Pro Tower Case Review

The Phanteks Enthoo Pro full-tower computer case boasts compatibility with EATX, ATX, and mATX motherboards, plenty of options for 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives, and a large tinted window combined with a PSU shroud for a clean, attractive build. Cooling wise, the Enthoo Pro features mounts for up to ten case fans ranging from 120mm to 200mm in size, four different locations for radiators, and and a mount for an internal reservoir.

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ASUS Z97-DELUXE NFC & WLC Motherboard Review

ASUS really pulls away from their competition with digital power control for memory and processor, utilizing up to 16 power phases to ensure absolute precision stability. All hardware points are controlled by Dual Intelligent Processors 5, which consists of DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, Turbo App, and Fan Xpert. ASUS Z97-DELUXE and Z97-PRO models feature dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac (a/b/g/n/ac) and BlueTooth 4.0 wireless functionality. In this article Benchmark Reviews showcases the ASUS Z97-DELUXE (NFC & WLC) motherboard, and reveals the many hardware features packed onto this mainstream channel desktop board while showing off overclocking performance.

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Fractal Design Node 804 Micro ATX Case Review

Enter Fractal Design’s Node 804. While it isn’t an exact scaled-down replica of cases like the Carbide Air 540 or HAF XB, it still uses a cube/split chamber layout – this time in a micro-ATX size. With dimensions of 344 x 307 x 389 mm or 13.5 x 12.1 x 15.3 inches (WHD), the Node 804 is just a bit wider than a BitFenix Prodigy and almost exactly a third larger than the Node 304 (in the height and width dimensions – depth differs by only 15mm). The Node family is designed with a focus on Home Entertainment; with the vast array of fan, radiator and storage combinations that are possible the Node 804 could easily take on any number of roles. Benchmark Reviews has received the Node 804 for some testing, so let’s take a look at the newest member of Fractal Design’s Node family.

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