Category Archive: PC Hardware Reviews

Computer Hardware Reviews

Roccat ISKU FX Gaming Keyboard Review

ROCCAT is a German company that produces gaming peripherals including gaming mice and keyboards, mouse pads, and sound systems. The ISKU FX is ROCCAT’s mid-range gaming keyboard, clocking in at $79.99. The ISKU FX features multicolor illumination, 8 configurable media and hotkeys, ROCCAT TALK, macro recording, dedicated profile switches, 36 macro keys, and an extra large wrist rest for comfort during long gaming sessions. The features and illumination options make the ISKU FX an attractive option, but can it compete with the many other gaming keyboards in the market? In this Benchmark Reviews article I will discuss the many features of the ROCCAT ISKU FX, the accompanying driver software, and how this keyboard compares to others options on the market.

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BitFenix Neos Computer Case Review

If you have ever been to a LAN party there is a pretty high chance you have seen one of the most popular cases from BitFenix, the Prodigy, a huge success among the gaming community due to its innovative design and style. Since then, BitFenix has started to shift it’s attention into different markets as we have seen with the Fury line of power supplies, but this time they have released a new set of cases, including the BitFenix Neos. Since it’s debut back in May, it was announced that the case would offer tremendous value and style, which was definitely showcased in early models of the case, immediately bringing attention from Benchmark Reviews. But in such a crowded market will the Neos manage not to drown in the sea of budget cases?

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XTracGear Ripper XXL Desk Mat Review

If you are in the look for a mouse pad or desk mat you have probably heard of XTracPads. Unlike other big companies like Razer and SteelSeries, XTracPads’ focus is directed only to making the best mouse pad gear and accessories. Lately, the twelve year old company has made some changes such as updating their name to XTracGear and updating many of their lines of products. Luckily, they have sent Benchmark Reviews some samples to test. This time we will be testing their biggest product, the Ripper XXL.

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XTracGear Ripper Mouse Pad Review

XTracGear (formerly XTracPads) is a company dedicated solemnly to manufacture the best mousing surfaces and accessories for gamers and professionals. Since 2002, they have brought along many successful products including their Ripper model, which has been a very strong contender among the big mouse pad market. This year XTracPads decided to refine many things including their name as well as many of their products. They have gladly sent Benchmark Reviews a sample of their new XTracGear Ripper mouse pad which we will evaluate to see if upholds to it’s predecessor.

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Cooler Master N600 Mid Tower Review

One can easily say that Cooler Master is a household name among PC enthusiasts. With an absolute plethora of cooling products and chassis to choose from, Cooler Master boasts one of the largest product lines in the industry. With products such as the immensely popular Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler and the HAF 932 chassis, one can generally expect good things to come from Cooler Master. Last year Cooler Master released the N-series cases, which includes the N200, N400, and N600 models. The N600 is the premier model in the series, designed to bring enthusiast features at a more affordable price point.

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GAMDIAS Hephaestus GHS2000 Headset Review

The GAMDIAS Hephaestus Multi-Sensorial Gaming Headset (GHS2000) is a feature packed headset promising big sound in a big package. The Hephaestus sports virtual 7.1 surround, built-in cooling, and a unique feature called the blast source identifier. The headset also sports leather ear pads and headband, allowing for a very comfortable gaming experience during long sessions.

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XTracGear Carbonic Mouse Pad Review

XTracGear (formerly XTracPads) is a company dedicated solemnly to manufacture the best mousing surfaces and accessories for gamers and professionals. This year XTracGear has decided to update some of their products, as well as introducing new ones. Please read along as Benchmark Reviews takes a look at one of their newest products, the XTracGear Carbonic Surface Mouse Pad, a low cost mouse pad which features a carbon fiber print that XTracGear claims to enhance mouse cursor accuracy.

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Silverstone Raven RV05 Case Review

Now, SilverStone has just released the latest chassis in the Raven series, the RV05. Drawing it’s design straight from the RV01, the Raven RV05 continues a trend started by the NZXT H440 with the removal of all 5.25″ drive bays. Without the bays, the RV05 is smaller than many mid-towers while still retaining compatibility for a full range of standard features such as ATX motherboards and power supplies, bays for dual 3.5″ drives and 2.5″ drives, and even water cooling support.

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Fractal Design Core 3500 Computer Case Review

Whether it’s in the automotive, clothing, or furniture industry, European companies have always brought innovative ideas that make big part of the most elegant and simple designs. One clear example is Fractal Design, a Scandinavian company that has showed Benchmark Reviews what stylish and efficient designs look like. This year Fractal Design is updating many of their product lines, including their Core series, to which we reacted in a very excited manner as we could never get tired of their simple minimalist approach. Today we are going to be taking a look at the Fractal Design Core 3500 Mid Tower Case.

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Superlux HD668B Headphones Review

Superlux is a Taiwanese manufacturer of audio components that targets the “affordable market”. Their headphones have slowly entered the market during the past years and they have made quiet a hype in various enthusiast forums and gaming communities. At first, we were quite skeptical about the relatively unknown company as it is the first time we ever heard from them, and at such a low price, the Superlux HD 668B Headphones are the most affordable set of headphones that Benchmark Reviews has ever taken a close look at.

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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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