There was a time when the only type of keyboard you could buy was one with mechanical switches. This was pretty much it for the old AT days of computing. This style of keyboard later extended into the first ATX boards which featured PS/2 connectors (and later USB). This style of keyboard was later replaced by the smaller digital input (also known as capacitive and which was actually designed in the 1970s). These were nothing more than a sponge pad that would press a contact into two trace contacts on a PCB. As these were cheaper to make and boasted the same reliability as the older mechanical switches (which mean one switch per key) it soon became the standard and the older mechanical switch went away… That is until the gaming community resurrected it. Now we have a new generation of keyboards based on the old one-switch-per-key style of manufacturing. We have taken three of these for a stroll around the lab and now have a fourth to tell you about. This is the CM Storm Trigger Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Let’s see if it can stand up to the rest of the pack.
The PC Gaming market has not short supply of great gaming mice. There are so many these days that someone could get lost looking through them all. You can even go so far as to choose a mouse that works for the particular game type that you like. The problem is that once you get this great mouse home you might have to run it across a surface that is… less that optimal. Here in the mouse pad vertical there are a number of products, but not all are suited to gaming and not all fill fit every gaming style. Today we are looking at a pair of mouse pads that can offer you either precision or speed. These are part of Kingston’s new dive into the peripheral market and are call HyperX Skyn. Let’s see what they have for us.
As we continue our coverage of both Ivy Bridge and the Z77 Express chipset we now head over to Gigabyte. Gigabyte is a company that has worked very hard for the position they have in the market. They were originally a manufacturer who concentrated on compatibility and stability rather than working on pushing the envelope in terms of speed and performance. However that was a long time ago. Now they are definitely working to get the most out of each product. We have watch them develop their line up since the P55 days and know that they are more than capable of putting out a motherboard (and other products) that can satisfy your performance needs. So with that in mind let’s take a look at what Gigabyte has built into the GA-Z77X-UD3H in terms of design choices and features.
In our continuing coverage of the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WB we are moving into the performance side of things. Here is where it becomes difficult to differentiate between companies. The problem is that if you are testing Z77 Express based motherboards you are testing very similar platforms. It is only when you start adding in features to the mix that they separate. So the big deal here is how well do these products perform when you throw in all the advertised features (or at least as many as will work at once)? This is what we try to do with our performances testing. In our feature and design review we showed you what the Z77X-UD5H has to offer, and now we will show you how well it performs when you ask it to give you all of that at once.
802.11ac wireless was introduced at CES 2012. Unfortunately when the devices were launched there were no adapters to support it. This meant that people were buying expensive wireless products without having any way to support the speeds they were capable of. Fortunately at CES 2013 a couple of manufacturers started releasing 802.11ac adapters. However, there are two schools of thought about how to implement these adapters. We will be taking a look at both in the next couple of weeks, but we will kick things off with a look at the USB 2.0 NETGEAR A6200 Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi Adapter. Let’s dive in and take a look.
Moving through some of the more prominent Z77 motherboards that are out right now we come to another one from Gigabyte. Here we have the Z77X-UD5H WiFi Motherboard (Model number GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB). The UD5H is typically their second in line for the top spot in Gigabyte’s food chain The Z77X-UD7 currently holds that top crown. However the UD5 boards are always very functional and tend to combine the best of both performance and features. With this review we will be covering not only the features of the Z77X-UD5H WiFi but also come of the design choices that go into the board to get you the performance you expect on the other end. So let’s get right to it and find out if the Z77X-UD5H WiFi is worth the $210 that Gigabyte is asking.
When wireless networking was first introduced it was a very cool concept and people bought into it. The problem was that it was also about as slow as dial-up internet was. The good news is that all technologies advance and wireless was non exception. Once the idea caught on we quickly ramped up in speed, but wireless was never quite able to keep up with a wired connection. We saw these connections leap ahead by a factor of 10 while wireless had small incremental speed jumps. All of that changed in 2011 when researchers built up the next specification for wireless speed, 802.11ac. This speed increase more than doubled what wireless was able to do previously. Suddenly wireless was just as fast as a wired connection (in theory). We have a few routers and adapters in the lab and will be taking a look at them. Today we are going to show you the TRENDNet TEW-812DRU AC1750 dual band wireless router.
Since its introduction there has been something of an internal battle with wireless. On the one hand it is very convenient; you just connect to an access point and you have freedom as long as you are inside the network rand. On the other the speed is not always that great and, if the signal is too weak, you can end up dropping packets, files and losing data. Over the years there have been great improvements in wireless speed, but no matter what it has never been able to match the speed of a wired connection. At least it could not until 802.11ac wireless arrived on the scene. This new specification offers a theoretical limit of 1.3Gbps over a 5GHz wireless connection. We have already taken a look at a router and USB 2.0 adapter, now we are going to look at what happens when you put USB 3.0 into the mix with the TRENDNet TEW-805UB adapter.
Intel is in full swing with the X79 and their Sandy Bridge-E CPUs. We have watched as they have broken and re-broken records for performance and in some cases overclocking. Behind all of this we have the X79 chipset with its quad-channel DDR3 configuration and some impressive power specifications. Intel has also brought back BCLK overclocking which has made things very interesting. We have a few X79 boards in the lab and are working on finding out just what they can do and how they actually work in the real world. One of these is also our second Gigabyte motherboard; the X79-UD5. This will also be our first video preview where we show you and talk about the design and features. So let’s dive in and see what the GA-X79-UD5 has to offer…
After taking a look at a couple of Asus’ MicroATX Z77 boards we are moving up in size to the standard ATX products. Asus has been (as we have told you) working on integrating the same feature set you find in their ROG boards down into their mainstream and even channel boards. This move is also helping them to restructure the feature set at each level and offer the right features to the right market segment. We started off with the gateway product into the ROG line (the Maximus V Gene) and then dropped to the other end of the spectrum with the P8Z77-M Pro. Now we are going to check out the lower end of the mid-range motherboards in the P8Z77-V. This board is a step up from the P8Z77-M Pro in both size and the features that it brings to the table. Let’s take a look shall we?