MSI RX 5500 XT Gaming X 8GB

Surprisingly, while we work with MSI a lot of coverage I didn’t end up getting in any of their RX 5700 or RX 5700 XT’s. With AMD's new cards MSI made changes to their designs, so I was excited to hear that they were up for sending over one of the new RX 5500 XT’s. They sent over the RX 5500 XT Gaming X with 8GB of memory. I’ve had the Gaming X cards in before and they have a specific styling that they have had for years now. Things have changed some, dropping the bright red for example, but the new Navi Gaming X cards are completely different so I’m excited to check them out more. This specific card has a boost clock up to 1845 MHz which is right in line with the PowerColor card I took a look at with the RX 5500 XT launch so I’m curious to see how they compare.

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Patriot Viper VPR100 1TB

The RGB market over the last few years has had just about anyone and everyone adding RGB to their products, even if it doesn’t make sense. One of the main areas which it has seemed to fit well is with RGB memory modules. Even this year we are seeing the last few companies who didn’t get in on the trend early getting out their RGB memory. The SSD market with SATA SSDs has had a few RGB options come out, but they always come off at more pointless than normal considering a lot of cases hide the 2.5-inch drives. But M.2, on the other hand, has been starting to see RGB come into the mix as well. Honestly a lot of boards hide the M.2 as well, but when it isn’t, it is at least right there on your already RGB lit motherboard right? Well, Patriot got in on it all as well with their Viper Gaming lines new drive called the VPR100, get it VPR aka Viper. Well, today I’m going to take a look at the drive, it's lighting, its software, and of course its performance as well!

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OnePlus 7t

The phone market seems to make the PC market look slow with new models constantly coming out. For OnePlus they have a sort of cadence with their launches and you can start to catch the drift as you see the OnePlus 6 in mid-2018, the OnePlus 6T in the fall of 2018, the OnePlus 7 in the spring of 2019 along with its 7 Pro variant and then in the fall of 2019 they launched the OnePlus 7T and later the OnePlus 7T Pro. I took a look at the OnePlus 6T alongside the Note 9 and S9+ from Samsung’s Galaxy lineup earlier this year and now today I am checking out the OnePlus 7T, skipping the original 7 and 7 Pro, and testing the 7T against the Samsung S10 and the OnePlus 6T. I loved the 6T so I am really curious to see what OnePlus changed for the 7T and to see if it checked all of the marks like the 6T did with performance, display, camera, and battery life.

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Antlion Audio Mod Mic USB

Over the years I have had a whole list of different Antlion Audio Mod Mics come into the office. The Wireless Mod Mic being the most recent and the biggest change they have made. But the formula for the standard Mod Mics has been about the same, top-level microphone performance that can be attached to quality headphones and you have a high-end gaming headset on the cheap and in most cases well above the performance possible with most gaming headsets. Other than the wireless model, they have all had a standard audio jack but that has now changed. Antlion Audio has now paired their always popular microphone with an ADC chipset (analog to digital converter, not an Attack Damage Carry from LoL) which allows for it to be hooked up directly to USB for those who don’t have an audio card or DAC that matches the quality of the Mod Mic. So today I’m going to check out the new Mod Mic USB and see if it lives up to the very high expectations that past models have set. 

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Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

Three years ago at CES Corsair introduced their K95 RGB Platinum as their latest and greatest mechanical keyboard and for three years now it has continued to be their flagship model. The K95 actually goes back to 2013, again at CES, where Corsair introduced the first changes to their original keyboard, the K90. Their flagship model has continued to see the latest changes including being the first keyboard to receive the full CHERRY MX RGB switches in 2014. But after the Platinum update, things have been quiet, until CES this year where they are showing off the latest edition. The K95 RGB Platinum XT adds PBT doubleshot keycaps which really got my attention and Corsair has also integrated the macro keys in with cross-functionality with the Elgato Stream Deck software. They have also improved on the palm rest as well. While Corsair is at CES, I’ve been at home putting the new K95 RGB Platinum XT through its paces. So let's dive into it!

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A look back at 2019’s Award Winners

The ball has dropped, celebrations have ended, and most people are enjoying the day before jumping back to the grind tomorrow to really get the new year rolling. Yup, its 2020 and 2019 is behind us. Every year I sit down and look back at the previous year in reviews to see how I did for the year. 2019, for example, I only published 58 articles which was by far my lowest ever. This year I did better with a total of 72 but that is still lower than in the past, so my goal for 2020 is to improve on that number. I’m also hoping to include more side projects but hardware wise it doesn’t look like the CPU and GPU launches are going to slow down and CES next week should start to give us an indication of how other launches will be this year.

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WD SN550 Blue 1TB NVMe SSD

Back in April I took a look at Western Digitals first budget focused M.2 NVMe drive with their Blue SN500 and I was impressed with both its performance and pricing, opening up more options for those not looking to build a crazy high-end PC that still want performance faster than the SATA drives and non-NVMe PCI based drives. Well here we are less than a year later and they have a new WD Blue drive available that is NVMe once again with a bump in performance with a focus on content creators and normal users who want NVMe performance. The new drive is called the WD Blue SN550 and Western Digital sent over their 1TB model which is a capacity that a lot of people are looking for when shopping for drives these days and it is the largest capacity available for the SN550. Today I’m going to take a closer look at the new drive to see what it has going on and put it to the test in our test suite to see how it performs then we can digest all of that and see if it is still the great buy that the SN500 was. Let's go!

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Fractal Design Ion SFX 650G

One of my favorite SFX power supplies for a long time now has been the Fractal Design Node 202, they have a small size with its 10.2-liter capacity while keeping the pricing down compared to similar community made designs with its console-like form factor. With that Fractal Design has been in the SFX market for a while now, they even had an SFX power supply to go with it with the Integra 450W. Recently Fractal Design introduced their newest SFX PSU series, the Ion SFX series and I’m excited to see that Fractal Design is continuing to push into the SFX market and to give even more options for power supplies in the form factor. Hopefully, this also means new cases are coming as well. Anyhow, they did send over the new Ion SFX 650G and today I’m going to take a look and see what sets it apart from the competition from companies like Corsair and Silverstone.

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PowerColor RX 5500 XT Red Dragon 8G

The introduction of the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT which are based on AMD's new RDNA architecture was a huge deal partially because of the new architecture but also because AMD was back to focusing on the high-end GPU market. That launch has had its ups and downs but it has clearly had its impact including Nvidia launching its SUPER cards. Well, today's the day where AMD introduces their next lineup, the RX 5500 and RX 5500 XT (the non-XT model is OEM exclusive). This is bringing the same RDNA architecture with Navi to a more budget-focused lineup. For the RX 5500 XT which is the only card of the two that is available outside of OEMs, the RX 5500 XT has both 4GB and 8GB models. Well, today I’m going to check out what the 5500 XT has to offer by checking out the new PowerColor RX 5500 XT Red Dragon. I haven’t had a PowerColor card in the office in a long time and their Red Dragon cards have been extremely popular so I am especially excited to see what the card has going on.

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Elgato Stream Deck XL

Does anyone else remember the Maximus Keyboard? It was a full keyboard designed with small screens in every key. All the way back in 2005 it hit the internet and while it was just a concept back then it blew my mind with the possibilities. It did later come out at a crazy price point and they have even continued to make other variations. But it wasn’t until Elgato brought their first Stream Deck to market that the idea has ever really seen a proper use and a market that actually needed it, not just as something to show off or play around with. Well, today I’m going to check out the Stream Deck XL, Elgato’s third and largest model. I’ve been extremely curious how it could be integrated into regular PC use or workflow as well as the more obvious streaming application.

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Zotac GTX 1650 SUPER Twin Fan

Well, I finally took a look at the GTX 1660 SUPER earlier this week, now I can check out the recently introduced GTX 1650 SUPER. Unlike the GTX 1660 SUPER, the GTX 1650 SUPER is actually more than just a memory upgrade. In fact it isn’t even using the same GPU as the GTX 1650, it has the TU116 used in the GTX 1660, GTX 1660 SUPER, and GTX 1660 Ti only it is cut down to use 1280 CUDA cores compared to the 1408 on the GTX 1660. It also gets a clock speed increase over the GTX 1650 but it sticks with the 128-bit memory controller except with the same GDDR6 upgrade as the GTX 1660 SUPER. The change in GPU also means an upgrade to the Turning NVENC encoder as well. With that I’m excited to see the performance improvements that the new GPU is bringing at more budget-focused price points.

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Gigabyte GTX 1660 SUPER Gaming OC 6G

If you thought the 1600 series was a strange naming scheme for Nvidia when it launched at the start of the year then you are really going to think it is weird with the SUPER designation that a lot of Nvidia’s lineup has been getting as they have been refreshing things. The GTX 1660 SUPER launched a few weeks ago. Well, today I’m going to check out the GTX 1660 SUPER Gaming OC from Gigabyte. The GTX 1660 super isn’t a huge change from the previous 1660, but it does have GDDR6 over the original GTX 1660’s GDDR5 and offers a rare look at what the newer memory offers for performance when everything else is the same. The Gaming OC adds an overclock up to 1860 MHz on the core clock from the 1785 MHz reference. So I’m excited to see how the Gaming OC performs compared to a few other cards new and old in that range.

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Cooler Master MM711

Just a few months ago Cooler Master launched their much-anticipated MM710 and I took a look at it. The MM710 is an ultra-lightweight mouse with Cooler Master logo shaped holes in it to get down to 53 grams. It was also paired up with a solid sensor, good switches, and details like a super soft and flexible cord and PTFE gliders. I was really impressed with the mouse and even got two more to switch both my wife and I’s LAN rigs over to the new mouse. Well Cooler Master is at it again with a similar model, the MM711. They went Price is Right style and just went one digit higher, but what is different? In short, lighting is what is different. But in addition to changing the look, lighting also means changes in weight so today I’m going to check out the MM711 and see how it performs.

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Be Quiet! Dark Rock Slim

By now most of you know of the company Be Quiet! and their heatsinks, fans, and power supplies. Early on when they first came to the US market they were involved in our LANs as a sponsor and we have covered a few of their heatsinks in the past. But they have grown in popularity a lot in the heatsink market especially with their all-black styling, quiet fans, and good performance. Especially with a few of their heatsinks in the SFF community and with their high-end heatsinks for those of you dedicated for the best possible cooling performance without the downsides of All in One coolers like pump noise and the potential for leaks. Well I have had their Dark Rock Slim sitting around the office and as I clean things out for the end of the year I didn’t want to miss checking it out. It is designed for those of you who need a thinner cooler for memory, motherboard, and case clearance reasons. Today I’m going check it out and see how it compares to a few other 120mm air coolers.

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RTX On Modern Warfare

It may come as a surprise, but Call of Duty and Modern Warfare specifically goes WAY back for LanOC. I wrote about the original Modern Warfare March 17th 2008, 11 and a half years ago and it was our first article. I’m embarrassed when I look back at my writing then, but between that multiple other COD game reviews, and MW and MW2 playing huge roles in our LAN events over the year's Call of Duty holds a special place in my heart. Of course my heart has been “newb tubed”, camped, and stabbed from across the room more times than I could ever count because of that as well. But I was still excited about checking out the new game. Nvidia who has been including Modern Warfare codes with most of their cards, notebooks, and PCs reached out and asked if I would like to check out how ray tracing looks in the latest installment and I jumped at the chance. So today I’m going to check out what the ray tracing option adds to the game and see if it's worth turning on when you play through the game.

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Corsair QL120 RGB Fans

At this point, nearly everyone has their own RGB fans on the market but really only a few companies have been innovating at all. Corsair has been at the forefront of that so much so that Corsair and RGB lighting has become a meme sometimes on Reddit. Its okay Corsair, this is a safe space, we can talk about your love for RGB. Specifically, I want to talk a little about their new QL series of RGB fans that is launching today. I’ve had them around the office for a few weeks and I’ve had time to play around with them a little. Corsairs' big change with QL fans is that they have “spectacular lighting from any angle”. With lighting similar to their Light Loop fans, only this time around they doubled up and have lighting on the back as well and the edges have the lighting visible as well.

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Jaybird Vista Wireless Earbuds

Okay, I’ve been a little late to the party on in-ear Bluetooth earbuds. I own a stack of higher-end wired earbuds and I have been sticking with them for a while now. I’m sure I’m not the only one being a little stubborn both because of the money invested, but also because wired performance has been a lot better. Well I recently took a look at a pair of wireless earbuds to use when out mowing and I liked them. But they haven’t really overtaken the wired performance yet, so I am still on the lookout for a set to wow me. Especially now that my own phone no longer has a wired headphone jack. Jaybird is a Logitech brand and as much as it pains me to even bring up, but with the holidays coming up they were showing off some of their products and the Jaybird Vista caught my eye. Today I’m going to check them out and see if they can finally replace my wired earbuds for good. They might even potentially make a good open for those of you shopping over the holidays, but lets reserve that for after I’ve tested them.

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Crucial X8 1TB Portable SSD

The portable storage market is mostly split up into three categories. You have flash or thumb drives, portable external drives, then large capacity full-sized external drives. What you need to use the drive for will determine which type you might need. But over the years one thing is for sure, thumb drives have taken over the market. They are small, portable, and they have been quick. But have you ever shopped for extremely high capacity thumb drives? To get a 1TB thumb drive you end up giving up a lot of that portability and performance is mediocre at best and the pricing can get really crazy. Not to mention there are a lot of fakes, even Amazon has them right at the top of the listings when you search for 1TB thumb drives. 1TB portable hard drives have been around for a long time but they are big and bulky, even when you get one based on 2.5-inch drives and they are extremely slow. This is why the portable SSD market has been taking off, you can get impressive performance, portability, and a capacity big enough to use as a game drive or to transport your important files. Well Crucial has finally jumped into the market with their introduction of the X8 and I finally have one in. I’m excited to check out the performance and see if it is faster than the two other portable SSDs that I use with my laptop.

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XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra

Not long ago I took a look at the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra and while there were some aspects of the card that I liked, like the styling. I wasn’t impressed with its cooling performance and the price point that they had it listed. It was being sold as a flagship card but didn’t have flagship performance. Well XFX reached out and let me know that the price on the Thicc II was dropping and they had a new three fan design that would be coming, the Thicc III Ultra. Because I’ve seen a lot of people who think that the II and III in the names is the revision number, no it represents how many fans the card has. Anyhow I went through and retested all of our RX 5700 XT’s including the Thicc II Ultra and then tested the new Thicc II Ultra as well and today I’m going to check out the new card and see how it performed in our test suite. Is the new model enough to justify a flagship price? We will have to find out!

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Gigabyte RX 5700 XT Gaming OC 8G

When it comes to aftermarket RX 5700 XT’s I had the chance to check out the Thicc II from XFX but around that time I also had a card from Gigabyte come in. They sent over the RX 5700 XT Gaming OC. Unlike the Thicc II the Gaming OC sticks a lot closer to reality when it comes to card size, with exception to card length which the Gaming OC cards with their triple fans are always long. But I’ve been curious to see how the RX 5700 XT Gaming OC performs in comparison to the larger card as well as the reference card. Cooling is especially important given the cooling and noise issues of the reference card. So today I’m going to take a closer look at the Gaming OC and then run it through our test suite and see how it performs.

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