Searching for the right poolside portable speaker

So this summer I found myself in an interesting position, up until now my wife and I haven’t had any need for portable Bluetooth speakers, but this year we bought a new house with a pool and have spent as much time as we can out in the pool enjoying the tiny window that Ohio offers for good weather. Well, our Razer Leviathan Mini did the job at first but quickly developed a rattle prompting me to look for a new speaker. What I found was that I really didn’t know what I needed feature wise or how a lot of them compare for audio quality and loudness. So I reached out to both the LanOC social media pages (Facebook and Twitter, join us!) as well as my own Facebook as well and asked what everyone was using. There were a few that were mentioned a lot or came highly recommended, I reached out to a few companies and here we are. Ultimate Ears, a subsidiary of Logitech sent two speakers, Creative sent one, and Braven sent one as well. There were others but remember Ohio summers are so short I had to get out testing and not wait any longer. So I’ve been testing these portable speakers and today I want to dive into their features and how each of them performed.

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Casting 3D Printed Parts

So you have had a shiny new 3D printer for a few months, your house now is full of little plastic tchotchkes. There are Little Yoda heads in the living room, some benchy boats in the bath, and an R2D2 on your desk. What’s next? You can buy fancy filaments with metal powders embedded in them so you can make your gnomes rusty or green but they’re still plastic. How does one make something metal with a 3D printer? You can spend a huge sum of money and buy a printer that can sinter metal powders together. Unless you’re NASA or SpaceX that is a lot of money. Sure, you could slap a MIG welder nozzle on your printer but that is not very precise and would take a lot of tinkering to get something useful out of it. Instead of going high tech, let’s go low tech. Casting liquid metal into sand molds is a process humans have been doing for centuries. What if you used a 3D printer to create the mold patterns for the sand in a few hours instead of the day(s) it would have taken to do by hand?

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Qnap TS-453Be

When you just have one computer in the house storing your data and putting together a backup solution can be as simple as an external hard drive and a basic cloud storage account. But what I have found is that as you have more computers being used, especially when you also start running HTPCs or in my case Shield TVs on all of your TVs you need a better solution. For around my house, we run multiple NAS. One with critical data on it and others with stuff like our backed up media files for access at the televisions. That is where companies like Qnap come into play, they have developed low power usage NAS that goes WAY beyond just storing your data. They have a lot of media integrations and a variety of ways to back everything up. Qnap sent over the TS-453Be, a quad-core NAS designed to be expandable for M.2 or 10GbE support while keeping the costs down without fancy external screens. So today I’m going to see what kind of feature Qnap is offering and check out its performance and their software.

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CableMod AIO Sleeving Kit

Okay so just about everyone and their moms have AIO kits in their PC these days. They have gone down in pricing and when it comes to the nicer builds there are now a lot of good options available. A lot of the companies even now pre-sleeve their kits for an even cleaner look. But if you are running an AIO, the one thing you can’t do that you can with a custom water cooling kit is change the color of your coolant. Well, CableMod came out with another option last year and I put it to use in our D-Frame Mini build this week. They have sleeving kits for your AIO kit available in a few different colors. Today I’m going to take a quick look at them and see how easy they are to install and find out if they are worth picking up.

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Revisiting the In Win D-Frame Mini 4 years later

So every year our first article of the year is me going back and doing a quick recap of our year and then I take a look back at anything that won our editors choice award and see if it lived up to what I expected. I recently also started going back even beyond that and looking at Editors Choice winners from past years, only showing what is still in use. When you get back a few years, there just isn’t much that is still being used. But back in 2014, I reviewed the In Win D-Frame Mini and not only did it win an editors choice award, but it has been rocking and still in use to this day. In fact, it has a lot of miles on it with it going to just about every LAN that I’ve visited in that time. Well recently In Win announced new color options and one of them was bright orange with blue trim, aka LanOC colors. So I decided it would be fun to build a new PC in it and see how that same design has held up 4 years later.

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Wooting One

So the big trend recently in mechanical keyboards has been optical switches. You have even seen companies like Razer jumping on just this past week. I’ve had a few in the office testing like the Bloody B975 that I reviewed a few weeks ago. But there is one keyboard that is taking a different approach. Its called the Wooting One. It’s an optical keyboard as ell and its been out for a while. They actually have their Kickstarter live right now for the full sized Wooting Two. Anyhow, I have been testing the TKL sized Wooting One for a while now. It uses Flaretech optical switches and with those, they are able to offer a full analog input experience. What that means is where other keyboard switches are just on or off, these are like a gas pedal and can detect input through the entire range. For most things, you will use them in a normal way, but in some games, you can use them to get a better control. So today I’m going to check out what the whole Wooting experience is all about and see how their keyboard stands out.

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GEEEK A30

I hope by now most of you have figured out that I love SFF builds. Over the years we have built a new Lunchbox build with the goal of going smaller and building an even more capable gaming rig to take to LANs. So I am always on the lookout for new and different cases that might fit the bill. Well, early this year I came across a company called GEEEK that has a few small ITX cases including one that really caught my eye that used a FlexATX power supply to save space. That was the A30 and GEEEK was nice enough to send one over to check out. With a unique extrusion based construction they were able to keep the costs down. With a budget-friendly price and an acrylic construction, Its looks good. But is it easy to build and how does it all perform when together? That is what I want to find out today.

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Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 and Noctua NH-L12S

Last fall I spent weeks testing and retesting a whole collection of ITX focused heatsinks that had AM4 support. At the time the first ITX boards were just coming out and a lot of the coolers didn’t support the new socket and those that did most people didn’t know how they would perform when packing 6 and 8 core CPUs into the form factor. I highly recommend everyone check out the article. Well, not to long after that Noctua introduced two more heatsinks and I’ve been wanting to see how they compare. I finally got around to it and today we are going to check out the NH-L12S and the NH-L9a-AM4.

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WD Black NVMe SSD 1TB

Western Digital might bring to mind spinning disks but they have been dabbling in the SSD market for a while now, especially with their pickup of SanDisk. I’ve ever had the chance to check out their portable SSD. But this past April WD was really hyping up a launch and at PAX East they introduced their first 3D NAND NVMe SSD, the WD Black M.2. Of course, that could be a little confusing because there was previously a WD Black M.2 drive. With SanDisk's 64-layer 3D TLC and Western Digitals own controller, the WD Black promises some crazy numbers and I’m excited to take a look and see how it performs.

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Intel Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK

From time to time in the hardware market, there are weird and interesting products that come out that seem to break the norm. In the past, you used to see them all the time. For example All in One video cards with capturing built in, crazy multi CPU boards like the SR-2 and SR-X, Asus’s crazy dual GPU MARS and Ares cards and so on. Well right there along with them are the Hades Canyon NUCs from Intel. Okay, NUCs are cool, but what makes these so crazy and special. Well Along with the Intel CPU inside, they actually have AMD Vega graphics. Now lots of PCs being sold these days have Intel CPUs with an AMD dedicated GPU, but what they did here is different. They are both on the same chip! So it's not a big surprise they went with the Hades Canyon name, Hades is another word for Hell and its clear things have frozen over there for these two to be working together like this. So before things thaw out I’m going to check out its features, software, and performance then figure out if this SFF PC has a place in the market or my LAN bag.  

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WD My Passport 1TB

You guys/girls ever see something that you really don’t need but just have to have in your life? For the most part, I try to keep things like this under control, but a while back during our anniversary contest I happened to see that WD had this bright orange external drive. Now I wish they had a bright orange My Passport SSD like the one I reviewed last year, this isn’t it. This is the larger spinning disk-based model. But its bright bright orange! So I had to check it out. So today I’m going to show you guys the drive, check out its performance, then talk a little about if classic external storage is still a good option these days.

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Motospeed CK61

So a while back a company by the name of Gearbest reached out to me about covering some of their products. I initially passed but after looking around I did come across a few keyboards that I was interested in checking out. Typically, some of the weird and cool stuff is imported from China and Gearbest just happens to be a China based company. So after talking to them, they sent over the Motospeed CK61, a small 60% keyboard with a really cheap price as well. Some of you may know I have a weird thing for 60% boards, mostly because at LANs and sometimes around my office there isn’t much desktop space available and these little guys sometimes work perfectly. Anyhow, I’ve been playing around with this board in between testing a few other keyboards and today I wanted to talk about it.

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Logitech PowerPlay Wireless Charging

For anyone who has been reading LanOC for a while now, you have probably seen me trying to find the perfect wireless headset. This is because I right with cables on my desk and really wireless options are hit and miss with most being miss. For wireless mice, I had mostly just given up. Sure wireless tech has improved and lag for my nonskilled self has been not at all noticeable. But frankly I just always forget to plug in my mouse or even turn it off. The best part about being wired is that you don’t have to think about it at all. So when Logitech introduced their PowerPlay Wireless Charging system I have been wanting to try it out for a while now. Well, they sent over the PowerPlay mat/mouse pad as well as both the G903 and G703 mice that support it. Has it lived up to what I expected? Well, you will have to read the rest of the review to find out, I’m not giving it all away just yet.

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AMD StoreMI

So with the latest Ryzen launch, AMD slipped in another feature that fell under the radar with everything else going on. They call it StoreMI and at first glance, you might dismiss it but after playing around with it more I think all Ryzen owners should rethink that and at least check out my performance testing later in this article. Officially StoreMI is a free version of the Enmotus FuzeDrive and it may look like a caching tech like Intel’s Optane but it isn’t. It is a Tier setup like run on enterprise hardware allowing you to experience SSD speeds on your slower spinning storage with a hands-off approach that is especially good for non-enthusiasts who don’t think about which drive they install programs on.

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AMD Ryzen 5 2600 and Ryzen 7 2700

AMD launched their new Ryzen lineup about a month and a half ago but when they sent out initial sampling they only sent out the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X. Those were mostly what people wanted to see, but they did launch a few other CPUs at that same time. A few reviewers went and picked them up at the store but I don’t have the budget for that. AMD did follow up though and sent over the Ryzen 7 2700 and Ryzen 5 2600, two really interesting CPUs. I will get into why in just a minute. After that, I will go through my testing and then talk about how they fit in the market. Let's go!

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Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming

So the first X470 board to come in that wasn’t included in our Ryzen launch kit from AMD was a board from Asus. This was suppose to go along with the new Crosshair that AMD included but we didn’t end up getting one, so, for now, I’m going to check out the Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming. I’m going to check out what Asus has done with their X470 models, test the performance to see how it compares to the two other X470 boards I’ve tested, check out the cooling situation, and then run down and see if it’s a good buy for someone looking to build a Ryzen 2000 Series build.

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Cooler Master WR530 Wrist Rest and MP510 Mouse Pad

So when it comes to peripherals most people think of their keyboard and mouse, maybe their headset. But with some things, especially your mouse, you need other hardware to get the best possible performance. Wrist Rests for keyboards add to comfort and can help prevent long-term issues and well mouse pads are needed most of the time for your mouse to work or at least work well. So it's no surprise that keyboard and mouse manufacturers would get into the market. Cooler Master has sold wrist rests with some of their keyboards and they have had a few different mouse pads. Well, today they are introducing new lineups of both and I’m going to take a quick look at them.

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Bloody B975 Light Strike Optical Keyboard

So our first mechanical keyboard review goes all the way back to 2008 and from them it really hasn’t stopped, not to mention all of the keyboards I personally have picked up over the years. What I’m getting at is that I’ve had the chance to check out a lot of keyboards but up until now they have always had some variation on a Cherry MX switch or other popular switch types like Topres’ so you would forgive me for being a little excited about optical keyswitches hitting the market. Well, it just so happens that I’ve had a few come in recently and for more than a month I’ve been switching between them. Today I’m going to dive into the first, the Bloody B975 Light Strike Optical Keyboard. The brand name might be a surprise but some of the guys behind a few of my favorite keyboards have been working with Bloody so I’m interested in seeing where things go with them. For now, though, let's see what the B975 is all about.

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Corsair HS60

When it comes to headsets Corsair has been in the market for years now. But a lot of their designs, while good, have been a little on the aggressive side for styling. Now a lot of gamers are into that sort of thing, but for some people looking like a 15 year old kid while at their PC might get them judged by their significant other, roommate, friends, or by their own self. So some people just want a classic looking headset and a while back Corsair filled that gap with their HS50 and HS60 headsets. Well, I’ve had the HS60 around for a while and have been testing it out, let's talk a little about what its all about and how it performed in my testing.

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A Visit to Atomic Filament

A few weeks back while visiting SeeMeCNC to pick up my new Artemis I had an interesting opportunity pop up. You see last year when SeeMeCNC moved to a much larger building Atomic Filament moved from California into the same building. Well, they invited me (and my wife) over to check out their setup. This in itself is interesting, I’ve never seen filament being made, but what a lot of people don’t know is Atomic Filament is basically the Area 51 of the printing community. They are known for extremely high-quality filament, but to protect that they are very careful on who can come visit.

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