SteelSeries Rival 700 Review

Posted On

Very few companies are as committed to Esports as SteelSeries. Their gaming peripherals have little competition, and the newly released Rival 700 gaming mouse serves as yet another example of how much effort SteelSeries’ engineers put into each new product. I test gaming mice on a regular basis, and while there are more than a handful of superb models I can think of, the Rival 700 is unquestionably the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used. SteelSeries has struck a perfect balance between weight, comfort and durability. The Rival 700 is a dream for competitive gamers, and I’m struggling to find any major criticism after two weeks of thorough testing.

SteelSeries doesn’t fool around when it comes to presentation, and the packaging reflects the Rival’s premium look and feel. It’s been a long time since a gaming mouse got me this excited. The Rival makes an immediate impression with its sleek lines, stylish buttons and elegantly textured body. It’s weightier than your average mouse, and it provides much better resistance when zigzagging across the mouse matte.


"I test gaming mice on a regular basis, and while there are more than a handful of superb models I can think of, the Rival 700 is unquestionably the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used."

The Rival 700 comes with several standout features, like a customizable OLED screen, and tactile alerts for specific titles. As someone who games mostly on consoles, haptic feedback is is an imperative element in genres like racing and FPS. Introducing something as simple as a rumble effect to a gaming mouse has a remarkable effect on immersion. 

Unfortunately, the haptic feedback  currently only works on select games: Counter Strike - Global Offensive, Dota 2 and a modded version of Minecraft. I’m not sure whether support for other titles will expand over time, but this excellent feature is somewhat useless unless you’re religiously committed to the above titles. Having said that, the haptic feedback delivers a cathartic experience. I would be shocked if this feature doesn’t become the new standard for future gaming mice. The added rumble gives matches more tangibility. Gaming feels better, and the Rival 700 unquestionably improves performance.


"You don’t need to be a competitive gamer to notice the difference. Honestly, even if you’re a designer seeking a high-quality working mouse, the Rival 700 excels regardless of what it’s used for."

The OLED screen with customizable Gifs may seem like a gimmick at first, but it’s a surprisingly useful feature in MOBAs, in this case Dota 2 specifically. The OLED works in combination with SteelSeries’ GameSense, part of their Engine 3 Software. You can display different types of stats, which makes it especially handy in games with clustered UIs. It’s similarly useful when displaying health or ammo limits in shooters. Beyond its practical applications, the OLED can also be used to display hilarious custom gifs, like Nicolas Cage’s spinning head. Beyond that, the Rival comes with all the expected tweaking options SteelSeries is known for. Competitive gamers can fine-tune settings for their desired performance within seconds thanks to Engine 3’s easy-to-use UI. 

All the nifty features are a welcome extra, but where the Rival 700 truly shines is in its raw performance. The Rival 700 simply feels and performs better than any other mouse model I’ve tested thus far. You don’t need to be a competitive gamer to notice the difference. Honestly, even if you’re a designer seeking a high-quality working mouse, the Rival 700 excels regardless of what it’s used for. SteelSeries has done it again. Their Esports products just keep getting better and better, and the Rival 700 is one of their finest releases this year!

A

Eizo Foris FS2735 Review

Posted On

In Short: The Eizo Foris FS2735 boasts a remarkable picture quality that rivals professional graphics monitors while maintaining low input-lag for responsive and smooth gaming. On the downside, the extremely high cost puts it in a rather niche corner. People looking for a display that serves both their professional and hobbyist needs will love the FS2735, but those only looking for a high-quality gaming monitor are likely to steer towards more affordable offerings. 

Review: Eizo may be an unfamiliar name amongst most gamers, but they’ve been a trusted brand for professional designers and photographers for decades. They’re known for manufacturing anything from high-end arcade machine monitors, medical display systems, air traffic control monitors, and of course, the acclaimed ColorEdge series of graphics monitors. In a nutshell, Eizo has a long history of delivering excellence across various industry needs. The Foris line is Eizo’s attempt at reaching out to a new audience: gamers. 

Pros:
Stunning PQ and excellent color accuracy
+ Responsive and smooth gaming
+ Beautiful design
+ Flawless screen uniformity
+ 5 year warranty
+ Superb customer support
+ G-Ignition makes tweaking easy

Cons:
- Price
- Freesync means Nvidia users are left out

The Eizo Foris FS2735 is designed with a modern and minimalist aesthetic in mind. Regardless of your gaming setup, the FS2735 looks stunning as the entertainment center piece. The body is fully matte (thank you Eizo!), so things like fingerprints and dust never become a noticeable nuisance. The beautiful and matte IPS screen repels reflections even when working underneath a skylight in my office, and it unquestionably relieves eye strain when typing/gaming for long hours.


"The Eizo Foris FS2735 may be the first flawless display I’ve ever tested. Black, white and grey uniformity tests all yield perfect results, and there isn’t a single hint of clouding, banding or ghosting when images are in motion. DSE is entirely non-existent!"

Display technology has come a long way, and Eizo has always been at the forefront as the leader in color accuracy and overall picture quality. Purchasing an Eizo product is equivalent to acquiring a luxury vehicle. Every part of their product line receives the elite treatment, and when it comes to quality assurance, very few manufacturers can match Eizo’s track record. 

One of my very first tests when analyzing new displays is the examination of potential manufacturer defects. Uniformity issues, dead pixels, and DSEs (dirty screen effects) are all possible flaws in modern displays - whether they’re televisions or monitors. Some are normal and expected, while others severely impact image quality. 

The Eizo Foris FS2735 may be the first flawless display I’ve ever tested. Black, white and grey uniformity tests all yield perfect results, and there isn’t a single hint of clouding, banding or ghosting when images are in motion. DSE is entirely non-existent which results in an incredibly smooth image during panning shots in movies and games. The Foris FS2735 is a testament of Eizo’s incomparable quality assurance. Considering how many issues I face with different types of displays on a regular basis, one could easily argue that much of the extra cost goes into thorough testing to ensure customers never receive duds. And did I mention that the FS2735 comes with a five-year warranty? As far as customer service goes, it doesn’t get better than that.


"The out-of-the-box calibration is near perfect. Foris monitors use Eizo’s G-Ignition software for tweaking settings, and it takes mere second to get desired results."

The FS2735 is a 1440p, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync display with an incredibly low response time of only 4ms. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, one DisplayPort, two HDMI ports, a DVI-D port and a nifty little cable holder that attaches to the base for keeping the desk surface clutter free. The display is tiltable in all directions (35° up and 5° down), which is practical for photo-editors and designers. The 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16.77 million display colors provide a rich and vibrant image, and it impresses whether you’re a gamer or professional artist.

I use this monitor for two things: gaming and professional design/illustration work. Having said that, color accuracy and proper black/white levels are incredibly important to me. This is why I personally tend to avoid brands like BenQ—their models have great response times, but horrid picture quality. The FS2735 is a godsend for people looking for a pro-gamer/pro-art hybrid. The out-of-the-box calibration is near perfect. Foris monitors use Eizo’s G-Ignition software for tweaking settings, and it takes mere second to get desired results. My review unit only required small gamma adjustments (the 2.2 reading was off and the 2.4 yielded more accurate results) as everything else was practically flawless. 

You can even sync up your smartphone with the Foris to monitor incoming notifications via the mobile G-Ignition app. This is particularly useful if you’re gaming with headphones and don’t want to miss important calls. By choosing from a variety of fun, little pop-up designs (like Pac-Man) you can customize the look of your incoming messages that appear on the bottom of the screen. When your phone rings, the little icon will pop-up in the screen corner ( while your game is running ) to let you know there’s a call.


"Overall, the Eizo Foris FS2735 is a phenomenal monitor for both gamers and professional graphic artists. The picture quality delivers a transformative experience."

As with most gaming monitors, there are added features that enhance visibility during motion and light/dark scenes. Eizo’s patented Smart Insight Demolition technology does a great job of revealing minute details in overly bright and dark games and movies. The technology’s effectiveness is especially impressive in games like Outlast or Alien Isolation where the majority of the environments are enveloped in darkness.

Gaming on the FS2735 is pure bliss. Everything looks crisp and vibrant, while motion remains buttery smooth thanks to Eizo’s impressive anti-blur technology. Colorful games like Overwatch are an exemplary showcase of the company’s brilliant IPS display. Thanks to the excellent color accuracy, older games feel like HD remasters. For the past two weeks, I’ve combed through countless genres in my library, in search for any faults, but the FS2735 impressed continuously. 
Since I also work as a graphic designer, I’ve used the FS2735 for a variety of different projects like website designs, magazine layouts and even editorial illustration work. The Foris has been an invaluable asset to my creative work, and I can’t imagine working with anything else.  

Conclusion: Overall, the Eizo Foris FS2735 is a phenomenal monitor for both gamers and professional graphic artists. The picture quality delivers a transformative experience. UI in apps and games, text, colors—everything is richer, crisper and cleaner when switching from a mid-range display to Eizo’s Foris. Its biggest downside is the $1300 price tag. It’s simply too high when considering that high-quality 4k monitors are available for the exact same price. Nevertheless, when it comes to Eizo, you’re also paying for reliability and what I personally consider a flawless product. 

Review by: Tin Salamunic    

A-

Edifier e255 Review

Posted On

If you walk into a room brimming with top audio manufacturers and their devices, there’s no doubt your attention would quickly turn to Edifier and their unique approach to product design. One can argue that Edifier’s craftsmanship serves as the industry standard for aesthetic innovation among audio hardware engineers today. One can also argue that Edifier’s latest e255 active speaker system, a surround sound version of the superb Luna Eclipse HD speakers, is the company's finest accomplishment to date.

The Edifier e255 surround sound system is an artistic marvel. It’s a piece of tech that doesn’t shy away from breaking norms. Who needs old-fashioned, boxy speakers when Edifier’s futuristic “eggs” provide so much more flexibility for differently sized entertainment setups. Whether you live in a 5000 sq ft villa or a 400 sq ft apartment, the audio performance is phenomenal across both wide and narrow spaces. 

One thing to note is that the Edifier e255 system isn’t advised for audiophiles due to a lack of HDMI support, which is necessary for lossless surround PCM audio. Its optical connections are limited to compressed Digital Dolby and DTS, as well Dolby Pro Logic II for converting stereo to 5.1 surround. You can only get lossless stereo PCM via optical, but that’s rather pointless considering that this is a multi-speaker setup.


"One can also argue that Edifier’s latest e255 active speaker system, a surround sound version of the superb Luna Eclipse HD speakers, is the company's finest accomplishment to date."

Having said that, the audio performance is far beyond what’s normally expected from a compressed signal—not to mention wireless Bluetooth connectivity. I’ve been testing audio hardware for a few years now, and to put things in perspective, the e255 has the most impressive Bluetooth audio delivery to date. I have about half a dozen active Bluetooth devices laying around the same area as the e255, yet the audio signal has never been affected by distortions. So far, I’ve clocked at least 75-80 hours with the e255, and I never experienced a single audio hiccup—not a single time.

The 255’s powerful drivers deliver crystal clear detail and depth, and manual decibel adjustments for each speaker allow for more balanced volumetric shifts between quiet whispers and loud explosions. The audio is top-notch without the need for advanced calibrating. This makes the system perfect for users who seek high-end audio performance, but don’t have the technical know-how when it comes to advanced audio tuning.


"The 255’s powerful drivers deliver crystal clear detail and depth, and manual decibel adjustments for each speaker allow for more balanced volumetric shifts between quiet whispers and loud explosions."

Unboxing the Edifier e255 system is just as exciting as hearing its sound for the first time. Each speaker is wrapped in a protective cloth, and there’s a sense of grandeur and luxury when revealing the spherical design for the first time. Typical speakers are much larger and made out of wood to improve acoustics, but Edifiers engineers have found a way to preserve the audio fidelity while completely redefining long-standing speaker design standards. 

During my testing, I’ve set up the system in three different environments: a large, open space equivalent to a medium-sized conference room, a larger gaming room/office where the speakers are placed close the listening area, as well as a typical living-room environment with speakers placed around 6 feet away from the center listening area. With some careful speaker positioning, it’s possible to achieve balanced audio performance regardless of room size and speaker placement. As expected, the larger space provides a little more room for the audio to spread, but the sound clarity at lower volumes and within tighter spaces is what truly sets the e255 from other surround systems. 

The center speaker is the heart of the system. Front left and right speakers are connected directly to the center speaker, while everything else links up wirelessly once the Bluetooth signal goes live. This makes the setup process more liberating. As long as there are enough power outlets for each speaker, you can really play around with creative positioning without worrying about running out of wires. There are three optical inputs and a 3.5 mm audio input in the back of the center speaker. For testing purposes, I decided to stick with optical only as it delivers superior audio quality and will most likely be the go-to connection for the average user.


"Even without uncompressed PCM, the Edifier e255 delivers DTS with impressive precision and clarity."

Since all of my media apps are on PS4, I decided to use Sony’s console for most of my testing. Video games are great for pushing a system’s surround capabilities, especially competitive titles where audio locationing is imperative for success. Like everyone else lately, I’ve been obsessively playing Overwatch and figured it’d be the best way to get a taste of what the e255 offers. Five minutes into the game, and my way of playing the game changed entirely. Overwatch in surround sound is an otherworldly experience. 

Even without uncompressed PCM, the Edifier e255 delivers DTS with impressive precision and clarity. I personally prefer DTS due to lower compression and better surround balancing, but whether you choose DTS or Dolby Digital, you’re in for a real treat. The Overwatch audio engineers have implemented carefully tuned audio cues that only become apparent once a proper sound system is in place. Enemy footsteps, for example, are heavier and louder than your team’s, and being able to differentiate the running weight between characters during a heated fight is inexplicably helpful in a game like this.


"Shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones sound marvelous in surround. The e255 system makes Ramin Djawadi’s iconic soundtrack even more impactful and mesmerizing."

Little details like this stand out regardless of what game I throw at the e255. The Witcher 3 is another great example of a transformative experience. When you’re out in the wild, you can hear the grass crunching underneath your boot, you can hear the wind cutting through trees, and most importantly, you can hear wild beasts rummaging in the distance, giving you a better window of opportunity to prepare your potions and gear.

When it comes to movies and TV shows, things get a little trickier when testing because the surround-sound quality isn’t solely depended on hardware, but rather how much effort the creators’ put into balancing the different channels. Shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones sound marvelous in surround. The e255 system makes Ramin Djawadi’s iconic soundtrack even more impactful and mesmerizing. 

When watching Raising Hope on Netflix, on the other hand, the center speaker carries most of the weight. The audio, particularly the dialogue, is too centered and makes the show sound more hollow compared to audio mixed to 2.1 channels. This isn’t a speaker criticism, but a surround-sound criticism in general. It’s an issue a lot of audio connoisseurs face, and it’s a problem that’s been plaguing the industry for decades. I decided to have a little fun with the settings, and found that the e255’s Dolby Pro Logic II feature can be used to mitigate the problem. Since Pro Logic II creates 5.1 channels from a 2.1 channel signal, I changed the console audio source to 2.1 PCM, and then enabled the Pro Logic II to split the audio across all the speakers. In a way, this partially fixes the problem with center-heavy audio in certain media. While the surround accuracy doesn’t translate as well, it still sounds better when watching media where the surround sound implementation is handled sloppily.


"Since Pro Logic II creates 5.1 channels from a 2.1 channel signal, I changed the console audio source to 2.1 PCM, and then enabled the Pro Logic II to split the audio across all the speakers. In a way, this partially fixes the problem with center-heavy audio in certain media."

While the Edifier e255 doesn’t boast advance equalizer settings, it’s packed with a handful of neat surround modes when Digital Dolby Pro Logic II is engaged. You can choose between music, movie, emul, matrix, virt and game modes. Each setting is designed to convert stereo to surround differently based on the media. For the most part, the labels are self explanatory. Music mode, for example, makes you feel like you’re surrounded by the performers. Movie mode increases the dynamic range, which makes explosions and action scenes particularly loud.


"If you’re someone who’s seeking practicality without any sacrifice in sound performance, the Edifier e255 is the most luxurious-yet-affordable option for surround sound in 2016."

The quirky Matrix setting, on the other hand, splits all audio evenly across every speaker, making it seem like you’re entirely enveloped by whatever you’re watching. While this setting doesn’t work well in movies and TV shows, it’s a fantastic feature for nature documentaries.  Game mode is equivalent to Scout Mode found in most surround sound headsets, but I’m still not sure I can see a benefit ( or much difference for that matter) between the emulation and virtual modes. But aside from these two settings, I found the other presets to be surprisingly useful when switching between different content on TV. 

It’s been about two weeks since I installed the Edifier e255 in our office, and I can’t  imagine using any other audio device for our gaming and movie testing going forward. The lack of 5.1 PCM support is definitely a big letdown for audiophiles, but if you’re someone who’s seeking practicality without any sacrifice in sound performance, the Edifier e255 is the most luxurious-yet-affordable option for surround sound in 2016.




Review by: Tin Salamunic 

A

The Long-Term Effects of Serious Gaming

Posted On

Gaming can be an absorbing pastime. Any gamer can recall their almost complete immersion in a new game at some time or other, but gaming should be enjoyed responsibly, and that means in moderation because research has identified long-term effects of serious gaming, including health effects.  

It does need to be made clear that there is a difference between serious gaming and a gaming addiction. You can be a serious gamer without gaming taking over your life to the point that work, family, and friends as well as your health start to be neglected. Nonetheless, serious gamers need to consider the downsides of totally immersive gameplay because there can be long-term effects to gaming for long hours without taking regular breaks.  

One of the most serious long-term effects of gaming that has been identified is the effect on our health. In some ways, this effect is obvious. Sitting down for long-periods of time, whether at work or at home, without getting up to exercise has been linked to such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. However, there are other long-term health effects from gaming that are easier to overlook because they may not seem as obvious.  

As a gamer, you will be well used to using a controller or mouse, but did you know that overuse of either device can lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome? This is a painful condition affecting the hands and fingers, resulting in numbing or weakness. To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it is recommended that you perform hand-stretching exercises and take frequent breaks. Correct posture and wrist position also help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.   

Playing a video game requires intense concentration, and that can result in eye strain and even long-term damage to our vision. Those same levels of concentration can also lead to migraines and fatigue. Again, it is essential that you take regular breaks from gaming. Fatigue can also lead to emotional problems as would a video gaming addiction in a broader sense, resulting in a feeling of irritability or restlessness when you cannot play, and isolation from others as the addiction worsens.   

If as a gamer, you have developed problems with your eyesight, the good news is that there are solutions available. Huge advances have been made by the leading laser eye surgery providers. Lasik eye surgery has become an increasingly common treatment for those with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and offers the benefit of quick recovery times.

Never forget, of course, that there are also long-term benefits from being a gamer. A game is essentially a creative challenge, and engaging with a creative challenge is linked with improved goal orientation and motivation as well as memory and learning. Gaming also helps improve our hand-to-eye coordination.  

Moderation is the sensible approach for whatever hobby you take up, and the same is true of gaming. It may be tempting to immerse yourself in gaming, but any hobby or pastime is much more enjoyable when balanced with other parts of your life. Gaming responsibly works well for you, and it works well for your health.

iBUYPOWER Revolt 2 Review

Posted On

It’s an exciting time to be a gamer. There are more choices than we ever thought possible, and new technological advances are being introduced at an alarming rate. Graphically advanced games can be played on tablets and phones, and VR is shaping up to be a technological marvel (if any of the hands-on experiences are to be believed). 

Things are particularly exciting for PC gamers as the platform continues to evolve and expand to the living room. Having a PC as part of an entertainment setup is nothing new, and mini-PCs have certainly existed for some time now, but iBUYPOWER is determined to speed up the transition by taking mini-PCs to a whole new level. 

iBUYPOWER’S latest Revolt 2 is a stepping stone in mini-PC engineering. It’s the first eSports mini-PC that can carry high-end parts typically reserved for standard-sized cases. The Revolt 2 is a surprisingly intuitive little box that’s designed for gaming enthusiasts who seek mobility and more flexibility from their setup. For the most part, the Revolt 2 outshines its competition without breaking a sweat. It’s beautifully crafted and the temperatures remain cool regardless of how much the system is pushed, thanks to the mandatory liquid cooling. However, upgrading parts isn’t as easy as the marketing implies, and our specific unit arrived with the HDD unrecognized by the operating system. But despite a few hiccups, the Revolt 2 is currently, without a doubt, the best mini-PC on the market.

As with all boutique PC builds, my review encompasses the entire shopping experience. This includes packaging, assembly, performance, system design and, of course, overall performance. iBUYPOWER sent us a system with the following specs: i7 6700K Intel CPU, Corsair H55 Liquid Cooler, 16 GB DDR4 2800 ADATA XPG-Z1, 240 GB ADATA SSD, 1 TB WD SATA-3, 64MB Hard Drive, Win 10 Home, 600W Corsair CX600 Power supply, Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170N - Gaming 5 and a GPU: Gigabyte GTX 980 4GB Xtreme Gaming.


"iBUYPOWER’S latest Revolt 2 is a stepping stone in mini-PC engineering. Despite a few hiccups, it is currently, without a doubt, the best mini-PC on the market."

Since ours is a custom build, the final price sits somewhere between the Revolt 2 Pro ($1,399) and the Revolt 2 Extreme ($1,899). The major difference is the 980 GPU that was used instead of the 970 in the Pro Edition and the 980 Ti in the Extreme Edition. This is an incredible deal considering the premium parts and the fact that Revolt 2 is exclusive to iBUYPOWER and can’t be acquired through a different vendor.

Shipping a PC across several states is always a gamble, regardless of how well it’s packaged beforehand. Fortunately, iBUYPOWER doesn’t skimp on protective measures. The Revolt 2 box ships within a massive, heavily padded secondary box that keeps the system safe from tumbling during transport. The main system packaging is enveloped by thick, foam-like pads that provide more than enough protection should the carrier handle it carelessly. Unless someone drives over the box with a vehicle, there’s no way to damage the contents.

Once unboxed, you really get to appreciate the creativity behind the case’s design. The Revolt 2 is one of the most uniquely crafted mini-PCs I’ve seen so far. The unusual shape doesn’t seem pragmatic at first, but every design choice has been made deliberately. iBUYPOWER deserves a big, big bravo for using a high-quality matte material for the main body surface. This allows the Revolt 2 to maintain its sleek and clean look even after it’s been sitting under the desk for a while. I can’t stress just how much a shift in materials can impact the look and feel of a case. The aesthetic can be best described as something straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s modern, elegantly shaped, and boasts just enough flashiness to turn heads without looking kitch.


"Once unboxed, you really get to appreciate the creativity behind the case’s design. The Revolt 2 is one of the most uniquely crafted mini-PCs I’ve seen so far."

After the side panels are removed, the Revolt 2 reveals its true engineering magic. This miniature PC case successfully houses large components within a very tight space without overheating. The massive Gigabyte GTX 980 GPU sits on top of the case and can be reached via the center panel that also exposes the SSD. Both parts are easily replaceable thanks to the direct access even when the panels are screwed back on. 

However, things are trickier when it comes to replacing other, harder to reach parts. The motherboard, power supply and HDD aren’t easily approachable since there’s little space in between. I have very small hands, and I struggle to grab the HDD, much less anything else. If you are an experienced builder, that’s not going to be an issue since you can just take everything apart and put it back together. If you’re inexperienced, the Revolt 2 might not be the best choice if you expect to upgrade parts yourself regularly. The iBUYPOWER engineers have organized the tight space meticulously, but the same care and precision can’t be expected from the average user. The Revolt 2 is designed for pro-gamers, but not every gamer is a pro-builder. So the Revolt 2 isn’t quite as easy to use or flexible when it comes to installing new parts, but it’s still the best, and possibly the only, option that allows high-grade parts to coexist within such a small container.


"The motherboard, power supply and HDD aren’t easily approachable since there’s little space in between. I have very small hands, and I struggle to grab the HDD, much less anything else."

iBUYPOWER also deserves kudos for installing only the most essential OS files without including useless trials. There are only two extra programs, the Gigabyte OC software and the Light Control software, but they’re very small and quite handy. Unfortunately, our build arrived with the HDD unrecognized by the OS, and I had to access the BIOS to re-initialize the drive. This isn’t difficult by any means, but as a paying customer who’s going through a boutique store and paying a premium fee for assembly, having a unit arrive with an unrecognized HDD is disappointing. HDD issues aside, everything else is assembled relatively well. The cables aren’t as neatly organized as when we reviewed iBUYPOWER’s Z170, but there’s only so much that can be done in such a limited space.


"The Revolt 2 has exceeded my expectations, and while it’s not as easy to replace certain parts as I hoped for, I can’t think of another case this size that accomplishes as much"
    
Ultimately, it’s all about performance, and it’s here that the Revolt 2 delivers flawlessly. My tests consist of running several AAA titles at max settings for several hours at a time to see how the case handles temperatures and noise. Even after playing something like The Witcher 3 on max settings for 5+ hours straight, the Revolt 2 remains cool and quiet. The only time the system ever came to feeling even remotely warm was after an entire day of non-stop use without sleep or hibernation. The Revolt 2 has a Corsair H55 Liquid Cooler installed, and it does a superb job at regulating temperatures. Noise levels are always low too. The only time the fans are heard is during the initial boot up, and on a few occasions when the system is pushed to the absolute limit. In fact, the Revolt 2 performs better than our main, decked-out gaming PC that we use for reviewing all of our PC games. 

I’ve been testing the Revolt 2 for a full week now, and I haven’t experienced any technical difficulties. On more than one occasion, I had to remind myself that this is a mini-PC and not a large PC tower. There’s something very liberating about having your PC sit next to your PS4, Xbox One and Wii U. The Revolt 2 has exceeded my expectations, and while it’s not as easy to replace certain parts as I hoped for, I can’t think of another case this size that accomplishes as much. iBUYPOWER has crafted something very special here. They’ve set a new standard for mini-PC design, and when combined with their aggressive pricing for parts and assembly, there’s no better choice for gamers seeking a high-end boutique PC that’s slightly larger than the Xbox One. 

Review by: Tin Salamunic

A-

Gamdias Hephaestus V2 Review

Posted On

I’ve been a big Gamdias fan ever since I discovered their gaming-peripheral lineup back in 2012. The balance between sound quality, comfort and durability has always been the company's strong suit, but sadly, things are shifting into murky territory with the Hephaestus V2. The original Hephaestus remains one of my favorite Gamdias headsets, and it still performs beautifully after countless gaming sessions. Fast forward a few years later, and we’re looking at what can only be described as its devolved brethren. 

The Hephaestus V2 doesn’t make a pretty first impression, and it doesn’t fare much better after closer inspection. The drivers still deliver an impressive auditory punch, but the body looks like it belongs in the kids’ toy section. The cheap, plastic shell is grossly unattractive, and the gargantuan ear cups don’t help either. The surround sound is solid, but there's little here that stands out.

The new shift in design is equally confusing. Gamdias has been known for its obscure, power-metal inspired aesthetic, but the Hephaestus V2 is leaning heavily towards the generic. While I typically appreciate the more minimalistic approach, a design has to compliment its materials, and in the case of Hephaestus’ flimsy quality, the end result is equivalent to a cheap store-brand product. 

The poor build-quality becomes an even greater issue after extended use. The cushion enveloping the headband isn’t properly stitched around the edges where the fabric meets the plastic. As a result, the material tears easily - even if you’re handling it with great care. I’ve also noticed my ears becoming notably warmer over time.

The Hephaestus V2 is a strange headset, because the disappointing exterior hides some pretty solid tech. Gamdias hasn’t skimped on its driver quality, and the auditory performance is a stark contrast to Hephaestus’ aesthetic identity crisis. The bass delivers a heavy kick when playing action-oriented titles. Guns in FPS shooters have a satisfying grittiness when shots are fired, and even minute details are preserved when all hell breaks loose on-screen.

As with all Gamdias products, the Hephaestus V2 works in combination with the HERA software. Here you can make all the typical EQ tweaks, LED adjustments and save profiles, but it’s all just basic stuff that comes with most of these free programs. It doesn’t add anything to the overall quality, but the extra flexibility is always a welcome feature.  

I’m struggling to find any other noteworthy features. The Hephaestus V2 seems like a very sloppily-designed and manufactured piece of shovelware. I completely understand having to find a workaround when the budget is tight, but sometimes it’s better to promote the good products that have already been received well, rather than introduce a new, poorly-made item that will impact the overall lineup. That’s precisely what happened here. New customers will automatically assume that the Hephaestus V2 is an improved version over the original, when in fact, it’s a substantial step back. The original Hephaestus may be a few years old by now, but it’s a much better headset and its price has dropped tremendously.

Gamdias is a great brand. I still use their keyboards and headsets on a regular basis, and would recommend them to any gamer seeking great performance at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the Hephaestus V2 sticks out as a sore thumb from an otherwise solid lineup. I’m hoping it’s just an unintentional hiccup, and not a new direction for the company.    

 Review by: Tin Salamunic

C-

Use the Latest Tech to Make an Extra Bit of Cash!

Posted On

Today, you can use the latest tech to make an extra bit of cash! Very few people are going to be lucky enough to make the sum total of their daily income on websites like the Euro Palace Online casino. However, making some extra cash is still worthy of applause, especially because these very same people are going to be playing the games purely for fun. Essentially, the money that they earn is going to be extra, since they did not set out to earn money specifically. They were just trying to have fun. When making money itself is a bonus, people can truly feel as if they have found luck. 

The Euro Palace Online casino has some of the best slot games that people are going to find online. There are more than six hundred games available at the Euro Palace Online casino, and people will be able to find the best slot games to play here. The Euro Palace Online Casino is very good at updating all of the different game selections available on its website. People will be able to enjoy new games very regularly. All of the most popular online slot games are represented at the Euro Palace Online casino, including the Jurassic Park slot game, the Thunderstruck II and Avalon II games, and the Game of Thrones online slot game. 

All online casinos have slot games these days, but they vary somewhat in terms of which online slot games they are going to feature. Some online casinos are better at updating their selection of games than others. People can find the best slot games to play here, and at the Euro Palace Online casino, they will be able to find plenty of slots that have not yet been added to many of the other rosters online. For instance, two of the latest online casino slot games from Microgaming are the Electric Diva slot game and the Reel Spinner slot game, and these are not yet found on all of the online casinos that people can visit today. 

Today, you can use the latest tech to make an extra bit of cash! There are lots of ways to make money online, including some stable money-making opportunities. However, most of them are going to be dull and monotonous. Some people will have a hard time motivating themselves to complete jobs like that even if they have few other options. For many people today, trying to develop as many diverse employment opportunities as possible makes much more sense. No one's job is safe and secure these days, including the jobs of the people who work in person. People need to be creative and they need to improvise in an economy that tends to favor a tiny portion of the population. 

The Euro Palace Online casino can give people money-making opportunities that they can enjoy when they were just trying to have fun anyway, and these are money-making opportunities that are never going to truly go away, which is more than can be said for the competition.