We're deploying the patent-pending PCGamesN Kit Filter to ensure you don't miss out on any PC gear to pass across our test bench each month. Super-exciting halo products from the big manufacturers are only one part of the rich tapestry of PC gaming hardware; there are also myriad awesome/intriguing/downright-weird bits of kit that we just have to talk about...
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February wasn’t quite so busy in terms of big PC gear reviews, though we did get our first taste of a 200-series ROG motherboard in slimline mini-ITX trim, as well as the best Viewsonic gaming monitor I think I’ve ever tested. We also got to play with Intel’s first mainstream SSD using the NVMe PCIe interface. It’s not as blazingly quick as the Samsung drivers, though nor is it anywhere near as pricey.
Then, at the start of March, Nvidia dropped the new 'fastest graphics card in the world' and AMD unleased a whole new PC platform - which I'm still benchmarking the life out of.
But there are a few more new products that might not have gotten the coverage - good or bad - that they deserve, and we’d like to draw your attention to as well.
Click on the jump links below to get to the reviews of your choice.
Switch: MX RGB Speed | Anti-ghosting: N-key | Controls - Fully discrete
I am a massive fan of Corsair keyboards. I’ve been recommending them as the makers of the best gaming keyboards since I arrived in PCGN Towers. And yet… I almost can’t bring myself to type this… and yet I don’t particularly like the K95 RGB Platinum.
The K95 Platinum is Corsair’s love letter to gaming keyboards. It should be the pinnacle of all things Corsair. It should have distilled all that is good in their range into one halo product, and then made it all even better.
But what we’ve got is a chunkier-feeling version of the old-school K95 design with a new metallic volume wheel, a wrist-rest you could bludgeon someone to death with and more RGB LEDs than you’ve had disappointing Ubisoft PC ports. Sorry, I’ll get off their back, Wildlands is a good PC port. Rubbish game, but a good PC port.
It’s probably just that it all feels rather unnecessary. The RGB element is the most obvious, with a gaudy LED strip across the top of the classic brushed aluminum base along with illuminated logo. The strip though isn’t particularly consistent with its lighting. I’ve got it set with a simple white background and across its length it colour shifts between white, pink and blue. I’ve had further colour shifts in the key-based LEDs too when I’ve had a second RGB effect (Knight Rider-style sweeping line) eventually rendering a few of the previously white LEDs an off-yellow colour.
I’ve also been continually frustrated by the Platinum’s feet too. They’re still angled to fold out sideways so they don’t fold back underneath if you slide the board backwards and forwards, but unlike the latest K70 boards they do now fold back if you shift laterally at all.
These are relatively minor niggles, and if it wasn’t meant to be a premium product I’d maybe be more forgiving. As it is though the design frustrations and flaky RGB LED colouring makes it feel a little lacking. It’s still got all the excellent functionality of the standard K95, macro’d up to the hilt, but I’m not convinced it really meets my personal Platinum standard.
Mechanism: Rocking/recline | Material: PU faux leather | Pillow: Neck and lumbar
It’s cheaper being vegan, by nearly £200 over here in the land of milk and Brexit. If you go for the PU faux leather version of Noblechairs’ EPIC Series gaming chair, and don’t fancy parking your padded posterior down on some shiny bits of dead cow, you can save a huge amount of cash. I mean, you’re still paying out the price of a quality graphics card so you can sit at home pretending you’re a pro-gamer, but the savings are there. Bit of pro consumer advice for you there.
I don’t, however, think the Noblechairs EPIC quite lives up to its capslocked billing. As I may have intimated $340 (£310) is a lot of cash to spend on somewhere to stick your bottom during a long gaming session, even if it does look like it’s been ripped out of an actual Noble sports car and mounted on its own wheels. The card, not your...
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a comfortable chair, but again I just don’t totally believe in the ‘premium quality’ messaging this chair is trying to put out. It’s relatively straight-forward enough to put together out of the massive, heavy box it arrives in, but it feels like there is a lot of plastic on display. The cover on the connections between the back and the base are kind of flappy, but my biggest issue are the paddles which control the rocking and height adjustment. It’s likely down to the ham-fisted way I go about assembling things but the too-soft plastic inside one of the paddles got so chewed up the twisting action controlling the rocking mechanism quickly became impossible to activate.
But the bonus plushy cushions to support your neck or lower lumbar make are a welcome addition and make a big difference to the long-term comfort of the chair. The base also feels very solid and is wide enough - and the armrests movable enough - to even cope with my grossly oversized behind. It is a good chair but, like the K95 Platinum, it’s the little niggles which would have me questioning whether it was really worth spending such a large sum of cash on it.
Height: 11.43cm - 44.45cm | Desk space: 75.57cm x 91.44cm | Tiers: 2
We spend too much of our lives sat down. So, instead of spending over three-hundred clams on a comfy chair to facilitate spending more time on your gluteus maximus, why not drop $395 (£365) on a desktop accessory which will encourage your onto your feet a little more?
The Varidesk ProPlus 36 is an adjustable sitting/standing desk with an entirely pleasing action to its transformation and enough extra height to deal with all but the most lofty of gamers. It’s also got enough space on its top tier to allow for either one big screen or a couple of smaller ones (or monitor and laptop) side-by-side. We’ve got a 30-inch 4K screen perched atop ours with space to spare.
The second tier is for your keyboard and mouse and this is where things get a little trickier. Your keyboard will be fine - there’s ample room for a bulky gaming board - but the limited space for your mouse will likely be more of an issue for us gamers whether we’re stood up or not. The surface was also a little tricksy for the first optical mouse I used on it and there’s barely room for a mouse mat.
I did though like the fact there is zero DIY misery in putting the Varidesk together. The box arrived in such a flat-packed form I was dreading the build process. My chubby face was split with a beaming grin on realising it arrived pre-assembled and ready to go. I’ve lost quite enough blood and fingerprints to PC and accessory building in my professional and personal life, so that's very appreciated.
Obviously the price is pretty damned prohibitive, and there are cheaper ways to ensure you don’t get deep-vein thrombosis, but the build quality is exceptional and it’s the speediest I think I’ve ever gotten any piece of furniture out from its boxed form to a functional state.
Sensor: Optical | Max DPI: 16,000 | Buttons: 7 | Weight: 105g
The DeathAdder has been Razer’s go-to optical gaming mouse, and member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, since 2006 and has appeared in various shapes and guises since then. The latest, the DeathAdder Elite, was released late last year and sports what Razer claims is the most accurate optical sensor on the planet.
Where the Pixart 3360/3366 sensor taps out at an impressively high 12,000 DPI, the Razer 5G Optical Sensor goes all the way up to 16,000 DPI. Admittedly, you’re going to need a 200-inch screen with a resolution that would make Dell’s 8K monitor blush to take advantage of the top-end of the DeathAdder Elite’s sensitivity, but you do get solid 1:1 tracking all the way along.
The Elite retains the classic DeathAdder design, with the left and right mouse buttons flared at the tips, and it feels as comfortable as ever. Like the other ‘Elite’ updates to Razer’s mice they’ve put it on a diet to give it that tournament/eSports aesthetic. Where the DeathAdder has normally been a 133g rodent Razer have shaved nearly 30g off that overall weight. That helps make it feel zippy across the desktop and with that super-accurate sensor it maintains tracking and responsiveness while you’re throwing it around too.
The DeathAdder Elite then is a great little gaming mouse and a serious wired rival to Logitech’s G900 Chaos Spectrum king.
Sensor: Optical | Max DPI: 6,000 | Buttons: 6 | Weight: 85g
At the other end of the market to Razer’s DeathAdder Elite is Corsair’s Harpoon RGB, a budget mouse that still aims to please the gaming crowd. It’s even lighter than the eSports-targeting DeathAdder Elite and yet still has RGB LEDs, because… y’know… Corsair.
The basic design of the mouse itself is well… basic, yet uses similar design beats to Corsair’s fatter M65 and my favourite two Razer mice - the Mamba and DeathAdder. But, at least to my hands, the design isn’t anywhere near so comfortable to hold. The third finger on my right hand struggles to find a decent resting spot thanks to my claw-grip. If I switch to a palm-grip it feels less awkward, so I’d recommend at least trying to get your paws on the design if you’re interested but are predominantly used to clawing your mouse.
Inside the Harpoon is a Pixart 3320 optical sensor, capable of delivering up to 6,000 DPI. The optical tracking gives you 1:1 translation of motion, with zero hardware acceleration in action (which you’ll still find on laser mice), and that means it’s still a very precise mouse. It also glides happily across your surface, though you will likely need a mat to give you the most accurate response.
Thanks to the components in play, if the ergonomic design was more suited to my particular grip I’d probably be hailing this as my favourite budget gaming mouse. But that resolutely right-handed layout seems to favour the palm-grip too heavily for me to feel that comfortable over a long gaming session or a working day.
Reviews roundup: all our in-depth tech talk
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti review
"The GTX 1080 Ti is like a giant silicon middle-finger to anyone who dropped the cash on a Titan X."
- Zotac VR GO review
"For all the VR GO's marketing material of folk doing backflips VR freedom sadly isn't really tether-free."
- AOC AGON AG352QCX review
"If I’d spent anywhere near £600 on this monitor I think I’d probably be a bit disappointed with my purchase."
- Asus ROG Strix Z270i Gaming review
"A mighty fine, no-compromise 200-series board, perfect for the micro gaming rig you’ve always wanted."
- Viewsonic XG2703 review
"The sweet spot for imagery, clarity and gaming performance is the 1440p level and the Viewsonic XG2703 is one of the best you can pick up today."
- Intel SSD 600p 512GB review
"Marking Intel's assault on the mainstream storage market with the first genuinely affordable PCIe-based NVMe drive."