GGPC Recommends

Good Gaming Headset – CM MasterPulse MH320

The MasterPulse MH320 is a new Gaming Headset option from Cooler Master, an over-ear headset with perfectly angled leather ear cups on a springy, flexible steel frame that’s extremely lightweight. The angle of the earcups is somewhat unique in the way that it fits, having this slight tilt allows for your ears to be enveloped, providing full cup coverage without pressing down on the back of your ear – CM get another point here for making the cups themselves slightly deeper than most. The headset is all black, with no extras like LED lighting or ear cup volume controls to be seen, it doesn’t require special drivers and connects via 2x 3mm cables. On this cable you’ll find in-line volume and mute controls for the mic – and this mic is where Cooler Master really got things right!

In order to really test this microphone out we’ve jumped into a quick game of Overwatch choosing a combo of Bastian and Reinhardt to encourage a little team communication 🙂 We are side by side in this test and if you listen closely you can hear a little echo but not much – nicely done Cooler Master! 

Even though the MH320 is clearly designed to be a low-cost Gaming Headset option, the microphone of the MH320 is solid, it does indeed amplify your voice while ignoring the other sounds around you (like that sweet mechanical keyboard) and does this by utilizing a sensitive, boom microphone which boosts mic clarity and sensitivity while reducing background noises – it gives your voice a little robotic clang but really does do what matters, boosting your voice while eliminating sounds coming from other sources.  

UPDATE: 20These new Cooler Master MH320 Gaming Headsets are available in New Zealand now! Keep your eyes on the GGPC PC Gaming Blog as we check out more great Cooler Master gear, Gaming Headsets and more!

GAME ON!

Good Gaming Laptop – The GTX 1050 Ti Aero 14!

Recently we managed to get our hands on a very new gaming laptop from Gigabyte, an ultra slim and light AERO 14 with a GTX 1050 Ti inside! This was perfect as we really wanted to check out the GTX 1050Ti Laptop performance a game called Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, but before we jump into gameplay FPS tests let’s take a quick look at the laptops full specs and design.

The Aero 14 is ultra thin and light, weighing in at around 2KG while being less than 2cm thick – it’s packing a popular intel i7-7700HQ quad core CPU with a 4GB GTX 1050Ti and 16GB of DDR4 ram. The display is a beautiful anti-glare 2560×1440 IPS, edged entirely in black with just a dash of orange and carbon fibre on the back of the laptop.

Inputs and Outputs…

3x USB 3.0
1x Mini DisplayPort
1x HDMI 2.0 (4K savvy)
1x ThunderBolt 3!
1x 3.5mm Audio Combo (headphone and mic)

In addition to these, it also has a built in webcam and microphone which is good, a Kensington lock point and a nice white LED backlit keyboard for late night gaming. That ThunderBolt 3 port is great to see too, you can use these to attach an external graphics card boosting the power of your gaming laptop into that of top tier of desktop gaming systems!

Performance is general use is excellent, with the NVMe M.2 SSD inside booting into Windows 10 took around 4 seconds, with battery life under extreme load (playing Path of Exile while live streaming via OBS with FaceRig running) which gave us just over an hour (1 hour 1 min 17 seconds) – as a side note here, gaming performance is excellent on battery with the Aero 14, we recorded everything including the 20% battery tipping point when a laptop will automatically switch from the Nvidia graphics to intel integrated – let us know if you want to see this and we’ll cut out the boring bits then upload for you to check out on YouTube 🙂

Must be time to jump into some PUBG! (literally)

The game begins with an airdrop onto the island where 100 players proceed to battle it out until the last man standing is declared the winner. We specifically captured the 60-second gameplay video below to include the parachute landing, item grabbing and a player kill, while in a level with the heavy rain weather effect active.

This is because we’ve heard from players having issues on low/mid range systems, specifically when the player first lands, the specific issue being that the buildings and items have not entirely loaded in! This would almost certainly lead to disaster as these opening moments are a rush for weapons to defend yourself with.

As you can see in the video below, the Aero 14 GTX 1050 Ti Gaming Laptop has no such issues and we are able to gear up even in this densely contested area 🙂

We then continued straight on from the gameplay above, dodging crazy people with crowbars and getting into firefights – we even managed to get flash-banged yet survived!

For all tests we ran with the fans set to auto, you can use the included Gigabyte Smart Manager software package to tweak this but auto works perfectly, ramping up and down the fan speeds when needed.

Overall we’ve loved spending time with this laptop, the design is so nice and physical build is of the highest quality, the intel/nvidia hardware combination is superb and that Pantone certified display, along with the Dolby speakers is both suprising and beautiful. Best of all though, now that we’ve had a really good go with the new GTX 1050 Ti Gaming Laptop we can happily give it our GGPC Recommends Award – The Gigabyte Aero 14 GTX 1050 Ti is GOOD!

Good Gaming Laptop – Gigabyte 120Hz P57x V7!

New Toys!

We got very lucky and had the chance to test drive the latest 17.3″ Gigabyte GTX 1070 Gaming Laptop, well, not that exact version actually – ours came with a very quick 120Hz display!

As we uploaded our first GGPC YouTube video however, we realised this was going to be a tough one to show you… the problem being that our maximum frame rate using the built-in Nvidia Shadowplay Game Capture is just 60FPS and the frames displayed on our screen were going as high as 120FPS!

With the Destiny 2 BETA underway we decided to jump in and see what this awesome laptop could do, testing first to see what our base FPS would be like at 1080p with low settings before tweaking upwards to get our 60FPS target on the highest settings possible, we found the best settings for this in Destiny 2 on the P57Xv7 was to run with MSAA turned on (crazy heavy!) and high settings across the board with textures tweaked up to the highest settings.

If we turned the MSAA setting down to SMAA our framerate skyrocketed upwards allowing us to capture between 90-120 FPS even with the resolution increased to 2560×1440, we are using the in-built FPS counter, found within the gameplay settings tab in Destiny 2, but we’ve also captured another test with our temperature and CPU/GPU usage stats up top left if you’re interested in checking these out.

Jumping into some Overwatch we turned everything up that we could, customising the EPIC preset to increase the antialiasing quality right up to ULTRA – SMAA HIGH (odd that epic doesn’t include this as standard right?) and also pushed our resolution all the way to 2560×1440. It’s nice that this higher resolution is available (some P57x models even have 4K!) and even better still to see that still supported a blazing 120Hz! Even with these extremely high settings though we still spent most of our time enjoying a crisp 90FPS, which, after experiencing the super visuals on the laptop itself, just isn’t done justice in the video below!

From here we decided to move into some Battlefield 1 and encountered a similar issue, even at the highest settings with our resolution set to 2560×1440 we were getting frame rates well into the 80’s – lucky for us the map rotation eventually swung around to the Amiens City which is notoriously heavy late game and we were able to snap a quick shadowplay with plenty of explosions, tanks, players and smoke everywhere helping to drop our FPS around 60 🙂

From here we moved into testing out our favourite space sim at the moment – the still-in-development Star Citizen \o/ We played with the settings for a while and found the best setup (right now, it changes with each update) is to play at 1080P with the graphics preset on HIGH. This gives you all the coolest effects like ambient occlusion and also adds some extra definition to the “space clouds” which I feel gives you something to visually gauge your speed and direction – turning things down to the lower preset does free up around 20 more FPS though so we captured a quick Shadowplay for those settings as well.

We decided to round off our gaming tests with a bit of Black Desert Online and set off on an adventure! Finding ourselves in an Orc village at dawn with rain pelting down we tweaked our settings for a smooth and beautiful combat experience at 1440p 🙂

Gaming performance aside there are a lot of things to like about this laptop, yet again the build quality is good with very little flex on the screen, the hinges on the screen are robust (and still orange) and if you tip the laptop upside-down you’ll see the impressive dual exhaust cooling system which, when at 100% speed (a setting we highly doubt you’ll use, auto is fine) has a noise output that is reminiscent of the noise from a kettle boiling. It’s packing most of the features we look for in a modern system like AC Wireless, Bluetooth, USB Type C, and HDMI 2.0 for 4K 60FPS, sadly no DisplayPort this time but ours did have a Blu Ray drive hidden on the front! The laptop has a nice white LED keyboard backlight that can be switched between half strength, full, off and of course auto mode which adjusts to suit the lighting around you

Battery on the P57Xv7 lasted us 1 hour & 11 mins at full brightness while looping videos which was excellent, we ran all the tests above with the fan profile set to auto which revs the cooling up and down as needed. As with our previous tests with the P57Xv6 we again set out to restrict airflow so we could see when things started to throttle and noted 90 degrees as the tipping point to watch with the CPU usage – during these high temps we still had no system crashes or instability.

Overall it’s been a pleasure to game with, and the Gigabyte P57Xv7 with it’s GTX 1070 + i7-7700HQ combo is most definitely good – on that note we happily give this fine gaming laptop our GGPC recommends award – the P57Xv7 is GOOD!

We’ll keep testing all the way upto 4K 🙂 Keep your eyes on our GGPC Computers Blog for more!

Good Gaming PC Case – The SilverStone RVZ-03 Mini

Another great SilverStone chassis called the RVZ-03 has just landed in New Zealand and we couldn’t resist opening it up to see what improvements they’ve made over the already excellent Raven series we’ve been loving since it’s original release back in 2014!

Starting off with the packaging this little chassis comes in a very sturdy black box which is easiest to open up from the large flat sides, rather than the top like regular sized cases we usually see. Once you’ve opened it up you’ll see a neatly foam packed chassis inside, enclosed within a scratch safe protective black bag.

Removing the outer protective packaging and opening every up reveals a massive assortment of goodies inside, all neatly arranged within clear bags. Amongst all this we’ve got all our essential screws, cable ties and brackets but also SilverStone have included 3x magnetic fan dust filters which are great to see, especially considering this small form-factor gaming chassis is very likely going to end up in the living room 🙂

Taking a closer look at the chassis itself we find an additional 2x 120mm low profile fans have been included with this case, both along the graphics card bay. These SilverStone LP fans are thin but extremely good at both moving air (1500rpm) and remaining pretty quiet (800rpm sweet spot) – which is quite the task for any small build like this as the CPU and GPU chambers can get pretty warm when you’re gaming – from our previous experience building in small chassis, the graphics card fans have to work quite hard and without adequate ventilation like this, they can get pretty darn hot!

Even though it’s really small the case is able to fit long graphics cards up to 33cm long, including aftermarket versions with various degrees of thickness still fitting (we’ll check just how fat you can go in our first build) and to hold these firmly in place you’ll find a four pack of 3M adhesive domes that can be positioned as needed to hold your chosen graphics card securely.

For the CPU bay we have space for cooling options up to 8.3cm tall, so if you’re thinking of grabbing a new Ryzen 3, the included Wraith Spire cooler is going to fit, Ryzen motherboard wise with the case having ITX form factor we recommend getting something like the GA-AB350N which also features WiFi onboard.  

When choosing a power supply for your build you’ll also need to ensure this fits within the 15cm caddy, something like the EVGA SuperNOVA 550w is perfect – going modular here will free up more space inside your build for better airflow.

The RVZ-03 Mini PC Case has two front USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case along with twin 3.5mm ports, for connecting a gaming headset, but this latest version now also sports a really nice looking RGB trim along the front which is connected to an included LSB01 RGB controller!

We can’t wait to show you our mini PC builds with this exciting new case (as I write this we’ve already begun building some cool GTX 1050Ti, GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 builds with a range of different power supplies) and will update this blog with pictures from each, but anyways – onto the best bit – Those talented engineers at SilverStone have created an exceptionally good chassis here, not only is this one of the best options for building a small Gaming PC, but they’ve improved upon their already excellent Raven mini series by allowing for that larger power supply to be fitted, often reducing the total system cost and providing more options to those wanting to build a PC that’s small. The RGB lighting is nice to see also (pun intended), even more so with such a nice controller included in the kit, combine that with the 3x 120mm fans included and the value of the chassis really shines – on that note we happily give this case our GGPC Recommends Award  – The SilverStone RVZ-03 is GOOD!

Good Gaming PC Case – Phanteks EVOLV SHIFT

Those talented techs at Phanteks have created a new addition to the now iconic EVOLV series with two new chassis joining the range, these latest offerings are known as the EVOLV SHIFT and they’re looking really good! All up there are four versions of these new chassis, with two colour options (the black Evolv Shift looks amazing) and two unique sizes available.

The superb craftsmanship of the Evolv Shift can be seen in every detail, although extremely compact compared to the mid sized chassis we often see, the Shift delivers a versatile space in which we can pack in plenty of powerful components –  and pack them in we did!

For our first build in the smaller Shift chassis, we grabbed the Gigabyte B250N ITX Pheonix motherboard which conveniently has wireless built in, a 2 x 8GB kit of G.Skill Trident Z and a little SFX power supply from Corsair. With the large windows running down both sides and providing such a nice view we opted to replace our intel stock cooler with the Phanteks TC12LS low profile cooler, having used this previously in our CM Pro 6 RGB Sync test build we yet again replaced the standard fan with a very nice RGB one to really light things up, graphics wise even the smallest version of this chassis can fit a full-length (35cm) card inside but it’s important to note that even though we absolutely love the massive Aorus 1080Ti its triple slot form factor was a just a little too large for this one 😛

Building with the Shift is easier than most small cases due to the way they’ve separated it into different areas, the top of the chassis is where you mount your motherboard and a PCIe extender then attaches to another space behind this where you will fit your graphics card – with the smaller Shift, if you go with a dual fan graphics card it can be fitted backplate facing either in or out, with the longer triple fan cards we found the best fit is backplate out – keep that in mind when choosing which card to build with 😛

This leaves a fairly large space in the lower compartment which lets the air flow in and upwards, you could easily fit a 120mm AiO liquid cooling kit in here if you wanted too. While the power supply has its own special output on the base of the build all your outputs from the motherboard and graphics card come out at the top of the case hidden beneath a push-to-release cover panel which serves as the primary airflow output vent, there is a little hole on the rear of this area that cables can be routed through.

You can check out our builds in the Phanteks EVOLV Shift this weekend at the TechXpo in Auckland, we’ll also update with lots of pictures of the builds from the event so keep your eyes on the GGPC PC Gaming Blog and our GGPC Instagram for the latest!

Good Gaming Gear – Logitech G PowerPlay Wireless Mouse Charging Mouse Pad!

UPDATE: PowerPlay is available in NZ now!

Wireless Gaming Mice are good, the only real worry we have is that the charge might run out right at that critical moment when gaming, denying us our glorious Pentakill – which is why GGPC use wired mice in competitive play.

Over the years talented techs have researched and released a bunch of different methods and technologies to improve battery life of our wireless devices, offering up solutions like charging cables rather than docks so you can charge as you use it – but that’s not really the point of wireless now is it 😛 The perfect solution would be never having to plug in at all, and with induction chargers for Smartphones being a common thing now it’s plausible to have your mouse pad charge your mouse – right? The biggest issues apparently are around the requirement for very precise placement, and being unable to deliver charge while the device is moving.

or should we say “were“…

Those incredible engineers at Logitech G have figured it all out, they’ve got something totally new –  and they’re calling it POWERPLAY.

POWERPLAY creates an electromagnetic energy field over a large surface area – so you don’t have to rest your gaming mouse on a tiny charging target. This field is captured and transformed into charging current by the included POWERCORE module, which attaches magnetically to the underside of a compatible gaming mouse in place of the existing weight door. It’s designed to keep charging even through high-speed flick shots or lifting and repositioning, and its base is only 2mm thick – so it’s comfortable to use as a gaming surface, the induction charging works right through both the soft and hard mouse pads as well so whatever surface you want to use it’s going to be savvy 🙂

Logitech has made the setup process super easy, clipping in the POWERCORE battery bit into your mouse is done magnetically and this aligns to the charging points on the battery for you, you can press down on a little circle for quick release and hot-swap between the weightless POWERCORE included with POWERPLAY and the 10G weighted version that comes with the G703.

Currently, the technology is set to work with two of our favourite Logitech G Wireless Gaming Mice – namely the G900, and absolutely epic G403. Both are getting an update as well with the new POWERPLAY ready versions being named the new G903 and G703, in addition to that sweeeeet POWERPLAY compatibility, both of them feature upgraded microswitches rated to 50 million clicks (vs 20 million in the previous version).

Logitech G POWERPLAY is an amazing solution jamm packed with the latest technologies, but the best bit is how simple it is to set up and use, and how easily you’ll forget about the dark times…. when you used to have to charge your mouse 🙂

Keep your eyes on the GGPC PC Gaming Blog and the Logitech G Store for the latest!

 

Good Gaming Keyboard – The Logitech G Pro TKL RGB!

The Logitech G Pro TKL RGB is the first to carry the name Pro, a keyboard is designed and built to the exacting standards of some of the world’s top eSports athletes – we’ve used it’s spiritual precursor, the G310 in many gaming tournaments and found it to be excellent!

Featuring Logitech’s own exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches – purpose-built for pro-grade performance, responsiveness and durability these have a very short actuation point at just 1.5mm making them around 25% faster than a standard mechanical switch. A perfect blend of speed, precision and quiet performance, the Romer-G is the stealth assassin of mechanical gaming keyboard switches 🙂

The compact tenkeyless design which frees up tournament table space for low-sens mouse movement, and a detachable cable for easy transportation to the next tournament. Durability is built into every component and reinforced by a super-strong steel backplate that adds stability and rigidity to gameplay.

To improve performance even further, Logitech focused on KSP (Keystroke Signal Processing) which is the sequence of events that translates a switch actuation into a USB signal. To make the Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard ultra responsive, they’ve optimised the KSP to be up to 10ms faster response than the competition. Speed isn’t just in the key switch, it’s the entire system starting with the switch actuation, KSP, and then report rate.

Using Logitech Gaming Software you can customise every key manually but there is also a massive range of lighting profiles available for over 300 different games. We highly recommend you enable ‘Automatic Game Detection’ in the Logitech Gaming Software to have them automatically display on the Pro Keyboard when the game launches – when Mass Effect Andromeda launched we were surprised with a very cool custom A logo on our keyboards during loading which was pretty crazy cool and once you get in-game it just gets cooler by lighting up all the keys you’ll need in your gaming session 🙂

Combine all this with smart little touches like a removable USB connection, killer macro management and those oh-so-perfect height adjusting rubber tipped feet and you’ve got the Logitech G Pro TKL RGB Gaming Keyboard!

GAME ON!

Good Gaming Headset – Logitech G233 Prodigy

That awesome design team at Logitech G have just made a headset that ticks all the boxes for a gamer on the go, the G233 is a new gaming headset with removable boom microphone and interchangeable in-line controls that’s perfect for gaming on your PC and also doubles as a sweet set of headphones for console, mobile or anything else you want to do 🙂 The audio drivers in these are optimised for both analog and digital sound reproduction so it doesn’t really matter what you connect them to, games, music, movies – they all sound great!

Intended to be taken everything so you can play anywhere the G233 headset is understandably very durable, with a sports mesh that’s removable and washable – best of all though they lightweight and extremely comfortable making them ideal for just about anything. The boom microphone is noise-cancelling with a micro-pop filter to help ensure clarity when on comms, you can actually have this connected along with the in-line mobile cable and enjoy some pretty clear vocals if you’re using the discord app on your phone.

These fine headphones aren’t the only new thing Logitech G have on the table either, if you’re on the hunt for 7.1 surround sound when gaming on PC check out the new G433 in black and blue!

GAME ON! 

 

Good Gaming Laptop – HP Omen GTX 1050 AX!

If you’re on the hunt for a well priced, somewhat classy, gaming laptop that’s good – definitely check out the latest HP Omen AX which packs the excellent 4GB GTX 1050 Graphics + intel i7-7700HQ combo into a very tidy 15″ package 🙂

The current configuration for this one (AX246TX is the exact model) available now in New Zealand sports a 1TB Hard Drive and also 256GB of extremely fast NVMe M.2 Storage along with 16GB of 2400MHz DDR4 ram to ensure smooth performance while you’re multitasking. Although it’s quite thin the Bang & Olufsen dual speakers can still pump out some glorious audio and the built-in wide vision webcam allows you to keep everyone in frame when video calling friends or family.

It’s got all the extras we look for in a modern laptop too, essentials like an HDMI output for gaming on the big TV are there but they’ve also made sure to include handy tech like Bluetooth 4.2 and dual band AC wireless which is great to see. The keyboard is full sized with a num-pad and glows with a red LED backlight that shines right through the letters for clean even look that’s pretty perfecto and to top it all off the 1920×1080 IPS screen is anti-glare 🙂

It’s going to be a lot of fun comparing this one to our recent tests with the Sabre 15 below as the internal specs here are the same, keep your eyes on our PC Gaming Blog and our GGPC YouTube Channel for the latest!

Good Gaming PC Case – CM MasterBox Lite 5 Dark Mirror

Another great Cooler Master chassis called the MasterBox Lite 5 has just landed in New Zealand and we couldn’t resist opening it up to see what improvements they’ve made over the already excellent MasterBox 5 Dark Mirror which we fell in love with just a few months back 🙂

Starting off with the packaging it’s pretty standard stuff coming in a nice brown box with handles which, once opened, reveals a foam packed chassis inside, you can faintly see the transparency of the dark mirror front panel within the protective bag.

Removing the outer protective packaging we can see that the two dark mirror areas have a secondary protective layer on them also, with the window panel the screw holes are also fitted with rubber protectors and there is a subtle pattern along the edges. We had a bit of a funny moment during our first build when we were re-attaching this panel (upside down it turned out) and it we couldn’t quite align it – so yep turn it around if that happens to you, just letting y’all know!

Inside we find a handy little instruction booklet, warranty card and an assortment of essential screws and handy zip ties full cable management, the little brown box inside however has something really very cool – two optional colour plates for the front panel are included with the chassis!

Swapping out the coloured trims is an easy process with screws and clips holding everything in place but the best bit is Cooler Master didn’t stop there, those fine folks know the community has awesome ideas of their own so with that in mind, they’ve made 3D printing schematics for both the top and bottom trim available right away and you can download the files for 3D Printing your own MasterBox Lite 5 parts here \o/ Fun times ahead!

Looking at the main body now we find an included 120mm fan pre-mounted on the rear exhaust which sports a nice all-black 3-pin cable to keep things looking good. Along the top we don’t have any mounting holes for fans but the front is savvy for mounting an additional 3x 120mm intakes or a massive radiator for a killer water cooled system.

Everything has a clean black coating, even the dual USB ports are dark grey instead of the usual blue and they’ve made things great for system builder by adding the common little details like the good tool-less drive trays (the ones with the sliders) and also the not-so-common ones like the power supply bracket which is just wonderful to see.

Build wise we’ve dived right in and created a nice red/black themed Ryzen 5 + GTX 1060 system to test it all out for ourselves, with the PSU shield now extending all the way to the front and the brilliant worked done by CM design with those additional cable management slots along the right of the motherboard we were able to make a nice and tidy Gaming PC in this chassis extremely quickly, it’s a absolute pleasure to build with!

We can’t wait to do more builds (as I write this we’ve already done some quick GTX 1050Ti, GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 builds with a range of different Ryzen) and we even setup the cameras during our first build so we’ll be adding a quick timelapse to this blog soon enough but anyways – onto the best bit – Cooler Master have created an exceptionally good chassis here, not only does it look amazing and sport those neat little trim mods that are super easy to tweak but everything is just right on the inside and on that note we happily give this case our GGPC Recommends Award  – The MasterBox Lite 5 is GOOD!