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MSI Z97 XPOWER AC – Extreme Overclocking for the new Haswell

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Introduction – MSI Z97 Xpower Oh Overclocking, it seems to be whats makes the world go round some days and something that many motherboard manufacturers have really started to embrace as easier ways were found to do it. It used to be back in the old days (not that long ago but it makes it feel more special to reference as so) that overclocking required a ton of work, modding and hacking away at things to make it happen. Now days overclocking is simple, they even have buttons to do overclocks for you. And with recent chipset and CPU revisions it has become a game of binning chips to find a good one rather than tuning all night  and days on end with a QX9650 because you know theres more in it, or getting a specific board because it tends to clock better. At least for now those days are gone ... Read More »

MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC – MSI’s top tier gaming offering for the Haswell refresh

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Introduction – MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC MSI looks to be hitting Z97 pretty hard with not just a gaming board but a full line along with OC series boards and even standard boards so now this begs the question. If offering so many SKU’s will it pay off in better customer satisfaction byhaving plenty of options of models to meet their needs or will it be a case of too many options and actually confuse the consumers? That is one of the risks board manufacturers take when they start to expand to multiple lines each with growing numbers of options and SKU’s. Now to the board we have today which is the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC which is the top end of the MSI gaming series models. The AC moniker denotes the addition of 802.11 AC WiFi to the mix ensuring absolute connectivity solutions.   The board comes in at ... Read More »

Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 – mATX Gaming Muscle from Gigabyte

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 Introduction – Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 Gigabyte is a well-known name in the component industry and for good reason as they have made motherboards and graphics cards for a very long time. Among them some great boards such as the X58 OC board, some great P45 boards and I’m sure many more I’m not thinking of. For Z97 they have a multitude of offerings from their entry-level, their gaming series and finally their OC based variants which have extreme OC features based around being able to push the limits. Today we have in hand the Z97MX-Gaming 5 which is a mATX model board from the Gaming line and with this includes some very cool gaming based features to help make for a better overall gaming PC build and experience. The board comes in at a price of $117.99 on Newegg, this is at the time of writing and after some rebate deals we have seen ... Read More »

Intel Core i7 4790K – Haswell gets a refresh

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Say Hello To Devils Canyon and the 4790K Devils Canyon is here, and well honestly has been here for a while but upon starting the writing for this article I struggled alot with how to start it as like we have seen many times recently with Intel, this is another refresh which too many raises the question of “Why bother” when we can just wait for the next-gen part for major changes. Well of any refresh in quite some time that I have seen this one promises to bring some real changes and even more so real proof that Intel does listen to its customer base and implements things to make that user base happy.. One way we had proof of this “listening to customers” can be seen some time ago when they announced the enthusiasts protection plan where you can pay a nominal fee and you are protected even ... Read More »

Hardware for Mobile Gaming

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Over the years mobile gaming has evolved, from the large dubiously heavy handheld devices that could be used more as a hammer than a communication device. Then fast forward a few years to the era of the near-invincible Nokia and other strange phone sub-species, like the side-kick, palm pilot and even the old Motorola flip out. Now we have the mainstream phones of the Androids and IOS, two tech giants that have become the best thing to happen to gaming since wireless controllers. A new generation of smartphones that can provide new games on a graphical par with the consoles of yesteryear. It’s truly phenomenal how the game development cycle in mobiles has exploded in the last ten years. No longer do we play just play Snake or Tetris, instead now games like Dead Trigger, Angry Birds and even the occasional bingo game. These recent advancements have had such an impact that according ... Read More »

Sapphire R9 280X VaporX Graphics Card

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Sapphire Radeon R9-280X VaporX Sapphire as we all know is AMDs premier partner so we always see cool stuff coming from them, but honestly we had already seen a VaporX 280X so we have all simply been waiting for what would come next such as the much rumored 295X or another 290X iteration. To my surprise I got hands on with a newer VaporX 280X model card which is actually a whole new configuration and looks very much like the Toxic model we looked at some time ago now sporting the Tri-X cooler. However this card carries blue hints instead of the orange from the Toxic model which actually looks really good in my opinion. Add to this the fact that the Tri-X cooler now also employs Sapphires signature Vapor Chamber design which is what the VaporX naming is all about. The Vapor Chamber from previous testing always helps pull ... Read More »

Cyberpower Zeus Mini – Pushing the limits with huge power in a very small package!

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Introduction PC Gaming is here and here to stay but with the ease of use or easy plugging in and playability of consoles it really makes for a much easier to enter market for consumers. Sometimes we as enthusiasts lose sight of the fact that most users do not know how to build a PC and are not going to learn as they simply are not as into the hardware side as we are. This is not a bad thing they simply enjoy other hobbies and while the PC DIY market is strong there simply are a lot more users out there who do nto know how to build it and will pay to have a system built. Unfortunately a lot of times off the shelf systems from big box stores end up tin the playing field due to easy accessibility and cost, but not just that also lack of ... Read More »

MSI Radeon R9 290X Gaming

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MSI Radeon R9-290X Gaming We have seen many MSI custom PCB or fully custom PCB or even just custom cooled cards and they always impress with some very nice temps along with looking pretty awesome as well. The gaming series carries the Red/Black theme with a custom Twin Frozr model cooler and offers usually a nice overclock with some really good gaming performance to offer some amazing framerates for the end-user. The card we have today needs no introduction as the R9-290X from AMD made a big splash when it entered the market although not all of the noise was good as users quickly found that the reference cards were plagued with massive heat from a simply inadequate cooler design. Well that being the case we do know that the Twin Frozr cooler design does very well at removing heat so the 290X is naturally a perfect candidate for testing ... Read More »

Corsair Vengeance Gaming Gear From Digital Storm!

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  Corsair Gaming Gear From Digital Storm Corsair is a well-known brand at this point in the PC DIY sector and as a natural progression in an attempt to meet the total solution package for end users they have started to make a move into many extra markets beyond just DRAM where they first started. As a result they have moved into things such as core components (Case, Power and Cooler) along with now progressing into gaming peripherals. Today we have a chance to look at a full gaming gear set from the team at Digital storm which is now a partner with Corsair, so the gear you see here today are all available as accessories to the high-end systems offerings from the team at Digital Storm.   Corsair Vengeance M65 Gaming Mouse First up is the Corsair Vengeance M65 Gaming Mouse which is not their top model so to ... Read More »

Func HS-260 Gaming headset

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We recently reviewed the Func KB-460, an inexpensive but still great gamer keyboard from the company Func. Today we are looking at yet another gamer-related peripheral from the company, the Func HS-260 Gaming Headset. The HS-260 is a stereo-headset that comes with several types of ear-cushions, flexible cord-solution as well as a low price. Is this yet another winner from Func or will the HS-260 let us down? Read on to find out. FEATURES The Func HS-260 is a fairly standard gaming headset. Driver 50mm, tuned and paired Accoustic construction Closed Frequency response 20-20 000 Hz Impedance 32 Ohm Cable lenght 3 M Connection 2×3.5 mm This is not a virtual surround sound headset with extra software that connects to USB, no this is a regular stereo headset that comes with regular 3.5mm plugs and thus can be used both on a PC and any other device that uses a ... Read More »

Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHZ Edition Review, Super Overclock is now sleeker and cooler!

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Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition Gigabyte has made some definite noise in the graphics side over the past few years, and with the Super Overclock series being the top horse in the Gigabyte stable we always saw soem great performance from them, well it looks like Gigabyte has changed the Super Overclock to GHz edition in the 780 Ti model card and all I can say is WOW! The name GHz edition honestly does not make alot of sense due to the cards clockspeed being far above this, and lets not forget that also AMD had recently had GHz edition cards in its AMD lineup just further muddies the water a bit. Overall the uber top clock and top binned models for the 780 Ti version from Gigabyte are gonna be GHz edition models although with the level of clock afforded to them I think this is gonna be ... Read More »

MSI Goes Mini! Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Mini ITX Gaming Review!

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Introduction – MSI Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Gaming Mini MSI’s gaming line has now seen a few entries for board and GPU models and this set I have to say is extremely interesting as these models are made for the very popular mini PC builds which are becoming very popular. Mini ITX systems are growing greatly in popularity as smaller systems become much more powerful and solutions like this are very interesting as it specially builds specific targeted models based around a small sized build. starting with a Z87 board with gaming feature sets and also a GTX 760 card which is a great price/performance model built to a size to fit within a super compact Mini ITX chassis.   The board comes in at a MSRP of $200.00 whereas the GTX 760 ITX model comes in at $269.99 both of which are rather reasonable when you consider some ... Read More »

The Black is Back! ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Review

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Introduction – ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Echoes of AC/DC ring in my head as I came up with this title, and it took everything in me not to have about a thousand different “Back in black” references but I think we can survive a few. ASUS seems to reserve its “Black Edition” moniker for very special models as im sure some of you saw back when we got a chance to check out the Rampage III Black edition board based on the X58 chipset. That thing was a flat out beast and from looking at the specs on paper the Rampage IV Black edition is no different. Well we can say that in a manner of speaking as it looks to be a flat out beast but it is in terms entirely different as the technology on this board is seemingly light years ahead of the previous generation Black ... Read More »

MSI GTX 780 Ti Gaming! Even more cooling power to push the Ti Limits!

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MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming MSI has always entered the graphics game with some excellent twin Frozr based models and even a lightning here and there to really spice it up! If I had to sum up MSI’s specialty it would be making graphics models with a better cooling solution and also boosting the VRM a tick to ensure it can withstand loading if they find a weakness in the stock design. However in the case of the 780 Ti we know that the reference model was obscenely capable with massive overclocking potential with its stock components, well apparently MSI noticed that as well and with that they passed us one of their GTX 780 Ti Gaming model cards which is based on the reference PCB. The Card is not completely stock though as it employs a Twin Frozr IV cooler to ensure that the new GPU boost algorithm ... Read More »

Biostar Z87X 3D Motherboard Review

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Introduction – Biostar Z87X 3D Motherboard Biostar is one of those names you hear about but not as common as the “bigger” players in the component game but regardless of this they have a decent share in the more cost conscious market which is actually a very large segment to live in. Also on previous mainstream enthusiasts boards I have been rather impressed with the performance/price ratio the Biostar boards are able to pull in comparison to some of the higher priced competitors. Today we have Biostar’s top Z87 model which integrates their HiFi audio solution for a great audio experience should you use this for a multimedia or gaming board this one should be up for the task. The one thing that did surprise me is the lack of SLI support which means your talking single Nvidia card or crossfire depending upon your needs, but from what i have ... Read More »

MSI Z87M Gaming Micro ATX Motherboard Review

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Introduction – MSI Z87M Gaming MSI has already had a few entries of its gaming line for Z87 and now there is a third with the board we are looking at today the Z87M Gaming. This board is the mATX version for those looking for a smaller form factor gaming grade board. We have looked at the gaming series boards and they have proven quite capable while also offering a nice feature set at a great value.   The board comes in at a MSRP of $159.99, which is reasonably competitive but now lets take a look at the feature set and what this board has to offer which will making midsize gaming builders want to drop their dollars in this direction instead of any other option.   Features & Specifications Military Class Components When MSI puts military class components to the fire they are not joking as they come ... Read More »

Powercolor Radeon R9-290X

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Powercolor Radeon R9-290X OC Powercolor has been a long time AMD partner and like the Devil card we looked at recently they have made a name for themselves with many special edition including high end liquid cooled cards. Today I have their OC version of the 290X which has a small bump to the boost clock of the card which should net us some nice performance, but first things first. As you know the 290X launched a little while ago and unfortunately AMD had a very strict list of places they sent cards to, well this means that this is a bit behind what you may have already read on the card but since the card is already launched it also means I get to spend a bit more time with it rather than rushing to meet an NDA date. With that I would like to note that there will ... Read More »

Powercolor Radeon R9-270X Devil

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Powercolor Radeon R9-270X Devil Powercolor is one of the AMD partners that you see from time to time and they are really known for such designs as the Devil series cards which really shot them into the limelight for the AMD camp about a year or so back now. Well today we have in hand a newer “Devil” based model in the R9-270X Devil. The Devil edition is always known as the extreme performance variant and this is no exception with the telltale triple fan cooler, red/black cladding and full backplate carrying the design to the upper echelon in the looks department and the performance department is no slouch either. The R9-270X comes in at a retail price of $239.99 directly from Newegg at the time of this writing. this places it at the very top of the price stack for the 270X models which can range from around $199 ... Read More »

Patriot Viper 32GB Low Profile Memory Kit Review

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Introduction Patriot being in the memory game for some time always has some tricks up its sleeve so to see them join the “Low profile” game is really cool. Now to clarify obviously these are not the low profile spec in terms of PCB or sub 18mm sticks, these are simply low profile heatspreaders compared to the standard version viper series. This low profile cooler design does shave 11mm off the total height giving over 25% smaller module which should mean good things for those running larger air coolers as we all know what happens when 2 pieces of matter attempt to occupy the same space. Just like the Black Mamba kit I looked at recently these sticks are MFR modules as well so i will be putting this on my Haswell based rig to see exactly how far it can go. Being that its a 4 stick high density ... Read More »

ASUS Maximus VI Impact Mini ITX Motherboard Review

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Introduction – ASUS Maximus VI Impact The ASUS Z87 series is far from over as something we have today is something people have been asking for some time for ASUS to produce. Being as the PC world is going through a trend of smaller systems it started with lanBox style systems and mATX boards and now many are moving to even smaller mITX form factors. Today we have the Maximus VI Impact which is the first ROG mITX offering and I can honestly say just looking at the board and the features it offers if it all works as expected I could see this very much meeting or even exceeding the expectations of the groups of fans who have been asking for a ITX solution for high end gaming mini builds.   The Maximus VI Impact comes to market at $229.99 directly from Newegg at the time of writing which ... Read More »

ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard Review

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Introduction – ASUS Maximus  VI Formula The Z87 lineup has moved along quickly and now we have had a few months to let things settle and the platform is still getting new boards trickling in like a few I got here just recently one of them being the one I have today. The new Maximus VI Formula which carries with it many cool toys and features among its bag of tricks which the formula always seems to carry. While the Extreme board in ROG line is always seen as the upper echelon of performance and features I think more real world features or should I say usable features always seem to be on the Formula things such as awesome audio solutions and the like which are more beneficial to the gamer while the Extreme has always had extreme overclocking centric feature sets which will still work as a gaming board ... Read More »

Valve announces SteamOS

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Valve have been hinting about some big Linux Steam-news this week and today the first of three announcements (the rest coming on Wednesday and possibly on Friday) was unleashed: the birth of SteamOS, their own Linux-based OS that is supposed to support game streaming from a Windows or Mac PC. Related posts: I’ve seen the future and it is game streaming For a week I have had a imported Nvidia Shield at home. I’ve been busy... Read More »

ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II OC

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ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II OC ASUS with its top end DirectCU II cards always has its special spin and tweaks to the GPUs they create. and today we have the newest on the uber high end with the GTX 780 based model which comes packed with a full custom design, cooler and components to allow for top level performance. The GK110 Kepler Architecture When it comes to the GPU the GK110 was originally employed on powerhouse server based processing systems designed for huge calculations and other ops where a GPU can provide huge performance.  We first saw the GK110 as a consumer level part in the GTX TITAN, which was even still not the full GK110 you would see on a Tesla K20. The GTX 780 sports GK110 that is just a little less than a TITAN as well; the TITAN will be the top end flagship single GPU card for ... Read More »

Ivy Bridge-E is here! Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition Processor Review

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Intel’s New Ivy Bridge-E Has Landed! Normally when Intel launches a new CPU it is brought along with a new chipset even if its the same socket. If you remember the launch a short while ago moving from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge, it utilized the same 1155 socket but launched a new chipset Z77 along with the new CPU to support some new features even though it used the same socket. Today we are looking at the new Ivy Bridge-E CPU which is based on the LGA 2011 Socket type and with it we did not receive a board or any of that normal stuff we would get with an Intel launch. That is not a huge deal as we always found the Intel boards rather basic honestly but they did provide very good baseline and even OC based performance for which we could use to test all future ... Read More »

MSI Z87 Mpower Motherboard

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Introduction – MSI Z87 Mpower MSI was quick to let a flurry of boards hit the market including the new “Gaming” line but for those enthusiasts who want something to help push the limits there’s no better solution form the MSI camp than the Mpower/Xpower series. We have already shows the wild Xpower board now were gonna show you the more tame Mpower model Xpower has always been the top end balls to the walls overclocker but for most maybe they dont need all of the features that the Xpower offers and this is where the Xpower fits in as it has some major overclocking muscle built in with a little less feature count to offer a more reasonable price point to match many enthusiasts users budgets.       The board comes in at a price of $234.99 on Newegg. This places it at 200 dollars below the Xpower so ... Read More »

MSI Z87-G45 Gaming Motherboard review

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Introduction – MSI Z87-G45 Gaming MSI stormed the market as of recent with the introduction of their gaming series and also offered a new level of segmentation to their lineup that previously simply was not there. By adding the Gaming series there now is a set boundary as to which product is targeted at which audience which is excellent to deliver a clear message to customers. So now with their standard boards being the mainstream line, then Gaming for gamer/midrange enthusiasts and Mpower/Xpower being the upper echelon of the performance segment carrying boards more targeted toward the overclocker and performance centric market. Today I am looking at the second and more value oriented  of the Z87 Gaming series boards the MSI Z87 G45 Gaming, and this very much like the GD65 I had looked at recently carries many of the same design philosophies here so lets take a look a ... Read More »

ASUS Z87-PRO Motheboard Review

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Introduction – ASUS Z87-PRO ASUS along with its ROG boards also released the more mainstream channel series of boards one of which we actually looked at already in the Z87-A. The color seems to be the big topic in the community and for good reason since ECS did a similar gold coloring on the heatsinks and components for Z77 and it did not go over well but ASUS decided to throw their hat into the ring with the god coloring in an apparent effort to symbolize the “Gold Standard” and while I’ve never been a big fan of gold I do think in the right system it could look nice or in a build where a window and appearance are not as important as the function. For me its all about performance but I think that also has to do with my inherent inability to make a pretty system so ... Read More »

MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING Motherboard Review

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With Intel’s new chipset introduction it was only a matter of time till we had the new boards from MSI. Now that we have it, let’s see what you get with the new Z87-GD65 Gaming! Related posts: ASUS Maximus VI Extreme Z87 Motherboard Review   With the intro of Z87 we knew it would not be long until we... MSI GTX 770 Gaming   MSI has hit the GTX 770 scene and it has come out swinging with... Read More »

Nvidia GeForce GTX 760: Mainstream Performance for the Masses

  Nvidia’s 700 series continues to power on with the next card, the GTX 760. This card is lined up to be the next price/performance killer, so let’s see if it can pull off a good show! Related posts: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost – The Missing Link in the Mainstream Lineup? Nvidia today launches the new GTX 650 Ti Boost which fills the gap in the... Nvidia GeForce GTX 780: The Next Step in GeForce   The next step in the evolution of GeForce has arrived. Let’s meet the first... Nvidia GeForce GTX 770: The Next Model in the 700 Series   Hot on the heels of the zenith of the GeForce 700 series, Nvidia is... Read More »

MSI GTX 770 Gaming

  MSI has hit the GTX 770 scene and it has come out swinging with its GTX 770 gaming model card, which is looking to be not only an awesome performer but even an awesome value for enthusiasts gamers. Related posts: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost – The Missing Link in the Mainstream Lineup? Nvidia today launches the new GTX 650 Ti Boost which fills the gap in the... Read More »

ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DCII

ASUS has put outs its variation of the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost with the DirectCU II cooler and SAP components. Let’s see what exactly this model has to offer to make it worth your cash. Related posts: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost – The Missing Link in the Mainstream Lineup? Nvidia today launches the new GTX 650 Ti Boost which fills the gap in the... Read More »

ROCCAT Kone XTD

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ROCCAT’s latest mouse, the Kone XTD follows in the footsteps of it’s previous iteration in the professional mouse lineup. Read on to see what’s new.  No related posts. Read More »

Thermaltake eSPORTS SHOCK One Gaming Headset

Thermaltake is well-known for their chassis, coolers and power supplies for many years. With their relatively new line, Tt eSports, they are upping the ante by entering into the gaming community. Let’s see how this gaming headset performs.  No related posts. Read More »

Cyberpower Fangbook: Extreme Gaming Gone Mobile

Cyberpower is a premier high end system builder, with that they have some great options from mild to wild when it comes to system designs and options. Today we have the Fangbook X7-200 which is a new extreme gaming laptop built to make the days of being chained to a desk obsolete. No related posts. Read More »

Gigabyte Aivia Osmium

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Gigabyte’s Aivia Osmium gaming keyboard is a very slick looking and attractive peripheral to have displayed as part of your entertainment setup. But is it worth it? No related posts. Read More »

NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Gaming Chassis

If you’re looking for a chassis that already comes with a built in fan controller, internal LEDs, excellent cooling potential, great cable management and even the possibility to run extreme gaming configurations, you should check out the NZXT Phantom 820. No related posts. Read More »

Thermaltake Armor Revo Snow Edition Chassis

  With black computer chassis and hardware in style, Thermaltake has started a new category of products called the “Snow Edition” in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. These products come mainly with a white color scheme. This time around we’re checking out Thermaltake’s Armor Revo Snow Edition Gaming chassis. No related posts. Read More »

Cyberpower X6-9120 Gaming Notebook

Cyberpower is a premier system builder with a legacy of providing gaming grade performance at a great value. Add this along with the fact that they always have some cool free upgrade promos going on and you have a recipe for some really cool toys. Let’s take a look at what we have in the X6-9120 and what it can offer you. No related posts. Read More »

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