Logitech’s Prodigy line of mice, keyboard and headset want to be your first gaming accessories

$70. That’s how much Logitech is betting gamers will be willing to spend on a headset, mouse, or keyboard if they don’t already own a dedicated piece of gaming gear. As long as I’ve been following Logitech’s gaming brand, it’s always launched one or two new mice or keyboards or headsets at a time. Today it’s launching four in the brand new ‘Prodigy’ line, meant to make PC gaming gear an easy, approachable decision. There’s a membrane keyboard, a wired headset, and two mice (identical in form, but one model is wireless). The wireless mouse costs $100, but the rest come in at a reasonable 70 bucks.

The Prodigy line isn’t aimed at gamers who already own a great gaming mouseor mechanical keyboard, but instead the people who play games using an office mouse and the cheap membrane keyboard that came with their PC. These are overall simpler accessories than most of Logitech’s recent gaming gear, prioritizing comfort and ease-of-use over features. But they’re also wisely reusing some pretty impressive technology.

The G403 Prodigy gaming mouse uses the same peerless PMW 3366 sensor found in Logitech’s best mice, which performs well all the way up to its max 12,000 CPI. It has onboard memory and still works with Logitech’s driver software if you want to customize settings. The wireless model uses the same 2.4GHz radio as the G900, which means you could game with it at a massive LAN party with wireless interference bouncing all around and never see a hint of cursor stutter.

The G403 also includes a 10 gram removable weight and is already among the lightest gaming mouse available at 90 grams. The wireless model weighs a bit more at 107 grams, or 117 with the weight added. Like Logitech’s older G302/303 and the recent Pro Gaming mouse, this one has a spring tensioning system in its left- and right-click that makes for a nice fast click.

The shape may be simpler than some of Logitech’s previous mice, and the G403 isn’t packed to the gills with buttons and features, but it’s hardly a cheap throwaway.

The G213 Prodigy keyboard and G231 Prodigy headset aren’t directly reusing great technology in the same way the mice are. $70 seems pricey for a membrane keyboard–even a good one–and Logitech promises a 500 Hz report rate and ample key rollover for gaming. $70 is affordable for a gaming headset, but you can get a fantastic headset for about $100. We’ll be checking out the Logitech G231 to see how it compares.

The Prodigy line has customizable RGB lighting across the board and should be available in September. In Europe they’ll range in price from €60 to €120. No word on UK pricing just yet.

The Best CPU Coolers

There isn’t quite a one solution fits all product when it comes to CPU coolers. Folks with spacious full tower PCs won’t have an issue using a massive 160mm or taller tower style cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 while those who don’t have that kind of cash might lean toward more affordable options such as the Cryorig H7.

Even if you have the space, some users prioritize operating volume over temperatures in which case the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3offers a fine balance. If you find any level of fan noise offensive, then a big passive cooler such as the Thermalright Le Grand Machowill be in order.

Those with a limited headroom will want to check out the ever growing range of compact CPU coolers, of which we believeThermalright’s AXP-200R is king.

If air cooling comes off as unadventurous, an all-in-one liquid cooler may be of interest. This category has a wide range of options now but we feel none are better than the Corsair Hydro Series H115i GTX (renamed H110i GTX). Read on for a full list of our top picks and why we chose them…

Two years ago we named the Noctua NH-U14S the best of the best in a 10-way CPU cooler roundup and the newer NH-D15 continues that legacy. The NH-D15 isn’t outrageously expensive at $90 and yet it seems to make no compromises. This is an air-cooler that is designed to deliver the best performance while generating as little noise as possible.

Despite the NH-D15’s massive size, compatibility generally isn’t an issue though you’ll want to make sure your case has at least 165mm of clearance for it. Conveniently, Noctua also proves an extensive motherboard compatibility list on their website covering several hundred models.

Out of the box the NH-D15 is a universal product supporting all current AMD and Intel platforms as well as older sockets such as AMD’s FM1 or Intel’s LGA1156.

We get that $90 is too rich for some builders to blow on a CPU cooler, in which case Deepcool’s Assassin II ($80) or Reeven’s Okeanos ($75) might be more suitable though if you want great results you’ll see the savings are not substantial.

For the longest time we have been recommending and using various Cooler Master 212 products for budget cooling. TheCM Hyper 212 Evo remains a favorite for overclocking on a budget simply because at $30 it delivers exceptional performance without sounding like a leaf blower.

However the Cryorig H7 has gained a lot of fanfare recently and for good reason. For an extra ~$5 it provides superior cooling performance and generates less noise than the CM 212. As the cherry on top, Cryorig’s H7 also has a better installation process and arguably even looks better with its hive-fin design.

Compatibility shouldn’t be an issue either as the Cryorig H7 measures just 145mm tall making it one of the smallest tower coolers on the market to support a 120mm fan. In other words, the H7 will fit in most mid-tower PC chassis.

The 98mm depth also means that there is no limitation on your memory modules height as the Cryorig H7 doesn’t cover the DIMM slots. Out of the box you will find support for mainstream Intel LGA1150, 1151, 1155 and 1156 platforms as well as all current AMD platforms.

Those who prioritize operating volume over performance will be more interested in the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 than Noctua’s beastly NH-D15.

Like the NH-D15, the Dark Rock Pro 3 touts top-notch build quality and that’s to be expected considering it matches the Noctua in price at $90.

We bet the Dark Rock Pro 3 would perform similarly to the NH-D15 using the same fans at the same operating speed, truth be told. However, as a package the Dark Rock Pro 3 has more of a bias towards operating volume — no surprise coming from a company named Be Quiet!.

The Dark Rock Pro 3 comes with a 135mm fan sandwiched between the towers while a 120mm can be found on the front forcing air though the heatsink.

 If you find the whisper quiet operating volume of the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 too much then perhaps a completely passive solution is for you. In our opinion there is no better passive heatsink than the massive Thermalright Le Grand Macho.

Despite its truly epic size the Le Grand Macho costs $70 and that is surprising for such a massive lump of neatly crafted metal. While it has a passive design, the Le Grand Macho is intended to be used with high-end desktop processors such as the Core i7-5960X as it can actively dissipate up to 300W. Boasting an enlarged copper base, the Le Grand Macho covers the entire surface area of large Haswell-E (2011-3) processors.

Measuring 140mm x 125mm and 159mm tall, the heatsink tips the scales at 900g without a fan thanks to 35 0.4mm aluminium fins spaced 3.1mm apart and six 6mm heatpipes.

The Le Grand Macho is to be offered in a silver finish with black-anodised lid, and will be supplied without fans but including mounting parts and a long-neck screwdriver for installation. Thermalright is also selling an optional 120mm or 140mm fan duct that allows users to better direct airflow from their case fans over the heatsink.

There’s a decent range of low-profile HTPC type coolers now thanks to the ever growing popularity of the Mini-ITX platform. Stand out low-profile coolers include theSilverstone NT06-Pro, Noctua NH-L12, Raijintek Pallas and our favorite the Thermalright AXP-200.

Our decision boiled down to a toss-up between the $80Thermalright AXP-200 and the considerably cheaper $40Raijintek Pallas. If you’re focused on value, it has to be said that the Pallas is probably the better deal as it’s essentially a clone of the AXP-200 — there must be some sort of copyright infringement going on here.

As with all clones, the quality of the Pallas isn’t as good as that of the more expensive AXP-200 and things such as the installation process aren’t as refined. Still, it’s hard to ignore that at just half the price it delivers a similar level of performance.

Something cool about the AXP-200 is that is now comes in a series of different colors. While we really like the quality and design of Thermalright products it has to be said the stock brown and camo green color fans look pretty average and don’t suit most builds, much like Noctua’s boring color scheme.

With the AXP-200, Thermalright has also introduced the AXP-200R and AXP-200 Muscle. The AXP-200R is designed to match Asus’ Republic Of Gamers (ROG) series and as you would expect, the fan is red and black. The AXP-200 Muscle is a black and white version that also looks nice.

All-in-one liquid coolers are extremely popular these days as they generally outperform air coolers and do so while generating less noise. With most units costing just a little more than a high-end air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15, enthusiasts have one less reason not to go liquid.

Adding to the appeal of liquid cooling is the ease of installation of all-in-one kits as they come pre-assembled and ready to mount in your system. There are no hoses to connect, no reservoirs to fill and no leaks to check for. These units allow typical users to get in on the benefits of liquid cooling with almost none of the pitfalls of a traditional DIY setup.

With dozens of AIO liquid coolers to choose from, narrowing it down to a single one is no easy task and perhaps not even possible. To be named the best AIO liquid cooler on our list, we looked for a product that is priced competitively, performs well, installs easy and features an excellent build quality along with impeccable reliability.

That means straight away we disregarded products such as EK’s Predator series as they are hideously expensive and don’t manage to outperform the Corsair H115i. The Predator 240 is more flexible as additional gear can be added into the loop without any trouble, but at $250 it is hard to justify. Not just that, but so far reliability has proven to be a real issue for EK’s Predator range.

In the end we landed on the popular Corsair Hydro Series H115i. For $120 it provides the very best performance in its class and thus far has proven to be extremely reliable.

EVGA’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition sports a front breakout box

nvidia, geforce, gpu, evga, graphics card, virtual reality, vr, gtx 980 ti

EVGA has today announced two new versions of their Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics cards that are specifically designed for people building VR-ready gaming systems.

Known as the GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition, these new cards come with a breakout box that put two USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI 2.0 port on the front of your case through a 5.25″ drive bay. These three ports are basically all you need to drive a consumer VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, and make it easier to connect said headsets without needing to run cables to the back of your case.

EVGA’s VR Edition graphics cards come in two variants: one with a reference cooler, known as the “EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition Gaming”, and another with a custom dual-fan cooling solution, known as the “EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition Gaming ACX 2.0+”. There is no price difference between the cards, and both come with Nvidia’s reference (not overclocked) clock speeds.

On the graphics card side, the only real difference between these cards and regular EVGA GTX 980 Tis is the inclusion of an internal HDMI port that allows the breakout box’s cable to easily connect. This HDMI port is in addition to the two DisplayPorts, one HDMI port, and one DVI port found on the card’s I/O shield.

EVGA’s VR Edition GeForce GTX 980 Tis will set you back $699.99, which is a $50 premium on the company’s standard GTX 980 Tis. If a handy breakout box for VR headsets is worth $50 to you, both variants of the card are available now.

Intel releases update to disable Skylake non-K CPU overclocking

intel, cpu, update, overclocking, skylake, non-k

Late last year, several motherboard manufacturers including ASRock released updates to their boards that allowed users to overclock locked Intel ‘Skylake’ CPUs. This meant that some of Intel’s lower-priced SKUs suddenly became great value, as overclocking them delivered performance in the range of more expensive parts.

Naturally, Intel wasn’t happy that some motherboard vendors were exploiting loopholes that allowed overclocking of locked CPUs. The company typically restricts overclocking to K-series parts, which they say are ‘designed’ to be pushed beyond their normal limits. In their eyes, overclocking non-K parts is “not recommended” and users basically shouldn’t do it.

To prevent non-K CPU overclocking, Intel has released a microcode update to motherboard partners that closes the loophole. As is normally the case, the partners will now integrate the update into a motherboard BIOS update, which users will then have to voluntarily install on their systems.

The good news is that if you want to keep overclocking your non-K Skylake CPU, you can easily do so by simply not updating your motherboard’s BIOS. You will miss out on any new features or bug fixes released in this or any future updates, but that will most likely be worth it if you want to continue to overclock.

There is the possibility that vendors will remove the previous BIOS update that allowed non-K overclocking from their websites in the coming days, so if you’re interested in trying it out, now is the time to do so. Also, don’t be surprised if new motherboards released to stores in the coming months come with the non-K overclock-killing BIOS update pre-installed.

MSI’s eye-tracking GT72S G Tobii gaming laptop arrives

msi, tobii, gaming laptop, eye tracking, gt72s

Back at CES 2016, MSI gave us the first look at their new gaming laptop, the GT72S Tobii, which includes an integrated Tobii eye tracking system and some top-end hardware. If you were interested in this particular laptop, it’s gone on sale todayexclusively through Newegg with a fairly substantial $2,599 price tag.

For this price, you do get a collection of high-end components, including a quad-core Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU with clock speeds up to 3.6 GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU with 8 GB of frame buffer, 32 GB of DDR4 memory, a 256 GB solid state drive paired with a 1 TB hard drive, a Blu-ray burner, and a collection of ports that includes USB Type-C.

The list of features doesn’t stop there. On top of eye-tracking technology, which allows game characters to “react to your gaze, focus and attention” in supported titles, the GT72S also includes G-Sync variable refresh rate technology, which will enhance the gaming experience on this laptop’s 17.3-inch 1080p display. There’s also Killer networking and an RGB-backlit SteelSeries keyboard.

As the Tech Report notes, the same version of this laptop without eye tracking costs $2,461, so you’re essentially paying $138 for the extra tech. It therefore shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Tobii sells standalone eye-tracking systems for $140, which, like the laptop, are compatible with games like Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Speaking of The Division, the GT72S G Tobii will launch with a bundled copy of the game, which is set for release on March 8th. The laptop itself is currently out of stock on Newegg, but it should be available to back order with more stock to arrive soon.

Pre-orders now being accepted for Oculus Rift PC bundles

dell, asus, alienware, desktop, graphics card, video card, virtual reality, vr, oculus rift, oculus, oculus vr

Today is the big day for those looking to save a bit of coin on the purchase of an Oculus Rift and a PC to power the experience as Amazon, Best Buy and the Microsoft Store are now accepting pre-orders for Rift bundles.

Pricing starts at $1,499 for the Asus G11CD-B11 bundle which includes a desktop powered by a quad-core Intel Core i5-6400 processor alongside 8GB of memory and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. If you recall, the recommended specs from Oculus VR call for an Intel Core-i5 4590 or greater, at least 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or better.

In terms of pure processing power, this entry-level Asus bundle just barely meets the recommended hardware specs.

On the opposite end of the price spectrum is the Alienware Area 51 bundle. For $3,149, you’ll get a desktop loaded with Intel’s Core i7-5820K processor (six cores, 12 threads), 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 980 video card. This configuration also comes with a 128GB SSD and a traditional 2TB hard drive.

Each bundle also includes an Oculus Rift VR headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller and two games: Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack.

As of writing, the only three PC makers participating in the Oculus Ready PC programare Asus, Dell and Alienware (Dell’s gaming-minded subsidiary). That’s likely to change moving forward, assuming of course that Oculus sticks with the program.

If you have the time and / or know-how to build your own system, that’s probably the best route to go as you can get the exact combination of hardware you’re after. Another option is to simply upgrade your existing machine if it doesn’t quite meet Oculus’ recommended specs.

Nvidia launches GeForce 361.91 drivers for Street Fighter V

As is usually the case, Nvidia is on the ball with another GeForce graphics card driver release ahead of a major game launch. Today’s drivers, version 361.91 WHQL, bring ‘Game Ready’ optimizations for Street Fighter V, which launches tomorrow on PC and PlayStation 4.

The GeForce 361.91 drivers also include optimizations for the Hitman beta test on PC, which will be available next week, as well as the Monster Hunter Online open beta and the latest Arma 3 update. On top of these optimizations, Nvidia has included SLI profile updates for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, XCOM 2, Need for Speed, Rainbow Six: Siege,The Division, Bless, and Elite: Dangerous.

While not strictly related to this driver, Nvidia has released signed firmware images for the latest GeForce GTX 900 series cards under the open-source Nvidia driver. This will allow Linux developers to bake in hardware acceleration on GM200 and GM204 GPUs, with Phoronix expecting support to be included into Linux 4.6.

If you’re more interested in the latest driver release, you can either let GeForce Experience perform an automatic update for you now, or you can grab a manual installer from our driver download page here for Windows 10, and here for older operating systems.

AMD’s Zen processors to feature up to 32 cores, 8-channel DDR4

amd, cpu, apu, amd zen

It looks like it will still be many months before we see anything official from AMD on their upcoming Zen processors, but that hasn’t stopped some information being presented at CERN’s recent IT Technical Forum.

As spotted by The Tech Report, a CERN engineer revealed during the Forum that AMD’s Zen line-up would feature processors with up to 32 cores in two 16-core modules. These chips will also reportedly use Symmetrical Multi Threading, which is basically an AMD-developed version of Hyper-Threading.

The slide from the engineer’s presentation also reveals that Zen will bring a 40 percent improvement in instructions per clock (IPC) compared to their current line-up. Along with more cores, this will make Zen a much more powerful line of CPUs, potentially with significantly improved power efficiency as well thanks to the use of 14nm FinFET technology.

And finally, Zen will allegedly support both PCIe gen 3.0, and eight-channel DDR4. This essentially brings AMD’s line of CPUs up to feature parity with Intel’s current processors, and even going beyond with support for more memory channels, potentially to deliver enough bandwidth to all the processing cores.

AMD is expected to formally announce and release Zen before the end of the year, and it could be just what the struggling company needs judging by this early information.

HP to put FreeSync in all their AMD-based laptops

amd, laptop, hp, pc gaming, gaming laptop, freesync

HP will be taking some of their entry-level and mid-range laptops to the next level,vowing to include FreeSync variable refresh technology in every consumer laptop with an AMD APU inside.

Considering the low-power GPUs that will be included in these laptops, FreeSync has the ability to significantly improve the gaming and video watching experience at lower frame rates. By allowing the display to vary its refresh rate with the GPU’s render rate, gaming will become a lot smoother below the 60 Hz mark that laptops typically struggle to achieve.

The only laptop that’s confirmed to get FreeSync at this stage is the HP Envy 15z, which will be updated in the first half of 2016 with new AMD 6th-generation ‘Carrizo’ APUs and support for variable refresh through the display itself as well as over HDMI. Other specifications for this laptop haven’t be announced, but the previous models have retailed for around the $500 mark.

In the second half of the year we can expect more HP laptops with Carrizo chips and FreeSync on-board, with AMD stating that HP’s entire AMD-powered line-up would feature FreeSync technology.

While most of HP’s laptops will continue to use Intel chips without FreeSync support, particularly in the high-end segment, more laptops featuring AMD APUs is a win for the struggling chipmaker. Carrizo chips have been relatively unseen in the market despite its launch over six months ago, so the more companies to use the APUs, the better for AMD.

Seagate crams 2 TB into a 7mm-thin laptop hard drive

seagate, hdd, storage, hard drive, 2tb, laptop hdd

There’s only a handful of laptops remaining that opt for hard drives over solid state drives, but there’s no doubting that the former still offers the best storage capacity at the best price, even at smaller form factors.

Seagate has achieved even better capacity than what was previously available in their new 2.5-inch 7mm-thick mobile drives. The company claims they used industry-leading areal density technology to cram in 1 TB per platter, with a maximum of two platters per drive at this form factor delivering an impressive 2 TB of storage at the high end.

The new line of drives also features a 1 TB model, and although Seagate hasn’t divulged any performance figures, these drives do weigh just under 90 grams (0.198 pounds) and consume half a watt during idle (jumping to 1.7 W during seeks). Both the 1 TB and 2 TB models come with 128 MB of cache.

As is the case with most new hard drives, Seagate is also packing in some features, including support for self-encrypting technology, FIPS 140-2, instant erasure technology, and even a random number generator.

Seagate claims these new drives will offer “one of the best $/TB and $/mm” of storage options available on the market, although the company hasn’t disclosed any specifics on pricing.