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HardwareReview

Roccat Suora FX Review

February 2, 2017 — by Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey0

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Before you pick up a keyboard, you have to decide whether you will be spending more time typing or playing games on it. Along with the type of switches used in the keyboard, the other aspects that distinguish a normal keyboard from a gaming keyboard are N-key rollover (over USB) and polling rate. The type of switch is highly subjective when it comes to mechanical keyboards while some would still argue for membrane keyboards or even the hybrid ones. Apart from the above mentioned essentials of a gaming keyboard, the new fad in town is RGB lighting and everyone is doing it. The Roccat Suora FX, on paper, does have all the aforementioned parameters that would qualify it as a gaming keyboard. Does it live up to the expectations in quality, design and performance? Read on to find out.

Roccat Suora FX

Specifications

The specifications of the Roccat Suora FX aren’t extraordinary by any means. There are 108-keys on the keyboard, out of which four are additional keys for multimedia (3 keys) and game-mode switching (1 key). Regarding other specs, the keyboard ships with TTC Blue mechanical switches and this is the first time we experienced them.

Keyboard size: Standard, Numpad included
Keyboard backlighting: RGB LED
Switch type: Mechanical (TTC Blue 50-million lifecycle)
Polling rate: 1000 Hz (1 ms)
Key-rollover: N-key rollover
Interface: USB 1.1
Dimensions: Wide – 43.5 cm, Length – 12.7 cm, Height – 3.8 cm

Roccat Suora FX

Features and accessories

Out of all the standard keys, three of them are dedicated to volume control while one of them switches between normal and game mode. Game mode essentially locks down the Windows key to prevent accidental presses while gaming and enables the programmed keys. We’ll be talking about these and the game mode in greater detail later. The keyboard doesn’t have dedicated macro keys, instead they are present as toggles to the Insert, Home, Delete, End, Page Up and Page Down keys. The Suora FX doesn’t require any extra software to change the lighting modes since the F1-F4 keys can be used to switch between four lighting presets – wave, breathing, ripple and static.

There are cable grooves on the bottom of the keyboard with three exit spots. These give you options to route your cable according to your own preferences. Depending on the location of your cabinet, or cable slot on your table, you can choose the appropriate groove to reduce cable clutter. Following its design of being a compact and frameless keyboard, it doesn’t include a palm rest, an accessory we expect in this price ($139 or Rs.9,400) range. Also missing is a key cap puller, again an essential accessory. While it’s easy to remove keycaps off the keys at the edges, it’s a little cumbersome for the keys which are surrounded by other keys on all sides while using just your fingers. This is where a keycap puller comes handy.

Roccat Suora FX

Build quality

The Suora FX follows a minimalist design with no fancy edges or wacky gamer aesthetics. Even though it’s a full-size keyboard, the tight frame of the metal base keeps the keyboard confined to the length and width of the keys only. Essentially the keyboard ends up occupying less space on your desk. Although, this isn’t the only keyboard taking the minimalist design approach, it surely looks great to fit into a clean desktop setup.

The chassis has a textured metal frame to house the mechanical switches on top of a plastic base and we noticed minor flex though that doesn’t matter. The keycaps are injection moulded with a thick durable paint coat. What we didn’t like was the wobbling of the keycaps at the top and some of the keys weren’t aligned. We’ll admit, we’re nitpicking here but like we said earlier, keyboards are quite personal. A more snug fit between the keycap and key switch would have taken care of this. The keycaps are Cherry MX compatible, so you will be able to replace the current ones with your favourite coloured and textured keycaps if you wish.

Roccat Suora FX

design

Because of the exposed design, it becomes easier to clean around and in between the keys. Also the light from the RGB LEDs disperse better because of the open design. The LEDs are bright enough to illuminate during day and the bolder font on the keycaps help achieve this. Also, we didn’t notice any lag during colour and lighting pattern transition. The keycaps have a curved design with a slight incline, and the base plate is angled for a more comfortable typing experience.

The braided USB cable is quite flexible and its 1.8m length is enough to reach your desktop’s port even if your cabinet is placed on the floor. A gold-plated USB connector would have been appreciated since the regular aluminium or steel connectors tend to rust over the years if not taken care of.

The Suora FX has five rubber feet at the bottom. The rubber feet under the two stand-offs have enough friction to prevent any sliding whether you’re furiously typing or if button mashing while gaming.

Roccat Suora FX

Roccat Swarm software

RGB lighting modes can be controlled right from the keyboard using four presets. If you need more control for playing around with the brightness, effect speed or the direction in which the lights change, you have to use the Swarm software. You’ll come across more presets, some are classy while some might just trigger epilepsy. Macros can be added to the six macro keys or you can also reprogram the existing keys to do whatever you please.

Game mode is an interesting feature which could prove quite useful. It allows you to reassign the existing keys with a secondary function that can only be registered when Game mode is active. So, you’ll be able to add an extra function (for example to the Del key) with an in-game action such as equipping a bomb. This will only work when the Game mode is enabled and won’t hinder with the Del key’s primary function of deletion. Think of it like on-the-fly profile switching.

Roccat Suora FX

Gaming and typing performance

The Roccat Suora FX uses TTC Blue mechanical switches, something we haven’t tested before. Since colour coding is universal to an extent across mechanical keyboard switches, the Blue variant feels tactile and closer to Cherry MX Blues. According to TTC’s website, the Blue switch has an actuation distance of 2.2 mm which is the point at which the keyboard registers. This means that the tactile bump is present at a distance of 2.2mm, and the keys give a more clicky and mushy feedback while typing. They are definitely louder than the Cherry MX Blues and similar to the Outemu switches we had tested on the Zebronics Max.

Roccat Suora FX

The actuation force is around 60g, just a little higher than Cherry MX Blue (by 5g). When it comes to typing, you’ll love using this keyboard and eventually attain a good typing speed as you get used to the layout. Reds or Browns still remain a better choice in gaming due to their lower actuation force. The TTC Blue switches on this keyboard are of the clear variant and not the solid colour variant as pictured above, essentially enabling more light to disperse.

Roccat Suora FX

Final thoughts: Roccat Suora FX

The Roccat Suora FX falls around the sweet spot of the Rs. 10k price range of mechanical keyboards. We hardly found any flaws with the design and build quality of the keyboard. The usage of TTC mechanical switches is a let down at this price range. Although they claim a 50-million keystroke life cycle, the quality doesn’t match that of Cherry. You will find better keyboards at a higher price such as the Corsair K70 RGB or STRAFE offering Cherry MX switches. One thing to consider is that this keyboard has additional software support to tweak settings – something you would rarely find on mechanical keyboards at this range. This alone makes the Roccat Suora FX worth your consideration.

Contact Details:

Company: Roccat
Email: support@roccat.org
Website: http://www.roccat.org

Roccat Suora FX Review
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HardwareReview

Antlion Audio ModMic 5 Review

February 1, 2017 — by Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey0

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In multiplayer gaming, unhindered communication between your teammates is essential. You could, obviously, achieve that using regular gaming headsets but if you also care about quality, you should definitely consider independent mics. The challenges imposed by desktop mics or boom pole mics are space constraints and the additional cost for their setup. If you’re looking for a good quality mic that falls in between the category of a desktop mic and a gaming headset mic, the AntLion ModMic 5 should be your choice.

Specifications

Sensitivity: -38 ± 3 dB (Uni-directional), -26 ± 3 dB (Omni-directional)
Response: 100 Hz–10 kHz (Uni-directional), 30 Hz–17.5 kHz (Omni-directional)
SNR: >50+ dB (Uni-directional), 58+ dB (Omni-directional)
Impedance: 2.2 KΩ
Operating Voltage: 1 to 10V

ModMic 5

What’s new?

Having tested the omni-directional and uni-directional variants of the ModMic 4, we realised the difference in quality and the convenience it brings along. Before jumping into the review, we’ll be looking at the aspects which set the ModMic 5 apart from the previous iteration. We will also try to determine whether these changes are good or bad. The most important update over the ModMic 4 is the convergence of the omni-directional and uni-directional mic into a single module. Now, you’ll find both the mics built into the small boom pole. A switch on the pole lets you toggle between the two separate mics. This time, the boom pole is way stiffer than the previous one which is a good thing. You’ll still be able to unscrew the module holding the boom pole to adjust its length.

Another refreshing change or rather a complete overhaul is the modularity introduced in the cabling. The new mute module can be attached between the cables using standard 3.5mm jacks. Earlier, you had to rely on a completely different model depending on whether you wanted an in-line mute switch or not. When attached, the mute module is unnoticeable due to its lightweight. Although, the switch to toggle between mute and unmute seemed loose and it could have been sturdy like the one present on the mic mode switch. This time, AntLion went with cable options of 1m and 2m in length, both included in the package. The other upgrades include better quality cables, a fabric-coated hard shell carry pouch, glossier mic boom and more powerful magnets.

ModMic 5

Additional accessories

The ModMic 5 pouch ships with a few accessories that further makes it easier to use than the previous version. The regular magnetic clasps and a spare clasps are included that can be attached to your headphone. The mic can be snapped on to the headphone using the same magnetic clasps. For cable management, several clips are also included to hold both the mic and headphone cable together. A better cable management solution is the 2m long cable wrap or sleeve which can be used to cover up both the cables. There are alcohol wipes and a small manual as well.

While connecting to your PC, you won’t have issues since you have individual ports for your headphone and mic. If you have a Mac, then you will have to buy the USB adapter to connect the mic to your Mac. Also, if by any means your motherboard’s sound ports are damaged or are giving off a lot of interference, you should opt for the USB adapter. This essentially eliminates any form of analog interference caused by the motherboard. Console gamers can also use the ModMic with the Y adapter that lets users connect the mic to their controllers. The same adapter can also be used to connect the mic to your smartphones. You’ll have to buy these adapters separately since they aren’t included in the package and they’ll set you back by around Rs. 800.

ModMic 5

Audio performance

We tested the ModMic 5 in both the omni-directional and uni-directional mode while comparing it to both the variants of the ModMic 4. As a subjective blind test using our recorded samples, we couldn’t tell them apart, in their respective pattern modes. Hence, we didn’t notice any difference in noise cancellation between the newer and older version in the uni-directional mode. In the midst of music playing in the background, we tried recording in both the modes but the noise cancellation wasn’t satisfactory. The mic is comparatively better in cancelling out the voices of people speaking nearby in the uni-directional mode, and also cancelling out ambient noise from your air-conditioner.

The inclusion of both the modes in a single mic module now makes it easier to switch between them on the fly depending on your environment and use-case. Other than gaming, if you’re into creating YouTube videos, you must have given a thought on having an audio setup including a mic. For beginners, the ModMic 5 can be your solution since it enables good quality voiceovers in the omni-directional mode.

In our gaming sessions, the mic sounded clear and our teammates had no problem in listening to our voice. Over TeamSpeak, channel members were able to notice the difference when we switched to the ModMic from a regular gaming headset. Essentially, you will be able to use the ModMic for gaming, voiceovers and even speaking to your mates.

ModMic 5

Verdict: modmic 5

The ModMic 5 is priced at $69.95. The previous variant – ModMic 4 – was priced at $49.95 so you should expect a jump in the price. With the upgraded materials and cable options, the price doesn’t seem to be too expensive considering that there are no equivalent products in the market. Although, if you’re on a strict budget then, you should go for the ModMic 4. There’s no difference in the performance between the two, but going for the ModMic 5 is more of a luxury. If you wish to buy any of the ModMics, you can order it from their website itself.

Update: You can now buy both the variants of the ModMic 4.0 from Amazon. Do note, that these are uni-directional mics since the omni-directional ModMic 4 variants were discontinued. The uni-directional ModMic 4 with the mute switch is currently priced at around Rs. 3,675 whereas the one without the mute switch is priced at Rs. 3,186. The ModMic 5 hasn’t been listed yet, and AntLion has confirmed that they will consider it soon. If you’re still interested in buying the ModMic 5, then you will have to place an order on their website.

Antlion Audio ModMic 5 Review
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PCReview

MSI GE62 7RE Gaming Laptop Review

January 31, 2017 — by Mithun "Barbarian_Monkey" Mohandas0

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If you’re on the lookout for a gaming laptop with a good balance between gaming performance and portability, then the MSI GE62 7RE is a pretty good option.

Slight compromises are needed to get playable framerates but if you’re on the lookout for a gaming laptop with a good balance between gaming performance and portability, then the MSI GE62 7RE is a pretty good option.

HardwareReview

Roccat Cross Review

January 30, 2017 — by Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey0

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For longer gaming sessions on both PC and consoles

Prolonged gaming sessions demand a comfortable headset, an important aspect taken care of by the padding in the headrest and earcups. The Roccat Cross follows a circumaural, oval and closed-back design, the earcups lined with memory foam padding. The padding was comfortable enough to last us for extended gaming sessions of five to six hours. The same goes for the padding on the headband, although, it could have been better. It manages to prevent any audio from leaking while offering passive noise cancellation to an extent. The headband has a stainless steel frame but the sliders on top of both the earcups are weak. Apart from the loose sliders, the rest of the headset is sturdy. The earcups swivel to a tiny extent and not 90-degrees, which would have been more convenient when you’re keeping the headphone around your neck.

Roccat Cross

Two detachable cables are included in the package – the PC cable comes with a boom mic with separate jacks for line in and line out while the other cable comes with an inline mic for mobile devices and consoles. The cables connect to the headphones through a standard 3.5mm jack and the connector fits into a tab, preventing swivel. The boom mic is flexible but doesn’t flex after a certain point hence, returning to a position away from the intended one. The headphone is fairly lightweight which is a good thing because you can go through long gaming sessions without feeling the weight of the headphone. The cables are braided and quite flexible but they do tend to tangle over time.

Roccat Cross

Audio performance: gaming

The soundstage is narrower on the Cross compared to the HyperX Stinger that we had tested previously. Our best real world test for the audio performance on gaming headsets is carried out in a few CS: GO matches. On the Cross, we were able to distinguish between the gunshots and footsteps simultaneously, and the heavy bass weapon noises didn’t overpower the vocals. We were still able to listen to voice messages from our teammates while spraying down bullets at opponents, something we appreciate and need in a gaming headset. The headphone had clarity to give away our enemy’s location in the map while spawning and through footsteps.

Roccat Cross

AUDIO PERFORMANCE: Music

Apart from gaming, we also tested out the Cross with some music. Although gaming headsets hardly offer good quality in music, the Cross performed well with bass-heavy music. Tracks such as Faded by Alan Walker and Starboy by The Weeknd and Daft Punk sounded normal and didn’t seem to suppress the notes on the lower-spectrum. The performance on the highs are average as heard on Hotel California by Eagles, and when it comes to multiple instruments playing simultaneously, we weren’t able to tell each apart at the end of Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys. When it comes to its performance in the mid spectrum, we had no qualms listening to Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold and Ugly Kid Joe’s Cat In The Cradle. In conclusion, you’ll be better off listening to EDM and Pop music rather than acoustic rich music.

Roccat Cross

Mic performance

The mic didn’t pick up the ambient noise which is a good thing in case you have unwanted noise around your room or if you happen to carry this headset to a gaming cafe. We recorded a test audio using Audacity to check the mic levels and quality, while using it in-game as well. The mic performance was satisfactory without any noise audible in-game. Using the mic for gaming commentary will also be fine but if you plan on doing voiceovers, then we’ll have to stop you right there. In comparison with the HyperX Stinger, the mic on the Cross sounded heavier whereas the Stinger’s recorded audio had more clarity. Do note, that this difference was clearly noticeable while recording but in-game it was hardly distinguishable. Out of the two mics, the PC boom mic sounded better than the in-line mic for mobile and consoles.

Roccat Cross

Final thoughts

The Roccat Cross performs well as a gaming headset but falls behind the Stinger and VOID Wireless in terms of design, comfort and audio performance. It does include a better mic than the VOID, but doesn’t match its comfort. The build quality on the Cross could have been way better and considering the quality of their own Kave, this headset is a step back from that direction. The feature of having a detachable cable is picking on where Kingston’s HyperX Cloud series does the best job of providing modularity. For this particular headset, it would have been better if the audio cable and mic input to the headphone were different so that one could use the headphone without attaching the mic.

Audio performance is impressive in gaming, average for music but that’s not what the headset is meant for anyway. For its price, it’s a little expensive since we already have a better performing Stinger cost lower than the Cross.

Roccat Cross Specifications

Driver: 50mm with neodymium magnets,
Cup design: Circumaural, closed back,
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz,
Impedance: 32 ohms,
Cable length: 2.35 m (PC), 1.2 m (mobile/console)
Connector: dual-plug 3.5 mm 3-pin (PC), single-plug 3.5 mm 4-pin TRRS,
SPL: 98 dB @ 1 kHz,
Weight: 185 g,
Mic sensitivity at 1 kHz: -42 dB,
Mic Impedance: 2.2 kΩ,
Signal-to-noise ratio: 58 dB

Contact

Company: Roccat
Email: support@roccat.org
Website: http://www.roccat.org

Roccat Cross Review
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