The experiences of gaming throughout the years.
There's an old saying that applies to gaming as well. The more things change the more they stay the same. Let us take a tour dealing with just the PC/LAN gaming aspect of gaming and how it has evolved from a hardware perspective over the years.
Gaming in the y2k!
In the early days of y2k, LAN gaming was a major source of entertainment in the Americas. Even though we were just barely getting broadband making online play not such as much fun in the 56k/28.8k modem days. Programs like Teamspeak existed but the notion of having voice chat integrated into gameplay like a lot of the modern steam components do today was severely lacking. Online gaming was very hard to find. If the game in question didn't have a lobby you were bitched.
Lan gaming in 2001.
This is one of the events we did at a hotel in 2001. with purchasing a suite at the Radisson 8 PCs in total, at the time we were doing some quake 4, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Star Wars Battlefront matches. It was all done at a surprising cost of around $1,200. Most of them had the following:
- AMD 1.6 to 2.0 Ghz processor,
- ATI 9700 cards
- 1GB of ram DDR1 3200
- Some with Nvidia GeForce 3's!
- All in these glowey cases which costed $35 free shipping!
- CRT monitors that were being recycled. Except for the lone LCD which was our personal station.
The pictures were taken super early in the event but the room was packed when the sun went down. We don't miss these days of gaming! Because as fun as it was to host a room party. The setup/maintenance and tear down time got to the point where the enjoyment vanished. When you look at the systems from 2001 to now. Well, there are some embedded boards nowadays which operate as fast as the system specs I just gave you! However, there is two pieces of hardware I want to focus on which sort of define the difference between PC gaming vs. console gaming.
2001? Meet 2016.
In 2001 we used Ideazon Zboards for LAN gaming as it was classified as a good gaming board for it's time. For the mouse in 2001, we used the Microsoft Intellemouse explorer 3.0. It had good left-right hand support. Good tracking of the laser. And most importantly it was made by Logitech on behalf of Microsoft. Understand that in 2001 Logitech was considered a good company to get mouses for gaming before they sold themselves to the
devil dell themselves.
The Old gaming gear.
Lets first take the way-back machine to 2001 and see what we were gaming on.
One reason why I had these is Ideazon was transitioning from PS2 keyboards to USB so there was this massive blow-out sale going where they were selling for $15 per board instead of the normal $45 price tag. That's even with the FPS key set that went along with it. Overall you could hold down a lot of the keys before they stopped registering (about 15 or so) which is better then using a stock dell keyboard which can only hold down about 5. This is super-important for gaming as you don't want to be running and jumping and suddenly you can't reload. I had approximately 10 of these keyboards and throughout the course of 4 years, it was reduced to 1-2. Why may you ask? Well, the membranes underneath were getting stiff and rigid from being in cold storage. General typing on the standard windows keyboard resulted in almost all of the letters being wiped away after a few months of typing. The reason why this Zboard is in such good shape was the key-set was locked away in the basement. So it's still in very good condition.
Keypad extraction and installation.
I would say the very best thing that came out of the Ideazon design was the FPS layout because for people who have never played FPS on a PC before it showed the keys right there. So it made the barrier of entry a lot easier for those wanting to play a PC game.
Look at all of those damned keysets!
Although we have to admit that when you start looking at all of the keysets for the keyboard our cliche meter red-lines. Showing off that this is a company that likes to cash in on as many games as possible just by adding a new coat of paint to only a handful of predetermined designs that really haven't been all that well tested out. I only had the FPS and the Internet Explorer keyboard layout and really that's all you needed. Everything else was just gimmicky and cliche. I didn't even capture all of the world of Warcraft key-sets out there. after a while of researching, we simply stopped caring. The terrible thing about the Ideazon board besides the stiff membrane issues has to be the interface latch that tells the keyboard exactly what is plugged in. As it relies on a lot of ABS plastic to clamp itself down the connection is not strong and easily gets pushed away from use and time on the Z-Board. What ultimately happens is the Z-Board keyboard utility cannot determine what board you have connected and results in a lot screwing around to get your ZBoard going again.
Merger death of Ideazon.
Ideazon was bought out by a company known as Steel-Series keyboards which exist to this day. One of the first things they did after purchasing the Ideazon Zboard line is taking the price which was around $30-40 and crank it up to $140 for just the keyboard and $45 per gaming keyboard set Throwing the giant middle finger towards all of the few loyal Ideazon customers that existed. They also have taken a stance of non-existent technical support were the best that most users would get at the time was a canned e-mail response. The keyboards are no longer in production and any reference to the original Ideazon line is totally removed from the Steel Series website. Ideazon (dot) com is now some Cyber-Squatter site where it's not even forwarded over to the steel series site. The only thing you'll find on the Steel-Series website is mechanical keyboards which ironically aren't made completely out of steel (yeah, I went there. Don't name your company something that it can't produce.) Man, talking about kicking your product to the curb. Oh well.
I went through many Zboards as well as about 1-2 dell keyboards a year but the Microsoft Intellemouse lasted for 19 years. Think about it man. That Intellemouse 3.0 is old enough to go to college man! I took it apart and cleaned it many of times over. It was upon the 5th time cleaning that I broke the plastics for the side buttons. I plastic welded it together again. The PTFE pads are almost gone, I already had to replace the center button from another Logitech mouse because it gummed out. And the outer plastics are totally yellowing out from age. On another mouse like this one, I had the trackwheel swell up from using the wrong chemicals to clean. perhaps it's time to finally buy something new. Unlike Ideazon Zboard there's not a whole lot to say about the Microsoft mouse except that it survives from my Pentium 133mhz days. So to that extent, Logitech did do a good job for Microsoft. Microsoft still gets Logitech and other companies to name their keyboards and mice underneath their banner with a fortune of saying that it's official Microsoft. But for gaming people have moved on.
Steel series again?!?!
In a state of almost pure irony, we have steel series once again heading up with their own mouse which is listed for around $38 upon release. $38(USD) does not seem like a bad price in contrast to Microsoft's IntelliMouse. But one must understand that Microsoft naturally jacks the price of everything they made. Steel Series follows this very philosophy as well which is why there's no change of price between the two companies. It's interesting these people keep popping up as to me it feels as if the founding of steel-series as a company had no real ideas of their own but instead was just a shareholder of intellectual properties from other devices that gaming reviewers listed as good-rated as "Good". How much you want to bet there is no design changes/improvement in the mouse? Ohh well.
The gaming mechanical keyboard craze.
When I first heard about the mechanical keyboards our old ass selves immediately thought of visions of the classic IBM Model M keyboard. It defiantly had the clicky keys going. This makes sense since cherry and many other switch companies have been around for about as long as the founding of the computer. The best part about this keyboard is if it hits the floor the keycaps fly off of it like Chiclets as there's an outer covering for the plastics. Making rage-gaming with a keyboard like this all the more impressive.
The original IBM 15011101 XT Keyboard probably had more steel in it then what Steel-Series put into their keyboards.
Okay Grandpa! Shut up and get to the new stuff!
Fine, shit! Just making a point that we've almost come full circle in the technological advancements of keyboards. The major difference between then and now is we have more powerful microchips inside registering every keypress as valid on a mechanical keyboard. No ghosting or missing a key if you drop your entire fist onto a modern mechanical. It will register all of the keys your fist is touching at the same time! Anyhow, Onward with the show.
The new in gaming.
Welcome to 2016! Yes, finally talk to talk about the new gaming input gear that defines PC gaming. Lets dive right into it with my purchase of the Corsair Keyboard and Mouse!
Before going any further let us address the elephant in the room. Out of all of the gaming keyboard companies out there. Corsair doesn't seem to have this giant stick up their ass saying "they're the best."
If you're not playing on their keyboard then your A PIECE OF SH1T GODDAMNED N00B F@G!!!FUKIN KILLZ JOO N' COD!1!1!!!!SH1TL0RD!!1!!!!!!1!!!! - Jimmy P. AngryGamer
WHOAH WHOA!!! It's time to take some Xanax and lay off the fucking Red-bull! What the hell man! I didn't get a razer keyboard initially due to Ouya drama I have already explained. You're already catching onto my drift with Steel Series so no need to mention them any further. I don't like gaming culture perhaps out of spite that they are not catering to my demographic but instead the teenage rage-queens which exist on the net. Corsair was the logical choice as they seemed the least arrogant in terms of their marketing approach.
Corsair Mechanical Stafe Keyboard.
Red was already my favorite color. So the point of purchasing an RGB Keyboard for 60-70 bucks more was moot. I bought this for around $80 on sale at best buy which is not a terrible price for a full-sized mechanical keyboard like this. Unlike almost any keyboard owned. Mechanical keyboards are inherently heavy in weight because of the way they are built. I went with the Cherry MX Red switched (We will explain the switches in a little bit). Because even though Razer's are nicer for gaming having the machine gun clicking of my keyboard when typing blogs is not cool! So the quiet switches are perfect for me.
Extra keys and key puller.
The Corsair Keyboard also game with this packet of extra keys to make your first-person shooter keys feel more bumpy during combat. And this little key-puller which is not gimmicky at all. The Key-Puller is actually very nice in case your keyboard gets too dirty (like all keyboards eventually do) and you can pull off all of the keys to do a deep clean to the unit. Do you NEED a key-cap puller? No, in most cases you can remove keys with your fingers. Just understand that if you apply too much force to one side of the switch plastics or the others. It has the potential to break. Which of course means repair time!
What's the difference in the color switches you may be asking?
Everything is based around the type of Cherry MX series Switch that you get. Which Cherry used to be the name of the company but now it's just a product type underneath the ZF Electronics banner.
Cherry MX red switch animation.
Cherry MX blue switch animation.
Cherry MX clear switch animation.
Cherry MX brown switch animation.
Cherry MX black switch animation.
All credit goes to a Lethal Squirrel for making these animations. I did not make them! I would be happy to point to his site if I can find it here. Also note not all switches are represented here but simply gives you a visual representation about how each switch behaves a little differently.
There's also a table out there showing these switches on the Wiki which is easier to understand on the technical aspects of them all. This is super useful when choosing what kind of mechanical switch keyboard you want and kind of wished that I did my research about this a little more.
|Cherry MX Green
|Cherry MX White
|0.50 N / 0.70N*
|0.60 N / 0.80 N*
|Cherry MX Blue
|Cherry MX Clear
|Cherry MX Brown
|Cherry MX Silent
|Cherry MX Red
|Cherry MX Black
|Cherry MX speed silver
"*" - White Switches were one of the first ones made for keyboards, which is why their Actuation and Tactile Force can vary down to the sub-model.
Additional notes about Razer keyboard switches.
Razer uses their own proprietary switch which these two switches are the Razer Green switch and the Razer Orange switch. While there is a lot of debate over the durability of the Razer switch line. Most notably; Early model razer switches had quality control issues due to them being made by a Chinese company called "Kailh" that was contracted out to make these switched for Razer. Razer has been silently using "Greetech" after their 2014 keyboard releases and since then the reports about quality control and consistency have been a lot better. We feel it's important to mention this because we do not like companies that keep mistakes like this quiet because it's bad public relations.
It is also noted that the latest Razer the BlackWidow X can come with Razer Green, Razer Orange, or Cherry MX Blue.
Razer Green switches are similar to the Cherry MX blue switch with a slightly lower tactile response.
Razer Orange switches are similar to the Cherry MX brown switches with a slightly lower tactile response.
If this is your first time jumping into getting a nice mechanical keyboard then chances are you won't really feel that 0.5mm to 1mm difference at all.
Some issues with the Corsair strafe.
We do like the quiet action of the keyboard thanks to the cherry MX reds however we find ourselves resting our hands on the keyboard when surfing the web and accidentally smashing that space bar causing things to go flying down the page. we're classified as a heavy typing person and thus I should've gone with a keyboard that had cherry black switches. Cherry reds and blue are very lightweight switches which if you've got big bulky hands like us you'll probably want to keep your hand away from the keyboard so you don't send spaces like crazy! Strangely it's just the space-bar this happens to. None of the other keys of note. If I could make the space bar a little stiffer with Cherry MX Blacks on the space-bar it would probably solve this issue. then the keyboard probably would be perfect for my style of typing.
When you first get any mechanical keyboard it's really cool that it lights up. But over time you realize how much of a gimmick it is and how it really doesn't help you type any faster. Ultimately the lights get turned off on the keyboard save for a few times out of boredom and they get turned on for the night.
The software is nice and it at least detects my keyboard which is all good. Even ran a software update which We guess it just makes the LEDs do more "Things." There's also macros and other shit that you could assign to your keyboard but I'm just a punk-ass casual gamer who types more than they actually game so I tend to leave the keyboard in its most basic of settings.
As much as I like the thickness of the Corsair Strafe cable coming off of the back and splitting into two USB ports. one for my keyboard and the other for the Auxiliary port used for my mouse. I kind of wished with the thickness it had a break-away cable so when your traveling with the keyboard to your next LAN party you're not damaging your wiring harness during travel. It would probably add to cost and result in people losing their cables. But just an observation.
If you have big hands like I do and/or you want a mechanical keyboard that gives you the throw-back feel of the IBM keyboard but without the click-factor, the Corsair Strafe is a really good choice for a keyboard. If you have smaller hands you may not care for this keyboard which we would probably suggest the Razer Black-Widow chroma. With testing both the Razer keyboard/mouse combo and a corsair keyboard mouse combo and find myself liking the corsair for day-to-day use and the Razer for playing only games.
Corsair M65 Pro Gaming mouse RGB.
Unfortunately, they don't sell just a red mouse so the RGB will have to do. I find even more problems with the mouse then I did with the Corsair keyboard. But I'll start with some of the positives. Understand that the problems with this mouse to us are very minimal. This may seriously impact the views of others who get this based off recommendations.
It's actually built very well and the steel housing complements the mouse with plenty of PTFE padding on the bottom to keep the mouse gliding smoothly for probably years on my felt pad.
This is where I have to seriously throw down the negative rain on this mouse. It has this DPI up and down sensor system which great and all but you usually find your preferred DPI. Set it. And never change it again. In effect, the DPI setting should be tucked away somewhere else on this mouse. There's a "Sniper" button on the right-hand side which I tried to use in Quake and UT2k4. And the sniper button was very annoying. During day to day web-surfing activities, the sniper mouse actually gets in the way as that's where my thumb rests.
You only have one hand!!
If your left-handed the mouse still kind of works for you but unless you're super talented with your pinky finger with getting to the forward and backwards arrow keys. If there was a back/forward button on the other side it would probably be a great mouse for left-handed people.
OMG! It's Heavy!
Granted, this is one of the heaviest mice I have ever used due to its construction design. But when I hear a gamer complain about the weight and how responsive it has to be. It makes me giggle and think there's a lot of gamers with bitch wrists out there! It's totally fine for me in terms of weight. If you have the hands of a small child you will probably hate this mouse.
Like the keyboard, it's rather gimmicky but if you really like a certain color then I suppose you'll think this mouse is super cool. Software. I used the software a little more for the mouse then I did the keyboard, In particular making sure that it emits reds for the lower DPI setting which I like to be in. That's about it. However, unlike Razer products for some reason the Corsair Mouse and Keyboard have no NVRAM state. Meaning that once you set the parameters of the color or pattern that you want. The moment you turn off this software to reboot it reverts back to factory stock which is annoying! As for the mouse. I feel the Razer DeathAdder Chroma definitely has a nicer feel. But the steel inside of this G65 makes this mouse feel ultra durable.
About the Razer company.
For those who say the following:
You're just shilling for Corsair and you didn't even give Razer a chance!
I actually do have one of Razer 2014 Black-widow Chroma keyboards. It's a little weird jumping back and forth between corsair with the big keys and Razer with the crazy small keys. And the only reason why we got a Razer keyboard is simply put:
Gamer culture is completely insane.
Everyone wants the latest and greatest gaming board when a mechanical is designed almost the life of the owner. But this defies the nature of gaming culture. Everything must be new and shiny and last year's technology is garbage! At least that's what the local cybercafe lectured us about. So $30 bucks later I got the BlackWidow Chroma 2014 edition. The number one thing that I could say truly bothers me has to be the software of Razer. Say what you want about Corsairs software problems. At least Corsair is not mandating you to log in to your account via e-mail in order for it to even work. It would be one thing if you gave users the option to log in and even warn that without logging in that their settings (which could be nothing!) will be totally lost. But not razer. To them, it's all about getting your information as fast as humanly possible which I'm not a big fan of companies wanting your information so badly only to turn around and get hacked later on! So when playing with Razer software we just give them a Mailinator address and the middle finger at this level.
Other companies - The no-names of gaming.
S, I'm not made of money here. What the hell is up with this pricey hardware?!?
Too expensive? Want something for your kid to murder but still be reasonably cool with his friends? Well, fear not. There's a Chinese company called MechanicalEagle which is making these ultra-cheap mechanical keyboards for under $40.
Depending on where this keyboard is purchased can come with free shipping. These cherry knock-off blue switches which feel and respond the same way that the original Cherry MX Blues. Unfortunately, I can't go into the future and tell you if these switches will last so realistically only time will tell. Sorry guys, not a time lord! Granted it doesn't have a number pad on it. This was done to keep the costs low. Also, the plastics are just standard ABS so nothing overly fancy.
The colored lights of the mechanical keyboard are exactly what you get. You can even go cheaper for around $35 if you don't care about lights like I do! With the software, you can make the keys flash and light up but that is about it.
Mechanical Keyboard Mods.
One of the most common mods that people do is add an O-Ring dampener along the inside of each key-cap on their board. Cherry MX-Red switches may be considered silent but the pounding on the ABS plastics and bottoming out every-time you type may not be so quiet regardless of what keyboard you may have. This is where adding O-Rings to every key may help. O-Rings can come in different sizes and colors depending on how much you want to dampen along with if you have a LED keyboard you might want to get some translucent O-Rings so you are not blocking any of the color going to your key. The sound difference is marginal on the Cherry MX Reds but when I used this on an MX Blue it helped a lot!
Although we have come a long way with gaming hardware for PC's (and in some respects, we have gone into a complete circle) the mechanical race is not perfect. For those who are buying a cherry MX based keyboard. I might want to make a suggestion to always be on the look-out for broken keyboards of the same model so that you can extract the MX Switches with your soldering iron and repair your keyboard to ensure that it remains active for many years after said keyboards are in the grave like Ideazon. True, you can buy MX Switches from many electronics stores. But you pay through the nose at 1-2 bucks a key. Just wait for some rich-boy gamer to break their hardware like they always do and pick it up on eBay on the cheap. As for our overall reaction, it can be summed with a resounding:
If you don't think we're terribly excited about out mechanical keyboards you're probably right. While the durability and perhaps even the serviceability factor is great. This isn't anything that we can sit down and say "This is Life-Changing OMG!" . It's because I've already lived through the first batch is mechanical keyboards hype-train and all. The marketing drove people away from the "clicky-ness" and onto different things like ultra-light, soft, and shitty membrane keyboards made cheaper and cheaper until they were all garbage. Way to go industry! Instead of making a product that can last a lifetime. These companies simply want to add to landfills for the lowest common cash value.
Chances are in about 5 years the gaming community will probably introduce a different type of keyboard. Giving the core audience guilt. Which if it is indeed a good product such as a classic mechanical keyboard then it will sell well even to the non-gaming audience. If it's gimmicky garbage it will probably be erased through history. Only to repeat itself in another 10 years to the next game generation that wants to be wrapped in its sexy plastic.
The progression in my view is not bad because it's getting back to the roots of what PC gaming hardware should be.
That's all that server has to say.
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