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Corsair Gaming STRAFE RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Cherry MX Brown
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Wondering about why a company would risk making a quality $150 keyboard and why people fight to keep their older, mechanical keyboards functional? Then see Other Thoughts first. Otherwise, read on.

The STRAFE series of mechanical gaming keyboards have true Cherry MX switches. Cherry (the world’s oldest keyboard switch manufacturer) was a US company that moved to Germany around 1967. Switches can be clicky/non-clicky on activation, provide some tactile feedback (a bump) when pressed, and have various spring forces required to actuate/rebound. Cherry switches are usually referenced by color. Corsair keyboards are available using Cherry MX “Silent”, “Red”, “Brown”, or “Blue” switches. Red has a low actuation force of 45cN and is marketed as a linear, light weighted, gaming switch. Brown is a tactile, non-clicky switch with 45cN actuation force thought to be middle-of-the road good for both typing and gaming. Blue is a clicky, tactile, switch with a 50cN weighting and is favored by typists. These switches all make noise at bottom-out, on rebound, and in addition- some of them have an audible click during activation. The “Silent” is a new Cherry switch developed specifically for Corsair keyboards and is supposed to feel like the Red while being completely quiet - presumably for spousal/roommate benefit. I got the “Brown” switch type.

Other features include a USB pass-through port, and individual key RGB backlighting. The cord has double USB plugs - use one for USB 3.0 (the one with the keyboard icon), plug in two for USB 2.0 ports). Full lighting effects only work with software installed. FPS and MOBA keycap sets are include. A detachable wrist rest is included. Software is continually improving, with macro key customization and pretty cool lighting profiles that you can customize down to each individual key. You can save/download/share various profiles. Software allows for various keyboard polling intervals. You can also can disable: Windows Key, Shift+tab, Alt+tab, alt+F4 if you wish.

Each of the 104 keys registers even when pressed simultaneously (104 key rollover) with 100% anti-ghosting. See Other Thoughts on a fun test to do with your current keyboard.

It is very easy to clean. There is no way for the letters to wear off. A key removal tool is included. Texture is perfect for the detachable wrist rest.

CUE software is kept current. I received my keyboard on 11/24/2015 and the last update of the software was 11/19/2015. The software updated my keyboard firmware too. There is automatic media player discovery and support. Multimedia keys allow audio adjustments without game interruption.

2 year warranty.

Cons: The cable is big and thick and may on the short side (6 ft) - but that’s what it takes to get all the features.

I suggest trying the various types of switches if you have not experienced them before so you know which one to buy.

Software installation takes more than 150 Mb but it works just fine if you choose not install it to your system SSD. During the install it gives you the option to install elsewhere than the system disk. (If you don’t install the software, the keyboard will still work - with WSAD keys and arrows having white backlighting and the rest as red backlighting.)

Other Thoughts: Most keyboards are cheap, membrane-based boards with a rubber dome switch underneath each key. These are inexpensive, spill-resistant, and don’t give you much feedback as to when each key registers - you have to bottom out the key. Also, most can only detect a couple simultaneous keys at a time (called a “rollover” number). Rollover often includes only certain combinations of keys. This problem is also called “ghosting” when certain simultaneous keypresses can’t be distinguished by the keyboard. Right now, try typing “the quick brown fox jumps right over the lazy dog” while holding down both shift keys on your current keyboard. I’ll do this on my Microsoft keyboard at work now: HE QUIK BRON FO JUPS RIGH OER HE LA DOG.

After using a mechanical keyboard, anything else will feel wrong and mushy. Mechanical keyboards also are a bit loud (except for the new “Silent” Cherry switch one), heavy, and last forever unless you spill your coffee on them. When Apple changed from ADB ports to USB there was a huge market in $50 ADB to USB adapters for people who loved their old keyboards. If you use mechanicals to type, with practice, you will type a LOT faster and push more softly because you don’t have to bottom out the keys to get them to actuate.

Keyboards were not the first Corsair product but the company entered strong with great hardware around 2011. The software has finally caught up. They listen to their boards and their customers. Corsair also restored their beloved sail logo on this keyboard and made the effort to have Cherry make special switches for them as an option.

SteelSeries Siberia V3 Gaming Headset
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Great sub $100 gaming headset 10/31/2015

This review is from: SteelSeries Siberia V3 Gaming Headset

Pros: Danish company, SteelSeries, has been around forever as a gaming peripheral company. This is the update for their ultra-popular V2 mid-range gaming headset. They build quality stuff.

The main selling point is that it is ultra-light and comfortable for all-day wear. It is quite a bit lighter than the V2 and is just about the lightest quality headset out there. It is so light that it almost feels cheap when you first pick it up - but it is not - the build quality seems first rate and it comes in a fancy presentation box. The defining unique design feature is the floating, self-adjusting headband suspension.The memory-foam over-the-ear cups sealed very well in spite of my wearing glasses with hardly any clamping pressure. Even though they look open, the cups are closed - the rest of the people in the room don’t get to listen in. I wore it for many hours at a time but own an average sized cranium attached to my 5’ 10” body. I suspect the self-adjusting headband may not go to extremes in size.

The microphone on the left retracts fully into the headset. When extended, it reaches almost to the center of my lips and stays put wherever you bend it. It works better off to the left corner of your mouth, however. There is a mic mute switch on the left cup.

Plug is a single universal 3.5 mm jack. There is a provided extension cable that splits into separate audio and mic jacks.

Cons: The sound is tuned for gaming. I would characterize it as good but not great - if you're an audiophile. But, you can buy $1500 audiophile headsets for that. The 50 mm drivers seem differently tuned than the V2. It seems to me that the top and base are a little muted compared to my V2. The stereo separation is quite good. If you want to listen to music you probably could use an equalizer with a V tuning curve. No virtual surround sound. No bundled software for EQ.

The mic seems like it could use a bit of volume and bass boost but my voice was clear and easy to understand.

No volume controls on the cable or headset (the V2 had an inline volume control).

Other Thoughts: This is a no frills quality headset, excellent for comfortable long gameplay. In the crowded $50-$100 pricepoint, I would expect it to be on most people’s top 10 lists. There are better headsets out there if you want to spend more money - including some others from SteelSeries.

If you need EQ capabilities look at the next SteelSeries version up called the Prism V3 which is just a touch more cash.

Linksys WRT002ANT High-Gain Antenna 2-Pack
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs Effective 09/29/2015

This review is from: Linksys WRT002ANT High-Gain Antenna 2-Pack

Pros: My review title would have been "Pricey but Effective" except the price drop on these really makes them worth considering -- especially if you hare having trouble on the 5 GHz band. They can save you from buying additional access points.

They do what they are supposed to do as long as you understand the limitations - see Other Thoughts. I got the two-pack. They also come as a 4 pack.

FCC rules limit transmit power for unlicensed wireless equipment in the ISM bands to a maximum of 1 watt (30dBm). In the 5 GHz band you can use antennas of any gain. In the 2.4 GHz band for every 3dBi increase of antenna you must reduce transmit power by 1 dBm. Higher gain antennas for a router are a better choice than increasing router power because Wi-Fi is two-way communication and the router must hear the reply of the (usually weaker) client in addition to transmitting loud enough to be heard by the client device.

These antennas are dual-band so they work on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. They have standard RP-SMA connectors. They are 11.4 inches tall (big) and meant to point straight up. The Beamwidth is 360 degrees in the horizontal plane and only 30 degrees in the vertical so they are meant to be used for devices on the same horizontal level. They will work best if the antenna on the client is also vertical.

Gain on 2.4 GHz is 4 dBi. Gain on 5 GHz is 7 dBi. I found these figures to be accurate and these antennas improved my connectivity on the same story sufficiently to eliminate a second access point. See Other Thoughts on what the gain numbers mean and my test results.

Cons: Captain Kirk, these can’t change the laws of physics. They are designed to improve coverage in a Single-Story environment and will likely give you weaker coverage than standard antennas a floor up or a floor down from where the router sits.

Unclear what the effect would be with a MIMO beam-forming AC router/client setup which by itself is supposed to get you 3 dB gain.

Probably have to change out all the antennas on your router to get an effect. Bad luck if you have three antennas because you would have to buy four of these.

Other Thoughts: Antennas do not somehow magically create power but focus the radio energy into various patterns. If you are in the area of antenna focus, it will appear that more power is coming from the antenna. This additional power is robbed from the areas where the antenna is not focused.

Antenna Gain is a measure of the apparent increase in power caused by using a certain antenna that focuses power where you want it - in comparison to some standard antenna. 2x the power compared a standard is 3 decibels (dB). 3x the power vs standard is 6 dB. Unfortunately, there are two standards to compare to. There is an imaginary antenna which is a single point in space radiating uniformly in all directions -- called an Isotropic Radiator and antenna gain relative to this standard is abbreviated as “dBi”. The second standard is a real antenna called a ½ wave dipole. This already has a gain of 2.4 dB over an Isotropic Radiator. Measurements relative to a ½ wave dipole are abbreviated as “dBD”. Many routers use a ½ wave dipole as their “standard’ antenna so dBD figures are likely to be the real-life expected improvement. dBi are better figures for marketing because they are higher by 2.4 dB. To convert, just subtract 2.4 dB from the dBi figure and remember that 3 dB is a doubling of power.

Specs on these antennas are up to 4dBi on 2.4GHz in the horizontal plane. This means 250% the power of a fictitious isotropic antenna and 145% compared to a standard ½ wave dipole.
Specs say up to 7 dBi on 5 GHz in the horizontal plane. This means 500% of a fictitious isotropic and 288% of a standard ½ wave dipole.

I tested signal strength and throughput, both line-of-sight, and through drywall walls using “Wi-Fi analyzer” and “WiFi Speed Test” apps on a Galaxy S4 held vertically and roughly at the same distance above the floor as the router (the S4 WiFi antenna is parallel to the long axis of the phone on the right side). The WiFi Speed Test app connected to a fast laptop wired directly to the router.

On 2.4 GHz, I got about 2-3 dB increase in range (amounting to one room with a wall) vs stock antennas but my data throughput stayed about the same within the area of coverage (improvement less than 30%). In my house 2.4 GHz isn't the problem though. I find the 5 GHz band to be more finicky and I needed two access points per floor to get good video streaming. My results on 5 GHz showed an improved upload and download throughput at all locations on the same floor - up to 300% - saving me one AP per floor. The signal strength one floor up and down was decreased over standard antennas - which I found to be beneficial to prevent channel interference.

If you already have a modern AC dual band router these antennas can save you from buying a second one to cover a floor - which at the current price is cost-effective.


Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09


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  • First Review: 12/18/09
  • Last Review: 11/26/15
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