Intel i5-10600K CPU review: The heart of a new PC build

While it’s true that much of my video gaming these days is on on either my Xbox Series X or my PlayStation 5, I’m still a proud card carrying member of the PC Master Race and I started my gaming on the venerable ZX81 way back in the dark ages of personal computing.

So when PR for Intel Australia/New Zealand got in touch and offered me the chance to test out its 10th Generation i5-10600K CPU, I jumped at the chance. I was keen to re-build my PC with a newer generation CPU & see how Intel’s 10th Gen chip compares to the i5 8400 that I had been using for the last four years or so.

The Origin Story

For this new build, I was going to need to purchase a new motherboard for the i5-10600K as the Asus B365M-K motherboard that houses the 8400 doesn’t support Intel’s new LGA1200 socket form factor (the 8400 is the LGA1151 form factor).

I spent days investigating the cons and pros of a variety of motherboard chipsets that would work with the i5-10600K and eventually settled on an Asus TUF Gaming Z490-plus wi-fi motherboard from New Zealand retailer Computer Lounge.

The Asus board seemed to rank favourably with the review sites I follow and I’ve long been a fan of Asus’ motherboards as I’ve found they’re generally constructed well and offer great features for the price.

The board even came with a certificate of reliability from Asus, ver. Verifying that it had passed a variety of reliability tests that included vibration, mechanical shock, thermal shock and solderability tests on the motherboard’s capacitors and chokes.

The TUF Gaming Z490 looked just the thing that I needed but I’d be lying if it said it was easy finding a Z4890 mother board: Most retailers were either sold out, didn’t stock Z490 boards any more or were leaning towards the newer chipset for Intel’s 11th Generation CPUs.

The Set-Up

OK, let’s talk about the heart of the build: The CPU for a moment. Intel’s i5-10600K is part of the company’s Comet Lake CPU line up which was released around a year ago and is a 6-core, 12-thread CPU running at 4.1Ghz. It has a maximum clock speed of 4.5Ghz but apparently can be overclocked quite easily to 5.0Ghz. I don’t plan to overclock – at least not at this stage anyway.

So, with the i5-10600K kindly provided by Intel and the Asus Z490 motherboard having arrived safely, It was time to re-build my PC.

Apart for the new CPU and motherboard, all the other components were straight transplants from my old PC; The  SSD (which had the Windows 10 Pro OS install), the HDD (I haven’t got around to getting an M.2 drive yet), two sticks of PNY’s 8Gb RGB RAM and my dependable but ageing Sapphire RX580 GPU.

I was ready to begin, optimistic that I’d be done and dusted before I knew it. Oh, how wrong I was.

Remember earlier in this piece I mentioned how I was no stranger to building PCs? Well, I have to say that this was probably the most problematic build I’ve ever done. Installing the i5-10600K onto the motherboard was the easy part as was installing Cooler Master H410R air cooler (it too came from my old PC and luckily for me, supported the newer LGA1200 socket mounting holes).

I hit a few hiccups during the build, all a result of my fumbling fingers, but soon enough it was up and running. I could see that the i5-10600K was proving significantly better performer than the 8400 it replaced. It’s touted as a great CPU choice for gamers which works for me.

The Payoff

I tested the CPU using Geekbench, CPU-Z, Realbench and Maxon’s Cinebench R23 benchmarking tools.

Using Cinebench, I tested both the 10600K and 8400 on core performance. The 8400 returned a single core reading of 4802 (I forgot to do a multi-core test before swapping out CPUs) and the 10600K returned scores of1253 (single-core) and 8918 (multi-core).

Geekbench returned a score of 1256 (single-core) and 6483 (multi-core). CPU-Z returned scores of 513.7 (single thread) and 3813 (multi-thread) for the 10600K.

Realbench tests image editing, H.264 video encoding speeds, OpenCL and heavy multitasking and delivered a score of 145,369.

To be honest, I have no idea what any of these numbers mean in terms of whether a CPU is good or not but in general world PC usage, the Intel i5-10600K performed remarkably well and faster than my previous 8th Generation i5 8400 did so I’m extremely happy.

So, that’s it for this build post. In a future post, I’ll test the 10600K’s gaming performance.

A huge thanks to Intel Australia/New Zealand for the test i5-10600K CPU.

Dell XPS 15 9500 laptop: Portable computing power

When Dell’s XPS 15 9500 landed at GamejunkieNZ Towers three weeks ago, I set myself the goal of using it instead of my desktop PC.

Fast forward three weeks and I’m pleased to report that apart from a couple of times when I had to use programs that were only installed on my desktop PC, Dell’s XPS 9500 was my go-to at-home computing device. My desktop PC has been gathering dust!

Out of the box, Dell’s XPS 9500 has a stand-out white aluminium chassis with a woven carbon fibre pattern on the interior. The colour is called frost white and it looks superb and is a nice departure from the more traditional darks and bare metal commonly seen on laptops. The chassis has a real quality feel to it, too, with thin bezels around the panel, that maximises the screen real estate.

The 9500 has excellent build quality, too, tipping the scales at 1.8kg, so you’ll definitely notice it if you pick it up with one hand or lug it in your backpack.

Vital statistics: Intel i7 1075H CPU @2.60Ghz, 16Gb dual channel DDR4 memory (at 1600Mhz), 4Gb nvidia Geforce GTX1650 TI GPU, 512Gb SSD, Windows 10

The model I reviewed is powered by Intel’s 10th generation i7 1075H CPU, a six core, 12-thread processor (base clock of 2.60Ghz, max turbo frequency of 5Ghz, TDP of 45W) that has long been the go-to for high-end gaming laptops. A couple of months ago, the review configuration would set you back $NZ4698.99. Customisation options include opting for a Intel integrated graphics rather than a discrete card, i5 or i9 Intel CPUs and up to 64Gb of memory and 2Tb of storage.

Connectivity wise, the left side houses two USB C ports while the right side is home to an SD card reader, another USB C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Two of the USB C ports have Thunderbolt 3 support.

The lack of a USB Type A port initially caused me concern – I still have a lot of thumb drives floating about – but my concern was short lived as I found Dell had cleverly included a USB A and HDMI adapter in the accessories pack.

The work surface has a neat carbon fibre weave pattern.

Gorgeous screen

Lifting up the lid you’re greeted with a 15.6-inch touch screen display that is, quite frankly, stunning in action, offering a native 4K resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Images are crisp and clear, as is video and video streaming, and it’s probably one of the best laptop screens I’ve used, if I’m being honest. You can tweak the colour settings using Dell’s in-built PremierColor app which let’s you select a variety of colour presets, including for watching movies, sport or using it at night time

Speakers are located either side of the keyboard, and again they offer excellent performance, highlighting that this is a high-end laptop that is designed to “Wow”. The speakers provided excellent sound reproduction, with deep bass and nice treble and mid tones.

Battery life is, of course, dependent on what you do but I think with general day to day usage you should get around 10-12 hours from a full charge of the 86W battery before requiring wall juice.

The big questions, though, is how does it perform, especially since I mainly used the XPS for gaming (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) because I was super keen to see how the GTX1650Ti handled some of my favourite games. (Of course, I didn’t just limit the laptop to gaming: I also streamed online content (Netflix, YouTube) and did general day to day not-so-exciting stuff. I mainly played games on it, though.)

Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is, I’m happy to report, excellently. It performs excellently.

Now, you’re gaming with power …

I played Gears of War 5, Forza Horizon’s 4, Titanfall 2 and cyberpunk pixel game Cloudpunk, all with medium to high graphics settings, as well as spent some time with recently released Days Gone a PlayStation title that has now come to PC.

Before I get to the gaming performance, I want to talk about the cooling this thing has. It has a lot of ventilation: There’s a massive exhaust port across the back edge of the device and a sizeable air intake on the bottom that scoops cool air onto the innards. There is also a couple of air “slits” on each side of the underside of the chassis. This thing takes cooling to new heights.

I also tested the laptop with the in-built Gears of War 5 benchmark (recommended medium to high graphics settings). It returned an average of 60FPS (average GPU frame rate 73FPS) at 1080p; an average of 59.9 frames per second at 1440p (average GPU frame rate 63.3FPS); and at native 4K an average of 46FPS (average GPU frame rate 47.2FPS).

I also tested the Dell on PlayStation Studio’s Days Gone, which delivered around 65 frames per second with a mix of medium to high graphics settings at a maximum resolution of 1440 x 900 thanks to the 16:10 aspect ratio. This game, too, had the Dell’s cooling system working over time so it did get loud at times.

I also run 3D Mark’s Timespy DX12 benchmark, scoring a “great” 2898 (GPU score 2667, CPU score 5695) and the Firestrike DX11 benchmark, delivering a score of 6836 (GPU score 7358, physics score 15311, combined score 2895).

As I mentioned earlier, under load the Dell can get quite noisy – not so loud that you can’t speak to the person next to you but it’s noticeable – so you need to ensure that no part of the underside intake is blocked when you’re doing intensive tasks.

This isn’t a laptop that I’d recommend taking to bed and resting on your duvet or using while lying on the carpet: It needs room to breath and space for air to flow. If you plan on doing gaming or high-intensity applications, this is a “use on a desk” laptop.

Top, the Dell XPS 15 9500 running the Gears of War 5 benchmark. Below, running Forza 4 Horizons.

Final verdict

After about three week’s using the Dell XPS 15 9500, I’m happy to report that this is one of the best laptops I’ve ever used. Hell, it could even be the best laptop I’ve ever used.

The screen is utterly fantastic, the performance is excellent thanks to Intel’s i71075H CPU which ensured no system bottlenecks, and it offers great gaming performance thanks to the nVidia Geforce GTX1650Ti dedicated GPU.

I could also see this laptop replacing my ageing desktop PC which is starting to show its age with an eighth generation Intel i5 8400 and a few-years-old AMD RX580 graphics card.

Thanks to Botica Butler Raudon Partners & Passion PR for arranging the loan unit.

D-Link DCS-8302LH HD wi-fi camera review

For most people, their home is easily their most valuable asset so you want to keep an eye on it when you’re not there so the bad people don’t break in and steal your tech stuff and bikes. That would just make them cry.

An easy way to keep an eye on your house is by using a wi-fi security camera that lets you view footage beaming from the camera in real-time then record any dodgy persons or notifies you that there’s some motion around your house.

D-Link, more commonly know for its routers, also does wi-fi security cameras and kindly sent me along its DCS-8302LH camera to test out. It’s priced at $NZ250 and $AU200.

Set up was super easy using D-Link’s Mydlink ap and once up and running you can view a live feed or captured footage straight from the app. You can save footage to a microSD card (you’ll have to buy one as it doesn’t come with the camera), something called Onvif profile S recording or subscribe to Dlink’s cloud-based storage service.

There are several levels of the subscription service, ranging from free (which records and saves a day’s worth of footage to the cloud and allows up to three cameras) to yearly at $NZ99 a year (which saves a month’s worth at a time and lets you connect up to 10 cameras). Being of Scottish descent, I was happy with the free subscription as my motto is “If you can get something for free, why not?”

The DCS-8302LH has a 2 megapixel lens captures footage in full HD (1080p, 30FPS), has a two-way microphone and an IR sensor which lets you capture footage day and night, an ethernet port if you don’t want to connect it via wi-fi. The camera connects using the 802.11n/g wireless protocol over the 2.4Ghz band. The field of view is 135 degrees. Oh, there’s also a siren, if you’re wanting a siren to alert everyone.

You can also set the camera to capture using audio, motion or person detection and there is also a privacy mode. You can set the camera either indoors or outdoors (D-Link recommends if it’s outdoors it under house eves or shelter) but if you install it outside, you’ll need to ensure there is a fixed power source nearby as I don’t recommend an extension cord!

The D-Link DCS-8302LH in its natural habitat. Note the fluffy dog lurking nearby …

The only issue I had in setting up the camera was that the mounting bracket – which would let me secure the camera to a pole or wall – was already attached to the base of the camera and was incredibly hard to screw loose. Not that I planned to attach it to anything but I wanted to see how easy it was to do. I eventually had to use a bread & butter knife to twist it counter clockwise to loosen it as it seemed near impossible by hand. After that initial “assistance”, it was much easier to remove.

I tested the camera positioned in a variety of spots around my home, mostly to keep an eye on the dog while I’m away from home. It was generally positioned looking out a sliding door or similar. I also set it up looking out over the relatively busy road outside the front of our house that has plenty of cars, pedestrians and cyclists passing past every day. I received a few notifications over an afternoon alerting me to walkers wandering past on their daily constitutional. I was also able to take a snapshot of captured footage then save it to my phone, which is handy if someone breaks in and there’s a clear image of the offender.

I actually found that with the motion sensitivity set to its maximum the camera is incredibly sensitive to movement, meaning sometimes I’d several notifications a day sent to my phone which was actually just the wind blowing a tag on patio furniture that was in the camera’s field of view. One highlight of all the notifications, mind you, was that I witnessed captured footage of the dog trying (and failing spectacularly) to catch a flying insect that was buzzing around annoying him. It was amusing to say the least.

The camera also has a pretty good night mode: I set it up in the house one night, in the hallway, just to see how it looked and it captured me walking to the front door and the dog following behind and sent an alert to my phone. I contemplated leaving it running overnight but realised the dog would create multiple notifications!

Look, I was impressed with D-Link’s DCS-8302LH wifi camera and while it might not be the most featured security camera around (it doesn’t have automatic tilt function, for example) for me, it seemed a reasonably priced security camera that will give you much needed little piece of mind for you, your property and your loved ones.

D-Link AX5400 (DIR-5460) Wi-fi 6 router review

Getting constantly reliable wireless speeds seems to be a life-long mission for many – me included – so when D-Link offered to send me one of its latest wi-fi 6 routers to test out, I jumped at the chance.

Looking like an alien spider that has been flipped onto its back, D-Link says its Exo AX5400 (DIR-5460) mesh wi-fi 6 router brings next-generation wireless to your home, supporting six simultaneous streams and unleashing “lightening fast wi-fi goodness” over larger areas than before.

If you’re read previous router reviews of mine, you’ll know how my house is set up. The services box – where the fibre connection enters the house from the street – is in the garage of my, roughly, 226sq m single-storey, four bedroom house. Inside, there are a handful of wall-installed ethernet ports [one of them in a kitchen cupboard!] There is also an internal door between the router and the rest of the house.

The only device that has a permanent wired connection is my PC: Everything else – smart TV, laptops, iPads – uses wi-fi. Currently, there are four people living at home, including two young adults in their 20s, so the demand on my wi-fi is considerable with media streaming and university work.

D-Link’s DIR-X5460 supports the latest 802.11ax wireless protocol [as well as other available protocols, of course], which D-Link says improves wireless performance and allows multiples devices to connect at once without compromising on performance.

The last D-Link wi-fi 6 router I tested was the bare bones DIR-X1560 but the DIR-X5460 is fully featured, with three LAN ports (10/100/1000Mbps gigabit), an internet port, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. It also has six antennae [four non-detachable, two-detachable], compared to its smaller sibling’s four.

The DIR-X5460 offers concurrent dual-band wireless (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)  for connections up to 5.4Gbps, six simultaneous data streams and BSS colouring which increases range and reduces interference in “noisy” wi-fi environments, apparently. It’ll set you back around $NZ540.

Bottom line for me when it comes to wi-fi is I want stable, reliable wireless that doesn’t tank during heavy downloads or buffer during extended streaming sessions of The Wire or Peaky Blinders.

Like previous D-Link routers, set-up was super simple using the mobile phone app but you can use a web browser-based set up, too. All I had to do was enter my ISP’s username and password details, the router rebooted and I was up and running. There was a firmware update during the testing period.

Long story short, the DIR-X5460 impressed me, offering reliable wi-fi out a single drop out over the past month, but what about the speeds?

The simplest way to find out how good a router is, is to test it – so that’s what I did, multiple times, using a variety of testing tools: Ookla Speedtest and and website Speedof.me.

I tested the speeds from a variety of locations around the house: Beside the router, in the main bedroom, in the lounge and in the kitchen/dining/family room [these last three are the furtherest from the router]. I tested multiple times in each of the locations then did additional speed tests on September 13 at random times during the day.

The results

Ookla:

  • Kitchen: 28.6Mbps download, 27.8Mbps upload (as low as 12.9Mbps)
  • Lounge: 33.4Mpbs, 30.8Mbps
  • Bedroom: 36.9Mbps, 37.7Mbps
  • Next to router: 38.3Mbps, 55.7Mbps
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 31.5Mbps, 11.4Mbps (lounge); 26.3Mbps, 19.5Mbps (kitchen); 39.1Mbps, 22.7Mbps (main bedroom); 40Mbps, 34.6Mbps (beside router)

Speedof.me

  • Kitchen: 37.43Mbps download (max 52.18Mbps), 20.17Mbps upload
  • Lounge: 39.55Mbps (47.57Mbps), 34.63Mpbs
  • Bedroom: 41.01Mbps (max 53.5Mbps), 41.95Mbps
  • Next to router: 41.75Mbps (max 60.45Mbps), 51.66Mbps)
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 33.6Mbps, 11.74Mbps (lounge); 23.03Mbps, 7.15Mbps (kitchen); 36.87Mbps, 16.24Mbps (main bedroom); 40.14Mbps, 41.6Mbps (beside router)

For me, the DIR-X5460 delivered consistently fast wi-fi speeds right across my house without any drop outs and provided problem-free Netflix, YouTube and Neon streaming – and that’s a massive plus in my book. Obviously the wi-fi signal got weaker the further it got from the router and no doubt there are faster routers out there, but speeds were faster and more consistent with the DIR-5460 than many of the other routers I’ve used previously.

In fact, it must have been alright as I had no complaints from the two young adults currently in the house at all about wi-fi quality, given my daughter had moaned about the wi-fi strength before setting up the new router.

Being wi-fi 6 means the DIR-X5460 is future-proofed, too, meaning as the protocol becomes more commonplace, firmware updates to the router will mean it will prove useful for years to come. Two thumbs up, from me.

PNY offers Geforce RTX30 series graphics cards

Earlier today, graphics card powerhouse nVidia announced its new Geforce RTX 30 series cards and they look pretty damn good, if I don’t mind saying so myself.

I was contemplating picking up an RTX2060 or RTX2070 later this year but while nVidia for some reason hasn’t made New Zealand pricing available, it sounds like an RTX3070 will cost around $AU800 (which means closer to $NZ850, probably) so while not cheap, they seemed competitively priced when compared to the RTX2000 series cards when they were released.

The RTX3090, however, sounds like it’ll need a small mortgage to cover the cost so I suspect it’s not considered a consumer-level card.

Hot on the heels of nVidia’s announcement, memory, RAM and GPU manufacturer PNY has come out announcing its own line-up of RTX30 series cards with the XLR8 gaming series: The  RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, all powered by the all-new NVIDIA Ampere architecture.

nVidia says the new RTX 30 Series GPUs, the 2nd generation of RTX, features new RT Cores, Tensor Cores and streaming multiprocessors, bringing stunning visuals, amazingly fast frame rates and AI acceleration to games and creative applications.

In terms of overclocking and RGB customisation, PNY says its XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 30 Series is compatible with PNY’s VelocityX overclocking software which allows for the customisation and monitoring of critical stats like core clock, memory clock, core temperature, fan speed, RGB lighting and more, aiming for the perfect balance of performance and efficiency.

Here’s what PNY has to offer in the range:

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3090

    • 24GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGBTM
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3080

    • 10GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGB
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3070

    • 8GB
    • 3 fan and 2 fan variations
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6
    • EPIC-X RGB on 3 fan version
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY says its RTX3090 will be available from late-September,  the RTX3080 from mid-September and the RTX3070 from mid-October from mWave.com.au in Australia and in New Zealand from  www.pbtech.co.nz/

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as buy parts for a new gaming PC, putting it all together into a nice case then powering it up and cheering when everything works just as it should. It’s a real sense of accomplishment of a “I made this” type.

I’ve build several PCs over the years but only one has had a tempered glass side panel: My current PC which is built into a Montech Air 900 mid-tower case that I won in an online competition earlier this year.

Cases only h ave tempered glass side panels for one reason: To show off the shiny, RGB-lit goodness that lives inside it.  I know RGB components aren’t for everyone but I guess it’s the PC gamer equivalent of a car enthusiast who mods and tweaks his car to show off to other enthusiasts.

The only RGB lighting in my PC when I built it came from my Sapphire RX580 graphics card – up until PNY Technologies sent across a 16Gb kit of dual channel XLR8 RGB RAM (3200Mhz) to put through its paces.

Rated at 3200MHz, the XLR8 RAM is backward compatible with 2133Mhz, 2400Mhz, 2666Mhz, 2800Mhz, 2933Mhz and 3000Mhz frequencies. It has a CAS latency of 16 [timings are 16-18-18] and it supports XMP 2.0.

EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE …

As anyone who has built a PC will know, RAM is one of the easiest things to replace and installing the PNY RAM was straightforward enough, replacing the two 8Gb sticks of vanilla Team Group RAM (rated at 2400Mhz) that were currently in my PC.

However, I did have to remove my RX580 GPU and disconnect my case fans header to fit the sticks in as clearances on my PC’s Asus mATX B365M-K motherboard were pretty tight. It just meant I had to manage the cables a little better, too.

PNY’s RAM draws 1.35v of power and the RGB lighting is powered via the RAM slot on your motherboard so you don’t need an RGB header on the motherboard to connect it to, which is nice for those of us with motherboards like mine that don’t have the aforementioned header. The RGB lights – consisting of five LEDs within a frosted lens – sit on top of the two aluminum heat spreaders.

TRIPPING THE [RGB] LIGHT FANTASTIC …

The memory supports a number of lighting control software such as Asus’ Aura Sync, MSi’s  Mystic Light Sync and ASrock’s Polychrome sync but unfortunately, my Asus motherboard doesn’t support RGB control so I couldn’t control the light patterns, instead just letting it “do its own thing”, which still looked nice. My motherboard is also restricted to 2666Mhz frequency RAM, so that’s what I set the frequency to in my motherboard’s BIOS.

PNY’s XLR8 RAM does what it says on the tin: Lights up your windowed PC case with undulating displays of neon colours – and I quite like that.

Look, RGB inside your PC won’t make it run any faster: It’s purely for aesthetics and a nice addition to someone who has a case with a side window and wants to show off the PC they spent countless hours tinkering on and getting just right.

As I said earlier, RGB components aren’t for every PC owner but if it is, PNY’s RGB XLR8 RAM is a good starting point to begin that RGB journey.

PNY’s  XLR8 RAM is available from PB Tech in New Zealand and mWave in Australia and available as a 32GB kit (2x16GB) and 16Gb kit (2 x 8Gb) or a 16Gb single channel stick and an 8Gb single channel stick.

PNY launches HP memory products into New Zealand and Australia

HP’s x796w flash drive.

PNY Technologies has launched HP memory products into Australia and New Zealand for the first time. The initial launch centres around four HP USB flash drives: the HP x796w, HP x760w , HP v245w and HP v150w.

PNY Director Sales, ANZ & Oceania Richard Clarke says the HP products are PNY’s major and continued commitment to launching high-quality memory products into New Zealand and Australia. “They are the first of many across the entire HP memory product range that we will launch local,” he says.

The HP x796w offers a USB 3.1 mobile solution to store and share your music, photos, files and more. With a durable and metal casing, it has a push-pull design and is ideal for large files. It’s also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB sizes.

The x760w comes in 32Gb, 64Gb, 128Gb and 256Gb storage sizes (USB 3.1) and has a clip-on hook meaning it can be securely attached to a backpack.

HP’s v245w flash drive.

The pint-sized v245w is water and shock resistant and comes in 16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb sizes, and the v150w has a sliding, lid-less and cap-less design, weighing in at 32Gb, 64Gb and 128Gb sizes.

All four USB sticks are available from JB Hi-Fi across New Zealand and Australia.

JBL Quantum 600 headset review

Byte-sized review

Not so long ago on this blog, I reviewed JBL’s Quantum 300 wired gaming headset which I said “My ears were in audio heaven with the aural goodness being fired into them from these JBL ear cans.

Now, JBL have sent through one of the 300s bigger siblings: The Quantum 600, a wireless gaming headset that is clearly aimed at gamers –  although you can use it for other things like video conferencing (but, personally, I wouldn’t.)

Targeting PC gamers, the Quantum 600s connect to your PC using a thin USB dongle that plugs into a free USB slot. You can also use them with consoles using the USB dongle – such as a PlayStation 4 – or the supplied connection cable that has dual 3.5mm headphone jacks if you want (Nintendo Switch).

The pairing button/on-off switch is housed in the right ear cup, while the rotary dials that controls the volume and chat and microphone functions are integrated into left air cup.

The Quantum 600 is comfortable with nice padding on the ear cups and head band and being wireless, they’re certainly heavier than the wired 300s, with a sturdy braided cable snaking out of each ear cup into the headband. Tipping the scales at 346grams, they’re definitely heavier than my personal favourite headphones: Bose’s QC 35s.

That said, I didn’t find the extra heft annoying while I was wearing them and it didn’t cause me any discomfort but it’s just something to be wary of if you plan to do extended gaming sessions. I didn’t get “hot ears” either while wearing them.

The foam around the ear cups is thick enough to offer a little bit of noise cancelling but they won’t drown out external noise: you can still people talking if they’re in the same room as you. They’re charged using USB C.

You can adjust the tempo of the RGB lighting on each earcup.

When using them on your PC, you can tweak a variety of settings using JBL’s Quantum Engine software, like the sound field you want (DTS, JBL’s Quantum surround), microphone and chat levels, and manage the RGB lighting of the JBL logo on each ear cup, which ranges from the lighting pattern to how long each colour is active for.  If you love a bit of RGB bling, these things will make you smile from ear to ear.

When you use the USB dongle on your console you don’t have access to the Quantum Engine software so you can’t tweak RGB settings or sound options, you’ll just have to make so with whatever surround sound option the game itself supports, which is what I did.

Sound is incredibly good, too, with the headphones offing not only DTS surround sound but 7.1 audio and I tested them with Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima (PlayStation 4)  and the PC version of Death Stranding.

You can select the type of surround sound using JBL’s Quantum Engine software.

Minute details popping around my head as I slashed mongol invaders through the island of Tsushima or tip toed through BT infested landscapes, hoping not to be sucked into a pool of black goo. I really was impressed by the sound quality with these headphones while gaming.

The only non-gaming thing I did with the Quantum 600s was use it during a work Teams call and while sound quality was good, my work colleagues couldn’t hear me talking. Maybe it was a glitch, maybe I had inadvertently muted the microphone (flipping it up will mute the sound) but I wouldn’t use this headset for non-gaming endeavours.

JBL claims that the 600s have a 14 hours music playtime with the RGB lighting off before needing a recharge and while I didn’t log my usage minute by minute, I reckon I got at least eight hours – with the RGB lighting on (despite not actually benefiting from seeing them being on) – before needing a recharge.

Bottom line is JBL have another winner on its hands here with the Quantum 600 wireless gaming headset, which will set you back around $250 which seems a reasonable for a headset of this build and sound quality.

Your ears will love you for it.

 

PNY RGB Memory launches in Australasia

In January, I won a Montech Air 900 mesh mid-tower PC case from a New Zealand online retailer: Over the weekend just gone, I transferred all my PC components from my great but ageing Fractal case to the Montech case.

Everything went relatively smoothly and it has a tempered glass side panel so colour me intrigued when memory manufacturer PNY Technologies announced it has launched its new XLR8 Gaming RGB DDR4 Desktop memory range into Australasia.

PNY says the XLR8 Gaming RGB memory is compatible with major motherboards and is ready-to-sync with Asus AURA SYNC, Gigabyte RGB FUSION 2.0, MSi Mystic Light Sync and ASRock Polychrome SYNC for an ultra-high quality RGB experience.

The overclocked modules provide ultra-high performance and a superior computing experience thanks to the aggressive overclocking, built-in heat spreader and XMP 2.0 support, delivering PNY’s fastest speeds, highest bandwidth and lowest latencies These in turn maximise PC stability and responsiveness during memory-intensive gaming and application use, says PNY.

Backed by PNY’s limited lifetime warranty and supported by live tech support, the XLR8 Gaming RGB boasts 3200MHz frequency and is backwards compatible with 3000MHz, 2933MHz, 2800MHz, 2666MHz, 2400MHz, 2133MHz. The memory is timed at 16-18-18.

It might be time to start blinging up my case, eh?

JBL Quantum 300 gaming headset review: My ears are happy

Despite years and years and years of playing video games, one thing I don’t own is a good gaming headset.

Oh, sure, I’ve got a stellar pair of Bose Comfort 35s [probably the best headphones I’ve ever owned] but they don’t have a boom microphone so they’re not ideal if I decide to go online and get my arse kicked by people much younger than I am.

Step up JBL’s Quantum gaming headset range, which Quantum’s NZ PR kindly sent me to try out – and try out I did, on a variety of games.

Quantum game me a number to choose from but I decided to pick the Quantum 300s, a mid-range set of wired gaming headphones, and right off the bat, these things are comfy. Extremely comfy, thanks to memory foam ear cups. Sometimes I get hot ears when I wear over-ear headphones for too long but the Quantum 300s didn’t cause me that problem.

The Quantum 300s connect to your PC via a USB connection which in turn joins to a 3.5mm miniplug – which means you can also connect the 300s to any other gaming device, be it a Nintendo Switch, a PlayStation Dualshock 4 controller or an Xbox One controller. The left ear cup has a raised volume dial which is easy to reach mid-game.

They’ve got 50mm drivers, the aforementioned memory foam on the headband, and a flip up/down directional microphone with a nice foam shield and has a nice “ting” sound when you flip it up and down. And they’re comfy. Did I mention they were comfy?

I’m also a stickler for small touches on products and the the Quantum 300s have a nice braided cable, which, even if it’s just for aesthetics, looks so much better than bland plastic-coated cable – and to make sure you put the right ear cup on the right ear (we don’t want any audio imbalance now, do we? the right cup has a bright orange R printed on the inside and the left cup has a bright orange L printed on the inside. They tip the scales at 245 grams.

Quantum says the range is optimised for PC, and it shows, with management software  – the JBL QuantumEngine – that lets you tweak the sound balance, which ranges from boosting the bass levels to emphasising higher tones so the top end is crisper), to microphone sensitivity and whether you want stereo or JBL’s Quantum 7.1 audio (which sounds damn amazing). There’s even advanced features which let you enter your head circumference and body height so things are just right.

But how was the sound? Bloody impressive, I must say.

Bass notes were deep and booming and high notes were crisp and clear – and the impact from these things was just as impressive whether I was using the spatial surround sound while gaming on my PC or playing The Bioshock Collection on Nintendo Switch or Uncharted 4 on the PS4.

My ears were in audio heaven with the aural goodness being fired into them from these JBL earcans.

The Quantum 300s will set you back around $NZ150 which I think is excellent value, given the build quality quality and impressive sound. Well worth it, in my book.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced gaming headset, I’d recommend these beauties from JBL wholeheartedly.