SHODAN: The Evolution of my Battlestation

Now that I recently received my Ikea desk that I ordered more than a month ago (there was a bit of a mix up in the shop’s inventory), I upgraded the setup in terms of desk and chair, and a bit of bling.

All other items, such as the new chair and the LED strip, etc., were all shipped in way before the Ikea desk did, so I had to control my excitement until everything has arrived before I start building anything.

I will post a separate blog on the actual transfer of my PC setup from the old layout and desk to the new layout and desk. For this post, I will just chronicle how this current PC build named SHODAN (yes that is a System Shock reference) way back in 2012 and how it evolved through the years.

Let it be known that I have been building my own PC’s since 1998; each iteration has its evolutionary stage. What do I mean by this? Well, each time I build a new system from scratch with the latest CPU of that generation, I don’t buy all parts immediately. That is, I start with the most important parts: CPU, motherboard, RAM, and if needed, another HDD and other peripherals like monitor/s. I then add the other parts like GPU, possibly another monitor, or other peripherals that is both functional and cool (mechanical keyboards, gaming mouse, etc.). A lot of people deem me to be a rich person… nope. I am just good at saving. And others will say “hey, it’s 2017, why do you have the i7 Ivy Bridge instead of the new Kaby Lakes?”; well, like I said, my builds have an evolutionary stage, and I don’t build completely new systems until an 8 year span or if I feel my current CPU is no longer doing its job. But my current PC is still a beast, so I will keep using this, keep upgrading if need be, until it overall will no longer be able to do the things I want it to do.

And also of note, I have been rocking a dual monitor setup since 2008 and since 2015, I have been using triple monitor setups. So I am more used to systems with multimonitors and feel very limited if I just use one screen even if it were an ultra widescreen monitor.

Anyways, let us see a bunch of photos chronicling SHODAN’s evolution! Join me for a trip down memory lane! From SHODAN’s humble beginnings to what she is today!

2012:

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

As mentioned above, when I first build new systems, I don’t buy all the necessary parts immediately. So here, I still had my old peripherals and I didn’t even get a GPU, yet.

Specs in 2012:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: None
Cooling: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm for front intakes
Peripherals:  : E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); A4Tech KD-800L (Cheapo keybaord but has LEDs LOL); (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee

2013:

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

By this point, I waited for the new Nvidia cards to come out and snatched me one; here I have added the GTX 660ti and I upgraded my keyboard to a mechanical keyboard, the Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard… and still use that keyboard to this day as I am typing this blog. I also added a NAS for filebackups and whatnot and a 3.5 multi card reader for transferring phots/videos since I am into photography and videography, too.

Specs in 2013:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2014:

My Workstation as of February 2014

Upgraded my monitors to 2 Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitors, added the Razer. As you can see, I have been using an awful, AWFUL, chair back then…

The mouse by the way, as with most Razer products back then, are USUALLY green, I said usually, cos they did have blue LED products, but for the DeathAdder 2013, they didn’t have a blue LED one I can find. Of course, this is all but a blip in history now as they have the Chroma series that is basically RGB. Anyways, I modded my DeathAdder 2013 by changing the green LED with blue ones… destroying my warranty, but hey, that is what we setup addicts would do to make the theme match.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 2x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2015:

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

Here, I upgraded my GPU to the VTX3D ATI Radeon R9 390. This can handle triple monitor gaming for the most part so I added a 3rd Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitor. I also got a couple of Corsaur SP 120s that I sued on the after market heatsink, as well as an Ipega Bluetooth Gamepad, mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 Corsair SP120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes; 1 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm for bottom intake
Peripherals: 3x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC)
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2016:

Workstation as of 02-09-2016

Shameless Workstation Glamour Shot

Finally added a better chair, this is racing inspired but as you can see, there is no way for this to recline. I also added an extended mouse pad, a cheap clip on/lav mic, and a cheapo webcam and a printer at this point. Oh I nearly forgot, I also upgraded my mouse into the Logitech G600 MMO Gaming mouse – works well for all games not just MMOs. This also marks the beginning of my fanboyism to Logitech. Also added an extra 2 sticks of 4GB RAM totaling 16GB good for photography and video editing.

Vidya Gaemz

A later little on, after I passed my medical licensure examination and became a licensed physician, I was able to land a job early and get to save enough to get a new a case, added 3 more Logitech products: Logitech G13 advanced gaming pad, G430 7.1 Headset, and F310 gaming pad. Told you I was a fanboy. Oh hey, I have a Megaman E Mug, too.

Specs in 2016:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2017:

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Finally, we caught up with the present year. As you can see, I got a new desk, I also got a long awaited LED strips that are USB powered and connected directly to my PC so when it powers on, it powers on the LED strips. I also upgraded the speakers to, guess what, Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers. I also changed my chair to the Ergodynamic F1 Blue Fauz Leather Gaming chair that reclines.

Specs in 2017:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

Now some people will ask why I have a small (that’s what she said) HDD in my system, well, I have a 4TB NAS and another 2x2TB HDDs coming in as well as another 2 bay NAS, so I will have 8TB NAS for most of my files. The 500GB HDD is just for games. the 128GB SSD is for the OS, some games, and the more commonly used programs. I will be adding another 256GB SSD mainly for games later on this year.

Also of note, I used NZXT extended sleeved cables and a couple of custom sleeved SATA Data cables, so if you look inside my PC, you’d see sleeved cables.

So there you have it, a trip down memory lane… thanks for joining in the ride!

Til next time! PEACE!

UPDATE:

Fixed the remaining wires that are bothering me under the desk.

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

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Weekend Project: Open Part Surgery

I have always contemplated on changing my Bitfenix Shinobi midtower case for another one with far better airflow and for possible future watercooling projects for my system. I was bouncing around different cases, even thought of getting the new Corsair 400c, as it had a PSU shroud and seemed to be roomy enough if ever I decide to go for dual GPU and whole system custom watercooling loop.

But then I remembered the owner of the local enthusiast shop had a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX for his build, before he switched to the ThermalTake Core P5 case. And I was entranced back then, and looking at the pics, it turns out, I still was.

Speaking of ThermalTake Core P5, I was also thinking about picking it up, but I was thinking how the dust build up and the clean up would have been an absolute nightmare. I love being different from the norm, and getting that ThermalTake case would help me be different, but the trade off for having dust build and the nightmarish clean up was just not worth it.

Needless to say, I got myself the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX in black. All the while knowing that this is primarily a full aluminum paneled case, apart from the steel inner chassis, I was anticipating this being heavy, and oh boy, was it heavier than I expected. In fact, I asked some of the employees at the local shop where I ordered this to help me pack in the car since I can’t carry something this heavy due to my right knee being operated and all.

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Even the box looked great!

After staring at the box for at least 30mins and planning out how I would tackle the transfer of my current system in the Bitfenix Shinobi case, I knew that apart from the transferring and cleaning of the system, I have to rewire the “battle station” and clean it up, too.

So the plan of action yesterday in what I dubbed “Open Part Surgery” was firstly, clean up the desks and the re-route the wires in such a way that little to no wires can be seen on the floor; move the power strips and the subwoofer underneath the 2nd desk that is accessible thru a crevice between the 2 desks; remove and clean each component from the Bitfenix Shinobi case; and finally, plan out the cable management on the new case while transferring the rest of the components.

I had to move both the desks slightly from their original positions to assume a more compact look; this way I can hide the cables and the subwoofer underneath the 2nd desk, as they were formally on the 1st desk, covered by a printer and a small plastic drawer for cables. Where the cables, plugs, subwoofer, etc. were placed originally was not the most ideal as I had no more leg room. Thus, I decided to utilize the space underneath the 2nd desk, using the tiny opening that combining the 2 desks creates to access the power strip and the subwoofer to turn them on or off. I am a pseudo audiophile, so with that said, I knew there will be a better boost to the bass sound when placed in placed like this. Having tested it with several bass heavy songs, I was happy with the deeper bass it is now creating – in fact, I even have to adjust the equalizer later on in the PC just to get all the sound right.

I then decided to move the printer next on the side of the 1st desk so I have leg room. Sure now it ruins the ease of access, but come on, I am not that lazy to stand up just to go to the side of my desk to load up paper if need be.

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My printer’s new home

That process took a good 2 hours just de-cluttering the desk, re-routing the wires, and simply dusting off the desks and the floor, and placing the printer in its new location. Onward to removing the components from the Bitfenix Shinobi and dusting them off.

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I removed my system, some peripherals, 2 of my monitors in order to move the desks and dust them off
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Putting back the monitors after dusting off and used the main desk to put the system back; here I will remove the components and clean them
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As always with cleaning, it will only get messier before it really gets any cleaner. This is how it looked like, and it got worse before it got better

My way of cleaning my components is using tiny brushes that are used for painting on an easel; they aren’t too tough, get in between ares real easily, and just for peace of mind, these do not make as much electrical/static discharge that may destroy these components. Also, speaking of electrical/static discharge, I am not using an anti-static wrist strap, but I am touching the case and the PSU every now and then to remove any static built up in my body.

I would like to try Brian’s, from Tech Yes City in YouTube, method of cleaning up; he uses parts/brake cleaner and such to get them really clean and looks, in his voice, “brandy new”. The reason why I am not ready to do his method yet is that this is my main system and currently only system, so if I screw up, well, I have to replace them and will set me back weeks or so. Also, I need to research on the strength of the parts/brake cleaner he is using as I don’t know if the ones sold here locally will be too tough on the electronics and the plastics on it.

The PSU, HDD, SSD were easily enough to clean; just dust them off, and you’re all good. The PSU, in my case, wasn’t dirty inside, so I just had to clean up the exterior. The GPU was a little more tricky. Thankfully the heatsink didn’t have that much dust on it that warrants my to break the GPU apart to clean it properly. The fans were a bit hard to clean on this particular GPU (VTX3D Radeon R9 390), but after near mini heartattacks cleaning this GPU, I can breathe a sigh of relief as this is the most expensive component of my whole build.

The CPU, I decided not to remove the DeepCool IceBlade Pro heatsink out; I cleaned while it was placed in the motherboard, I just covered the motherboard really well and dusted off the heatsink. Thing about this heatsink is that it is tarnished like crazy; no matter what I do to get it all shiny, I just can’t. Anyways, I am gonna replace this with an All in One watercooling loop, or a whole system custom watercooling loop, later on. After that, I just dusted off the motherboard, the extension cables of the PSU, the rest of the fans, and the Shinobi is now bare bones.

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What lung cancer looks like in a PC
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Having cleaned the components, I am ready to transfer the system to the new case
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A closer look at the clean CPU heatsink and the Corsair SP120 fan

I thank you Bitfenix Shinobi, you have been a great case for the past 4 years, but I started to see the limitations of the case, thus I needed to move up the case food chain for possible future upgrades like water cooling or simply for a future build still using the new case.

Enter that aforementioned new case: The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX case in black!

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The box so nice, it worth a second look

Even the box itself looks menacing.

What’s inside the box? Apart from the obvious case, which I took the time to stare at it – set me back another 30 mins… It came with an cardboard accessory box that is really sturdy; this isn’t like those cheap cardboard boxes that comes in other cases that you are compelled to just dispose, this one was sturdy enough to really have it for keeps. Plus what is inside really forces you to keep it anyway.

So, inside the accessory box you get the manual, a plastic with some zip ties (I honestly didn’t need it thanks to the robust design of the case) and extra LEDs for the front panel (I used the blue one, of course), a plastic toolbox of sorts to keep all your screws in (easily my favorite accessory! Now I can keep my other screws in here, too!), and other brackets for HDD, etc. to be placed in the main compartment of the case (I didn’t need them as I just had HDD and SDD and they can be placed in the PSU shroud/back of the case away from prying eyes).

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Labeled… just in case you forget what it is. *sarcasm*
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The manual; most of the time you don’t need this, but for the PWM chip and the front panel connectors, it can help sometimes
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Some cable zip ties, which I didn’t even use. Then extra front panel LEDs; I switched the stock white for the blue to match my overall theme
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My favorite accessory! The screws all placed in a convenient case of its own. Perfect for your surplus of other screws, too!
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The extra brackets/cages for HDD and whatnot to be placed in the main compartment. I didn’t use this to utilize better airflow

Now the star of the day… everyday… of the whole year… of every year… the case! I won’t go all review on this, because this is just a weekend project blog, but I will give a gist: it is aluminum panels with a steel inner chassis, with a huge side window and a hidden front panel port for 2 USB 3.0 ports, the mic and headphone jack inputs, and the reset button witch also acts as a HDD activity light. Both side panels can be easily removed and they are further dampened with foam to prevent metal on metal and causing noise. The front panel is also easily removed revealing a removable dust filter and 2 140mm fans. The PSU also has its own removable dust filter. The top panel can be removed by removing 2 screws in the back and front, and it is minimalistic as it only has tiny vents and the power button.

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Well packaged…
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The large windowed side panel
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The top panel; very minimalist with just a power button.
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A portion of the front panel can be opened up, so to speak, to reveal 2 USB 3.0, the headphone and mic jack inputs, and the reset button that also acts as a HDD activity LED
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The front panel with the removable power LED; I changed it to blue. The front panel dust filter is removed at this point.

Inside, you can see the area where the brackets can be placed for extra HDD and what not, or leave it blank like I did for better airflow; this area can also be used to place your reservoir or radiator. You can see another 140mm fan at the back as well as ventilated expansion slot bay covers. The cable holes are grommeted, the PSU shroud is porous in case you change the orientation of the PSU and this provides the 2nd GPU, if present, to get air. The shroud also has a big cut out in case you want to show off you PSU, has a smaller cut out and a drop in screws for a SSD – I used that small slot to route my NZXT Led strip. That way, I can hide the small PCB of the LED in the shroud. Also of note, I could have done a way better job keeping the PSU cables in the free space in the shroud as my PSU is not modular, but that’s something to keep in mind especially if you keep the HDD/SSD brackets in there.

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Once fully swung open, both side panels can be removed by simply lifting it up
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Tool-less alright
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Look at all the room for activity! The side panels are also cushioned with dampening foam to stop metal to metal contact

At the back, you can see there is a big motherboard cutout, 2 more drop in screws with brackets for SSDs, a PWM controller chip, 2 HDD/SSD cage in the PSU shroud, and Velcros for better cable management. As you can see the blurry pic below, the clearance is around a 3/4 of an inch, but that is measured on the smallest area possible; the motherboard tray angles at the front so there is a lot more space towards the front and you have room in the PSU shroud.

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Behold the back! See the PWM hub/chip, Velcro for cable management, grommeted cable routing holes, and everything else
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The blurry pic… around 3/4 of an inch in the smallest possible space

The rear is your standard rear so I won’t even talk about it at all.

I first moved the 2 140mm fans in front higher to give more airflow in the main compartment. I am neglecting my HDD and SSD underneath the shroud, and I am banking on the large fan of the PSU to cool itself down. I then added the 3 fans on top as exhaust; I like this feature of the case, I remove 2 screws on the fan/radiator mount in one side, and 3 more in the other side, to easily slide out the mount. I made a mistake though, I had to put the motherboard in before the placing these fans.

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Moved the fans up
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The radiator/fan mount for the top can be removed for ease of attachement
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The top fans installed; I made a mistake as now I can’t install the motherboard. Thankfully, the mount is easily removed

I’d usually put in the PSU first; it adds stability to it since the heavy side panels aren’t there to keep the chassis stable. Next was the motherboard; I can’t, for the life of me, remove the extra 3 stand offs for the EATX motherboards, so I am forced to use the one and only extra stand off to complete the ATX stand offs. I wished Phanteks supplied more stand offs for clumsy people, or people like me that likes to keep a surplus.

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PSU in!
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Motherboard in!

After the motherboard I then placed the HDD and SSD in the cage underneath the shroud. I can use the drop in cages for the SSD near the motherboard cutout but my current sleeved SATA data cables are with 90 degree angles, so I had to use the regular cages; in fact, the 90 degree angle of the SATA data cable was such a tight fit on the HDD since it is close to the bottom part of the case. I might want to replace that real soon to avoid problems. Thus far, it seems to be holding up well.

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SSD and HDD in!

I then planned out the cable management of the fans and the extra cables of the PSU. Like I said earlier, I probably could have done a better job in tucking the extra PSU cables away, but I was already tired at this point. I fixing the cables now since the GPU and LED cables are not as hard to fix; the GPU has its own route in the shroud and I will use the small cutout for the SSD in the shroud to route the LEDs.

After the initial cable management, I then placed the GPU and also managed its cables through the grommeted cable route. Nice to note that both the 24 pin motherboard and GPU’s 6 pin and 8 pin molex cables have cable combs to “train” them and keep them neat. And yes, it will take awhile for these cables to be trained.

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GPU in! And the cable combs on the cables!!

Last bit was the LEDs; I just used my favorite 3m double sided tape and re-used the cable clips that hold the LEDs in place. I removed the bracket of the PCB that controls the LEDs so I can tuck it inside the PSU shroud. The top was a bit tricky as there was no space to place the clips. I decided to place them on the fans plastic bodies and orient the LEDs upward at this area to avoid seeing them in the window.

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Removed the bracket of the NZXT LED strip kit… DIRTY HANDS!

Finally, the build is technically complete. I then had to do the usual test before placing all the peripherals and panels; let it also be known, even if I know this PC works, I still did the traditional booting outside the new case after clean up. Powering it on, it worked, however, the top, back, and front fans are not working. I knew I connected them all on the PWM control chip, connected it to the motherboard and supplied power. It turns out, I placed it on a 3 pin header in the motherboard and PWM is usually on 4 pin headers. After the switch, everything runs.

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Initial boot, fans didn’t work due to me connecting the PWM chip to a 3pin header instead of a 4 pin header; needless to say, it all worked after

Added all the panels and all the peripherals and did another test boot to see if everything really works, to my surprise, my system was on a constant reboot; the motherboard has a small LED panel that gives a alphanumeric code to tell what is causing the problem. The error code was 0x55 and looking at the motherboard manual, it means that the RAM are not installed. Which is weird, because all for DIMMs are in and it worked earlier. I removed 2 of the DIMMs in 1 channel, test booted it, and it worked… re-inserted the other DIMMs I removed and the whole system is working again. Probably a seating issue while I was moving the case around a lot while connecting the monitors, peripherals, and panels. Removing it and inserting it again provided a better re-seat of the DIMMs.

I am not gonna lie, this case with my full system is heavy. REAL HEAVY. And since I am still recovering my right knee, I had to ask my dad to help me move it in the right position; when I say right position, that is a position where the cables in the back won’t be seen, but you can still get to see the large side panel. I will probably move the cable modem, router, and my NAS to a different place in my room to give more room for the case as I might want to move it a little more forward to easily remove the side panels if need be.

The rest is really just managing the rest of the cables of the peripherals – I just used black duct tape and taped them on the edge of my desk; no, an IKEA signum or the like will work… I’ve tried, so taping them was my only option.

 

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Final clean up!!

After putting all the peripherals back and cable managing, the PC system, overall is done. I just needed to sweep the floor, wipe the bare floors, and I am completely done. This entire ordeal took me 13 hours, skipping lunch and dinner. I tend to get really absorbed in my projects and work that I forget to eat, much like my busy days at the hospital. But in both cases, I never complain, because I am a workaholic, and I enjoy doing these.

I am absolutely happy with the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX case; I got it because of future upgrades that this can accommodate and if ever the time comes, I can still use this case for my next PC build. The design, to me at least, is simple and timeless. I also got this knowing it has better airflow than my previous case and being mostly aluminum and steel, it can also act as a heatsink. Thus far, the temps are great even with the side panel on. I would usually remove the side panel on the previous case to get it more cool.

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Glamour shot with the lights on! Plastic still on the side panel! And yes, that’s Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse! There were no clean sheets other than that that could match my room
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Glamour shot with the lights off!

Now, I will save up for a new PSU, a second GPU, and a possible watercooling loop, all within the year. And this case we have no problem accommodating all those.

And with that! I end my post about my weekend project. Hope you all enjoyed reading this, though I know it is quite wordy.

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

If you want to see my parts list, just click here to my PCPartsPicker list.

-0-

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Logitech G13 Review! I HAVE ALL THE KEYS!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer; I review the things I buy as a consumer. I am not at all sponsored. I am an average consumer, giving my consumer thoughts.

INTRO:

Not too long ago I bought me a Tecware Haste Deskmat (LINK), and as you can see, and like every desk sized mousepads, it is spread out enough to hold my mouse as well as my keyboard… but suddenly, the downside is that if you are obsessive compulsive like me, you tend to keep things right in the center, thus, having my keyboard in the dead center of my deskmat, there is a lonely left side of the deskmat.

Now… what can I do to fix this problem!? Ah yes, why not get a Logitech G13… that was on sale!

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There we go… left side is no longer lonely!

Yeah… I think it looks better now. Sigh… the problems of an obsessive compulsive geek.

Screw you, first world problems!

Why did I just now get a Logitech G13, and by the pics, a Logitech G13 in the older package. Well, this was on super sale, like 50% off, and at first I always thought this was just a gimmick – but with a %50 percent off from a shop, whatever gimmick it is, so long as the price is right, I am literally sold.

 Let us move on to the actual review!

SPECS:

Color Black
LCD Resolution 160×43
Connection Interface USB
Weight 1.5 lbs

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: <- LOL, I know… who even checks these anymore!?

Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows
Vista 70 MB of available hard disk space
USB port
Internet connection for optional software download

REVIEW: 

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Orignal Front Packaging!

 

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Original Back Packaging!

 

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Instructions and installation disc… who needs these!?

 

The first thing you will notice about the packaging is that it is not of the newer runs; this was sold at 50% off from a local shop, most likely a clearance sale of some sort. And even if the box indicates this was one of the earlier runs of the Logitech G13, it is no different, from my understanding, with the later runs with the new packaging. Coupling it with the latest Logitech Gaming Software version, it runs just fine.REVIEW:

As you can see in the above photo of the software, I have the Logitech G600 (Which I never posted a review on… ah well) and the Logitech G13 shown and you can easily add macros or button mapping without affecting the other device. It is nice to note that I got the Logitech G600 mouse last year second hand, effectively saving 50 bucks from the original price (From PHP3,500, I got it for PHP1,200) and I got this Logitech G13 for PHP1,800, which was originally at PHP3,600. Again, I will emphasize,  I don’t go for these gaming peripheral gimmicks; I have always wanted a MMO styled mouse so the Logitech G600 was an easy buy, but I never fall for gimmicks like this Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad, but with that kind of price, even gimmicks I am will to buy.

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The device!

The actual device, as you can see, the wrist rest and the keys are at an angle, to supposedly contour more with our hands natural tendency to curve down. At first, I didn’t think this would be any real comfort as I am already used to my Ducky DK9008 Shine II keyboard being in the normal form factor, without those angles, and still be comfortable. But to my surprise, the angle, the ergonomics of the device is really comfortable. My on gripe with the overall comfort and key placement would be the G20 and G22 keys; they are there to simulate the control and space keys respectively, that is, if you have the default button mapping on the device, and having to reach for G20 to crouch in some games that crouching is not a toggle can be very uncomfortable. So is the space key to jump, I sometimes also remap the space key on the joystick as that feels more comfortable and the exact distance from the WASD keys to the space key in a keyboard. You can always train yourself to get comfortable with it, but it will take time; I was hoping for something a lot easier to get in grips with. And you also have the option to remap the control and space keys in the other G keys, but for me, it is a waste of key real estate for other functions.

Now that we mentioned the joystick, let us now go a little more in depth in that part of the device. The joytick is smooth, but I have yet to find a sensitivity control in the software (if someone knows, comment below), it can simulate, well, a joystick in game, mouse, or any keystroke once you mapped them in the software. I like this as in some games, provided you mapped the WASD keys to the G4, G10, G11, G12 keys (these keys have an indentation so you can easily tell by feel that these are your WASD keys… that is if you mapped them as WASD), and if the game has camera controls apart from the mouse, you can map those camera controls to the joystick and move the camera without having to have you hands reaching awkwardly to the key in the keyboard. This is one of the only things I likes about controllers in console games, you can move the camera with the right analog stick and control your character with the left analog stick.

You can simulate mouse controls with the joystick as well and map the 2 keys along side it as the left and right clicks. You can even push the joystcik down as another button, and in the cases of simulated mouse, it becomes the middle click. Again, you can always remap to a macro or any keystroke you wish. I just find the 2 buttons alongside it being a bit flimsy, and pushing the joystick down for the other button is quite tough; when I try to push it down with my thumb, due to the tiny knob of the stick, the stick tends to move at a direction and not pushing the button when pressure is applied. I tend to use both my thumb and index finger to push the joystick down in the end.

Also of note, the keys are not mechanical; they are membrane keys and I was worried at first if my gamble on getting this even knowing it has membranes keys would make the experience less enjoyable, but honestly, as a person that has used mechanical keys for many, many, years now, I was able to jump right in and had no problems gaming with the membrane keys on this device. I believe the overall shape/ergonomics of the device helped make it easy to game on even with membrane keys. Now, I am not a professional gamer or  twitch gamer; I am mostly a RPG fan, and sure, I do play a good number of FPS, but not so competitively to say that this may replace your keyboard of choice in Counter Strike Global Offensive tournaments. But if you are into RPG/MMORPG heck even platformers or action games, I feel this will be perfect for you.

The keys, as well as the display, can be backlit or not, depending on your preference. But if you’re just gonna blackout your display, then you are missing out on some of the main features of the device. It is RGB in the sense you can choose any color in the software, but you can’t individually choose the colors of of the keys or have a different color of the keys and the display at the same time; it’s one color for all at a time. Except for the profile/macro key, which is red and I will talk about it more later. And I don’t know if it’s because it’s an older run of the Logitech G13, but the keys are a bit darkly lit; I can’t appreciate the backlight of the keys unlike the display. It also doesn’t help the backlight that the keys are at an angle.

If Logitech will make a replacement gamepad in the future, make the joystick know a little bigger like console controllers, and make the G20-22 keys a little easier to reach.

Now, let us talk about the display!

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There are some default applets that show time, email, RSS, system monitor, etc. They are not really the best applets, but as usual, what do you expect from stock? The good news is that you can also add applets for the display, but it is getting harder to find good ones. I suggest LCDSirReal. You can also edit the .txt file’s configuration to your liking. It takes trial and error, but if you understand simple programming languages, you’ll understand how to edit this. Plus it has some instructions for you to follow anyway in the .txt file.

Some games like Borderlands 2 and Witcher Enhanced Edition (these are the only games I have seen to have custom applets; I haven’t tested all other games in my Steam Library, yet) have these custom applets in game, as well.

There are 2 circular buttons on each end; the one on the left chooses which applet is to be displayed, and the one on the right controls the LED lights – it just turns it on or off, it doesn’t change the color. That is to be done at the Logitech Gaming Software. And be noted, again, that the LED lights, if chosen to be off, it will turn the LCD display LED and the keys LED all off.

The function of the 4 buttons in between those circular buttons depend on the active applet chosen.

Whereas the 4 larger buttons below the above mentioned buttons (labeled M1-M3 and MR), that happen to be red in illumination, and for now, I can’t seem to find any way to change their color, function as your profile or sub profile selector and macro recorder. Let us expound what I just said there.

M1-M3 can be used to save profiles unto the actual device – this is done by going to the Logitech Gaming Software, and saving a chosen profile to the device. This is useful especially if you plan to go to LAN parties with it and use someone else’s PC without your profiles saved in the Logitech Gaming Software.

However, if you are using you own PC, you can have subprofiles within a profile. Profile-ception, if you will. What I mean is this, as you can see in the following photos, this is my Grim Dawn profile (saved on the PC) showing the button maps of M1, which is used for the main gameplay; M2 on the other hand is used for online parties, such as party chat, party windows, etc.

So, again, as to not confuse you, the M1-M3 can be used to save profiles from your PC to the device, which is handy when you decide to play in LAN parties without your PC and the saved profiles within the Logitech Gaming Software. Also, the M1-M3 can be used as subprofiles within a profile when you are using your own PC or if you have access to your profiles saved in the Logitech Gaming Software as shown above.

Now for the MR, it is used for macro recording; simply press it once, then start recording your macros, and press the MR button once again to either save it or cancel it. Honestly, I haven’t used that functionality, because I rather use the actual macro recorder in the Logitech Gaming Software.

The cable is not braided, but this is a device originally released as early as 2009; but thankfully the cable is thick enough to be sturdy enough and long enough to justify ti being on the left side of your desk.

FUNCTIONALITY:

One of the main uses for this device is of course, gaming! And I must say, at first it took awhile to get used to all the buttons like what I was saying above, that the button 3 buttons, specifically the G20-22 keys, can be a bit fiddly to get used to at first, but now, I am starting to get grips with it. In fact, the funny thing is that I am more used to holding the device than using my keyboard even in non-gaming situations; I also find that my hands are more in tune with the keyboard for typing only again. Before, my left hand is not on the proper home keys, they were on the gamer home keys… you know, the WASD, shift and space bar, as my home keys. And it did slow me down in typing, but then again, that still depends on the person anyway.

In games, especially the RPG’s or action RPG, heck, especially MMORPG, when there are a a lot of hotkeys, spells, weapons, and what not, this device can be very, very, helpful, and coupled with me Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse, I can map so many keys to either device, depending on my preference and honestly, you will be having as much fun, planning how to map both devices in order to get the most out of the gaming experience. I spend at least an hour or 2, just planning out the mapping that I am most comfortable with – and it was all great fun.

I mentioned that this is great for RPG’s, well how about other genres? Well, this can also be very helpful in FPS, again coupled with my G600 mouse, I can map so many things in FPS games – reload, melee, grenade, you name it, I can map it to wherever I feel comfortable with and may be quick to use them in tight situations.

So in a nutshell, I can say this device, with or without a MMO mouse like the G600, can be very useful in many games, not just RPG’s.

Another thing why I picked this up while on super sale was for productivity; much like my G600 mouse, I can map certain keys to the device even when not gaming. For example, I placed the mouse up and down scrolling to the joystick up and down directions, respectively – while browsing some sites, reading some PDF’s, I can just use the joystick.

I also mapped my Adobe products’ hotkeys to the device, coupled again, with my G600, I can do so much work quickly. For those Adobe vets, you can agree with me, even if we use Adobe a lot for some things, we may tend to forget the hotkeys, because each product, no matter how similar they may be like After Effects and Premiere Pro, their hotkeys are quite different, and having to search through the keyboard just to find the right hotkey may slow down post production; and all the more if you just forego the keyboard hotkeys and decide on using the mouse to hover and click on the different functions. Using the G13 to make at least similar keymaps, hotkeys that are close to eachother, can aid in the productivity. And I can assure you, using Lightroom with VSCO Keys (to override the awful hotkeys from stock Lightroom; you may change the hotkeys with VSCO keys) mapped on the G13, I have seen an increase in post production time, and it made editing, at least for me, fun again and not a chore.

CONCLUSION:

Okay, I have yapped on why I didn’t buy this device when it was grand spanking new back in the day, and what changed my mind ultimately; I also talked about the device itself and what I use it for. So, overall, what do I think of it?

Well, it is almost obvious that I love this device by the way I talked about it above. But do I recommend it? I do! BUT NOT AT FULL PRICE. If you can find one used at good condition, or luck out like me, getting a brand new one for half the price, do get it. I will also note, based from my readings, the Logitech G13 on the original packaging compared to the new packaging really has no difference functionally. You are just more assured that the G13 with the newer package is of a more recent run, but again, from my readings, no difference. In fact, my Logitech G600 was second hand, so it was part of the earlier runs, but I had no problems whatsoever with it.

So again, I love this device, but I will only recommend it to my friends, if they can find one for a decent price. It will still be a gimmick to me at full price, but with half the price, I was sold, and I am impressed.

Wow, this was a longer review than I anticipated… hope you guys find this enojyable to read and helpful.

Til next time! PEACE!

-o-

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When OC Strikes…

I have raging obsessive compulsive behavior especially when it comes to my gadgets and PC; I have the NZXT black sleeved extension cables for years now, but always tried valiantly to keep them neat, but never get to do so.

I was going to order cable combs from the States, but hey, what do you know, the guys at FTW actually carry these cables combs locally and for a good price.

Got 2 packs; each pack consists of 1x 24 pin comb, 2x 6 pin combs, and 3x 8 pin combs.

It is a simple yet very effective accessory for the PC enthusiasts that believe in both aesthetics as well as performance.

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I am planning to get a new chassis since this Bitfenix Shinobi midtower is starting to show its limitations, plus I might do custom watercooling loops in the near future, so I am paving the way with the Corsair 400c. After my exams, I will do an “open part surgery” to transfer my current specs to the new case. The combs will be very helpful in “re-training” the sleeved cables to the new case.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I know this is a boring post, but I needed a medium to release my tension for today since I seem to be more short tempered today than I usually am. I guess it is the fear of the exam and stuff. Ah well.

Anyways, ’til then!

PEACE!

-0-

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Move over DX Racer, GT Omega, Maxnomic Gaming Chair; I found an alternative

UPDATE AS  OF FEBRUARY 27, 2017: I have since upgraded my chair and you can read all about it along with alternatives HERE.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a paid/professional reviewer. I am much like you, a consumer, giving my honest consumer thoughts. So if the review doesn’t feel all too professional, well now you know. Also, some of the photos I use here are not mine, and I will give proper credit and link to the original website source.

-o-

I wanted to have a gaming chair akin to a race car seat; simply those that are offered from brands like DX Racer, GT Omega, Maxnomic, etc. However, their offering are way over my budget, some if not most, are even more expensive than my ASUS Zenfone 2, heck, they are even more expensive than my GPU, Radeon R9 390, or even my processor, Intel i7 3770 (built this system way back 2012, what can I say…)! As much as I believe that being very comfortable while working, studying, or gaming in front of a PC is, I don’t think it is justified for me, a non-YouTube personality, a non-professional gamer, or anything of the like that I can either be sponsored or have a good enough paycheck to try and buy one for myself, I resorted, for many months, in finding an alternative. Surely there should be an alternative to these chairs… right?

 

Well, it wasn’t easy finding a gaming chair that is a good alternative to the above brands; it took awhile and I was close in buying an alternative… to the alternative.

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Taken from EASY PC website; The RAKKER Chair

Since I live here in the Philippines, I was really considering this chair since I don’t think there will be any alternatives; hey, it was better than spending php15,000-php20,000 on a DX Racer in the shops I found here.

No hating on EASY PC but I am scared of the design of these kind of chairs; I mean, yeah sure, they won’t sell these kinds of chairs without legs in the back if it will really just make you fall backwards, but psychologically, I would not be too comfortable, and let us face it, as much as I wanted a new chair, I didn’t like the overall design – as much as I want a cheap chair, I also don’t want to skimp out too much either… so onward to finding a new chair. Again.

I stumbled across this one and it was an absolute winner; it was technically half the price of the cheaper DX Racers (take note, I will always refer to DX Racers for price comparison as I know their prices locally better as more stores carry them here in the Philippines).

It doesn’t recline nor does it have an aluminum star base like the higher end gaming chairs, but for half the price, like I said, is a winner… until I stumbled in to these!

Now these, just so we can all be oriented, the DX Racers are around php15,000-20,000, the Milano/Torino alternatives are php8,000, while the above, unnamed, unbranded ones, range between php5,800-6,500.

The unnamed chairs that I eventually got one of, also does not recline and has a plastic star base that is said to withstand up to 200lbs (I am a good 120lbs), but of course, I still wanted it to be sturdy and future proof enough, so I was able to find an aluminum star base from a different shop (If you are here in the Philippines and want to do the same thing, you can find the star bases here).

I was and actually still am wary about these unnamed/unbranded knockoffs, but for that price, I was willing to make a big gamble. I said that I am still wary as of course, it is too early to tell if this will truly last, but somehow, my initial reaction/opinion to this chair is a positive one. Plus I am very good at keeping things well beyond their supposed lifespan. Though I suck at doing the same things for relationships… however that will be for another post.

SO! I ordered a black chair since there were no blue ones to match my computer system and it also struck me that my future builds will not always be blue in theme, so a black chair will be a good idea for whatever colored theme will be for my future builds.

I was able to receive it the same day I ordered it. However, it isn’t through regular courier. Something as big as this chair will cost a lot to ship through courier, thankfully here in the Philippines I recently learned that you can have a package shipped through a bus line and they will drop it in their respective terminal and you can pick it up personally for a cheaper price. Also, I found out unlike couriers where they usually ship at a certain cutoff time and you will receive the package the next business day, bus lines, if you give the package at a time before they leave, and we know there will never be a shortage of buses leaving, they will immediately take it with them, and they are not limited to business days. Of course, the downside is that you have to pick it up yourself… and something this big, along with my weak knee… bad combination. Thankfully my dad was nice enough to drive me to pick this up.

And like all gaming/excutive chairs the box is huge…

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I had to drag this in…

The packaging per se, is not all that great, they just packed everything in, with little dividers, so even if they have bubble wraps on some of the items, it can still have a few dents here and there through shipping (I found 2 dents on the armrest). But what do you expect for an unbranded chair?

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Let’s do this!

After laying it out, I didn’t see any instructions inside the box, I was assuming this is also part of it being an unbranded chair; was going to reach out to the shop where I ordered this, but I decided to just try my luck. Sure it is an easy process to make a chair like this if you think about it, but the tough parts are the different sized screws and washers; you can’t just presume that this goes here and there if the threads are not supposed to accommodate the screws. Also the tilt/swivel seat plate mechanism is supposed to be placed in a certain orientation so I won’t fall flat on my back if I leaned back.

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It comes with different sized screws and washers as an Allen key, in case you need one

All these can be done trial and error, but I am prepping for my board exams so I don’t have time for trial and error (I do have time to review on my reading breaks lol).

So I carried on thinking there was no instructions…

Then lo and behold, after assembling the star base with the caster wheels and the gas life with its respective cover, as I grabbed the lower cushion, I found the instructions packed with it. So, yeah, good thing…

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You sneaky bastard…

Now that I found the instructions, I am confident to build the rest of the chair… now I am sure what screws to use and stuff.

As you can see, it is a small touch, but seeing the Tilt/Swivel Seat Plate maechanism with a “front” sign and the lower cushion have a sticker also with a “front” sign is surprising on a unbranded gaming chair knock off. Simple things like that found on these knock offs makes you think twice about these. In a good way.

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Almost there…

Having to screw in the back cushion was simple enough now that I knew which screws to use, and at this point I was contemplating whether to leave it without the armrests as it seems cool that way. But I tried it anyway…

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Completed!

Looking at it, and sitting on it with the armrests, seemed just fine, maybe even better. As you can see the armrest acts like another screws on the lower cushion and the back cushion, acting as another support. So it was a better idea to add the armrests.

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Looks great with my setup!

The above pictures of the build and the end product were all taken with my ASUS Zenfone 2 and I really didn’t try and get good photos with it since I was lazy. That being said, I whipped out my DSLR to get better glamour shots and all get better photos up close of each part of the chair.

Here goes!

So what do I think about? Initially, I was wary but am very surprised by the quality. I wish that it would recline, have an aluminum star base, and have larger caster wheels, because due to the weight of the chair itself, plus my weight, the caster wheels do dig in to the carpet real good. But what can you expect from a php5,800 chair that is unbranded so to speak?

For that price, in spite of what I said above, overall this chair is bang for the buck; the padding is thick, but not too stiff that it is uncomfortable to sit on; it is Goldilocks… just the right amount of firmness.

With the pictures above using my DSLR, you can see the quality work on the stitching. You can also see how the pleather looks of quality. The median aspect of the cushions, you can see a mesh like fabric. This helps with a bit of ventilation. Not a lot because it isn’t completely open mesh, but it is better than feeling suffocated in way.

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Mesh midportions of the cushions, enveloped with pleather
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Thick metal junction
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Pleather armrests

You can see the junction of the back cushion and the lower cushion is a large and sturdy metal, so leaning back, along with the tilt function, is not that scary. However, like I said about the star base being plastic, in time, I might fall on back by breaking the star base.

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Think plastic star base rated to withstand 200lbs

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Small caster wheels; it can dig in the rug real good.

Speaking of the star base, it may be plastic, but it is a thick and strong piece of plastic. I am still wary and am thinking about changing it to aluminum in the future (link above). Though if it’s true that this plastic base can withstand up to 200lbs, then a 120lbs should be no problem.

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Typical swivel/tilt mechanism lever functions; nice to see it labeled, gives a sense of quality. Simple things, people.

The tilt function is like any other chair, but being this chair in particular, it feels right; a chair like a racing chair, that is comfortable, and you get to lean back and have the chair tilt just enough (adjustable by the way), is great. Still like I mentioned about the plastic star base, I can only adjust the tilt so much so I won’t be afraid to tilt too far back. And for those who don’t like to tilt, you can lock it anyways.

In the end, I love this chair. It may not have the bragging rights as DX Racer, GT Omega, or Maxnomic, but I can still brag that I saved so much money on this. No reclining, no aluminum star base (but I can always buy an aluminum one to replace this anyways and still be cheaper than those other chairs), the caster wheels do get caught up in the rug (again, I can always buy bigger caster wheels and still save a lot of money if I were to buy the other chairs), but the overall comfort, the surprising build quality from the individual parts to the well stitched pleather and stuff, makes this bang for the buck. The tilt function is nothing new, but for me, with all the other chairs I used, it felt better here; this might be because of the shape of the chair and the overall comfort.

I should also mentioned, unlike the other chairs, this doesn’t come with the head pillow/cushion and the lumbar pillow/cushion. So maybe that is another con to consider apart from the lack of reclining, etc., that I seem to mention over and over again.

So in short, I say, go buy it, if you don’t want to spend on a chair that is probably more expensive than your GPU or CPU, heck maybe even your GPU and CPU combined! You can always buy an aluminum star base and larger caster wheels and still don’t break the bank.

BUY IT. (Well, if you’re in the Philippines that is)

PEACE!

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My complete workstation…

-o-

Links to all the sites where the above chairs can be found(if found locally, I will link to sites in the Philippines):

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Bloatware… Everywhere.

So much bloatware, I can’t even…

Let us first define what a bloatware is, even though I am sure most of you already know what they are and how annoying they can be:

Bloatware is simply a software that is overpacked with features and therefore slow or unwieldy; software that is inefficiently designed and occupies an excessive amount of memory or disk space. – Wiktionary

These are preloaded software from manufacturer’s of, more famously, Android smartphones. Take in for instance, ASUS Zenfone 2: It’s version of Android firmware is loaded with unnecessary software/applications that simply takes up space and, honestly, the software’s/application’s “usefulness” is anything but. I had to remove them to retrieve lost space and free up the phone’s processes for software/applications that do serve its useful purposes.

This, of course, is not limited to smartphones. Heck, it all started for me with laptops or prebuilt PC’s (nope, not my PC… it was my friends’. I have always custom built my PCs) that come from, let us say, Dell, Acer, ASUS (again), Lenovo, etc.

Back then, they weren’t so much of a hassle, a couple here and there, some even quite useful indeed. But if that wasn’t your cup of tea, you can easily uninstall them.

I remember when I used to buy laptops or netbooks, out of necessity thanks to school/hospital reports, and I had the option of having a Windows OS, Linux OS, or none at all – the latter, obviously, I had to provide the OS myself, usually I would go for a Linux distro online. But nowadays, most of the laptops that are being sold, or at least what I have noticed since Windows 8.1, or preloaded with a Windows OS (recently, of course, Windows 10) and you no longer have options of either Linux or no OS at all.

Sure, this is a business deal, a package, a contract, or whatever you have it, much like in the old days when IBM PCs would usually just come in Windows, but at least back then Windows was great and had little to absolutely NO bloatware, since it really didn’t exist back then.

When I used to buy laptops or netbooks without an OS, there was no bloatware of course. Having to provide the OS yourself frees oneself from the atrocities of those bloatware… or worse, the reservoir of viruses, a preloaded Norton or McAfee antivirus, that is simply a bitch to uninstall at times.

I know the layman may benefit from all this, but trust me, the other, more tech-savvy individual, that knows his/her way around regedit, C++, and the like, will find the bloatware’s “useful” features is nothing but a marketing bait that eats your needed device’s RAM or Processing power for something that you can do on your own if you are willing to just do a few commands here and there.

This has become my concern lately partly due to the fact that I had to setup my sister’s new laptop that she will be using for her hospital work; I wanted her to buy a laptop without an OS to avoid bloatware and I would more control on how things are being installed. But alas, as we were shopping for her new laptop earlier, they were all preinstalled with Windows.

My sister’s new Acer E 14 laptop. For more info and complete specs on this machine, go here: http://www.elnstore.com/acer-E5-473-30N5-core-i3-4005u

Everyone knows that I tried Windows 10 on my netbook, because there was no way I will subject my main system to Windows 10 when I had setup Windows 8.1 the way I want it to function based on my work ethic. As I was testing Windows 10 on my netbook, much to my dismay, there was so much data tracking Microsoft hardcoded on the OS. From the way I type and if I use touch screen devices where I can wright with a stylus or the like, it will also want to track that and report it to Microsoft. Excuse my language, but that is simply bullshit. I am tired of NSA trying to get everything about me, let alone having Microsoft do the same exact thing.

I love Linux, but there are still some programs I use, like Adobe, that are still Windows and Mac exclusives. I can use WINE or the like in Linux but sometimes the performance takes a big hit. So I am still using Windows for such programs.

Having enough experience on Windows 10 with my netbook and finding many ways to block data tracking by the evil faceless overlords of Microsoft, I was able to apply the same fixes to my sister’s laptop so they won’t take anything from her… for the most part. Who knows, Microsoft may have done more shit on the code of Windows 10 that I simply deactivated some of the data tracking parts of the OS. I may have simply barely scratched the surface. But for now, that is still good enough for me and my sister.

Of course. I wasn’t able to do all those without first removing the darn bloatware. I use CCleaner for cleaning the OS’ registry, temp files, etc., as well as use it for uninstalling programs. It took me an hour to remove all the bloatware! And trust me, reading the names and running a few of the bloatware, they really were not useful.

I know I can’t break a business/marketing deal that Microsoft has with most laptop/netbook/PC distributors/manufacturers and most of those devices will ship with Windows (again, in the IBM PC days, Windows is really a great thing to have along your device), but with how much Windows has changed akin to being a super secret spy that is just a few digits away from knowing your social security number, and let us not forget those manfacturer’s bloatware, I can’t help but wish the option of either having Linux or no OS at all is still available for those who know the cons of having Windows preinstalled in their machines.

But that is wishful thinking.

And if I just spend an hour or 2 with a new laptop/netbook/PC with preinstalled Windows 10 or bloatware, I can get it to run the way I want it to run. It is just a shame that I have to go to great lengths to do so.

Sigh…

Anyways, til next time!

PEACE!

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System Shocked to See You Again

When System Shock Enhanced Edition was first announced for GoG, I was happy yet saddened because it wasn’t immediately released for Steam, my preferred platform, I had to wait a month for it to be available in Steam. But I knew the wait will be worth it. And when it finally hit Steam a few days ago, I didn’t hesitate to purchase it right then and there, plus with a 20% off at that time, I was all the more willing to buy it.

System Shock was one of those DOS games that stay with you… and with it’s sibling, System Shock 2, it gave me, a computer geek who likes tinkering with programming languages, who is in love with the thought of the future and the technology it promises, together, those two games threw in a cyberpunk universe, filled with all the tech I want, the feeling of being a cool cyberpunk hacker that can also wield a gun or two, puzzles that only computer geeks will really appreciate (anyone can solve them, they aren’t too hard, but a computer geek will see the tiny details that make them smile), and a lot more.

Both games stuck with me, but if we are talking about DOS games that I will forever love, it is System Shock. Playing it nowadays, however, is hard even with DOSBox; I have gotten so used to mouselook controls, or simply, modern PC first person controls. SO, having to replay it is difficult. Plus no support for higher resolution doesn’t make things any better.

System Shock 2, has modern controls, and has mods to make it look better than it did when it first came out, so there was no problems ever replaying it.

So, when the Enhanced Edition mentioned that it had support for higher resolutions (albeit 1024×768 max, but you can add a custom resolution…), mouselook, and key remapping, I was certainly happy with it.

I was reading a lot these past few days so I didn’t immediately play the game as soon as I bought it; I just started last night, and to my surprise and delight, the keybinding, mouselook sensitivity, and custom resolutions were not in the in game menu. I had to go to the games .ini and .cfg files and edit it. I LOVE THAT!

Editing the controls.cfg using Notepad ++ just to change key bindings. I love it!

Like I said, I am a tinker, I love using Visual Studios or even simple as Notepad++, play around with C++, Obj C, JAVA, etc; I love modding my games, I love editing my regedit, etc; so when something as simple as changing the key bindings, the mouse sensitivity, etc, one needs to open .ini or .cfg files, I go gaga over it. It fits the game perfectly!

The key remapping is a Godsend because, I use a Logitech G600; I can simply bind the key of certain controls for the game for my mouse and I don’t have to lift my fingers of the main movement keys (WASD… you know). It’s these little things that, we take for granted, but if you have the right peripherals, it means the world to you; yes I can bind keys for my mouse to match the default keys of the game, but that entails me making a new profile in Logitech’s program, and sadly, that program only has a limited amount of profiles to be saved… sure, I can export and import, but all the hassle… editing the .ini or .cfg may also be a hassle, but it is only done once, and it feels WAY better that way.

I like replicating things they are supposed to be, but let me tell you, the filters for the game, that can be found in the sshock.ini file, even if set to best, doesn’t exaggerate the graphics. It still have its slight pixelated charm. But makes the words so much easier on the eyes. It also makes the environment textures nicer. Again, not exaggerating it away from the original charm. Furthermore on the graphics, it isn’t overhauled. The enemy sprites are just as bad as they were back in the day, but that’s alright; again, I am not one for the graphics, I am there for the story and gameplay mainly. As you can see in the following images:

Taken from Gamespot
Taken from PCGamer

In game screen grab; as you can see, I changed the resolution to 1920×1080 and used the Best Filter… it looks easier on the eyes.

Another screen grab; same resolution and filter. Textures are better.
Last screen grab in game; same resolution and filter. The one downside with using higher custom resolutions, apart from the possibility of crashing, is the words in the dialogue/data box are spaced at really wide to accommodate the higher resolutions.

For the resolution, the max is 1024×768, way better than the DOS at 320×200; but you can use a custom resolution, also found in the sshock.ini file. Be wary, any resolution higher than 1024×768 may cause the game to crash at certain points.

Editing sshock.ini using Notepad ++; the boxes show where you can edit the visual filters and make custom resolutions

Also the videos in the game will not be stretched to whatever resolution you choose. Just something to take note of.

This is a complex game in terms of controls; there are so much on the screen, and so much controls to know. Something as simple as crouching will has 3 separate buttons. There is, like its sibling, have a sense of momentum when running or even just walking; that is to say, if you run straight, and let go of the controls, you character will slow down to a stop gradually, like in real life… not an immediate stop. Something, again, to take note of.

Overall, it is a great Enhanced Edition for those additions. Having to be able to play this on modern systems is enough incentive to play this game honestly, but those tiny additions makes the biggest difference.

It still has the same tension that it gave me when I was a young boy, and to see it next to my copy of System Shock 2 in Steam, makes my heart warm. Add my BioShock collection, then the collection is complete… for now.

I happy with what the guys at Night Dive Studios did to bring this to modern systems. READ CAREFULLY, I said, modern systems, not modern age per se. That means, it is still, in all it’s pixelated glory, left in tact and will not please those “graphics buffs” out there, it is not perfect for the modern age of gaming. Even with the additions to make it easier to play today, it still won’t be loved by newer generations, only those who have fond memories of this game. But it will run smoothly on modern systems.

And with that, if you remember this game, played the second game, a bit curious, and RPG/FPS fan, or whatever, DO PICK THIS UP! It is available in GoG and Steam! Still 20% in Steam at the time of this writing.

If you want to purchase it in GoG, CLICK HERE!

If you want Steam, like I do, CLICK HERE!

Now it is time for me to return to Citadel.

PEACE!

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