SimRig Update: More Pedal Mods!

In my previous post about finally building a Sim Racing Rig, I mentioned that I modded the brake pedal by removing the rubber stopper/block that Logitech put in order to simulate progressing brake tension, but the design was poorly thought out as the rubber block/stopper, made it next to impossible to brake fully. Thus I decided to remove it.

Not satisfied with such a simple mod, I wanted to make the Logitech G920 pedals feel a lot better and a lot more responsive, especially in the throttle; I felt the throttle spring is too light and have fine control of throttle a little bit tricky. I also found the stock face plates of the pedals didn’t really feel comfortable as the are a bit too tiny, especially in the throttle, thus I decided to be on the lookout for after market pedal face plates.

Thankfully, as is with most racing wheels for simulators, they are nearly identical to real life counterparts, so you may use after market parts for real cars in the racing wheel and pedals.

I found a cheap enough pedal set, with a long enough throttle to feel comfy and a large enough, rally style brake face plate, that can make it easy for me to do heel toe braking if I need to (which I don’t need so much in F1 games), and it being large enough, makes it very comfortable to brake.

I then decided to switch the stock clutch face plate with the stock throttle face plate, since I bought the after market face plates without the clutch; the stock throttle face plate is large enough for the clutch in my opinion.

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New pedal face plates for the brake and the throttle; used the stock throttle face plate for the clutch.

I then switched the springs from the clutch to the throttle and vice versa; the stock clutch spring had more tension than that of the throttle, and I felt that if when I need to use the clutch, I want it to be pushed down completely and quickly. Whereas the stock throttle spring had little to no tension for me, making it difficult to pepper the throttle to control the speed in corners when trying to lift of. So by switching the springs around, I got the tensions I want for both the clutch and the throttle. (Note: I removed the face plates of both the throttle and clutch in order to work on them)

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The seedy underbelly of the pedals
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Time to mod!
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Prior to opening the bottom to the pedal case, I removed the face plates of both the throttle and the clutch to get access to them
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Removed the housing of the springs
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The bigger and shorter spring was originally for the clutch and the thinner and longer spring was originally from the throttle; did the old switcharoo and the tension for both pedals are perfect for me

After all these, was it worth the time, effort, and expenditure? As with all hobbyists, they would say of course it was without having good tangible evidence as to back up the purchase. Well I do…

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Using DashPi (available for both iOS and Android); might make a separate post on how to use your tablet and phone as dash meters or telemetry

I was just having a quick drive around Monaco where my best time with my personal car setup was a 1:19.231 (I am not the greatest sim racer out there; others easily get 1:13.00s) and shattered it, while not driving really seriously, with a 1:18.897. So, yeah, it was worth it.

What is my next project for the SimRig? I do wanna make 2 dedicated sim dash devices so I don’t always have to use my iPad mini and my Zenfone 2; plus I get to program exactly how I want them to look and what telemetry to collect using readily available programs intended for Arduino. Though I won’t be doing it anytime soon as I don’t have so much time for such projects just yet. But it  will happen sometime.

Til next time! PEACE!

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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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I am now a Logitech G Fanboy

It all began sometime last year when I first bought a Logitech G600 mouse to replace my Razer Deathadder 2013; I was so blown away be the quality and function of that mouse and the Logitech Gaming Software that I decided that I do want to have other Logitech G peripherals.

It wasn’t until I finished and passed my Physician Licensure Exams earlier this year that I bought another Logitech G peripheral. I saw the G13 on super sale and just had to get it, and again, even if the keys were not mechanical keys, the overall ergonomics and the ease of use with the Logitech Gaming Software, hereafter LGS, I was blown away.

Then not long after, my old headphones were biting the dust so I knew I had to get a replacement for those late night gaming and it was a no-brainer, it had to be a Logitech headset. I got me the Logitech G430 and I was never into those “7.1” gimmick even if I am an audiophile, let alone an emulated 7.1 surround sound. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the emulation and how games became even more atmospheric with the G430 and coupling it with my triple monitor setup. Nowadays, even in broad daylight, I am using my G430 to be immersed in the game.

Now, it has been years that I was holding out on getting a controller as I am obviously a PC gamer and still believe in keyboard and mouse, but let’s face it, there are some games made for the controller *cough* Darksouls *cough*. And so I knew I needed one in case a game I like is better played with controller. I have always been looking at the Microsoft XBox 360 controller for the PC, either wired or the wireless variant, but never got myself to get it. And it has been 4 years since I thought of getting it.

Fast forward to today, it was truly and impulse buy when I purchased the F310 by Logitech (or course), but somewhat also due to the circumstances, I needed to get it. The circumstances were not that I finally found a game that may use it (which I did, Slain: Back from Hell looks more fun with a controller), but the circumstance that arose when my credit card failed 3 times in 3 different stores prior to today. Worried that my credit card is just no longer being read right and may need to be swapped out, I needed to try it yet again just to see if it still is functioning. Lo and behold, it worked, and I took it as a sign from above that I needed to buy this controller as my credit card failed 3 times prior.

Why not the F710 I hear you ask? Well, it doesn’t fit my theme of my setup, and I still choose to keep my setup’s theme intact. That is also the reason why I didn’t get any other headset from Logitech; the G430 matches my setup plus the G633 and G933 wasn’t available in the store at that time.

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Just for good measure as I am running out of USB 2.0 slots, I got me a 4 port USB 2.0 hub.

Now as you can see, my Logitech G family is growing. Why don’t I have a Logitech G keyboard? I would but the Logitech G810 I am eyeing uses Romer G switches which I am not a fan of; I am using a Ducky Dk9008 Shine 2 Cherry MX Blues and I love me some Cherry MX Blue switches. The Logitech G keyboards that do have Cherry MX switches just have this wild “gaming” look to it; I like simple looking, professional looking keyboards, and that is why I love my Ducky Shine 2 keyboard.

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G13
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G600
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G430

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F310
Logitech does have a G610 but is only available in Cherry MX Red or Brown and I am a BIG fan of the Blue Switches. Plus, the G610 only has white LED backlit keys; I need em blues…

Now, I don’t see myself getting any other Logitech product in the future (unless I plan to switch out my webcam or when they make the perfect keyboard), but I can say that maybe I finally becoming a fanboy of the company and its peripherals.

Til next time! PEACE!

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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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The Tale of the “Missed” Missed Calls and Phantom Messages

cyanogensad

To my dismay, my phone stopped notifying me about calls or messages; some messages I just received were originally sent to me a few days ago. Me and my friend even tested the calls if it would show up; he called my number, nada.

Not even the infamous “did you try turning your phone off and on again?” would work on me this time around.

I will admit, the build of Cyanogenmod 13 (hereafter CM13) for my ASUS ZenFone 2 (hereafter ZF2) wasn’t all that stable at that time. There were numerous crashed from different apps and the system itself was soft restarting.

Considered the no calls or messages notifications as the last straw, I decided to get the May 13 build of CM 13 for my ZF2. Thus far, fingers crossed, there are no crashes noted, and all notifications are working.

Sigh, I don’t know how long this has been happening. I mean, I still receive messages from time to time, on the right date and time, but when I noticed that old messages are also flooding in; friends in Facebook sending my private messages that I am not picking up their calls or replaying to their messages lately, signaled me a red flag that this may have been going on for a little while now.

Hopefully there are not that many important calls or messages I accidentally missed. To think, I usually reply late or really miss calls even when the notifications are working, all the more now that no notifications are coming in.

Since I did a fresh install of the latest CM 13 build, I had to redownload all my apps and will have to download the latest database of my medical apps. Not to mention, change the themes, icons, and whatnot, of my phone to make it more personalized.

Guess I have to get crackin’ on this.

‘Til then! PEACE!

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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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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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