Montech’s Air 100 offers a tidy Micro-ATX package with lots of RGB, but it could use a bit more refinement.
+ Great Looks
+ Compact Size
+ Includes 4 A-RGB Fans
– A few unsightly details
– No PWM support
– No intake air filtration
– Tight cable management space
Features and Specifications
Montech is a newcomer to the US PC parts market, having recently asked us to take a look at its new Air 100 ARGB chassis. While its design is fairly standard, and its Micro-ATX size means its appeal is limited, when we heard about the price, we were happy to heft this compact tower onto our test bench.
The Air 100 chassis comes in Lite and ARGB variants, with the latter on deck today carrying a price tag of $70 for the black version. Going white will cost about $5 to $10 extra, and cutting the RGB drops the base price down to about $52.
Without further ado, lets find out if this surprisingly affordable chasis deserves a spot on our Best PC Cases list.
16.7 x 8.2 x 15.9 inches (425 x 210 x 405 mm)
Max GPU Length
12.9 inches (330 mm)
CPU Cooler Height
6.3 inches (161 mm)
2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, discrete 3.5 mm Audio & Mic
1x Tempered Glass Panel, RGB Controller
3x 120 mm (Up to 2x 140mm, 3x 120mm)
1x 120mm (Up to 1x 120mm)
None (Up to 2x 140mm)
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Touring around the outside of the chassis, it’s clear that this is a case with very simple, straightforward design language, and I quite like it. There’s no fuffing about with extravagant shapes, just clean and simple, with three intake fans as the most aggressive design feature – but they look quite good.
Around the top of the case you’ll find the exhaust for the top fans or radiators, along with the IO. The exhaust isn’t recessed for a sleek finish once fans are installed, and although a filter is included to place over it, this top area doesn’t look particularly refined.
IO is very complete though, with two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, dedicated microphone and headphone jacks, and power and reset switches – though the reset switch is wired to the RGB controller from the factory to control the lighting. I’ve been hard on cases for doing that before, but because it’s not actually marked as a reset switch on the outside of the chassis here, I see no reason why that would be a problem with this case.
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The case’s panels all come off quite easily – the glass panel has a handle to easily swivel it out, after which you can lift it off its hinge, and the front panel is held in with magnets, so it comes off with just a light tug — a bit too light though, the magnets aren’t very strong.
The panel on the right side of the chassis comes off by removing two thumbscrews, though they don’t stay fixed to the panel like many other cases do.
In the main compartment of the chassis, you’ll find room for up to Micro-ATX motherboards and GPUs up to 12.9 inches (330mm) long. Other than that, there’s not much going on here that’s worth mentioning, though I do appreciate the rubber cable grommets for keeping things tidy.
Along the rear side of the chassis we spot room for the ATX power supply, a single 3.5-inch hard drive and two 2.5 inch SSDs, though you can secure another drive to the top of the drive cage.
This is also where the RGB controller hides.
At this point we haven’t reached testing yet, but cooling should be one of the Air 100’s strengths – it comes with four 120mm RGB fans, has room for CPU coolers up to up to 6.3 inches (161mm) tall, and can fit up to a 240mm radiator at the top or a 360mm unit at the front (the spec sheet lists a 280mm max, I don’t see why a 360mm radiator wouldn’t fit), albeit at the sacrifice of some GPU space. The fans come with a 1x 3-pin to 4x 3-pin splitter so that you can connect all fans up to a single header.
A new review of Intel’s Iris Xe DG1 graphics card has popped up, putting Intel’s new discrete GPU through its paces and showing that it is surprisingly capable. While the Xe DG1 is far from being one of the best graphics cards on the market, the review shows that the entry-level graphics card holds some value in a time where the graphics card shortage is still going strong and pricing for Nvidia and AMD GPUs has skyrocketed.
Based on a cut-down Iris Xe Max silicon, the DG1 arrives with just 80 execution units (EUs) or 640 shading units, depending on which metric you prefer. Intel’s discrete graphics card sports a 1.2 GHz base clock and a boost clock that climbs to 1.5 GHz. The DG1 also wields 4GB of LPDDR4X-4266 memory across a 128-bit interface. It conforms to a 30W TDP, so the graphics card doesn’t require active cooling or PCIe power connectors. The DG1 provides one DisplayPort output, one HDMI port, and one DVI-D port for connecting your displays.
A previous generic benchmark revealed that the DG1 was slower than Radeon RX 550, a four-year-old graphics card. However, a single benchmark wasn’t sufficient to really determine a winner, and as we all know, there’s nothing like real-world gaming results. YouTuber ETA PRIME recently acquired a $749.99 CyberPowerPC gaming system that leverages the DG1, more specifically, the Asus DG1-4G. He has put the graphics card through its paces so we can see what kind of performance it brings to the table. We’ve got the quick breakdown of results in the table below, and the full video at the end of the article.
Intel Iris Xe DG1 Benchmarks
Frame Rate (FPS)
Forza Horizon 4
60 – 70
59 – 60
65 – 99
106 – 262
57 – 60
Grand Theft Auto V
79 – 92
25 – 33
Red Dead Redemption 2
32 – 47
The CyberPowerPC system features a Core i5-11400F processor, which explains the DG1’s presence. The curious part here is that Intel had previously stated that the DG1 is only compatible with its 9th-Gen Coffee Lake and 10th-Gen Comet Lake processors. The Core i5-11400F is an 11th-Gen Rocket Lake chip. It would appear that the chipmaker secretly added Rocket Lake support on the DG1.
Do bear in mind that the YouTuber swapped out the 8GB single stick of DDR4-3000 memory for a dual-channel 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3600 memory kit. The upgrade likely improves the gaming PC’s performance over the stock configuration.
The results showed that the DG1 could deliver more than 60 FPS at 1080p (1920 x 1080) with a low graphics preset. Only a few titles, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2, gave the DG1 a hard time. However, the graphics card still pushed more than 30 FPS most of the time.
As we knew from Intel’s DG1 announcement, the entry-level market was DG1’s objective all along. The graphics card’s 1080p performance is more than reasonable if you can live without all the fancy eye candy in your life. If not, you should probably pass on the DG1. It would be interesting to see whether the DG1 can hold its own against one of AMD’s latest Ryzen APUs. Unfortunately, that’s a fight for another day.
The Xbox Design Lab, which allows gamers to design their own controllers, is back online. While it had previously been using the Xbox One controller, the new Design Lab is based on the Xbox Series X and Series S controllers.
Currently, you can place orders in the United States, Canada and “most” western European countries. Controllers are $69.99 (a $10 add-on to MSRP for store-bought controllers), and an additional $9.99 if you choose to get optional engraving. Controllers are delivered with two weeks of orders being placed.
There are eighteen colors, some of which are seen in existing controllers. Pulse Red, Electric Volt and Shock Blue are new to the Design Lab but are also available on the market without the customizations.
Microsoft is also adding a black-on-color ABXY button option, which harkens a bit back to the original Xbox and Xbox 360 controllers, and black-on-white view, menu and share buttons.
Xbox controllers work not only with Microsoft’s consoles, but are also widely considered the best option for PC gaming, as most publishers use Xbox buttons in games by default.
Microsoft had paused the Design Lab back in October as it transitioned to the new consoles. This announcement was made during a post-E3 extended briefing.
A piece of malware is spreading across the internet that doesn’t behave like your usual suspects. Strangely, this malware acts as a vigilante of sorts as the software prevents your system from accessing sites known for redistributing pirated data. BleepingComputer and Sophos News first reported on the malware.
When run, the program modifies your computer’s HOSTS file and fills it with a ton of sites, specifically known for doing illegal activity, and redirects those sites to your localhost IP address of 127.0.0.1, which goes nowhere – that is the address of your PC.
The malware will also connect to a remote host when ran, telling the attacker your system’s IP address, which could be used for future attacks.
You can find this malware lurking around on game chart services from Discord, as well as through BitTorrent URLs. Ironically, the software tries to hide its true functionality by looking like a piece of pirated or torrent software. Some files downloaded with the malware point back to the Pirate Bay’s main website.
We don’t know what the exact intentions of the creator were, however, it is a very crude method of “protecting” people from pirating on the internet or protecting people from malware.
A much better practice would be to install a good anti-virus that checks your internet security for threats, to stay protected, as well as being sure to practice safe browsing and, of course, not download anything illegally.
The Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 C16 is a great alternative for Zen 3 CPU owners who want a kit that’s faster than the sweet spot but don’t want to break the piggy bank.
+ Quick out of the box
+ RGB-less design
+ Room for overclocking
– Costs more than similarly-specced rivals
– No RGB (a letdown for some)
The Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 memory kit comes to market to capitalize on the latest developments in the chip world. Like we see in other areas, continuous improvement is important in the processor world: If there weren’t any generational uplift, we’d have no reason to purchase the next best thing. It’s the job of memory makers to capitalize on those advancements and stay in step with the latest developments.
Zen 3, for example, brought a lot of interesting features to the table. One of its improvements is the ability to run faster memory without suffering performance penalties. It’s general knowledge that AMD’s Ryzen processors run the best with their Infinity Fabric Clock (FCLK) and memory clock (MEMCLK) in sync. As a result, DDR4-3800 was the practical ceiling for the majority of Zen 2 owners.
However, microarchitectural improvements have bumped the limit up to DDR4-4000 on Zen 3, allowing memory makers to put out kits that unlock another level of performance for Ryzen users. That’s where the Dark Z FPS kit steps in.
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The Dark Z FPS features the familiar wing-inspired design that TeamGroup is fond of. The aluminum heat spreader arrives in black with white lines that highlight the design. In fact, the Dark Z FPS is only available in the aforementioned color. The overall design is pretty clean, and TeamGroup’s logos are kept to a minimum.
The heat spreader’s extended wings give you the sensation that the memory is overly tall, but it’s not. Coming in at 43.5mm (1.71 inches), the Dark Z FPS is conveniently sized. The memory is devoid of RGB lighting, which is a rare sight nowadays. That might be a pro or con, depending on your taste.
The Dark Z FPS is a 16GB memory kit, so you’ll get two 8GB memory modules. Of course, these conform to a single-rank design. TeamGroup equipped the memory with an eight-layer PCB and the highest quality Samsung K4A8G085WB-BCPB (B-die) integrated circuits (ICs).
TeamGroup only offers the Dark Z FPS in the DDR4-4000 flavor. You’ll find the memory running at DDR4-2400 with 16-16-16-39 timings at stock operation. The primary timings for DDR4-4000 are 16-18-18-38. To run at DDR4-4000, the Dark Z FPS requires 1.45V. For more on timings and frequency considerations, see our PC Memory 101 feature, as well as our How to Shop for RAM story.
Thermaltake ToughRAM XG RGB
2 x 8GB
Thermaltake ToughRAM RGB
2 x 8GB
Predator Apollo RGB
2 x 8GB
GeIL Orion RGB AMD Edition
2 x 8GB
Patriot Viper 4 Blackout
2 x 8GB
TeamGroup T-Force Dark Z FPS
2 x 8GB
Klevv Cras XR
2 x 8GB
Thermaltake ToughRAM XG RGB
2 x 8GB
TeamGroup T-Force Xtreem ARGB
2 x 8GB
Our Intel test system is based on an Intel Core i9-10900K and Asus ROG Maximus XII Apex running the 0901 firmware. Our AMD testbed, on the other hand, leverages the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X with the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero that’s on the 3501 firmware. We use the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Trio for the gaming portion of our RAM benchmarks.
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The T-Force Dark Z FPS put up a strong showing on the Intel platform. The memory kit ranked third overall, but excelled in various workloads, including the Corona ray tracing benchmark, LuxMark, and HandBrake conversion benchmarks.
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The T-Force Dark Z FPS jumped up to the second position on the AMD platform, trailing only the brand’s own T-Force Xtreem ARGB DDR4-3600 C14 memory kit. Nonetheless, the Dark Z FPS still put up a strong showing in numerous benchmarks.
The Dark Z FPS’ gaming performance was consistent on both Intel and AMD platforms, outperforming the competition.
Overclocking and Latency Tuning
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We couldn’t get much overclocking headroom out of the Dark Z FPS without pumping lots of volts into the memory. Keeping the voltage increase at a moderate amount (0.05V), we pushed the memory to DDR4-4300 by loosening the timings from the default 16-18-18-38 to 17-17-17-37.
Lowest Stable Timings
Klevv Cras XR DDR4-4000 C19
TeamGroup T-Force Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 C16
Knowing that the Dark Z FPS employs Samsung’s B-die ICs, we set out to see whether the memory’s timings could go lower. At 1.50V, the memory had no problem operating at 15-15-15-35.
When it comes to AMD’s desktop Ryzen processors, there’s no argument that DDR4-3600 offers the best performance for your money. Nonetheless, the Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 C16 memory kit is a good place to start if you want to experiment with faster memory. As long as your Ryzen 5000 chip can run a 2,000 MHz FCLK, the Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 C16 will offer you performance that’s pretty close to a DDR4-3600 C14 memory kit. You can easily decrease or eliminate the small margin by overclocking the Dark Z FPS down to C15, but as always, your overclocking mileage will vary.
TeamGroup priced the Dark Z FPS DDR4-4000 C16 well compared to other competing kits. The Dark Z FPS kit retails for $169.99, and it’s significantly cheaper than some of the flashier DDR4-4000 options with sloppier timings.
The RGB-less Dark Z FPS design also means that you don’t have to pay the RGB tax. There’s only one rival that will really give the Dark Z FPS a hard time — G.Skill’s Ripjaws V DDR4-4000 C16 memory kit that is $30 cheaper. Pricing fluctuates, though, so make sure to check your options before you hit the check-out lane.
Facebook is rolling out its v30 update to the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets. As previewed earlier this week by Mark Zuckerberg, v30 includes a new multitasking interface for Infinite Office that lets you put multiple apps side by side, including the browser, Oculus TV, Oculus Move, the store, and so on.
Like many new Oculus Quest features, it’ll be found in the Experimental section of the settings menu at first. Once multitasking is enabled, apps can be dragged up from the menu bar or the apps library and snapped into position.
The v30 update also enables Air Link for the original Quest headset. Air Link came to the Quest 2 in April and allows you to stream VR games from your PC to your headset wirelessly, as opposed to Oculus Link which does the same thing over a USB-C cable. Original Quest owners could previously stream PC games wirelessly with the third-party app Virtual Desktop.
Other new features include the addition of an accessibility tab to the settings menu that, among other things, allows for height adjustment, so that games can be experienced from a standing viewpoint while seated. Oculus has also added the ability to switch the headset’s built-in microphone between system-wide party chat and the app you’re using.
As ever, the update might not hit your headset immediately due to the staggered rollout process, but Facebook says it’s coming.
Just in time for the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox Series consoles next month, developer Asobo Studios has added some extra details that players will appreciate. World Update V is focused on the Nordic region (specifically Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), bringing stunning vistas to an already visually impressive title.
A brief trailer shows the payoff for some extra attention on landscapes (so many fjords) and urban areas with detailed architecture for you to fly around showing off everything from ancient castles to modern stadiums, towers and bridges. According to the team, the new areas include “100 airports and 77 carefully selected points of interest.” You can see Lego House and Frederiksborg Castle in the trailer, along with the Arctic Cathedral and Sarek National Park.
The Xbox launch is timed for July 27th, arriving after several updates to optimize the game and even reduce its staggering initial installation size. If you have a capable PC you can install this latest update for free — it’s also localized in Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish if you’d like the full Nordic experience — while Xbox One owners wait for cloud streaming to bring high-end titles their way later this year.
The Royal Kludge RK84 offers a compact design with wired, Bluetooth and 2.4-Ghz connectivity, and hot-swappable key switches. However, the 2.4-GHz option is nearly unusable and the software is awful.
+ Sturdy construction
+ Compact design compared to traditional tenkeyless keyboards
+ Hot-swappable switches
+ Three Bluetooth profiles
+ USB 2.0 passthrough
– 2.4-GHz connection not reliable
– Wired USB cable connection is very loose
– No battery life indicator
– Bad, beta-level software
We live in a tenkeyless world. For a long time, the mechanical keyboard market has been dominated by a few big names—Logitech, Razer, Corsair, etc—building standard full-size keyboards. Then they started embracing tenkeyless form factors and keyboards have continued to shrink. Hell, Razer offers a 60% keyboard now.
There’s also been a rise in keyboards that act as a canvas for your own personal expression. While keyboards from larger companies, including many of the best wireless keyboards, carry their specific design aesthetic, smaller companies offer keyboards that are meant to be changed. The $79.99 Royal Kludge RK84 is one of those models, offering wired and wireless connectivity, a sizable internal battery, a 75% keyboard design, and hot-swappable switches. While most of its key functions work well, RK84’s 2.4-GHz wireless mode suffered from serious interference issues and poor range in our tests, though Bluetooth connectivity was far better. This annoying faux pas makes the RK84 difficult to recommend, though if you can use Bluetooth, it may be worth considering.
Royal Kludge RK84 Specs
MX-compatible Red, hot-swappable
Secondary FN keys
USB-C Wired, Bluetooth, 2.4GHz dongle
5.6 inch USB-A to USB-C cable
2x USB 2.0 passthrough
ABS Double Shot
Royal Kludge software
12.5 x 5 x 1.75 inches (315 x 125 x 40mm)
Design of Royal Kludge RK84
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Right out of the box, the Royal Kludge RK84 makes a statement about stark simplicity. The entire keyboard is cast in white plastic, with the only breaks being the transparent characters on the keycaps and the black Royal Kludge logo. On the rear, there’s a single USB-C port and two USB-A 2.0 ports; the former is for charging the internal battery and wired connections, while the latter keys are for data and charging other devices.
Because this is a tenkeyless model, the numeric keypad is gone, leaving us with a total of 84 keys. Royal Kludge calls this its 80% keyboard, but the layout is really a 75% model. There’s no space between any of the keys, and the right Ctrl key has been cut in half to make space for a Function key. At 12.5 inches across and 5 inches wide the RK84 is pretty small, but it’s 1.75 inches thick and weighs around 1.77 pounds. That means it has a bit of heft to it, making the overall construction feel solid.
On the underside of the RK84, you’ll find four rubber feet, an on-off switch, the Bluetooth / 2.4-GHz wireless toggle, and a slot for the wireless dongle. The rear feet don’t pop out to change the height of the keyboard. Instead, it comes with two magnetic feet that just snap over the existing feet and add 0.375 inches of height. One problem here is there’s no storage spot for the feet, so if you’re traveling you’ll need to stow them in a separate bag.
The model I reviewed had cloned RK-branded Red switches that mirror the standard Cherry MX Reds, but Royal Kludge also offers Blue and Brown switches as an option. However, the RK84 is built for customization. It comes with a keycap puller and switch puller, in addition to four additional switches. The keycaps are ABS doubleshot keycaps with the familiar cross pattern connector on the bottom. The switches are plate-mounted, 3-pin models, but the board looks to have holes allowing the use of PCB-mounted switches.
That means you can easily order new keycaps and switches and drop them right into the keyboard. Mix and match switch types, add keycaps whose colors reflect your personality. I’d take the RK84 as the starting point, not the final model. Starting with this keyboard, you can hop onto Drop, WASD, KP Republic to pick up new switches or unique keycaps. At the same time, the $79.99 asking price is cheaper than similar models from Ducky One or Vortex, while offering additional features like wireless connectivity. You can also remove the plastic plate surrounding the key to change the RK84 for an embedded key model to a floating key model, depending on your visual preference.
Typing Experience on Royal Kludge RK84
The review unit came with linear Red switches, whereas I tend to do my day-to-day work on the tactile Brown switches. Combined with the learning curve of typing on this 75% model, it was a whole new experience for me. Overall, despite the hot-swappable nature of the switches, they all felt well-seated without a lot of bounce to them.
With the Function key, the F keys double as shortcuts for mail and calculator, or built-in media keys. The Function key also accesses the additional features of the keyboard. Fn plus the up/down arrow raises and lowers the brightness, left/right changes animation speed, Home cycles through the 19 backlighting modes, and End changes color for any of the single-color backlight modes.
Wired and Wireless Connectivity on Royal Kludge RK84
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First up, was testing the keyboard in wired mode. All this requires is hooking the keyboard up with the included 5.6 inch USB-C to USB-A cable. There’s no software needed, as Windows will detect the keyboard automatically. The wired connection was entirely stable with no missed keypresses; in a typing test, my words per minute dropped slightly, but I’m chalking the small gap up to my unfamiliarity with the layout.
The USB-C port or the included cable isn’t sturdy though. I found the cable would pop out occasionally as I moved the keyboard around during testing. It’s worth noting that data and charging on the USB 2.0 port only works in wired mode.
The first wireless mode with the 2.4-GHz dongle is… pretty bad. Initial testing was done on my desktop PC. There, I found the keyboard mostly worked within a range of a foot or two of the dongle, but outside of that, it was a mess of missed keystrokes. This poor performance remained regardless of which USB port I used. It’s one of the worst wireless dongle connections I’ve experienced.
Testing on my laptop was a bit better. Without any other dongles in the laptop, I had a stable connection for up to five feet; after that, I saw the occasional missed keystroke. Adding an active Razer wireless dongle next to it dropped the range down to three to four feet. Even within that range, I found that a large obstacle—in this case, my kitchen counter and sink—caused missed keystrokes as well.
That left the Bluetooth connection. You can pair the keyboard with up to three devices, each accessed via the Function key in combination with Q, W, E. (Long pressing these combinations puts the keyboard into pairing mode.) The distance issues with the 2.4-GHz wireless mode just disappear, making the RK84 a decent choice for a living room keyboard, assuming your device has Bluetooth at all. I found that the keyboard was accurate even a good 14-16 feet away from my testing device. It almost makes me wonder why Royal Kludge added the dongle option at all.
The RK84 has a big honker of a battery, sitting at 3750 mAh. Royal Kludge rates the battery life at 200 hours in 2.4-GHz mode with the backlight off, and a full charge takes 6-7 hours. With a full charge, I ran the RK84 in Bluetooth mode with low-brightness backlighting for a week without dropping to zero. This workhorse will survive a long time.
There are some smaller issues here. There’s no battery indicator, outside of a blinking light on the space bar when the RK84 is at low charge. The software doesn’t even offer an indication of the overall charge level; it’s just a matter of hoping. Also, this is a small nitpick, but I’m surprised that you can’t charge via the USB ports when the keyboard is off or in wireless mode. That would give the RK84 an additional perk. Sadly, that’s not the case. That’s not a knock on the overall device, but a missed opportunity.
Software for Royal Kludge RK84
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This keyboard works entirely without software, but Royal Kludge does have a software configuration suite. That said, it’s a bit low-effort. First, the software has two different versions depending on your keyboard’s serial number, as indicated by an included text file. Second, folks have reported the installer is flagged as malware in some antivirus programs, and it’s not signed in Windows, so you have to approve its installation.
Once you’re in the software itself, there are a good number of configuration options. You can change the key assignments per key, create macros, and change the backlighting. The RGB lighting options include many of the choices that come with built-in keyboard toggles, but you can also change the lighting sleep timer, choose a specific color by RGB value, and even make some custom lighting modes. It’s not as robust an application as Razer Chroma or Logitech G Hub, but the ability is there.
Unfortunately, my experience with it was mixed. Key assignments looked to be saved to the keyboard, working even I connected to another device via Bluetooth. But there’s no way to switch between the profiles via the keyboard itself; it only seems to store the last profile selected on the software. And lighting control is even more spotty. Sometimes a setting would take when I switched devices, while other times it would stay on the default options.
Combine that with the obtuse nature of the software itself—it was hard to tell when I was making a key or lighting assignment—and I’d say you’re probably better off avoiding the software until Royal Kludge improves it. Unless you need to change key assignments, I’d count it as a negative for the overall RK84 experience.
On paper, the Royal Kludge RK84 is a winner. A simple design is paired with three connection choices, a larger battery, USB passthrough, and software that allows for further configuration. For customizers, it’s a win with hot-swappable switches and standard keycaps, with a price tag that’s lower than most of the competition. But the 2.4-GHz connection barely works, USB passthrough only works in wired mode, and the software is a miss.
The Royal Kludge tries to offer more for less, but it should ensure that the additional features actually work. Instead, the final product is a series of open questions. If you want a wired or wireless Bluetooth 75% keyboard with software-less RGB lighting configuration and a long battery life, this might be the keyboard for you. But when you step outside of those boundaries, the RK84 falters and stumbles.
The Keychron K2 offers many of the same features at the same price point, with an aluminum body. You can also try the K2’s slimmer sibling, the Keychron K3, for a more low-profile typing experience. Most of the choices from bigger manufacturers—the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini or Asus ROG Falchion—are usually 65% keyboards and are much, much more expensive. It’s just a matter of knowing what you’re getting into here.
AMD is launching a new variant of its Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card that is liquid cooled. This extra cooling allows the card to run at higher clock speeds, delivering better performance in games. Videocardz reports that the Radeon RX 6900 XT Liquid Edition also includes faster memory, at 18Gbps instead of the 16Gbps found on the regular RX 6900 XT.
This liquid cooled edition will be powered by a single radiator fan attached to the card’s shroud. AMD is using the same number of compute units, 16GB memory size, and 128MB infinity cache as existing RX 6900 RT models, but the card will be clocked at 2250Mhz instead of 2015Mhz.
That speedier clock means the total board power for the Radeon RX 6900 XT Liquid Edition will also bump up to 330 watts, a 30-watt increase over the regular RX 6900 XT. This new GPU appears to be exclusive to system integrators, so you’ll only likely find it on pre-built machines. Maingear in the US has listed the card, alongside PC Specialist in the UK and Japanese retailer Dospara. It’s also listed as “coming soon,” so it’s not clear when it will be available in systems.
The regular RX 6900 XT was already trading blows with Nvidia’s top-of-the-line RTX 3090 card late last year, so it will be interesting to see how much more capable this is for 1440p and 4K gaming. Reviewers found that the $1,000 RX 6900 XT was around 4 to 7 percent faster than the $649 RX 6800 XT.
We don’t have an exact price for this Radeon RX 6900 XT Liquid Edition, but Maingear lists it as a $2,227 upgrade over the RTX 3060 on its custom systems. The regular RX 6900 XT is listed as a $1,402 upgrade, so it looks like you’ll be paying a hefty $825 price premium for this liquid cooling edition.
Rockstar Games announced that the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA Online, the online multiplayer component of Grand Theft Auto V, will no longer be accessible starting December 16th, 2021. Shark Cash Cards, which unlock the in-game currency for GTA Online, will no longer be purchasable on these consoles after September 15th, 2021.
The company said in a press release that shutting down GTA Online for these consoles will “have no impact on access to, or progress within, the Grand Theft Auto V story mode.” You simply won’t be able to go online with the game.
Additionally, website stat tracking for GTA Online will cease operation on December 16th, 2021. Web stat tracking for some of the studio’s other PS3 and Xbox 360 games that have Social Club integration, including Max Payne 3 and L.A. Noire, will be shut down earlier on September 16th, 2021.
It speaks to the popularity of GTA Online and the massive install base of both PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles that Rockstar Games kept the lights on, so to speak, for so long. These consoles saw the initial release of Grand Theft Auto V almost eight years ago, and its highly anticipated online open-world multiplayer mode debuted a month after launch. All in all, the service has spanned entire console generations.
Since then, it has rereleased on the PS4 and Xbox One in 2014, on PC in 2015, and on November 11th, 2021, it’ll come to the PS5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles. There’s no end in sight for GTA Online on modern hardware. But it’s understandable that, after almost eight years of service on outdated, hard-to-buy consoles, now’s the time to pull the plug.
The Atari VCS — a part-desktop PC, part-retro console modeled after the Atari 2600 — is finally available to buy at retail. Atari is selling the console via its own site while Best Buy and Micro Center also have their listings. This isn’t the first time the console has been available to the public (VGC notes that IndieGoGo backers recently received their consoles) but it’s the first time the machine has been available to buy at retail.
The VCS has been a long time coming. Originally teased in 2017 as the “Ataribox,” the project re-emerged the following year as the Atari VCS, with Atari running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund its development in June 2018. Originally, the console had been due to ship in mid-2019 but reportedly ran into a series of development difficulties, culminating in the project’s lead architect quitting.
The device that’s been released technically does what Atari promised, but reviews have been pretty middling. VGC says the console’s built-in selection of 100 Atari games (18 from the arcade and 82 from the Atari 2600 console) might be emulated perfectly, but many are “so incredibly basic that they really don’t hold up to the mildest scrutiny in 2021.” There’s also an app store where you can buy modern games, but pickings are slim and lacking in exclusives.
The console technically also works as a streaming box for services like Netflix and Disney Plus, but VGC notes these are just “glorified Chrome bookmarks” rather than native apps. At least the promised desktop mode actually works, allowing you to install Windows, Linux, or ChromeOS and use the machine like a modestly-specced but cool-looking desktop PC.
If you do decide to go down the desktop PC route, the Atari VCS is powered by an AMD Ryzen R1606G system-on-a-chip, paired with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (both upgradeable). There are two USB 3.1 ports on the front and two on the rear along with Ethernet and HDMI 2.0 ports. In other words, don’t expect this machine to rival an Xbox Series S despite its similar $299.99 starting price.
Suffice it to say that you probably shouldn’t be rushing out to drop upwards of $299.99 on the Atari VCS (or $399.99 for the Walnut version, which comes with an included wireless joystick and controller, which retail separately for $59.99 each). But despite its flaws, it’s still an interesting mini PC that might be worth checking out as a curiosity when it inevitably drops in price.
Noctua is known for making mighty quiet PC fans, and now it has a CPU cooler that doesn’t need a fan at all. Two years after announcing a passive heatsink potent enough to keep a Core i9-9900K CPU in check, the dead-silent Noctua NH-P1 (via VideoCardz) has finally gone on sale today for $110. It’s an absolute unit at 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds).
According to the company’s delightfully ASMR build video below (via PC Gamer), the final product’s six soldered heatpipes and thick fins are good enough to run a Core i9-11900K near its TDP of 125W, and even give you a slight overclock to 3.6GHz, though it’ll heavily depend on your case and other components that might also generate heat. The company has a whole set of setup guidelines, a CPU compatibility list, and even a list of recommended cases so you know what you’re getting into and start off on the right foot.
Assuming you’ve got those things in check, you shouldn’t have too much trouble fitting it to your motherboard: it appears to be compatible with all modern desktop CPU sockets and has “100% RAM clearance on LGA1200 and AM4,” with a note that you might want to avoid tall RAM modules if you’re using an LGA2066 motherboard.
The company also has a quiet (12.1dB) new 120mm fan, the NF-A12x25 LS-PWM, if you really want an extra burst of cooling on occasion. It’s set to come to a dead stop at 0 percent PWM, so your fan controller can only turn it on when you need it.
Noctua makes coolers that are primarily known for their quiet fans and efficient design. But no matter how quiet your fans are, they’re still not absolutely silent. To be absolutely silent, you need to go fanless, and that’s exactly what Noctua has done with its NH-P1 cooler.
The Noctua NH-P1 doesn’t have a fan yet claims compatibility with all modern AMD and Intel CPUs, including AMD’s AM4 as well as Intel’s LGA1200, LGA115x CPUs. While the NH-P1 is designed primarily for chips featuring moderate power consumption, it can also be equipped with a 120-mm fan (the manufacturer recommends its NF-A12x25 LS-PWM) for advanced processors that run hotter.
The NH-P1 cooler features a mostly aluminum construction with 13 thick fins to dissipate thermal energy fast. To absorb heat rapidly, the unit has a copper base and six copper heat pipes.
Noctua’s NH-P1 cooler measures 158×154×152 mm and weighs 1180 grams, large enough that it won’t fit into a small PC case. It should be capable enough for cooling mainstream CPUs rated for 65W TDP (there is an official list of compatible CPUs). Keep in mind that Intel’s 65W CPUs can consume and dissipate much more than 65W in burst mode, so passive coolers must be used with BIOS tweaking.
Noctua did not disclose its recommended price for the NH-P1 cooler, but it’s reasonable to expect it to cost in the $100/€100 ballpark given the specifications and capabilities. Amazon lists the cooler for $110 in the US, with Prime shipping. Availability elsewhere may be limited.
The 2021 edition of E3 was perhaps the weirdest yet. After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the world’s biggest gaming event returned in a digital-only format. A lot of big names were still present — like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Square Enix — and there were plenty of surprising reveals and other announcements. But the spectacle felt somewhat diminished without the in-person experience. Meanwhile, the show seemed to come together at the very last moment — seriously, we didn’t even know the schedule of events until just a few days before E3 kicked off.
So you’d be forgiven for having missed some of the show. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered together the best trailers from E3 in one place, so you can catch up on the most exciting announcements, gameplay reveals, and more. Check them out below.
Guardians of the Galaxy
After the muted reception to Square Enix’s Avengers game, it’s surprising just how exciting Guardians of the Galaxy looks. Based on the initial footage, the game appears to really nail the Guardians vibe, complete with lots of banter and ’80s music. It’s being developed by Deus Ex studio Eidos Montreal and, perhaps best of all, is a completely single-player game with no microtransactions.
Bethesda’s next epic, Starfield, was announced in 2018 with the teasiest of teasers. We knew its name and that it was about space, but that’s about it. The latest trailer doesn’t show a whole lot more of the game, but at least it feels a lot more real now. It even has a release date: November 11th, 2022.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Who knows if James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will ever actually materialize, but at least you’ll be able to head back to Pandora in a video game. Ubisoft studio Massive Entertainment, best known for its work on the Division games, is helming this new title, which puts players in the role of a Na’vi exploring a new part of the alien planet. It’s due to launch next year.
Take the co-op premise of Left 4 Dead, add in some terrifying vampires, and put it in the hands of the immersive sim wizards at Arkane, and you end up with Redfall, a Microsoft exclusive for PC and Xbox launching next year.
Forza Horizon 5
There are few better ways to show off new hardware than with shiny cars. Forza Horizon 5 is yet further proof of this, with a gorgeous trailer that shows off how good a next-gen racer can look.
The Outer Worlds 2
If all you’re going to announce is the name of a new game, you may as well have some fun with it.
They Always Run
Sometimes you just need to get straight to the action. The E3 trailer for They Always Run doesn’t waste much time with setup, instead jumping right into gameplay that shows off the fast and furious combat. The game is listed as “coming soon.”
Given that Somerville’s developers have previously worked on games like Inside and Limbo, it’s no surprise that the game looks dark and evocative. Only this time, it looks like the game — which takes place in the midst of some kind of large-scale catastrophe — has more three-dimensional elements.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
The original Mario + Rabbids was a combination that came out of nowhere: Nintendo’s iconic characters, joining forces with Ubisoft’s Minion-like rabbids, in a game that channels the turn-based action of XCOM. Now, a sequel is on the way, and it somehow looks even more charming.
Far Cry 6
Four minutes of Giancarlo Esposito chewing scenery is exactly what we all need right now.
Life is Strange: True Colors
We’ve already seen a bit of the next Life is Strange story, but the E3 trailer gives a great look at how the powers, which are based on the concept of empathy, actually work. True Colors is launching this September.
We Are OFK
We Are OFK is described as an “interactive series” that follows the early career of a fictional pop group. We already knew the game was stylish, but the latest trailer also gives some hints as to how it will play, including what looks like an interesting decision-based story.
Last Stop is the next release from Variable State, the studio behind the mind-bending and cinematic Virginia. The new game follows a trio of characters as they experience a strange, supernatural event from different perspectives. It’s coming out on July 22nd.
The OlliOlli games have done a remarkable job of replicating the feel of street skateboarding, but with a 2D side-scrolling game. OlliOlli World looks to maintain that core but expand on it with a strange fantasy world that players will explore as they shred.
Sable continues to be one of the most gorgeous games in development, blending Moebius-inspired visuals with a vast world to explore. We’ve been following it for some time, and now it finally has a release date: September 23rd.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
One of the most anticipated games of E3 made a late appearance, with a gorgeous new trailer showcasing a new Zelda world in the skies. The sequel to Breath of the Wild still doesn’t have a release date, but it’s expected to hit the Nintendo Switch in 2022.
The long-rumored Metroid Dread is not only real — it’s coming very soon. Nintendo officially unveiled the game at E3, which is a direct sequel to Metroid Fusion and the first brand-new 2D Metroid game in nearly two decades. It’s launching on the Switch on October 8th.
CD Projekt says Cyberpunk 2077 will return to Sony’s PlayStation Store on June 21st, slightly more than six months after being removed. As Polygon notes, the news came in a regulatory disclosure by Cyberpunk 2077’s developer, CD Projekt Red’s parent company, saying Sony had agreed to reinstate the game.
A CD Projekt Red spokesperson declined further comment about Cyberpunk 2077’s return, including what potential bug fixes or other updates the new version offers. In a statement to Polygon, Sony confirmed the news but said that it still doesn’t recommend playing the game on PlayStation 4. “Users will continue to experience performance issues with the PS4 edition while CD Projekt Red continues to improve stability across all platforms. [Sony Interactive Entertainment] recommends playing the title on PS4 Pro or PS5 for the best experience,” a spokesperson said.
CD Projekt executives have said they frequently updated Sony on fixes for Cyberpunk 2077’s myriad bugs and performance issues since the game was pulled from the store on December 17th, 2020. The studio has released numerous patches for its console, PC, and Google Stadia editions; in late May, joint CEO Adam Kiciński told investors there’d been “visible progress” on stabilizing the game. But Kiciński said Sony would have to make the final call.
Cyberpunk 2077 was released in December to strong sales but severe technical problems. The game struggled to run on last-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, and players faced numerous (and frequently hilarious) bugs on every platform. Microsoft and Sony both offered refunds for the game, and Microsoft added a warning label for Xbox One owners on its Xbox store. Sony took the more drastic step of pulling Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store entirely. Console owners could still buy physical discs, but CD Projekt has said that the digital version’s absence may have slowed down sales on Xbox and PC as well as PlayStation.
CD Projekt Red spent nearly a decade designing Cyberpunk 2077, and it calls the game a long-term investment that it can sell for “years to come.” The studio has backed away from plans for a standalone multiplayer mode, saying it would focus on adding online features to all its games instead. But it’s promised downloadable content for Cyberpunk 2077’s single-player campaign, plus a major upgrade for new consoles — including the PlayStation 5 — in the second half of this year.
Update June 15th, 2:00PM ET: Added comment from Sony via Polygon and response from CD Projekt Red.
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