DESK TOUR

After a few posts with photos of my desk, I have received a few questions and requests to do a post regarding my desk setup, so here is a quick desk tour.

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As can be seen in the photos above I run two 27-inch monitors, for a secondary monitor I use the Dell SE2717H, a 75Hz 1080P FreeSync monitor, and for a primary display, I use the Dell S2716DG, a 144Hz 1440p G-Sync monitor.

The full specs of the PC can be found in a previous post here, with only a few minor changes since then that I will cover now.

The first change made was replacing the standard plastic backplate of the Corsair H150i Pro with an all metal one, as can be seen in the image below:

metal backplate

The plastic backplate that came with the H150i never felt completely stable, and with the new metal backplate, the whole mounting feels much more robust. This backplate is available from Amazon. While replacing the backplate, I also replaced the thermal paste that came pre-applied with the AIO cooler with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut. This process resulted in the CPU temperatures dropping by approximately 2-3°C.

The next thing that changed was the addition of a Corsair Lighting Node Pro and RGB Strips, as well as a storage upgrade with an additional 4TB Western Digital Blue drive, total storage is now 17.5 TB consisting of 500GB NVMe storage, 1TB SSD storage and 16 TB spinning disk storage of which 4 TB is accelerated with 32GB Intel Optane Memory.

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As the case front panel, Corsair AIO and the Corsair Lighting Node Pro requires USB 2 headers and my motherboard only has two, this resulted in a problem which was solved by installing an NXZT Internal USB Hub.

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I also added Phanteks Halos to my AIO fans, that was covered in a previous post here.

The final change was the switching out of the MSI Gaming X GTX 1080 with the Zotac RTX 2080 Amp Extreme.

The only additional change that might happen in the short term is the addition of a PSU shroud.

Now that we have covered the PC let us get back to the rest of the desk.

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The photo above shows that on each side of the primary monitor there is a speaker, they are Samson studio monitors, the MediaOne BT3. The microphone I use can be seen on top of one of the speakers, the Samson Meteor USB Studio Microphone. And the webcam used is the Razer Kiyo, which is set up on top of the primary monitor.

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On the back of both the monitors and desk, RGB strips have been mounted and the remote to control them is stored in a custom 3D printed housing under the desk.

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Various figures decorate my desk, most of them made by Funko, but somewhere 3D Printed.

From a peripheral perspective, I use the Corsair K70 MK2 mechanical keyboard and Razer Mamba Tournament Edition mouse (although I am considering replacing the Razer Mamba TE with the new Corsair IronClaw Wireless RGB mouse). Both the keyboard and mouse are on top of the Razer Goliathus Extended Speed Edition Mouse Pad. For a controller, I use an Xbox One controller, the Volcano Shadow Special Edition, which is kept out of the way when not in use by Vault Boy.

I use two headphones, one Wireless Gaming Headset, the Corsair HS70, and one wired professional studio headphones, the Samson Z55. I have a Silicon Headphone Anker under the desk to store these headphones when they are not in use.

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I store a precision screwdriver set under the primary monitor for easy access, the Xiaomi Wiha Precision Aluminum Screwdriver set.

My VR Headset and controller are stored on top of the pc case, it is the Lenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset. This was covered in a post here.

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I have 3D printed a cable box, for easier access when plugging in the VR Headset.

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Lastly, behind the second monitor is where my 3D Printer is located, the Wanhao i3 Mini.

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DESK TOUR

REVIEW – CORSAIR K70 MK2 MECHANICAL GAMING KEYBOARD

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The K70 MK2 is a mechanical gaming keyboard available with Cherry MX speed, brown, red, blue and silent switches. The one reviewed here is the blue switch configuration as I prefer a clicky tactile keyboard.

The keyboard comes with a detachable wrist rest which is very comfortable.

Some additional features of the K70 MK2 is an aluminium frame, fully configurable RGB, dedicated media and volume controls, additional key caps for FPS and MOBA games (which are colored and textured differently from the normal key caps), USB pass-through and 100% anti-ghosting full key roll-over.

Due to the aluminium frame the keyboard is very rigid and volume roller is one of the most useful features I have ever used on a keyboard.

The Corsair K70 has a reputation as one of the best keyboards available and it is well deserved, it is the best keyboard I have ever used.

REVIEW – CORSAIR K70 MK2 MECHANICAL GAMING KEYBOARD

REVIEW – ADATA SD600 EXTERNAL SSD (256GB)

I recently found myself in the market for a high-capacity high-speed external storage solution and after shopping around I decided to pick up the ADATA SD600 External Solid State Drive as it provided 256GB of storage at a very reasonable price of just under $75 (USD).

The SD600 is a USB 3.1 compatible device, advertising read speeds of up to 440MB/s, very fast compared to more traditional external USB hard drives.

The SD600 utilizes 3D NAND technology, thus offering better performance compared to Solid State Drives that does not.

Below is a performance comparison, using Crystal Disk Mark, of the ADATA SD600, a Samsung EVO 850 500GB internal SSD running on SATA III and a SanDisk Ultra Flair 16GB USB 3.0 Thumb Drive:

ADATA

ADATA SD600 Results

 

Samsung evo 850 Crystal Disk

Samsung EVO 850 Results (SATA III)

 

USB3 Crystal Disk

SanDisk Ultra Flair 16GB USB 3.0 Thumb Drive Results

As can be seen the ADATA SD600 performs much better than the USB 3.0 thumb drive, but does not quite match the results of the Samsung drive running on SATA III. However, for an external storage solution these results are great.

From a size perspective the SD600 is much smaller than a traditional 2.5-inch external Hard Drive and the image below shows the size compared to two USB thumb drives.

ADATA Size

The SD600, however slightly larger than the thumb drives, is really compact and is definitely small enough to be comfortably carried around in your pocket. It is also very durably built and offers a very convenient solution for portable storage.  Thus far, after over a months’ worth of usage the SD600 has given me no problems and serves its purpose exceptionally well. So, if you are in the market for an external storage solution the SD600 offers a great solution at a very reasonable price.

REVIEW – ADATA SD600 EXTERNAL SSD (256GB)

A Look At The Leap Motion

The leap motion is a USB connected input device like no other. It allows user input through hand motion and gestures without any physical contact between the users’ hands and the device.

The Leap motion consists of a small flat device which is placed on the desk in front of your screen and to use it you simply hold and move your hands over it. The Leap motion contains Infra-Red Cameras and LEDs to track the position of hands as well as hand gestures.

It is a very interesting experience especially when combined with VR (I will cover this in a post at a later time).

The device can track both the user’s hands simultaneously, which results in a great and seamless experience. The included tech demos are also very impressive.

Here is a video showing the device in action:

The Leap motion is a bit of a novelty device and it’s won’t be replacing your mouse and keyboard any time soon. Also note that the sensing area in which your hands need to be isn’t that big, which is a bit restricting, however it does provide a great tool for experimentation with alternative ways of computer interaction.

I have some big plans for the device with my DIY VR headset version 2 in the future.

It is also worth mentioning that the Leap Motion prices have dropped since launch and I managed to pick one up from amazon for just over $60 when I was in the US last year.

A Look At The Leap Motion

Boards, Boards Everywhere

Currently there are numerous Arduino and Arduino compatible boards available, this post will do a quick comparison between 3 of these boards (Arduino UNO R3, Arduino Mega R3 and the Beetle which is a shrunk down version of the Arduino Leonardo) and then also a quick comparison between Arduino and Raspberry Pi Board Families.

The below picture illustrates the size difference between the Arduino boards:

Arduino Board Comparison

Here is a basic breakdown of the specifications of the three boards:

Specification UNO R3 MEGA R3 Beetle
Processor ATmega328P ATmega2560 Atmega32U4
Frequency 16 MHz 16 MHz 16 MHz
Dimensions 68.6 mm × 53.3 mm 101.6 mm × 53.3 mm 20mm X 22mm
Manufacturer Arduino Arduino DFRobot
Flash Memory 32kB 256kB 32kB
SRAM 2kB 8kB 2.5kB
Digital I/O Pins 14 54 3
Analog Pins 6 16 3

The Arduino UNO is a good starting point for anyone interested in beginning some Arduino builds, it is a good all round board for most projects and the only real constraint that I have ever run into with this board is running out of digital I/O and Analog input pins for larger projects.

The Arduino Mega overcomes this problem by offering more than double the pins. From a development and ease of use point of view it is almost identical to the UNO.

The Beetle has the least amount of pins exposed, 6 in total, 3 digital and 3 analog, so this can be a serious constraint on the nature of project it can be used for. On the other hand its tiny size makes it possible to use this board in projects where physical size is a constraint (Such as the Insect bot I posted about in an earlier post).   

Now lets look at the Raspberry Pi (Raspberry Pi 2 B to be precise) in comparison to the Arduino boards. Below are 2 Pictures showing its size in comparison to the Arduino UNO and Mega.

Pi and Mega Pi and Mega

Here is a basic specification breakdown for the Raspberry Pi (Raspberry 2 B):

Specification Raspberry Pi 2 B
Processor Cortex-A7
Frequency 900 MHz quad-core
Dimensions 85.60 mm × 56.5 mm
Manufacturer Raspberry Pi Foundation
Flash Memory MicroSD slot
SDRAM 1GB

So, which should you use? Arduino or Raspberry Pi? The answer is… It depends. Both boards have their strong and weak points. Let us look at some key distinguishing points between the two board families:

  • Price
    • The Arduino boards tend to cost a lot less than Raspberry Pi boards.
  • Memory
    • Raspberry Pi Boards have vastly more memory.
  • Processing Power
    • Raspberry Pi Boards again win this one by a huge margin.
  • Ease of Hardware interfacing
    • Arduino Boards make direct hardware interfaces with sensors and actuators much easier.
  • Online community
    • Both have a strong and thriving online community for help and support.
  • Development
    • Arduino is C only using the free Arduino IDE where as the Raspberry Pi has a variety of development options, including Python, Java, C, C++.

The Arduino makes hardware interfacing with sensors and actuators a great deal easier. However the Raspberry Pi offers vastly more memory and processing power. So which one to use depends very much on your projects’ requirements.

To put it simply there is no right or wrong choice, use what works for you or simply what you want to use.

This does however not mean that you cannot use both on a single project by setting up serial communication between the 2 boards. I am currently busy doing this on a project (see The Geek under the THE KILLER ROBOTICS FAMILY SO FAR! post).

Boards, Boards Everywhere