Monday, 16 March 2015

Roccat Ryos TKL Pro

Roccat Ryos TKL Pro

A compact mech board for the number-phobic gamer

We’re really trying hard not to be too cynical about the Ryos TKL Pro, but Roccat hasn’t made it easy. It’s a cut-down version of the full-fat Ryos MK Pro, just £10 cheaper, but you lose a hell of a lot in the switch. And we’re not just talking about the absent numpad either.

Essentially that’s what the TKL stands for in the name – tenkeyless. And by the 10 keys we assume that refers to the 0 to 9 keys on the missing numpad, and not the seven other keys which traditionally orbit those numerals. That makes this board a compact design, laid out specifically for gamers, and notably FPS gamers at that. Roccat claims the fact there’s less distance between a gamer’s mouse and keyboard hands is “perfect for those who game optimally when there’s less space between their wrists”. We’re guessing that’s a gaming niche we were previously unaware of and somewhat ironic given the board’s name puts us immediately in mind of a professional Mr Tickle.

Chillblast Fusion Mantis

Chillblast Fusion Mantis

A mid-range gamer falling prey to its big brother

The release of Nvidia’s GTX 960 should in theory have brought about some well-priced gaming rigs using the latest Maxwell-based mid-ranger. So, we wanted to lure into the PCF testing lab a sub-£1,000 machine rocking the green team’s latest graphics card, with its super-chilled GPU and 1080p gaming prowess. Step forward the Chillblast with its Fusion Mantis and a retail price of around £850.

Samsung 850 EVO M.2

Samsung 850 EVO M.2

An M.2 SSD in name only

The future of performance solid-state drive storage lies with the PCIe interface. Set to usher in a new era of superfast SSDs, the M.2 storage interface is shovelling huge amounts of data down speedy PCIe lanes. And we’re starting to see the green shoots of its continued development right now. More and more manufacturers have started to release M.2 drives, with the socket appearing in many new laptops and mainstream motherboards.

There’s also the tantalising prospect of the Non-Volatile Media Express protocol (NVMe) replacing the current AHCI setup, itself hobbling even the fastest PCIe SSDs with its many mechanical legacy hoops that SSDs still need to jump through. On top of that, thanks to Samsung’s latest range of consumer drives, we’re also getting 3D NAND Flash memory to sort out the storage density and longevity issues we’ve been suffering with.

Corsair Graphite Series 380T

Corsair Graphite Series 380T

Float like a butterfly, look like a bee

Performance enthusiasts like big stuff. Big cases, big videocards, big monitors. But we also enjoy the challenge of fitting a lot into a little. Sometimes it’s putting a Porsche engine into a vintage VW Beetle. Other times, it’s putting a high-grade gaming machine into a Mini-ITX cube case. Corsair came out with the Obsidian 250D last year, and now it’s time for something a little less boxy. The 380T fits the bill, and also delivers a compelling design.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg

Even the most po-faced software products may contain an in-joke, game or moment of madness, Stuart Turton seeks out software’s sillier side

In 1979, Warren Robinett snuck a secret message to fans in his Atari video game, Adventure. Players were soon scurrying through every corner of the game world to locate Robinett’s hidden message, the staff at Atari likening the madness to an Easter egg hunt. The term held, as did the practice, with jokes, snide references and strange commands ending up tucked away into thousands of products. Join us as we explore the strange corners of the software you use every day.

Buy me. The psychological tricks that make us click

Buy me

How do online stores convince you to buy products that you really don't need? Sarry Collins exposes the secrets of the online retail industry

We’re all wise to the tricks that bricks-and-mortar stores use to tempt us to buy. Wafting the smell of freshly baked bread through the supermarket, knocking a penny off prices to make them appear a pound cheaper than they really are, and using bright lighting to make goods seem fresh and inviting. Less familiar, however, are the subtle - and sometimes not-so-subtle - techniques that are now used online to make us part with our credit card details.

Protect your valuable devices from theft

Protect devices from theft

Don’t be a victim of opportunist crime. Mike Bedford investigates how best to keep your laptops, tablets and smartphones out of the wrong hands

Laptops, smartphones and tablets are terrifically useful tools - but they’re also valuable items that attract thieves. On these pages, we’ll consider two approaches to reducing your risk of being a victim of theft. First, we’ll advise on how small behavioural changes will lead to greater safety of your mobile devices. Then we’ll investigate the various types of anti-theft products aimed at this sort of equipment, and examine the pros and cons of each. If the worst does happen, we’ll also examine what is and isn’t covered on standard insurance policies - and whether there’s any benefit to taking out a specialised policy intended for this type of device.

Much of the advice given here is with the business user in mind, but that’s only because they arguably have more to lose; it’s perfectly applicable to personal use too.