Laptop bag: STM Flight Messenger Bag Review

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STM-Flight-Laptop-Tablet-BagIntroduction:

We have probably laboured the point enough about the need to protect your laptop whilst out an about (and no we haven't changed our mind on the matter!) as replacing or repairing a laptop isn't cheap! The best laptop bags provide enough protection for your laptop (and/or tablet in some cases) as well providing enough storage for accessories and power adaptors to suit your usage and style. The STM Flight is the latest in a long range of laptop bags we have had the opportunity to review from STM and like the others it doesn't disappoint!

Specifications:

Sizes: Small (13" screens) and Medium (15" screens)
Main fabric: light weight water resistant canvas (Black or Olive)
Lining: 230g nylex / 210D water resistant poly
Laptop space: 13 x 9.1 x 1 in / 33 x 23.1 x 2.7 cm
External bag: 14.6 x 10.6 x 4.1 in / 37 x 27 x 10.5 cm
Weight: 1.3 lbs / 0.6 kg

Review:

The STM Flight laptop bag is apparently based on old school flight bags that pilots used to carry on board flights and as such the design is actually really smart and very functional. The outer fabric comprises a strong water resistant canvas material (we reviewed the black version) while the inner lining is a light grey waterproof polyester.

Pocketwise, the front of the bag has a large zipped pocket with multile compartments for stationary and larger accessories (small note pads etc.) as well as a key fob for securing your keys whilst on the move. The main inner compartment houses very well padded and soft lined compartments for both a large tablet and also a laptop computer or notepad, as well as a separate compartment of larger documents (Slim A4 folders or notepads). The back of the bag has an open pocket, which is split into a larger and two smaller pockets which again could fit several accessories or power supplies.

The bag comes with two standard handles that have their own small pockets which they can tuck away into as well as an adjustable shoulder strap, whichever suits the situation!

Every aspect of the Flight is as well designed and built as previous bags we have reviewed from STM, with strong clips and buckles and great attention to details which gives us confidence that the bag would last as long as the laptop or tablet it holds!

Price:

49.99 from Amazon (15" version) or Amazon (13" Version)

Verdict:

4/5 - Although not cheap, the STM Flight is built to last and offers enough storage to house both a laptop and a tablet whilst still leaving room for accessories and documents whilst travelling, definitely a thumbs up for us!

Gaming Keyboard: CM Storm QuickFire Pro Mechanical Keyboard Review

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CM Storm QuickFire Pro SideIntroduction:

If you are a serious gamer, you will most likely have considered buying a dedicated gaming keyboard so that you can up your game against your competitors. So what's the difference between your average desktop keyboard and a gaming keyboard? The most obvious differences lie in the build quality and responsiveness, but generally they all have a alevel of customisability that make them ideal for playing games as well as multimedia uses. There are a number of options for the serious gamer, however the latest mechanical keyboard to be released by CM Storm, the QuickFire Pro should definitely be up there on any wish list!

Specifications:

  • Mechanical CHERRY MX switches
  • USB 2.0 full speed
  • NKRO in USB mode
  • Multimedia shortcuts
  • 1000Hz/1ms response time
  • Windows key disabled in game mode
  • Partial Red LED backlight
  • Removable braided USB cable with cable routing
  • Review:

    The build quality of the CM Storm Quick Fire Pro keyboard is instantly obvious the moment you pick up the package, with the keyboard clearly made of sterner stuff than the average keyboard weighing in at 1.3 kg. Inside the keyboard is shipped with a braided 1.8 M USB cable that plugs into the back of the keyboard via a set of gold plated terminals in to the mini USB port, and the cable is easily routed via a number of channels to the gaming PC. In our case the keyboard was instantly recognised as an input device in Windows 7 (although wasn't recognised in the bios so don't discard your old keyboard if you have a habit of reinstalling your PC on a regular basis!).

    The Keyboard itself as mentioned is really heavy duty and comes in a matt black finish with red keys (a set of which can be backlit in various modes to make finding keys easy during games). Setting up the backlit LED gaming keys is easy and brightness can be altered to suit your tastes as well as the number of keys illuminated using a series of function keys. In the same way the polling rate and NKRO (Nkey rollover mode) can be altered to change responsiveness and also the ability to detect multiple combined independent key presses (6 or full keyboard support) simultaneously. Although full NKRO is a impressive advance for a USB keyboard (in comparison to PS/2 connections that can differentiate across the full keyboard anyway) the importance for the average gamer will be most likely be massively outweighed by the impressive strength and feel of the keyboard whilst in use.

    CM Storm QuickFire Pro Front

    In our tests (playing a number of games) we detected no flex in the keyboard and it was incredibly responsive, and looked really cool with the pulsating backlit LEDs! The keyboard can be bought in four different variants (or flavours if you prefer!) that reflect the type of Cherry MX switches (Black, Blue, Brown or Red) which give different levels of feedback when pressed for the best user experience. Importantly Cooler Master have put their money where their mouth is with a 2 year warranty on the keyboard, so it's probably safe to say that it should be able to take whatever you throw at it.

    Price:

    £81.01 at the time of writing (available at Amazon)

    Verdict:

    4.5/5 - This has to be one of the heaviest duty keyboards we have had the opportunity to try out and doubled with excellent responsiveness it would make a force to be reckoned with in any gaming session. The setup is easy, ultimately customisable and there is a switch variant to suit any taste. This build quality does come at a cost (as with any of the top of the range gaming keyboards) however we felt that it was entirely worth the money.

    CPU Coolers: Cooler Master Gemin II SGF524 Review

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    Cooler Master Gemin II Sf524Introduction:

    Aftermarket CPU coolers come in all shapes, sizes and prices to suit every need possible and in general offer a number of advantages over the core OEM fans that tend to be shipped with the CPUs. Cooler Master's latest CPU cooler for review, the Gemin II SGF524 is no different and the stepped cooling tower is specifically designed to be able to fit over even the largest memory stick heat sinks. The package includes a 120mm fan (with an additional power regulator to limit it to 900rpm for super quiet usage) or can be retro fitted using any alterntaive 140mm fan for enhanced cooling needs, but with increased noise levels.

    Specifications:

    • Balance cooling between CPU and components on the motherboard.

    • Higher ground clearance for better memory module compatibility.

    • Larger heatsink for better performance.

    • Super low fan speed (900 R.P.M. with Silent Mode Adapter) provides almost noiseless performance.

    • Compatible with 14cm fans (optional).

    Review:

    As with most retro fit CPU coolers, the Cooler Master Gemin II SGF524 is fitted via a dedicated mother board bracket that requires the entire removal of the motherboard from the case. Although this obviously more time consuming (and a little scary if you aren't used to replacing or fixing components in the guts of your PC), it does ensure that the heatsink is correctly seated over the CPU, something that is often slightly tricky using the normal OEM spring mount fixings.

    We installed the Gemin II SGF524 on an older P4 system, replacing an older Akasa heatsink and fan combo (using the aforementioned spring mount system) which although noisy offers a good cooling profile for the system (60C at high load using OCCT). As mentioned the installation required removing the motherboard and fitting the GeminII's mounting bracket, which although more time consuming does ensure that once installed the heatsink and fan are simple to fit without the need to constantly reseat feet to ensure good heatsink contact.

    Once fitted OCCT was once again used to check the CPU temperatures under high load and the included 120mm fan with the silent mode adaptor included. Temperatures were slightly higher than those of the original Akasa fan and heatsink that was originally installed (~65C at high load), however the difference in the overall noise levels were significant. The lower fan speed of the Cooler Master Gemini II SGF524 manages to keep the CPU as cool, but at much lower fan speeds resulting in a much quieter computing experience. This of course does mean that the 120mm fan that is included, coupled with the Silent Mode Adaptor, isn't ideal for overclocking, but used with an alternative 140mm fan, we feel certain that the heatsink could be utilised in an overclocked system (albeit at the cost of a little more noise).

    Price:

    £34.31 - Amazon

    Verdict:

    3/5 - The Coolermaster GeminII SF524 looks impressive, innovative and performed reasonable well. I would however question its performance if you are a serious overclocker. The quietness of the fan was impressive but if you need more performance you will need to upgrade the fan which would produce more noise. The complete removal of the motherboard was a bit of a nuisance and the fixing of the heat sink was a challenge but it was useful to give the PC a bit of house keeping and tidy up the redundant cabling. I would recommend this heatsink as long as you are prepared to carry out a serious operation on your PC, you have sufficient space within your PC case and you aren't that fussed about over clocking