Release roundup: Outlaws, sentries, and clicky keyboards

Although the summer lull is still in full force, our inbox has collected a decent number of announcements from various hardware makers this week. Today, we’ll be looking at news from BitFenix, Crucial, NZXT, and Rosewill.

  • BitFenix launches Outlaw. True to its name, BitFenix’s latest enclosure defies convention, with an upside-down motherboard tray that positions the CPU socket at the bottom, just above the power supply. The Outlaw also features room for up to eight fans, a rubber-coated SoftTouch front bezel with four USB 2.0 ports, and a rather low asking price: just $49.

  • New Crucial 8GB memory modules optimize desktop and laptop performance. With 4GB DDR3 modules practically a dime a dozen, it’s no surprise to see Crucial rolling out some vanilla DDR3-1333 modules with 8GB capacities. These modules are available both as mobile SO-DIMMs, which can hit their rated speed at 1.35V, and as desktop DIMMS, which stick to the standard 1.5V signal voltage. Crucial is already selling 16GB kits based on these. The SO-DIMM kit will set you back a panic-inducing $799.99, while the desktop DIMM kit is the kick-to-the-gut price of $659.99. That’s quite a markup over Crucial’s 8GB desktop dual-channel kits, which sell for as little as $54.99, but density rarely comes cheap.

  • NZXT unveils Sentry Mix 6 channel fan controller. NZXT’s latest fan controller slips into 5.25" drive bays and can handle as many as six fans hooked up via three-pin connectors. The firm quotes maximum power output of 50W, and it says the controller has "interchangeable numerical LED lights to color code your fan control." The Sentry Mix 6 is priced at $39.99.

  • Rosewill releases RK-9000 Series – Cherry MX switch mechanical keyboards. This is a bit of an odd announcement, because Rosewill’s RK-9000 was available at Newegg for quite some time before being mysteriously delisted. This week’s announcement suggests we’ll see this clicky keyboard make a return alongside three variants with different Cherry MX switches. The RK-9000 itself still has "blue" switches (which are clicky and tactile), while the RK-9000BR has "brown" switches (tactile only), the RK-9000BL has "black" switches (non-tactile and non-clicky), and the RK-9000RE has "red" switches (also non-clicky and non-tactile, but with a lower actuation force). Rosewill will charge $99.99 for all models except for the RK-9000RE, which will cost $129.99. These keyboards all look to have the same frame and design as the ABS M1 and Filco offerings, just with a different logo.

Here’s hoping those new Rosewill keyboards won’t mysteriously disappear from Newegg’s stock again. The keyboard market needs more good, relatively affordable mechanical offerings.

Comments closed
    • FubbHead
    • 8 years ago

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ4xWwtUw0[/url<] Nice review of the Bitfenix Outlaw. It's in german, but subtitles are available. Cool case.

      • NarwhaleAu
      • 8 years ago

      That case does look nice – I might need to check out that review…

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Those 8GB DIMMS are rather pricy, i guess they wanted to set the bar at insane levels so that when it creeps down every week it wont hit rock bottom by christmas. Still, wont sell many at 10x the price of 4GB DIMMS. It would be cheaper to buy a new motherboard (and pretty much a new PC) if you are limited to 2 slots and absolutely need more than 8GB.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, that’s exactly the way it works with every RAM generation. With DDR2, the 4GB sticks were about that much when first released; if you can find one, they’re still about $160 per stick. Likewise with 2GB sticks in the original DDR. The prices do drift down over time (just as all the other sizes do), and with DDR3 set to have a longer lifetime than most (thanks to the delays in getting DDR4 finalized) we may see 8GB sticks drop below the OMG range before they become legacy items.

    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    Oh, and one other thing to note… RK-9000 has 6-key rollover (USB), or full n-key rollover (PS/2). For the avid gamers, that means no locked out key combinations!

    Really, the only real complaint I’ve got with these things is that the indicator LEDs are just too damn bright. I put tape over them…

      • no51
      • 8 years ago

      not as bright as the M1’s. those things made you know when you had your locks on.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    Do the non-clicky switches feel the same as the clicky switches? Why would people want the clicky switches if the downside of mechanical keyboards is the noise?

    If you take away the tacticle feel from the keys what are you left with? What does that really even mean? They feel like domes?

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      The “click” noise is also part of the feedback loop that helps you improve typing speed and accuracy and reduce fatigue. I don’t know if there have been any rigorous studies of whether the audible or tactile feedback has a bigger effect though… I suspect the tactile is more important.

      A non-tactile mechanical keyboard isn’t going to be the same as a dome based one; the feel when the keys bottom out is different. Personally, I don’t see the point though… they may be a bit more precise than a dome ‘board for gaming, but in terms of feel I think I might actually take a good dome based ‘board over a [u<]non-tactile[/u<] mechanical.

        • KoolAidMan
        • 8 years ago

        Having used both tactile and non-tactile, I very much disagree. Once you get to proper typing speed with brown switches, the “bump” is imperceptible. What is the same between them is the “feel” and knowing that the actuation point is much higher on a mechanical keyboard and that you can float on top even with black switches, rather than leaning towards bottoming out a membrane keyboard.

          • just brew it!
          • 8 years ago

          Ahh, OK… good point. But without the perceptible “bump”, won’t it take longer to acclimate to the higher actuation point?

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            What I was thinking… mechanical keyboards seem all about the tactile feel. It is possible to do what he’s saying with even a dome keyboard, but that seems quite hard to do without a response behind the keys indicating when you’ve pushed enough.

            The only response in a dome besides bottoming out the keys is when you see the text appear on the screen.

            Replies are helpful btw… I’ve been thinking about a mechanical for awhile and still haven’t taken the plunge…. I still wonder why everyone says the blues are awesome when it definitely seems like the browns are where it’s at in terms of functionality and getting what you want out of the keyboard. Perhaps its just a ‘rocking it old school’ bias?

            • just brew it!
            • 8 years ago

            …and from a tactile [b<]accuracy[/b<] standpoint buckling spring is still king, since the buckling of the spring is what actually causes the keypress to register. On a Cherry tactile switch, there can actually be a [b<]very slight[/b<] difference between the "click" point and the registration of the keypress. Overall I prefer the slightly less stiff feel of the Cherry switches though.

            • bhtooefr
            • 8 years ago

            There’s a reason I rock a Model F – the Model M is a cheapened form of the buckling spring technology that required stiffer-feeling keys (they’re not actually stiffer in newer Model Ms, but they feel it) to function, and the F just responds better in almost every way.

            • UberGerbil
            • 8 years ago

            It may be just what you’re used to. I find the audible “clicky” aspect soothing, though if I shared an office or something that might be a problem.

      • KoolAidMan
      • 8 years ago

      They all feel different from each other. The non-clicky tactile brown switches are very sensitive, while the silent non-tactile black switches have the highest resistance of the Cherry MX switches.

      I owned a Filco with brown switches, and while it was good I made more spelling and gaming errors than I would have liked. I switched to a Steelseries 6Gv2 with black switches and it suited me better as I made fewer keystroke errors.

      Switch preference is highly personal. I wish there was an easier way to audition keyboards actually plugged into computers, but unfortunately all the brick and mortar stores sell crap membrane keyboards with LCDs and flashing lights instead.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        :s

        Why would you make more errors with a keyboard that has tactile response then with one that doesn’t? Or are you just demonstrating how ridiculously personalized the choice really is and how little the responses matter without trying them?

      • bhtooefr
      • 8 years ago

      The linear (non-clicky, non-tactile) switches actually predate rubber domes themselves. (The original Cherry MX switch, in the very early 1980s, was actually very similar to today’s MX Black.)

      The MX Blacks have primarily been used in point-of-sale keyboards, where their 50 million keystoke rating comes in quite handy. A rubber dome won’t last as long in a POS environment, and downtime is quite expensive in retail.

      In any case, linear switches are actually LESS tactile than rubber domes, but sometimes that’s an advantage. Quite a lot of mechanical gaming keyboards run MX Blacks. And, IIRC, the MX Red was released after some people experimented with the springs from the MX Browns, in MX Black switches, and found that it was great for gaming, where having a light keyswitch with very little resistance – for tactility or otherwise – made them faster. (Another popular mod is “Ergo Clears” – MX Clears, which are an uncommon non-clicky tactile switch, more tactile than Browns, though, with the springs from Browns.)

      (Everyone refers to the stem color, but IIRC Cherry refers to the blacks as linear, the blues as tactile, the clears as soft tactile, and the browns as ergo soft tactile (they were developed for a split ergo keyboard Cherry did in the 90s).)

    • internetsandman
    • 8 years ago

    I just wanna know more about the build quality of Bitfenix’s cases. They look beautiful, and they’re amazingly affordable, it just raises concerns about quality

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    Seriously considering the fan controller. I can’t stand not being able to control my OWN fans.

      • Captain Ned
      • 8 years ago

      It’s why I’m still on my Abit IP35 Pro as the uGuru utility let me set operating parameters for all 6 fan terminals individually, with a choice of 3 different temperature inputs for each fan output. Add 6 Scythe S-Flex SFF21F fans and life has been sweet since mid-’07.

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 8 years ago

        Talk about companies not making things like they used to. I just said the hell with the MB makers and bought the NZXT Sentry Mesh as it’ll match my case. Cheap and now I won’t have to worry if the MB with ever support fan controlling.

        But, hey, that is a nice setup you have there.

        • yehuda
        • 8 years ago

        I was impressed with the BIOS controls on Intel’s own DH67BL board. They’re certainly making progress on this front which had been neglected too long. See my screenshots here:

        [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=77032[/url<]

          • Captain Ned
          • 8 years ago

          Typical Intel. While I’m sure that it will work once sussed out, the Abit version was simple. You picked an input temp (CPU, System, or PWM) for each fan. You then picked a low and high temperature for the input, then a low and high voltage for the fan. Intel’s solution has waaaay too many competing variables that will take a long time to figure out. After all, how many different temp vs RPM ramp curves do I need to choose from?

          Belay that. I should be appreciative of a mobo mfg that actually tries. Those who own the board should provide appropriate feedback.

          I’m not sure if Abit even exists as a corporate entity any more, but if they do one sure step out of their hole would be to license uGuru. I love this board so much that I keep trying various “beta” BIOS solutions from fanboys to get the Q9550 I’ve had for some time to actually POST.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            Abit was awesome. I just recently upgraded from an AB9pro with a core 2 duo to a Phenom II and I miss so many things about it.

    • no51
    • 8 years ago

    OH MY GOD, THEY’RE BACK!!! TAKE MY MONEY!!! ALL OF IT!!!

    I already have blues, maybe I’ll get browns for work. A couple of people have commented about how loud my M1 can get.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      Yup, I’ve got two of the RK-9000s — one for home, one for work. Keyboarding bliss!

    • DancinJack
    • 8 years ago

    If you’re in the market for a keyboard, buy that RK9000. Seriously, do it.

    I suggest the blue switches.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      Man, $130 for a keyboard. It’s a lot of dough and I guess I’m used to only seeing this amount of money on keyboards that…well that have features, like LCD screens, extra buttons, USB ports, etc.

      Is $130 really worth it?

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        It’s only $130 if you get the ones with the “red” switches (non-tactile with lower actuation force). And no, I wouldn’t pay $130 for that. But I would — and did! — pay $100 for one of the tactile ones.

        And quite honestly, I just want my keyboard to be a keyboard. The RK-9000 has pretty much the smallest footprint you can have on a full-size standard layout ‘board. There’s very little wasted space. I’ll trade all the extra bells and whistles for something that takes up less desk space any day!

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Do you buy the cheapest shoes, even if they’re uncomfortable? Do you buy sunglasses that don’t fit your head?
        A keyboard is among the most personal pieces of technology you can buy. It may not matter if you don’t do a lot of typing. But if you do, shouldn’t you spend a little extra and get something that makes it as easy and comfortable as possible?

        I look at it as:
        $70 for a quality keyboard
        $30 to remove useless crap like extra media keys, lights, and doodads.

        A keyboard should do its job and do it well. First and foremost, that’s making typing as enjoyable an experience as possible. Everything else is fluff and probably belongs on a different USB cable.

          • dashbarron
          • 8 years ago

          You have a point. I don’t know a lot about the types of switches but it seems like response, noise, and pressure on keys just isn’t worth $130 (or 100); it seems like a whole lot of nothing.

          I like an LCD screen on my computer for gaming and the convenient USB hub, but I didn’t want these features I’d have a hard time spending over $20 for a keyboard. If I could sample and try some of the boards I might see their worth, but hard to spend that much money without knowing why you’re spending it.

            • just brew it!
            • 8 years ago

            I imagine that if you don’t type for a living you’re probably less inclined to be picky about keyboards…

            • bhtooefr
            • 8 years ago

            I’ve probably spent $500 or more in the search for the perfect keyboard for my tastes, and haven’t found it yet.

            My current favorite keyboard is an IBM Model F 122-key terminal keyboard with a Teensy 2.0 translating from the IBM Set 3 protocol (normal AT and PS/2 keyboards use Set 2 or Extended Set 2, which is the same protocol with different key mappings) to USB HID.

            A good-quality Cherry-based keyboard is absolutely worth $100, if it’s what you like, and keyboards like this have excellent longevity (50 million key cycles per switch) and resale value – so even if you don’t like it, you can sell it on and get most of your money back.

            You can buy one keyboard and use it with every build you do (unless you have mulitple machines running concurrently, but then…)

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    Good to see 8GB modules hit the market. Even if they’re high priced now, it gets the ball rolling. Hopefully more will follow and prices will plummet.

    BitFenix: I am not impressed. All your base are belong to Fractal.

    And why can’t we get some good quality mechanical keyboards for somewhere around $50? Pretty please?

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      I probably haven’t spent $50 on keyboards throughout my entire life. Doing it for one single piece would equal highway robbery for me.

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 8 years ago

        Totally concur!

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        I haven’t, but I’d be tempted to for a keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches and a USB port.

      • no51
      • 8 years ago

      good quality
      mechanical
      cheap

      pick 2.

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        Yup, Cherry switches are precision devices, and you need over 100 of ’em. The price is not at all out of line when you consider what goes into a good mechanical PC keyboard.

        Buckling spring is essentially a hybrid design, at an intermediate price point. There’s an individual “clicky” mechanical mechanism for each key to provide the tactile/audible feedback, but the underlying electrical contacts still use a membrane sheet, which is cheaper to manufacture than individual switches.

      • Captain Ned
      • 8 years ago

      1391401

      EBay

      Go now.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Lol. Nice.

          • Captain Ned
          • 8 years ago

          To para-quote Eddie Murphy from Trading Places:

          “Once you go Model M, you’ll never go back.”

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      The Unicomp Model M knockoffs only cost a bit more than that. I prefer Cherry Blue switches to buckling spring though…

        • bhtooefr
        • 8 years ago

        They’re not knockoffs when Unicomp owns Lexmark’s old tooling for them…

      • bhtooefr
      • 8 years ago

      For new, Unicomp is as cheap as it gets for anything with decent quality, although you might find a bargain bin Razer BlackWidow in the $60 ballpark, and the Scorpius M10 was under $50 last I checked. (But, you said good quality. Both are hit or miss, with the M10 being more miss.)

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