I used to reside with a frame of mind where I thought I had to replace relatively new, still-shiny objects with their brand-new successors, especially when it came to PC peripherals. You would never catch me running a mouse or keyboard into the ground, until now. I've been comfortable with my current setup for almost 3 years and would like to show you around, just in case you're looking at accessories and more for your office.
PC: Custom, baby
The main tower is the NZXT 340 case, which compliments the minimalistic, modern look I enjoy deploying throughout my living quarters. It also helps that there are included dust filters and everything can be accessed easily with a brush and can of compressed air. The result is a smart-looking, yet clean and cool system.
Since the PC needs to be capable of powering through word processing, video editing and Photoshop, as well as the latest AAA game titles, I opted to use Intel's i5 6600K and boost up the clock speed to 4.8GHz. Utilizing watercooling by Corsair, I was able to keep the system stable under load without having to drive up fans to Airbus A380 levels.
As well as the processor, we have 16GB of DDR4 RAM, an ASUS R7 265 that desperately needs to be replaced by an AMD RX 480 as soon as I can get my paws on one, and an ASUS PRO Gamer motherboard for all things fragging. Storing content is handled by four SSDs, and as I'll explain below I use an external docking station to swap between various internal mechanical 3.5-inch drives I have stored away.
- Case: NZXT S340
- CPU: Intel i5 6600K
- Watercooling: Corsair Hydro Series Cooling H75 Performance
- GPU: AMD Radeon R7 265
- Motherboard: ASUS Z170 PRO GAMER
- RAM: 16GB 2400MHz Patriot VIPER 4 Series
- SSD: Kingston Digital 240GB SSDNow UV400
- SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
Mouse: Razer Naga Hex
I'm still rocking the previous generation Razer Naga Hex, which was purchased back in 2013. Prior to this mouse I had used Microsoft's own branded pointers and still view them as solid workhorses, but I required something that would aid me in the genre of games I play most regularly: Multiplayer Online Battle Areas.
Playing League of Legends is a breeze thanks to the enhanced precision and thumb-pad buttons, which aid in freeing up my left hand for timing my abilities without having to reach for the corresponding number key for items. The sleeved cable and durability of the unit itself has endured numerous LAN events and the occasional outing with the laptop.
There's only one issue I have with the previous generation of the Naga Hex, and that is cleaning the thumb pad buttons, which can prove difficult with dirt getting in and around the button housings. I'm not sure if the new V2 has the same issue or not. That said, should you play and enjoy MOBA titles, you may wish to look at picking one up.
Mouse mat is — of course — the Razer Goliathus.
Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow
I swear by the BlackWidow line when it comes to mechanical keyboards and I'm just not interested in going with custom and fine-tuned switches (nor do I have the funds to do so). Razer's best-selling keyboard is highly rated for very good reasons. It's durable, which is ideal for someone like me who happens to frequently spill liquids, looks good and has a bunch of features to help with your gaming experience.
The unit I have is the Ultimate edition, featuring green LED backlighting, 5 macro keys and sleeved cabling to ensure you'll stick with the keyboard for some time. Both the mouse and keyboard are synchronized using Razer Synapse, and while I enjoy the suite and accompanying cloud storage for my profiles, I agree with complaints about the lack of on-board memory for storing profiles. An added benefit is the USB through port, which I have the Naga Hex plugged into.
Since purchasing this particular model, I've become a massive fan of exposed keys and no longer enjoy the top cover, especially when it comes to cleaning. Thus I'll be replacing this BlackWidow with the Chroma X Tournament Edition, if none other takes my fancy (seriously looking at the Corsair K70). That said, if you're looking for a sturdy keyboard with bags of features that doesn't break your bank balance, the Ultimate is a solid option.
Monitors: AOC I2269VWM
My babies. I previously had Samsung and LG monitors but wanted to try out something new. I saw one of these AOC (I2269VWM) IPS monitors being sold for just over £110 on Amazon and thought "Let's go for it." Once delivered, I mounted the newly purchased monitor to a Duronic dual bracket I also ordered and I was immediately impressed by the small bezels, quality of the display and its anti-glare coating.
A second one was purchased shortly thereafter and I now have two stunning displays mounted to the Duronic bracket, which itself was an absolute steal of a purchase. One of the units is connected to my graphics card via HDMI and is the main display, while the second (situated on the left) is wired up with DVI. Resolutions are 1080p, which is a bummer as I'd like to move up to 1440p at some point soon, but the quality is superb for the price.
Sound: Creative T10
For speakers I have two solutions that I switch between. The first being my trusty Logitech X210 2.1 speakers, bought way back in 2011. The second is the Inspire T10 by Creative. The T10 was an investment in more affordable speakers with the Logitech 2.1 heading into the living room to give the big screen experience better quality audio than what was built into the TV. I was also intrigued by the bass being actually being located in each speaker, negating the requirement of locating a spot for the subwoofer.
I'm impressed with them both and would recommend either option for anyone looking at new PC speakers. As for headphones, for those times you're enjoying a stream where your ears are permanently damaged by troll-like donations, I rely on my trusty Razer BlackShark for comfort. Sure, they're not the best-sounding headphones you can purchase, not by a long shot, but they've endured the test of time and continue to pump out beats.
I shall be investing in a more premium pair of headphones at some point in the future. I think it's about time I've stepped up the game when it comes to audio and our Derek Kessler really, really loves the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6. As for microphones, I'm rocking the C-1 by Behringer to really highlight my British accent.
My CiT external dock for both 2.5- and 3.5-inch hard drives ensures I shan't be throwing away the dozens of formerly-internal mechanical drives I have stored away. Since I'm relying solely on SSD for storage inside the PC case, the external dock is a lifesaver when it comes to storing media and other large files on all these HDDs. Games take enough space on the SSDs as it is and things will only get worse with future titles. st For printing documents, scanning letters and accomplishing other tasks that can't be completed via email and whatnot is the HP Envy 4500 all-in-one Printer. The unit supports wireless connectivity and makes printing things off an absolute breeze, especially given how easy it is to setup printers in Windows 10. when it comes to video calls and the like, I trust the Logitech C920 to deliver stellar visual results, it's still one of the best webcams you can buy today.
Finally we have the Steam Controller and Xbox One gamepad. These are my trust go-to choices for when I'm more interested in relaxing in GTA V rather than stressing myself out with keyboard and mouse in League of Legends. While I'm still getting accustomed to the Steam Controller (and stick by the niggles I found in my review), it's so much fun playing Cities: Skylines without having to reach for the desk.
So that's essentially my PC setup, I'll be sure to re-visit after I've worked out exactly what I'll be choosing for replacements, but do shout out in the comments if you have anything in mind I should consider.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.