It’s no secret that I prefer the Xbox One controller and layout to the PS4 Dualshock 4 (ed - I am in shock and awe...). I find the design more comfortable in the hand and asymmetrical analogue stick layout more natural than the DS4’s too close symmetrical layout. To top it off, Microsoft took things to the next level with the Xbox Elite controller, so much so that I now have three of the controllers, I loved my first one so much.
When Scuf announced that they had finally obtained Sony’s permission to build a custom controller at E3 last year, I rejoiced as they had helped MS come up with the Elite. Unfortunately, the reality of the Vantage was something very different to the promise. Subsequent to that review, I had more issues with the Scuf, my swapped out analogue sticks kept, well, sticking, resulting in the stick getting stuck in position instead of springing back to the neutral position. So, when I found the Brook One X recommended online I was skeptical but desperate enough to want to try it.
The Brook One X Adapter is from a Japanese company, Brook, that specialises in making adapters that enable you to use older controllers and accessories on newer consoles. They saw the demand from gamers who wanted to use the Xbox One controller on PS4 and PC. The design is very simple: plug the adapter into the top micro-USB port of the controller and it magically works with all consoles and, as of firmware 1.50, the Switch.
From a design point of view, the adapter doesn’t add much bulk to the controller. Just an extra couple of centimetres on the top for the machinery that allows the system to connect wirelessly to all systems. The adapter comes with a built-in battery that replaces the Xbox’ batteries, be they the two double AAs or the Charge and Play kit battery. This allows you to run the adapter and the controller off the same power pack. While this reduces the excellent battery life of the controller from standard, it is still far superior to the DS4 battery life.
I had a couple of issues clipping my adapter into the controller, it was a micro-fraction off and that resulted in me damaging the micro-USB housing on the adapter that was easily fixed with a pair of long nose pliers, but with some brute force and a lot of luck. The only sign now that there was a problem is a couple of scratches on the port of my controller.
Connecting the adapter to your console of choice is relatively simple. I say relatively because connecting it to the Switch is a bit more complicated than connecting it to Xbox, PS4 or PC. The latter three are a simple matter of connecting the attached adapter to the PS4 or PC via a micro-USB cable to the system and pressing the Brook button to switch the adapter and controller on. This is the first, and likely only, criticism I have of the package. You get just the adapter, a reset pin and the manual in the box. You have to buy your own cable, but you should have one lying around anyway.
Connecting to the Switch is a little more complex. First, you must change the controller settings on the Switch to wired controller mode while the controller is plugged into the dock. Then unplug the controller, go into the controller menu on the Switch and select Change Grip. Once you do that you can press the Brook button to pair the systems. Oh yeah, and before you do all that, make sure you have updated the firmware to version 1.50 as earlier versions aren’t as reliable.
Once all this is done though, the adapter is set up for all the systems, and you can swap between them pretty easily with about three button presses. The first system that I tested the adapter on was the PS4. It worked flawlessly, from powering up your PS4 with the Brook button, something the Scuf cannot do, to all the functions of the face buttons as well as the paddles of the Elite. I noticed zero input lag; all the button presses and analogue inputs worked perfectly. The only difficulty I had was the button combos needed to emulate the touchpad. Pressing the Options and Menu buttons would bring up the menu in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but I couldn’t get the day/night cycle to sequence by holding the two down. It would also bring up the share clips menu at the same time, but that’s easy to dismiss.
On the Switch, the controller worked just as smoothly and even has an extra party trick of full motion controls. Yep, that’s right, swinging the controller around in Mario Odyssey would have Mario flinging Cappy around to kill all the enemies. I was amazed that the engineers at Brook were able to get their hardware and firmware development so right that they could emulate one of the signature features of the Joy Cons.
The Brook X One adapter is the perfect solution for anyone seeking an Elite or even normal Xbox controller on another system. To add to that, one adapter works across all your systems so you don’t need multiple adapters and multiple controllers for all your systems. Given that it is $50 on the world’s largest e-tailer (before import duties, taxes and shipping costs), just this one adapter will be far cheaper than buying multiple controllers for all your systems.
I highly recommend the adapter for anyone who wants to save space and money on new controllers – it is the perfect solution for anyone who prefers the Xbox controllers to the DS4 and Nintendo Pro controller.
nVidia is the undeniable leader in graphics card technology, despite the valiant attempts by AMD in recent years to close the gap. The 10-series cards that were released in 2016 are still sought after by gamers, despite the shortages caused by the crypto mining craze, with the GTX1070ti seen as the best “bang for your buck card” when it comes to price vs performance. Of course we all wanted the GTX1080ti, two if we’re honest, but the 1070 cards enabled us to game at high resolutions, generally 1440p, while maxing out framerates at over 60FPS, even reaching excesses of 100FPS with some minor tweaking.
While the 10-series cards are still in high demand, supply is short, and they are not at the bleeding edge anymore. That distinction belongs to nVidia’s new RTX20-series cards. The “R” in “RTX” denotes the new party trick – real-time raytracing. This technology allows developers to create games that render reflections in real-time instead of using rasterisation techniques. What this means is that even when an item is out of direct line of sight, the reflection in a pool of water or off a window looks just like the object been reflected. This is an amazing advancement for immersion and realism, but does it come at a cost?
Let’s get the elephant in the room seen to first – yes RTX cards are expensive, but they are not the same price as they were late last year when they were first released. This card comes in at around R 7000. A similarly specced ASUS card costs around R12 500 so immediately you get better bang for your buck. Now I can already hear our console cousins shouting, “For that price, you can pick up a PS4 Pro!”. Well yes, we could, but the Pro can’t do ray tracing, can it? It is also likely to be replaced by the PS5 in the next eighteen months. The RTX cards will let you game for at least five more years, maybe even longer.
With that out the way, let’s get to the performance. At the heart of any test are benchmarks and for this battery; I ran 3DMark’s TimeSpy with all settings at Ultra as well as their new Port Royale RTX test. To tax the card, I also benchmarked the card using Heaven with all setting at Ultra.
In Heaven, the card exceeded all expectations with an average FPS of around 130FPS.
In TimeSpy the card performed admirably, reaching a GPU score of 8 580, with an average FPS of between 50 and 55FPS. In Heaven, the card exceeded all expectations with an average FPS of around 130FPS. If you have ever used Heaven you will know that it really taxes your card. Monitoring the thermals and fan speeds I was amazed to see that in my NZXT mid-tower case, with my discrete sound card right below it restricting airflow to the dual fans, the card was barely breaching 67 degrees Celsius. Not only that, while the fans would spin up to around 1 200 RPM, they remained barely audible. I honestly had to check if they were spinning I was so amazed at the low noise levels.
You may have noticed that I skipped the Port Royale test. There’s a good reason for this, the average frame rates reported were in the mid-twenties. I am not discounting the result based on low framerates, the test is new and not fully tested yet, but rather because in-game framerates were nowhere near those levels.
And that is what is most important – the experience while using it. I had only Battlefield V to test the card, so far only that and Shadow of the Tomb Raider support DirectX12 and raytracing in game. Playing the game on Ultra settings in DirectX11, I experienced buttery smooth framerates never dipping below 130FPS. The beauty of the environments masking the horrors of WWII, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in recent times with a game.
Testing the game on the same graphical setting but enabling DirectX12 did result in a performance hit – to an average of between 70 and 80FPS!
Testing the game on the same graphical setting but enabling DirectX12 did result in a performance hit – to an average of between 70 and 80FPS! Yep that’s right, the game was still smooth, not butter smooth, but exceptionally easy on the eye. Call it margarine smooth if you will. This result amazed me as I had heard that when the first DirectX12 patches for the game had released that framerates dipped into the sub-30FPS range, with later patches improving things to around 60FPS.
Watching the hardware monitor once again showed that in a game the thermal performance of the card is exceptional. At full load, the card did tick up over the Heaven benchmark to around 70 degrees Celsius, but that is well within the range before thermal throttling kicks in.
While I did try some light software overclocking, I didn’t see massive improvements. However, that is down to my own hesitation and lack of overclocking experience. I have always been wary of overclocking, worrying about damaging components, but I also like to test the out of the box performance as most of us will never overclock, being happy with that experience.
From a design perspective, MSI has not changed much from their 10-series card design. The PCB has a simple black backplate with the MSI logo painted on it. On top of the PCB is the radiator with the heat pipes visible from the side. Covering the radiator is a simple plastic shroud holding those ever so quiet dual fans in place. The card is near identical to my GTX980ti and my GTX1080 in that respect. The only difference is that the RTX2070 is slightly longer than those two cards. This was a bit of an issue as getting it into the case was a case of manipulating angles as the front HDD cages in my case got in the way. A little bit of wiggling the card around got it in place, but that meant that the power cables were placed right against the cage making installing and removing them very difficult.
The MSI RTX2070 Armor edition is a stunning card at a good price that gives you a good price vs performance ratio. The excellent thermals under load coupled with great framerates in both DirectX11 and 12 make this a card ideal for anyone looking to upgrade. The fact that the sought after GTX1070ti is still overpriced, while the GTX1080 is in short supply with the GTX1080ti nowhere to be found makes this an ideal upgrade for the coming years.
Snuggled comfortably between the LG XBOOM Go PK3 and LG XBOOM Go PK7 models, in terms of both specs and price, the LG XBOOM Go PK5 portable speaker is still a solid performer, providing excellent sound quality with, as the name implies, an emphasis on bass frequencies.
First up, the basis. You’re getting a hefty 1.2 kg portable speaker (22 x 12.9 x 11.9 cm), made of sturdy plastic, with a distinctive frame that allows you to carry it around with ease and reduce accidental damage to the speakers. You can pair up to 2 devices with the LG XBOOM Go PK5, and even link it to your phone's voice-command functionality ("Siri, find me an equalizer app"). The LG XBOOM Go PK5 is both weather- and splash-proof, so you can leave it near the pool or outside in the rain - I tried it out in the shower - and the battery gets you upwards of 15 hours continuous playback.
You can pair up to 2 devices with the LG XBOOM Go PK5, and even link it to your phone's voice-command functionality.
On the top of the speaker you’ll find the power switch, a button to pair with nearby Bluetooth devices (bonus feature - the LG XBOOM Go PK5 worked surprisingly well as makeshift soundbar for my PSTV), adjust the volume, and cycle the RGB lighting (I don’t judge, at least not openly). You also have access to two audio presets: “Clear Vocal” and “Enhanced Bass”. Flip open a flap on the back and you’ll find the charging port (USB C-type) and a 3.5 mm jack in the event you finally run out of battery and need to keep going.
On the audio front, LG has partnered with Meridian Audio for this line of speakers - a company that has spent over 30 years working on high-end speakers. The result? Audio processing that allows you to benefit from high-bitrate audio formats like FLAC. Finally, friends who insist on having their music collection take up 75% of their hard drive space have a portable device that benefits from the increased bitrate. Audiophiles will get excellent sound reproduction when using a source that supports it.
The springy side panels and RGB lighting pulse along to the bass with unerring accuracy, and cranked to the max, you can feel the vibrations in close proximity.
If you love bass-heavy tracks and have spent your life boosting low-end frequencies, you’ll find the LG XBOOM Go PK5 is made for you. The springy side panels and RGB lighting pulse along to the bass with unerring accuracy, and cranked to the max, you can feel the vibrations in close proximity. However, if you prefer a more balanced spectrum, some tweaking is required - used as a plug-and-play device, you’ll want to immediately engage the Clear Vocal setting to flatten the frequency spectrum. The Enhanced Bass option must exist purely for those who hate their neighbours.
For the best experience, you’ll want to pair the LG XBOOM Go PK5 with an audio player or device that gives you equalizer control, allowing you to define your preferred frequency pattern, and this highlights how well the speaker reproduces sound on both the low- and high-end of the spectrum. For audiophiles who consider this par-for-the-course, the LG XBOOM Go PK5 is an excellent portable speaker. For those looking for a simple plug-and-play option, just be aware this speaker has a strong emphasis on bass frequencies by default.
Overall, there’s no doubt the combination of the sturdy and robust design, mobility, long battery life, and Meridian Technology, make for an impressive portable speaker. Though it could maybe do with a little less “boom” by default! The LG XBOOM Go PK5 will set you back around R2,000 at retail but offers excellent audio quality for devices in that price range and is a must for those looking to make the most of their library of high-bitrate music files.
There are very few things in the world that feel like they’re tailored for you. Take Starbucks, for example. You walk into the store and go straight over to the barista, to which they will ask you what you want, exactly how you want it, and even put your name on the drink when your order is ready. That overly named latte is presented to you and tastes like those ingredients were made specifically for your purchase. This is exactly how I felt when the Razer Raiju Ultimate made its way onto my lap. Sure, I didn’t have a mildly charismatic person challenging my social skills, but I had a greater sense of modularity from a controller than I will ever need.
The Raiju Ultimate has a very bulky feel in the hand, but that instills you with confidence. More often than not, a third-party, high-end controller feels like a glass cannon. Sure, you have new macro buttons that will boost your performance, but if the controller were to fall, it just wouldn’t be the same. That’s a few grand thrown down the drain, but that’s not the case with the Raiju Ultimate. The build quality is phenomenal, and so are the materials being used.
The material that is used for the bottom half of the controller has an astounding amount of grip and your hands will remain comfortable, even after hours of gameplay.
I often find myself astonished at how well everything held up after hours of use. The material that is used for the bottom half of the controller has an astounding amount of grip and your hands will remain comfortable, even after hours of gameplay.
Players who want to keep the traditional side-by-side analogue sticks, I found that the Raiju Ultimate is more Dualshock 4 than it is Xbox One gamepad; a design choice that honours the platform it is designed for and still finds ways to improve on that formula. The magnetised thumbsticks can be easily switched out for any of the rubberised options available, even one that adds some length to the analogue. Along the line of modularity, there are two d-pads available, each with designs to suit a specific type of gamer.
The Ultimate has two things that set it apart from any other controller on the market right now - RGB and a mechanical click. The Chroma-outlined touchpad and all the buttons are satisfying, to say the least. Honestly, it was almost impossible to come back to my normal controller after experiencing the mechanical goodness from the Ultimate.
The main party piece that will give you bragging rights amongst your peers, has to be the membrane control panel that is found at the bottom the controller. The control panel lets you alter the properties of the programmable buttons on the fly and many more options. You can change the lighting on the touchpad, switch between profiles, and even lock the PlayStation home, options button and the control panel itself.
...the layout on the Ultimate really does boost your performance within the first ten minutes of using it.
I played a few different games to see how well the Ultimate handles and yet again, the Raiju Ultimate delivers. The programmable buttons seemed to replace the buttons on the face of the controller, which meant I would never need to move my fingers any further than the space between your nostrils. That meant I could input actions a lot faster than moving my thumb around, and somewhat increase my performance in-game. Normally, we make a clear point of how high-end controllers don’t make you a better player, but instead, give you a more ergonomic way to improve on your skills. However, the layout on the Ultimate really does boost your performance within the first ten minutes of using it. That isn’t surprising considering it was designed to be used for eSports and various other forms of competitive gaming. That being said, it is rather easy to set up. You have a choice of PC Bluetooth, USB, or PS4 Bluetooth that you can toggle at the flip of a switch. I found the USB mode is the easiest to use, with the Bluetooth modes only slightly lagging behind the cable option.
All this mechanical euphoria is let down by one thing - the price. As of writing this, the Raiju Ultimate retails at around R3 999. That is a very big ask of Razer for what is essentially a controller. A base PlayStation 4 can be bought for around R5 000 if you look in the right places, and that is where the Raiju Ultimate may lose its appeal.
This removes the Ultimate from being just a casual buy for someone replacing their PS4 controller. The Raiju Ultimate would be the best controller you could buy if it weren’t for the Bluetooth issues on such a heavily priced item. If these aspects aren’t a deal-breaker for you, then the advantages over the DualShock 4 controller are very obvious.
Then again, you could save money and go for the refined Tournament Edition, but the Ultimate was never meant to be a budget-friendly. It was designed with the sole purpose of giving you the best a controller that is available for the PlayStation 4. It’s just a shame the Ultimate had a few Bluetooth issues, but that doesn’t detract from the amazing build quality, ergonomic design, and insanely responsive buttons. I can’t deny the fact this has changed how I feel about controllers. I just wish there was a sale.