Tag: gaming

Membrane or Mechanical, which keyboard is better?

Keyboards are being used by millions at the same time. From office staff writing reports to high school students writing essays. It is an essential tool in today’s world of technology. For the past 8 years, you may have heard the term “mechanical keyboard”. This technology has been around for some time and has become more mainstream in certain environments. Although it is considered an “upgrade” for some users, a mechanical keyboard is not for everyone. Here is some information about mechanical keyboards and see if you would get into the trend.

Image result for mechanical keyboard esports

So whats the difference?

The average keyboard you may know is referred as a membrane keyboard. It acts as a button when pressed and does its job pretty well. Underneath there is rubber coating around the button which helps provide that clicking sound and a lifting feeling when pressing down. A mechanical keyboard actually works in an entirely different way but similar to a typewriter. There are many variations of a mechanical keyboard but they all work by a switch mechanism rather than a pressure based one that a membrane keyboard uses. Underneath the keycap, there is a button that when pushes down triggers the switch underneath to input the command. It’s almost like flicking a light switch on and off but instead many times faster than you would expect. Mechanical keyboards have a much more clicky sound it as a switch is much more louder and movement based compared to the membrane button.

 

Membrane Pressure Based Button System
Mechanical Switch Based Button System

 

There are different variations of a mechanical keyboard. The differences factor a lot of things. They can swap the tactility (how hard you press) of the keycaps to how fast the keycaps go down. Cherry MX is one of the largest producers of mechanical keyboard switches. They offer over 7 kinds of switches that cater to the way a person types. From people who almost smash each key down to those who are quick and don’t put a lot of pressure when typing. This is a large reason why people enjoy mechanical keyboards since it can offer different experiences compared to a membrane keyboard. The lifespan of a mechanical keyboard is also a large part of why people buy these expensive products. A typical membrane keyboard can last over 10 million keystrokes, while a mechanical can have between 50 million to 100 million keystrokes (it has been tested). The overall build is a lot more thicker and typically weights more due to the average metal frame many brands use.

 

Some extra features that most mechanical keyboards include

  • RGB backlighting
  • Extra macro keys
  • Programmable keys
  • Removable keycaps
  • Onboard memory
  • Software for full customization
  • Some include wrist rests and other attachments

 

Removable keycaps results in more customization
Corsair’s K95 Mechanical Keyboard has features added such as detachable wrist rest, programmable macro keys, volume wheel, audio buttons and much more. Many other keyboards feature the same added touches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price Difference

Due to the added features and different design choices, there can be a large difference in pricing between the two kinds of keyboards.

Basic model examples:

Logitech Keyboard K120
The Logitech K120 Membrane Keyboard retails for $20
Corsair’s K68 Mechanical Keyboard retails for a price $90 – $130

High tier examples:

The Das Keyboard 4 is considered a high end mechanical keyboard. It retails for $221
The Logitech K780 is a bluetooth, multi purpose membrane keyboard. It retails for $132 on the Logitech site

 

To help summarize the information, here are both pros and cons to both types of keyboards.

Mechanical

Pros:

  • A more responsive and technical keyboard
  • Different options for different typing styles
  • Typically has higher lifespan
  • Better build quality compared to membrane keyboards
  • Can be easier to clean on most keyboards
  • Removable keycaps
  • Anti-“ghosting” (All keystrokes are recognized)

Cons:

  • Most mechanical keyboards can be “loud”
  • Beginning may be hard to get used to
  • Higher price than most membrane keyboards
  • Can weigh a lot more
  • Larger cables

Membrane:

Pros:

  • Cheaper than mechanical keyboards
  • A lot more options of designs, brands etc.
  • Slim designs are available
  • Less noisy compared to mechanical
  • Can be more lightweight and portable

Cons:

  • Most are constructed with cheaper materials
  • Buttons can be hard to clean, some do not have removable keycaps
  • Lower life span

Should you get a mechanical keyboard?

Mechanical keyboards can be a great addition to your setup but its not always for everyone. There are many factors in your life that can affect the decision if you buy it or not. If you stay at home and work or are often on your computer typing away then a mechanical keyboard will work best. It will only work best if you use your keyboard often, writers, coders and gamers will enjoy a mechanical keyboard more. People who move frequently and work in quiet areas might be more fit for a membrane keyboard. The sound and build of a mechanical keyboard can sometimes be annoying and distracting for some. Both keyboards will do well in their task and have been for the past years. Think about where, when and how you use your keyboard and decide wether to get a mechanical or membrane for your next purchase.

– Benson Lam

Esports: From Hobby to Future Career

 

You may or may not have heard the term Esports being used online a lot. It has been seen all over the world, from live talk shows to billboards all over Los Angeles. Esports has been a growing trend over the past decade. To simply define Esports, it is competitive video games. The term can be used in almost any video game, from doing the fastest play through of Super Mario to being the best shot in a first person shooter – Esports covers a lot.

A career where you play video games on stage

Esports has been discussed on ESPN, CNN, Business Insider and many other large media outlets. The main topic is the expected 2 billion dollar revenue produced by people playing video games. Many investors are rushing to this growing and prosperous industry. Investors such as Rick Fox, Mark Cuban, Rick Holdings, Disney, Stephen Curry, Madison Square Garden group to even music superstars such as Drake have all been getting into Esports. Over hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in this industry within the past 7 years. It’s no doubt as many Esports tournaments and events are costly.

Former NBA Star and Investor Rick Fox with his Esports team and brand Echo Fox

Esports is widely popular amongst Asian countries and has been noticed world wide as well. Some Koreans believe Esports is the country’s national sport as Esports players are considered celebrities.  Governments world wide have also been taking action to cater the growing industry. Many countries offer the same visa and passport permissions as regular athletes since professional players have to travel to some live tournaments or events. The Danish government recently congratulated the Danish Counter-Strike team Astralis on their championship win. The Danish government invited the team to the Parliament in Copenhagen which is considered a great honour to have.

Astralis meeting in the Copenhagen city hall

League of Legends is one of the most popular online game in the market with the largest Esports market. They recently went through franchising opportunities similar to most pro league sports. The buy in for a spot within the 10 teams is a starting price of 13 million dollars USD.  Many teams went through serious amounts of funding to ensure the spot as Disney and other large cooperations began building their own teams in the league. The franchising deal has been massively successful for the League of Legends Esports scene. Recently they went through their World Championship which had a total viewership of over 80 million people. It is estimated that Esports will overtake Superbowl viewership as Esports has already surpassed the NBA finals and many other large sporting events.

The North American League of Legends Finals from The Scotiabank Arena

Esports requires a lot of dedicated players who are willing to make playing video games their career. Most teams treat themselves as most other professional athletes do. They can have dedicated meal plans, workout routines and non stop practice time with other teams etc. A lot of Esports leagues are structured and franchised just like the ones we see on tv. The players involved have been playing their games for years and have been perfecting every aspect of it. Their dedication to the game pays off, some of that 2 billion dollar revenue comes back to them. A high ranking Esports player can make an average of 300 thousand dollars yearly and can add onto that based on tournament winnings, sponsorships etc. Saahil “Universe” Arora is a Dota 2 player who has won almost 5 million dollars based on tournament winnings alone. Esports is just not about the players, to fuel the player’s success there are coaches, psychologists and support staff with them. Some believe this is the era where the new athletes are people who just play video games.

Analysts and coaches observe the way their players play and how they can change their gameplay for the better
Pax East in 2014, over 50,000 attended the event

Esports events can take large stadiums and venues ranging from the Scotiabank Arena to the Korean Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Korea. These viewing areas can have thousands of people watching live while millions can be watching online as well. Other than viewing areas, events and conventions are a growing trend in the gaming sector. Enthusiast Gaming held their annual EGLX (Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo) event that had a record breaking 30,000 people attend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Other events can almost triple EGLX’s number as events suchas the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and Dreamhack have both reported attendee numbers almost reaching 100,000 people. These numbers will keep on rising along with Esports’ popularity.

Image result for lcs behind the scenes
A League of Legends broadcast team checking all the shots to see which is most needed
Image result for overwatch league behind the scenes productions
The Overwatch League records the perspective of 12 different players in game and the player’s reaction through webcam.

Many of these events require a lot of production work to go into their broadcasts. Since they are equivalent to many pro league sports – they have to excel past them in all aspects of production. Esports broadcasts can talk a lot of work especially during live games etc. An average NBA game can have over 10 cameras from a overhead view, to on court shots. An average Esports broadcasts will usually require over 20+ camera shots being recorded live. For example, each player will have to have their perspective of the game recorded on air and their webcam displaying reactions etc. There can be over 10 players on stage playing which means the broadcast team has to watch each one to have the best results. On top of that, many shots include crowd reactions, the caster area and analyst desk.

Large amounts of people playing live at Dreamhack Winter to try to be the next big Esports player

Esports is a non stop growing trend. There will always be new ways to play games and people will always strive to be the best in that field. With the estimated 2 billion dollar revenue, you will hear about this for sometime. Esports doesn’t just feature the skill and dedication the players have. It also shows the behind the scenes work that many production workers have to adapt to.

– Benson Lam

Ray Tracing Reinvented for New Generation of Video

August featured the reveal of Nvidia’s new line up of graphic cards. They revealed their 2000 series with large upgrades to their 1000 series previously released in 2016. In addition to faster clock speeds, GDDR6 VRAM and a larger amount of CUDA cores – Nvidia has branded their new flagship from GTX to RTX featuring the latest real time ray tracing technology.

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is a method of rendering which produces a realistic and completely computer generated light effect. Ray tracing is used by film makers and producers through the industry. Ray tracing combined with the vast improvements of CGI and other graphical technology will make films and other productions look fully realistic.

This video released to demo their real time ray tracing shows the impressive abilities and features that can be used in the industry.

Ray tracing technology has been around for sometime in the film industry and has been in large usage due to the large amount of CGI used in recent films. So why is ray tracing such a surprise to the industry?

How will Ray Tracing cards affect the industry?

Ray tracing in the industry has been mainly done through expensive CPUs and other large server systems. Many companies can spend hours rendering each frame using ray tracing. The addition of the market being diversified by the new tech, we can expect companies to increase productivity and have larger access to these cards. Smaller production companies can now produce CG based films and other projects much more easier than before. Many game developers and small time studios can have better results with the real time ray tracing and can push the limit of what they can do.

How will ray tracing impact the average consumer?

The addition of these new graphics cards affects mainly the industry as it allows developers and producers to utilize a strong graphics cards with real time ray tracing. If you are not into a developing or producing, the card’s strong performance will increase speeds, improve texture quality and even use ray tracing in programs or games you might use. Many game developers have already begun integrating real time ray tracing into many upcoming and trending games.

Below are examples of Battlefield V an upcoming game using real time ray tracing technology.

Should people still get the newly released cards?

The Nvidia RTX cards are the top of the class as of right now for both having real time ray tracing accessible and strong gaming potential.  Real time ray tracing is still a new technology being reinvented but gameplay and recent renders from the new RTX cards shows a lot of potential. AMD has been rumoured of making their new GPUs with ray tracing technology and NVIDIA has the trend of releasing improved cards a year later of release. If you are planning to get a ray tracing card, it would be best to wait out for AMD’s release and other potential upgrades. If you want to wait till the prices are lower, you may have to wait over 5 years for it to become the norm in graphics cards.

So when will real time ray tracing be accessible?

The RTX cards have released on September 20th of 2018 with AMD coming out with their own rumoured around 2019. The market for RTX has opened up dramatically with these releases. Don’t get your hopes up too quick. Ray tracing is still a high end technology. The RTX cards will cost between 800 CAD to 1500 CAD depending on the model. NVIDIA explained that the Star Wars render shown was run on 4 high end GPUs that costed 60,000 dollars USD. The price difference will obviously result in a downgrade in quality but given the upcoming years the prices will go down – all thanks to the start of the competitive market between AMD and Intel for both GPUs and CPUs.

 

US Prices for the RTX cards

 

What is the final verdict on the new the new ray tracing cards?

The new ray tracing cards are a sign of rising technology being more advanced and more accessible to the consumers. Many can be put away due to high prices but due to a competitive market, prices are actually decreasing. A high price results in realistic graphics and high performance in games, fast video related tasks such as rendering and the ability to use real time ray tracing technology. The new cards give us a glimpse of what to see in the future as ray tracing and even faster tech will be available for consumers and for those in the industry. The large rise in growing technologies is giving tech companies competition to see how will grow more successful.

– Benson Lam