Sager NP8957-S Gaming Laptop
I got this laptop in December 2019, and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned. The price was $1649 USD (free shipping, excluding tax) with the following specs:
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 MAX-Q 8GB GDDR6
- 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor
- 16G DDR4 SDRAM at 2666MHz
- 500GB Western Digital Blue SN500 M.2 NVMe SSD – as an OS Drive (Primary Drive C:) and for installing games
- 2TB FIRECUDA 7mm SSHD
- 15.6″ Full HD Display (1920 x 1080)
- MS Windows® 10 Pro 64-Bit Edition
This is my third Sager laptop and I recommend Sager to anyone looking for a robust, well-designed (e.g. great heat ventilation) gaming laptop at very competitive prices. Sager laptops come free of bloatware, which is another plus.
It’s worth paying for an SSD, so that you can install games on it. The performance in terms of loading times is vastly improved compared to a traditional hard drive.
- CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Red Switches
- SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wired Gaming Headset
- Razer Deathadder Essential Wired Gaming Mouse
- X-Bows TKL Keyboard Wrist Rest
I use a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid mechanical keyboard because it is comfortable, responsive, and accurate and to reduce EMF exposure. After hands-on testing with Cherry MX Red and Brown switches, I found that the Brown switches didn’t live up to the hype and stuck with Red switches.
I’m extremely picky when it comes to headsets, given how much I wear my headset for gaming and for work. A headset has to fit comfortably and not put too much pressure on my ears. I tried out the following wired headsets:
- HyperX Cloud II
- Razer Kraken X
- SteelSeries Arctis 1
I found that all 3 headsets compressed my ears too much out-of-the-box, so I stretched them overnight. The Steelseries Arctis 1 headset stretched much more than the others and was the most comfortable by far, so I’ve stuck with it. The only slight annoyance with the Arctis 1 headset is that the sound in the earpad does bleed over a bit to the mic, but it’s tolerable given the high comfort factor.
I purchased a well-rated (4.7 stars, >22k reviews) gaming mouse, the Razer Deathadder Essential, that was on sale for $29.99 USD on Amazon. This wired mouse is well-made and provides an accurate feel, and it has 5 programmable buttons (left click, right click, mousewheel, and 2 thumb buttons). In my opinion, you don’t need a gaming mouse with more buttons than that nor keypad peripherals to keybind effectively – you just need a clear keybinding approach as explained in my Guide on Strafing and Keybinding.
The X-Bows TKL wrist rest is awesome. It’s the correct length and height to pair with my QuickFire Rapid TKL keyboard, and as it’s silicone it’s super easy to clean.
I’ve used several different products for recording gameplay over the past decade, including:
- FRAPS (~$37 USD): many years ago, this used to be the only game in town. It records in AVI format, so the video files are huge. That is the main reason I no longer use it, and OBS is free
- NVIDIA GeForce Experience: also known as NVIDIA Share or NVIDIA ShadowPlay. It records videos in MP4 format, which is efficient in terms of disk space and any device can natively play that format. I recommend recording at a constant bit rate with GeForce Experience instead of variable bit rate, as some video editing programs do not handle variable bit rate correctly. I stopped using GeForce Experience as it has a bug that sporadically prevents the ability to make recordings.
- OBS: as of May 2020, I have switched permanently from GeForce Experience to OBS, as described in my guide on setting up OBS
Editing and Narrating Videos for YouTube
I used to edit game footage with Adobe Premiere Elements 10, which provides robust editing capability and a not-too-steep learning curve at an affordable price. Issues with APE are that it runs slowly, its projects eat up a lot of disk space, it renders videos slowly, and it doesn’t handle variable bit rate input videos correctly – the video and audio get out-of-sync during playback.
In 2018, I switched to Cyberlink PowerDirector 16, and it’s far superior to Adobe Premiere Elements in several notable ways: PowerDirector loads and run much faster as an application, its projects take up less disk space, it renders videos much faster, and it handles variable bit rate input footage properly. My impression is that Cyberlink is investing more in PowerDirector’s product development than Adobe is for Adobe Premiere Elements. I highly recommend Cyberlink PowerDirector, it’s a great product and well worth buying.
When rendering videos to upload to YouTube, I use H.264 format to produce MP4 files with 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) and 60 FPS, aka 1080p60 on YouTube.
For recording narration, I use a Blue Snowball microphone (~$65 USD) with a Shure pop filter (~$35 USD). A pop filter improves recording quality by reducing consonants that have popping sounds such as words that start with “p” or “b”. If you’re going to bother getting a good mic, you should invest in a pop filter as well.
As I have an NVIDIA RTX GPU, I use RTX Voice (free) to remove background noises while recording narrations and voiceovers. It makes a huge difference in the audio quality.
I use an Asus VS247H-P 24″ HD monitor as the display device for online games. I purchased the monitor in Q1 2012, as it was the combination of highest-rated and reasonably-priced 1080p HD monitor that I could find. I love it.
The monitor was purchased with a generous donation from Troy “Cannibaal” ❤️.
Prior to obtaining this monitor, I was only about to record footage in 1600×900, which is between 720p and 1080p, which is why prior to 2012 my videos were 720p on YouTube. These days, my videos on YouTube are 1080p60 (1920×1080 resolution, 60 FPS) to offer a high-quality viewing experience.
Webcam and Streaming Hardware
In July 2012, I purchased a Logitech 1080p C920 webcam for $80 USD, and the webcam rocks. It comes with software for recording for the webcam that is super easy to use. Before that I was using the Logitech 720p C310 webcam, but the footage it recorded in 720p looked grainy.
For hosting on GAMEBREAKER shows, I use a high-quality condenser microphone, the Samson SE10 earset condenser microphone (~$100 USD). It may be overkill for what you’re doing, but it’s a professional microphone in audio quality and appearance. Some people use their Snowball microphone or equivalent for hosting. For some reason I can’t get the Samson SE10 to work well with narrated recordings with Adobe Premiere Elements 10, and I haven’t bothered to sort it out.
- 2021/03/26: switched to Razer Deathadder Essential gaming mouse
- 2020/06/15: chose the SteelSeries Arctis 1 gaming headset over the HyperX Cloud II and Razer Kraken X
- 2020/05/27: added RTX Voice, per Arvid Johansson, to remove background noises during voice recordings
- 2020/05/02: switched from NVIDIA GeForce Experience to OBS for recording game footage
- 2020/03/28: updated per my new gaming laptop (Sager NP8957-S) and X-Bows wrist pad
- 2018/03/21: switched to Cyberlink PowerDirector 16 for video editing and production
- 2016/03/06: replaced my ailing Logitech M110 non-gaming mouse with an Etekcity Scroll X1 Gaming Mouse
- 2015/01/28: got a new gaming laptop (Sager NP8268-S)
- 2014/07/20: switched from my laptop built-in keyboard to a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
- 2012/09/15: upgraded from a traditional hard drive to Crucial m4 Solid State Drive. This resulted in a huge improvement in game performance. With the SSD, I don’t get the random FPS dips in performance due to hard drive grinding. Now that I’ve gone SSD I won’t go back. The improved performance justifies the high cost
- 2012/08/15: purchased a Razer Carcharias Gaming Headset