People often ask what hardware and software I use, so I’ll keep this page up-to-date as I make system and peripheral upgrades.
- 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, the kick-ass Sager NP8268-S
- 2014/07/20: switched from my laptop built-in keyboard to a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Red Switches
- 2012/09/15: upgraded from a traditional hard drive to Crucial m4 Solid State Drive. Simply put, this was a monster upgrade. 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: upgraded to a Razer Carcharias Gaming Headset
Sager NP8268-S Gaming Laptop
I purchased this laptop in January 2015, and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned or used by a mile. Price was $1499 USD (free shipping, excluding tax).
Here are the specs:
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 6GB GDDR5 Video Memory
- 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4710MQ Processor (6MB L3 Cache, 2.50GHz)
- 8GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz – 1 X 8GB
- 120GB Samsung 840 EVO Series mSATA3 SSD – as an OS Drive (Primary Drive C:)
- 1TB 7200rpm SATA2 Hard Drive
- 15.6″ Full HD LED-Backlit Display (1920 x 1080)
- Genuine MS Windows® 8.1 64-Bit Edition
This is my second Sager laptop and I recommend Sager to anyone looking for a robust, well-designed (great heat ventilation) gaming laptop at very competitive prices. Sager laptops come free of bloatware, which is another plus.
- CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Red Switches
- Razer Carcharias Gaming Headset
- Etekcity Scroll X1 Gaming Mouse
The reasons I adopted a mechanical keyboard were the improved feel, responsiveness, and accuracy when gaming 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.
For a long time, for gaming and streaming I used the affordable Plantronics Multimedia Stereo Headset (Audio 350), because it was comfortable on my head and ears and worked fine. I upgraded to the Razer Carcharias headset and while it wasn’t cheap (~$75 USD), the Carcharias is incredibly comfortable and worth the money. The Carcharias is not a wireless headset, which I prefer as I don’t like having to deal with dead batteries.
I recently purchased a well-rated (4.5 stars, 1300+ reviews) gaming mouse, the Etekcity Scroll X1, that was on sale for $15 USD because my non-gaming mouse was breaking down. That said, I don’t need a gaming mouse or keypad peripherals per my Guide on Strafing and Keybinding – make sure you aren’t relying on a gaming mouse or keypad when your underlying keybinds don’t make sense!
I use a 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”. Thanks man, I really appreciate all the support – financial and non-financial, that you’ve given to me. <3
This is going to sound obvious, but if you want to record footage in 1080p, you need a 1080p monitor to play on. Prior to obtaining this monitor, I was only about to record footage in 1600×900, which is between 720p and 1080p, which is why until recently my videos were 720p on YouTube. Now they’re 1080p, as they should be.
Game Footage Recording, Narration, and Editing
I capture game footage with Nvidia’s Share software (formerly known as ShadowPlay), because it records in MP4 format. For many years I recorded with FRAPS, which is a good program and worth paying the license fee (~$37 USD) if you don’t have an option such as Nvidia Share. The downside with FRAPS is that it records in AVI format, so the video files are huge, whereas Share’s MP4 format is efficient in terms of disk space. I do recommend recording at a constant bit rate with Share instead of variable bit rate, as some programs
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.
Recently I switched to Cyberlink PowerDirector 16, and it’s 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.
For exporting (publishing) videos, I use MP4 format at 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) and 30 fps.
Before you ask, I can’t answer about video editing questions for Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas, or Adobe Premiere CS as I don’t use them.
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.
Webcam Recording and Streaming Hardware
If you plan on doing on-camera recording at your computer, e.g. for vlogging / hosting / streaming, I strongly recommend getting a 1080p webcam, so that you have the max HD quality available.
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. If you can afford it, the C920 is the way to go.
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 Gary Gannon raves about it, because 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.