Earlier this month, we kicked off the Micro Center Community Champion program. We have a representative from each of our 25 stores on the Micro Center Community, each marked with a star badge next to their name, so if you see them around on the Community, make sure to stop and say hi!
To start things off, we asked each of them to recommend some tech they just absolutely love. We got a lot of responses, so we're breaking them up into a few different lists, starting with PC Parts!
When it comes to building a new PC, finding a good case can be challenging. There are many different manufacturers, sizes, and styles to pick from. This month, I want to highlight the Lancool II Mesh Performance Type C Tempered Glass Case from Lian Li.
If you’re asking “How should I go about picking a good case for my PC?” There are three main points to consider: Airflow, Accessibility, and Aesthetics. The Lancool II Mesh is fantastic at all three!
First, airflow. Case airflow is crucial, as keeping the heat down inside of the PC allows you to extend the longevity of the parts. In addition, the fans inside of the PC won’t have to run at their maximum capacity to keep the temperature down, which means your computer will run quieter. The Lancool II Mesh Performance Type C features a Mesh front and top and has three high-performance fans pre-installed in the case. There are two 140mm fans for intake, and one 120mm fan for exhaust.
The second consideration for a good computer case is accessibility. Ease of building, modification potential, flexibility, as well as ease of maintenance is included under this category. The Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance Type C is great at this, with easy-open magnetic doors on both sides of the case. Not only does this make the PC very easy to build in, it also allows you to maintain the PC over time. Simply open the doors on each side, and take an air duster to clean out any built-up dust inside of the computer. These side doors also make installing all-in-one liquid coolers, as well as big air coolers such as the Noctua D-15 for maximum cooling potential, an absolute breeze. You can install either a 240mm or a 280mm AIO cooler on top, or up to a 360mm AIO cooler in the front. No matter what you’re building, the Lancool II Mesh will keep it smooth sailing.
Last but not least is the aesthetics of the case. If your PC is a regular part of your daily life, you’ll definitely want to modify or style the PC in a way that suits your personal style. The Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance comes with matte black fans pre-installed, but you can swap them out for RGB-style fans, or keep them in for a sleek black-out build. The tempered glass on the side allows you to show off any lighting that comes with your internal components. With lots of clearance for both air cooling and long graphics cards, you can maximize your customization potential with the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance.
Excelling at Airflow, Accessibility, and Aesthetic Potential, the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance Type C is a great case to start with, or to consider for an upgrade for your future rig.
Lian Li has done it again, this time upgrading their 011 Mini, giving it more airflow and versatility than the original 011 mini. This version removes the front glass, instead opting for a vented mesh front, giving it more airflow than its predecessor. The case comfortably fits ten 120mm fans, keeping the case quietly cooled while the dual chamber keeps the power supply cables neatly tucked away to better optimize the airflow. The biggest change enables the power supply slot to support full-size ATX power supplies (up to 200mm), allowing for no restrictions in graphics cards and power supplies. The optional vertical GPU gives the case a special elegance, making it a really nice way to show off your GPU.
In December of 2021, Lian Li introduced what can be considered one of the best, if not the best case, for pc enthusiasts worldwide. The O11 Dynamic Evo, is a case designed with the best features of each of its predecessors (the Dynamic, Dynamic XL, and the Mini). The O11 Evo provides customization in almost every way to suit the tastes of all pc builders. One of its more notable feats, the reverse mode, allows you to reconfigure the way in which the components are displayed. Its original design has the parts installed on the base that sits on the right, but there is now the option for builders to set the base up on the left-hand side so that it can be displayed to the right and to support more air flow situations and preferences to fit the consumer.
This is just one of the newest features of the case. It still offers several customizations for the components within to fit every builder's interests. You can mount up to 9 SSDs into the pc at 13 different locations or install 6 HDDs and 3 SSD within the case. In addition, Unlike the other O11 Models, you can remove the front glass and swap it for an air flow efficient, mesh front panel. Some other features include support for up to 3, 360mm radiators, support for additional I/O kits in case you don't have enough USB ports, and support for a vertical or upright GPU bracket. The list of innovations that comes with this case is endless, but it's clear that the customization included within the O11 Dynamic Evo provides solutions for any enthusiast pc builds.
One of the least noticeable changes in the realm of BYOC is the fact that there are often fewer USB 2.0 headers on the motherboard as they have been replaced by USB 3.0 and 3.1 headers. In the past you could always count on at least two USB 2.0 headers on the motherboard and expect to use both for up to 4 USB ports on the front of the computer chassis. While often you still can get two, I have seen instances where there is just one. Not a big deal, right? Until you start to notice that you need one for your AIO closed water block pump, your RGB lighting controller and if you don’t have WiFi built into the motherboard, you’ll need one for the Bluetooth on the PCI-E wifi card and you may still need one USB header for the front panel. You may find yourself just one internal header short. Rather than deciding what to sacrifice or adding another USB PCI card to gain a single internal header, look to a nifty little add-on that is brought to you by the folks over at NZXT.
The Internal USB Hub Gen 3 allows you to add 4 internal USB 2.0 headers to the inside of your case, simply by plugging a cable into the uplink port from the hub to the internal USB header on your motherboard. Add a SATA power connection, and you’ll have more ports to add to all the new devices you need for your custom PC. The base of the hub is also magnetic so you can place it nicely in the case. Additional software configuration is not needed. It can save a lot of anguish, so be certain when choosing your parts that you take the number of internal USB requirements, and you may want to add this to your system as well.
If you’re looking for top speed and storage for your computer, then I would recommend the 4TB Inland Performance Plus M.2. It keeps up with top-of-the-line Gen 4 M.2’s currently on the market with a read speed up to 7,200MBps and a write speed up to 6,800MBps. It is also an Inland brand, which means the product warranty is straight through Micro Center meaning any product issues turn into a quick and easy fix.
The use of soundcards has gone from a necessity to a “nice to have” in recent years. Motherboard manufactures are now including decent and reliable sound chips on their products. However, this does not mean that products like the Sound Blaster AE-9 from Creative Labs are now useless. This PCIe Sound Card is for the user that wants the most out of their audio experience when using their PC. The AE-9 comes with an ESS SABRE-class 9038 DAC interface that makes using XLR microphones and ¼ inch headphones easy. Not only that, but the interface is able to change the volume with an on-DAC knob and display, enable the +48v phantom power for XLR microphones, a headphone impedance selector switch, and an SBX button which enables your choice of many different custom or premade sound profiles. These sound profiles are selected via free Sound Blaster software that makes a drastic improvement for any media experience.
While the soundcards that come with motherboards have come a long way, they cannot rival what one of these cards can do for the performance of your audio recording and playback. It achieves a masterful level of audio quality with 129 dB DNR from the 9038 DAC, 32bit/384 kHz playback, and sampling rates of 44.1kHz, 48.0kHz, 88.2kHz, 96.0kHz in both stereo and surround sound modes. Whether you are hanging in a voice chat with your friends, listening to your favorite music, or playing the latest AAA titles, the AE-9 can curate each audio experience. Elevating the audio experience is an experience everyone should try, and the AE-9 exceeds expectations with its superior craftsmanship and performance!
The LG 27GP750-B is a 1080p IPS gaming monitor that has perfect qualities for gamers that play first-person shooters as well as fast-paced gameplay. It has an adjustable refresh rate that caps out at 240hz, with a low 1MS response time, which is great for games like Overwatch, League of Legends, Call of duty, and many other titles. The menu LG implements into their monitors also allows you to adjust your response time so that you can change from normal to very fast to help with achieving the response setting you prefer. This newer “B” model targets gamers that want the performance of a high-end 1080p monitor, but without anything extra to get in the way of gaming. This allows for gamers to improve their experience and take a further step into the competitive scene of gaming, without breaking their budget.
Released in 2021, the LG 27GP850-G is a 27-inch, 1440p monitor and one of the most recommended gaming monitors with all-around support for today's demands. Boasting one of LG’s own industry-leading Nano-IPS panels, the LG display comes with its strong reliability of lasting LCDs and controllers, making it a more versatile product designed to last longer. Additionally, this LG monitor holds a new standard of a broad range of deep colors, rated for 1.07B colors with its 10-bit color display, HDR10, and 1000:1 contrast ratio, allowing for finer colors and gradients when watching movies, gaming, or even doing your own editing at home. This display also ranks high with its responsiveness to gaming monitor standards, with 1ms response times, Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, AMD FreeSync, Display Port 1.4, and HDMI 2.0 for pushing over 180hz at 1440p, important for seeing your foes before they see you. Overall, the LG 27GP850-G is a great monitor for today's all-use standards with high reliability.
By Kevin M.
Custom PCs are becoming more popular by the day and that means more people need help choosing compatible parts. Thankfully, there's the Micro Center Custom PC Builder. The Builder begins by asking if you would like to start from scratch or with a base system. Base systems are an already assembled system that you can customize some of the parts In. Once you've decided between fully custom or base, you'll be asked which CPU brand, AMD or Intel, you'd like to build with. This is arguably the most important decision to be made, as compatibility would all stem from this choice. However, fret not. One of the benefits to using this builder is that it will only show you what is compatible so you will never have to worry about accidentally choosing incompatible parts (unless you stray away from what it shows or turn off the filter). From there, you can build your computer as you see fit, adding everything you want without worrying something won't be compatible! The Micro Center PC Builder is a great way to get into PC building and a fantastic resource for long-time builders.
A monthly newsletter such as this would be helpful with recommendations as well as "how to" for the less knowledgeable.
I wish all the Build-Your-Own departments looked like the one in the photo! It just makes me want to build a new PC!
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