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GIGABYTE GA-X99-UD5 WIFI LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: • Solid pricing for the feature set
• Swanky gold/black color scheme
• Braided SATA cables
• 4-way SLI without choking out the fourth card on bandwidth
• Proper spacing for standard SLI
• Dual M-2 support
• Included Wi-Fi card
• Dual Intel gigabit NICs
• Great build quality (very heavy PCB + nice heat sinks)
• Solid caps for longer lifespan
• Q-flash port allows flashing without CPU/RAM (mitigates those situations where your CPU is too new for the current BIOS revision, forcing you to boot with an older CPU before you can flash)
• Backlit rear panel cover
• Varied LED lighting across the board surface
• Plenty of USB 3.0/SATA 6GB ports
• Board fan headers have excellent edge placement

Cons: • Some instability/frustration when working within the UEFI BIOS
• DDR4 RAM is required for this platform – and it’s expensive
• Intermittent lockups with a USB 3.0 external HD connected at boot

My NOTES will start here:

Feature set is fantastic for the X99 UD5, with really everything you could ever want. For me, there are really only three reasons why you would use a skt 2011 board – a chance to play with DDR4, going beyond a quad proc, and if you run want to trip/quad-SLI. Those attributes realistically apply to a pretty small segment of PC building folks, so we are talking about a true enthusiast market segment here. For the market that the X99 UD5 is aimed at, they’ve hit the mark on pretty much all fronts.

Test build consisted of:

5820k / 32Gb Crucial Sport 2400 MHZ DDR4 / Crucial M550 M.2 / EVGA SC GTX 780 (SLI) / Cooler Master 1300wt PSU / Antec 1900 / 3x 2TB Seagate SATA 6.0 HD (RAID 5) / Corsair H55 AIO

Build was easy with plenty of room to work with. The X99 UD5 is right at home in a giant case like the Antec 1900. I rarely use onboard fan-headers, as their placement always leaves a lot to be desired when trying to craft a clean build, but the X99 UD5 places EVERY one of them along the board edges, and coupled with the 1900’s cable management holes, everything was neat and clean. No need for a fan bus this time. CPU socket on the X99 UD5 is pretty clean, and when using the lower profile Crucial Sport RAM, I had no issues with large CPU cooler clearance (test fit an Enermax ETS-40). All of the diagnostic switches/readouts are clustered in the upper right edge of the board, and SLI setups, they utilize an edge-mounted SATA power connector (instead of an ugly Molex plug right in the middle of the board) to once again help keep the build nice and clean.

There are plenty of settings in the BIOS to keep just about any overclocker happy, whether you’re in the UEFI or classic mode. I just went with easy overclocking via EasyTune, and got a 4.0GHZ clock that didn't have the BIOS throwing excessive voltage at the core.

Other Thoughts: The M.2 SSD installed easy (cancels out SATA 0 on the board, and I pulled good bandwidth numbers across all NIC’s (to be expected, as Intel makes a great NIC). I have Wi-Fi on all three of my main systems, and have never had to use the feature, though I suppose it may appeal to some. The ability to drop the Wi-Fi card, and install another M.2 SSD is a great option. I also setup a quick RAID 5 (just to test all of the included SATA ports) and everything worked as expected.

Addressing all of the BIOS/USB/coil whine issues that showed up in reviews for the X99 UD5, they are real, though they were more of an annoyance for me, instead of deal-breakers. I’ve had absolutely zero coil whine with this board, idling, loaded, whatever. There are enough forum comments talking about it, so it must be a real issue, and I would say it has to do with QA. I’ve had a number of video cards over the years that were reporting coil whine issues, but mine were always fine. So sometimes it pays to be lucky. The flakiness in Gigabytes UEFI BIOS is something I experienced with their Z97X-SLI board. Mouse skitching around, some settings not sticking after rebooting, stuff like that. I’ve experienced the same issues in every UEFI BIOS I’ve played in (Asrock and MSI), so I think it’s a technology that still needs some refinement. I didn't receive any error codes, BIOS lockups, or situations where the build had to resort to the backup BIOS to boot. So for me, it was just annoying stuff. I don’t really care about the prettiness and bling of the UEFI BIOS, as I’ve spent my life in a standard BIOS. So I just used classic mode, and called it a day. I experienced zero issues in classic mode, which makes me think it’s more of a UI issue, than actual BIOS instability. Regarding USB 3.0 device issues, I definitely had multiple lockups at boot when I had a Seagate USB 3.0 external drive attached. Probably once every 8-10 reboots, Windows 8.1 would just hang at the spinning circle of death. Disconnecting the drive erased the problem, and then I would just reconnect after boot. I didn't have a USB 3.0 card reader to test, but the USB 2.0 reader I did have, caused no issues when connected to any of the USB 3.0 ports. I’m running BIOS version 8, so like some of the other reviewers, I’m hopeful that they release a BIOS that corrects this issue.

For me, the X99 UD5 is exactly what this socket is all about – overkill, in the best of ways. It has just about every ability that you could think of, and sans USB 3.0 issues, it would be an easy 5-egg rating. My experience had the X99 UD5 not causing me anything more than minor annoyances, so the BIOS flakiness/USB issues were not deal-breakers for me. While the X99 UD5 will definitely work for the guy that wants to just plug in one video card, and a single SSD/HD, this socket is really designed for the guy with deeper pockets, that wants to build a machine that does it all.

READ FULL REVIEW
Corsair K95 Cherry MX RGB Red Mechanical Keyboard
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Great piece of high quality gaming hardware 11/13/2014

This review is from: Corsair K95 Cherry MX RGB Red Mechanical Keyboard

Pros: • Seemingly unlimited individual key color choices
• Solid build with quality aluminum bezel
• Palm rest that is actually more than an afterthought
• Ease of setting color to the keys
• Drag and cover feature to color multiple keys at once
• Quality audio controls
• Sturdy braided dual USB cable for data/power
• Software is easy enough to dive into...

Cons: • …but pretty complex to master
• Need to download the software from Corsair’s site to gain access to the K95’s full feature set
• Very expensive ($190) – but you knew that going in
• No USB pass through (previous K95 revision had this feature)
• Not all keys are mechanical (“G” keys)
• Not for small desks – beastly size
• Tall keys with sensitive throw = tough to type on for anybody coming from a low profile keyboard (but you bought this for gaming, right?)

Notes will start here:

I’m a 46 year-old gamer who has little patience for learning “bells and whistles” type software. I want a nice quality mechanical keyboard so I can move freely on the battlefield. I currently run with a Logitech G710+ that has a lot less bling, but was easy to program macros to, has a great typing action with MX Cherry Brown switches, and plain white lighting. I love the G710+ -- best keyboard I’ve ever owned, and I got it for $60 less than the current cost of this Corsair K95.

I think lit keys, and programming macros, are cool – but I would never have the patience to read through a 153 page PDF to figure out how to do it. So I thought a great first test of this board would be to forgo that giant PDF, and see how things went just diving in -- and going for it. Most gamers that I know would never even bother to download a massive PDF, so I figured that would be the best way to start this review – like the average Joe, who wants to use it – not learn how to use it. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how things went.

First impressions on removing the K95 from its box were solid, though there was a single loose media key laying in the bag. Think it was just a fluke, as it snapped right back into place, and everything else looked great. Very large keyboard with some heft to it. Great palm rest that screws in place, and has a little padding. I usually leave the el cheapo palm rests in the box – but not this one. I type on a low profile keyboard at work, so there was definitely a learning curve on the K95. Took a couple weeks before I started typing smoothly, without a ton of typos.

Other Thoughts: Feature-wise, you have plenty of “G” keys for dedicated macros, plus multiple profiles that you can toggle from with ease. Media keys – especially the volume wheel, feel great. I will say that the high keys on the K95 make them a little harder to reach, but not too bad. Only “gotcha” – and it was a big one for me, was no USB pass through. I really thought I was just missing it, like it was behind a hidden panel. The original K95 had one – but this board requires a lot more power for all of the lighting options, increased onboard memory, etc. I also use a Belkin n52te to game with. It has a short cord – and that single USB pass through port on my Logitech G710+ is perfect for devices with short cords. That missing feature alone will prevent the K95 from dethroning the G710+. Two pieces of good news go with that complaint: it’s the ONLY thing I don’t like about the K95, and it may very well be something you don’t care about.

From a use standpoint, the K95 is excellent for gaming. Easy action on the keys, quiet enough to not drive my wife up the wall, and great illumination for playing in the dark. So how about that blind dive into utilizing the crazy lighting, and extensive macro programming features? So many reviews talk about the complexity of Corsair’s software; how glitchy it is; how clunky it is. I didn’t experience that at all.

You pay a lot of money for a board like this because of the feature set, and when you have advanced features – you have to expect a learning curve + a little required effort. The software tabs all made sense, so navigation was easy. I first started playing with the lighting, and in no time at all I had created a sweet purple/green/white color scheme. It was all just clicking keys, and selecting colors, and then dragging the mouse pointer across banks of keys, for larger scale color changes. The macros were just as easy – right-click, select an option, and it takes you to the recording screen. I really liked the dedicated “text” screen. Took me a couple of minutes to program some lengthy comebacks to be used with the in-game chat of any FPS game -- for mouthy players that don’t know when to zip it.

I think your average person can skim the K95’s manual, and really make this board sing – but you can still get advanced functionality out of it with minimal effort. That leaves something for everybody – definitely a good value.

Overall, the K95 is a great piece of gaming hardware. Yes, it’s expensive, but an average standard black unlit mechanical board will set you back $100, so the added cost should be expected, considering the versatility of the lighting features. While the lack of a USB pass through was a put-off for me, the majority of the people I game with don’t ever use them – so no loss there. Heavy feature set, reasonable setup of those great features, a sturdy build, and great accuracy with the key presses = highly recommended for the high-end gamer that the K95 is designed for.

READ FULL REVIEW
TP-LINK Archer C2 AC750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router, USB Port, IPv6, Guest Network
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: • Lightweight in design
• Runs just slightly warm to the touch
• WPS
• Power button on rear panel
• Wi-Fi disable switch on rear panel
• Extremely easy setup with WPS/Wi-Fi/Ethernet
• Reasonably priced
• Competitive warranty
• 24/7 customer service number on the front of the box
• Performance is solid in open environment
• Shipped firmware was up-to-date
• Easy to setup guest network

Cons: • Loses signal strength quickly when you add a wall into the equation

Other Thoughts: I’ve reviewed quite a few routers for Newegg, and will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the AC750. My previous experience with TP-Link routers has been a mixed bag, with ease of setup, decent feature set, and capable customer service, coupled with signal drop, and greatly reduced signal strength when you stick so much as a half-wall in between the router and the transmission area.

First off – setup was a breeze. Using the included disc, I set the AC750 up via Wi-Fi, WPS, and hardline Ethernet. Each time was extremely easy and straightforward. Anybody that can follow prompts will be good to go with setup. The AC750 is about average size for this price point, and even with the large antennas, is pretty unassuming in its appearance. Buttons for power, Wi-Fi disable, and WPS are easily accessible on the rear of the device. There is also an included USB 2.0 port that allows quick and easy network sharing. Some reviews will knock the AC750 for NOT having a USB 3.0 port, but at this price level, you see both standards across brands.

Setup area is upstairs in our 430 sq ft bonus room. I like this room for reviewing network gear, as it has a half wall + staircase that’s pretty good for separating the men from the boys when it comes to router signal degradation.

Admin panel has a decent feature set, and setting up a guest network was as easy as setting up the router itself. Speeds on both bands are comparable to my Asus RT-N65U, with a slight boost on the 5GHZ band. The Asus RT-N65U is a nice router, and considerably more expensive when not on sale, so for the TP-Link to be comparable in some basic areas is a great start. Most routers at this price level use a similar Atheros chipset, so while transfer rates will be comparable, it’s usually engineering and unit design that help determine range, and maintenance of signal strength. The previously mentioned half wall ended up being a signal killer for the AC750. I tried multiple channels, but experienced similar signal strengths on both bands. This was expected at this price point, and I have decided not to hold that piece of performance against the AC750, as its pretty standard across the board for the routers that I review. The main thing here is over a three week span – I never once had any connection issues. No dropped devices, and enough range to stream Wi-Fi programming over both bands.

Outside of not maintaining great signal strength with a wall in the way, everything about the AC750 was great. There weren’t many reviews up when I initially received the device, and most of those were not at all favorable. User skill and sample variation can be big determiners in Newegg ratings, and are often unfair depictions of what the reviewed device is really capable of doing. With AC750, you get a nice 2-year warranty, solid 24/7 customer support, and a device capable of handling video streaming, and online gaming, for (at the time of this review) -- $64. Easy recommendation h

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Eric R.'s Profile

Display Name: Eric R.

Date Joined: 05/25/05

Achievements:

  • Top 1000 Reviewer
  • Reviews: 61
  • Helpfulness: 35
  • First Review: 12/09/07
  • Last Review: 12/22/14
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