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Pros: The biggest PRO about this laptop is the SSD. Sure, it's a first gen Samsung SSD (SATA-2), but that's still faster than any conventional HDD that you're going to get in any new or refurb laptop. In fact, given failure rates of HDDs in laptops, I would NOT want a refurb laptop with an original HDD. If it hasn't failed by now, it'll certainly be slower than when it was new since it'll start allocating reserve sectors to make up for failing ones.
I'd still trust the longevity/MTBF of a first gen Samsung SSD over any mfg HDD.
And for a basic laptop, 128GB of space is plenty for most people.
The system ships with a pretty clean install of Win 7 Pro x64. No Home version nor 32-bit crippling the OS.
I was also pleased that the system shipped with the latest BIOS (A21) and there wasn't any bloatware on the system.
Speaking of the BIOS, it has better-than-average customizations available.
The battery functions as good as a new battery. It certainly doesn't hurt that the laptop has an SSD which contributes to extended battery life compared to running a conventional HDD.
Looks like they went out of their way to clean or replace the heatsink and cooling fan. Bonus points there!
14" screen = less screen to illuminate = longer battery life & smaller overall footprint.
To get this machine up & running took very little time. Throw a free MS-Office-compatible suite on there like LibreOffice or OpenOffice, and you're good to go!
Cons: Nothing significant, but I guess this is where I'll nitpick. I have to keep in mind this is a refurb, so wear & tear is expected.
There is a small cosmetic strip/line of rubber that is kind of embedded around the screen bezel. A small section of this had come loose. I just pushed it back in, but it didn't want to stay tight.
A couple of the phillips screws to remove the back plate were mildly rounded out. I was still able to remove them, I just had to be careful.
While the heatsink & fan were very clean, there was some minor accumulation of dirt/organic debris in some of the crevices elsewhere in the laptop. It was nothing that compressed air (from a compressor, not a can) didn't take care of.
Again, these things are nitpicking on a system with expected wear & tear. If I'm complaining, it's because it's not "like new" inside and out. And that's not fair of me. :-)
So really, there's no CONS about this system.
Other Thoughts: The memory it arrived with was a 2x2GB config of DDR3 PC10800 CL9. The system will take PC3-12800. I put an 8GB Crucial stick (N82E16820148734) in there and it accepted it without complaint*. Brings the total up to 10GB of RAM. Or run the 8GB by itself at faster clock speeds, but in single-channel mode.
*CPU-Z reported the memory as 8GB, but the timings were a bit weird. It's not worth detailing here since it didn't negatively impact system performance.
I could've bought a matching 8GB PC3-10800 SODIMM for the same price, but since the PC3-12800 was the same price, I figured I'd get it and put it into a newer laptop down the line if it wasn't compatible with this system. Note, the Crucial stick I bought was low voltage (1.35 -vs- 1.5v) and lower latency (CL9 -vs- CL11), which should match up better with the existing RAM.
In short, 8GB or 10GB is going to be better than 4GB, period. However, running one 8GB PC3-12800 in single channel versus 10GB PC3-10800 (8+2) in dual-channel is going to be unnoticeable in daily use. You'll only see differences in benchmarks. So go with what feels best to you. Or whatever is cheapest at the time.
Pros: - 3yr warranty!
- Machined aluminum case (but a plastic bottom)
- 14" length of cable (not including the length of the connectors).
- Barely got warm in testing
- Unobtrusive Activity LED unless you're looking right at it
- Comes ready to use in NTFS format. Drive is formatted to 1 trillion bytes (1 TB), but keep in mind that this translates to an effective 931GB of reported usable space
- Included software works pretty well for being free:
- Includes the basic WD SmartWare suite, but has (3) activations available for the full Pro version. (Not sure why you'd need three, unless you setup the software on three different systems)
- Ability to password protect the HDD. On systems you designate, you can have it automatically unlock. This keeps the password lock from being overly intrusive every time you go to use the drive. As well, if you have your system on any type of automated power-on to run backups, you wouldn't be able to perform the backup if you weren't there to input the password.
- Backup software can do scheduled backups or always-on continuous backups as data changes. After you go through the super-easy online activation to the Pro version of SmatWare, you'll also have integrated backup/restore from your Dropbox account
- Basic utilities for checking drive health
- The included help file pretty much will walk you through any of the functions you can do with the software.
Using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3, I tested the drive 5 different systems, all with USB2 & 3 capabilities. The average 1MB Sequential Read/Writes on USB3 was a pleasant 113MB/110MB per second. On USB2, it takes a significant but expected hit. It only averages 32MB/30MB on the 1MB Sequential Read/Write test, which is about half of USB2's theoretical 60MB/s max speed.
I'll cover the 512K Random tests in the "Other Thoughts" below.
Cons: There's really not much to complain about with this drive! If I had to nitpick...
- 14" cable (not including the length of the connectors)
- USB2 speeds could be a bit faster given what it's capable of using USB3.
- Currently $90 at the time of this writing. For $110, you can double your capacity with the "Titanium" model, although I can't say it's the 'exact' same drive inside, just larger. The 2TB version of this particular drive is $140, so still only $50 to double your capacity.
Other Thoughts: Other than picking at the price point on this drive, I really have no significant complaints.
You may have noticed that I mentioned the 14" data cable as both a PRO and a CON. I think for portability, people don't want to be wrapping up a 3ft cable. For me, 14" is long enough to be able to plug in the drive and then place it out of the way, but also not so short that if you plugged into the back of a tower, you're not left with it dangling.
I really like the fact that it has a 3yr warranty and performs decently on a variety of USB3 controllers.
The other thing to mention is it's 512K random read/write speeds. I specifically didn't list it as a PRO or a CON for a couple of reasons. 1) If you're using this for a backup drive, larger sequential read/writes are going to be the primary operation and this drive is fine for that. 2) It's been a while since I've reviewed HDD performance factors. I've been doing all SSD reviews and rarely use HDDs anymore, so I can't say that this drives Random 512K Read/Writes are far out of line. I did find it interesting that it's 512K Random Write is ~17MB/s FASTER than its Read. On USB3, the 512K Random Read is ~42MB/s and the Write is ~59MB/s.
This drive ALMOST gets a 5-egg rating. I believe the performance is up to par and the free software seems like something someone may actually use. And the mostly metal enclosure is nicely machined. However, 5-eggs are reserved for items that I unequivocally recommend as a "Best Buy". That being said, I'm taking off one egg because the case is not 100% metal as you might expect, but primarily because you can double your capacity for about another $20-$50, so the 2TB model is a better overall value in a GB/$ comparison.
This review is from: DEEPCOOL STEAM CASTLE (BLACK) Unique Steam Punk Style With Side Window 200mm Fan(Front) Micro ATX / Mini-ITX +120mm Fan(Rear)+4 Magic Controllable LED Lights (Top) SGCC+PLASTIC(ABS)+RUBBER COATING
Pros: - Case is a rubberized matte finish on the top, bottom and front. The sides and back of the case are matte painted metal with one side including a plastic window
- Plastic over metal thumb screws for sides of case
- Removal of the body panels is tool-less
- The interior is free of sharp edges and painted black
- Rubber standoffs for the power supply
- Accepts both mATX and mITX motherboards
- Includes two case fans
- Interesting and creative design with plenty of space for accessories (relative to other mATX cases).
- Unique lighting effects which are variable via a selection button on the side of the case.
- Sturdy design
- Mounts for liquid cooling solutions
- Reasonably quite fans
- Low-gloss, fingerprint resistant coating
- Air filter for the power supply
Cons: - One side of case includes rotary control; power button; audio; and USB (2x2.0, 2x 3.0) ports.
- The Motherboard tray is riveted and non-removable
- Cabling is not sleeved
- No fans in the top vents only lights
- Non-removable motherboard tray
- No tie downs for internal cabling
- Plastic window is not easily removable
The primary complaint with this case is the accessory ports (audio, USB, etc) located on the right side of the case. That means for right-handed people, if you typically keep your computer on the right side of you, you need to reach around even further to utilize the ports. As well, it limits the space in which you can place the case on your right side because you need to have the additional clearance in order to insert & remove things. And a minor complaint is that when you are working in the confines of an mATX/ITX case, it's nice to be able to remove the motherboard tray for easier installation.
Other Thoughts: - Vents are grey painted plastic
- There are (3) separate storage bays.
- There's the front 5.25" for an ODD and a 3.5"
- Two removable trays that accept 2.5" - 3.5" drives
- Two rear mounted trays for 2.5" drives
- Overall width is a bit more than what you might anticipate, so allowing a bit more space for that + the side mounted ports make the required space even greater.
This case visually stands out from the pack with its unique, SteamPunk-ish styling with a great fingerprint resistant rubberized coating to protect much of the finish. Overall, the case is strongly built with a spacious interior compared with other mATX designed cases, but the non-removable MB tray may complicate some MB installations. ODD installation is complicated by the need to remove an old-school twist off metal drive bay cover. Front and top covers are tool less to remove but are not mentioned in the manual. The manual is clear but brief. The 3.5 inch drive bay under the ODD bay may block some taller video cards if used. There are five screws to remove the mount which complicates the removal of the ODD and 3.5 inch bay. The overall impression is the case is modern on the outside but a bit dated in the inside due to the un-sleeved cables and non-removable MB tray. There is only one filter in the case. Other manufactures include additional filtering. There is a significant lack of tie-downs for cable management although there are pass-thru’s for cables. The fans are quiet and provide good air flow. And the cutouts for water cooling is a nice consideration.
All in all, I like this case. I know some people have been waiting for it to arrive Stateside. Now it's here (securely packed & shipped directly from Asia) and it's overall worth it if the styling cues are your thing. It would've been nice if the top fan-looking ports were actually that- instead they are for lighting effect only. Neat, but an option to mount low velocity fans would be nice.
TomsHardware is friendly with NewEgg and- coincidentally or not- also just used this case for their article "Building An Intel-Based MicroATX Gaming PC On A Budget". You can also check out what they had to say about it.
Display Name: Andre L.
Date Joined: 08/10/04
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