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Netgear 5-Port 10/100 Switch (FS205), 1-year Warranty, Plastic Case
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Compact –> about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Cute Appearance –> think i-something. Energy efficient. Power adapter faces the right way so it only takes up one outlet slot. Auto-sensing ports. Good company. Good quality – see autopsy report in other thoughts.

If you are using a switch to share a consumer internet connection among less than 10 home computers this will be sufficient.

Cons: 10/100 speed.

10/100 (“fast ethernet”) uses 4 of the wires in a typical Ethernet cable and is fast enough for sharing a consumer internet connection and most normal consumer stuff.

1000 bits per second (“gigabit ethernet”) uses all 8 wires and is pretty prevalent these days particularly if you are intending to share large files between computers on the network. That assumes you have the other required infrastructure: the right cable (cat 6 suggested though 5E will work fine), a router supporting gigabit, gigabit Ethernet ports on your computers, and gigabit switches.

Other Thoughts: For some time now, unmanaged switches have been single-chip solutions offering wire-speed performance. I buy them primarily based on purchase price if I feel the brand is reputable. Price for 5 port consumer 10/100 switches at the time of this writing ranges from about 9 to 20 bucks while price for 5 port consumer gigabit switches ranges from about 15 to 40 dollars.

I disassembled this switch and found my model is based on a Realtek 8305 chip. This was a Rev 3 board. There was a piece of masking tape with handwritten QA test result notes in Chinese. The quality of the other components, the board layout, and the soldering quality looked good. No enclosure air vents were present or needed for this low-power switch.

I’ve always liked Netgear network products and the way they have supported open source routers.

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FREMO P52 5200mAh Power Bank External Battery Charger for iPhone, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5, S4, Note, Galaxy Tab, Nexus, HTC One, One 2 (M8), PS Vita and other Smartphones and Tablets (made by SCUD)
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Size is small, looks nice, durable case. It fully charged my iPhone 5S twice. Currently priced competitively.

My pre-release sample was a single piece, textured, thick aluminum case about 3 5/8 x 2 ¼ x 7/8 inches in size. It feels solid. It looks clean with no branding marks on the aluminum. One end has: micro USB for re-charging it, regular USB for power delivery, a recessed power button, four white tiny LED lights for charge/charging status.

It came with a 7 ½ inch cable that is USB on one end and micro USB on the other. To recharge the device, plug the USB end into your cell charger or computer and the micro USB into the device. Re-charging it using my 2A cell phone charger took around 3 hours. The LED’s show the battery level during re-charge with the highest level LED flashing. When fully charged and plugged into the charger, all the lights are solid.

To charge your phone battery, plug your charge cable into the regular USB port on the device. It appears to detect the phone and charge it automatically while intermittently flashing the LEDs. Depressing the power button shows battery level.

Inside are cylindrical 18650 batteries with 5200mAh capacity. The device is rated for 1.5A charging current (at 5V). Charging the iPhone 5S twice is consistent with the rated capacity at a decent efficiency.

Cons: Marketing.

There are some company names that don’t translate well into other languages and cultures. SCUD is not a nice acronym in the US. A US google search and a word association with just about everyone in the US on the term SCUD will bring up the Soviet developed ballistic missiles that were featured in almost every daily newscast in the US during the duration of the Gulf War. Those associated emotions are something you don’t want for your products. I’m not sure of the meaning of P52 which I tend to associate with ASUS. PowerBank is nice.

Other Thoughts: This type of product is turning out to be almost indispensable for travelers. The external power adapter market is forecast to grow by about a billion $ globally this year. Everyone in my family has at least one with them when travelling by air. It sure beats looking for outlets at airports.

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ASRock Z97 Extreme6 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: ASRock has three color-coded tier’s of Z97 Chipset Intel motherboards. This one (Extreme6) is at the top end of the blue series.

The tree tiers are: the OC board series (yellow) -- aimed at serious overclockers. The regular EXTREME series (blue) -- often with some sort of cutting-edge innovation. The FATALITY series (red) – designed for gaming.

Intel’s Z97 chipset is a slight upgrade to the Z87 and H87 chipset series - primarily addressing storage interface technology. (the Z means it supports overclocking of unlocked processors, H does not). The biggest chipset upgrade is the support of M.2 (with two lanes). In addition, there is an upgraded version of Intel’s (SRT) which handles hybrid drives better; and there is SATAe support.

The main innovative feature of this motherboard is the Ultra M.2 port. It offers PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth directly from the CPU. You should be able to get 4 GB per second storage bandwidth if you have a native PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD that can handle it. That should be more than 3 GB per second read/write (accounting for the overhead.) There is also a regular M.2 x2 slot provided by the Z97 chipset that is connected to the PCIe 2.0 lanes - just like on some other Z97 motherboards. See Other Thoughts if none of this makes sense.

ASRock has a history of pushing motherboard innovations and pushing hardware limits. Overclock world records are frequently achieved with ASRock boards. The board looks nice, is well laid out, has some extra space for a bigger cooler if your ram sticks aren’t overly high. It uses all long-life 12K caps, and has a 3 year warranty. There are two LAN ports (Intel & Realtek). There are two removable BIOS chips, a BIOS selection switch, two digit debug, and on-board power & reset push-buttons. There is an interesting feature with an included cable called HDD Saver. This lets you hook up two SATA devices and control those devices’ power in the OS. The back panel has a ClearCMOS button. The Purity Sound 2 audio subsystem uses a separate PCB. The board came with 4 SATA cables.

The BIOS has a Full HD UEFI mode. There is an easy, automatic overclock option using settings from ASRock based on their own testing. It is possible to disable onboard controllers to speed post times. The BIOS can be updated directly from the BIOS. You can choose which temp sensor is used to control fan power and adjust the various fan powers as needed.

Customer support was responsive.

The sturdy packaging protected the board even though the shipping box was rather crumpled.

Cons: Implementing the Ultra M.2 port runs up against the limits of the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes available direct to the CPU. So, if you use the Ultra M.2 port, your two PCIe graphics slots will be 8x and 4x instead of 8x and 8x. This may prevent you from using NVIDIA SLI since it requires two 8x slots. Crossfire will work fine. I couldn’t test this properly because I don’t have an M.2 x4 SSD. Don’t think anyone does yet. The only one I’ve ever seen on newegg (Samsung XP941) has been listed as out of stock every time I looked.

Other Thoughts: To fully understand the pluses, minuses, and innovation of this board, you need to know the basic features of the Haswell CPU/GPU plus Z97 Chipset. The CPU connects directly with 4 things: 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, DDR3 RAM, up to triple display support, and the Z97 Chipset. The Z97 Chipset connects to 18 I/O lanes of which up to 8 can be PCI Express 2.0 lanes, up to 6 can be USB 3.0 ports, and up to 6 can be SATA 6G (this does not add up to 18 because two lanes can choose to be either USB3 or PCIe and two lanes can choose to be either SATA or PCIe). In addition, Z97 connects to: Intel Integrated MAC, the Firmware, Intel Rapid Storage Technology,and Intel High Definition Audio.

Historically, the main bottleneck in PC performance has been moving data in and out of disk storage. With SSD’s we’ve progressed past parallel ports, IDE, 3GB SATA, and 6GB SATA -- to using what was traditionally the graphics pipeline: the PCI bus.

The Z97 chipset supports the M.2 connector (formerly known as the Next Generation Form Factor) SSD’s by using two of the available 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes. Many of the new Z97 boards support this. ASRock blows this out of the water by adding something they call an Ultra M.2 port.

The Ultra M.2 port uses 4 of the 16 PCI3 3.0 lanes that go directly to the CPU. That leaves an 8x slot and a 4x slot for PCIe 3.0 graphics. The downside is if you use that Ultra M.2 slot you won’t be able to SLI (but CrossFire is OK with no noticeable degradation). If this M.2 thing catches on, and it probably will, it would be nice for Intel to increase the direct-to-CPU lanes in upcoming processors.

ASRock provides other additional ports not directly supported by the Z97 Chipset by using hubs and controllers. For instance, there are 10 USB 3.0 ports: four from the chipset, two from a ASM1042e controller, and four from an ASM1074 hub. There is a PCIe Gen 2.0 switch that splits one upstream port into: two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and four SATA 6 ports.

The only issue I have with this board is that its main defining characteristic is to take advantage of a technology for which hardware is not yet commonly available. Yet, you still get 10 USB 3.0 ports, 10 SATA ports, dual NICs, and enhanced audio for a really, really good price (on top of the two M.2 slots) from a quality company that is always on the cutting edge.

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Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09

Achievements:

  • Top 1000 Reviewer
  • Reviews: 70
  • Helpfulness: 44
  • First Review: 12/18/09
  • Last Review: 08/25/14
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