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Pros: • Extremely easy setup – step-by-step worked flawlessly
• Efficient packaging (good information on all sides of the form-fitting box)
• Support information on the outside of the box (always good to see)
• Smart phone app sets up easy
• Smart phone app has features that most people would want to use
• Resetting SSID/password very easy from the responsive touchscreen
• Includes wall-mounting hardware! (screws are cheap, but the convenience of having them is priceless)
• Good storage for the included stylus
• Solid range (covers our 2400 SF home pretty well
• Attractive design (looks good on a desk)
• Included snap-on desk stand works well – and it does a great job of hiding the attached Ethernet cables in back = finally a router that you don’t have to hide in a network closet – great!
• Has a pair of USB 3.0 ports for network sharing
• Can also be used as a range extender
• Ability to monitor/control motional detection sensors (windows, doorways, etc.; sensors are reasonably priced)
• Touch screen responds well to aftermarket stylus’(tested generic rubber-tipped model, and the stylus from a Galaxy Note 4)
Cons: • Extremely expensive
• USB 3.0 ports are really close together (need slim flash drives to occupy both ports)
• Stylus constructed of very fragile plastic
• Need a stylus to use the small touchscreen (difficult for large fingers)
• Router settings may be a bit basic for network savvy users
• Lesser known brand doesn’t have enough longevity to determine reliability + high cost = risky purchase
Other Thoughts: Great first impression. Easy setup, and not so much as a blip in nearly three weeks of constant use. Included quick start-up guide came off as a joke, but in actuality – it was all I need to get going, from router setup, all of the way through setting up the app on my Note 4. Instructions were a little repetitive, with the quick guide, and the on-screen display – both telling me to disconnect my modem, but that was as bad as it got, with everything else going nice and smooth.
I really liked the included wall-mounting hardware, and the snap-on stand is really just added support for the Almond + to sit comfortably on your desk. Ugly Ethernet cables are effectively hidden behind the device, and there are a couple of nice apps (clock, weather; claim beta development, but worked just fine) that add to the incentive to have the Almond + out in the open. Looks more like a home security monitoring device than a piece of network gear. Speaking of monitoring, you can purchase separate sensors (motion detection and plugin adapters to control device on/off) for $30-40. The ease of setup, and solid functionality will probably have me buy a sensor or two, and give that aspect of Almond + a try.
Only real negative here is the cost. It’s $250 at the time of this review. I’m not really sure whom the Almond + is marketed for. The high cost, appealing packaging, and slick device looks seem targeted towards a higher-end consumer, but there’s nothing ground breaking from a feature set standpoint that justifies the cost to me. There are plenty of reliable routing devices for a lot less money that will get the job done just fine, but they won’t look as nice on a desk, nor will they have that easy to use/configure touch screen. Then there is the question of brand familiarity. I’ve never heard of Almond + until now, so I have no idea of brand reliability. On the other hand, every brand was new once, so it’s tough to hold that against Securfi. I tend to judge devices on how they deliver, and pay little attention to past reliability claims. So far – the Almond + delivers on all counts.
I’m the type of person that puts a premium on reliability when it comes to network devices. I don’t care about looks, and a lot of the extra features they include with most routers (bandwidth prioritization, USB sharing, etc.) hold little appeal to me. Just get me out to the internet, and provide some basic protection to my network while I’m out there. With that being said, there are a number of routers out there for around $100 that will definitely get the job done for me The Almond + gives you those basics, plus good looks, a slick looking touch screen, the ability to monitor motion detection sensors (free, outside of the sensor cost), and mobile app integration. If these extra features appeal to you, and you have the extra money to spend, then the Almond + might just be the router you’ve been looking for.
Highly recommended – if you can stomach the expense
Pros: • Simple nice looks for windowed cases – very clean
• Ultra-Durable board (improved cooling; feels sturdy)
• Good spacing for multi-GPU setups
• Nifty LED trace along audio area
• Gold-lined audio capacitors
• G-Connector for the front panel cable mess – nice
• Fixed lower RAM latches (easier DIMM installation)
• 2x USB front panel ports – nice
• Clutter-free CPU socket (good for larger heatsink/fan combos)
• Dual CPU fan headers (great for AIO water cooler units)
• All fan headers are 4-pin
• USB Type-C port
• Included case badge
• M.2 port it right below the CPU socket (allowed Gigabyte to include a couple of legacy PCI slots)
• All kinds of video connections on the back (IGP keeps you up and running if your GPU dies)
• Good value for the price
Cons: • Lean on rear USB ports (to be expected at this price point)
• Lean on SATA ports (to be expected at this price point)
• Included App Center software still has issues with Windows 10…
Other Thoughts: The Z170-P SLI is a great entry level gamer’s board, with just enough features and performance to be the backbone of any lean gaming machine. The feature-set, and performance level, should appeal to all but the most hardcore of enthusiasts.
There’s nothing complicated about the Z170-P SLI. Simple accessory pack (back shield + SATA cables); G-Connector for quick and easy front panel cable installation; just enough USB/SATA ports for the user who’s more interested in playing games, than plugging in every device they own; and a clean CPU socket area that allows a wide variety of cooling setups.
Industrial good lucks for windowed builds, and solid overclocking performance for the gamer trying to squeeze extra performance out of their machine – not a lot to NOT like about the Z170-P SLI.
Put together a quick test build with a 6600K, 16GB GSkill 2800 DDR4, a pair of GTX 780s, Corsair RM850i PSU, Corsair H60, and an OCZ Vector 180 SSD. I did some simple multiplier overclocking to 4.4 GHZ, to see how stable the Z170-P SLI would be for a night of gaming. No issues with stability, using 1.24vt, and picked up my RAM at the proper speeds. I also used a Deepcool Neptwin CPU cooler (very large CPU cooler) with no clearance problems around the clean socket area – nice and versatile, as you won’t find many air coolers bigger than the Neptwin.
The included Gigabyte software suite isn’t too bad, and has some useful apps – if you’re using Windows 7-8. At the time of this review, Windows 10 still generates the annoying “This driver can’t release to failure” error. Harmless error that pops up randomly during a computing session – but very annoying if you’re a little OCD about things like I am. Uninstalling Gigabyte’s App Center chases the error away, and I’m sure that there will be a new revision of the software that eliminates the error altogether.
With a great board layout, good overclocking performance, and a solid feature-set, the Gigabyte Z170-P SLI is a good value at $150 (price at time of this review). I have no issue recommending it to all but the most hardcore of overclockers, or folks that need to have every feature known to man on their board. I borrowed a 6600k/DDR4 RAM combo to review this board, and I saw across-the-board +20% performance increases over my current 3570k setup. That was with an easy overclock, and middling voltages. The Z170-P SLI proved to be a good foundation for this performance bump, and I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be quickly shelling out $500 for my own 6600k/32GB DDR4 combo – making the Z170-P SLI the new cornerstone of my everyday gaming build. Good stuff all-around!
Pros: • Solid build with some heft
• Attractive design
• Minimalist packaging (for those that care)
• Price (after rebate) in line with current capacity prices
• Sequential speeds are comparable to other drives in this class
• Useful SSD Guru tool
Cons: • Doesn’t include install sled/screws (for those that care)
• Upper price realm for capacity when rebate is inactive
Other Thoughts: Another excellent OCZ SSD. I’ve owned quite a few in my time, going back to building RAID 0 stripes with the 32GB Vertex models. I read a lot about OCZ drives failing, but out of the 20+ I’ve owned – I’ve never had a failure. I believe the SSD industry as a whole has dialed in their firmware, and with that advance, you see far fewer drive failures across all brands. I’m also a firm believer that SSD’s, like RAM are all the same at a given output level. Bottom line – almost all drives have the 500/500 sequential R/W speeds, and 2-3 year warranties, so it becomes a matter of cost for me. The OCZ drives have always delivered good value for me, and so long as their cost is comparable to the competition, they’ll always be the first drive I look towards when making a purchase.
The people that I know are looking for these larger capacity drives with one main purpose in mind – to eliminate platter storage. Who doesn’t want their machine running all SSD?! No moving parts, lower power, barely any heat output, and you can mount them almost anywhere. And quickly, regarding reviewer’s comments about the lack of sled/screws included with the ARC 100 – how many people actually use those? I know I don’t. I either stick them behind the MOBO tray with double back 3M tape, or I use the sleds/screws included with my case. The way I see it, that’s four less screws, and a useless piece of metal that I need to bury in a box somewhere.
Benchmarks were done on a modest Core i3 machine running Windows 10 64-bit with 8GB of RAM. I don’t believe in benching empty drives, because that’s pretty pointless, unless you just collect drives for benching. I went ahead and dumped a large 360GB folder full of music, pictures, videos, and ISO files. Even with that mixed bag, AS SSD still pulled a 1310 overall score, and 438/430 sequential R/W speeds. These benches were performed multiple times, with and without the use of the secure disc wipe within the SSD Guru utility (one of the cool included features in that software utility). Comparatively speaking, on the same test build, nearly every SSD I’ve benched that claims 500/500 speeds, performs at this level. Real world numbers were fine, as well, with nice bursts on the smaller files, and expected slowdowns on the ISO files. No mixed bag here – just predictable results.
While some people may be put off by the Spartan accessory load that comes with the ARC 100 (basically nothing outside of the drive itself), it was a non-issue for me, as consistent performance was number one on my list. I will say that price is a little high minus the rebate, but in all honesty, rebates come and go on almost all of the drives, so it’s just a matter of time before the drive you want will have a rebate to go with it. Good looks, good build quality, good performance = highly recommended in my book.