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This review is from: TRENDnet TPL-308E2K Powerline AV200 Nano Adapter Kit, Up to 200Mbps
Pros: I never had really considered using powerline networking equipment. I suppose in an alternate universe where WiFi never materialized, powerline Ethernet might have become far more popular. All the same, now that I've spent some quality time with it, I think it definitely has it's place(s). It's flexible, and newer versions of the technology definitely have worked out some of the kinks which marred earlier attempts.
Giving the urban setting in which I live, surrounded by high rise office buildings each with tons of WiFi devices, I used to have difficulty with some devices over WiFi. Migrating to 5Ghz helped, but I now realize that something like the Nanos might have made my life easier, and sooner. At any given time I have one or two systems which must be connected at all times. In the past few years, 5Ghz N and now AC standards have improved my home networking situation greatly but there is still room for powerline networking in the world at large.
Set up is dead simple. Don't even bother with the included disk, just plug the adapters in the wall socket. Connect Ethernet from device to adapter. Done.
Just don't put a power strip/power conditioner/surge protector in the way and you'll be good to go. I tested through a beefy surge protector on one end, and it did work, but at half the throughput I was getting when properly connected (see other thoughts).
Cons: There aren't really any negative points here. As long as your domicile is up to your local electrical code, you'll be fine. If you have some sketchy wiring inside the walls, there could be issues.
I suppose if you're all about max throughput for certain home applications, high end wireless and/or long runs of Ethernet are probably still your best bet. For most home applications, this set provides most all the speed you'll need. If you require the ultimate in low latency and high throughput, then you are in all likelihood aware that this value set isn't what you were looking for anyway.
Other Thoughts: I spent some time testing the Nanos at various outlets in my not-so-big apartment. Testing with TDP at variable sizes was fairly conlusive that no, you aren't going to get 200mbit/s of throughput. On average, I was able to pull down about 36mbits, occasionally getting as high as 39mbits. I also did some testing with one adapter running through a surge protector.
Sure enough, the amber signal light flashed, and I just assumed it wouldn't work (or work well) Much to my surprise, it worked fine (albeit at 16mbits/s)... as another reviewer noted, latency is slightly higher like this.
After toying with this setup for a while, I turned off the WiFi on a PS3 and used the TRENDnet's to connect the router GbE to the PS3 in the next room. I streamed eight hours of HD content without a hiccup. It's probably that this won't always work, but in a pinch, give it a try anyway.
One place this set could conceivably be extremely useful is for connecting a router to a cable modem. If you need the Ethernet ports on the back of the router in a place that isn't convenient (across a large room, on another floor, etc) this might be a good compromise.
Pros: It's true that the Vantec isn't super high tech. Or aesthetically pleasing for that matter. It's not particularly well built or made of nice materials.
I love it.
First, it's basically a straight SATA passthrough. There's no overhead or bandwidth limitations, because it's just passing the SATA through unmolested.`
Second, it works off of one molex power. I hated this at first, but when you really think about it PSUs SATA power strands aren't really made with SSDs in mind. I find this to be its main convienience... but that might just be me.
It's a product that makes my life easier and keeps cable management in check for my applications.
Cons: The fan. The fan is awful. Just.... terrible. That's why I snipped the power leads to it. No fuss, no muss - problem solved. I'm just using it for SSDs, but you might want to reconsider if you're rocking some hot HDDs.
The trays aren't that awesome. They're plastic and break easily. Be careful.
Other Thoughts: If you're running a few SSDs, this might not be for you. If you're running eight, it's awesome. Two 8087 SAS breakout cables running to a pair of these would work well and only cost you two molex power.
If you can help it, running direct from disks to controller is the way to go. The Vantec helps facilitate that.
Pros: The MSI 970A-G43 is a perfectly workable AM3+ board. It's a budget offering, but thanks to a decent UEFI and AMD's 970 northbridge/SB950 southbridge it works well. That is, unless you're using a terrifically power-hungry AMD CPU (and most of them are).
I had no complaints with the board's layout. Everything was at or near where I'd like it to be -- fan pinouts, USB, etc were all in decent places.
Moving around to the back, the rear port cluster is a bit spartan, but has two USB 3 ports, six USB 2s, PS2s, ethernet, and audio. The next step up the line of MSI's AMD boards (the 970A-G46) drops 1 PS2 in favor of an optical audio out and two USB2 ports for a COM port. Depending on your needs, that might be more appropriate for you. And speaking of ports, two of the SATA III ports are vertical, while the other four stick out the side. I like that, but they could get in the way of a longer card in the second x16 PCIe slot (which signals at x4) if you want to use both at once. Probably not an issue for a board like this, but you never know.
One of the best features of the board is MSI's GUI-based UEFI. If you've ever used one of their newer Intel boards, you'll know where everything is in the UEFI. It's not half bad looking, and finding options is pretty easy. It isn't as good as some, but it IS a much better UEFI implementation than most.
I built the board up with an Athlon II x3 640. I also slapped on some Geil 1333 DDR3 @ 7-7-7 and 1.5v. To handle graphics duty, I used a MSI Cyclone GTX 460. All standard stuff that I used prior to January 2011 (before I kinda just gave up on AMD).
To round out the install, I hooked up a Samsung 830, BD-ROM, and the X-650 PSU. I powered the system on for the first time and installed Win7, and never had an issue after. Actually, first I entered the UEFI, which was harder to do than I expected (POST is super fast). I made a few changes, especially since I looked and the system defaults to IDE, not AHCI. So definitely change that before you proceed. Installing Windows wasn't an issue, MSI's driver disk installed only the stuff I wanted and nothing I didn't. Everything was fine. I didn't run into a single issue then, and I haven't since.
From a performance and usability perspective, everything was awesome. Having six 6gbps SATA III ports is also awesome, and mating a fast SSD with a newer chipset and older CPU made everything feel pretty groovy. The fact that the board doesn't look awful helps too.
The unlocked fourth core really helps things out, and it doesn't require much more power either. If I were using a Phenom X6, I'd definitely pay more for something a bit beefier.
Cons: I suppose the main issue with this board is that the VRM and power delivery features aren't designed with most higher-end AMD procs in mind. The nearly identical MSI 970A-GD46 actually lists support for 125W CPUs. That includes some quad cores and most 6 core AM3. You could probably use them anyway, but (A) get lots of airflow to the VRMs and (B) don't overclock them. Actually, I've found lots of AMD CPUs can (and should) be undervolted. It's hard to actually fault a budget board for not having high end VRMs and power circuitry
There are two PCI slots on the board. That might be a selling point for some hardware, but I think it's time we moved past putting old school PCI on boards. Intel's chipsets no longer support them natively, requiring PCIe to PCI bridges. AMD's chipsets do still support native PCI, but in my estimation it's high time we moved past PCI.
I like the two PCIe x1 slots, but not where they're at. With a dual slot GPU in the top x16 slot, the second x1 gets covered. It might have made more sense to put one of the PCI slots below the x16 instead of the second x1.
Lastly, of the two x16 PCIe slots, one is x16 while the other is only an x4.
It's hard to gripe too much about these things since the board doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is. All told, these are fairly minor complaints.
Other Thoughts: The bottom line for this board is simply that it's hard to criticize simply because it's designed to be a simple budget offering. I actually used to prefer boards with fewer features and less fluff, but these days it's harder to find higher end quality and fewer extraneous features in one well-priced package. As for the 970A-GD43, it has the essentials, but some parts need some work. The VRMs need to be a bit better, since all the CPUs that will fit in the AM3+ socket can use a fair amount of power, even the lower end units. It'd just be safer that way. That said, the next-step up GD46 has more features and better power circuitry, and the two boards are occasionally super close on price. If you want one of MSI's 970 boards, definitely get the GD46 if you're using a Thuban or need more OCability.
I suppose whether this board is really what you need is dependent on why you need it in the first place. As an upgrade for an older AMD system, it probably isn't that worthwhile coming from pre-990/970 boards -- there are other upgrades I'd do first. If you're putting together a new FX system though, this is something that you might want to look at. If you're like me and have a few old unused AM3 chips about, something like the GD43 would be great for one use or another if you have the other parts laying around. The 970/950SB turns a CPU I'd never use again into a modern platform that's updated with USB 3.0 and six SATA III ports -- which I have a perfect use for.
I was actually really surprised at just how effective this setup I used with this board was. I gave up using all of my AMD stuff years ago. I only brought them out for the purpose of flashing firmware on some LSI stuff (It gets problematic on some/many/most Intel boards). Using the MSI with an Athlon II, some DDR3, and a GTX 460 made me remember that this stuff was actually pretty good over all. It's even better with something like the 970 and 990 chipsets. MSI's GD43 might be barebones, but I'm happy enough with it. It's not stellar, but it is solid. You could do a lot worse, too.