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Pros: + Great build quality
+ Comfortable to type on
+ USB Pass-through
+ Multiple built-in lighting profiles for immediate use out of the box
+ Can download additional profiles or make your own using Corsair Utility Engine (CUE).
Cons: - Message says new firmware is available, but software fails to update it (see other thoughts)
- Setup is quick, but I could not find any thorough documentation on CUE usage
- Symbols and number keys are inverted (symbol you get without holding shift is on top not bottom of key)
Other Thoughts: First, I am generally pleased about this keyboard. The build quality is great, the lights look great, and the software mostly works. I have two main issues with the board (one major and one minor).
First the major issue – updating the firmware. After downloading and installing the latest official release of CUE (version 1.16.42 as of this review), I was prompted to update the firmware on the board from version 1.04 to 2.04. Clicking the button to update resulted in a failure message before it got beyond 0%, and that message also instructed me to try again, but this time select the force update from server option. Doing that resulted in the same failure message. The FAQs on the site also have instructions to update the firmware by using a link found in the application, but the application version I have does not match what is shown on the FAQs (there is no link in my version). When it fails, the device goes offline and is no longer recognized by CUE. Logging off and back on resolves that, as does sliding the poll rate switch to BIOS mode and back. So as of now I cannot update the firmware beyond what shipped with the keyboard (v. 1.04). Also, whenever I reboot now, I get the message to update my firmware even though it keeps failing. It’s very annoying. However, the board does work, so I’ll have to put up with that annoying message until I can figure out how to suppress it or successfully update the firmware.
The minor issue was already pointed out by another reviewer – keys with symbols are inverted. For example, on a standard keyboard, the number 4 would be on the bottom of the key and the dollar sign on top. On this board it is the opposite. The 4 is on top and the dollar sign is on the bottom. Once you are aware of this you adjust, and if you type fast without looking it isn’t really much of an issue, but some might find it confusing. On the positive side, I noticed that it looks like the primary character of the key (the one you get if you hit it without shift) is brighter. It would be even better if the lights adjusted based on whether you had shift depressed or not (e.g. when you hold shift the 4 dims and the dollar sign lights up). This also doesn’t help if you use a lighting profile that doesn’t light these keys up by default.
Speaking of profiles, I won’t go into too much depth on CUE itself since that is subject to change, but the version I have allows for easy profile switching, macros, etc. My favorite profile so far came preinstalled in the software (Visor profile). There are six preinstalled lighting modes in total. You can also download additional profiles from the Internet or make your own using the software. If I have to add one other gripe, finding good instructions for creating profiles and using CUE in general seemed hard to find, but I think I am able to muddle through using the software on my own using trial and error.
So in summary – nice keyboard hardware, software – particularly firmware management and ease of finding documentation – can use a little work. Overall 4 out of 5 eggs.
Pros: + Minimal glaring front lights
+ Intuitive web interface
+ Remote administration via app (Android, iOS)
+ Nice selection of modes (DHCP, Bridge, Repeater)
Cons: - Wireless connections did not work at all on either radio (2.4 or 5GHz)
- Could not switch to wireless bridge mode (could not connect to upstream router)
- Puzzling method of assigning parental controls
- No open source firmware support
Other Thoughts: I was excited to try the Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO router. I have an older unit from another brand that was struggling to reach a particular area in my house, and I wanted to see if this one would remedy the problem. Despite my experience doing dozens of router swaps in the past, I had continuous problems with the wireless connectivity and this router.
First, the good. Setup was easy. I was able to configure the router within a few minutes to match my old router’s SSID and PW. The GUI was easy to understand, and I especially liked the built-in speed test and network map. All of the usual basic router settings are in there. I was also able to perform a firmware upgrade from within the GUI without a hitch. My wired connections (server and desktop PC) connected and had internet connectivity. I set up some reserved IP addresses for specific MAC addresses without a problem. I set up port forwarding and prioritized my VoIP device. These tasks were easy using the web interface, and all of my wired devices were working great.
I am also a person who uses parental controls on routers, so I was anxious to see how this router stacked up in that department. My existing router is on DD-WRT, which allows very granular control of access based on several options including MAC address, IP, and IP range – allowing or denying access on a schedule you can set to the minute. On this router, you can control the schedule, but the schedule isn’t as granular (you can choose by hour, so 9PM-9AM for example, but not 9:15). It also has a funky way of specifying which devices you want to control; you have to select them from a list of devices it has detected. As far as I can tell, you cannot just enter the MAC or IP manually. So although there are parental controls, I was a little disappointed that the router was a step backwards. Nonetheless, parental controls are there and I could set them up in the end. So far so good.
Now, onto the bad. Unfortunately, I could not test the parental controls because I could not get any wireless clients connected. On other router swaps I have done, using the same SSID and PW would usually be enough for the wireless clients in my house to reconnect automatically to the new router. With this router, however, clients would connect but would not have internet connectivity at all. Suspecting a DNS issue, I tried and tried to no avail to get it to work using Google, OpenDNS, and my ISP’s (xFinity) DNS servers. I also tried leaving them blank. Nothing worked. This occurred on both the 2.4 and 5GHz radios and multiple client OSes (Windows, iOS, and Android). I also tried rolling back the firmware to the one that shipped with the router. The flash to older firmware succeeded, but the issue remained.
After several hours and many factory resets and reboots, I gave up, and decided to try to use it as a bridge instead. I was able to log into it from a hard-wired laptop and switch it to wireless bridge mode in the GUI. It asks for the main router’s SSID, pw, and security method. But when I provided what I know to be the correct info and the router tried to reboot into bridge mode, I got an error that it could not connect to the upstream router. I tried on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios. With nothing else to try, I disconnected the router and put back my old one. Everything was back up and running within a few minutes.
Given my positive experience setting up routers in the past, plus the fact that the wired connections work just fine, I have to include that I got a bad one. I will reach out to NewEgg to see what can be done. It’s a shame because it looks to be a good router at a good price point. Other folks are clearly having positive experiences. However, until I see one that works, I am hesitant to recommend it. For now I give it two eggs for its physical design, intuitive GUI, and mobile app. If I get a good one that works, I will revise my review.
Pros: + Amazing construction quality
+ LEDs look great with whatever hardware you have
+ Stable and fast
+ Up to 40 Lanes PCI-E
+ Easy to overclock in BIOS
+ Good onboard sound
+ Q Flash Plus lets you flash BIOS without a CPU
+ Lots of fan and other headers
+ M.2, U.2, and USB 3.1 connections
+ Built-in wifi (2.4 and 5GHz) and Bluetooth
Cons: - If you want all 40 PCI-E lanes, get ready to drop some serious $$ on a nice CPU (not the board’s fault)
Other Thoughts: I didn’t think my i7 4820K needed an upgrade, but when I was given the chance to test this board I couldn’t resist. I paired this up with an i7 6800K and 32GB (4 x 8GB) RAM, and the system just flies. I still need to upgrade the video card (running a GTX 770), but even without a newer card the system boots and runs noticeably faster.
I really like the future-proofing this board offers. It has multiple USB 3.1 slots, M.2, and U.2. SSD support. There are also an abundance of USB 3.0 slots. It also sports very nice onboard audio, dual NICs, and built-in wifi and Bluetooth. I was able to test every single connection and they all worked flawlessly. The wireless connected to both 2.4 and 5GHz SSIDs in my house, the Bluetooth paired right up with my Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Bluetooth mouse, and the onboard audio thumped my Logitech 5500s without any noticeable negative effects or noise (disclaimer: I am no audiophile). This board also has a TON of SATA 6Gb connections. If you are someone who likes to run a lot of drives, this board will make you happy.
As others have mentioned, to get full use of the 40 PCI-E lanes, you will need a CPU that supports it. As of right now the cheapest CPU option that supports 40 lanes costs nearly $600. I only plan on running one video card so I opted for the cheaper-but-excellent 6800K (up to 28 lanes). I figure that will give me some extra $$ for a better video card. It also leaves me with plenty of headroom for upgrades to this system down the road.
I am very impressed with the quality of this board. This is my first Gigabyte product, and I would not hesitate to purchase a board from them in the future. Nicely done!