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Pros: Huge capacity
Cons: Missing two mounting holes
Other Thoughts: This behemoth hard drive from Seagate specifically targets the video surveillance user. Seagate’s new “Guardian Series” drives feature high MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure), RVS (Rotational Vibration Sensors), huge amounts of cache, 7200 rpm spindle speed, and high workload ratings. The SkyHawk in particular also boasts enhanced ImagePerfect™ firmware. The series overall seems aimed at home or small business users who want huge, reliable storage, but aren’t necessarily setting up an enterprise level server.
Pulling this bare drive out of its protective hot dog package, you realize it is something special. It’s got a heavy bulk to it that’s just different from other drives. It’s got your standard SATA and power connectors, along with the 4-pin jumper set that goes unused. Installing the drive was mostly uneventful, save for missing two of the middle-side mount holes usually found on a 3.5” form factor drive. C’mon Seagate, really? You’d think at this level one wouldn’t need to one-screw-wonder the thing.
Seagate makes the claim that the drive is optimized for recording up to 90% of the time and supporting up to 64 HD cameras. With a Workload Rating of 180TB per year, and MTBF of 1,000,000 hours, the SkyHawk should certainly have no problem handling that. Though it’s clear that the drive is marketed at the home or small business user who will likely not even approach those numbers. If you’re a user big enough to have 64 cameras, you’d likely spend the extra 20% it takes to snag Seagate’s Enterprise level drive dubbed “Helium”. The ImagePerfect firmware is a caching mechanism allowing for quick spin up of the drive when it’s needed (e.g. when a camera detects motion and needs to instantly start recording). The RVS helps with interference if you have lots of spinning drives in the system.
This SkyHawk ST10000VX0004 was immediately slapped into an aging but capable i7 920 system with 8GB of RAM which serves DVR/NVR duty. Recording over-the-air TV and several 3MP IP cameras, this drive didn’t miss a beat and obviously provided a massive increase in storage potential (Thanks, DVR, for letting me know a year’s worth of HD video recording is now available). With a 64K allocation size, NTFS formatted, GPT partition, the drive shows 9.09TB available in Windows 7 (that’s 9,957,049,892,864 bytes for you nerds that understand). Multiple real world file copy tests showed this drive averaging around 120 MBps. Pretty reasonable for a spinning drive with 10TB of space.
The SkyHawk’s closest direct competitor would be the Western Digital Purple series, which, while comparatively priced, has half the cache and spins at 5400 rpm.
Overall this new drive from Seagate fills a great need for many home users who are constantly needing more and more fast, localized storage. The only ding is the missing mounting holes and that wasn't worth losing an entire egg over.
This review is from: TP-LINK RE355 AC1200 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Range Extender
Pros: Excellent range
Several management methods
Other Thoughts: Full disclosure: This is the sixth WiFi extender I have tested from Newegg, with brands including Linksys, D-Link, Belkin, TP-LINK, and others. This TP-LINK RE355 is hands down the best one I’ve tested yet.
This dual band wifi range extender from TP-LINK really shows how the company has matured their products. In the box is the extender, a short Ethernet cable, a quick start guide, legal stuff regarding GNU software usage, and a card pointing the user to an instructional youtube video. This video was very good in describing the setup of the device. The physical device is a tad larger than other extenders but has a very slick, appealing look. Being white, it blends into most people’s decor nicely. At first it seemed like it was going to block the power plug under it, but it just barely allows a normal sized plug under it. Good thinking, TP-LINK.
The setup was dead simple, and I chose the route of using the Android app. This is a great feature, as often times it seems like a pain to go unplug your computer or haul out a laptop if you don’t typically use one. The app is very nicely done and lets you manage every aspect of the extender. Some feature, such as the ability to set a “night mode” which turns the LEDs off, is huge for me, as I hate random blinky lights all over my house (at least not where I don’t want them). They even made sure the Ethernet port’s LEDs also shut off in that mode.
The TP-LINK RE355 has great features and also shines in wifi performance. When plugged in roughly 50 feet from my main wifi router I was able to achieve 555 Mbps and 302 Mbps on a single large file and large folder of files respectively. This device would be perfect to plug in behind an entertainment center with a switch to give a high speed Ethernet connection to all your TVs, streaming boxes, bluray players, and gaming systems. The RE355 also shined in range. I was able to get my full internet connection bandwidth with the device plugged in over 60 feet from my wifi router and then over 75 feet and through multiple walls from the extender! Very very nice range. The external signal indicator makes it a snap to find just the right spot to plug it in as well.
Overall this is definitely the best extender I’ve seen yet, and at $60 is a pretty great deal considering the range and performance. A solid five eggs!
This review is from: Corsair Carbide Series CC-9011083-WW White/Red SPEC-ALPHA Mid-Tower Gaming Case
Cons: Front fan placement
Other Thoughts: This Jawa Sandcrawler shaped case from Corsair is definitely a unique looking piece. The Carbide Series’ angular slightly forward leaning shape give some some credence to that favorite vehicle of our droid thieving friends from Star Wars. The white & red color combination, along with the black grill material give this case a very unique look. Corsair very thoughtfully painted both the outside and inside of the side panels, resulting in a clean look. The case also has angled feet which lift it up a little over an inch, giving ample breathing room for your power supply fan.
Speaking of fans, this offering from Corsair sports six different locations for 120mm fans, two front, two top, one bottom, and one rear. Three of these locations are pre-populated (with Corsair fans of course). The fan placement could use a little improvement as the two front fans sit up high on the case and the bottom fan is close enough to the power supply that any largish one would block it. This fan placement also means the entire hard drive cage has virtually no intake fan blowing on it at all. Keep this in mind if you plan on having high intensity spinning hard drives. One last note on the fans is that there’s essentially two layers of fan mesh on the top of the case (one from the frame and one from the cover. Picky people might say this hampers the airflow, and still others might see this as a potential cleaning nightmare (meaning you’d have to remove the top panel to dust out the space between the meshes.
The hard drive cage in this Corsair case allows for two 2.5” and three 3.5” drives. The motherboard-side side panel also accommodates an additional two 2.5” drives (though it’s a bit odd that they are mounted on the outside of the frame). The tool-less design is nice and should make swapping drives out a snap. Note that the 3.5” bays face the window-side panel which may mean needing longer cables. Also note that the drive cage could potentially impinge upon the second video card slot. There’s roughly 10” of space between the back wall of PCI slot covers and the drive cage, so if you run dual video cards, check your card length before buying this case.
The front panel of the SPEC-ALPHA has a clean line of buttons and ports, with a 3-way toggle switch fan speed controller included. A nice touch for those who want to keep their fan solution simple. Other than the fan switch, the standard fare of power switch, reset button, and various I/Os are there.
In the box isn’t much besides the case. A multi-lingual manual and decent assortment of screws is included, and most of the motherboard standoffs are pre installed.
Overall this case is a solid choice at a decent price for the budget minded computer builder who wants something a little different.