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Netgear XAVB5421-100PAS AV500 1-Port Essentials Edition Powerline Kit with Pass-Thru Outlet,up to 500Mbps
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

3 out of 5 eggs Decent solution if you can’t run network cable 12/18/2015

This review is from: Netgear XAVB5421-100PAS AV500 1-Port Essentials Edition Powerline Kit with Pass-Thru Outlet,up to 500Mbps

Pros: Dead simple setup
Easy to extend Ethernet access
Good enough throughput for most people
Secure mode

Cons: Actual throughput nowhere near manufacturer claims
Appliances on same circuit can slow throughput
Device blocks the other outlet on a standard wall plate

Other Thoughts: This powerline network extender from Netgear is an interesting device. It comes with two identical devices and the idea is that you plug one into your router and the other anywhere else in your house to provide a direct Ethernet connection back to the router. In the box are two of the devices, two Ethernet cables, and an instruction manual (which strangely pictured the European version, though the operation is identical).

The setup was dead simple. Plug one of them into power near your router and plug the Ethernet cable into it and an available Ethernet jack on your router. Then plug the other device in wherever you want to extend to. A simple button press will set up “secure mode” which supposedly is there to prevent someone from plugging one of these into another outlet and sniffing your network. Not likely in a single family home but perhaps useful in apartments or dorms where one might share power circuits. Of note is that there’s no indication you’re in secure mode except when you initially set it up.

The manufacturer claims of up to 500 Mbps were way off for my testing. See the full results below, but when plugged in directly to an outlet (as the manual suggests) and into an outlet on a different circuit, the best speeds I could achieve on a large file transfer over the network was about 52 Mbps. To make a worst case scenario, I ran a microwave (not the same outlet, but the same circuit) and saw a slight drop, to about 44 Mbps. To make a best case scenario I plugged the devices literally into each other and got a best speed of about 90 Mbps. While these speeds are far below the manufacturer claims, they’re still good enough for the average user who just wants to stream netflix or play games.

Another thing that majorly misses the mark here is the pass-through outlet. While that was a great idea, the device blocks the ground hole of the outlet above it on a standard wall plate. So even with the pass through you still lose an outlet. Very poor design choice Netgear. Also, the recommendation not to plug this into a power strip is based in fact. When I ran the same tests with one device plugged into a power strip, the speeds dropped from 52 Mbps to 30 Mbps, and the microwave running dropped that further to about 16 Mbps. So while it does work, the throughput starts to drop significantly. I'm curious why this is and if surge protection is the culprit. If so, you may want to reconsider this device if your home has whole home surge protection (mine does not).

Overall this is a decent solution if you need to extend your network and absolutely cannot run actual network cable to the location. I’ve tested lots of wireless extenders and this is a much better option which should be more consistent. I don’t like that throughput is so much off of the manufacturer claims. Netgear would have gotten an extra egg from me for honesty.

Test details:
1.15 GB file, gigabit LAN connection between two PCs running Windows 8.1.
Control transfer (with LAN directly plugged into router): 12 seconds (766 Mbps)
Powerline next to each other: 103 seconds (90 Mbps)
Powerline on different circuit: 176 seconds (52 Mbps)
Powerline on power strip: 314 seconds (30 Mbps)

GIGABYTE G1 Gaming GA-Z170X-Gaming 5 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel Z170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • neweggOwned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: Tons of features
Easy overclocking
USB 3.1
Two M.2 connectors
Displayport and HDMI

Cons: Poorly mounted heatsinks
“Heroes of the Storm” branding gains you nothing

Other Thoughts: This sixth gen Intel board from Gigabyte is smack dab middle of the road in the repertoire of motherboards they offer. All of the “Gaming X” numbered 3, 5, 7 and G1. Each one has largely the same basic features, with you paying a little more for a little more. This particular board, the 5, gets you one more PCI-e x1 slot than it’s little brother the 3. It also adds another network port (a Killer gaming version), a displayport output, and an extra USB 3.0 port.

In the box is the motherboard, four SATA cables, SLI cable, I/O shield, driver CD, manual, “G connector”, case badge, and Heroes of the Storm door knob hanger. The Heroes of the Storm branding on the box doesn’t get you much. A junior highish “do not disturb” door hanger and a chance to win a raffle. I remember when they used to give you free copies of games with hardware like this. Oh well.

When pulling a board out of the anti-static bag I tend to hold on to the thickest part where the mosfet heatsinks are. To my surprise, the heatsinks on this board gave way and rocked badly when I did this. I thought perhaps I had a defective unit but upon removing and reinstalling the heat sinks I realized it’s simply the way the part is designed. So just a note, if you put any force on these heat sinks, they will rock back and forth, with only a couple of flimsy springs holding them in place. The thermal compound material also seemed rather strange to me. If you’re into fancy decorations on your motherboard, it’s also worth noting that the heat sinks all basically have a thick foil sticker on them which seems rather cheesy in my opinion.

Feature wise this board does not disappoint. It’s got plenty of PCI-e slots, M.2 connectors (sharing lanes with the PCI-e x4 slot), USB 3.1 (with type C connector), displayport, plenty of USB 3.0 ports, dual NICs, just about everything but the kitchen sink. Some non-standard features include a fancy USB port with “clean” power if you like using USB DACs, a couple of buttons to automatically engage an eco mode or overclock mode, and a “G connector” which the jumbled mess of front panel connectors. There’s also a couple of audio extras. You can change the gain on the line out jack via a dip switch (which will be blocked by large video cards). There’s also the now typical Gigabyte option to change out your OP amp. This OP amp stuff is gimmicky and Gigabyte will gladly sell you a kit with $30 worth of ICs for $80. One thing I really liked was the placement of the fan headers. They will help those who enjoy a very neatly wired case.

The BIOS, as is usual from Gigabyte, is a wealth of options (yes it has XMP options) and is easy to navigate.

Overall this is a great middle of the road gaming motherboard, for not too bad of a price. What’s great is that there’s so many choices in this line from Gigabyte. You can spend a little less if you don’t need all the features and get a Gaming 3, or spend any increment more to get more feat

G.SKILL RIPJAWS KM780 MX Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Cherry MX Brown Switches
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • neweggOwned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Solid construction
Cherry MX keys
Software works pretty well

Cons: Bad LED coverage
Strange raised feel to keys, higher than normal

Other Thoughts: This gaming keyboard from G.SKILL is a new entry for the memory manufacturer. As of this writing, it’s listed at $129.99 on G.SKILL’s website and available with either Cherry MX Brown or Red keys. For $60 more you can get the RGB backlighting over just the plain red. In the box is the keyboard, wrist rest, extra gaming keys with storage case and removal tool, and instructions.

They keys are individually lit, all red. There’s actually only one LED per key, and it’s situated at the top of the key. This results in the bottom of keys are very dimly lit compared to the top (for keys which have a bottom symbol). The gaming keys feel very gimmicky to me and make typing very awkward. The built in mouse cable holder is a good idea, but ironically is too small to wrangle the keyboard’s cord (which would be nice, since the massive cord comes out dead center on the back). Other hardware features include a volume scroll wheel along with a somewhat poorly lit volume progress bar style indicator. The feet of the keyboard are rubberized which keeps it solidly on the table unless you use the risers in the back.

The keys are raised exceedingly high above the surface of the keyboard. If you rest your fingers in the empty space above the arrow keys it will feel very awkward, like you’re burying your fingers into a hole. The macro keys (‘G’ keys) seem to be in a sensible spot, but in practice, they mess up my ability to discern the escape key. The typing is very solid and the Cherry MX Brown switches don’t disappoint. It’s comfortable to type on, minus the horribly placed divot in the center of the wrist rest, which just happens to fall right under my right wrist while typing.

The software, while seemingly unpolished (it’s version 0.59) does do the job. The various lighting effects are fun and work well. Almost everything on this keyboard (except the media keys, volume indicator, and mode keys) is individually light-able. The macro setup has a recording feature and the ability to save as files. The files, though they have an annoying .profile .macro or .text extension, are simply .xml files (which you can edit by hand if you wish). As a programmer, I just had to mess up the files and confirmed that yes, the software crashes and burns if the xml file is not perfect. Simple input sanitation guys, come on.

Three “modes” per profile can be set up, switchable via the three mode keys. A nice feature is the ability to save the entire set of profiles, modes, and macros directly to the keyboard, which means you only need the configuration utility during setup, then you can stop running it.

Overall this keyboard is nice and does its job, but the implementation could have been much better. The brushed metal top and metal rod around the edge are nice, but don’t let them fool you, it’s the only metal on this keyboard (along with the volume wheel). For the mid range mechanical gaming keyboard, there’s definitely better options.


Charles C.'s Profile

Display Name: Charles C.

Date Joined: 08/24/04

  • Reviews: 45
  • Helpfulness: 25
  • First Review: 01/08/07
  • Last Review: 12/18/15
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