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Linksys EA2750 N600 Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Wireless Router
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3 out of 5 eggs Decent router for an average Joe 04/24/2016

This review is from: Linksys EA2750 N600 Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Wireless Router

Pros: Simple, somewhat elegant design. Easily fits in anywhere you want to place it. It's small and doesn't get very hot, even when it's being stressed to the max with numerous devices connected to it.

Insanely easy to set up and configure. When you connect all the cables properly and then launch your web browser, Linksys Smart Wi-Fi runs automatically, prompting you to create an account. After creating the account, the software will guide you through setting up the router. This router has full support for WPS, so you can use the easy WPS push button set-up mode to add devices to your network after initially setting up the router. Knowledgeable end-users can skip this part and set the router up manually if they wish.

The Smart Wi-Fi software makes configuration extremely easy, even for the most novice end-users. You can easily configure your network over the internet just by logging into your Smart Wi-Fi account, either from a PC or using their smartphone app (tested the Android version myself).

Relatively good specs for a router in this price range. It's reliable and the range is respectable compared to many other routers I've tested in the same class.

Offers most of the features you'd expect from any decent wireless router. Including sharing and streaming media from an external USB drive via the 1x USB 2.0 port. This router can stream media to any device that supports DLNA or UPnP. Media streaming can be enabled\disabled easily through the Smart-Wi-Fi interface. Printer sharing is also included and just as easy to configure. There is even a tool built in to check your internet connection speed, which is handy as I typically have to use a third-party website for that. It's nice to see they included it here.

Parental controls are well implemented and extremely easy to use. You can easily restrict access to ANY device that is connected to the router, or set up a certain time frame where a particular device is allowed access. This makes it easy to ensure your kids aren't getting online during the wee hours of the night. I really like how they implemented this as it's one of the simplest UI's I've used. Almost anyone should be able to set up the parental controls to their liking.

Performance wise, the EA2750 does well on the 5Ghz band. Range is what I expected and speeds are within the real-world transfer rate speeds I would come to expect from a router of this class. The 2.4Ghz band offers better range, which is typical of any wireless router.

More advanced features, such as port forwarding and QoS are included, however Linksys admits that they expect the user to have at least some networking knowledge before changing these settings.

Cons: The performance of the 2.4Ghz band was disappointing to me. I've tested so many routers over the years and for the life of me I cannot figure out why this one is so slow on the 2.4Ghz band. I get around 10-15Mb/s lower than I do on any other router I've tested. Now the 5Ghz band performs well, but still not as good as some of the more expensive A/C models, which I expected. I think a lot of people are going to be using the 2.4Ghz band with this unit so to me, this is a big problem.

While the Linksys Smart-Wi-Fi software is very useful for easily configuring the router from ANYWHERE, the smartphone app is limited in what you can do. Most of the features are there, but power users cannot access the settings they will want. The ONLY way to access all the advanced settings is to connect to the router manually, bypassing the Smart Wi-Fi UI altogether. It would be nice to see Linksys allow power users to configure EVERY setting via the Smart Wi-Fi interface, but I suspect they are afraid of people mucking up the settings because they don't know what they're doing. To me, this is wrong because they are assuming the end-user doesn't know what they're doing, when in fact many of them do. All they need to do is place warnings in the UI when sensitive settings are accessed, instead of completely leaving them out. This is one of the biggest reasons I am not completely thrilled with this router.

Doesn't support 802.11ac. Now this is the latest Wi-Fi standard, so I think every router should support it at this point. I find it strange that this model didn't step up to 802.11ac since it replaced the EA 2700, which also doesn't support it. Just a strange move on Linksys' part, but I guess they did this to keep the cost down. While it doesn't seem to affect the 5Ghz speed all that much, it does affect it nonetheless. All the newer smartphones support the standard, so it's most definitely time that all the wireless routers do as well. Sure, 802.11n is still fast, but in real-world tests I've found 802.11ac to be much faster, especially when conditions are right.

Other Thoughts: This is a good router for anyone looking for a dual-band wireless router that's very easy to configure and "just works." In addition to dual-band support, it also offers guest network support as well, so you don't have to give your Wi-Fi password out to any guests that might be visiting. I like how Linksys made it easy for anyone to configure this router from any device you own. That said, power users really need to look elsewhere, as this router just won't satisfy them. As we speak there is no open source support (this could change though) and the specs under the hood just don't really excite me all that much anyway. On the other hand, I would indeed recommend this product to anyone that just wants a decent router with dual-band support that works with no hassles. This router is for the people that just want their wireless network to "work" and don't do much besides a bit of streaming here and there along with your typical social media use. For that purpose, it will serve you very well.

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Corsair Hydro Series H110i Extreme Performance Water / Liquid CPU Cooler Cooling. 280mm CW-9060026-WW
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4 out of 5 eggs Excellent AIO cooler for the price... 03/24/2016

This review is from: Corsair Hydro Series H110i Extreme Performance Water / Liquid CPU Cooler Cooling. 280mm CW-9060026-WW

Pros: The 280mm rad is most definitely nice, as 140mm fans are simply quieter than 120mm fans when moving the same amount of air. I'm directly comparing this product to Corsair's own H100i, which uses a 240mm rad and is much louder when those fans spin up with the CPU at full load. While the H100i performed great cooling my OC'ed i7 4790K, as I said the noise level was higher and there was also this annoying bug with the RGB LED in Corsair Link. This bug caused the LED on the Corsair logo to change colors after a cold reboot and was very upsetting to me and many others that experienced it. I was able to finally workaround this bug, but it took a lot of troubleshooting. I had no such issues with the H110i and the newest version of Corsair link, which I'm happy to report.

Compared to my H100i, I had on average a nice 5-8C drop in temperature. Sometimes even more, depending on the ambient temp. But overall, this cooler trounced the H100i, which you would expect but I honestly did not expect it to by this big of a margin. This seriously impressed me, especially considering how much quieter it is.

The overall look of the cooler is very pleasing. I like the new design, although I also loved the H100i as well. I like how they put the grey strips and logos on the 280mm rad. It makes for a really nice touch.

Installation was very strait-forward on my LGA 1150 socket. I didn't have any issues there. I also just used the supplied thermal compound instead of changing it out for something more exotic. In the past I've found that whatever thermal compound Corsair is using is of a very high quality, so in my opinion there's really no need to change it. This makes installation even easier as it's already applied perfectly and ready to install out of the box, with great performance I might add.

Previously using my H100i, setting my core voltage on my 4790K to 1.3v was not very practical as it would get a little hot for my liking. But with the H110i I can use this voltage and keep it within safe temps easily, which allowed me to get another 200Mhz easily while remaining perfectly stable. To me that was just great because I felt like I was restricted before. Now I feel as if I can really let my CPU stretch its legs without worrying. I don't like to push my hardware unless I can keep the temps under control and I'm pickier than most OC'ers in that respect.

I have to say that Corsair Link is very nice these days. In the past I've had some issues with Corsair's software. From their keyboards, mice, and Link software. But it has improved steadily and it's finally at a point where it's become free of most bugs and easy to use. I really like how the Link software shows you a picture of your case and lets you assign the fans you can control to their respective positions. Once you get it all set up, it's very easy to control everything and you'll have no problems knowing exactly which fan you're dealing with. For whatever reason I have two fans in my system it does not detect (all my fans are 3 pin so it doesn't NEED 4 pin fans), but those are two fans that I can control with my motherboard anyway. I have them set at 100% and they are staying there. All the fans that matter, I can control with Corsair Link.

The pump and block design seems of a higher quality than earlier builds. It's just heavier so I believe the backplate has a bit more meat to it, which only means it will absorb heat better. Always a plus in my book. The packaging was very neat and that's always the case with any Corsair product. No complaints there at all. You could probably drop it 20 feet onto pavement and nothing would get damaged!

All in all just a great AIO cooler with performance that's insanely impressive.

Cons: Corsair's naming conventions are EXTREMELY confusing at this time. I guess for 2016 they decided to rename all their Hydro series products but didn't change much, except for slightly tweaking the blocks to make them easier to install onto smaller microATX boards. This cooler is exactly the same as the H110i GT. I have scoured both products as far as the specs go and can't find anything to suggest they changed anything when comparing the GT version to the newer H110i, other than perhaps a slight tweak to the overall size of the block (but even that is not confirmed). I hate when companies re-badge products with new names, especially when the names are so similar. It's confusing to buyers and those of us looking for info on which cooler to buy. But rest assured, this cooler will perform the same as the H110i GT, so keep that in mind if you're reading some other reviews.

The 280mm radiator does limit which cases can support this beast of a cooler. I used to have a Corsair 800D, and while it's getting a bit long in the tooth as far as it's age, it's plenty big enough for a cooler like this. However, it DOES NOT support this cooler by default as it can only handle a 240mm rad (or 360 rad which uses 3x120mm fans) at the max. Even trying to mod the top of the 800D for this cooler would be tough due to the recess in it. It's just not even worth trying, which is why I decided to get a 750D, which supports a 280mm rad by default and has some newer features in it like front USB 3.0 ports (yeah the 800D is THAT old, although it does have a 3.0 upgrade kit if you can manage to find it). Just be sure your case can support this cooler before dropping the cash on it.

The fans that come with this cooler are loud for 140mm fans. You could reduce the noise levels further by replacing them with some good Noctua fans, or perhaps some other 140mm fans using fluid-dynamic bearings. Corsair has some great fans available that are better than what is supplied with this product. That said, it's not something you HAVE to do, just something you MAY want to do.

Other Thoughts: Other than Corsair's confusing naming convention, they have really came a long way over the years. All their current products have a level of excellence rarely seen these days when comparing them to other vendors. They could still use some more work on the software side of things, but I am seeing improvements so I have to hand it to them there. I just wish they would move faster in that area. All that said, I highly recommend this cooler. The only reason I took an egg off is because of the limited case support, as plenty of cases don't support the 280mm rad by default. Performance wise, this thing is a beast and the price is extremely reasonable. Another great product for Corsair!

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OCZ Vector 180 2.5
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4 out of 5 eggs Excellent performance for the money! 01/29/2016

This review is from: OCZ Vector 180 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) VTR180-25SAT3-120G

Pros: These newer drives from OCZ have transitioned to Toshiba's latest advanced 19nm NAND (or A19 NAND for short), which brings them up to the same level as most of their competitors.

Performance wise, I'm simply blown away by what I'm achieving with the Vector 180. I get the advertised speeds when benching the drive with all the most trusted benchmarks. But what really got me stoked is the performance I'm getting with two of these drives in a RAID 0 config. I'm using a Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H motherboard and I configured two Vector 180's in RAID 0 using the built in RAID controller. I didn't expect to double my performance, considering the overhead involved coupled with the fact that I'm utilizing an integrated RAID controller. However, I was blown away when I benched the RAID array and achieved almost exactly double the performance compared to a single drive! The RAID 0 array achieved a sequential read speed of 1110 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 882 MB/s! Even the random read and random write speeds nearly doubled as well, which was shocking to me. The only anomaly was my 4K random read speed, which didn't improve at all. My guess is that this has to do with the stripe size I chose when building the array (I chose 64K). Perhaps tweaking this value could help to increase the 4K random read performance. Strangely, 4K random write performance was much better, which leads me to think that perhaps the bad 4K random read performance I saw was a fluke with the benchmarking software I was using.

I installed Windows 10 fresh onto the 240GB RAID array and the real-world performance is incredible. Mind you, I was moving from a 2TB WD Black mechanical drive, so the difference is night and day. 120GB is a little light for a system drive IMO, which is why I'm using two of these in RAID 0 for my OS. Two of these drives format to 223GB and it's quite easy to make this work for your OS. I even have room to install one or two of the current games I'm playing on it. I did tweak the size of the page file and also reduced the amount of storage used for system restore, but those are the ONLY tweaks I made and there is more than enough capacity. I have a few 2TB mechanical drives for backups, media, and other games. Steam allows you to install to different drives by default now, so it's easy to backup a game and re-install it onto the main SSD if you want the faster load times. All in all, it works great with Windows 10.

The drive itself is sturdy due to the metal chassis. Build quality is very good. Inside, OCZ uses it's own Barefoot M00 controller featuring an ARM Cortex core with the Aragon co-processor. Their lower tier drives use the slower M10 version of this controller, so it's nice to see OCZ didn't skimp with the Vector 180 series.

OCZ's new feature called PFM+ is definitely noteworthy. It provides a basic level of power loss protection via FW logic and caps on the PCB. It won't protect active data, but is designed to safeguard any data at rest to ensure the drive will not brick during power loss. This is obviously a very useful feature and I'm really glad to see it being utilized here.

I did test OCZ's SSD Guru software (downloaded from their website) and I have to say that it's a nice piece of software. It offers everything from manual Trim functions to overall system info. You can use it to monitor SMART status or leave it running in the background to detect any issues that may occur. Keep in mind Trim should work automatically, but it's nice to have the option to perform it manually in a nice GUI. The tuning and maintenance features are nice to have and this utility will check online for the latest FW updates, so you don't have to bother with searching yourself.

OCZ offers a 5-year warranty for this model, which covers 50GB per day of writes. That's a pretty darn solid rating according to my current research. Seems OCZ is confident with their new design, both in terms of hardware and Firmware.

Cons: In some respects, the Barefoot 3 does lag behind the competition. There is no low power state support and no encryption beyond the standard AES-256, which is less secure than the TGC Opal standards most other drives have moved to. This is important for modern laptops where data security and protection is an absolute priority. Something to take note of for sure.

Obviously 120GB is just not enough space... You can use this as an OS drive but you have to make some serious tweaks to keep the capacity out of the red. In my honest opinion, 120GB just isn't enough for a 64-bit OS installation (hence my using two in RAID 0), however with some tweaking you COULD make it work. But with newer games like GTA V taking up a whopping 65 GB on their own, getting by with only 120GB on your system drive becomes fairly impractical. Assuming you're a gamer of course.

OCZ's SSD Guru software will not work with these drives when they are in a RAID 0 config. I was let down when I found this out. The software simply does not detect the drives at all. Now, OCZ's drives have their own form of garbage collection so any performance degradation over times shouldn't be noticeable. Worse case scenario, you could just image the RAID array over to another drive, delete it, then wipe each drive to restore factory level performance. Then it's just a matter of rebuilding the array and copying your image back over. It's unclear whether TRIM is working automatically in the RAID 0 config. All I know is that SSD Guru cannot manually perform it in this case, but technically it should be working automatically. That said, OCZ's built in garbage collection is always working and as I said above, you can restore performance manually if you ever need to.

Other Thoughts: So to summarize, this is a great drive overall and the Vector series is very impressive with all the offerings OCZ is providing. Speed is excellent as is the reliability. The build quality is also exceptional and so is the warranty. OCZ does include a key for a version of Acronis to clone your old hard drive over to the new drive. OCZ values this Acronis software at $50, but I can't comment on it as I already have Acronis True Image 2015 installed. Either way this drive is a win. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 egg rating is for the lack of newer encryption support and the ultra-low capacity. It's also a bit pricey considering it's size. But I still recommend any of the models as they are a great buy. The 960GB model looks to be amazing and I would love to test it out as well. But after using two of these in RAID 0, I really would recommend that route as you're going to get phenomenal performance at a rock bottom price. It's a really good bang for your buck!!

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Matthew M.'s Profile

Display Name: Matthew M.

Date Joined: 06/08/06

  • Reviews: 45
  • Helpfulness: 35
  • First Review: 09/19/06
  • Last Review: 04/24/16
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