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ASUS Z170-PRO LGA 1151 Intel Z170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs A SOLID entry level high performance board 11/22/2015

This review is from: ASUS Z170-PRO LGA 1151 Intel Z170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: I’ve always been fond of ASUS boards, in the consumer class they are among the best IMO – this board has reinforce this belief.

I built up a pretty standard configuration to use in my bedroom with a 55” HDTV and a Bose sound system. I always thought it could be fun to have a small but high performance PC there to run with some games and just to be able to do some web browsing while sitting in bed. This was the perfect board for it which I stuffed into an older Lian Lee case with supply. I had a very basic configuration of single HDMI output to the TV (TV has ARC which feeds the sound system), wireless KB & Mouse, 8 GB, Samsung 500 SSD, and an i5-6600k.

I like the BIOS setup, it's intuitive and doesn't leave you guessing.

What I didn’t do was RAID SSDs as IMO thought it will increase your performance, you can experience amazing performance for a reasonable amount of money, or then a slight bump for a multiple cost more than that. If you have money to burn great.. But amazing performance is good enough for me.

Another reviewer commented wisely.. *always* check out the MB.. smart idea. No problems with mine but I would also add double check all your wiring before powering it up. Mine came up beautifully on the first try.. put up Win7 as I’m not fond of 10.

It ran solidly and I have had no issues with it so far except to say the performance has been great. Just about everything you really need is on it, and what’s not it has the expansion capacity to add.

Cons: This should be list under the both “pro” and “con” category. There are FOUR video outputs, this is great if you have odd monitors you want to connect, but if you wanted to add a couple of (for example) 4K monitors you have to use an assortment of Display port and HDMI. It would have been nice to have a pair of either.

Other Thoughts: My rating is based on what this board is, an *ENTRY LEVEL* fast gamer’s board – otherwise I would be basing the rating primarily on features which cost money. So I’m not going to pan it because it doesn’t have all the features of a high end board but judge based on price/features/performance.

I’ve been building my own P.C.s since the 1980s (yep.. that long ago) so I’m not going to be griping about things that anyone building without experience might not know. I don’t push my components much past spec as I personally don’t find a marginal gain in performance to be worth the risk if instability and damage over numbers that you don’t really change the human experience. I always find it humorous when people way overclock their PC and then complain about stability as if they do not understand the concept of why there were specs to begin with.

Based on this review of how easily it came up and solidly performed, and based on what could reasonably be expected in this price performance range this board was solid and I would give it a 4.5 out of 5, but because of the video port thing I’m downing it ½ star – as this was a design tradeoff, I’ll round up in the boards favor…. So 5 eggs!

SteelSeries 69041 Sentry Gaming Eye Tracker
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs Huge potential - but maybe not there yet 10/17/2015

This review is from: SteelSeries 69041 Sentry Gaming Eye Tracker

Pros: This was really an interesting device and I personally haven’t seen anything like it in the PC world before so Kudos for creating a whole new and potentially useful product. It reminds me very much of a setup I had used when I was evaluated in a sped reddin (speed reading) class a while ago so it appears that they found a whole new market for this technology. That device was used to trace where your eyes went on the page so they could tell if you were reading every word or jumping mid-sentence and taking it all in more efficiently.

I used this on Call of Duty and Dazzle and have to say it was a lot of fun.. I think this technology could be of a great help *if* there was someone to provide me with a better strategy on how and where to try to concentrate my eyes – but it reveals where they are just great.

I realize I spend way too much time reading menus and stats and when I should be fully focused on the game.. But my question is in the game should I be scanning continuously or is my peripheral vision good enough that I could generally fix my eyes on one or two spots and generally pick up on most everything that is there..

As far as the setup and use I didn’t have too much trouble but you’ll have to go here to get the software

Cons: ***I wish they would run this with a bunch of the best gamers and see what and how they are scanning and that would enable me to figure out what I’m doing.. or better and add on program to that would provide some critique and stats on what I’m doing verses some of the best players.***

There is no real explanation on how to use the results to improve your gaming - but you can see where your eyes move and guess yourself on how to use that information.

Other Thoughts: I think this thing could provide you with either a lot of help or almost nothing, and that mostly depends on you. It’s a tool and will only be useful if you know how to use it – the problem is with that is how exactly you do use it? I think I figured out a few things for myself but I think it’s up to the manufacture to take it to the next level and let me see what I am doing different than the best games.

If they opened the APIs to it and could get a game manufacturer to do the same – they might find some gamer/hackers that’d spend the time to make this a really remarkable tool. Open source software usually finds tremendous talents that work for free to develop stuff that the maker had never thought of.. and what should they care so long as they are selling their product? It’s all part of open innovation and many manufactures have done really well with it.

From a purely esthetic point of view it’s a neat device and I think it holds a lot of promise but so far it’s not been done – it could be you if you have the time and the skill.

HyperX Savage 2.5
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs Solid Drive Missing Some Features 09/08/2015

This review is from: HyperX Savage 2.5" 240GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SHSS37A/240G

Pros: I’ve worked in the storage industry for about 10 years and worked for a manufacturer of SAS and SATA SSDs for about 3 years as a software engineer a few years back.. Most of that work was writing code for drivers, testing, and manufacturing purposes on both Windows and Linux machines primarily for enterprise customers (large computer and storage customers – not consumers). I have some knowledge about SSDs and how they work and the important stuff vs market fluff.

The drive I received was bare bones – no mounting kits and no software – just the drive in a box. It was pretty.

In the SATA SSD manufacturing world, most use only a couple of different controller manufacturers and there really isn’t that much difference between them in performance. There are about 12 controller manufactures, but Sandforce and Phison are the most common, Kinston uses both – other notable controller manufacturers are Samsung and Intel. The Kingston Hyperx Savage SSD uses the Phison S10 controller. As the controllers are mind numbingly complex things containing many processors whose parameters are programmable by the manufacturer, they can gain some performance improvements by changing values in these registers via another manufacturer using the same controller. But it’s important to remember that these adjustments often “Rob Paul to pay Peter”.. in other words an performance gain in one metric may cause a performance loss in another. This is the main reason I didn’t bother to do any benchmarking – suffice to say it’s really fast and leave it at that – and even between different controllers there isn’t a huge difference though the marketing info will tell you differently.

One important thing to look at on a drive is the warranty – and on the Kingston it is 3 year which is about the norm. This number tells you a great deal about the drive as the manufacturer calculates mathematically how much it will cost them to replace the defective drives and still turn a profit. You can be sure that they will not be replacing many of these drives in a 3 year period as it eats into profits and SSDs have such small margins as a commodity product that to get this wrong can really hurt the profits of a manufacturer.

So my test comprised of setting up a fresh install of Windows 7 then installed a lot of my tools (VMs, compilers, tools etc) and used it for a few weeks to check for hiccups and impressions. I had zero issues with any of this – the drive was rock solid.

Cons: I read somewhere that there is a different version of this drive that comes with backup software – normally this would be very important to me as I rarely do clean installs. I was also disappointed that there is no additional software to ever allow for FW updates, or more importantly changing parameters on the drive such as overprovisioning.

Overprovisioning very important, it is something rarely discussed by many SSD manufacturer even though the value has a significant impact on the life of the drive. Overprovisioning is the amount of “extra” memory above and beyond what is stated in the drive specifications; typically it’s 7% on a consumer SSD and about 28% on an enterprise SSD. That would mean a 100GB consumer drive would typically actually be 107GB and an enterprise drive 128GB even though only 100GB is reported back to the OS, its NAND held in reserve.

Overprovisioning is one of the main reasons an enterprise customer pays a significant amount more for and enterprise drive, because the drive will have a much longer lifespan (baring other failures). I couldn’t find this specification anywhere in Kingston’s specifications – but what I could find was “Total Bytes Written (TBW)” which would be a function of overprovisioning. It is about double for the enterprise drives vs the consumer drives. There are a number of other technologies shared with almost all SSD manufacturers which helps extend the lifespan such as wear leveling, but even after all of that it is the amount of overprovisioning which will extend the life. If you continuously erase and fill your drive it will dramatically reduce the life is it is through use more than through time that the drive is worn out.

A segment of NAND flash has a lifespan of erases and writes, and as it’s used it will eventually go bad. As all the flash segments are virtual on the drive, they can be swapped out with a segment of good flash as they go bad, that is until the “extra” (overprovisioned) memory is used up, at which point your drive shrinks if there is free memory or you start losing files. So when I buy an SSD, overprovisioning would be one of the main items I would be using to compare to other drives as it really does determine in a real way the lifespan of your drive. Unfortunately I see nothing at all to reflect these numbers except the TBW figures.

Other Thoughts: Given the warranty and the TBW being half that of the enterprise drive, I have to believe that overprovisioning is reasonable though it would be great to see some real numbers and maybe even have it configurable like other drives I have seen. The lack of any downloadable utilities for checking some basic information like SMART attributes (to make sure my drive wasn’t a return) or other utilities such as migration software is a minus in my book – but the performance was good and it’s rock solid. So though there is room for improvement I would give it a 3.5 – 4 egg rating..


Brian F.'s Profile

Display Name: Brian F.

Date Joined: 10/14/04

  • Reviews: 48
  • Helpfulness: 29
  • First Review: 08/17/05
  • Last Review: 11/22/15
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