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Pros: Packaging was more than adequate, not only for a motherboard, but for a motherboard in this price range. It would take some serious abuse to do this board harm in transit. Everything was carefully and individually wrapped and neatly organized into the box.

One of this board’s strongest points is its aesthetics. It’s a very nice looking motherboard before you start playing with all the LEDs, after you start tweaking the LED settings, it really comes into its own. I had already planned on putting my tower on top of my desk while testing, so I could have easier access to the board, but I ended up finding I really enjoyed how my tower looked while testing this board, so much so, that as my testing winds down, I really don’t want to put my computer back on my floor!

Build quality, is in my opinion, the absolute strongest point this board has. On the surface, it looks just like a high end motherboard, but when you start the installation process, and start plugging in components, you start to see and feel subtle hints that this board is made to last. After I finished my install with the board, I actually went and read the overview tab for this board, and sure enough, all the little things I noticed weren’t just there by accident, they were engineered in. The main one I noticed in particular was just how rigid the board was. The only board I’ve ever installed that was more rigid was an ASUS Sabertooth board, but that had a backplate attached to the underside of the board. Other things I can confirm about the quality of the board include the DIMM slots, and the PCIe slots, they are truly a pleasure to work with. I know I’m not the only PC builder who cringes when he has to physically troubleshoot RAM, watching the board bend, and watching the DIMM slots flex, or who feels that you need to support your graphics card until it’s secured to the case. With this board though, I didn’t have fears about either of those. To top it all off, it’s not as if Gigabyte just toughened up the stuff people pay attention to, every header, every slot, port, call them whatever, had a fit and finish to it that makes you understand one of the reasons this board commands a premium price.

Gigabyte’s so called “G-Connector”. I’ve used similar systems before, but Gigabyte’s was the best implemented I’ve used thus far. Instead of an additional pin-out that you can plug your front panel into, the Gigabyte solution is a bracket that allows you to easily line up your front panel connectors. Not something an experienced PC builder will NEED, but it was well designed and implemented, and would certainly help somebody who is inexperienced with PC building.

Board installation went smoothly and quickly. As many other reviewers have noted, flashing the BIOS to the latest revision is simple and well documented, and something I would highly recommend as being the next thing you do after installing the board into your case.

The BIOS is kind of a microcosm of the physical motherboard; pleasing the look at and well thought out. I didn’t do much tweaking besides a mild overclock and loading an XMP profile for my RAM, but clicking through the BIOS, I didn’t find myself wanting any other settings, nor did I ever find a setting that would have been better placed elsewhere.

Cons: All the LEDs you never knew you wanted or needed on your motherboard, but they forgot to include a POST code display? Considering the price, this is a pretty silly omission; I’ve used $100 motherboards with an onboard POST code display. As far as I can tell, none of the other models in this range have this feature either? Even their flagship board? These are just too useful for troubleshooting to not include.

Nit picking? Maybe, but for being the most expensive motherboard I’ve ever used, it still has things that cheaper boards beat it out on. One of them is the rear I/O cover. Yes it’s padded and well made, but high end boards from other manufacturers will take it a step further by color coding and labeling inputs and outputs. Necessary? No, but neither are all the LEDs on the board, but they serve about as much a useful function as an extra fancy rear I/O cover. Not really a con, it just sort of surprised me.

Other Thoughts: Overall, this board at the end of the day, is simply perfectly adequate for everything I’ve thrown at it. Having said that, I have very little doubt that I could push it much harder, safely. The board has handily survived some six weeks with me and I have no bad news to report from that time. The build quality of the board truly leads me to believe I could push this board to its limits, and Moore’s law would make the board obsolete, before any (in)sane thing you could do would harm the board. If you’re in the market for an x99 motherboard, I would seriously give this board series, and in particular, this board, a very thorough consideration.

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Corsair Gaming MM200 Mouse Mat - Standard Edition
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • neweggOwned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Great mouse pad 02/25/2015

This review is from: Corsair Gaming MM200 Mouse Mat - Standard Edition

Pros: The warranty of this mouse pad is competitive. I looked around and found most gaming mouse pads have a one year warranty.

The mouse pad came rolled up in a hard cardboard tube which offers great protection from being crushed and folded over and ensures the mouse pad won’t develop any creases or folds during shipping.

Build quality of this mouse pad appears to be as good as all the other gaming mouse pads I could gather for first hand reference. Despite having to be rolled up into a tube, it emerged and flattened out no problem. I tried forcefully folding a corner of the mouse pad over to no avail, it simply sprung back to its previous state. I also tried to stretch a corner of the mouse pad out (way more than would ever happen by accident) to try and tear the rubber backing, once again to no avail. Aside from what I mentioned above, the mouse pad feels very well made overall.

In a case of “Does what it says on the box.” the rubber base anchors the mouse pad very well. I usually prefer larger mouse pads to keep them from shifting about, but this one is solid in that respect.

Mouse movement is smooth, accurate, and responsive.

Cons: All was not good on the packaging front. The tube housing the mouse pad has a very strong chemical smell. Normally this wouldn’t even fall under cons but the smell is very pervasive, and it will cling to the mouse pad for a few hours, and to the inside of the tube for days, even if you try to air it out.

I wish Corsair would publish some official care and maintenance instructions about their cloth mouse pads. Really it’s the least they could do, there’s nothing terribly fancy about a cloth surface mouse pad, but they all eventually get dirty, and it’d be nice if the people that made it told you how to maintain it.

Other Thoughts: I’d just like to state my old mouse pad is very similar to the one from Corsair that was tested, it is a cloth top, rubber base mouse pad textured for smooth gliding. It is however, quite old, and has been fairly worn down and dirtied over the years.

Trying to quantify something like this is tricky, however, the way I look at it, pretty much every item out there designed for gaming claims that it will make you a better gamer. Therefore I decided I would measure my performance by playing a game. The game I settled on was Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) for two reasons. Firstly, it’s well known and popular. Second, it has bots, which is important because they ensure a relatively consistent skill level for my opponents.

I chose the most popular CS:GO map (I know the layout of it well besides it being popular), Dust II. To eliminate further variables I elected to not do the customary half-time team swap. I played 60 rounds each against expert level bots with my old mouse pad and the Corsair mouse pad.

To try and make the data more easily digestible I also calculated my kill-death ratio (KDR).

Dust II old mouse pad 60 round totals
Kills: 95 Assists: 15 Deaths: 25 MVP: 28 Score: 272 KDR: 3.8

Dust II Corsair mouse pad 60 round totals
Kills: 122 Assists: 18 Deaths: 27 MVP: 32 Score: 329 KDR: 4.5

I have to say the results surprised me. I feel I was familiar enough with the map and played enough rounds that I reached my skill plateau early in the testing, and wasn’t simply getting better as time went on. What I see in the results is that I had nearly the same number of deaths, but significantly more kills. What this says to me is that during a firefight, the corsair mouse pad allowed me to be more accurate and come away with more kills. In short, a result in favor of making me a better gamer.

Overall, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about this mouse pad. There isn’t much to say about any mouse pad really. What I can say in conclusion is that just like every Corsair item I’ve ever owned, this mouse pad exudes quality. I’ve been using it for about two weeks now and I can say that if you’re in the market for a high quality mouse pad, I would recommend this item. Some may look at the price of this mouse pad and wonder whether it’s really worth it, and it is a subjective matter. If you’re in the market for a high quality mouse pad, I would look no further.

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Belkin WeMo F5Z0489 WiFi Enabled LED Lighting Starter Set
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • neweggOwned For: 1 week to 1 month

2 out of 5 eggs Let down by the App 01/17/2015

This review is from: Belkin WeMo F5Z0489 WiFi Enabled LED Lighting Starter Set

Pros: One of the few positives about this item is its build quality. To be honest, I expected nothing less from Belkin. They’re my main go-to company for cables, surge protectors, and some other items. The bulbs have a good weight to them, feel well made, and are devoid of any loose internal parts. I tried them in several sockets in my house and they fit snugly into every single one. The WeMo Link is also quite well made. The plastic is strong and prevents the LED from bleeding through, has a decent weight to it, and plugged securely into every outlet I tested it in.

The only thing I liked about the application was how simply (and to my surprise, smoothly) it would switch from WiFi to a mobile connection, while still maintaining a connection to the WeMo Link.

When the app works correctly, which is seldom, it is very easy to setup rules and schedules for your bulbs.

Will work as dumb bulbs.

Cons: Unfortunately, the thing which has to support this product, is the thing that ultimately dooms it: its mobile app. First, despite the app having an appealing look, this was done in the form>function manner. Every single clickable button or link lacks proper styling and feedback. This makes it impossible to tell what they are, where they are, and if you’ve managed to click them or not. The former problem is exacerbated by the app’s second major problem: poor response time. I’m not entirely sure how an app that has to do so little can perform so poorly on an HTC One M8 (friends phone, see below), but this manages to do it.

Didn’t work on my device. I’m not sure why such a simple application couldn’t have been made compatible with more devices (older version of Android), but there ya go. If you choose not to heed my warning, at least make sure your device is compatible
.
The setup was frustratingly difficult. Despite the instructions being clear and concise, they make the assumption that everything is going to work beautifully together.
Admittedly, the installation did go correctly the first time, but the first thing I was prompted to do was upgrade the firmware of the WeMo Link. The updater said to allow up to 15 minutes for the update, which I did, and then another 15, but in the end, I couldn’t connector to the WeMo link, so I had to reset it and begin the installation again. I guess the firmware update had some effect, because connecting to the WeMo link was extremely hit and miss, certainly not as simple as the first time around.

Other Thoughts: The warranty is broadly speaking, average. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the number of “smart bulbs” available on the market, but the ones I did find had warranties ranging from 1 – 2 years. Although Newegg lists this item as having a 1 year warranty, Belkin states that it in fact has a 2 year warranty.

Packaging was adequate. Belkin wasn’t adventurous in their choice of egg-carton style cardboard to cradle the bulbs and the WeMo Link, but if you go pick up a pack of standard lightbulbs, the packaging won’t wow you either.

To save you having to do some math, Belkin claims these bulbs have a 25,000hr lifetime.

Color is yellowish to mimic sunlight.

I won’t lie, I never really saw this product as being of any use to me, but being a starter kit, I figure one of its jobs was to sell me on the whole “control your home from your phone” idea. Unfortunately, the point where everything broke down was as soon as I installed the app on my (friend’s) phone. It simply doesn’t work right, and it drove me even further away from the idea. Really, when you total up the amount of hassle, time, and money this will cost you, it more than negates any possible convenience that could be provided, especially when measured against just buying a pack of CFLs and flipping a light switch. Even with the build quality being quite good, I couldn’t recommend this product to anybody, even somebody in the market for a product like this.

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Kyle K.'s Profile

Display Name: Kyle K.

Date Joined: 12/15/07

Achievements:

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  • Reviews: 103
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  • First Review: 12/22/07
  • Last Review: 08/24/16
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