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G.SKILL Trident 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2400 (PC3 19200) Desktop Memory Model F3-2400C10D-8GTD
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs One of Best Benching RAM Kits You Can Buy New 08/16/2014

This review is from: G.SKILL Trident 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2400 (PC3 19200) Desktop Memory Model F3-2400C10D-8GTD

Pros: - All 7 kits I have will run a minimum of 300Mhz(eff) faster than the advertised frequency without any more than 1.675v
- All of my kits can run fairly tight to very tight timings, primary + secondary + tertiary, relative to frequency
- VERY solidly built!
- VERY reliable!!! This is true for ALL G.Skill RAM
- Price:Performance Ratio is phenomenal

Improving this memory beyond the XMP v1.3 settings requires a fairly strong IMC, so while for example my main benching 3770K (de-lidded w PK-1/PK-3, lapped IHS up to 8000grit; dropped 38C), running at 5.3Ghz using 1.412v vCore + 1.135v VCCSA/VTT can easily push capable sticks to over DDR3-3000 (or run strong IC's @ 2800 9-12-12-32 1T), my 3930K @ 5.1Ghz using 1.385v vCore + 1.175v VCCSA/VTT1 is an extremely cool running, low-voltage requiring, high clocking chip, and it has a phenomenal IMC for SNB-E but it still hits a wall at around 2600 8-11-11.

Normally my systems run full custom water loops (CPU + MB VRM/Chipset + RAM + GPU Full Cover blocks and backplates), with ambient water cooling through an overabundance of radiators and powerful push-pull fans (120x25-38mm 2600rpm+, 140x25-38mm 2000rpm+), but... I bench with chilled water (3x Hailea HC-500A 0.5bhp chillers in series, or 2x Hailea HC-2200B 2bhp chillers in series or separate, the latter for cooling the hot-side of 8x 285W TEC's), Thermoelectric aka TEC or Peltier device cooling using it to either as a water-direct cooling hybrid or by using custom TEC's that fit between components and custom blocks.
Of course, also Dry Ice (DICE), LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen), evaporative cooling, and other means.

Running these sticks on my 3770K benching rig (GA-Z77X-UP7 w full blocks, Raystorm CPU block w Aluminum hold-down, 2x GTX780Ti Classified (binned models) with EK Full Coverage blocks + passive-cooling backplates, EVGA 1300W 80+Plat modular PSU with 100% custom self-made wires individually sleeved, Samsung 840Pro 256GB OS SSD, 840Pro 256GB Bench SSD, WD RE 3TB in USB3.0 enclosure for storing screenshots/backups; for water, MCP35X2 dual pumps, BP 500mL res, 1/2x3/4" tubing w BP custom fittings, 2x Alphacool UT60 560 rads + 2x Monsta 480 rads + 2x HWL Black Ice GTX 360 rads, all Push-Pull with 140x25 2200rpm 122cfm/4.4mmH2O or 120x38 2600rpm 130cfm/7.1mmH2O fans).

Ambient Water (H2O Temp: 18C) - DDR3-2688 9-12-9-25 1T @ 1.695v
Chilled Water (H2O Temp: -13C) - DDR3-2744 8-11-9-24 1T @ 1.705v
DICE (-58C) - DDR3-2884 8-12-8-24 1T @ 1.715v
LN2 (-156C) - DDR3-3044 10-12-10-29 1T @ 1.785v

VERY IMPRESSIVE!

Cons: - To get seriously good performance from them they need to be COLD!!!

I had no issues with the primary or tertiary timings (which are the ones that benefit performance), but getting secondaries right was much more frustrating than usual once running at ~2350 or higher (secondaries are mostly stability).
As a result, it took a while to get each OC nailed in, but once it was, they were stable as a rock.

Oh, the IC's used in mine didn't match what the Serial Number indicated; SN said they would be premium binned Samsung HYK0, but these ended up being top-shelf binned PSC. No issues, but the first time I've EVER seen a G.Skill kit's IC's not match the serial (and I've got about 90 kits from them....); their use of only the absolute best IC's, whether in cheap Ripjaws X 2x4GB fifty buck kits or similar but hand-binned IC's in premium 2133+ kits, is one (of many) reason(s) that they are so much better than C O R S A I R

Other Thoughts: If you are a RAM bencher, pick these up; for the price, they do very well!!!

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Intel Xeon X5650 Westmere 2.66GHz 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 95W Server Processor BX80614X5650
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs Still Incredible Years Later! 06/06/2014

This review is from: Intel Xeon X5650 Westmere 2.66GHz 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 95W Server Processor BX80614X5650

Pros: One of the last overclocking Xeons, in 6C/12T dress, a healthy 12MB L3 Cache, and incredibly flexible: single chip, 2P server/WS, and the legendary SR-2 if you want to have fun. Oh, and ECC/REG or standard DDR3.
Both overclock to 4.54Ghz in my SR-2 with Swiftech Apogee HD blocks and the (most incredibly well built) MIPS full coverage SR-2 motherboard block setup. That's with the full 48GB of DDR3, which is running at a very impressive DDR3-2096 6-9-7, 3x EVGA GTX780Ti Kingpins (full coverage blocks and backplates) at 1522/8200, Titanium HD, Intel 2x10Gbit hardware NIC, Areca 1882xi-16i (4GB Cache/battery+NAND backup), hardware PCIe 2.1 x4 to 4+8 External/Internal-header USB3.0, 2x DC S3700 800GB RAID0, 4x Samsung EVO 1TB RAID0, 4x 1TB VR RAID10, 6x 4TB HGST Ultrastar SAS RAID6, and to make sure that the beast can eat, a pair of EVGA 1300WG2 fully-modular PSU's with fully custom made and sleeved cables (a gauge lower/thicker, MDPC-X sleeve). It requires a 20A circuit to itself!

Now, that's a setup I threw together to do some ambient water benching (using a custom test bench instead of a case), cooled by 4x Phobya 1260 rads each with 18x 140mm 178cfm/11.9mmH2O fans push+pull and 2x MCP35X2 (four total pumps).
Normally, I use these chips in one of my servers, specifically for encoding tracks on the fly while in the middle of a recording session (audio production and mastering, I do music and also television/film). Since I record master tracks at extremely high resolution/bit-rate (48bit/384khz usually), the raw audio takes up a lot of space, and factor in the fact that there are (usually) anywhere from 4 (single vocalist) to 16 (2-4 band members, plus spatial and other mics) simultaneous streams, and the encoding can be pushing significantly more data than a "lossless" 1080p/DTS-HD Blu-Ray!

For a while, I was relying on a single machine to encode, but it is frustrating walking into the studio in the morning after a late session to record/mix for a single musician and the previous night's 16+ channel (3-4hr session) still hasn't finished... I ALWAYS work WITH the artist(s) for part of the mixing as I believe that their music should sound how they want, and I do as much as possible to do so, without decreasing the quality of the record, losing the dynamic range (I refuse to participate in the Loudness War, everything I've mastered has a dynamic range limited only by the medium, whether Redbook or DVD-A+ 24/96-192.
I had used these chips first for the workstation, and then for some competitive benching which they survived without requiring so much as a voltage bump, and now they're the hearts of the second encoding rig I built (currently have 4; a 4x12C/24T, a 2x6C/12T, and 2 4x8C/16T, and with the half-dozen minimum different medium for distro, even a single record can utilize all four simultaneously).

Cons: The 95W TDP, while understandable, limits these chips along with the multiplier, and the 5680's I have are significantly faster (5Ghz easy).
I went through a few trying to find a pair of chips that BOTH worked with all the DIMMs populated on the SuperMicro boards I use for pro work (the 48gigs of the SR-2 is comparatively easy to handle), as even 192GB can be whittled down surprisingly fast, especially when using one or more RAMdisks to cache or buffer writes to any of the HDD arrays that aren't using SSD(s) alongside the 1-4GB RAM courtesy of the Areca/etc controllers.
If you are overclocking, the better your RAM, the better the results in my experience, in particular for benching. The G.Skill Pi's I have rated DDR3-2200 7-9-7 provide a lot more flexibility and for some benches, points, than 1600 6-7-6. The catch is that the currently produced DDR3 "enthusiast" kits are not very well suited for these chips, either; IVB/SB-E/HW/IV-E all benefit from very high frequency, but the on-die IMC and insanely fast L3 cache of the newer architecture have greatly reduced the benefits of the super tight timings we see in kits from just a few years ago, when Nehalem was king and the timings greatly impacted latencies. Thus, even a top quality current kit such as Trident X 2400 9-11-11/2666 10-12-12 or Ripjaws Z 2400 9-11-9 (GSkill provides significantly better IC's in their kits than equivalent priced Corsair, and to get similar yet still usually lesser quality from the latter you will spend 150 to 300 more!), can't get the tight timings these Xeons love.
Retail is too high considering the advances made since their intro, and I got mine out of servers being sold locally (privately), which for the same amount netted me two pair of these and four X5680, 384GB ECC DDR3 total, 1/ea H700, H800, and 9286 RAID cards, two dozen 150-450GB SAS 15Krpm drives, 2 brand new X25M-E SLC 80gig, a K4000, a FirePro W9000, two 6-tuner capture cards, a box of high end Sanyo Denkei and Delta fans, a couple "playback" video cards (5770, 4670, GTS450, half a dozen HH 4xxx series low end for HDMI)...
Just be patient and attentive!

Other Thoughts: It is a testament to the performance, design, and functionality that you get from Intel when a processor released a few years back for a few-years-dead platform is outperformed only by its successor. These CPU's can be found all over, and with a bit of patience and knowledge, it's actually incredibly easy to match a pair of these 6core/12thread Xeons (or even the faster models) with a full fledged SSI CEB 2P board from SuperMicro or the like, quite likely with 24-96GB DDR3-1333/1600REG-ECC, for less than what I spent on my 3930K, and do the same with the top model of the line for less than my 3970X or 4960X.
Why "settle" for an APU or E3/i5 based home server when you can do AMD's "Moar Coarz", but do it right?
Sure, it's overkill for an HTPC or (my favorite) your favorite flavor of "Giant Box'O'RAID" storage server, but if you are shopping for a high end processor in the first place, you are probably a fellow member of the "Overkill or No-kill" club.

If you are looking for processors for running a number of VM's, or "grown up RAID" (ie not a pointless 2x128GB SSD RAID0, but hardware, onboard caching, battery and ideally NAND backed arrays), then with very few exceptions, 12 cores (24 threads) is ideal for home use, and will provide a fair amount of room to grow arrays for example (I started with 8x 15Krpm HDD + 2x SSD, and in this one machine currently have 3 separate 8x3TB RAID6E arrays (9total drives per array), 2x DC S3700 800GB SSD RAID0 as a write and current-project cache for all parity arrays, 8x 600GB 15Krpm in RAID0 for temp storage, 2x X25M-E RAID0 scratch array, 4 4x4TB WD RE SAS in RAID10, and the motherboard ports hold the 2x M4 128GB RAID0 OS array (OP'ed 40pct), and the rest are filled with misc 1-3TB HDD as single drives).
Running bi-directional 10GbEth via Intel HW NIC, even stressing every single storage device, simultaneously reading and writing at about 1.2GB/sec, I run out of bandwidth before the processors even break 20 percent in use.

Bottom line: The most economical way to get awesome trapped in a silicon wafer, and every one of the 6 cores is a REAL, FULL CORE with the addition of HT, unlike the 4/6/8/12/16 "core" chips from the other guy, that are 2/3/4/6/8 CORE chips with a variation of HT semi integrated into a small part of the hardware, that lures fanboys out in droves to douse the Internet in a bath of fire from their flamewars.

READ FULL REVIEW
MartinLogan MLT-2 5.1 CH Premium Home Theater Speaker System Black System
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs Excellent, but really shine with a pair of towers 10/11/2013

This review is from: MartinLogan MLT-2 5.1 CH Premium Home Theater Speaker System Black System

Pros: I do audio engineering and have thus spent quite a bit of time with audio equipment, from the basic five buck PC speakers to true studio monitors and ultra high end home audio equipment and everything in between.

These speakers are one of the best bang for your buck audio purchases you can make, at 250 they're a steal and at 180 you are doing it wrong if you don’t get them.

Unlike the generic Polk, Klipsch, and countless other "I am not a HTIB I swear!" kits, this is actually a very well designed, well constructed, excellent sounding system. The subwoofer, apparently some have issues with it but not me, is a 10" 360W peak (120rms) unit that integrates extremely well even as you expand the system. It has a selectable crossover but unlike most all competitors, the HK is a dial allowing precision instead of 2-4 preset frequencies.
The satellite speakers, while not exactly ideal for a cathedral, competently fill a 20x18 foot room (11' ceiling) with sound. I have not yet done any frequency response measurement, so I will give subjective and update with objective sometime soon.
The tweeters are perfectly sized and very well designed, and the woofers throw aside the all too common "bigger is better" and instead are perfectly sized to complement the tweeters without leaving a big gap between the two (the only other 5.1 box set that compares is the Take5).
Highs are crisp yet mellow, with no harshness even when strained, and no audible sibilance. The design allows for natural sounding treble, and it is dispersed very well, something that many far more expensive speakers struggle with and which some (Polk) simply cannot figure out.
The mids provide excellent clarity of vocals, and because the designers went for function over bigger is better, they're able to handle extremely demanding sounds (meaning that they don't choke when there are 20 explosions and five people talking all at once in a film). I was genuinely surprised to hear how well they handle the mid bass, normally the weakest area by far w 5.1 box systems, which tend to rely too heavily on the inclusion of a subwoofer and leave a glaringly obvious gap between mids and bass. Not these.

I have tested these setup as my computer audio for gaming, set them up specifically for music, as well as use them for home theater purposes which is why they were purchased, to get my mother a good home theater setup at her new home without breaking the bank.
Paired with two towers serving FL/FR, another pair of the same serving as front wide, these are working exceptionally well as the surround side and rear R/L, and front high is handled by a set of dipole speakers I had.
While I don't live with the setup, and have my own dedicated home theater room within a room setup (11.4ch but up to 13.4 w proper source; acoustic treatment in necessary areas, etc), I am genuinely impressed every time I go over there and hear these.

Cons: Apparently people have issues with the sub?

Despite the speakers low price, their actual sound quality dictates the use of a higher end receiver for home theater use, so expect to spend 2-3x the cost of the speakers on a receiver to get the full benefits.

As good as they are, they truly come alive when you add a pair of towers for the front. I highly recommend the Pioneer FS-51/FS-52 towers, the ones designed by speaker genius Andrew Jones, because not only do they take a dump on $600 per speaker Klipsch or Polk towers while costing just $150, they actually have an extremely similar voice.

Despite the glaringly obvious problems with such a design, speaker companies still continue to produce center channel speakers with horizontally aligned drivers... The issue is that it causes phase problems, unless you are sitting in a very specific spot.
If you don’t believe me, simply turn it right side up and listen. Better still, use a tower that matches your front main speakers as your center. I do, and I could never go back.

Other Thoughts: The setup is as follows:
LG 65" Local-Dimming LED-LCD TV
Pioneer SC-1222K Receiver (HIGHLY recommend this for these speakers! The Onkyo and Denon units don't come close, and thanks to the D3 class amps it actually outputs over 100W/ch, unlike EVERY Onkyo/Denon that's only 100W+ when in stereo and drops to less than half that in surround; oh, and it runs extremely cool, supports 11.2 + Zone2/3, and is actually identical to the Elite SC-63/65 internally except for not having the 12v triggers!)
Samsung BD Player w built-in Wi-Fi (Netflix)
Xbox360
HD Digital Cable
DVR from cable Co
Marantz CD Player
MLT-2 (this)
4x Pioneer FS-51 tower speakers
2x DefTech Bipolar Radiating Speakers (front highs)
ML 10" Subwoofer
DefTech 12" Subwoofer (located behind the seating area for the "boomier" bass

Mono - Price 12AWG oxygen free copper speaker wire (I sleeve all my wires, EMI/RFI shielded ultra-dense braided sleeving)
Mono - Price Banana Clips for everything
Mono - Price Quad-Shielded 75ohm Coaxial Cables (subs)
Mono - Price 12' RedMere HDMI Cables (1.4b ultra-thin no-loss)
Mono - Price 75buck Speaker Stands and Custom Center Channel Mount
Asus AC-68 Wireless AC Router and the Access Point

Custom HTPC I built for her setup (Fractal case, 3770, 2x8GB DDR3-2133 9-10-10, 650Ti Boost, one of my old RAID cards an Areca 1882ix-16i w 4GB cache, NZXT HALE90V2 850W, LG BD-Burner, Samsung 830 512GB SSD, 5x WD RED 3TB RAID5, 3x WD Blue 1TB WD10EZEX, Phanteks twin tower cooler, all case fans fitted and all are Sanyo Denkei San Ace PWM fans with 3 more on the CPU cooler, 8-Way PWM Hub, 3 2-way PWM splitters, all case fans run off CPU fan PWM header signal but w their own power; and of course, a Hauppauge 4-way TV Tuner w 4-channel recording during playback, and one of my old sound cards an Asus Xonar Essence ST w daughter board)

She is beyond happy, and has called me multiple times just to say "wow/expletive", even months later.


BOTTOM LINE:
Excellent, but You need a great receiver (Pioneer SC-1222K is far and away the best for the money, in fact it beats out 1500US receivers from O/D). Also, get at least one pair of Pioneer FS-51/2's, as these transform into truly exceptional when paired with good towers, and at 150 a pair, you're getting speakers that literally sound like they're worth 900 a piece!
Finish with 12AWG wires from Mono - Price and you will love it!

Again, I am an audio engineer, and have had over a dozen 20 grand or more setups, yet I consider this to be one of the most well rounded and capable, affordable speaker setups I have EVER heard! Do it right and you have less than a grand into it but it'll sound like 5.

READ FULL REVIEW

Cheryl L.'s Profile

Display Name: Cheryl L.

Date Joined: 10/16/11

  • Reviews: 50
  • Helpfulness: 44
  • First Review: 11/14/11
  • Last Review: 08/16/14
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