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This review is from: Corsair Hydro Series™ H80i V2 Water / Liquid CPU Cooler. 120mm CW-9060024-WW
Pros: I find the overall design of the cooler and radiator to be pleasing. Although I am a veteran of building PCs in my lifetime, I've never installed a water cooler before, and I did not find this to be difficult. It's about as involved as installing a large air cooler. You need a backing plate behind the CPU socket, there are some standoffs you need to screw in, and then you mount the cooler to the CPU and screw it down. The radiator and fans caused me a few issues, which I'll cover below. There is also a USB port on the cooler itself that requires a whole USB header free on your motherboard. This shouldn't be an issue for most people as modern motherboards often have way more USB headers than most people need.
This cooler is definitely quiet during regular use. Although the DEEPCOOL cooler I had before was extremely quiet due to its rubberized 140mm silent wave fans, the Corsair is almost completely silent under most conditions. I played with the Corsair Link software and changed the settings to Balanced and Performance and it got noticeably louder. In Performance, it was disruptively loud. I would never want to use that setting.
This cooler replaced a DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Lucifer V2 CPU with dual 140mm silent fans in push/pull configuration, so I was able to do a before and after test and in 2 of the 3 tests, I saw an improvement in temps, see the Other section below for specifics.
Cons: In total, not including removing the air cooler, installation took me about half an hour which I consider good because I take my time. Anyone experienced in building PCs shouldn't have a problem with this, but for the novice, I felt the instructions were a little lacking. Corsair takes an approach many PC vendors do and makes instructions with basic drawings and then short directions in a variety of languages. I was installing this on a Socket 2011 motherboard and there was one step where they show you need to use different standoffs to use and the drawings were so poor, I couldn't figure it out based on the drawing. I ended up just picking a set and using trial and error to see which ones fit. So I'll say the instructions were adequate, but as a "premiere" PC Vendor, Corsair could have done a better job here.
Another issue I ran into, which might be unique to some people is that the mounting screws for the radiator and fans were too short for my setup. How this works is you get 8 long screws and washers that go into each corner of the two fans and secure it to the radiator which is sandwiched in between. For the front fan (nearest the CPU), its not an issue. The screws are long enough, but the rear fan (nearest the back of the case), the screws were not long enough to go through the thickness of my case, through the fan, and into the radiator. I have a Lian-Li midtower case and the rear fan opening has a removable grille. The removable grill isn't that thick, but it was just thick enough to make it not work. I had to remove the rear grille in order for the screws to reach through everything and grip the radiator. So now, the back of my PC has a large opening with the fan blades directly exposed to the outside of the case. I am going to try and locate some longer screws at a hardware store sometime and see if I can use those so I can put the grille back on.
Both of these cons aren't deal breakers, and I understand Corsair cannot predict every possible of the millions of combinations of cases people could use, but how hard could it have been to include a couple of extra sets of screws of varying lengths so the installer can choose which ones best fit.
Finally, I found the included 120mm fans to be unacceptably loud in performance mode. I cannot image why anyone would want to use that mode as the fans spin at their max speed. Maybe quieter fans could have brought the noise down, but for what you get in the box, I feel that Quiet and Balanced are your only two real-world options.
Other Thoughts: My testing setup:
ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 motherboard
Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3 GHz CPU Overclocked to 4.0 GHz
LIAN LI PC-7FN Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Case
DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Lucifer V2 CPU with dual 140mm silent fans in push/pull configuration
I used Open Hardware Monitor to monitor the CPU Package temps and ran 3 tests:
10 minutes of the Unigine DirectX11 Valley Benchmark 1.0 on Ultra quality running at 1920x1080 with sound enabled
10 minutes of Prime95 running with 12 threads simultaneously
I used the Valley Benchmark to mimic high GPU gaming. This should be close to what the CPU would experience while playing a modern PC game such as GTA V, Dyling Light, or Witcher III (all of which I have). And of course Prime95 is a tried and true CPU torture test, although it recreates conditions unrealistic for regular PC usage.
All of these tests were run with the Corsair Link software set to Quiet. Here are my results:
Idle Air Cooler: 103 - 104 degrees F
Idle Water: 98 - 102 degrees F
DirectX11 Air: 120-126 degrees F
DirectX11 Water: 108-112 degrees F
Prime95 Air: 172-176 degrees F
Prime95 Water: 168-176 degrees F
It is interesting I saw a few degrees improvement at idle temps, and about 12-14 degrees improvement in the DirectX test, but nothing in the Prime95 test. My theory with this is that my overclocked CPU is being pushed to the thermal limit of the chip. I believe that the CPU is throttling itself at that point and neither cooler is able to keep the temps below whatever point that is. While it would make sense that the water cooler should have shown better results in the Prime95 test, I think that in both cases, the air and water coolers were interrupted by the CPU's own thermal protection. In hindsight, I should have done this test again with the CPU at a stock clock, so maybe I'll do that again later and update this review. Frankly, the Prime95 test isn't really all that useful anyway, since no one runs it for anything other than these kinds of tests. I mainly use this PC for general Internet use and gaming, so the DirectX11 test is the one that's most useful for me.
So, in conclusion, yes, the Corsair bested one of the best air coolers you can buy. For $100, you do get a few degrees improvement at idle, and about a 10% improvement in gaming. I doubt there is any other all in one product in this range that can beat that. I still can't feel a bit underwhelmed though. Maybe if I was coming from a stock cooler, or a low end cooler, or maybe even with a different CPU, I would have been more impressed. My advice is that if you are building a new PC and have $100 in your budget, this is a great buy. If you already have a really nice air cooler and want to see what this product will do, its probably not the best use of $100.
I also feel that Corsair could have done a little better of a job in the instructions. Sure, its fine for a veteran, but a novice could really struggle with the instructions, and I know that Corsair cannot predict every possible case that this would be installed into, but it would have cost them maybe 5 cents extra include a couple sets of screws of varying lengths to accommodate thicker cases.
For these reasons, I give this product a 4 out of 5 rating.
This review is from: BUFFALO WXR-1900DHP AirStation Extreme AC 1900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router
Pros: EDIT 2/5/2016: As things turns out, a previous router died on me around the time I reviewed this item and I decided to make it my main router. I figured I could use it for a while until I got around to buying a new main router, but that never happened. In the past 6 months of using the Buffalo WXR-1900DHP as my primary router, I can say that it is rock solid stable. I have only needed to reboot it maybe once or twice. Performance has been good this entire time and it routs several ports to my Windows 2008 web and mail server without any issue. While I still think that this router wasn't worth it's original price, it currently sells for $119.99 which I think is a much better value. Adding to the fact that I have over half a year of stability, I am very happy with this router.
I've had this router installed in my environment for about a month and can comment on several of its pros and cons. For pros, it has quite a bit of advanced features in the setup. My favorite feature is the manual switch on the bottom of the router that allows you to easily switch between a regular router and access point. If you have a large network and just want something to expand your network, this makes it as easy as can possibly be. Although I am accustomed to loading DD-WRT on most of my routers, I found the stock UI to be good enough for most advanced tweakers. I was able to setup port forwarding for a Wordpress blog, FTP site, and RDP into my network. I was able to manually assign IP addresses while still keeping DHCP on with ease, and I was able to setup a guest network without any drama. Most of these features are unavailable or not as easy to find on other stock router setups. I still prefer the layout of DD-WRT and despite there being other Buffalo routers that come with DD-WRT from the factory, I was not able to find any evidence that this router is compatible (although I did not try). This router replaced a TP-LINK TL-WDR3600 and althought hat router does not support AC wireless, it compares favorably to this router in terms of wired Gigabit speeds and Wireless N transfer rates. Finally, the triple external antennas are a nice feature for people who want to fine tune their routers signal and help boost it in specific directions.
Cons: The cons, however are really where this router falters. Despite the nice web UI and the solid wireless N and gigabit speeds, the signal dropoff was more severe in all areas of my house compared to my original TP-LINK router. I left both routers connected simultaeously and used a WI-FI detection tool to measure signal strength in various locations throughout my house. My house is a single floor house built in the 1950s. I completed this test on the 2.4 GHz band with both routers on the same channel (11) and one on 11, and one on 1. I did not test 5 GHz since I use the majority of my devices on 2.4 GHz. Signal strength in the same room was pretty much the same. As soon as I left the living room and went into the bedrooms, kitchen, laundry room, and outside on the back porch, the TP-LINK maintained a stronger signal strength in all locations. In my backyard where the TP-LINK was a weak -70db, the Buffalo had disappeared altogether. I tried moving the 3 antennas in a variety of orientations and no amount of movement improved the signal strength enough to notice.
This is not acceptable in my opinion for an upper end router. I dont care how many great features the router has, or how funky the antennas are, or how fast the maximum throughput claims to be, if signal strength is not up to par with a several year old router that you can now find for $60, I cannot really recommend this router.
Other Thoughts: I really wanted to like this router. The triple external antennas, the manual switch to choose access point and the nice web UI really made me want to keep this router. Its possible this router is more favorable on the AC band or at 5 GHz, but for the majority of people who still use wireless N on the 2.4 GHz band, this router is just not acceptable and certainly not worth the price. If this was a lower end router, I could look past the signal dropoff in other areas of my house, but if I had spent $169.99 (MSRP $229.99) on this router, I would have returned it immediately.
In conclusion, nice feature set, easy UI, good throughput, but only when you have a good signal. If range is a priority for you, you should buy something else.
Pros: This motherboard was simple to install and despite it's massive feature set, does not require any configuration to work right out of the box. I replaced an earlier ASRock Fatal1ty 1151 motherboard that was running fine. I am a casual gamer, but when I do play games, I still like to crank up the settings. On my old rig, I had no problems running GTA V and Witcher III at 1920x1080p on my 55" Sony LED TV. I appreciate the Creative sound chip on board. I have been a supporter of Creative Labs Soundblasters since the earliest models in the 1990s and have always preferred an external audio card as opposed to built in audio. The sound through my 5.1 speakers is top notch. Although I do not use my PC for home theater, I am sure that with this setup, the sound would have been as good as anything else.
The BIOS and included tweak utilities all work fine and are pretty easy to use. As an old school PC builder used to changing motherboard jumpers 20 years ago, I roll my eyes at these flashy Windows utilities that you can use to customize the board, but they do work. I was able to overclock my CPU about 10% and I did some benchmarks and did see an improvement in the benchmark, but not in real world use, so I set everything back to stock. Since this computer is in my living room, I am much more concerned with it being quiet and running cool, than maximum performance. Besides, if you wanted maximum performance, I would go with a 2011v3 platform and octa-core CPU.
I also appreciate the dual gigabit ethernet ports. I used to use dedicated Intel gigabit PCI cards because I felt they were the most reliable and stable, but this Atheros chip has caused me no problems or performance issues since I started using it.
Neither a pro or con, but I'm not a fan of the forward facing SATA ports that many motherboard companies have started to use. I find the older ones that face up easier to use and more flexible with different drive cages found in many small to midsize tower cases.
Cons: Not really a con, but Gigabye definitely is aiming this to the customization crowd. It has a lot of lighting options which are cool to play with, but useless unless you have a case with an open window and like to show it off (I dont). I played with these options for about 5 minutes when I first got it, but havent touched them since. I also found the metal shieds around the rear ports to be a little annoying when installing the motherboard. Perhaps its just my Lian-Li case (which is admittedly about 5 years old), but the shield kept getting in the way. Once I had it installed, it never caused any other problems.
Since I had the ability to an A/B comparison between this board and my earlier ASRock Fatal1ty board, I can honestly tell you that in regular PC use and gaming, I noticed no difference between the two. I have a good CPU, GPU, RAM, and fast SSDs running in RAID 0, so perhaps the difference with lesser hardware might have been more noticeable, but from a purely bang for the buck standpoint, Newegg still sells my old motherboard for $154.99 after $10 rebate. Thats $50 cheaper than this Gigabyte. So, for that extra $50 you get the Gigabyte brand name, some cool utilities, and some LED customization options. If thats what you are into, then its worth it, but if you're on a budget, or dont care about lighting, you can save money by going with a different board. Since Gigabyte is clearly aiming for a market different than me, I dont think it would be fair to dock an egg from my rating, because frankly, this is a really great board that does everything it should.
Other Thoughts: My Build:
Intel Core i7-6700K 8M Skylake Quad-Core 4.0 GHz
16 GB (4x4GB) Crucial Ballistix PC4 19200 RAM
Gigabyte GeForce GTX960 GPU
2x Samsung 850EVO SSD in RAID 0
EVGA 220-GS-0850-V1 80 PLUS GOLD 850W Power Supply
DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Lucifer V2 CPU Cooler
I took a while to type up this review because I wanted to see how it performed for a month or two after installing it and I can conclude that like most Gigabyte products, this is a great board. It has an awesome feature set, it supports the latest hardware, is stable, fast, and in the grand scheme of things, not the most expensive board out there. If you like cool lights and some neat customization options, this is the board for you. If all you care about is performance and value, there are better options out there.