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This review is from: ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: I know there are people out there that spend hundreds of dollars on every piece of their PC to make the absolute state of the art gaming rig. For me, Ive always been of the mindset of buying parts that balance budget and performance. I've never built a computer that costs more than $100, and as such typically stick to budget models made by reputable companies, so I am not used the vast array of advanced features this board offers.
For starters, it is a well designed board. I appreciate the symmetry of the CPU socket and memory banks. The plastic RAM sockets and the anodized heat sinks are the same light blue, which looks cool inside a case if you're into aesthetics.
This board offers a wide array of ports. There are 8 USB ports plus the ability add 6 more using headers on the board. Theres an eSATA port, and support for up to 10 SATA drives on the board. You could go crazy with RAID 0 SSDs and get some crazy fast access times and still have room for plenty of other storage. Theres gigabit ethernet plus the usual array of sound ports, and on the way end are two PS2 ports. I havent seen a modern motherboard support both a keyboard and mouse USB port in a while, but I appreciate this for the fact that I still own a really nice Microsoft Natural keyboard from about 10 years ago that still works great. The older Microsoft Natural keyboards are superior in everway to their newer versions.
This board has a plethora of overclocking options, and there is a Dual BIOS in case you flash something and mess it up, you have a backup, which is a very nice feature for tinkerers.
I didn't need all of the power ports, but there is a lot of room to expand if you have a high end video card, there is a molex connected to supplement the power on the video bus. Although I have no way to test this, the capacitors look to be quality Japanese build solid capacitors, as opposed to the cheap Chinese ones you see on lesser boards. This board is clearly designed with quality in mind.
Finally, the UEFI BIOS is flashy and easy to use. Long gone are the text base AMI BIOSes of yore! Even though this is an advanced board with tons of features, it is easy to setup and install, My computer booted on the first attempt and I was able to get into the BIOS and start customizing right away.
Cons: I dont know that I have any real cons to this board because it is well designed, uses high quality components, and has a ton of flexibility and expandability.
I have an old Intel Gigablt PCI-E card from around 2008 (I dont remember the model number) that I used to test some file transfer speeds compared to the built in Intel port and I found that I got slightly faster speeds across my network using the 2008 card. While the difference wasnt significant, its worth mentioning that there hasn't been much progress in Ethernet speeds over the past 7 years.
If I had to make one comment, I would say that this board does not offer a lot in the way of backwards compatibility. Its designed for brand new components like DDR4 and v3 LGA2011 chips. This board is a waste on lesser components. I dont think many people would buy this board as an upgrade to an existing system, they would only buy it for a new build.
Other Thoughts: I will repeat myself somewhat here and say this is an excellent board. Its high end without being high end. The price is within reach of a "mid tier" customer like myself who wants to build a gaming rig.
I've used AsRock boards before and they have all been reliable. Ive been using this board for almost 2 months (I purposely waited to post this review until I felt I had a lot of time using it), and its been rock solid.
There is tons of room to grow, but like I said above, this board isnt for people with older components (other than keyboards and mice) who are looking for an upgrade. If you are looking to build a decent gaming rig and keep your costs within reason, this is a great board. I highly recommend it for those people.
This review is from: APC Black 10000 mAh Mobile Power Pack M10BK
Pros: APC Brand Name
10,000 mAh is worth at least a couple charges on most smartphones/tablets
Dual charging ports are useful for tablets and phones
LEDs indicating charge level
Cons: Large, flat design makes it difficult to store in a pocket if you like to charge on the go
Lack of AC charger, only a USB cable is included to charge which takes over 18 hours to charge fully
Flimsy construction, while holding it, even the slightest pressure on the flat side makes the case creak
LEDs are unnecessarily bright
Other Thoughts: This is my third 10,000 mAh or higher USB battery pack and its my least favorite of the three. On the plus side, it works as expected. There are dual USB ports on the side, one which is rated at 1A and the other at 2.5A which is more than enough for even the biggest tablets. I was able to simultaneously charge a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet at the same time. APC is a trusted name in power surge and battery protection, so you'd think this would be a great product.
Compared to the IOGear 11,000 mAh GearPower battery and the FREMO P130 13,000 battery both of which I own, this one has the flimsiest case. Both of other other batterys are very solid and I feel as though if I were to drop them, theyd survive the fall, the APC Im not so sure. Plus both of my other batteries are small enough to fit in my pants or coat pocket so I can keep charging my phone while walking around. The APC battery is huge. Its about the size of a small tablet. It would fit OK in a briefcase or messenger bag, but thats not how I use it.
Another complaint, which I also had about the FREMO battery is that it only includes a USB cable for charging the battery itself. It does not include an AC adapter. I tried to charge this using a USB port on my computer and after 18 hours, ti was still charging. If I use a 2.1A AC -> USB charger, I can charge it in about 12 hours. I dont understand why these companies cant spend an extra dollar to include an AC adapter that will actually charge the battery in a useful amount of time.
Finally, and once again, this is a common with the other two batteries, even though this is rated at 10,000 mAh, you cant just add up the mAh capacity of your phone or tablet and calculate how many times it can charge your device. I charged my wife's Samsung Galaxy S3 which has a 2100 mAh battery on it, and it charged it fully three times, but almost immediately after connecting it the 4th time, it was dead. So, that means it only has a useful capacity closer to 6000 - 6500 mAh. Its possible that after several full charge/discharge cycles, the capacity could improve, but I can honestly say that no battery I own is capable of the exact number they claim on the packaging.
So, in conclusion, this product has a good brand name, has decent capacity, dual ports, and can handle a smartphone and tablet at the same time. The problem is, there are many other options out there that are more portable, have more solid construction, and some that include an AC adapter. For the price, I cannot recommend this product considering the vast number of other options out there.
This review is from: FREMO P130 13000mAh Power Bank Charger & Dual Port USB Car Charger for iPhone, iPad, Galaxy S5, Note, Galaxy Tab, Nexus, HTC One, One 2 (M8), PS Vita and other Smartphones and Tablets (made by SCUD)
Pros: Very clean and nice looking aluminum enclosure (design would go well with Apple products)
Feels sturdy and well built
Extremely high 13,000 mAh capacity
Dual USB charging ports, one at 1A, the other 2A.
Included Micro USB cable is capable of fast charging my LG G2 phone
Short ~8" Micro USB is great for cable management
Included car charger (cigarette lighter)
Cons: Priced similarly to other products in its range
Short ~8" Micro USB cable severely limits what you can connect it to
Does not include a wall (AC) charger
Other Thoughts: I own a IOGEAR GMP10K 11000 mAh charger so I did a comparison to that unit and this unit fares well. Although this unit boasts 2000 mAh of additional capacity, in real world usage, you won't easily notice much of a difference.
Both units support charging of up to 2 devices at the same time. This SCUD unit curiously labels the charging ports as being 5.1V instead of 5.0V. I dont know if this is SCUD's way of 'turning it up to 11' or if this is a misprint on the packaging. In either case, it should work with pretty much any device that can be charged via a USB cable. Both devices also have a 4 LED charging indicator. There is a power button on the device, but it seems to only function as a check of the battery level, as the unit automatically charges and discharges when you plug it in.
Included in the packaging is the unit itself, a car accessory plug, and an 8 inch micro USB cable which you can use to both charge the device itself and a phone/tablet. The 8 inch USB cord is both a plus and a con. On the plus side, if you were traveling, the short length is ideal for good cable management. Ive used similar chargers with 3-6 foot USB cables which is overkill and the cable gets in the way. On the downside, this cord is so short that when recharging the SCUD, you are extremely limited to what you can connect it to. The USB ports on my desktop PC are on the side of my monitor, and the unit literally hangs in mid-air when charging. Another plus is that the cord is capable of fast charging (about 2 hours for a complete recharge) at 2.0A. My LG G2 phone will always charge in 'Slow Mode' using other 2.0A USB chargers with generic USB cords since they dont always pass the correct current through.
Not included in the packaging is an AC (wall outlet) charger. While I acknowledge that not everyone would need to charge from a wall, I feel as though this is a big omission since this limits the potential customers for this device. Charging a 13000 mAh battery takes a really long time. The first night I had it, I connected it to a USB port on my computer around 6pm, and by 7am the next day (13 hours later), it was only about 75% charged. Because of this, charging the device in your car or anything but an always-on desktop PC is rather limiting.
I was able to simultaneously charge my wifes Samsung S3 and my LG G2. The G2 has a 3000 mAh battery (not sure of the S3s battery) and I was able to charge both phones 3 nights in a row without fully draining the battery. It was on the 4th night that I needed to recharge the SCUD.
Comparing to the IOGEAR GMP10K, the IOGEAR comes with a wall charger, a velvet carrying pouch, and is all plastic (but doesnt feel cheap). The IOGEAR is currently $8 cheaper and contains a more useful wall charger as opposed to a car charger. I don't know that an $8 price difference or the lack of wall charger or carrying pouch is worth a 1 egg deduction, but it is something buyers should be aware of. If I could, I would give this 4.5
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