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TP-LINK TL-WN881ND Wireless N300 PCI Express Adapter, 300Mbps, w/WPS Button, IEEE 802.1b/g/n, 64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: - Biggest pro (probably only for nerds): supports HostAP! ('hostapd' in linux.)
What is that? The chip can make your computer a wifi router/firewall/server if you want. Not perk for everyone and it not easy and only on linux. Research it for a weekend hobby some day. With this card, I hosted a wifi network.
This is awesome for $20.

- Price point. You can't beat it, but see OTs.

- Low profile card (If you wanted to build a small router in a micro-ATX case?) it comes with a second bracket for a tiny case.

- Generic SMA antenna ports. You can purchase external antennas (TP-LINK TL-ANT2405C, SKU: N82E16812997086 for $8) and run them away from your router. I recommend it if you can afford it. Your case filled with components through which electricity flows and potentially (but not necessarily) interfers should be avoided if possible.

If too much you can look at simple SMA extension cables. (3M for $5, SKU:9SIA1NV0UF6248, 6M for $6, SKU:9SIA1NV0NY4981.) These cables extend the antennas off your tower so you can tack them to a wall or move them higher.

- 2T2R MIMO, two transmit, two receive, multiple-in-multiple-out. Basically means the card uses both antennas to communicate as effentiently with the AP (or clients in hostapd ;) as it can.

- No driver setup on Windows 7/8 or even linux. Most atheros stuff was enabled in a generic linux kernel and Windows recognized it already as well. I can't speak for an older OS, however. If it doesn't detect, I cover options below to fix that :)

- It performs as expected for a 802.11n 300 device. No reason to beat a dead horse with that one. The speeds are on par with actual (not theoretical throughput) speeds. My apartment is small so strength is adequate. In linux you have additional power commands and other features (also true in Windows to a lesser extent if you know where to look.) This card is way faster than my USB Edimax EW-7811Un.

- Unless you're using >Windows XP then you may not need the disk. Look into the features of TPL's software to see if it offers anything else you need. Like easier WPS but I highly recommend to *not* use WPS. "Shortcuts are security risks." WPS has proven security risks. Research the Reaver WPS exploit to know the risks!

Sidenote: It is a minidisk. In the [rare] event you have a slot-loading drive it won't work.
Here: http://www.tp-link.com/en/support/download/?model=TL-WN881ND&version=V1 for the software.
Download driver ONLY (~5MB .zip) OS, right click the .inf file ("Type: Setup Information" in Windows explorer), and click "Install." It installs the basic driver detect your card WITHOUT full software! This is also on the disk at X:\\TL-WN881ND\Driver Files\

THE WEBSITE .ZIP FILE INCLUDES WINDOWS 8 32/64bit DRIVERS AS WELL AND THE DISK DOES NOT. DISK ONLY INCLUDES UP TO WINDOWS 7.

Cons: - THIS IS NOT A CON AT THIS PRICE POINT, but this card is only 2.4GHz. At $18 you can't beat an internal card with this quality and with these features but if you can afford $10 more then the TP-Link's WDN3800 is dual-band and equally as great of a card.

- No cons to speak of.

Other Thoughts: To test this card I pulled my TP-Link TL-WDN3800 (NeweggSKU: N82E16833704162) and, naturally, it wasn't as fast. But it was intended for a different user base as well. If you only have a 2.4GHz (non-dual band) network then it's no question that this card will be perfect for your network, assuming you don't want to get a cheap $10 USB adapter. If, however, you plan to use TP-Link for it's hostapd abilities of it's Atheros chip or if you plan to upgrade to a dual-band network in the future then consider spending the extra $10 to $12 on the N600 model.

It's never a bad idea to future-proof your tech whenever it's not too much of a hassle to do so!

This is a great starter card but as technology improves it'll quickly become less than adequate. Overall, this card offers some killer features at a great price point. For a spare $20 (or two with external antennas) you can have a capable connection to your network or even turn your computer tower into a router itself. In my many years in the tech world TP-Link has always had a name for itself as a dependable, quality company with a budget price point. By no means am I a complete TP-Link fanboy, but they have definitely earned my respect over the years for what products I've purchased and reviewed, how they've lasted, and how they've stacked up against competitors. But if you have an extra $10 and a dual-band wifi router then consider the TL-WDN3800!!

This is a 5-egg card for filling a role targeting single band 2.4Ghz requirements. It's bigger brother, the TL-WDN3800, is more of my fancy, personally. But if this card is what you need then TP-Link won't let you down with filling that requirement. And considering their customer service history, well, that speaks for itself as well.


I'll end with what I always like to advise people:
Know your requirements.
Do your homework.
Consider your options.
READ REVIEWS. (Customers speak for a company's actions/competency.)
When you review be humble but honest. Don't be afraid to be critical but being bitter doesn't help anyone researching the product.

Cheers.

READ FULL REVIEW
Crucial M500 120GB SATA 2.5
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

Pros: - Decent (accurately advertised) speeds:
On my low quality Dell Inspiron Core i3@ 1.8GHz with 6GB 1600 RAM
CrystalDiskMark at 1GB single pass:
458.7MB/s read and 127MB/s write speeds with Sequential
413.8 MB/s and 127.7 MB/s write speeds with 512K

- It's SSD, obviously

- Great price point for Speed+GB to reputation+price ratio.

- Includes bracket for fitting larger laptop HDD compartments.

- S.M.A.R.T status to know if anything is beginning to go wrong.

- Advertised life expectancy of 1.2m hours and 72TB of data written averaging 40GB per day for 5 years. I know this is only advertised by Crucial and is not tangible, tested consumer data but in light of relatively new technology and untested longevity of casual usage this is all we have for now.

Cons: No cons as of yet. I'm hoping there will never be any because data can be so precious...

Other Thoughts: I went with Crucial because, in part, of their company reputation and reviews combined with their budget price point. The HDD on my 6-month old Dell school laptop failed and I decided to take the plunge and give SSD a try. There is a noticeable increase in performance and with this price it didn't really break the bank. It's great for a laptop that might be banged around inside a backpack or some similar environment.

Some complain about the limited, foreseeable lifespan of SSD drives but in reality it should last you a very long time even compared to platter drives. Consider if a drive really does last for 5 years at writing 40GB per day. Let's say, hypothetically, you write 1GB or even 3GB per week depending on how frequently you use your device and if you're just browsing and doing normal/light computer activities. That would theoretically be equal to quite a long lifespan of the hard drive.

TIP: If you're thinking about taking the plunge and going with an SSD, seek out PCWorld's article titled "How to stretch the life of your SSD storage"

This article explains how to disable search indexing in Windows, disabling hibernation, etc. It also explains further what the mechanics of the SSD are with regard to its lifespan. If you're new to the world of SSDs as I was, it's a very helpful article


Sidenote: I do actually own this item and purchased it from a site with a membership 2-day free shipping program.

READ FULL REVIEW
Corsair Raptor K50 Gaming Keyboard (CH-9000007-NA)
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

3 out of 5 eggs Poor QA. 3.5 eggs 02/04/2014

This review is from: Corsair Raptor K50 Gaming Keyboard (CH-9000007-NA)

Pros: - Love these colors! Whether your rig is lit with blue, green, red, or whatever color LEDs, this keyboard can be set to match the exact hue. Or if you're a female gamer and want a pink lighted keyboard. :) The software has presets for the primary colors and pink and purple. (See con #1)

- 54 Programmable keys with 18 keys in 3 group presets (see cons #2)

- Intuitive volume knob and media keys (not affected by con #2). For some reason I really love the volume knob. I almost wish my Corsair m90 scroll wheel was like it.

- Thick, sturdy composition. Despite the cons, the overall device is a solid and sturdy metal build. The brushed metal appearance is even sexy, I would say. It's heavy and seems to be of decent quality. But the cons disagree..

- Thick cable from the keyboard and dual USB plugs to your rig so the USB port on the keyboard (see con #3) isn't underpowered by splitting. This works well with my Corsair M60 and M90 mice, naturally. It seems it would survive a beating at the hand of computer chair wheels on a hardwood floor.

- Easy to use, all inclusive macro recording (con #2.).

- Great feel of the rubberized keys. They're not of cheap, slick, shiny plastic material. They are a matte, semi-sticky rubberized surface that is pleasing to the touch.

- There is a modest *click* when you press the keys but it's not too soft and not overly mechanical or binary. You do have to press relatively hard for a keystroke to register, however. (major con #4.)

- If you own multiple Corsair products then you'll find that the (Windows-only) software detects them all in one neat package. You can switch between each device easily and change settings all in the same Corsair programs. Go to coursair's official page for this keyboard on their site and there is a screenshot of the software and how it interacts with other Corsair products.

- Four legs to elevate the keyboard. Not only two in the back, but also two on the front of the device. Rubber feet for when the legs aren't flipped down.

- Wrist attachment has a comfortable, rubberized feel to it. It's not soft or memory foam, but it feels okay. I don't use it, however.

- Onboard memory and no ghosting issues whatsoever.

Cons: In short, this is a cheap, poorly constructed product.

1. Colors are cheap, off centered. I mean this as in the Delete key reads “Delet” with half of the last 'e' partially lit. I'm not too concerned with this because I don't stare and peck at the keyboard and I intuitively know where most of the keys are. But it's just cheap. Also the color is software-dependent so it is blank white in linux unless it's plugged into a Windows computer. A few times I've loaded linux and the color remained. But it's inconsistent.

2. As mentioned above, this keyboard is a Windows-only device. Wine will run the Corsair installer but not recognize the keyboard as being plugged in. I'm going to keep trying. No recording/playing macros, no colors, buggy functionality, etc. As I found out while writing this very review switching between macro groups in linux (Arch) navigates a browser back and forth. So I lost half of a review just verifying what I was even writing the review about. Boo! The Caps, Num, and Scroll lock lights also do not illuminate in linux.

3. The cable port on the back of my keyboard is wobbly and seems as though the entire port is poorly constructed. I haven't jerked on it or agitated it at all. Seems to be shoddy from the factory. The cable pertruding from the back is poorly embedded as well. It fits the theme of a cheap Chinese product, unfortunately.

4. The worst con of all...some keys don't work well. My 9 key has to be pressed very hard to register and I spacebar with my right thumb, which this keyboard doesn't really like. I only say this is the worst con because it affects the core functionality of the device. I've conditioned myself to thumb more towards the center of the spacebar and I'm hoping that issue with the 9 key will sort itself out in time. I'm not itching for an RMA.

Other Thoughts: First, I got this from a site where I pay membership for two-day shipping [and TV/movie streaming, cough cough.] No offense, Newegg, it's convenient. I give my word that I really own this keyboard and am typing this review using it right this second. Also I'm in the eggxpert review program so I feel committed to keeping consistent, detailed, objective, and balanced reviews regardless of from where or if I buy or am assigned. Take that for what it is.

With that said, I've purchased and been assigned Corsair products before and I have also owned other brands of mice and keyboards. I generally feel (felt) that they make functional, quality products. I did a lot of research to find what best suits me in a keyboard and I basically came down to two choices. Either a plain mechanical keyboard without macro keys, lighting, etc; or non-mechanical with more options (or double my budget for a fancier mechanical with options.) I also really wanted backlighting. In the end I decided that the K50 seemed to fit the bill since I'm mostly an MMO gamer anyhow. I read the reviews here and on blogs and took the risk.

It really is a promising keyboard with functionality. But the construction is so poor as I detailed in the Cons. I dual boot Windows for Steam games available only to that operating system but spend most of my time in Linux with taking computer privacy/security into account. With gaming moving to linux, I really hope Corsair catches on and devleops for other environments/platforms. PLEASE CORSAIR, READ THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE. That will affect my usage most, personally.

But for Windows gamers who don't have the Linux issue, I would say your biggest concern should be the quality assurance of how this product is manufactured. It is made in China and with my copy that is definitely noticeable. If this is within your budget and you feel okay to take the risk then do so, but that's my only recommended consideration for that userbase. Do your own research and read reviews of other keyboards. This is a very capable keyboard but the quality isn't up to par.

All in all, I don't regret this purchase, surprisingly. I do most computer gaming in Windows anyway and it types okay with the 9-key issue aside. But in hindsight I can say that I would GLADLY pay $20 more for an exact keyboard of better quality. Corsair defines it's reputation by it's reviews, as any prospective buyer may notice. But if this quality of product becomes a trend then it's only a matter of time before another tech company steps up to the plate.

READ FULL REVIEW

Theodore P.'s Profile

Display Name: Theodore P.

Date Joined: 02/13/11

  • Reviews: 53
  • Helpfulness: 24
  • First Review: 03/02/11
  • Last Review: 03/13/14
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