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ASUS RP-AC56 AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band Repeater / Access Point/Media Bridge
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

4 out of 5 eggs Overall good features and performance, but with some flaws 06/12/2016

This review is from: ASUS RP-AC56 AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band Repeater / Access Point/Media Bridge

Pros: Up front, I’ll say that this WiFi extender has lots of great features and the performance to support the features it offers.

802.11ac support is pretty much expected now, but this extender offers a few other nice features. The most interesting options in my opinion is the ability to use the 2.4 and 5ghz radios separately for either connecting to the main wireless router or the clients. For example, if range or walls are a problem, you can use 2.4ghz just for the connection from the main router to the extender and 5ghz from the extender to the clients. Alternately, you can maximize router bandwidth to the extender using 5ghz, and then just 2.4ghz to the clients. Or you can extend both, which is the default configuration. There is also a mode specifically intended to provide a repeater for commercial wifi services, however I wasn’t able to test this specifically and I assume it will only be effective for some commercial services.

I found the setup menus to be fairly straightforward as well, however getting to those settings deserves some negative comments in the cons section. While I was able to get this extender set up and configured with a new password within minutes, I did it in a manner that was completely undocumented in the included setup guide and using only the setup guide would leave the router completely open to intrusion.

Cons: The setup instructions are not only incomplete, they completely omit critical steps and don’t have anything to say about manual setup options. The setup instructions consist of a small fanfold pamphlet that pretty much say to press the WPS buttons and that’s it, everything is good to go! There are 2 huge omissions there however. First and worst, the setup instructions say nothing about the need to change the default username/password and are even pretty vague on HOW to get into the configuration utility to do so. Second, the setup assumes everyone uses WPS and doesn’t list the default ip address for the device. I guessed that if I plugged it in and didn’t configure it with WPS, it would default to, and sure enough it did. From there, setting it up was easy. However I simply wouldn’t expect most people to be able to get there by just guessing, and the fact that following just the quick setup instructions would leave it unsecured is a huge omission. Of course, if you’ve read this review then you’ll be able to fix it so whether this is a big deal or not is up to the buyer.

Another drawback that is mentioned by other reviewers is the fact that the extender will block both power outlets in a standard wall outlet plate. The plug can be rotated 90 degrees to help in some situations where space may be tight, however the extender still blocks both outlets in every possible orientation. This could be a big deal depending on your personal requirements.

The raised reset button on the front has also been mentioned and I agree it’s a poor design.

One thing that simply did not work was the automatic firmware update process. Although there was an available firmware update at the ASUS site, the automatic updater failed with an error message. After I manually updated the firmware, the automatic updater continued to fail with the same error message.

Other Thoughts: The extender does what it says it does, and as long as you go beyond the overly-simplified setup instructions and dig into the setup page to configure at least a new password, it meets my needs for a wifi extender. The ability to selectively choose which radio to use for clients and back to the main router is a very nice feature that isn’t offered by other WiFi extenders I’ve used before.

The extender housing blocking both power outlets may be more of a problem for some people. Along with the exposed reset button, its just a bad design. Interestingly, there is a real on/off rocker switch for this extender which is a nice feature, however instead of being in a convenient location it is hidden on the bottom. ASUS – please fire the guy who designed the enclosure or at least don’t let that person or team design anything else. The power switch should be on top or on the side, the reset button should be recessed, and the device shouldn’t block both electrical outlets (duh).

If you can accept the enclosure design flaw and are able to go beyond the included incomplete setup instructions, then the other features of this WiFi extender are actually pretty compelling. The online radio feature which can output internet radio through an audio jack on the side of the extender is a neat feature too, since you could set this up outside in an entertaining area, connect it to some amplified speakers, and control it through an app on your smartphone or tablet. The advanced setup options seem fairly complete, giving lots of options to customize the feature set. I think this extender deserves 4 eggs and a positive recommendation, based on the technical features and performance I got with it. Unfortunately the physical design and omission of complete setup instructions may make other options look better depending on your needs and technical knowledge.

G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9D-16GAR
  • Verified Owner
  • neweggOwned For: 1 month to 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs Great ram, fast, nice low profile with metal heat spreader! 05/03/2016

This review is from: G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9D-16GAR

Pros: I love G.SKILL ram, and this memory didn't disappoint me at all. I needed to upgrade my kid's computer and it has a small motherboard with a tower cpu HSF, so I really had to have ram with a fairly low profile instead of the sometimes-goofy looking giant ram heatsinks. The metal heat spreaders on this memory are perfect - they protect the memory during installation or while sitting on the parts shelf waiting for installation, and they don't stick up too high.

I immediately ran memtest on the memory after installation, and they passed a 12 hour test with no errors.

Cons: None

Other Thoughts: Windows 10 does some strange things with poor behavior while indexing photos and media, so 8GB of ram just isn't enough. I'm very happy with this memory and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast ram upgrade without the tall heatsinks and also at a really good price. Newegg and G.SKILL wins, every time.

OCZ TRION 150 2.5
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

5 out of 5 eggs Great value SSD, terrific bang for the buck 03/30/2016

This review is from: OCZ TRION 150 2.5" 240GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) TRN150-25SAT3-240G

Pros: I got this SSD as a review item and I was glad I did - I've often wondered if the "value" end of the SSD spectrum had anything good to offer, and here was my chance to try out one of lowest priced SSDs out there. I have a few other SSDs to compare it to, so I knew it wouldn't take long to figure out if these drives were any good.

In a nutshell, these are GREAT drives for the price, and while they don't offer anything special like other premium SSDs do, like software bundles or transfer cables, this drive gave exactly what was promised - SSD speeds at a great price.

Did I mention price?

Upon unboxing, the drive itself looks very nice, with a clean look and solid feel. The metal case makes it feel like it would be plenty durable in any application, and the 7mm height means it will fit into pretty much any laptop too. There are a couple of pieces of paper that come with the drive, including an installation manual that is fairly thick but only because it repeats the same 2 pages of installation information in a bunch of different languages. While it was enough to get the job done, the bare minimum installation instructions and no extras in the box (not even an "OCZ inside" sticker!) make it clear that this is a value item.

Installation was completely trouble free. I installed it into my desktop using a 2.5" - 3.5" adapter, and the holes lined up correctly which isn't something that can always be assumed. In any case, I had zero issues with the installation. I formatted the drive in windows 10 first, and ran some performance benchmarks.

A caveat - do NOT take these performance benchmarks as indicative of what YOU will get. I do not have a repeatable setup, and I'm using an older motherboard that only has SATA2 controllers.

Bottom line up front - this drive turned out to be about half as fast as my brand xxxxxxx drive that also uses TLC, but it doesn't matter because as it is an SSD, it FEELS almost as fast in normal use. All copies were done from my other SSD.

Some performance numbers:
Copying a 1.5GB file from one SSD to the OCZ Trion 150:
Burst speed up to about 500MB/s, which was pretty much spot on the manufacturers specs.
Sustain speeds however for that first file copy settled down to about 340MB/s

The speed was very variable however, and I'm not entirely sure why.
Copying the same 1.5gb size files to and from the SSD gave me variable transfer speeds anywhere from 70MB/s up to 240MB/s, and in general I would estimate that the average file transfer speed, both read and write, was between 170MB/s and 240MB/s. This was approximately 2/3 the speed of my other SSD.

For synthetic benchmarks, I used AS SSD for some quick numbers. Again, I found some variability.
Brand new, the drive gave me sequential read and write speeds around 300MB/s, 4k reads at 25 MB/s, writes 39MB/s
Immediately after copying in about 10GB worth of copies of that 1.5GB test file I was using however, speeds had dropped and I saw only sustained 220MB/s read, 145MB/s write. After deleting all those files, the speed jumped back up to the "new" speeds.

So... all I can assume is that this drive's controller suffers a bit during heavy use but can recover somewhat as it gets a chance to optimize itself after a period of heavy use.

To give a point of comparison, all of these AS SSD benchmarks were approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the speed of my other older TLC-based SSD, so that should give you a good idea of how this drive performs relative to other popular but more expensive TLC drives.

Still, overall I was pleased because I had no noticeable slowdowns, and response times were just as low as my other SSD, which means that for almost all normal uses, this drive will FEEL just as fast and responsive as almost any other reasonably comparable SSD.

My final test was to repartition the drive and install Linux Mint. Again, the drive performed flawlessly. Boot times were in the neighborhood of 5-8 seconds, which I still find pretty amazing since I started using Linux over 22 years ago during the bronze age of spinny hard drives.

Overall, I had no problems with the drive and both in general use and comparing it to my older SSD, it felt very responsive and fast. It couldn't match up to synthetic benchmark speeds, but again for the price I wouldn't expect it to anyhow.

Cons: Now for the onions in the basket...

First, if you're interested in synthetic benchmarks or shovel around so much data that you'd actually notice performance variability over time or during large transfers, this is not the drive for you and you need a "pro" or other premium drive instead. It's still far far faster than any traditional hard drive, but it'll never match up to premium drives and the value price point makes that clear.

The installation instructions also left out mention of the OCZ toolbox software. This info was 3 items down in the FAQ section however, not up in the general installation instructions where it belongs. Reading further into the installation instructions, the formatting info was limited to "Windows 8" and "Windows 7 and older". Thats pretty weak given how long windows 10 has been out. Also, there was no reference to any sort of method of transferring data from older drives to a new drive. So the installation instructions were pretty bad.

Still in spite of the omissions, the software looks nice and has a functional interface, showing stats, SMART status, and it has an option to check for new firmware updates (my drive came with the latest firmware). There was one feature quite obviously missing from the software however, and that was any sort of optimization settings that might let the owner change things like how much of the drive is set aside for over-provisioning, or how to adjust windows settings to optimize for performance, longevity, etc.

Again I expected a bare-bones approach to the software utility because of the value placement in OCZ's product line, but the inability to even change overprovisioning was disappointing.

Other Thoughts: In the end, the drive performance was fast enough to make it very obvious that the computer was using an SSD - low seek latency, and plenty of performance to give fast boot times and a very responsive user interface. So the low raw performance numbers must then be considered along with the price of these drives, and thats where this drive SHINES. The price/performance of this drive is outstanding in my opinion. In general use I don't think I could tell the difference between this SSD and any of the other 5 SSDs I own, so price and reliability become the primary considerations. It's a total win for price, leaving reliability as the question. I haven't used the drive long enough to be able to confirm one way or another if this drive is reliable, however I beat on the drive pretty good during testing and OS installation, and I had zero problems. Even when I saw some performance variability when doing large sustained and back to back file transfers, I saw no freezing or hanging up which has plagued other "value" SSDs in the past.

Based on my experience using this drive, I can easily recommend it as a great value SSD. This would make a great inexpensive upgrade to any computer currently using a traditional spinny hard drive, and would likely make any older computer feel far more responsive and faster overall. If your computer use would lead you to actually notice the difference in speed between this and other more expensive drives, then a value SSD probably isn't the right choice. But for most uses including gaming and things like "upgrading Mom's email/facebook/web browsing desktop", this would be a superb choice. It's far cheaper than almost any other upgrade, and it still feels SSD fast no matter what the synthetic benchmarks say. Given the value positioning of this drive and its ideal use being upgrading an older computer with spinny hard drives, I was a bit surprised that the installation manual didn't offer any solutions or advice at all for how to clone an existing OS installation. This drive is PERFECT for an older system upgrade, so this is a silly omission. Just a simple line or two on how to search for drive cloning software and how to ensure the SSD is bootable under windows would have been enough. An offer for a trial version of a shareware drive cloning utility wouldn't cost OCZ anything but it could save a lot of time for someone who is upgrading an existing system to an SSD for the first time.

Final thought - Even with the drawbacks that come with a "value" product, I'm still calling the OCZ Trion 150 drives "Recommended", hands down. Most significantly, I would certainly consider one of these if I was buying an SSD for a family member to upgrade a computer with only a spinny hard drive, which says a lot since I'd be the one who would have to fix it again if it didn't work right.


Sean L.'s Profile

Display Name: Sean L.

Date Joined: 09/24/03


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