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ASUS X551MAV-EB01-B Notebook Intel Baytrail-M Dual-Core N2830 (2.16GHz) 4GB Memory 500GB HDD Intel HD Graphics 15.6
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: I purchased this laptop as an upgrade for my tablet. After a year of a tablet being my main mobile device, I was very frustrated with lack of multi-tasking, scares apps for development, and even simple things like other browser tabs refreshing the page when you switched to them. I was ready to go back to an actual laptop, and frankly this laptop wasn’t much more expensive!

I actually love the laptop, especially for the price! I was actually looking for a smaller system for portability, but found it ironic that the smaller ones were more expensive. In the end, I find I enjoy the extra screen space a lot more than it fitting in my arms or cheap laptop bags. The display is brilliant and large, the keyboard is spaced well with everything as I expect, and a large trackpad lets me get more precision without sacrificing a full mouse stroke across the screen.

The build is much sturdier than I expected. It’s cheap, but the power is coming from the simplicity. The keyboard, power button, and trackpad are all one piece - no creeking border around the keyboard or trackpad, no top cover for buttons or speakers to snap off before you can unscrew the keyboard. The screen folds down on two hinges that doesn’t feel loose or flimsy, and there’s no locking/unfolding latch or mechanism simply because it doesn’t seem to need it. It even folds open about 135°, which is comfortable enough for me to use on a desk while standing. The viewing angle still has a noticable impact on brightness/color, but not as much as other laptops I’ve used.

People seem to be knocking it for having to "take apart the whole thing to get anywhere." While this is true, it's stupid-easy to do! There's 9 perimeter screws, and the top portion pops off with a few simple snaps. There's 3 easy-release ribbon cables for keyboard, trackpad, and power button if you want to remove it completely. After that, everything is extremely accessible! If you have a screwdriver handy, you can still swap out battery, RAM, HDD, and media drive in under 5 minutes! Yet, I can still press and squeeze anywhere and there's no creaking or excessive give. The more I think about this simple 2-piece (3 if you include the screen) design, the more I love it.

I installed a Radeon R7 SSD, get about 200MB/s <0.1ms access, and now the laptop blazing fast! It’s not a gaming laptop, nor is it meant for heavy tasks, but I’m definitely able to have dozens of tabs open and 8 different applications open at the same time (so long as nothing's CPU intensive, which most stuff isn't).

It’s impressively quiet, even when it had the Seagate 5000RPM in there. It doesn't get hot even at full stress, and it's actually comfortable on my lap.

Cons: Most of the stuff I want to complain about isn’t the laptop’s fault. I read the product description, and I know what features it’s missing. Most everything else I find difficult with using it is Windows 8, but I could downgrade (or use Win 10 technical preview) if I wasn’t insistent on learning it so as to not fall behind on tech anymore than I already am.

I really wish they didn’t follow the users-can’t-change-out-batteries-from-our-products-because-it-confuses-them trend mobile devices started doing in recent years. That was an insult, but everyone seems to be doing it so it’s not a specific fault to this laptop. I guess I can't recall ever regularly changing out laptop batteries, and it's not really that had to get to, so this is a minor gripe.

However, one large item that’s definitely knocking off at least one egg is quality control. It’s a good thing I planned on upgrading the HDD! It was held in with one loose screw which had no loc-tite (2 screw holes were empty, and the 4th double as a chassis thru-screw)! The plastic backing that prevents the HDD controller components from shorting on the chassis, and the foam spacers along the mainboard, all looked like they were stuck on by a drunk blind person who really didn’t care! All the components worked when it got here, and it looked pretty from the outside, but this shoddy job of putting the insides together makes me not want to buy ASUS again. If you’re proficient with computers, take the 60 seconds (literally) it takes to pop this guy open and give it the visual inspection a Quality Assurance team never did.

Other Thoughts: This was strike 3 from ASUS, a company I used to be a die-hard fan of! My ASUS tablet died within its warranty period, so I email them, but they never got back to me (I wasn’t too bothered as I was replacing it with this laptop anyway). A router of their also died on me, but that was the first defective device and I thought “eh, everyone makes mistakes”. It’s a shame because I used to build desktop gaming systems, and would prefer ASUS for overclocking and never had one die! But, it seems you only get ASUS quality if you also pay top-dollar for their enthusiast products… Shame on you, ASUS. This is a wonderfully engineered laptop, but you’re cutting corners to meet that bottom price.

(I assume this was ASUS’s fault because I purchased this laptop as “Open Box” and not “Refurbished”. I suppose there is a chance the faults are of someone who refurbished the laptop, but in that case shame on whoever refurbished it, and Newegg for not labelling it correctly.)

In the end, I’m very happy with the laptop!

AMD Radeon SSD RADEON-R7SSD-240G 2.5
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Upgrade for an older system? 01/05/2015

This review is from: AMD Radeon SSD RADEON-R7SSD-240G 2.5" 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Pros: It may be odd to say, but unboxing this SSD was kinda enjoyable. After finally getting the plastic wrapping off (only the sharpest of knives will unwrap this bad boy), I removed the contents, and like a responsible user I read through all the warnings and instructions. I found a license key for Arconis True Image HD and thought I'd give it a try. I was also surprised to find it has a black painted 4" solid-piece adapter bracket. The bracket comes with 8 screws (4 for the drive, 4 for the bay), and aligns the HDD to one side rather than the center like most brackets I've used. It maintains the <0.5inch height. The drive can be mounted from either the side or bottom, but the adapter uses the bottom holes of the drive and only the side holes for the bay.

After finally getting it installed (see cons), it's time for a comparison! My system is using SATA II, so I know I won't get full performance out of this drive, but it may still be a reasonable upgrade. My WD Raptor 10,000RPM got 94.7MB/s average, 123.0MB/s max, and 7.0ms access time. Radeon R7 clocks in at an extremely consistent 105.6MB/s average, 108MB/s max, and beautiful 0.1ms access time. My 1TB HDD averaged 71.8MB/s, 91.8MB/sec max, and 14.3ms access time. I'm not getting anywhere near the advertised speed because I'm using an older SATA motherboard, but that 0.1ms access time and consistent throughput will make a world of difference for boot times and loading screens! Would I recommend it as an upgrade for an older system? I think the cost is definitely justified if you have a standard 7200RPM drive, but may be a bit of a stretch if you already have a high performance disk.

Cons: Remember when I said I was going to be a responsible user and follow instructions? Well, I failed. Getting Arconis was a pain. The paper sheet with the key directs you to download it from, but I couldn't find the link anywhere. So I downloaded it from Arconis directly (after having to register), but I soon found the serial key doesn't fit, and that I downloaded version 2015 and the key was for 2013. After wondering why I decided to try this a moment longer, I googled for the 2013 version and the first link was to the OCZ site with the software (why didn't I get ANY results from your site search, OCZ?). Well, after feeling like a newbie idiot for failing at following the newbie-idiot-guide instructions, the download took an HOUR (get some bandwidth, OCZ!), and finally installed the product. Unfortunately, even after successful activation of the product, it still shows me a warning of limited functionality and tells me to buy the product. Additionally, the Clone feature I was hoping to try out just pops up an error and closes. I gave the bundled software an honest attempt, but in the end it's the trash I thought it would be and ruined my day-1 experience with the product.

That was just the software. Unfortunately, the adapter bracket does not fit my case in any configuration. The slide-out HDD rails for my case have 6 holes, spaced 1/4", 1/2", 3 1/8", 3 3/8", and 3 5/8" from the first hole. I have another rail that's designed for 3cm spacing, but it does not fit any combination of these either. The bracket only has 1 5/8ths and 2 3/8ths spacing (between 1st and 2nd, 1st and 3rd hole respectively)

Corsair H1500 USB Connector Circumaural Dolby 7.1 Gaming Headset
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs My Wife Stole Them! 11/28/2014

This review is from: Corsair H1500 USB Connector Circumaural Dolby 7.1 Gaming Headset

Pros: These headphones are really great to have! Obviously, the first thing I did once I got them out of the box was try them on. And I gotta say, they really are comfy! No break-in period, no pressure points, no plastic-y feel. When I read the overview, I was skeptic of the memory foam being a key point, but... maybe it is. Everything feels well built on these: the frame, the speakers, the cushions. The microphone does bend along the shaft as needed, and does pivot to any angle from the left speaker (it does not go backwards in case you wanted it on your right and switch the speaker polarity). The buttons have a solid feel to them, and activate via software to disable the microphone on the driver-level and the volume on Windows itself – no cheap in-switch attenuators or wire disconnects. The cord is thin and very long, uses a nylon covering, and doesn't tangle – excess is easily contained with the included Velcro wrap. The cord is long enough for me to consider getting a small cable-reel so I can roll to and from my computer / work bench easily. Plus 2 eggs!

Once I got it plugged in and everything running, the sound is definitely better than other headphones I've had within this price range, but I wasn't blown away. They still sound like <$100 headphones, and since they're USB no headphone amp is going to save them. But, because they are USB, you can simply unplug them and Windows will switch back to your sound card/analog headphones/speaker system automatically – no need to faff with 3.5mm plugs on the back of your computer. These are ideal for gaming, Pandora, and MP3s. If you spend more time listening to loss-less formats on professional grade equipment, then no, these aren't for you. They perform a bit better than I expected, but not by much: plus 1 egg.

The emulated surround sound (there are only 2 speakers in the device in case you didn't realize) is decent, and does add a “fuller” audio experience to the games I play. It's not perfect, and I think some actual dedicated sound-cards will be more precise and realistic sounding, but in the end I do prefer these to the stereo speakers or stereo headphones I've used. Surround sound is extremely difficult to emulate well, because everyone has different-shaped ears, and it's all using principals similar to the way optical illusions fake our eyes. Overall, I list the surround sound as a positive point. Plus 1 egg.

The “Corsair Gaming Headset Control Panel” does have a very nice feature I found useful to see if my headphones and games were configured properly for surround-sound. While the app is open, it will show you what speaker(s) it is emulating. It also has a built-in equalizer if you wanted to fine-tune your audio experience beyond Window's default bass/treble sliders. Plus 1 egg!

Cons: When I plugged these in, the LEDs on the switch started flashing purple. Oddly enough, my headphones didn't come with a driver CD (which I couldn't use anyway, as I don't have CD/DVD drives anymore – put drivers on USB sticks, manufacturers!), it also didn't come with instructions or manual. The purple flashing could mean anything! Once I gave Windows permission, it automatically downloaded the drivers and installed them. Once they were working, the purple flashing stopped and turned solid blue. Clicking the microphone mute button made them flash red and blue like a police siren, which I later found highly annoying as they are bright and very noticeable if you game in the dark. They seem to be controlled via the drivers, but they don't offer a way to disable them. Thus, they are covered in e-tape and I use my keyboard to adjust volume and mute the microphone. Not a big deal, but no one should have to modify their brand new headphones. Minus half an egg.

The driver and ”Corair Gaming Headset Software” I had to download from Corsair directly in order to get the surround-sound features, as the minimum specifications do point out (there's no CD)! Once it was installed, the software can only open via the taskbar icon. Once it's opened, it's the cheesy custom background and we-do-buttons-differently, non-standard application I've come to expect from most manufacturers. I wouldn't normally knock off an egg for this, but there's a standard for a reason people! I almost had to take off a LOT more eggs because I didn't realize the icons and logos were buttons to enable surround sound! Also, it should let me open the application even when my headphones aren't plugged in – instead it just sits there and trolls the taskbar with all options blanked out with no indication on why. The “Corsair Gaming Headset Control Panel” loses half an egg.

The microphone quality is actually pretty good – my team-mates hear me loud and clear! But, when there's no sound coming out, and you're in a quiet room, there is a very quiet but noticeable high-pitched whine coming from microphone. Disable the microphone, and the whine is gone – in fact, the whine is quiet enough that I didn't even notice it until I disabled the microphone. Only time will tell if the whine gets worse, but honestly, I don't think it should be there to begin with.

Also, while we're on the microphone, there is about a half-second lag, at least if you're listening to your own microphone (which I usually don't). It's not too surprising as these little USB 2.0-powered guys have a limited amount of bandwidth/processing power, but it's still something to mention. I've only had “instantaneous” feedback on dedicated sound cards with analog speakers/mics. The two microphone issues combined cost another half-egg, so while we're technically at 3.5 of 5 eggs, I'll round it to 4.

Other Thoughts: These things need some kind of security system on them, because my wife stole them! She's very peculiar about the way headphones feel, and she loves the surround-sound and quality of them, so she's since claimed them and I've had no say in the matter! At least I got a chance to review them first. Maybe I'll get another pair.

Oh, and I'm not going to knock it in the cons section for being yellow, but seriously Corsair: yellow?! Kinda ugly my opinion. But, it's mostly on the inside of the cups, and the ring around the speakers so it's not a big deal. Maybe I'll take a sharpie to it...


BRIAN W.'s Profile

Display Name: BRIAN W.

Date Joined: 06/15/04

  • Reviews: 45
  • Helpfulness: 19
  • First Review: 03/08/07
  • Last Review: 02/08/15
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