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Pros: If you are in need of a power supply offering that ticks almost every box for functionality and are on a budget, Corsair's RM750X should be at the top of your list. The hardware is identical to the Corsair RM750i model with the exception of Corsair Link capability. Corsair Link allows monitoring system output and controlling fans for thermal and noise optimization and lighting for bling. It's a nice-to-have accessory but certainly not essential.
The 750RMx has the same 80 Plus Gold efficiency as the RM750i, Japanese caps for reliability (hence the 7 year warranty), superb voltage regulation, and is among the quietest power supplies on the market. It costs less as well. Not a bad combination.
I tested this supply in two systems. The first was Haswell-E based with dual video cards, the second a Broadwell system using either the integrated graphics for a minimal power load or a GTX970 for better performance.
The Haswell-E box nearly maxed out the 750RMx when all 6 CPU cores and both video cards were stressed. I scoped the power supply rails and measured 1% or lower voltage offsets and less than 17 mV ripple on the +12V rail. When the system was drawing 745W, fan noise from the PSU was audible if you held your ear near the back of the case, but otherwise could not be heard over the video card fans. The PSU fan uses a fluid dynamic bearing, which helps with low noise. When the system load dropped below 400W, the PSU fan turned off. Simply put, the 750RMx is the quietest power supply of any I have at home or in the office.
No matter how much I stressed the Broadwell system the fan on the RM750X did not turn on. It would be perfect for a HTPC or any other quiet setup.
System builds with the Corsair 750RMx were made easier due to the fully modular cables and sensible spacing and layout of the SATA connectors. Earlier generation Corsair supplies had cables that were not well-optimized for larger cases. The 750RMx has both long and short cables, making for tidy builds no matter the case layout. The only exception was the molex cable, where connector spacing was too tight.
The next Corsair model line above the RMx/RMi siblings is the HXi series. The HXi is identical except for 90 Plus Platinum efficiency. There isn't much real difference between gold and platinum PSU efficiency - an average 3% boost across the power range. If you are running a server farm the power adds up, but for most users it isn't a major constraint.
Cons: The only semi-significant con I can come up with for the 750RMx is that the package only has a single EPS 12V connector. Higher-end motherboards often have two EPS connections for improved power distribution. This isn't a huge con, as if you are building a system that requires two EPS connectors, you'll probably be looking at a power supply with more than 750W capacity.
Other Thoughts: Many of the workstations in our office use Corsair power supplies. Of these, the majority are the older AX series while a few are use AXi PSUs. I can't honestly see any reason to recommend the more expensive AX models over the RMx. The AXi series provides 90+ platinum efficiency and Corsair Link compatibility. With the exception of the top-end (in terms of both capability and price) AX1500i, none of the higher-end supplies are as quiet as the 750RMx.
Unless you absolutely need 90+ platinum efficiency or Corsair Link, there isn't a PSU offering more performance for the dollar than Corsair's RMx line.
Pros: From first glance it is readily apparent what device Asus targeted with the ZenPad 8. The iPad Mini. The tablet specs bear this out as well. Light weight? Check. 4:3 aspect ratio? That too. Beautiful, bright high-resolution display and speedy processor? Yes to both, with Asus besting the iPad Mini in these areas. . For the price of an entry level, 16GB Mac Mini Asus gives 64GB, an SD card slot for an additional 128 GB if you wish, and the best sounding speakers on any tablet Apple or Android and what more could you want?
Unfortunately there are several flaws. One technical with the ZenPad itself, the rest are of Asus' own doing in terms of software. On to the pros, however.
The first thing I noticed upon picking up the ZenPad Z580CA is how it felt in my hand. Exceptional. It feels absurdly light and comfortable to hold in either portrait or landscape orientation. Part of this is due to the thin plastic shell - lighter than the aluminum on more costly tablets - but Asus absolutely nailed the dimensions and a tactile, rubber strip running along one edge. Plastic notwithstanding, build quality was good. There is no flex or flimsy feel to the back.
The screen itself is very good. It offers high resolution and vibrant color. Out-of-the-box color balance was terrible, but this can be fixed using with a tweak to the color hue. Overall accuracy is not up to iPad standards, but it is pretty good.
The speakers are excellent. Better, even, than those on many laptops. Watching a movie won't find you immediately reaching for your earbuds.
Performance is, overall, very good. The Intel processor certainly competes with anything from Apple or Samsung. The ZenPad S blazes through demanding applications, be they either productivity-oriented or games. At least for the first 20 minutes until it overheats.
64GB of memory is exceptional at this price point and offering a SD slot for an extra 128GB is icing on the cake. Our business is commercial photography, and I have all too often run out of storage on other tablets. Asus shines here.
In a welcome nod to the future, Asus uses a USB type C connector.
Battery life is just OK. Count on 5 hours with reasonably heavy use and the screen turned up to a normal level. If you are only browsing the web and dim the screen, you can squeeze 8 hours from a charge.
Software is a mixed bag. The basic GUI Asus imposes hews closely to the base Android 5.0 feel. Asus uses Material Design elements and task switching is speedy. The camera app implementation is great. It's intuitive and has a slider to set variable delays for timed shots.
Cons: I debated between giving the Z580CA four stars or only three. The tablet hardware is a solid 5 stars. The software Asus bundles reminds one of the worst pre-installed bloatware on a cheap laptop. I found two issues with the hardware, many more with the software.
The technical flaw I mentioned above is that the ZenPad is prone to overheating if the CPU is heavily used for 20 minutes or so. Although the tablet does not feel overly warm to the touch, it starts throttling. This leads to lagging and stuttering. I found this behavior most often during video games, although video playback where the tablet needed to do on-the-fly transcoding caused the problem as well. Running benchmarking software caused the problem after 17-18 minutes. This likely is not a deal-breaker for most; just be aware that the problem exists.
The plastic shell is not as durable as the metal shell of an iPad. The ZenPad shows noticeable wear and scratches to the edges after a couple weeks' use. Again, not a serious flaw for most.
On to the software. Asus bundles a boatload of utilities and freebies as well as putting their custom skin atop Android. The tablet ships with 5.0 Lollipop, Stagefright vulnerabilities and all. No updates are available as of this review.It appears that Asus fell prey to the desire to distinguish their offering from stock Android. In a few cases this works well – the aforementioned camera control in particular. Most of the time, however, their choices needlessly complicate common choices (the settings is a real mess) or add complexity to what is a simple task in stock Android.
Some of the freebies are useful: 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years - who couldn't use more cloud space? Avast Antivirus for a year, although advanced protections only work on a rooted device. Others are harmless: 5GB of Asus cloud storage for 1 year. The majority are pure bloatware offering little more than battery-sapping processes that can't be uninstalled.
The worst "features", however, are Asus' own doing. Enabled by default is software that promises to smooth video playback. This is mostly harmless when viewing 60p video. Watch a 24p movie, however, and you'll see weird transitions inserted between video frames. Thankfully there is an option to disable this option.
Two settings that cannot be disabled are aggressive sharpening and an auto contrast algorithm for images. The sharpening makes on-screen text blurry and UI elements unclear in web pages. For images, it creates obvious artifacts. The auto contrast adjusts all images whether they need it or not. From a professional photography standpoint, this makes the Z580CA less than useful for image review or client presentations.
Encrypting the tablet brought forth another problem. Booting the tablet once it is encrypted requires eleven(!) minutes from entering the password to when the Android account login screen appears. Didn't Asus test this?
Other Thoughts: If there were no other options, I would give the ZenPad S only three stars. The hardware itself is very good. The software, not so much. The option, naturally, is rooting the tablet.
If you decide to go this route, you can delete most of the bloatware Assu pre-installs. The tablet runs more smoothly and you can replace the Asus launcher with Google's. The rest of the Asus mess can be deleted as well. I left the camera app (it is the one item where Asus improved on the stock apps) and the Asus keyboard. The last is a must if you encrypt the device, as otherwise you can't enter a password.
Speaking of encryption, it becomes workable after rooting. Startup times are still long - about two minutes - but better than the 11 minutes for a stock device. An encrypted Z580CA will not boot if it is plugged in to a power source or computer. The Asus logo just fades in and out for hours.
As for whether you should purchase the Z580CA, I can't give a hard-and-fast answer. The speakers are the best you'll find. The display has great color range, but the Asus auto contrast kicks in and the result often looks worse than on an iPad or Samsung tablet. If you need lots of storage, buying the Z580CA is a reasonable choice, although I hesitate to recommend it if you are uncomfortable rooting the device. If you don't absolutely require the extra memory and are not wedded to Android, the 16GB iPad Mini 2 costs the same, is nearly as fast, has better colors, and you don't need to deal with the mess Asus made of the Android UI or the bundled bloatware.
Pros: As long as you read and follow the manual, StarTech's card provides additional SATA ports on Windows 7, 8.1, 10, and Server 2012 R2 systems. It is far from a perfect solution, but if your system is port-limited, adding a pair of internal or external ports is made simple.
If you are connecting traditional hard drives (i.e. not SSD drives), the port multiplier option may be useful. Transfer speed is limited by the x1 slot bandwidth, so connecting to a SSD or fast RAID 0 will not give the speed you expect. Than said, we haven't seen issues with drives mysteriously dropping or becoming corrupted.
Cons: The SATA III 6.0Gb/s is somewhat misleading. The card itself is SATA III capable. Unfortunately even a single SATA III SSD easily saturates the PCIe x1 connection. Attaching two SSDs is a waste of money. If, however, you have an extra hard drive and external enclosure or two around, this StarTech card gives more consistent throughput than a standard USB 3 connection along with lower CPU usage. If you use a UASP capable USB 3 enclosure along with Win 8.1 or 10, that blows this card away.
Other Thoughts: As other reviewers mention, read the manual. It's short, concise, and necessary. There are a few potential gotchas that you may face depending on your system and intended usage.READ FULL REVIEW
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