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This review is from: ASRock Z97 Pro4 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: The Asrock z97 Pro4 is an exceptional board at an exceptional price. The pro4 comes with a lot of different connectivity options that can allow for a very powerful machine. Some of the more notable inclusions are the m.2 slot, the one SATA express port, and the 6 Sata III ports. Two PCI slots included for backwards compatibility as well as a single 3.0 x16 slot for newer GPU’s. This board has pretty good PCI(e) spacing if you are only going to run a single GPU and one or two add-in cards that only need x4 or x1. The UEFI Bios is also one of the most easy to use that I have seen so far and is a true UEFI BIOS unlike some other boards. This board also comes with an easy to use UEFI BIOS easy update feature that can connect to the internet and check for updates, download updates, and flash them all with minimal user effort. The pro4 comes with the average Asrock overclocking controls, included software, and a year’s subscription to orbweb.me which I would find useful if I didn’t already have my own server and hosting service. The board immediately detected my XMP settings and handled them quite well while overclocking. my RAM is 2400 mHz
Cons: I did not find any major issues with this board but some of the things I can nitpick about are that all of the SATA connectors are right angle coming off of the board which could cause some clearance issues in smaller cases, I would have preferred seeing a mix of straight and right angle connectors coming off of the board. This board is not really for dual gpu setups due to the second x16 slot only running in x4 mode but it is still technically possible. It is a strange pci(e) slot layout with one of the x1 slots being blocked if you use a dual slot card in the second x16 slot and 2 PCI slots included at the bottom of the board (not PCIE, just regular PCI which I personally do not have a use for and can’t see a use for unless you are migrating some very old hardware).
Other Thoughts: The Asrock z97 Pro4 does not seem like that much of a special board but the price point that it hits makes it an outstanding value for anyone looking at price per performance. Really this board has pretty much anything a budget-mid level gamer could ask for. The only thing I find lacking is the dual GPU support. I feel as if the mATX version of this board makes more sense than this full size ATX version simply because it does not have the amount of connectivity to justify a full size ATX board form factor. If I were starting a build from scratch and I had to decide whether to go with this board or the mATX board I would probably just go for a smaller build and get the mATX board since it has nearly all of the same features but at a smaller size. This full size ATX board does have a few advantages over the mATX and is still a great value but just seems a bit oversized for what it has.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: APC Back-UPS Pro 500 BG500 500VA 300W 4 Outlets UPS
Pros: After unboxing and using the APC BG500 I can now honestly say that this is much more than just a battery backup for your router and could be easily integrated into anyone’s home/small business network. The BG500 is intended for homeowner use and really does bring a lot to the table with it's useful array of features. When I first removed the unit from the packaging I was pleasantly surprised with the tidy efficient packaging, the light weight and compactness of the unit. After physically setting up the product with the included stand I noticed that it was not that much bigger than a consumer grade wireless router (twice as tall, 1.5x as deep, and just as slim depending on the router). One of the most pleasant surprises I came across was ease of use where the device is essentially plug-n-play where you don't even need the software installed as long as you can find the IP address of the BG500 (normally 192.168.1x.x), with which you can dial in and will be greeted with a very simple, intuitive, and appealing UI. Another feature I enjoyed using was the smart outlets which could be controlled on an individual basis and set to auto reboot for the watchdog feature (polls your internet connection to ensure it is still viable) or auto off from the master outlet. I really did enjoy the UI and ended up spending a few hours just browsing, tweaking, and basically just fooling around because it gave you a good amount of control over such a simple product and even tracked a bunch of stats for you such as how much the device is saving you (after you put in the cost of electricity) and other QoS features. I know I have no mentioned the most important part of a product that calls itself a UPS, yes it does have a 300W battery pack and does not hiccup when switching to battery backup but this unit really is so much more than a UPS that the UPS feature takes a back burner to all of the other useful features.
Cons: I did not have too many issues with this issue that surprised me, I expected to be a little disappointed with the capacity since it is only 300W, you can expect how much it will power. I would have liked to see more outlets, even if they were not on the UPS because then you could just replace the power strip instead having to have this along with a power strip. The two minor caveats that surprised me were that some of the outlets were a bit too close to plug in the large bulky wall warts in and the Ethernet port was surprisingly difficult to plug in due to the recess and 45 degree angle that it is set at.
Other Thoughts: I did try the software CD that they recommend using and all it does is find the BG500 on your network, connect you to it, and then makes it easy to access but I preferred just setting up a static IP for it and just typing the IP into my web browser to connect to it. Overall this is a good product that has done well with my usability and basic discharge tests (last as long as is advertised under the described loads) but I could definitely see another rev of this with the things mentioned in cons improved on, especially the small stuff like plug spacing.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: Corsair Vengeance 2100 Circumaural Wireless Dolby 7.1 Gaming Headset
Pros: I will be going through these headphones with a fine toothed comb so please be patient with this review and if you just want a summation check out other.
Packaging- First I would like to take a brief look at the packaging which is mostly made of cardboard and has a clear part to improve the over retail aesthetic. The packaging is simple and includes the USB receiver, a USB extension, a USB to microUSB charging cable, some paperwork (warranty, basic setup instruction, etc), and the most important part, the headphones. Everything is packed snugly into the box and should only require minimal additional protection if shipping.
Build quality- The build quality of these headphone is very good and they feel very sturdy on your head and in your hands. The clamping pressure is strong enough to remain on your head with normal movements and head bobbing but dont clamp down so hard that they get uncomfortable. The wireless range works as specified and at a distance of about 15 feet through one interior wall but begins to break up after that. The on/off button provides a very satisfying click to them and the volume wheel has a satisfying click that is easy to feel how much you are adjusting the volume.
Comfort- These are some of the most comfortable headphones that I have worn due to the fact that the cups are covered in a microfiber fabric and use memory foam as the padding. I have worn these headphones for hours on end and after the first couple long gaming/music sessions they broke in well. The very wide headband is amazing and I can barely feel it on top of my head after a few minutes, its soft and wide which distributes the weight over a large area.
Sound quality- The sound quality is seems to be good, I have done some basic sweep tests and the response range seems to be in specification. Remember to break these in before judging their sound quality, when I first got them I was not too impressed but am now very happy with the sound quality. They seem to have a pretty flat frequency response so the music actually sounds like the artist intended it to. The lows are powerful but not overpowering and everything sounds crisp and clear. The mic is acceptable, a very good headset mic but not intended for professional streaming/podcast quality.
Cons: This section will be significantly shorter than the pros and I put some cons in other because they are simply not features included and not necessarily shortcomings of the product.
Packaging- When I first got mine the packaging left a little indent in the middle of the headband and it was a bit frustrating to try and take the headphones out without damaging the packaging (important if you want to try them and then take some pictures).
Build quality- no complaints, it is Corsair after all.
Comfort- The headphones are very comfortable but I wish that the memory foam they had used was a bit softer, they are a bit uncomfortable when you first put them on because the foam needs to settle into place. This is a personal preference and some may prefer the harder/sturdier memory foam Corsair uses.
Sound quality- They have a bit off a hiss when not playing music/making sound but it is far less than some other headphones that I have used (other expensive or inexpensive headphones). You are also tied to use the USB interface which bothers me a bit because I would have liked to have the option of using a USB DAC.
Other Thoughts: These are some of the best wireless headphones I have used and don't be scared by the USB interface, they just use their own sound solution which is usually just as good or better than on board. I would highly recommend them to anyone but wouldn't mind if they changed a few things on the next revision. I would have liked them to have a bluetooth radio that I could use to easily connect to anything with bluetooth instead of being tied to the USB receiver. I also wish that these had an analog audio connector that could be used optionally so I could connect to some other audio sources. Basically my main complaint is that I can't use these things with everything, but I really want to. One of the quirks I encountered was that after installing the drivers (easy as pie) I was getting popping so I had to manually go into windows sound properties and change the headphones from 16 bit, 44100hz to 48000hz which made the issue disappear. I also found the 7.1 digital surround to distort the original sound signature too much for me but the 7.1 surround does work well.READ FULL REVIEW