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Eric S.

Eric S.

Joined on 10/02/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 6
Most Favorable Review

Pretty easy setup, just works

SIIG SC-SA0R11-S1 PCI-Express 2.0 x2 Low Profile Ready SATA III (6.0Gb/s) 4-Port Hybrid RAID Controller Card
SIIG SC-SA0R11-S1 PCI-Express 2.0 x2 Low Profile Ready SATA III (6.0Gb/s) 4-Port Hybrid RAID Controller Card

Pros: * Both eSATA and SATA on one card * eSATA ports support port mulipliers (multi-drive enclosures) * PCIe-x2 instead of x1 means it has the bandwidth to saturate 1.5 6Gbps SATA ports, which means it shouldn't be possible for the card to be a bottleneck unless you are putting multiple SSDs on it.

Cons: * Looking at the card, you might think you could use all 6 ports -- but the eSATA ports are each used *in place of* one of the SATA ports -- you have to jumper the card to pick one or the other from each pair, so only 4 ports total are available at any time. * The silkscreened labels on the board for enabling each of the 2 eSATA ports are not that obvious and intuitive, and there was no manual pointing them out. * Requires at least an x2 slot (which I don't think exists?) so you generally end up putting it in a x16 slot. Might as well make it x4 to support maximum throughput of multiple SSDs.

Most Critical Review

Full featured, but problematic USB, confusing BIOS

ASUS Z87-PRO LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
ASUS Z87-PRO LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: * Fast * Lots of interesting features like built in WiFi and bluetooth, and being able to trigger the next boot into the BIOS through software or a case switch. * Very stable other than the USB issues. My 3.1GHz 4770 runs at 4.5GHz on it! * Insane amount of tweakable settings

Cons: * Extremely buggy/beta-ish USB, at least with Windows 8/8.1 Booting from the Windows 8 DVD, a USB keyboard doesn't work well enough to be practical with any combination of BIOS settings/ports used/etc. I guess this is why the board has a PS/2 port in 2013. You will need it. Windows 8.1 RTM at least has the keyboard and mouse working at boot time. After installing the drivers from the motherboard CD, my USB external enclosures worked, but only for a day and a half. When windows sees any devices moved around (even moving to a different port), and searches for drivers, it will put the USB stack back to a state that doesn't work for a lot of enclosures. In general my single drive enclosures work once all drivers are updated, but the 4-drive enclosures disconnect after about 10s, unless I use a USB2.0 cable. Also, in 8 my USB webcam would not work with the built in camera app, only the logitech software, and was flaky even there. 8.1 fixes USB webcam support also. Using the ASMedia USB ports or the USB2.0 ports does not remedy the situation because if you look at how those other ports are connected in device manager, the ASMedia controller is basically a hub attached to the Intel controller. USB situation is likely better in Windows 7 than in 8. The Intel USB3 drivers can be installed in Windows 7, but in 8, Intel has a FAQ that says they don't supply the drivers because the built in Microsoft generic USB3 drivers should work. (Except they don't!) * Poor/nonexistant documentation on what most of the BIOS settings do. * Some BIOS settings lost when power cord is removed for 5 minutes. This should not be the case on a brand new board. I know the CMOS batteries don't last nowadays, but really... * Intel 115x socket chips have a very limited number of PCIe lanes for everything. Because of this, some of the lanes are shared between different on-board devices. Specifically in this case, if the 2 ASMedia SATA ports are enabled (default), the 2nd PCIex1 slot will be disabled. Also, if the bottom PCIex16 slot is used in x4 mode, the other PCIex1 slots will be disabled.

Overall Review: My understanding is that the buggy USB situation is there with all Intel 8 Series (Haswell) motherboards, with Intel having released buggy chipsets in addition to extremely buggy reference BIOSes shipped to manufacturers. Asus may have worsened these issues with all the features they try to add to the USB, like the fast charging, speed boost, and flashback. Hopefully new BIOS/drivers fixes this situation soon (other than the known USB wake from sleep issue). I have been using primarily ASUS motherboards since 1995, and previously they have all worked extremely well with no hitches. For an ASUS board, this was a pretty big disappointment to me. Biggest gripe is the USB issues. Only 2 eggs because of that.

Works well on eSATA - NOT YET HASWELL USB COMPATIBLE!

VANTEC NexStar HX4 NST-640SU3-BK Aluminum / Plastic 3.5" Black SATA I/II/III USB 3.0 & eSATA Quad Bay HDD Enclosure
VANTEC NexStar HX4 NST-640SU3-BK Aluminum / Plastic 3.5" Black SATA I/II/III USB 3.0 & eSATA Quad Bay HDD Enclosure

Pros: * Easy setup, once you find the screws * Properly installed drive (with the screws holding on the plastic back plate) is easily hot-swapped. * Just as fast as connecting drives directly to motherboard SATA. * Easy to interpret activity indicators in front of each drive. * Supports the latest 4TB drives. * Contrary to other reviews I've seen, the cooling seems quite good. My drives stay below 32C under full load. I checked sticking my finger inside, and there is a big air space to in the cylindrical part of the enclosure, not a plastic layer insulating the drives from the aluminum. * Stylish

Cons: * Tiny screws taped to the side of the box are easily missed. Look carefully! I know I didn't notice them until 2 days later! The drive can be tricky to remove if you install it without using the screws, not to mention this may put stress on the SATA port. * The purpose of the little rubber pads was not clear to me before reading other reviews. * NOT HASWELL COMPATIBLE ON USB3, AT LEAST NOT IN WINDOWS 8! Trying every different combination of drivers and BIOS, and BIOS settings I could find, I had it working for only a day before plugging in a USB device made windows search for drivers and screw up the USB stack again. This is Intel's fault, rather than Vantec's -- the series 8 chipset USB implementation is extremely buggy. You may have better luck in Windows 7, because the Intel USB3 drivers install in Win7. In Win8, Intel's site has a FAQ saying they don't supply the drivers because the one's built into Win8 will work. (except they don't, with lots of devices!). If you plan on using this with a Series 8 chipset (Haswell) motherboard, get a PCIe eSATA controller. (Most motherboard eSATA ports don't support port multipliers, while expansion cards do!). Using ASMedia USB ports found on some Haswell motherboards does not fix the issue because the ASMedia controller is basically a hub attached to the Intel controller. * Fan is noisy on medium-high settings.

Overall Review: There really should be a compartment on the side of the enclosure for holding these and the screws, as both seem very easy to lose if you are not using all 4 bays. Hopefully either Vantec (or JMicron who makes the USB3->eSATA bridge) or Intel/MS will fix the USB3 compatibility issues soon.

Ultimate Whole-home DVR

Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe - Quad-tuner Card for Watching Digital Cable TV on the PC, PCI-Express x1 Interface
Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe - Quad-tuner Card for Watching Digital Cable TV on the PC, PCI-Express x1 Interface

Pros: * watch/record all cable channels on your Media Center PC. * Stream them to XBOXes or Ceton Echos for the ultimate whole-home DVR * Record 4 shows at once * Excellent diagnostic web interface * Ceton drivers nullify the 4-of-each-type of tuner limit in Windows Media Center.

Cons: * Depending on signal strength, some channels can be slow to tune to. I've found it usually about half the channel switching speed of cable company DVRs on both TWC and FIOS. * Some cable companies make the initial setup far more painful than it should be. Smooth as can be with FIOS though. * In Windows 8 MS made Windows Media Center an optional $10 add-on only avaiable with the Pro version, instead of including it free with Home Premium.

Overall Review: MS not further development Media Center the past several years is disturbing, and wonder whether it will still be there in Windows 9. Also, no word yet on whether XBOX ONE will be supported as an extender or only the XBOX 360 and Ceton Echo. Whole home DVR is addictive. Highly recommend a large HDD or pool of drives for recordings.

Simply amazing for a SOHO router

ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, IEEE 802.3/3u/3ab
ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, IEEE 802.3/3u/3ab

Pros: * High speed - I'm getting 175Mbps to my wireless-n laptop, and 75Mbps to my n-cell phone. Don't have any other 802.11ac devices to try it with yet. * Allows you to boost the output strength to 200mW on each band (default 80mW already put my old Linksys320N to shame). Every room in this house is basically a faraday cage -- rooms with original 1931 construction have stucco walls which contain a wire mesh. Renovated areas have aluminum studs. This combination ensured my old router had some total dead zones within the house. With the 200mA output, not only is it covering the entire house, I can see my router almost from the end of the block, and get 75Mbps *in my front yard*. * Extremely configurable. * Can also act as a WiFi repeater or access point. * Traffic monitoring logs & graphs, DDOS protection, configurable firewall, VPN server, streaming server, lots of other cool features. * It's also a linux box (yes, you can bring up a command shell). * built in logging, network debugging tools, and other neat stuff * 3 guest SSIDs on each band

Cons: * A lot of options have a longish wait after applying changes, and disconnect current clients when you make the change. * No option to directly throttle guest SSIDs. The only way I've figured out to do this is to give all your own devices static IP assignments, and use the somewhat non-intuitive QOS options to throttle connections from the dynamically assigned DHCP range. * My 5 year old likes to play with the external antennas. The connector holding them on doesn't look that thick and I am worried he will eventually break an antenna off.

Surprisingly quick for a Green drive

Western Digital WD Green WD20EARS 2TB 5400 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Western Digital WD Green WD20EARS 2TB 5400 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: * Better performance than my 1TB 7200RPM Seagate drive * Works flawlessly in Windows 7 * Green (lower power usage) * 2TB capacity at a good price * Advanced format means more ECC for reduced chance of unreadable blocks

Cons: * 1 out of 4 of these that I've gotten was DOA (no failures once in-use yet), deducted an egg for that. * Slow initial spin-up time * Must use 4KB partition alignment for decent write performance (this is the default if using Windows 7, but if using XP or imaging utilities you need to check for this)

Overall Review: Large file copies are over 100MB/s for most of the drive, pretty awesome for a "green" drive. Applications usually seem to launch quicker than they did with my Seagate 1TB 7200RPM as well, maybe because of the 64MB cache? I have recorded 6 HD TV streams to it simultaneously, while playing 3 of them back. Note: I am using these for Apps, TV Recordings, and backup, not as a system boot drive. For that I have an SSD.